How complex is your Marketing?

Why you need multiple strands to your marketing plan

do you have a marketing plan

Developing a marketing plan for your business takes time. It takes you away from generating cash through delivering for your clients. Now I’m asking you to do it multiple times! Read more

Can your marketing protect you from Brexit?

Brexit

March 29th is just 7 months away. Based on the current situation, there is no Brexit deal and it doesn’t look like there will be one anytime soon. Most experts believe the Chequers Proposal (at least in its current form) to be unworkable, so nobody really knows what is going to happen.

So how are you going to protect your business from Brexit? Can your marketing protect you from Brexit?

The simple answer is Don’t Know.

The less simple answer starts with “It depends” and it is from here that I believe you need to start.

Positive Outcome

There is a chance (you can determine how much) that Brexit won’t be a problem and we will all continue trading as we have done. If this happens, how are you going to maximise the opportunities?

Less than Positive Outcome

The simple truth is that nobody knows what is going to happen. The world isn’t going to fall apart and planes will continue to fly, so the absolutely worst thing you can do for your business at this point is baton down the hatches and pray. You need to have a plan. The question is: how do you plan for something where you have (and indeed most people have) no idea what is going to happen?

Plan for the Worst. Pray for the Best

There are many versions of this statement, with Denis Waitley adding “prepare to be surprised”. This combination of planning and hoping is certainly better it happening the other way around.  If you plan for the best and then the worst happens, you are in serious trouble.

So what does this look like for your marketing?

What does the Worst Look Like?

The worst is that all your clients leave and nobody wants to use your services, or buy your products, anymore.  This is highly unlikely to happen all at once, so here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What costs can you cut from the business to stay alive?
  2. What is the absolute minimum revenue levels you can cope with?

Now we’ve got the Armageddon questions out the way, let’s look at how you can combat a worst case scenario.

Don’t cut what everyone else does

In a recession, most companies cut the budgets on the two areas they really shouldn’t: training and marketing.

Assuming you are selling something that really isn’t a luxury, there should always be clients for you. If you cut your marketing budget, those prospective clients won’t know you exist and so cannot buy from you.  If you cut your training budget, your staff won’t have the skills to deliver on your promises. This can impact the quality of service and your ability to keep your current clients.

If Brexit does lead to a recession, it’s best that you follow the rules of marketing in a recession.

10 Brexit marketing tips:

  1. Don’t Panic: things may become difficult but if you’re careful, you will minimise the pain
  2. Cut the right costs: we’ve discussed training and marketing, but if you must cut some marketing costs, make sure they are the right ones: the costs that aren’t delivering a positive ROI. Do you know what marketing is working and what isn’t? Click here for some assistance.
  3. Keep Communicating: recessions are distracting and make people forget. If you aren’t maintaining communication with your network, clients and target audiences, they can quickly forget about you. If they forget about you, they cannot buy from you. There are huge amounts of research out there that shows those who cut spend in this area take much longer to recover.
  4. Maintain brand awareness: keep talking about what makes your business so good and the value you provide to your clients. When times are tough, value is a strong driver when prospects are considering a new supplier.
  5. Share your evidence: we all use peer reviews when considering purchases, so use this within your business. To share relevant case studies and testimonials with your prospects, you need to keep producing more evidence.
  6. Focus: convincing prospects to buy takes time and can take longer when times are tougher. If you’re chasing too wide an audience, you risk wasting lots of time on leads that will never convert. By focusing your marketing on those you can really deliver for, you maximise your marketing ROI.
  7. Keep an eye on your competitors: if they cut their marketing budget, take advantage of their mistake and keep talking. Let your target audience forget about your competitors and keep reminding them of the value you deliver.
  8. Support your channels: if you sell through resellers, help them to sell your products and services. This way, you are continuously reminding them you exist and can help their clients. They will sell more for those who help them.
  9. Build your network: if you are quieter, use that time to build for the future. Building relationships takes time, so meet new people, get to know them and help them when you can. They will return the favour.
  10. Retention generates referrals: really look after your clients and then ask them for referrals. We discussed reviews earlier and what better review is there when a client recommends you to one of their network. When is the best time to ask for a referral? Click here to find out.

If these ten tips will help you in a recession, they will help you combat Brexit. There is a real risk that Brexit will create another recession in the UK, at least for a couple of years. If it does, and you’re prepared, you can fight your way through and come out the other side.  If it doesn’t, you will be in great shape to capitalise.

We hope this helps.

Click here for help with your Brexit Marketing.

Does your marketing support your business goals?

You have goals for your business.

You may want to sell your business in five years’ time. Perhaps you want to keep growing, simply to see how big you can get. Whatever your goal, you have to have a marketing strategy that supports your business goals. Let’s look at whether your marketing will support your goals.

Are your goals SMART?

You will, almost certainly, have heard that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. Using this definition, let’s look at the two suggestions I made above.

You want to sell your business for £3million in five years’ time

  • Specific: you have an action and a value.
  • Measurable: you can track the value of your business to see how close you are getting to your desired valuation.
  • Achievable: Five years is a good amount of time to grow to a valuation of £3mill
  • Relevant: of course, it’s your desire
  • Timed: In five years, you will know whether you’ve achieved your goal

You want to keep growing and see how big you can get.

  • Specific: No
  • Measurable: you can track how big you get
  • Achievable: with no target, how can you say whether you’ve achieved
  • Relevant: suppose so, sort of
  • Timed: No

What’s the point of having a goal that you cannot assess yourself against? How will you know if you’ve been successful?

What should you be Budgeting for growth?

If you spent £10,000 on marketing your business last year and you added £100,000 to your top line last year, but you want to grow by £400,000 this year, what should you spend?

There are two easy answers to this question and one more complex:

  1. Not £10,000
  2. Four times as much to get four times the growth

Or

  1. Let’s look at what worked from the £10,000 and what didn’t. We then stop spending money on things that didn’t work, spend more on what did work and then look at other marketing activities that may work.

Of course, the last answer makes things complicated, but it is far more likely to deliver the increased growth you are looking for.

Do you have enough Resource?

As your business grows, you add to the team in a number of ways:

Delivery Capability

Almost certainly you add delivery resource so that you have the capability to deliver what is needed to generate the growth.

Admin?

You may not need to add administrative support, but all those extra invoices have to be sent somehow. If you make a product, you need to source more raw material, but that may simply be making the number bigger on the PO.

Sales & Marketing

There are two issues with your marketing:

  1. What marketing are you going to do?

The biggest issue is how are you going to find all the sales opportunities you need to achieve your business goals. Your options are:

  • Your current clients buy more of what they are already buying
  • You sell other products/services to your current clients
  • You sell your current products to more clients
  • You sell new products/services to new clients

For those who enjoy a bit of theory, Ansoff’s Matrix is what you need to Google to read more on this.

Whichever growth strategy you decide on, you need a marketing strategy to deliver those leads:

  • How are you going to persuade your clients to buy more?
  • How are you going to make those clients aware that you have other things they can buy from you?
  • How will you get in front of more people to sell your current products, or new ones?

Your strategy and your marketing plan need to be focused, planned and then delivered effectively – we can help with that bit BTW!!!

2. Who’s going to do your marketing?

Your choices here are:

  • You do it all yourself, perhaps with some external strategic support to ensure you’re maintaining a consistent level of activity.
  • You outsource some of it, particularly for the stuff you don’t have skills in
  • You outsource all of it, with your provider maintaining a good level of communication to keep you up to date on what is happening and what is, and isn’t, working.

So to ensure that your marketing support and delivers on your business goals, you need:

  1. SMART goals
  2. A marketing plan based on what you know has, and hasn’t worked, previously
  3. a budget that matches your business goals
  4. the resources to deliver that plan

We hope this helps.

Do you have the resources you need to deliver your marketing plan?

What marketing resources do you need?

To grow your business, you need a marketing plan that is then effectively delivered. To do this you need marketing resources. For your small business marketing to be effective, you need a combination of:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Time
  3. Money

knowledge as a marketing resource

Knowledge

You are passionate about what you do. If you weren’t you probably would be doing something else right now. You can talk for hours about the minutiae of your business and I bet you could write a book of acronyms. However, knowing how to translate your knowledge into what your prospects want to hear is something different. Being sure you are using the right marketing tools, and using them in the best ways is another issue.

There’s nothing wrong with this. You cannot be expected to wear every single hat and know everything about everything. That is why large companies have their own dedicated marketing teams – to bring that knowledge into the business.

If your business is really young, and you haven’t got investment funding, you have little choice but to do most of it yourself, but you could us a part-time or virtual marketing director for just a few hours per month. They become a source of advice, guidance and support for a small investment.

Let’s demonstrate the issue with a few stats:

  • 49% of small business owners aren’t sure if their marketing is effective (Leadpages) and 14% know that they aren’t.
  • 67% of small businesses who use SEO as part of their marketing mix in-house and external resources (Statistica).

time is a valuable resource when marketing your businessTime

The old adage of “why work 40 hours a week for someone else when you can work 80 hours a week for yourself” shows just how much time is needed by a small business. You may be doing a full week simply delivering on your clients’ needs. Unless you have a Time Turner (you have seen the Harry Potter films, haven’t you?!), you cannot do two things at once. That means working more hours.

If you want any kind of work-life balance, you need to find the time needed for your marketing from somewhere else. There are three options here:

  • Employ someone, but do you have the funds available to pay them and the time available to manage them?
  • Outsource your marketing. You still need funds, but you can balance the funds and your time so that it works for your business.
  • Don’t do any marketing. This is the case for half of all small businesses, as they do less than two hours per week (Statistica).

money is a marketing resourceMoney

Time and money go hand in hand here. They also then impact on the knowledge. You may think that you haven’t got the money to pay to outsource your marketing. But if you don’t outsource, in order to get the knowledge and the time, you’ll not get the money.

This is where opportunity costs come into play.  If you outsource your marketing, can you earn more money, than it costs, in the time you save? Remember: 79% of small businesses buy they best they can afford, not the cheapest (CEB Globa). If your marketing shows just how good you are, your target audience will buy from you.

The other thing to consider when outsourcing your marketing is the investment you are making. Marketing is a medium to long term thing. You don’t get a return on investment the next day (unless you’re really lucky) so you have to be able to spend the money now in order to reap the rewards further down the line.

The balancing of time, money and knowledge is not easy. If you haven’t got the money, you can’t get the knowledge and the time needed to make you more money. However, you can start small. Test the waters, using some like us as a marketing support provider. They help you do the best job you can, helping move you to the point where you have the money to outsource the marketing so you can concentrate on doing what you love.

Give us a call if you want to discuss this in more detail. We hope this helps.

Bidding on your Company Name

should you bid on your company nameMany of you will have realised that a lot of my blogs come from recent conversations and experiences with either clients, prospects or people in my network. This one is no different and looks at a popular campaign when companies use Google Adwords (sometimes described as PPC) as part of their small business marketing activity. They run an Adwords campaign on their own company name. The question is:

Should you bid on your company name?

Read more

Who are you talking to?

who is your website content talking to?Your website is your shop window, whether you sell to consumers or to other businesses. It doesn’t matter what you sell, pretty much the first place anyone goes to in order to find out more about you is your website. The question is:

Does your website content talk about you or does it talk to your viewers? Read more

Why I want clients to sack me

firing your marketing managerWhen I say I want clients to sack me, there are, of course, conditions attached to the statement. SME Needs provides marketing support for small businesses; we want them to be bigger businesses when they sack us. That means one of two things happens:

  1. They recruit a Marketing Manager
  2. They are acquired by a company with a Marketing Dept.

Let’s look at the reasons why a company would need a Marketing Manager. Read more