Customer understanding is critical to successful marketing.

You have to show you understand your customer and that you can help them.  Gone are the days when you simply told them what you did and they worked out why that can be helpful to them. You have to help them understand how what you do will solve the problems, needs and issues they have.  If you don’t they will simply buy from your competitors – you don’t want that.

Of course, if you would like to discuss how we can help you improve your customer understanding, and show your customers you understand them, give us a call. 020 8634 5911 is the number to call and let’s have a coffee and a chat.

Six great marketing technology tools for small businesses



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

Let’s start with the free marketing technology

Google Analytics

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

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

Google Analytics will tell you:

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

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

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

Search Console

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

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

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

Yoast

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let’s now switch to the paid for products…

CANDDi

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

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

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

The Process

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

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

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

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

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

SEMrush

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Mailchimp

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

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

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

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

Consistency is key

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

 

[1] DMA figures, Sept 2019

Don’t be a Jacob Rees-Mogg!



image of jacob rees-mogg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jargon

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

Drop the Jargon

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

1.       Their needs, issues and problems.

2.       What success looks like.

3.       Evidence you can deliver success.

 

Their Needs

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

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

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

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

 

Success

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

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

 

Your Evidence

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

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

 

Perceived Risk

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

 

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

Get in touch if you need a hand

The Definition of Marketing Insanity

marketing insanity image

Are you suffering from Marketing Insanity?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. The definition of marketing insanity is, therefore, doing the same marketing over and over again and not getting any better results. So why do so many small businesses insist on this approach when it comes to attracting new prospective clients?

There are two reasons for this:

  1. They haven’t measured the performance of the marketing they have been doing.
  2. They have knowledge of only a certain number of ways of marketing their business.

Does this sound like an issue you have? Let’s see how we can improve things for you.

Why Measure your marketing?

There are three reasons to measure your marketing:

Time

Time is a resource that you always need more of. Using up time on marketing activities that aren’t generated leads and clients for you is wasting that time. It is time that you cannot get back. It’s gone forever.

Money

The old saying “time is money” counts here, but it is also the amount of money you spend on marketing activities that don’t work, that has to be considered. The more money you waste on marketing activities that don’t work, the less reaches your bottom line.

Quality

Too many people measure the vanity metrics of Likes, Follows and Shares. Whilst important, as they are likely to be pointing people at your website, or where people buy from you, they are not THE measures of success. From there, people often then measure the number of leads developed by a particular marketing channel.  Again, whilst important, it is not the most important measure. The most important measure of success is return on investment. Let me explain.

Leads that don’t turn into sales are also a waste of time and money. If you stop measuring at Leads, you risk wasting more time and money. If the leads aren’t turning into sales, they are probably the wrong leads.

Limited Knowledge

When, as a business owner, you have limited time, you can only do so much. If you invest time in learning how to do certain types of marketing, you want them to work otherwise you think that you have wasted your time.

That’s actually not true.

What you’ve done is tried something that you can now cross off the list.  There are huge numbers of ways to market your business and the chances are you only have time to work with a small number. If you have tried certain marketing channels over and over, don’t succumb to marketing insanity. Get some advice and look at what other marketing channels you could be using.

 

 

 

9 ways your best client can help you win more business

There are many ways your best client can help you win more business.

Our last blog talked about using them to develop an avatar and the key messages that form the core of your marketing communications. Let’s look at just how many different ways your best client can help.

1. Developing your Ideal Client

We covered this in the last article, but it makes absolute sense that you want more clients just like your best one(s). Why wouldn’t you.

2. Developing your Messaging

Again we’re nicking the kudos of the last blog, but it’s still valid.

3. Referrals

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first shall we! Whether they give you referrals because you ask them to, or completely off their own back, you want them to give you referrals. It shows they trust you and believe in you.

4. Testimonials

The words they provide are hugely powerful. We all buy online and we’re influenced by the reviews provided by others who have bought that product. As your best client has been using your services for some time, they will be respected by their peers and will support your sales efforts.

5. Case Studies

Potentially even more powerful, assuming you include the results you deliver rather than just what you did. People who read the case study will be looking to understand what your best clients gets in return for using your services. They’re not as interested in what you did and what happened. For a complete guide on what makes the best case studies, click here.

6. References

Do you ever offer a prospective client the opportunity to talk to your clients? In the same way you look for references when employing a member of staff, prospects often look for the same. Of course, testimonials and case studies can provide an alternative, but some still want to talk to a real human being. Who better to give them to talk to?

7. Feedback

If you’re thinking of adding services or changing something, running past your best client is a good idea. Depending on why you are making changes, getting their opinion on whether the changes are positive, or not, is really useful feedback. If, as your best client, they wouldn’t buy the changed product or service, should you be trying to make the changes?

Of course, a sample of one is never a good idea, but it’s definitely a starting point.

There are other ways your best client can help you. It doesn’t just have to be about winning new business.

8. Recruitment

We’re not suggesting you steal their staff – that’s not a good idea. However they may know people who can fill your vacancies. Keep them up to date with the people you are looking for.  You never know.

9. New Suppliers

If your business is a similar size or has similar needs to your best client, why not ask them who they use? Perhaps your office cleaners aren’t very good or you’re looking for new office furniture. Who did they use and would they recommend them? By asking them, you’re showing you respect their opinion and you trust them too.

I hope this helps

Are you trying to sell to Everyone?

even in the souks nobody sells to everyone

Nobody sells to everyone

I have too many conversations where a company is trying to maximise the number of people their website and marketing will appeal to. I have to then use what I am putting into this article to show them that trying to sell to everyone is a very bad idea. Read more

Why you have to focus your marketing

focus your marketing

Four key reasons to focus your marketing

There are many business owners out there who believe they can sell their product/service to anyone – sand to the Arabs and all that. I’ve no doubt they are very good sales people and could sell to anyone they sit in front of.  It doesn’t mean they should be trying to sell to anyone. I believe that you have to focus your marketing and let me explain my reasoning. Read more

Who are you talking to?

who is your website content talking to?Your website is your shop window, whether you sell to consumers or to other businesses. It doesn’t matter what you sell, pretty much the first place anyone goes to in order to find out more about you is your website. The question is:

Does your website content talk about you or does it talk to your viewers? Read more

Why I want clients to sack me

firing your marketing managerWhen I say I want clients to sack me, there are, of course, conditions attached to the statement. SME Needs provides marketing support for small businesses; we want them to be bigger businesses when they sack us. That means one of two things happens:

  1. They recruit a Marketing Manager
  2. They are acquired by a company with a Marketing Dept.

Let’s look at the reasons why a company would need a Marketing Manager. Read more

Why multiple mailing lists are a big problem

multiple mailing listsEmail marketing is a great tool when used correctly.

It’s cheap, completely trackable, and it can be personalised so that the content only goes to the right people.

It is also causing a lot of heartache as people get their head around GDPR and what they can and cannot do via email.

Let’s ignore for a moment that email is covered by PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) rather than GDPR. The biggest issue for email is consent.

This blog is about the issues that multiple mailing lists can cause with consent.

Read more

6 reasons why you should stop doing social media

Social media: love it or hate it, it has become part of our lives, both professionally and socially. Even if you aren’t using it, I bet your friends and acquaintances are and they are bugging you to use it as well.

For this article, let’s put aside personal use and look at whether you should stop using social media professionally.

Consistency is king

Your followers and connections are a fickle lot. They will love much of what you post and then Share/Comment/Like/Retweet, right up until the point they forget about you.

Why will they forget? If you aren’t appearing on a regular basis. We all have so many messages chucked at us on a daily basis, including lots more connections and followers on social media, it is easy to forget someone and lose track of what is happening.

You’re just Shouting

Social media is called social media for a reason. If you want it to work for your business, you need to be sociable. If all you are interested in doing is posting your latest special offer, you are going to be wasting your time. If this is you, you really should stop using social media.

You’re just being negative

If all you do is criticise others, particularly without offering a solution, you’ll quickly get a reputation. Check out some of our MPs to see what I mean. Nobody likes to be criticised, especially if you are just being negative and not suggesting an improvement.

You’re not there at all

Not being there at all is even worse than being inconsistent. This is particularly relevant when you consider the activity of prospective clients or staff.  Almost without fail, the first thing someone does when they hear about you is check your online presence. They find your website and then follow that with your social media presence. If your Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook accounts haven’t done anything for 6 months, what are they going to think?

You’re better off shutting down your account than having one that hasn’t been used for some time.

No traffic being generated

Your social media activity is, presumably, being done to generate new clients. If not, I am wondering why you are spending valuable time on there. The question is: how much website traffic are you getting from your social media activity?

If you don’t know, I refer you to our previous blog about Google Analytics and then recommend you see how much traffic you are getting.

If you aren’t getting any traffic, there are three probable reasons:

  1. You aren’t saying anything worthwhile (see point two above)
  2. You forgot to put any links to your site on your profile or in your posts (has been known)
  3. Nobody who is likely to buy from you uses that social media platform (see next point)

Any of these are bad and you need to identify which one is causing the issues and fix it fast.

If you disagree, I have a challenge for you: nip down to your local bank and try and pay your mortgage with Likes!

Your Target Audience doesn’t use it

Are you using the social media platforms you do because you use them in your personal life and so know what to do (?!?!) or is there another reason?

Have you considered which platforms are the ones your target audience is most likely to be using? Let me give you some examples:

  • If you sell to Managing Directors of technology businesses, they are highly unlikely to be on Facebook (at least in a business mood) so activity on there would be a waste of time. Moving to LinkedIn (18,366 in the UK alone, plus another 8,648 CEOs) would be a far better option.
  • Launching a new restaurant in St Albans via LinkedIn may not be the best idea (although there are 84,394 people from St Albans on LinkedIn, including 1 food critic). Adding great images of the food and the restaurant on Instagram and/or Facebook may be more effective as people are thinking more about their leisure time

Signing Off?

Do any of the above resonate with you?  If they do, you need to carefully consider whether you should stop using social media for your business. After all, your time is precious and you need to maximise your use of that time to generate leads for your business in order to grow.

I hope this helps