Tag: marketing

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent - New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme Ireland

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent - New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme Ireland

At the beginning of 2019, the unemployment rate was the lowest it has been in 10 years, at 5.3%. This is good news, but it also means that Irish SMEs are struggling to attract and retain top talent. There is no denying that a high salary has a reliably magnetic effect, but it is far from the only reason why people choose to work where they do and how long they stay with a company.

FDI companies are enjoying a large slice of the talent pie with 229,057 people currently employed in the sector, making competition fierce for smaller indigenous businesses. For Irish SMEs wanting to attract the right people with the right skills, it is vital to tap into these other draws and having a strong employer brand is a powerful enticement for job seekers.

What is an employer brand?

Having an employer brand is how you market your company to job seekers. Just like with the marketing of products and services, the promises you make to jobseekers should be fulfilled at all stages of the recruitment process and followed up on in the work environment. For example, if you market your company as “daring, innovative and fun” but then the job candidate quickly finds out that the office space is a cardboard cut out of every other office they’ve seen and their interviewer comes across as stern and a sticker for the rules, the expectations that brought them to your door in the first place have been shattered. This is why is it important that your employer brand is a clearly defined personality for your company which is holistically incorporated into every aspect of the organisation.

How do you create an employer brand?

Considering that the average person spends a third of their waking life at work and that people are more aware than ever before of the importance of a healthy work/life balance, where someone chooses to work is a serious consideration for them. Therefore, if you have the ability to offer benefits and perks that people with the skills you desire would appreciate, then it makes sense to construct an employer brand that acts as a platform for these advantages. But what does this look like in practice?

Case study: Lush

A great example of employer branding done right is the cosmetics retailer, Lush. When Lush holds their open call recruitment events, they truly are an event! Hopeful job seekers are known to queue for hours to be in with a chance of working as a sales assistant at Lush. But why? For anyone not in the know, Lush on the surface would appear to be your typical high-street retailer that pays their employees an average wage without commission. The hype all comes down to their employer branding, which they’ve perfected.

Lush’s employer brand is all about injecting positivity, fun and a heavy dose of quirkiness into life while also being steadfastly ethical and environmentally conscious. Lush defines itself as being a challenger of the status quo, a champion of individuality and relentlessly passionate about everything they do. Vibrant colours, bold images and a generous amount of sparkle dominate their image and they employ a complementary informal brand voice. Their typical customer identifies intimately with the brand and many fans, or “Lushies” as they call themselves, even help Lush spread the word about new products with their organic user-generated content. It makes sense that more often than not Lush’s employees are also their customers.

In keeping with their branding, you won’t hear humdrum questions such as “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” during a job interview, but rather they’ll ask “Which fictional character do you think is most like you and why?” Staff frequently have opportunities to exercise their creativity by submitting and implementing concept and design ideas for seasonal campaigns. When an employee’s birthday comes around, they will get to have the day off and employees are regularly invited to participate in Lush industry events. With passion being a key Lush trait, employees get to try new products for free and enjoy 50% off all products so that they are truly invested in what they are selling.

More than a job

What Lush has managed to do is create an employer brand that is also a lifestyle choice. People want to work there because they feel that Lush represents them in more ways than simply a job title. In this scenario, employees feel valued for who they are as individuals and not just for the skills they provide. When you show your employees that you value them, they become ambassadors of your brand and when that happens attracting and retaining staff is no longer a problem. The key to a successful employer brand is the crafting of a story that people want to be a part of and proving the truth of that story throughout the employee experience.

If colour and sparkle don’t feel like the right style brand for you, remember that Virgin, The Boring Company, Google and The Walt Disney Company all are examples of successful employers brands with very diverse company personalities and employee benefits. Your employer brand is only limited by your imagination!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

Richard Mc Manus Exhibition tricks and trips New Frontiers

Exhibiting your startup: a 25-step checklist for excellence

Richard Mc Manus Exhibition tricks and trips New Frontiers

Trade shows and exhibitions are an invaluable opportunity that’s often underused by early-stage startups. However, it’s a mistake to view them solely as a sales tactic. In this blog, Richard Mc Manus looks at other reasons to exhibit at shows and fairs, the lessons he has learnt from attending some 40 events with his startup, and gives us a 25-step checklist for exhibition excellence!

You must be mad!

Unless you are selling food for the hungry or hurley sticks at the Ploughing, you do not make money at exhibitions. Since graduating from the New Frontiers programme in 2015 my start-up, Cara Mara luxury seaweed baths, has participated in around 40 exhibition events. I hope that many business owners and managers, especially of new businesses, can learn from my experience.

Some of my fellow exhibitors have cried after the event because they did not get a single sale. Recently, I heard one high profile startup entrepreneur tell how he spent €10,000 on a single event, had negligible sales and managed to wipe out his cash reserves.

Why exhibit at trade fairs?

To build initial public awareness of Cara Mara – which sells a home seaweed bath product – we exhibited at a range of fairs. This included exhibitions tied in with sport, health, business, as well as summer shows. Yes, they did create a certain level of awareness, but they never generated high volume sales. Truthfully, it was a mistake to have even attended some of them. The lesson I took from this is that it is essential to ask yourself two questions when planning to attend an event:

  1. Will your target customer group(s) be at the exhibition?
  2. Will they be buying?

Here’s how we experienced the different events we exhibited at, and the level of interest a product such as ours could typically attract:

  • Sports events: participants are completely absorbed in their preparation and recovery (e.g. running, cycling, etc.) and then socialising with their friends afterwards.
  • Business seminars/exhibitions: attendees are mainly interested in the conference talks and then socialising and networking during the breaks. Exhibition stands are almost a distraction.
  • Summer shows: visitors are mainly interested in being entertained by animal demonstrations, live music stage shows, and a summer day out to meet friends old and new.

The best exhibitions are those which people attend because they have a specific need to address, and they intend to buy. In my case good examples included:

  • Taste of Monaghan, Taste of Cavan, etc. Yes, these provincial events include non-food products and services.
  • Wellfest. Attendees were specifically seeking ways to enjoy life and improve health.

Think awareness rather than sales

Most businesses, whether they are selling to business or the general public, will have specific exhibitions where their target customers will attend and hang out. It’s essential to research such events to make sure they are right for you.

What does the word ‘exhibit’ even mean?

“To publicly display, show, present, demonstrate, showcase.”

So unless you’re one of those food vendors or hurley stick sellers mentioned above, exhibitions are mainly for creating customer awareness! You’re making a connection in anticipation of future transactions. But remember that consumers are busy people and easily forget you, unless you are in front of them on a consistent, regular basis.

Exhibit with excellence – a checklist of 25 steps

This is my 25-step recipe for a successful exhibition strategy.

Research

  1. Check out the exhibition the year before you expect to attend – i.e. visitor profiles, traffic flow, etc.
  2. If that isn’t possible, check out the organiser’s website to see who exhibited last year. Phone those exhibitors and ask how they got on and what advice they would offer.
  3. Cost benefit – decide what your objectives are and write them down. Are the expected benefits worth the cost (stand costs, staff, travel, accommodation, meals, extras)?
  4. Grants – perhaps you could leverage funding to help with costs? Are there any business development/export grants you could apply for?

Dealing with organisers

  1. Try to get a discount on the cost of a stand. Explain that you are a startup, you are on the books of your local LEO or an Enterprise Ireland client, or perhaps that you are a first time exhibitor at this particular event and you’re not sure it is for you. Always seek a discount, most commercial organisers are flexible on price.
  2. Consider waiting to the last moment to get a discount price for late cancellations/organisers seeking to fill exhibition hall.
  3. Payment: delay to latest date possible and pay in instalments. I suffered a significant bad debt when an event was cancelled and the organiser went into liquidation.

Stand preparation

  1. Traffic flow: check out or anticipate the visitor flow in the exhibition hall. There is no point in taking the cheapest stand if it’s at the quietest part of the hall.
  2. Positioning: the best stand pitches are at corners (you gain exposure from two directions) and the end of aisles (visitors can directly see you as they approach). Ask for them.
  3. Be professional: your stand backdrop, exhibition table, and product display need to reflect quality and grab visitors’ attention. It needs to say “I’m interesting. Check me out.” There are many excellent display providers, but I particularly like focusonline.ie.

Exhibition preparation

  1. Checklist: prepare in advance to avoid any shortcomings
    a) Equipment, brochures, and leaflets for the stand
    b) Product for the stand
    c) Staffing
    d) Times: opening, closing, set up. Organise logistics to get there on time
    e) Insurance: make sure you have adequate public liability cover
  2. Social media: spread awareness and make a noise about the event in advance. If you tag the organisers, they will usually re-post your communications.
  3. Customer communications: if you are a B2B business, write to your existing customers and prospects inviting them to the exhibition/your stand. Provide them with free entrance tickets as appropriate.
  4. Dress code: depends on your industry/business/culture, wear suits, branded t-shirts, name tags, etc.

Showtime

  1. Fellow exhibitors: remember they may be potential customers! Talk to them and ask what exhibitions work well for them. They are a treasure of knowledge and experience.
  2. Be passionate. Enjoy yourself. Make friends.
  3. Pep in your step: always stand ready to engage with people. Sitting at the stand is a big No No! Get in shape in advance by getting sufficient sleep and enjoy a healthy energy diet.
  4. Engage: some people are naturally shy and may avoid your stand or walk by with eyes averted. You have to be active. Stand out in the aisle. Say hello. Draw people in with a leaflet or an engaging question. Most people love it when you give them time and needed information.
  5. Interesting product demo: this is always a winner (live or on video). Help customers to dream and think ‘Yes, this is for me!’.
  6. Special prices: visitors nowadays expect special reduced prices for exhibitions, fairs, etc. Don’t disappoint them. Make sure there is a price list on display.
  7. Eyes, ears, and mind wide open: observe what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working. Learn, change, and do better.
  8. Build an email list: visitors love to leave their name and email address if there is a prize on offer. It could be your own product or something attractive (e.g. tickets for an event or a weekend away).

Post-event review

  1. Follow up: with all new contacts and on all promises made – within a few days.
  2. Email list: if you collected a list, your first communication should be within a week. Its focus should be to thank, to educate, to entertain, and not a hard sell. At the end, you could perhaps extend the special exhibition prices for a limited period, as an exclusive offer.
  3. Learn: talk to your colleagues. Talk to yourself. Compare all the outcomes with the initial written objectives – level of engagement, size of email list, revenue, costs, insights, important new contacts. What worked for you? What didn’t? How can you improve the next event?

Best wishes for your future success!

About the author

Richard Mc Manus Cara Mara Seaweed baths New Frontiers alumnus

Richard Mc Manus

New Frontiers participant, Richard Mc Manus, is the founder of luxury seaweed bath brand Cara Mara. A veteran of the manufacturing and export industry, Richard is passionate about health and wellness, and has developed a seaweed product that can be enjoyed from the comfort and tranquillity of one’s own home… [Read Richard’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

If you don’t have a story you are just another commodity New Frontiers

If you don’t have a story, you are just another commodity

If you don’t have a story you are just another commodity New Frontiers

A single bead of sweat rolled down my forehead as I mustered up the courage to say the words. We had been coming to this coffee shop for years. We had argued over football scores, TV programmes and politics as we sipped our coffee and took in the world passing outside the large window. I was telling my best friend I was gay that day. Of course, he didn’t care and soon enough we were back arguing over football, TV and politics. Six years later in the same seats, he would tell me he was having his first baby. Same seat, same coffee, same place.

My local coffee shop doesn’t just sell coffee

My local coffee shop doesn’t just sell coffee. They sell a space to grow relationships, a space to escape the stresses of the office or home, a place to reflect or get some work done. Too many businesses don’t fully understand the need they are really satisfying for their customers, and so they often concentrate on the wrong parts of their offer. Customers are rarely motivated to go into a coffee shop because they are thirsty.

Understanding your customer’s story will help you better construct your business offer and make decisions that keep your customers coming back. Whether you are a small corner cafe or a global brand leader, one of your key priorities should be telling the stories of your business but more importantly, your customers.

Why does your business exist?

Ask yourself, why does your business exist? What motivated you to start the business? For me, it was a passion for stories about people. I had been working in media for almost 15 years, every day coming across stories of love, loss, endurance, sadness and triumph. I knew there was a value in those stories and I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for someone else.

I set out to build a platform that would harness and develop a global community of people who could tell stories – journalists, bloggers, community activists and videographers. StoryStock would become a platform where we could connect that community of storytellers with media but also with brands who needed to tell stories about themselves and their customers. We were creating one of the world’s first global storytelling platforms that would connect people who could tell stories with people who needed to tell stories!

StoryStock helps some of the largest brands in the world to bring those stories out. Here are two examples of how stories were used by our clients:

Dairymaster

One of our first customers was Agri tech global Irish company, Dairymaster. They build some of the most advanced farming technology in the world and have operations that stretch from Ireland to the US and into the Middle East. We helped them to start telling the stories of the farmers who use their technology. Soon enough it became clear that Dairymaster don’t just offer new technology that makes life on the farm easier; they offer farmers the opportunity to spend more time with their children, because new technology is doing the work they once did.

We told those real life stories of their farming customers – at home on the farm. That shows other farmers who may be considering investing in new technology that they can have more family time, a more profitable farm and an easier life by using the tech that Dairymaster are selling. By telling the stories of their customers, we helped Dairymaster realise why they existed and how to communicate this to potential customers!

Global Airlines

Global Airlines don’t just fly people from A to B. They bring people who love each other together. Young couples in long-term relationships, workers who want to get home to see their families. They allow people with ideas to share those ideas at conferences on the other side of the world. Those are the stories they must tell. Telling the stories of why people use your product or service is how you will show others just how valuable it really is and why they should be using it too!

Stories help you stand out

Advertising has changed, with adverts fighting for space in a crowded and noisy online market. Stories help you stand out. Storytelling isn’t just for global brands. If you are a small pharmacy, why not tell the stories of how the drugs you prescribe make a difference in people’s lives? Fish shop? – tell the stories of the fishermen who spend weeks at sea so that customers can sit down with a takeaway on a Sunday evening. Every business has a story, and every customer wants to tell a story.  The best brands are built on great stories! Start building today. Tell some stories or find someone who can tell them for you!

About the author

Francis Fitzgibbon New Frontiers participant StoryStockFrancis Fitzgibbon

Francis Fitzgibbon is a New Frontiers participant and the CEO and founder of StoryStock. His startup has developed a platform that connects content creators – journalists, videographers, bloggers, etc. – with brands, media organisations, PR companies and agencies… [Read Francis’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

becoming an expert in your field new frontiers advice

Startup PR: increasing awareness and becoming an expert

becoming an expert in your field new frontiers advice

For new businesses, raising brand awareness is the key to building a community of fans and driving sales. A good way to do this is to highlight the expertise of the founder or co-founders with public appearances and authoritative content. 

When I started Mummy Cooks, there was no such thing as a ‘weaning expert’ in Ireland. By virtue of being the first person to start talking about this topic, I became the weaning and feeding expert – initially for Eumom and then for MummyPages. I also became the weaning expert for the Pregnancy & Baby fair; talking at events in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

In order to promote my fledgling business, I started to work on my PR. I have a friend who helps me write up my press releases, and then I contact the various media contacts myself to see if they’re interested in the story. This personal touch goes a long way. I’ve also found it useful to reach out to mums in the media – I send my products to new mums and they almost always feature me in their magazine or paper.

Getting on television

I’ve also been able to get some appearances on TV, which has been incredibly helpful to the brand. My daughter and I appeared on a few slots on Ireland Am, and then on RTE’s Today. Often, openings like these are down to luck, and being in the right place at the right time. However, it’s also about creating these opportunities and putting yourself out there. In my case, the RTE appearance came about because I was producing online content for the RTE Food website. We were filming a video for this, which the Today show producer saw, and he asked if I would come to Cork to cook on the show.

Being on TV wasn’t something I had ever thought about, or in fact wanted to do, but when it can drive traffic to your website you soon lose the nerves! Becoming an expert in a particular area means that you have to be confident when speaking about the topic. Contact the media and let them know that you are prepared to write about your subject area, or go on TV. Don’t be shy!

Blogging and content partnerships

I started writing blog posts about weaning and feeding young children, and we also started writing recipes. I saw an opportunity to share our content with other online content sites, so we partnered with media providers as a way to grow our brand without a huge marketing spend. I used my network to get an introduction to the content editor of RTE, and because she could see that we were already producing great content, she gave us a weekly slot on their website. They get our content, and in exchange we get links back to the website. We have nurtured similar partnerships with Xposé Parenting, MyDealDoc, SuperValu, MummyPages and GloHealth. We also recently took part in the Tesco Back to School campaign – creating recipes and food hacks for parents.

Increasing awareness of our brand does not lead to instant sales, and it has possibly been a slower road for us than if we had invested in direct marketing. But our hard work is now paying off, as we’ve been able to see with our recent food flask product launch… mums who had previously purchased from us or connected through our recipes have been buying this new product because they trust the brand. Sales since January have been really strong and we are now planning to launch other colours.

Engaging social media content

Social media is another place where you can build your reputation, and once again it’s about producing good quality content that’s helpful and raises awareness of your product. Here too, brand image is important, so on social media we pay attention to our message, language and image. We keep the way we write content consistent across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each post is friendly and helpful and I always sign it myself. Because I’m a mum of two young children, customers know that I’ve experienced the same issues around weaning and food as they have, and that helps to build trust.

I get emails every day from other mums asking if I can help them. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, so it’s important to seek professional advice from a doctor or dietitian if the problem persists. However, there are tactics and improvements I can share with them that can help. Simple things, like asking someone else to feed the child so that they don’t pick up on mum’s stress, can have a huge impact. Sharing these insights with other mums is an important part of what our brand is about, and it’s a great way to build our community of loyal fans.

Our next step is creating videos to get our message out there and drive product sales. This has been a difficult step, mostly down to cost. We’ve been focusing on growing organically, and we don’t have a large marketing budget to call on. At first, we went for a budget option, but the videos weren’t really in line with our expectations. It’s crucial when you’re building brand reputation in this way that everything fits with the image you are creating, so I’m always thinking about the overall brand experience. We were recommended another video producer, and although this time the cost was higher, we’re really happy with the results. We’ve created a series of recipe videos that back up our core messaging about weaning and show how useful our products are. These will be great for brand awareness, and we can share them with our media partners.

Choose opportunities carefully

Becoming an expert and raising awareness is as much about what you don’t do as anything else. For instance, I was asked to become a brand ambassador for a company that had had some very bad press. While I would have been well paid for it, I knew that there wouldn’t have been any positives for the brand image I had spent a long time building, and luckily I declined. Listen to your gut and if it feels wrong, don’t do it!

Also, be careful not to associate yourself with too many brands. Make sure the companies you partner with are a good fit in terms of their ethos as well as their relevance to what you do. You should also consider whether they want to partner with you because they are thinking about moving into your space in the future – in these cases there’s no point you giving them a boost just so that they can take over your market share!

Obviously, some partnerships come with financial compensation, and some don’t… so when doing any free promotion for other brands, think about how you will be able to build on it for the benefit of your own brand. For instance, I’ve done talks at baby & toddler events, which I’m happy to do for free because I’m able to present my products to an interested audience, and the organisers also promote our business on social media.

It’s all a case of balance. Although I do events for free, it is important to make sure you are getting enough back – for instance, that the audience is large enough and you will get good PR from it. In the past, I wasn’t always as cautious. I agreed to do one event on the basis that there would be lots of people attending and I was likely to make plenty of sales. I interrupted a family holiday to travel to the event, only to find that just four people had turned up.

Becoming an expert in your field is about looking for, and being open to, opportunities to talk about your expert topic and share your experiences. You’ll need to work on your confidence and be prepared to put yourself out there, of course! And the other key element is to consider any channel, and balance any offers you get, to make sure the opportunity is of benefit to your brand.

About the author

Siobhan Berry MummyCooks New Frontiers alumnaSiobhan Berry

Siobhan is a New Frontiers alumna and the founder of Mummy Cooks. Her startup has developed a range of storage solutions to help with weaning, and provides practical and simple feeding advice and recipes for the parents of young children… [Read Siobhan’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

Growing your business the value of networking New Frontiers

Growing your business: the value of networking

Growing your business the value of networking New Frontiers

For me, the idea of networking conjures up images of sharp shooting business professionals bedecked with a ready smile and the catchy opener: So, what do you do? They ‘listen’ as you tell your story, nodding their head robotically; interjecting with the occasional Ah ha…, Very interesting… and I see… You, knowing full well that within 20 seconds they had made up their minds whether or not you were ‘of interest’ and if not were already scanning the room over your shoulder for their next target.

But good networking, effective networking, should never be like this. It’s about being in the right room, with the right people, at the right time. It’s about listening and being listened to, and of course finding new contacts that will help you and your business grow.

Boost your network, boost your net worth!

From the time I started my own journey on New Frontiers, we were constantly encouraged to grow our networks and share contacts with our fellow participants. This proactive and collaborative approach broke down many personal barriers I had to networking, and allowed me to critically analyse and recognise its potential value.

My favourite story was of the entrepreneur who, after a long, unsuccessful day of pitching to potential investors was feeling deflated and defeated as she boarded the train home. Wanting nothing more than to be left in peace, she initially ignored the chit chat advances from the passenger who sat opposite. However, not to appear rude, she entered into general conversation and it was not long before the discussion fell into the familiar territory of: So, what do you do? Telling her story and details of her own startup came easily in the relaxing ambience of the train carriage. By the time she had reached her destination, the entrepreneur had won over her fellow passenger – an investor – and landed a €200k windfall for her emerging business. The moral of the story… networking can happen anywhere, so always be pitch-ready!

OK, so this fairy-tale doesn’t happen to everyone; but it does happen. Which is why I want to share my essentials to help kick-start your networking habit!

Top networking tips

Get (old school) social

I soon realised that ‘liking’ someone or connecting via social media was not really enough to boost my business contacts. Don’t get me wrong, social media networking is excellent for creating a buzz around you and your brand. You can target your message to a particular audience, in a certain location, with a specific interest – and that’s great. However, quality beats quantity and there is nothing better than some good old fashioned ‘3D’ networking – going face-to-face.

Body language is key here. A good handshake, an open smile and being able to look someone in the eye can do more for your business than a solitary click on a keyboard.

How to find events

If I’m honest, as soon as I started looking for events I realised I could be attending one every day of the week. So, when it comes to events, be selective. Think hard about whether or not they suitable to your chosen field and if will they be attended by the kinds of people who can help you or who you can collaborate with.

The best ways to find quality events to attend are:

  1. Join business networks: Women Mean Business (WMB), Network Ireland, Business Network International (BNI), etc.
  2. Attend events organised by your Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
  3. Look up conferences relevant to your area
  4. Business media events: Sunday Business Post, Business Independent, etc.
  5. Breakfast Events: Google Breakfast Meetings, Image Magazine Breakfast Networks
  6. Business Organisations events: Enterprise Ireland, Small Firms Association (SFA), Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), etc.

How to prepare

Before you attend an event, do some research on those who are attending. Find out which companies will be represented and by whom. Many a time, I would loiter at the registration desk (looking for my name badge) to get the first names of those attending. It’s also handy if their job title is listed.

Be pitch perfect! I don’t mean a 15 minute spiel on who you are and what your company is all about. Have your business down to 30 seconds maximum! Just enough to cover a walk to the coffee table, or when you first sit down. Enough to trigger interest and to invite that all important response: Really? Tell me more…  It could go something like this:

Brainwave is an emerging technology that allows you to record your ideas while you are out and about and while you sleep (key phrase: emerging technology)

AgriKids is an award-winning farm safety educational platform for children (key phrase: award-winning)

Scruffy Wuffies is a mobile pet grooming parlour and we’ve just launched our first franchise (key phrase: franchise)

Having your ‘elevator pitch’ ready and primed can make a good networking event, great.

How to behave

If you have your pitch on standby and you have done your pre-event research all that is left to do is listen!

When you approach someone, it’s always nice to extend your hand or offer to get someone a coffee or tea. It’s open and friendly and offers some welcome distraction from the business talk! Then, over a cuppa, it’s always nice to ask the person something about themselves: Have you come far?.., Where are you based?.., There are some good speakers here today… If you launch straight into the business talk, you do yourself out of some very valuable small talk opportunities. People will not share if they feel they are been grilled or ‘interviewed’ from the get-go.

As the conversation progresses, or if the other person initiates it, then by all means it’s time to talk business. If the conversation has gone well and some synergies and opportunities have been unearthed, make sure you leave with their business card (always better you get theirs as well as the other way around).

Post event

If you made some good contacts and identified some real opportunities, make sure you follow up with an email or a phone call and by all means connect on social media.

If you listened well you may also have found some useful contacts for other people in your own network. Do pass on the details and share, this spirit of collaboration will always find its way back to you, that’s business karma!

The art of networking is definitely a habit worth forming! It’s not always easy, but nothing worth having ever is.

About the author

Alma Jordan AgriKids News frontiers alumnaAlma Jordan

Alma Jordan is a New Frontiers alumna and the founder of AgriKids, a farm safety educational platform for children. The award-winning company works to positively engage, educate and empower children to become Farm Safety Ambassadors…. [Read Alma’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

video content marketing startups New Frontiers

Online video: the future of content marketing

video content marketing startups New Frontiers

Video is undoubtedly the future of content marketing; we have all seen the rise and rise of video online. Currently, a third of all online activity is spent watching video. 

Video is a great way to attract new customers, set your business apart from the competition, announce new products or services, or as a recruitment and training aid. Video can also help to educate customers by demonstrating how to use your product or service.

The growth of video marketing

According to a recent survey on global internet traffic forecasts, conducted by Cisco Systems, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. Video on demand (VOD) traffic alone will have increased threefold at this point. Furthermore, video traffic will increase from 64% in 2014 to over 80% by 2019, with consumer video on demand traffic doubling by 2019.

Online video is now an intrinsic part of how people consume content. Any company intending to grow its brand online in the near future is, in effect, committing marketing suicide if it fails to integrate video into its marketing strategy. Video brings impressive ROI for both SMEs and larger organisations alike – over 50% of businesses are already using the medium, enjoying the benefits and reaping the rewards. 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future.

Video marketing is no longer a luxury that only big brands with big budgets can afford. It offers SMEs remarkable opportunities to compete with larger businesses for viewer attention. The average user spends 88% more time on a site that features video. Including video on a landing page can help to increase conversion by 80%, and combining video with full page ads can boost engagement by 22%.

Online video over television

Another recent study has shown that two thirds of large businesses are steadily moving budgets away from television in favour of online video. Due to the exponential growth in video technology (cheaper cameras and HD recording capabilities), we have seen something of a levelling effect, making it easier than ever for smaller businesses to create and produce their own videos.

Production costs have also fallen and technical proficiency is not the obstacle it once was. Editing software is now more affordable and easily available through subscription-based models or as standalone solutions, allowing companies to produce their own edits with higher degrees of professionalism.

Being brave and bold

Small businesses often shy away from video marketing because of:

  • Uncertainty about the kind of video that will engage their audience
  • Uncertainty about creating a capable script that will inform, engage and motivate their ideal customer
  • Being ill-equipped or inexperienced in creating video (not wanting to post poor quality footage that may be potentially damaging or unprofessional)
  • Not knowing how best to market the videos so they are seen by the widest possible audience.

Peerless reach

When it comes to potential reach, video is peerless. YouTube receives over one billion unique visitors every month, trailing just behind Facebook in terms of reach. By posting your video(s) to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog and more, you are guaranteed to reach an even wider audience. If you can engage viewers, they will share your video with others, they will spend longer on your website and more time interacting with your brand.

Video is essential to any social media campaign or SEO exercise. It is crucial for businesses both big and small to offer easy to digest content, otherwise they risk losing potential clients and consumers. Research shows that 7 in 10 people view brands more positively after watching engaging video content from them.

“If a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million.”

Forrester’s researchers

Target audience

If video is an appropriate means with which to deliver your message, you should always consider your intended audience and ensure the video is relevant to them. Make it easy for users to find and share the video and ensure you promote across multiple channels, including social media.

“62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand that published a poor quality video.”

Brightcove

Consider how the end video will be viewed; at least 10% of all video plays happen on mobiles and tablets, so don’t neglect mobile when producing your video. Build your campaign strategies and videos creatively, take full advantage of the unmatched capacity to combine sound, dialogue and vision to create something no other medium can offer.

Engage and create connections with your viewers and bring your stories to life to build identity and loyalty in your brand. It is essential to understand the power of storytelling and to think more like storytellers than marketers. Let video be the medium through which you tell the tale!

About the author

Ray-Mongey-New-FrontiersRay Mongey

Ray was a New Frontiers participant at DIT and is founder and Managing Director of Glue, a visual effects company. Glue specialises in creating videos that present services or products using a mix of 3D graphics and video footage and they have clients in the UK, Ireland and UAE…. [Read Ray’s profile]

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A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

Marketing: should your business bother with social media?

new frontiers social media strategy marketing business startups

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that social media marketing is becoming almost as important as, if not more important than, the traditional marketing tactics that most businesses are accustomed to. In today’s world, competition is fierce, so how do you get your voice heard and your brand noticed?

Yes, your business needs social media marketing!

It simply isn’t enough these days to have some physical collateral and a website for your business – your storefront must also extend to social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest. Why? Because that is where your potential clients are spending their time! In fact, over a quarter of the time spent online is passed on social media sites. If you’re not there too, there’s much less chance that people will find you.

If your business still doesn’t have a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter or Instagram account, it’s time to do something about it or risk being overtaken by the competition!

No, you don’t have to pay for it!

There is a common misconception among business owners that in order to get real results from social media marketing, they’ll have to spend big bucks. This simply isn’t true and I can personally vouch for this, with proof! I have grown the various social network profiles for the New Frontiers programme extensively over my twelve months working at Enterprise Ireland, using exclusively organic methods. In June 2015, our Twitter account following stood at around 350 followers. As of May 2016, our account has close to 1,900 followers. Similarly, our LinkedIn following has grown from over 500 to just over 1,200 in the same period of time. How did I do this, you ask? Two words – content and interaction.

In order to drive traffic to your page, your content needs to be appealing to a wide audience, different from the other content being shared from similar accounts, and consistent (but bear in mind we do not want to spam people’s timelines). If you’re going to take social media marketing seriously, you need to devote some time to planning and targeting your audience. It won’t work if you only go online once in a blue moon, throw out some tweets and then leave. You ideally want to post something at least once a day, but preferably a few times a day.

Some things to consider when planning your organic traffic strategy

What’s your target audience?

Browse the different social media platforms out there. Discover which ones suit your business – not all will be relevant. For example, we generally think of Facebook as a platform that suits B2C and LinkedIn for B2B. The right audience plus the right message equals maximum engagement and reach.

Time

Don’t have any? Well, make some! I cannot recommend enough setting aside some time every morning to find and create fresh, tasty content that will cause a bit of a stir with your followers and fans.

Scheduling

Any social media marketing expert will tell you that this is crucial. There are various tools out there now to help you with this, such as Hootsuite, Buffer and TweetDeck. Using these automatic scheduling tools means you’re using your time most effectively, allowing you to focus on other parts of your business. Spread your tweets out through the day, so as not to swamp your followers’ timelines.

What will make people interact?

The content you create and find on third party sites needs to be suited to your audience and of interest to them. The material that drives most interaction is usually controversial to your specific sector. Posting regular updates (without spamming) will increase your followers and fans without having to spend a penny.

Your competition

It’s important to keep an eye on what they’re doing. I don’t mean you should stalk their accounts and copy what they do, but often you can pick up some tips from them. What works for them? What doesn’t? Use these insights to improve your own social media marketing. You have to stay on top of your game and be competitive all the time! Sometimes you can look at what works in other sectors and try similar tactics yourself. Don’t be afraid to be bold and innovate!

Social media marketing doesn’t just increase follower count. The most important thing to come from it is increased brand awareness and recognition. Every opportunity you have to promote your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Using platforms like Google+, Facebook and Periscope is in fact a great way to attract new audiences that you would never have had if you had not taken part in the phenomenon of social media marketing. Your social networks are just new channels for your brand voice. It makes your business easier to identify and more accessible for new customers. At the same time, it makes you more familiar and recognisable for existing customers.

Sure, paid advertising is a fantastic resource and it is proven that it works. Often, businesses (especially B2C) will use both organic and pay-per-click advertising. However, if you’re not in a position to pay for advertising just yet, don’t panic. You can and will build an audience through creating outstanding content and making it interactive.

So, in summary: Yes, your business should absolutely be using social media marketing to increase brand awareness, build relationships and improve customer service – it’s inexpensive and anyone can learn to use social networks! Of all the marketing tactics out there, social media provides the best possible ROI. Give it a try and let us know how you get on!

About the author


PJ MealiffPatrick James Mealiff PJ New Frontiers social media

PJ is a Business & Management undergraduate on a work experience placement with Enterprise Ireland’s Technology, Infrastructure and Collaboration team, which oversees the New Frontiers Programme. PJ has a passion for digital marketing and entrepreneurship, two interests he has been able to combine to great effect when it comes to managing the New Frontiers social media profiles… [Read PJ’s profile]

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The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

Words to avoid when writing for your business

write-business-startup-new-frontiers

There are some terrible expressions in daily use in the business world. It seems to me that whoever is writing content for companies (generally an employee rather than a professional copywriter) looks at a few similar websites and then picks out what they think are the best expressions. But those sites probably didn’t use a copywriter either. And so the circle begins.

Now that you’ve set up your new business, you are probably in the process of creating your website and writing for Requests For Proposals (RFPs), documentation or brochures. Like a lot of things happening right now, this is something you probably haven’t done too much of before. Be careful not to use all those buzzwords you see around. They may sound great, but more often than not, they mean absolutely nothing.

The most important thing to remember when writing is to keep it simple. You know your industry inside out, but it’s possible that whoever is shopping for your product or service doesn’t. Avoid TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). If you must use them, provide an explanation after the first use. Don’t use industry jargon either. Use a language your audience will understand and remember that not all your clients are English language natives.

Expressions to avoid when writing copy for your business

“Is designed to”

This one is loved by software companies around the world. The problem is that “is designed to” doesn’t actually mean that the product will do whatever it’s supposed to do. Instead it implies that it’s supposed to do something, but in fact maybe it will or maybe it won’t.

SOLUTION: Use “will” instead.  Say “the product will…” or “the product does…”  This creates a much stronger and positive sentence.

“Leverage”

Unless you are talking about the exertion of force by means of a lever what you really mean is “use”.  This expression came across from the USA years ago and is now dotted all over Irish websites and brochures.

SOLUTION: Say what you really mean and use “use” instead.

“Going forward”

Well let’s face it, can you go backward when it comes to planning the future?

SOLUTION: Don’t use anything – just leave it out!

“Utilise” (or, even worse when not targeting the USA, “utilize”)

Why try to be fancy? “Utilise” isn’t simply a variation on “use”, it means to find a practical use for something.

SOLUTION: Again, what’s wrong with “use”?

Remember, more words and big words don’t mean better content. The fewer words you use, the easier it is for people to understand what you’re saying.

In April 2014, a question was posted on the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community about the most annoying buzzwords. The discussion went on for six months! As marketers, we know what expressions annoy us because we see them in use all the time. But, I can assure you, it’s not us using them!

BuzzwordHere are few of my favourite words to avoid, taken from that LinkedIn discussion:

  1. Thought leadership
  2. Cloud
  3. Synergy
  4. Scaleable
  5. Best in class
  6. Mission critical
  7. Ecosystem
  8. Low-hanging fruit
  9. Growth hacking

It’s easy to fall into the “posh tap trap” and try to be different and clever. But really, keeping things simple is the best thing to do, for you and your customers.

About the author

Aisling-Foley-communicating-businessAisling Foley

Aisling Foley is a marketing consultant and a mentor with Enterprise Ireland. With nearly three decades of marketing experience, Aisling now works mainly with startups and small- to medium-sized software companies… [Read Aisling’s profile]

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A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

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Storytelling in business: how to connect with your customers

storytelling-marketing-new-frontiers

Marketing is based on the notion that if people really understood what you do – what you are really good at – they would want to buy from you.

The trouble is that getting them to give up their personal time to try to understand you and what you’re good at. Most businesses make their prospects do far too much work in understanding them. They forget how busy, impatient and indifferent they can be.

Cutting through bland, clunky business jargon is often boring, usually underwhelming and at times exhausting. Nonetheless, your business solution or product is aimed at customers whose lives you can make much easier.

So how do prospects get to understand you before they have worked with you? How do they really connect with what you’re all about? Simple. With stories.

Humans are hard-wired for stories

70% of what we learn is through stories. Stories are how we make sense of the world and, crucially for business, it is what we remember. Inside our brains, we are hard-wired for stories, we have “story templates” ready and waiting to insert the information we receive.

Stories are memorable; they support the retention of the business information, as well as the retelling of it. At the end of a sales presentation, the stories told by the salesman might be the only information remembered and passed on. Good sales people will tell you that people buy on emotion and justify their purchase on logic. Stories are emotive and persuasive… without the hard sell.

What is storytelling in business?

Business communications using stories tend to be less bland and more emotive. They connect us, human to human, and in business they put a human face on information. Stories improve the overall comprehension of what exactly a business does and can simplify complex ideas. Think TV ads, good graphics, animated business explainer-videos, business owner interviews or a press story you would actually read. Think of the role of clever before and after photos by an architect or interior designer, think customer testimonials written as you would talk yourself, that speak to directly to you as someone with the same problems, think of engaging web content. They mostly have a storytelling element in common.

In business, you need to convey to potential customers not only what you are about, but also the “why”. This is the human story bit. What inspired you? Why do you care so much? What are your values in terms of how you conduct your business? Are there any customer or employee stories that back this up? How can you convey these points using a story? Instead of you listing a page full of bullet points that sound rehearsed and bland, what is the “everyday speak” customer testimonials that might make your points easy to understand and memorable?

Show how you are solving your customers’ problems

The About Us section on a website is one of the most visited and neglected pages.  You might want to consider how your business got started, your passion story, your values and ethos in doing business and what story might demonstrates this. 

“We see the world not as it is, but as how we are” – Anais Nin

Businesses make the mistake all the time of talking too much about their services or product features instead of their customer’s problem. In the stories a business tells, customers need to identify with the problem being solved.  They need to see themselves as the customer you describe, as the person who needs that exact problem to be solved. Use a case study to tell the story, or a Work We’ve Done section on your brochure or website.

I’m always trying to get clients to put more of who they are and who their customers are into their communications. It’s how people connect in the real world and it’s no different for how people connect with businesses. Prospects are looking for a natural fit.

You don’t need lots of stories. Just one about yourself and some about the customers you’ve served or the work you’ve done. Ideally, these should be told from the perspective of your customer, as they hold more sway.

Whatever stories you choose, make them inspiring. Share your story. Connect with your customer.  Build your business.

About the author

siodhna-mcgowan-new-frontiersSíodhna McGowan

Síodhna is a marketing consultant and a Phase 2 mentor with the New Frontiers Programme. With a focus on food, retailing and professional services sectors, she helps participants to create strategic marketing plans and engaging communications that sell… [Read Síodhna’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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