now browsing by author
A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the value of personal connections. I love the social world, the ability to connect and build relationships online has been a powerful resource for my business. As a writer it is so easy for me to hide away behind my pen and paper and remain in the safety and comfort of the office. Trusting relationships can be established through many different ways, including online, but I think like many of us, I had lost sight of actually connecting in person.
When organising my trip to New York with other entrepreneurs for an event with our business mentor a small group of us decided to share an airbnb. Honestly, my first reaction when this was suggested was to say no. I love my privacy and personal space, but I knew if I want to get the most of this experience I needed to throw myself into it with heart and soul. Facing my fear, I agreed to share and arrived at the Manhattan apartment to meet 5 strangers from different continents.
Facing our fears is something we have to do a lot in business, it’s what challenges us, makes us stronger and also helps us succeed. Those 5 strangers, over our brief time together, have now become great friends and advisers. We connected not only on a personal level but we shared a passion for business that infused our creativity for our own businesses. Our mentor Todd Herman, likes to describe us as ‘weird’, and it’s a word we embrace. That weekend we were with like minded people who understood our workaholic nature, our desire to be challenged, and our thirst for knowledge.
But returning home it got me thinking, what if I hadn’t faced my fear? What if I have crept into my safe bubble and got myself a hotel room on my own, would my experience have been the same?
The simple answer is no!
Meeting people in person puts a whole new dimension on a relationship, it makes it stronger and more meaningful.
Get out there
Just as I did, go and face your fear. Get up from you comfort zone and experience something new and exciting. You don’t have to take a trip to another country, just push yourself to do something different. Why not have a tweet-up for your social media following and take your online relationships to the next level.
I often find doing a training programme, whether online or off-line is also a great place to build a relationship with people. You can learn together, get frustrated together and succeed together. Don’t fall into the trap doing the same training as your colleagues as it will be easy to just communicate with those that you know. Remember everyone is a stranger to each other at the beginning, you may start that way, but you won’t be strangers by the time you finish.
There are thousands of networking opportunities across the globe. I know how frightening it can be to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone. You worry about babbling or you hide in the corner. See every networking group as an opportunity, the people you meet may not be a direct client, but you never know who they have in the circle of connections.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson, my social connections are amazing but if I take those connections to the next level who knows where it can lead!
As many of you may know, I have been an avid attender of Grand Designs Live, in particular the annual event in Birmingham. Check out some of my highlights in Experience your Own Grand Designs Live.
We are honoured to be able to share a fantastic ticket offer with you!
The inspiration starts here…with a visit to Grand Designs Live
NEC Birmingham 8th – 11th October
Grand Designs Live, the UKs top contemporary home show, returns to NEC Birmingham from 8th – 11th October for its 10th anniversary show. Presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, and based on the hugely popular Channel 4 series, the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to see all the latest trends for the home.
With areas dedicated to interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, build and gardens, there’s something for every room in your home. And with over 500 exhibitors, you can shop from a great selection of brands with 100’s of items not available on the high street.
With all this and much more, make sure you plan a GRAND day out this October!
To celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary we have a great £10 ticket offer. Simply log on to www.granddesignslive.com, follow the link to book your tickets and enter the code CITRUS10 to claim. Or call the ticket hotline on 0844 854 1348.
*T&C’s – Transaction fee of £1.70 applies per order. Tickets must be booked in advance. Offer ends 07/10/2015. Offer valid on standard admission tickets only. Saving based on the door rate.
You have a blog page on your website, but do you use it? Everyday I come across business websites whose blog page has no recent content, or the content consists of a paragraph – or even worse it is empty.
Are you damaging your brand?
No one said maintaining a blog was easy, especially when you don’t have the skills and resources. But having no blog or a poor one is damaging your brand. It’s like someone giving you a book you really want to read, but all the pages are empty. You are left confused and disappointed; not a good first impression for any business.
Why don’t you blog?
The main reasons why companies say they don’t blog:
- No time
- I’m no good at writing
- Business is boring, we have nothing to write about
- No marketing budget
Firstly, no matter what industry you are in you have a story to tell. People and businesses are fascinating, that’s why I love what I do; everyday I get to tell stories. But these stories enable my clients to build emotional connections with their customers.
Having a blog is about building trusting relationships with your readers. They want to get to know you and your business in ways a website can’t convey.
So if you can’t do it yourself, what are the options?
A guest post is when a person or a business writes content specifically for your blog. It’s a great way of ensuring you have regular content, but who should you ask? When looking for a guest blogger ideally you want:
- Someone with knowledge of your industry
- Who can provide relevant content for your clients
- They are experienced in writing guest posts, and
- They have a writing style that compliments your business
We fall into this category, in essence we write in the voice of your business. Why use a service such as ours?
- Detailed industry knowledge
- Consistent and relevant content
- Saves you time to concentrate on your business
- Experienced at turning your thoughts into words to tell your story
- Creatively able to gain the trust of your clients through emotional connections
- Provide client centric content
Not in our words
While you are continuing to think of the reasons why you should not outsource your blog, your competitors are racing ahead. Yes outsourcing is a cost, so is it worth it? I’ll let some of our clients answer that:
“Andrea of Citrus Content has been a great find and a real asset to my business. Andrea’s passion for interior design is in direct alignment with my client base, making her ideally suited to help deliver my message. I found social media marketing to be a terrifying proposition and needed considerable help and advice in order to navigate my way forward. Andrea understands the nuances of the social media landscape and has a natural ability in marketing and promotion. She has helped to raise the profile of my business and exposed my brand to a far wider audience. I’m very grateful for the work she has done for Your Space Living.”
Jo Buckerfield, Your Space Living
“Highly recommended. Andrea and her services have been the best support for my business. I have always struggled to put my thoughts into words, Andrea has been able to capture our style and tone perfectly, I no longer have to worry as I trust her to produce content relevant to my business. In addition, I have found Andrea to be extremely helpful, supportive and friendly, going out of her way to help us.”
Amalia Protheroe, Homelink Lettings
What’s holding you back?
Click here to book your strategy call and let us show you how we can add value to your business today.
So, it’s time for a new website. You’re last one is starting to creak a little in its old age and you want to have something shiny and new for your clients to enjoy. You find a developer and you say “Hey, let’s make something amazing!” Eager to oblige, your developer gets out their notepad and says “Great! What sort of thing are you looking for?” This is where you realise you don’t have a fully fleshed out idea.
Not knowing exactly what you want is fine, it’s what designers are here to help with. However, there’s a lot to consider when outside of the standard “looks nice” remit. While that’s an important factor, there’s a lot to consider before any design work begins.
What do you want the sites focus to be?
It sounds painfully obvious, but it’s pretty commonly over-looked. Let’s take an estate agent for example, there’s a lot that can be done to change the focus as soon as a visitor lands on your home page. Want more sales? Making the property search a prominent feature will make that clear. Maybe you have no problem selling but you need more stock? Making your valuations a focal point will drive more people there.
Making sure you know what you want to get from your website will help your designer achieve that for you and know exactly where to place focus. This will save you from having a fantastic website that doesn’t do the job you want it to.
It’s important to know exactly what pages you want to go into your website. Do you want a page dedicated to the business and how things began? Do you want something a little more personal like a “meet the team” page? Putting pen to paper and making a full list of every page you want to be included is important. It’ll help you in knowing exactly what content needs to be provided and will make it easier to cut anything unnecessary.
It’s important that every page on your website has a function, whether that be a blog that provides engaging content and helps SEO or a testimonial page that shows new clients how well you perform. You’ve got the perfect site map, not when there’s nothing left to add but when there’s nothing you can take away.
As well as the website being easy to navigate, the text on it should be too. Patience is something that we don’t have a lot of in this day and age. We want everything now and that extends to information about your company. It’s important that no matter how much content you have, it’s easily digestible. This can be achieved in many different ways:
- Sub headings breaking up large blocks of text (like this article)
- Bullet point lists (such as these)
- Cutting out any unnecessary information (like the points in the brackets above)
There’s a lot more to it than these simple points, but they’ll get you on the right track to writing content that people actually want to read.
Provide your brand guidelines
It’s all well and good asking a developer to design you a website, but without predefined brand guidelines it can be hard to get the tone right. While any developer worth their salt will talk over the design with you before-hand, brand guidelines will ensure that your website enforces the same brand ideology as the rest of your business.
It’s important that your brand look its best, so in addition to your guidelines make sure you have high-res versions of your logo and any other brand images ready to go. If you don’t have the high-res version a quick chat with your designer should sort that out.
Have great imagery
A picture says a thousand words. The average adult in England reads at a rate of about 300 words per minute, which means it’ll take 3 minutes and 20 seconds to read a thousand words. When a user lands on a web page they normally make their mind up on if their hanging around in 8 seconds! That’s enough time to read 40 words. If you can’t get imagery for every page make a real effort for the home page, it’s the page the page that needs to grab a user’s attention so make it count!
Moving imagery is even better so don’t be afraid to get fancy and put some video in there!
To make sure your website is always up-to-date you’ll need your property management software. There’s loads to chose from out there but chances are you already have one set up. All you’ll need to do is provide access to your developers and they’ll get everything running automatically, no painstakingly uploading properties over and over.
The way we consume media has changed. Current statistics show that just over 80% of us have smart phones in our pockets and that we use them as our primary means of browsing the web. That means that if your website isn’t compatible you’re missing out on a HUGE chunk of the market.
With the surface of responsive technology making your services available to users on the move is easier than ever. However, one of the things you need to be aware of is whether or not your designer will include responsive design as standard. Many designers will charge you extra for this so it’s important to be aware of exactly what you are getting and that you’ll be ready for any platform.
It’s always good to go into any new project with an idea of how much you’d like to spend and what you can realistically achieve for the price. The more complicated you want your website to be, the more it will cost. Be sure to talk to your developer about your budget and they’ll always be happy to tell you what they can and cannot build for your requirements.
Getting a new website takes a lot more thought than waking up and just deciding you want one. Sure, you could do that, there’s hundreds of template services out there and some of them are even free! As with anything though, you get what you pay for. If you want to strongly represent your brand in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, there’s a lot to think about!
Has this article left you feeling stuck? Or maybe just unsure about what you should take into consideration? Chat to us at Estate Apps and we’ll do what we can to get you heading in the right direction.
It is essential when we start writing for an estate agency that we understand not only the company but also their clients. Your content needs to have your voice whilst speaking directly to your past, present and potential clients. It can often be a challenge to find innovative ideas for customer centric content, but we have been given a sneaky peak into a content creation haven.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Rightmove seminar, where the Rightmove:Hub was introduced. The Hub is a wealth of information on your market and business that will aid you to be more targeted with your marketing as well as being an amazing resource of content ideas for your blog, website, newsletters and more.
The hub is divided into 4 sections:
|Webinars||Rightmove have a continuous series of live webinars each of which lasts 30 minutes. Full of advice and best practice from Rightmove and key partners, they are well worth a look.|
|Events||A full list of seminars, workshops and trade events. As we found, the seminars provide an invaluable insight into homeowners.
Workshops are a new edition, and provide you with a more classroom style of training; there are currently two workshops to choose from; digital marketing and back to basics.Events – Rightmove exhibit at a number of key tradeshows throughout the year, find out where they will be next!
|Marketing||Here you can:·
|Mystery Shopping||Find the truth about how your agency responds and handles your clients. The results will enable you to produce strategies that meet the needs of your clients.|
Understanding what motivates homeowners, discovering insights and stats into the local area and your results from mystery shopping will provide you with a wealth of powerful content to drive customer engagement. Launching on 11 May, we highly recommend that you make the Hub part of your content regime.
Want a sneaky peak too? We can exclusively give you pre-launch access now to Rightmove:Hub
Yesterday I was privileged to attend a Rightmove seminar in South Wales, where on a couple of occasions when the words ‘leaflet drop’ were mentioned. This made me twitch a little, why? Every day we all receive a wonderful selection of ‘junk’ mail through our doors some of which could include one of your leaflets. Now I am a little sad as I actually go through my junk mail to pick out estate agent leaflets as I want to research what you are doing. But many of these leaflets are lost inside the numerous take-out menus that seem to decorate my door mat when I arrive home. Unlike me, many people will be throwing this pile of unwanted mail in their recycling bin so are your leaflets going the same way?
I ask you, are leaflet drops working for you?
When is the last time you actually questioned the number of leads you received from this essentially costly form marketing?
What is the solution? You need to create awareness of your brand and your agency services. You want to ensure that you are in the forefront of people’s minds when they are looking to sell, so is there another way to ‘leaflet drop’ that will have a greater success rate?
The typical estate agent leaflets are a maximum of A5 with pure advertising copy. I have even had post cards, house shaped and even scraps of paper (yes not the best first impression!). But is it the size or the copy that is not making you stand out in the junk mail crowd? Dare I say possibly both! Nowadays no one wants to be sold to, and isn’t that what a leaflet drop traditionally is, selling?
So what would make your potential clients take note of what you deliver and even keep hold of it? We work with one of our clients on a monthly newsletter that has had a real impact on his business. This is a 4 page A4 quality ‘leaflet’ that is filled with tips, advice, seasonal information and industry news. What’s more the newsletter has a focus on their local community, making it something that their past, present, potential clients and the community at large look forward to reading. This community edge gives the reader the sense that they are not just based in the community but also actually part of it. This newsletter is an investment in their business but the results speak for themselves.
Every piece of material you create for your business must serve a purpose and not just because its something that is done in the industry. Look outside estate agency and property for ideas and inspiration as you need to make a lasting first impression. Well who knew a meerkat could have such a dramatic impact on a price comparison site?
If you would like ideas on how your marketing material could evade the curse of junk mail, contact us today to see how we can help your business.
Just before Christmas a parcel arrived from Occa-Home, inside was a beautiful dish – the LSA Serve Tall Comport.
The box alone told me this was a quality item but was the actual product just as good the images? Upon opening I wasn’t disappointed. The Tall Comport is part of the serve collection, Each piece has been individually handmade by skilled artisans. The glass feels thick and strong providing not only a stylish piece but also a very functional one.
So what to create to decorate this delicious bowl for Christmas, I took inspiration from the box and decided to create a trifle. Off to the internet I went, well as we all know Google knows everything, and searched for a trifle recipe where the image looked similar to that on the box. Although I love having a go at baking when I get time, I must confess I have never made a trifle before, but how hard could it be?
Little did I know I must have picked one of the hardest recipes, no packet ingredients here, everything homemade as I discovered. I looked at my bowl in anticipation, would my final creation do it justice or turn something so elegant into a sloppy mess – the pressure! My recipe started by creating the jelly from a mixture of berries, as I stirred the fruit the smell and the colours dancing around the pan was enchanting.
The first batch of custard I realised was far too runny, my mistake I followed the recipe so back to the drawing board and decided to follow the rule of ‘ignore the recipe’ and success the second batch was perfect.
It was time to start to putting the layers together. Nervously I placed each layer into the Tall Comport, praying that each layer would hold fast and not start to mix with the layer below. As the glass started to be filled, the colours of the trifle popped through the bowl enhancing its beauty.
Finally it was time to unveil the finished product.
I looked in pride as the trifle looked as delicious as the bowl. My family and friends descended into the kitchen and before I could move it from this place there was already a spoon in as people were desperate to taste the delights before them.
And so back to the LSA Serve Tall Comport, yes it’s great to look at but my concern was would it be durable? The answer here is yes and to put it simply, I love it!
The LSA Serve Tall Comport is available from Occa-Home for only £38.00
Someone once said ‘words are cheap’, but I completely disagree. Words are powerful they can make someone laugh, cry and stir emotions we never knew existed.
Remember the last time you read a book that completely enthralled you as though taking you to another place. You were invested in the characters, there was a relationship that evolved as the book developed.
So why is it different when it comes to business?
I recently read a couple of major estate agents ‘new and improved’ brochures. The design was beautiful, the images were gorgeous, it really was a wonderful first impression. But when I started to read the content I felt uninspired. I wanted to feel a connection with the company, I wanted to understand their ethos, their passion and what their services could offer me as a client. Sadly I walked away disappointed as though I had been given a wonderful gift that was exquisitely wrapped, that just breathed luxury. You start to open with in-trepidation, wondering what wonders await you, only to be greeted by an empty box.
I have loved following the journey of my friend, Liz Ackerley, as she has started sharing some of her sketches on Facebook. Now this is something you would never catch me doing, why? because I can’t draw, doodle yes! I do a mean doodle a flower and square box – wow I’m talented! My point is not everyone can draw and not everyone can write.
Like drawing, writing is a skill.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been putting together the content for my brochure (which should be available soon). Even as a content writer I found this a difficult process. It is hard when you are immersed within something to be able to turn your thoughts into words. All my clients are experts in their field, they are award winners, are highly respected and extremely sort after, but one thing they have in common is admitting when they need help in an area of their business. Even though they are the best at what they do, they know that they are unable to express it creatively, passionately and expertly into words. They know by investing in someone to turn their thoughts into valuable content, they have made a valuable investment in their business.
Every piece of content you deliver, whether its your website, brochure or blog post it is a reflection of your company. Does your content reflect who you really are? Is it engaging your clients? And more importantly is it engaging potential clients?
My Top 5 Reasons why you should Invest in Content
- It can have a real impact on your customer loyalty. Customers are far more likely to remain loyal to a company that they feel they have a relationship with.
- You become the expert, ahead of your competition. To be seen as an expert you need valuable content that people want to share. The more sharing you have, the more you are seen as a person of influence in the field and the more people will want to listen, thus you become the expert. This sets you ahead of your competition.
- Customer Engagement. Content has the potential to engage your customers at every step of process.
- Your Image. How do you want your client audience to perceive you? The words you choose will create an immediate opinion in the minds of your clients.
- Because it works! There is a direct correlation from valuable content to increased client engagement and in turn into sales.
Are you making the right first impression with your content?