Marketing by numbers

measure your small business marketing Numbers can suggest different paths depending on the calculations you do

What do I mean by this comment?  Let me use a recent client project to provide an answer to look at how different calculations can lead to different decisions.

As I am sure you know, the first stage in any engagement SME Needs has with a new client is to help them measure their small business marketing performance, providing the data they need to make decisions about what they need to do to improve their marketing performance.

I started working with this company a few weeks, after they contacted me because they had received a Growth Voucher. I must admit I was quite impressed by the amount of marketing measurement they were doing.  Most of my clients were doing little, if any, measurement when I first engaged.  They already knew what marketing was bringing in what sales and how much each sale was costing them in marketing costs.

What this means is that knew what was definitely working and so could continue using those channels:

  • Word of mouth was generating good numbers of new clients and was costing them nothing
  • their advert in a local online community cost less than £10 a time and had generated a high-spending client
  • Their website was sending a lot of new clients their way

This was all great and it was gratifying to see a small business measuring their marketing.

However some of their marketing activities were costing quite a bit:

  • a local magazine listing was generating clients but they were spending around £100 per sale to acquire them
  • Facebook advertising was costing over £50 per new client
  • Another magazine advertising campaign was costing over £200 per new client

As they are a relatively new business, they are being very careful with their resources, but they have set a target for what they wish to pay: £30.  Although this is an ambitious target, it is great to see they have one.

This cost per client calculation led them to believe that the local magazines were a poorly performing route to market; for one they were right.

I took the calculations one step further: what was the cash being generating by each marketing channel?

This painted a different picture, particularly for one of the magazines.  They had spent nearly £700 on advertising but it had generated over £3,500!  It was actually a very profitable route to market.

This local magazine is now part of the marketing strategy they are moving forward with.

I hope this shows how marketing numbers can be misleading and lead to incorrect decisions if you don’t look at the carefully.

Of course, if you would like me to help you analyse the marketing numbers within your business, please get in touch.

The most powerful question in marketing

which supplier - from the buyer's perspectiveClue: it helps you improve your marketing resource allocation

I had someone contact me through LinkedIn the other day, asking to talk about what SME Needs does and, in particular, about marketing ROI.

At this point I must admit I was a little sceptical, seeing as he described himself as a strategy and marketing consultant; why would I want to talk to someone who is a competitor?

The conversation started with a question about how you track the performance of a specific marketing activity. Is it possible?  Now of course this depends. Pretty much anything digital can easily be tracked; direct mail can simply use promo codes and you know exactly what happens if you are using telemarketing.

The conversation moved forward to how to attach specific sales opportunities to marketing activities.  For me that brings up a conversation about the most powerful question in marketing – that is:

Q: How did you find us?

All you then do is ensure this is recorded for every sales opportunity you have.

From there, its a few calculations to understand your marketing performance.

1. How many enquiries do you get from any particular channel and how much does it cost per enquiry?

Obviously the more you get, the better, but only if they are costing an amount you can continue to fund through sales delivered through the channel

2. How many enquiries do you need for each sale?

This will give you a great idea on just how much marketing you need to do in order to achieve the goals you have for your business. Do you agree with this? Do you believe this is the most powerful question in marketing?

I hope this proves to be useful and if you need anymore help on measuring the performance of your marketing, give me a shout.

Double your business in two hours

what is a marketing strategyEvery business owner I know wants more business

What happens is that most businesses then look at what involved with generating new business enquiries. What marketing is needed?  What marketing is working and what isn’t? Where are they going to get the enquiries they need?

There is a far easier way.

How to Double your Business in Two Hours

  1. How many different services do you provide to your clients?
  2. How many clients do you have?

My latest new client is in the IT support industry.  They provide support services, hardware and software sales, as well as subscription services such as Office 365, onlne backup and internet connectivity.  They currently provide these services to 52 clients, so they have a maximum sales opportunity of 208.  Presently they have 108, so they could almost double their business simply by selling more to their current clients.

You can do just the same by assessing the level of portfolio penetration within your business.

By talking to your clients, understanding their needs and then providing just one more service to them, you will grow your business significantly. After all, they already know, like and trust you. If you can show how you can help them even more, why would they not buy from you?

I hope this helps


One question that will improve your marketing performance

Every business owner I know wants to improve their marketing performance.

The problem is knowing what needs to be done and how to do it.  Let me use a conversation I had the other day with a strategy & marketing consultant  to demonstrate how hard some people believe this can be. I’m obviously not going to mention any names.

This consultant called me to discuss marketing ROI and how difficult it seemed to be, particularly within the legal sector, where he works.

How do you measure marketing ROI when you cannot identify what marketing generates a new business opportunity? was the question he asked me.

To be honest, this confused me as I’ve been using a simple question that allows me to do just that.  The question has enabled me to know what works and what doesn’t, thereby improving the performance of my clients’ marketing and the ROI it delivers.

The question is simple: How did you find me?

Going back to my conversation with the marketing consultant, the next comment was surprising as well.  He wondered whether, as lawyers often keep themselves to themselves, whether they would ask such a personal question.  Personal question????????  I’ve been asking the question for 10 years plus and nobody has ever refused to answer the question.  The worst they ever say is “I can’t remember”.

The answer means you know what activities are generating new business opportunities and new sales.  You can then decide which marketing to continue and what needs to be changed or discontinued.

I hope this helps

9 steps to better networking

Hi, my name’s Alex. I was told by Steve that you could help me.”

A phrase loved by business owners the world over. But how do you get this to happen more often?


Every business owner and director knows that networking is a great way to generate new business.  The problem is that most don’t know how to network effectively and expect results too soon.  Let’s look at nine steps to better networking to generate the sales opportunities you’re looking for.

1. Where to go

You could do breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks every day at networking events if you wanted to. If you want to be emailed a list of networking events each week, click here. The problem is you’d never actually do any work and you’d probably put on a few pounds.  You need to target your networking so it is effective.  Think about your ideal client and then consider: Where would they be?

You should also think about where other suppliers into your target market will network. Go to events where you are likely to meet with your target audience or their suppliers.  If you’re unsure, experiment.  Choose a event and try it out.

You do need to give any networking event a good try. Going once and rejecting it, simply because you didn’t get any business, is probably the biggest mistake business people make when trying to generate business through networking.

The other factor is when the event is.  If you’re a morning person, consider the breakfast events, but not if you’re a night owl.

2. Review the delegate list

If a delegate list is available beforehand, or provided when you arrive, run your eye over the list. Who should you talk to?  Who could be a client?  Who could be a useful connection into your target audience?  Make your networking effective by talking to the people most likely to generate business, either directly or indirectly.  Don’t, however, rebuke people who want to talk to you as you never know who they might know.

3. Mostly people you don’t know

Networking is a skill that needs to be learnt and many people don’t like talking to strangers.  What this often leads to is you spending the whole event talking to people you already know.  This maintains the relationship you have, but doesn’t expand your network.  For membership networking such as BNI, the room will mostly be people you know, but for more informal events, you won’t know most delegates.

Make it a rule to talk to at least X new people at every event.  You grow your network that way, finding people who can be useful to you, your clients and others in the network you already have.

4. Listen and ask questions

You only have a few minutes to find out about each person if you are going to make the event worthwhile, so make sure you get to know what they do, how they help their clients and the people they are looking for.   Show interest and get to know them; it makes them much more likely to want to listen to you before you both move on. If you want their card, ask. If you don’t, simply move on but don’t refuse to take their card if it is offered.

5. Follow up

Hopefully you met a good number of people who could be useful for your business, as clients, as suppliers or as introducers.  Your conversation at the event will give you a good idea but you won’t know for sure until you properly get to know them and that takes dedicated time. If you can meet to talk, thats great but it may be that a telephone call or video conference may have to suffice initially. Try to do this within a week or so to maintain the impetus.

Connect with them using social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn. They both make maintaining the relationship much easier.

6. Help them trust you

Earning their trust takes time, but start from the first moment you meet.  When its your turn to talk about what you do, use stories to educate them on how you help your clients. Continue this by avoiding bombarding them with sales messages after the event.  Nothing annoys more than a series of “Hi, I met you yesterday – buy me” messages.

7. Maintain communication

Part of earning their trust is maintaining communication.  Keep up to date with what they’re doing by subscribing to their mailing lists and add them to yours, after checking they are happy for you to do so.  Connect using social media and then simply call sometimes to talk. They will see you are in it for the long term and not just after a quick sale and this is a big step in helping them to trust you.

8. Give when you can

You go networking to generate new clients for your business, but if get an opportunity to introduce them to a potential business opportunity, do so.  I was always told to forget the referral I give, but remember those I receive.  As I get 100% of my business through my network, so I like to think I’m doing something right around this. Although I’ve recently walked away from BNI, their mantra is absolutely right: Givers Gain.

9. Look after their reputation

Attached to any referral is a little bit of the referrer’s reputation. The referrer is saying you can be trusted to deliver a great job and if you don’t next time Steve refers someone to Alex, he won’t trust him quite so much, if at all.  So look after Steve’s reputation by delivering on your promises and doing a great job.  You’ve then expanded your network and will have both Alex and Steve referring work to you.

To finish off, remember that networking is a long term approach.  You may be lucky and get a new client at your first event. Printers, florists and other low risk purchase providers often do, but for service providers and other higher-risk suppliers it will usually take longer. Simply follow this nine step process and you will get more referrals.

I hope this helps.

Taking my own medicine

Sorry guys, but it’s time to leave

Those of you who know me will know that I’ve attended BNI, on and off, since 2003.  For many years it was part of the marketing mix for my old company and it’s been part of SME Needs’ marketing mix for nearly two years now.

The problem is that it hasn’t delivered an acceptable return on investment for me this time and so I need to take my own medicine and part ways with the group.

The very first step I take with any new client is to Measure their marketing, so they understand what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t working. From there the right decisions can be made about where to invest their time and marketing budget.

The last thing I can therefore do is continue doing something that isn’t working.

All I can say is thank you to the members who did refer business my way and a very special thank you to the members who have delivered on their promises when I’ve referred them into my network.  I will continue to refer you as I know I can trust you with my reputation.

What will I do now?

All my work comes from networking, just not BNI.  What I will do is invest this time in an altered networking strategy and ensure I spend more time with the network I already have, keeping them up to date with what I’m doing and ensuring I know what they’re doing, so I can make the best introductions I can.

I look forward to my lie-ins on a Tuesday morning!

Tracking isn’t just for rednecks

  • A broken twig
  • fresh footprints
  • Frightened birds
  • Canddi return trigger!?!

All are signs a tracker will use when hunting their prey.  Knowing where their prey is through tracking is key for the hunter if they want to eat tonight.

The same goes for the your business (with the last one on the list only really for businesses).  Knowing who is looking at you and your online presence can really help you to grow your business. It’s key to be tracking your marketing

Let’s split this into two: you and your business.

Who’s looking at you?

As the owner or director of the business, you are a figurehead for the business.  People will look at you as an indicator of what the business is all about. There’s a few places people will go to in order to look at you:


Both your personal and company profiles are likely to be looked at.  Are you happy they portray you well?  The good thing about LinkedIn is that you know who is looking at you and when they looked.  This means you can return the favour and then make a decision about what to do next.  Are they a potential client, a possible supplier or simply someone who could be a useful person to network with.


To an extent, this depends on whether you tweet as you or as the business, but they’re still going to look. Keep it consistent and interesting. Most of all make sure you’re interacting.

Who’s looking at your business?

There are many tools you can use to check out your website’s performance, starting with good old Google.

Google Analytics

An oldy but a goody.  At the most basic level, you can see how many unique views you get, where they came from, how many pages are being looked at and what pages are liked/disliked (check out the bounce rate).  At the other end of the scale, you can see whether viewers are following the path you expect them to, what they are spending and what your demographics look like.

Check out Audience/technology/network as well.  You can see the names of some of the companies checking you out!


No, I haven’t mis-spelt it, there are 2 d’s.  There are a number of more advance web analytics tools out there, including Trovus, Lead Forensics and IDFingerprint.  My favourite at the moment is Canddi.  Not only have they agreed to a free trial for all my clients, they won’t tie you in for a long-term contract and you can set it up to tell you when people return to your website.  Would you like the next conversation you have with a prospect to be timely and absolutely relevant?

I could go on forever about the various tools you can use to track who’s watching you online, but let’s save the 1984 bit for another time.   The simple truth of the matter is that keeping an eye on who is looking at you means you get a chance to interact with them, you know what they are interested in and you can have both a highly relevant conversation and one at the right time.

I wonder if your competition are doing the same thing?

Need a hand tracking your marketing performance? Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you.



Investing now for growth tomorrow

There are those out there who believe that the government is only interested in helping out big business; about the big ticket new stories that will make the headlines. They’ll have you believe that they aren’t interested in small businesses.

If that was the case why would the following schemes exist:

  1. Growth Vouchers
  2. Growth Accelerator
  3. Manufacturing Advisory Service
  4. R&D Tax Credits

All of these enable SME businesses to get funding and support that will help them grow.

For the government, it’s an easy choice.  They provides grants and funding to your small business now.  You invest the money in support, in training and in advice and you grow your business.  Over time you need to employ more staff as you put into practice the advice provided.  Those people pay taxes.

In time, your business grows and so do your profits.  As your profits grow, so does your Corporation Tax bill

The government then has more money than it did before.  They’ve made an investment and it has earn’t interest for them.  Why would they not do this?

So who can claim this money?

It varies but most small businesses can claim under at least two of these schemes.  I’m not going to give you all the scenarios and I am sure you can follow the links and see which you are eligible for, but let me give you a couple of examples:

Startup producing a new craft beer

Start ups cannot claim Growth Vouchers but they can claim the others.  The Growth Accelerator programme and Manufacturing Advisory Service will provide funding to help with growth coaching, with leadership & management training and marketing support to grow your business. The time and investment in developing the recipes for the beer can then be claimed under the R&D tax credit programme.
Support could add up to tens of thousands of pounds.
20 person industrial lighting firm
If they’re sensible and do these in the right order, this firm could claim Growth Vouchers (has to be first because you cannot apply for this if you’ve received other government grants in the last three years), then Growth Accelerator.  If they make the lights, the MAS funding can be claimed and then tax credits applied for if they are developing a new type of industrial lighting.  If they are a “me too” brand, they cannot claim the latter.
Again an injection of tens of thousands could be made into this business to help them grow.
I hope this proves useful for you and helps you find growth support that will help you grow your business.  If you’d like some support or to talk this over with someone beforehand, give me a call on 020 8634 5911 or email me and I will be happy to help.