The Best In Business 2013: A Round Up Of Some Of The Most Useful Articles On The Web This Year

2013 is in its final days. The year may be all but over, but of course many of the events we’ve witnessed and reported on maintain their relevance and significance. We’ve spent all year reading articles and blog posts and have shared some of the most interesting ones with you on our social media channels.

In this round up, we bring you the Best Of 2013: the articles that were entertaining, informative and memorable. These articles needn’t be left behind in 2013 as they are also “so next year.”


MarketingThroughout 2013 we saw the increased emphasis placed on the central role of marketing within business. Many business owners have re-focused their efforts on spreading the word of their product or service, turning to social media platforms in order to target their audience and grow their business through reputation and branding.

Here are our Top 5 articles on branding, marketing and advertising for SMBs.

1 5 Top SEO And Online Marketing Trends For 2014

This article gets into the nitty-gritty about online marketing, a necessary evil for all small business owners out there. In order to get discovered by your potential customers, you must be found by Google. This article is current, insightful and, best of all, helpful.

2 The Advanced Content Marketing Guide [Infographic]

As Google consistently reminds us, great SEO is all about quality content. When it comes to your blog, it can be difficult to know if that’s exactly what you’re producing, particularly if writing has never been your strong suit. The guide lines provided in this article are fantastic for helping you create a blog that is interesting, targeted and publishing regularly.

3 The Small Business Guide To Email Marketing

This post is great. No matter what stage you’re at in your email marketing strategy, whether you’re just establishing your objectives, or are thinking about A/B testing, or even if you’re still not convinced, this post provides you with links to helpful articles that target you at your precise stage of the journey.

4 37 Tools To Spy On Your Competitors

The title of this article may sound underhanded and almost seedy but actually it’s full of useful tips to help you get a better idea of what you need to do to stay ahead. Get inspiration for new ideas and improve your own plans to beat out any competitors using hard data rather than guess-work.

5 The UK Doesn’t Care About Google Plus

I got quite a heated reaction from some people in the Google Plus community when I posted this. However, I still feel that not enough business owners in the UK are taking advantage of Google Plus: there are so many ghost profiles on there, set up with a couple of posts dating back to early 2012 and then abandoned. The community on the network itself is vibrant and entertaining. Once you get the hang of the platform, you will understand its many benefits in terms of networking, as well as improving your SEO.

Customer Experience

2013 was the year that people sat up and paid attention to customer experience. Business owners and members of the C-suite ceased to see it as an add-on or an unnecessary expense. In 2013, customer experience was heralded as a central component of marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes across all sectors, and was even valued as the lifeblood of many companies.

Here are our Top 5 articles on the importance of customer service for your bottom line and reputation.

Smiling balls 31.10.131 The 5 Words You Can Never Speak In Customer Service

I won’t spoil the ending by revealing what these 5 words are. This article discusses the importance of listening to customers’ problems, without thinking of the customers themselves as the problem. Condescending service has to be the most toxic, leaving customers feeling insulted, brushed off or unimportant. This is (obviously) something you should seek to avoid.

2 25 Skills Necessary For Excellent Customer Service In Your Business [Infographic]

I wonder if I’m alone in my opinion that customer service infographics have been a touch overdone in 2013. But this one, I feel, cuts the mustard. A comprehensive list of the skills and practices you need to possess in order to wow your customers.

Customer service isn’t necessarily about not being socially awkward or feeling like you have to give things away for free for the slightest mistake. It’s about understanding how to resolve situations and, ultimately, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

3 Airline Pulls Amazing Christmas Stunt On Passengers

This was fantastic! Slightly unseasonal now, it is nevertheless a timeless example of how going above and beyond can win customer loyalty, boost brand and create the personal touch. This video was one of the best things I’ve seen all year!

4 How Customer Service Spivs Dodge The Issue

This article is really more of a rant than an argument, but it keeps the reader entertained with anecdotal evidence of what can often be the shoddy state of customer service today. Automated phone systems should be left behind: people want to talk to people! And it’s 2014 – shouldn’t they be able to?

5 Wile E. Coyote: Injured, Mocked And Dissatisfied – Customer Experience Just Isn’t What It Used To Be

The final post in this list was written by me. I got some lovely feedback on this article and feel it explains, in a nutshell, why customer experience really is so important in the very real world of business.

Business Strategy

Businesses fail. That’s an unfortunate side-effect of the free market. But you can help protect your company against the pitfalls of business to ensure yours is not one of the 50% who fail in the first two years. The economy looks like it might be getting back in shape for the first time since 2007. Business StrategyPlan ahead and take advantage of this (potentially) good news.

From marketing to finance to planning to sales, here are our Top 5 articles of 2013 on strategy and the business of planning ahead.

1 10 Business Plan Benefits You Might Be Forgetting

Firstly, why should you plan? Many people say that they prefer to act without strict plans and instructions in place, seeing them as obstacles or a measure of inferiority in darker periods. But before you charge into your business, full steam ahead, take a minute to consider why you should plan ahead for 2014.

2 Ripe For The Picking: A Guide To Alternative Sources Of Finance

This article relates to planning in so far as it requires you to plan where you will access the finding from your small business, which is a very important point. With the financial crisis leading to constraints on lending and many SMEs struggling to access funding, it is important that you understand your options and are in a position to plan ahead for 2014. This impartial guide by the CBI summarises the options that may be available to you.

3 99 Questions Winning Entrepreneurs Must Answer: Building A Compelling Business Plan One Message At A Time

Succinct, concise and exceptionally readable, this slideshow presentation outlines all the components that should be featured in any viable business plan, as well as the flesh you need to make it relevant to your company.

4 How To Build Your First Content Marketing Strategy

This article takes an in-depth look at the basics of building your own content marketing strategy from scratch. Outlining the most important aspects, such as goal-setting and understanding what you want to achieve in what timeframes, it talks you through the basics of engagement and targeting your audience with the content you publish to your site, your blog and external online platforms.

5 Pitch Perfect: 5 Top Tips For The Perfect Sales Pitch

Again, we’ve sourced our own post as the final instalment in this comprehensive list. As to your sales strategy, you can almost think of it as verbal or face-to-face marketing. You’ve drawn your leads in, they’re already interested, they’ve been warmed up, now you have to make the sell. How do you plan to do that?

Think we’ve missed anything?

Any important notes about strategy, marketing or customer service that you think we’ve neglected or forgotten? Let us know in the comments, or contact us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn. Happy New Year!

Comments are closed