Tips to market your small business during the coronavirus crisis

Digital marketing during the coronavirus lockdown

We know this is a really odd time for all businesses no matter what sector you are in. It is now more important than ever to continue to market your business. Just because you may be in lockdown yourself doesn’t mean you necessarily have to stop working. It’s a great opportunity to do the things that you normally don’t have time for, including planning and executing some sensible marketing activities. So, here are some tips on how to market your small business during the coronavirus crisis. We hope you find them helpful.

Many small business owners look at marketing as a cost, not an investment. The most common excuses are “I don’t have the time to do things myself” or “I have no idea where to start” or “I am not a technical person”.

But the biggest excuse is not one that is forthcoming “I can’t afford to market my business.” Which normally means “I don’t see the worth in it”.

We hope you can take something from the helpful hints & tips we are going to publish during this time, as there are a whole bunch of ways to market your business for little or no cost.

So here we go:

Do you have a website or blog?

It’s a bit of an urban myth that you have to employ or hire a professional web design company to showcase your business online. This isn’t always the case.

If you are on a tight budget there are lots of web design platforms to choose from that offer templated packages like Wix or WordPress for example.

Now, you will need to purchase the domain name separately from a provider such as Go Daddy and these can vary in cost depending on the popularity of that domain name but often the cost can start from a few pounds for for an initial two-year registration.

Even if your business website has been around for a while it’s likely it hasn’t been updated for some time. So, now’s the perfect time to write this blogs you’ve been meaning to do or you might have a new product or service on offer that your customer base is not aware of. Let them know! Remember, you can write lots of blogs now and schedule them to go live one by one over a longer period of time. More on that below.

Testimonials and reviews

Sites such as Google+ and Yelp make it really easy for people to rate your products or services and it’s free! But asking a valued customer to help you by giving a glowing review or written testimony is priceless.

You never know. you may be shocked to hear what they really think of your business, and you can share their positive comments on your website, social media platforms and newsletters. There is nothing more powerful than having a client sing your praises. Check out the some of the testimonials on our own client case studies. From Romilly Wilde or local business Quinns.

It’s time to become more active on your social media platforms

If you haven’t used social media before you are missing out on vital tools to promote your business. If nothing else, it’s likely that staff, your family and your friends will share the content you post. Which then has a chance of reaching an even wider audience amongst their networks and so on. It could even be a chance for your products to go viral and gain more sales.

Hundreds of millions of people use social media sites on a daily basis, and the chances are that you use them too for personal reasons.

You may have seen social media platforms pushing you pricey marketing campaigns and tools, but you don’t need to use them to start promoting your business. Most of the usual platforms are still free, FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest for example are all free to use platforms and you don’t always need to spend to make use of the opportunities they provide.

If you place your business profile on these platforms you need to post regularly with informative and interesting content and engage with people that reply, like and share this information. This helps build trust so that people will feel more comfortable in sharing what you publish.

You may not make sales or gain more leads directly, but it is a great brand awareness and PR platform, the only investment is your time.

Blogging

You may not be writing a regular blog of your own containing advice, information and thoughts on your business sector. However, it’s still a good idea to follow other industry leaders that are doing so. Sharing their hints & tips is a great way to build trust from your own customer base within your sector. It helps demonstrate that you know what the best practices are, what advice you endorse by sharing it and even that you yourself are an expert in your field.

Make sure you credit your sources though! Preferably add a comment to their Blog if you like what they’re saying and decide to share it. It’s really important though to not just put a comment on someone else’s blog with a link to your own website. Try and add value to the community or the conversation by writing some sensible thoughts or views. If people like what you have said they are more likely to visit your website and find out more about your business.

Be more active within online communities

Do some research to see what online communities there are which may be relevant to your business. There are plenty out there which are either business or industry based.

From forums to social media groups and more, these communities can provide you with many great opportunities to promote your business.

When interacting with others on these sites and communities, it is important that you contribute useful and helpful information and not promote your business too much…

So along with relevant dialogues you can post a link to your website on the forums and say with which business you are associated. This will ultimately help drive traffic to your site and grow your network and establish yourself as a friendly person with some expertise or even as an expert in your field.

Once this trust has been built you will become more recognised and this should help when people come to you for advice.

Collaboration – working partnerships

Do you have friends or colleagues in a similar or related industry to yours? They may have already built a larger online community and connections than you have, so you could ask them if you can write a blog post to go on their website.

You need to be mindful when writing this post for them that it is not too sales-y or heavily promoting your business. You will need to focus on writing useful information, helpful hints & tips. You need this to be engaging and ensure you reply when asked a question or a when comment is made. Please & thank you go a long way.

Be choosy about which sites you ask to blog on, make sure they are worthy and add value to your own business.

Don’t forget to add your link back to your website at the end of the article.

Your email signature

You need to ensure that your website’s URL is in the signature block on every email you send out. It will help people become familiar with who you are. And they are likely to be more inclined to check you out.

PR  

There are many websites that allow you to submit news pieces at no cost. So now is the time to utilise them as they are looking out for feel good news. Journalists are searching for content online, as we are all in a lockdown situation, so share your stories. Are you helping a charity, have you volunteered, are you helping elderly neighbours? It doesn’t have to be all business based, you are the business in this case. Any published pieces should will then have your contact or website details attached. Which means you will be reaching a much wider audience than you would normally on your own.

Creating an email mailing list

Building an email list is vital for your marketing. You will need a sign up form on your website so you can gather this information. Don’t forget to have a tick box to say they are are agreeing that you send them further information. So you are authorised to do so. Please don’t just add all of your business cards you’ve collected over the years and make this into a list, as these people have not consented for their information to be used in this way. You will run foul of GDPR if you do this.

Having a mailing list can be very effective as the people on it are clearly interested in your products or services as they have agreed to accept this information.  Be mindful not to spam this list every five minutes as this will just make them unsubscribe, you are telling not selling. 

Mailchimp is an excellent platform for this type of marketing. It guides you through the whole process, manages the lists, gives you templates to use and data tracking on which email addresses are opening and reading your newsletters.

Photo & video

It generally accepted that video and photo content is better received than just text alone. It’s often certainly more captivating.

Sites such as Instagram and YouTube are amongst the most popular photo and video content platforms.

It’s super easy to set up and account and once that’s done you can upload your photos and videos and start to interact with your audience.

These formats are very visual ways of letting your audience understand what it is that you offer as well as being usable for education purposes. Or maybe you just want a platform to show people what it is like in your industry. It’s all possible.

The current smart phones are a low-cost way of creating short form visual content. Their camera and video apps are able to capture HD images with ease. On top of this there are loads of free and low cost editing apps that allow you to get even more creative with the content you capture. All of the videos that accompany this articles were shot on a standard iPhone and edited using a free iOS app called Videoshop. We have more videos on our own YouTube channel. You can do all this yourself easily and when you feel the need to step into longer content or for advertising purposes, you can call on an agency such as ours.

Make sure you have your information on internet directories

There are literally loads of reputable website and business directories available, you just need to make sure you have your business listed on those relevant to you. Google My Business, Yahoo, TripAdvisor or Yelp should be your first ports of call.

Offers, deals or giveaways

People love free stuff. If you can offer a giveaway or a good deal either on your website or your social feeds this is a great way to gain more interest in your products or services. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, often something small does the trick.

You could consider offering a percentage off or free delivery or a coupon code they can use on checkout. People love to share things like this.

Well, there you go. Some simple, low cost or even free ways to market your business during this coronavirus crisis. If you need any more help in the meantime, please email me at [email protected].

Web design and build offer

Bronze

Great for start ups

£99/per month
Responsive Website
Bespoke Site Design
Initial SEO Set Up
Blog
Landing Pages
Google Analytics
High Speed Hosting
Unlimited Phone & Email Support
Monthly Performance Checks
Up to 6 updates per year
Monthly SEO Work
Private Server

Gold

Great for bigger companies

£399/per month
Responsive Website
Bespoke Site Design
Initial SEO Set Up
Blog
Landing Pages
Google Analytics
High Speed Hosting
Unlimited Face to Face Support
Monthly Performance Checks
Unlimited Updates
Monthly SEO Work
Private Server

Web Design, Build & SEO Packages

If you’re a start up business or even if you’ve been trading for a few years, it’s critical that you have a well designed website. Great web design is key.

Your website is often the first thing that a potential customer reads about you. Your website allows them to research your business.  Also, it helps you explain why they should buy from you and not from one of your many competitors. Without a great website, you’re relying on word of mouth or your sales people on the ground and those tools can only reach so many people.

As it’s often the first contact a potential customer has with you, it’s critical that your web design conveys the right professional image, the appropriate messages and allows these potential customers to easily find the information they need.

We understand that a well designed website is often a large outlay for any business. Especially small and medium sized enterprises. Cash flow is critical to any company but can be more so for smaller ones. 

We can help. Not only can we design and build a great web site for you, with smart SEO, we even enable you to pay for it over a longer period of time. Helping you to ease cash flow!

 

How much does it cost?

We’re offering a range of web design and development packages between £99 and £399 per month. All will give you a professional site, with solid SEO at launch. Whilst also spreading your investment over a longer period. The higher prices include more ongoing support, especially in large site updates and SEO.

We have teamed up with Guardian Angel PC Support to bring you these offers for web design, web development, SEO, hosting and support. What’s more, depending on the package you choose, we’ll also supply logo design, business card design and discounts on future design work.

We initially put these packages together for start up businesses. As well as those that have been trading up to three years. But we’ve found they’re also working well for more established companies.

The table above should give you a clear understanding of what you get for your money.

Some of our web clients

General terms

Minimum Contract Term 18 Months. We require three months in advance when we start the design and development work. You’ll need to sign up to a direct debit plan to pay for the remaining monthly amounts.

For clarity, this means you pay 3+15 monthly payments. At the end of the minimum contract term you will have the option to extend the full contract or continue site hosting. That ongoing site hosting will be at a lower rate than you’ve been paying for this design and build package. If you do not wish to take up either hosting or a renewed package, your site and hosting will terminate on the final day of your contract. If you wish to continue your hosting subscription only, your access to other services that were previously discounted will cease and standard-rate fees will apply. Once your contract has been terminated a small administration fee will be chargeable if you require your assets to be collected/downloaded and sent to you for ongoing use.

Standard copyright laws apply. ‘Bespoke Site Design’ will be tailored towards the agreed instalment budget and client’s needs. If additional services are required from either An.X or Guardian Angel and fall outside of the plan, these services will be quoted separately.

An.X full Terms hereGuardian Angel full Terms here.

7 step guide to great logo design

Where’s the focus in your logo?

 

Here’s a short checklist on how to make yours better.

At An.X we have over two decades of experience in logo design and we’re often tasked with creating brands, or logos, for clients. So it’s a subject matter we spend a lot of time considering. It’s easy to design a logo with little thought and there are a lot of businesses out there offering lower and lower fees to do so. In fact there’s a US-based portal where you can have a logo designed for as little as $5. However, the quality of these designs matches the cost. There’s no easy route to a great logo and you get what you pay for. It’s by some degree more difficult to design a logo that will stand the test of time, help provide distinction for your brand and be the memorable icon you want it to be.

Your logo should be part of the story that your brand tells and so, there’s a whole host of questions that any competent branding agency should be asking you when you brief them to design or refresh the logo. But that’s another blog for another day. In the meantime, here’s a quick list of questions we constantly ask ourselves when working on logo design. This particular list* succinctly encapsulates the process we’ve been using for 20 years:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it relevant
  3. Design for ever
  4. Aim for distinction
  5. Make it memorable
  6. Work small
  7. Stay focussed

Many of these are self-explanatory but I’ll expand on a few. Relevancy is important for many reasons not least that there’s little point in designing a humourous logo for a funeral director. Every visual identity must stand the test of time so you and your agency should really avoid incorporating design styles that are trend led. Instead aiming for a design that will still be relevant, possibly with some small tweaks, a decade from now.

Being memorable is somewhat a function of being distinct. Often, a consumer will only have a moment to see your logo, perhaps as they pass by an advert in the street or scan through a Twitter feed. So, the design needs to work in that moment. Its shape may be the only element that the consumer sees. Does it communicate what you do? Focus is part of this question too. It’s better for a logo to do one thing well rather than trying to incorporate lots of ‘distinctive’ features. Finally, your logo needs to work at all sizes. We’re fully into the digital age now and logos are used across a huge range of traditional and digital media, often at very small sizes. Think Twitter or Facebook icon.

Take a look at your own logo(s) and ask these questions. Does it pass the test? If not, why not Contact Us to see how we can help you.

* The list is borrowed from a fantastic book on brand design by David Airey – Logo Design Love. Available here at Amazon

We would love your feedback on our blogs and we’re always open to suggestions for other topics that we may not have covered already. 

Branding – Skincare

Branding Skincare

Romilly Wilde is a luxury skincare and perfume brand conceived by the wonderful Susie Willis who set out to create an efficient, modern, natural skincare range and accompanying perfumes.

Client
Wilde Beauty
Services
Branding, Strategy, Packaging Design
Website
Click to visit

We were originally tasked with developing a brand strategy for the range, including helping to form the brand name. This led into further work on the logo design, the packaging design and overall visual approach.

We dived in at the deep end researching a plethora of natural skincare brands, developing competitor maps and tone of voice analysis. This three month research and report period ended with a well rounded brand strategy, enabling Susie and her team to move on to creating the primary (container) packaging design and secondary (outer) packaging design with us. This vibrant design is the visual representation of all the positioning work we did.

We’ve helped with a significant part of getting this brand to market. From the brand identity and tone of voice, to packaging design and general consultancy. The brand has now been featured in Vogue, Stella, The Times Magazine, ES Magazine and more as well as being ranged in Harrods. 

Testimonials

The boys at An.X are so much more than a design agency. They really understand business, brands, customers and behaviour. I have worked with many creative and branding agencies and their attention to detail is world class. Together they have a modern application and adaptability that suits all genres, with an old school approach to working partnerships. I can not recommend more highly and always look forward to a meeting with the team. Good coffee too!

Susie Willis
Founder

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Website Design – Quinns

Website Design & Branding

Quinns are a well established mechanical and electrical engineering contractors based north of Salisbury. They were established over 15 years ago and have built a strong reputation, especially with their MOD clients. They asked us to design a new website and redesign their brand.

Client
Quinns Ltd.
Services
Website Design, Branding, Graphic Design
Website
Click to visit

Quinns had an existing web presence in the form of a web page provided by Yell and a basic brand identity when we first started working with them. They needed their brand design to be rebuilt and for their web presence to be completely updated. They required a strong and high impact identity to form the basis of all print and digital media to better reflect their status in the mechanical and electrical contracting industry and their work with the Ministry of Defence. 

As with many businesses, their clients were referring to them by the short form of their company name, simply ‘Quinns’. So this was to form the basics for their new brand identity. They manage a fleet of vehicles which their engineers use to visit clients so the brand would need to work above all on their vans and have a fast and strong impact on viewers. Bold confident colours were chosen with a simple logo mark utilising the ‘Q’ of their name.

A new website quickly followed with a sitemap comparable to their closest competitors using professional SEO principles to help their visibility with specific search terms via Google.

We’re continuing to manage their site, tweaking the SEO on a regular basis. Along with updating company stationery and business cards for their team.

Testimonials

An. X has done great work for our business. We previously had no online presence at all and we felt it was time to move our business into the 21st century. With their help, we now have a great website that we are really proud of. We have a stylish new logo that we have put on everything we could think of! We have even started to utilise our Facebook page better by using it to recruit new staff and keep our customers informed of what’s going on in our business. An.X has been an invaluable resource for us during our rebranding, giving us so much help with website content and using social media. Can’t thank them enough.

Rosie Bartley
Office Manager

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Branding – Medical Technology

Branding - Medical Technology

Medisieve came to us during the start up phase of their business developing a groundbreaking drug-free malaria treatment. Invented by Dr George Frodsham as part of his PhD research at UCL, it involves a magnetic sieve that removes malaria infected blood cells directly from the patient.

Client
Medisieve
Services
Branding, Stationery, Presentation Tools
Website
Click to visit

This design brief involved the development of a short form brand strategy, logo design, business card, PowerPoint template and business stationery, which would help Medisieve continue to attract backing to further develop the technology.

We carried out a rapid on boarding with the client in London, spending a day getting up to speed with the business, the technology, the various audience segments and potential alternative treatments.

This enabled us to create a striking visual identity that encapsulated the process and the business’ position in the marketplace. Once we’d locked down the logo, colour themes and fonts we moved on to applying the style to the various presentation tools that Medisieve needed.

A range of materials were designed, many of which were converted into Microsoft Office suite formats in order for George and his team to use them on a day to day basis at low cost.

When developing new visual identities like this, it’s critical to consider their usage in various media. Clarity at small scale is critical, especially for social media.

Testimonials

We used An.X to rebrand MediSieve, including producing a new logo, graphics, marketing materials and stationery for the company. We were really pleased with both the process and outputs. Jon and his team were a pleasure to work with, both responsive and imaginative. The ‘post-sales customer service’ has also been excellent as they’ve helped us to ensure that we make the most out of their work. Highly recommended!

Dr. George Frodsham
Owner

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Branding A Veterans’ Service

Branding A Veterans' Service

Entrain Space is a new model in veterans’ resettlement services. This first of a kind model combines an enterprise-based training program together with housing under one roof. It was created by social developer Our Enterprise who asked us to create the brand identity and oversee the marketing activity.

Client
Our Enterprise
Services
Branding, Website, Marketing
Website
Click to visit

When social developer Our Enterprise asked us to help create a brand for their veterans’ training and resettlement program we jumped at the chance. The program offers service-leavers and veterans the personalised support they need to kick-start the next chapter in their life and maximise their chances of a good transition from the services, whilst giving UK companies and communities the platform to access and benefit from this exceptionally hardworking and focused talent pool.

We initiated primary research followed by a series of workshops and interviews with key individuals and partner organisations. This allowed us to delve deep into the brand’s purpose and mission and Entrain Space was born.

This brand work had a number of deliverables including a full brand manual, marketing strategy, website and graphic design work on various pieces of marketing collateral. We’re also consulting on interior design, café fixtures and fittings, murals, building signage and lighting.

The first Entrain Space in Wilton, Salisbury was opened by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, in October 2019 and received a visit from Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly thereafter. It has garnered strong support from within the MOD and branches of the military service. We continue to work on this exciting project.

Work with us and we'll help you achieve your business goals

Video Game Marketing

Video Games Marketing

Sega required a key visual for a new launch, Aliens Colonial Marines, which could be used for both the main packaging and also as the primary graphic for the campaign. In addition, they asked for an interesting and relevant special edition pack that would sit around a resin figure of a Colonial Marine battling an Alien.

Client
Sega UK
Services
Graphic Design, Packaging Design

This was a challenging project as it involved the creation of hero artwork for one of the most iconic entertainment brands in the World. It was an open brief with the understanding that there would be multiple levels of approval from various stakeholders, not least Fox themselves.

The initial phase of work centred around the creation of the hero ‘Alien’ image and associated marines before moving on to pack and then print and digital ad creation. The multiple stakeholders meant that approvals could take some time and various changes, often conflicting, were needed.

Sega’s brief requested that we then create a special pack around a resin statue that had been previously designed and gave us a target budget for the production of the remaining special pack contents. The concept we had for the outer wrap involved a swarm of Aliens trying to attack the lone Marine inside the box. Once that semi-transparent O-sleeve is removed the cardboard reveals the metal flooring and panels of a spaceship or colony base. The internal contents were themed around an information pack notionally issued to a recruit in the Colonial Marines, with despatch orders, a schematic of the main ship and unit patches that could be sewn onto clothing.

There were some very specific directions for this project given the history and specific look and feel that had been developed over the years. Clearly the key art needed to heavily feature the Alien itself as well as to convey a sense of tension between it and the main characters.

Tonally, cool blues and blacks were necessary to reflect the iciness of space and the sci-fi setting. We also needed to set up the design so that it could be used in both portrait and landscape form. We sketched up a selection of approaches before settling on one and commissioning a CG render. As you can see, the end result is very striking.

This iconic pack was actually one of the three concepts we proposed in the initial pitch. The license holders and developers requested a different direction for some months before determining that the initial idea was the most striking and relevant.

We also worked with Sega on a related Alien product, Alien: Isolation, supplying design direction and pack concepts which were given to the game design team.

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Branding – Arches of Oman

Branding - Art Installation

The Arches of Oman is an art installation in Muscat situated in the gardens of the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman. It was unveiled in November 2017 after a three year creative and construction phase.

Client
Aluris
Services
Branding, Marketing Strategy, Web
Website
Click to visit

We were approached by the Project Director, Julian Glyn-Owen and Creator, Giles Rayner, to help promote this fabulous water sculpture. 

Although an initial visual identity had been created early in the project’s development, primarily for the internal team, we were tasked with creating a new one to become its public face going forwards. In addition, an accompanying marketing strategy was needed. From there we moved on to designing various marketing collateral pieces, a website and video content for it.

The brief had dual goals of promoting the existence of the sculpture itself as well as reinforcing the team’s capacity to deliver other such large scale public installations.

We developed the brand position, target audience profiles and set various targets around the required goal. The new website, video and PR Agency we brought on were tasked with delivering on this. The PR campaign generated positive press coverage from local, national and international media. Coverage was achieved in Oman and neighbouring Arab territories, as well as regional print and radio and Country Life in the UK.

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Website Design for Pet Shop

Website Design for Pet Shop

Amesbury Pets is a recently opened pet shop in Amesbury near Salisbury. It’s a local retail business created by service leaver, Graham, who needed a logo and e-commerce website to support his new business.

Client
Amesbury Pets
Services
Website Design, Logo Design
Website
Click to visit

This was a fun project to help our client with. Many new retail businesses don’t consider their logo design deeply enough which is natural given the quantity of work needed to launch a new retailer. The downside is they can end up with a poorly implemented design that perhaps works only on their storefront as signage but is lacking in all other areas it’s needed. Thankfully, Graham had the foresight to consider every aspect of this launch, including the logo design and e-commerce website.

The visual identity for Amesbury Pets needed to reflect Graham’s goal of providing friendly service supplying a full range of natural pet food  for a variety of different animals. So, a palette using natural tones was chosen with a hand drawn logo style accented by further hand written-style flourishes on the website.

Graham’s business launch was a resounding success and he’s already found himself a loyal customer base. We continue to work with him to audit and improve the site’s SEO to help him attract new customers. This brief was part of website design and build special offer, which is perfect for start ups, sole traders and small companies.

Work with us and we'll help you achieve your business goals