What’s missing from most case studies?

Companies start looking for new suppliers for various reasons but there is almost always something that has damaged the relationship and they have lost trust in that supplier. When they look at you as a potential replacement supplier, you need to start developing that trust with them quickly.
For me the key ingredient in doing this is evidence. Evidence that you have done this before for many people who are just like them. As any fan of CSI will know, Grisham (and now D.B. Russell – played by Ted Danson) always said: trust the evidence!

Last month I talked about generating interest in your product or services and I listed three examples of the evidence:

  1. Case studies and testimonials
  2. White papers
  3. Social media commentary

These three types of evidence do two key things:

  • They demonstrate the knowledge and experience you provide to your clients
  • They show the results you’ve delivered

It is the second point that I allude to in the title of this newsletter.  As you know I’ve been working for and with small businesses for more than 12 years now and the one thing that I see that’s missing from, particularly, case studies is the results.  Too many simply talk about:

  • Who the client is
  • What they client wanted (or the issue they faced)
  • What they did

There is no mention of what happened, once they did what they did.

What’s in the perfect case study?

1. Catchy Headline

The headline that grabs the readers’ attention. This is most likely to happen when the headline talks of the results achieved by the project.
You have to give the reader a reason to read your case study. They will then want to know how you generated the excellent results stated in the headline.

2. Who is the client?

Describing and naming the client seems obvious but why do this?
When you are working with large companies you’re ‘dropping’ names that most people will have heard of but when you work with SMEs, it is doubtful that many people will know either who they are or what they do.
The reason is to let the reader know what they do and recognise that they are similar to them. After all you want them to see that you know their industry and therefore at least some of the issues they face.
Information should include name, industry, location and size of business.

3. What is the issue they want resolving?

Using industry-specific terminology, talk about the issue/pain/problem they have asked you to provide a solution to.
Again you are demonstrating to the reader that you understand the issues they are likely to face and that you have experience resolving them.

4. What did you do?

Perhaps the least important part of the whole case study!
This will be the easiest bit for you as you simply describe what you did for your client. Of course you’ll tie this into the issues previously discussed to show how you’ve used the most appropriate tools to help your client

5. THE RESULTS

By far, this is the most important section of the case study.
This section will demonstrate the value you provide by showing how your client benefitted from using you to resolve the issue they had.
This is the part that gets trust levels going up and prompts them to pick up the phone and call you.
If it is then supported by a positive comment from the client, even better.

Imagine how much more you would trust a new supplier if all their case studies talked about the growth in the web traffic, about the money they saved them or the improved performance of the IT network. If everything you read says they deliver a great result, you’re going to start to trust them and you’re much more likely to pick up the phone and talk to them about the issue you want to resolve.

Now take a look at your own case studies. Do they demonstrate how you helped your clients and the results you delivered. Of course, if you would like me to review them, give me a call on 020 8634 5911.

I hope this helps

What does your ideal client look like?

I know I’ve written about this before but I thought I would add a little more as it has arisen a number of times recently in conversation with prospects and clients.

In order to effectively market your services you need an accurate description of your ideal client(s). If you target multiple audiences, simply do this for each audience.

A basic description would consist of eight points:

  1. Name
  2. Job Title
  3. Company Name
  4. Company Size – revenue and staff count
  5. Office address
  6. Incorporation date
  7. What do they sell?
  8. Who do they sell it to?

When I say this to some people they ask why do they need to be so specific; why the name? For me it helps to picture the person when developing a marketing strategy to target your ideal client. Obviously you aren’t looking to only talk to one specific company, but there will be a good number of companies with very similar profiles.

If you enjoy networking, whether online or in person, knowing the job title will help you choose the best events or discussion groups to attend or take part in.  The same goes for what they sell and who they sell to. If you are a regular member of networking groups such as BNI, the job title, company name and industry sector will help your fellow members to make better referrals.

The job title, company size and incorporation date will help you identify what’s important to them and the issues they face and how you can help them.

Key social media tips

There are nearly 12 million people in the UK on LinkedIn, 37 million Facebook Pages worldwide and nearly 40 million UK Twitter accounts. To be noticed amongst all these and to develop quality sales opportunities, here are a few social media tips that either I know to work or are tips that I have been given by people I trust who use them everyday. I hope they prove useful for you.

Social media is about helping people, it is not simply about broadcasting your sales messages.

  • There is a clue in the name in what you have to do to be successful – be socialable.
  • Build relationships so you know what interests your connections and what they are looking for in business terms
  • Provide useful and interesting material that shows you know what you are talking about
  • Be consistent so that you maintain the relationship and maintain your position in their minds for when someone needs your services.

Don’t sell – help

  • We have media recording devices at home in order to avoid most of the adverts. Your connections on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will simply disconnect to avoid your adverts.
  • If you help people by making useful connections for them, they will return the favour – think Givers Gain.
  • Provide evidence on how you’ve helped others so your connections start to trust you.

Automate and outsource sensibly

  • Social media tools such as hootsuite or tweetdeck are useful but they cannot build relationships for you. Use them for scheduling some activity but remember that you have to interact to build relationships
  • There are lots of companies that will do your social media for you but they will never know your business as well as you do. Outsourcing does not mean letting go!
  • Use tools such as Tweriod to find out when your followers are online. Be active when your connections are active so that there is a greater chance they will see you.

Volume is only sometimes useful

  • 50 connections with good relationships on LinkedIn is better than 1,000 people who you know nothing about.
  • You won’t generate interested followers simply by following 1,000’s of others. They will only follow you if you can be useful to them.

Personal and business are different

  • Don’t set up a business using a personal profile on Facebook. There is a good chance they will find it and then simply delete it as it breaks their terms of service.
  • Personal profiles are about you. Talk about you and do it in the first person.
  • Business profiles/pages are about your business so use appropriate language and images.

 

I hope these prove useful for you and I will endeavour to update this when I find other useful snippets.

 

Love your business

Valentine’s Day allows you to express your feelings to those you love and I see no reason this cannot extend to something that has probably stopped you spending as much time as you would prefer with your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé (delete as appropriate) – and I don’t mean the dog. Although it does seem you can get Valentines Day cards for your beloved pets, I’m talking about your business!

You started your business because you love what you do, because you identified a gap in the market and you love helping your clients. So why not help your business move forward and achieve its full potential?

What is it you feel that could improve within your business?

  • Could you do with a better accountant to help you control your cash better?
  • Do you need to recruit additional staff and want a great recruitment consultant?
  • Are your professional portraits out of date or a bit crap?
  • Do you worry that your marketing isn’t as good as it could be?
  • Could your website do with some improving?
  • Are you telling the right stories about how you help your clients?

I’m sure you can see which of these I can help you directly with, but I am confident I can introduce you to someone who can help you with all of these (and more) through my network.

I’d love to help so call me on 07770 970 557 and lets have a chat

How stories help you generate more sales opportunities

Once upon a time…..

Normally the start of a fairytale but this time I’m hoping its something useful for the business owner rather than just their kids.

You know its no longer acceptable small business marketing to simply describe your service to a prospective client anymore.  They shouldn’t need to have to work out for themselves how to use your services; it’s your job to prove you can help resolve his pain – because if you don’t there are plenty of others who will.

As your marketing talks about how your clients benefit from the work you do for them, prospects become more interested because they see you understand the problems they face.  This moves them forward in the selection process.

To get them to pick up the phone needs more.

Your marketing needs to provide evidence of how you’ve successfully delivered on your promises and helped out your clients. They need proof!

Proof comes in the form of stories, otherwise known as case studies or blog articles.  They are then supported by testimonials

Your stories need to clearly articulate:

  • what the client wanted to achieve or resolve
  • how you helped them to do this
  • the results achieved
In my opinion it is the final stage that is the most powerful as it is the results that complete the value calculation (value = benefit/cost).
The more value your prospects perceive, the more likely they are to pick up the phone.

 

How to develop your elevator pitch

If you had 60 seconds with your perfect client, what would you say?

How would you explain just why your company is perfect for supply just what they need?

Would you describe what you do or would you how you’ve helped other clients recently?

If you describe what you do (the features) you are asking your perfect client to work out for themselves just how your services will help them. If you describe just how you’ve helped others, not only do you make it easier for them to understand how you can help, but you give evidence that you can deliver a great job.

Which do you think will help your sales process more?

The question is what do you say and how do you ensure they will remember you?

My suggestion for what your elevator pitch should contain:

  • 20 seconds on the benefits of using your services
  • 30 seconds on an example of how you’ve helped others in the past
  • 10 seconds on a strapline that is memorable
If you’ve got it right they should be asking for, or giving, a business card about now so that further conversations can be had. If not, your elevator pitch probably needs some work.
I am sure you’ve heard something like this before but it is still great advice and so worth repeating.

 

What do your clients think about you?

When was the last time you asked a client for feedback on the quality of the work you did for them?

What do your clients think about you? Do you know?

The more you understand about how your work is perceived, the better your work will become and the results of asking for feedback will help your marketing too.

The feedback will be somewhere between love and loathe and hopefully much closer to love than loathe. The closer to love it gets, the more you can ask for to help with your marketing.

When was the last time you asked a client for:

  • a personal recommendation on LinkedIn?
  • a referral to a connection of theirs who could use your services?
  • a services recommendation on your LinkedIn Company Page?
  • a testimonial?
  • a case study about the project you’ve just delivered?
  • a video testimonial?

All of the above support your marketing and provide a little extra proof that you do a great job. The more of it is available for prospects to read, the more likely they are to pick up the phone and ask you to help them.

Of course, there is a chance that the feedback will be closer to loathe than love. In some ways this is the best feedback because it gives you an opportunity to improve. You may even get a chance to improve your performance for that client, but even if you don’t the feedback will be invaluable for when you start work with your next client.

Either way, make sure you thank them for the feedback as they have helped you, no matter what they actually say.

New Year’s Marketing Resolution?

2013 is here!

The New Year is traditionally the time when people make their resolutions, with February often seeing the end of even the most resolute of resolutions.  Why not make changes things this year and make business resolutions that you stick to?

Have you got the information you need to make the right decisions about your marketing budgets?  Why not promise to collate what you need and improve your bottom line?

Imagine what could happen:

  1. More accurate information being collated, leading to….
  2. Improved decision-making about how to invest your marketing resources, leading to….
  3. More phone calls from clients interested in your services, leading to….
  4. More sales and a busier team, leading to….
  5. A better return on investment. leading to….
  6. MUCH BIGGER CHRISTMAS PRESENTS IN 2013
And if you don’t fancy bigger presents, I am sure you can think of other ways to use the increased profits you can generate from your New Year’s resolution.