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02920487822

96 Cardiff Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, CF5 2DT

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Business blogs can be an invaluable source of sound advice given from the perspective of a fellow business person. Quite often these blogs are coming from an angle of giving opinions and experiences of mistakes made and lessons learned. Sometimes they can be offering an insight into how they do things and their best practices, and these can help guide a fledgling business just starting out in the same industry.

blog-laptopThe visibility of business blogs are growing in the UK, and finding a good blog that can offer expert points of view is too valuable an opportunity to pass up. We have put together a list of a few good quality business blogs that we thought you might be interested in reading. Even if some of these blogs are not exactly within your business niche or sector, there can be lots of useful information to uncover that could be of value to your own business.

felixwetzel.com

This is a blog by written by Felix Wetzel, group marketing director for Jobsite. Felix likes to share his personal views via his blog and talks on a number of different business topics. Mostly his writing topics are drawn from his own experiences and this is what makes this blog so interesting and also so diverse. Some business blogs specialise in just one or two related areas, but this blog covers a whole range of topics that could be relevant to a small business owner who has to look at every aspect of their business. Felix has been blogging on his site since March 2010.

The ‘What Goes Around Limited’ blog

I love the URL of this blog (stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/blog/) and think it perfectly reflects the personality that Doug Shaw injects into his posts here. This is a very engaging easy to read blog where Doug shares his life as the owner of What Goes Around Ltd. He also shares his encounters with other businesses at network meetings and business events. I love his honesty here – he is not afraid to share his feelings of confusion and frustration over things, and his writing can often make you smile one minute and nod in agreement the next. Doug has been blogging consistently since December 2008.

The Small Business blog

This is not a personal blog like our first two choices listed above. This blog is aimed specifically at SMEs and offers posts written by a variety of industry experts across all aspects of the business world from tips about coping with long-haul business flights to marketing, business accounting, and web technology. Think of anything business-related and you will probably find a post about it here! The small business blog has been going since 2006.

Birds on the Blog

A nice site for supporting business women out there. The Birds on the Blog is pitched more like a glossy magazine for business women rather than a straight forward blog. Visually appealing, this blog mixes a lot of useful posts to help your small business grow and thrive but also includes some feel-good life posts to remind you that life is not all about work. There are good resources to learn about marketing techniques and tips for finding that perfect work/life balance. This blog originally started back in 2008 and has evolved well over the years.

The ‘Guardian.co.uk’ business blog

If you like to keep up to date with the latest business news as it breaks, then the Guardian’s business blog gives you the very latest updates – in fact, the blog is updated regularly throughout the day with fresh feeds coming in from the Guardian’s regular business reporters and columnists. Great for blow-by-blow news about the economy, banking, and the business sectors during these times of ever changing political policies and the effects on trade and industry.

Lobster Blog

OK – we know this is a bit of shameless self-promotion, but our own Lobster business blog contains some very useful information for small business owners, sole traders, and entrepreneurs who are either just starting out, or want to learn more.

We hope you can take some time to browse a few of our favourite business blogs and can find some very useful information that could help you and your business along the way. Why not grab a coffee and take a look!

There could soon be a digital revolution in the way small businesses deal with tax.

Last year, the Cameron government announced plans to introduce compulsory quarterly tax updates for businesses, being phased in between 2018 and 2020. Wherever humanly possible, those returns would have to be filed digitally.

Consultation on the proposals ends in December.

The government was quick to stress the proposals would not amount to filing four tax returns a year, that there would be free software issued to businesses, and that late updates would not be subject to the same stringent penalties that late tax returns attract.

There would be a bedding-in period, the government said.

A statement added: “We also estimate that £6.5bn in tax goes unpaid every year because of mistakes made when filling in tax returns.

“These reforms will make it easier for taxpayers to maintain accurate and up-to-date tax affairs, reducing the scope for error.”

The government said businesses would be able to keep a closer eye on their tax bill throughout the year, avoiding unexpectedly large annual demands.

The benefits

  • Being able to use a smartphone app to update your income and expenditure – even taking pictures of receipts and storing them in your records.
  • The software would also be available for tablets and desktop computers.
  • The software would prompt you every quarter to file your latest, updated records.
  • It would give you a figure to set aside for your tax bill every quarter.
  • There would be no paper annual tax return.

The concerns

The proposals caused a storm of outrage when they were unveiled in last year’s Spending Review, amid fears they will substantially increase the burden of red tape on small businesses.

The then Chancellor George Osborne announced £1.3bn to transform the way HMRC works, making it a digital leader in world tax administrations.

A petition against the move, started by one small business owner, gained more than 100,000 signatures and was debated in Westminster in January.

During the debate, Livingston MP Hannah Bardell called for a delay in the proposals which she claimed could leave small businesses facing a “perfect storm” because of software glitches, a lack of support, and cuts to the numbers of HMRC staff.

Other MPs highlighted the plight of small business owners who would face paying more fees for book-keeping or accountancy, or spending more of their time on administration, and potentially paying for software to compile and file their updates.

Self-employed and business incomes fluctuate, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris said.

He said quarterly updates should not be used as a turnover predictor for businesses for tax purposes, adding: “This must not turn into a Big Brother turnover predictor.”

The proposals would potentially mean a number of businesses keeping more detailed online records than they do at present.

Those who would be most affected would be business owners currently filing returns annually on paper forms and micro business owners who don’t have in-house staff to take up the increased burden.

Find out more about the government’s plans to make tax filing digital here.

What do you think about these proposals? Have you already moved over to use online accounting software such as Xero?

Did you know that each minute of every day an average of 350,000 tweets are sent out? That’s a lot of competition to get yourself heard right there!

To enable you to rise above the noise of social media you need to craft some effective strategies to ensue that you get your small business noticed. If you cannot make yourself heard then how are you going to be able to promote your product or service?

Social media is free….but is it really?

OK, you don’t actually have to hand over any cash to get yourself onto social media or use any of the different platforms, but it isn’t really free, neither is it cheap when you consider the amount of time and effort that you have to invest into it.

Think of the time you have to dedicate towards content creation, marketing, studying analytics and planning out campaigns. Time is money to a small business owner, so although you really need to be active on social media or remain forever invisible, you have to think of crafty ways to increase your results without doubling your effort.

Crafty ways to increase your social media efficiency

You may not have considered this but you could leverage your own happy customers to do some of the leg work for you. Happy customers are great for social media marketing. They can spread the word about you in the same way that word of mouth marketing works – after all, word of mouth is by far the best way to gain new customers and followers.

In one study conducted by marketing insights firm Nielson, 92% of consumers regard personal recommendations from family and friends over and above every other type of advertising. A recommendation from someone you know and trust can create a belief in a business even before you have taken the time to check them out.

Encourage your own happy customers and engaged followers on social media to share their experience with others about your fantastic customer service, the quality of your products, their enjoyment of your service etc. Get them to tweet it, post it and update their status.

OK, sounds good, but how do I do this?

There are a number of ways to encourage your happy customers to share their enthusiasm about your business, product or service.

Offer discounts for referrals. Customers can earn a percentage off their next order when they introduce a friend or family member, get them to sign up to your newsletter, follow on social media etc. You could use referral codes for this.

If you own a shop, you can encourage your customers to take a selfie of themselves in your shop with what they have bought and post it onto their social media accounts and share using a unique hashtag. You could create a selfie wall in your shop where you can stick up your customers pictures and challenge them on social media to ‘make it to the wall of fame’.

Ask your happy customers to post Facebook reviews. In exchange they could be entered into a monthly prize draw to receive a go in your lucky dip in your shop, or receive a heavy discount off their next online shop, or a win a half-price or free 20 minute session or treatment at your spa/gym/salon etc.

I am sure you can think of lots of other ways to engage your happy customers and encourage them to help spread a positive message about your business.

Take advantage of the ‘gig economy’

You do know that you don’t have to write all of your social media content yourself, right?

Creative writing comes naturally to some lucky individuals, but unfortunately not for everyone. Even when you are a bit of a keyboard diva yourself, do you really have the spare time to rattle out consistent, high-quality and engaging posts every day? No? Didn’t think so. With so many other essential daily tasks that need doing to run your business, sometimes it can be difficult to dedicate the time needed to constant content creation.

Outsourcing a good percentage of your content creation to someone else can greatly cut down on the time and effort needed to keep up with the demands for fresh and engaging content. It can clear a good part of your schedule that you can then dedicate to something else that is of equal importance.

Ask your customers for their opinions

A crafty way to leverage your outsourced content creation and maximise its use is to get your existing clients and potential new clients involved with it. You could have an opinion piece written for you, then ask your customers and social media followers for their comments, opinions and views on the subject. The replies you get back to your post can be used as a free tool for creating further posts and discussions that will become self-perpetuating and will draw in more people to your thread.

For example, a fashion clothes shop owner could have a piece written about a new style of shoe they have in stock. The post could be a descriptive post that makes the shoes desirable in their own right and the owner could see some sales because of it. Then the owner decides to dress a shop mannequin from head to toe, starting with the shoes.

He chooses two possible skirt choices to dress the mannequin from the shops own range and asks the opinion of his customers and followers to choose which skirt he should go with and the reasons for their choice. The owner can entice participation with the promise that one lucky winner will get the entire outfit, including accessories, once the mannequin is completely dressed. The winner will be the most active/creative/engaging participant.

Build up some anticipation

He gives the participants a week to decide and the skirt with the most votes will be used. During that week he can use the customer comments about the skirts to create new posts and ask for more opinions. This carries on until the mannequin is fully dressed and the owner can choose one lucky winner from all the participants to win the entire outfit. He can make it extra special with a press release or invite local press to attend the handing over of the prize for a bit of extra free publicity.

This sort of engagement helps to keep your clients involved and invested in your social media as well as encouraging more shares, gaining more followers and creating a greatly improved reach.

Something to think about, yes?