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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

How to use Instagram to promote your business

Instagram provides a fantastic way for businesses to promote their products and services by inspiring their customers with highly visual content. Alison Battisby of Avocado Social shares her essential checklist to help you get results on Instagram

  1. Register your free account on the Instagram app and edit your setting so your profile is a Business Account rather than a personal one.
  2. A Business Account will offer a Contact button so your customers can directly email, call or find your business location. All of this information is edited within the Settings section of the app and you decide how much is public.
  3. Research how other businesses in your industry are using Instagram by searching for keywords in the box at the top of Instagram. This will give you ideas as to what works and what doesn’t.
  4. Upload your logo into your profile, so your customers come to recognise it and can easily identify you.
  5. Before you do anything else, fill out your 150-word (max) biography. Explain who you are and what you do and share a bit of your business personality. Emojis are supported here!
  6. Remember to link to your website as this is the only place you can direct traffic back to your website - other than advertising.
  7. Start to follow relevant people in your niche, such as bloggers, publications and celebrities.
  8. Upload at least one photo a day to ensure that you are giving yourself enough opportunities to be seen in the newsfeed. Ensure that your imagery and video content is unique and inspiring and fits with the creative nature of Instagram.
  9. Try to establish a theme with your Instagram posts, as this will help to make your feed more consistent so it will stand out. The app Planoly is good for planning how your Instagram feed will look.
  10. Feature other people’s content on your newsfeed as this will position your business as a useful resource of curated content around your niche. This gives you an opportunity to build engagement too; just remember to tag the original author in the caption.
  11. If you aren’t using hashtags, your content is essentially private. Hashtags are the best way to drive new engagement and be seen in the Discover tab. Research hashtags by looking at what your niche is using, and by searching for related hashtags using the search functionality at the top of Instagram.
  12. Don’t just use the most popular hashtags - they are often saturated so it is harder to get your content noticed. The best approach is to select a mix of popular and more niche hashtags that are relevant to the content you are posting.
  13. Run a competition to encourage engagement on your posts (tag your friend below, comment below to enter etc) or encourage photo contributions around a theme and hashtag. This is a great way to build awareness for your product or services.
  14. Instagram offers free insights so you can see who is following you in terms of age and location, but there are also more advanced paid-for tools such as Iconosquare which tell you about hashtag usage and timing of your posts.

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