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.

Don’t be the wrong type of business during the 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 as they can too.

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!

Pointing you in the right direction to attract and win more clients

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 2020

2019 has flown by and 2020 is waiting just around the corner. If your 2019 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 see our top tips helping […]

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