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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

How social media helped me build a global jewellery brand

Alyssa Smith is a British businesswoman whose iconic silver jewellery has devoted fans the world over, including many celebrities. Alyssa tells Rachel Miller how she created such her successful brand in a few short years

Alyssa Smith always wanted to run her own jewellery business. Since its launch in 2010 with a start-up fund of just £500, Alyssa Smith Jewellery has reached impressive heights. "We are a brand which prides itself in UK designed and made, unique sterling silver jewellery that puts sparkle into our customer's lives," says Alyssa.

Customers include a raft of celebrities - Sheridan Smith, Dawn O'Porter, Beverley Knight, Caroline Flack, Jamelia and even dragon Theo Paphitis. Thanks to their endorsements on social media, the brand has reached a wide audience in the UK and beyond.

"It was through social media that we first managed to connect with several well-known celebrities to endorse our brand," explain Alyssa. "Social media is an absolutely huge part of our brand. This is how we interact with our customers on a daily basis."

And it's not just famous folk that are fans of the brand. "We have such a wide range of customers," says Alyssa. "Because we make a vast array of designs, and offer a bespoke service too, we really do appeal to lots of types of people. The things all of our customers seem to have in common though is their love for miniature masterpieces, unique British designs and a love of sparkly things. Oh, and many of them love social media too."

Social endorsements

There's no doubt that social media has played a key part in the Alyssa Smith story, particularly Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

"We use social media to reach a worldwide customer and fan base. Back when I launched, finances were extremely limited, so social media was a great way to reach customers that we wouldn't have been able to reach otherwise without a budget for marketing and advertising."

Above all social media provides huge exposure, adds Alyssa. "The ability to reach thousands of people via word of mouth recommendations is a lot easier online than face-to-face. It's always great when someone refers a family member or a friend - it means you've done your job well."

A focus on customer service is also key to the brand's success. "The relationship we have with our customers is the most important aspect of our brand," she says.

"We like to think we get it right - and this is why we have so many returning customers. It's so amazing to see customers becoming loyal fans of our brand because of the extra mile we go to making them happy, and ensuring that their buying experience with us is unique and absolutely top notch."

That service is built on engagement, she explains. "We only have a small team but we make sure we get to know our customers well - it's not just about selling products either; we like to build a relationship with our customers, listen to what they ask for and launch products based on their suggestions. We recently launched a loyalty points scheme, which is normally something a much larger company or brand would offer, but because so many of our customers wanted this from us we did what we could to make it work for a business of our size."

Future plans

Alyssa is also working in partnership with Suzi Perry with a motorsport-themed line of jewellery (Smith & Perry) that has proved to be incredibly popular and has helped to support the Promise Dreams children's charity. What's more, she's an ambassador for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

So what's next? "Our future plans include continuing to do what we are currently doing!" says Alyssa. "Slowly expanding at an organic rate, expanding our target market and online reach, and also expanding our product ranges whilst continuing to push the boundaries on what jewellery can 'be'. We are also working on some very exciting new partnerships and distribution channels."

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