No more Growth Vouchers

2f25f8ef-767f-47bb-9a0a-947418789505It’s too late – at least for now

The last Growth Vouchers were given out yesterday, with the lucky recipients having until the end of June to use them to get the strategic support they are looking for. The infographic here shows how things have changed in the last few weeks.  As you can see, the marketing produced over the final couple of months has generated a huge amount of interest.  I am sure the 3,500 accredited Growth Voucher advisors will have picked up more work because of it. My latest Growth Voucher project is for a dental practice looking to increase its private practice work. During the time I’ve been working within the Growth Voucher programme, I’ve dealt with: 1. a mobile application developer 2. a veterinary practice 3. an e-commerce company 4. Two IT support companies Growth for these companies has varied from 15% to over 300% since they used the Growth Voucher. There have been many other examples of how Growth Vouchers have helped businesses improve, so I look forward to seeing whether they are able to secure some of the money discussed in the last box [of the infographic] to further help small businesses.

5 things all B2B small business owners should measure

Big Data is all around us, no matter how hard we try to avoid it.  As a B2B business director you’ll be on a large number of different databases and that’s on top of those for whom you are a consumer.  When you can’t beat them, there’s only one thing to do and that’s join them.

I don’t mean simply buy a list and bombard the hell out of it; that won’t win you any friends.  What I mean is make use of the data you have available, either that you are already collecting or you can easily do with minimal impact.  To that end here are my tips on what data to collect, analyse and make use of:

1. How are you being found?

John Wanamaker famously said he didn’t know which 50% of his advertising worked.  Although his was a consumer business, the comment is just as valid for B2B businesses as well. This is the way to find out.

The answer to the question “How did you find us?” will give you all the information you need.  You then simply add it to the pipeline records you keep, whether on a CRM or an Excel spreadsheet.

Now I hear some people saying “but they may have seen us on Twitter and seen our Adwords and our re-marketing ads; which do we record so we know it works?”  To me the answer is simply: record the one the prospect tells you as that had the most effect and got them to get in touch.

The volume of inbound enquiries means it is usually easy to collect the data. The question can be asked on the phone, as part of a Callback Form and at any time before they are qualified, just as long as it is asked and recorded. For outbound marketing, you already know how they became aware of you!

2. Who’s looking at your website?

It would initially be more accurate to say, at least initially, what’s being looked at on your website, followed by who’s looking.

In a B2B environment website traffic will be generated from a combination of people interacting with your outbound comms and then finding you through various routes, be that Search, social media or even direct traffic.

Your outbound communication can easily be used to ensure you know exactly what your mailing list is looking at.  Imagine emailing your perfect client, seeing they click through to your website and then knowing exactly what they looked at.

For those businesses who find you unprompted, the data attached to their fixed IP address will be really useful in helping you know who is looking at you.

At a B2B level, the data starts to flow a little earlier: Fixed IP addresses will give you company names – who’s the person mostly likely to be searching for your services within that company?

3. Who’s buying what from me?

A bird in the hand is worth much more than two in a bush. Depending on what you read, a current customer can be anything up to 10x cheaper to sell to than a new one, so make sure you (or more precisely, your account managers) know exactly what their customers have bought from the range of products and services you sell.  They can then look for opportunities to sell more of the range into them.

4. Where are my customers?

Postcodes and SIC codes can be your best friends. Why? Because they tell you what your customers do and where they are.

Imagine sitting in front of the right person at a law firm in Liverpool. You’re doing well as the sales meeting progresses. They understand why they should use you and the numbers seem right. They then ask that question: what other law firms do you work with?

If you can then talk about your legal industry customers, particularly in the North West, you’re on solid ground and the sale could be just moments away.  If however, you mostly specialise in manufacturing companies in the London area, you’ve still got a way to go to get that signature.

Know your strengths.

5. What’s the value of a new customer?

Our average customer has a value of £4,800 and it costs just under £300 to acquire one. The return on investment is clear.  I know this could be better and the lifetime value will, hopefully, only increase as my business moves forward.  My question is: do you know what your customers cost and what they generate?

Knowing the answer to just one part of this could sway your marketing activity in the wrong direction, particularly if you look at only the cost of acquisition.  If my cost of acquisition as approaching £2,000 I’d have to think carefully about how I went about attracting more new clients, but if I knew they were all going to generate £32,000 it really wouldn’t be a problem.

 

If you don’t measure your marketing performance, how are you going to improve in the future? None of what I’m suggesting you measure is particularly difficult.  You may need to collect, and record, a little more information but the biggest factor in making the most of the data you have available to you is to take the time to use it. I know you’re busy and that time is precious, but imagine a scenario where you KNEW:

Google Adwords is the No.1 driver of sales worth £30,000 a year to retailers in London and that, during that time, they will by 22% of the available products I have to sell and that you spend just £800 to acquire that new customer.

Just how much more effective do you think your marketing could be?


5 Things the political parties are promising us small business owners

Enterprise Nation’s small business debate on March 2nd was an interesting event. Although the questions were given to the politicians beforehand – open questions would have been much more fun – and so they had time to prepare, some of the responses seemed ill-thought out.

Let’s have a look at what they political parties taking part (the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party – UKIP decided not to show up) are promising us:

Business Rates

All parties agree that the current setup is simply too expensive. The Conservatives are reviewing the arrangements and, from next month, the retail discount is being reduced by a further £500 a year. Labour promises to cut these rates by £1 billion, but this money is coming from not cutting Corporation Tax.

The LibDems are scrapping Business Rates and replacing them with a Land Value Tax, based on the value of the land rather than the building value. The Greens are agreeing with them.

Childcare

A question about how female entrepreneurism is being limited by the cost of childcare raised some tensions. The question was aimed at getting a commitment to capping childcare costs and nobody would do this – market forces!

Labour’s commitment is to have all primary schools open from 8am to 6pm, thereby freeing up many mothers to be able to work “normal” business hours, with an additional 10 hours of free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds. The Lib Dems plan to extend the current 15 hours of free childcare, for 3 & 4 year olds, to two-year olds as well.

Manufacturing Support

There seemed to be little real response to this, with Labour looking to encourage more interaction between industry and higher/further education to ensure the skills they want are being delivered. Apparently there is too many courses for what people want to learn, rather than what industry wants.

Export Support

I spent too much time chuckling at the Greens’ comments, about the same apples being imported from The Netherlands and also being exported to The Netherlands, to note much on this bit – sorry!

Enterprise Investment Scheme

EIS and SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) were both heavily praised by all parties with nobody wanting to make any changes. The Conservatives commented about the level of investment available being capped by the EU and Labour want to encourage alternative business lending to provide real competition to the banks, thereby getting them to lend more.

 

To be honest, there was a lot of hot air flying about, with the expected cat fights on occasions, as they competed. I would have preferred much more open questioning, but I would not have wanted Emma’s job in managing this and controlling the tone.

What do you want from the next government?