How many steps to marketing success?

Every marketing consultant worth their salt has, at one time or another, published a “X Steps to Marketing Glory” style post. SME Needs certainly has, with our first one being “Effective Referral Generation – a few simple steps” and the most recent being “How to maximise the ROI from exhibiting at a trade show”.

What we’ve never done is an over-arching “X Steps to Marketing Success” guide. Many others have and it led us to wonder just how many steps it really took to generate marketing success – so we checked.

It’s at least three!

graph showing the number of steps to marketing success

The graph above is the number of steps recommended by the first 100 search results for the term “Steps to marketing success”.

It seems that there marketing industry says there are, on average 7.093 steps needed to deliver marketing success. Seven is the median (middle) number and 5 the mode (most popular).

The good news is that nobody thought it was really, really simple.  Nobody suggested that there is only one, or even two steps needed. However, 8 articles suggested it is as simple as 1,2,3.

Why So Few?

With the average being 7.093 steps, it got me thinking: Why is the number so few? Surely that suggests that getting your marketing right is simple, you’re unlikely to need a marketing consultant to help.

My theory is this:

A few steps makes it sound cheaper!

Let me explain my theory.

Most small business owners and directors know where their skills lie. They also know just how much money there is in the business and what they are prepared to invest. If they see an article that suggests 7.093 steps to get the marketing success they want, they will read it. They will recognise that there are a number of steps they cannot do and so will consider investing some money into getting those steps done.

If they saw an article titled “87 Steps to Marketing Success”, would they still feel the same? I doubt it.

Where do we sit on this?

As mentioned earlier, we’ve never done a “X steps to Marketing Success” blog, so there won’t be a number at the end of this sentence. What we see is that the number will be different for everyone – and it will be many more than 7.093. This is particularly true for small businesses that have done little or new active and consistent marketing for some time.

However, the results of a multi-stage marketing programme that has been thought out carefully and is delivered consistently will be impressive. It will take time, but it will deliver.

12 Time Saving Tips and Apps for Business Leaders

time saving tipsTime Saving Tips designed to give you back the time you need

There are so many hats to be worn when running a small business. To enable you to deliver under each of these hats, you need to maximise use of your time. Ensuring you don’t waste time is one thing. Using technology and techniques to save more is another.

These are 12 time saving tips we’ve picked up over the last few years to help you out…

1. Control your email

Email can eat your day. We all get huge numbers of emails. If you react every time your Inbox beeps, it distracts you, consumes a couple of minutes to read and react to. You then have to get back into whatever you were doing before. It only takes 120 emails, at 5 minutes each, to eat up your whole day.

  • Learn to batch read, keeping Outlook closed except for 3-4 sessions a day.
  • Delete everything that you really don’t need. That “might be interesting” stuff can consume lots of time. If you must keep it, stick it in a folder for reading when you really have some spare time.
  • Unsubscribe as soon as you find emails either annoying or not useful. It will keep the email volumes down.
  • You don’t need to Reply All every time. Simply respond when you need to – and encourage others to do the same.

Of all our time saving tips, it is between this one and No.3 as to which can consume more of your time.

2. Delegate when you can

Creating time to do everything, including growing your business means getting rid of the stuff you don’t need to do. This will, of course, vary dependent upon where you are in your business life.

  • Outsource when you can, using book-keepers, virtual assistants and marketing agencies to get rid of the stuff you don’t like doing or when they can do it more effectively than you can.
  • Recruit staff into those roles when the outsourcing costs will regularly be higher than the costs of a member of staff.

3. Limit your time on social media

LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can be even greater consumers of your time than email. Checking your feeds, just in case something interesting has come in, will chew through time.

  • You don’t need to spend any more than 10 minutes per day per channel to react to others in your network and post your daily updates.
  • Schedule time to find others you want to connect with once a week. You don’t need to do much more than that.
  • If you want to post throughout the day, use something like Hootsuite to bulk schedule, rather than going into that platform multiple times a day.
  • It’s better to do 1-2 social media channels well, than 4-6 poorly. It also consumes far less time

4. Close your door

The office door delivers a message quickly. It tells others you don’t want to be disturbed. It gives you time to concentrate on what you need to do.

  • Develop a system that ensures people know when they can, and really cannot, knock. Perhaps your door is pushed to, but not closed means they can knock. Maybe a Do Not Disturb sign.
  • Disappear to somewhere else. If they cannot find you, they cannot disturb you.
  • If you work in an open plan space, your headphones are the next best thing. Tell your team, and others around you, that you don’t want to be disturbed if you have your headphones on.

5. Do the stuff you don’t like first

Nobody likes paying the VAT bill or dealing with a disciplinary issue, so get them out of the way first. Worrying, whilst trying to do something else, makes you less efficient and wastes time.

6. Take time to plan

Working on the business on a regular basis, rather than in the business all the time, makes you more efficient. If you’re in the business, you will be reacting to things as they happen. This may, or may not, be in the right order, meaning time is wasted.

  • Write down what you plan. Writing them down helps you remember them and make sure they get done.
  • Use online tools, with built-in reminders and scheduling tools to help you. Basecamp and Zoho Projects are just two of your options.

7. Set yourself deadlines

I’ll do it tomorrow is a great way to never get something done. Refer to point 5.

8. Automate invoice chasing

Making just one or two calls to chase each invoice can eat your time, especially when the invoice is really late and they don’t want to talk to you.

  • Use online tools such as Avrium to chase invoices automatically. Most people pay late because they’ve forgotten. A gentle reminder works wonders.
  • Knowing who hasn’t paid can stop you doing work that you may not get paid for. Your time is precious enough when you are getting paid. It’s a double waste if you then don’t get paid for it. Assuming your clients really need your service/product, they will quickly pay up when you stop delivering.

9. Keep your network up to date

Saving time is the theme throughout here, so why not make use of the tools that can keep everyone in your network up to date – all at the same time? We’re not suggesting you don’t take time to talk to your connections on a one-to-one basis, but you don’t have to do it all of the time.

  • Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool, with more features being added all the time, to help you communicate and educate effectively.
  • LinkedIn is, of course, the master at this. Just remember what we said in 3.

10. Instant Messaging

You also need to keep in touch with people you are working with, both within your team and with external suppliers and clients.  The number of tools available to do this continues to grow. We’ve already mentioned Basecamp, so here are three others to consider:

  • Slack is a good instant messaging tool, but it takes a little getting used to. We’ve struggled with finding things once they slide down the timeline a bit.
  • Microsoft Teams allows you to communicate both internally and externally in a number of ways. It is something we are seriously looking at within SME Needs.

11. Schedule time for yourself

As they say, all work and no play makes {insert name} a dull boy. It also keeps your stress levels constantly high; something that is never good.  Take time to relax and do what you enjoy doing – away from work. Whether that is golf(!), yoga or simply spending time with the family, downtime is a great way of ensuring you don’t burn out.

12. Public transport is your friend

I know some of you are looking at your screen, thinking we’ve gone mad. Seriously, we think public transport can be a good thing.  You cannot really get your laptop out when on the bus or the train, but you can use your phone.

  • Take time to call your network and catch up. Find out what they’re doing and let them know what you are doing. The more you know about each other, the more you can make introductions that can lead to new business.
  • Do the social media posts you want to do.
  • Check out the “potentially interesting” emails we referred to early on in this article.

If public transport really isn’t your thing, or you spend hours in the car, use that time to make the calls. Please make sure you’re using your hands-free and certainly don’t try to catch up with your social media in the car.

So here are 12 time-saving tips to help you make the most of the time you have available. Of all 12 time saving tips, perhaps the most important is No.11.  We all want to grow our businesses and that usually translates into we work every hour available. The problem is that is rarely healthy and taking time out allows us to reset and go again.

I hope this helps.

What your small business gets from a Virtual Marketing Director

11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director

If you are looking to improve your marketing performance, you have a number of options. One you may not have considered is a Virtual Marketing Director. Not an interim, who is with you for a few months before moving on again. Not a full-time marketing manager, who may be an expense that doesn’t make sense at this time.  Here are 11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director…

1. Only pay for what you need

You need to be marketing your business from Day 1 but that doesn’t mean you need a Marketing Manager from Day 1. Until your marketing is complex enough to need a full-time Marketing Manager, hiring a Virtual Marketing Director makes perfect sense. Why spend at least £40k a year on a full-time employee you don’t need?

A Virtual Marketing Director can be used from as little as one day a month, up to (realistically) 4-6 days per month. If you need much more than that, it is time to consider recruiting your own Marketing Manager.

2. Years of experience available for your business

A Virtual Marketing Director will come to you with many years’ experience, usually working within and for companies very similar to yours. They know their stuff.

That experience is always increasing. As you are only using them for part of the time, they are working with other companies. Marketing activities that are tried and tested within their other clients can then be brought into your marketing mix with great success. Of course, they will do the same in the other direction – it’s only fair!

3. Helps you focus on who you want to sell to

You cannot sell to everyone, so there’s is no point trying. By focusing on the people who are most likely to buy your product or services, your marketing budget will be used far more effectively.

4. Helps you develop the right marketing messages to attract prospects

Too many businesses think about their marketing from their side. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help you think about things from your client’s side.

It’s no longer the case that you can expect your target audience to work out how your products/services can help them. You have to help them understand. Show your target audience you understand them and you really can help them with their wants/needs/issues. When you do this, your target audience are far more likely to consider you are a new provider.

5. Works with you to develop your Marketing Strategy

The marketing you’ve been doing has been at least somewhat successful. It’s got to have been for you to grow your business to what it is now. To take your business forward, you need to review your marketing strategy to keep that growth happening. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help to identify the right marketing channels, the right providers and the right consistency to deliver on your business goals.

6. Has a network of specialists to provide marketing support for your business

You may know a number of marketing specialists and use a number of them.  Where there are gaps, it’s virtually guaranteed that your Virtual Marketing Director will know people and companies to fill the gaps. They will have used them in the past, so know exactly what they can deliver for you.

It also saves you a lot of time sourcing new suppliers.

7. They know the language

Every industry has its own language; marketing is no different. If you don’t know the language, it is easy to get befuddled. Your Virtual Marketing Director knows the language and will help you keep suppliers on track and honest.

8. Keeps a consistent level of marketing happening because you don’t have time

Back in the early days of your business, you did your own marketing. You had the time back then. As your business grows, the amount of time you have available becomes less and less. However, your marketing needs more and more time. Your Virtual Marketing Director will ensure that your marketing campaigns go out on time. Without a consistent marketing flow, your target audience can quickly forget about you.

9. Will keep measuring performance so that you maximise the ROI from your marketing budget

You want to maximise the ROI from your marketing budget. Your Virtual Marketing Director will keep an eye on what is going on, reporting to you and the board regularly.

It is, after all, in their own interest. They want to prove that the marketing strategy they helped you develop is the right one. The numbers will show whether this is the case.

10. Will help you find junior marketing support at the right time

As your business grows, there will come a time when it makes sense to employ a junior marketing executive to “do the doing”. When there is sufficient need, perhaps to manage your social media, to produce and publish blogs or develop marketing collateral, it makes sense to employ someone rather than keep outsourcing.

Finding someone with the right skill set isn’t easy. In the same way your Virtual Marketing Director will help you manage suppliers, they will help you to find, and then manage, a junior marketing executive.

11. Will help you recruit a Marketing Manager when your marketing requirements need it

The ultimate job for your Virtual Marketing Director is to help you grow to the point where your marketing is sufficiently complex and of enough volume, that you need to employ a Marketing Manager. Whilst they may be sad that the relationship with your business is ending, they will be tremendously proud that they’ve helped you grow to the point where they need to move on.

An independent voice

One additional benefit of a using someone from outside of the business is their independence. They don’t have a vested interest in the business (except that they want to do a great job for you), so can speak their mind. Having that independent voice within the business can be refreshing and can provide you with someone to talk to who won’t be thinking “what do you want me to say?”.

For a small business that is committed to growing, making use of a Virtual Marketing Director is a no-brainer. You get the experience and support you want, but only in the quantities you need. Make use of them until you need a full-time Marketing Manager. If these reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director get you thinking one could be useful, let’s have a chat.

How can a small business marketing consultant help your business?

Question: how can a small business marketing consultant help your business?

Quick Answer: by helping you to:

  • develop and implement the right marketing strategy and plan for your business
  • one that brings you the type of clients you are looking for, and
  • helps you achieve the growth targets you have for your business.

If we look at this in more detail, it looks like this…

We often get asked how a small business marketing consultant can really help a small business. After all, isn’t the classic consultant there to tell you the time, after borrowing your watch? Let’s look at the key ways a marketing consultant can help a small business:

In the beginning

Some time ago, you decided that the life as an employee wasn’t for you. You loved doing what you do, but didn’t want to do it for someone else all the time. So you started your own business. For a little while you delivered for your clients outside of normal working hours, because you recognised the need for cash to pay the bills.

Success meant you were quickly able to say goodbye to your employed colleagues and go it alone. Your clients loved you and what you did for them and kept asking for more. You worked hard, steadily built a team around you to continue delivering on your clients’ needs.

As the responsibilities of running a business and delivering for your clients added up, the rate of growth slowed because you weren’t able to get out there quite so much. Marketing and business development activity slowed as operational activity took priority.

You are an expert at what you do

You know you, and your team, do fantastic work and that delivering that work has to be your priority, but you want to continue to grow the business. But how? What are your options?

  1. Employ a junior marketing executive to keep the social media happening, and the blogs being published.
    1. Needs managing to keep on track
    2. How do you know they are performing?
    3. Are these the right marketing activities for your business?Going to cost £15-20K a year
  2. Employ a Marketing Manager
    1. Going to cost £30 – 45K a year
    2. Is there enough work to keep them busy and stimulated?
  3. Hire a small business marketing consultant
  4. Only pay for time used
  5. Brings experience from lots of other companies to bear on your marketing
  6. Has a network of experts around them with the skills your business needs

Show you which “50% is working”

The old adage still holds true. Many small business leaders know they are generating leads and sales, but cannot identify what is bringing them in. Word of Mouth is probably responsible for a chunk of them, but what else?

By identifying what marketing is and isn’t working, your small business marketing consultant will quickly deliver an ROI on their fees through the cost-cutting opportunities identified. After all, why spend money on marketing that isn’t generating leads of moving people through the pipeline.?

helps translate features into benefits

As an expert in your field, you know exactly what you are doing, all the software and hardware involved and all the jargon. Day to day activity means this is the language you are using all the time.

But it always isn’t the language your clients use. You need to look at the language your clients and target audience will use. You should also be looking at what a client gets from using your products or services and make sure your marketing talks about the benefits and what success looks like. A small business marketing consultant will definitely help in this area. They will have gone through this many times and will know what questions to ask you to get the information needed and ensure you are using the right marketing messages.

Develop the right marketing strategy for your business

You would naturally expect a small business marketing consultant to say they can help you by developing the right marketing strategy for you, but what does that mean? For us, it means the following:

1.     A marketing strategy that builds on what you know is working

2.     One that is focused on achieving your growth targets

3.     That fits with your budgets and utilises the skills available within your business

4.     A marketing strategy that aims to bring in your Ideal Clients

There is one last factor; the most important one: it is a marketing strategy that you have contributed to, are committed to and have bought into. Only at this point do you have the right marketing strategy for your business.

A marketing consultant keeps marketing happening consistently

Once you have a marketing strategy and a plan in place, you need to ensure the plan is followed and that marketing happens on a consistent basis. Whether you have a internal junior who needs guidance, training and some management, or whether you have no resource at all, a small business marketing consultant really can help.

Thinking about recruiting a junior marketing exec?

Sometimes there is a lot of “stuff” that needs doing and it makes sense to recruit a junior marketing executive. How are you going to find the find person? If you were looking for someone to help you deliver your product or service, no problem. You know exactly the skillset and the attitude you need. But if you’ve had to bring in a marketing consultant to help develop and implement the right marketing strategy for you, how likely is it that you can find the right junior marketing exec?

A small business marketing consultant will have worked with you for some time and will understand your business culture, so the right attitude profile can easily be developed between you. The consultant will be able to identify the skillset and the aptitude you need. Plus, be able to “smell the cow’s excrement” at interview stage.

A small business marketing consultant can help your business in a number of ways. We hope we’ve shown you how above. Of course, if you would like to talk about how we can help you specifically, give us a call on 020 8634 5911


How to Improve your marketing performance

If you’re looking to improve your marketing performance, it’s safe to say you’re not getting the results you want. Let’s have a look at how you can get the results you want and improve your marketing performance.

There are a number of stages to this process

Know exactly what is and isn’t working

When people say to us that their marketing isn’t working, it’s rare that they are able to say exactly what isn’t working.  Is it their social media marketing or their email marketing? Is it their networking or trade shows? It is unlikely that everything isn’t working, but without knowing what is and what isn’t, you cannot take any action to improve your marketing performance.

Continue doing what is working – it pays the bills

You cant stop marketing while you work out what is the right marketing strategy for your business, but you can stop what isn’t working and carry on what is.  By doing this, you instantly improve your marketing performance. It also means you continue to get a flow of leads into the business, albeit not as many as you would like.

Identify exactly who you want to sell to

Is your marketing attracting the clients you want to sell to? If not, it’s probably because you’re not being specific enough in your marketing so that you attract the people you want to talk to. There is nothing wrong with working with a range of different clients, but you shouldn’t go chasing everybody because you don’t have the time or the money.

Set Targets

How can you measure your marketing performance without having targets to measure against? If you want to improve your marketing performance, you need a set of targets that will show the progress you’re making. Targets such as web traffic, leads and sales will clearly show how your marketing is improving.

Identify what issues they need to resolve

The days when you simply said “we sell a widget” and people come a-running are long gone. Your prospects want to know how what you sell is going to help solve an issue they have. That could be as complex as meeting FCA compliance requirements or as simple as providing new laptops for their staff. Whatever it is, they expect to help them.

Develop messaging that shows how you can help

Whatever marketing channels you use to improve your marketing performance, you need a set of core marketing messages that will help you improve your marketing performance. Messages that demonstrate you understand them, their issues and what they are looking to achieve will help them believe you can help.

Gather evidence that proves you can deliver

There’s a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. Your target audience needs to see proof you can deliver on your promises.

Testimonials, case studies, reviews and ratings are all really useful in helping someone believe you can help them. If the evidence is from their peers, their level of perceived risk will drop even further.

Develop and agree a marketing strategy you believe will work

There are many things that go into developing a successful marketing strategy: skills, time and budgets. You will have your opinions about what you believe will, and won’t work and you need to believe that the strategy uses the right balance…

  • Skills can be sourced from within your business or externally
  • Time – the skills may be there, but if those staff don’t have time, it needs to be sourced elsewhere
  • Budget – (you have to pay for everything)

We believe that combining the knowledge, expertise and opinions from SME Needs and our clients is the best way to develop a marketing strategy that both parties buy into and believe will succeed.

Gather the resources and skills you need to deliver

As referred to earlier, the marketing skills needed to implement your plan, to improve your marketing performance, need to be sourced from somewhere. If they aren’t available from within your business, where will they come from? Two options:

  • From third parties you know and trust
  • From your marketing consultants

Our approach is one of finding the right people from within our network, or from within yours. Of course, we can do a lot of what is needed, but we’ll never attempt to build you a website or get your marketing content into the press. Our partners have the right skills and so we bring them in and manage them on your behalf.

Implement the plan

Once you have a plan that you’re agreed upon, it’s time to implement that plan. There’s little point in investing time and money on developing it, if you don’t then do it! Hopefully you will see the improvement in your marketing performance you are looking for.

Measure, adapt, go again

As you go, you need to measure your marketing performance. Is it improving? What is improving and what isn’t delivering? By measuring your performance, you get the information you need to make further adaptations to your marketing to develop a process of continuous marketing improvement.

We hope this helps

If you need a hand with improving your marketing performance, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you.


How to maximise the ROI from exhibiting at a Trade Show

maximising the ROI from exhbiting

Trade shows can be a great way to generate leads and new business for your company. They can also be a great way to make a big hole in your bank balance. These are our tips on how to maximise your ROI from exhibiting. This article was prompted by our recent attendance at the 2019 B2B Marketing Expo. Unfortunately, we saw many exhibitors both following and ignoring these tips.  We hope they will help you not make them.

Book a great position

At any trade show there are some great stands and some lousy ones. Those at the back of the hall, away from the coffee bars, networking areas and seminar theatres definitely fall into the latter. To maximise the ROI from exhibiting you should:

  • Book a stand on a corner if possible. You can then be seen from two directions and you can see people coming too.
  • Look at what will draw the crowds and position yourself close to those. Networking areas and seminar theatres naturally attract people who linger. Lingering is good because they will look around and you get the chance to say hello and get them talking to you.
  • Never be on the way out of the event. People are looking to simply go home, or get back to the office, and aren’t likely to stop.

Bag yourself a speaking opportunity

Assuming you’re confident you can stand in front of a crowd for 20-30 minutes and give them a highly educational session (that isn’t simply a sales pitch), the seminars are a great way to raise your profile and attract people back to your stand.

You are allowed to promote your business, to offer the audience something and to tell them where your stand is, but the majority of the seminar has to be useful for them. At the 2019 B2B Marketing Expo, Tim from Exposure Ninja gave a great presentation around SEO. That included a number of overt sales pitches but he built them in well and so it didn’t cause anyone to walk out. A sign you’re doing well is if the seminar theatre fills up and has people hanging around the doors too.

To do this, talk to the organisers early.  They are always looking for speakers, as they are a key part of how they attract visitors to attend.

Tell your network you are going to be there

Once you’re all booked, tell your network you are going. Ask them to spread the word. Some of them may be going to the event anyway and it’s a great opportunity to catch up. Taking a break from the stand is always good, as you cannot be effective for 8 hours straight.

If they’re not going, they probably know a bunch of people who may be. Send them a link to the event, including your Profile page and the visitor booking page.

Tell your mailing list you are going to be there

Your mailing list is full of people this trade show will be useful for, assuming the vast majority are your target audience. Don’t worry too much about them seeing your competitors. They can do that online just as easily as in the room. If your sales and marketing have been effective so far, you will be fine.

Choose the right messages to go on your standa great set of questions on a trade show stand

If you want people to talk to you at the trade show, make the stand talk to them. The messages should be about them, about what success looks like when you help them, rather than something along the lines of “We are the UK’s leading provider of…”

Make the visitors feel like you care about them

Complete your online profile

Every trade show website lists the exhibitors so visitors can see who is going to be there. Use this opportunity to list what you do, how you help and the stand number. At the very least, it will be an inbound link to your website to help your SEO.

Design a great looking stand

If you want to maximise the ROI from exhibiting, your stand should be inviting. It should be somewhere the visitors want to go and where they can clearly see how to get more information about how you can help them.

Think carefully about the type of stand and how this will fit into the space you have booked. You can spend very little or you can spend a lot. It depends on how often you will be exhibiting at trade shows, whether you always book the same size stand

Think about the furniture you need too.  You will definitely need somewhere to display marketing collateral so people can take it without talking to you. It also needs to be close at hand for when you are talking to them.

Consider what type of table(s) you want. If you have space and conversations are likely to be long, you may consider a low table with chairs.  If space is limited, a bar-style high table you can stand around will be better. Remember that sitting down will encourage longer conversations and that stops you talking to more people.

Finally, remember that you have all the boxes and containers that your stand, collateral, laptops etc. come in. There is rarely exhibitor storage space, so all of this either needs to go into the car/van or it stays on the stand.

Engage with the organiser’s social media activity

The organisers always run an active social media programme. They want to attract more exhibitors (that’s how they make their money), more visitors (to keep the exhibitors happy) and to promote the sponsors (to keep them happy). Engage will all of these and your network to maximise the number of people who know you are exhibiting and what they can expect when they visit your stand.

Take your best marketing collateral to give out

If you already have printed marketing collateral, pick what best helps visitors understand what you do and how you can help. Case studies make great collateral, so ensure you have some of them to give out.

If you haven’t got any, it can be designed and printed to specially address the needs of the visitors to that event. Digital printing means you don’t need to print 1,000s of copies to make them cost effective, although litho printing in volume is still cheaper per unit if you can justify the volumes.

The collateral visitors take away should give them a positive memory of your business, so don’t skimp on the design to save a few quid.

Network with other exhibitors to maximise your ROI

In reality, few other exhibitors will be direct competitors. Networking with other exhibitors (once you’ve set up your stand) can be a great source of new connections. They can, over time, refer people you way, become new suppliers or maybe even new clients.

Take your best communicators to your trade shows

Perhaps the biggest issue seen at trade shows is staff sitting/standing around either “playing” on their phones or waiting for people to come and talk to them. Even worse are those who stand on the edge of the stand, blocking it so nobody can read your graphics or get onto the stand.

The whole idea of exhibiting is to generate leads. To do this, you have to talk to people, so take the people who love to talk to others.  Impressions of Monty Python’s Black Knight won’t help and looking completely disinterested will really turn people off.

Smile and say hello

To get people talking to you a simple smile goes a long way. Follow up by saying hello and an open question to get them talking. If someone stops to read your stand or collateral, go and talk to them.

Collect their contact details

Visitors’ badges always have barcodes on them, allowing easy collection of data. The organisers will rent you a scanner or provide access to an app you can use on your phone. It’s quick and easy and people rarely say no when you ask to “scan them”.

At the end of the event, the organisers will email you a spreadsheet of all those you scanned, unless they said their data should not be shared. The other issue is that some people (a growing number) use their personal email addresses to book. Whilst there aren’t any GDPR issues here, it does mean you don’t have their work details – at least until you do more research.

If you don’t want to pay for the scanner, you will need paper forms. People are less likely to fill in a form, but they are usually better quality leads.

To maximise the ROI from exhibiting, you need a good set of quality leads.

Offer something of value in return

What can you offer to entice visitors to give you their details? It’s no longer a simple case of running a prize draw, giving away an iPad. People know you’re simply after their data.

Sweets and branded merchandise may tempt them onto the stand to give you a chance to talk to them and competitive games can do a similar thing. Of course, they need to leave you their contact details to enable you to contact them if they win…

Can you do a free review, for example? Is this is something you can do online from your office in the next few days?  If the cost to you is low, this could dramatically increase the number of leads you generate. If you have to go to their office, the cost is higher, but you are gaining access to the inner sanctum. The choice is yours, but it needs to be something you can deliver and that will deliver value.

Stay until the end

Whether a one, two or more-day show, there are always a few companies that pack up in that last hour before the end. Whilst it may be quiet and you may have a long drive home, think what it says when you pack up early. That you don’t care about the visitors that are still there!  If there are very few visitors, take the time to network more with other exhibitors.

Follow up on all your leads

The biggest sin of all is the failure to follow up. The investment of cash and time can easily add up to £7-10,000 so why would you waste that money? If you don’t follow up, you may as well flush £50s down the loo!

To maximise the ROI from exhibiting, it’s best to get your followup emails out within 48 hours of the trade show ending, so you should seriously consider drafting and building them before the event.  You can always make minor tweaks afterwards, but far better to be prepared than try to rush things afterwards.

A combination of email and direct mail may be best, but think about the costs vs. the potential return on investment.  Print and postage costs can stack up, so it may be that you just use email. You can always use direct mail once you’ve started the followup phone calls.

Every sales opportunity is a multi-touch process. Stats suggest anything from 8 to 23 touches to make a sale, so it makes sense to start soon. After all, the sooner you start, the sooner you get to 8/23.


The final step is to measure your performance.

  • Did you get the number of leads you targeted?
  • How much awareness did you generate (perhaps in the form of followers on Twitter/LinkedIn), and
  • how many new clients have you acquired?

Be careful with the last one. Sales can take time to come to fruition. A client of ours measured sales a month after a trade show and was disappointed. They measured again six months later, to find over £100,000 of sales that were attributed directly to the event.


With shell scheme space costing at least £350 per square metre at most trade shows, you are making a considerable investment in every trade show you book. The 17 steps listed above will help you maximise the ROI from exhibiting at a trade show.


What you need before you can develop a marketing plan for your business

image of 5 things you need before you can develop a marketing plan for your businessFive Key Things you Really Need

As a marketing consultancy, we are, of course, going to recommend you need a marketing plan. However, there are five key things you need to consider and agree on before you can develop a marketing plan for your business. Let’s look at what they are… Read more

9 ways your best client can help you win more business

There are many ways your best client can help you win more business.

Our last blog talked about using them to develop an avatar and the key messages that form the core of your marketing communications. Let’s look at just how many different ways your best client can help.

1. Developing your Ideal Client

We covered this in the last article, but it makes absolute sense that you want more clients just like your best one(s). Why wouldn’t you.

2. Developing your Messaging

Again we’re nicking the kudos of the last blog, but it’s still valid.

3. Referrals

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first shall we! Whether they give you referrals because you ask them to, or completely off their own back, you want them to give you referrals. It shows they trust you and believe in you.

4. Testimonials

The words they provide are hugely powerful. We all buy online and we’re influenced by the reviews provided by others who have bought that product. As your best client has been using your services for some time, they will be respected by their peers and will support your sales efforts.

5. Case Studies

Potentially even more powerful, assuming you include the results you deliver rather than just what you did. People who read the case study will be looking to understand what your best clients gets in return for using your services. They’re not as interested in what you did and what happened. For a complete guide on what makes the best case studies, click here.

6. References

Do you ever offer a prospective client the opportunity to talk to your clients? In the same way you look for references when employing a member of staff, prospects often look for the same. Of course, testimonials and case studies can provide an alternative, but some still want to talk to a real human being. Who better to give them to talk to?

7. Feedback

If you’re thinking of adding services or changing something, running past your best client is a good idea. Depending on why you are making changes, getting their opinion on whether the changes are positive, or not, is really useful feedback. If, as your best client, they wouldn’t buy the changed product or service, should you be trying to make the changes?

Of course, a sample of one is never a good idea, but it’s definitely a starting point.

There are other ways your best client can help you. It doesn’t just have to be about winning new business.

8. Recruitment

We’re not suggesting you steal their staff – that’s not a good idea. However they may know people who can fill your vacancies. Keep them up to date with the people you are looking for.  You never know.

9. New Suppliers

If your business is a similar size or has similar needs to your best client, why not ask them who they use? Perhaps your office cleaners aren’t very good or you’re looking for new office furniture. Who did they use and would they recommend them? By asking them, you’re showing you respect their opinion and you trust them too.

I hope this helps

Develop Key Messages for your Ideal Client

Identifying your Ideal Client takes time. In tandem with your service offering and the type of industry you want to work in, you should also identify their pain points and your solution to that ideal client’s need. Once you are clear on your ideal client then you will be able to develop key messages to attract and engage them.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you’ve described your best client as:

  • Architects in London, with the Senior Partner as the decision maker. LinkedIn lists 50 people with that description.

Already your target audience has grown from one person to 50. If you tweaked your description to say the whole of the UK , the number increase to 123. Some Senior Partners will call themselves the Founder. Your audience has now increased, purely on LinkedIn, to 3,518.

You can see descriptions of our Ideal Client here, if you would like some guidance on how to describe them.

Do your clients have similar pain points?

Think about the issues your Ideal Client has. The issues they have will be the same, or very similar to issues experienced by other companies of the same attributes.

What are their Issues?

What do you help them with? How often do you help them? How do you help them?

Everything you list here is highly likely to be relevant to the 3,518 Senior Partners or Founders we identified earlier. By simply thinking about your ideal client, you’re now identified the issues and the ways you can help 1,000s of potential clients.

They will all want a solution

Getting your Ideal Client focus rightYour best client is one that will be very happy with the work you’ve done for them. The question we’re asking you is: What does a successful piece of work look like?

When you then talk to your target audience about the successes you achieve, they will like what they hear. They will recognise how you talk about the type of client you work with and the issues you help them resolve. Recognition is easy because they are similar companies, with similar issues. They will listen to how you will resolve the issues, but that isn’t the important bit. What they really want is the results – the success – you describe. Why wouldn’t they?

So hopefully this article has described the process of how thinking about just one person will help you develop key messages that will engage a target audience and generate the leads you want to grow your business.

If you have any questions or would like some assistance, we’d be happy to help, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or Email us.

8 Small Business Marketing Tips to make a great start to 2019

image: make the best start to 2019 with our small business marketing tips2019 has begun. Are you ready to take it by the scruff of the neck and make it your best year ever? Here’s a few small business marketing tips to help you make the most of this year.

1. Know what works for you

The first of our small business marketing tips is probably the one we see more companies in need of that anything else. Your time and money are valuable. If you’re spending either on marketing activities that aren’t generating leads for your business, you are wasting that money. Finding out is one of the quickest ways to improve your bottom line, because you stop spending on activities that don’t work and spend it on those that do. Here’s some numbers you should be looking at.

2. Focus on your Perfect Client

No single company in the world tries to sell to everyone. For every product or service they provide, they have a picture of who will buy it and why. Do you have this to help focus your marketing?

By focusing on your Ideal Client, you think about:

  • What are the issues they have that you can help with
  • How you can help them
  • Why they should buy from you
  • What you need to say to them in order to get them to buy from you

The more you focus, the more you will get the people you want to talk to.

3. Be consistent

Unless you have a real niche focus, there are lots of people out there doing what you do. There are certainly lots of marketing consultants. To ensure that people remember you for when they need your services, you need to maintain a consistent level of marketing activity. Otherwise people will quickly forget you in the cloud of messaging they are exposed to every day.

That doesn’t mean you have to communicate every day. Maintain a level of consistency that you are able to, and one that is most likely to work with your target audience. If people consume your product/service rapidly, the marketing frequency needs to match consumption levels. If you work on annual, or longer, contracts, it may be that 3-4 times a year will be sufficient.

4. Stop talking about yourself

Far too many businesses open their marketing with the word we. Your target audience doesn’t want to know about you.  They want to know how you are going to help them. So talk about that. You know your clients and the issues they have, so talk about that. Show you understand their issues and that you have a solution. Then people will come to ask you about how you can help them.

5. Build and Maintain Relationships

Most small businesses get much of their business through referrals. Referrals come because of three things:

  1. People know you and trust you
  2. They know exactly what you are looking for
  3. They believe in what you are selling

Are you ensuring that the people who can refer you know what you are looking for, and that they remember who you are? Maintaining these relationships is not easy. We are all busy people. There are three key tools we can use to maintain these relationships:

  1. Coffee: Meet people face to face and talk to them. Help them understand what you are looking for, whilst ensuring you are listening and understanding what they are looking for too. You can substitute beer/wine/tea here, of course!
  2. Telephones: Your phone is less than six feet from your hand right now. Whether that is your mobile or your landline, make use of it and talk to your network, so they don’t forget you.
  3. Email: we all get huge numbers of emails, but I bet you most of your network will open at least one email a year from you. Mailchimp and its ilk are great tools to keep in contact with people and keep them aware of what you are up to.

Whatever way works for your business, don’t lose the referrals you can get in the future by losing touch with your network.

6. Use more video

world populations as part of our small business marketing tips

World Populations, according to @Socialnomics

80% of mobile consumption is video and it’s rising. If you want to communicate with today’s decision makers you need to use video.

  • Develop a set of short messages that show how you help your clients.
  • Your phone is perfectly acceptable for this type of educational video, so you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or pay lots of money for others to video you.
  • Add them to YouTube and use your preferred social media channels to distribute them too.
  • Make sure your network know where they are, so they can share them to increase your reach.

We must admit, of all our small business marketing tips, this is the one we need to do more of ourselves – oops!

7. Know who is visiting your website

image of CANDDi screenshot as part of our small business marketing tipsYour website is your window for the world. There will be few potential clients who don’t check you out, so it makes sense for you to know who is looking at your website. Tools such as CANDDi provide you with a huge amount of information about who is on your site and what they are doing on there. They cannot identify every visitor, but they will check fixed IP addresses and give you information about the company. They collect information about the person from Contact Forms, Web Chats and when you email someone. Imagine knowing when your latest prospect reads your proposal and then checks out your case studies – buying signals or what!

8. Prove you can help

The last of our small business marketing tips is, probably, one of the easiest to implement.

Taking on a new supplier is a big risk. If you’ve never worked with them before, how do you know they will be any good? Your prospects will be thinking this too. How do they know you are any good and can deliver on your promises?

Use the evidence you have. Make sure you have testimonials scattered across your website, so people can see what their peers think of you.

Case studies, including the results, are tremendously powerful. Not only does the reader get to see themselves in the description of your client, they see that they share similar problems. More than anything, they see you delivered a solution that worked. Why would they not want to work with you?

Knowledge articles. Whether published on your blog or through other media channels, share your thinking with others to show them you know what you are talking about.

Marketing today is all about consistency and demonstrating you can help. As a small business owner, you only have a limited budget, so make the most of it by focusing, but if you do one thing only, let it be this one: Talk to your audience about them – not about you.

We hope these small business marketing tips help.

If you need some assistance with taking your marketing forward, simply complete the form below and let’s talk.

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