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14 effective business marketing tools

By A Helping Hand, Deliver, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

There are a variety of business marketing tools you’ll come across (and have advertised to you) when looking for ways to boost your marketing. They range from free to as much as you can spend, giving you plenty of choice. This decision may seem insignificant, but it couldn’t be more important. The wrong tools will have you pulling your hair out before lunch.

So here are our picks for the best business marketing tools.

Mailchimp

One of the most popular for small businesses, Mailchimp is almost an essential for starting out in marketing. Mailchimp quickly and intuitively acts as your virtual assistant, from designing email campaigns, tracking customers’ habits, statistical analysis and compatible with most other tools you really can’t go wrong.

We have been using MailChimp for years and are now a partner.

Mailchimp offers a free version for up to 2000 contacts.

If you need more than this, subscriptions start at £11 a month.

Hootsuite

An absolute necessity if social media is part of your marketing plan. Hootsuite’s primary function is to schedule and design social posts. Making social media a morning’s work rather than a constant at the top of every day’s to-do-list. Plan your marketing strategies in advance and then sit back as Hootsuite posts them for you at the optimal time, no matter what else you have going on.

Subscriptions start at £39 a month (one user)

Canva

A slightly more specialised tool than the rest on this list, but a really useful one. Designing your professional documents and social media posts is time-consuming and difficult to maintain consistency and quality. Canva lets you design posts and documents with ease. Fully customizable templates for all your content. Create your perfect Canva by saving your brand colours and design features.

Canva has a free membership option (that works very well).

HubSpot

More and more of our clients are turning to HubSpot. A customer relationship management system (CRM) that can not only keep track of your emails, clients and customers but actively manages them. Automated email responses and work flows, marketing reports and metrics, integrated forms and links to landing pages. This is a one stop shop for all your marketing needs.

HubSpot offers it CRM for free, this lets you get to grips with it and is very useful.

It’s marketing and sales hubs are ad-ons that cost around £40 a month each for a starting package.

CANDDi

Website analytics are crucial to your marketing success. When deciding which tools to use, make sure you get on that tells you WHO is coming to your website. CANDDi helps you track traffic on your website and lets you know who they are, where they came from, what they looked at and for how long.

This is exceptionally helpful for getting an idea of what is and isn’t working and the kinds of people you’re attracting to your website.

CANDDi starts at £149 a month.

WordPress

WordPress is the world’s leading website building platform. If you’re serious about growing your business and need an easy and intuitive system to help you run and update it, this is the tool for you. Make your own templates for blogs and news. Set out your website exactly the way you want it or hire someone else to set it up and you manage it.

WordPress allows you to create a website for free or £20 a month for a small business subscription.

EventBrite

Eventbrite is an events marketing platform. Easy to use and semi-autonomous it helps bring people to your events with automated reminder emails, links and is compatible with a variety of other tools.

Eventbrite is free to use and then takes a percentage of ticket sales £0.49 + 6.5%(+20% UK VAT) for the professional package.

Don’t charge for tickets, don’t pay fees.

Zoom/Teams

You’re probably familiar with these, but there are many ways to use them. Hosting webinars and podcasts can help grow your audience and increase exposure. They are also great at keeping in contact with clients and international meetings. ZoomInfo is a database that allows you access to all those who have paid zoom accounts whose details you can use in your marketing.

Zoom has a free membership or a small business one for £159.90 a year.

Teams has a free membership (with limited options), or is included with Microsoft 365 which starts at £3.80 per user per month. You cannot purchase teams separately.

YouTube

A highly influential advertising platform, make videos yourself and gain a following or pay to have your adverts on other peoples’. This platform has the added value of high traffic and exposure.

YouTube is free to set up and upload content.

YouTube adverts cost as much or little as you want with daily budgets.

LinkedIn

A business centered social media platform, LinkedIn has immense reach within the business community. A great way to organically grow your following and connect with other like-minded people and potential clients. LinkedIn gives you industries insight, salary insights and much more with a professional business dashboard.

LinkedIn has a free membership that allows you to connect with others.

LinkedIn business membership starts at £39.90 a month.

Google Analytics

The first place to go when looking for information on your website traffic. Track customers and their habits across your site and gain insight into how to better market and sell.

Google analytics is free to use.

Business cards

A physical item may seem out of place on this list, but business cards are still effective business marketing tools. Business cards have been updated and now they can transfer data and information just by being in others vicinity. A great way to keep hold of useful contacts on one small card.

Standard business cards start around £12.57 for 100

Modern data transfer cards start at around £40

Coffee/Beer

Networking is one of the best marketing tools and sometimes it is still done best in person. Social events provide the perfect opportunity to get to know others and their strengths. You could find your perfect client or new employee in the length of a pint.

Your Network

Your network should be your greatest advocates and business marketing tools. When you have done excellent work for someone, be sure to capitalise. Ask for a testimonial to use in your marketing or see if they would recommend you to others. Word of mouth creates a more lasting brand impression.

If you would like to talk through what combination of online tools and marketing support would work for you, give us a call.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image to support article about where to hire a content writer

When should you hire a content writer?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

Four questions before you hire a content writer.

If you have clicked on this blog, chances are you’re already deliberating whether to hire a content writer. Choosing the right time and service, however, can be a mental barrier too many. Hire someone too early and you risk maxing out on overheads before your company can sustain it. Too late and apart from exhausting yourself, you will also hinder your business as it takes up too much of your time.

So let’s break it down and find out if you’re ready to hire a content writer..

How much content do you need to put out?

There are lots of factors, but small and growing businesses need to put out several types of content. There is:

  • Your blog – Potentially once a week
  • Your website – Needs constant updates
  • Social media posts – Twice a week
  • Sales copy – Hopefully often
  • Email campaigns – Once a week
  • Applications for grants – As and when

This adds up to a lot of time writing. Content plans can help with this, allocating time and resources and mapping out exactly what you are going to produce.

If you feel as though you can manage this with your existing team (that might just be you) then it is probably too early to employ a marketing agency or writer. If you don’t think you can handle that all on your own, then think about bringing in some help.

What is the quality of your current content?

So you’ve been doing your own marketing and now thanks to your efforts the business is growing. That’s great, but the more you grow, the more competition you will encounter. Your marketing and content will have to upgrade, as your business does to compete. A good way to test your content quality is through your number of readers. Be sure to set up Google Analytics in order to track how often your pieces are being viewed and compare it to your industry’s average.

Can you consistently produce content in ever greater amounts and quality? If not, think about hiring a marketing agency. They can produce professional content that represents the standard of quality you want associated with your business.

How valuable is your time?

Opportunity costs can sneak up on you, especially your own. Make sure your time isn’t worth more than it costs to hire a writer. Writing can take up an awful lot of your day, so be sure that your time wouldn’t be more valuable elsewhere. Failing to delegate can be detrimental both for your business and your health. If you find yourself still up planning and writing content outside of even business owners hours, maybe it’s time to bring in some help. Avoid the feast and famine trap.

What is your budget?

Agencies and employees cost money but don’t let that put you off. When looking for a marketing agency, find one that specialises in your size of business. This helps get the exact support you need with people who understand your budget.

There are also online content tools to help you out. Tools like Mailchimp and Hootsuite can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, with automated responses, ques of content and much more. They are not a substitute for a person, but if your content demands are just outstretching your available time, make sure you have taken all the help you can get.

Still not sure? Give us a call today and let’s talk about what would work best for you.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

women writing a blog on her laptop - image supporting blog on how often should I write blogs

How often should I write blogs

By A Helping Hand, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

women writing a blog on her laptopAll good articles end with an ‘it depends’. So I will put mine at the beginning so you can make the right inferences for your company as you read through. Rather than giving you a prescriptive answer to the question “How often should I write blogs?”, let’s break it down into 6 questions that will give you an answer.

Question 1. Who do I want to read my blog?

Writing a blog is one thing, writing a purpose-filled blog is another. If you want your blog to bring in new people then the goal is reaching as many people as possible within your target market. This creates a need for more blog postings as growing an audience requires many blogs on different subjects and aspects of business.

If instead, you are writing for a group of people who you think will read most of the content you put out then you want to avoid ‘bombarding’ them with content and keep the blogs less frequent but in greater depth about specifics.

Question 2. How are they going to find my blog?

There are many ways people can find your blogs, but a search engine algorithm is the most common for new traffic. Assuming you want yours to be found by those most likely to possess a sympathetic ear, it is important to know how to make your work appear before your competitors. SEO (search engine optimization) is greatly helped by blogs and their content. New content is favoured as most people looking for information want the most recent accounts possible, this favours a high output of blog posts to always have something new.

Depending on the length of time your business has been releasing blogs however it may be that you have an awful lot of content already out there, but it is ageing and becoming obsolete. Updating your posts can be just as important and if you are a smaller team a lot more viable than writing new ones every day.

If people are coming across your content regularly then it is fair to assume they are interested in your business and have looked at your website (which you should link in your blogs). Make sure to have an obvious opt-in for email updates that will allow you to collect data on your readership and produce much more targeted marketing. Email campaigns are a sure way to reach people that have already found you, but for maximum exposure, it’s a good idea to diversify your content platforms. Social media is a real powerhouse when it comes to locating information, insure any posts about your blogs have the relevant hashtags to your sector and interests. This gives people the most chance of finding you.

Question 3. What should be in my blog?

When deciding what to write in your blog posts keep in mind that it is not what you want to write about but rather what your audience will want to read about. What sector you’re in, how you’ve segmented your market and what you are trying to achieve with your blog are large determining factors. If you are trying to entice your reader to purchase a product or service then the blog should lean towards the shortcomings of life without it. Avoid making sales to obvious, readers are aware there might be underlying reasons for the blog’s existence but it should remain an enjoyable and informative read none-the-less. ‘Bigging up’ your company and achievements is important just ensure it doesn’t sound like bragging or like you are overtly trying to sell something.

Question 4. What do I want my audience to do with the information?

So you have people reading your blogs – great, now what? It might be that your objective is complete already, they read it.  Releasing lots of blog posts can help accelerate brand awareness as the more content available the more chance of people finding it and remembering your brand. Interested readers alone often aren’t enough for small business though, they must create sales leads. This is the tricky part, if you create content on too large a variety of topics it might look like your business isn’t specialised enough, too little and you look unprofessional.  

 

Question 5. What does my content strategy say?

Blogs fall under the marketing umbrella and so it is a good idea to include them in your marketing strategy. This should be an in-detail plan of what is going where and when. Getting inspired by a blog on how often you should post and sticking to it, are very different. Remember when it comes to blog writing, consistency is key. Small businesses are often advised to release 16 blogs a month. This keeps them relevant while not taking up too much time (and budget) for the value they provide. Only you know how much of your business is dependent on blog generated leads so only you can know how much time to dedicate to them. 

Keep in mind all content strategies differ based on a few guiding factors, the size of your company being the first. Larger companies are likely to have better and longer relationships with clients and customers, this means their focus shifts towards fewer blogs in much greater detail. Your sector matters as well, some companies are a lot less dependent on a consistent stream of leads. One or two large clients may be all a small firm can provide for, reducing the amount of content they need to put out. 

Your content strategy should also outline whether you have an inbound (people coming to you) or outbound (you going to others) strategy. Inbound strategies require a greater amount of content as you will need to capture the most amount of interested people as possible. Outbound strategies require less content to avoid a ‘spam’ look and therefore require more careful drafting and a greater sense of quality.

Quality and quantity are often seen as an either-or, but for blog writing each company needs to strike its own balance. No matter what company you are, producing such high-level blogs that mean they are always in development, running overtime or missing the boat on time-sensitive topics are no good. Quantity is of course no good either without sufficient quality. As I said previously each company must find its own balance but a good test is to have someone else read your blog and tell you if what they think of it. If they report what you intended, the blog is finished.

Question 6. What are my resources?

The danger for lots of small businesses is picking a number of blogs to write a week while the pipeline is relatively quiet and then being overwhelmed by work the next week and therefore no content is released. If you are a small or even solo team then overpromising or overstretching yourself/s will only see your level of stress go up and eventually productivity will go down. 

The simple answer to the question “how often should I write blogs” is: the correct number of blogs to put out is the number that you can sustain over a long period. If you are too busy to do this, outsourcing your content creation as you grow is a great way to make sure your content strategy doesn’t fall by the wayside during busy periods.

 

At SME Needs, we’ve been crafting bespoke content strategies for our clients for years. If you’re one of the many businesses with too little time or knowledge to create your own, and without the budget to hire a full-time marketing executive, give us, your virtual marketing director, a call on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image to support article about free ways to market your small business

4 free ways to market your business online

By A Helping Hand, Small Business Marketing

image to support article about free ways to market your small business
There’s a saying that nothing in life is free, which is likely the creation of some, witty marketing executive. However, the possibilities available to businesses in digital marketing, might just be the exception to the rule. Where offline marketing is notoriously costly, digital marketing has lots of opportunities to grow your audience and generate fresh leads.

Well, it’s not exactly “free”, since you have to spend time, rather than money, to make these strategies effective. However, for small businesses with a limited budget, but a lot of drive in their team, this approach can yield fantastic results.

First things first

Before diving headfirst into the digital water, you want to have a few questions in mind:

  1. Who’s your target audience?
    You might create a bold and edgy Instagram campaign, but if your target audience is mostly on LinkedIn, you could be investing your time more wisely. Look at your ideal client (or ideal clients);  what’s their demographic, pain points, their interests? Use this insight to focus your efforts on the places you know your ideal clients are likely to look.
  2. What do you want to get out of this?
    There’s not one way to measure the success of a marketing campaign. If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, then reach, engagement and traffic are the metrics you want to look for. However, if for B2B companies, you’re more likely to measure success by conversions. If the latter is your aim, then don’t fall for the trap of chasing engagement when it doesn’t lead to an increase in sales.

Keep both of these in mind all the time while following through on your digital marketing plan. Time is money, and if you want to make the most out of what you invest, you need to be selective. Now lets look at some of the free ways to market your business online.

Virtual networking

Networking is still the bread and butter of B2B marketing. Luckily (since we can’t leave our houses right now) there’s plenty of ways to network online. The usual trade shows and events are, for the most part, still taking place, albeit online rather than at a conference centre in Stoke (at least you can save on the train fare).

There’s also LinkedIn, which has become an indispensable tool in the world of B2B marketing. LinkedIn’s adjustable search tools make it very easy to find prospects by profession, role and location. Make the sure you follow up connections with a message, explaining why you’ve added them. Use the opportunity to create fewer, deeper connections, rather than casting a wide net.

Email marketing

Email marketing might be considered old hat, but it’s still the most reliable source of leads of B2Bs. If you’re not already making use of email marketing then you should be. If you are, find out how you can increase your performance by 50%. Even if you’re not making sales short term, having the name of your business at the top of your ideal clients’ inbox is a good way stay in their mind when the next spending cycle comes around.

Social media marketing

We’ve already talked about networking on LinkedIn, but that’s not the only free marketing opportunity it offers. If you are willing to spend a little bit of money, then LinkedIn Premium’s Sales Navigator is a great way of directly marketing to prospects. You should also build a professional looking business page, then like, comment and engage as your business. LinkedIn’s algorithms reward time spent and the variety of features you use.

The same goes for Facebook and Instagram. An active and responsive business account will be more visible than ones those that are infrequently used. Plus, posting regular content and replying to comments is a nice way of building an audience into a community. But remember that community doesn’t always equal customers, so do your research by creating a company page on every social media platform going.

Content marketing

Content marketing is another free way to generate interest, while also demonstrating expertise in your industry. The conventional way of doing this is via a blog, either on your own website or on a free blog site like Blogger. Putting out free content is a good way to appear generous and benevolent, while subtly prompting your readers to make contact or add their email to your mailing list.

But in the 2020s there’s far more options out there. Videos are a great way to capture people’s attention and also give a human face to your company. Almost all social media channels now support some sort of video feature and they’re simple enough to feature on your website. Anyone can do it!

Time is moneyfree online analytics tools

Once you’ve tried a few free online marketing strategies, it’s worth using analytics tools to assess which ones are working the best. Free tools like Google Analytics can trace the original source of your website traffic if that’s your marketing goal. Likewise, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have built in analytics tools to show you which of your posts are getting the most engagement and clicks. Time is money, so it’s economical do more of what works and cut out what doesn’t.

To conclude…

I hope this post has given you plenty of free and potentially lucrative free ways to market your business online. Before setting out remember to keep in mind your target audience and your goal. It pays (in time spent on trial and error) to do your research first. Try a couple of strategies and platforms, look at what the data tells you and narrow it down until your generating the most leads per hour spent online marketing as possible.

If you would like to skip the trial and error and cut straight to the chase, you can use our years of digital experience. Call us now

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Time to starting marketing after lockdown

12 Top Tips for Marketing After Lockdown

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Time to starting marketing after lockdownBoris’ roadmap has offered the first realistic timeline for the opening up of the UK economy. This means that business owners are now able to start planning for a future without COVID restrictions. It’s been almost a year since the first lockdown was imposed in the UK and in that time, businesses have had to adapt their marketing to reflect the virtual, remote, new world we found ourselves in.

If all goes well, we will soon be dusting off our old business cards ready to (tentatively) start handing them out to new contacts. But will the post-lockdown marketing environment go right back to how it was, or will some of the changes stick around? In this blog, we’ll take a look at what you can expect for B2B marketing after lockdown.

Start – if you haven’t already

If you stopped marketing to your target audiences during lockdown, now is definitely the time to start again. Ideally you would have never stopped marketing, but sometimes needs must. It’s never too late to start marketing your small business again.

Freshen up on old skills

Chances are, you’re itching to get back to in-person networking. Nothing gets the point across like actually talking to someone, with no dodgy WiFi distortions, or the infamous phrase “you’re on mute”. It’s been a long time since this kind of gathering has been possible, let’s get you some refresher tips.

Listen First

When networking it’s important to listen before talking. First of all, it’s just polite. Secondly, it gives you an actual advantage when networking to know what your contact’s role, experience and personality are before you give them your pitch. That way you can take note of their key details and tailor your pitch so it’s specific to them.

Elevator Pitches

One of the unappreciated benefits of Zoom calls is that you know exactly how long they go on for. Even in short breakout rooms you get a handy reminder when you have one minute to wrap up. In the post-Covid world we won’t have that luxury. Time to sharpen up your elevator pitch. Condense the saleable points of your business in two minutes or less.

Tell Stories

You might have the best data, the smoothest branding, but nothing is better at selling your product or service than a story. The basic tenets of narrative: an empathetic protagonist, a conflict and resolution; beginning, middle and end, coincide brilliantly with the customer journey, so use them. These techniques also work well when networking virtually. Just remember to hit unmute!

Remember to Follow Up

This isn’t something you have to worry about so much when marketing remotely, since almost all virtual interactions like email and LinkedIn leave you with a way to get back in touch. However, in person, you must make that first electronic contract; either on the phone, on Zoom or an email. Opening a dialogue is the first step in building a relationship.

Make a plan

Failing to plan…. etc. Is an old, but true, adage. If you don’t plan, you won’t do the consistent marketing you need to generate a steady flow of leads into your business

Utilise Automations

Now that you’ve actually got places to be, you might need to start employing automations to cover for you while you’re out and about. Email and social media automations, such as Mailchimp and Hootsuite, allow you to plan the publishing of your content in advance. You can read more about marketing automation tools here.

Update Your Case Studies

You might have a fantastic pitch and be a natural salesman face-to-face, but prospects need to know you’re true to your word. Prove it to them with case studies. Make sure they’re informative, well formatted and include a great testimonial from a happy client.

Need a hand measuring with your marketing planning

Click here for more tips

Capitalise on new opportunities!

Alongside this return to the old, there will undoubtedly be some elements of lockdown marketing that will stay part of our everyday. In 2021 a founder/CEO will be using old and new techniques to stay ahead of the curve. Of course, you should have been doing some of this through the lockdown, but if not, it’s better late than never. Here’s what we predict…

New Digital Content

While audio-visual content might have seen a spike to fill the void in an absence of face-to-face interaction, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s going anywhere. Video content in particular is all the rage, with all platforms continuing to widen their video capacity.
Just look at Instagram TV, Facebook Watch and LinkedIn Stories. If you haven’t already, start experimenting with audio-visual content; perhaps a podcast or a video introduction. Some of the content that could be adapted to new mediums are:

  • Product explanation videos.
  • Introductory presentations.
  • Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Case studies and client testimonials.

Virtual Meetings

Love or hate virtual meetings, the likelihood is they’re too convenient to do without. While Zoom fatigue may be very real, it’s better than commuting for an hour just to catch a meeting. It’s still worth investing in good lighting, microphones, speakers, or even professional backdrops to make a good impression when meeting people virtually.

In closing

While this may be mostly conjecture, it’s good to be aware of the changing marketing environment so you can use every tool at your disposal when promoting your business. What’s for certain is the future won’t be the same as the past. In a year when traditional marketing methods were off the table, technology stepped in to pick up the slack. Now that there’s finally a roadmap out of lockdown, we will find ourselves with double the tools needed to market our businesses. Deciding which to use and when will be up to you.

If you need a hand getting your marketing going again after lockdown, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

social media

Which social media marketing platforms are best for my business?

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing Plan

social media

It’s well known that B2B companies tend to use social media platforms a lot less than B2Cs. It’s true that commercial buyers are certainly less likely to make impulse purchases. However, they are still human, and still susceptible to social media marketing. If you can identify which social media platforms your ideal clients are spending their time on, you can generate leads by making sure your business has a visible presence there. In this article we’ll help you work out which social media platform(s) is/are right for your small business marketing.

Go where your ideal clients are

B2B social media effectiveness

While it’s good to promote your brand widely, it’s no good pursuing engagement for engagement’s sake. You should focus your social marketing on the platforms where you know your ideal clients are. But first, you need to know who your ideal client is. To help you out we’ve written a brief description of each and compiled a table of the key demographic differences between the different platforms to help you work out where you should be marketing your business. (Statistics sourced from NaturallySocial and Hootsuite)

Example: If your ideal client is a startup business in an emerging, youth-oriented market, you might consider marketing on Instagram. Similarly, if you’re an established company targeting CEOs with 50+ employees, you’re probably better of sticking to LinkedIn.  

(Graph source: SproutSocial, effectiveness as judged by B2B marketers themselves.) 

1. LinkedIn

The go-to B2B marketing platform. Lots of B2B companies only use LinkedIn because almost all decision makers and CEOs are there. In the UK last year, 86% of B2B businesses had a presence on LinkedIn. Similarly, premium features like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and InMail make it easy to convert into a direct sales tool.  

  • More male (57%). 
  • Mostly popular with young people, especially 25-34yearolds. 

2. Twitter

Most businesses have a Twitter presence, which means it’s a lucrative platform for engaging with clients and competitors. While not as directly business-oriented as LinkedIn, it’s the perfect place to promote your products and drive traffic to your website.  

  • More male (60%). 
  • More even age distribution than the others, the majority under 34.

3. Facebook

Facebook has a lot of features geared towards hosting businesses, however it’s much more useful for B2C than B2B. The way the platform functions means it’s far easier for business pages to engage with individuals than other businesses. Also, it’s seen as a more recreational and informal, rather than professional and commercial network. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of opportunities to promote your brand and market products.  

  • Slightly more male (56%).  
  • Most popular among 25-34-year-olds but still popular with all older demographics. 

4. Instagram

Being a younger platform than the others (literally and demographically) Instagram has yet to develop good B2B potential. At the moment it is best suited to startups, cottage industries and sole traders. However, it’s rapidly developing as a commercial social network and is the most popular platform for young people, so it’s definitely one to watch for the future of B2B social marketing. 

  • Slightly more female (52%). 
  • Most popular among 18-24-year-olds.  

Less is more

If you know the platforms and have good marketing content, there’s clients to be found on all platforms. The real question is, which of them are worth investing time inIt’s best to invest your resources in promoting your business on one or two platforms well, rather than spreading yourself too thin across the whole socialsphere. Take your time, work out your ideal client and find the social networks where they congregate. You might get great engagement from sharing posts on Facebook, but if your engagement is coming from users with no intention of buying from you, there’s little to be gained from it. 

Leave your comfort zone

Perhaps you’re a fan of Twitter. You’ve got a thousand followers and you use it as your main social network and you never really got the hang of Facebook and Instagram. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Twitter is necessarily the best for your business. In some cases, your ideal client is just like you, but in most cases they aren’t. If you find that your audience is on a platform you’re not familiar with, it’s time to leave your comfort zone. If no one in your team has experience with marketing on Facebook, for example, perhaps you could outsource to a freelance social media manager.  

Which social media platforms are generating traffic and leads?

Using social media for your business is about generating interest and developing leads to convert into new clients. Are you checking, and recording, what platforms are driving traffic and how many leads you are getting from each? 

Some social media specialists will say it is all about brand awareness. Whilst people need to be aware of your brand, they also need to do something about itThat means visiting your website or calling you. Google Analytics clearly shows which platforms your website traffic is coming from, so wherever you record your leads (you are recording lead source, right?)make it obvious which is generating the most interest 

In closing…

Social media marketing is a bigger part of B2B marketing than it used to be and trends show that it’s only going to get bigger. Now is the time to dissect the available platforms and start building your presence on the network where your ideal clients are residing.

If you find yourself in a social media minefield, we can help steer your business back in the right direction.

If you're struggling to work out what social media channels you should be using, give us a call and let's talk

Tel: 020 8634 5911

where to start with digital marketing

Digital Marketing: where to start

By A Helping Hand

where to start with digital marketing

It might not be considered “new” anymore, but it’s never too late to start digital marketing. Research suggests that while B2B marketing spending in 2020 has fallen (due to the pandemic), digital marketing spending actually increased, overtaking traditional mediums. Even if your existing offline marketing is providing a solid ROI, perhaps digital could be another strand in your marketing mix.

As we’ll explain more, the beauty of digital marketing is that it can be implemented for no financial cost and can be instantly measured for effectiveness. It’s marketing’s answer to no-win, no-fee. So, why should you start to dabble in digital?

What is Digital Marketing?

First, let’s clarify. Digital marketing is pretty self-explanatory; it’s any marketing that takes place on an online, digital medium, such as email, websites, social media and search engines. In other words, it’s any marketing connected to the internet.

It differs from offline marketing in its implementation, as well as its form. For one, digital marketing is a great leveller which is good news for SMEs. It’s largely free at the point of entry and its customizability allows you to swoop down and target the select few most likely to buy from you. So, for you digital newbies, we’ve detailed why and what you need to start.

Why start Digital Marketing?

While there may be a lot of new skills to get to grips with, there’s a whole heap of new opportunities provided by digital marketing.

1. Do a lot more with a lot less

One of the clearest benefits of digital marketing is that much of it can be done at no financial cost. For example, creating social media profiles for your business and putting out regular content. This might be time-consuming, but for a savvy social networker, it can mean access to a whole new audience without spending a single penny. Alongside email marketing campaigns, blogs and organic SEO, there’s a lot of ways to boost your visibility and engagement with little risk.

2. Opportunities for more focussed, tailored marketing

Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach of offline marketing, digital allows you to tailor, personalise and control what you put out and to whom. Let’s say you own a paper company. Your target audience is likely to be CEOs of publishing companies, of a certain size, in a certain region. The customizability of digital ads allows you to target only those that you consider potential clients, rather than spending money on exposure to an audience unlikely to convert.

3. Chances to measure effectiveness

You don’t have to take my word for it. Another advantage of digital marketing is that you can see the levels of reach, engagement and even track leads back to the original source of interest, in real time. Free platforms, such as Google Analytics, allow you to measure what part of the marketing mix is working and (even more importantly) what isn’t. This is one of the key advantages of digital, since it’s notoriously hard to gauge the ROI of offline marketing methods until long after the fact, if ever. With digital, you can use this readily available information to cut out the dead weight and reinvest in more lucrative marketing channels.

What you need to start Digital Marketing

To make the most of the opportunities afforded by digital, there are a few things you’ll need.

digital marketing tools

1. Digital literacy

Do you, or someone in your team, have the requisite IT skills to implement your own internet marketing? Similarly, the tone of platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn are different from offline platforms. Do you know how to adapt your current copy to fit the distinct tone of different digital platforms? If the answer to either of these is no, consider whether it’s worth training you current staff, or outsourcing to a marketing specialist.

2. Time and talent

The possibilities for user engagement on digital platforms are some of their best features. Clients feel valued when you’re contactable via comments or direct messages. However, this is time consuming. You want to ensure you have the right talent available to cover the social media management. Similarly, the free endeavours like creating original blog content take time and effort. However, you don’t necessarily have to hire or outsource. Here are some examples of marketing tools on the market that can help.

3. A cutting edge

Is your messaging clear and convincing enough to stand out online? The abundance of free marketing space that digital platforms have created means that you have to rise above your competitors. Your message, pain points and ideal client should be worked out in your digital marketing plan if you want to cut through the noise and be noticed by your target market. Make sure you have talent available to you to craft a clear digital strategy before diving in the deep end.

To conclude…

Digital is already the dominant form of B2B marketing. It’s not a question of whether you should be doing it, but how you can incorporate it into your current marketing mix with the best outcome. Digital platforms offer SMEs the potential to get a better overall ROI than with offline media alone. With most digital platforms and analytics tools being free to use, you can have fun experimenting without risking capital. However, that isn’t to say it’s free and easy. If you learn how to play the game; engage with clients, appeal to the algorithms that determine SEO, etc. digital marketing could be the most lucrative strand of your marketing plan.

If you need help with anything discussed here, from creating a tailored marketing plan, creating original content, or managing social media, we have the expertise and resources to help you integrate digital into your marketing mix. Contact us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

Ideal Client

How many Ideal Clients do you have?

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Small Business Marketing

Ideal Client

The “Ideal Client” is a phrase used a lot in business. It refers to that archetypical business that: generates revenue; is the right size for your business; is easy to communicate with; and fits well with your own company culture. It’s the map of a theoretical perfect client against which to measure your real prospects. It’s important to know what your Ideal Client looks like so you can spot them when they appear. The term is a bit misleading, however. Most businesses don’t have an Ideal Client, but rather Ideal Clients.

Unless you’re just starting out it’s unlikely you’ll have just one. The Ideal Client is an essential term in B2B marketing, so it’s well worth keeping in mind when looking for new clients, as well as when dealing with your current clients.

Why do you need to map an Ideal Client?

image to support article about ideal clients

Think back to you last networking event (in person or virtual), how many people did you hear say: “I want to talk to anybody who owns a car (for example).” It happens all the time, even though it’s clearly not the most effective way to go. Think how much more effective the speakers pitch would be if they said: “I want to talk to people with old, petrol car, with bad mileage, in the Croydon area, looking to upgrade to something more fuel efficient.” The fewer people in the room this applies to are suddenly listening.

The scatter-gun approach is never going to work. At best it’s bland and impersonal, at worst it’s white noise in the background while your potential clients tune out. You want to focus on the clients with the need, means and intent to buy. It makes sense. Every pound spent marketing to this ideal audience will have a much better return on investment than a campaign targeting everyone with a car.

Picture it like this. Since your marketing budget is finite, it’s as though it’s being split between everyone in your target market. If your budget is £10,000 an your target market is 60 million, that’s not going to get you very much traction. The more you focus your marketing down to your Ideal Clients, the more likely you are to sell.

Why would you need more than one ideal client?

Unless you’re in your first year of trading, it’s unlikely that you only have one Ideal Client. If you sell to different regions, or several products or services, it’s savvy to map out several Ideal Clients. The following are a few reasons you might want to do that and how.

1. Your products or services are used in different industry sectors

You might only sell one product or service. Still, the way that product or service is used and the result it delivers might vary from sector to sector. The product or service stays the same, but the way you talk about it will be different depending on the sector it’s marketed in.

The Ideal Client Grid

Product/IndustryProduct #1Product #2Product #3Product #4Product #5
Industry #1ABCDE
Industry #2FGHI
Industry #3JKL
Industry #4MNOP

To summarise, if your product is:

  • Bought by the same decision maker,
  • delivering the same results,
  • used in the same way (even in multiple industries)…

Then it’s the same Ideal Client. Likewise, if more than one product is bought by the same decision maker in the same industry, it’s probably just the one Ideal Client.

2. You’re expanding your portfolio

If you’re adding a new product or service, it’s highly likely you will have at least one additional Ideal Client. This is simply because your new product (not including an upgrade of an original product) will deliver something new. It will solve new issues and problems. This may help your existing client base or it may address a completely new one. You need to map this out in order to identify the right marketing mix for each.

3. You’re targeting a new industry sector

Pain points in different industry sectors that purchase your product or service are unlikely to be totally distinct. There may be some overlap in the issues faced by a charity and a law firm, for example. But you wouldn’t use the same language or marketing mix to target both. Each time you look to specifically target a new industry sector, you have yourself a new Ideal Client.

Are your current clients ideal clients?

The idea of turning away potential clients seems to go against common sense, but in the long run, it can pay to be picky. Taking on all willing clients is a quick fix business plan that could lose you money in the long run. There are several possible disadvantages to taking on less-than-ideal clients:

  • They might be unwilling or unable to purchase more products/services from you.
  • Or they might be too big for your business to cope with.
  • They could be too small to be worth your time.
  • Perhaps they’re difficult to deal with.
  • They might not be the kind of business you want to be associated with.
  • Are they stagnant or declining?
  • Maybe they’re not turning a profit.

While these companies might be happy to give you their money, they could end up costing you more down the road. This also applies to your existing clients. Businesses that have been with you for a long time might no longer reflect your Ideal Client. If you have a number of current clients that don’t fit you Ideal Client description, you need to work out what’s the best thing to do. More on this in a little while.

What are your options with non-ideal clients?

As for your existing customers, what are your options if you find that not all of them fit your Ideal Client profiles?

  1. Bin them: A drastic option especially if this is the majority of your current clients.
  2. Keep them: If they are profitable, there’s no need to terminate their contracts.
  3. Add a new Ideal Client to your portfolio: If you have a number of clients that are very similar. In other words, using the same products in the same ways, this may be another profitable target audience.

The number of Ideal Clients you have determines the complexity of your marketing. The more you have, the more marketing you have to do to successfully target them and deliver sales. Most small businesses have 2 to 5. The most we’ve seen is 20, but that was a business selling internationally, with offices on three continents.

To conclude…

Only you know the answer to how many Ideal Clients you should have. It all depends on the size, variety and location of your business. What’s most important is having a clear picture of your Ideal Clients, so you can spot them when they appear. The better you get to know your Ideal Clients, the more chance you have to make lasting connections with businesses on the same, profitable, trajectory as your own.

If you would like help mapping your Ideal Clients and tailoring your marketing mix to them, give us a call on 020 8634 5911, or click here.

 

is my marketing working?

Is my marketing working?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Measure

Marketing is a complex art at the best of times, and sometimes the means of measuring your marketing can end up muddying the water. There are a whole lot of calculations, metrics and analytics out there. In a department full of jargon, what’s the best way to see if your marketing is working? In this blog, we’ll walk you through the process of effectively gauging your marketing performance.
is my marketing working?

How can you measure your marketing?

Some of the most common ways of breaking down your marketing statistics into something more manageable is with simple figures, such as bounce rate, click-through rate, engagement, etc. No metric on its own can tell you all you need to know about your marketing performance, it depends on your goal. Let’s unpick some of these terms and what they can tell you about how well your marketing is working.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your website after viewing the first page, rather than moving on to others. This might look like a useful barometer for how well your marketing is working. However, it’s not as simple as that. The bounce rate only represents movement, not time spent on each page. For example, if a suspect spends ten minutes on your homepage, reads your mission statement and calls you from the phone number provided, that would still count as a bounce. Despite the fact that your marketing has worked in that case. It’s useful in conjunction with other metrics, but be wary of using this figure alone to measure how well your marketing’s working.

Engagement

Google Analytics, one of the best free tools for measuring your marketing, let’s you see visitor engagement. This tells us how long visitors have spent on your website and how many pages deep they went. This complements the bounce rate metric well and together they can give a rather good impression of how usable and engaging your website is. However, an engaging website alone won’t bring the clients in. You need to know that your website is attracting the right sort of visitors (those that have a need you can solve and the cash to pay for it), and that’s persuading these visitors to make contact.

Contact

The number of emails and phone calls you receive is another metric used to assess how well your marketing’s working. This is arguably better than the bounce rate or engagement, since it actually delivers potential clients to your inbox. But, once again, be careful what conclusions you draw from this metric. Your marketing may be very effective at drawing interest, but if that interest isn’t from people with the inclination and means to buy from you, it’s not the optimal use of your time. Ideally your marketing will attract genuine leads and prompt unsuitable clients to qualify themselves out. This way you can save time building relationships and writing offers for people with no intent to buy, leaving you free to spend more time developing your real prospects.

Conversion rate

Take a second and ask yourself; what’s the purpose of my marketing? Getting new clients, increasing revenue or any form of growing your business is probably the answer you have in mind. If there’s one metric you do need to remember, it would be the conversion rate. That is, the number of individuals that are converted from prospects into clients. The other metrics are useful at indicating how many prospects might turn into clients, but don’t forget that conversion rate is the real king of the KPIs.  Don’t get lost in metrics when the proof is in the pudding. If your conversion rate isn’t what you want it to be, diagnose the problem and fix it fast!

Shoring up your sales pipeline

Marketing is an investment intended to get results. You can make sure your marketing is working to increase your conversion rate by breaking it down into a sales pipeline. Every business should have a sales pipeline, but how many steps it includes is up to you. The way we usually look at it is like this:

  1. Suspects → Prospects
  2. Prospects → Qualifieds
  3. Qualifieds → Clients

You want a good conversion rate between each of these stages to be sure that you’re marketing is working effectively. Take the time to work out your conversion rate as a percentage and see which stage of the pipeline could be letting you down.

Where are you losing prospects?

If your business isn’t growing, it’s time to see where the leak is. Look at the conversion rate from one stage to the next to work out where your marketing could be letting you down and how to correct it.

sales pipeline

Before the pipeline

First off, you need a good stream of visitors coming to your website and social media profiles. If your enquiries, engagement and website traffic are low, it might be worth checking your SEO and branding. Make sure your website scores highly and that your branding is eye-catching enough to draw interest from potential clients. It might also be worth considering paid-SEO or advertising to boost your visibility amongst the your target audience.

Suspects into prospects

So, your website, socials and advertising are performing well. But are getting enough enquiries? If the conversion rate from suspect (potential client) and prospect (first contact) is lower than you would like, there are ways to change that. What on your website is stopping people from following up? Is contact information easy to find? Do you have multiple ways of being contacted? Is the call yo action convincing enough? If you’ve answered yes to these questions and the phone isn’t ringing, it might be time to take the initiative and approach your suspects first. Software like CANDDi can help you track visitor behaviour and see who’s likely to buy.

Prospects into qualified

This conversion, from the initial enquiry to a firm offer, is one of the most important in the pipeline. If you’re only qualifying a small percentage of prospects, it’s likely that your marketing needs to be tailored more towards your ideal client. You may be attracting a lot of attention, but if it’s not from people with the means and intent to buy, frankly, they’re not worth your time if it could be better spent developing relationships with real prospects.

Qualified into sales

Once a lead has been qualified, the responsibility for making the sale falls to your sales team. If your conversion rates between all the stages up to conversion are good, then your marketing is functioning as it should. If your business still isn’t growing, then maybe the problem lies elsewhere.

How can sales find out how they failed to sell?

The best solution is often the simplest: just ask. Prospects that don’t buy tend to fall into three categories:

  • Those that were won by the competition.
  • The ones that didn’t buy from anyone.
  • Those that shouldn’t have been qualified through your sales pipeline.

If you find that most of the clients you failed to win fall into the latter category, it might be worth reassessing your ideal client, or adjusting your marketing to appeal to the right kind of buyer, whilst simultaneously filtering out unsuitable leads.

The main thing to remember is that marketing’s purpose is to grow your business. So don’t bother improving engagement, bounce rate, or other metrics if your revenue isn’t rising. Follow the steps above, look into your pipeline and diagnose the problem. There are a number of different fixes available any weak points in your marketing plan.

If you would like help with the diagnostics, treatment and cure of your marketing ailments, why not contact us? Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

 

 

SME Needs' four stage marketing process

11 Questions to ask yourself before outsourcing your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

Considering outsourcing your marketing?

If your business has more than 40 staff, stop reading here, as this isn’t for you.  If your business has less than 40 staff, please continue. This is a set of questions to ask yourself before you look at whether you should be outsourcing your marketing.

1. How old is your business?

Sort of a trick question, because it doesn’t matter. You need to be marketing your business from the moment you decide to start it, to the moment you close it down or sell it. Whether your business is one day old, or 10,000 days old, you can consider outsourcing your marketing if it fits the following criteria…

2. How big is your business?

We (sort of) answered that question in the first paragraph, but let’s put a little more meat on the bones around what was said before.
The reason for putting the arbitrary number of 40 people before you was because, at that point, your marketing is most likely complex enough to need to have an internal marketing team. Let’s ask some better questions…

3. How many products or services do you sell?

The more products or services you sell, the more complex your marketing needs. More so if they’re unrelated. There will come a point where outsourcing doesn’t make sense, as it would be more expensive than having your own marketing team.

4. How many markets do you sell to?

By this we mean industry sectors and countries. Each industry sector will need to see different marketing because, even if they use the same product/service, they will probably use it slightly differently, use it to solve a slightly different need or use different terminology. You have specific terminology and jargon you use – they will all have their own too. Each one needs a different programme of activity.

5. What marketing skills do you have internally?

For this question, let’s assume you have developed your own marketing strategy and plan, so you know what skills you need. Which of them do members of your team possess?
How many good writers do you have?

  • Can anyone build you a website?
  • Have any of your team got experience running Google Ads campaigns?
  • Which people in your team can write, build and run email marketing campaigns?
  • Have you or anyone in your team any experience of Google Analytics or Search Console so they can assess the performance of your online marketing?
  • Any photographers?

You get the picture. If you have the skills internally, you may not need to outsource.

6. Are these skills available?

It doesn’t matter how good your third line support engineers are if they are busy supporting your clients. There is no sense in using an animation expert to write and schedule your social media posts if they have no time available.

It is a simple question of priorities and opportunity cost. If you or your team are better at your/their core skill(s) and you can generate more money doing that, then you are better off outsourcing.

7. Do you want to do your marketing?

Nobody should do what they don’t like doing. Even if you are a very good marketer, if you don’t like it, you are better off spending your time running your business than doing the marketing.

8. What should you spend on marketing management?

If you are, lets say, VC-funded, you’ll have the money available to start with an in-house marketing team from day one, or at least early on.  If not, it doesn’t make sense to recruit until you are spending, at least, a Marketing Manager’s salary on outsourcing your marketing. An entry-level Marketing Manager will earn around £25K per annum, but if you want someone with experience, you need to add a further 60% onto that. Including NI and pension contributions, that means about £45K per year.

An outsourced Virtual Marketing Director will cost more per day, but you are paying for huge amounts of experience, flexibility, and convenience. If you are using much more than one day a week of marketing management time, you should start reviewing the situation.

9. How many marketing service providers do you use?

If you’re managing your own marketing and use a number of different suppliers, you are likely to be using up a lot of time. SEO, website (often different agencies), email, PPC, content etc. All will have demands on your time. If they aren’t, that is worrying.

The more service providers you are using, the more likely it is that you should be outsourcing your marketing management. A virtual Marketing Director will ensure they are delivering and aren’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

10. When you think you need one, you actually need at least two.

At the point you start considering bringing your marketing in-house, you should stop and think about what you want bringing to bring in-house. Is it the marketing doing, or the marketing managing? A good Marketing Manager won’t want to do much of the doing. The marketing doer is unlikely to, yet, have the skills necessary to do the strategic side of the manager’s role.

Bringing at least some of the marketing doing in-house can make sense relatively quickly, particularly if you do a lot of social media and content marketing. However, that person then needs to be managed too. Do you have the time and expertise to ensure they are doing what they should be doing? Using the outsourced provider to help you manage the “doer” can be highly effective.

11. Did you choose the right Marketing Manager?

The aim of all good Virtual Marketing Directors is to help you grow the business until it makes sense for you to bring things in-house.  It means they have helped you grow substantially in the time they are working with you.  Recruiting, as you know, isn’t always easy. It makes sense to keep the outsourced help for a while after you recruit. They will need to:

  • Ensure the new Marketing Manager is brought up to speed on what has been happening
  • Handover all the relevant usernames, passwords etc.
  • They can also be there as a backup – just in case…

Making the choice whether to outsource or in-house your marketing management isn’t simply a question of budgets. There is so much more to consider.

Once you have gone through the questions to ask yourself before outsourcing your marketing, and it seems like outsourcing is the right answer for your business, let’s talk about how it works. Give us a call, on 020 8634 5911, or click on the button below.

Networking from home

8 tips on how to improve your business networking from home

By A Helping HandNo Comments

Networking from home

Networking doesn’t have to stop just because you’re working from home

Virtual networking can seem daunting to people unfamiliar with online platforms. There are, however, some advantages. In the time before Covid-19, to network meant a lot of legwork: Trade shows; industry events; lunches; parties; etc. Now, for the moment, we’re mostly stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect your network. As with most things in 2020, there’s plenty of online alternatives to the traditional ways of networking. By now you’re already a pro at #WFH, now it’s time to start acing #NWFH (networking from home). We’ve prepared for you 8 tips on how to improve your business networking from home, ensuring you are a top virtual networker in 2020 and 2021.

Where to do your business networking from home?

1. Your existing network

Your first port of call should always be your existing network. Take a step back and think about why you’re networking in the first place: to develop leads for your contacts. You’ll be far better off developing fewer, deeper, contacts than you will be chasing new ones. As a general rule of thumb, you should spend at least as much time maintaining your network as you should expanding it.

Those business cards on your desk

If you haven’t thrown them all away as part of a lockdown tidy-up, make use of the business cards you collected earlier in the year. Get back in touch and renew the relationship you started – or promised to start.

2. Social mediaLinkedIn logo

You can’t talk about networking in 2020 without mentioning LinkedIn. Undeniably, it’s a fantastic tool to easily follow, find and connect with people in your industry. But be sure to use it the right way and don’t fall into lazy practices. For example, don’t fire out dozens of cold requests. Instead, send a few requests to the people who will be most useful to you and to whom you can offer something in return. You should try to follow up requests with a message explaining why you want to connect. If you’ve not met before, tell them how you discovered them: was it via a recommendation, or from something they published? Tell them! People like to know that they’re being noticed, so it doesn’t hurt to start with a compliment (as long as it’s genuine).

3. Business virtual networking events

Besides being a vital skill in business, networking is also a huge industry in itself. Trade bodies such as London Chamber are still hosting networking events for their members on video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom. If you can live without the canapés, it’s well worth signing up for these events to stay up to date with developments in your industry and make contact with your peers.

4. Webinars

Similarly, lots of businesses are replacing in-person events with webinars. These events are a fantastic opportunity to learn something new and also demonstrate your industry knowledge. If you ask the right questions, come up with some sharp analysis in the breakout rooms, or better yet, volunteer as a guest speaker! Just like at in-person networking events, use the platform to demonstrate your value as a contact and watch the connections come to you.

What should you do when virtual networking?

1. Look professional

Just because you’ve been working from home all day in your comfy slippers doesn’t mean you should let your standards slip when it comes to virtual networking. There are a few easy tips to look professional via webcam (even if you’re still in your slippers):

  • Use books or files or whatever you have available to raise your laptop to eye level. This will make it appear as though you’re making eye contact, which is still important with virtual networking as it is with in-person networking.
  • Wear an appropriate top, brush your hair and adjust the lighting (if possible) to make yourself presentable (even if it’s just from the waist up).
  • Make sure anyone else in your house is aware that you’re in a meeting and so won’t disturb you.
  • Check your background: Bookshelves, plants or plain walls are fine. Otherwise, you can make use of Zoom’s ability to add a virtual background if your actual background doesn’t exactly scream “professional”.

2. Master Zoom etiquette

Beyond those first appearances, there’s also some nuanced Zoom etiquette that’s important to grasp when virtual marketing:

  • If you’re listening to a presentation or just not talking for a while, make sure to mute yourself to cut out background noise.
  • Say hello and goodbye, but only if you’re not interrupting. If someone is talking, say hello in the chat section instead.
  • As with in-person networking, try not to check your phone, leave your seat or anything that might suggest you’re not paying attention.

3. Boss the breakout rooms

At virtual networking events and webinars, just like in-person events, you’re not just there for the main event. You also want to (virtually) rubs shoulders with the other guests. Zoom has tried to replicate the mingling that occurs with “breakout rooms”; small groups where guests at virtual events can take a break to chat and catch up with each. Make sure you’re ready with something to say: an observation from the talk; an insight from your own business. Of course, remember to listen too. There’s only a set number of minutes in a breakout room before the host pulls you out, so make them count!

4. Foster deep connections

Building on this last point, the deeper you can establish your connections, the better. Your best connections have your business at the forefront of their minds, ready to recommend when someone enquires about a product or service you provide. Developing connections isn’t the same as developing leads; if done right, these deep connections can be a gateway to many more leads. The time you spend developing them should reflect that potential. So, to take us back to the first (and most important) point, build on your existing connections first, before developing new ones.

In some ways, networking in 2020 has been made easier: There’s no need to travel and you don’t have to shell out for dinner and drinks. And in others, it’s been made harder: You can’t circulate round a packed conference or use body language as effectively. It’s been a real mixed bag, but the opportunities are still there, just on different platforms. Some of the rules may have changed, like with the rapidly evolving Zoom etiquette, but at the end of the day, virtual networking is not too different to networking in person. These skills are easily transferable. Even when we’re able to shake hands again, the practical and logistical benefits of virtual networking means that it’s likely to stick around for certain events. Hopefully the tips in this blog will help you networking effectively both online and offline.

We hope this has helped you think more clearly about your business networking, whether working from home or, in the future, when we are back out meeting face to face.

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How to market over the Christmas holiday

How to manage your marketing over the Christmas period

By A Helping HandNo Comments

What to do, and not do, in readiness for the festive season

It’s time to think about Christmas marketing (and I don’t mean glühwein and sausages). It can be a stressful time of year, more so for people running their own small business. It might be your only week off in the year and let’s face it, you have enough to worry about with Christmas presents without worrying about social media presence as well!

To save you some of that stress, we’ve put together a guide for what you need to do (and more importantly, what you don’t need to do) with B2B marketing over the Christmas holiday. Follow these five tips to save time doing what’s essential, so you can spend the rest of your holiday doing what’s really important.

1. Don’t be Elf!

It’s easy to go overboard with your Christmas marketing activity. It’s an easy aesthetic to affect, and there’s Christmassy content puns by the sleigh-full. Just remember that if you’re not open for business there’s no point drumming up trade. Also, Christmas isn’t for everybody, for faith among other reasons. What’s seen as festive to some can come across as tasteless or tacky to others.

But don’t be a total Scrooge either. Keep it simple and professional: say Merry Christmas to your current clients and save the heavy selling for the New Year.

2. Update your business hours

If you’re shutting up shop for the Christmas holidays make sure to update your opening hours. It’s unlikely that you’ll receive enquiries at this time, but if potential clients don’t know you’re closed, you could lose out on potential leads.

Quick Tip: Make sure you update your opening hours across all your visible platforms: your website; LinkedIn; Google My Business; Facebook or any others you may have.

3. Schedule your Christmas marketing

You might have specific events, offers or updates to share over the Christmas holiday, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your hard earned holiday hunched over your laptop. Twitter has a new feature that allows you to schedule tweets for a later date from its desktop app. Other tools, like Hootsuite, allow you to schedule posts on many more platforms. Similarly, Mailchimp can schedule any seasonal emails, and social media posts, you might want to send to your clients. If you make good use of these marketing automation tools, you might even be able to close your laptop for a while.

4. Take a break!

Okay, now you can put your feet up. No, really. Why not close your laptop as well? It can be hard for small business owners to switch off, but if you don’t your family won’t be happy and you will get both cranky and tired. Follow the advice given in the previous points and you can afford to relax. If you’re not open for business, there’s no point in marketing. Over the holidays, your prospects aren’t buying and you’re not selling, so ease off the promotion. Remember that you are one of the company’s biggest assets! Save yourself from burning out and switch off, even if it’s just for a little while.

5. Strategise for the year ahead

Once you’ve taken some family time, you can, if you wish, go back to work. It’s worth taking some time during your quietest couple of weeks to take a birds-eye-view of your marketing strategy. Make use of free analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to see what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. With the New Year just around the corner it’s the best time to pivot your strategy, to double up on what works and cut out what doesn’t.

 

That concludes our five steps to help you market over Christmas, and hopefully enjoy a bit more of your holiday. The main thing to remember is that there’s no point marketing if you’re not currently selling! 

Instead, to recap:

  • Update your opening hours and let your clients know when you’re closed.
  • Queue any necessary social posts or emails via automation tools.
  • Take a moment to measure, assess and plan your marketing for next year.
  • Rest and recuperate for a busy new business year!

We hope this helps and gives you a very Merry Christmas!

image to support article on how to avoid the biggest errors made when blog writing

How to avoid the biggest errors made when blog writing

By A Helping Hand, Small Business MarketingNo Comments

More than 10 million blog posts are published every day! When do you next plan to add to the mountain of content out there?  As we spend a lot of time either writing content, getting content written, or checking the writing of others, we thought we would pick the brains of a number of experts we know. The aim: to help you avoid the biggest errors made in blog writing.

Our panel come from various parts of the writing world:

  • Professional content writers
  • Journalists
  • Authors
  • Public relations specialists

Between them, they’ve written millions of words, putting them in the right order to make people want to read more. Let’s now look at what they have to say…

1. Don’t forget who your audience isimage of Dr Claire Trevien

Dr Claire Trevien, a content specialist, says a common error she sees is people forgetting who their audience is. All too often she sees content that is focused on making the company look good or on details that aren’t really of interest to anyone external to the company.

You have to remember “what’s in it for them?” and make the content useful, or entertaining, or inspiring. Otherwise, why would anyone bother reading it?

2. Write what your audience wants to readimage of Chantal Cooke, PR specialist

Along a similar thread, Chantal Cooke,  from Panpathic PR, says from a PR perspective the biggest mistake she sees (again and again) is businesses focusing on what they want to say, not what journalists (or their audience) want to hear.  Yes, of course, the point of PR and creating content is to get your message out to a wider audience, but it needs to be framed and delivered in a way that people want to engage with it. Otherwise, at best, you’re wasting your time and at worst you’re irritating people and damaging your reputation. So before creating any content make sure it passes the ‘so what?’ test. In other words, if your audience will read it, shrug, and go ‘so what?’ – you’ve failed the test.

Whenever you are creating content, for any reason, about any message, ask yourself ‘what’s in it for the reader/listener/viewer? Why would they care?’ If you can answer that question, you’re well on your way to creating great content.

3. Remember the search engines too

Whilst we agree completely with both Chantal and Claire, it would be remiss of us to not mention the search engines at this point. You are producing content because you want to be found by your target audience and get them engaging with you. To do that, you have to be ranked in the search engines, so you do have to follow their guidelines too. by writing for your audience, you will meet many of their guidelines, but remember your meta descriptions, sentence length and keywords. If you have a WordPress website, Yoast is a great plugin that will really help.

Think of Google, et al, as a secondary audience, but one you do have to at least nod towards.

4. Remove the formalityimage of Nicole Johnston

Nicole Johnston is a ghost writer and writing coach. She thinks that people think that to come across ‘professional’ they need to write in formal language and use technical phrases for credibility. Nicole says the best approach with content is to write as you speak.  There are two advantages to this:

  • it builds connection and trust.  People feel as though they get to know us through our content and are therefore more likely to buy from us.
  • No-one wants to read formal or technical language.  Simple, ‘down to earth’ language will not only communicate our point better but will make us seem more accessible.

Nicole suggests that we almost need to ‘unlearn’ the academic and ‘correct’ way of writing to communicate effectively with real people.  Einstein said ‘If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.’ Nicole agrees with him.

Author and journalist, Emma Bamford,  agrees with this and says people try too hard. A lot of the time, when non-professional or less experienced writers write content, they get so worried about sounding good that they go a bit over the top and/or formal.

Emma recommends following George Orwell’s advice. In his 1946 essay “Politics in the English Language”, wrote: “Never use a long word when a short one will do.” Clarity is key; ditch the thesaurus and write in a similar way to how you would speak (but with better grammar).

Emma gave us three more errors she sees regularly:

5. Stop overusing adjectives and adverbsimage of Emma Bamford

When people write marketing copy, they often think that if they pile on the superlative adjectives, it’ll make their product seem amazing and people will be clicking the ‘Buy’ button like there’s no tomorrow. In truth, it can easily become too much, and have a ring of falsity.

Emma recommends that you:

  • Cut the adjectives and adverbs (the describing words),
  • Let the actual facts and features of the product or service do the selling.
  • Avoid overdone, meaningless descriptors such as ‘sumptuous’ like the plague. You might have used that word in copy/content, but have you ever said it out loud in conversation? I’m betting not…

Gary Adams, a financial journalist, also highlighted the use of additional, and unnecessary words. He gave a few examples:

  • Nobody has ever risen ‘down’ so why rise ‘up’?
  • You could just swap something rather than swap it ‘out’.
  • ‘Interestingly’, if you prefix a point with that word, it probably describes the exact opposite.
  • Do you expand ‘inwards’?

6. Cut out the jargonimage of Gary Adams

You spend your whole day using the jargon of your industry. You know it, you love it and your team knows exactly what you are talking about. That doesn’t mean your target audience does, however. Using too much jargon is highly likely to confuse your audience, so cut it out.  Your target audience wants to know how you can help them, not how many big words you know. For more on this topic, you should read one of last year’s blogs.

Gary supports this point and adds that the social media world has created a new type of jargon. Witness the change from investment ‘baskets’ to investment ‘buckets’ and from ‘embracing’ something to ‘leaning in’ for an example of how quickly pointless change is taken up on a global scale and how something descriptive quickly becomes a slogan, something used thoughtlessly. Endless repetition of ever-more refined phrases will steal your identity. It also dates your work.

7. Using the active voice is best

“I’m telling you – avoid the passive voice.”

“You’re being told by me to avoid the passive voice.”

Which sounds better to you? Both sentences mean the same thing, but the first version is in the active voice, and the second is in the passive. Passive adds distance between writer and reader. If you find it tricky working out if you’re writing in the passive voice, look out for tell-tale words like “being” and “by”. Check that the subject (the doer) in the sentence comes before the verb (the doing word), rather than after it.

8. Use the right wordimage of Maia Morris, journalist and sub-editor

The English language doesn’t always make this easy, with many words being very similar, but Maia Morris, a journalist and sub-editor, lists this as one of her biggest bugbears. You will be able to think of many different examples, but this is the one Maia gave:

  • To complement is to complete something, supplement it, enhance it, or bring it to perfection. For example, your accessories may complement your dress.
  • To compliment is to give praise. For example, if I were to say that you have a very nice turtle, this would be a compliment to both you and your turtle.

The mixing up of to, too and two, as well as your and you’re are frequently seen too.

9. Missing the possessive apostrophe

Maia also gave us this one. Saying it is one of Maia’s bugbears will keep her happy. If you said it was one of Maias bugbears, you would expect to face her wrath!

10. Over-use of punctuation

Maia also really hates it when she sees people over-using exclamation marks!!!!!!

11. Don’t go on too long

Shorter is almost always better, when it comes to content length. Get in, say what you want to say (clearly, cleanly and in active voice), and get out.

Brian McGee has a journalist background, is a qualified teacher and over 20 years’ experience in creating content. He gave us three tips to look out for

12. Never Deleteimage of Brian McGee

Brian says just keep writing, however much the words don’t seem right for now. You can go back and improve it in the next draft: delete, polish and craft then. Not before…

13. Remember the three sections

Brian says there is always a beginning, middle, end. It’s better still if your conclusion links back to the start of your writing, even if it’s a discreet nod. That doesn’t mean you need to draft in a linear way. You have more ideas about the conclusion after that bracing walk? Ignore the introduction and get (happily, here’s hoping) drafting.

14. Think flow

Brian’s final tip is that if the transition from one idea to another jars, record that in the draft. Seeing the shortcomings of the current version is progress too.

What have we missed?

If there are any key blogging errors we’ve missed in this list (we’re sure there are), add them as a comment below. In the same manner, if you disagree, tell us why…

To conclude

If you can avoid the biggest errors made in blog writing, it can make the difference between you wasting your time and you attracting your next big client. Writing styles and best practice changes over time, so these points may well be redundant in a few year’s time, as Gary points out above. When you’re next planning a content piece for your business, why not try some of these points. See how much of a difference it makes to the flow of the article. More importantly, look at your performance metrics in a few weeks’ time and see if there is a difference.

We hope the tips provided here will help you to improve your content generation and improve the performance of your content marketing. However, if you find that you simply don’t have time to produce the quality content you want, or you want someone to review what you have written, get in touch. Call us on 020 8634 5911 or email us on SMEgrowth@smeneeds.co.uk

What to do when a prospect doesn't buy

What To Do When A Prospect Doesn’t Buy

By A Helping HandNo Comments

What to do when a prospect doesn't buy

So, you found the perfect prospect through LinkedIn. You made first contact, an amazing introduction. Over a few weeks you built your relationship and waited until the time was right. Then  you hit them with the pitch… and they don’t buy it.

First off, it’s not the end of the world! It might be painful to fail in your pitch to a prospect you’ve spent weeks or even months buttering up, but you can’t win them all. At least not the first time around.

What’s important in this situation is not to sulk, and make sure your next step is in the right direction. They said no to your offer, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed. There’s several steps you can take to keep your foot in and catch that prospect the next time around.

At the point of purchase…

At the point of conversion there’s three things that can happen:

  1. They don’t buy at all
  2. They buy from a competitor
  3. They buy from you (hooray!)

Before we look at what you need to do, let’s look at why they may have made this decision…

1. If they don’t buy at all

Don’t be too hard on yourself (or your sales team). There’s reasons why prospects don’t buy.

  • Cost: Maybe your prospect just doesn’t have room in their budget right now. This doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with your pitch, or that they won’t buy from you at a later date.
  • Priority: Perhaps there’s other more pressing purchases for your prospect to make before they buy your product.
  • Market forces: Recessions, price of goods and other external factors (global pandemics, for example) are beyond the control of yourself and your client and can make it impossible to buy.

2. They buy from a competitor

Ouch. It’s not nice to learn you’ve lost a prospect to a competitor. First, ask yourself why they went with the competitor. This is usually for three main reasons:

  • Price: If your competitor has a cheaper product, it’s possible that they’ve made a promise they can’t deliver on. It’s an old adage that “if you buy cheap you buy twice”, but if your competition fails to deliver, you want your name to be at the top of the prospect’s inbox.
  • Relationship: Maybe your prospect has a pre-existing relationship with a competitor. This kind of inside advantage can be difficult to overcome. But a good relationship with a rival salesperson doesn’t mean that your competitor has a superior product. Relationships may open doors, but if they don’t deliver, you want to make sure yours is the door they come knocking on.
  • Perceived risk: Perhaps your prospect bought from a competitor because there was a lower perceived risk with purchasing from them. Consumers are less likely to risk buying more expensive products, or from less established companies. Perceived risk can be reduced over time as your brand becomes and more established and reviews and recommendations begin to spread. Keep your prospects sweet and, in the meantime, see what you can do to reduce perceived risk.

3. They buy from you

I know this blog is called “what to do when a prospect doesn’t buy”, but it’s important to note that even if a prospect coverts, it’s still not the end of the story. In fact, it could be just the beginning. Some of the benefits of maintaining communication with your customer are

  • that customers who have already used your product will be more likely to purchase other products from you since they know you as a credible supplier.
  • They may choose you over your competitors for other products. The cost and logistical benefits of having fewer, bigger, suppliers means you always have the chance of increasing your sales to the same client.
  • Promoting your brand through regular communication will help you keep up with competitors. Remind your customer why they opted for you over your competitors to begin with!

So what do you do now?

The answer is simple. Keep in touch.

  1. Make sure they are on your mailing list. Regular email campaigns, sharing case studies, articles and whitepapers ensure your prospects are kept aware of what you are up to. There’s a chance they will unsubscribe, but only if your communication is too frequent and not relevant.
  2. Connect with them on social media. When you’re connected, you will stay in the back of their mind, in readiness for the future.
  3. Go to the same events. Particularly if they are local to you, “bumping into them” once in a while maintains awareness and gives you the chance to keep talking about how you’ve helped other clients.
  4. Call them. Nobody says you’re not allowed to call them every few months. Just because they didn’t buy before doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, and the personal touch could sway things your way.

Closing

It’s never nice to lose a prospect after you’ve spent resources promoting your business and time building a relationship. But it’s not a waste. There’s no reason for your relationship with the prospect to change: the economic climate is always moving and you want to put yourself in the best position when your prospect is looking to buy again.

Get back on the horse, keep communicating the value of your product and wait for the time and effort you’ve invested to pay off down the line.

If you need some assistance in ensuring you stay in touch with old prospects, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or email us at smegrowth@smeneeds.co.uk

replicate your email campaign

How to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50%

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

Email is still one of the best performing marketing channels. With 281 billion emails sent every day, including over one billion per day by Mailchimp, it may seem that your Inbox is flooded and individual emails will be missed. But with a few simple changes to how you run your campaigns, you can easily increase your email marketing’s performance. Let’s talk you through how to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50% in just two minutes.

1. Send your email campaign as normal

Whatever your email campaign is about, send your campaign in your normal way.

2. Replicate your emailreplicate your email campaign

Whatever email marketing platform you use, you will be able to do this. Some may not be as easy as Mailchimp makes it, but the steps shown here are all achievable in every platform.

  • Go to your Campaigns list
  • Find the email campaign you have just sent.
  • Click Replicate. The idea is that you will be sending exactly the same email.

If your email marketing tool doesn’t give you a one-click option to do this, you should be able to either copy the HTML code or copy the contents and simply paste into a new campaign.  The replicated campaign will be titled the same as the previous one, plus (Copy 1). Keep this title, as it allows you to identify them in the future and measure your own performance.

3. Edit your audience

edit your audience for your email campaign

The last thing you want to do is upset the people on your mailing list, so you don’t want to send your email campaign to either:

  • The people who have already opened it
  • The people that isn’t relevant to

To do this…

1.       Campaign Activity – who were sent – [name of campaign]

2.       Campaign Activity – who did not open – [name of campaign]

It is very important you select ALL at this stage.  If you don’t, you will send the 2nd email to lots of people you didn’t mean to.

 

If you choose ANY rather than ALL, the following will happen…

1.       It will go to everyone who you sent the original campaign to

2.       It will go to everyone in your list who didn’t open the campaign, whether they were sent it, or not.

 

4. Edit the Subject Lineedit the subject line to improve email marketing performance

If your previous subject line didn’t get people to open it, they are unlikely to open it next time, if you use the same subject line.  Change the subject line. Perhaps ask a question, challenge them, or refer to another way this replicated email campaign can help the reader.

 

5. Schedule within 48 hours

Dependent on how time sensitive your email is, you may want to do this just 12 hours later, but it should be soon after the first campaign.

 

Once you have sent the replicated campaign, you will be able to see whether you an additional 50% opened it, or even more.

 

Historical Results

To support this article, we analysed data from email campaigns run by some of our clients over the last few years.  The data looked at 628 email campaigns over the last 5 years.

Average Open Rate on first email: 23.8%

Average Open rate on Replicated email: 16.0%

This equates to a 51.25% increase in the number of people who read the email

The replicated campaigns added a further 35% to the number of people who clicked through.

Of course, we cannot guarantee this will be the case for everyone, as it will vary from company to company. Rates across the client data analysed ranged from 24 – 69% increase in open rates, and clickthrough rates ranged from 34% – 64%.

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what does your brand mean to your target audience

What does your brand mean to your target audience?

By A Helping Hand, Small Business MarketingNo Comments

What does your brand mean to your target audience?

This is the second part of our ‘Activate Fierce Brand Loyalty’ blog post series. The first of which helps your brand to develop an awareness with your target audience.

This blog post follows on from the development of building awareness through your client asking,

“What are you?”

what does your brand mean to your target audience

How can you differentiate yourself from your competition?

The concept of brand development is to be able to differentiate yourself from your competition. One of the pitfalls small businesses may fall into is focusing on promoting their service or product only. Your competition will be doing the exact same thing.

This becomes confusing for your potential client who is hearing the same thing from multiple businesses. Whether that potential client is in your local area or finds you through online searches and research.

This blog post provides guidelines to help develop a meaning to your target audience. This helps you to stand out from the crowd of business that provide similar services.

Once your target audience is aware of you, they feel inclined to learn more about you. There are two vital factors that communicate what your brand means to your target audience.

  1. Performance

What can you do to meet your target audience’s needs?

Five performance based categories meet the needs of your target audience:

  • Characteristics and features
  • Reliability
  • Durability or duration
  • Serviceability (effectiveness and efficiency)
  • Design and price

Potential clients will want to build on their awareness of your brand by trying to figure out important questions that define what you mean to them.

An example could be, ‘How effective will SME Needs strategic marketing plan be for my business in the short-term and long-term?’

Apply this line of questioning to your own business.

What factors of performance distinguish the service you provide for your target audience?

  • How much more could I get done to grow my business if I entrust all my IT requirements to this business?
  • In terms of efficiency, how productive can my project be if I engage with this consultancy firm?
  • How cost effective would it be to invest in this specialised equipment and how long will it run smoothly for?

2. Imagery

If your brand was a human, how would you be perceived?

Small businesses have personality in abundance!

This is something that you should capitalise in the way you communicate your brand’s image. This creates positive and strong associations and perceptions of your brand in the mind of the client.

Your target audience will form an image of you from their personal experiences with you, through targeted marketing or through word-of-mouth. As a small business, much of what image they will have of the brand will be associated with the personality traits of the owner.

Are you sincere and friendly? Spirited and imaginative? Or maybe you are reliable and hard-working?

As a small business, inject your brand culture into everything, from your logo, to your website, to the way you present yourself in meetings or at networking events.

At any touch-point with a potential or existing client, you should aim to have a consistent image you communicate. It is important to maintain your image and personality in both an online and offline setting.

An image is built over time. Therefore, it is about consistency in the way you push your brand’s meaning in your marketing message and communications.

Once you develop a positive brand image, the key values of your business will be reflected in the mind of the target client.

Your marketing communications and messaging transmits your key values.  This applies to both a physical and digital setting.

An example could be SME Needs reflecting trustworthiness through meetings that are personal and specific to understand your business needs to develop a tailored marketing plan.

Overview

Through a combination of performance and imagery, you enhance the meaning you have to potential or existing clients.

This then helps to secure a sale or a deal as the client understands how you meet their needs and also develop a strong sense of the values and personality your brand has communicated to them.

If you want to learn further how you can identify and improve your marketing performance and build a positive brand image, SME Needs is ready to support you and is only one click-away.

SME Needs is a Mailchimp Partner

Mailchimp’s New Customer Journeys

By A Helping Hand, Deliver, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning, Technology & your businessNo Comments

screenshot image for Mailchimp Customer Journeys

At Last!

Customer Journeys, from Mailchimp goes live from today and will be available to all Mailchimp customers by the 7th August. It is something that we’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. Here is why.

Single Routing

Mailchimp’s products have a huge number of positives and that’s why we’re a Mailchimp Certified Partner. The Automation function meant that we could set up email campaigns, for our clients and ourselves, to go to people based on specific criteria, whether this was information in certain contact fields or Tags. But after that first email went out, Automations only gave you limited options:

  • Send the next email if they clicked
  • Send the next email X period afterwards

If you wanted to have multiple options, you had to set up multiple automations, based on the actions your contacts took from the previous email.

Single Starting Points

A single starting point also limited your options, or complicated matters as you built multiple Automations. Multiple automations increased your chances of doing something not quite right, which could upset your contacts.

As you can see from the image, that is now changing…

image showing Mailchimp Customer Journeys

Simplified Marketing

With the opportunity to use multiple triggers and multiple branches, it definitely means that email marketing will become a little simpler. I definitely see it as a time saver and it will save our clients some money, as we are not building large numbers of automations.

First Impressions

Even as a Mailchimp Partner, we haven’t got this functionality on our accounts yet; it goes live today. We will be spending quite some time looking in more detail at how Customer Journeys works and the benefits it can bring for us and for our clients. As soon as we have had a “play”, we will report back on our first impressions.

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Talk to Them

By A Helping Hand, Customer UnderstandingNo Comments

image to support article about how to talk to your target audience

How to talk to your target audience and effectively engage

If one of your target audience was sitting in front of you, or was on the end of the phone, you would talk to them on a one to one basis. If you are presenting to an audience, you will talk to them as if you were talking to them individually. So why don’t you do it in your marketing collateral? Let’s address the issue of how to talk to your target audience through your marketing.

Talk in the Second Person

To maximise the possibility that your marketing content, both online and offline grabs the reader, use the same language as you would if you were talking to them. By using the second person (you), rather than the third person (he, she, it, they), you are having a conversation. You are helping the reader to engage with you.

Which of these is more powerful?

“Our clients typically see a 45% increase the number of leads they get each year”.

OR

“You could get a 45% increase in the number of leads you get each year”.

Gathering around rarely happens

Long gone are the days when there were only a few PCs in your office and people would gather around to view them. Same with printed marketing material. People within your target audience rarely gather around a brochure, flyer or proposal. Even if they do, “you” is the second person plural as well, so you are still talking directly to them, both as a group and as individuals.

Compare it to dating

Look at your marketing as a first date. You wouldn’t talk about “your partners” if you wanted a second date. If you want your marketing to lead to a meeting and a sale, you need to talk to them in the right way.

More Engaging

Using the second person is more engaging and more active. It gets them thinking about themselves and how they can benefit from working with you. When talking to decision makers, that is exactly what you want to happen, so why does your marketing material mostly use the 3rd person, or even worse, the 1st?

They’re important – not you

We looked at this in more detail in a blog earlier in the month, but let’s touch on it again. If your marketing, whether online or offline, talks in the 1st person, whether singular or plural, you’re saying you are the most important part of the relationship. As you want them to become a new client, this is clearly not the case.

Quick Test

Pull up the home page of your website. Which of these words do you come across first: We or You? If you find “we” first, may I humbly recommend you look to re-word that page? It is, after all, the first page 60-70% of all your website visitors will see.

If your marketing isn’t as effective as you want it to be, this may well be a key part of the problem!

To discuss the focus of your marketing, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

meme image to support article about grabbing the attention of your target audience

How to grab the attention of your target audience

By A Helping Hand, Customer UnderstandingNo Comments

meme image to support article about grabbing the attention of your target audience

Talk about them not you

Whatever marketing channels you decide to use (we’ll come onto that in a later blog), if you want to grab the attention of your target audience, you need to make sure you are talking about them, rather than you.?

Nobody cares what you do!

Rather a blunt statement, but so very true.

They don’t care that you believe you are the UK’s leading provider of….

If you’re a small business, how are you going to gather proof that you are the UK’s leading provider? If you cannot back up your statement, it’s not worth using and your target audience won’t believe you.

They don’t care that you’ve been trading since the year Dot.

Business changes at an ever faster rate. In 1984, the FTSE100 was established. In 2017, just 28 of the original 100 remained. Some of the biggest, and most well known, companies did not exist 30 years ago.

  • Amazon formed in 1994
  • Facebook formed in 2004
  • Uber formed in 2009

Some people may consider older companies to be stuck in their ways and unable to adapt to modern business or society.

The fact that your staff have all the latest badges won’t impress them – well, maybe a little

The badges are signs that your staff have taken, and passed, exams. They have the theoretical knowledge, but can they put it into practice?

Your ability to talk in jargon from your industry really won’t impress them. Indeed, its likely to put them off.

If your target audience is going to engage with you, they want to understand what you are talking about. They want to be able to clearly see what working with you will get them. You need to learn their language. In a completely different location, think about this. Spanish waiters learn English so they can serve you and take your orders, but if you know some Spanish and can talk to them in their language, the service you get is so much better.

They care about how you can help them!

People buy a solution to a problem. The classic adage from marketing classes is that people don’t buy a 1/4 inch drill bit, they buy a 1/4 inch hole.

  • They want to communicate better, not buy a Unified Communications platform.
  • Directors want their teams to be able to work effectively, not buy IT support services.
  • They want more engaged staff, not L&D consultancy.

What they are buying is all in the 2nd half of these sentences, but what they want is the first half.

Talk about their issues

Doing this shows that you understand them. It shows that you have kept up with what is important to your target audience.

Making their issues go away

The issue that is their top priority right now is one that is impacting their business, or them personally. If you talk about solutions to that issue, they will pay attention. They will want to know more about what you do and how that will help them.

Picture Success

If you’re selling unified communications (for example) solutions, what will better communication do for a company?

If you sell Leadership & Development training, what does a company get from having more engaged staff and higher staff retention rates?

In the same way that TUI shows you pictures of pristine beaches (with no litter and crowds rushing for the sunbeds) and Apple shows you wonderful night time pictures of your family, you need to get your target audience thinking about the end result.

Where you should talk about you

There is only two places you should be talking about you:

  1. Your About Us page.
  2. Your personal LinkedIn profile

 

By talking about your target audience, you demonstrate that you understand them. Most of your competitors will still be talking about themselves, so you can grab the attention of your target audience by being different.

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image to support article: focus your marketing

Are you focusing on the right people?

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Marketing PlanNo Comments

image to support article: focus your marketing

As we all emerge from lockdown, you need to focus

If money is tight, you cannot afford to scattergun your marketing activity. If you do, it will be ineffective. Even if you have got some money spare, why waste it?  To get the best return on investment from the time and money you have available, it has to be focused.

Who should you focus on?

If I were a psychologist, I’d say: who do you want to focus on?  But I’m not, so I won’t. The best people to focus your marketing on are:

  1. People who are similar to your current clients.
  2. People in a similar geographic area to you

Easiest to impress

As we all emerge from lockdown and money is tight, we want to get the best we can for our money. Your target audience will be acting in a very similar way, so they will be looking for suppliers they believe can deliver on their promises. If you can show them you’ve delivered for a number of clients who are very similar to them, they will be much more inclined to believe you can do the same for them. Of course, you will need the evidence to back up your claims – more on that later.

Easiest to get to

If you are selling a service, chances are you will have to go to the prospect at some point very soon. Either as part of the sales process (maintaining social distance rules, of course) or to deliver part, or all, of the service. People who are close to you take less time and less money to get to. Far better to travel 10-20 miles than 2-300!

Of course, you can still do much of the sales process remotely. Phone, email and your preferred flavour of video conferencing will enable you to make sales, but lockdown won’t last forever (we hope), so those closest to you will be easier to account manage going forward too.

Once you start making sales, you can either add additional target audiences or increase geographical coverage, because you will have the budgets to do so.

Of course, you can always leave that boring stuff to us. Call us on 020 8634 5911 for any enquiries.

Want some help focusing your marketing?