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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 my content-rich website is bringing in more business

Business development expert Ian Brodie swapped a traditional, corporate website for a content-rich site full of useful advice. His strategy paid off and he is reaping the rewards, as Sonja Jefferson of Valuable Content reveals

Buyer behaviour has changed. Today, most people's first port of call is the internet. But they are not looking for you, they're looking for answers to their business problems. So you'd better make sure that your website is packed full of valuable information that answers their questions and positions you as the trusted resource they seek.

Proving the power of good content is professional services business development expert, Ian Brodie. Ian's experience shows how powerful the "valuable content" strategy for your website can be.

Changing website strategy

Ian swapped a traditional, corporate website for his current content-rich site, with impressive results. "I decided to invest in a new website a couple of years ago," he explains. "Like many business owners I was incredibly frustrated with my existing site. I'd stumped up quite a bit of cash for what I thought was a good-looking website. I'd written compelling, client-focused copy describing the problems I had helped clients with and the benefits they'd get from working with me. I had testimonials, case studies, service descriptions - everything. Well, everything except clients."

Ian continues, "Almost no one came to my site (despite paying for some search engine optimisation work). Those that did visit didn't hang around for long. At the same time I was hugely enthusiastic about what an effective website could bring me. As a sole practitioner I knew that my time was at a premium. I was spending a lot of time working to win business by going out networking, pitching, presenting and meeting people. I knew that if I could just get my website working for me it could bring me in business."

Ian already had a separate blog - an outlet for him to share ideas on marketing and business development. He soon noticed that his scruffy-looking blog far outstripped his professional website in terms of traffic, and in terms of the connections it allowed him to make with potential clients and peers.

"Because my blog had useful articles on it, other websites and blogs had no hesitation linking to it and highlighting my articles to their readers. When I used social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn, I had somewhere to send people to read more useful information (rather than just promotional puffery about myself which never goes down well)."

Building relationships with visitors to the site

"Visitors stuck around far longer on my blog," he adds. "They made comments. Some of them even emailed me to ask questions. I emailed back and we began to build a relationship. This never happened with my corporate site. I started getting emails from people asking how I could help them in their business. Clients were coming to me!"

So Ian abandoned his professional, corporate website. He got the blog tidied up and put all the stuff about his clients and his services as sub-pages of the blog. He kept the focus of the new site firmly and squarely on delivering what we call "valuable content" to keep readers engaged and coming back for more - and to get other sites linking to him to raise his Google rankings.

Impressive results

"Thanks to this strategy, I now get the majority of my clients via my website - and as I'd hoped, I don't have to go out and trade my time anytime I need new clients," says Ian.

So what can we learn from Ian's experiences? It's clear that the most important factor in website success is the quality and depth of its content. Valuable content really does help you sell.

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