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Posted by David in Interesting

Six content formats and the secrets to making them work for your brand

Content marketing can be a complex and challenging undertaking, with a diverse range of content formats at your disposal – from on-page and blog content to videos, infographics and more. A holistic content marketing strategy that draws on the strengths of each of these powerful formats is all but guaranteed to build an engaged following – but knowing where to start with content isn’t easy when faced with a proverbial blank canvas.

Our community engagement platform includes custom content-sharing functionality in the form of your own bespoke resource centre. Here, you can share your latest and greatest content and keep all eyes on your brand – but first, let’s dive into a handful of the most popular types of digital content and explore how you can make each of them work for your business.

Content mockups on paper
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Blog content

A staple of any content marketing strategy, blog content is the digitally inclined business owner’s bread and butter. Giving you a platform where you can share everything from hot-off-the-press industry insights to practical how-tos, buying guides and opinion-based thought leadership pieces, a company blog is the beating heart of a brand.

When it comes to creating blog content for your brand website, it’s crucial to find a balance between the ideas you want to share and the knowledge your customers want to gain – so make sure to avoid ‘echo chamber’ syndrome by using your blog content as a means of encouraging discussion and imparting genuine value, rather than aimlessly shouting into the void.

Video content

With a staggering 5 billion videos watched each day on YouTube alone, it’s safe to say video is a thriving content format with boundless potential for brands of all shapes and sizes. In a sea of competitive content, with brands galore vying for users’ attention, utilising creative formats such as this can help your content stand out instantly. With video marketers proven to achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness, the rewards of this dynamic format are undeniable.

As users’ attention spans continue to dwindle, catering to increasing demand for instant information is sure to pay dividends. After all, why should a user spend 15 minutes reading long-form content when they can obtain the same information from a 2-minute video? If your brand has a story to tell, focus on creating informational or instructional video content to allow your audience to digest this value-adding content in an engaging, multi-sensory format.

Infographics

While the debate rages on around the longevity of infographics as a viable content format, with infographics continuing to account for 37% of all visual content, it’s clear this type of digital content is still alive and well – and with good reason.

Infographics allow content to be presented in a more accessible, highly visual format compared with long-form written content – making it far easier for users to process large volumes of data-driven content. While stock images, gifs and memes can all be utilised to break up text and improve the aesthetic value of any given page or post, 40% of marketers find that original graphics drive more engagement than other types of content – making this a safe bet for any brand with unique data in their locker and design expertise at their disposal.

Email marketing

If you’ve got a mailing list at the ready, there’s no reason not to make your first foray into the rewarding world of email marketing. With everything from seasonal sales campaigns to sequential lead-nurturing emails and monthly newsletters on the table, there are options galore when it comes to email – not only as an engaging content format, but also as a legitimate conversion channel for your business.

With an irresistible subject line, an explicit opener and some engaging, value-adding body content, you can piece together email copy that’s destined to drive conversions (whatever they may constitute for your business). Timing is also key here – with optimum time windows for generating as many opens and clicks as possible – but with timing and content quality on your side, this could prove an effective and, indeed, lucrative type of content marketing for your brand.

On-page content

Creating optimised on-page content is one of the fundamentals of any successful content marketing strategy. From your website’s homepage to your product or service category pages, ensuring all content is in line with the latest industry best practices will leave your website in the best possible position to deliver a fulfilling user experience and perform competitively in organic search for related keywords.

Research valuable keywords that not only relate to your chosen sector, but are also searched in large volumes each month (illustrating ample demand from potential customers). With your keyword research complete, naturally optimise your on-page content for these search queries – subtly and logically integrating them into the body of your written content, and semantically optimising all surrounding content for maximum relevance.

Remember to stay on topic while providing as much detail as necessary to establish your page content as authoritative and informational – two characteristics championed by Google’s almighty algorithm. Be sure to include plenty of calls to action, too. This will not only help to create a powerful, conclusive user journey throughout your site, but also drive engagement by keeping the right kinds of users on your site for longer.

Case studies

Last but by no means least, case studies are one of the most powerful types of content available to B2B businesses, due to their ability to directly influence purchasing decisions. With all of your other content formats nailed, stories of your previous successes – particularly those backed by the right data – can give users the final nudge they need to take the leap and get in touch about their needs and how you might be able to meet them.

As with customer reviews and testimonials, data-driven case studies that evidence your success within your sector can contribute to your business’s perceived expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) signals – all-important signals which are now among key criteria used by search engine raters to assess the overall strength of a website. By providing any and all content you can that reinforces your own expertise, authority and trustworthiness, you can make your brand a prime candidate for competitive search performance.

As you take that all-important first step towards content marketing supremacy, we’d love to join you on your journey. Our bespoke suite of community engagement software is able to perfectly complement any content marketing strategy – helping you begin to build a loyal and engaged following around your brand.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six business decisions simplified by market research

Some business decisions, regardless of the amount of planning, risk assessment and due diligence that go into them, are big enough that they’ll always feel like taking a leap of faith.

Whenever you’re making a dramatic change to your business’s offering, identity or plans for the future, there will always be some element of uncertainty – but with the help of market research, particularly in the form of genuine customer feedback, you can make these daunting decisions as informed as possible.

As part of our suite of customer engagement software, we give brands access to market research tools such as polls and questionnaires – and in this post, we’re exploring the features, uses and benefits of market research to open your eyes to the vast potential of this business multi-tool.

Team having an office brainstorming meeting
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Expanding your product or service offering

Over time, every thriving business will make the decision to build on their success by expanding their range of products or services – but with ideas galore when it comes to expansion, choosing which of those ideas to prioritise can be a challenge. To avoid going in blind, why not put some of the control in the hands of your customer base? After all, you’ve only gotten this far by keeping them on side.

If you’re toying with a few different potential products or services that would expand on your core offering, serving your customers a poll where vote for whichever of these options they’d most like to see from you next will not only make them feel heard and valued, but also give you confidence that the path you take will be the one most likely to prove profitable.

Customer persona modelling

This may not seem like the biggest business decision in the world, but, in truth, this vital business decision has a direct impact on all of your marketing activity that follows. Whether you’re putting together customer personas for the first time or refining existing personas for more targeted brand messaging in the future, knowing who your typical customer is – from their age, gender and location to interests and shopping behaviour – helps you know how to communicate with them and how to encourage them to convert.

With market research tools at your disposal, you can use polling features to gather key information on your customer base – allowing them to identify their own needs, priorities, interests and more to supplement existing user personas pieced together from data sources such as Google Analytics. Combined, this will make for well-rounded customer personas informed by both genuine user behaviour and genuine user feedback.

Rebranding your business

A rebrand is a serious undertaking for any company, not least due to the balancing act of working to retain loyal customers through a period of change while also inspiring new ones to climb aboard for the first time. Of course, a rebrand can range from something as minor as a refresh of your brand imagery to the far more meaningful transition from one brand identity to another entirely different one. Regardless of your aims, though, the benefits of market research certainly apply to this consequential business decision.

Whether it’s a questionnaire sent out to existing and potential customers or a poll presented to your brand community in the early stages of planning your rebrand, find a way to seize this golden opportunity. Use market research to your advantage, gaining valuable feedback on what is and isn’t resonating about your existing brand image, and prompting valuable input on how your company could better appeal to those most qualified to make that decision.

Sales and revenue projections

When the time comes to forecast how you expect your business to perform in the financial year ahead, this high-stakes activity will benefit greatly from market research support. Naturally, you’ll need to give due consideration to emerging and evolving consumer trends, factoring changing user needs into your projections. On top of that, though, by conducting your own independent customer research, you can complement this industry data to drive more informed decisions.

By profiling your different types of customer and aligning these customer types with industry trends, you’ll be able to better predict how your own customers’ needs and behaviours may evolve in the short, medium and long term. So, put together whatever polls, questionnaires and other fact-finding resources you feel are necessary to gather the information you need. This way, you can back your projections with authentic feedback from your engaged community.

Allocating marketing budgets

The all-important decision of how to distribute marketing budgets among the various channels at your disposal isn’t one to be taken lightly. Needless to say, a deep understanding of the ROIs these different channels deliver should fuel your decision-making, with lower-cost, higher-return channels being an undeniably safe bet. Where these truths are less self-evident, the importance of market research becomes crystal clear.

Asking your audience which channels of communication they find most effective or engaging is a great supportive exercise for deciding where the lion’s share of your marketing budget should be spent.

Of course, this isn’t an exact science – not all of us are self-aware when it comes to the marketing channels that influence our buying behaviour. Nonetheless, taking the temperature of your brand community when it comes to which forms of marketing they’re most predisposed to engage with is highly worthwhile and, again, demonstrates to your customer base that you’re willing and able to speak their language.

Improving your customer service

Customer service should be subject to continuous refinement – you can always be better, faster, more accommodating and more knowledgeable. What you can’t always do is read customers’ minds – making market research a vital tool for gathering unfiltered yet constructive feedback on how you approach everything from general customer queries to more contentious matters like complaints.

If ever in doubt about how your business could improve its customer relations, ask the people best placed to comment. You may want to pose multiple-choice questions asking which areas of your customer service could be better, or, alternatively, take a more open-ended approach designed to generate any and all feedback on what more your customers would ask of you, if anything. The choice is ultimately yours – and the options are practically endless.

No business can afford to underestimate the importance of market research. An all-in-one company toolkit able to carve a path for everything from product launches to sales projections, this is an often-overlooked asset we love helping brands get to grips with for the first time.

Explore the perks of being a Six Circles member today and request a live demo to dip your toe into the world of custom market research.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six key ingredients for an engaging brand identity

Whether you’re an ecommerce business, an events company or a software as a service (SaaS) provider, a powerful product or service offering will take you so far – but it’s only when coupled with a magnetic brand identity that you can begin to take your sector by storm.

Creating a brand identity unique and powerful enough to cut through the industry noise is no mean feat but, with our winning recipe for an irresistible brand identity, you’ll have all the ingredients you need to keep hungry consumers in your sector satisfied.

Branded cans and bottles of soda including fanta, Sanpellegrino and Coca Cola
Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

An unforgettable image

Brand identity design is, of course, about far more than beautiful imagery alone – but that’s not to say that a slick, elegant aesthetic isn’t a key ingredient in this recipe. From your all-important company logo to your brand’s colour palette, packaging design and website theme, there are interconnected elements galore that make up your brand’s image – and it all starts with identifying the unique traits that encapsulate your brand and finding a way to represent these qualities visually.

An authentic personality

If your brand were a person, how would you define them? Informal and chatty with a great sense of humour? Direct and authoritative? Eccentric and offbeat, with a nonconformist edge? Creating a brand persona is an activity best combined with user persona mapping, as chances are your ideal user has a lot in common with your brand’s personality. Knowing who your brand is will prove invaluable when it comes to deciding how your brand should communicate with your audience, from the channels you use and the nature of your communications to your all-important brand voice.

A distinct voice

It’s not only what you say – it’s how you say it, too. Finding your voice, especially in a crowded market, can be a daunting prospect – but you can simplify this process by first asking yourself whether you’d like to define your brand voice by association or by your point of difference. If there’s an existing brand within or outside of your sector whose voice you aspire to emulate, your next step is to examine their brand messaging – from blog posts and email marketing copy to social media activity and web content – and put your finger on exactly what it is about their tone of voice that inspires you.

Alternatively, if you’d rather be viewed as an antidote to the rest of your industry, your task will be to identify the missing piece of the puzzle – finding out where your competitors are falling short and offering that one, powerful thing that consumers in your sector can’t find elsewhere.

A powerful message

Next on your brand identity design checklist is establishing what you’d like customers to take away from the exchanges they have with your brand (other than paid-for products or services, of course). What’s the message behind your business, and why should your customers buy into this company ethos? You may be an ethical business trying to save the world one sale at a time – but if not, that doesn’t mean your brand doesn’t have a meaningful message worth investing in.

It could be that you want to illustrate to customers that they can enjoy high-quality products without paying extortionate prices, or perhaps that, by shopping with you, they can be part of a thriving community of customers and feel a part of something more than a mere customer base. The choice is yours – but regardless of your reasons for launching your business, we’re confident you’ll be able to articulate a brand message worth believing in.

A promise of value

While mulling over your brand’s central message, it’s important to consider what incentive you’re giving shoppers to choose your product or service over the available alternatives. What are you offering your customers that competitors aren’t? It may be greater affordability, broader choice, higher quality products, superior customer service or something else entirely, but you’ll need to nail down what unique value you’re offering to your customers so that this USP can be at the forefront of your brand messaging in the months and years to come.

A clear-cut community

This is where we come in. With all other bases covered, once you know how to create a brand identity that’ll leave competitors envious, the final ingredient is a thriving, distinctive community your customers will feel privileged to be a part of. The world’s most unique and memorable brands are supported by a following of customers who share their outlook on life and engage with their brand rather than the alternatives because of this shared ethos.

With our community engagement platform, you can begin building a devoted following around your brand – using our diverse suite of features, including everything from a bespoke event management platform to your own dedicated company forum and market research tools.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six reasons to take the leap and launch your own company forum

Have you ever wanted a community of peers or customers at your disposal for input, idea-sharing or inspiration? You’re not alone. Every day, new forums are launched in the hopes of creating a vibrant circle of collaborative communication – and if you’ve considered following in the footsteps of these online innovators, we can help you make an informed decision.

Depending on whether you’re starting a small business forum for like-minded entrepreneurs and industry experts or launching a platform to bring your brand and customers closer together, this picture will look very different. Regardless of your aims, though, we’re here to give you all the incentive you need to take the leap with confidence. Your engaged online community awaits.

People using laptops in an office
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Share experiences

One of the primary reasons anyone decides to launch their own forum is to connect with other people who share their lifestyle, interests or goals. As such, one of the greatest advantages that comes with starting a forum of your own is the opportunity to attract these kindred spirits and pick their brains on demand – allowing you to find common ground with your community as a result of your experiences as a consumer or an entrepreneur.

Ask and answer the big questions

On that note, due to the standard Q&A format of forum threads, a platform like this provides ample opportunity to gather opinion and knowledge on a range of industry queries. Whether you’re using your forum as a market research channel for customer feedback or an idea-sharing centre for small businesses in your sector, use this perfectly primed platform to gather intel from those best placed to offer their input, and give your two cents where it counts.

Level up networking

Networking is the ultimate tool for expanding your list of key contacts, creating mutually beneficial relationships with the potential to drive sales from prospective customers and referrals from complementary brands. Forums are your answer to digital networking – laying the foundations for everything from light chat that may lead to unexpected connections to targeted relationship-building designed to generate brand awareness.

Drive sales and referrals

In your mission to generate revenue for your business, your own forum can provide a springboard for advertising your changing offering. Brand forums offer options galore for promoting new product launches, service expansions or limited-time deals, while starting a small business forum could be the key that unlocks a range of beneficial brand partnerships with the ultimate aim of affecting your bottom line and theirs.

Promote and inspire content

While you’ll almost certainly have your own company blog where you share red hot industry insights, informative how-to pieces and exciting company news, having your own forum will help you take your content further. With your own brand forum, you can serve your community food for thought, spark debate on controversial topics and spread the word on big changes in your sector. Better yet, you can even scour user threads to find popular questions and talking points to inspire your next great customer resource.

Cultivate an engaged community

Last but by no means least, starting a forum plays a valuable part in helping you to build a thriving, collaborative, engaged community around your brand – be it a community of industry peers or loyal customers. By giving at least as much as you take, you can establish yourself as a source of knowledge, support and generosity within your sector – inspiring loyalty in your community and fuelling all-important word of mouth.

Are you ready to turn your new forum idea into a reality? This is where we come in. Our suite of community engagement services includes a custom forum feature – giving you the tools to kick-start discussion within your brand community.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six essential tools for growing your charity online

At the heart of every blossoming charity is a beautiful idea – a cause powerful enough to resonate with people of all backgrounds, circumstances and mindsets. With an idea that big, the only other thing you need is reach – but how far can you reach without the right tools?

Whether you’re the head of a fledgling nonprofit or you’re considering your first ever charitable venture, in order to thrive in 2019 and beyond, you’ll need a diverse promotional toolkit designed to help you keep pace with leading charities in your space. Without further ado, here’s our breakdown of six must-have digital assets to make growing your charity online possible.

Painted hands together creating a heart shape
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Social media marketing

With the world’s leading social platforms at your disposal – from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat – there are, quite literally, billions of potential supporters out there for your charity to make the first move with, and numerous ways to create these connections.

With Twitter and Instagram in particular, you’ll find hashtags galore to capitalise on in your organisation’s social-facing content for greater organic reach – while the Stories features offered across Instagram and Snapchat provide the ideal format for a behind-the-scenes look at your charity’s latest campaigns. On top of all that, Facebook groups provide an ideal stepping stone to your organisation’s very own engaged community of supporters.

Email marketing software

Building and nurturing a mailing list is central to growing your charity online, as this marketing channel offers one of the most direct, impactful means of contact with your community. From calling for donations or canvassing at critical times to sharing success stories and meaningful milestones, the world is your oyster when it comes to how to speak to your supporters.

With a signup form on your charity website, you can continue to grow your community online, and perhaps even segment your list so that you can cater separately to stakeholders, donors and your wider supporter community for truly targeted messaging.

An event marketing strategy

While it may seem counterintuitive to use non-digital marketing channels to drive digital growth, the truth is local events offer more than a few digital benefits in spite of their face-to-face nature. For one, encouraging live tweeting throughout the course of a fundraising event has the potential to further expand the reach of your fundraising efforts and drive additional donations. You can also persuade event attendees to subscribe to your mailing list on the day, expanding your supporter circle and boosting the performance of your next email campaign.

A branded blog

No brand presence is complete without a dedicated blog, providing a home for news from within your organisation and surrounding your cause, as well as informational and entertaining content made with love for your loyal community. By sharing a breadth of engaging written and multimedia content on your own branded blog, you can give back to your supporters in some small way – keeping them informed and impassioned throughout their relationship with your charity.

With supportive email marketing campaigns directing members of your mailing list to new posts, you can keep all eyes on your organisation’s blog on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis depending on how often you choose to publish.

Your own community forum

Due to the inherently collaborative nature of charitable projects, giving your supporters access to an exclusive community forum is the perfect way to encourage communication between members and benefit from the combined power and insight of these supporters. With users able to start their own threads, sparking debate on hot-button issues, and contribute to the conversation surrounding your cause, you’ll find your relationship with your supporters becomes less of a passive exchange and more of an involved, mutually fulfilling alliance.

Market research tools

No organisation – online or otherwise, commercial or nonprofit – can truly thrive without honest, real-time feedback from its audience. Without seeking unfiltered external feedback, you’re in danger of carving out an echo chamber – leaving your followers feeling disengaged from your brand and disconnected from your cause.

Charities can particularly benefit from supporter input with the help of market research tools such as polls, giving you the power to quickly and easily gather public opinion on the issues that matter to them and continually refocus your brand to ensure you’re giving voice to your valued supporters.

Now you’ve learned the theory, it’s time to put this knowledge into action and begin to grow your charity online. Find out how we work with charities to help them build thriving, engaged online communities and generate awareness, support and donations – whatever the cause.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six steps to creating brand ambassadors within your customer base

Brand ambassadors are a coveted prize in the world of business, helping you level up from a money-making enterprise into a fully fledged brand. They are, however, as elusive as they are valuable.

Strictly speaking, a brand ambassador is typically someone hired by a business or organisation to positively represent the brand, grow awareness and drive conversions (whatever they may constitute for your brand). With a sufficiently engaged customer base, though, you can have access to an army of your own brand ambassadors happy to extoll the virtues of your business on a daily basis.

In this post, we’re sharing a six-step process to creating a community of brand ambassadors made up of your customers – helping you harness the raw power of word-of-mouth marketing in the months and years to come.

Woman paying for a product in store
Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

1. Start with a brand you believe in

The blunt but unavoidable truth is that it isn’t reasonable to expect other people to invest in your brand if you yourself don’t possess the same passion you’re asking of them. If your business is already established, we hope the groundwork has already been well and truly laid for this step – but if not, there’s still time to put your finger on just what it is that drives you to make your business a success (besides success itself, of course).

Did you launch your business to solve an age-old problem, fill a frustrating gap in the market or simply bring something new and exciting into the world? Whatever sector you’re in, first clarify in your own mind why exactly you believe in your brand – from there, you’ll know precisely how to convey to your customers why they should share this belief.

2. Spread the gospel

Once you’ve pinned down your business’s reason for being, the next step is to spread the word among your customer base. The nature of the communities you have in the works – from a company blog readership or subscriber list to a social media following or remarketing audience – will dictate how you communicate this key brand messaging, but the important thing is to find a powerful, concise message and the right place to communicate that message.

A customer engagement platform is a highly effective medium for this sort of brand communication, with everything from a brand-centric forum to an on-brand news and resource area available for the purposes of spreading your company gospel.

3. Find kindred spirits

We’ve talked before about the idea of finding your ‘people’ as being central to building a brand. This is probably the most simple, elegant analogy we can come up with for attracting an engaged audience that’s likely to convert. With your message nailed and communicated, it’s now time to actively seek out new recruits for your brand community – and while any business owner would love to believe any consumer could be a potential customer of theirs, the fact of the matter is that your inner circle is highly likely to be somewhat narrower than that.

Whether you use social media, online forums, paid advertising, organic search or more traditional TV, radio or print ads, the task at hand is enticing new customers who have, in some way or another, demonstrated an interest in what you’re offering. At the point that they make a conscious decision to visit your website or make contact as a result of relevant promotional activity on your part, they can be considered to have opted in. Chances are, if they’re interested in your product or service, they’ll share at least some of the opinions, beliefs or values that led you to build your enterprise.

4. Infiltrate their lives

With your ideal customers acquired and brought into the fold, to trigger the transformation from customer to brand ambassador, you’ll need to become a welcome part of their day-to-day lives. With the right promotional toolkit, this is easily done – as long as your messaging remains engaging, on-brand and centred around your shared interests and values.

Whether you make weekly contact with your customer base via enticing push notifications from your dedicated app, highly clickable email marketing campaigns or irresistible Facebook posts, the key is to remain visible, and slowly but surely bridge the gap between being an occasional stop on their travels around the web and a fixed feature of their everyday routine.

5. Treat them right

With your customers’ undivided attention won, the battle for brand ambassadors isn’t over just yet. Demonstrating to your community that your interest in them is more than a flash in the pan is crucial – so keep them on side with plenty of rewards and exclusive perks.

If you’re an ecommerce business, giving loyal customers a heads-up on upcoming sales, sharing limited-time discount codes and offering personal extras like birthday savings are just some of the potential perks you can offer to your community. For companies or organisations who regularly hold events, options include VIP experiences, priority access and exclusive discounts – all of which will show your inner circle their continued support doesn’t go unnoticed.

6. Stay relevant

With a thriving community of brand ambassadors in the making, the last step in this all-important process is committing to constant innovation – a big ask, we know. Consumer expectations have never been higher than they are now, and today’s customers are on the hunt for brands who pride themselves on continually changing with the times, improving on their customer service and evolving their product or service offering.

To nurture brand ambassadors within your customer base, who will happily spread word of your brand to anyone who will listen, make a promise to yourself and your customers to constantly strive to find new ways of being better. If you’re wondering where to start, the Six Circles customer engagement platform is the perfect jumping off point.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six big, brand-building benefits of hosting local events

There are many ways to grow a business, but the key to building a brand is finding your people. Every brand has the makings of their very own tribe out there waiting for them – a group of people who may or may not already be actively searching for a product or service just like yours, but nonetheless have an inherent kinship with your brand and its central ethos.

While there are no shortcuts to connecting with these coveted needles in the commercial haystack, event marketing is the nearest thing you’ll find to a fast pass. With a frankly astonishing 91% of consumers revealing they have more positive feelings about a brand after attending events and experiences, this dynamic, multidimensional marketing channel is now simply too effective to ignore.

Interactive event with big-screen display
Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

At Six Circles, our mission is to bring brands and their tribes together – and with custom event management software at the heart of our suite of services, we can help you harness the formidable power of event marketing to bring your dream customers into your brand’s inner circle. First things first, though – right now, we’re taking a deep dive into the numerous benefits of dipping your toe into the world of local events.

Educate

From informational workshops to hands-on product or service demonstrations, whatever you’re sharing knowledge on, there’s ample opportunity to educate through the medium of events. The face-to-face nature of events makes this a positively perfect medium for conveying information on your industry, brand or offering in a direct, concise, easy-to-understand way. Better yet, with auditory and visual tools galore at your disposal in a live environment, you’ll have your pick of supportive media to help you get your point across in the most memorable, engaging way possible.

Network

It will come as no surprise that face-to-face event marketing is among the most powerful tools for creating new, relevant networking opportunities. Particularly with regards to locally focused brands, physical events create a prime opportunity to get existing and potential customers in a room together – ideally along with influential figures in your sector – to build new relationships, talk shop in an appropriate environment and, with any luck, kick-start some mutually beneficial partnerships.

Better yet, you can maximise your event’s reach by making use of an event registration system designed to take the hassle out of invites, booking confirmations and ticketing.

Entertain

Without the entertainment factor, any wisdom you impart or networking you attempt will invariably feel self-serving – there has to be something in it for your audience. Fear not, though: entertainment doesn’t have to mean an all-singing, all-dancing variety show. Any kind of event that showcases your brand in a way that engages audiences through relatable narratives, exciting multimedia content or exclusive attendee perks will deliver on the entertainment front. The key is to find a way to create a fun and immersive multidimensional experience that makes sense for your brand.

Unmask

One primary benefit of event marketing is the opportunity it creates to reveal your brand’s hidden layers to an audience of potential customers. Many brands mistakenly believe that the surface-level elements like a logo, website and collection of social media profiles combine to make a brand – but the truth is that a fully formed brand identity should be as developed and multidimensional as your own personality.

As you’ll no doubt be painfully aware, communicating the various aspects of your identity, all of your intentions and everything you want to say through digital channels like social media can be a challenge to say the least – but with all limitations removed, events make showcasing your pure, unadulterated brand identity in all its glory possible.

Engage

Needless to say, event marketing is among the most powerful tools in any business owner’s arsenal when it comes to engaging a community. Allowing your customers to evolve from shoppers who engage with you in a purely transactional capacity into engaged audience members who are invested in your story is a very meaningful step for any brand to take.

Inviting existing and potential customers to a live event where they’ll get to meet you, learn more about the vision behind your brand and break the corporate barrier shows them you’re willing to go above and beyond to build relationships that are so much more than an exchange of money for goods or services rendered.

Sell

Naturally, the ultimate aim of any marketing campaign – events included – is to generate conversions (whatever they may be for your business). Going into your event with a hard-sell mentality is definitely best avoided, as this will inevitably hinder your ability to educate, entertain and engage. Instead, build a structure or narrative for your event that leads organically to buying your product or service as the next logical step for attendees.

If you can nail the informational content, entertainment factor and audience engagement, you’ll likely find your audience will reciprocate by making an investment in your brand.

With the whys covered, that brings us to the question of how to make local event marketing work for your brand – and this is where we come in. Explore the six circles of our service right here to find out what makes us the perfect partner for any brand-building mission including but by no means limited to event marketing.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six decisions to make before starting your own networking group

Done right, networking groups are a powerful platform for relationship-building in the world of business – and if you’re toying with the idea of starting a networking group of your own, this could be the start of an exciting new chapter in your professional life.

At Six Circles, we’re in the business of bringing communities together – so we fully support you in your quest to give like-minded businesspeople a place to create connections, share ideas and advance their careers or enterprises. First, though, let’s cover a handful of key decisions we’d recommend making before you take the leap.

Group of businesspeople networking
Photo by HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan on Unsplash

Why you’re launching your own group

What’s lacking in your local networking scene that’s compelling you to take matters into your own hands? Inclusivity? Originality? A personal touch? Whatever you feel like the missing piece of the puzzle is, make sure you’re fixed on a unique selling point before starting a business networking group, so you can keep this front and centre in your promotional messaging and stay true to your group’s origins throughout its lifetime.

Who you’d like to bring together

Your networking group may be built on a mission to bring certain types of businesspeople together – such as women, parents, freelancers or tech industry professionals, to name but a few of the many, many possibilities. If that is the case, this decision should really make itself. However, if the concept behind your networking group is a little broader than this, you’ll need to take some time to figure out what your dream group member looks like – considering such factors as their age, location, job title, sector, interests and lifestyle to map out this member persona.

Where your group will congregate

Naturally, your networking group will need a physical meeting place – and while this single detail may seem trivial in isolation, the location of your events can make or break the overall success of your group. Accessibility is essential, including for older members and those with disabilities, but you’ll also want to ensure there are adequate transport links to your events and find a space that can comfortably accommodate your group at its maximum size.

Of course, your networking group may not have a fixed location – and you may instead want to negotiate with different venues from month to month to book a space for your events – but knowing what’s not negotiable from the start is vital for avoiding any venue-related mishaps.

How you’ll build a following

Word of mouth will always be the networking group’s perpetual motion machine, steadily increasing member numbers as a result of natural referrals – but to get to the point where these referrals build momentum, you’ll need to start with an outbound marketing campaign designed to generate initial interest in joining your group.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will undoubtedly have a part to play here, with groups, hashtags and paid advertising in your arsenal of promotional tools – but you may also want to use email to entice existing contacts or even embark on a paid search campaign to get eyes on your networking group’s dedicated website.

How you’ll keep your members engaged

For your networking group to be profitable, you may need to charge a membership fee – whether on a monthly, annual or bespoke basis – which begs the question, what will you do to make sure membership offers genuine value for money?

There are possibilities galore to explore, from typical perks like free food, drinks, activities and entertainment to the prospect of access to in-demand venues and speakers. The key is to assess the priorities and motivations of your target audience and identify what they’re likely to expect at a minimum and value as a reward for their loyal membership.

How you’ll stay relevant

Engaging an audience is one thing – keeping them engaged in the long term is another thing entirely. Before taking the leap and starting a business networking group, first decide how you’ll continue to engage, entice and excite your members long after they’ve joined your tribe. One tried and tested tactic for remaining relevant as a brand is to encourage and action feedback from your following – and this is certainly true of a networking group, where your success rests on their continued enjoyment of the experiences you provide.

Powerful tools for gathering meaningful feedback include dedicated user forums – where members can discuss issues relevant to your group amongst themselves – and polls, which you can use to ask the big questions and find out where your members stand on those points. Once the verdict’s in, you can continue to hone and refine your networking group’s messaging and events to evolve with your audience’s changing interests and needs.

Find out how we can make starting a networking group a successful venture with the power of targeted community building and engagement right here.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six ways to get the most out of your Six Circles platform

So, here you are, with the power to build, manage and inspire the communities that matter most to you. At your fingertips, right now, is the power to trigger change, invigorate people within your industry, and challenge trends together. Here are six ways to get the most out of your Six Circles platform right now.

Stimulate creativity

Something on your mind? Pose the question to the people who you know have the knowledge and skills to tackle it. Start a discussion that will spur them on to exchange their views, opinions and expertise in order to drive one another forward.

A problem shared can be a problem halved, quartered and broken down infinitesimally into intriguing creative approaches to practical, impactful solutions for you all.

Educate others

Share your findings, accomplishments and need-to-know stories with your community, providing them with the knowledge that they need to succeed. Look at what others are doing and learn from their achievements, difficulties and publications.

Your Six Circles platform also allows you to conduct valuable audience research and share your findings with the people who made it possible.

Collaborate efficiently

As your community grows, you’ll meet more people with the same drive, focus and goals. Through instant communication and knowledge sharing, you’ll be able to identify the businesses, services and personalities that will work for you, and achieve these imperative targets together.

With bespoke, open or closed-thread discussions, not only will you be part of discussions that drive change – you can be the one who made it happen.

Improve performance

Find out what people genuinely think and what you can do to enhance how audiences experience your brand. Your platform allows you to poll your entire community and so gain invaluable insights into how you are performing now. At any point in the future, you can also pick up on how audiences react when you make or anticipate a change.

When you keep focused on what is working and allow yourself to lose or develop what isn’t, you can benefit from a wealth of perspective every day.

Meet your markers

Learn where people are going and what they’re doing, and let them know instantly when you create an exciting event that will interest them. Track who is attending, where they’re from, and anticipate the information you can provide that will work for all of you.

Use events created by others to keep your community growing, and link up with the key movers and shakers that inspire you and many others.

Reap the benefits

With all the insight, education and networking available through your Six Circles platform, you have the power to manage your community and feel its prosperity as you grow, together. As Six Circles is a fully and easily customisable platform, every positive experience that you encounter is created, in part, by you.

With this sense of achievement already within your grasp, now is the time to get started and get your community growing.

Your platform is already in the safe hands of our comprehensive online support team, but if you have any more questions about what we can do for you, please give us a call on 0191 917 9697.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six ways to drive engagement on your website

Technology has had a major effect on the attention span of humans; not long ago, researchers identified that human beings may now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. This is a worrying development, considering the digital age we’ve grown into.

With your website being the forefront of your business communications, you need people to see it, stay on it and learn more about it. So, here are six ways to drive people to your site.

Write a blog

Yes, it’s time-consuming and yes, on its own, you might get better results by picking up the phone and talking to someone. Furthermore, it can feel as though everyone is doing it… but why?

A blog is a powerful tool for the author and reader, as well as for the key piece of technology that connects the two – search engines. These fundamental digital tools learn to prioritise fresh, relevant content – and in any case, the more you ‘blog’, the more you are likely to find that you enjoy it.

Optimise your SEO

What do you specialise in? What is your USP (unique selling point)? The search engines won’t know unless you tell them. Perform an audit of your website pages and see how many of them contain keywords and phrases that will help you to stand out.

Your blog can even help with this, as you learn to link pages to others’ sites and relevant content or form relationships with other businesses that would benefit from linking to your site from theirs or vice versa.

Use what you have

You don’t even have to come up with a network of new pages to make the most of your site right now. In fact, occasionally refreshing the content on the pages that you already have can greatly help them to be seen in a new light – by both people and search engines.

This means that the blog post or web page you first published way back when can still be useful and made more relevant than ever with just a little extra work.

Add content to your calendar

Schedule a few short and simple social media posts about what you’re doing, what you offer and what else you’re interested in.

One of the problems that people face when they land on any website is that it’s a digital presence only. In other words, it’s not a person who they will emotionally engage with. You should therefore add personality to your business by using social media channels and let other people know what inspires you so that you can inspire them.

Add visuals and videos

Not everyone is made for life in front of the camera. However, the majority of businesspeople have a very particular something in common – they enjoy talking about what they do.

If you appear to look into the eyes of your customers as you talk about your business, they will get to see the passion behind the product or service. You could even add a relevant image or video to every social or blog post to help to portray this passion in every piece of communication you create.

Listen and respond

In using social media, why not also listen to what others are saying about the sector in which you work? If you participate in Q&A sessions and polls and join the conversations already taking place across social media channels, you’ll meet new people – and their ideas – and get to talk knowledgeably about a subject in which you have achieved excellence.

With your Six Circles platform, you can invite the people who mean the most to your business into a powerful new community of ideas, conversation and growth. Get in touch with us today to discover how to keep driving the right people to your website, business and brand.

Testimonials

“Since incorporating the Six Circles software to further grow our network, we have seen a vast increase in new members and interaction and we are attributing both to the ease of the site’s functionality.

For us, our marketing is now tailored more specifically and effectively due to the inclusion of useful analytics which allow us to form a better understanding of what our members really want.

We would wholly recommend Six Circles to organisations wanting to offer their consumers a platform to meet others, voice their opinions, publish industry news and receive an inclusive and enjoyable customer experience.”

The Mussel Club