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.

5 expert ways you can benefit from your brand advocates

brand advocacy strength

Brand advocacy is the ultimate goal for small businesses that helps strengthen your competitive advantages.

Marketing has generated the lead. Sales has closed the deal and Operations has delivered a great service/product. You have a very happy client; a brand advocate. What can you do from this point to maximise the benefit your small business gets from this?  Here are 5 ways you can use the brand advocacy to your advantage… 

This is the final blog post in ‘activate fierce brand loyalty’ series.  

 “What about you and me?” 

This is what a client would ask when they consider active advocacy towards your brand. 

The answers to the questions below that relates to why a client would think of choosing you can be found in the previous blog posts: 

Through a combination of brand awareness, understanding of performance levels, strength of imagery, forming positive judgements and experiencing positive feelings, a potential B2B client feels inclined to work with you.  

They are in-sync with you and your brand.  

Your client feels a deep psychological bond with your brand and everything it represents. 

To maximise this intensely positive relationship, there are five key areas that can increase your advantages.

Ask for a testimonial 

A happy client will say great things about you and your business, but sometimes you need to nudge them just a little. 

When you talk to them, for example as a project is finished, ask for a testimonial. They can either say something during the conversation, or email something to you. Use that testimonial across your online and print marketing collateral.  

If you add the testimonial to LinkedIn or Twitter, make sure you mention them in the text (@insert name) so they get notified and either Like or comment – a further endorsement. 

If they could do their testimonial as a video, that would be even better! 

Their words, and feelings, can be tremendously powerful. 

Ask for a referral 

Who do they know who could also use your services/products? When doing this, try not to use the word anyone – it makes things surprisingly difficult. 

  • Perhaps they are connected to someone you’ve been trying to get hold off. Could they do an introduction? 
  • Be specific if you cannot identify a person. Who do they know in this role in this industry sector? Of course, this will have followed on from you researching their clients and their network. 
  • Ask for three. That way you may get one. 

Prospects who have been referred by a brand advocate become clients at a far greater rate than any other lead source. 

Invite them to Events 

Nobody likes someone that talks too much about themselves! That is just what you have to do as a

 small business when marketing yourself.  Sincerity is something highly valued when building business relationships. 

However, it is much more powerful to have a client who has built a strong relationship to represent your brand. Conversations ensue in the hustle and bustle of a lively event your hosting. 

In and amongst you speaking for and representing yourself, you would want advocates in the crowd to support your claims. Their intensely positive experience with you carries a weight you cannot replicate yourself. The marketing happens organically and likely to be received better. 

Develop a case study 

A well-built case-study goes a long way for a small business. It helps communicate a story that relates directly to an advocate’s experience with your brand.  

This is a fantastic tool to utilise an existing advocate to generate further leads. Prospects will search for answers as they require services for their business. It is second nature to Google and research. Especially when a large sum of money is in the equation relative to the size of the business. 

A case study narrative helps a prospect discern: 

  • The advocate’s original challenge 
  • How your business presented a solution 
  • How the solution was implemented practically  
  • The results, a prospect always wants to know what the end results are 

Go to networking events they go to 

Make the most out of that intensely positive relationship by frequenting network events they attend.  

The relationship will sell itself. Remember, however, this is a networking event so don’t monopolise their time. 

Both parties mutually benefit. Through prompting and suggesting one another if a conversation occurs where anything that connects to your brand or service is mentioned. 

There is an underlying trust and loyalty fostered over time between you and your advocate and your presence reminds them of the pleasant experience they have had with you. 

Looking to strengthen your brand advocacy? 

Do you need advice on how to strengthen your brand advocacy through your marketing efforts? SME Needs is ready with expert advice, planning and implementation of your specialised marketing plan. 

How can small businesses encourage a strong response from a client?

“What about you?” 

What about you makes you the best choice for your potential client to work with instead of others? 

This blog post will help you to recognise and communicate what your brand means to your client. 

Positive brand feelings

This is the third post of the ‘activate fierce brand loyalty’ series. 

So far we have covered, “who are you?” and “what are you?”in the previous two blog posts. 

After answering those two questions, your ideal client will start to form feelings and judgements towards you. This is due to having a base of broad awareness. Following this, the brand building blocks of performance and imagery are then taken into consideration. 

The ability to create intensely positive feelings 

A brand is more than its product or service. 

A brand evokes feelings. 

As small business owners, you must consider how your brand makes your customers feel about you and them.  

There are the four responses your business faces:  

  • intensely negative  
  • mildly negative  
  • mildly positive   
  • intensely positive. 

How best to handle a negative comment

The reality for most UK businesses is that you rarely experience mildly negative or mildly positive feelings in the form of reviews or social media interactions.  

However, you know when someone has a negative experience; it is quintessentially British to make sure everyone knows about it!  

For example, someone may dislike the opinion piece you shared in your weekly e-newsletter.  

They email you angrily about how you are a total and utter disgrace!   

It is important to politely respond. Apologise for how they feel and do your best to resolve it. If the negative feedback is unwarranted and unreasonable, do not be afraid to unsubscribe them from your list. It is best to focus your time, efforts and content towards those that value it. 

Turning the peri-peri meter from mild to spicy 

Potential clients who have an intensely positive feeling towards you are likely to follow you on social media. They may be subscribed to your e-mailing list. Most importantly, it will lead towards an intensely positive feeling in which they are more likely to buy from you. It is vital to be able to communicate your knowledge and expertise consistently. There are various ways to do so: 

  • Tips and guides 
  • Case Studies 
  • Testimonials 

To make the most of these methods to showcase your knowledge, it is best to share content to specific segments of your audience. If you are aware that your potential client is in the tech industry, share a tech-related testimonial with them.  

A practical tip is to share specific e-mail content to a specified segment of your audience that it is applicable to. Following this, send a follow up email. To be able to turn a potential client’s mildly positive feeling to intensely positive, it is necessary for them to engage with the content. A follow up email increases the likelihood of opens and click-throughs, which then leads them towards the landing page with a call-to-action.

The more relevant the shared content is, the more likely they are to react to it. 

Through these feelings, positive judgements will be formed of your business and what it represents. It will enhance your image of credibility and superiority that makes you a business worth working with and paying for. 

Talk to Them

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

How to talk to your target audience and effectively engage

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

Talk in the Second Person

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

Which of these is more powerful?

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

OR

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

Gathering around rarely happens

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

Compare it to dating

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

More Engaging

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

They’re important – not you

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

Quick Test

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

If your marketing isn’t as effective as you want it to be, this may well be a key part of the problem. Of course, if you would like some help in converting from “we” to “you”, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 and let’s have a chat about how we can help.

4 simple tips to build your brand awareness! 

simple tips to build your brand awareness! 

Activate fierce brand loyalty series – Part One 

What is brand awareness?

What is brand awareness? 

Have ever been at your local supermarket and you realise you’re running low on tea, so you walk to the tea aisle and pick up Twinings or Yorkshire Tea without thinking about it?  

The reason you gravitate towards certain brands is because you already have positive associations of them in your brain. This includes the performance, in the case of of Twinings, it could be through the packaging or the taste. 

This post will give practical recommendations that put your small business in the mind of your potential clients. 

Why should brand awareness be something small businesses think about? 

This is because at the point of consideration, you want your ideal client to think of you.  Following this, you would want them to have a preference to select your business ahead of your competition. This is especially relevant for B2B businesses as once a potential client selects a business to potentially work with, they will dedicate a lot of time and resources to explore that particular avenue. Therefore, you want to be the particular business that they have chosen to give their time to as you navigate the protracted decision-making process. 

This blog post will cover three crucial brand awareness tips that help you, as a small business owner, to build brand awareness.  

Engage with your audience 

As a small business, your communication with potential and existing clients should be frequent.  

Frequency is a fantastic start but your communications must be relevant to your audience, as well as well-timed. 

If you know there’s a current sentiment, feeling or occasion, take advantage of it and join the conversation 

This can be relatively cheap or even for free in our current environment by engaging in active social media hashtags. Especially if they  happen to cross over and relate with your business or industry. 

This can occur at networking events. It provides the opportunity for you to share how you stand out from the crowd in a face-to-face environment! 

Connect with your target audience 

One of the strongest assets small businesses can have that helps build brand awareness with their audience is their ability to develop an emotional connection! 

This can be done through inexpensive methods such as social media advertisement campaigns. Some may have not tested these waters but they can be tailored to your needs and budget.  

There is a great flexibility in targeting audiences with social media platforms. It allows you to target people based on your current followers. Furthermore, you can customise your audience preferences based on the geo-location or their interests.  

With a simple slider based on your daily budget and duration, it gives you an approximate figure of the reach of that advertisement.  

It can be as cheap as a coffee and a croissant from your favourite local shop! Therefore, it is a worthwhile option to explore to be able to connect with your ideal client. 

However, the world is not just online for small businesses. It is important to be vocal and active in our local communities.  

Through your goodwill, character and personable behaviour with other local businesses and customers, it will build a positive image of your business and the values that underpin it. Trustworthiness doesn’t have to cost a thing but can help your small business quietly thrive. 

The importance of visible feedback!  

Credibility is a highly sought-after attribute for all small businesses. How do I show my experience and expertise to my target audience on a minimal budget?  This question has probably popped into your head at some point. 

The primary answer is something that is easily taken for granted. 

Reviews!  

It is important to utilise your existing customers who have a positive impression of your business, your personality and the quality of your services.  

This is because your target audience is far more likely to believe in what your business provides from someone who actively bought from or used your service than from your own mouth.  

In a sea of marketing, your ideal client is quite frankly overloaded with everyone saying they are the best. 

This is why client considers reviews as more genuine as it is coming from a source other than the business itself. 

So if you know a client who is extremely happy at the service you have provided or the product they have bought from you, do not be afraid to ask for a review.  

Each one counts 

For example, when potential clients find your business on Google and see a substantial amount of positive reviews, even if your brand isn’t instantly recognisable, it becomes associated with being trustworthy 

Keep it up! 

The best method to activate brand awareness is through small and consistent efforts.  

Repetition is key! 

Through an application of one of or a combination of the previous tips, you can achieve the first and the most crucial stage of brand loyalty in brand awareness. 

This is by making the most of your touch-points with your target audience, firstly, by making sure you bring your business into the conversation and then developing on that by building an emotional connection.  

Over time, through persistent engagement and connection, a broad positive awareness and recognition will occur in the mind of your targeted client when they think of anything that relates to your business and the service you provide. 

Final Thoughts 

These simple tips to build brand awareness should get you thinking the next time there is a decision to make.

The next time you need something, think about what brand or business you choose over the other options.  

It could be when you think about your biscuit tin contents running low? 

Perhaps you need some tech developers to build an application for your business? 

Maybe it’s time to upgrade your phone?  

Or maybe you’re looking for a marketing agency to build your business’ strategic plan with?  

This should help you consider the importance of brand salience and why you should build it for your business.  

In terms of your own business, you know you have achieved brand awareness and recall when an enquiry is made, either in person in your local area, on the phone or through your website when a potential client thinks of needing something connected to your services or industry. 

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.

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!

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.

Preparing for the New Year

The last year has flown by and a new one is waiting just around the corner. If your this year was full of growth and successful marketing you’ll probably want to continue that through to the new year. However, if your year was lacking in that department, then even more reason to keep reading to […]

Six great marketing technology tools for small businesses

marketing 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

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.