Archive for April, 2012

Choosing the Right Network

April 25, 2012

Joni Farthing, Regional Director of The Athena Network, advises that choosing the right network group to join is crucial.

Networking is everywhere these days. How do you decide which events to attend when they all take time and many take money too?

There are three main types of network: deep, broad and niche.  Join one network from each category as they all bring different benefits to your business.

Supportive groups

Typical of deep-networking is the members-only group where each member represents a different profession.  This builds loyalty and members swap ideas, advice and recommend suppliers and potential clients to each other.  In the past it was usually men who networked like this in groups such as the original Rotary clubs but today it is a common form for women’s networking e.g. The Athena Network.

Big busy groups

Broad networking gets as many people together as possible.  People swap business cards, introduce their business and ‘work the room’. This is a great way to meet lots of people very quickly.  But they won’t easily remember you, so ensure you put in the time later to follow up the potentially useful contacts and arrange individual meetings.  Business Biscotti, and Lloyds Business Breakfast (Bristol Golf Club) work in this way.

In the know groups

Niche networking looks for numbers too, but where an industry or aim is shared.  These meetings are a great way of looking for finance, staff or getting a new job.  They help you understand the way the industry works and get the latest information and news.  The Wedding Tweet-up (Goldbrick House) is a delightful example of this as is Media First Tuesday (The Square Club).

You simply won’t have time to do more than this.  After all networking is just one part of your marketing strategy and you have to run your business too.  As with all initiatives, research online and ask others.  Most groups allow you to visit so go along to several in each category before deciding which to commit to.  Remember that it’s not the number of people you meet but the relevance and ‘quality’ of those contacts that makes a network cost-effective over time.

Joni Farthing, The Athena Network

Why Good Copy Matters

April 24, 2012

Jenni O’Connor, Director of Kaiku Communications, gives us her advice on why spending a little time on marketing will bring large rewards to start-ups and small business owners

Many of us focus hard on our actual business, taking great care to get the client offering or product mix right; ensuring both quality and service, and working hard to pitch our prices at the right level for our customers and the straightened times we are living in.

However, many firms, especially small ones and start-ups, pay considerably less attention to how they market themselves – the words and images they use to convey who they are and what they do for their customers.

Poor grammar, spelling and design are all real turn-offs

Does this matter? Yes it does. How do you react, when, for example, you see a menu in a restaurant with spelling or grammar mistakes, or (my personal bête noire) a missing or incorrectly placed apostrophe? Or (even worse), an advert which looks as it’s been thrown together in a hurry? Most of us, consciously or otherwise, will perceive that business as sloppy, poor quality, and unwilling to pay the level of attention to detail that we hope they would extend to us, as their customers. In short, it makes us far less likely to spend our hard-earned cash with them, however good we may have heard them to be.

By contrast, if we are presented with a flyer or brochure, or for that matter an email or website, which is well-presented, clearly written, nicely designed and, all in all, a pleasure to look at while telling us what we need to know, the chances are we will automatically feel well-disposed towards the company concerned, and far more likely to trust them with our money.

Do your business a favour – put a little effort into your marketing

So, it may be time to do your business a favour. By spending a little more time, care, love and attention – and probably a few pennies, though it need not cost much at all – on your presentation, you should dramatically improve your bottom line.

Large firms tend to budget for spending at least 15% of turnover on marketing (which may also include market research, advertising and other more costly activities) – but small ones will find that just 3-5% can make a real difference. It will not only help bring in new clients, and probably encourage existing ones to upsell or upgrade; it will also help create the image you want to build a healthy future for your company.

Jenni O’Connor can be contacted at

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