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BETA International – Make 2017 Your Best Event Yet
Jan
20

BETA International – Make 2017 Your Best Event Yet

BETA International serves as the UK’s flagship event for any business in the equine industry – whether launching a new product or marketing your existing business. For more than three decades, this exhibition has helped equestrian, country clothing retailers, outdoor and pet product manufacturers gain business traction. 

With the 2017 event rapidly approaching, now is the time to prepare. This pivotal event in the equine industry provides for a wealth of opportunities when it comes to networking, establishing new contacts and winning new clients. Yet hosting your own exhibition stand isn’t nearly enough – to truly make the most out of your investment (which could well have demanded a significant figure for an exhibition stand), you need some industry-insider marketing tips. Which is exactly what we present here.

Four essential ideas for attracting attendees to your stall

Make your stand interactive

BETA International is a hustling, bustling environment with thousands in attendance over a three-day period. There’s also more than two hundred fellow equine businesses each vying for the attention of footfall. Ensuring that your exhibition is somehow interactive can be key to attracting attendees over your threshold. Just how you do this will depend on your product – however consider how you could demo your items, and think about technology – could you have tablets that provide for product information, videos or customer testimonials?

Give away freebies

Everyone loves a freebie – it’s simply human nature in the age of consumerism to enjoy receiving a free lunch. If you have a product that could be suitable for gifting for free, then be sure to seriously consider this tactic. You do, however, need to consider how you’ll gain any contact details from those taking you up on your offer (this should be an investment, not a flat-out cost!).

Whether you choose to use this approach will depend upon your exact line of business – if you sell expensive horse riding equipment, this is obviously not such a commercially viable idea. In which case, why not choose to run a giveaway for one or two lucky winners whereby attendees leave their business cards in a bowl to be in with a chance of winning.

Another way in which you can tap into the free feel good factor is by having a few sweet treats or hot drinks available – when attendees stop for a moment you have a prime opportunity to have an informal chat about your business.

Stand out from the crowd with vivid graphic backdrops

Your exhibition background should be eye-catching – instantly grabbing attention and clearly defining your line of business. The graphics that form the backdrop to your stand should be clearly visible from a good few feet away – and if you haven’t already arranged an order from your printers, now is the time (printers can generally demand a week or more lead time for large print orders).

If you can’t tempt them in – be sure that they can quickly grab and go

With all the tips in the world, you’ll still be unable to ensure every attendee makes it onto your exhibition floor. So, make it easy for passing footfall to grab vital company info by putting together a brochure or goodie bag that they can take as they pass by.

Two top tips for exceptional networking

Be tactful and non-aggressive

Both attendees and fellow exhibitors will have plenty of aggressive sales pitches forwarded their way. Rather than approaching those around your stall, or those on other stalls, by launching full steam ahead into your 30 second elevator pitch, re-think your approach. Ask them whether they’re enjoying the show and what their line of business is – then grab their business card and follow up with the pitch later. That said, such conversations tend to naturally lead to speaking of your own business (and you’ll be more memorable for having taken a softer approach).

Review the exhibitor list and make a note of those you should visit

Don’t overlook the hundreds of fellow exhibitors in attendance – these businesses are often the most influential, largest and successful (after all, their company deems the investment in an exhibition valuable). Do your homework, find out about their products, services and company background – then follow the approach we’ve just spoken of.

By following these simple but effective tips for making the most of BETA International, you can ensure that your investment pays dividends – with new contacts made, a potential customer list created and a few firm fans now won over by having experienced your products first hand.

PressPoint-Logo-FINAL-for-web+email

If you need expert help to ensure that you make the most out of the event, PressPoint Countryside & Equestrian is here to help.

 Web: www.presspoint.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1953 851513 or email:equestrian@presspoint.co.uk


A View From PressPoint - 2017 Predictions Anyone?
Jan
11

A View From PressPoint – 2017 Predictions Anyone?

Who raised a glass to Auld Lang Syne to welcome in 2016, and foresaw the seismic events that would come to pass during the year?

The early polls for the forthcoming European Referendum showed a healthy lead for ‘Remain’.

In the U.S., the competition to become the Republican Party candidate for the Presidential election was hotting up, and although Donald Trump gained momentum following November’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, surely he couldn’t become President? Well, not according to the polls.

Who would have thought we would be entering 2017 without Terry Wogan, David Bowie and Victoria Wood.

And who, hand on heart, believed Leicester City would be crowned Premier League champions or that a 58-year-old Nick Skelton would bring home an individual Gold Medal for Team GB on Big Star. Certainly not the bookies.

Further down the equestrian ladder, Dandy Flame made a mockery of the form book, when he won over five furlongs at Wolverhampton at staggering odds of 200/1. For context, that’s the same odds as Simon Cowell or Wayne Rooney to be the next Prime Minister.

So in a world where the pollsters and bookmakers can get big calls so wrong, so often; how can the humble retailer spot trends and stay ahead of the competition?

The temptation, in such a topsy-turvy world, would be to avoid risk wherever you can sense it. Stick to the big-name brands, steer clear of new product launches until you can see the demand is there, postpone capital expenditure and put off investment in existing or new staff until calmer waters are reached.

With the political and economic ramifications of Brexit and the implications for the wider world of the Presidency of Mr Trump still cloaked in uncertainty, it’s a brave business which takes risks in such a climate.

However, we know that you retailers are made of stern stuff, and we all know that with great risk comes great reward. So here are some pointers for 2017, which might offer some help:

  1. Mobile internet usage is already higher than desktop usage and will only continue to grow.

At the very least you need to ensure that your website is mobile responsive, which ensures that your website views correctly on smartphones and tablets. If it’s not mobile responsive, make this your number one priority for 2017. When you’ve done the hardest work in getting someone to view your website, it would be criminal for them to leave your site because your website is too difficult to read, or the images are not showing correctly on their tablet or mobile.

  1. Data is king

Many large businesses talk grandly about the power of their data, their big data, their massive data. Small businesses have data too, and your data is bigger than their data, and it’s better data because it’s your data. It’s information about your customers, what they’ve bought, how often and when they’ve bought it. You’ll probably have data from potential customers too: information from shows and events you’ve been to, where people have filled in forms with their email addresses and you’ve put them to one side, to sort out later. Trouble is, there’s no later with data. Capture it now and use it now, before it’s all out of date, then use a free service like MailChimp to email your existing and potential customers with regular offers and updates.

  1. Social Media will always be there

A few years ago, everyone was buzzing about the commercial possibilities of the free marketing opportunities available via social media. Here’s the thing: it was never free and never will be. It either costs you your time for you to write and manage your output, or as more and more companies are doing; you pay someone to do it for you. Nevertheless, social media still represents a mightily important opportunity for you to connect directly with your audience. Make 2017 your year to fully exploit this. If you’re nervous about using social media, feel that you lack the necessary skills, or just don’t have the time to devote to do it properly, engage with a company which does understand it and pay them to write and manage your social media content for you.

  1. Customer Service

This will never go out of fashion or drop in popularity, no matter who is in the White House or whether we’ve got the trade deal we wanted with the EU. And it’s the single most important weapon small businesses can use to gain loyalty and build sales. Never be afraid to ask your customers for their thoughts on your levels of service, even the ‘difficult’ ones – and having asked for it – act on it! On–line, Google’s search algorithms are starting to account of feedback when they present search results, so investigate if your website can have a feedback plug–in or module easily added to it?

And as for 2017 predictions, if you still fancy a risk – you could do worse than having a flutter on Aidan O’Brien’s Capri for the Derby in June, you can still get 20/1 if you’re quick. Or remember it’s 200/1 for Simon Cowell to be the next Prime Minister. After all the shocks in 2016, it might not be such a long shot after all.

Happy New Year from all at PressPoint.

Whatever your place is in the equine world, we’d hedge our bets to say that you’ve likely heard of just how effective the results can be when using Google AdWords.

Tel: 01953 851513 | Email: mail@presspoint.co.uk


The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign
Dec
20

The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign

Whatever your place is in the equine world, we’d hedge our bets to say that you’ve likely heard of just how effective the results can be when using Google AdWords.

You’ve perhaps been drawn by the promise of its affordability, that it could drive your potential customers to the phone, or to your website, and that, given the niche market that is equine, you could target the right people at the right time.

Some months into your AdWords campaign however, and things may feel that little bit different. If you’ve discovered AdWords to be expensive, disappointing in terms of traffic, calls or leads, or simply far too confusing to be useful, then be safe in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Here we walk you, step by step, through the process of improving your AdWords campaign.

Before we begin…

Before we take a walk through, it’s important to ensure that your website has Google Analytics installed. This will be critical when it comes to the last step (and as you may digest this guide in bite size chunks, we thought that it would be useful to mention now, rather than later).

The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign

Step One: Make sure your keyword research is on point

Even if you can’t afford, or at least don’t see the value, in entrusting an agency to handle your AdWords campaign, then it’s almost always important to have a professional undertake keyword research on your behalf. Why? Because keywords are misleadingly complex.

Common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Choosing the most popular (and expensive) keywords
  • Not appreciating the very specific terms your target market may be using
  • Choosing keywords that are out of context (that are technically correct, but aren’t the natural language used when your ideal target visitor searches Google)

The mistakes above are just the beginning. The truth is that choosing AdWords keywords is a complex task – our best tip in this instance is to undertake as must reading-up as you can to ensure that you’re targeting the right terms (and therefore, the right people).

 Step Two: Tackle any apparent issues

Here are some common problems you may notice (and how to fix them):

Low CTR – People aren’t clicking on your ads.

This may be a problem with the copy of the ad, or it may be that the ad is being served up to the wrong people.

Fix: Re-work your advert’s copy, and add negative keywords to put a halt to showing up in irrelevant searches.

Low Impressions – Your adverts are running infrequently

This issue can be related to either low search volume (e.g. not many people are searching for the terms that you’re targeting) or it may be related to your quality score being too low.

Fix: First try raising your advert bid amount, then focus on making your adverts more relevant to work on your quality score.

High Cost/Conversion – The cost of your campaign is too high compared to the conversions you’re securing

This issue is typically related to your bids being too high, and/or the visitors who are arriving are, by and large, failing to convert.

Fix: First, lower your bids to analyse what impact it may have on your campaign’s effectiveness versus results. Then attempt to create new, improved ads that better communicate your USP.

Step Three: Organise your keywords

Don’t be tempted to add your keywords to AdWords in just any old way. Take some time to group similar key terms into campaigns (this will make later analysis a whole lot easier). For example, for an equine wholesaler, the terms Equine Wholesale, Equine Wholesaler and Equine Wholesale businesses are natural terms to group together.

Step Four: Analyse Ad Performance

Ads define what the searcher will see, and also define where a visitor will go once an advert is clicked on. Ultimately your goal should be to create an advert that converts – and so keeping on top of those that don’t is paramount (running an advert for a month provides enough time to understand whether the ad is effective, after which you should choose to continue or pause each advert).

Here are the core metrics you should be considering when weighing up the effectiveness of your adverts:

  • Cost/Conversion – This shows how much each clicked advert is costing you (averaged out)
  • Conversions – This demonstrates how many conversions in total the advert has achieved
  • Cost – The total money spent on the ad
  • CTR – This shows you how often the advert has been clicked on
  • Conversion Rate – This shows how many conversions, on average, the adverts achieved
  • Impressions – How many times, in total, the advert has been shown
Step Five: Analyse Campaign Performance

Now for the important part – analysing the effectiveness of your campaign. This stage is critical, as without it you won’t ever move forward and progress (and drive down the amount that you spend). When looking at your campaigns, you should aim to eradicate those that are demonstrating the least effectiveness when it comes to conversions. To do this, simply rank your campaign table by cost/conversion (the lower, the better). For your best campaigns, you need to ensure that your daily budgets are more than the average daily cost. Continue tweaking each campaign with this step until your daily total budget is spread out, whilst your least effective campaigns are deleted.

Step Six: Tap into Google Analytics and Google AdWords

Google Analytics is a programme that provides impressive insight into what, exactly, your visitors are doing on your website once there. This programme is useful not only for those who use AdWords, but also for anyone who even owns a website.

This section describes the basics of Google Analytics, and doesn’t go into just how Google Analytics provides for advanced tools when it comes to AdWords (which rightly commands an entire eBook to even cover the subject briefly).

If you’re not accustomed to Google Analytics, then there are plenty of great videos online and you can access a training centre from Google. With some basic working knowledge, you can then identify and assess the following Google Analytics metrics (which are critical to ensuring that your AdWords conversions don’t go wasted).

Acquisition overview

This shows you how your visitors are being acquired, breaking it down into the following groups:

  • Search Traffic: Visitors who organically found your website through non-paid Google Results
  • Referral Traffic: Visitors who have landed on your website after following a link from another website
  • Direct Traffic: Visitors who have typed your website address directly
  • Campaigns: Visitors who have clicked through from an AdWords Ad

Keeping an eye on this breakdown can ensure that AdWords continues to be useful in your marketing strategy. If the number of visitors from AdWords is being overwhelmed by other groups, then you should take a step back and ask why.

The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign

Discover Bad Landing Pages

On the main dashboard of Google Analytics will be a list of your pages, along with various metrics. You can sort this list by clicking on any column. To discover the pages that are letting you down, sort this list by ‘Bounce Rate’ (the number of visitors who exit your website after viewing a single page) and then ‘Exit Rate’ (the percentage of visitors who land on a page and then exit). Any such pages should demand your attention, however those that are involved in your AdWords campaigns should be a clear warning sign that you may be spending money on advertising, and ultimately directing the visitor to a page that is, for whatever reason, ineffective. The question as to what may be wrong with these pages is a complex one – however you, yourself, can undertake a little investigative work by looking at your top landing pages, which we describe next.

The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign

Top landing pages

You can view your top landing pages by following Behaviour -> Site Content -> Landing Pages. Those at the top are the most viewed, and paying attention to the pages that boast the smallest bounce and exit rates, and the longest average visit duration, are the ones that you should learn from.

Couple this with then following Audience -> Users Flow. This visual overview shows you which pages are working well in terms of leading visitors onwards to other pages. Simply hover over each green section to view how many visitors move onwards, and how many exit. Those with the highest percentages in either camp should be studied meticulously for clues as to why they are either working well, or not working at all.

The beginner’s guide to improving your AdWords campaign

Need even more guidance?

The Google AdWords’ website is incredibly helpful in terms of the information and guidance that it provides. If you’re struggling with a set issue, the chances are that you’ll find your answer there.

Whatever your place is in the equine world, we’d hedge our bets to say that you’ve likely heard of just how effective the results can be when using Google AdWords.

Or, if you need expert help to ensure that you truly make effective use of Google AdWords, then we’re here for you. We can provide guidance that is completely free from pressure and obligation, or we can take your campaign goals, and run with them.

Tel: 01953 851513 | Email: mail@presspoint.co.uk


Dec
05

A View From Presspoint – So The Sales Begin

A View From Presspoint - So The Sales Begin

The traditional January or Summer Sales were a way of clearing old stock before restocking shelves and warehouses with the new season’s products.

However, it seems retailers are now using any and every opportunity to offer their customers discounted products, in the hope of boosting sales temporarily and moving mass volumes of stock.

In the equestrian market, more and more retailers are feeling the pressure imposed by trends in the wider retail world, leading to many following Black Friday, Cyber Monday as well as January Sales. While it is ultimately the retailer’s choice whether or not to participate, there is almost an expectation from customers that discounts will be available. This may even damage sales in the run up to one of these retails events. Who is going to be purchasing anything on the day before Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Sales, or the absence of them, are a great test of customer loyalty. While it is harder to shop around equestrian shops physically (many of which are few and far between in parts of the country), the ease provided by online shopping outlets means customers can easily find the same product at a number of different price points. This leads to people discounting their brand in order to be able to compete with one another, and ultimately devaluing their brand.

Sales only works if you get the volume. Cutting your profit margins and putting more work into achieving a higher number of discounted sales (rather then a small number at full price) is quite frankly, unsustainable for most smaller businesses. While you may want to wow customers with huge savings and prices that can’t be beaten, this must be done appropriately for each individual business. Consider what was paid, how many products are predicted to sell and how large a price drop you can sensibly offer. These considerations come hand in hand with more pressing matters – what will happen in the long run if you don’t manage the predicted sales and will the business be able to recuperate any losses incurred.

While it may seem ‘the thing to do’, do all these discounting opportunities throughout the year actually benefit a business? Rather than steady and sustained profit making, is it not just causing margins to fluctuate?

This brings us onto the topic of discounts. When used effectively, discounts can boost the footfall of buyers tremendously, but on the other hand, they can actually destroy price integrity. Offer a product in a Sale and people think they’ve found a bargain, however offer the same product with a general discount, the buyer may question the quality and believe it to be old stock or inferior in some way.

Discounts may ultimately damage your customer loyalty too. Having paid a set price for an item, then to find it discounted for no apparent reason, the customer may infer that they had been overpaying previously – not an effective way to maintain client relationships.

Customers might mock the likes of DFS, for always having a sale on. However, it is those self-same customers, who will vote with their feet when the chance comes along to buy a product cheaper, or will leap at the chance to inform you that it’s 99p cheaper at someone else’s store.

In the end, the answer to some of these modern shopping phenomenon’s might just be good old fashioned customer service. And yes you can offer excellent on-line customer service – take a look at that retail paragon John Lewis. If you offer fantastic customer service, you might just find that customers don’t begrudge that extra few pounds come next Christmas.

Who’d be a retailer? Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


branding for rural businesses
Aug
22

Dirty Menus and branding for rural businesses

Does this ring any bells?… You pick up a menu, but you don’t get as far as looking at the enticing meal options as the first thing you notice is that the menu is stained with traces of dried food from previous diners.

The image that you form and the emotions that you feel are exactly the same when you come into contact with brands, and sometimes it’s just as negative too! Has anyone got anything good to say about a train company?

But the best brands have a purpose and they have a personality, they breed loyalty and they have value. Think about Barbour, think about Land Rover, think about John Deere, and then think about the premium price they can charge because of the properties which are invested in those brands.

But don’t ever think that this is unattainable or just for the big boys.

An effective and attractive brand is useful in so many ways for rural businesses in the UK, one of PressPoint’s clients is using the brand we created as a signpost to its quality, and to successfully sell their products into the regional arm of a major multiple retailer. In effect, his brand has opened the door to a whole new revenue stream. The retailer really bought into the brand and into the product, and the results are now on its shelves. It’s stories like these which emphasise the need for rural businesses to take their branding much more seriously.

When it comes to thinking about your brand, start at the very beginning. What drove you, or the founders of the business, to start the business? Of course time moves on and businesses change and adapt all the time, but the reasons behind the formation of the business are often at the root of what a business should stand for today.

Our client Allen & Page was founded as a limited company in 1936 but had been producing and selling feeds for a number of years prior to that. Their commitment to only using the highest quality ingredients in the feed they produce, to ensure healthy and happy animals, is as strong today as it has ever been. 

Animal nutrition has changed immeasurably since Allen & Page started manufacturing its feed and the company has kept on innovating to stay ahead of the competition, but each time they have developed or improved a product they have endeavoured to keep it as natural and wholesome as it can be.

Their feed products today contain no GM ingredients, no animal by-products and are manufactured in a drug-free mill. Whilst other feed companies have fallen by the wayside in terms of the composition of their feed, Allen & Page has gained and maintained its accreditation from the major food production and quality control organisations for their feeds, including the Soil Association, the Vegetarian Society and ISO.

This highly ethical stance underpins everything they do – from the way they do business, to their team of animal nutritionists who are meeting people every day and giving people truly unbiased advice on how and what to feed their animals. 

So when we create anything for Allen & Page; an advertising campaign, a product launch, a website or even a humble leaflet we understand that whatever we do create, must be true to Allen & Page’s core principles and crucially, convey to the audience that Allen & Page are still true to its own principles.

We like to think that if the founding fathers of Allen & Page could see their business today, they would very proud of the brand which has been created from the ethos they instilled all those years ago.

Whether you’re looking at your brand for the first time or looking to bring it up-to-date, don’t get too caught up in the marketing speak we agencies use as shorthand for common sense marketing principles. In future blogs we’ll attempt to demistify the jargon which surrounds branding for rural businesses and give you some hints and tips to help you understand how you can create a successful rural brand.