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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?

Dealing with a web designer - checklist

Designing your website is probably a job for a professional - but as the one holding the purse strings, you'll want to stay in control of the project. Here are the issues to consider.

  • Decide what your budget and timescales are.
  • Prepare a thorough brief, providing the background to your business and the web project and explaining what you hope to achieve.
  • Decide what selection process you will use to choose a designer.
  • If appropriate, require designers to sign a confidentiality agreement before you reveal project details or any confidential information.
  • Explain what constraints the designer must work within: for example, matching your existing house style and following brand guidelines.
  • Work with the designer to develop a specification; establish as clearly as possible what will constitute an acceptable design.
  • Agree a timetable; plan interim targets and agree how progress will be regularly reviewed.
  • Agree what testing will be required during the project and before you accept the completed site design.
  • Establish what will happen if the project starts to run late.
  • Establish what will happen if you want to modify the specification once the project has started.
  • Establish what rights each of you will have to terminate the project once it has started and how any payments would be treated.
  • Require the designer to assign copyright and design rights relating to the site to you, or at least to grant you an appropriate licence.
  • Require the designer to waive any moral rights to be identified as the author or designer of material or to object to how it is used or modified.
  • Ensure that you have an appropriate licence to use any software or source code required to make the site function.
  • Require the designer to warrant that he has the right to any intellectual property used in the site, and to indemnify you against claims.
  • Review any obligations you are asked to agree to (for example, to provide specified material by a certain date) and confirm that these are acceptable.
  • Agree how much the designer will be paid, when payments will be made and whether you will pay any extra expenses.
  • Agree an appropriate dispute resolution procedure in case of any problems during the project which you cannot resolve between yourselves.
  • Prepare agreements with any third parties (for example, if someone else is hosting the site); establish how everyone will work together.
  • Plan ahead for how the site will be maintained and developed in future; consider whether this needs to be taken into account now.

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