Category

A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand is a category aimed at doing just that – giving small business owners a helping hand in improving their marketing performance.

Blogs written by a small business marketing consultant that will help small businesses grow.

These blogs normally look at one of two things:

  1. how you can improve an aspect of your small business marketing
  2. how you can stop making a mistake with your small business marketing

If you need further assistance with any aspect of your marketing, simply call us on 020 8634 5911

Marketing by numbers

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

measure your small business marketing Numbers can suggest different paths depending on the calculations you do

What do I mean by this comment?  Let me use a recent client project to provide an answer to look at how different calculations can lead to different decisions.

As I am sure you know, the first stage in any engagement SME Needs has with a new client is to help them measure their small business marketing performance, providing the data they need to make decisions about what they need to do to improve their marketing performance.

I started working with this company a few weeks, after they contacted me because they had received a Growth Voucher. I must admit I was quite impressed by the amount of marketing measurement they were doing.  Most of my clients were doing little, if any, measurement when I first engaged.  They already knew what marketing was bringing in what sales and how much each sale was costing them in marketing costs.

What this means is that knew what was definitely working and so could continue using those channels:

  • Word of mouth was generating good numbers of new clients and was costing them nothing
  • their advert in a local online community cost less than £10 a time and had generated a high-spending client
  • Their website was sending a lot of new clients their way

This was all great and it was gratifying to see a small business measuring their marketing.

However some of their marketing activities were costing quite a bit:

  • a local magazine listing was generating clients but they were spending around £100 per sale to acquire them
  • Facebook advertising was costing over £50 per new client
  • Another magazine advertising campaign was costing over £200 per new client

As they are a relatively new business, they are being very careful with their resources, but they have set a target for what they wish to pay: £30.  Although this is an ambitious target, it is great to see they have one.

This cost per client calculation led them to believe that the local magazines were a poorly performing route to market; for one they were right.

I took the calculations one step further: what was the cash being generating by each marketing channel?

This painted a different picture, particularly for one of the magazines.  They had spent nearly £700 on advertising but it had generated over £3,500!  It was actually a very profitable route to market.

This local magazine is now part of the marketing strategy they are moving forward with.

I hope this shows how marketing numbers can be misleading and lead to incorrect decisions if you don’t look at the carefully.

Of course, if you would like me to help you analyse the marketing numbers within your business, please get in touch.

which supplier - from the buyer's perspective

The most powerful question in marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

which supplier - from the buyer's perspectiveClue: it helps you improve your marketing resource allocation

I had someone contact me through LinkedIn the other day, asking to talk about what SME Needs does and, in particular, about marketing ROI.

At this point I must admit I was a little sceptical, seeing as he described himself as a strategy and marketing consultant; why would I want to talk to someone who is a competitor?

The conversation started with a question about how you track the performance of a specific marketing activity. Is it possible?  Now of course this depends. Pretty much anything digital can easily be tracked; direct mail can simply use promo codes and you know exactly what happens if you are using telemarketing.

The conversation moved forward to how to attach specific sales opportunities to marketing activities.  For me that brings up a conversation about the most powerful question in marketing – that is:

Q: How did you find us?

All you then do is ensure this is recorded for every sales opportunity you have.

From there, its a few calculations to understand your marketing performance.

1. How many enquiries do you get from any particular channel and how much does it cost per enquiry?

Obviously the more you get, the better, but only if they are costing an amount you can continue to fund through sales delivered through the channel

2. How many enquiries do you need for each sale?

This will give you a great idea on just how much marketing you need to do in order to achieve the goals you have for your business. Do you agree with this? Do you believe this is the most powerful question in marketing?

I hope this proves to be useful and if you need anymore help on measuring the performance of your marketing, give me a shout.

Key social media tips

By A Helping Hand, Social Media

There are nearly 12 million people in the UK on LinkedIn, 37 million Facebook Pages worldwide and nearly 40 million UK Twitter accounts. To be noticed amongst all these and to develop quality sales opportunities, here are a few social media tips that either I know to work or are tips that I have been given by people I trust who use them everyday. I hope they prove useful for you.

Social media is about helping people, it is not simply about broadcasting your sales messages.

  • There is a clue in the name in what you have to do to be successful – be socialable.
  • Build relationships so you know what interests your connections and what they are looking for in business terms
  • Provide useful and interesting material that shows you know what you are talking about
  • Be consistent so that you maintain the relationship and maintain your position in their minds for when someone needs your services.

Don’t sell – help

  • We have media recording devices at home in order to avoid most of the adverts. Your connections on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will simply disconnect to avoid your adverts.
  • If you help people by making useful connections for them, they will return the favour – think Givers Gain.
  • Provide evidence on how you’ve helped others so your connections start to trust you.

Automate and outsource sensibly

  • Social media tools such as hootsuite or tweetdeck are useful but they cannot build relationships for you. Use them for scheduling some activity but remember that you have to interact to build relationships
  • There are lots of companies that will do your social media for you but they will never know your business as well as you do. Outsourcing does not mean letting go!
  • Use tools such as Tweriod to find out when your followers are online. Be active when your connections are active so that there is a greater chance they will see you.

Volume is only sometimes useful

  • 50 connections with good relationships on LinkedIn is better than 1,000 people who you know nothing about.
  • You won’t generate interested followers simply by following 1,000’s of others. They will only follow you if you can be useful to them.

Personal and business are different

  • Don’t set up a business using a personal profile on Facebook. There is a good chance they will find it and then simply delete it as it breaks their terms of service.
  • Personal profiles are about you. Talk about you and do it in the first person.
  • Business profiles/pages are about your business so use appropriate language and images.

 

I hope these prove useful for you and I will endeavour to update this when I find other useful snippets.

 

Don’t Bottle – Share!

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

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.

 

How to qualify your prospects as a small business

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

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

By A Helping Hand, Small Business Marketing

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

By A Helping Hand, Focus

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

By A Helping Hand

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.

bounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website

How to attract the right traffic to your website

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

Creating more website traffic is a key goal for most small businesses, as more traffic means more business – right? Most of the time, yes, but not always. There is good website traffic and then bad traffic. Here are 15 tips on how to attract the right traffic to your website…

Good Website Traffic

In a perfect world, every person who visited your website would get in touch, as they want to buy what your small business sells. In reality, a 1-2% contact rate is going to deliver a great flow of leads into your business. There are a number of different ways to recognise good website traffic, so you can do more to encourage it.

Bounce rate

Do you know the bounce rate on your website? If you don’t you need to as it tells you whether you are making a good first impression. Google defines a bounce as:

The percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further.

If you haven’t got Google Analytics on your website, click here to set up your account and get your web developers to add it.
A healthy bounce rate is 15 – 40%. If it is above that, you are attracting the wrong visitors, or you are not giving them what they are looking for on the first page they land on.

How to improve your bounce rate
  1. Look at what pages have a good bounce rate, and which don’tbounce rate statistics from Google Analytics. Image to support article on creating more traffic for your website
  2. Is there a big look or feel difference between the content on the good and not so good pages?
  3. Use Search Console to identify the keywords that are generating natural, or paid, search for that page.
  4. Shape the content so the viewer is getting better information when they land on those pages.

Returning Traffic

How much of your traffic is returning? If viewers are returning to your website, it suggests that they are interested. Google Analytics shows you two stats to help this: New vs. returning and Depth of Visit.
To increase the amount of returning traffic, look at the pages that are being returned to and create more content like that. Alternatively, consider using remarketing as a way of getting people back to your site after they’ve visited.

Engaged Traffic

If your website is grabbing the attention of your visitors, they will stay and read more of the content before getting in touch. Again, two numbers to keep an eye on: Length of visit, and Number of Pages Visited. The longer the visit and the higher the number of pages visited, the better.

How to improve website engagement
  1. Look at what pages have a high Exit Rate. They either do not have useful information or they don’t clearly show the viewer where to go next.
  2. Review your website routing. Is it logical and giving the viewer a good route around your website?
  3. Are there appropriate Calls to Action on the website. Too few will mean people don’t get in touch and too many will seem desperate, and put people off.

Traffic that is making contact

Do you know how many people are calling you (is there a phone number on the website?) or completing a Contact Request form? These are the lifeblood of your small business, giving you a flow of leads you can convert to new business. Without a steady flow of new leads, you are going to struggle to achieve your growth and performance targets.

How to increase the number of people who contact you

1. Add a phone number. Too many websites lack a phone number and so will stop people getting in touch.
2. Ensure they are links to your Contact Us page on every page of the site. For some landing pages, you may want to add a Contact Form to those as well. Not too many though (see above).

Are your mailing list and social media working?Google analytics screen shot to support article about increasing website traffic

Do you know how much traffic hits your website from your social media activity or your email marketing? If these marketing channels are part of your marketing mix, you will be investing considerable amounts of time on them. You need to know whether the time is being invested wisely. Google Analytics will show you how much of your website traffic is coming from these channels.

From the right keywords

Google Analytics, Search Console and other premium tools, such as SEMrush or Moz, will tell you what keywords are driving traffic to your website. You want to drive more traffic from the right keywords, but ensure that the wrong ones (cheap, free, in another geographic region, etc.) are not driving traffic.
For Google Ads, this is simple; you simply add negative keywords to your campaigns so that Google doesn’t show your Ads to people who type them into the search bar. For natural search, this isn’t quite as easy.
You cannot block natural search, but you can ensure that your content and metadata doesn’t include the negative keywords you want to avoid. If “free” or “cheap” are being used in different parts of your website, in conjunction, with your service or product offering, you run the risk of getting natural search traffic that you don’t want.

The Bad traffic

Bad website traffic isn’t just a waste of bandwidth. It’s a waste of your time too. If you are getting enquiries coming in from people who are expecting something different to what you are selling, they take up time before you qualify them out. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Traffic that Bounces or leaves quickly

Google may not use bounce rate data directly within its algorithms, but it does pay attention to how long people stay on your site after a search. If they see lots of people leaving very quickly, that tells them your site isn’t providing what people are looking for when using the keywords they searched on. Google will then move you down the rankings for that search term.

Traffic from outside your target area

If you only sell to companies in the UK, the last thing you want is traffic, and potentially enquiries, from outside the UK. Appearing in their searches is simply wasting their time. Enquiries from them are wasting your time. Nobody wins.

Stopping this type of website traffic isn’t always easy. Probably the easiest way to limit the amount of out of area traffic is to talk more about the area you want business from. You’ll see on our Contact Us page a map showing where our clients have been based. We’re actively looking for clients across the UK, so we use the map to show this. Look at how your website content shows where you want to work. Include an address on the site (not just in the Privacy Policy page) so it is very clear. Add a telephone number so the search engines can pick up your area dialling code too.