Yes.

 

That’s it. Really.

 

Ok, you probably want a little more information than that. So if you want a longer answer, you should probably read the rest of the post.

You see, the impact of social media on SEO has been a bit of a hot topic for a while now. After all, unlike on page changes, you can’t always see direct results from social media right away, which makes it tricky to measure. This usually leads to a resounding shrug when asked if increased social media activity has affected SEO at all. However, if we do some digging into the data behind social media and SEO, and have a look at the evidence from Google, we get a very conclusive answer.

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When we say ‘lead generation’, many people still jump right to the image of a salesperson making cold calls all day. And while that might be the way some businesses go about generating new leads, it certainly isn’t for everyone. Lead generation has changed enormously over the last few years, thanks to a whole host of emerging new technologies and the change in customer behaviour, which seems to evolve at breakneck speeds. This has made some of the older lead gen strategies irrelevant, or too time-consuming to make a success from. So instead, what can your business be doing to generate leads in the digital world?

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We’ve talked a little bit before about how a content plan can really boost your social media performance. If you haven’t read that one yet – we recommend you do. It’s right here. Go ahead, pop over and read – we’ll be here when you get back!

Hello again. So, we were thinking. While in that post we talked about the content sitting behind the scenes, we didn’t really go into how you get to that stage – knowing what you need, and what to do with it. For that, you need a wider social media strategy. But despite the fact that brands with a planned social media strategy are much more successful than those who don’t, there are still millions of businesses who don’t plan out their social activities in advance. That’s why we’re bringing you three good reasons you should be planning your social media this year.

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** Exciting News - We're Hiring **

Pickle Marketing has been providing digital marketing services for over nine years. Our clients have varied needs and use us for training, mentoring and support, and a complete social media marketing service.  If you’ve got experience of digital marketing, especially social media, and would like to progress your career in a great environment, then this is for you! 

Social Media Marketer 

Salary: £20,000 to £28,000 (dependent upon experience)


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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Charlie Brooker’s haunting show ‘Black Mirror’, even if you haven’t seen it yourself. A haunting series, each episode puts an aspect of human nature and technology under a microscope. It looks at technology as if it was a drug, and examines the side effects it would have on our society, as how we interact with each other. The series has been highly commended for it’s realistic scrutiny and introspective views on the human condition. And one of the big topics Brooker examines is social media, and its effect on how we behave. So if you’re in marketing, or even just run a social media account, you’re going to want to pay attention.

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Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in the type of content you will be seeing in your news feed. Effective immediately. The change will significantly reduce the amount of business updates displayed, in favour of posts, videos and photos that are shared or commented on by your friends. The change comes in response to users, who feel the platform had become crowded with publisher and branded posts and shifted away from its intended purpose as a destination to connect with family and friends. But regardless of this, there is no denying that Facebook is a powerful marketing tool for businesses – and it still can be. All it means is a change in approach.

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LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for professionals across the board – there’s’ no doubt about that. Whether you’re looking to find your next dream job or generate targeted leads for your business without touching a telephone, LinkedIn can help you do it. But it’s not the easiest thing to get right, particularly with so much at stake. So you need to know how to use it properly. 

Your LinkedIn game might be pretty good – but to become a LinkedIn master, you need to step it up a bit. And because we’re curious, we scoured the web for the top 1% of LinkedIn users, and found their suggestions for making LinkedIn successful for you. Then we collated everything together and produced 3 easy tips to help you make the most of LinkedIn and become a master networker online. (If you want to know the rest, you’ll have to come ask us).

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Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to build a business successful-eee – hey!

Ok, enough of that.

In all seriousness though, Christmas is fast approaching, and for many business owners that means looking back on 2017 to see what went well, and what maybe didn’t work out how they’d like. Networking is often one of those things that gets put into the latter group – but it doesn’t have to be. Thousands of successful businesses have been built up based almost exclusively on networking, and millions of business owners rely on the networks they create to help them grow year on year. Us included. And since our own lovely Lisa is not only the president of the most successful networking group in Reading, but was also a Venus awards finalist for the category ‘Networker of the Year’, we wanted to share some of her ‘top tips’ to make networking really work for you in the new year.

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As a business owner, your to-do list can feel never ending at times (usually because it is). So when you add social media to that list, it can feel a little overwhelming, especially if it’s not in your comfort zone. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend hours publishing to a dozen different social media accounts in order to be successful. In fact, some businesses have been successfully built on a single platform. It’s all about where you are, and not about how many. So how do you figure out what social media platforms your business should be using?

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Our society has never been more connected, and it’s mostly down to social media. Social media has a huge amount of power and influence over our daily lives, from who we talk to, to what we buy. For businesses, it’s become an invaluable tool, one that enables them to have intimate, one on one conversations with customers and prospects previously miles out of reach. But all of that means nothing if the business doesn’t understand what good it’s doing. Like everything you do in business, social media works best when you plan your strategy, track its progress and measure the results. But what are you supposed to be looking for when you track and measure your social media campaigns?

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At Pickle we see a lot of different approaches to social media. Some of them are good, but many are not so good. Whether it’s an abandoned profile or not understanding the network being used, there are a lot of bad practices going on out there. And it’s no surprise – there’s so much advice and perceived knowledge about, that many business owners are just on social media because they feel like they have to be – not because they actually understand what it means. But if you are on social media, whatever the network or reason, you need to understand exactly how your activity is reflecting on your business. So today, here are our top 4 bad social media habits that businesses need to cut out right now.

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Here at Pickle, there is nothing we love more than a good planning session. It’s not just because we’re hyper organised (though it does help), or because we like to know what’s going on (though that’s nice too). No, it’s all about having a clear path in our head about where we are now, where we want to go and how I’m going to get there. We might be sounding more like business coaches now, but really, planning is one of the most important things you can do for your business, and for your social media. That’s why every month we sit down and design a content plan for ourselves, and for all of the social media accounts we manage for our customers. So what exactly does that help me do?

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When we talk to business owners about their current customers, we tend to find they fall into 1 of 3 camps:

 

1) They understand exactly who they sell to and why, which is fab.

2) They think they know who their customers are and why they buy, but aren’t sure if their beliefs are true.


Or 


3) They have no idea who their customers are, so they might as well be the invisible man.

The problem with the invisible man is that no one really knows anything about him – and that’s exactly what many of our clients find about their own customers. Without a solid knowledge of who your customers are and why they really buy from you, a lot of your marketing efforts are doomed to fail. At Pickle Marketing, we help business owners understand exactly who their customers are, so that they can market and sell to them more effectively. But how do you identify the invisible man?

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At Pickle HQ, there is always something exciting going on. From running workshops with groups of hyperactive business owners to posting cute animal photos with a powerful message, our team is all about having fun and enjoying the social side of social media. But we don’t talk about ourselves much – we spend most of our time talking about our wonderful clients. So this month, we thought we would do a bit of a ‘meet the team’ post, and introduce you to one of our friendliest, and certainly most popular team members, Pickles.

 

Hi! My name’s Pickles, and I run things here at Pickle HQ.

I’m 32 years old (which 4 in your human years) and I’m a West Highland Terrier, which means I’m super friendly. I love coming into Pickle HQ every day, sometimes more than mummy, who doesn’t get out of the car nearly fast enough. My mummy likes to call me her ‘meet and greet’ team, and I take my job very seriously. Every new person who visits Pickle HQ will get a cuddle and a handshake from me, as well as a tour around the office. I always say visitors are welcome to use any of my beds to sit in, but for some reason they prefer those big uncomfortable looking chairs.

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Never underestimate the importance of taking a break.  And I mean taking a proper break.

Phone off, emails ignored, social media sites out of sight and out of mind.


What am I saying? Social media sites off limits? Surely not. The whole point of social media is to be sociable, and what’s more sociable than sharing images of your holiday, letting family, friends and colleagues take a break by proxy as they frolic in the sand and splash in the sea with you … virtually.

In fact, I’ve seen the light, brothers and sisters.

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Marketing is hard. We’re not going to sugar coat that bit for you unfortunately. It’s one of the toughest parts of running your own business, because it’s one of the main drivers behind gaining new customers. 


Without marketing your business in some way, you will only see limited success, which if you ask us is a crying shame. At Pickle Marketing, we want your business to succeed, so we make it our mission to help you.

In general, there are 3 ways you can manage your marketing – outsource it, do it yourself or secret option 3.


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It’s easy to make the assumption that everyone knows everything there is to know about how to use LinkedIn.
 

It’s been around since 2003 and by its tenth birthday had attracted 225 million members.

 

As of last month – April 2017 – it had 500 million members across the globe.

 

Impressive figures, but the sheer scale of the platform can make it intimidating for newbies.

 

We often meet people who set up a LinkedIn account and who have never done anything with it, so it’s wonderful when we assemble a bunch of people who have become LinkedIn sceptics through lack of use and then open their eyes to the possibilities with just a tiny effort.

Our most recent LinkedIn workshop attracted Janine Lewis of 3J Fitness in Reading, who was looking for ways to expand the three streams of her business – outdoor fitness, wellbeing and nutrition.

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Hands up if you really, truly enjoy planning your social media?…
 

Not many hands there. Ok, how about if you don’t enjoy doing it, but you do it begrudgingly because you know you need to?…

 

A few more hands there, that’s good. And how about those of you that don’t enjoy it, so it just doesn’t get done?…

Here we see the majority. It’s ok though, don’t panic! Most people end up in those last 2 categories. In fact, many people think that because social media is all about interaction and conversation, it doesn’t require any planning at all. And at the beginning, they might be right. But as business picks up and they get busy, all of that goes to the dogs. The truth is that social media requires careful planning and preparation, just like all of your other marketing. But if you’ve never touch social media before, how to you know where to start? Luckily, your social media superheros are here to help.

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If you’ve been following us for a while, you may (or may not) have noticed that our head social media superhero Lisa has been nominated for an award! In fact, she’s breezed through the first round and has made it to the final! 

We at Pickle Towers are incredibly proud of her for this achievement, and wanted to tell you all a little bit about what this award means for Lisa.


What Are The Venus Awards

 

The Venus Awards (also known as the Working Women’s Oscars) is an award to recognise, reward and celebrate local working women in business. While it is a nationwide award, each region has their own nominations and ceremonies. In fact, it started out as a regional award in Dorset back in 2009 before exploding across the country. Now there are over 11 regions involved in hosting Venus Awards, with 19 categories up for grabs in each one. But what’s really, really special, is that this is the first year the Venus Awards have been held in the Thames Valley! According to this wonderful press release, they had 1,400 nominations and 320 applications for the awards, and last extraordinary number was whittled down to 3 finalists for each category, through a combination of sponsor and public judging. Now the finals are drawing nearer, and we can’t wait to see Lisa in her best dress getting ready for the big news.


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Our most recent blog post on networking prompted a question on our Facebook page.

‘I need tips for small talk for shy people,’ said Tabitha Rawlinson. 


We quickly responded but wanted to expand on our reply, so here’s our guide to conversation-starters.


People love talking about themselves or their interests, so you’ll find that the more interested you are in other people – and the better you listen – the more interesting they will think you are.

That’s not to say you should suffer in silence as the person opposite you bores for their nation, but the key to good small talk is asking good questions which invite more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

Make a mental note of the following, and add a few of your own along similar lines once you have a good feeling for how well they work.

With all of these, once you have people talking in response to your questions, you’ll find the conversation should flow and if you want to keep it going you you can always jump in with follow-up observations of your own or follow-up questions.

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Lisa is dead chuffed to be in the semi-finalist stage for "Networker of the Year" 
Venus Women in Business Awards - the event on Monday 27th February at Marshalls Reading was a fantastic event, celebrating Women in Business and she was proud to be a part of it. 


Networking is such an important part of my business, and the fact that I’ve been nominated has focused my thoughts on why I love that aspect of Pickle Marketing.


Here’s my guide to what makes a good networker, based on my experiences as a member of the BNI Reading Central Chapter, an amazing group of energised, engaging and helpful business people who have grown to become the flagship BNI Chapter in the Thames Valley.

I take over the role of President on April 1st and we are moving to a swanky new venue at Green Park Conference Centre as we have outgrown our existing meeting place.

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As its Valentines - we're sharing the Love this week by offering a simple marketing tip that will win you more business...

It's marketing at its simplest and its best – and it reflects that old adage that the best things in life are free.  This one isn't quite free, but it will cost only a moment of your time and the cost of a postage stamp.

Marketing is about getting your name in front of as many people as possible, so our tip is to carry a supply of Thank You cards and stamped envelopes in your car for when you visit clients, customers or prospective customers.

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Has anybody been telling you to set some goals for 2017?

Of course they have.

The world and his wife are frantically shouting at you to have reachable outcomes in mind. If you don’t you’ll get to December 2017 and look back, only to discover that your business didn’t make the strides forward you intended.

All because you didn’t have a destination in mind.

Graham in the Pickle team tells us that when he was very young his family used to get in the car for a day out and when he asked where they were going the reply from the front seat would be ‘Let’s see where the car takes us.’

And it used to drive him mad, because even as a tender little lad he knew full well that the car wasn’t capable of going anywhere without his Dad pressing the pedals and steering the wheel.

Even now, with driverless cars a reality, you still need to tell them where to go.

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Frankly, we’re too busy. Honestly, we have that many clients we couldn’t possibly squeeze you in as well.

Why don’t you go to those nice people who say they’re the experts? They have the word ‘guru’ in their bumpf so they must be good.

And they’ve told you exactly what you need to be doing without wasting any of your time listening to what you have to say about it.

Then there’s the flashy video that just popped up in your Facebook timeline. It looked good – I mean, it was a-maze-ing, dahling, and the music was that hit from last year and it must have cost them a packet in copyright, so they’ll be happy to spend your money on big-budget stuff, obvs.

And they must be incredibly immersed in their clients because they don’t appear to be too worried about updating their own channels on a regular basis. OK, so the video was good but that’s the first thing they’ve done on their own Facebook page since Danny Baker got kicked out of the jungle.

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What’s your favourite James Corden Carpool Karaoke? 

Adele, Stevie Wonder, Madonna – or the latest Bruno Mars video has to be up there with the best! It’s our personal fav here at Pickle Towers. Take a watch here...

But have you noticed what happens at the end of each recording?

Corden points to the bottom of the screen and makes sure you know how to subscribe to his channel in order to catch up on videos you might have missed – or to make sure you don’t miss out in future.

The Tonight Show don’t want you to miss out, either, because the more people who log on and watch him dueting with their favourite singers, the bigger the kerr-ching from those lovely advertisers.

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There’s no getting away from it, social media is at the forefront of digital marketing and it's here to stay. In fact, it's been reported that up to 80% of us check our smartphones before even venturing into the bathroom to brush our teeth in the morning (yep, we’re guilty of that one!).

It would, therefore, be fair to say this is the prime real estate of a marketing platform to grow your business.

The challenge, is of course to capture the reaction from your average ‘speed scroller’, to provoke that vital tap of a thumb which will bring their spinning timeline to an abrupt halt just where you want them to be. Hovering over your content and its associated, all important ‘like’, ‘share’ and URL options. 

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Killer subject fields and punchy opening lines ensure readers stay with you in your email marketing. If you don’t grab your reader within seven seconds they’ll be gone.

Too many email marketing newsletters take up valuable time by beginning with the words ‘Hello everyone.’

What a waste.

Learn a lesson from the late Terry Wogan. Read more...

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You may not be aware of this, but we’re big lovers of social media over here at Pickle Towers. We love even more a social platform dedicated to just images and that’s why Instagram is one of our favourite social channels to use at the moment.

Your business could be benefiting from this superb platform, but like others we’re guessing your stuck at the ‘I wouldn’t know what to post’ or a very common one ‘I’m a service based business, I don’t have any images to promote my services’. Whilst it is true that a service based business might struggle a bit more as there isn’t a physical product to share, this just encourages you to think out the box and be creative on how you market your business.

So if you’re still not sure about it, consider these points:

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How valuable are the testimonials people provide when you ask for feedback?

The whole point of a testimonial is to provide encouragement to others to use your services or buy your goods.

After all, the praise of an existing customer can be most powerful.

But there’s a danger that we might accept flattering comments and think they will help to improve how others see us, when in fact they might have the opposite effect.

It’s great when someone says nice things about you, and it’s even better when they put it in writing so you can share it with other people.  But is what they say about you of any value?  Read on...

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Thinking of running a promotion or competition related to the Olympic Games?

Makes sense, doesn’t it, with the eyes of the world on Rio, and everybody catching the Olympics bug again.

What a wonderful marketing opportunity.

But you run the risk of legal action if you use any logo or even certain words linked with the Games – unless you have secured the rights to do so and have been properly licensed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The protected use of a logo and any name associated with the Games is to preserve the commercial viability of enabling the Games to make money – which is ironic given that the Olympic movement was launched to provide opportunities for the youth of the world to come together and celebrate sport as amateurs. Read on...

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