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Nigel Davey

Planning your small business marketing for 2024

Are you ready to start marketing?

By Marketing Plan, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

When you start thinking about doing more marketing to generate the growth you’re targeting for your small business, you need to ensure you’re ready to start marketing. Let us explain what we mean by this…
If you’ve not done much marketing recently, there’s a possibility that some things have slipped somewhat. As SME Needs works exclusively with small businesses (we rarely work with businesses with more than 40 staff, and usually less than 20), we see a lot of companies where their marketing collateral will not make a good first impression. This normally means one, or more, of the following:

Signs why you’re not ready for marketing

  • The website looks like it was built in the last century. What year does your website’s copyright say? I found this on a website the other day:image of copyright year from an old website to support an article about getting ready for marketing your business
  • The messaging is wrong, normally talking about the company rather than the customer.
  • Brochures and flyers are out of date or poorly designed.
  • The mailing list is woefully out of date, or even non-existent.
  • There isn’t an up to date client list, ideally with a record of what services/products they’ve bought.
  • Case studies/ testimonials are missing or of poor quality.
  • Social media accounts haven’t been added for months, if not years.
  • You don’t know what marketing is, and isn’t, working for you.

Are you guilty of any of these?

Will your current marketing make a good first impression?

If a prospective client were to see your website or an advertisement in a trade magazine for your business, what would they think? If they saw a flyer or brochure, would they keep it, or is it heading for the B1N file?

As you only get one chance to make a good first impression, you need to be confident that your marketing material is ready for you to start marketing your business.

What if it isn’t right

Put simply, you will struggle to generate the new clients you need to hit your growth targets if you’re not ready to be marketing. Some of the people reading this will get virtually all of their new clients through word of mouth (WOM), saying they don’t need a website or other marketing material.

Whilst they may be generating the leads and new business they want, you can guarantee they are missing out of other business opportunities that would help them grow even faster, even from people who were referred to them. For every new client they pick up, there will be some that wanted to see case studies and testimonials. There will be some that need more information about what they do and how that helps them.

How to fix this

The great thing is that, no matter what your current marketing collateral looks like, it can all be fixed, and fixed relatively quickly. Developing answers to the following five questions will move your forwards:

  1. What marketing has been working for you?
  2. Who are your target customers for each product/service?
  3. What are the right marketing messages for your business?
  4. Where and how should these messages be used?
  5. Which client projects best demonstrate your ability to deliver?

Make the changes needed

The answers to the 5 questions above give you what is needed to get ready. Now you need to:

  • Replace/update your website so that it grabs the attention of your target audience
  • Use the right marketing messages on your website, flyers/brochures, and social media channels.
  • Develop and maintain an up-to-date list of your clients and what they have bought from you – allowing you to cross-sell/upsell to them.

If you’re worried that your small business is not yet ready to start marketing, let’s talk. We have a 100-day plan to get your marketing-ready. Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book a meeting.

person holding mobile phone receiving SMS marketing messages

How SMS marketing can help you grow your business

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Plan

SMS (otherwise known as text) messaging has been around for decades. Who remembers when the cost per message depended on how long your text message was? Even though they’ve been around for a long time, very few businesses, particularly small businesses, make use of this channel with their marketing. If you’re thinking about your current marketing mix at the moment, here’s why you should consider SMS messaging…

Everyone has a phone

98% of the adult population has a mobile phone; some have two. There aren’t many people you cannot reach by SMS. With no spam filters to avoid, you know they are going to be delivered.

Great open rates

When was the last time you deleted a text message without reading it? That seems to be the trend everywhere because 98% of SMS messages are opened. Even if recipients don’t engage any further, they have seen your brand one more time (let’s hope you’re not sending too many, creating a negative brand opinion).

With 90% of messages opened within three minutes, you also get an immediate reaction to your SMS marketing campaigns.

Click rates

The stats on this vary massively. The highest figure seems to be 36%, with many sources giving an average of 6.6%. It varies considerably across industries too. However, all the figures are 2-3 times the average for email marketing campaigns.

Personalisation

In the same way that you can personalise email marketing campaigns using the data you have about someone, you can personalise SMS campaigns too.

Targeting

SMS campaigns can be focused in on contacts that meet certain criteria in the same way as email campaigns. Use the data about where people are, what they’ve bought, their birthday and many more criteria, to ensure you’re not spamming people and annoying them.

Cost effective

As a Mailchimp Partner, SME Needs is going to promote the new SMS service that is available from them. They run a credits system, with each SMS sent costing 5 credits. The cost of credits varies depending on how many you expect to use each month. At the minimum level (1000 credits), each SMS costs 7.5p to send. If you subscribe to 2500 credits per month (500 text messages), the cost reduces to just 3.9p per SMS and drops even further, to just 2.5p each, if you’re subscribing to 50,000 credits per month. You can find out more information about their service here.

Combining email and SMS can produce a real step change in your marketing performance.

But

Risk of spamming

Nearly half of consumers are annoyed by constant SMS marketing! Because of the high open rates that SMS delivers, there is a real temptation to have high frequency marketing campaigns. NO!
If you do that, you simply upset people. They unsubscribe and they probably tell their friends, losing you more subscribers/customers.

Limited room

Both a blessing and a curse, the limited space makes it harder to put everything you want to into the message (link shorteners really help here). What they do is force you to be succinct; something that email doesn’t.

Possible uses of SMS marketing

Here’s a ways you can use SMS marketing…
1. Get customer feedback through surveys
2. Delivery time confirmations
3. Increasing event attendance, particularly webinars
4. Special offer/flash sale notifications
5. Appointment reminders
6. Annual subscription/membership reminders

If you want to look at an alternative marketing channel, to add to your current mix, why not look in more detail at SMS marketing. Give me a call (020 8634 5911) and we can talk more

 

graph of email marketing performance

It’s not always Tuesday or Thursday!

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Measure

Email marketing is a highly powerful marketing tool for small businesses, when done well. One of the biggest questions people ask is “when is the best time to send an email marketing campaign?”  If you type this question into Google (other search engines are available), you’ll get millions of responses.

What the email engines say

To start answering this question, we looked at what the big players in this market said. Here goes…

Mailchimp

It’s somewhat established that the best days to send email blasts are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday across different industries and audiences. When we look at the typical distribution of optimal send times across Mailchimp’s whole system, the best time to send email newsletters is at 10AM in the recipients’ own time zones. Note that no single day wins hands-down. This is what we should expect when studying the data of billions of humans’ inbox activity.”

Mailerlite

Which day of the week is everyone sending their campaigns? Email marketers favour Tuesday (closely followed by Wednesday) for sending out their campaigns. Which day of the week generates the most opens? Thursday is the weekday with the highest open rate, closely followed by Monday. What time of the day generates the most opens? Most email opens occur between 11AM-12PM, with another peak between 6-7PM and an interesting late-night bump at 2AM (in the sender’s time zone)

Hubspot (based on US subscribers)

The best time to send emails on Tuesday is 9 AM – 12 PM EST, then 12:01 PM – 3 PM EST. I’d stay away from sending your emails anytime after 6 PM EST. On Mondays, aim to send your emails between 6 AM and 9 AM EST, then 9 AM – 12 PM EST. You’ll get the least engagement between 6 PM and 9 PM EST

Mailmunch

Tuesday: According to various email tool statistics, emails sent on Tuesday have the highest open rate of over 18%, increasing site traffic. Wednesday: The mid-week day consistently meets the open and click-through rate goals. Thursday: Is considered the best day to send marketing emails. You can choose between Tuesday and Thursday to start your email campaign. You’d be surprised to learn that Fridays and Mondays are not preferred for email sending, but they are still a better option than weekends. Friday’s open and click-through rates (CTR) are higher than Monday. 

What else do they all say?

You will see a trend in these responses saying that Tuesday – Thursday are good days, with mornings being the better time.  But what they all say in addition to this is that this is not to be taken as written.  For you it may be different. To truly find the best time and best day for your email marketing campaigns, you have to test.

What are you testing?

When running email marketing campaigns, there are many different measures that you can compare and test:

  1. Open rates – how many people opened the email campaign?
  2. Click rates (sometimes referred to as Clickthrough rates) – the number of times people clicked on a link in your campaign.
  3. Website traffic – how much traffic did you send to your website?
  4. Desired outcomes – how many people did what you wanted them to do?

Depending on your reasons for sending the campaigns, the measure that is important to you will vary. However, they are all connected.

Open rates

Open rates are impacted by the name of the sender and by the subject line. If the recipient recognises the sender and has a positive relationship with them, they are more likely to open the email. If the subject line grabs their attention, they are more likely to click to open.

But they have to open it to do anything else. The higher the open rate, the more likely they are to do the other things.

Click rates

Assuming you’re not adding lots of different links to various places, most of the links in your emails (whether in the text or specific buttons) will go to one, or two, places. The decision to click is based on the content of the email. If it is obviously trying to sell something, click rates are likely to be low. If the content is tantalising and offers to help, click rates will be higher.

Again, they have to click for any further action to be counted as the result of the email marketing campaign.

Website traffic

This should be a similar number to the one above, assuming you’re behaving with your Calls to Action (CTAs), but you should also keep an eye on how long people spend on your site. If they are clicking onto it, but then leaving quickly (shame Google no longer has a Bounce Rate stat), you landing page is not of interest to them.

Desired outcome

Ultimately this is the real payback from your email marketing campaigns. If you run an ecommerce business, this measure is likely to be revenue. If you’re a B2B service provider, perhaps it is meetings booked – and so on.

How to test your email marketing campaigns

Testing can take some time, particularly if you’re not sending large volumes, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will have results you can use.  We find a spreadsheet and pivot tables to be the best way to analyse the results, but that may not work for everyone. Here are the steps we recommend:

  1. Look back at previous campaigns and record your performance
    • Date, day and time sent
    • Open rate
    • Click rate
    • Desired outcome rate
  2. Analyse those results to see how you’ve done so far
  3. Schedule upcoming campaigns on days and at times you’ve not sent campaigns before
  4. Analyse regularly

The good and not so good times should start to show after the first 6-10 campaigns.

Kindling n Thingsgraph of email marketing performance

We’ve been running the email marketing for this company since early 2023 and we’ve been tracking the email marketing performance during that time. For them, Monday lunchtime is one of the best times to send campaigns, followed by Saturday lunchtime and Thursday lunchtime (these are average campaign figures – the big spike on Wednesday is a one-off campaign so will need to be tested again). Evenings are surprisingly poor considering this is a consumer product. You can see a full case study on our work for them here.

If your email marketing isn’t working as well as you’d like, experimenting with when you send them is a good way to identify ways to get better results. If you’d like a free review of your email marketing, click here.

where to start with digital marketing especially when it isn't working

6 reasons why your marketing isn’t working

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

and what to do about them!

 

Assuming you are like every owner of a small business, you want your marketing to deliver the leads you need to grow your business. If your marketing isn’t working, there are six main reasons why. This article will look at each of these six reasons, explain the issue and what you can do about it.

Let’s go!

1. Focusing on the wrong audience

There are currently 68 million people in the UK. The vast majority of these people will never buy what your small business sells, so why do so many businesses try to maximise the size of their target audience?  Too many people believe that trying to appeal to huge numbers will generate more sales. The opposite is actually true, and will save you a huge amount of money that will be wasted when you try to engage huge numbers.good marketing helps your small business hit the target - an image of a dart to support the article

The more people you’re trying to market to, the more your messaging is compromised. It becomes ineffective and a waste of time and money.

Even the biggest companies focus their marketing. They have a range of different products that appeal to different audiences.

What to do

Develop personas for each of your Ideal Clients; most businesses will have more than one. Your marketing must focus on your Ideal Clients to be effective and you can find out more about how to do that here.

2. Ineffective marketing messages

Too many businesses use ineffective marketing messages. 43,600 companies claim to be “London’s leading provider” of whatever they do. 435,000 companies claim to be the “UK’s leading provider” Chances are none of them are – and people won’t believe them either.

Let’s use accountants as an example, but this applies to all business types.  If an accountancy firm’s marketing says “We are accountants” or “We are London’s leading accountants”, there are three problems:

  1. People say “And….”
  2. They have a preconceived idea of what an accountant does – that is often wrong.
  3. They don’t stand out from the competition.

How can we put this? Nobody cares what your business does!

They care about:

  • how you can help them.
  • how you solve their needs and issues.
  • Having someone who understands them.

What to do

Think about the needs and issues of your Ideal Clients and how you can help. Think about what success looks like for your Ideal Clients. That will help you develop far more effective marketing messages.

3. Using the wrong marketing tools

Using the wrong set of marketing tools happens for three reasons:

  • FOMO (the fear of missing out) is often a major problem within small business marketing, particularly when it comes to social media. “If we have content on all the social media platforms, we’re making sure that people don’t miss us”.
  • These are the tools I know and understand”. This is particularly relevant when small business owners are not willing to get some expert advice.
  • A marketing agency sells you what they do as the right set of marketing tools for your business. Find out more about our approach here.

When the wrong tools are being used, it means your marketing isn’t reaching your target audiences. It doesn’t matter how good you are with these tools or how effective your marketing messages are, if they are never seen, they won’t work.

What to do

Yet again, think about your Ideal Clients.

  • social channels are they most likely to be on regularly?
  • How do they travel to work?
  • How are they likely to search for companies who can help them?

If you’re really not sure, you can always ask some of your current clients.

The other thing to do is look at the ROI of each marketing channel up to now (great tool to help you available here).  Which are effective and which aren’t? If something isn’t working, stop doing it and invest that time and money in something that will.

 

4. Using the right tools poorly

Getting the best from many, particularly online, marketing tools requires training, practice and regular use. That’s why SME Needs works with a range of marketing specialists to deliver what our clients needs. Typical mistakes we see regularly being made include:

  • Email marketing campaigns always being sent to the whole contact list (see some tips here).
  • Social media activity that is only ever posting, rather than engaging with your audience and responding to posts/comments.
  • Very little use of video to explain complex stories.

You may get some results from using the right tools, but imagine what is possible when they are used well!

What to do

This depends on how much time you have available. If you have time and want to do your marketing yourself, get some training. There are plenty of companies that will train you in various aspects of small business marketing.

If you don’t have time, bring in the specialists. Whilst you will have to pay for their services, the ROI from improved marketing will be much higher than you will get without them.

No marketing consistency

Consistent marketing ensures your target audiences see your brand regularly. They get to know more and more about what you do and how you can help. When they realise they need what you sell, they are much more likely to get in touch with you. If your marketing is inconsistent, Sod’s Law says they will need your products/services just after they’ve forgotten who you are because they haven’t seen your brand for some time.

What to do

When planning your marketing, make sure that you are consistent with everything you do. If you simply don’t have time to produce a, for example, LinkedIn post every day, make sure you can get one out every other day. Make use of scheduling tools (we often use Publer and Mailchimp) to help you and build up a bank of marketing material in advance so that you can keep the consistency going.

If you really cannot meet the consistency levels needed (the more competitive your industry, the more frequent you are likely to need to be to maintain and build your brand recognition), bring in some help.

Not doing enough marketing

Related to consistency is the sheer volume of marketing you need to do. The more competitive your industry sector, the more you have to do.  That doesn’t mean doing 10 Instagram posts a day; rather its making sure that you are seen in multiple ways. Unless you have something that makes you markedly different from your competitors, you will need to be seen frequently enough that your brand and your messages are seen sufficiently enough that you are remembered at the same time (and ideally before) your competitors are.

What to do

Based on your Ideal Clients, you need to maximise the number of opportunities they have to see and engage with your brand and your messaging. An omnichannel approach (see here for a full explanation) means people continue to see your brand and your messaging, even when they are not actively searching.

 

If your marketing isn’t working, let’s talk. After reading this, you may have identified why your marketing isn’t working and simply need help fixing the issue. If you need help identifying why it isn’t working, that is always the first step we take new clients through. Give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or simply book a meeting into Nigel’s diary by clicking here.

 

opportunity cost, time is money, smart time management, opportunities

Getting the timing of your marketing right

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

Marketing is all about saying the right thing to the right people at the right time. This article will concentrate of the last piece of that statement – the right time. When is the right time?
This, of course, depends. It depends on two key things:

  1. When your product/service is going to be used
  2. When the buyer starts to think about the issue you help them with.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail…

When your product will be used

At the simplest end of this scale are highly seasonal products: Easter eggs, Christmas decorations, gifts that are aimed at any of the parent’s days. The purchase must be made directly from the manufacturer/ecommerce retailer in time for it to be delivered. If a store-based retail purchase, it can even be the same day.

In this scenario there is wholesale and consumer marketing times to consider, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on direct to user marketing.

For these products, there are firm start and end points for the marketing. Whilst this makes the timing easier, the competitive nature of the markets means your marketing needs to really stand out.

At the other end of the scale will be high value services that are used all year round and can be bought at any time of the year. Marketing is going to have to be done all year round, with other factors having more of an impact on your marketing timing.

When people start thinking about the issue

When buying something, people don’t think about the product, they think about the issue, the activity or the holiday. Business owners that buy accountancy or IT support services don’t initially think about IT support or accountancy, they look at productivity, lost time or think about why their tax bill was so high last year. Consumers of seasonal products look back at last time thinking “did we have a good Christmas?” – or equivalent.

Next their minds go to “how can this be better?”
• Should they buy something different, or a better version of what they bought?
• What else is needed?
• What does a good result look like?
• Should I have bought earlier, or later?

Whilst the first three questions here relate more to your marketing messages, the last one is absolutely relevant to the timing of your marketing.

Let’s start with the same two scenarios initially…

Seasonal timing

If we go to extremes, you will see many of the supermarkets selling Christmas products in August. People have usually booked (maybe even gone on) their summer holidays by this point, so the next big expenditure is Christmas. Because some people will want to spread the cost of the festivities over a period of time, it makes sense to start so early.

For you, it may be different. Consider these questions:

1. When did you starting marketing your seasonal products last year?
If you had a good year last year, it may make sense to simply start at that point again.

2. Were sales quick or slow when you started?
Slow sales are likely to indicate that you started your marketing too early. You were marketing before people had really started thinking about it. If sales were really quick, you may want to start a little earlier.

3. When did your competition start their marketing campaigns?
Keeping an eye on your competitions’ marketing is always a good idea, but don’t immediately think that you need to match them. They may be going too early and you definitely don’t want to rush the design of a campaign just to get it out there.

4. What is the best day?
Particularly for consumer marketing, knowing what days, and times, to start marketing campaigns is important. We’ve just analysed the email marketing for an ecommerce client and it clearly showed:
• Fridays are a really bad day to send email campaigns for them, with Monday & Thursday being far better.
• Weekend mornings perform so much better than afternoons

Just make sure you’ve been sending throughout the week before you do the analysis!

5. When did your seasonal products start selling last year?
If your products started selling before you were actively marketing them, people were definitely looking for what you sell before you realised it. If you’ve got an ecommerce site, your records will show when you started selling products, so you can alter your marketing schedule accordingly.

Timing for your marketing for year-round products/services

If there really is no seasonality for your products/services, you will need to be marketing throughout the year. Frequency of activity is important, as you need to tread that fine line between too much marketing and not enough.
Your marketing has three goals:
1. Get them into the top of your pipeline
2. Nurture them so they move through that phase
3. Get them to become a sales opportunity.

Top of pipeline timing

This activity has to take place throughout the year with your principal timing issue being about how frequently you are marketing.

A constant light touch

Spread your activity out when using multiple marketing channels. You don’t want your target audience to see you everywhere for a few days and then see nothing for weeks. Far better that they see a message a day over 10 days (for example) than 10 messages in a day and nothing for two weeks.

Moving them through your funnel

Decision makers will need to be confident that you can deliver what they need. Content that demonstrates the knowledge and expertise within your business should be shared with your target audience regularly.

Permutate the knowledge demonstration campaigns with more salesy campaigns that challenge their thinking and get them to think about their current provider. These should generate some inbound enquiries, converting them to sales opportunities.

Converting to a sales opportunity

Many small businesses simply rely on the funnel to call them when they are ready. Whilst you know at this point they are ready to talk, you are leaving things to chance. Keeping an eye on how your pipeline is engaging with you, and then following up, can generate sales leads more proactively, assuming you have the tools to show you who is engaged.
• Email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, will tell you who is opening and clicking on your campaigns.
• CANDDi can give you a real insight into who is looking at your website, what they are looking at and how they got there.
• Integrating both of these with your CRM puts all the information needed in front of your sales team (whether that is you or others in your business).

Regular reviews of the information in your CRM can give you a list of people to follow up with. That can be through personal emails, but far better if you pick up the phone and call them.

 

Can you get helpful information?

As people enter your funnel, can you get information from them that will help you? Renewal/replacement dates would be really useful to you, as would notice periods. Perhaps a short survey can get the information you are looking for, if you’re not yet talking to them.

What to do when you have a date

If you can get a date, work backwards from there based on your experience.
• If you have a renewal date, how much notice do they normally need to give?
• From the notice date, how long do people, on average, take to review a proposal and make up their mind?
• How long does it take to complete your sales process?
• Add on some time for the length of the campaign you’re planning.

This is likely to add up to a good few months, so don’t expect the sales to start quickly.

Some marketing options when you have dates

1. Automated email campaigns based on date information
2. Set tasks in your CRM to get you to pick up the phone
3. Direct mail campaigns can be highly effective, as people will keep good quality marketing collateral

This has hopefully explained the importance of timing within your marketing, and given you some ideas on what you can do to improve your marketing. If you would like to talk, or you have some questions about this, please get in touch.
• smegrowth@smeneeds.co.uk
• 020 8634 5911
• Click here to book time into my diary

The Do’s and Don’ts of websites for small businesses

By Delivering your marketing

There are very few small businesses that don’t have a website these days. Websites enable small businesses to get in front of their target audience in ways that were never possible when businesses relied on Yellow Pages and local footfall. So when you are planning either your first website, or your next one, getting some advice on what you should and shouldn’t be doing will make a real difference in the performance and ROI you get from that new site.

In the latest of our series of expert-led articles, here are a series of dos and don’ts from three highly experienced website developers:

  • Matt from 3mil Ltd – he’s been running his own firm and building WordPress sites for over 16 years now.
  • Si Bland from Correl8 Ltd – another highly experienced developer and a fellow Fore Business member too!
  • Troy Emmerson from Terra Digital – based in South Africa and part of the SME Needs team too.

Before you start

Matt says:

Consider your visitors – Understood the people who visit your website, your audience. These are commonly know as personas. There can be many persona types visiting your website for a number of reasons. It could be to validate your business, read a case study, buy a product or just looking for your telephone number. Structure the website in a way that they can easily find the information they are looking for when they arrive.

Si says:

Any new business should strive to have at the very least some sort of website presence, even if only a well thought-out single page homepage, listing key services, contact details and maybe contain an interactive website form. At the very least this would mean that your business can be found from a simple Google local business search.

Once you have a website address or URL (uniform resource locator), with contact details, then you would be able to claim your free Google Business Profile listing. This helps with natural search positions, and also allows you to have a platform for customers to leave a review, which is a very important element to promoting your business and distinguishing you from the competition.

It’s important when considering even a basic website, that you have some form of content management system (CMS). A content management system puts you in control of the content of your website. If you wish to add a news article, press release or a new customer testimonial or case study, then the last thing you’ll want is to go back to your design agency and have them charge you to do it.

Troy says:

When you start that search for a developer, beware of developers offering you cheap websites.

The design of your website

Matt says:

Look and feel – Make sure your website design follows your company visual identity, be consistent in your typography and colour palette. Use a strong standout accent colour for your links and buttons.

Troy says:

Never say to a designer “Wow me!” Unless you provide them with some guidance around what you like and don’t like, its going to be a long road. Remember too that the person you want to like your site is not you, but your Ideal Client.

The website’s content

Matt says:

Show, don’t tell – Don’t tell your website visitors how good you are at your profession, show them with content that contains results, facts / figures. Use social proof to inform new customers – use case studies and testimonials from your happy satisfied customers.

Nigel says:

When you’re building a new website, your content will need to change, whether that is just editing some of the current pages or adding a whole new set of pages and posts. Two things:

  1. Remember to include the cost of this work in your website budget
  2. Producing the content takes time and you need to keep on top of content production so your developer can stay within agreed deadlines.

Troy says:

Be careful with your choice of page builder and plugins within your WordPress website. Some of the page building tools, such as Elementor and WPBakery, use a lot of code, so can slow your site down and mean there is a risk that someone in the business can “break” the site by changing something they shouldn’t.  Having a set of design templates where the content and images can be changed, but not the structure and layout is a good way to protect the site, whilst giving you the freedom and flexibility to add pages/posts as you wish.

Also keep the number of plugins to a minimum. The more plugins you have, the more likely there are to be clashes and potential security issues.

Before Go Live

Troy says:

Test the site carefully. If things aren’t working (such as contact forms not sending emails to the right people), make sure they are fixed before the Go Live. If they are missed, it is still the developer’s responsibility to fix this after the site is live.

Also, make sure that you know exactly how things work after the Go Live. Changes to the site will usually mean additional costs, unless you have some skills and can do it yourself.

Ongoing

This one really starts when earlier than this, but it is definitely an ongoing piece. Matt says:

Optimise for search – Make sure you can be seen on Google. Use keywords, add meta descriptions and write informative and relevant blog articles for your audience. Also make sure you have a Google business profile to enhance your presence in local search and improve visibility.  He also says:

Keep your site up-to-date – If you have a WordPress website make sure the theme, plugins and the WordPress platform software is always up-to-date this will avoid security issues and any bugs that may arise from plugin conflicts. Keep the site content up-to-date, new blog articles, case studies, testimonials and achievements, keep your site looking fresh.

Troy says:

It makes sense to have a website support and maintenance retainer in place. Keeping plugins updated takes time, but is necessary for the security and functionality of your website. SEO work is ongoing to maintain and improve your performance in the search rankings.

If you are thinking of updating or replacing your website soon, we hope these tips have helped guide your thinking and, of course, if you want some help with the project, please get in touch. Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book some time into our diary.

Making the best use of video

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

How Business Owners Can Maximize the Impact of Video Content

According to a study by HubSpot, including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. Video content engages both visual and auditory senses, making it more memorable and compelling than text alone. This article is a combination of tips from video experts from with the SME Needs network, much as we did a while back with one on copywriting (you can read that here).

A few stats about video content on websites

Some useful / interesting stats:

  • Only 20% of website visitors will read a document, but 80% will watch a video.
  • 72% of customers would rather learn about a product through video
  • 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video
  • People stay on websites with video 5.3X longer

Figures like this make a compelling argument for you to add video content to your website.

Different types of video content

There are many ways small businesses can use video to level the playing field with big-named and deep-pocketed rivals; here’s the key ones and a reason for producing each…

Explainer videos

An explainer video is just that; a video which neatly explains your business, product or specific feature in a short, succinct package. Usually 45-90 seconds long. Click here to see an example produced by Hotwolf.

How To videos

How To content can be a great way to show your product in action – to help new / existing customers get the best out of it, or to entice new customers by showing-not-telling how easy / effective it is. There are a good set of this video type here.

Product videos

Depending on your product, you can really lift your website with individual and group videos of your products – people want to see physical products in 360. In fact, modern audiences expect it.

Testimonials

User-generated content (UGC) is the ultimate in “don’t just take our word for it” validation content. You can easily say they’re the best at XY and especially Z, but authentic comments from a real customer can do so much more to convince a potential purchaser.

Branded Content / infotainment

Who says brand content has to be boring? Creating genuinely entertaining videos, aimed squarely at your target demographic can be a great way to engage, promoting recall and putting your brand in a positive light with the right people. Give them a reason to follow you on social, or to look forward to your next output.

Influencer Videos

Using the authentic tone of voice and the existing audiences of established influencers can be a great way for an SME to reach a wider audience. We  recommend you agree beforehand any Do’s and Don’ts with the influencer / agency. Whilst you want the influencer’s authentic take (this is what you’re buying, as much as their audience), you need to be confident going in that they’re not going to denigrate your brand.

Meet the Team

Introducing the people behind the product can be a great way to humanise your brand and engender a more human engagement from your audience.

How to use your video content

As a small business owner, you can maximise the impact of video content in a number of ways. Here are some practical tips to make better use of video content:

Define Clear Objectives

Identify the specific goals you want to achieve with your video content. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, having clear objectives will guide your content creation process.

Know Your Audience

Understand your target audience’s preferences, interests, and challenges. Tailor your video content to resonate with their needs and preferences, ensuring that your message is relevant and engaging.

Create Compelling Storytelling

People connect with stories. Craft compelling narratives that showcase your brand’s personality, values, and unique selling points. Use storytelling techniques to create emotional connections that leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Optimise for Different Platforms

Adapt your video content for various platforms and devices. Each platform has its own specifications and audience behavior, so optimize your videos for social media, websites, and mobile devices to maximize reach and engagement.

Embrace Live Video

Leverage the power of live video to engage with your audience in real-time. Live streams on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn allow you to interact directly with viewers, answer questions, and showcase behind-the-scenes content, fostering a sense of authenticity.

Invest in Quality Production

While you don’t need Hollywood-level production, investing in good video quality is essential. Clear audio, well-lit scenes, and professional editing contribute to a polished and trustworthy image for your brand.

Implement SEO Strategies

Optimise your video content for search engines by using relevant keywords, creating descriptive titles, and writing detailed video descriptions. This will improve the discoverability of your videos and enhance your overall online presence.

Utilise Analytics

Track the performance of your video content using analytics tools. Pay attention to metrics like views, engagement, and conversion rates. Analysing these data points will provide valuable insights into what works best for your audience, allowing you to refine your future video strategies.

Encourage User-generated Content

Foster community engagement by encouraging your audience to create and share their video content related to your brand. User-generated content adds authenticity and can broaden your reach through diverse perspectives.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key in building a strong video presence. Develop a content calendar and regularly release videos to keep your audience engaged. Whether it’s weekly updates, monthly series, or timely event coverage, a consistent schedule builds anticipation and loyalty.

By implementing these strategies, you can leverage the dynamic and engaging nature of video content to effectively connect with their audience, build brand loyalty, and achieve their business objectives.

Thank you to our contributors

Greg Stocks is an Event Videographer and you can find out more about his services at  www.peakfable.com

Matt Rook is the Founder and Managing Director at Hotwolf. You can find out more at hotwolf.co

If you would like to discuss how video content can become a core part of your marketing strategy this year, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book a time directly into our diary.

Planning your small business marketing for 2024

New Year, New Start

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Planning your small business marketing for 2024With the new calendar year just a few weeks away, you really should be thinking. Thinking about what you are going to do to make 2024 a really successful one for your small business. Maybe 2023 has been a quiet one for various reasons. Whatever happened, 2024 is a new year and you cannot simply assume that you will get the same results by doing the same things. Here are the four steps you need to take to make 2024 a great year…

What worked in 2023?

Have you reviewed and measured your marketing performance for the last year? If not, it is time to start. By measuring your marketing performance, you can quickly make decisions about:

  • what to continue – because it is working.
  • what to review – because you believe it can work better
  • what to stop – as it is simply not working.

If you have had a really successful year, imagine what next year could be like if you cut out what marketing hasn’t worked and did more of what has been working! We have an ROI calculator that you can download:  Click here to our download ROI calculator.

If you haven’t let’s identify what channels haven’t worked so they can be reviewed or stopped. The time and money saved can be re-focused.

How many new clients did you acquire?

Not gross, but net new clients. Deduct the number you lost from the number you won.  Compare this to 2022. Did your overall client number increase or decrease? Is it higher because you won more or lost fewer?

  • Which marketing channels did the new clients come through?
  • How much did each new client cost?
  • What is your lead conversion rate?
  • What is the value of a new client (average)?

By answering these questions, you start to develop a picture of how much marketing you need to do in 2024 to hit your business goals.

Example:

  • Your business goal for 2024: increase turnover by £250K
  • A typical client spends £10,000 per year with you.
  • Last year you added 15 new clients, but lost 3
  • Your marketing spend was £30K

If the ratios stay the same, you will need a marketing budget this year of £60K – assuming the ratio of clients lost to clients gained stays the same, as does cost per client acquired.

Focus

What does your Ideal Client look like? If you look back at the clients you acquired in the last year, how many of them match the description of your Ideal Client?  If you are acquiring clients that don’t match this description, do you need to review that description or add another?

How many of the clients you lost last year matched that description? If they were a long way from being Ideal Clients, it may be that you simply weren’t able to properly meet their needs. There are times when you need to consider walking away from a sales opportunity if you cannot properly meet their needs.

Reviewing your Ideal client description, as needed, will help to re-focus your marketing messages so that they work more effectively. The marketing messages will be different for each Ideal Client you have as they have different needs and may use your products/services in different ways. Just in case you’re interested, this is one of our Ideal Client descriptions.

Planning your marketing

If you have followed the recommendations above, you will know what marketing worked for you in the last year. If they worked last year, it is likely they will work in 2024, so it is now simply a case of scheduling the activity into your marketing plan. Then decide whether to do the same amount, or more, of this marketing.

Now, what else will you be doing this year? If your growth targets are higher for 2024 than for 2023, you need to be doing more marketing in the coming year. You know what hasn’t worked, so what other marketing is likely to work?  If want to discuss this, give us a call on 020 8634 5911.

Do you have the time?

If you managed, or even did, your marketing last year, will you have the time to do it again in 2024?  If you are planning to do the same amount of marketing as you did last year, you probably have. If you are planning to do more, you may need some help. Of course, once the sales start coming in, more of your time will be focused on delivering what your clients want. Unless you have no need for a work/life balance (??), no worries. But if you do want some time away from your business (it is recommended), you need someone who can manage or do your marketing for you. Our Virtual Marketing Director service is ideal for owners of small businesses who don’t have time, but aren’t yet in a position to employ their own marketing team. Does that sound like you?

Why do all this?

Too many owners of small businesses spend too little time working ON the business, rather than IN the business. This leads to “stuff happening” rather than planned activity. As the old saying goes : fail to plan – plan to fail.  By investing a few hours in planning for 2024, you will see a significant uplift in performance and more growth.

If you would like to discuss your marketing budgets and plans, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image of four golfers to support article about why nigel plays golf

Why Nigel plays golf

By Marketing Performance

“Doing business on the golf course” is something that has been around for years and shows no signs of going away. That’s why Nigel plays golf during business hours, but let’s add a little detail.

How Nigel started playing

Put simply, he had the choice of going shopping with the women or playing golf with the men.  On a holiday in France, Jane was going shopping with her mum and aunt. Her dad and uncle were going to play golf. Nigel chose golf and has been hooked ever since that first 9 holes were completed in only 65 shots!

Networking

Golf, in the shape of Fore Business, is a great way of networking. Nigel gets to meet and talk with business owners whilst exercising and enjoying a sport he loves. He gets to understand what they do and they get to know more about how he helps his clients, and the types of clients he is looking for.

The great thing about Fore, in particular, is that we now have relationships with business owners across the country. We’ve helped clients right across the country, so there is no need to worry about delivering for any future clients that come from the relationships that are being developed.

New business

Golf generates, on average, just over 10% of SME Needs’ annual revenue each year. Some years that is up, some it is down, but golf continues to generate opportunities on a regular basis.

Suppliers

It is not just new business that comes from networking on the golf course. Over the years, we’ve sourced many different products and services from people Nigel has built relationships with:

·       Branded merchandise from at least two different companies

·       We met our current accountants at Fore Business

·       Matt Hills from Travel Counsellors even organised the Davey family holiday in 2022!

·       Pension planning

·       Social media services

·       Copywriting

And many more…

Tax deductible

Golf can be an expensive sport. Whilst you cannot claim for a new set of irons through the business, you can legitimately claim your Fore Business fees, travel costs and subsistence when you’re playing golf for business reasons. Whilst this may not save you a fortune on corporation tax, it all counts!

 

So, if you love playing golf and you’d like to see how playing golf can benefit your business, get in touch. You can see a small number of our Fore Business connections here and Nigel has Fore Business Golden Tickets that give you a month’s free membership. Let us know if you would like one!

 

man and woman shaking hands after agreeing a sale

Congratulations! now what

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

man and woman shaking hands after agreeing a saleMaking a sale is exhilarating; it’s a real boost to your system – and to your revenue numbers. Now what? What are you doing to maximise the opportunity? As a small business, you want to ensure you get real value from the sale – and that’s not just the cash value. Here are 8 ways to get real value from making a sale.

Why did they buy from you?

Chances are you weren’t the only company they were talking to. So why did they buy from you? What made you stand out from your competition? Knowing the answer to this question can help both your Sales and your Marketing operations.
Whether you set up a survey on SurveyMonkey or Mailchimp, or you have someone, ideally not the sales person, call them to ask the question, as long as you get the information, all is good.
Sales people get to know what works for them, particularly if they have tried or said something different. Marketing can use the information to focus or alter the marketing as needed.

What do they want to achieve?

If you haven’t already asked this during the sale process, this can be really helpful in different ways:

  • It gives you something to measure against. Did your help mean they achieved their goal? This is particularly useful for when you produce a case study later on.
  • Once in a while, someone will use what you sell for something completely different. Is this something you’ve considered and is there a market opportunity to promote your product/service to others wanting to do this?

Who else do they know?

The more usual time to ask for referrals is after you’ve delivered, but there may be an opportunity to ask just after the sale, particularly if they are a repeat customer. Someone who is happy that they’ve found a solution to their issue may well make some introductions for you.
Starting this conversation as early as possible, and ideally during the sales process, will mean that when you start asking, it won’t be a shock and they may have already started thinking about introductions and referrals they can make.

What happened?

After you have delivered, do you ask what happened? The answer to this question is relevant to the whole company, particularly Operations. Did their purchase from you help them achieve their goal? Of course, this may take some time, so make sure you ask the question at an appropriate time.

What was it like?

Was it a good experience working with your organisation? Some companies sell products or services you never want to use. But even a funeral director or insolvency practice will want to know whether they did a good job. You want to know so you can use their comments in your marketing/sales, or so you can make changes as needed.

What else can they buy?

Assuming they’ve had a good experience and you helped them to achieve their goal, now is absolutely the time to look at what else they can buy. Is what you sell a regular purchase (can you set up automated reminders for them?) or are there additional products/services you can sell that complement or work with the first sale? It is extremely rare that someone is buying everything they can from your business. There’s a great tool to help you map out what more you can sell them here.

Who else do they know – again

Once you’ve done something you are in a much stronger position to ask for introductions and referrals. You’ve proved (at least once) that you can deliver on your promises and that you can help them. When they are happy with what you’ve done and they trust you, they are more much more likely to make the introductions you seek.

Just to put some context around this, 91% of people say they are happy to make introductions and give referrals, but only 11% of people ask for them!

This stage is something that can be repeated on a regular basis, throughout your relationship with your client. But it relies on one key factor – that you deliver for the person/organisation they refer to you. There is more detail about getting referrals here, so just remember that they are taking a risk by referring you. A little bit of their reputation goes with the introduction, so make them proud.

Get a case study

This has deliberately been left until last for a couple of reasons:

  1. Because this can help you more than any of the others over the long term.
  2. Because too many people produce case studies too soon, usually leaving off the key part.

Case studies are tremendously powerful. They provide evidence, supported by your client, that you can deliver. They will help you to close sales opportunities for years to come. Remember that you don’t have to remove a case study when you stop working with someone . Case studies help prospects to align themselves with you, because they recognise their peers and the issues they have, that you solved. More can be found about how to effectively use case studies here.

So that’s 8 (alright, 7) ways you can increase the value of each sale you make. Once you have brought on a new client, the benefit to your small business doesn’t have to stop at the value of that sale.

Of course, if you would like to talk more about implementing an action plan to maximise the value of your clients, give us a call: 020 8634 5911 or click here to book something directly into Nigel’s calendar.

image to support blog about the right content for your blog

Struggling to develop content?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

Our guide to producing great content to promote your small business

Producing content is a key part of many small business’ marketing strategies. Content shows you have the knowledge your clients need and improves SEO performance. The problems are often working out what to write about and actually writing it.  If you are struggling to produce content, here’s our guide to developing a content plan and getting the content produced and published.

How often should you produce new content?

The more content you need to produce, the more you may struggle to produce content.  A search on ‘how often should a small business blog’ show results that suggest 2-4 times a week will produce the best results.  That’s 104 – 208 blogs a year. If you then look at how long that blog should be, Hubspot suggests 2300 words! That’s nearly ¼ million words minimum.

This is clearly a huge amount of content to produce. For us, there is a much simpler way to work it out: what can you consistently produce? If you try to produce 2 blogs a week now, how are you going to cope when you’re busy?  Can you still produce that level of content, or will you struggle at that time? Far better to be consistent than produce lots irregularly.

Produce a content schedule

Start at a level you are comfortable with. For some small businesses, that may be just once a month. Whatever frequency you start with, develop a schedule.

  • What date will you publish the article?
  • When does it have to be written by?
  • Who is going to write it?
  • Who is going to check it and publish it?

Far better to start slow and build up.  If you do find yourself with more time than you thought you would, get ahead of your schedule. It will help when you get busier.

 

Develop a topic list

If you’ve mapped out what is important to your clients (see our Ideal Client workshops for more information on this), you’ll have a good idea of what to write about. Focus your efforts on topics that will help your target audience and show that you can help them. NEVER ever just write about what you do!

If you are struggling to work this out, there are other ways to develop a topic list:

1. What have you written before?

When looking at previous content, prioritise the articles that were viewed the most. Look at the average time on page too. If the article was visited lots of time and people are spending lots of time on there, updating that article could generate even more traffic for you.

2. What are your competitors writing about?

Just because your competitors are writing about something doesn’t mean you should. But a check on what they are writing is a good check to make sure you’re not missing any topics you should be covering.

3. What questions are your clients asking you?

If your clients are asking about them, it’s a safe bet that other people within your target audience will be looking for answers to similar questions. Answering questions that people want answers to is always a good thing.

If you have access to a way of finding out how many searches are being done on the topics you are planning to write about, check them too. It can help you put your topics in order.

 

Consider using AI

Tools such as ChatGPT are hitting computer screens in their millions right now. We’ve started doing a little testing, but the jury is still out on whether they will be a good thing or not.

If you do use AI-generated content, make sure you read through it and adapt to your target audience(s) and add relevant links, both internal and external.

This is not an AI-generated article

 

Outsource your content writing

If you don’t have the time, or the skills, using a copywriter is a great way to get the content you need. We work with a range of writers with different areas of expertise and there are plenty of others on the market too.  Writers that seem very cheap may be so for a reason.  Content can easily be used for multiple clients if they are distributed. One article that is then used by, say, 10 companies makes for a much better hourly rate.

Most copywriters are not that unscrupulous, but you can always check by using a plagiarism tool.  We use SEMrush (amongst its many functions) to check content when we believe it is necessary.

The more you can do for the copywriter, the more you can save.  Providing either a draft article (for them to improve) or a set of notes for them to build on will save you the time they would spend researching an article for you.

It all depends on how much time you have, or don’t have.

 

Publishing your content

Once you are producing great content, there are multiple places you can publish your content, starting with your own website. Not only will it help improve your SEO performance, it will bring people back to your website on a regular basis. Have you also considered these alternatives:

Other people’s websites

Adding content to other websites seems almost contradictory, but it provides you with valuable links back to your website. Adding it to sites where your target audience goes gives them the opportunity to find it and move to your site.

Magazines

Both print and online magazines are always looking for good content. Getting your content into the right ones can drive brand awareness and leads your way.

LinkedIn

Adding an article to LinkedIn can increase your profile views and get people talking to you – precisely what your content strategy is for.

 

Yoast it!

When you are producing great content, you want it to be found. If your website is a WordPress site, we recommend using Yoast as an SEO tool.  It provides a simply traffic light system to guide your content production.  Simple things like:

  • Reminding you to add a meta description and SEO title.
  • Ensuring you add internal and external links to the article.
  • Keeping the sentence length short (most less than 20 words) makes it easier to read for your viewers
  • Making sure you don’t use passive language in your articles.

All will help you improve your SEO performance, but be sure to keep your reader front of mind. Sometimes, slavishly working towards the green lights can make the reading experience not what your readers would want.

 

Share it

Finally, once it is published, don’t keep it to yourself.  Get it out there so that your target audience can find it. They find it, read it and then pick up the phone – simples!!!

 

If your marketing strategy includes developing content, you need to ensure that you produce good quality content on a consistent basis. These tips will help you if you’re worrying about producing great content, but if you are still struggling (or simply want someone else to do it), give us a call (020 8634 5911). Let’s talk and see how we can help you.

A Virtual Marketing Director can make a massive improvement in your small business marketing performance. Get in touch with SME Needs to find out how

How does a Fractional CMO help small businesses

By A Helping Hand, Strategic Planning

Every small business needs marketing to generate new and repeat business. But the majority of UK small businesses aren’t ready to employ their own Marketing Director or CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The average salary for a UK CMO is £97,659 per annum; a figure out of range for most small businesses. So what is the best way to get the strategic marketing support you need?  Get a fractional CMO. Here’s why you should and how a fractional CMO can help your small business grow.

What is a fractional CMO?

Put very simply, a fractional CMO takes responsibility for creating and leading your marketing strategy and managing the marketing delivery to deliver the growth you are looking for. They work on a part-time basis, from a few hours per month to a day a week.

How a fractional CMO helps you

With little of no expert marketers within your small business, your marketing to this point has been guided by gut feel, internet research and conversations with your peers. Some of it has worked (you wouldn’t be still here otherwise), but is your marketing really working effectively? Could you get better results?  Here are 8 ways you get help:

1. Reporting and analytics

When you know exactly what is and isn’t working within your marketing activity, you can make better decisions. A in-depth analysis of your current, and historic, marketing will be the first step taken.

2. Marketing focus

Focusing your marketing on your Ideal Clients makes it far more effective. A Fractional CMO will work with you to understand who you sell to, and why.

3. Developing your marketing strategy

You need a clear marketing strategy. One that is specific to your business and focused on your business targets.

4. Managing your marketing delivery

Whether you have internal marketing staff or rely on third party experts, your Fractional CMO will manage the team, ensuring the marketing is executed effectively and delivers you results you want. If there are gaps in your team, they will help to source the marketing skills needed.

5. Problem solving

Sometimes something doesn’t go to plan. You need someone to overcome obstacles.

6. Saving you money

You get the marketing support you need, but for a fraction of the cost of a senior employee.

7. Managing their exit

As your business grows, you will get to the point where it makes sense to employ your own marketing management. The average marketing manager salary is currently £46,286. When you start getting close to that figure (on consultancy only), a Fractional CMO will help you find the right person to manage your marketing going forward.

Fractional CMO vs. marketing agency

A marketing agency will have a set of skills and services they can provide. This may not match the precise set of marketing skills you need. A Fractional CMO will work with you to identify the right marketing mix and then ensure the right people/agencies are in place. If you have internal resource, they will be used and then third parties will be brought in to fill the gaps.

With the many years’ experience they have, the CMO will have a little black book of tried and trusted experts.

If your marketing isn’t working as well as you want it to, a Fractional CMO could be what you need. To arrange a time to talk to how SME Needs can help you, book a conversation here, or call us on 020 8634 5911

The role of a Virtual Marketing Director

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Occasionally, we throw out a controversial statement. Partly to see if anyone notices, but mostly to see what people think. It’s time for another one, so here goes.

 

I’m not here to do your marketing!

 

My role with you is to ensure the right marketing happens and that it works. Let’s start with the Why and progress through to the How.

Why is this important?

Small businesses rarely have huge marketing budgets, if ever. That budget needs to be spent in a way that delivers the best ROI possible. That comes from having the right people doing the marketing.

In the very early stages, where money is really tight, the right person is usually the owner. They know their business inside out, but need help to work out what to say, where to say it, and when to say it.   A little further down the line, when there is budget available it makes real sense to use experts. You wouldn’t want me building you a website (I’ve tried; its not pretty!) and its a long time since I’ve spent any real time working out the best way to do paid ads on Google etc. As I know, perhaps, two journalists, you don’t want me doing your PR. Get the point?

The great thing is that I know lots of experts in their fields. Here’s just a few:

These are just a few of the people that could become involved. They bring their expertise in their specialist field to bear on your marketing, but you only pay for what you use.

Working this way gives you the best balance of expertise and budget available to you, alongside the support and guidance I bring.

How I help: 4 recurring stages

To ensure the right marketing is being done for your small business, there are 4 stages that we rotate through.

1. Measure

Knowing what is and isn’t working is vital to deliver a great marketing ROI. Put simply, if it isn’t working, stop doing it. Spend the money and invest the time doing what you know is working or trying something different.

We analyse your marketing spend, marketing activity and results to see what is and isn’t working for you.

We have a Marketing ROI Calculator you can download here if you wish to start measuring your own marketing performance.

2. Focus

You cannot sell to everyone, and you don’t want to be saying you’ll sell to anyone. Every product or service has an Ideal Client. Someone that is looking for that and will make best use of it. Whilst there will always be people asking to buy that are way outside your Ideal Client description, you don’t market to them because they will be rare.

One of the easiest ways to work this out is to think about your best client…

We work with you to map out your Ideal Client, work out what to say to them and pull together that evidence set that will be key to proving you can deliver on your promises.

3. Plan

You have targets for your business. Your marketing plan, when implemented, needs to deliver the leads you need to hit your targets. It needs to utilise the available skills within your business (saving you some money), and it needs to work, ideally, within your marketing budget (more about that here).

We work with you to develop that plan. A plan that you buy into and commit to. If you don’t buy into it, it won’t work!

4. Deliver

Once the plan is in place, it must be done. My job is to use your marketing plan and ensure that everything is done when it is supposed to be, and that you know the results. You’ll see the leads coming in and we’ll talk about the conversion rates, as the leads turn to sales. If the leads aren’t converting, we’ll work with you to work out why as well.

If we see that some things aren’t working, we’ll look at them. Did they not work because:

  • That marketing takes time, and it is too early to see
  • It wasn’t done very well
  • That it isn’t the right marketing for your business (we have to experiment sometimes)

We can then work with you to decide what to do next.

I hope this has explained what my role is and how SME Needs can help you. The important thing is that we can start helping you from just a few hours per month. As you grow and there is more marketing needed, we can do more – all the way up to the point in makes sense for you to recruit your own marketing director.

 

If you’d like to have a chat about this, call me on 020 8634 5911 or you can book something directly into my diary here.

ways to optimise an ecommerce website

15 ways to optimise an ecommerce website to increase sales

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

ways to optimise an ecommerce websiteOptimising an e-commerce website to increase sales involves a combination of technical, design, marketing, and user experience strategies. Here are 15 great ways to optimise your ecommerce website and boost sales. We’ve split the recommendations into key groups to help you identify the ones you need and which naturally go together…

Hosting and overall design tips

1. User-friendly design

Ensure your website has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Make it easy for your visitors to find products, navigate categories, and access essential information like shipping details and return policies.

Testing changes will help you to determine whether the changes have increased sales or made things worse. Assuming your website is being backed up regularly, you should easily be able to remove changes that haven’t worked.

2. Mobile responsiveness

With 91% of people making e-commerce purchases on their phones, it’s crucial to have a website that adapts to various screen sizes and functions flawlessly on mobile devices. Most content managements systems are now mobile responsiveness, so this is likely to be an issue only if your site is really old.

Cart abandonment rates are much higher on mobiles, at 84% (compared to 72% on desktops). Many people browse on their phones and then buy on their desktops so your site needs to work effectively in multiple screen sizes and formats.

3. Fast loading times

Optimise your website’s performance to ensure quick loading times. Slow-loading websites can lead to higher bounce rates and lost sales. If you can increase your load speed by just 1 second, bounce rates decrease by up to 12% and conversion rates can go up nearly 6%.

4. Streamlined checkout process

Simplify the checkout process with minimal steps and form fields. Offer guest checkout options and support various payment methods to reduce cart abandonment rates.

Removing as many distractions as possible from the checkout pages will also increase completion rates. If you can make all menus disappear, we recommend you do so.

5. Effective search functionality

Implement a robust search feature that can quickly help customers find what they are looking for. Consider using filters and sorting options to refine search results.

Make sure that things like product names or serial numbers are formatted consistently. Should there be spaces between parts of a product name, or not. Whichever you choose, make sure this is applied across the site.

 

Product Page design tips

6. High-quality product images

Use images with multiple views and zoom functionality to showcase products effectively. Clear images instill confidence in the buyers’ minds and reduce the chances of returns. Ensure that the images are big enough (resolution) so that they are shown well. A poor quality, pixelated image will put people off.

7. Detailed product descriptions

Provide comprehensive and accurate product descriptions that include features, specifications, and benefits. This helps customers make informed decisions. Displaying product descriptions alongside customer reviews puts everything your customers need in one place.

8. Customer reviews and ratings

Display customer reviews and ratings for products to build trust and credibility. Positive reviews can encourage potential buyers to make a purchase.

9. Prominent CTAs (Call-to-Action)

Make sure that your CTAs stand out and are in the right place on your page. Make it easy for customers to add items to their cart without being distracted, and that they can proceed to checkout easily too.

10. Product recommendations

Implement personalised product recommendations based on users’ browsing and purchase history. This can increase cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Be careful not to place this too prominently that it distracts from the main product on the page. Remember that these are additional sales, but you need to get the first one first.

11. Enable social sharing

Include social share buttons within the product page designs so that viewers can easily promote your products within their connections and network. This can generate additional traffic and sales.

12. Clear shipping and return policies

Have a page that makes your shipping deadlines and returns policies very clear. As slow shipping is one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment, make sure you are giving customers what they want.

13. Live chat support

Offer live chat support to assist customers in real-time and address any queries they might have while browsing or during the checkout process. Make sure that it is clear how quickly you can respond to questions and queries. If nobody is available immediately, make sure this is very clear on the site.

Follow-up marketing tips

14. Abandoned cart recovery

Set up automated emails to remind customers about their abandoned carts and offer incentives to encourage them to complete their purchases. Your ecommerce platform is likely to have some tools for this. Alternatively email marketing platforms like Mailchimp have ecommerce functionality included in their various subscription levels.

15. Keep in touch

Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. Once they have bought once from you, you want them to buy again and to recommend you to others. Make sure your campaigns are targeted and relevant to maximise open and clickthrough rates.

 

By implementing these strategies, you can optimise your e-commerce website for better sales conversion and create a positive shopping experience for your customers. Remember that continuous improvement and monitoring of user behaviour are essential for long-term success.

If you need help with any of these tips, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you back

bounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website

How to attract the right traffic to your website

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

Creating more website traffic is a key goal for most small businesses, as more traffic means more business – right? Most of the time, yes, but not always. There is good website traffic and then bad traffic. Here are 15 tips on how to attract the right traffic to your website…

Good Website Traffic

In a perfect world, every person who visited your website would get in touch, as they want to buy what your small business sells. In reality, a 1-2% contact rate is going to deliver a great flow of leads into your business. There are a number of different ways to recognise good website traffic, so you can do more to encourage it.

Bounce rate

Do you know the bounce rate on your website? If you don’t you need to as it tells you whether you are making a good first impression. Google defines a bounce as:

The percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further.

If you haven’t got Google Analytics on your website, click here to set up your account and get your web developers to add it.
A healthy bounce rate is 15 – 40%. If it is above that, you are attracting the wrong visitors, or you are not giving them what they are looking for on the first page they land on.

How to improve your bounce rate
  1. Look at what pages have a good bounce rate, and which don’tbounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website
  2. Is there a big look or feel difference between the content on the good and not so good pages?
  3. Use Search Console to identify the keywords that are generating natural, or paid, search for that page.
  4. Shape the content so the viewer is getting better information when they land on those pages.

Returning Traffic

How much of your traffic is returning? If viewers are returning to your website, it suggests that they are interested. Google Analytics shows you two stats to help this: New vs. returning and Depth of Visit.
To increase the amount of returning traffic, look at the pages that are being returned to and create more content like that. Alternatively, consider using remarketing as a way of getting people back to your site after they’ve visited.

Engaged Traffic

If your website is grabbing the attention of your visitors, they will stay and read more of the content before getting in touch. Again, two numbers to keep an eye on: Length of visit, and Number of Pages Visited. The longer the visit and the higher the number of pages visited, the better.

How to improve website engagement
  1. Look at what pages have a high Exit Rate. They either do not have useful information or they don’t clearly show the viewer where to go next.
  2. Review your website routing. Is it logical and giving the viewer a good route around your website?
  3. Are there appropriate Calls to Action on the website. Too few will mean people don’t get in touch and too many will seem desperate, and put people off.

Traffic that is making contact

Do you know how many people are calling you (is there a phone number on the website?) or completing a Contact Request form? These are the lifeblood of your small business, giving you a flow of leads you can convert to new business. Without a steady flow of new leads, you are going to struggle to achieve your growth and performance targets.

How to increase the number of people who contact you

1. Add a phone number. Too many websites lack a phone number and so will stop people getting in touch.
2. Ensure they are links to your Contact Us page on every page of the site. For some landing pages, you may want to add a Contact Form to those as well. Not too many though (see above).

Are your mailing list and social media working?Google analytics screen shot to support article about increasing website traffic

Do you know how much traffic hits your website from your social media activity or your email marketing? If these marketing channels are part of your marketing mix, you will be investing considerable amounts of time on them. You need to know whether the time is being invested wisely. Google Analytics will show you how much of your website traffic is coming from these channels.

From the right keywords

Google Analytics, Search Console and other premium tools, such as SEMrush or Moz, will tell you what keywords are driving traffic to your website. You want to drive more traffic from the right keywords, but ensure that the wrong ones (cheap, free, in another geographic region, etc.) are not driving traffic.
For Google Ads, this is simple; you simply add negative keywords to your campaigns so that Google doesn’t show your Ads to people who type them into the search bar. For natural search, this isn’t quite as easy.
You cannot block natural search, but you can ensure that your content and metadata doesn’t include the negative keywords you want to avoid. If “free” or “cheap” are being used in different parts of your website, in conjunction, with your service or product offering, you run the risk of getting natural search traffic that you don’t want.

The Bad traffic

Bad website traffic isn’t just a waste of bandwidth. It’s a waste of your time too. If you are getting enquiries coming in from people who are expecting something different to what you are selling, they take up time before you qualify them out. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Traffic that Bounces or leaves quickly

Google may not use bounce rate data directly within its algorithms, but it does pay attention to how long people stay on your site after a search. If they see lots of people leaving very quickly, that tells them your site isn’t providing what people are looking for when using the keywords they searched on. Google will then move you down the rankings for that search term.

Traffic from outside your target area

If you only sell to companies in the UK, the last thing you want is traffic, and potentially enquiries, from outside the UK. Appearing in their searches is simply wasting their time. Enquiries from them are wasting your time. Nobody wins.

Stopping this type of website traffic isn’t always easy. Probably the easiest way to limit the amount of out of area traffic is to talk more about the area you want business from. You’ll see on our Contact Us page a map showing where our clients have been based. We’re actively looking for clients across the UK, so we use the map to show this. Look at how your website content shows where you want to work. Include an address on the site (not just in the Privacy Policy page) so it is very clear. Add a telephone number so the search engines can pick up your area dialling code too.

Mailchimp logo - the tool we recommend to help small business run great email marketing campaigns

10 Great ways for small businesses to use email marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

If you are a small business owner and you’re not using email marketing within your marketing mix, you’re almost certainly missing a trick. Here’s 10 ways that email marketing can help you withinmailchimp certified your small business.

At SME Needs we recommend Mailchimp (we are a Mailchimp Partner) as our preferred tool, but our clients use a range of other email marketing platforms. All of them can help you in these ways; its just that we prefer the functionality and intuitiveness of Mailchimp.

1. Email marketing is one to many

Perhaps the most obvious way an email marketing tool helps you is by giving you the ability to communicate with many people at once. Having a mailing list gives you the ability to not only send lots of emails at once, but also personalise them with merge fields (first name, company name and much more). The rest of these are more about the why than the function…

2. A great way of maintaining relationships

You know 100s of people. Your customers, prospects and your network can easily add up to a lot of people. Maintaining relationships with that many people without email marketing is going to be difficult. Imagine the number of calls you’d have to make or the time it would take to write individual emails to them.

But it is vital that you maintain these relationships. The last thing you want is for people to forget about you just before they identify a need for what you sell.

3. Helping you sell more to your current customers

Whether you’re an e-commerce business or a B2B services provider, email marketing is a great tool for helping you sell more to your current customers.

As a B2B services provider, you will have very few customers who are buying ever service you offer. Email marketing, using segmentation to ensure you send campaigns to the right people, is a great way to promote other services they can benefit from.

For e-commerce businesses, there are huge numbers of ways email can be used:

  • Abandoned baskets (see more below)
  • Regular reminders
  • Associated products
  • Tips to use what your customer has bought (improves brand satisfaction)
  • And many more…

You can see more about how we help e-commerce businesses here.

4. Superb for nurturing your pipeline

Not everyone who subscribes to your mailing list is yet ready to buy. Most will be researching, looking for information. But once they subscribe, you want to help them into, and through, your sales funnel.  A series of nurturing emails will help people to understand how you can help, provide things for them to think about, and share evidence that you can deliver on your promises.

5. You should only be sending relevant content to people

The people in your mailing list will vary. Some will be customers and some prospects. Some will have bought from you and some have not yet bought. Even those who have bought will have bought different things. If you want to promote a particular product, you don’t want to send that campaign to people who have already bought it (unless it is something that is used regularly). Being able to use the data stored against each contact allows you to segment your audience and only send campaigns to relevant people.

The more relevant your email’s content is to the reader, the more likely they are to react how you want them to.

6. Are you collecting reviews and testimonials?

People will frequently look for reviews of your products or your business when considering buying from you. The more review you have, generally, the better. Once someone has bought from you, setting up an automated email marketing campaign to ask for reviews and testimonials.

Particularly suitable for e-commerce businesses, you can easily set a campaign to go out X days after a purchase. One small business client of ours is adding a couple of reviews a week because of the automated campaign we set up for them.

7. How are you recovering abandoned basket sales?

30% of the total retail market in the UK is now online. People add items to e-commerce baskets every day, but they may not be yet ready to buy. 69% of baskets are abandoned. Setting up abandoned basket campaigns that go out a little while later can remind people so they return and buy from you. Combined with remarketing PPC ads, these emails can make a significant difference to your sales.

8. You are following up events, aren’t you?

You invest time and money putting on events and attending trade shows. So you need to maximise the value you get from these events. Far too many companies fail to follow up with the people who attend events or that they talk to at a trade show. You can see more about how to follow up on a trade show here.

Sending an email out to people the day after the event to thank them for attending is a great way to build your brand and to start getting them to do something you want them to do. That may simply be to arrange a time to talk; it may be to buy something. Setting up a series of emails, particularly to people that weren’t previously on your mailing list will start getting them into your sales funnel and encourage them to buy from you.

9. Do you know when someone has engaged with your email campaign?

Once you’ve sent your email campaign, particularly sales campaigns, you’ll want to follow up on the phone. If you use Outlook (or similar), you have no knowledge of who did what with your email. When you follow up, you want to do so to the people most likely to engage/buy. Tools such as Mailchimp give you a list of:

  • Who opened your email campaign.
  • Who clicked, and what they clicked on.
  • A rating on how they have engaged with other email campaigns recently.

The time saved using the data provided can be huge. It also means that you can have relevant conversations because you know what they are looking at.

10. What are they doing after that first click?

Moving slightly away from the email marketing tool, there are other digital tools that help you follow up even more effectively. At SME Needs we recommend CANDDi as we believe it provides great data, good value and really helpful people.

Once someone clicks on your email campaign, they land on your site, but what do they do next? If your follow-up conversation relates to the pages they looked at on your site, imagine how much more effective that conversation will be?  Once CANDDi knows about their first visit, they can also notify you when that person (on the same device) returns to your site. You can find more about CANDDi here.

Next Step…

If have already have an email marketing account set up, you’re probably doing at least some of these. If you want to know how to do more of these, or simply want someone to review how effective your email marketing is, either click here or simply give us a call on 020 8634 5911.

e-commerce repeat purchases image

How to generate more e-commerce repeat purchases

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

e-commerce image for article about repeat purchasesThe importance of repeat purchases in e-commerce

How many of your customers have bought from your e-commerce site more than once?  Have you ever checked? Although the rate varies depending on what you sell online, you should be aiming for a 20-30% (according to Alex Schultz, VP at Facebook) repeat purchase rate. This article looks at how to calculate your current repeat purchase rate and what you can do to increase it, if you wish to.

What is your repeat purchase rate?

It is defined as someone who has bought two, or more, times from you. The easiest way to calculate your rate is:

No. of repeat customers/No. of paying customers X 100 = Repeat Purchase Rate.

Why you want this rate to increase

There are plenty of reasons why you should want more repeat purchases:

  • More sales is always a good thing.
  • People who have bought from you before are more likely to buy from you again, assuming they were happy with the first purchase.
  • It is cheaper, get a customer to buy again that to get the first purchase.
  • Repeat customers are far more likely to talk about you to their friends and network.
  • Repeat purchasers are more likely to give reviews and testimonials, a vital part of your e-commerce marketing.

How to get people to buy again

This is the bit you really wanted when you started reading this article, so here are 13 ways to increase your repeat purchase rate.

1. Thank them for buying from you  – every time

Most likely included within your order confirmation email, make sure you thank every customer for buying from you. There are plenty of other places they could have bought from.  People appreciate the gesture, even when they know it is standard wording that will be on every confirmation email you send out.

2. Follow up with them to find out how satisfied they are with their purchase

Good customer service is, unfortunately, an increasingly rare thing. Showing that you care and want to help goes a long way to creating positive brand associations in the minds of your customers.

3. Talk to them regularly

Keep in touch with your customers. Whilst you may think that this is simply adding to their burgeoning inbox, emails that contain useful content will be appreciated and will keep your brand in their mind’s eye.

4. Tell them about other products you sell

You sell more than one product, so make sure you tell your customers about the products they haven’t bought. You cannot tell them about everything, but you can tell them about related products.  If they bought a printer from your business, you can also sell them inks/toners and paper. If they were happy with your service around the printer, there’s no reason why they can’t buy accessories and consumables from you.

5. If your product only lasts a certain period, remind them they will need to buy again soon.

For products people buy regularly, what is the time gap between orders of the same things? Setting up an automated email based on purchases and this time gap can generate repeat purchases.

6. Can you offer a subscription?

Amazon has doggie poop bags available on subscription (Nigel has a subscription so he never runs out). Can you do the same thing? Products that people use frequently are ideal for subscriptions.

7. Help them to use your product, when appropriate.

If you’re selling complicated products, providing hints and tips that help them get the most from their purchase will be remembered.  We built a whole series of these for a client. They increased both repeat purchase rates and their Feefo rating for the client. You can see the case study here.

8. Tell them about sales campaigns or special offers.

If you sell seasonal products, telling your customers about end of season sales, or simply reminding them that “the summer” is approaching will remind them of your brand and that they can buy more from you. The opportunity to save money on a purchase always gets people thinking…

9. Ask them to share pictures of them using your product.

In a social media dominated world, people love posting pictures. New furniture in the office, the latest clothing purchase, a piece of funky art in their home – are just some of the pictures they could share.  Again, this reinforces your brand with them, proves they like your brand and can even generate new customers for you from their connections.

10. Find out more about them, so you can make better product suggestions.tagging function within Mailchimp surveys

The more you know about them , the more ways you can encourage more sales from them.

  • Do you know their birthday?  Giving them a discount, or small additional gift with their next purchase can encourage more sales.
  • Can you collect more information about their homes or businesses or hobbies? Products that relate to important parts of their lives are great sales opportunities.

Surveys are a great way to collect this sort of information. Tools such as Mailchimp make is easy to collect survey responses and attach that information to your customer records. This makes it easy to run relevant email marketing campaigns.

11. Ask for reviews of the product, both shortly after purchase and after a decent period of time.

Some people do reviews just after they buy a product or service. Others do them once they’ve had a chance to use that product. If you sell birthday cakes, asking for a review a week after the purchase will give them to time to receive and use the cake. If you sell technology, asking quickly will get responses about their initial thoughts and their experience of your business. Asking them again 6 months later will get responses about how good the product is.  These reviews can either go directly onto your e-commerce product pages, to Google Reviews or even tools such as TrustPilot or Feefo.

12. Consider a loyalty programme

David Sainsbury famously called Tesco’s Clubcard “green shield stamps”, but they transformed the food retail marketplace.  As a small business, you may not be able to have that impact, but loyalty programmes can do what their name suggests, driving more sales.

13. Collect data from all sales sources

If you also sell through other channels, make sure you are collecting customer data from them too. A recent client was selling online, but also in markets. But they weren’t collecting customer information from markets. Those people can also buy from your e-commerce store, so make sure you encourage them to subscribe and keep in touch with them.

14. Don’t bombard them!

After 12 ways of increasing sales, here’s one to make sure you don’t kill any chance of increasing sales.  Make sure that you’re not sending too much communication to your customers. Acceptable frequencies vary depending on what you are selling and how long that product lasts. Sending too much will annoy people, make them unsubscribe and you lose the opportunity to get more sales from them.

If you could get just 1 in 10 of your customers to buy again, it would transform your business. We can help you improve your marketing and your communication to do just that.  Call us now on 020 8634 5911, or click here, and let’s talk about increasing your repeat purchases online.

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived risk

How to reduce perceived risk for your prospects

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding

and make more sales

Reducing perceived risk in the mind of your prospects increases sales and grows your business. There are several ways your marketing, and everyone in your business, can help you reduce perceived risk. This process starts from their very first engagement with you…

1. Make sure your website is helping

Your website is the first touch point for many people. As your shop window, your website is there to do two things: invite them in and make it easy to start the buying process.

  • Clear headlines and content that show how you can help them.
  • Contact details on every page, above the fold.
  • Proof that you have the knowledge and experience they need.

Make sure it looks up to date too. If it looks old, it will suggest either you don’t care, or you cannot afford to get an updated version.

2. Telephone manners

Ensure everyone in the business answers the phone in a professional manner. “Good morning/afternoon. company name, first name speaking. How can I help?” is a good starting place. Make sure they know how to then transfer the call to the right person too, especially now that many of your team are working remotely.

3. Respond quickly

When someone wants to talk to you about your products or services, they usually complete a form on your website. The sooner you contact them, the more likely they are to buy from you. The average response time, from Harvard Business Review research is 42 hours.

Getting in touch within an hour of the enquiry makes you at least 7 times more likely to qualify the lead. More qualified leads lead to more sales.

4. Tell them a story

You have always loved stories. When your parents put you bed and started: once upon a time, you loved it. As you grew up Roald Dahl took over and then maybe JK Rowling. Maybe Helen Fielding, maybe Arthur C Clarke and maybe Tom Clancy. Whoever wrote them, you have always read stories and enjoyed it as they take you through a process.

  • What stories do you have within your business that can help your prospects visualise what you do and how it can help them?
  • What have you done with other clients that demonstrates you understand the issues your prospect faces and will show what a successful resolution looks like?

Put some of these stories where they will be found early in their movement through your pipeline (your website) but keep one or two for when you’re sitting in front of them. The impact there will be even higher.

5. Stop talking about you

75%+ of the marketing material I see (both online and off) talks about the company. It talks about how good the company is at [insert topic] and that they’re the leading proponent of that topic (whether they are or not). NOBODY CARES
Change your messaging so that it talks about the target audience and how you help them. Change the wording so that you’re talking to an individual…

  • We help our clients by
  • You can benefit in this way from working with us

Changing your point of view and language helps prospects to understand, and believe, what you can deliver for them.

6. Provide proof

If you look for something on Amazon, they make sure that you see review ratings, and can filter by those ratings, before you get to filter by price. They know that peer reviews will make you spend more as they are evidence that the product you are considering is worth a little extra cash.

If you can put a series of reviews (also called testimonials) in front of a prospect, they will start to see the value you provide, and the level of perceived risk is reduced. If these reviews are from people similar to them, the level of risk drops even further.

Case studies work even more effectively as they put more meat on the bones. The 5 key parts of a case study each do a specific job in reducing perceived risk and there’s more detail on this in another of our blogs. You can read that here.

If you’re not sure your case studies are effective, we offer a free review. Sign up for the review here.

Summary

For a prospect to continue moving through your pipeline, and then sign on the dotted line, you need to reduce the level of risk they perceive. After all, nobody likes change. It’s a risk; what if things go wrong? Who is going to get blamed?

These tips will reduce the perceived risk your prospects have in their minds. They will never make it go away, but they only need to get it down to an acceptable level. One where the prospect says “yeah. Let’s go”.

Your marketing plays a critical role in reducing the perceived risk for buyers. By establishing trust, managing perceptions of risk, and providing education and support, a company can help alleviate buyer concerns and make the purchasing decision more comfortable. While there is no single approach that will work for every buyer or every transaction, companies that invest in their marketing efforts are more likely to see success in the competitive world of B2B sales.

Of course, if you need a hand working out exactly how to reduce perceived risk for your small, call us on 020 8634 5911 or get in touch here.

 

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived risk

Why you need to reduce perceived risk in the buying process

By Customer Understanding

image showing a man cutting a piece of paper saying risk to support article about perceived riskIn the B2B (business-to-business) buying process, there are many factors that influence the decision-making process. One of the most important factors is perceived risk. Perceived risk is the level of uncertainty or concern that a buyer has about a product or service. In B2B buying, perceived risk can be a major obstacle to making a purchase. Here are some reasons why reducing perceived risk is essential in the B2B buying process.

1. Increase the likelihood of the sale

Firstly, reducing perceived risk increases the likelihood of making a sale. B2B buyers are often cautious and conservative, especially when it comes to large purchases or investments. They want to make sure that the product or service they are buying is going to meet their needs and provide a good return on investment. If they perceive too much risk, they may decide not to buy at all. By reducing perceived risk, you can increase the buyer’s confidence and make them more likely to move forward with the purchase.

2. Build trust

Secondly, reducing perceived risk can help to build trust and credibility. In the B2B world, trust is crucial. Buyers need to trust that the seller is going to deliver what they promise and that they are going to provide good service and support. By reducing perceived risk, you can show the buyer that you understand their concerns and that you are committed to providing a high-quality product or service. This can help to build trust and credibility, which can lead to long-term business relationships.

3. Differentiate your products

Thirdly, reducing perceived risk can help to differentiate your product or service from the competition. In many B2B markets, there are a lot of similar products or services available. Buyers may have a hard time differentiating between them and deciding which one to choose. By reducing perceived risk, you can make your product or service stand out from the competition. If buyers perceive your product or service as being less risky than the competition, they may be more likely to choose you.

4. Minimise post-purchase regret

Fourthly, reducing perceived risk can help to minimise post-purchase regret. In the B2B world, buyers often have a lot of regret after making a purchase. They may feel like they made the wrong decision, or that they could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. By reducing perceived risk, you can help to minimise these feelings of regret. If the buyer feels like they made a well-informed decision and that they have made a good investment, they are less likely to regret their purchase.

5. Increase customer satisfaction

Finally, reducing perceived risk can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the buyer perceives your product or service as being less risky, they are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase. This can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business. Additionally, if the buyer feels like you have taken their concerns seriously and have worked to reduce perceived risk, they are more likely to recommend your product or service to others.

Reducing perceived risk is essential in the B2B buying process. It can increase the likelihood of making a sale, build trust and credibility, differentiate your product or service from the competition, minimize post-purchase regret, and lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. To reduce perceived risk, it is important to understand the buyer’s concerns and address them in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. By doing so, you can build strong, long-lasting business relationships that benefit both you and your customers.  In our next article we will provide a range of tips on how your marketing can help you deliver on all of the above. To ensure you don’t miss that article, either follow our Company Page or subscribe to our mailing list here.

image of man pondering about how to market to his current clients

What is in a great marketing plan?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Plan

Great marketing results start with a great marketing plan.

As long as that plan is implemented well and measured regularly, the leads, and then the sales, will come. So let’s look at what a great marketing plan contains…

Your targets

To succeed you need something to aim at. The best sport stars have trophies/medals they want to win; it is no different for you as a business owner. Setting a target gives you:

  • Something to aim for
  • Something to plan around
  • A way to measure how well you are doing in your financial year.

Many business owners will have a growth target – XX% more than last year – they use to determine what their target for the year is. Alternatively you may want to have a client number target.  For some reason, most IT companies want to add one new client a week. Don’t know why, but that seems to be a standard goal for that industry.

Whatever your target is, you then use it to assess how much marketing has to be done.

Target to marketing goals

Your numbers will help you identify how many sales you need to make, how many leads you need and therefore, how much marketing you need to do. By working out how much marketing you need to do, you can develop a better marketing plan.

Your target audiences

By including your target audiences, and Ideal Clients, within your marketing plan, you make sure that everyone involved knows who they are aiming at. They know who they are talking to and so will use the right language and terminology.

A plan that is talking about ‘anyone’ and ’everyone’ too much, you run the risk of generic, non-specific language. If you’ve read anything about marketing focus, you’ll know the more specific you are in your marketing messages, the more effective they will be.

You almost certainly have have multiple target audiences, you may want to alternate between audiences within your marketing plan, if budgets are limited. Of course, if your marketing budget allows you to focus on more than one audience each month, feel free.

The marketing channels you are going to use

What are you going to do and how often is the core of your marketing plan. For your marketing to be successful, it has to be consistent and coordinated. If your approach is expertise-led you may have something like this:

  • One blog a month, each looking to help your target audience with a key issue.
  • A company page post on LinkedIn each week, sharing a key point in the blog.
  • Two tweets a week, around the same topic, looking for engagement and sharing to increase your reach.
  • A set of email campaigns, aimed at the different segments within your mailing list, to maintain and increase awareness and generate leads.

If you are using other marketing channels, you must make sure they link with these too.

Who is doing what

If you don’t allocate each marketing activity to specific people, you run the risk of ‘I thought Bob/Dave/Sarah was doing it’. When everyone knows what is expected of them, they can plan their own time and make sure everything happens when it should.

It, almost, goes without saying that your team members have agreed to what has been allocated to them…

& by when

When your team know what they have to do, they also need to know when they have to have it done by. In a ideal world, your marketing is ready well ahead of time, giving you some leeway – just in case. Getting things done ahead of time also allow you the opportunity to make a change, should an opportunity arise.

Space for the results

With any plan, you do three things:

  1. Develop the plan.
  2. Implement the plan.
  3. Measure the performance of the plan.

By measuring what happens, you can make sure you remain on target to achieve, or even beat, the targets at the top of this article. If things aren’t working, you have the opportunity to make changes too. You can get a free Marketing ROI Calculator here.

These 7 parts will be in all good marketing plans.  Are they in yours?  If they are not, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 and lets talk about getting your plan better structured and working effectively.

If you would like to discuss your marketing plan, or lack thereof, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

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