What you need before you can develop a marketing plan for your business

image of 5 things you need before you can develop a marketing plan for your businessFive Key Things you Really Need

As a marketing consultancy, we are, of course, going to recommend you need a marketing plan. However, there are five key things you need to consider and agree on before you can develop a marketing plan for your business. Let’s look at what they are… Read more

Who’s your best client?

As a director of a small business, you want to sell to as many people as possible. By doing that, you grow the business and you, hopefully, increase your profits. So why am I suggesting you think about just one person: your best client?

Thinking about one person is far easier than 1000s

Who’s the One Person you know most about?

Who is the person you know most about? Your Best Friend. Who is your best friend? How well can you describe him or her? I would hope that, considering they are your best friend, you can describe them in detail. What they look like, their preferences, their job, where they live, their political affiliations and much more.
Talking to your best friend is easy isn’t it. You talk about the hobbies you share. Other friends you share are prime targets to talk about (you know you do, even if you won’t admit it). You share your opinions of what is happening in the news – and you know what their reply is likely to be. It’s simply because you know them in detail.

Everyone at the Gym

There are 100s of members at your gym, your golf club or the pub. You’ve probably met a lot of them and so can recognise them, at least facially if not by name. But do you know as much about each of them as you do about your best friend?
It’s the same when thinking about your strategic marketing planning.

Think about your Best Client

Who is your best client? Be careful when you think about your best client. They may, or may not, be the company that spends the most money with you. Without doubt, they should be the company that generates profit.
They are, most likely, a company you’ve been working with for some time and you want to work with for a long time to come. What would your business be like if you had a lot more clients like this one?

Thinking about everyone is far harder than thinking about one specific company and one person in that company.

They have similar attributes

Your Friends

Your best friend has that privileged position because you have a lot in common. The chances are, your friends are the same: you have a lot in common.
At the gym, you won’t know them as well as your friends, but you will be able to imagine what they have in common:

  • They all want to improve their fitness levels.
  • Many of them will be looking to lose weight and/or get that beach body, in readiness for the summer.
  • You know that they have some disposable income – gym fees are rarely low.

Again, it’s the same thing when you’re planning your marketing
They will be in an industry sector you know and understand. Their office is likely to be relatively close to yours and they will spend sufficient money with you so that they are interesting and profitable. What’s the decision maker’s job title? Is that the same, or similar, to decision makers in other clients.
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you’ve described your best client as:

• Architects in London, with the Senior Partner as the decision maker. LinkedIn lists 50 people with that description.

Already your target audience has grown from one person to 50. If you tweaked your description to say the whole of the UK , the number increase to 123. Some Senior Partners will call themselves the Founder. Your audience has now increased, purely on LinkedIn, to 3,518.

You can see descriptions of our Ideal Client here, if you would like some guidance on how to describe them.

How many of your other clients are like this client?

They will have similar issues

Let’s leave the personal analogy aside from now on. But think about the issues your Ideal Client has. The issues they have will be the same, or very similar to issues experienced by other companies of the same attributes.
What are their Issues?
What do you help them with? How often do you help them? How do you help them?

Everything you list here is highly likely to be relevant to the 3,518 Senior Partners or Founders we identified earlier. By simply thinking about your best client, you’re now identified the issues and the ways you can help 1,000s of potential clients.

They will all want a solution

Getting your Ideal Client focus rightYour best client is one that will be very happy with the work you’ve done for them. The question we’re asking you is: What does a successful piece of work look like?
When you then talk to your target audience about the successes you achieve, they will like what they hear. They will recognise how you talk about the type of client you work with and the issues you help them resolve. Recognition is easy because they are similar companies, with similar issues. They will listen to how you will resolve the issues, but that isn’t the important bit. What they really want is the results – the success – you describe. Why wouldn’t they?

So hopefully this article has described the process of how thinking about just one person will help you develop a set of key messages that will engage a target audience and generate the leads you want to grow your business.

If you have any questions or would like some assistance, give us a call on 020 8634 5911. Talk to you soon.

What’s Your Dream?

What's your dream marketing planning for your business

https://www.biography.com/news/pretty-woman-quotes-anniversary

Everybody’s Got A Dream

Every single person who starts their own business has a dream for that business and for themselves. It may be as simple as wanting to be their own boss. It may be as complex as saving the planet from the scourge of plastic. Whatever your dream is, it is the starting point for the planning process.

Let’s look at the steps in between having the dream and achieving the dream.

Committing to the dream

Sounds obvious, but there is a difference between having the dream and being committed to achieving it. If you’re not committed, you’re not buying into it and you won’t do what is needed to achieve it.

Your Vision

Creating and sharing your vision will help people get onboard with your idea. This particularly true if your dream is aimed at the greater good. If you’re looking to inspire people to help with your vision, whether that  entails clients, partners or suppliers, they need to understand What, How & Why.

Simon Sinek will tell you to Start with Why.  Your vision is formed of What, How & Why and people buy the Why, rather than the What or the How.

Long Term Goals

Your ultimate goal is your dream, but there are stages in between where you are now and the dream. These stages are the long term goals:

  • Dream: Rid the world of plastic
  • Long term Goal: stop plastic being used in the UK/EU/USA
  • Long Term Goal: stop plastic being used in packaging
  • Long Term Goal: remove all plastic from the oceans
  • Long Term Goal: remove all plastic from the land

None of these are easy, so you will need to be plan carefully and break them down.

Manageable Chunks

Eating an elephant is best done one bite at a time – so says the old adage. Ridding the world of plastic debris is a massive dream and can’t be achieved quickly. But breaking it down into small chunks will make this dream more reachable. It’s the same way you will achieve/accomplish your long term goals and your ultimate dream.

What’s the Target for 2019?

What do you want to achieve this year? It may be one of the long term goals, or it may be just a number of the manageable chunks. You need to set a target for this year to give you  an aim to plan around. If you don’t, you are highly likely to drift through the year.

What’s the Plan?

So, you have a target for the year.  How does this compare to your performance last year? Is it more or less than last year’s performance? If so, what are you going to do differently to last year?

If your target is to increase sales, you need to do one of two things:

  • Have more sales opportunities
  • Close a higher percentage

Whichever it is, do you have a plan to achieve it?  Have you identified the right people to help you.

Deliver your plan

The penultimate step is to deliver on your plan. There is no point in planning and investing time and money if you are not going to follow it. There will be times when you are simply too busy, so why not get in the help you need at those times?  It’s far better to deliver on the plan whilst spending some money, than not. If you don’t your target audience is highly likely to forget you at that vital moment when they need your services.

Measure the results

Do you know what worked and what delivered the leads you want?  What hasn’t and needs to be reviewed and/or stopped?  If you don’t measure your marketing, how will you know what is delivering the return on investment you need to achieve your dream?

Step back and look

You should never forget your dream. Are you still heading in the right direction? As you deliver on your plan and see you’ve achieved that next goal, you need to spend time “on the business” instead on “in the business” to ensure you’re still on track.  Perhaps things have changed, meaning you need to alter your path.  If you don’t step back once in a while, you’ll never know and you’ll waste a lot of time getting back on track if you veer too far.

So here are 9 steps you need to make to reach your dream. Steps 3 – 8 need to be repeated multiple times, so you achieve each manageable chunk and each long term goal. 

Good luck on the journey.

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8 Small Business Marketing Tips to make a great start to 2019

image: make the best start to 2019 with our small business marketing tips2019 has begun. Are you ready to take it by the scruff of the neck and make it your best year ever? Here’s a few small business marketing tips to help you make the most of this year.

1. Know what works for you

The first of our small business marketing tips is probably the one we see more companies in need of that anything else. Your time and money are valuable. If you’re spending either on marketing activities that aren’t generating leads for your business, you are wasting that money. Finding out is one of the quickest ways to improve your bottom line, because you stop spending on activities that don’t work and spend it on those that do. Here’s some numbers you should be looking at.

2. Focus on your Perfect Client

No single company in the world tries to sell to everyone. For every product or service they provide, they have a picture of who will buy it and why. Do you have this to help focus your marketing?

By focusing on your Ideal Client, you think about:

  • What are the issues they have that you can help with
  • How you can help them
  • Why they should buy from you
  • What you need to say to them in order to get them to buy from you

The more you focus, the more you will get the people you want to talk to.

3. Be consistent

Unless you have a real niche focus, there are lots of people out there doing what you do. There are certainly lots of marketing consultants. To ensure that people remember you for when they need your services, you need to maintain a consistent level of marketing activity. Otherwise people will quickly forget you in the cloud of messaging they are exposed to every day.

That doesn’t mean you have to communicate every day. Maintain a level of consistency that you are able to, and one that is most likely to work with your target audience. If people consume your product/service rapidly, the marketing frequency needs to match consumption levels. If you work on annual, or longer, contracts, it may be that 3-4 times a year will be sufficient.

4. Stop talking about yourself

Far too many businesses open their marketing with the word we. Your target audience doesn’t want to know about you.  They want to know how you are going to help them. So talk about that. You know your clients and the issues they have, so talk about that. Show you understand their issues and that you have a solution. Then people will come to ask you about how you can help them.

5. Build and Maintain Relationships

Most small businesses get much of their business through referrals. Referrals come because of three things:

  1. People know you and trust you
  2. They know exactly what you are looking for
  3. They believe in what you are selling

Are you ensuring that the people who can refer you know what you are looking for, and that they remember who you are? Maintaining these relationships is not easy. We are all busy people. There are three key tools we can use to maintain these relationships:

  1. Coffee: Meet people face to face and talk to them. Help them understand what you are looking for, whilst ensuring you are listening and understanding what they are looking for too. You can substitute beer/wine/tea here, of course!
  2. Telephones: Your phone is less than six feet from your hand right now. Whether that is your mobile or your landline, make use of it and talk to your network, so they don’t forget you.
  3. Email: we all get huge numbers of emails, but I bet you most of your network will open at least one email a year from you. Mailchimp and its ilk are great tools to keep in contact with people and keep them aware of what you are up to.

Whatever way works for your business, don’t lose the referrals you can get in the future by losing touch with your network.

6. Use more video

world populations as part of our small business marketing tips

World Populations, according to @Socialnomics

80% of mobile consumption is video and it’s rising. If you want to communicate with today’s decision makers you need to use video.

  • Develop a set of short messages that show how you help your clients.
  • Your phone is perfectly acceptable for this type of educational video, so you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or pay lots of money for others to video you.
  • Add them to YouTube and use your preferred social media channels to distribute them too.
  • Make sure your network know where they are, so they can share them to increase your reach.

We must admit, of all our small business marketing tips, this is the one we need to do more of ourselves – oops!

7. Know who is visiting your website

image of CANDDi screenshot as part of our small business marketing tipsYour website is your window for the world. There will be few potential clients who don’t check you out, so it makes sense for you to know who is looking at your website. Tools such as CANDDi provide you with a huge amount of information about who is on your site and what they are doing on there. They cannot identify every visitor, but they will check fixed IP addresses and give you information about the company. They collect information about the person from Contact Forms, Web Chats and when you email someone. Imagine knowing when your latest prospect reads your proposal and then checks out your case studies – buying signals or what!

8. Prove you can help

The last of our small business marketing tips is, probably, one of the easiest to implement.

Taking on a new supplier is a big risk. If you’ve never worked with them before, how do you know they will be any good? Your prospects will be thinking this too. How do they know you are any good and can deliver on your promises?

Use the evidence you have. Make sure you have testimonials scattered across your website, so people can see what their peers think of you.

Case studies, including the results, are tremendously powerful. Not only does the reader get to see themselves in the description of your client, they see that they share similar problems. More than anything, they see you delivered a solution that worked. Why would they not want to work with you?

Knowledge articles. Whether published on your blog or through other media channels, share your thinking with others to show them you know what you are talking about.

Marketing today is all about consistency and demonstrating you can help. As a small business owner, you only have a limited budget, so make the most of it by focusing, but if you do one thing only, let it be this one: Talk to your audience about them – not about you.

We hope these small business marketing tips help.

What Marketing is working for you? A 5-second response to John Wanamaker

who is your website content talking to?

John Wanamaker famously said “I know 50% of my advertising works, just not which 50%”.

As you approach Christmas and the end of the year, can you answer the question: What Marketing works for your business? If you’re going to make a great start to next year, you need to know. In the world of B2B marketing it’s very easy to answer that question and know what marketing is working for you: Read more

What’s your best source of great leads for your small business?

Do you know?

Your business relies of leads. Leads that become qualified and then convert to sales. Without these leads, you will eventually lose all your clients and your business will go under – harsh but fair.

If you understand where your best leads come from, you can do more of that marketing. You will grow your business with a high return on investment from your marketing. Do you know your best source of leads for your business?  Is the source with the highest number of leads also the one that generates the most business? Read more

Does your marketing support your business goals?

You have goals for your business.

You may want to sell your business in five years’ time. Perhaps you want to keep growing, simply to see how big you can get. Whatever your goal, you have to have a marketing strategy that supports your business goals. Let’s look at whether your marketing will support your goals. Read more

What should you be doing this summer?

using the summer holidays to make your business plansIt’s the summer holidays. Everyone is on holiday – at least that’s what many people tell believe.

That then, somehow, becomes a reason for them not to do things to move their business forward. That may be technology improvements, it may be staff training or whatever.

What do the summer holidays look like?

Summer holidays are six weeks, from July to early September.  If you have school-age children, it is likely you will be taking at least some holiday during this time. You don’t have a choice unless you want their school reporting you to the local council. You take 1-2 weeks off.

Across every business in the country, there is a similar situation, with people taking holiday, but they are highly unlikely to have much more than two weeks off, so, at worst, only 1/3rd of your clients or prospects are on holiday.

Your Resources

The same goes for your staff. Let’s assume they all take two weeks off during the summer holidays. That means your business is 33% down, in terms of the resources you have. This assumes you manage the holidays your staff take, so that there aren’t a huge number of people off at the same time – they are called Holiday Request Forms (click here for an explanation of what you can and cannot do) after all.

Depending on your needs and your trading patterns, you have a number of choices:

If the summer is busy:

  • Recruit temporary staff or give overtime to those who aren’t on holiday.
  • If possible, build up stock before the peak periods so you have what you need available.
  • Work every hour possible

If the summer is quiet:

  • Let more people have time off at the same time
  • Manage production so that you have the stock available for the upcoming peak periods
  • Chill out, doing very little
  • Use the time to plan for the future.

The most productive use of your time will be to plan for the future. What are you going to do in the Autumn, Winter and early 2019 to take your business forward?

What needs to be done?

  • Schedule some downtime

You cannot work all year around and expect to be fully productive. You need some time off. Ideally away from your laptop and even your phone. However, we know what it is like and so you may need to be close to them. Schedule a minimal amount of time (and tell your partner – they will keep you to your schedule) and only spend that time in the business.

  • Looking Back

What has happened over the last 3, 6 or 12 months? Has the business hit its targets or missed them somewhat?

Can you see why this is the case? Did you do everything you planned to do in order to help the business hit its targets? What worked and what didn’t?

Looking back helps you to plan for the future. As they say in the financial services adverts “past performance is no guarantee of future performance”, but it will help you to make better decisions around what is likely to work better going forward.

  • What are your new targets?

You cannot plan for the future without targets. If you grew 5% over the last 12 months and you want to grow by 15% in the coming 12 months, it’s likely you need to do three times as much to deliver the growth. You have to be able to commit three times the resources. You may end up using less than that, but you have to budget for it.

  • Who/Where are your targets?

If you are looking to grow your business significantly, are you going to do this within your current target audiences and products/services? Do you need to consider product diversification or perhaps a market expansion strategy?

  • Planning

To achieve the targets you’ve set the business, you need a plan. In the unlikely event that everything you did before worked, you simply need to do more of that. If that isn’t the case, what are you going to do? Your plan needs to include:

  • Budgets
  • Resources, including skill sets and time
  • Timescales

Without a plan, it is unlikely that everything will get done, particularly if the plan involves other people and/or companies.

Why Plan Now?

Simple. You are taking advantage of the quiet period that the summer holiday are. If you leave it to September when everyone gets back from their holidays, you will be busy again and you won’t do the planning your business needs.

If you do your planning now, you will be ahead of most of your competitors who “took the summer off because their clients did”.

I hope this helps

Want a hand? Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here

Are you trying to sell to Everyone?

even in the souks nobody sells to everyone

Nobody sells to everyone

I have too many conversations where a company is trying to maximise the number of people their website and marketing will appeal to. I have to then use what I am putting into this article to show them that trying to sell to everyone is a very bad idea. Read more

How Google’s Search Console will help you improve your marketing

Are you using Search Console to improve your SEO performance

Search Console is a great tool that will show you just how well your SEO activity is performing over time. For those of you who aren’t sure what Search Console is, you may have heard of Webmaster Tools. Search Console is the new name Google has given it. Rather strangely, the URL is still https://google.com/webmasters.

There are many functions within Search Console giving you a huge amount of data, but today I want to concentrate on just one:

Search Analytics

Search Console menuPut simply it tells you what search queries (what people type into the search bar) you are appearing under. It doesn’t matter how far down the Google rankings you appear; if Google finds your website in that search, it will tell you.

Impressions: this is the number of times you’ve appeared for that search query

Clicks: the number of times someone clicked through

CTR: the clickthrough rate. In other words, what percentage of times did someone click through. Number of clicks/Impressions.

Position: where did you appear in the rankings? The higher the better. Chitika says 91.5% of clicks are on page one, so you need to be there.

How this helps you

  1. What are you ranking for?

Search Console will quickly show you what search queries are generating traffic for you.  Are they what you expected? Where are you ranking for the searches you want to rank for? Are there terms in there you don’t want?  If, for example, Viagra is in there, you really should be checking your site for hacks.

  1. How have things changed?

Are your rankings improving or sliding?  Comparing date ranges means you can easily see whether your SEO efforts are paying dividends or whether you need to re-focus.

Search Console results for SME Needs

You can see, from the image above, that my ranking has improved for small business marketing support. I’ve slipped slightly for sme needs, but I’m not that worried about a 0.4 move.

  1. Are they the right terms?

If your website is ranking well for a query with very few searches, you may need to focus on alternative terms. Ranking No.1 is great, but only if there is a lot of people searching on that term.

  1. Is your SEO company performing?

If you have an SEO agency helping you to improve your natural search results, this can easily help you to understand just how well they are performing.  I won’t name names, but one of our clients was using an SEO and PPC agency to drive traffic.  They were telling my client that he was ranking on page one for XX search terms.  That was, in fact, true but these search terms were averaging about 20 searches per month. Their rankings for the high volume search terms were actually slipping – something they weren’t pointing out to my client.  Needless to say that SEO agency isn’t working with my client anymore.

  1. Where is your traffic coming from?

What country(s) do you trade in?  If you only work in the UK but a lot of your traffic is coming from South Africa or the USA, you are getting a lot of useless traffic.

Concluding

As you can see Search Console can be a really useful tool, as part of your small business marketing efforts. It will help you understand what is happening and point you in the right direction, ensuring your efforts are focused on the right tasks. If you are just beginning to really measure your marketing performance, this is a great place to start.

I hope this helps.