A helping hand is just that. These are posts we believe will help you to improve your marketing.

  • Helping you measure your marketing more effectively
  • Helping you focus so you get a better ROI
  • Ensuring you are planning and then delivering your marketing

Of course, if you need a hand with any of this, we would love to have a chat and see how we can help you improve your marketing and grow your business.

Give us a call on 020 8634 5911. Let’s arrange a time for a coffee and a chat.

How Opportunity Costs impact your Marketing

No one likes the idea of wasting time or money, especially marketers. However, no matter the industry, everything you do comes at a cost. This is why it is crucial you weigh up the pros and cons of your marketing efforts and ensure they are helping you achieve your goals in the most efficient way possible. Opportunity costs aren’t something that can be avoided. Instead, you need to learn how you and your business can best navigate through it.

But first, what is opportunity cost?

Opportunity cost is the benefit or opportunity you sacrifice when you choose an alternative option. Understanding the value of the alternative is an incredibly useful skill to have. It means your decision making is precise and done in consideration for what other options were available.

To calculate something’s opportunity cost, you need to predict the return on investment of each alternative and compare it to the chosen option. If the cost is not a concrete figure, rather an opportunity, you will need to decide which you feel will be the bring the biggest benefit long term.

So how does this affect my marketing?

The concept of opportunity cost affects your marketing strategy more than you may think. The aim of a marketing campaign is to efficiently reach a certain group of people and direct them back to a product or service that they then purchase.

What tends to happen is a company’s marketing strategy will be working, so they do not question it. However, what they don’t realise is they could be doing even better had they gone a different route. For example, say you have a successful Facebook campaign in action and that’s where all of your marketing budget is going. This means you don’t have any budget for LinkedIn marketing which would have brought you double the amount of leads.

To avoid losing out on the opportunity cost of your marketing efforts, before committing to an avenue of marketing, explore all of the options. This means looking in detail at how each alternate could benefit you both short term and long term. From there you can decide which option best aligns with your company’s goals.

If you need help understanding and navigating the opportunity costs of your current marketing strategy, give us a call. We’d be happy to walk you through it.

Cost of marketing support vs. doing it yourself

When thinking about marketing and the costs involved, you have to think about the physical cost of it as well. You have two main options. You either hire marketing support or you do the marketing yourself. These are both great options and which is best will differ from company to company. So what is best for yours?

If you’re currently doing all of your own marketing, there are a few things you may want to take into consideration. Similar to what we discussed above, could your time be better spent elsewhere? Are there more profitable things you could be doing instead of doing your own marketing? If so and these things bring in more income than what it would cost to outsource your marketing, it’s probably a smart decision to consider making the swap. That way you can be confident that you’re delivering great marketing content while having more time to dedicate to other aspects of your business.

If you have any questions about outsourced marketing and whether it’s the right fit for your company, give us a call and we’ll help you with everything you need to know.

Six great marketing technology tools for small businesses



Today was the second, and last, day of the Technology for Marketing Show. This seems to be just the right time to look at the marketing technology products that we know and trust. Some are free and some you have to pay for, but all provide real value and will help you with your marketing, if you fit their target audience.

Let’s start with the free marketing technology

Google Analytics

If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, you are really missing a trick. Google Analytics is a great tool for telling you how well your website is performing.

Adding it to your website is child’s play, especially if you have a WordPress site. Once you’ve set up your Analytics account, you either add the code (they provide) to the Theme settings or use a plugin.  Either way, you will be live in less than ten minutes.

Google Analytics will tell you:

  • How much traffic you get to the site.
  • Where it has come from (natural search, social media, paid search etc.).
  • The average time people spend on the site, and the average number of pages they visit.
  • Which pages aren’t working well, via the Bounce Rate and Exit Rate statistics.
  • The devices people use to visit, and for e-commerce sites, what devices they use when making purchases.
  • Demographic information about your audience, such as sex and age.
  • The flow of people through your website.
  • And much more…

All of this can then be compared to other time periods. Is your website performing better than last month, or last year – or yesterday?

If you are going to use one marketing technology tool, this is the one we recommend as an absolute must!

Search Console

image of Google icon - provider of some of our marketing technology setAnother Google product, formerly known as Webmaster Tools, Search Console will help you to analyse your search engine optimisation performance.

  • What search queries are you ranking for, and where are you ranking?
  • The volume of searches there are for that query.
  • Whether Google has a sitemap to work from – always a good thing.
  • The number of links, both internally and externally, linking to your site.
  • How mobile friendly your site is
  • And more

Again much of this can be compared against other time periods to see how you are performing. Just be careful when considering the average search position. This is an aggregation of data, so a high volume of searches with a low SERP figure will drag your average ranking figure down significantly.

Yoast

image of Yoast logo one of our marketing technology setStrictly a plugin and most often seen in WordPress sites (they do others), Yoast is a highly effective tool to help you to improve your search engine rankings.

Yoast is frequently updated, so you can be confident they are keeping up with changes that the search engines are making to their algorithms.

Once you tell Yoast what you want your page to rank for, it provides a traffic light grading to show how well they believe that page will rank. It doesn’t promise to get your onto Page One for that phrase, but it will point you in the right direction.

As SEO is split into two key variables, so is Yoast. It looks at how easy your page is to read and then at the technical SEO. The internal and external links, image alt tags and sentence length, as well as use of title tags, such as H1s and 2s.

Definitely not to be used before you have done your keyword research. Definitely one to use once you have.  There is a premium version, but we recommend you start with the free version. You can then upgrade at the point you are comfortable with what you are doing.  Join their mailing list and they will provide a steady stream of useful tutorials and articles to help you make the most of the tool.

 

Let’s now switch to the paid for products…

CANDDi

image of CANDDi logo part of our marketing technology setMore of a sales tool than a marketing tool, but CANDDi can be highly effective when used properly. In our opinion, it is far more suited to companies selling higher value products or services, usually in the B2B market, rather than for B2C companies.

Where Google Analytics will tell you how many people have been on your site, CANDDi tells you what individuals are doing, what company they work for and WHO is visiting your site.

Before you get too excited, it cannot tell you who for every visitor. If the visitor searches from a fixed IP location, their IP lookup tools will tell you what company the visitor is from. If you already have, or the person gives it to you, it will tell you who is visiting. CANDDi will also notify you when that person comes back too!

The Process

Imagine a lead comes in because somebody filled in the contact request form on your website. CANDDi will tell you:

  • what pages they visited, so you know what they are interested in.
  • when they visited, and how many times.
  • whether they downloaded anything you have been actively promoting.
  • Where they are in the world, helping you qualify the lead.
  • Some, if not all, of their social media details

You have a chat and they want to think about things.

When they come back, you are notified so you can follow up the lead (not straight away, that’s a little creepy). Timing is key to making the sale so knowing when they are thinking about you is a real help.

With contracts starting at £149 per month, on a 30 day term, the pricing and terms are far better than their competitors.

SEMrush

image of semrush logo one of our technology setIf you want to take your SEO performance seriously, SEMrush will really help to improve the performance of your website.

By showing you how your site is working technically, SEMrush helps you to get the basics right. After that, it is about showing you how you are ranking, in comparison to your competitors, for the keywords you provide.

It is stuffed full of ways to help you improve your website’s performance:

  • Listing your backlinks, including a toxicity score (toxic links are bad)
  • Brand monitoring, so you can see when your brand is being talked about.
  • On-page SEO checker, showing you exactly what is wrong and where.
  • Organic research, showing you what your competitors are ranking for
  • Keyword Magic Tool, helping you find the keywords to really up the performance of your SEO and PPC campaigns
  • And much more…

SEMrush is an agency tool, designed to help agencies manage their clients’ marketing and image of a pair of SEMrush socks

 

SEO performance and the pricing reflects that. The lowest price is $99 per month but if you are using a marketing agency to help you with your marketing (and they are using it), they can provide you with savings on that price. They make great socks too!

Mailchimp

SME Needs is a Mailchimp PartnerRecently rebranded as a customer relationship management tool, Mailchimp is still best known as an email marketing platform. If you want to communicate with your audience cost effectively, email makes absolute sense. We all get huge numbers of emails every day but we still open the ones we want to. If you are sending personalised and relevant information to your audience, you will get open and click through rates you want.

Mailchimp does provide a free version, but there are limitations, perhaps most notably allowing only one user. But the chargeable versions start at just $9.99 and its worth it to get the additional users (2 more) and all the functionality.

Mailchimp always had segments and groups to help you manage your audience, but the addition of tags makes it far easier to send only content that is relevant and they will want to read. Most people (69%)[1] believe that sharing data is a key part of today’s society and 57% of consumers happy to receive personalised marketing. If you are following GDPR guidelines and using your customer data sensibly, your email marketing is highly likely to be effective.

We recommend Mailchimp simply because it is the most intuitive platform we have tried and at a price point very few SMEs cannot afford.

Consistency is key

Marketing technology is only useful if you learn how to use it, and then use it regularly and consistently. That means either working your way through the training tutorials that all of these platforms provide. Or working with a marketing agency that regularly uses them and can help you make the most of the benefits marketing technology can bring to your business. If you would like to talk about how we use them with other clients, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

 

[1] DMA figures, Sept 2019

Don’t be a Jacob Rees-Mogg!



image of jacob rees-mogg

Credit: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17878690.jacob-rees-mogg-says-rebel-mps-risk-subverting-parliaments-scrutiny-role/

To give him his full title, The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, is well known, perhaps infamous, for his use of language within the House of Commons. His, presumably, intimate knowledge of the processes and procedures within parliament give him an incredibly wide vocabulary to call upon when he talks to the house.

But just because he has this vocabulary doesn’t mean he has to use all of it. Whilst, I hope, most of his fellow MPs know what he is talking about, many people outside of parliament will listen for a short time before either:

a)       Scratching their head, wondering what he is going on about, before switching channels, or

b)      Think that he is being deliberately over-complicated to try to appear intellectual.

In a very truncated version of his words, “I put it to you that he is making a mistake”.

The question is: Are you doing a Jacob Rees-Mogg?  Are you using terminology and language within your marketing activity that your target audience and prospects don’t want to hear?  If you are, you run the risk of them doing the same thing – stopping listening!

The Jargon

Every industry has its own language. Its own terminology that people use internally so that they all know precisely what they mean. Acronyms can be found alongside this language so it is shortened, whilst complicating it further for anyone outside of the industry. Some people even write a book to help others to understand what everything means.

Drop the Jargon

The problem with jargon is that only one small group of people actually knows that it all means.  For others, it is hard work, confusing and unnecessary. If you are using the jargon from your industry within your marketing, you are not giving your target audience what they really want to hear. They want to know that you understand and can talk about three things:

1.       Their needs, issues and problems.

2.       What success looks like.

3.       Evidence you can deliver success.

 

Their Needs

Long gone are the days when your marketing could talk about the features of your service or product. You can no longer expect your target audience to then work out how those features will help them.

If you are not talking about their needs and problems, your competition will be and that’s where your target audience will go. As a client of mine describes it, every story has a dragon. This dragon need to be identified before a solution can be discussed.

Does your marketing make it clear to your target audience that you understand their needs, their dragon, or are you concentrating on talking about your business and what you do?

We carried out a short survey, across four different industry sectors, to see what their website content focused on.  The website content of 60% of IT support companies, 55% of accountants and 85% of lawyers started with them, rather than their target audience. When we looked at marketing consultants in London, 60% of their websites focused on their business rather than the needs of their target audience.  If you are in one of those sectors and you concentrate on your audience, you’ve probably got a good head start!

 

Success

A solution to their problem delivers success. Whether that is better analysing complex data to deliver workable information, fixing a laptop so users can work flexibly and remotely, or increasing web traffic to drive more leads, you have to talk about what your target audience wants.  They want success.  They will buy success from you, if they believe that you can deliver that success.

Your marketing needs to talk about how you help your target audience to achieve the success they are after.  Some of this will be a description of what you do or sell, but very little. Concentrate on talking about what your audience wants to buy – success.

 

Your Evidence

Some people are great at talking the talk.  It is the evidence you can put in front of your target audience that proves you are able to walk the walk too!

Evidence, in the form of testimonials, case studies, videos or imagery, is key to helping your prospects believe that you are the right company to deliver a successful resolution of their problems/needs.

 

Perceived Risk

The aim of your marketing is to generate leads that turn into new clients for your business. By talking about the client, about their needs and proving you can deliver a successful solution, you are reducing the perceived risk in the minds of your prospects. Buying from a new supplier is always a risk. Your marketing needs to reduce that perceived risk to the point they are happy to talk to you. Your sales activity, supported by your marketing, then aims to reduce the perceived risk even further so that they believe you can deliver on your promises and will sign that contract.

 

So don’t be a Jacob Rees-Mogg.  Use the language of your target audience so you help them truly understand that you can help them.

Get in touch if you need a hand

What are you talking about?


image to support blog about the right content for your blog

What is the right content for your blog?

Your marketing aims to develop new leads for your business. You need those leads to build your business and achieve the growth targets you’ve set. As part of a content-led marketing strategy, your blog is a major part of the content you produce and it is important that it performs. The question is: what are you talking about and what is the right content for your blog?

Your blog is there to do 4 things:

  1. Increase your SEO performance so the search engines rank you higher than your competitors.
  2. Attract more visitors to your website, via SEO or through the posts you put on social media about the blog articles.
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge about the topics you write about.
  4. Help website visitors decide to contact you and add themselves to your sales pipeline

So what should be in your blog if you are to have content that does some, or all, of these?

Problem solving content

Content that helps viewers to solve problems will put you in a powerful position. Whilst this sounds almost counter-productive (surely you want them to pay you to solve their problems), let’s look at why this is a good thing…

1.       It shows that you have the knowledge and expertise to help if they want you to help in the future. Just because you help them now doesn’t mean they are looking to resolve this issue every time it appears.

2.       They may have a go at fixing the issue, but if they don’t have the skills, they will need someone to help. If you have helped them get so far, they are highly likely to come to you to finish things off.

3.       They may have another supplier in place, but they are unsure about them and so looking for others who look like they have the skills they are looking for.

Content about what is new to the market/sector

There is always something new out there; it doesn’t matter what you do. E.g. the technology market is always changing, so reviews of latest products (and how they help the user) are always good. Within learning and development, there are new approaches or techniques. In marketing, there are new ways to share your content or curate others.

By talking within your blog about how these can help your target audience, you are demonstrating your understand them and their needs.

Your opinions on the latest news

The main news at the moment rarely moves off one particular topic (the B word). Sometimes they do talk about other topics; topics that are within your areas of expertise. By writing about this, its impact and how people can benefit/avoid/make the most of/solve whatever the topic is, you are again demonstrating your expertise.

Your News

Ever so often something happens within your business that is worth sharing with your audience. They aren’t likely to care when you recruit a new receptionist or replace an engineer, but adding a new Regional Director, because you’re expanding into new territories could be interesting. Perhaps the reader is a frequent visitor to your site, but has never been in touch because you don’t operate near them – until now.

A major breakthrough or a project that saved a significant amount for a client (what is a significant amount for your target audience?) is worth talking about, but it may be better to try and get this news out via publications with bigger readerships ( I know a number of very good PR firms, if you need some assistance in this area) so that the announcement gets seen by more people.

When looking at the right content for your blog, news about your business, I’m afraid, comes bottom of the pile, with a few exceptions. Why? Because your target audience are more interested in understanding how you can help them.

 

By publishing the right content for your blog, it is far more likely to be read and acted upon. If it answers a popular question, it is highly likely to rank well (an article on one of my client’s websites has ranked No.1 for a particular popular search term and now generates 37% of their traffic. It gets more visits than the home page.

We hope this helps.

Four ways to maximise the Brexit Opportunity

image: making the most of the brexit opportunity


It doesn’t matter where you hide, Brexit will find you. Whether you’re in business owner or consumer mode, it will impact your life going forward – whatever happens. The media coverage is split between the doomsayers and those pitching a brave new world, with much of the coverage saying businesses are sitting on their hands and aren’t prepared. Prepared for what is the question many will ask. Many businesses, including no doubt, some of your competitors, are keeping their cash close to their chest. They are not investing in their businesses and that means Brexit offers a big opportunity for you, if you are prepared to invest. Let’s look at how you can take advantage of the Brexit opportunity.

Don’t stop talking

When you stop talking, people are quickly forgetting what you want them to remember. We all see too many messages for everything to stick. Only the really memorable, or often repeated, will remain.

As your competitors stop talking to your target audience, you have the opportunity to make more of an impact. With, at least, one less competitive voice out there, you have a better chance to being the one being listened to and being sought out for assistance.

NEED HELP KEEPING YOUR MARKETING CONSISTENT? CLICK HERE

Change the Topic

There are still too many businesses out there talking about themselves. They talk about how they are “the leading provider of…”, or they talk about the features (and usually complexity – because that means they are clever) of the product or service they provide. The problem here is that they are expecting the target audience to translate that into how it helps them to resolve their problems. Something they simply don’t have time to do.

Take a look at your service/product from the client’s perspective. What is it they are looking for? If you talk about things from their point of view, about how you can help them, they will “get it” faster. They will look at you positively because you’re thinking about them and they are far more likely to get in touch and talk in more detail about how you can help.

Whilst this is something you should be doing anyway, if you are looking to take advantage of the Brexit Opportunity, have a look at the marketing messages you are putting out as part of that process,

Talk to the right people

With reduced investment in marketing comes reduced focus. After all, it takes less time to send, for example, an email campaign to everyone in your mailing list, than it does to segment your audience and ensure the right messages get in front of the right people. Here’s just a few thoughts…

  • Define your Ideal Client(s). The more precise you are, the better you can make the marketing messages you use. You can also use this to ensure your network knows exactly who you want to talk to.
  • Segment your emailing lists, using segment or tags. You may need to add to the data you have in order to do this.
  • Go to topic or industry-specific networking events, rather than the bigger events where you will meet anybody.
  • Consider direct mail campaigns. The higher costs of postage and printing will make you think twice about just how many people you include in the campaign. This gives you the opportunity to make your DM campaigns highly targeted. The more relevant to the reader, the more likely it is to work.

Prepare your Business

Nobody knows what is going to happen at the moment. The government is increasing preparation for a no-deal Brexit, but you never know (here is the British Chamber’s Brexit Checklist to help you). Whatever way the country goes, the best way you can prepare is to ensure you are maximising your pipeline. More sales opportunities usually mean more sales. More sales means more money coming into the business and that is definitely what you want to happen. Sitting on your hands (or wallet) is not a good idea. Let’s hope your competitors are doing just that and leaving the Brexit opportunity to you.

NEED A HAND GETTING YOUR MARKETING READY FOR BREXIT? CLICK HERE

Best Ways to Work in a Heatwave

Seven Tips on how to work effectively and enjoy the great weather

image: bright sunshine to support article best ways to work in a heatwave

The sun is out, the sky is blue. Unfortunately there’s still lots and lots of work to do.

What can you do to maximise your enjoyment of the great weather (let’s face it, we don’t get a lot) and still maximise what you get done. Here are our thoughts on the best ways to work in a heatwave.

9 – 5 isn’t necessary

When the weather is great and you want to enjoy it, why work normal office hours? One of the best ways to work in a heatwave is to avoid it. Perhaps you can start work earlier and finish earlier?  Alternatively, why not work in the morning, take the afternoon off and then work in the evening? Your other commitments and family life may limit what you can do, but there are always options.

Get out of the office

If you have to work office hours, what is stopping you from working away from the office? Whether it is your garden, a coffee shop or the park, consider what you need to be able to work effectively from somewhere other than the office.

Do you really need an internet connection?

Getting out of the office can often improve productivity. The people around you can often distract you, meaning productivity drops.  Going somewhere away from the office and without WiFi means you can control what distracts you. That may, of course, be the beautiful weather or the view from wherever you sit down, but at least it’s your choice.

If you do have to be contactable, your phone will work. You’ll still get calls and emails, but you can choose when, and whether, to respond immediately.

Protect yourself

The sun can quickly burn you, so make sure you have sun cream and a hat on. The hat can serve an additional function too – reducing the glare on your laptop screen.

Protect your Data

You will have seen the GDPR nazis going on about people looking over your shoulder when you’re working somewhere public. Whilst I think that is a little overkill (unless you do happen to have huge amounts of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on your screen when working), it makes sense to take other precautions:

  • Keep an eye on your laptop and phone, so they don’t get pinched.
  • If you have a bag, put a handle under a chair leg, or around your own leg, so people cannot quickly run away with them.
  • Talk to your IT people about Endpoint Protection and other options, just in case your hardware does get stolen. Data can then be wiped if necessary.
  • Tether, rather than connecting to public Wifi. An internet connection via your phone is more secure than using a public wifi option; one that can easily be cloned or accessed.

Don’t go to the pub

However tempting your favourite pub garden seems in this type of weather, it’s not a good idea.  The temptation from an ice-cold lager or G&T will be just too tempting. Three drinks later and your productivity takes a dive!

Back to the Window

If you have to work in the office, and have a choice of where to sit, put your back to the window. That way you won’t get distracted, longing to be outside.  You can get your work done and then head outside for a well-deserved break.

Sitting away from the window also keeps you cooler. Glass magnifies the sun’s rays and makes you hotter (even with the AC on).

The sun may not last much past Thursday, so make the most of the opportunity and we hope these tips on the best ways to work in a heatwave prove useful.

The cost of an Unmanaged Mailing List

Earlier this year, Mailchimp changed its pricing plan. Managing your mailing list just got much more important, not least because you may start paying more for your account with them.

Pricing PlanOld Plan New Plan  
Data RecordsNo. of usersPriceData RecordsNo. of usersPrice
FreeUp to 2000 subscribers£0Up to 2000 contacts1£0
MonthlyUp to 52,000 subscribers
Essentials500 to 50,0003from £7.95 per month
Standard500 to 100,0005from £11.93 per month
Premium10,000 to 200,000unlimitedfrom £237.99 per month
Pay As You GoUnlimitedyou bought creditsUnlimitedYou buy credits

Why you need to monitor your data count

One of the biggest changes that impact the pricing of Mailchimp is the change from subscribers to contacts. It used to be that only subscribers counted towards your pricing.  It didn’t matter how many data records you had within your account, or how many lists. It was only the number of subscribers that counted.

Monthly charges

This has now changed, so that all data records are counted (minus archived, cleaned and deleted records). Add up subscribed, non-subscribed and unsubscribed to see how much you are going to be paying. If you’re approaching the limit of a Free account (2000), just a small number of unsubscribed contacts could mean you have to start paying. If just 20% of your list is unsubscribed, you have a monthly bill of £23.87 (Essential plan, up to 2,500 contacts). Bearing in mind that, once they unsubscribe, very few people come back, you need to clean out your data regularly.

Lists & Audiences

One of the biggest issues with Mailchimp until recently was the Lists function.  This allowed you to build as many lists as you wanted. The problem was that a single person could often end up in multiple lists. When someone unsubscribed, they only stopped getting emails from that particular list – not every list they were in. With GDPR now firmly in place (and not going anywhere, even if Brexit happens), sending people emails after they have unsubscribed is a big no-no and likely to get you into all sorts of trouble.

The changes make managing your mailing list so much easier, without having to complicate matters with multiple lists.

Segments, Groups & Tags

In the last section we discussed Lists and how they can be a problem, particularly for GDPR purposes. Having just one audience and then making use of segments, groups and tags help you avoid this problem.

Groups

Designed to be contact-facing, Groups allow to gather contacts with the same attributes. Perhaps they have all bought specific categories of products or have attended specific events. Contacts can choose which groups they want to be in. Perhaps they wish to receive information about particular services, for example.

Individual contacts can be in multiple groups and, if they unsubscribe, their data stays in the group, but they will never receive any emails sent to subscribed members of the group.

Segments

Segments allow you to create groups of contacts based on multiple criteria, whereas groups are single criteria-based. Perhaps you have sent out a number of emails and want to send a further campaign to contacts who have clicked on a link in any of those emails. You can build an ANY segment to look at up to five different email campaigns. Alternatively, if you wanted to create a group of contacts who opened all of them, you can use an ALL segment.

Tags

Tags are just for you, to help organise your contacts. You create tags and then attach them to contacts in a way that helps you to categorise them the way you want them categorised. Mailchimp has a number of ways they automatically tag contacts to help you manage and engage with your audience. Geographical tags, engagement level tags and Import date tags are all automatic. Of course, your tags can be as detailed or as light-handed as you want them to be. Perhaps you want to tag contacts in your sales pipeline so you can communicate accordingly with them?

You can then use these tags to group contacts for campaigns. After all, the more personalised the email you send, the more likely it is to be opened and engaged with. That is, after all, what you want to happen.

Performance rates

Having lots of people in your audiences is a great thing, if they want to be there and you control what you send to them. You will get higher open rate percentages and higher clickthrough rates. As a marketer, you want to be able to show the boss (even if that is you, as well) high levels of engagement. The more people are engaging with your email marketing, the more they are likely to be doing what you want them to do – usually buying your products/services. So why would you keep data in your audiences who don’t want to be there?

The changes Mailchimp has made do mean that you need to manage your data more proactively in order to control the costs of your email marketing. However, the changes they have made also make it far easier for you to control the data. You can make it more appropriate to the contact and more personalised as you collect and use data. From there you will get better results from your marketing. Of course, if managing your mailing list is proving to be difficult, SME Needs is a Mailchimp Partner and we are more than happy to help you get the best results from your email marketing

We hope this helps

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.