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Marketing Now Critical To 80% of Small Businesses
It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re a brand new startup or an established business – Marketing Matters!

Royal Mail Marketreach research revealed recently that Marketing is now critical to growth of 81% of small businesses and nearly three quarters of small businesses reinvest up to 20% of their turnover into marketing initiatives

We’ve talked before about The Secret To Our Success – Social Media, Blogging and Networking – those 3 without a shadow of a doubt drive more business for us than anything else

So what marketing is your business doing? What are the options out there? And who do you contact for help in Manchester?

Below are 3500 words highlighting all the options – if you want the brief options check these

Small Businesses Reinvest Up To 20% Of Turnover Into Marketing

Design –
Events –
Leaflet Delivery –
Merchandise –
Photography – /
Printers –
PR – /
Social Media Marketing –
Telesales –
Video –
Websites – /

Marketing Matters

A – A Boards
Love them or hate them they get your business noticed if you’re on the high street or in the offices above the high street

Whether it’s a more traditional A Board stating your offering or a witty board designed to get social media attention – it’s a visible way to draw attention

Some local authorities put restrictions on A Board usage and be sensible – don’t block the pavement with them as it will end with negative publicity

Chat to Holt Business Solutions about A Boards for your business

A – Advertising
At this stage i’m talking about Traditional Advertising (or Tradvertising as I like to call it)

It’s the default option for many small businesses as they’ve grown up with the local newspaper and are romantic about the idea of being in print even if they acknowledge they rarely read the publication themselves

With editorial teams shrinking to a fraction of the size they used to be and sales teams growing chances are you will get called within weeks of opening

Does it still work? Well many still do it. Is it as effective as it was 20 years go? Probably not

Our advice – speak to another business in a similar sector about their experience of traditional advertising to see how happy they were with results

A – Apps
Do you need an app or do you simply need a well designed mobile responsive website?

It’s the million dollar question that people are asking and there’s no right or wrong answer

The key question to ask is what would you want an app to do? How does it fit in with your business plan? And how do you ensure people use the app regularly as opposed to being one of the apps that people download and never use

B – Banners

When I first started attending business networking events back in 2010 – nearly every business in the room would bring a pop up banner

Now they’re less commonly used – which means they’re ripe for a comeback as where there’s less noise, there is more attention

Whether it’s a traditional pop up banner or one of the new on trend fabric banners – they’re a wise investment as they last for years

Chat to Holt Business Solutions about Banners for your business

B – Blogging
26% of all websites globally use WordPress – a platform that has blogging as part of it’s DNA

As we said at the top of this blog – Blogging is one of the 3 pillars of our success and the only thing that blogging costs you is time

A few interesting stats on blogging from Hubspot

* B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not
* Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI
* By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human
* Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website
* Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information

If you want to learn more about blogging book on to one of our blogging workshops here –

Altrincham Design Studio Business Cards
B – Business Cards

Business Cards are still relevant in 2016 and one of the essential MUST HAVE’S when starting out in business

The amount of businesses that attend business networking meetings and 3-6 months later still don’t have their business cards ready is unbelievable

Always carry business cards around with you as you never know when you will meet somebody – it could be at the gym, the pub or on a tram as well as traditional business settings

The business card is often the memory jog to the face to face meeting and the gateway to business

Chat to Altrincham Design Studio here about your business card design

B – Business Directory
I include Business Directories with a huge caveat – Google is the worlds biggest business directory and that’s the place that many search for local business service providers

Business directories range from the free to the paid, from the unverified anybody can join to strict verification process, from those that simply list to those that list with a reviews section

For us the verification or reviews element is important – people want to buy on trust and these 2 elements help build trust over the anybody can be listed set up

Freeindex is something that has worked well for us over the years and we have our own Local Business Directory for Altrincham and surrounding areas which is always in our Top 20 Visited Pages on the website each month

Also check out options such as which have a verification process to be listed

C – Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews and Social Proof are the most powerful things you can have in your marketing plan

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Freeindex, TripAdvisor, Which Trusted Traders or your own industry specific website – you must collect customer reviews

It’s widely reported stat that 88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

Do you have a review / testimonial strategy and how is this linked in with the rest of your marketing plan?

D – Door Knocking
We always say Hello can open doors and door knocking still works – we’ve got some of our best clients simply by saying hello

Ok, it helps that we’re well established and often they know about us from Twitter

Ok, it helps that when we door knock we have a stack of testimonials to back up our conversations

But saying hello to new businesses works

E – Email
More than 12 million people and businesses around the world use MailChimp.

At Altrincham HQ we’re one of them

The best thing is for most small businesses the free option is more than enough allowing you to send up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month

Our email marketing plan allows us to keep in touch on a weekly basis with 1000+ businesses who have signed up to our Weekly Social Media Tips Email

Check out and also sign up to our tips emails at the end of this blog

E – Events / Exhibitions

Innov8 in Manchester say “Live events are the best way to market any company, share knowledge and build brand exposure. There is no other form of marketing that can guarantee you face to face engagement with your suppliers, partners or peers”

Innov8 organise The Trafford Business Expo, The Cheshire Business Expo, The Stockport Business Expo, The Social Media Conference, The Sales Conversion Conference and The Greater Manchester Business Awards amongst others

Check out more here

F – Friends & Family
Grant Cardone recently blogged about this and said “Twice a month I get my family and employees together and ask for five leads each. Everyone is a prospect. Until prospecting becomes a priority in your head and your schedule, it’s not going to generate results”

It’s important because many of us don’t involved our friends and family in marketing and try and do everything ourselves

And by not involving them we’re missing out on those closest to us who could be our greatest ambassadors

Talk to your friends and family – get them to understand completely what you do and don’t be afraid to ask for leads

G – Graphics
Repeat after us – Microsoft Word is not a graphics package 🙂

We mention this because in all seriousness a lot of small businesses use Word as if it’s a serious graphics tool

As Altrincham Design Studio say – “Graphic’s have never been more important. We believe firmly that great design conveys a strong message as well as visual identity for businesses of all sizes and needn’t cost the earth”

From Traditional marketing to social media you need to think about the visual representation of your business


G – Guest Blogging

We believe in Guest Blogging so much we even set up a whole new website based around it call North West Business Life

So far the most read blog on has been read by over 30,000 people

Why guest blog on a website rather than blog on your own?

You tap into an existing audience, you get the extra push on social media, you get links back to your own website, you become known as an expert in your field

H – Hand Outs
Most people are on the internet, but not everybody is on the internet all the time

It was a few years into my business when I realised that actually you need something more than a business card, but something not as weighty as a brochure for people to take away with them

And that was when I start using Double Sided A4 handout for groups workshops, an aid for my door knocking and a little extra for bumf table at networking meetings

It allows me to reach out to people who’s 1st instinct isn’t to check out the website address from my business card and like an overview handed to them

Chat to about design and for print

I – Infographics
At it’s most simple definition an infographic is thus

An infographic (information graphic) is a representation of information in a graphic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. People use infographics to quickly communicate a message, to simplify the presentation of large amounts of data, to see data patterns and relationships, and to monitor changes in variables over time.

You’ve probably seen them shared on twitter or in articles about large scale events such as the World Cup or the Olympics … or to show the latest health trends

Simple to imagine, harder to get out there in the market place as it has become a crowded market

Check out Neomam in Manchester’s 13 Reasons for Infographics here

Leaflet Delivery
L – Leaflet Delivery

Marketing whether it’s online of offline is about delivering an effective message that captures the attention of your audience

Altrincham Design Studio work with businesses from initial design concept through to print and on to leaflet delivery

When it comes to leaflet delivery they always suggest Solus as the most effective option for small businesses

Solus delivery is your leaflet delivered direct, on its own. 100% attention from us and 100% attention from the customers you want to reach!

When you see a bunch of leaflets on your doormat do you read them? Or do you do what a lot of people do and go from the front door through the back door and into the blue recycling bin without reading them.

Now if your business leaflet/flyer is delivered solus you are making it easier for the potential customer to read

Chat to about Solus Delivery

L – Logo
Your logo is what people will associate with your business and we can all think of the well known examples such as the Nike Swoosh or the Coca Cola logo

It’s important you define this from the outset as it is what will become the other face of your brand

Your logo won’t just be used on your business cards – but on your headed paper, social media, website, branded clothing, posters and more

So speak to a professional and get it right from the outset

Chat to

L – Loyalty Schemes
A couple of stats on Customer Loyalty

* 28% of consumers are loyal to their providers and brands

* Top 3 reasons consumers switch brands: cheaper pricing (31%), rude staff (18%) and too many mistakes (16%)

Most of us are part of at least one loyalty scheme from supermarket reward points to the free coffee stamps

What loyalty scheme can you introduce to keep customers coming back for more and to make them feel special when you give something back?

Branded Pens
M – Merchandise

Branded pens, mugs, stress balls, umbrellas, USB sticks, diaries, notepads, calendars and many many more

Even branded nail files are becoming a successful way to put your brand at the front of people’s eyes

These might not be the things you think of at start-up stage as they tend to be cost prohibitive for those on a tiny budget, but once you are established and you have cash flow they are perfect ways to get you in front of people’s minds

Subliminal sells and the everyday items that people use every day are perfect

Want an idea of what’s available – look at this massive list here

N – Networking
4N, BNI, FSB, Business Chambers … open networking, one per industry networking, informal networking, formal networking, referral groups

There are no shortage of networking opportunities out there for businesses large or small and yet the amount of business owners that shy away from networking because it’s not for them is shocking

If people don’t meet you – they won’t get to like, know and trust you

And if they can’t get to meet, like, know, trust you they won’t buy from you

Every networking meeting is different, you won’t win business on every meeting as it’s about relationships – but those relationships will last a lifetime. I still get work from people I met networking in 2010 – 6 years later

P – Partnerships
Think of the strategic partnerships you can develop to enhance your brand

There are natural fits – we often work with web designers for example

Restaurants often team up with bars

Hotels often team up with events organisers

Which are the partnerships that would work as a 2 way win for both businesses

P – Photography
Never underestimate the importance of a great image

It links into the next Marketing channel of PR – in that the press / media will be unlikely to feature your story without a strong image

It links into social media – in that images get twice the level of engagement as text only updates

It links into you website – and perceptions of your brand based on the photography

Naturally smart phones will be used for some photos on Social media – but you must have some professional images to represent your brand long term

Chat to Martin Hambleton or Grey Dog Photography about professional images

P – PR
And by PR we mean a strategic ongoing PR campaign which is designed to attracted mass coverage – not just a one off article in the local newspaper

Whilst one off articles won’t do you brand any harm they’re unlikely to deliver the results you expect

A PR Company will be able to extract multiple stories about your brand so that you have a constant presence in the publications / outlets that matter to your target audience

A PR company will also have the relationships with the media outlets so your stories are more likely to gain attention

For local PR options chat to Melissa Paxton PR at or Ruth Wilson PR

R – Referral Marketing
Referral marketing is a process to encourage and significantly increase referrals from word of mouth, perhaps the oldest and most trusted marketing strategy.

Sometimes businesses will try and induce this by offering a commission for referrals given – but this always feels a little cheap to myself

The best referrals come from those people that Meet Like Know And Trust you and refer to you naturally

We are often referred to as the “one man referral” machine because I look for opportunities for others

I believe in the givers gain philosophy and by giving you ultimately get people looking out for opportunities for your business

Social Media Training    Social Media Management
S – Social Media

Social Media – our sweet spot, probably the reason you’re here reading the blog and done the right way a sure fire money maker for businesses

We’ve written over 270 blogs on Social Media on this website so we won’t dwell on this area too long

But a few questions to ask yourself before using social media as a marketing channel
* Do you have any marketing experience of Social Media or have you previously used it in your personal life?
* Which platforms are your target market / customers using?
* How much spare time each week have you got to devote to Social Media Marketing?
* What is our Social Media Marketing plan to attract customers?

Have a read of this blog on which is best for your business – Social Media Training or Social Media Management

Social Media is great – but you can’t just dabble with it and expect results


The Agency Creative state “Your site may look like a million dollars but if it’s lurking on page four of the search listings it’s worthless”

People rarely look past the 1st page of google for the service they’re looking for

We’ve managed to work all our SEO on this website organically via blogging, but if you want to look at more indepth SEO services look at

S – Signage
And by signage we mean signage in all it’s forms

The branding at the front of your business

The plaque on the wall to your 2nd floor office on the high street

The opening hours in the windows of your bar / restaurant

The van livery for your trades van

Signage is an invitation for those passing your business to do business with you – offer up the invitation

Chat to for signage options

S – Speaking Gigs

Never turn down an opportunity to speak in front of an audience and impart advice

Speaking gigs are a really powerful way to show your expertise in front of a new audience and should be part of your networking plan

Networking is a great way to meet contacts and build relationships – but often the intro round is no longer than 20 seconds

If you offer professional services try and speak at events a minimum of once per month to a new audience

But remember the caveat – the opportunity if a chance to give advice rather than talk about yourself

If you don’t feel comfortable with speaking in public – why not speak to Sonya at Stratus about Public Speaking Coaching here

T – Telesales
Perhaps the hardest options on this whole list for small businesses – simply because we’ve become accustomed to non verbal communication such as email, texts and social media

Done the right way telesales work, but it’s worth speaking to an expect before you pick up the phone and do it yourself

Speak to Una Cottrell at Tele-Mark to chat about all the considerations you need for Telemarketing/sales

Branded T Shirts
U – Uniforms / Branded Clothing

Walk into any large business and you’ll see uniforms in the likes of Tesco’s, Sainsburys and M&S

Uniforms and branded clothing are an extension of your brand and yet so many businesses don’t take advantage of it

I know local businesses who have got work on Saturday mornings whilst watching their sons play football – just because they have a branded coat that starts a conversation

We have branded t-shirts for the gym so that people behind us on the treadmill / exercise bike know exactly what we do

It’s a cost effective way to promote your business

V – Video Marketing
It has never been easier to jump into video marketing to test the water with Facebook Live, Periscope, instagram or any of the social video options on the market

These platforms have given users a freedom to test out video and get used to being in front of the camera

That’s the start – the traditional channels such as youtube are still hugely relevant for more professional pre-records that highlight advice, tips and how to guides

Chat to Garth Haley at Hyperfine Media for options on your 1st professional video

V – Vouchers
You probably wouldn’t expect a Social Media company to offer gift vouchers – we do and we sold some last Christmas to partners looking for a different gift for their entrepreneurial partners

Remember your end user / customer might not be the person actually buying and for B2C businesses particularly Vouchers are a nice upsell to extend the reach outside your customer base

W – Website
“All roads lead to your website” is a one liner often mentioned by David Bellin of the Web Studio

And it’s true – your social media, your business cards, your signage, your print marketing – all leads back to your website

Therefore your website must be representative of the quality of your website – rather than an off the shelf Wix or 1&1 free / budget website

Chat to about your website requirements

Chat to about Social Media for YOUR business so we can better understand YOU and what will grow your business

Social Media plugs into many of the options above and we can only find out what is unique to your business by chatting to you

Look at our Social Media Training and Social Media Management services


Please call Alex on 07806774279 or email

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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