Just Keep Talking

image to support small business marketing blog post about focusing your marketing on the right people

The adage of “he who shouts loudest will win” is no longer the case. If we’re honest it probably hasn’t been the case for a while. Let’s look at what you should be doing to make your marketing successful.

Who should you be talking to?

There are 60 million people in the UK and about 7 billion on the planet; which segment of these do you want to talk to? Even the biggest companies in the world don’t try to talk to everyone for individual products or services. They have very specific target audiences, at whom they aim their marketing at.

As an SME you have certain levels of resource, either time or money. You need to make the best use of those resources to develop the sales opportunities you need to grow your business.  If you think you can aim at everyone/anyone, I have to say that you will be wasting a huge amount of resource.

Who do you want to talk to?

What should you be saying?

There is little point in simply putting your brand out there, alongside a list of the things you do. Today’s customers want more than that. They want to instantly know why they should spend their time talking to you when there are so many others who they can spend their money with.  If you have identified your target audience, have you pinpointed what they need? Have you developed your list of messages that show why they should talk to you?

Where should you be talking?

Back in the days before Tim Berners-Lee changed all of our lives, those who could afford it shouted loudly from every newspaper, billboard and public transport poster they could find in order to maximise the number of people who read their messages and then engaged with their brand. Those who couldn’t do this relied on their stakeholder network to bring in business, alongside the obligatory advert in the Yellow Pages.

In many ways the smaller businesses were doing a better job, but big business needs volume purchase levels and so needed to talk to the masses. They still chose the right publications and billboard locations to target the people they wanted though.

Waitrose was in the Daily Mail and Telegraph

Equinox Telecom works through networking and their partner programme.

CANDDI sends lots of email and uses its own technology to track how people engage.

The definition of your target audience will, to an extent, define the channels you need to use to get your messages in front of your Ideal client:

Choose the right social media channels.

Pick the right networking groups, whilst not trying to just sell to those in the room.

What are the other marketing channels most likely to grab the attention of your targets?

Don’t Stop

There are two things most likely to stop a marketing programme being successful:

Stopping after a very short period of time

Stopping because business is quiet.

Recessionary periods are classics for this. Business is quiet so companies cut back, with marketing and training being the ones that get cut. If there are two worse budgets to cut, I can’t tinkering what they are.

When new clients are rarity, why would you cut the resources that are there to find them? I agree that you need to look at them carefully, but don’t stop what is maintaining awareness and interest.


Which Introducer Type are you?

image to support small business marketing blog about making introductions

Seven types of introducer

As a small business owner, I’m willing to bet you have a network running to 100’s of people and a close network of a few dozen people you know and trust.

When you are out, how often do you introduce the people within this network to people you meet?

Some people are serial introducers. They are literally introducing people to each other on a daily basis. They believe that making these introductions will be useful to a good number of the connections, even if a few of the introductions don’t work out to be of any use.

At the other end of the scale, there are people who don’t make introductions, for a number of reasons:

  • For some, this is because they want the introductions to come their way from others first. The problem here is that the other party is often looking for the same thing and so no introductions ever get made.
  • For some, it is because they don’t think about others whilst they are networking or talking to their clients; they are too busy looking for opportunities for themselves. They may get a few introductions from the serial introducers but not for long.

Between these two there are a number of different introducer types:

  • The fee earner is happy to make introductions but only when there is a financial return available. Introductions are rarely because there are synergies, but because there is a sales opportunity that could generate 5-10% as a reward.
  • The name dropper talks about lots of potential introductions that could be hugely beneficial but the introduction rarely actually happens. You may have heard the phrase “I really should introduce you to…”. It’s a real shame this person never carries through. If they were able to make the connections they talk about, they’d almost certainly get a lot of good introductions back.
  • The dead cert only introduces when they believe it’s basically a done deal. They make few introductions and then only to a small number of people who they have always made introductions to. This is the way they know which introductions are going to work. In my experience, this is usually a one-way street; architects to builders for example.
  • The reasoner is the final type of introducer. The number of introductions they make varies over time and the quality of the introduction can vary. Sometimes they are simply “this could be useful”. Sometimes they may be “you two really should talk” and sometimes it’s “this person can really help you out”. They are on the lookout for potential introductions but sometimes they miss them. They don’t worry too much about this and can always go back and make a belated introduction.

Some of these people are better than others but the good thing is that they are trying to help in their own way.  The question is: which one are you?

Are you taking all your networking opportunities?

image to support small business marketing blog about networking opportunitiesAre you networking when you have the opportunity?

You know that networking is a key marketing activity for small businesses. There are very few small business owners who can, hand on heart, say they don’t get a fair percentage of their business through networking. The question is: are you maximising the return from your networking opportunities?

Let me give you an example….

If you are in a shared or serviced office building, how often do they run fire drills? You’re inevitably in the middle of an important piece of work and the fire alarm goes off. It isn’t the usual time for an alarm test so you reluctantly hand out. If you’re in a high rise building like me, you’ve got lots of stairs to go down, alongside 100’s of others. You’re then outside for 20 mins or so whilst the fire Marshall li do their thing. What could you do with that time? May I recommend d you go and talk to people you don’t know?

You already have an icebreaker in the fire drill, so it’s easy to start talking. Ask to get to know them as I am sure they also get a lot of their business through networking. Go for a coffee sometime soon and see what happens.

So what other opportunities are there to network:

  • Train delays – certainly if you use Southern Trains
  • Long train journeys
  • Reception areas whilst you wait for a meeting
  • Coffee shop queues

I am sure you can think of other examples where you’ve struck up impromptu conversations that have led to networking opportunities; tweet me @sme_needs with your best ones.

All I would add to this is: don’t abuse your networking opportunities. If you get someone’s business card, follow up properly. Don’t just add their name to your mailing list and spam the hell out of them!

Imagine a Full Sales Pipeline

What does a full sales pipeline look like and what would it mean for your business?

Every business has a sales pipeline. Not every business has the full sales pipeline they want to have! Does your pipeline have enough prospects to enable you to meet your sales targets? Do you have sales targets?

Let’s look at your sales pipeline and the numbers around it. After all, the first thing I always do with a new client is look at the numbers.

If you have a sales target of one new client a week, what impact will this have on the marketing effort you need to put in?

One new client per week needs 5 new prospects per week, assuming you close 20% of qualified sales

5 new prospects per week means 10 leads per week, assuming 50% of leads qualify themselves out or you qualify them out

10 leads per week means 500 new visitors to your website, assuming 2% of visitors contact you.

Are you generating 500 new visitors to your website each week?

Of course, you need to edit these numbers to match your current sales and marketing performance, but they give you an idea of what is involved. If your conversion rates are better than those used above, you need less visitors.

What I’m asking is:

  • Do you know what your numbers are?
  • Have you calculated how many website visits you need to generate?
  • What are you currently doing to generate them?

If your Sales team is not hitting your business targets, it may not be their fault. Of course, it may not be Marketing’s fault either if you aren’t providing the resources they need to hit these goals.

How can this be improved?

If you haven’t got the budget to generate the new visitors you need each month, perhaps through Google Adwords or other paid search, let’s look at how these numbers can be improved in order to reduce the need:

Is your website doing its job?

Check the exit rates using Google Analytics and see which pages are not performing. Test new content to see how you can improve the performance of the page.

Does the content show what you do or how you help your target audience?

Does every page have a Call to Action that guides visitors through the site in a way that will engage them and get them to contact you?

Add Goals to Analytics and see how you are performing. You should consider goals such as number of pages or time on site, rather than simply did they go to your Contact Us page.

None of this costs money, but it will take some time and effort. Your website’s performance will impact both the number of enquiries you have and the number that are qualified. If your content suggests you do something a little different to what you actually do, you are likely to get lots of enquiries that are for something you don’t do.

Sales support:

What is marketing doing to support the sales process? Marketing’s job doesn’t finish when the lead is handed over to a salesperson. There needs to be a support programme which ensures that a hot lead remains a hot lead for the duration of the sales process. How long is the sales cycle in your business by the way?

YpuIf Sales and Marketing work together (heaven forbid!!), hitting your sales targets will be far easier as your close rate improves.


I’ve always said my role is to line them up and Sales has to knock them down. I’m not a Sales trainer (but I know a man who is) but I can quickly help you identify where there is room for improvement, if needed.  Your Sales team will know whether they are converting enough. They will looking for ways to improve, but if there is room for improvement in the Sales function, may I suggest the following questions need to be asked:

  • Are they talking about your business or about the prospects?
  • Are they telling stories to help the prospect understand how they help?
  • Are they only moving forward when asked to by the prospect?
  • Are you using software to help you know when the prospect is moving forward?

The numbers in your pipeline will tell what you need to do to achieve your goals.  Sales and Marketing need to work together to ensure that the numbers within your pipeline are as good as they can be.

I hope this helps.