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

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

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

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

How to grab the attention of your target audience

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.

Are you focusing on the right people?

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.

The power of brand knowledge

How can small businesses utilise the power of brand knowledge?

Knowledge is Power. That’s a phrase we have many times over but how does it connect to you as a small business in an ocean of competition fighting for the same space in the minds of your target audience?  Through harnessing the power of brand knowledge, this blog answers that exact question.

This post answers it above by providing a pyramid which consists of four brand developmental building blocks that helps to positively establish your brand in the minds of your clients. 

Why is this helpful you ask?  

Each stage of this pyramid has its own rewards and merits as it helps you to build aspects of your brand which are covered below. This culminates in gaining active, loyal, and recurring clients, who also share the benefits of partnering with you to those around them. 

Brand Resonance Pyramid building blocks

Step 1 – Identity 

Firstly, we start with salience, the fundamental foundation for all the other brand building blocksSalience is the ability for a small business to build a detailed firm awareness of our business in their headsKnowledge from the perspective of a small business is in how you convey who you are to your clients. Who you are is dependent on how clients recognise you when you come to their minds.  

The biggest businesses and brands in the world all had to start with being recognisable. When we think of some of the largest B2B brands such as IBM or Adobe, the performance of their products would mean absolutely nothing if you didn’t initially recognise them! 

Once you reach the point of salience, you become a part of the mental conversation of a client that gives you the potential to gain opportunities to business growth and awareness! 

Step 2 – Meaning 

Simply being recognised isn’t enough though, once you achieve the base of brand knowledge in salience, clients then search for the meaning of your brand and consider is it matches their needs and wants.  

This can be surmised by the next question that forms in the minds of potential clients; ‘what are you?’ 

What your business isis dependent on how you meet the needs of your clients in terms of product or service performance, as well as socially and psychologically. 

One fantastic example that allows you to express the meaning of your small business is through providing case studies and testimonials. This covers both the performance and provides positive imagery of what it means to do business with you. 

Step 3 – Response 

Following this, clients will make judgements about your business and construct feelings towards your brand: 

  • They will assess the quality of the product or service; the actual quality, as well as the perceived quality based on your marketing message 
  • They will also consider the level of credibility your business has through three key criteria: the level of expertise, the amount of trustworthiness and through the extent of likeability 
  • Consequently, clients will weigh up the level of relevancy your product or service has towards their needs and wants 
  • Finally, clients will measure you against potential competitors and consider what competitive advantages you have that makes you the superior choice to select 

Clients will have formed these judgements based on the quality and likeability factors you have provided in your marketing messaging or through referrals 

You will know you have reached this stage because clients will be making enquiries, as well as increase their levels of engagement on platforms such as social media or by click-throughs on email newsletters. 

Step 4 – Relationships 

Once you show this level of knowledge through your marketing communications, you reach the pinnacle of the pyramid, brand resonance. 

This is the place all small businesses will want to reach because once you reach this stage; it activates four crucial factors: 

  • A fierce loyalty which results in recurring clients and purchases 
  • It evokes a strong attachment and trust in which they consider it a ‘special’ engagement 
  • You develop a powerful sense of community amongst your clients who feel like they are part of a business ‘family’ who share similar values and understanding 
  • Clients remain actively engaged which is the strongest form of resonance as they carry the business values and vision as an ambassador into their personal conversations and engagements, this is one of the strongest forms of word-of-mouth marketing and is viewed as sincere and authentic by those that hear of your business  

Similar to stage 3, as a small business, it will become evident you have reached resonance through seeing increased engagement from clients, but on top of this, they will carry your brand strengths and values in conversations, both online and offline if the occasion occurs where your brand is recalled or relevant to the discussion. 

What does all this mean?   

Once you have achieved all 4 stages, the relationship your clients have with you, and your brand, will both increase the frequency they refer you within their network. Furthermore, they remain a loyal client for a long time to come.

Transmitting knowledge is a key cornerstone in building a healthy flourishing business, and at SME Needs we have the rights tool, connections and listening skills to share your vision with your potential customers.

How much should a small business spend on marketing?

This is a question we get asked on a frequent basis but we’ve never covered in a blog, so here goes. This is what we believe a small business should spend on marketing.

General Rule of Thumb

There are huge numbers of articles out there that will tell you how much you should spend on marketing. A search on the title of this article showed 294,000,000 results! Gartner does a CMO Survey every year. Their latest figures, published in October 2019, show marketing spend averaging at 10.5% of revenue. The US Small Business Administration suggests 7-8%. B2B Marketing magazine’s survey of 2018/19 marketing budgets said the average small business owner will dedicate 16% of their annual budget to marketing.

How to work out what you should spend

The way we help our clients to calculate their marketing budget depends on the answers to six questions. Let’s look at how you can use those questions to calculate your marketing budget.

  1. How much did you spend on marketing last year?
  2. How much of that spend delivered a good return on investment (ROI)?
  3. How many new clients did you acquire, compared to how many you lost?
  4. Do you want your growth to be faster, or the same, as last year?
  5. How long is your typical sales cycle?
  6. How competitive is your market and where do you sit in the hierarchy?

Let’s look at these in a little more detail…

How much did you spend on marketing last year?

This should be a fairly simple question to answer. Your accounts system, particularly if you are using something like Xero or Quickbooks, will give you the answer in moments. We will expand on the question to identify how your marketing spend was spent.

  • How much on staff/agency fees?
  • How much on marketing technology – to help deliver the marketing?
    • Mailchimp, or other email marketing tools
    • Your CRM
    • Hootsuite or other social media management tools
    • SEMrush, or other SEO monitoring tools
    • Website hosting
  • Advertising spend, including social media?
  • Networking event?
  • Etc.

The final question here is: was this a budgeted spend, or did it happen as and when you could afford stuff?

How much of that spend delivered a good ROI?

There is no point in spending more money on marketing that didn’t work last year. The only proviso here is if you were unsure whether you were doing it right. Some guidance, or training, in that marketing channel may deliver far better results.

If you don’t know what is working for you, work it out. Assuming you have a list of every lead you generated last year and have marked it with the lead source, the calculation should be easy.

 

Marketing Channel ROI = revenue generated from that channel/Marketing Spend on that channel

 

The marketing activity that delivered a great ROI should definitely be done again, maybe with even more resource dedicated to it. Those with a poor ROI are unlikely to be done again. If you need a hand calculating this, please get in touch.

How many new clients did you acquire, compared to how many you lost?

Marketing isn’t just about acquiring new clients. Alongside your account management activity, it is also there to help you keep your current clients. Unless every client you have is buying every product or service you sell, there are still sales opportunities in that pot.

Growth for your business meaning acquiring more clients each year than you lose. If you are losing clients at a rate that means you aren’t growing, more of your budget needs to be spent on either marketing to your current clients, or on delivering what they want.

Do you want your growth to be faster, or the same, as last year?

Let’s say your business grew by 15% last year on a marketing spend of £50,000. How does your target for this year compare to that 15%? If you want to grow by 30% this year, you need to allocate 100% more (£100,000) to your marketing budget this year. It may be that you don’t spend all of that, but better to budget and not spend, than not budget. It is unreasonable to expect your marketing to deliver more for the same. Whether you credit Henry Ford, Albert Einstein or Tony Robbins with the phrase, it is still true. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

How long is your usual sales cycle?

For sales revenues to grow, you need to be able to do, at least, one of three things:

  1. To increase prices
  2. To sell more to your clients
  3. To sell to more clients

For this to happen, the creation of leads needs to start before the revenue starts to increase. If you have a three-month sales cycle, you need to start creating more leads three months before you want revenues to start increasing.

How competitive is your market and where do you sit in the hierarchy?

If you are entering a completely new market, you have to make a lot of noise to generate awareness. If you are entering a highly competitive market, with competitors who are spending on marketing, you need to either spend more or shout louder/better. The only time you can get away with a, slightly, reduced marketing spend is if you are one of the top players in that market. I say slightly because you still have to maintain brand awareness and you have to continue to show why you are better than the rest.

 

Answering the question “how much should a small business spend on marketing” initially sounds like a simple question of percentages. Whilst that is a good starting point, it then needs to be adjusted to meet your growth targets and aspirations. These questions will help you get to the answer you’re looking for. It may be that your marketing budget can be below the 10.5% that Gartner’s survey suggests. Of course, it may also be higher than that too.

 

We hope this helps and, of course, if you would like to discuss your marketing budgets and plans, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 and let’s talk.

5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing During Lockdown

improve your marketing during lockdown

Lockdown started on the 23rd March and we are yet to get any real idea of when it will start to be lifted. If the impact of the lockdown on your business means you have more time on your hands, here are some ways you can use that time effectively to improve your marketing performance.

Why should you do this now?

There are only two reasons:

  1. Improving your marketing will generate more leads for your business, either now or in the near future.
  2. If you are quiet now, this great use of your time keeps you feeling positive, in readiness for the lockdown release.

Review your marketing performance

Prior to the lockdown, what marketing was working for you and what wasn’t? If you identify what wasn’t working, you can cut out that activity. You will save time and money; resources that can be used in other ways.

By focusing on the marketing that was working, you can drive more leads for your business.

Which web pages need improving?

behaviour flow from Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives you a huge amount of information about the performance of your website. Review the data and see what pages need to be improved:

  • Pages with a high bounce rate aren’t giving the viewer what they are looking for
  • If a page has a high exit %age, it is putting people off and they are leaving, probably for a competitor’s site.
  • Are your blogs being read? If the average time on page is low, they probably aren’t.

Take some time to review these pages and see how they can be improved. Do they need more content? Perhaps better Calls to Action? Imagery and video content can be great ways to keep viewers on that page.

Is your messaging right?

If you aren’t getting the leads you want, there’s a good chance that your messaging isn’t quite right.

The easiest way to assess them is to check whether your messages relate to the issues your clients have or they relate to what you do.  They should relate to your clients’ needs!

Are you doing enough marketing?

If your marketing activity levels don’t equate to your business growth targets, you are going to struggle to hit those targets. Let me explain what I mean.

If you want to grow your business by, for example £0.5million in revenue next year (with an average client value of £25K), you need to add 20 net new clients. If last year’s marketing added 10 new clients, you need to either do twice as much marketing or make it twice as effective.  Chances are it will be somewhere in the middle.

If you aren’t doing enough, look at what else you can do, either more of the same or something different in addition.

Gather more Evidence

Your prospects and your target audience will want to see evidence that you can deliver a great solution. That you can help them. Having a constant stream of new evidence being added to your website is real proof that you can deliver and a great way to improve your marketing performance. If you haven’t added any evidence recently, look at projects you have delivered in the last few months. Which of those show you in a great light and can be converted to case studies? Which clients will give you a glowing testimonial you can use on LinkedIn and your website.

 

These are just five ways to use the lockdown time to improve your marketing performance. We hope they give you something to think about and, of course, if you need some help, call us on 020 8634 5911. Let’s talk about how we may be able to help you.

How to Protect your Social Media from disgruntled employees

Social Media can do wonderful things for your brand image in a very short space of time. You are able to get your brand in front of the people you want to see it in a few short steps. but what happens if you have a team member leave; one who has admin access to your social media accounts?  If they left unhappy, there is a real risk that they will post content that can damage your brand. Here are our thoughts on how to protect your social media.

LinkedIn Company Page

When I first wrote on this topic, way back in 2011, your LinkedIn company page was far more open than it is now. You had what they called designated users. Almost anyone in the business could post on your Company Page. Thankfully now, only Admins can post. If one of your Admins leaves the business, simply go in and remove their access.

You may also want them to add an “until date” on their Experience section, so they are no longer listed as an employee. If they’re leaving under a cloud, good luck with that!

Hootsuite

This is a great tool for managing multiple social media accounts. But if you’ve locked this person out of your LinkedIn company page, but not from Hootsuite, they could still post to it. They can post to any account this is connected to. Delete them quick!

Twitter & Instagram

Twitter, and Instagram, are a little more complicated. This is simply because they don’t have users; the account has only one username and password. If you want to stop a disgruntled employee from using this, you have to change the password – and then get it to everyone else who has access.

Facebook

If you have set up your Business Page correctly, securing it is much the same as LinkedIn – remove their admin rights. If, however, you have set up a personal page for your business (instead of a Business Page), you’ve got the same issue as with Twitter.

Better safe than sorry

If you are unsure about what they have access to, you’re better off changing passwords on all your social media channels. Better safe than sorry. Others who need it will soon be in contact, and that gives you a chance to properly control who has access.

What if they post comments?

If you have locked them out, you’re safe from them posting unsuitable content, but you cannot stop them posting comments onto your posts, or mentioning your company on their own posts. Of course, you can appeal to their better nature and ask them to take posts and comments down. If they are libelous, you have more leverage (assuming you want to get solicitors involved). Deleting the post they commented on will remove their comments from that location, but not from their feeds.

In reality, very few people will post detrimental comments and you like to think that they will quickly become bored and move on to something else. If your HR department has a checklist for what needs to be done when someone leaves, willing or otherwise, ask them to add a social media box to the end of the list.

If you  want to talk about how to protect your social media and manage it more effectively, get in touch. We work with a wide range of marketing specialists, including social media. We’re only going to do good things with your social – it’s not worth our reputations not to!!!

How not to run a business during lockdown

In the current unusual circumstances we are all facing at the moment, there has emerged five different types of business. A brief description of each is below and I think it’s clear which I think are good and those that aren’t. During the lockdown and the following weeks, the way your business is perceived is going to be very important to how your business performs, particularly once things return to normal (whatever the new normal is). These are our recommendations to ensure that your marketing means you come across in a positive manner.

We see the five different types of business as:

1. Those Taking Advantage

In any given situation, there are always businesses that will take advantage. You’ve heard stories of people selling toilet rolls and sanitiser at many times the normal cost. There are, of course, the cyber criminals who have increased efforts by 667% in March alone.

They are playing on peoples’ worries and fears. They know that people will pay inflated prices for what they think will allay their fears.

2. Those doing Nothing

Many businesses fit into this category, and it’s certainly understandable. They are worried about money. The money they have in the bank will only last so long, and they have no idea of how much money will be coming in. For some, events industry companies for example, their clients dried up overnight. For others, such as many types of retailer, government instructions have stopped customers buying. Their insurance may, or may not, cover their losses.

3. The services that are needed

In the same way there are companies who take advantage of a situation, there are others whose services or products are desperately needed. Companies selling exercise equipment are seeing sales spike, for example. These companies could hike prices, but they don’t. They accept the bonus trade and they do what they can to meet customer demand. They also know that this won’t last forever. They are giving back to society because they can.

4. Continuing as normal

This type of company knows they need to continue talking to their clients and their target audience. They understand that they need to continue communicating in order to maintain awareness for the future. However, they do something that isn’t great. They ignore the current climate and keep treating things as if they are normal. Perhaps they don’t want to admit issues. Perhaps they are trying to hide their concerns about the impact today’s situation will have on them.

5. Those who adapt

Companies can adapt in a number of ways in order to survive and make the best of the situation. The Portobello Road Gin Distillery is now making and bottling sanitiser for the Metropolitan Police. Ventrade is providing free vending machines for NHS locations in their area. These are just two examples.

Many food and drink producers are changing channels, going much more online. The Cronx is a local brewery to us, here in Croydon. Their bar is no longer open, but you can still enjoy their beer by buying online. A butcher local to our director’s home is now delivering instead of you going to him.

Others are adjusting their messaging to talk about how they can help clients with issues that they are facing now. This may mean simply changing some of the wording they use within their marketing. For others, it’s about using the skills they have within their business in different ways.

Which one are you?

How to make sure you come across well

1. Don’t just throw the words around

The importance of the NHS, care workers, retail staff and delivery drivers has come into stark relief over the last couple of weeks. People want to show that they recognise the work these groups are being made. However some are now talking about these groups in their social media and other content, simply to try and come across as caring. If you haven’t talked about them before, don’t go overboard on your support for them now. It runs the risk of being insincere.

2. It’s not about you

Your marketing content should rarely be about you, but never more so than now. If your marketing communications are talking about how you are contributing to society, make sure it is about the recipients of your help, not about you. Talk about how you are helping others.

3. Adapt, don’t change

Some companies can make radical changes to their business quickly, but they are few and far between. Whilst there is nothing wrong with making some changes, for example: how you communicate, if you make massive changes to your marketing messages, you will confuse your target audience and your network. Big changes have to be explained carefully and clearly.

4. Keep your focus

Just because your business is quiet at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you can suddenly deliver services to new sets of clients or customers. You run risk of alienating your current audience and confusing your network if you do.

Your target audience may not be buying much at the moment, but you need to ensure that your marketing really is showing the value you can deliver, to increase the chances of them buying in the near future.

5. Review your scheduled content

If you work ahead of time, so you have web content or social media posts scheduled to go out weeks, or even months, in advance, you need to review that content. You don’t want to be posting inappropriate content.

6. Don’t hike your prices

If you are lucky to be a high demand business at the moment, hiking your prices to take advantage of the situation is going to come across very negatively. You may make more money for a period of time, but it is likely that people will move away from you very quickly – as soon as one of your competitors is back trading.

7. Keep talking, but not too much

We get 1000’s of messages thrown at us every day. We can only absorb so many of those. If your company stops talking to your target audience, you run a real risk of being forgotten.  Whilst people may not be buying right now, they will need your services at some point in the future. If you stop talking, the chances of them remembering you are slim.

However, don’t over communicate. If you are struggling, there is a real temptation to up the frequency, particularly via email or social media. If you do this, you are running a risk in two ways:

  • You will annoy people with too much communication. You can easily come across as desperate.
  • Too much communication suggests that you have plenty of time on your hands -and so cannot be much good.

8. Don’t sell

Don’t get me wrong, you have to still generate revenue for your business, but be mindful of the situation and peoples’ circumstances. People will buy from you, if you are selling what they really need right now. This may not be want you want to hear right now, but if you try and sell to people who really don’t want to buy now, you run a real risk of damaging your brand forever. Better to have a couple (hopefully) of quiet months than a quiet forever.

9. Be honest

When talking to people, be honest. If you’re struggling but your bravado means you claim things are good, people will expect you to behave as normal. That means paying bills, delivering on time etc. If you need some leeway or some help, you are far more likely to get it if you are honest.

We hope this has given you something to think about. Of course we are going to say you need to keep marketing through these uncertain times, but we want to make sure you’re doing it in a way that will improve your brand, not damage it. Keep safe!

Before we go, we just want to say thank you to Chantal at Panpathic. She’s has been really helpful with some of these tips. If you want to talk PR, she’s the lady we recommend!

8 of the best remote marketing tools

marketing tools article open sign image

With the threat of Coronavirus upon us, and many people predicting a real hit on the economy that could last months, it is vital that you keep your marketing going. In a world where we get so many messages every day, it is easy for people to forget about you. So here are 8 marketing tools that will allow you to keep in touch with your target audience…

Email

If you have their contact details, email marketing is one of the easiest ways to maintain awareness within your target audience.

Whether you are using email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, or simply sending them from your Outlook or Gmail account, keeping a regular stream of relevant and useful emails going out to your target audience will show them how you add value and will ensure they remember you when the time is right.

Social Media

Our phones are rarely more than a few feet away from us. This means social media is another marketing tool for small businesses to use to maintain awareness. Remember that the social media tools you should be focusing on are the ones your target audience uses. Don’t try to include every single platform just in case. You are far better off using two platforms, perhaps LinkedIn and Instagram, and doing it well, rather than trying to maintain accounts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and others – the more you try to use, the less time you have to generate great content.

And don’t forget to also share other people’s content when you believe it will be useful for your target clients – this can generate just as much credibility for you as a post of your own.

Blogs

Articles that show how you help your target audience are proven to maintain and increase brand awareness, increase SEO performance and generate leads. They also provide valuable material for you to share over email and social media.

Think about the issues facing your target audience, both right now and throughout the year. What can you write that will show them you can help them?

Webinars

Webinars allow you to talk directly to your audience without the need to be in the same room as them. Email and social media can be used to make your target audience aware and to get them to sign up; the webinar gets you in front of them.

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way of travelling with your target audience. Your listeners can either stream or download your podcast, with many people listening whilst they travel or during a bit of work downtime. If people are self-isolating because of coronavirus, there is only so much daytime TV they can watch! Give them something useful to listen and you can quickly build an audience.

Video

In the same way that webinars and podcasts allow you to reach your target audience remotely, video content (via YouTube or Vimeo) will help you get your marketing messages across. Your phone’s camera is perfectly suitable for creating video and all you need is a space you where you won’t be disrupted.

Make video content that shows how you help your target audience and they will remember you when they need help. Great content is always shared too, expanding your audience even further.

Direct Mail

Not something you would normally think about, but if you are self-isolating, think about writing a few letters. If your handwriting is good enough (meaning I will always be typing!), handwritten letters are effective. People recognise the time you have invested.

Your Phone

Perhaps the least used feature on many people’s phones is… the phone.

Dial someone’s number and talk to them. Humans are naturally social animals and there is only so much isolation we can take. This more static period is the perfect time to build and strengthen relationships. Get on the phone and have a chat. Check in on how contacts and clients are doing and show you care about them and their business.

 

To keep your business growing during times of economic uncertainty, whether that is the current coronavirus epidemic or a recession, the small businesses that keep their marketing going are the ones that survive and the ones that benefit most when things return to normal. Even when the decision makers aren’t buying, you need to ensure that you remain in their thoughts. When they are ready buying again, they remember you. The time you have invested up to now mustn’t be wasted by allowing them to forget you going forward. These eight marketing tools will help you maintain awareness within your target audience so you are at the forefront of their minds at the point they need your help.

For help with marketing your small business in this difficult time, give us a call on 020 8634 5911. I hope this has helped you and that you, your loved ones and your business stay healthy and prosperous through this tough time.

Winning Clients: The 4 Step Programme

image to support pointing you in the right direction article

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The role of the owner of a small business is varied, encompassing a wide variety of different tasks. From finance to sales, from marketing to operational delivery. The problem is that most entrepreneurs go into running their own business because they love what they do. Does this sound familiar? Do you love doing what you do and really wish you could spend the vast majority of your time doing just that? You are highly skilled in delivering your passion. You know exactly what to do and how to help your clients. And the biggest problem is actually finding more of those clients to help! Let’s look at a quick and easy solution to help you do that; one that doesn’t cost the earth and won’t take up huge amounts of your working week – however long that may be. The process of attracting, and then winning, new clients can be complex, particularly when you aren’t 100% sure on what you are doing. Here’s our four-step programme on how to attract and win more clients.

1. Know what has worked so far

Do you know how you won the clients you have right now and the ones you’ve had before now? How about how you attracted the prospects that you didn’t convert? Knowing this is a vital step in winning more of them.

If you know what worked and generated more leads, in stands to reason that you would do more of it. Conversely, if you know what isn’t generating leads, you’d stop doing that wouldn’t you?

Tracking your leads and your sales is actually relatively easy. You write them down somewhere. For some companies, it makes sense to invest in a CRM. For others, a spreadsheet will be more than sufficient.

2. Decide who you want as new clients

There is nothing to stop you signing up whoever comes to you, assuming you are confident you can deliver and they will be profitable. However, when it comes to being proactive to attract new clients and generate leads, you have to be focused. The word anyone MUSTN’T be in your vocabulary.

Identifying the industry sector, geographical area and decision maker allows you to focus your marketing. Focusing means your resources aren’t spread thinly and will be more effective.

Once you identify who you want to acquire as new clients, you can develop the right messages, by ensuring they show how you can help that target audience. In today’s world, people no longer care what you do, they care how you can help them.

Finally you can pull together a book of evidence that proves you can help them and deliver on your promises. In the same way that you look at reviews on TripAdvisor before booking a hotel, prospective clients want to see proof you will deliver value for money.

3. Determine how you are going to generate leads

How many sales do you need to achieve your targets? How many leads do you need to generate those sales? What marketing is needed to develop the leads? You must start with a target and work backwards.

  • If a client is worth £15,000 a year to you and you want to grow by 10% from your £1,500,000 revenue last year, you need 10 new clients this year.
  • If you convert 10% of all leads, you need 100 leads.
  • Last year’s marketing generated 60 leads, on a budget of £75,000, so you need to generate 2/3rds more this year.

You have a choice at this point. Simply do more of what you know worked last year, whilst stopping what didn’t work. Or, identify other marketing activities that you believe can bring in more leads.

4. Get it done

Perhaps the hardest part of this four-stage process is getting the marketing done. At the beginning of the year, you will be eager and you’ll keep to your marketing plan. What happens when it is working, generating the leads and you are converting them to new clients. You’re going to be busy delivering for your clients. If you want to attract and win more clients, this has to happen.

How are you going to maintain the marketing plan so you have a consistent level of marketing activity happening?

Two choices – employ or outsource – or a 3rd in work every hour sent!

One of the conversations we have very early on with, almost, every prospective client is around the fact that what we do, they could do most of:

  • With some thought and number-crunching, you could quite easily measure your own marketing performance.
  • Looking back, and thinking ahead, identifying your target audience and pinpointing your Ideal Client would take time but you could do it.
  • Developing a plan and then delivering it is all well within your capabilities…

 

So why use SME Needs? Because the hat you want to wear is the operational delivery hat. You want to do what you set up this business to do – work with your clients and grow your business. Your marketing is all about how to attract and win more clients. We help you ensure that happens properly.

4 Questions to Grow Your Small Business

Which Box?

If you’ve done any studying around business or marketing, you will remember Ansoff’s Growth Matrix. For those of you who weren’t quite so “lucky”, let me quickly go through it and show you why it is a highly useful tool to help guide your growth planning and therefore your small business marketing.

Image of Ansoff's Growth Matrix to support article on small business marketing and growth plans

 

The matrix has four boxes:

1.       Market penetration = Existing markets buying current products

2.       Product development = Existing markets buying new products

3.       Market development = New markets buying current products

4.       Diversification = New markets buying new products

Where are you now?

If you are still an early stage business, you are almost certainly in the Market Penetration box. You’ve identified a product (or service) and you are working to maximise the size of your client base. You are probably selling to clients who are similar in nature, or need. Your customer base may be across multiple geographical areas, but it if you deliver a service that involves your time, you are almost certainly selling within a fairly tight geographical region. This is simply because of the time, and cost, involved in travelling to other areas.

Moving boxes as a small business growth strategy

The decision to move into a different box, from Market Penetration, is a big one. It is a big commitment and can come with some risk, dependent upon which box you are considering. The decision to move boxes should be guided by your answers to the following questions…

1. Have you maximised sales of your current products to your existing markets?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no. Unless you are the market leader for your region, there will always be the opportunity to sell more. If you are struggling, a market development or product development strategy may work for you. It will depend on whether you believe you know the product or the market more.

2. Are your competitors dominant in your existing markets?

If you were late into the market, it is likely that there are a number of dominant players. They will make it difficult for you to develop your market share, so a different box may be a good alternative for you.

3. Are there products you can sell to your existing market?

If you’re in the technology market, for example, there is always a new product to sell. Many will be updates of what you are already selling them, so that doesn’t count, but there will be alternatives:

  • If you’re an MSP selling on-premise solutions, Cloud would certainly count as new product, as would telecoms.
  • If you’re selling cost savings, are you providing a full range of utilities, plus telecoms or connectivity?

These are just a couple of examples of how moving into the Product Development box may be a good small business growth strategy. However, try not to go too far away from your core products. If you currently provide software solutions, trying to add office furniture to your portfolio is probably a first step too far.

4. Can you properly serve additional markets?

A new market can be one of two things: a new geography – selling in Birmingham, to add to Bristol, for example. Or it can be a new sector – selling to the hospitality sector as well as the leisure sector. If you want to sell to this new sector, can you say you know enough about the sector and their needs to be able to generate sufficient sales within that sector? Developing a good knowledge of the new target market is vital if you want to sell existing products into a new market.

The route through the boxes

Businesses rarely go from Market Penetration to Diversification. Why? It’s simply too much of a risk. Trying to sell products you have little experience of to markets you have limited knowledge of is a gamble. A gamble that most businesses wouldn’t take.

Product or Market Development?

Truth be told, most companies do some of both. Over time, new products appear to sell to existing markets. At the same time, the reach of businesses, particularly in our digital world is constantly extending and orders come in from around the country, or even around the world. “Accidental” market development, however, often means a lower profit margin. Getting your product, or service, to different parts of the world can mean an impact on delivery costs. Customers may not want to pay a premium (at least that’s the way they see the increased costs) to get your product. You then have to decide whether you want to deliver, or not.

If, as a business, you are looking to grow, you will almost certainly have to move into a new box. It doesn’t mean you are leaving the old box behind. Over time, it will actually mean you are working with multiple sets of boxes. One set for each product or market. As you grow you simply move again.

If you are looking to grow your business, consider which is going to be the best first step: product or market.

Of course, if you would like to discuss this in more detail and see how we can help you develop the right small business growth strategy for business, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.