Category

Focus

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The biggest mistake in marketing today

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Focus, Marketing Performance

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Are you making the biggest mistake in marketing?

There is one mistake, perhaps, more than anything else that small businesses make in their marketing. One that can have a highly negative impact on the performance of their marketing. Have we got you worried yet? Are you concerned whether you are making the biggest mistake in marketing? Which does your marketing talk more about – you & your products/services or your clients’ needs and issues?

If it is the former, you are making the biggest mistake in marketing today!

Let’s now look at why so many businesses do this, why you shouldn’t and what you should be doing.

Do you talk about your Expert Subject?

Nobody knows you as well as you know yourself – maybe your life partner does!?!? In the same way, nobody knows your business as well as you and your team do. You live and breath it every day. As the business owner or Managing Director, you’ve built it to where it is today. It’s easy to talk about your business. It’s simple to talk about the products or services your provide to your clients. After all, you designed, built and developed them over the years. You’ve invested blood, sweat, tears and cash into developing your company and products.

When people are unsure about something, they err towards what they know – the product and the company. The problem is…

Nobody cares what you do

Harsh – but true.  What they care about is how you can help them. Here’s an example.

Insurtech – re-focus

We started working with a small business in the Insurtech space. They helped insurance companies analyse their data to identify where things can be changed to improve the business performance.  Their website and all their marketing material talked about data warehousing. It talked about the volume of data they stored and analysed and it took a long time to get to anything about their clients.

Our Client Focus workshop got them to think about what they did from a different perspective. The client’s perspective. We looked at what is important to the client – predictability, increased profits and time.

Their strapline is now: Empower data-driven underwriting decisions, save time and write more predictable and profitable business.

There is, perhaps, just one reason to talk about your product – SEO. But it needs to be combined so the majority of your, particularly website, marketing is focused on the client and not you.

Who is going to translate?

When you talk about your business and you talk about your products, invariably you will start using jargon. Jargon that you and your team understand completely – but nobody else does. Years ago, back when Nigel worked for an IT support company, Microsoft published a Jargon Directory – for their resellers.  Do you need to do something like that?  If you need to add some sort of glossary to your website, there may be a problem.

Using language your target market isn’t familiar or comfortable with will inevitably result in a high bounce rate. Remember, the key is to effectively convey your message, not impress with your acronym knowledge. Don’t be a Jacob Rees-Mogg or your old economics lecturer.

Don’t claim what you cannot prove

How can there be so many companies who are, for example: “London’s leading IT support provider”? How do you prove you are {insert region}’s leading {insert service} provider? Ray Winstone can say that BET365 is the world’s favourite because they have stats to prove it.

If you cannot prove what you are claiming, prospective clients will view this as a big negative. Bragging words fall on deaf ears, but numbers and statistics will grab the right people’s attention.

They want someone who understands them

Have you noticed how many companies have the majority of their clients in a small number of industry sectors? For some it’s a requirement (Magento work with e-commerce companies because that is what they do), but for many, they just end up with lots of clients in one sector. One of our clients, Systems IT, does IT support and they’ve developed a niche supporting media production companies. They didn’t set out to do this, but because they can talk about the needs and issues of media production companies and how they help, they have developed this niche. Companies like to use companies that understand them.

If your marketing doesn’t address the needs of your clients and demonstrate that you understand the issues they face and how you can help, you will miss out on leads.

It’s not too late to fix the biggest marketing mistake

If your marketing is talking about your company and your products more than how you help your clients, it’s not too late. Here are our recommended steps to resolve this issue.

Measure the issue

Try this: https://www.customerfocuscalculator.com/ It will tell you whether your website focuses more on you than your clients.

Brainstorm

When you are working with a client, what are you doing? That should be easy for you. Now ask why are you doing it.

  • What is the issue you are solving for your client?
  • What happens to your client when they have that issue?
  • How does that impact them?
  •  What does a successful resolution of that issue look like and mean to your client?

This is what we do in a Client Focus workshop. If you’re finding this difficult, we’re happy to help.

Revise your content

You’ve just identified what you need to say, so now say it. Start with the most popular marketing material (probably your website and social media) and re-write your content. Get a tame client to read it and ensure it uses the right language and tone.

You may have to go through a few versions to get it completely right. The search engines like regularly updated content, so this will only enhance your SEO performance.

Prove you understand your clients’ needs

Once your marketing headlines and content start talking about your target audience, your target audience will expect you to prove you understand them. Proof comes in three flavours:

1.      Your Blog

Addressing your target audience’s issues in your blog is a great way of demonstrating you know what you’re talking about. That’s why “X great tips to ….” Or “How to …” are so popular these days. They frequently prove to be the most visited pages on a website. Our most popular article at the moment is “How much should a small business spend on marketing?”

2.      Your case studies

When your clients are happy to put their name on your marketing material, you know you’ve done a good job. Make sure these show the issues that client had and the results you delivered. These are the key parts of any case study – allowing the reader to recognise an issue they have and to see a result they would like to get. Our recent article on case studies will give you more of a guide on how to get these right.

3.      In conversation

Once a website visitor transforms into a lead, they will expect to talk to you, or to one of your sales team. This conversation needs to continue to prove you can walk the walk. Include stories about how you solved an issue for another client – that just happens to be an issue your prospect has just mentioned.

When all your marketing is focused on your target audience and is demonstrating your knowledge and ability to help your clients, your marketing results will improve. If you need a hand with any of this, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book an appointment.

Want a little help with your markeing? Give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

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How to avoid the feast and famine trap

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Uncategorized

heartbeat image for feast and famine articleBy their very nature small businesses have limited resources. Whether your business consists of one person or 30, there is always a long To Do List. Without very careful use of these resources, it is easy for a small business to fall into the feast and famine trap. This article outlines the feast to famine trap and how to avoid it’s pitfalls.

What is the feast and famine trap?

See if this sounds familiar…

  1. You do some marketing
  2. It generates some leads and you convert some into sales.
  3. Heads down; we have to deliver the sales, so we get paid.

But whilst you have your head down and are delivering what you sold…

  1. You don’t do any marketing
  2. So you don’t generate any new leads

Which means: no new sales and you’ve run out of work again. So you start the process again..

Marketing… Sales… Heads down. No marketing, no sales….

This trap starts happening either to very early-stage businesses, or to those going through a bit of a sales slump. If you’ve been through this (or are in it) how can you get out and avoid it in the future?

Why you need to avoid the trap

There are 4 primary reasons. Let’s look at them…

1. Irregular Cashflow

Never knowing how much money will be coming into the business from one month to the next makes it very difficult to plan for the future. You’ll probably end up with an overdraft for a chunk of the time (paying more bank fees). Whilst you will ensure you pay the staff, your earnings may get hit, at least temporarily.

2. Energy & Stress levels

Across your team, energy levels will rise and fall. Great when energy is high, but you know it can only last so long. If energy levels drop, service quality can easily drop too, threatening the relationship you have with your clients.

Your stress level is, almost certainly, going to be constantly high. You’re worrying permanently because of the fluctuating work and cash levels.

3. High staff turnover and Job insecurity

How can you plan, recruit and retain staffing when you’ve never quite sure how much work you will have next month? Your staff are also going to be worrying, distracting them from their jobs and impacting service quality – again.

4. Client satisfaction

Your clients will quickly see that you are really busy part of the time, as you are dedicating less time to them. They won’t like that and will start looking for alternatives.

How to avoid the feast and famine trap

If you know that the marketing you are doing is working, why not do it consistently? A consistent flow of marketing activity will deliver a consistent number of leads and sales. Easier said than done, we know, so you have three choices:

1. Dedicate time to marketing

By blocking out time in your diary – and not changing it – you are making marketing a priority and that will help you deliver consistent marketing and avoid the trap.

2. Add an in-house marketing team

These additional resources allow either them or you to do the consistent marketing that is needed to deliver the leads and sales you want. But it does mean recruiting (takes time and money), salaries (more tied up money) and, lockdown notwithstanding, desk space. All of which tie up valuable resources – time and money. This ignores the fact that finding someone with exactly the right mix of skills is going to be very difficult.

3. Outsource your marketing

Of course we are going to say this, but what other option is there? There are also a number of key benefits here:

  • The outsourced marketing company can start immediately.
  • They bring with them huge amounts of experience, working with companies very similar to yours.
  • You get the mix of skills you need, and nothing more.
  • If they don’t deliver, you can very easily get rid of them.
  • When there is enough marketing requirement, they will help you recruit and simply walk away.

This is a common trap that many fall into but getting out needn’t be difficult.We hope this article helps and moves your business out of this trap very soon.

If you would like to discuss your marketing vs delivery balance, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Ideal Client

How many Ideal Clients do you have?

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Small Business Marketing

Ideal Client

The “Ideal Client” is a phrase used a lot in business. It refers to that archetypical business that: generates revenue; is the right size for your business; is easy to communicate with; and fits well with your own company culture. It’s the map of a theoretical perfect client against which to measure your real prospects. It’s important to know what your Ideal Client looks like so you can spot them when they appear. The term is a bit misleading, however. Most businesses don’t have an Ideal Client, but rather Ideal Clients.

Unless you’re just starting out it’s unlikely you’ll have just one. The Ideal Client is an essential term in B2B marketing, so it’s well worth keeping in mind when looking for new clients, as well as when dealing with your current clients.

Why do you need to map an Ideal Client?

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Think back to you last networking event (in person or virtual), how many people did you hear say: “I want to talk to anybody who owns a car (for example).” It happens all the time, even though it’s clearly not the most effective way to go. Think how much more effective the speakers pitch would be if they said: “I want to talk to people with old, petrol car, with bad mileage, in the Croydon area, looking to upgrade to something more fuel efficient.” The fewer people in the room this applies to are suddenly listening.

The scatter-gun approach is never going to work. At best it’s bland and impersonal, at worst it’s white noise in the background while your potential clients tune out. You want to focus on the clients with the need, means and intent to buy. It makes sense. Every pound spent marketing to this ideal audience will have a much better return on investment than a campaign targeting everyone with a car.

Picture it like this. Since your marketing budget is finite, it’s as though it’s being split between everyone in your target market. If your budget is £10,000 an your target market is 60 million, that’s not going to get you very much traction. The more you focus your marketing down to your Ideal Clients, the more likely you are to sell.

Why would you need more than one ideal client?

Unless you’re in your first year of trading, it’s unlikely that you only have one Ideal Client. If you sell to different regions, or several products or services, it’s savvy to map out several Ideal Clients. The following are a few reasons you might want to do that and how.

1. Your products or services are used in different industry sectors

You might only sell one product or service. Still, the way that product or service is used and the result it delivers might vary from sector to sector. The product or service stays the same, but the way you talk about it will be different depending on the sector it’s marketed in.

The Ideal Client Grid

Product/IndustryProduct #1Product #2Product #3Product #4Product #5
Industry #1ABCDE
Industry #2FGHI
Industry #3JKL
Industry #4MNOP

To summarise, if your product is:

  • Bought by the same decision maker,
  • delivering the same results,
  • used in the same way (even in multiple industries)…

Then it’s the same Ideal Client. Likewise, if more than one product is bought by the same decision maker in the same industry, it’s probably just the one Ideal Client.

2. You’re expanding your portfolio

If you’re adding a new product or service, it’s highly likely you will have at least one additional Ideal Client. This is simply because your new product (not including an upgrade of an original product) will deliver something new. It will solve new issues and problems. This may help your existing client base or it may address a completely new one. You need to map this out in order to identify the right marketing mix for each.

3. You’re targeting a new industry sector

Pain points in different industry sectors that purchase your product or service are unlikely to be totally distinct. There may be some overlap in the issues faced by a charity and a law firm, for example. But you wouldn’t use the same language or marketing mix to target both. Each time you look to specifically target a new industry sector, you have yourself a new Ideal Client.

Are your current clients ideal clients?

The idea of turning away potential clients seems to go against common sense, but in the long run, it can pay to be picky. Taking on all willing clients is a quick fix business plan that could lose you money in the long run. There are several possible disadvantages to taking on less-than-ideal clients:

  • They might be unwilling or unable to purchase more products/services from you.
  • Or they might be too big for your business to cope with.
  • They could be too small to be worth your time.
  • Perhaps they’re difficult to deal with.
  • They might not be the kind of business you want to be associated with.
  • Are they stagnant or declining?
  • Maybe they’re not turning a profit.

While these companies might be happy to give you their money, they could end up costing you more down the road. This also applies to your existing clients. Businesses that have been with you for a long time might no longer reflect your Ideal Client. If you have a number of current clients that don’t fit you Ideal Client description, you need to work out what’s the best thing to do. More on this in a little while.

What are your options with non-ideal clients?

As for your existing customers, what are your options if you find that not all of them fit your Ideal Client profiles?

  1. Bin them: A drastic option especially if this is the majority of your current clients.
  2. Keep them: If they are profitable, there’s no need to terminate their contracts.
  3. Add a new Ideal Client to your portfolio: If you have a number of clients that are very similar. In other words, using the same products in the same ways, this may be another profitable target audience.

The number of Ideal Clients you have determines the complexity of your marketing. The more you have, the more marketing you have to do to successfully target them and deliver sales. Most small businesses have 2 to 5. The most we’ve seen is 20, but that was a business selling internationally, with offices on three continents.

To conclude…

Only you know the answer to how many Ideal Clients you should have. It all depends on the size, variety and location of your business. What’s most important is having a clear picture of your Ideal Clients, so you can spot them when they appear. The better you get to know your Ideal Clients, the more chance you have to make lasting connections with businesses on the same, profitable, trajectory as your own.

If you would like help mapping your Ideal Clients and tailoring your marketing mix to them, give us a call on 020 8634 5911, or click here.

 

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Are you focusing on the right people?

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Marketing Plan

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As we all emerge from lockdown, you need to focus

If money is tight, you cannot afford to scattergun your marketing activity. If you do, it will be ineffective. Even if you have got some money spare, why waste it?  To get the best return on investment from the time and money you have available, it has to be focused.

Who should you focus on?

If I were a psychologist, I’d say: who do you want to focus on?  But I’m not, so I won’t. The best people to focus your marketing on are:

  1. People who are similar to your current clients.
  2. People in a similar geographic area to you

Easiest to impress

As we all emerge from lockdown and money is tight, we want to get the best we can for our money. Your target audience will be acting in a very similar way, so they will be looking for suppliers they believe can deliver on their promises. If you can show them you’ve delivered for a number of clients who are very similar to them, they will be much more inclined to believe you can do the same for them. Of course, you will need the evidence to back up your claims – more on that later.

Easiest to get to

If you are selling a service, chances are you will have to go to the prospect at some point very soon. Either as part of the sales process (maintaining social distance rules, of course) or to deliver part, or all, of the service. People who are close to you take less time and less money to get to. Far better to travel 10-20 miles than 2-300!

Of course, you can still do much of the sales process remotely. Phone, email and your preferred flavour of video conferencing will enable you to make sales, but lockdown won’t last forever (we hope), so those closest to you will be easier to account manage going forward too.

Once you start making sales, you can either add additional target audiences or increase geographical coverage, because you will have the budgets to do so.

Of course, you can always leave that boring stuff to us. Call us on 020 8634 5911 for any enquiries.

Want some help focusing your marketing?

 

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Don’t be a Jacob Rees-Mogg!

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Focus


image of jacob rees-mogg

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jargon

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

Drop the Jargon

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

1.       Their needs, issues and problems.

2.       What success looks like.

3.       Evidence you can deliver success.

 

Their Needs

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

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

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

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

 

Success

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

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

 

Your Evidence

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

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

 

Perceived Risk

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

 

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

Get in touch if you need a hand.

The 6 things Potential Buyers are looking for before they will consider buying from you

By A Helping Hand, Focus

There are 100’s, if not 1,000’s, of potential buyers of your products/services out there right now and you want them to buy from you.  This is what they are looking for BEFORE they talk to Sales.

  1. Visibility – fairly obvious but if you’re not visible to them, they cannot buy from you.  They will often look to see if they can find you in other ways.  If they find you on Google, are you on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook etc.?
  2. Cleanliness – I don’t mean proof that you use a lot of soap.  What I mean is a clean website; one that is easy to read, to understand and to navigate to find the information they are looking for.
  3. Headlines – Newspapers tell millions of copies based on the headline that day, with some of them employing dedicated headline writers.  When you’re found through an internet search your landing page(s) have seconds to grab their attention or they simply bounce.
  4. Pain Relief – Buyers rarely go shopping if they are happy with what they’ve got.  Does your marketing material make them believe your solution will make their life easier or better?
  5. Evidence – You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk? Evidence, in the form of case studies, testimonials, published articles etc. develop confidence in the mind of the buyer and draw them towards you.
  6. Experience – Even new companies have experience of delivering the product or service they sell and they’re usually more passionate about it too.  After all, how many people do you know who started up a company to do something they hate?  Buyers want to know that you know what you’re doing so talk about your previous experiences to increase their confidence in you.

70% of the buying process is complete before anyone talks to Sales.  Are you helping people to make the right decision and buy from you?