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Promoting gift experiences for disabled people! - Paul's Blog

Founder Paul Nicol embarks on his own personal blog, taking you on his journey from diagnosis of a sight losing disease through to the present day as he makes the UK's only gift experience provider for disabled people a success in the midst of tough economic times.

Hello Gift Purchasers,

Well, as Christmas draws ever closer, things are hotting up at the home of gift experiences for disabled people! Last week we added a number of features, namely a customer Testimonial section and social media buttons, both of which we hope will encourage you to tell your friends and family about the home of gift experiences for disabled people!

It's been a busy couple of weeks, to the point that I have had to read my previous blog posts to remind myself where I had got to in the story of my business start-up.

Directing Traffic

So, I had launched the website with a small delay in mid June. If you talk to anyone that has a website as their primary route to market, you will here a similar story. It is all very well and good having a fantastic website, but you need to get people to it! It can so often be the case that people invest time, money and effort in creating an amazing website only to have it all go to waste as no time or money is spent promoting it!

There are a number of considerations that need to be factored in generating meaningful traffic to your website, note the "meaningful" traffic. It is no use to you if people from Australia are looking at your website if you are offering a local service to a small area in the UK. I have had so many emails and phone calls offering me untold numbers of visitors to the home of gift experiences for disabled people! the kind of traffic that these companies offer are in my opinion pointless and serve little purpose other than to distort the figures and ultimately make my job harder.

Narketing Plan

I took the decision quite early on in my business plan and marketing plan to use Search Engine Optimisation, Online Advertising and media to promote the home of gift experiences for disabled people! I won't bore you with the details of each, but if you type "Gifts for paraplegic" into Google, you will spot an advert for us (Don't click it, it costs us money!). Essentially Online Advertising fills a gap that Search Engine Optimisation cannot fill. Search Engine Optimisation is absolutely critical and the most cost effective way of getting good long term results and meaningful traffic to your website. Online Advertising in comparison can be more costly and once you stop putting money in, people stop seeing your advert!

The home of gift experiences for disabled people in the News!

I was in quite a fortunate position as when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the charity I raised money for Helen and Douglas House had given me a list of press contacts in order to promote my story and raise more money. So, when the site had launched, I put together a press release, I then got my copy writer who used to be a journalist to put a little life into the press release and I began firing it out via email to all the local press contacts, this ranged from local news papers, local magazines, local radio to local TV & News.

Now, you might think that would be enough, but it's not, if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen! I followed up every one of these emails with a phone call. People in the media are busy, some will simply ignore the email, others may forget, but you don't know until you get on the phone and speak to someone. Off the back of the Press Release, I was lucky to secure a spot on local BBC News! This was an amazing achievement, the story actually made it onto BBC South Today and gave the home of gift experiences untold coverage! You can see the news item on the front page of the website and on our YouTube site.

This approach is something that I have had to keep up continuously, contacting charities and asking for space in a newsletter or website, posting on twitter, distributing leaflets and more.

It's not easy

I will be honest, the marketing element has been much harder than I thought it would be. Naively, I assumed that I would be able to contact a charity and ask for some kind of exposure to their members, after all, it's a business run by someone with a disability, offering a unique service for people with disabilities, why would anyone say "no"? Well, I can tell you, some of these charities are massive and operate in so many ways like a commercial business and it can so often be the case that unless there is a direct benefit for the charity then it can't be done. When I think about it, it's understandable, there are plenty of companies offering a product or service to people with disabilities, charities cannot promote all of these to their users, otherwise it would get ridiculous! Initially it was hard to accept, but in business, you do have to just get up and move on, there is no benefit to holding a grudge, it saps time and energy and ultimately detracts you from focusing on what you need to do which is make that next phone call, email or promotion!

Successes

There are many other places you can see support for the home of gift experiences for disabled people, take a look at our "supporters banner" and "Thank You's" page to see some. The next big thing is Queen Alexandra College Sight Village in London, it will be the first exhibition that we have exhibited at! We will have a prize draw for visitors to enter into and plenty of experiences to talk about. If you are in London on 6th & 7th November, then make your way over to Kensington Town Hall, it's free to get in and come and see us., we look forward to seeing you there!

Final Thought

My final thought/advice is this. However much time and money you invest in the development in your website, double it for the marketing and promotion of the site. Doubling it may get you somewhere close to the actual cost in the first year and think of it as an ongoing thing after that. There's no magic bullet for getting traffic to your site, don't get tied up in a figure that tell's you that you get x thousand visitors to your site, this is meaningless if only half are actually staying on your site, looking around and interested in what you have to offer.

Get in Touch

To get the latest news and promotions from the UK's only gift experience provider for people with disabilities, join us on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget, we are only a phone call away, so if you want to talk to someone about our amazing gift experiences for people with disabilities, then just get in touch!