Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The beauty of basic business principles

This week I had the pleasure of hosting the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce “be better online” conference. Around 100 delegates from businesses across Norfolk and from numerous market segments descended to the Forum. All with the aim of learning some new tips and techniques that would help them improve what they were doing online and give them what all businesses want: an edge over their competitors.

As well as being an honour to host these events, I too sat with the rest of the delegates writing notes and picking up ideas that I could bring back to Archant towers and implement. I was not unduly surprised that from the varied speakers talking about such subjects as content marketing, search, social and email marketing there emerged some common but essential principles.

Too often companies undertake activities, especially online, without any goals or KPIs to check against. “We do social because we ought to” is not a reason. Have a proper plan with targets and goals and measure yourself against them and don’t be afraid to change if you don’t hit them.

Make sure you understand what your customers are doing on your own sites. For example it could be that your audience arrive on your site not on the homepage but a different landing page but unless you check your analytics data you cannot use that knowledge to your advantage. While you are doing that you should also make a point of understanding what your competitors are doing and see if you can do it better or differently!

Use content in its different forms to show people how great you are, don’t tell them. Use your own product and market experience to set yourself apart from your competitors. Finally a theme across all the day was my old favourite that applies to everything: test, learn and refine.

These simple rules may seem like common sense but are often forgotten by businesses. The value of a conference is not always in what is said but the chance to remove you from the rush of modern working and remind yourself that basic principles apply just as much to the digital world as to the offline world and arguably more so.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant

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