Friday, 23 December 2011

Some Fun Stuff for Workaholics to do over Xmas/New Year: Dropbox

Free data back up and document sharing! Dropbox is a free service that lets you store your documents and images on a remote server and access them from anywhere else, 24/7. You can invite access to a folder - shared folders allow people to work together on the same projects and documents – and you can see other people's changes instantly.

Apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry keep your Dropbox at hand. You can upload and edit Dropbox files from your phone. Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. 2GB of Dropbox is free, with subscriptions up to 100GB available.

You can download Dropbox from www.dropbox.com

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Government Grant for Developing Leadership & Management Skills

The £1,000 grant funding available for developing leadership & management skills runs out soon.

For details of the "Train to Gain" grant call Branduin on 020 3195 7988

Monday, 5 December 2011

Advantages of VoIP Phone Technology

Should You Switch to a VoIP Phone?

You can be at an internet café and receive an important business call on your laptop, receive an urgent voice mail in your e-mail inbox on the road, even have a business phone number with an Edinburgh area code - though your office may be hundreds of miles away!

This is VoIP - voice over internet protocol - which works like email. This type of service can significantly reduce telecommunications costs whilst increasing productivity.

Read more in the Branduin Business Support Newsletter.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Marketing Information - Direct Mail Tip #2

Comparing paper mail with electronic mail:

Creating direct mail using the traditional methods of paper and envelopes can be time-consuming, purchasing stamps can be costly.

Let's say you want to send information to 200 clients or potential clients; this involves the cost of printing ink, paper and envelopes plus time to fold and stuff each letter into each envelope, seal them, label or address them, frank them or stick stamps on them... The cost of this process exceeds £1 per letter.

Alternatively, you can follow our Direct Mail Tip #1 and save yourself both time and money.

Using an electronic mail system involves creating the newsletter and uploading/maintaining contact details (often in spreadsheet format) for the system to manage - and a major advantage is tracking. A good system will keep you informed of when the mail has been delivered and opened - and will advise if the recipient wishes to unsubscribe.

Direct mail and newsletters are an effective way for small businesses provide information to potential clients and to keep existing clients informed. Branduin Business Support has a range of services that SMEs may find useful.

Meanwhile, here are some online direct mail services you can try:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Save Time & Money - Direct Mail Tip #1

For advocates of Traditional Direct Mail Letters by Post:

Creating direct mail in-house can be labour-intensive and printer ink, stationery and stamps can be costly. The cost of sending letters to clients or potential clients is more than £1 per letter.

Once you have prepared your letter and address database, you can reduce your production and mailing costs by up to 75% by using a reliable agency that specialises in direct mail. All you have to do is upload the required letter and addresses to a secure website and let someone else print, process and post them for you. Full details in our latest business support newsletter.

(Tip #2)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Sporting Chance

Sports company, RW Golf, approached Branduin Business Support for help to create and launch a website within a 2-week time frame in order to build on the momentum of some third party publicity relating to their new innovative golf training method.

In addition to sourcing a website designer to meet the tight deadline, Branduin recommended additional high-value low-cost local marketing to further capitalise on activities and attract new clients. Branduin was also able to obtain grant funding for RW Golf, off-setting some of the costs of developing their marketing plan.

Branduin's Business Support Services can provide information and assistance to small businesses to help them compete against larger companies.

Contact us.  Call 020 3195 7988

Friday, 21 October 2011

Small Business Services are not one-size-fits-all

Of course, there are basic elements to successful business strategies but with so many variables, the best services are tailored to each company's specific needs.

Taking informational website design as an example (as opposed to e-commerce or interactive sites), there are companies that require a brochure-style presence on the internet and others that prefer an ever-changing style; some companies have the resources to update content via CMS and others don't.

When it comes to SEO/link-building services, many small businesses fail to fully grasp its importance. At Branduin, we often encounter a reluctance to undertake continuing SEO until we have fully explained the benefits.

In the Branduin team, we have a pool of expertise for SMEs to call upon when planning a company image makeover: branding, graphic design, website design, website optimisation and social media / internet marketing - the full range of company image, internet presence and website promotion services - plus general advertising, promotion and marketing advisers, too.

Branduin can help your business be found on the Internet. Contact Branduin now,
telephone 020 3195 7988

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Future of Mentoring?

Initially it was announced that 40,000 voluntary mentors would replace Business Link Advisers who have now virtually all gone. So what is the state of play today?

Mentoring has now been ‘handed over’ to 5 banks - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander. An online "mentor portal" has been set up - www.mentorsme.co.uk - linking to a number of organisations offering mentoring services, supported by 250 small business advisers who do or did work in banks.

This approach offers choice but appears fragmented with no noticeable Quality Control - one of the mentoring organisations in the directory simply links to another list of mentors - and some of the services provided are highly expensive. For example, one SME Mentoring Package costs £2,750 per month (or a snip at £27,500 per annum if paid in advance!)

In our opinion, this doesn't fill the gap left by the demise of Business Link's Adviser service but, at Branduin, we have the experience and expertise to offer the small business owner more than just lip service. Our team members are all owners of small-medium companies who provide business services (e.g. financial, internet, HR, training, sales, marketing, etc.) and we have a genuine Business Link heritage.

Our combination of business generalists and specialists, our low cost virtual business model and our high levels of quality control combine to offer SMEs an affordable management-level team with across-the-board experience, enabling smaller companies to focus on their core business yet compete more easily with their larger competitors.

Branduin offers valuable support for the small-medium business. For a taste of the Branduin experience, view our business support services or contact Steve Forey with your questions.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Aspects of Business Support: How may we help?

Steve Forey spent more than 10 years consulting for signage & signs company, Signcraft, initially helping to develop Sales and Marketing activity which saw their first direct mail campaign lead to the acquisition of 20 new clients.

Via Branduin, Signcraft has been introduced to specialist marketing companies who have helped in other ways: a  customer newsletter; an improved website; internet marketing services.

Signcraft's premises were totally destroyed in a fire nearly ten years ago. Branduin undertook the insurance claim negotiations  and achieved a 99.5% settlement figure, enabling the business to continue. Branduin also produced monthly profit and loss figures for Signcraft's financial meetings, assisted with staff reviews and training.

If you are interested in any aspects of small business support, take a look at what Branduin has to offer, www.branduin.co.uk

Friday, 16 September 2011

Support Services To Help Small Businesses Compete With Larger Companies

Smaller companies are unable to afford dedicated resources: HR, IT, SEO and many other acronyms. These positions are rarely necessary during the course of a day if your resources comprise a handful of staff and a small network of PCs but, occasionally, a need arises. What do you do then?

Take a look at the Branduin Team's breadth of business expertise, including:

  • First Aid & Safety Awareness Training
  • Writing Bids & Tenders
  • Bids & Tenders Training
  • Franchising & Licensing
  • Retirement Planning
  • Tax Consultancy
  • Recruitment
  • Sales
  • Leadership Skills, Training & Mentoring
  • Business Development
  • Financial Management
  • General Marketing
  • Internet Marketing
  • Website Design
  • Computer Networking
  • Information Technology

Branduin Business Support Team comprises small business owners with expertise in a specialised skill or service and who fully understand the challenges of running a business. Browse the www.branduin.co.uk website and talk to us about your business needs: 020 3195 7988

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Business Asset Protection Programme™

Branduin's business and financial planning specialists have developed the Business Asset Protection Programme™ to protect wealth created by owners of small businesses.

The Programme includes producing a 'Company Will' for owners to clearly determine what should happen to their equity in the event of their death. This is backed by Cross-Option Agreements to protect remaining shareholders and provide financial security for the business.

For more information, visit Branduin Business Support Services: Business Asset Protection Programme.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Affordable Competitive Intelligence

Branduin Business Support has developed a number of unique CI products specifically designed for Smaller and Medium sized businesses, enabling a level playing field with big business.

The products embrace the principles of affordable ‘a la carte’ pricing and are delivered by CI professionals with 10 years experience of gathering competitive intelligence for large corporates.

To learn more about your competitors or how competitor information can benefit your business, call Branduin now on 020 3195 7988.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Exhibition Surfing

The process of targeting exhibitions to generate leads has been called exhibition ‘surfing’. It has worked very well in many cases and is certainly less expensive than taking an exhibition stand, as it can be carried out at no cost. Another significant advantage of this type of lead generation is that you can spot the type of company you want to work with and test the ‘personal chemistry’ before making an approach.

There is a perception that exhibitors don't want to be bothered by a sales approach when they are trying to promote their own products and services but experience doesn’t bear this out.

If an approach is made in the correct way, exhibitors will see that you could help them and will often agree to a post-show meeting. You may also be in the position where some of your clients could benefit from the exhibitors products and services therefore referrals can be given and introductions made.

The best way to engage exhibitors is to go to their stand and show interest. They should then approach you and talk you through what they have on offer. At some point during the conversation they will usually ask what it is that you do, providing you with an open invitation to outline how you feel your services and contacts may be of benefit to them.

Is you are a small business looking to grow, take a look at what the Branduin Business Support Team has to offer on www.branduin.co.uk.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Do you have a Bid/Tender Question?

If you could ask a bid writing expert just one question, what would it be?

Bid Perfect is currently offering a no-obligation, open to anyone 'ONE FREE QUESTION' about bids, tenders, ITTs, PQQs, etc. just by dropping them an email. More details on the Bid Perfect website, www.bidperfect.co.uk.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What kind of Business can Benefit from a Business MoT?

Every kind of business can benefit from a Business MoT but Branduin specialises in smaller businesses because that's where our Business Support team has expertise.

To resolve issues in one area often requires knowledge of all aspects of the business, as they are inter-linked. Branduin's MD, Steve Forey, is one of Branduin's wholistic business specialists. Previously a director of Business Link, Steve has assisted numerous companies to achieve their business goals.

The Branduin concept gives access to specialists who have proven track records in their various fields of business so, depending on the outcome of your MoT, we can offer further support where it's most required.

What is a Business MoT?

The Business MoT is a 'snapshot' of the effectiveness of each of the business areas in your company. It is designed to highlight which bits 'do you proud' and which areas need addressing, thus enabling the company to improve its overall performance.

What are the Benefits?

Benefits can range from cutting costs to raising income and profits, perhaps by improving quality control, improved marketing and sales or a number of other issues.

What to do next?

Contact Branduin Business Support 020 3195 7988

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

B2B Direct Marketing Statistics

A recent SME Voice Survey asked:
“When receiving sales & marketing communications, which methods do you prefer?”

Email marketing came out as a clear favourite - 80% of SME executives now prefer email marketing contact - a significant increase from 69% in July 2010.

Simultaneously, direct mail contact has seen a large decline in popularity from 40% to 25%, making it less popular than face-to-face which has seen a 2% increase to 28%.

SMS remains constant at 9%. Telephone calls have also declined in popularity - by 7% to 22%.

Read the full article at Branduin Business Support website.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Default Retirement Age - change in laws from 6 April 2011

The Government has confirmed it intends proceeding with its plans to phase out the Default Retirement Age between 6th April & 1st October 2011, making retirement at age 65 a matter of choice rather than compulsion.

The last date for issuing a notice of intended retirement date under the current regime was 5 April 2011.

From 6 April 2011, setting a contractual retirement age and commencing a procedure to retire an employee has to be objectively justified under direct age discrimination provisions - which will be difficult to do other than in exceptional circumstances.

From 6 April 2011, it is also no longer lawful to reject a job application simply because the applicant is within six months of reaching age 65 or the normal retirement age.

Follow us on Twitter or visit our website for more useful information for SMEs.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Avoiding Duplicate Content on the Internet

Following this article on Google's Duplicate Copy goals, how worried should you be about your website and blog content being plagiarised and penalised?

Your website content should be original. What's the point of being another also-ran? Branduin Business Support can help those who need to re-write and optimise content for better search engine results. If your content is the original, this should have an established history with search engines therefore you should not be downgraded ... but why not take the opportunity to freshen up the content anyway?

Blog content is often given a lower priority by companies but it, too, should have original content. A blog is your opportunity to draw attention to your website with news or to highlight various products/services with extra information and a link to the relevant web site page. If you want to reference an article off-site, it's best to write an introduction in your own words and link to the article (perhaps in a separate tab, so that your page remains open in the browser). If your blog also feeds onto your website page or elsewhere, this is recognised by search engines and will not be branded as duplicate content.

A simple test is to copy/paste a long-ish phrase or sentence from your website or blog, enclosed within "quotes" into the Google/Bing/Yahoo search box, e.g. "Branduin Business Support can help those who need to re-write and optimise content for better search engine results" then consider the results.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Do You Know Why People UnFollow You on Twitter?

Typical reasons for your followers to stop following you ...
  • You tweet too many tweets!
  • Your followers may decide that he content of your tweets may not be relevant any more.
  • You tweet too infrequently and people clear out the dead wood.
  • Your tweets are just links, you don’t actually tweet anything original.
  • Your tweets are full of @somebody conversations that mean nothing to other people.
  • Some followers only follow you if you follow them back. 
Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of Tweeters who fill in the latter category, and there is a way of dealing with them. For the full article, written by Danny Bermant, a member of the Branduin Support Team, /continue ...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Government Grant Funding Still Available?

Government grant funding may be available to develop your in-house telesales skills or to manage an outsourced campaign.

Please contact Branduin Business Support on 020 3195 7988 for details

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Employee Pension Requirement

Automatic enrolment into a pension scheme is due to be phased in between 2012 and 2017. All UK companies – even if they have just one employee – will have to contribute unless they opt out.

Enrolment for small businesses will begin in 2014 with minimum employer contributions set at 1% of qualifying earnings, rising to 3% by 2017.

Employers can make contributions to an existing scheme, to NEST, the low-cost Government pension scheme, or can choose a qualifying scheme that meets their needs.

For further advice on these schemes please call Branduin on 020 3195 7988 or email info@branduin.co.uk

Branduin specialises in providing Business Support to SMEs.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Business Link / Business Support Services

Business Link, the publicly funded advice network, is to be scrapped and replaced by a website and call centre, the Government has confirmed. The Government said the £154m cost of the Business Link network of offices was “high” and the “generalist nature” of the advice often “poorly targeted” towards “lifestyle businesses that have no aspiration to grow”. “There are more efficient, effective and targeted ways to use public money to provide the kinds of business improvement help that businesses need,” was stated in a regional growth white paper.

From April 2012 small businesses will be able to access advice with a national website – www.businesslink.gov.uk – and a call centre.

So where will small to medium sized businesses look for business advice and support in future given that demise of Business Link’s Adviser service?

A survey of 2,000 businesses carried out by Branduin Business Support last month revealed that 28% currently turn to their accountants for business advice and a significant 20% look online.

Branduin Business Support Services have been developed to assist small to medium businesses in all aspects of management and growth.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Why pay for Software?

Tim Little of the Branduin Business Support group summarises some of the free & nearly free open source software that is readily available.

Most of us who purchase software normally opt for ‘off the shelf’ solutions provided by Microsoft or, where this is not available, we look for other proprietary systems. In many cases this can prove expensive,  particularly if changes need to be made to meet our specific business needs. In fact there are now three types of software to choose from:
• Proprietary - you pay a license fee;
• ShareWare - you normally pay a modest amount;
• OpenSource - genuinely free (although donations are encouraged).

Some applications used by me or other Branduin team members are:
  • OpenOffice – the real alternative to Microsoft Office - includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database - allows you to open Microsoft files and save files in MS Word format etc - www.openoffice.org
  • Joomla - a content management system for building Web sites and powerful online applications. Content can be text, photos, music, video – just about anything you can think of - www.joomla.org
  • Moodle - a Course / Learning Management System. Allows people in learning and education to create effective online learning sites. (It is the student platform of the Open University) - www.moodle.org
  • Mahara - an e-portfolio, CV builder, blog and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities - www.mahara.org
  • vTiger – a fully featured Client Relationship Management system that stacks up well against SalesForce, ACT! etc - www.vtiger.com
  • PDFCreator - if you need to create PDF files of just about anything on your computer this is the program for you - www.sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator
  • Firefox - the elegant alternative to Internet Explorer - www.mozilla.com
  • Books - if you need a manual to help you with one of these programs try www.packtpub.com
  • Wordpress - initially designed as a blogging system but with numerous add-ons, this has become a popular option for customer-managed website design - www.wordpress.com
  • TAS - accounting system - www.tassoftware.co.uk/free
Once you begin to look around, there will be many others. For example, other Internet browser alternatives include Google Chrome, Apple Safari (for Windows), Opera and others.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Internet Presence and Website Promotion for SMEs

How to Improve traffic to your website without advertising by Author: Bee


Internet presence is a powerful marketing and sales tool. Without it, the potential success of your future business is considerably reduced. There are different levels of exposure on the Internet and different reasons for having a web site, which may be the equivalent of an information brochure or may be the sole source of sales.

Let's assume that you have a web site, that the design looks good and the site functions as it should. If your web site is a promotional or sales tool for your company, this is where your head of marketing needs to have Internet marketing experience or access to someone who does.

Website promotion: the main goal of Internet marketing is exposure. Google remains the Search Engine of choice and all web site owners want a page one 'organic results' position. The alternative is to appear on page one with a pay-per-click Google-ad.

There are many contributing factors to gaining a good ranking on Search Engines. Historical presence is one, others include optimised content and high value inbound links.

Optimising content requires good writing skills coupled with optimising experience and some industry knowledge. Researching successful competitor sites can often be a source of inspiration. A knowledge of html will enable the code to be optimised - page title, image title and tags, H1 headers, etc.

Inbound links may be from listings (usually low value) or relative sites (high value). An Internet Marketing specialist will target a number of ways to generate links from anchor-text keywords on popular sites. A link from a high ranking page helps your site's ranking, especially if it contains similar content to your site and is linked from a word or phrase that is significant to your site content as an anchor-text keyword.

Ways to build good quality links to your website include writing for and linking from informative business blogs (like this one) that provide good content on the same subject, also submitting interesting articles (like this!) to various internet publishing sites.

Whilst much of the search engine ranking process is automated, it is driven by human actions. If your site is interesting and therefore popular with human users, it will ultimately be recognised as such by Search Engines.

As an alternative or complementary tactic, PPC is a matter of the advertising budget being diverted from, say, local newspapers or market-sector magazines to Google or other Internet advertisers.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/seo-articles/internet-presence-and-website-promotion-3738170.html

About the Author:
Part of the Branduin team, Barbara Primrose writes articles and blogs and manages social media for clients, helping to promote their products or services information to potential clients via the Internet.

Steve Forey, Branduin
Branduin focuses on business support to SMEs, ranging from owner-managed to medium-sized national and international companies whose Directors have identified a need for aspects of their business: sales, marketing, finance, etc.; personnel motivation and goal mapping; business strategy; out-sourcing; consultancy, grant funding ... and so much more.

Visit www.branduin.co.uk

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Case Study: Logistics - client tenders and marketing support

Branduin were asked to help SAE Logistics respond to an invitation to tender from one of their main blue-chip customers. Marcus Eden-Ellis, Branduin’s tender expert, helped SAE develop and enhance the policies that were required as part of the bid and also worked closely with the SAE team to produce the bid document.

SAE were also advised to upgrade some of their customer literature and to revamp their website in order to create an improved image. The result was highly positive – SAE had submitted by far the best bid and they retained the work.

Since the tender bid, the Branduin team has been engaged to carry out buyer research on SAE’s behalf which resulted in a number of new leads and has enabled them to sharpen their marketing messages - we are also working with them on Internet promotion to improve their search engine ranking.

Branduin now meet with SAE on a regular basis to act as a sounding board for ideas and to provide confidential advice to the Managing Director, Richard Bousfield. Branduin's Business Support Services could benefit you - www.branduin.co.uk