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

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

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

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

Two Approaches to Planning your Small Business Marketing – Part Two

Last week I talked about how this blog was inspired by a discussion on LinkedIn and then discussed the pros and cons of working to a number given to you by the CFO or accountant.  This week we start from the opposite direction and will be going back to the accountant with a required figure.

Pros of starting with the planning

  1. You consider all possible activities except those you know that will have outrageous costs attached, such as TV advertising
  2. You’re considering what activities are most likely to deliver the best return in investment, especially if you have done them before and have the evidence to support your thoughts.
  3. It is more likely to be flexible, especially when you start achieving your business targets
  4. It is led by the business’ needs, not those of the accountants!
  5. Depending upon the perceived ROI you have an opportunity to re-visit your budget and decide to spend more.
  6. Far better to work down from the “Gold Standard” than work up
  7. If more money does become available, you’ll know exactly what to do with the money


  1. There is a chance you will spend more than the accountant wants you to
  2. You’ll have to make sure you track the results so justify yourself to your accountant/CFO
  3. It takes a bit longer
  4. You get to argue (sorry – put your point across) with the CFO – is this really a con?

Marketing is all about demonstrating the value you can provide to your customers in order to tempt them into buying from you. It should therefore be the same within the company.  The activities/campaigns in the marketing plan need to show value to the wallet holders in order to be authorised.

Its fairly obvious on what side of the fence I fall, but then again I’m a marketer and not a finance geek.  I hope this has been useful to you and I look forward to your comments.


What’s the value of your time?

Have you calculated the value of your time?

As a small business owner you will do a variety of different tasks within your business. Some because you have to and some because you want to.

As the entrepreneur you are, the “want to” jobs are the most fun ones: service delivery, sales, customer relations, new product development etc. The “have to’s” (book-keeping, paying invoices, bank statement reconcilliation etc.) you do when you can no longer put them off.  The question is:

Which jobs should you be doing?

 The way to answer that question is resolved looking at two simple numbers:

  1. What rate are you charged out at?
  2. What is the cost of others doing these jobs?

If No.2 is lower than No.1 and you are struggling with time for all your jobs, the answer is simple: concentrate on what brings in the money.

Don’t Bottle – Share!

If you follow SME Needs on Twitter, you will have seen a few tweets based around common sayings such as A problem shared is a problem halved or Two heads are better than one.

These sayings are often considered as old-fashioned or twee, but they’re still so true.  Think back to the last time you went – Oh Yeah. Was that when someone added to a conversation or discussion and then, suddenly, things made more sense?

See, I told you two heads were better than one

Let’s think of some examples:

  • Napoleon had his Josephine
  • Susan Ma has Lord Sugar
  • even Tony Blair talked with Alastair Campbell!

At the other end of the scale, Nero spent too much time talking to his fiddle, proving that it is better to have someone to talk to about your issues and if you talk about them, chances are they become less of a problem and great things can happen

I hope this is useful – talk to you soon.


Mathematics will help your small business improve its marketing

Almost all small businesses worry about sales levels; indeed all large businesses worry about sales levels as well, but as I work with small businesses lets stick to them.

There is a way to be more certain about sales levels and that is through the use of simple mathematics. Let’s look at how mathematics can help small businesses.

As a small business owner, you will know how much profit you need to make each month in order to pay the bills. Now lets work backwards:

  • From your profit margin, you can then calculate how much turnover you need to generate.
  • From your turnover you can work out how many sales you need to make, to current or new clients
  • From the sales figure you can see how many prospects you need to talk to about how you can help them.
  • From your prospects figures you should then be able to see how much resource needs to be committed to generating interest in your services.
    • The amount of traffic to your website
    • The number of outbound sales calls
    • The level of interaction on your social media platforms

Let’s calculate the figures for an example company, which sells cufflinks to retailers:

  • Money needed each month: £3,000
  • Profit margin: 60%, so the company needs to generate £5,000 in sales
  • At £50 a pair (they’re nice cufflinks), that’s 100 units per month
  • Every other retailer they talk to buys, on average, 10 pairs of cufflinks, and they have a good number of retailers who buy each month. 60% of sales come from repeat customers, so this takes care of sales for 60 units per month.
  • That leaves a further 40 units to sell, with a close rate of 50%, so they need to talk to 8 different retailers every month.
  • As their website isn’t an e-commerce site, retailers have to call to discuss their needs. On average 50 people look at the site for every person to pick up the phone so they need 400 visits per month
  • At the moment the website gets 250 unique visits per month

From here you can see what work needs to be done: the company needs to develop another 150, or more, unique visitors to their website.

If you can do these calculations for your business, that’s great and I hope this helps.  If you can’t please get in touch and I will be happy to work with you on developing the numbers


The quality of your marketing data

Information is Knowledge and Knowledge is Power.

Is that how the saying goes?  I think we should go back one more step – to data. Let’s look at why the quality of your marketing data is critical

Your average small business has a huge amount of data, from the piles of business cards they’ve collected, from networking events, to the files on current and past clients. There are then the people who provide their details because they want to be on your mailing list and some companies even buy lists of other businesses.  This is a huge amount of data but can it be called information?

Certainly not if you don’t filter it.  Let me give you an example.

Imagine you are pulling together a mailing list to tell people about one of your services. You want this to go to the most relevant people so I hope you have job titles to ensure your mailing, electronic or paper-based, goes to the decision-maker. Presumably you know what industry sectors you perform best within (if not click here and then give me a call) so you then filter your list by what their small business does. All basic stuff you would think and certainly the sort of advice you would expect to get from a marketing consultancy.

Imagine my surprise then when I received an email offering me a free Marketing MOT from another consultancy based on the south coast.

I won’t embarrass by mentioning their name or linking to their site but please take the advice and make sure that your data becomes information, then knowledge and then generates new business – I’m not so worried about the power!

Extra £2K for Christmas

What would you do with it?

An extra couple of grand could help out a small business owner with a number of things, especially at Christmas.

Most small businesses have multiple routes to market and 2-3 of them will be really successful.  In addition there will be a couple that broadly break even and then one or two that are right Rotters – they lose money.

The problem is that the success of the high performers often disguises that of the Rotters and they go unchecked.

If you identified the Rotters and stopped spending good money after bad, what could you do with that money? Even if you spent it on your small business marketing, it is bound to generate a far better return.

Answers on a comment form please. As a small business owner, your opinions are important to us.


How to qualify your prospects as a small business

Are your properly qualifying your prospects?

As a small business, of course you want to generate as much business as possible. Your marketing is aimed at generating as many prospects as possible. However, not every prospect is going to bring their business your way, and so it is vital that you identify which are worth your time and effort and which are not. Being a small business, you don’t have the time to entertain every single prospect; you have other tasks that need attending to. So how should you go about qualifying your prospects?

Can you provide a solution?

The prospect needs to be clear as to the exact nature of your products or services. Similarly, you need to grasp precisely what it is the prospect requires or how you may be able to provide a solution to a particular problem. There is no point in proceeding any further if the prospect is looking for something you simply do not provide, so it’s best to just walk away at the first possible opportunity. Ensure your website and any marketing material is clear and updated regularly so anyone who comes across it can easily understand what it is you offer.

Do you have the time?

This is something that is often overlooked with qualifying prospects. Yes, it may be very nice to receive an enquiry, but if you don’t have the time to fulfil it, then you need to say so from the outset. If you take on the work but know that you already have more than enough to fill your time, then some or all of it is going to suffer, and you could ultimately lose out on future business. Check with the prospect first what sort of timelines they have and then consider whether your schedule will permit the work. It is believed that most businesses have 15% pipeline close rate efficiency, meaning that time and resources go into something that 85% of the time doesn’t drive revenue – don’t let that 85% include time wasted on prospects.

Does the prospect have the funds?

The last thing you want is to press ahead with the deal only to find that they cannot pay you for the goods or services. One way of ensuring that a prospect is likely to pay is by running a credit check or gaining access to company credit reports. This can be an incredibly useful way of highlighting whether a prospect has a healthy credit history and could save you a considerable amount of time and money in the long run. Company credit reports can let you view important information such as credit rating and limit, 5 year accounts, CCJ information and full director information, as well as links through to debt scores to find which of your outstanding debts are most likely to be paid, and access to any media stories about that particular company.

Are you speaking to the decision maker?

A sure-fire way to waste time and effort is to do your dealing through someone who isn’t the main decision maker in a company. If you only speak to an assistant or someone who is not the decision maker, then you will likely have to wait for them to feed the information back to the relevant people, which takes time and could be misinterpreted. Always ask to speak to someone in authority, such as a Sales Director, and question the sincerity of a request from someone who is not willing to talk to you themselves.

These are just a few points you should consider when qualifying your prospects, and each prospect will have to be handled slightly differently, but they should give you a good basis from which to start.


Five great sources of market information

When looking to expand your business, it’s vital that you research the market and the opportunity.  If you don’t there is a chance that your business expansion plans don’t deliver the business growth you are looking for.  The question is: where do you go to understand the size of the opportunity?

Here are five really good sources of quantitative information:

1. The Office Of National Statistics

Want to know about the businesses in your county, borough or town; look no further. ONS will provide information by industry, by size, by age and a whole lot more.

2. LinkedIn Search

How many, for example, solicitors are there within 10 miles of your office? Don’t know – used LinkedIn to find out.  With over 7 million people in the UK on LinkedIn and 141,842 UK companies  it is a great source.  Want to know if they are in private practice or within a commercial organisation – simple use another filter.

Just in case you wanted to know, there are 5,404 solicitors within 10 miles of my postcode.

3. CreditSafe

Is your prospective client creditworthy? How much money did they make/lose last year? You can find out here.  There are plenty of other similar sites out there but this is one of the best.  It’s a paid for service but it will tell you what you want to know about your clients and prospects.

4. Companies House

Don’t want to subscribe to an annual service – go PAYG instead at Companies House. Annual Reports direct from Companies House are just £1 each.

5. Facebook Ads

You don’t need to spend any money to get numbers from Facebook.  With 35 million UK adults regularly using Facebook where’s better to get information about the consumer market?

Set up a Facebook Ads account (no charge) and use the plethora of filters to understand how big your target market is. If you think of all the information you put into Facebook, that’s the number of filters you can apply to really target your search.


The 6 things Potential Buyers are looking for before they will consider buying from you

There are 100’s, if not 1,000’s, of potential buyers of your products/services out there right now and you want them to buy from you.  This is what they are looking for BEFORE they talk to Sales.

  1. Visibility – fairly obvious but if you’re not visible to them, they cannot buy from you.  They will often look to see if they can find you in other ways.  If they find you on Google, are you on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook etc.?
  2. Cleanliness – I don’t mean proof that you use a lot of soap.  What I mean is a clean website; one that is easy to read, to understand and to navigate to find the information they are looking for.
  3. Headlines – Newspapers tell millions of copies based on the headline that day, with some of them employing dedicated headline writers.  When you’re found through an internet search your landing page(s) have seconds to grab their attention or they simply bounce.
  4. Pain Relief – Buyers rarely go shopping if they are happy with what they’ve got.  Does your marketing material make them believe your solution will make their life easier or better?
  5. Evidence – You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk? Evidence, in the form of case studies, testimonials, published articles etc. develop confidence in the mind of the buyer and draw them towards you.
  6. Experience – Even new companies have experience of delivering the product or service they sell and they’re usually more passionate about it too.  After all, how many people do you know who started up a company to do something they hate?  Buyers want to know that you know what you’re doing so talk about your previous experiences to increase their confidence in you.

70% of the buying process is complete before anyone talks to Sales.  Are you helping people to make the right decision and buy from you?



The importance of two little words

Consultants produce a great deal of information for your business.  Indeed, that is what you pay them to do.  The role of a marketing consultant is to assess the performance of your marketing strategy.  It is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats (SWOT) that affect your business and to help you understand your customers.

This information is great and can be really useful but there are two little words that must come into play every time.  If they don’t what is the point?

The two little words are:  SO WHAT?

It is the power of so what that identifies what may be done with the information and help you take the business forward.