Bristol Network – Marketing, Sales and Social Media tips for Business Owners

Bristol Network Breakfast meeting at S-ParcWith such a wide choice of Bristol Network meetings there are a fantastic places to meet and learn from local entrepreneurs and company founders.

This particular meeting, organised by Mark Stonham, included a visiting speaker from a local technology start-up.

Paul Tinkler was a co-founder of Mirifice, a creator and supplier of a network broadcast technology, based in Bath.

Over an 8 year period the business grew to 55 people, with several major broadcast network clients.


Business tips from a Technology Founder

During the ‘hot-seat’ session of this Bristol network meeting Paul shared many fantastic tips including:

  • Be very clear on your target market and goals. For a product or indeed a business to be successful, the product is not a product if it cannot be replicated and sold ten times over. In order to make this number the target market needs to be 30+ qualified targets. The ability to replicate is the difference between projects and products.
  • Communicate the relevance of your offer to your customer. How will what you do affect them and their business on Monday morning, and day to day. What will be different. Make this as visual as possible. If the customer cannot picture how your product will make a difference in their work and in their world, they will not buy. Practice this communication until anyone can understand your relevance and why your product is needed.
  • Simplify your message so that you can explain it to ‘your mum’, and they can get it. People outside your industry circle should be able to understand what you offer. For example, your value proposition might be ‘to help people understand which 50% of their marketing is working’.
  • Provide proof – don’t tell me – show me. Results delivered elsewhere are much more powerful proof than any number of models, strategies, jargon etc. It also reduces the risk and helps to overcome the fear factor.
  • Be careful who you give money to. You have worked very hard for your money and to create and build your business. There are many people who will attempt to ride on your coat tails. Value advice from people who can demonstrate that they have actually ‘walked in your shoes’. If they want money from you, be sure what they will do for you and how you will measure this. However learn valuable lessons, about what works, and importantly from mistakes. If they are prepared to share some risk and take on some element of payment by results they are showing real commitment to your success. Beware the expert looking for a cozy landing place.

It’s very easy to become a spreadsheet millionaire and to believe in our solutions so passionately and with such a positive mental attitude that we become detached from reality. Without customers it is not a business.

Low cost and no-cost marketing ideas

Following Paul’s talk there was a discussion session where a couple of breakfast guests highlighted their own successes.

  • Karen had written a topical blog article about copyright and the Olympics and tweeted about it. Her tweets were picked up by journalists and her article was published in two main newspapers, the Mail and FeMail.
  • Andrew had written and published a book on his area of expertise. This generated an invitation to run a presentation on the topic, for free. Publicity for this has increased his visibility.

What publicity could you gain on a reciprocal basis? What stories do you have that will help journalists and bloggers to add interest and value to their audience?

Social Media and LinkedIn tips

Related to ‘low cost and no-cost marketing’ we had a lively discussion about Social Media and LinkedIn. Everyone around the table had some experience of Social Media, both personally and as Social Media for Business. Along with positive outcomes, such as new opportunities generated, concerns were shared about the time it can take, and the lack of clear results, and the sheer number of networks and tools available.

Tips to emerge from the discussion included:

  • Be clear about your target market and objectives. You may want to make contact and start a dialogue with your 30-50 target companies, or to stay front-of mind with 15,000 home owners who might need (or know someone who needs) a tradesperson, or highlight your new book, webinar, video or training course. Consider tactical, operational and strategic objectives that can benefit from Social Media.
  • Develop a Social Media Plan. The discussion raised many threads that we didn’t have time to complete, but bottom line for having a plan was to help people achieve more with less, and includes re-use of core materials and joining up activity into an end-to-end approach to achieve the objective(s).
  • LinkedIn for B2B companies. There are many capabilities within LinkedIn that most individuals and businesses are not yet using and are probably not even aware of. Finding skills and being found by people who need what you offer are probably the two biggest benefits of being active on LinkedIn. Personal and Company profiles, Status Updates/Posts, articles, groups, messaging, endorsements and referrals, are just some of the facilities that help people to find prospects and be found by potential clients. A commitment to contribute and engage regularly was highlighted as one of the big differentiators between people who just wanted to connect and pitch and those who genuinely wanted to build their network, and help those they were connected to.

Networking meetings and Bristol Breakfast Network gatherings is a great way to find new customers, new business partners and suppliers, new ideas and saving time and reducing ‘trial and error mistakes’.

Bristol Network options

If you are a business owner based around Bristol there are many Bristol Network options you can choose from, including:

Which Bristol Network meetings have you attended, and what did you like most about them?

And if we happen to be at the same Network meeting in Bristol in future please say hello….




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