What is your 2018 Marketing Strategy?

what is your 2018 marketing strategy?

2018 is coming fast

January 2nd 2018 still seems a long time away. In reality, it is only 15 weeks or so.  If your financial year is the calendar year, what are you planning to do to attract new business? What does your 2018 marketing strategy look like?

With 16 weeks to go, where are you with your planning?  Have you started thinking about setting targets for your business? Your targets form the core of your marketing strategy for the new financial year; without them it is difficult to develop and implement a new marketing plan.

Our previous blog talks about the process of moving from business growth targets to marketing budget, so today we just want to get you thinking about 2018.

Let’s have a look at just how long some things really take:

Do you need a new website?

If your current website isn’t working for you, a new website is going to take 2-3 months to plan, build and fill with content.

Yes, you can “whip one up” in a few days, but is one that hasn’t been carefully thought through going to work any better than your current one?

Do you know what marketing worked for you this year?

The time you need for this depends on how much information you’ve been gathering throughout the year.  If your CRM has a lead source field and you’ve been filling it in religiously, then the anaylsis will take just a few hours. If not, you have the choice: use “gappy” data or work to gather what you need. One will take, probably, a day or two. The other is unreliable.

Are you using the right marketing messages?

If your website isn’t working, the headlines and key messages aren’t resonating with the readers. Developing a new set of messages is a process. Starting with Who you want to talk to and the issues they face.

The time element for this is relatively small – a day or so – but it needs to happen early on because it impacts on everything you do afterwards.

What marketing are you going to do?

Once you’ve confirmed who your Ideal Client is and what you want to say to them, the next question is How are you going to get your messages in front of them in a way that will encourage them to engage?  In other words, what marketing will you do?

  • Will they come to you or will you have to go to them?
  • Does what you sell carry a high perceived risk factor?
  • What marketing channels should you use?
  • How long is the sales cycle?
  • How many do you have to sell each year to hit your targets?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourselves as you plan your marketing for 2018.

Again, the time you need to spend on this is relatively short – a day or two.

Are you committed?

In this situation, committed means both mentally and financially.  There is often a simple formula applied to marketing budgets: it should be X%. Even if that percentage didn’t deliver on targets last year, it will have to this year somehow. Your marketing performance analysis will tell you what you need to know about your marketing spend. From there you can calculate how much you need to spend. If last year’s marketing generated half the sales you needed to hit targets, this year you have to change one of two things:

  1. The marketing you did, or
  2. The amount you spent on it

After all, the definition of madness is continuing to do what you’ve always done and expecting different results.

The time needed for this will vary. The maths is easy: where are you going to find additional marketing funding from?  Do you accept reduced profits in the short term or do you cut the spend in other areas?

The mental side will take some time. After all, you have to accept that you are spending more. You have to accept that some of the new marketing channels you try may not work first time. For example, many people still believe that a single advert in a magazine should produce leads and they get disheartened when they phone doesn’t ring. In reality, almost no ads generate sales in the first edition.  They may not in the 2nd, but they should start to after that. This is because people start to recognise the brand and then read the ad. You have to commit to the long term for something like this.  That can take some time, mentally, to accept.

As you can see, there is plenty to do before 2018 starts. You won’t do much of this in December because you have Christmas to think about – and that’s far more fun. So you need to start thinking about it at least three months in advance.

Want to talk?

How much should you spend on marketing?

marketing budgetHow much should you spend on marketing is a question I get asked a lot.

Let me see if I can answer it.

There are companies who spend a huge amount on marketing. Red Bull is, perhaps, the most famous of these. The costs of running an F1 team, an international go-kart series and sponsor huge numbers of adventure junkies doesn’t come cheap. The last figure I saw was 38% of revenue.

At the other end, there are companies who spend almost nothing. If they can get all the leads they need through word of mouth, I wish them all the best.

So let’s return to the question. Seeing as I am a consultant, let’s start the answer by asking you a question – or three.

  1. What did you spend on marketing last year?
  2. Which marketing activities delivered a positive return on investment?
  3. Did that spend lead to you achieving your growth target for the year?

The final question is the most important of the three. Your marketing is there to do one thing: generate the sales opportunities you need to achieve your growth target for the year. Once you know what your growth target is, you can work out what you need to spend on marketing to achieve that target.

So what are the steps?

Your Growth Target is…

Already mentioned but needs to be reiterated because of its importance

How many clients do you expect to lose in the coming year?

If you are to grow your business, the number, and value, of new clients needs to be higher than the number, and value, of clients you lose. If your growth target needs two new clients a month, but you are losing one a month, your marketing needs to deliver three new clients per month to achieve your target.

How many new clients?

If your growth target is 10%, what does that look like in terms of new clients? The value of an average client can easily be calculated (annual turnover/number of clients invoiced). I understand that your clients can range from very small amounts to very large amounts, but you need to have an average to start this process. If you want to complicate matters and say you need X large clients and Y small clients, it’s not a problem, but you are making life hard for yourself. Partway through the year, you will need to assess your performance and adjust things if you find you are only picking up lots of small sales, rather than the mix you normally have.  If you are just picking up large clients, your problem is delivery resource rather than marketing activity.

How many leads?

For every sale you made, how many leads did you do sell to?  To deliver on your growth target, you need to generate enough leads to close enough sales (total number of leads last year/total sales). Now you have this figure, simply multiply it by the number of sales you need to make.  You now have your lead target for the year.

Which marketing channels worked best?

If you only use marketing that you know works, you maximise your return on investment from marketing.  If you continue to use marketing tools that don’t create leads, you are wasting money and reducing your ROI. How much did you spend on each channel and what was the ROI for each channel?

Is that enough?

If you simply repeat the marketing, that worked, you did last year, it is likely you will get a similar number of leads to last year.  Is that enough for you to hit your growth targets?  If not, how many leads are you short of your target?

What else?

What can you do that you didn’t do last year?  It may be that you can simply increase the amount of activity on the marketing channels you know worked.  If email marketing delivered 200 leads last year, and you need 300, is it likely that doing 50% more email marketing will deliver the leads you need?

The alternative is to do something new.  How much networking do you do?  Does your target audience go to trade shows and exhibitions? What do you need to spend on these to generate leads?  For new marketing activities, you will need to estimate, but I am sure that people within your network will have done them, so will be able to give you good advice to help with this.

What is the total cost?

By adding the spend for each channel you plan, you then have your marketing budget.

The question then is: do you want to spend that much?  The answer to that question depends on how important your growth target is to you.

 

Don’t stop Marketing for the summer

Have you stopped marketing over the summer?

  1. Everyone’s away for the summer.
  2. Nobody makes any decisions over the summer
  3. There’s no point in doing any marketing over the summer

Every year I hear the same old reasons for not doing any marketing over the summer. Let’s have a look at this in more detail and see whether there is any benefit in not doing any marketing over the summer…

There are 39 million people of working age in the UK (removing those under 18, in education and of pensionable age). There are 5.5 million businesses in the UK, of all sizes. Let’s keep the maths simple and assume one decision maker per company, so 5.5 million decision makers.

The school holidays are six weeks long (give or take a day or two). Most people try and spread their holidays through the year, so will have two in the summer and the rest another time.

If 5.5 million people have two weeks off in the summer, there are still 4 weeks where they are at work.

During this period, they will have problems they need solving. Their IT and telephones will have problems. Some companies have their year end at the end of June, July or August, so will need accounts doing. Many companies will refurbish their offices “whilst everyone is on holiday(!)” and some may even look to change their marketing consultant…

The whole country is not like Vauxhall’s Luton plant where everyone is off for the last two weeks in August. The UK isn’t Paris, that does apparently empty during August (leaves more room for the tourists)

Now let’s think about when people “return” in September. All of a sudden they are looking for help with all the issues they didn’t resolve over the summer. Who are they going to use?

  1. Their usual supplier, even if they haven’t been doing that good a job (wouldn’t be an issue if they had been)?
  2. The company they’ve never heard of who first contacts them on September 1st ?
  3. The company who has been communicating with them for the last few weeks or months, perhaps sharing useful information and case studies, showing they understand that prospect?

By maintaining your marketing activity throughout the year, you are doing X things:

  1. Developing and maintaining brand awareness, so that prospects recognise your company name when you pick up the phone.
  2. Demonstrating you can deliver consistently. If you can deliver a regular stream of marketing activity, it’s likely you can deliver consistently throughout the business.
  3. Showing your target audience that they are important to you and that you want their business.
  4. Keeping your company in the backs of their minds, so when they do decide to look to the market for a supplier of what you sell, you are highly likely to be one of those they talk to.

Every day we are exposed to 1,000’s of messages and there is only so much room in our heads for all those messages. Some we will automatically filter out, simply because they are never going to be relevant. Others will be pushed out, simply because we run out of storage space. If you aren’t replacing and reinforcing your messages in the minds of your target audience, you run the risk of them forgetting about you just at the time they decide they need what you sell. If your competitors have been making lots of noise over the summer, guess who they will be talking to.

Do you close enough leads?

measure your marketingDo you want to grow your business?

To maintain and grow your business, you need a constant flow of new leads into the business. You also need to close those leads, turning them into business. The question is: are you closing enough leads?

Your marketing should be generating a steady, and consistent, flow of leads into your business. IF not, let’s have a chat. If the flow of leads is lumpy, I would hazard a guess, saying that your marketing activity is lumpy too. Are you doing some marketing when you get time?

To understand whether you are closing enough leads, let’s go back to the beginning:

How many leads do you need?

As you plan for the trading year, what are your targets? Many companies I talk to have a “standard” 4 new deals a month approach. Whilst that will be great for some, it may not be enough for others. For some, it will be too many as they either haven’t got the resources to deal with them or they haven’t got the marketing budget to generate that many leads.

You need to have a target to aim at.

I know that one big deal a month can be the equivalent of 4 deals, but you cannot rely on the big deals coming along all the time. What is your average client worth? Easy calculation: Divide your annual turnover by the number of clients you worked with in that time. If you have one, or two, clients generating a big percentage, take them out of the equation.

Are you tracking your leads?

Do you have some way of tracking every lead that comes into your business? Without something, you will never know if you close enough leads. This may be something like Salesforce, Hubspot or Infusionsoft. Alternatively, it can simply be an Excel spreadsheet. My advice: work with what works for you and what makes sense to invest in.

Are you monitoring your numbers?

Most CRMs will provide reporting for you, but Excel can easily calculate your numbers for you too. Let’s look at the numbers you need to track:

  1. How many people visit your website?
  2. How many leads do you get each month?
  3. How many of these become qualified leads?
  4. How many of these become new clients?

The 1st question is there because most people will check you out. Even if they are a referral, they will almost certainly visit your website to see what you are all about, so you need to know this number. If your website is doing its job, you should be getting a steady flow of leads into the business.

The number of leads you get tells you whether your marketing is working or not.

The number of qualified leads is also a reflection on your marketing, with a little input from Sales. If the number of qualified leads you have is far lower than your leads, you are attracting the wrong people. If this is the case, your marketing needs to be reviewed.

If the number of sales that come from qualified leads is insufficient, there are three possible reasons why:

  1. Your close rate is too low, so your Sales process needs to be reviewed.
  2. You are getting too many poor quality leads.
  3. You aren’t getting enough leads.

The only way you will know is if you are measuring your marketing.

I hope this helps.

The 10 rules of Negotiation

As this month’s topic is how marketing can help Sales to deliver more deals, I thought I would use a video I’ve seen recently. It looks at negotiating and some key rules around negotiating when dealing with a prospect.

Alan McCarthy’s 10 Rules of Negotiation look at what you should and shouldn’t do.

The 10 Rules of Negotiation

  1. Don’t negotiate.
  2. Never negotiate with yourself.
  3. Never except the first offer.
  4. Never make the first offer if you can avoid it.
  5. Listen more and talk less.
  6. Never give anyone a free gift.
  7. Watch the salami.
  8. Avoid the rookie’s regret.
  9. Avoid the quick deal.
  10. Never tell anyone what your bottom line is.

When I first listened to this, I wasn’t sure that I agreed with some of them and the rule about salami really confused me when I heard the rule. Once explained, however, it was much clearer.

Watch the Salami

Salami is made from a mix of ingredients in much the same way as the products and services you provide.  Back in my old life, when I worked for an IT support company, we often broke down the pricing of a project to minute detail – and we often lost out because of it.  People would take the quotes and simply go to someone with a lower day rate.  They would use our knowledge and expertise to develop a great server network – and then save money on the overall project. It took us a while to stop, but we did in the end – and then we won more projects.  This is still something I need to watch out for and make sure I don’t break marketing projects down into too much costed detail.

Never Give anyone a Free Gift

The old saying says “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and this is what Alan is saying here.  Whatever you give away, make sure you get something in return.

It’s not often I share other people’s content, but this video seemed to fit perfectly within this set of blogs.  I hope this helps.

How marketing data can help you close more sales

marketing data helps you sell more

You want more leads from your marketing so that you can generate more sales.

I know it’s an obvious statement, but let me challenge it for a moment.

What if you could close more of the leads you get?  Would that be just as good?

Your marketing is planned and implemented with the sole aim of generating more leads for your business. Now some will say that it is also there to develop and maintain brand awareness (usually those focused on social media), but brand awareness is there to ensure that people know who you are and what you do – so they can buy from you when the right time arises.

The question is: when is the right time?

Answer: when the data tells you it is the right time.

Let me explain.

As a B2B business (most SME Needs’ clients are B2B), you are luckier than most B2C clients.  You get a little bit more data to help you know about your clients. Let’s look at the data that is available to you and then we’ll combine it to help you close more sales.

IP Addresses

Google defines an IP address as: “a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.” When you are working in the B2B space, far more of the traffic to your website will come from fixed IP addresses, because many businesses have a fixed IP, rather than a dynamic one. (click here for an explanation of the difference between dynamic and fixed IPs) That means it is registered to them and so you can find out what company your visitor came from.

Email data

Your email marketing will tell you what the people on your mailing lists are doing. It will tell you who is reading (opening) your emails. It will tell you who is engaging with the Calls to Action you put in your emails. Over time, it will tell you who is engaged and who isn’t.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics won’t help you sell more (at least not directly), but it will tell you which pages on your website are working and which aren’t. It will tell you how many people are returning to your website (as a %age of total audience) and how they got there. It will even tell you how far down your pages they read.

Web Analytics

Web analytics takes things a step further and shows you what happens in individual visits and starts adding other data to those visits. Many platforms will add the IP address (see above) so you know what companies are visiting your website. If you know who your Ideal Client is, you’ve got a good chance of being able to close in on the visitor.

Web analytics will show you the path an individual visitor took through your website. Email data will show you the page they clicked through to, but not what happened then; web analytics will.

This data can show you WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at and when they are returning. Would that be useful?

What shall I talk about?

Many sales calls go something like this:

  • Tell me about your issue.
  • These are all the things we do, so you can work out which are going to be useful to you
  • When can I come to your office and repeat what I’ve just told you?

Would this be better?

  • Tell me about your issue
  • This product/service is just what you need, as it will help with your issue
  • When can I come to your office and help you understand more about how this will help resolve your issue?

Imagine a scenario where you knew what products or services they were interested in. If you knew what they’d been looking at on your website, you know they’ve already starting thinking that service/product can help. All you’ve got to do is continue extolling the benefits and the results achievable from it. Guess what: web analytics can tell you what that person is looking at and how frequently.

When should I talk to them?

One of the most critical aspects of sales is knowing when to talk to your prospects. So if you know when someone has visited your website, you know when they are thinking about your business and your products or services. Web analytics can tell you when they return, with most platforms having functionality that will email you when someone returns to your website.

At this point, we don’t recommend you call them immediately, as that would be a little too big-brother-ish. But there’s nothing stopping you calling them later:

You: Just following up on our last conversation

Them: That’s great timing. I was looking at your website yesterday

You: Were you? What were you looking for?

Them: Just checking your [insert your product name]

You: How about we have a coffee and talk more about [insert your product name] and how it can help you.

Following up when you know they are interested in you and thinking about you dramatically increases the chances of you moving them further through your pipeline and to closing them as a new client.

If you would like to see how this works, click here.

 

Four ways Marketing helps Sales close the deal

Marketing has two roles:

  1. To develop the leads your business needs to grow.
  2. To help your sales team close the deal.

Let’s talk about the latter.

Once your Sales team takes on a lead, they have one goal: to close the deal. To do this, they must convince the prospect that your business can deliver on the promises the sales person makes. To do that they must do X things:

  1. Demonstrate that they understand the issues and problems they are trying to resolve.
  2. Show you, as a business, has the knowledge and expertise to resolve the issues and problems.
  3. Prove it.
  4. Help time the conversations.

Understanding their issues

Every business has one or more Ideal Clients. To develop a marketing plan to target the Ideal Client, they will have developed a clear picture of the issues that Ideal Client faces. This information will most likely come from two sources:

  1. Previous experience dealing with similar companies
  2. Market research

The development of the needs and issues should involve Sales when possible, but if not, this picture has to be shared with Sales.  Without the knowledge, they are at a disadvantage.

Showing you have the knowledge

The next stage, once you listed the needs and issues faced by your Ideal Client, it to match your solutions to their issues.

A sales person who can confidently explain how your business can resolve specific issues will be well on their way to closing the deal.

But a savvy buyer will accept that they can talk the talk. Now they expect them to prove that your company can walk the walk.  They want evidence that you can deliver.

Proving it

The evidence can be produced in many ways. It is the role of Marketing to collate and to share this information in a way that supports the Sales team.

  • Case studies on the website or gathered together for use in proposals.
  • Video or written testimonials shared through automated emails, based on pipeline progress.
  • Stories the sales team can use during sales meetings or networking events.

To do this, Marketing needs to liaise with both Sales and Operations to understand who the happiest clients are, what projects have gone particularly well and what the results have been. Marketing can then work with the client to produce a picture of what happened, what the results were and how happy the client was.

Helping Time the Conversations

Imagine, as a sales person, being able to time your next call to your prospects when you know they are ready to move through the pipeline. Although not strictly a Marketing function, web analytics products are often pitched at Marketing as a way of showing the performance of marketing campaigns. Web analytics will do that, but it will also tell your Sales team exactly how their prospects are engaging.  Our personal preference is a product called CANDDi, but there are many others out there.

Imagine knowing WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at on your website and when they come back?  Would that help your Sales team?

I hope this helps explain how Marketing sits alongside Sales.  If your business is Sales-led, a Marketing function can help Sales work more effectively. If you have the age-old issue with Marketing and Sales trying to compete, bang their heads together and talk to them about how they should be working together.

I hope this helps.

Are your case studies working well as evidence you do a great job?

As you talk to your latest prospective new client, you’ve identified their needs. You are talking to them about your solution to those needs. You’ve explained what it is you do and how that will help make their lives considerably easier or better. There is just one thought in their heads at this point:

PROVE IT!

Depending upon how they found you, they will have known you for either some time, or they’ve just found you. Did you ask them by the way? Either way, as a new prospect, they have never experienced working with you. If they were referred to you, that referral carries some weight (and a little of the referrer’s reputation). But if they found you on LinkedIn or through some other online search, all they know about you is what they have seen online. All they have seen is your words on how great you are at helping your clients. Since then, all they’ve heard is your words on how great a solution you can provide to their needs. What they want, and need, is proof that you will deliver on your promises once they sign on the dotted line.  What they want is evidence.

My last blog looked at testimonials as a key piece of evidence. Let’s now look at another key piece of evidence: case studies.

Get your case studies working well

Case studies are a summaries of specific pieces of work with your clients that demonstrate how you’ve helped them. Are your case studies working well? To do this, they must have five key parts Let’s look at them now:

Who is the client?

Naming and describing the client puts the case study into context for the reader. It allows them to draw comparisons to themselves so that they recognise that you understand their industry. If you understand the industry, you will understand the pressures they face. A hyperlink to your client will provide just a little SEO support for that company. It will also give the reader the option to click through and understand more if they wish to.

What issue did they face?

By describing the problem you helped them with, you further strengthen the reader’s image of you. If you’ve picked your case studies well, they will be reading a case study about an issue very similar to the one they are talking to you about. You’re showing them that you have experience of dealing with that issue.

What did you do?

This section is, perhaps, the least important section of your case study. A description of what you did for that client will help the reader to picture the service and to understand more. But if they are reading this after your first sales meeting, you will have already told them what you will do. Even if they are reading this before deciding to call you, they have probably already read your What We Do website page.
I believe that most of your target audience doesn’t care about what you do, they care about how you can help them. This brings me nicely onto…

The Results

Your description of the great results you delivered for this client is the piece your prospects want to read. They want to believe that working with you will deliver a great return on investment. That they will get a solution to their problem that will make them look good to their boss (that may be a higher-up line manager, their shareholders or fellow directors).
To get your case studies working well, this is the most important part, so why is it that this part is the one most often missing from case studies?

The Client’s Words

A testimonial from a named person from within that client adds credibility and weight to the case study. The client is agreeing that you delivered a great piece of work, to the extent that they are happy to add their name to it. It’s unlikely that you will add a name if you have made up the case study (Googlewhacking is a lot of fun – try it) and they can always check up on you if there is a name.

When Should You Write a New Case Study?

I mentioned above that the results section is the one most often missing from a case study. I believe this is because they are written too soon. Too many companies look to write a case study the minute a project is complete. The problem is that it often takes some time for the results of your work to appear.

Why Do This?

Keeping an up to date set of case studies on your website is, in my opinion, vital for the following reasons:

  1. Regular updates are great for SEO purposes. Not only because you are updating and adding content regularly, but it is also highly likely to be keyword rich.
  2. Regular visitors to your website will see that you are continuing to deliver great work for your clients. By the way, make sure you add new case studies to the top of the page; viewers won’t scroll to the bottom to check if there is fresh content.
  3. You can easily point prospects to the content and, with the right web analytics, see when they read what you point them at. If a prospect is reading your case studies, they are likely to be about to make their decision on whether to use you.
  4. They will warm up those who haven’t yet made contact. If they like what they read (and recognise their peers and similar issues), they are far more likely to get in touch.

I hope this helps to get your case studies working well.

What are you doing with your testimonials?

benefit of testimonialsMany marketing people will tell you of the benefits of testimonials and how they can help you to grow your business. I’m agree completely that testimonials are a key part of the evidence set you use to help your target audience to buy from here, but are you using them well?  Here’s 12 tips to help you get the best results from your testimonials.

1. Gathering your testimonials

Making best use of your testimonials starts with having some. So how do you get them?

  • Ask for them. Your clients may not know you want them, so ask for them. If you ask when you’ve just done a great piece of work, you’ll almost certainly get what you want.
  • Check your emails. You, almost certainly, have a number of emails from clients where they are saying very nice things about how you’ve helped them. They are testimonials and can be used. You might like to just check they are happy for you to use their words, but you don’t have to.  They wouldn’t have sent the email if they didn’t mean what they said.
  • Check LinkedIn. Known as recommendations on LinkedIn, these are all valid and can be used on your website and other marketing.
  • Customer surveys. If you regularly seek feedback through surveys, add a question to get comments about your service.

2. Using them on your website

There are two places to use testimonials on your website:

  • a testimonials page. Gathering all the positive comments about your service in one place shows your audience that lots of people love you. Having a good set in one place can be very powerful.
  • On relevant pages. Put some of your testimonials on the service/product pages they refer to, so people can read comments about your service quickly and easily, at the point they are reading about that product/service.

3. Where else?

The testimonials on your website are great, when people get to your website.  To make best use of your testimonials, let’s think about where else you can use them:

  • LinkedIn updates. When someone says something nice about you, tell others what they said.  People often say to me that they haven’t got much to say on LinkedIn.  This is definitely something to say.
  • All your other social media. You want lots of people within your target audience to see that their peers think you do excellent work. Put your testimonials where they will be seen and add a link back to a whole page of them!
  • Press releases. Where appropriate, add a customer testimonial onto your press release. It adds credibility as it’s a real-life other person (not you) saying you did a great job for them.
  • Business cards. If you haven’t got anything to put on the back of your business cards, add a testimonial or two. Many printers can now mix and match the design of your cards so that not every card has the same thing on the back. You will pay a little more, but it’s worth it.
  • Your imagination is your limit. Put your mind to it and I bet you can think of loads of other places: exhibition stands, banners, flyers, brochures – the list goes on.

4. Giving a little back

Your clients gave you their testimonials because you helped them out. You delivered a great product/service and superb value. They will be very happy, but let’s make sure that you help them out a little more.

  • Whenever you put a testimonial out there digitally, put a hyperlink back to their website or social media. You know that inbound links still add a little to the search engine algorithms, so it will improve their SEO performance just a little bit. It’s cost you nothing except the time it takes to add a hyperlink.

So that’s a few tips on how to ensure you are making the best use of your testimonials. I hope this helps.

Nobody buys from people they’ve never heard of, or do they?

Back in the “olden days” when you would never get fired for buying IBM, companies spent a huge amount of money generating the brand awareness and brand trust that meant they would be considered as “an IBM brand”. Today, things have changed somewhat and people will buy from brands they’ve never heard of. There is, however, a big proviso in that purchase.

There has to be a very low level of perceived risk. Let’s look at some examples to explain what I mean.

Tertiary Brands

Back in the 90’s, the supermarkets started introducing what they called tertiary brands. These were the precursors to the value ranges that most of the supermarkets went on to develop. The tertiary brands were cheap versions of either branded or own-brand products. They would be very cheap and so, even if they didn’t taste particularly nice, you, as a consumer, hadn’t lost much. In the minds of the buyers of these products, there was a perceived monetary loss, but only a small one and so many people bought these products. They, no doubt, believed that the supermarkets wouldn’t sell anything that was that bad.

The Nokia 3310

nokia 3310With the Nokia 3310 making a comeback, it reminds of the days when that phone was de rigeur. Even in the days before Facebook and Instagram, you really weren’t cool if you had a Sony Ericsson phone. However, many people (including yours truly) bought something without the Nokia badge on it and risked what our friends would say. Personally, I rarely run with the crowd and so that was my main reason for not buying a 3310.

Amazon

Amazon now enables 1000’s of brands that few have ever heard of to offer their products to the marketplace. There are very few products that you cannot find on Amazon.  In the same vein, Ebay allows us to buy from people we’ve never heard of, never mine brands.  £millions are spent every day on both new and secondhand products where we have no clue whether they are going to be any good, or even work.  Luckily for us, the peer reviews fellow purchasers provide allow us to reduce the risk in our minds before pressing “Add to Basket”.

So what do all of these have in common?

They met a need in the market at the time, either now or in the past.

Do you meet a need?

When a decision maker is considering purchasing from you for the first time, your marketing has to do the following:

  1. Show that you help them resolve a need
  2. Reduce the level of perceived risk to an acceptable level.

Reducing perceived risk

In a B2B market, price is a factor, but rarely the sole factor. The old adage still fits: “There is good, quick and cheap.  You can have any two, but not all three”.

Price is going to help, but to me the key factor is proof.  Show your target audience the evidence you have that shows you can deliver on their needs.

We’ll start looking at the different types of evidence next week..

I hope this helps