Starting a Business?

You have a great business idea but how do you turn it into a viable business?  We have decided to write this helpful guide of 7 steps to get you started!

 

Market research
You need to find out if your business has a place in the market? Will people purchase your product or services? Who are your competitors? Its best to do this very early on so to avoid spending time and money on a business that does not have a place in the market.

 

Registering your business
Are you going to be a sole trader? Find a partner? Become a limited company? You need to register the business so you can start trading.

 

Create a business plan
Everything needs a plan or it won’t work. A professional business plan will give you direction and understanding to what you are doing and where you are going. Don’t run about blind looking for business hoping it works when you should plan your attack and make a move into your market. If you are looking for business loans or help then the first thing they will ask is to see your business plan.

 

A Business name
You need a name that stands out and identifies your business. Be careful not to be too similar to your competitors and don’t spend far too long thinking it over when all that time you could be working on your business!

 

Logo
First impressions do count. You want a graphic designer to create you a visually eye catching logo that represents what you do.

 

Domain name and website
When you start promoting your business customers will want to know more about you and your products or services; a website is your opportunity for them to find you online.

Registering a domain name is straightforward and will help you be found easily online.

 

Finances
Before you start get sorted on your cash flow and accounting, staying on top of invoices and receipts will save you a lot of time and hassle later on. If you’re not VAT registered and earning under £72,000 per year be sure to separate from your personal for ease and clear taxing.

 

These are the 7 steps to getting your business idea off the ground.  If this is something you are seriously thinking then contact us as professional Business Planning help seriously reduces the risk, we have helped many start ups and growing businesses so please contact to see how Ad Astra can help you.

At Ad Astra we work with many SME’s in growing and developing their businesses, our newest Ad Astra product, the Unifido online presence building packages have seen us working with a number of Chichester, West Sussex and Hampshire start up businesses and SME’s.
We have gone through the process helping businesses in their early stages of starting out, supporting their growth through all stages along the way to success, writing business plans and creating marketing plans, implementing marketing strategies both offline and online ensuring targets are achieved.

We have a heavy skill set online of digital and internet marketing, social media marketing and management, content marketing and web design.  Offline we have a marketing toolbox of copywriting, branding, graphic design and print marketing.

Chichester Business Help

Are you looking for Chichester Business Help?

Chichester has many schemes and programmes designed to help start ups and small businesses. The following is a list of services, loans, grants, help and advice, it is not specific to Chichester or West Sussex so will be helpful to you followers further afield!

So if you’re look for Chichester Business Help… Ad Astra is here to help.

 

GOV.UK
The GOV.uk site offering advice and support for starting a business. Help with everything you need to know such as taxes, permits and licences.

 

Capitalise Business Support
They are the alternatives for the normal business bank loan; if your having trouble convincing the bank then Capitalise Business Support are likely to provide you with some help.

 

Community Empowerment Limited
Free advice for social enterprises.

 

Fernhurst Centre
Internet, computers and courses how to use them. Proof that you don’t need to own a computer to run your business.

 

HM Revenue & Customs Online Advice Seminars
Online webinars for help on tax.

 

Inland Revenue Business Support Team
Advisors on hand to help you understand tax.

 

Princes Trust
Advice for 14-30 year olds on setting up businesses.

 

Start Up Loans
Government start up loans for young people.

 

Sussex Enterprise
Information on networking, support, advice and savings.

 

Ad Astra
Chichester Business Help, low cost help on content marketing, social media marketing, web design, graphic design. Business plans and marketing plans.

 

We’ve helped many businesses local to Chichester and across West Sussex and Hampshire. We hope these links help to get you on your feet, if you still need business help then contact us for a free Business Planning Consultation!

We are a creative marketing company with a full suite of offline and online marketing tools. We specialise in business plans, marketing plans, content marketing, copywriting, social media marketing, branding, graphic design and web design.

Chichester Business Help

Why is Content Marketing important?

Have you ever typed your site into Google to see if it comes up? Unfortunately the chances are that it doesn’t. So… If you can’t find yourself, how do you expect anybody else find you?

 

Why is content good?
Good content is all about optimising your website so that when somebody searches for your business or key words relating to your business, your site is displayed on the first of Google or other popular search engines.
Content marketing is currently the most effective form of online marketing, traditional SEO companies may put you to the top of Google for a week or two, but without good Content you will not stay there!

 

What is the point in having a website that nobody views?
There is no point. Its kind of like having a shop with no products, a waste of time and money creating and maintaining it without seeing any of the benefits.

For a small business with a website, content is the key in establishing your place online; without good content your site might be displayed far down the list on page 12 of a Google search and given that most people only read the first page before choosing a site to follow on to, you have to ask yourself who is going to go through 11 pages to find your site?
Being at the top of a Google search is the key to being discovered. It shows you are the most relevant to what the customer is looking for and worth taking a further look at; meaning more people will view your site, which results in an increase in enquiries and sales.

 

Content is all about key word association
When somebody wants to find a builder in their local area the first thing they do is Google ‘Builder’ and the place they live.
Imagine how much traffic the sites on the first page receives compared to the sites on the second page, and again imagine how much less traffic if any the sites a few pages down will receive.
Content puts your site at this top level so that when somebody Google’s your product or the service you offer, your site is the first one that they see.

Google suggests things for a reason… it’s being helpful. Content ensures that Google recognises your sites relevance and current status to tell people to visit your website because it is relevant to what they are searching for and is current because it has new content.

 

Oh and its about Link Building!
Do you trust links you don’t recognise? No you don’t!
Google uses links between your site and external sites to work out how relevant you are, so if your site has lots of links to new online content and links to trusted sites then Google will see you as relevant.

Link building is all about linking yourself with external sites, this makes Google recognise you and shows you are relevant; so the next time someone searches for your service Google will suggest you.
The more content you put online the higher the chance you have of being seen, so if you post lots of content pointing people in the direction of your website then Google will point them towards it.

 

Still unsure about Content?
Basically its about making yourself found on the Internet.
In simple terms:
• Increases website traffic
• Creates brand awareness
• Increases enquiries
• Increases sales

 

If you want to know how content marketing will benefit your business get in touch to see how we can help you.

At Ad Astra we specialise in the marketing and business development of Chichester and West Sussex businesses. We don’t just write content, we are a creative marketing company with a full suite of offline and online marketing tools. Web design, SEO, Social Media marketing, Graphic Design, Business plans, Marketing Plans, Branding: We do it!

Top 5 Content Marketing Facts

As part of our Twitter Fun Friday marketing facts feature we tweeted our top 5 content marketing facts, and as promised I’ve compiled them into an easy to read blog post!

If you’ve been following us you already know… Content is key!

Great copy on your website is the key to online digital marketing – content is the key to drawing in website visitors by way of keywords to help them find you and by creating engaging content giving them a reason to visit your site.

 

Fact 1: 10% of a website’s content drives 90% of the traffic. One sentence which sums up the importance of good content!

 

Fact 2: Interesting content is a top reason that people follow brands on social media

 

Fact 3: 90% of the information that comes to the brain is visual… Pictures on your website and blogs are very important

 

Fact 4: The biggest content hurdles are time, inability to create enough content and inability to create engaging content.

 

Fact 5: 36% of readers prefer headlines containing numbers (like this post!) & 21% of readers prefer ‘you’ posts directed towards them!

 

Every Friday we feature a new topic to post fun marketing facts, follow us on Twitter and get involved each week!  These facts were takes from our feature last Friday on content marketing.

At Ad Astra we specialise in business development and marketing of Chichester and West Sussex businesses.  Online we build cost effective web sites, write content marketing and manage social media marketing. Offline we write business plans and marketing plans, we work with print, advertising, graphic design and video.

Contact Ad Astra to find out how we can help with your marketing campaigns copywriting.

10 Social Media Time Wasters to Avoid

Building an online presence is a must for SMEs, giving a platform where you can advertise to the masses.

However, making sure you get it right is much more important. People are more likely to remember a bad website/social media page, and with that in mind, you need to be sure to making the most of the time you’re putting into it.

There’s no question now that social media marketing is worthwhile for businesses, no matter what your aims are or what size company you have. Even better, as it is inexpensive to get started, it’s a perfect tool for small businesses and startups to utilise.

The key is productivity! Yes, you need to research, post informatively, interact and follow, but making sure that there is some form of strategy or focused plan to follow will ensure that the time is invested wisely.

We have selected the 10 most well known social media time wasting points, which need to be avoided to make the most of Social Media.

 

1. Not Selecting a Focus

We see a whole variety of businesses fall into traps every day, and one of the most common is failing to pick a focus for their social media efforts. That is, they try to be everywhere at once and establish a presence on every social network there is.While it’s a good idea to set up profiles on every site to secure your brand name, you don’t need to be active on every site. In fact, doing so only cuts into time you have to spend on more efficient uses.

We have always seen a benefit in working out which social media platforms require the most amount of time, or any time at all for that matter! If you know that the majority of your customers use Facebook, for example, and you know that your products and images are sharable and that will lead on to more conversions, it makes sense to use Facebook.

On the other hand, not every social media network is suited to every industry. If you don’t have an audience there, why bother spending time on it? You could also dilute your message if it’s spread across too many networks. For example, repurposing content is an effective way for content marketers to save time and make the most of every piece of content they create. Spread yourself too thin on social, however, and you’ll find you burn through your content a lot faster, without much effect.

 

2. Not Having a Strategy

When you start anything new for a business, it’s vital to have a strategy. So, why do so many business owners and marketers toss caution to the wind and jump into social media with no course of action? In my experience, these people are trying to do too much at once. It’s not uncommon for there to be multiple large goals associated with a social media strategy, and each of those goals is often broken down into small accomplishments. Obviously, you can’t do it all overnight.

 

3. Not Having a Schedule

Another major waste of time for those getting involved in social media is not having a schedule. What if you forget to post one day? Or you devote a whole day to social when you should’ve been doing other work? It needs to be a regular part of your schedule or else it’ll become an ineffective distraction. One way of doing this is by using the tools available for Social Media…

 

4. Not Using the Tools Available to You

Perfect… as I was saying, the interfaces included with all the popular social networks are perfectly fine for posting and interacting with people but they’re not the most efficient for large scale scheduling. You can make much better use of your time by using a more robust social tool to tackle multiple networks at once. Examples of these are like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer will do the trick.

 

5. Using Too Many Tools

There’s always another side to each story.. don’t over use tools! Social media tools can be awesome in terms of the amount of time they can save you. That being said, using too many can become a distraction. Choose a favorite and stick to it. Keep it simple!

 

6. Trying to Do Everything Yourself

As your social media efforts grow, the number of tasks you’ll need to complete each day will also increase. Plus, an expanded social presence tends to go hand in hand with increased business. There may come a point when you simply have too much on your plate to handle it all on your own. Should that time come, it’s perfectly okay to outsource some tasks, such as post-scheduling and analytics monitoring. You’ll still be in control of what’s said, you’ll just have some help getting that message to your audience.

 

7. Failing to Schedule Posts in Advance

Speaking of scheduling posts, failing to do so can put a major strain on your workload. Business owners can’t be present on social media sites at all times of the day. This is the kind of time suck that discourages business owners so much they want to toss out the idea of social media marketing altogether.

 

8. Listen to the experts!

Social Media is full of experts, giving advice and tips to a variety of businesses, offering to help them improve their service. Wether that is a User, Community Group or Page, there is a lot of information available for all users to access.

In addition to this, the social media site itself will present opportunities to help users make the most of their service. One of the best we have found for this is Twitter. They have a dedicated UK&I SME account which posts valuable information as well as live webinars with an experience Twitter worker to talk through a whole host of social media options. Make the most of the free information!

 

9. Letting Every Notification Distract You from Work

This time drain probably affects every industry. While it’s important to respond to people that mention you in tweets, comments videos etc, you don’t necessarily have to reply that second. In fact, responding to every single tweet, mention, comment, or message you get when you receive it means you’re being pulled away from some other task repeatedly. This lays a major blow to productivity and fuels the corporate idea that employees just take time off on social media.

 

10. Failing to Engage with Your Audience

On the other hand (yet again!) a strong part of the value of participating on social media is building a relationship with your audience while humanising your brand through real engagement and conversion. But if you don’t bother to respond to people who’ve taken the time to reach out, you could be wasting your social media efforts entirely.  Its all about getting a right balance!

 

We hope you found this blog very beneficial and have taken away some social media tips, which will help your success in the future. If you feel we have missed out some vital tips or you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here.

You can also interact with us on our Twitter page, where we regularly post information and tips to help all forms of businesses, especially Start Ups and SMEs.

Contact us for a Free Social Media consultation.

We are Ad Astra Marketing, we work with SME’s across West Sussex and Hampshire based from our office in Chilgrove, Chichester.  We offer a complete bespoke business development and marketing service with a complete range of offline and digital marketing tools. Offline our marketing services include developing business plans, marketing plans, market strategy, branding and graphic design.  Our online marketing includes web design, content marketing, social media and pay-per-click.  Ad Astra Marketing has the tools and knowledge to accelerate your business to the top.

Social Media Marketing: Top 3 Tips

Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 11.21.00

 

We spend a lot of our time on social media for ourselves and for marketing our clients, so we thought we’d write you a little guide to what we think you should be doing when it comes to your SME business Social Media Strategy. We believe that Social Media marketing should focus on interaction, information sharing and openness.

No matter whether your business already uses Social Media marketing to a good effect or not, these tips can help you. Our Social Media Strategy top tips are as follows!

 

1. Invest In Your Personal Brand Online:

Connect & be Authentic to your Community, Use your personal voice to promote the Brand.

Personal branding statistic: 97% of all recruiters use LinkedIn as a part of their recruiting efforts?

 

2. Share Compelling Content

Content marketing will be part of your online marketing strategy.  Sharing this content through social media helps increase awareness, builds credibility, improves site traffic, and even boost SEO.  The proof is that you came here to read this!

 

3. Take Your Social Presence Up a Level

Stand out from the crowd when engaging in conversations. Interaction, Consistency, Promote Others, Analysis, Limit Self Promotion and Be Positive!

A Conversation Statistic: Twitter set a new record in 2013 for tweets-per-second with 143,199 tweets sent every second by content creators

 

These are our top 3 tips on social media marketing!  We have a lot more tips and advice so if you want to know how social media marketing can help your online and content marketing strategies then please contact us!

We don’t just do online social media marketing… we are an experienced business development and marketing agency based in Chichester, West Sussex.  Online we build websites, write blogs, content marketing, social media and PPC.  Offline we develop business plans and marketing plans, copywriting, graphic design, branding, print marketing and script writing.

 

Common Misconceptions about Internet Marketing

There can be a fair amount of confusion when someone asks ‘What is meant by the term internet marketing?’. It is the question that few dare ask and very few actually understand. This articles aim is to try to correct any misunderstandings you may have and gain a sense of clarity to it all.

 

1. Internet marketing is just another way of describing “Social Media’’

Social media is a hugely important aspect of Internet marketing but it is far broader than that. Internet marketing includes anything that makes use of smartphones, tablets, computers, game consoles, electronic billboards as well as radio and television. Within these tools digital marketing takes many different forms, from websites for mobile platforms, to personalised emails and interactive adverts.

 

2. Internet marketing is technical and should be the responsibility of the ‘technically gifted’

The technology is merely a (usually very simple to use) tool to reach and engage people in a product or service. It is mainly a marketing skill not a technical one.

 

3. Internet marketing is not relevant to small businesses

Internet marketing gives you the chance to communicate with customers (without a call centre), to sell directly (without the expense of a shop) and to engage and research customers’ preferences. Internet marketing gives small businesses the tools which, in the past, were only available to businesses with big budgets.

As a small company you can react on social media in minutes and tailor messages for local customers that will engage them. This is something that large businesses often struggle with, when even a tweet has to go through numerous approval processes and are often written centrally.

 

4. Internet marketing should be a separate part of the company’s strategy

Like all marketing, digital marketing has to be fully integrated with the business strategy. Most companies now recognise that their website is their ‘shop window’ and few companies would put out a press release without giving careful consideration to the messages that it contained and the impression it gives of the company.

However, social media is part of that shop window and it too is a public communication. With most people now using social media, it is more likely that a company’s personality will be judged on their presence and interaction (or lack of interaction), there than anywhere else.

 

5. Internet marketing is difficult to track or measure

With today’s apps and digital capability there is more up-to-date, real-time data than ever before and it’s easily accessible and available. For example, if you post on Twitter or Facebook you can check your website analytics to see if there has been a spike in the number of unique visitors to your site. Things like Google analytics are now readily available and most social networking sites offer their own form of analysis.

 

6. Mobile optimisation of websites is unnecessary and expensive as people can easily zoom in on touch phones

People are now just as likely to access your website (often when on the move) on a smartphone or tablet as they are on a MAC or PC and will expect a professional site to be optimised for those devices. If it’s not they won’t bother struggling; they’ll click away to one of your competitors.If they find they have to use your site, they will probably be irritated by you and your attitude to your customers. Some companies insist their customers download an app instead.

Sometimes these can be useful but they should be an additional offer, they’re not an alternative to optimisation. It is now very easy and often free to optimise a website. The online web building tools normally now include it as standard.

 

7. It is too difficult to stand out from the crowd in Internet marketing

Finding a way to stand out from the crowd applies to all marketing. You need a strategy and you need to research what competitors and others are doing. Learn from their mistakes and successes.

Respect your customers’ time and try to engage with them in a way that they will value. Appealing to the customer with exclusive offers, competitions or any chance to feel important and valued are all good ways of getting attention.

 

8. Internet marketing is not relevant when the target audience is older

That might have been true a few years ago but not any longer. The majority of over 65s are now online and the proportion is fast closing with the younger generation. More than a quarter of people aged over 55 now use social media to communicate with brands online. You need to ensure that way you communicate is clear and understandable for those who are not quite ‘up-to-speed’.

 

9. Internet marketing takes up too much time

All marketing takes time but digital marketing is one of the least time intensive tools. Social media will alert you to interactions and tools can be set up to monitor who, when and why consumers are accessing your media. You don’t have to spend your time online to make it a success.

 

We hope you found this article useful and that it clears up any misconceptions you hay have had around digital marketing.  Please contact us to find out more how Ad Astra can help your digital, online and internet marketing campaign.

We are a full suite marketing agency based in Chichester, West Sussex.  We have helped a ranged of clients from Chichester SME’s to global corporations. Our marketing toolbox is bursting with a range of marketing tools!  Online we cover webdesign, content marketing, social media and SEO.  Offline we cover branding, graphic design, business plans, marketing plans and strategy.  Get in touch to find out how Ad Astra can make your business succeed in 2015.

What is a CMS Website

Technological terms can be found throughout the internet that easily confuse people. We have found that this is the case for the term ‘CMS Websites’.

Just like in our last blog about ‘Responsive Websites’, we thought it would be helpful to point out exactly what a CMS Website is, and what you can expect if you use one.

 

What is a CMS website?

A Content Management System (CMS – as it’s more commonly known) is an application designed to allow users to create, update and maintain content aspects of a website.

A CMS enables users with little/no HTML knowledge to make additions to a website by adding fresh content, creating new pages and adding new posts.

With a good knowledge of HTML and PHP, you are able to make adaptations to the design of the site and themes, without having to go through expensive developers. These changes are instant and can be changed multiple times.

The Dashboards of the various CMS websites show the simplicity of navigation on both desktop and mobile.

 

What are the advantages of a CMS?

Most CMS Websites use a browser based Graphical User Interface (GUI), allowing users to make content changes through their internet browser instead of having to upload files to their server. The GUI uses familiar icons and simple navigation to make the process as simple as possible.  There are a number of reasons why a CMS is more practical than a normal website, and below, we look at some of the main advantages.

Users with little or no technical knowledge can add to the website. This includes content, new pages / posts and minor changes to website settings.

A CMS allows users to add content and media into pre-existing page templates.

Content Management Systems allow change the site’s navigation bars when new pages are added or deleted.

Multiple users can be assigned various privileges to the website, and users can make changes from anywhere in the world providing they have the permission to do so.

Search Engines seem to have a soft spot for content management systems, and using correctly optimised page titles, keywords, URL’s and metadata can allow sites to rank highly.

Many plugins and add-ons can be added/coded into a CMS to allow website owners to add new functions to their website. These include e-commerce, maps and sliding galleries etc.

 

Examples of Popular Content Management Systems

With hundreds of CMS platforms available, it can be confusing to know where to start. Listed below, are five of the most well-known and generally speaking, most effective and efficient content management systems:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • ModX
  • Concrete5

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS in existence and is used on over 60 million websites.

 

How can Ad Astra help your business?

The Team at Ad Astra are passionate about designing and adapting fantastic looking CMS websites for our clients. We are able to create a CMS website for your company, which will allow your business to have a professional website, without the expensive developer fees.

Furthermore, utilising CMS websites enables us to stay current with the frequent technological advances, allowing us to keep your website content up to date and modernised at all times, never standing still or never looking old fashioned.

If it has been more than 2 years since you refreshed your website, it’s time to start thinking about an overhaul. CMS Websites (Content Management Systems) are much more robust than they were several years ago, and provide many new features for you and your users.

 

Article by Alexander Smith

Social Media for Business

Social media is all about connecting with people online. You connect with your friends through social media for personal reasons and you follow the brands and companies you like; so why not connect your business online with its customers, potential customers or business connections?

Social Media is a simple, easy to manage and cost effective marketing strategy to growing your business online.

If you are yet to understand how developing your businesses presence on the internet is not a must, then this guide will help you understand!

 

Reputation

Have you ever seen on Facebook that one of your friends has liked a brand? They are expressing it publicly to all of their friends. So when somebody likes your social media business page they are effectively telling all of their friends that they like your business; this is basically a recommendation to a lot of people and will help develop a positive online reputation for your business.

 

Engagement

Websites aren’t real people, but the people behind social media pages are real people. Social media gives you the opportunity to engage with your followers, allowing you to talk directly and interact with them over your products, services or common interest. Why not strike up a conversation and show that you’re a real person? Paying an interest in your customers shows that you value them and that you are not just a big faceless corporation.

 

Customer Service

Having direct contact with your customers means any query or problem can be answered quickly and effectively without the need for long emails, telephone calls or visits to your premises. Its much simpler to respond in person through social media and means that (unless private messaged) everyone else can see the question and answer; thus meaning you pre-emptively answer other peoples questions and have a chance to show off the great customer service skills of your business.

 

Visibility

How much does a small advertisement in the yellow pages cost? A lot more than a tweet to all your customers. Social media gives you a voice to all your customers and keeps you in their mind through seeing your regular updates. They look through the yellow pages when they need help and see you and your competitors, if connected on social media they will call you first as they will feel they have a relationship with you.

So its great for communicating with customers, what else is it good for?

When you write a content blog on your website or update your website content such as photographs or calendar, you can post links to the new content and changes on your social media pages to inform your followers and invite them to click through to your website.

This is great for a number of reasons; once they are on your site it is your opportunity to show off your products or services to make a sale, it is also great for SEO Search Engine Optimisation link building in the way that Google favours traffic to your site from valued sites such as Social Media networks.

 

If you are still unsure of how Social Media can help your business then contact us through our website or social media pages. We offer complete internet marketing packages designed to manage your online presence through the building of a professional website, creating engaging content and managing your social media pages.

We are a marketing and business development company offering services to Chichester, West Sussex and Hampshire Businesses. From helping your online marketing campaign with services such as web design, content marketing and social media, to helping your offline marketing campaign with services such as developing business plans, planning your marketing strategy, branding and designing your business logo. We are here to help and provide you with the marketing and business support to succeed in your area of business.

“I love the way this looks …”

“I love the way this looks and am pleased that this is the one that we decided to go to. It is everything that we wanted and more. It looks so strong and grounded and I love the way it looks on the t-shirts. I can’t thank you enough.”

Annmarie, Zest Events

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