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The Power of Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Marketing and advertising have come a long way in a short space of time. As a business owner, your brand reputation is no longer entirely in your hands. Like it or not, people are no longer in the habit of only taking your word for it when considering buying your product or service. 82% of people look at online reviews before making a purchase (rising to 93% in the 35 to 54 age group) and they read an average of 10 online reviews for each purchase [source: brightlocal.com]. Statistics  for 2020 aren’t available yet, but the word is that with the surge in demand for online shopping driven by the pandemic, those numbers will climb even higher. This means that customer testimonials are a powerful marketing tool in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Real positive feedback, stories about user experience, and emotional reactions to using your products create confidence in a purchase decision. This is sometimes referred to as “social proof” and it should be a vital part of your marketing strategy. Where to Publish Customer Reviews?Once the sole province of Amazon, there are nowplenty of free platforms where you can encourage your customers to write reviews independently of your own marketing channels. By using these platforms, you can give your customers the confidence that their words won’t be edited, abridged or otherwise modified by you in any way. • Google My BusinessIf you haven’t already you should claim your free Google My Business listing. It provides a shortcut to a review page with a link you can share with customers. www.google.com/business • TrustpilotAnyone can use Trustpilot to give feedback on any business, so if your business has been reviewed here then you can add the average star rating to your marketing channels via a link uk.trustpilot.com • FacebookIf you have a Facebook business page then you can add “Facebook Recommendations” to your profile. Rather than leave a star rating, your customers can simply answer “Yes” or “No” to the question “Do you recommend (business name)?” and then add tags, photos and text. facebook.com • TripAdvisorIf you’re in the hospitality or travel business then (like Trustpilot) anyone can use TripAdvisor to give feedback on any business. Also you can request to be listed on the platform directly. tripadvisor.com/Owners  Getting your Customers to Leave Feedback - Some Do’s and Don’ts! DO ask them – and don’t be shy!Add a request forfeedback as part of your after sales process and letthem know how important it is and how much you value their views. DO make it easyWe’ve seen a lot of commentaryon social media from consumers being overwhelmed with feedback requests, so the less painful you can make the process the more your customers will be encouraged to respond. Provide a link to your chosen platform, or a use dedicated reply email address. DO reply to all feedback, positive and negative(All the above platforms will allow you to do this). It lets your customers know that you have seen the review and appreciate it. DON’T offer a discount or a refund for a good reviewIt’s OK to incentivise people to give feedback but if you only do it for a favourable response then it becomes unethical. DON’T suggest what they should sayAsk specificquestions by all means but don’t put pressure on them to answer only positively. Trust is a key factor in business these days, and thedisplay of an average star rating is often the first thing your potential customers will notice. So make sure you’re using a feedback process in all of your customer interactions. Written by Helen Say (www.cblservices.co.uk)Freelance Writer and Blogger​

William Barber Upjohn - Head Gardener to the Earl of Ellesmere

Learn about the Head Gardener of what is now RHS Bridgewater

Bathroom Design: Top Six Things to Consider When Designing Your Bathroom

Designing your new bathroom isn’t just about the obvious stuff, such as the colour of the bathroom suite. Here are 6 key elements you need to consider to help you to create the perfect bathroom design. 1. SpaceFully utilise your available space. Even with limited room, make the most of the space you have; this iswhere good design is essential. Positioning is important – where will your fixtures go, and how much leeway is there to move them and once fitted, can you still move around the bathroom comfortably?Also, consider storage and how much you actually need, often ‘less is more’! There are plenty of inventiveways to maximise your bathroom storage whilst not taking up too much space, can you build storage intocavities in the wall for example? 2. SizeIt’s essential to get the balance right between good use of the space available and the design of the room. A good balance between design and functionality is the key to creating a room that will see the test of time. Always design with function in mind. 3. LightYour bathroom lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s hugely important in bathroom design and is one of the golden three things you should pay attention to. These are Lights, Tiles and Mirrors. Get one of these wrong and you will not get the most from the bathroom. You don’t have to settle for just one type of lighting. Other than the functional ‘spotlights’, consider more subtle mood lighting to enhance yourbathroom as a place to relax​. 4. ColourColour is one of the key decisions you will have to make and the choice can be daunting. Do you wantto go bright and airy or do you fancy dark and moody? Also, when choosing your colour and finishes, consider the amount of natural light available and how you can best use this. With good design, you caneven make a darker bathroom into a design statement which you will be proud of. The key to bathroom colour design is Tiles. Bathroom tiles are versatile and come in a broad range of finishes, sizes and colours. Chosen correctly, it is the tiles that will add that extra wow factor to your bathroom space. 5. BudgetA great looking bathroom doesn’t have to cost the earth. The important thing is to make your budgetwork for you and to spend it wisely. An appropriate budget is essential to start your project off but makingsure you don’t use it inappropriately is essential! You’d be surprised at what an experienced, innovative bathroom designer can achieve to help with this. 6. Who will design your bathroom? Choosing a bathroom designer should perhaps be top of the list. You must feel confident that they are acting in your best interests, offering design solutions to fit the space and size of your bathroom and are happy to work within your budget and timescale. Most importantly, you should have good rapport with them; they should be approachable and trustworthy, making the process as stress free as possible. This article was written by Alfred Fraser Bathrooms & Tiles who are located on Moorside Road in Swinton. They can provide an end-to-end bespoke design and installation service, taking the stress out of a major home improvement project and giving you the bathroom of your dreams. Tel: 0161 794 0771 | info@alfredfraser.co.uk | www.alfredfraser.co.uk

Explore Salford’s Green spaces

Did you know that Salford has 74 parks - 8 with Green Flag status?  Whilst in lockdown, now is the perfect time to go and discover new parks you've not yet explored, or to revisit your favourites. Why not pack a hot flask and sandwiches and make a day of it? Here are a few suggestions to start you off... Peel ParkFeatured in the main image, this includes Salford Museum and Art Gallery and is the oldest park in Salford. It opened in 1846 and was the first truly public park in England. From 2016 to 2017, it underwent major redevelopment and was  restored to its former Victorian glory. The park is also part of the 33 mile long Irwell Sculpture Trail, from Salford Quays to Bury. Find full details of the trail at www.irwellsculpturetrail.co.uk. Kersal WetlandsLocated off Littleton Road, is a stunning new outdoor space to enjoy, created as part of a £10 million flood protection scheme. It is a haven for birds and wildlife. The views includes the skyline of Manchester, the woodlands of Kersal Dale and the shimmering River Irwell. There are cycle paths and wonderful dog walks as well as ten hectares of wildflower habitat to explore.  Clifton Country ParkFurther up the Irwell river valley,  Clifton has 48 hectares of open space as well as the remains of the Wet Earth Colliery, sunk in 1740. Here you can explore acres of open woodland andmeadows, enjoy lakeside walks, bring a picnic, go fishing or discover the hidden remnants of the city's industrial past. Bring children to play and enjoy refreshments from the new visitor centre café. Blackleach Country ParkJust half a mile from Walkden town centre, this is also a haven for birds and other wildlife and a peaceful picnic spot. Explore the reservoir, meadows and woodlands.  Dukes DriveLocated next to the historic Bridgewater Canal and situated in the centre of Monton. This green oasis has excellent links to surrounding areas and is linked by canal tow paths and cycle routes (66) to Worsley and further afield. Walk along the adjacent former railway lines ( ‘the looplines’) to Worsley Woods and back down the Bridgewater Canal, then reward yourself a takeaway brunch or coffee and cake in Monton Village! Worsley WoodsA very popular place for families, dog lovers and runners, it covers 30 hectares of woodland, brook and wetland habitats with Old Warke Dam at the southern end of the site (featured image). The Dam was built originally as a private boating and fishing lake for the first Earl of Ellesmere and much of the woodland was planted to create a game reserve. Now there’s a new jetty for great views over the Dam, new footpaths and seating. There’s a brand new adventure play area off Sefton Drive and a spring Wildflower Trail.  With the addition of RHS Garden Bridgewater, which is set to open in May 2021, Salford will be an even greener and more beautiful place to live in and to visit. You can watch a series of short films demonstrating Salford’s green credentials, plus a video on RHS Bridgewater, on the Visit Manchester website:https://www.visitmanchester.com/ideas-and-inspiration/countryside/salfords-green-spaces For more parks go to www.salford.gov.uk/parks​

Why now is the perfect time to advertise locally

Why NOW is the Perfect Time to Advertise Locally Recent studies have shown that people are shopping locally more now than ever before. Over the last year, the way we live and shop has dramatically changed. Working from home and home-schooling has kept us, and our spending, local. We’ve become more community focussed and are keen to support our local independent businesses through these challenging times.  At the end of 2020, Visa released key findings from its study carried out in partnership with Cebr (Centre for Economic & Business Research). They found 3 in 5 shoppers were worried independent businesses would not survive, 4 in 5 said they were shopping local as much as, or more than before the pandemic. • 54% of Brits surveyed said it’s important to them to shop locally because they know how much their custom means.• 43% said they get a boost of happiness when they support local shopkeepers. • 49% of consumers believe that local businesses contribute to their community by employing local people, making the area into a nicer place to live (39%) and keeping it vibrant and buzzing (38%). Similarly, Mastercard found 66% of shoppers in the UK are now more likely to shop in their local communities than they were a year ago. They have a new found appreciation of their communities and local shops since of Covid-19. 49% of those surveyed said their increased love for shopping local is to help local communities bounce back. If you are a local business owner, it has never been more important to advertise locally, with more people opting to buy local, restrictions on how far we can travel and having a ‘captive’ audience. Promote your business to your local community online, via social media, with leaflet drops or in magazines such as On Our Doorstep. Maximise the opportunity and goodwill of the local residents to support you.   The value of Door Drops during Lockdown During these uncertain times, businesses, charities, local authorities and the NHS need to be able to communicate with the public. Magazines and leaflet drops remain reliable and safe mediums for organisations to display important messages, updates and even provide reassurance to people during this period of lockdown and social isolation. For businesses who are still trading, door drops can help them communicate with households who may not have access to online services, as well as older and more vulnerable people who are less comfortable with technology. These mediums can also help contribute to a sense of normality for people, finding out what’s going on in the local community, to stay informed and in touch.(source DMA: Data and Marketing Association) Here at On Our Doorstep, we have managed to keep publishing over the pandemic, helping businesses to promote their services and stay in the minds of the local residents, plus sharing community news with our readers. With more people at home, readership has definitely increased.  If you are a local business, organisation, charity or a community group that would like to be part of our next issue, please get in touch:Susie: sales@onourdoorstep.co.ukwww.onourdoorstep.co.uk   

Live Well with Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice I engaged in unknowingly when I was younger through Indian Arts but when life events led me to learning it formally, I discovered a way of living that was highly empowering. It is a form of meditation where we practice bringing our attention to the present moment in a way that is deliberate and non-judgemental. It can be practised while sitting or when we’re on the go. Mindfulness is a form of strength training for the brain. Where we find ourselves worrying about unfinished work, something that was said, overwhelming tasks or how we fit in, we use this practice to enhance our awareness of the present moment. Some of the initial benefits of this practice are enhanced concentration, sensory clarity, and non-judgemental appreciation. A quick exercise for you try at homeHere’s a simple example you can try in the comfort of your own home. It only takes a couple of minutes. Make yourself a cup of tea and notice the following: • As you wait for your tea to cool down, notice the artwork on your mug. What colours do you see on it? Notice the little details. Perhaps the insides have a different colour. • If it’s not too hot to hold the mug in your palms, what does the temperature feel like? Does the temperature feel different on each finger? • Take a nice whiff of your drink. How strong is the scent? How do you feel when the steam touches your forehead and nose? • When you’re ready to sip, observe how you are naturally careful with the first sip.  • Slow down the process if you can, feel the liquid passing through lips, tongue, throat. Observe if your body naturally relaxes when it passes through any specific area. • Enjoy your tea and when you’ve finished, notice how engaged you felt with your present moment.  Through this practice, we actively step out of our autopilot and access a part of our brain that is more engaged, creative and able to solve problems. This is a part of our brain that is better aligned with our values. Practiced strategically, it can also be a catalyst towards much deeper transformation. We gain stability and greater self-insight. We find ourselves aligning more convincingly with what’s important to us. We strive less, trust ourselves, and navigate life fully embodying who we are, all colours included. Mindfulness, coupled with mind-body education, can be effectively used for anxiety and stress. This is something I offer at Radiant Roots and you’re welcome to get in touch. Wellbeing is genuinely a global necessity. Join me and let’s prioritise yourwellbeing. Sign up for our FREE guide: 30 Practical Suggestions for Stress & Anxiety and book a FREE consultation.Visit: www.radiant-roots.co.ukEmail: connect@radiant-roots.co.ukTwitter & Instagram: @Radiant.Roots.Wellbeing​

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 An entertaining mix of local features, a guide to What’s On, competitions & much more to local residents.

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 Affordable and effective advertising for local businesses.

 An entertaining mix of local features, a guide to What’s On, competitions & much more to local residents.

 Leaflet Distribution, Social Media Marketing and Design & Print services

On Our Doorstep, an indispensable community magazine providing:-

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