Which marketing activity delivers the best return on investment?

There are three ways to improve your bottom line with maximised profits:

  1. Sell more stuff
  2. Reduce the cost of making and delivering the stuff
  3. Reduce your below the line costs

Lets concentrate on No.1

In order to sell more stuff you need to have more opportunities (or sell larger quantities, but we’ll ignore that for now as well) to sell.  This means making more people aware of your ability to supply said stuff and provide sufficient evidence that your stuff is great. In other words you need better marketing.

The question is: How do you make your marketing better?

or, more precisely, how do you get a better return on investment from your marketing resources – both time and money?

There is, thankfully, a very simple answer to that: concentrate on the marketing activities that deliver the best ROI.

Lets look at this in more detail.

Imagine that you use five different marketing activities to generate your sales opportunities:

  1. Pay Per Click advertising
  2. Networking
  3. Yellow Pages
  4. Telemarketing
  5. Social media

Presuming you know how each of your sales opportunities happened upon you (you do know this don’t you?) you can track their path through your pipeline, see how many opportunities from each marketing activity turn into sales, and then compare the total sales value (for each activity) to the money you spent.

You now know which marketing activities are delivering the best, and worst, ROI.

So, in order to improve the bottom line you simply have to concentrate your budget on the best performing marketing activities.  More sales opportunities should deliver more sales, with the money flowing down to the bottom line.

I hope this helps and gives you something to think about over Christmas and the New Year

Merry Christmas

Five Things you want prospects to say

During a meeting, whether networking or a sales meeting, there are always signs that the meeting is going well and in the right direction. This is a short list of the comments you should listen out for:

  • Tell me more about……

As you discuss the various ways you have helped other clients, this is a key sign of interest in a particular service. Hopefully it will be the one you want to sell to them and so

  • I hadn’t thought of that

As you discuss an issue your prospect is trying to resolve, you mention something you’ve done for others.  It shows that your way of thinking is different from most others and innovative

  • I like what you did for…….

They’re obviously impressed by your previous work and are likely to be thinking “I hope you can do that for me!”

  • What capacity do you have at the moment?

If they are asking this question, there are really two possible reasons: testing to see how popular your services are to assess how good you are, or wanting to start working with you soon

  • Would you like to talk to……

If they are thinking about referring you to others, there is a good chance they will be using your services very soon.

What other positive signs or comments have you had recently?  Answers on a Comment please.

 

 

 

 

Two Approaches to Planning your Small Business Marketing – Part Two

Last week I talked about how this blog was inspired by a discussion on LinkedIn and then discussed the pros and cons of working to a number given to you by the CFO or accountant.  This week we start from the opposite direction and will be going back to the accountant with a required figure.

Pros of starting with the planning

  1. You consider all possible activities except those you know that will have outrageous costs attached, such as TV advertising
  2. You’re considering what activities are most likely to deliver the best return in investment, especially if you have done them before and have the evidence to support your thoughts.
  3. It is more likely to be flexible, especially when you start achieving your business targets
  4. It is led by the business’ needs, not those of the accountants!
  5. Depending upon the perceived ROI you have an opportunity to re-visit your budget and decide to spend more.
  6. Far better to work down from the “Gold Standard” than work up
  7. If more money does become available, you’ll know exactly what to do with the money

Cons

  1. There is a chance you will spend more than the accountant wants you to
  2. You’ll have to make sure you track the results so justify yourself to your accountant/CFO
  3. It takes a bit longer
  4. You get to argue (sorry – put your point across) with the CFO – is this really a con?

Marketing is all about demonstrating the value you can provide to your customers in order to tempt them into buying from you. It should therefore be the same within the company.  The activities/campaigns in the marketing plan need to show value to the wallet holders in order to be authorised.

Its fairly obvious on what side of the fence I fall, but then again I’m a marketer and not a finance geek.  I hope this has been useful to you and I look forward to your comments.

 

Two Approaches to planning your Marketing – Part One

Planning your Small Business Marketing – Part One

This was inspired by a recent discussion on LinkedIn that asked how people tracked their sales opportunities. It seems a large number of homeworkers use Excel as their main tool, as it is simple to use and most people will have it anyway as part of Microsoft Office. One person then asked if anyone used Excel for marketing planning.

Being the generous and helpful person I am, I asked if she would send me her spreadsheet so I could see if there was anything that could be done to make it a better tool for her.

Cramming all functionality onto one worksheet is always going to make things a little difficult. A quick exercise into separating out the functionality into multiple worksheets (budget, actual spend, tasks etc.) allowed a much clearer picture of what is happening/needs to happen and the performance of her marketing.

I will be following up in a couple of months to see what has happened.

Anyway onto the main subject – Planning your Small Business Marketing

There are two ways to approach your marketing planning and your budget planning:

  1. Start with a budget number and work down until you’ve planned to spend all the money you have available – discussed today
  2. Work out the activities you need to do in order to achieve your goals for the year.  – next week

Nearly two fifth’s of SME’s have a budget of less than £10,000 for 2012[1] so it is vital that the budget is used wisely so lets look at the pros and cons of the different approaches above.

Pros of starting with a budget number

  1. it makes sure you don’t exceed your budget
  2. your CFO/accountant knows what they need to put aside each month

Cons

  1. This approach doesn’t take into account your business goals
  2. You may miss out marketing activities that could give greater returns simply because your budget has run out
  3. It is more likely to encourage you to do low cost activities rather than high value ones
  4. It is likely to be inflexible, even if more revenue starts to come in regularly
  5. You’re letting the accountant win!

Next week we’ll look at an alternative approach; that of doing the planning and then discussing it with the numbers guys to see what can be agreed. As much as we’d all love to simply carry out the plan, the accountants sign the cheques usually and you can spend the money if they aren’t going to sign!


[1] http://www.b2bcm.co.uk/index.php/UK_Telemarketing/uk-smes-embracing-digital-and-social-platforms/

 

Christmas is coming

& the goose is getting fat……….

But if you rely on the festive season for a significant part of your annual revenue, you better be in the final stages of planning your  Christmas marketing campaign to attract customers.

Decision-makers are now returning from their Summer holidays and will be planning what  they’re going to do over Christmas.  If you’re in corporate catering, venue hire, event organising or people photography, the phone should start ringing very soon.

If not, what do you need to be doing to get it ringing?

  1. Have you spoken to everyone who bought from you last year?  They already know the quality of the work you can deliver and, if they liked it, should be considered good opportunities.
  2. How are you communicating with everyone who talked to you last year, but didn’t buy? They may have used a competitor last year but they may not have been completely happy with the service they received. If you time things right you could poach a few additional clients from your competitors
  3. What are you doing to make more people aware of your services? Without awareness there cannot be any interest or sales opportunity
  4. Is your website updated to show the seasonal services you provide?
  5. What evidence is online that demonstrates how great a job you did last Christmas for your clients? Case studies and testimonials are a big help for people trying to decide who they should talk to and buy from
  6. Have you considered Google Adwords to generate new opportunities.  For seasonal marketing, this can be very effective

Just a few questions for you to consider in order to make sure that your marketing generates the Christmas sales you are looking for. Of course, if you need a hand with some of your Christmas marketing, get in touch.

I hope this helps

 

A bird in the hand

Increasing your sales the easy way

Everyone knows it costs more to win a new customer than it does to keep a current one. The ratios quoted vary but the principle is still the same.

Based on this fact and you’re desire to grow your business, the best route to new business is by marketing to your customers.  The question is what more can they buy?

When was the last time you did a review of your client base to understand their buying habits; the products they buy and how frequently?

Let’s imagine your average customer buys two products/services from you.  If you can get just 25% of them to buy one more thing, you will have increased your business performance by more than 12% – not bad growth in a country that is reputedly just coming out of recession.

The harder bit is understanding what products would be right for them and then showing them how it will solve a problem they currently face. There are two sets of people within your company who can help you here:

  1. Your account managers
  2. Your operations staff

And it may be that your Operations staff talk to your customers more than your account managers, so don’t under-estimate their ability to help here.

Next Steps:

  1. Make sure that everyone within the company knows what you want to do, so they have the opportunity to contribute.  If your accounts/sales staff are on commission, make sure your Operations staff will get something from this.  They may be less helpful if they think someone else will get rewarded for their work.
  2. Analyse your sales patterns and your portfolio penetration levels so you know what is already being bought by whom.
  3. Develop the right stories to show your customers how you can help them.

The thrill of the chase comes with acquiring new customers, but marketing to your customers will help keep them and sell more to them.

Of course, if you would like some help with any of this, call or email me on 07770 970 557

 

 

LinkedIn – a real problem solver

Ever been dealing with a company when things just don’t seem to be moving forward?

You find yourself constantly talking to call centres or customer services, but to no avail, as you are always talking to someone different and they don’t have a full understanding of your situation, so there is no big picture thinking. LinkedIn may be able to help.  Let me explain:

I’ve blogged recently about my house being burgled and how the loss of my technology seriously impacted my work for a week or so, and so you may already be aware of the fun and games I’ve had recently. There was an added complication that they stole my car keys and my car during the burglary and my car insurance company have been less than helpful.

I’m not going to name names but suffice to say things were going neither smoothly or quickly and I was rapidly approaching the end of my tether. Finally I thought it was about time to go around the call centre so I used the world’s biggest business social media tool: LinkedIn.

I found one of the UK’s senior directors and simply made them aware of what I had been experiencing. That was less than a week ago and now everything has been resolved.

It isn’t quite the case of “who you know”, but LinkedIn makes it the next best thing.

Networking – quality or quantity?

There are many approaches to networking  and plenty of articles written about it.  A google search whilst writing this blog identified 341,000,000 in 0.33 seconds – that should keep you busy for a little while.

Broadly speaking there are two camps when it comes to, particularly, online networking: collecting as many people as possible or, know the people you network with.  I fall firmly into the latter.

Right now I have 388 connections on LinkedIn.  Fifteen minutes ago I had 445.  Although I spend a good amount of time trying to maintain the relationships I have developed I looked through my connections and found that I had 57 in there where I couldn’t remember what they did or why I was connected to them.  If I cannot remember what they do, what is the chance that I am going to introduce them to other people I meet?

What does this mean to me?  I have roughly 15% more time to maintain the relationships I have built up on LinkedIn, further improving the quality of them

What does it mean to the 57? Absolutely nothing at a guess, as they don’t seem to be worried about maintaining the relationship either or they would have been in contact recently and I would know what they did.

What’s my point?  Simple, invest your time in developing your network and ensuring it is mutually beneficial.  If there is “dead wood” in your connections, a little light pruning is a good thing

Who Do You Go To?

When you need to talk

As a small business owner there are times when I face issues that I need help with. I’m lucky in that I have a group of people around me, both family and friends, who I can talk to and get either advice or simply someone to “dump on”.

I started thinking about what other small business owners do when they have issues they need to resolve, so I thought why not ask them? Most of you will know I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, so I simply used the Answers function within LinkedIn.  The question I asked was:

Who do small business owners turn to in order to talk about their worries, concerns and issues?

The range of answers was really interesting, some were worrying, others were expected and a couple were entertaining – do you know anyone called Bud Wiser?

I’m a little worried by the suggestion that some business owners go to hookers (2%) and I’d rather (probably foolishly) hoped that I wouldn’t get the 10% of answers that were simply self-promoting.  One guy answered the question with a simple “That would be me!”. If you’re going to self-promote, at least add something useful.

As someone who’s been described, by at least one client, as his therapist (see previous blog) I was happy to see that business coaches (15%) was the biggest answer. I don’t market myself as a business coach – I’m a virtual marketing director for a number of clients – but I do get involved with general business issues as marketing has an impact across all areas.

If you’re like me and have family and friends to talk to, you’re not alone as another 20% of responses were spouse, friends or relatives, although one response suggested that this group was probably the worst place to go. I think he thinks that these people will tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to.

If you’re reading this as a small business owner I hope it puts your mind to rest – that you’re not alone whatever source of issue resolution you have.