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Delivering your marketing

Once you have a marketing strategy and a marketing plan in place for your small business, it is then about delivering your marketing.  After all, there is no point in investing in developing the plan if you then don’t do it.

Regular and consistent marketing is vital for your business to be successful, but we recognise that you often don’t have either the time or the skills within the business to do this.  That is why SME Needs then manages your marketing to deliver it on time, on budget and so that you hit your marketing targets.

If need a hand delivering your marketing, these articles will help you. If you still need a hand, give us a call. As small business marketing consultants, this is what we do.

where to start with digital marketing especially when it isn't working

6 reasons why your marketing isn’t working

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

and what to do about them!


Assuming you are like every owner of a small business, you want your marketing to deliver the leads you need to grow your business. If your marketing isn’t working, there are six main reasons why. This article will look at each of these six reasons, explain the issue and what you can do about it.

Let’s go!

1. Focusing on the wrong audience

There are currently 68 million people in the UK. The vast majority of these people will never buy what your small business sells, so why do so many businesses try to maximise the size of their target audience?  Too many people believe that trying to appeal to huge numbers will generate more sales. The opposite is actually true, and will save you a huge amount of money that will be wasted when you try to engage huge numbers.good marketing helps your small business hit the target - an image of a dart to support the article

The more people you’re trying to market to, the more your messaging is compromised. It becomes ineffective and a waste of time and money.

Even the biggest companies focus their marketing. They have a range of different products that appeal to different audiences.

What to do

Develop personas for each of your Ideal Clients; most businesses will have more than one. Your marketing must focus on your Ideal Clients to be effective and you can find out more about how to do that here.

2. Ineffective marketing messages

Too many businesses use ineffective marketing messages. 43,600 companies claim to be “London’s leading provider” of whatever they do. 435,000 companies claim to be the “UK’s leading provider” Chances are none of them are – and people won’t believe them either.

Let’s use accountants as an example, but this applies to all business types.  If an accountancy firm’s marketing says “We are accountants” or “We are London’s leading accountants”, there are three problems:

  1. People say “And….”
  2. They have a preconceived idea of what an accountant does – that is often wrong.
  3. They don’t stand out from the competition.

How can we put this? Nobody cares what your business does!

They care about:

  • how you can help them.
  • how you solve their needs and issues.
  • Having someone who understands them.

What to do

Think about the needs and issues of your Ideal Clients and how you can help. Think about what success looks like for your Ideal Clients. That will help you develop far more effective marketing messages.

3. Using the wrong marketing tools

Using the wrong set of marketing tools happens for three reasons:

  • FOMO (the fear of missing out) is often a major problem within small business marketing, particularly when it comes to social media. “If we have content on all the social media platforms, we’re making sure that people don’t miss us”.
  • These are the tools I know and understand”. This is particularly relevant when small business owners are not willing to get some expert advice.
  • A marketing agency sells you what they do as the right set of marketing tools for your business. Find out more about our approach here.

When the wrong tools are being used, it means your marketing isn’t reaching your target audiences. It doesn’t matter how good you are with these tools or how effective your marketing messages are, if they are never seen, they won’t work.

What to do

Yet again, think about your Ideal Clients.

  • social channels are they most likely to be on regularly?
  • How do they travel to work?
  • How are they likely to search for companies who can help them?

If you’re really not sure, you can always ask some of your current clients.

The other thing to do is look at the ROI of each marketing channel up to now (great tool to help you available here).  Which are effective and which aren’t? If something isn’t working, stop doing it and invest that time and money in something that will.


4. Using the right tools poorly

Getting the best from many, particularly online, marketing tools requires training, practice and regular use. That’s why SME Needs works with a range of marketing specialists to deliver what our clients needs. Typical mistakes we see regularly being made include:

  • Email marketing campaigns always being sent to the whole contact list (see some tips here).
  • Social media activity that is only ever posting, rather than engaging with your audience and responding to posts/comments.
  • Very little use of video to explain complex stories.

You may get some results from using the right tools, but imagine what is possible when they are used well!

What to do

This depends on how much time you have available. If you have time and want to do your marketing yourself, get some training. There are plenty of companies that will train you in various aspects of small business marketing.

If you don’t have time, bring in the specialists. Whilst you will have to pay for their services, the ROI from improved marketing will be much higher than you will get without them.

No marketing consistency

Consistent marketing ensures your target audiences see your brand regularly. They get to know more and more about what you do and how you can help. When they realise they need what you sell, they are much more likely to get in touch with you. If your marketing is inconsistent, Sod’s Law says they will need your products/services just after they’ve forgotten who you are because they haven’t seen your brand for some time.

What to do

When planning your marketing, make sure that you are consistent with everything you do. If you simply don’t have time to produce a, for example, LinkedIn post every day, make sure you can get one out every other day. Make use of scheduling tools (we often use Publer and Mailchimp) to help you and build up a bank of marketing material in advance so that you can keep the consistency going.

If you really cannot meet the consistency levels needed (the more competitive your industry, the more frequent you are likely to need to be to maintain and build your brand recognition), bring in some help.

Not doing enough marketing

Related to consistency is the sheer volume of marketing you need to do. The more competitive your industry sector, the more you have to do.  That doesn’t mean doing 10 Instagram posts a day; rather its making sure that you are seen in multiple ways. Unless you have something that makes you markedly different from your competitors, you will need to be seen frequently enough that your brand and your messages are seen sufficiently enough that you are remembered at the same time (and ideally before) your competitors are.

What to do

Based on your Ideal Clients, you need to maximise the number of opportunities they have to see and engage with your brand and your messaging. An omnichannel approach (see here for a full explanation) means people continue to see your brand and your messaging, even when they are not actively searching.


If your marketing isn’t working, let’s talk. After reading this, you may have identified why your marketing isn’t working and simply need help fixing the issue. If you need help identifying why it isn’t working, that is always the first step we take new clients through. Give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or simply book a meeting into Nigel’s diary by clicking here.


opportunity cost, time is money, smart time management, opportunities

Getting the timing of your marketing right

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

Marketing is all about saying the right thing to the right people at the right time. This article will concentrate of the last piece of that statement – the right time. When is the right time?
This, of course, depends. It depends on two key things:

  1. When your product/service is going to be used
  2. When the buyer starts to think about the issue you help them with.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail…

When your product will be used

At the simplest end of this scale are highly seasonal products: Easter eggs, Christmas decorations, gifts that are aimed at any of the parent’s days. The purchase must be made directly from the manufacturer/ecommerce retailer in time for it to be delivered. If a store-based retail purchase, it can even be the same day.

In this scenario there is wholesale and consumer marketing times to consider, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on direct to user marketing.

For these products, there are firm start and end points for the marketing. Whilst this makes the timing easier, the competitive nature of the markets means your marketing needs to really stand out.

At the other end of the scale will be high value services that are used all year round and can be bought at any time of the year. Marketing is going to have to be done all year round, with other factors having more of an impact on your marketing timing.

When people start thinking about the issue

When buying something, people don’t think about the product, they think about the issue, the activity or the holiday. Business owners that buy accountancy or IT support services don’t initially think about IT support or accountancy, they look at productivity, lost time or think about why their tax bill was so high last year. Consumers of seasonal products look back at last time thinking “did we have a good Christmas?” – or equivalent.

Next their minds go to “how can this be better?”
• Should they buy something different, or a better version of what they bought?
• What else is needed?
• What does a good result look like?
• Should I have bought earlier, or later?

Whilst the first three questions here relate more to your marketing messages, the last one is absolutely relevant to the timing of your marketing.

Let’s start with the same two scenarios initially…

Seasonal timing

If we go to extremes, you will see many of the supermarkets selling Christmas products in August. People have usually booked (maybe even gone on) their summer holidays by this point, so the next big expenditure is Christmas. Because some people will want to spread the cost of the festivities over a period of time, it makes sense to start so early.

For you, it may be different. Consider these questions:

1. When did you starting marketing your seasonal products last year?
If you had a good year last year, it may make sense to simply start at that point again.

2. Were sales quick or slow when you started?
Slow sales are likely to indicate that you started your marketing too early. You were marketing before people had really started thinking about it. If sales were really quick, you may want to start a little earlier.

3. When did your competition start their marketing campaigns?
Keeping an eye on your competitions’ marketing is always a good idea, but don’t immediately think that you need to match them. They may be going too early and you definitely don’t want to rush the design of a campaign just to get it out there.

4. What is the best day?
Particularly for consumer marketing, knowing what days, and times, to start marketing campaigns is important. We’ve just analysed the email marketing for an ecommerce client and it clearly showed:
• Fridays are a really bad day to send email campaigns for them, with Monday & Thursday being far better.
• Weekend mornings perform so much better than afternoons

Just make sure you’ve been sending throughout the week before you do the analysis!

5. When did your seasonal products start selling last year?
If your products started selling before you were actively marketing them, people were definitely looking for what you sell before you realised it. If you’ve got an ecommerce site, your records will show when you started selling products, so you can alter your marketing schedule accordingly.

Timing for your marketing for year-round products/services

If there really is no seasonality for your products/services, you will need to be marketing throughout the year. Frequency of activity is important, as you need to tread that fine line between too much marketing and not enough.
Your marketing has three goals:
1. Get them into the top of your pipeline
2. Nurture them so they move through that phase
3. Get them to become a sales opportunity.

Top of pipeline timing

This activity has to take place throughout the year with your principal timing issue being about how frequently you are marketing.

A constant light touch

Spread your activity out when using multiple marketing channels. You don’t want your target audience to see you everywhere for a few days and then see nothing for weeks. Far better that they see a message a day over 10 days (for example) than 10 messages in a day and nothing for two weeks.

Moving them through your funnel

Decision makers will need to be confident that you can deliver what they need. Content that demonstrates the knowledge and expertise within your business should be shared with your target audience regularly.

Permutate the knowledge demonstration campaigns with more salesy campaigns that challenge their thinking and get them to think about their current provider. These should generate some inbound enquiries, converting them to sales opportunities.

Converting to a sales opportunity

Many small businesses simply rely on the funnel to call them when they are ready. Whilst you know at this point they are ready to talk, you are leaving things to chance. Keeping an eye on how your pipeline is engaging with you, and then following up, can generate sales leads more proactively, assuming you have the tools to show you who is engaged.
• Email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, will tell you who is opening and clicking on your campaigns.
• CANDDi can give you a real insight into who is looking at your website, what they are looking at and how they got there.
• Integrating both of these with your CRM puts all the information needed in front of your sales team (whether that is you or others in your business).

Regular reviews of the information in your CRM can give you a list of people to follow up with. That can be through personal emails, but far better if you pick up the phone and call them.


Can you get helpful information?

As people enter your funnel, can you get information from them that will help you? Renewal/replacement dates would be really useful to you, as would notice periods. Perhaps a short survey can get the information you are looking for, if you’re not yet talking to them.

What to do when you have a date

If you can get a date, work backwards from there based on your experience.
• If you have a renewal date, how much notice do they normally need to give?
• From the notice date, how long do people, on average, take to review a proposal and make up their mind?
• How long does it take to complete your sales process?
• Add on some time for the length of the campaign you’re planning.

This is likely to add up to a good few months, so don’t expect the sales to start quickly.

Some marketing options when you have dates

1. Automated email campaigns based on date information
2. Set tasks in your CRM to get you to pick up the phone
3. Direct mail campaigns can be highly effective, as people will keep good quality marketing collateral

This has hopefully explained the importance of timing within your marketing, and given you some ideas on what you can do to improve your marketing. If you would like to talk, or you have some questions about this, please get in touch.
• 020 8634 5911
• Click here to book time into my diary

The Do’s and Don’ts of websites for small businesses

By Delivering your marketing

There are very few small businesses that don’t have a website these days. Websites enable small businesses to get in front of their target audience in ways that were never possible when businesses relied on Yellow Pages and local footfall. So when you are planning either your first website, or your next one, getting some advice on what you should and shouldn’t be doing will make a real difference in the performance and ROI you get from that new site.

In the latest of our series of expert-led articles, here are a series of dos and don’ts from three highly experienced website developers:

  • Matt from 3mil Ltd – he’s been running his own firm and building WordPress sites for over 16 years now.
  • Si Bland from Correl8 Ltd – another highly experienced developer and a fellow Fore Business member too!
  • Troy Emmerson from Terra Digital – based in South Africa and part of the SME Needs team too.

Before you start

Matt says:

Consider your visitors – Understood the people who visit your website, your audience. These are commonly know as personas. There can be many persona types visiting your website for a number of reasons. It could be to validate your business, read a case study, buy a product or just looking for your telephone number. Structure the website in a way that they can easily find the information they are looking for when they arrive.

Si says:

Any new business should strive to have at the very least some sort of website presence, even if only a well thought-out single page homepage, listing key services, contact details and maybe contain an interactive website form. At the very least this would mean that your business can be found from a simple Google local business search.

Once you have a website address or URL (uniform resource locator), with contact details, then you would be able to claim your free Google Business Profile listing. This helps with natural search positions, and also allows you to have a platform for customers to leave a review, which is a very important element to promoting your business and distinguishing you from the competition.

It’s important when considering even a basic website, that you have some form of content management system (CMS). A content management system puts you in control of the content of your website. If you wish to add a news article, press release or a new customer testimonial or case study, then the last thing you’ll want is to go back to your design agency and have them charge you to do it.

Troy says:

When you start that search for a developer, beware of developers offering you cheap websites.

The design of your website

Matt says:

Look and feel – Make sure your website design follows your company visual identity, be consistent in your typography and colour palette. Use a strong standout accent colour for your links and buttons.

Troy says:

Never say to a designer “Wow me!” Unless you provide them with some guidance around what you like and don’t like, its going to be a long road. Remember too that the person you want to like your site is not you, but your Ideal Client.

The website’s content

Matt says:

Show, don’t tell – Don’t tell your website visitors how good you are at your profession, show them with content that contains results, facts / figures. Use social proof to inform new customers – use case studies and testimonials from your happy satisfied customers.

Nigel says:

When you’re building a new website, your content will need to change, whether that is just editing some of the current pages or adding a whole new set of pages and posts. Two things:

  1. Remember to include the cost of this work in your website budget
  2. Producing the content takes time and you need to keep on top of content production so your developer can stay within agreed deadlines.

Troy says:

Be careful with your choice of page builder and plugins within your WordPress website. Some of the page building tools, such as Elementor and WPBakery, use a lot of code, so can slow your site down and mean there is a risk that someone in the business can “break” the site by changing something they shouldn’t.  Having a set of design templates where the content and images can be changed, but not the structure and layout is a good way to protect the site, whilst giving you the freedom and flexibility to add pages/posts as you wish.

Also keep the number of plugins to a minimum. The more plugins you have, the more likely there are to be clashes and potential security issues.

Before Go Live

Troy says:

Test the site carefully. If things aren’t working (such as contact forms not sending emails to the right people), make sure they are fixed before the Go Live. If they are missed, it is still the developer’s responsibility to fix this after the site is live.

Also, make sure that you know exactly how things work after the Go Live. Changes to the site will usually mean additional costs, unless you have some skills and can do it yourself.


This one really starts when earlier than this, but it is definitely an ongoing piece. Matt says:

Optimise for search – Make sure you can be seen on Google. Use keywords, add meta descriptions and write informative and relevant blog articles for your audience. Also make sure you have a Google business profile to enhance your presence in local search and improve visibility.  He also says:

Keep your site up-to-date – If you have a WordPress website make sure the theme, plugins and the WordPress platform software is always up-to-date this will avoid security issues and any bugs that may arise from plugin conflicts. Keep the site content up-to-date, new blog articles, case studies, testimonials and achievements, keep your site looking fresh.

Troy says:

It makes sense to have a website support and maintenance retainer in place. Keeping plugins updated takes time, but is necessary for the security and functionality of your website. SEO work is ongoing to maintain and improve your performance in the search rankings.

If you are thinking of updating or replacing your website soon, we hope these tips have helped guide your thinking and, of course, if you want some help with the project, please get in touch. Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book some time into our diary.

Making the best use of video

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

How Business Owners Can Maximize the Impact of Video Content

According to a study by HubSpot, including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. Video content engages both visual and auditory senses, making it more memorable and compelling than text alone. This article is a combination of tips from video experts from with the SME Needs network, much as we did a while back with one on copywriting (you can read that here).

A few stats about video content on websites

Some useful / interesting stats:

  • Only 20% of website visitors will read a document, but 80% will watch a video.
  • 72% of customers would rather learn about a product through video
  • 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video
  • People stay on websites with video 5.3X longer

Figures like this make a compelling argument for you to add video content to your website.

Different types of video content

There are many ways small businesses can use video to level the playing field with big-named and deep-pocketed rivals; here’s the key ones and a reason for producing each…

Explainer videos

An explainer video is just that; a video which neatly explains your business, product or specific feature in a short, succinct package. Usually 45-90 seconds long. Click here to see an example produced by Hotwolf.

How To videos

How To content can be a great way to show your product in action – to help new / existing customers get the best out of it, or to entice new customers by showing-not-telling how easy / effective it is. There are a good set of this video type here.

Product videos

Depending on your product, you can really lift your website with individual and group videos of your products – people want to see physical products in 360. In fact, modern audiences expect it.


User-generated content (UGC) is the ultimate in “don’t just take our word for it” validation content. You can easily say they’re the best at XY and especially Z, but authentic comments from a real customer can do so much more to convince a potential purchaser.

Branded Content / infotainment

Who says brand content has to be boring? Creating genuinely entertaining videos, aimed squarely at your target demographic can be a great way to engage, promoting recall and putting your brand in a positive light with the right people. Give them a reason to follow you on social, or to look forward to your next output.

Influencer Videos

Using the authentic tone of voice and the existing audiences of established influencers can be a great way for an SME to reach a wider audience. We  recommend you agree beforehand any Do’s and Don’ts with the influencer / agency. Whilst you want the influencer’s authentic take (this is what you’re buying, as much as their audience), you need to be confident going in that they’re not going to denigrate your brand.

Meet the Team

Introducing the people behind the product can be a great way to humanise your brand and engender a more human engagement from your audience.

How to use your video content

As a small business owner, you can maximise the impact of video content in a number of ways. Here are some practical tips to make better use of video content:

Define Clear Objectives

Identify the specific goals you want to achieve with your video content. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, having clear objectives will guide your content creation process.

Know Your Audience

Understand your target audience’s preferences, interests, and challenges. Tailor your video content to resonate with their needs and preferences, ensuring that your message is relevant and engaging.

Create Compelling Storytelling

People connect with stories. Craft compelling narratives that showcase your brand’s personality, values, and unique selling points. Use storytelling techniques to create emotional connections that leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Optimise for Different Platforms

Adapt your video content for various platforms and devices. Each platform has its own specifications and audience behavior, so optimize your videos for social media, websites, and mobile devices to maximize reach and engagement.

Embrace Live Video

Leverage the power of live video to engage with your audience in real-time. Live streams on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn allow you to interact directly with viewers, answer questions, and showcase behind-the-scenes content, fostering a sense of authenticity.

Invest in Quality Production

While you don’t need Hollywood-level production, investing in good video quality is essential. Clear audio, well-lit scenes, and professional editing contribute to a polished and trustworthy image for your brand.

Implement SEO Strategies

Optimise your video content for search engines by using relevant keywords, creating descriptive titles, and writing detailed video descriptions. This will improve the discoverability of your videos and enhance your overall online presence.

Utilise Analytics

Track the performance of your video content using analytics tools. Pay attention to metrics like views, engagement, and conversion rates. Analysing these data points will provide valuable insights into what works best for your audience, allowing you to refine your future video strategies.

Encourage User-generated Content

Foster community engagement by encouraging your audience to create and share their video content related to your brand. User-generated content adds authenticity and can broaden your reach through diverse perspectives.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key in building a strong video presence. Develop a content calendar and regularly release videos to keep your audience engaged. Whether it’s weekly updates, monthly series, or timely event coverage, a consistent schedule builds anticipation and loyalty.

By implementing these strategies, you can leverage the dynamic and engaging nature of video content to effectively connect with their audience, build brand loyalty, and achieve their business objectives.

Thank you to our contributors

Greg Stocks is an Event Videographer and you can find out more about his services at

Matt Rook is the Founder and Managing Director at Hotwolf. You can find out more at

If you would like to discuss how video content can become a core part of your marketing strategy this year, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book a time directly into our diary.

B2B marketing expo trade show

Stop wasting your trade show investment

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance

B2B marketing expo trade show
If you exhibit at a trade show and don’t maximise the number of people you talk to, you may as well not be there. Spend your money on something else; something that interests you and will deliver the ROI. Here’s the top 5 errors made at trade shows by businesses and people.

1. Don’t turn up

The biggest of the errors made at trade shows is simply not turning up. By lunchtime at the B2B Marketing Expo, there was someone in every shell scheme stand, but at 9.45am (15 mins after the show opened), there were empty stands. With shows frequently charging upwards of £450 per square metre, why would companies spend a minimum of £3k and then turn up late? Most people walk around a show once, before then going back to the stands that catch their attention. An empty stand catches attention but in the wrong way.

2. Don’t talk to visitors

trade show delegates ignoring visitors and losing business

It is always amazing that many exhibitors will stand there, waiting for visitors to approach them. Why not talk to them? If someone is hovering, they are interested. They’re either trying to work out what your company does or thinking about how can help them. Either way, they are going to be open to a chat. Even it they say no, what have you lost if you say hello? If you don’t, you’ve definitely lost the opportunity.

This image is a typical example (smiley face emojis are protecting the guilty) of what we mean. Sharing a “funny” on your mobile whilst potential clients are walking past is not a great way to spend your time.  Whilst you cannot spend every moment talking to visitors, if you need a break, get off the stand!

3. Poor headlines on your stand Vertical Leap trade show stand

Considering the B2B Marketing Expo is full of marketing companies, it was good to see better headlines this year (see Vertical Leap).

Headlines that either:

  • Say what they do (& not how they help)
  • Say way too much

are not going to attract prospects.

Think about what your clients get from working with you and build your headlines around that. Make it amazingly easy for them to understand why they should talk to you.

4. Don’t follow up

The whole reason for exhibiting is to collect contact information from potential new clients. If you don’t then make use of that data, what was the point of going?

We deliberately published this article a little while after the show. This was to see how many companies contacted us, and how long they took to do so.
The b2b Marketing expo closed on Wednesday, the 23rd November. The first companies had contacted us by Friday, so all good. By the time we published, most had contacted us now, including one pushy sole who wanted to book a sales call in the moment he called (not a good idea!).

Followup campaigns

Your follow up campaigns should be prepared before the trade show. Normally a set of emails designed to thank your visitors for engaging, and then help them understand more about how you can help them. You then simply must add contact data and press send. The longer you leave it to follow up, the less important you make that visitor feel. 

Depending on how people engage with those emails will depend on what you do next.

one other point:

If you get the whole list of registered visitors, don’t send them all the same campaigns. Some won’t have gone (even though they registered) and most won’t have talked to you). Perhaps you can run a “sorry we didn’t see you “campaign to raise who attended, but you didn’t scan them?

5. Stop too soon

Just because they gave you their details doesn’t mean they are ready to buy now. It may be months before they need what you do. Once you complete your follow-up campaigns, make sure you keep communicating with them so they don’t forget you. Every sales trainer I know says that people stop too soon.  They make a few calls and then give up.  It is the same here. You may complete the follow up campaigns and they may still not be dropping further into your pipeline, but that doesn’t mean you give up.  Keep them on your mailing lists. Give them a call once in a while. The last thing you want is for them to fall out of your pipeline just before they realise they need what you sell!


So those are the 5 biggest errors made at trade shows. They’re not right for every business. But they can be a tremendously powerful part of your marketing mix if done properly. If you have a show coming up and need some help, call us on 020 8634 5911 

woman sitting reading great content

How to produce great content for your target audience and the search engines

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing

woman sitting reading great contentIf content on your website forms the core of your small business marketing strategy, you need that content to be great. By great, I mean really useful for your target audience. Great content will also help your search engine rankings, so make it easier for your target audience to find it.  These are our 15 tips on how to produce great content and get people reading it.

Write for the reader

The whole point of writing your blog/article is to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. Your content is there to help the reader clearly see that you are an expert in your field and that you can help them with an issue they face. So make sure that the article is written in a way that makes this clear.

Write in the 2nd person

The best way (at least in our opinion) is for you to write in the 2nd person. Write as if you are talking directly to someone on the other side of the screen. Current figures show that 62% of all web traffic is on mobile devices so you are talking to just one person. When was the last time you read an article with someone next to you on a screen?

Making your article feel, for the reader, like a conversation aimed directly at them will help you engage with that person.

Find the right topics for your audience

This is almost one of those “Duh” tips. It’s obvious that you have to have the right topics; the question is how do you know what are the right topics? Here are a number of options to help you work out the right topics…

Seasonal topics

If you run a seasonal small business, there will be topics that you have to write about every year. One of our clients has a marquee business, so one of the topics we produce content for every year is the temperature inside the marquee. As we head towards the winter, we write content for them about heating and keeping warm. As we head to the summer, the content is about keeping cool and avoiding the British weather’s eccentricities.  You will have your own seasonal topics.  When you publish the article will depend on how far ahead your target audience is thinking about that issue.

Issues you are helping your clients with

Your clients use you to help them deal with issues. Our last article provided a series of email marketing tips (you can read it here) because we’re doing a lot of work at the moment helping clients improve their email marketing performance. If you are helping clients with certain issues, it is almost guaranteed that others will be facing the same issues and problems. So write content that you can then share that shows you can help with those issues.

Issues you see your prospects having

Whilst this point goes against one of our later tips, it can be highly effective.  When you talk to a prospect, they will tell you about issues they are facing at this time. That conversation will include ways you can help them, but writing an article that also shows how you can help (that then gets sent to them) can be a great way of moving them towards buying from you. It may also help attract more clients too, because your prospect won’t be the only company facing that issue.

The popular ones from last year

Google Analytics can quickly tell you which posts on your website are the most popular.  Updating great content pieces is a good way to please both your target audience and the search engines.  The search engines like to see that content is being updated (it shows you are looking after the website). Your target audience want to see up to date information. Our most popular article over the last two years is one on how much small businesses should spend on their marketing (you can read it here). It is time we updated that.

Consider SEO impact

The most important factor when you’re considering what to write is the reader, but you should keep an eye on your rankings in the search engines. Every ranking article out there (here’s one) lists high quality content as one of the most important factors in determining where you rank. So here are a couple of tips to help you decide what to write about.

What are the most searched for topics?

Trending topics can be a great way to identify what content to write. Tools such as SEMrush and Moz are great, as is Google’s own tool

Are they any your competitors aren’t writing about

When was the last time you looked at what your competitors are, or aren’t, writing about?  If they haven’t produced any content for some time, that’s great. But if they have, what have they missed?  Again, SEMrush has a great tool for spotting the gaps in their content and keywords.  You will need to talk to an agency about this, as SEMrush is generally an agency tool, but if you marketing budget allows it…

Plan ahead

So we’ve looked at a number of different ways to work out what to write, let’s now look at a bit of housekeeping to help ensure you are producing great content for your website.

Give yourself time to create a great article

Rushing your writing will lead to a poorer article than if you invest time on it.  Writing an article is at least a week, and ideally a month, before it is due to be published is our recommendation.  That gives you time to review and edit – and to make sure it is included within your other marketing activities.

Get feedback

You may think it’s a great article, but you will be biased. Getting someone else to read it is going to help you improve your marketing content. It also ensures it is focused and hasn’t gone off on a tangent (something that is very easy to do). Choose people who will give you honest feedback.

Get the right image

Most blog pages show an article with a supporting image. The image will be part of the reader’s decision-making process when they are deciding what to read.  If you haven’t invested time in choosing an image that supports your article, you may lose readers. Remember, those readers are potential clients for you, so you don’t want to lose them.  Free image sites, such as Pixabay and Unsplash can provide images. Others, such as Istockphoto do charge, but they will have a better selection and, generally, better images.
Of course, if you can produce great images yourself, even better.

Share it to get it read

So let’s assume you now have your article and a great image to go with it. You’ve published it on your website. Time to sit back and relax?  Nope – sorry.  Adding it to your website doesn’t get it read and actioned upon. If your site gets 1,000s of visitors a month, you may get readers, but if you share it, you will get more. Email marketing campaigns and social media posts will get it out there and attract more views.  After all, great content deserves to be read – and it is the reason you are working on writing it.

We hope this helped you work out how to write great content. If you are still struggling to work out what to write, or need some help in writing the content, get in touch and let’s have a chat.

various social media logos

Why consistent social media activity is vital

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance

Reasons to review the number of social media sites you are on

There is a belief within many businesses that having a lot of social media channels is a good thing and will drive new clients to them regularly. If you’re a regular reader of our articles, you’ll know that we disagree with this, here’s why and what you should do with your social media accounts.

Choose the right social media platforms

There are 1,000s of social media platforms available to you.  This article, published earlier this year, lists (apparently) the 133 you should consider. However, your target audience(s) are only likely to be present in decent numbers on a small number of them.  If you are a B2B business, LinkedIn and YouTube are a given and you may consider Twitter.  Any others you use are likely to have much lower numbers of people you want to get in front of.

Of course, there is always going to be someone on SnapChat who could buy from you. There may even be people on Periscope or Pinterest, but the laws of diminishing returns will quickly be relevant here.


In your mind, you’re asking why should you reduce the number of social media platforms you have accounts on?  Here are 6 reasons why.

1. Quality over Quantity

The more social media platforms you use, the more time has to be invested in them. Keeping your social media going with quality content is far more important than simply being present on a large quantity of platforms.

As a small business, you will have limited resources. Spreading those resources over a higher number of platforms means less investment (time and money) in each of them.

2. Right or wrong eyes?

There are approximately 830 million users on LinkedIn, with 310 million considered to be active.  This compares to 433 million monthly active users on Pinterest and 433 daily active users on SnapChat.  These figures may tempt you to think about using the latter two, but unless you are selling to teenagers (Snapchat) and mothers in the US (80% of mothers in the US are on there)

The right social media choices will raise brand awareness and help you to grow your business. But if they are the wrong eyes, you are wasting your time and investment.  If you’re not sure this is true, check your Google Analytics stats and see what traffic you are getting from each platform you use.

3. Law of diminishing returns

This law says that after a certain point, the returns from your investment cannot continue to increase and will diminish progressively. Why spend your marketing time on something that isn’t likely to deliver for you?

4. You need different content on each

YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo are video-sharing platforms. Pinterest and Instagram are all about the images. LinkedIn and Twitter can be text-based, but both benefit from images/videos as well.  Some use hashtags more than others and some are more formal than others. With all these differences, posting exactly the same posts on all the social media platforms you use is going to either annoy people or have them simply ignore you. Both are likely to lead to your follower/connection numbers decreasing and the opinion of your brand diminishing. Neither are good for you.

You have to post the right content on each platform, so unless you have unlimited time available, you need to manage the number of sites you use.

5. Keeping them going

If you haven’t posted onto a social media platforms for weeks, months or even years, what does this say about your brand and your business? It says that you aren’t bothered about that audience.

The purpose of social media is to keep your brand in the mind’s eye of your target audience and have people talking about your business.  The more engagement there is, the more awareness is generated.  If you haven’t posted for months, you can guarantee that nobody is talking about you.

If you aren’t keeping them going, you have a decision to make. Either invest the time in engaging, or delete the account. Far better to delete an account than have it show your target audience that you haven’t been bothered to keep it going!

6. Responding

The other big mistake we see many businesses doing is simply shouting. They post content onto their social platforms and let it ride.  If you are not checking your account, at least, daily to see what is happening, you will miss out.

If someone has taken the time to comment on a post and you don’t respond, you’re telling that person their comment isn’t important to you. You are also missing out on the opportunity to get in front of their connections and increase your reach.

If you would like to be using the right social media for your business, and would like an independent assessment of your social media presence, get in touch. You can call us on 020 8634 5911 or book an appointment here.


dog showing trust by exposing its belly

How marketing helps develop trust within the buying cycle

By Customer Understanding, Delivering your marketing

Marketing for small businesses is often considered to be all about generating leads for the business. At which point, many people think that marketing stops and the sales function begins. With today’s buyers often completing up to 70% of the buying process before they talk to anyone (even in the B2B world), marketing’s role in supporting the sales process has perhaps never been more important. A massive part of this is helping the buyer to trust you and believe that your business can deliver. This article will discuss how marketing helps develop trust and help buyers to trust small businesses.

Perceived risk

It’s been some time since we last wrote about perceived risk (and you can read that article, including the 7 different types of perceived risk, by clicking here) so let’s quickly cover it here and explain why its so important.

Perceived risk is the level of risk someone believes there is in doing something, in this case in buying something. The level of perceived risk varies dependent on these things:

  1. The cost of what they are buying.
  2. The importance of the purchase to them or their business.

To help them buy from you, the level of perceived risk in their mind has to be reduced to an acceptable level. The role of marketing is to put in front of buyers the three key tools you have for reducing risk:


The knowledge and expertise within your business is a key part of your ability to deliver on your clients’ needs. The more people consider you to be an expert in your field, the more likely they are to approach you in the first place. Assuming that demonstration of knowledge continues during the sales process, the buyer is much more likely to buy from you.


If you “stand” in front of a prospect, saying “I can deliver what you want, honest guv!” or words to that effect, they might buy from you. If you can put evidence in front of them that backs up your claims, they are far more likely to buy from you. Evidence comes in many forms:

Case studies

Examples of work you’ve done for other clients. These show that you understand the prospect’s industry and have helped others just like them. Here’s an article about the key parts of case studies and why you should include all the parts listed. You can see some of our case studies here.


Most effective when given verbally, but often contained within articles and blogs. Stories usually look in more detail about a specific part of something you’ve done for a client.


The words of your clients carry a lot of weight with your prospects and will really support the sales process. Ideally in video format and should include the name, title and company of the person who said it.


Most reviews are placed on independent sites, so you have no ability to edit them. We generally recommend Google Reviews, but companies like Trustpilot and Feefo have been around for years.


Most often delivered as the results part of a case study (see how we believe a case study should be structured in this article), showing how you have delivered on previous clients’ needs is a key part of demonstrating value. If you talk about how you have saved a company 10x what they spent with you, or quickly found them a member of staff they’ve been trying to find for ages, you’re demonstrating real value. The more you can do this, the better.

Marketing’s role

Depending on the size of your business and the way clients buy from you, the role of marketing is developing trust can vary.

At its most basic level, marketing:

  • Produces content that demonstrates the knowledge and expertise within your business
  • Writes case studies and publish them onto your website.

This is where a lot of small businesses make a big mistake.  They spend the time collating all the proof we’ve discussed above. It goes onto their website and it …. Just sits there. The real role of marketing is getting this content in front of the right people. Assuming you have already identified and mapped your Ideal Clients (see here for more information on that), it is time to get this evidence that you can deliver in front of them. Within the buying process this can mean:

  • Building automated email campaigns that share this content at the right time within prospects’ journey through your pipeline.
  • Making print and digital versions for sharing by Sales, either at trade shows or through trackable email clicks.
  • Embedding your Google reviews on your website.
  • Tracking WHO is reading what so that your Sales team know what to talk to people about.
  • Getting them back to the website regularly until they are ready to buy.
  • Analysing how people are engaging with the website to improve it, thus increasing leads and sales.

All of the above can happen after a potential client has made that first contact. If your Sales staff do this, you are taking them away from that vital role, so let your marketing continue after the lead is generated.

To find out more about how SME Needs can help you with this, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or click here to get in touch.



one red tulip amongst lots of yellow to support an article about the power of different

The power of different

By Delivering your marketing, Marketing Plan

one red tulip amongst lots of yellow to support an article about the power of different

6 ways to make your small business stand out from the competition

It is rare to find a unique business. Having said that, every business is unique.

“That doesn’t make sense”, you cry. “How can businesses be unique whilst not being unique?” Let’s explain what we mean and why the power of different is important to you, as part of your marketing strategy.

Few Businesses are unique.

Doing some research as part of a proposal the other day, we found out that there are:

  • 9955 hotels in the UK (2020 figures)
  • 17,600 care homes
  • LinkedIn lists around 20,000 marketing agencies in the UK, and
  • 39,000 IT support companies

Developing, launching and making a success of a truly unique business is hard work. Every one of these businesses has customers. Some will have a lot, with others having very few. The difference between them having lots of customers and having very few is how they make themselves stand out. How they make use of their uniqueness and the differences between them and their competition.

Every Business is unique

You do things differently to your competitors. The people and their skillsets will be different too. The reasons why you set up your business will not be the same as others in your sector. Perhaps most importantly, the results you get for your clients will be different.  The question is: are you using that uniqueness and those differences effectively?

There’s lots of competition out there.

The FSB says there are 1.4 million businesses in the UK with staff. Let’s, for a moment, imagine that every one of them needs help with their tech and is looking for an IT support company. How does any one of the 39,000 we mentioned earlier make themselves stand out and be chosen by some of those 1.4 million? Let’s look at what can make you stand out and appear different (unique)… 

Don’t tell them what you are

If you’re an accountant, don’t tell them you are an accountant. If you do, they will picture you in the same way they think of all accountants. If you tell them you reduce their tax bill, or help them build their business through better financial planning, you are far more likely to get people asking for more information.Think about what they want – not what they have to do.

Talk to and about them

Talking about yourself is never attractive. People want to see that you know them, or want to get to know them. If your website has a “look at me! Aren’t I great” vibe about it, you may get lots of hits, but you will also have a very high bounce rate. People who leave your website quickly don’t buy from you – and you cannot pay the bills with Google Analytics statistics.

If all your marketing shows you understand your target audience(s) and how you can help them achieve what they want to achieve, your next visit to your Google Analytics will show high engagement levels, lots of returning visitors and great conversion rates.

Don’t make outrageous claims

You are not [insert region name]’s leading provider of [insert what you do]. Even if you are, nobody will believe you unless you can prove it.  A survey of IT support companies in London (done admittedly quite some time ago) found 53 companies who all claimed to be “London’s leading IT support company”. Who can you think of that makes outrageous claims?

Show the proof

Talking the talk is good – if you can prove you can walk the walk too!
You will have lots of stories (blogs and case studies) about how you have solved issues for clients. You will have lots of emails from clients thanking you for helping them (testimonials). Share them with your pipeline and your target audiences.

The e-commerce world has proved that testimonials/reviews/ratings are highly important in the decision making process. Your proof will show people that their peers use you – if you’re doing good work for their peers, they are much more like to believe you can do a good job for them.

Stick to your specialisms

Too many companies start to provide services, or products, that they get asked for, without thinking things through properly. A client asks if you know someone who does X. As it is slightly related to what you do, you may be tempted to say “we can do that”. If you do it, and do it badly, you run the risk of losing that client. Far better to protect your reputation and refer them to someone you know who really is an expert.

We wouldn’t dream of building a website for our clients, but we know a number of people we can highly recommend. We’ll help to get the user experience and the messaging right, but wouldn’t dream of even trying to do the tech stuff!

Share your knowledge

People want to use experts. You have a huge amount of knowledge and expertise within your business, so why not share some of that. Blogs, PR articles, webinars and speaking engagements are all opportunities for you to share your knowledge. You aren’t giving away the crown jewels when you do this; you are attracting new clients.


When you are in a highly competitive industry sector (aren’t they all!), you need to stand out from your competition and that’s where the power of different comes into play. Following these six suggestions will make you stand out and generate the leads you need to grow your business.

If you would like some help getting these right, give us a call or click here and we will give you a call.

If you would like to discuss your marketing budgets and plans, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

the Namos Solutions team

6 reasons you need to be doing internal marketing

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Small Business Marketing

the Namos Solutions team

Are you marketing your business internally?

When you first started your business, there was you, and possible one or two others. Internal communication was easy and a lot of it probably took place down the pub. As your small business has grown, you’ve added more people to your team. Are you keeping them up to date with what you are doing? Let’s look at 6 reasons why you need to be using internal marketing as well as marketing your small business to your target audiences.

Keep them in the loop

In a small business, it is rare that people have just one job to do. Even if individual staff members spend the majority of their time on one role, they will still be doing things like answer the phones. Keeping everyone in the loop ensures that they know what you, as a business, want to achieve, where your focus is and what is expected of them.

Show you value them

Whilst there will be certain things that will be on a “need to know” basis, the more you share with your team, the more you are showing them that you value them.
What employees want from you has changed over the years. Whilst a competitive salary will always be on the list, there are many intangibles on there too. Always in the list of things employees want is trust (usually top 3) and communication. The more you communicate with them, the better.

Get feedback on your ideas

When was the last time you asked your staff for feedback on an idea? Just because you’re the boss and its your idea, it doesn’t mean it is always a good idea. Remember that your team, at least some of them, has to deliver on your idea. If they really think it is a bad idea and not possible, surely the feedback is needed. Better to get the feedback than spend time and money on a bad idea?

Get their ideas

If you are communicating with your team and that includes both targets and issues, there is a good chance they will have some great ideas that can help you. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from, so make sure they know that communication is a two-way thing and that you want them to share their ideas with you.
If you don’t, you may well miss out and they could even take that idea and, either, run with it themselves or take it to your competitors!

They can help spread the word

You’ll have seen their CVs and you may have even had a cursory look at their LinkedIn connections. But you won’t know who they really know. If you’re looking for a new member of staff and you tell the team, there’s a good chance they will know someone. Think of the saving, compared to using a recruitment firm.
As your team know more about the business and the type of clients you want, they can easily spread the word. Getting them onboard will get them:
Commenting on your company’s social media posts, increasing their reach.
Talking positively about the company when with their friends and family (at least for a little bit of time)
Listening out for when people talk about issues they need help with – that your business can solve.

Retain your team

Valued staff are loyal staff. When they believe they are a valuable part of something special, they will stay. If they are simply treated as a functionary and a number, they will go whenever there is an opportunity.
Figures vary on the cost of replacing a member of staff but you can be sure it isn’t cheap. Recruitment costs (assuming you’re not using what was mentioned above), plus training plus lost productivity (whilst the new person gets up to speed) all add up. Surely some internal marketing is worth it, just to save you these costs?!?

Great ways to do your internal marketing

So we’ve looked at 5 reasons why you should include internal marketing within your overall marketing strategy; now lets look at how to make this happen.

Consistent marketing

In exactly the same way that consistent marketing is needed to attract new clients, consistent internal marketing will help you communicate effectively with your team. Little and often is a great approach that helps you manage the time needed to do this.

Advocates and Champions

Within every small business, there are a few people that everyone talks to. Alongside the management team, these people can be invaluable at helping you communicate the right messages to the rest of your team. Identifying them is easy and if they feel valued, they will help you communicate with the team.

Digital Tools

Right now, you probably have a large part of the team working remotely. You’re using Teams/Zoom/IM/email/phones to talk to them all now, so make use of the same tools to ensure they have the information they need and should know.

Face to face

As and when you get an opportunity, face to face is a great way to keep the internal marketing going. If you have an annual event, think about using a, short, part of that event to update your team on what is happening and where the business is going. During the rest of the year, schedule conversations with your team to keep the information flowing – in both directions.

Hopefully we’ve given you something to think about here. When you next review your marketing strategy, make sure that internal marketing is part of that strategy.

To add internal marketing to your company marketing strategy, give us a call and let's talk

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image to support article about why you need great stories in your business

The What, Why and How Many of having great stories in your business

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Small Business Marketing, Uncategorized

Stories have always been a powerful way to get information across. Before the spread of the written word, our elders would tell stories to ensure that information was passed from one generation to the next. In many places cave drawings were used as part of the story-telling process, ensuring that the stories lasted.  Over time the communication tool has changed – books, films, audiobooks – but the reason for telling them remains the same. We want people to know them, love them and remember them. This article looks at that third point, ‘remembering them’. It’s the key reason why you need great stories in your business.

5 reasons you need great stories in your business

1. Build the culture

When you first starting thinking about your business, there was a reason for starting it. You wanted to do something. Whether it was about failing lots, but only needing one success (Angry Birds), or Hozah’s mission to stop us all getting parking fines, there is always a story.

Telling that story, and getting it repeated frequently, will help you find the right people for your business. It will help you to shape your business and ensure the way things are done here is the way you want them to be.

2. Attract & converting new prospects

New prospects want to understand your business and how you can help them. Telling them what you do rarely works, but stories are highly effective. Great stories help your prospects in a number of ways:

  1. Stories help them understand what makes you tick and what your priorities are.
  2. They provide examples of how you’ve helped others.
  3. Stories get your prospects relating to you – we have that issue, or I want some of that!
  4. They reduce the perceived risk in their minds, about whether you can help them. You can read more about functional perceived risk here.

Great stories help you convert these prospects too, by:

  1. Proving you can deliver on your promises.
  2. Showing you understand them.
  3. Making you more memorable, so you stick in their minds.

Next time you’re talking to a potential client, think of a story you can tell them, instead of simply explaining what you do.

3. Public Relations

PR can be hugely beneficial for your business, or massively damaging. Both depend on the story that gets into the media. Don’t forget that PR isn’t just about what appears in newspapers or magazines anymore. Social media can be massively important in getting stories out there about your business. Many will be out of your control.

Tesco scored serious brownie points with their recent campaign asking us all to support our local pub instead of buying beer from them. As we all emerge from lockdown, everyone knows that the hospitality industry has really suffered, but the supermarkets have prospered. It’s a simple, but powerful, story.

At the opposite end of the scale was BP’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The story is still in the press ten years later.

4. Attracting and retaining staff

The right stories will help you to build your company and your culture, and they can also help with staff recruitment and retention. A compelling story will keep people working for you, supporting your business, even when things aren’t going well.

The brand story will help you attract people that will fit in well, simply because they agree with your approach and they want to work for a reason they believe in. More and more people want to work for companies they believe in, rather than the one that pays the most.

Employee experience is massively important in retaining staff. Telling stories about how staff have really delivered (whether this includes naming them or not) clearly communicates expected behaviours. Not only does it help you keep the staff that recognise and agree with the story, it will help weed out those that shouldn’t have been employed in the first place.

5. Attracting Investors

When you have great stories within your business, you attract people for multiple reasons. For some businesses, the most important group is, initially, investors.  If you have a great story, but little money to make things happen, you need to attract people who believe in your story and your goals.

The 6 parts of every great business story

When looking at why you need great stories, we need to look at what is in them. For your business stories to be listened to, and remembered, each one needs these 6 key parts…


The story has to be relevant to the listener. If you tell a story about something they cannot relate to, you will lose their interest quickly. Stories that show you understand their needs will be remembered.

The Problem

Every successful business solves a problem for their clients. For Bentley, that (seriously first world problem) is how to get from A to B in luxury, whilst showing your status in the world. For Atom CTO, it is about how to use technology to achieve business goals. What’s the pain [problem] your business solves?


Your prospects don’t buy what you do. In the early stages of your business, they may be buying you, as the core of the business, but what they are really buying is success. They want to know what came from you working to solve the problem. At SME Needs, we help people to focus on these outcomes and we help people grow. You can see those stories about our work with Charcoalblue here and with Systems IT here, respectively.

Real people

Including real people is an absolute must in a great business story! For all stories, the real people involved help the listener to engage, empathise and hopefully recognise themselves (the importance of relevance). For example, a story about bringing a network server back to life is likely to bore people to tears, but when the story is about getting, for example, a charity back to helping the homeless, it provides context and impact. Something that the listener will remember.


A story that sounds too good to be true probably isn’t true. If you do have a story that stretches the bounds of believability, make sure you have the proof. Stories that people don’t believe will negatively impact your credibility, and that isn’t good for anyone.


When you tell your business story to people, keep it under control. A story that grows, helping more people or solving a bigger problem runs a real risk. If people hear it more than once, you will not only confuse them, but there’s a danger they may not believe the whole story.

The 5 types of business story

To us, there are 5 different types of business story. Let’s look at what they are and why you should have them.

Your reason for existing

Nobody wants to hear that you started your business purely for the money (well, not many). They want to hear what happened to make you start your business and what you went through in the early days. They want to like your business and to trust it.

The case study

If you’ve been in business for a few years, you will have a great set of stories that show how you solve the problems your clients have. You’ll be able to talk about your client, about their issues and about the results you delivered for them. If you haven’t written these down, stop reading this article and start now. They are a critical part of attracting new prospects and converting them to clients. You can see our case studies here.

When you’re at the very early stages of your business, you will still have stories of this kind – they just happened when you worked somewhere else. People rarely start a business they have no experience in, so use the stories you have from your past.

The employee story

In every company there is the perfect member of staff. The person who consistently delivers great results and lives the corporate culture. There are also those who are the complete antithesis. You will know who these people are in your company and in your past companies.

Talking about these people demonstrates to others who and what you respect and, also, what you abhor.

The failure and recovery story

Nobody is perfect. Stories that show you are fallible will work to endear you to others, particularly to employees and other stakeholders. Stories that include what you did to recover from failure will go even further.

The path to the ultimate goal

Of all the business stories we’ve discussed, this one can change. As your business evolves, this should change because you are moving, hopefully, towards your ultimate goal. If you have a family business, your goal may be to pass it on to your children. If you’re a charity, the eradication of the problem will always be the ultimate goal. The story of why and how you aim to get there will be a powerful one.

Your Next Steps

You will have some great business stories. You just haven’t written them down and remembered them yet. So, it’s time to rack your brains (you and your team) to develop these stories. Tell them to each other to get feedback and to ensure you are telling them consistently and effectively. Then it’s time to start telling others.

Of course, at SME Needs we can help you find your unique business stories and then tell them to the right people. So, if you need a hand developing them or want someone to brainstorm with, get in touch.

Need a hand developing and using your business stories? Give us a call and let's talk

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Image to depicted marketing tools

14 effective business marketing tools

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

There are a variety of business marketing tools you’ll come across (and have advertised to you) when looking for ways to boost your marketing. They range from free to as much as you can spend, giving you plenty of choice. This decision may seem insignificant, but it couldn’t be more important. The wrong tools will have you pulling your hair out before lunch.

So here are our picks for the best business marketing tools.


One of the most popular for small businesses, Mailchimp is almost an essential for starting out in marketing. Mailchimp quickly and intuitively acts as your virtual assistant, from designing email campaigns, tracking customers’ habits, statistical analysis and compatible with most other tools you really can’t go wrong.

We have been using MailChimp for years and are now a partner.

Mailchimp offers a free version for up to 2000 contacts.

If you need more than this, subscriptions start at £11 a month.


An absolute necessity if social media is part of your marketing plan. Hootsuite’s primary function is to schedule and design social posts. Making social media a morning’s work rather than a constant at the top of every day’s to-do-list. Plan your marketing strategies in advance and then sit back as Hootsuite posts them for you at the optimal time, no matter what else you have going on.

Subscriptions start at £39 a month (one user)


A slightly more specialised tool than the rest on this list, but a really useful one. Designing your professional documents and social media posts is time-consuming and difficult to maintain consistency and quality. Canva lets you design posts and documents with ease. Fully customizable templates for all your content. Create your perfect Canva by saving your brand colours and design features.

Canva has a free membership option (that works very well).


More and more of our clients are turning to HubSpot. A customer relationship management system (CRM) that can not only keep track of your emails, clients and customers but actively manages them. Automated email responses and work flows, marketing reports and metrics, integrated forms and links to landing pages. This is a one stop shop for all your marketing needs.

HubSpot offers it CRM for free, this lets you get to grips with it and is very useful.

It’s marketing and sales hubs are ad-ons that cost around £40 a month each for a starting package.


Website analytics are crucial to your marketing success. When deciding which tools to use, make sure you get on that tells you WHO is coming to your website. CANDDi helps you track traffic on your website and lets you know who they are, where they came from, what they looked at and for how long.

This is exceptionally helpful for getting an idea of what is and isn’t working and the kinds of people you’re attracting to your website.

CANDDi starts at £149 a month.


WordPress is the world’s leading website building platform. If you’re serious about growing your business and need an easy and intuitive system to help you run and update it, this is the tool for you. Make your own templates for blogs and news. Set out your website exactly the way you want it or hire someone else to set it up and you manage it.

WordPress allows you to create a website for free or £20 a month for a small business subscription.


Eventbrite is an events marketing platform. Easy to use and semi-autonomous it helps bring people to your events with automated reminder emails, links and is compatible with a variety of other tools.

Eventbrite is free to use and then takes a percentage of ticket sales £0.49 + 6.5%(+20% UK VAT) for the professional package.

Don’t charge for tickets, don’t pay fees.


You’re probably familiar with these, but there are many ways to use them. Hosting webinars and podcasts can help grow your audience and increase exposure. They are also great at keeping in contact with clients and international meetings. ZoomInfo is a database that allows you access to all those who have paid zoom accounts whose details you can use in your marketing.

Zoom has a free membership or a small business one for £159.90 a year.

Teams has a free membership (with limited options), or is included with Microsoft 365 which starts at £3.80 per user per month. You cannot purchase teams separately.


A highly influential advertising platform, make videos yourself and gain a following or pay to have your adverts on other peoples’. This platform has the added value of high traffic and exposure.

YouTube is free to set up and upload content.

YouTube adverts cost as much or little as you want with daily budgets.


A business centered social media platform, LinkedIn has immense reach within the business community. A great way to organically grow your following and connect with other like-minded people and potential clients. LinkedIn gives you industries insight, salary insights and much more with a professional business dashboard.

LinkedIn has a free membership that allows you to connect with others.

LinkedIn business membership starts at £39.90 a month.

Google Analytics

The first place to go when looking for information on your website traffic. Track customers and their habits across your site and gain insight into how to better market and sell.

Google analytics is free to use.

Business cards

A physical item may seem out of place on this list, but business cards are still effective business marketing tools. Business cards have been updated and now they can transfer data and information just by being in others vicinity. A great way to keep hold of useful contacts on one small card.

Standard business cards start around £12.57 for 100

Modern data transfer cards start at around £40


Networking is one of the best marketing tools and sometimes it is still done best in person. Social events provide the perfect opportunity to get to know others and their strengths. You could find your perfect client or new employee in the length of a pint.

Your Network

Your network should be your greatest advocates and business marketing tools. When you have done excellent work for someone, be sure to capitalise. Ask for a testimonial to use in your marketing or see if they would recommend you to others. Word of mouth creates a more lasting brand impression.

If you would like to talk through what combination of online tools and marketing support would work for you, give us a call.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Case Study Ninja

How to write perfect case studies and use them to maximise sales

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing, Uncategorized

image to support article about writing perfect case studies

In a time when much of what you buy is based on peer reviews, there has never been a time when case studies have been more important. This article will take you through how to write perfect case studies and then how to use them to maximise sales. 

What is a case study?

Put simply, it is a summary of your engagement with a specific client. Case studies will describe your client, what you did and what you achieved (more detail to follow). It will be no more than two pages (when printed) and should take only a minute or two to read. 

What are case studies for?

Case studies show people what your company is capable of delivering. In the same way that a 5-star review will prompt people to buy on Amazon or TripAdvisor, a case study will help potential clients to move closer to buying from you. 

How to write perfect case studies

If you haven’t written any case studies yet, the next couple of minutes will give you a very clear, step by step, guide to writing case studies that will be highly effective. 

1. Identify happy clients 

Who is your happiest client? Who has been a client for a long time? Which clients have you generated outstanding results for? 

The answers to these questions will give you a list of clients to develop case studies for. Now all you have to do is ask them. Asking them when you are delivering good news always helps.  

2. Start writing 4 of the 6 key parts of a case study 

These 4 parts of a case study are: 

  1. Who are they? – a description of the client, aimed at helping readers identify with them. Companies like to buy from other companies who understand their industry sector. 
  1. Where is their issue? – what did you help them with? Again, potential clients like to see that you understand the issues they face. 
  1. What did you do?  – probably the least important piece, but still needs to show you know what to do and you have the knowledge and expertise looked for. 
  1. Why did it work?  absolutely the most important part. People buy results and success. They want to work with companies that can prove they can deliver. Include numbers to show your results, but be specific. 96% growth, rather than “doubled sales”. Graphics will help communicate these more effectively. 

At this point there are two pieces missing from the perfect case study. Let’s look at them in a little more detail. 

3. The Headline

The newspapers used to refer to the backbench; where the sub-editors used to sit. They were the highly paid specialists responsible for writing headlines that would sell that paper in the millions. A catchy headline would easily divert people from buying one newspaper to another. They wanted to know what the paper had to say, based purely on the headline. Back then, these were highly paid employees – not any more. 

But the headline is still vitally important. The headline will determine whether someone reads the case study or not. So what should be in a headline? 

One of our latest case studies is headlined: Adding a £million to turnover in six years. It communicates a great result; something any small business owner would like to see happen for them. Headlines should be about something the reader cares about: results, money, solutions – are just some examples. There is plenty of guidance online. 

4. The validation 

Once you’ve done all of the above, you need sign-off from the client, and you need them to validate your case study. 

Sign-off is simple. You send it to them and they agree that what you have written is accurate. The validation is what they write about you and you then use as proof that you have delivered and you have a very happy client. Their testimonial is the final piece of the perfect case study. 

The cynical ones out there could, if there was no testimonial from the client, say you made it up. With the testimonial, that goes away. The only time a happy client is unlikely to give you a testimonial is when you are solving an issue that they shouldn’t have, or they don’t want to admit they have. Insolvency practitioners, for example, can struggle at times.  

The best mediums for your case study 

Written content: accessibility, SEO etc. 

Podcast: Interview with client, audio format.  

You know that video content is highly powerful and is beloved by the search engines. Video testimonials that support a written case study can really improve the impact of your case studies. 

Video testimonials make great social media content too. 

How to use your case studies to increase sales

Once you know how to write perfect case studies, you can use them to drive sales. Case studies work at both ends of the sales funnel. They will nudge people into starting a conversation with you and they will convince people to sign on the dotted line too. Let’s look at where you should use your case studies to maximise their performance. 

1. On your website

This is the first place to put it because it is rare for someone to enter your sales funnel without at least one visit to your website. Make sure it is used in multiple places across your website 

  • A case study page will show website viewers that you have lots of happy clients 
  • Including relevant case studies on the product page will mean they are seen more often, and are more effective. 

 Include links from the case study both to the client’s website/social media and to the product/services they bought. This helps both your SEO and the user experience. 

 At the end of the case study, ask if this results sounds like something the reader would like for their business. Get them thinking… and acting. 

2. Social media

Sharing your case studies on your social media channels increases the numbers of times they are seen, particularly if you have video content. Perhaps you can pin, at least for a while, your latest case study to the top of your profile page to maximise views. Check your Analytics to see if it is driving traffic when pinned. If not, unpin it. 

Remember that individual case studies can go through social media more than once. Only a small percentage of your followers will see it each time. Not everyday of course! 

3. Newsletters

If you use a newsletter to keep your mailing list up to date, make sure you include your case studies in there. Mailing lists include clients, prospects, stakeholders, suppliers and networking connections. Showing them the great results you have achieved for a client can encourage new sales (from prospects and current clients buying more/something else) and referrals. 

4. Email automations  

Email automations are great ways to quickly educate new subscribers about what you do, how you help and the results you achieve. Case studies will help these new subscribers to believe your promises.  

5. Proposals

When you get to the point of developing a proposal for a new client, a great case study, or two, supports your pitch and increases the value propositions. Choose highly relevant case studies. Ones that are for companies with similar issues to your prospect and with a similar profile – industry, company size, location etc. Don’t simply use the same case studies for every proposal. 

 If you use something like CANDDi, you may want to include links to the case studies in the proposal, rather than the whole things. Knowing that they have clicked through shows the prospect really is interested. 


Case studies must be part of your marketing collateral. Used properly the perfect case study can be highly effective. It will help you fill your sales pipeline and they will help your Sales function to close more too.  

If your case studies aren’t working, or you haven’t got any, get in touch. We can help you both produce them and then make use of them to drive more sales. 

SME Needs is a Mailchimp Partner

Mailchimp’s New Customer Journeys

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning, Technology & your business

screenshot image for Mailchimp Customer Journeys

At Last!

Customer Journeys, from Mailchimp goes live from today and will be available to all Mailchimp customers by the 7th August. It is something that we’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. Here is why.

Single Routing

Mailchimp’s products have a huge number of positives and that’s why we’re a Mailchimp Certified Partner. The Automation function meant that we could set up email campaigns, for our clients and ourselves, to go to people based on specific criteria, whether this was information in certain contact fields or Tags. But after that first email went out, Automations only gave you limited options:

  • Send the next email if they clicked
  • Send the next email X period afterwards

If you wanted to have multiple options, you had to set up multiple automations, based on the actions your contacts took from the previous email.

Single Starting Points

A single starting point also limited your options, or complicated matters as you built multiple Automations. Multiple automations increased your chances of doing something not quite right, which could upset your contacts.

As you can see from the image, that is now changing…

image showing Mailchimp Customer Journeys

Simplified Marketing

With the opportunity to use multiple triggers and multiple branches, it definitely means that email marketing will become a little simpler. I definitely see it as a time saver and it will save our clients some money, as we are not building large numbers of automations.

First Impressions

Even as a Mailchimp Partner, we haven’t got this functionality on our accounts yet; it goes live today. We will be spending quite some time looking in more detail at how Customer Journeys works and the benefits it can bring for us and for our clients. As soon as we have had a “play”, we will report back on our first impressions.

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