Category

Customer Understanding

The customer should be at the heart of all of your small business marketing. If it isn’t it needs to be.

These Customer Understanding blogs aim to help you, as a small business owner, to re-focus your marketing messages and improve your marketing performance.

Written by small business marketing consultants to help you grow your business

Which hats don’t you like wearing?

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance

A few questions that may help

Small business owners wear many hats. It’s out of necessity, simply because there are so many things that need doing within a small business. The problem is that when you get busy, there sometimes isn’t time for everything to do all the jobs that need doing. Sometimes these jobs can be simply delayed a little, but what if you go through a busy patch that lasts for a while?

The question is: How do you prioritise the hats? Which hats must you continue to wear and which could you really benefit from by getting some assistance?

My thoughts: the answers to these questions will guide you to which to outsource:

Which hats don’t you like wearing?

Which ones do you lack skills around?

For most people, that will start with those involving complex legislation. For anything that needs a lawyer, you need to get help unless you are suitably qualified. For HR problems, the legislation changes so frequently, it is wise to get at least some advice and accountancy can get complex, depending upon the tax situation.

After this, there is another set that can be outsourced if you are simply too busy. For them, there is one more question to ask yourself?  What is the opportunity if you outsource?

If you can earn more by simply freeing up your time, it makes sense to outsource what you can.

If the service provider has better skills and will deliver an enhanced ROI, it makes sense to use the service provider.

You do what you do because you love doing it and it provides you and your team with job satisfaction, a lot of fun and a lifestyle you want, so why let things get in the way of doing what you love doing?

I hope this helps.

Use your marketing data wisely

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance

We’d like to say a huge thank you for joining us at the IoT Tech Expo Europe!

This was the opening line to an email I received last week.  That’s very nice of them, you might think, but there is a problem with this… I wasn’t there.

Don’t get me wrong. I did intend to go and I did register, but I never got the time to attend, as it was one of those “I’d love to have a nose around” events.

Up until then, the marketing team had done everything right:

  • I’d been thanked for registering
  • They sent me a link to get my delegate e-badge
  • They kept me up to date with what was happening

As you cannot get in, and sometimes even out, of these events without having your e-badge scanned, there’s no excuse for not knowing whether I was at the show. It goes without saying that these emails were written before the event even took place, but I can only assume they didn’t add attendance data to their automation tool, but they had a week to do it.

The lesson: don’t try to do things your marketing data doesn’t support

My Tips:

  • Draft your emails well before the event, so you have time to make any adjustments you need to.
  • Personalise them based only on the data you have or are going to collect.
  • Manage your marketing data and make sure the data is added to the relevant tools.
  • Keep it simple the first time. Better to deliver a simple message well than a complicated one poorly.

I hope this helps.

 

I want to talk to…

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Social Media

In the UK there are 689,890 companies[1], 190,978 of them meet the EU definition of an SME and so, theoretically, they could be my target market, bearing in mind my company name.

In reality the vast majority of them I will not be able to help. This is why you will rarely hear the word “anyone” uttered when I’m networking or asking clients for referrals. Why is it, therefore, that so many business owners believe they can sell their services to anyone?

The problem with anyone is that it is simply too wide a scope and what happens is that you end up with no-one being referred to you.

A chiropractor said to me, at a networking event recently, I can help anyone with a spine. Whilst this may be true, it doesn’t help me help them. I’m not going to mention them to everyone I know with a spine.

I need, and so will all your clients and connections, a little more to go on. Have you seen the latest eHarmony advert where they show a man on a couch with a camel? The advert goes on to say they were matched because of two matching criteria, but eHarmony uses more to ensure a good match.

You should use the same approach when asking for referrals. After all if 438 couples get married every day after being matched on eHarmony, they must be getting something right.

Whilst I am not suggesting you have 29 levels of compatibility with your clients, you must make it easier for people to refer you. Give them more information: industry sector, geography, company size, job title and, most definitely, reasons why.

The good thing about getting this pinned down is it also helps you work out what marketing to do, but I’ll talk about that next time!

 

[1] LinkedIn; as of 13/1/15

Tracking isn’t just for rednecks

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance, Social Media, Technology & your business
  • A broken twig
  • fresh footprints
  • Frightened birds
  • Canddi return trigger!?!

All are signs a tracker will use when hunting their prey.  Knowing where their prey is through tracking is key for the hunter if they want to eat tonight.

The same goes for the your business (with the last one on the list only really for businesses).  Knowing who is looking at you and your online presence can really help you to grow your business. It’s key to be tracking your marketing

Let’s split this into two: you and your business.

Who’s looking at you?

As the owner or director of the business, you are a figurehead for the business.  People will look at you as an indicator of what the business is all about. There’s a few places people will go to in order to look at you:

LinkedIn

Both your personal and company profiles are likely to be looked at.  Are you happy they portray you well?  The good thing about LinkedIn is that you know who is looking at you and when they looked.  This means you can return the favour and then make a decision about what to do next.  Are they a potential client, a possible supplier or simply someone who could be a useful person to network with.

Twitter

To an extent, this depends on whether you tweet as you or as the business, but they’re still going to look. Keep it consistent and interesting. Most of all make sure you’re interacting.

Who’s looking at your business?

There are many tools you can use to check out your website’s performance, starting with good old Google.

Google Analytics

An oldy but a goody.  At the most basic level, you can see how many unique views you get, where they came from, how many pages are being looked at and what pages are liked/disliked (check out the bounce rate).  At the other end of the scale, you can see whether viewers are following the path you expect them to, what they are spending and what your demographics look like.

Check out Audience/technology/network as well.  You can see the names of some of the companies checking you out!

Canddi

No, I haven’t mis-spelt it, there are 2 d’s.  There are a number of more advance web analytics tools out there, including Trovus, Lead Forensics and IDFingerprint.  My favourite at the moment is Canddi.  Not only have they agreed to a free trial for all my clients, they won’t tie you in for a long-term contract and you can set it up to tell you when people return to your website.  Would you like the next conversation you have with a prospect to be timely and absolutely relevant?

I could go on forever about the various tools you can use to track who’s watching you online, but let’s save the 1984 bit for another time.   The simple truth of the matter is that keeping an eye on who is looking at you means you get a chance to interact with them, you know what they are interested in and you can have both a highly relevant conversation and one at the right time.

I wonder if your competition are doing the same thing?

Need a hand tracking your marketing performance? Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you.

 

 

Visitor Movement

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance

How are viewers moving around your website?

When you build your website, you think you have a logical path through the site. You want visitors to arrive, find what they want and then move to “Contact Us” so they can get in touch with you. Sometimes this isn’t the case and so you need to understand what paths are being taken so you can make changes to get your website visitors through your site.  This is where Google Analytics comes in.  The new version provides a tool called Visitor Flow.  this tool provides a graphic image of the routes through, and out, of your website that your visitors take.

If you’ve got a Google Analytics account, make sure you’re using the New Version. If you’re still on the Old Version, click on New Version just below the top right hand corner. Once you’ve clicked you will see a graphic representation of how your website visitors move through your website.  Starting from their country of origin. The image below shows that the majority of visitors come from the UK but go to a number of different pages.  The visitors from the USA, India, France and others all go to the Home Page.

image of Google Analytics visitor flow, supporting a small business marketing article for SME Needs Ltd

Let’s work our way across the image and explain what it is telling you and how this can help you to improve the performance of your website.

Starting Pages

Below Starting Pages it shows the number of visitors in the measured period (default is the last 30 days).  Next to that is the number of people who left without looking at another page (Bounced as it’s known). The thickness of each line represents the volume of visitors to each page so you can see 120 landed on the Home Page etc.

First Interaction

From each initial landing page you can then see lines moving to the right and joining up with another page name.  In our example 15 people went straight to Contact Details, 11 to the blog etc.  Of the 75 visitors who had that first interaction, 29 then left the website, leaving the rest to make a 2nd interaction.

Further Interactions

On your Google Analytics page you will be able to follow the image right for 12 interactions, giving you a detailed understanding of how visitors are using your website.

What does this all mean?

What does this all mean?  Simple; for your Marketing Director, or senior management, they can see where visitors go and, more importantly, don’t go. Are they following the path you want them to? If not where are they going? Are they clicking on the internal links you have on individual pages? If not, perhaps you need to make them more obvious or you need to improve the content

There is a great deal to be learnt from Google Analytics about the performance of your website and Visitor Flow is just one of the new features that I particularly like.  I hope you will find it useful too

Smile to sell more

By Customer Understanding

Why you need to smile more

That’s silly – I can hear you now thinking what is he on about.  I believe this for one simple reason: people BUY people.

In the, usually, less structured world of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) there are four aspects to the buying process:

  1. does this meet the needs of my business?
  2. Does the price meet with my budget?
  3. How will this purchase make me look to my peers and my boss?
  4. Do I like the person sitting in front of me?

I don’t have any research that says what percentage of the process can be attributed to each of these (more homework for me) but what I can say is that I have never bought a business product or service off someone I didn’t like and I don’t think anyone bought off me whilst thinking I was a pratt!

Part of the process of making someone like you is your first impression.  There are lots of clichés around this:

  • You never get a chance to make a second impression
  • First impressions count
  • Etc.

Your first impression is made up of a number of aspects:

  • Did you arrive on time?
  • Are you dressed appropriately (jeans and stockbrokers rarely mix for example)?
  • What sort of handshake do you have (limp rarely equals a positive impression unless you’re royalty and shaking 100’s of hands a day)?
  • Do you look like you’re enjoying yourself?

The last is the ultimate.  If you come across as if you’re not enjoying yourself, the chances are that you don’t believe in either the product or the company.  If you don’t believe, how are you ever going to get the buyer to? A smile that starts BEFORE you enter the meeting and ends AFTER you leave will generate, in you and the buyer, a positive mental attitude.  If you don’t believe me, watch The Apprentice and see how the Irish guy, Jim Eastwood,  to see what I mean.  Whatever you think of the show and what it does to the future job prospects of these people, it is great for watching how people interact; both with their colleagues and with their customers.

So to summarise:

  • If you smile, you will look like you’re enjoying yourself
  • If you look like you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll make a good fist impression
  • If you make a good first impression, the buyer will like you
  • If they like you, you have a much better chance of making the sale

As I said at the beginning, smiling helps you sell more.