8 Marketing Tools you can use remotely

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With the threat of Coronavirus upon us, and many people predicting a real hit on the economy that could last months, it is vital that you keep your marketing going. In a world where we get so many messages every day, it is easy for people to forget about you. So here are 8 marketing tools that will allow you to keep in touch with your target audience…

Email

If you have their contact details, email marketing is one of the easiest ways to maintain awareness within your target audience.

Whether you are using email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, or simply sending them from your Outlook or Gmail account, keeping a regular stream of relevant and useful emails going out to your target audience will show them how you add value and will ensure they remember you when the time is right.

Social Media

Iur phones rarely more than a few feet away from us. This means social media is another marketing tool for small businesses to use to maintain awareness. Remember that the social media tools you should be focusing on are the ones your target audience uses. Don’t try to include every single platform, just in case. You are far better off using two platforms, perhaps LinkedIn and Instagram, and doing it well, rather than trying to maintain accounts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and others – the more you try to use, the less time you have to generate great content.

And don’t forget to also share other people’s content when you believe it will be useful for your target clients – this can generate just as much credibility for you as a post of your own.

Blogs

Articles that show how you help your target audience are proven to maintain and increase brand awareness, increase SEO performance and generate leads. They also provide valuable material for you to share over email and social media.

Think about the issues facing your target audience, both right now and throughout the year. What can you write that will show them you can help them?

Webinars

Webinars allow you to talk directly to your audience without the need to be in the same room as them. Email and social media can be used to make your target audience aware and to get them to sign up; the webinar gets you in front of them.

Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way of travelling with your target audience. Your listeners can either stream or download your podcast, with many people listening whilst they travel or during a bit of work downtime. If people are self-isolating because of coronavirus, there is only so much daytime TV they can watch! Give them something useful to listen and you can quickly build an audience.

Video

In the same way that webinars and podcasts allow you to reach your target audience remotely, video content, via YouTube or Vimeo, will help you get your marketing messages across. Your phone’s camera is perfectly suitable for creating video and all you need is a space you where you won’t be disrupted.

Make video content that shows how you help your target audience and they will remember you when they need help. Great content is always shared too, expanding your audience even further.

Direct Mail

Not something you would normally think about, but if you are self-isolating, think about writing a few letters. If your handwriting is good enough (meaning I will always be typing!), handwritten letters are effective. People recognise the time you have invested.

Your Phone

Perhaps the least used feature on many people’s phones is… the phone.

Dial someone’s number and talk to them. Humans are naturally social animals and there is only so much isolation we can take. This more static period is the perfect time to build and strengthen relationships. Get on the phone and have a chat. Check in on how contacts and clients are doing and show you care about them and their business.

 

To keep your business growing during times of economic uncertainty, whether that is the current coronavirus epidemic or a recession, the small businesses that keep their marketing going are the ones that survive and the ones that benefit most when things return to normal. Even when the decision makers aren’t buying, you need to ensure that you remain in their thoughts. When they are ready buying again, they remember you. The time you have invested up to now mustn’t be wasted by allowing them to forget you going forward. These eight marketing tools will help you maintain awareness within your target audience so you are at the forefront of their minds at the point they need your help.

I hope this has helped you and that you, your loved ones and your business stay healthy and prosperous through this tough time.

 

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

image to support pointing you in the right direction article

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The role of the owner of a small business is varied, encompassing a wide variety of different tasks. From finance to sales, from marketing to operational delivery. The problem is that most entrepreneurs go into running their own business because they love what they do. Does this sound familiar? Do you love doing what you do and really wish you could spend the vast majority of your time doing just that? You are highly skilled in delivering your passion. You know exactly what to do and how to help your clients. And the biggest problem is actually finding more of those clients to help! Let’s look at a quick and easy solution to help you do that; one that doesn’t cost the earth and won’t take up huge amounts of your working week – however long that may be. The process of attracting, and then winning, new clients can be complex, particularly when you aren’t 100% sure on what you are doing. Here’s our four-step programme on how to attract and win more clients.

1. Know what has worked so far

Do you know how you won the clients you have right now and the ones you’ve had before now? How about how you attracted the prospects that you didn’t convert? Knowing this is a vital step in winning more of them.

If you know what worked and generated more leads, in stands to reason that you would do more of it. Conversely, if you know what isn’t generating leads, you’d stop doing that wouldn’t you?

Tracking your leads and your sales is actually relatively easy. You write them down somewhere. For some companies, it makes sense to invest in a CRM. For others, a spreadsheet will be more than sufficient.

2. Decide who you want as new clients

There is nothing to stop you signing up whoever comes to you, assuming you are confident you can deliver and they will be profitable. However, when it comes to being proactive to attract new clients and generate leads, you have to be focused. The word anyone MUSTN’T be in your vocabulary.

Identifying the industry sector, geographical area and decision maker allows you to focus your marketing. Focusing means your resources aren’t spread thinly and will be more effective.

Once you identify who you want to acquire as new clients, you can develop the right messages, by ensuring they show how you can help that target audience. In today’s world, people no longer care what you do, they care how you can help them.

Finally you can pull together a book of evidence that proves you can help them and deliver on your promises. In the same way that you look at reviews on TripAdvisor before booking a hotel, prospective clients want to see proof you will deliver value for money.

3. Determine how you are going to generate leads

How many sales do you need to achieve your targets? How many leads do you need to generate those sales? What marketing is needed to develop the leads? You must start with a target and work backwards.

  • If a client is worth £15,000 a year to you and you want to grow by 10% from your £1,500,000 revenue last year, you need 10 new clients this year.
  • If you convert 10% of all leads, you need 100 leads.
  • Last year’s marketing generated 60 leads, on a budget of £75,000, so you need to generate 2/3rds more this year.

You have a choice at this point. Simply do more of what you know worked last year, whilst stopping what didn’t work. Or, identify other marketing activities that you believe can bring in more leads.

4. Get it done

Perhaps the hardest part of this four-stage process is getting the marketing done. At the beginning of the year, you will be eager and you’ll keep to your marketing plan. What happens when it is working, generating the leads and you are converting them to new clients. You’re going to be busy delivering for your clients. If you want to attract and win more clients, this has to happen.

How are you going to maintain the marketing plan so you have a consistent level of marketing activity happening?

Two choices – employ or outsource – or a 3rd in work every hour sent!

One of the conversations we have very early on with, almost, every prospective client is around the fact that what we do, they could do most of:

  • With some thought and number-crunching, you could quite easily measure your own marketing performance.
  • Looking back, and thinking ahead, identifying your target audience and pinpointing your Ideal Client would take time but you could do it.
  • Developing a plan and then delivering it is all well within your capabilities…

 

So why use SME Needs? Because the hat you want to wear is the operational delivery hat. You want to do what you set up this business to do – work with your clients and grow your business. Your marketing is all about how to attract and win more clients. We help you ensure that happens properly.

Sales and Marketing working together

image to support article about sales and marketing working together

 

As a small business, you measure your sales performance in a number of ways:

  • Number of sales in X period
  • %age of leads closed
  • Value of sales
  • %age growth of the business
  • etc.

All are valid ways to measure sales performance, but poor results may not be all the fault of the sales team. As someone who has spent most of my sales and marketing career on the marketing side, this isn’t the easiest thing to admit, but some of the issue may lay with how/if Marketing & Sales are working together. Let’s look at the sales process to show you what I mean…

First contact

If the Sales team are calling outbound, they need to ensure they are calling the right people so, for now at least, let’s assume the first contact is an inbound enquiry…

Someone calls in and they are logged into your CRM (or other sales tracking tool), including a record of how they found you (absolutely needed to assess marketing performance). They talk about why they’re calling and two things can happen:

  1. Qualified out. It may soon become clear to one party, or the other, that you cannot help them.
  2. Move further down the sales pipeline. It’s a good conversation and you both agree to at least a next step.

If this lead is qualified out, it is most likely to be Marketing’s fault (we’re assuming that the sales person isn’t brand new and not making rookie mistakes). Whether they found you via a natural search, a paid click or social media, the messages they read on your website did not accurately communicate how you help, what you do and they type of clients you work with.

In the middle of the pipeline

Some companies believe that Marketing’s role ends once the lead is created; we believe differently. Marketing’s role continues through the pipeline. It has a role in supporting the sales process:

·       Case studies need to be produced regularly to prove you deliver a consistent service/product to your clients.

·       Knowledge articles show the depth of knowledge and expertise within the business. These should be being shared with prospects, either via the sales person or through email automations triggered by new leads reaching a certain point in the pipeline.

·       Having a set of advocate clients, who are happy to talk to prospects during the latter stages of the sales process, is a joint Sales, Marketing and Account Management function. If you can get them to provide public reviews (Google, Feefo etc.), all the better.

Asking for the sale

At this point, it does become a Sales function. Marketing cannot ask for the sale, so if Sales doesn’t, there is a risk of losing the sale.

How to Maximise the Sales rate

1. Define your Ideal Client and Target Audiences

If your description of an ideal client includes the words anyone or everyone, you’re on a hiding to nothing and a lot of duff sales leads (or none at all). In the beginning, this is a conversation between the business owner and the marketing function.

Over time, the definition of an ideal client will change. Using what happened in your sales pipeline, you can fine-tune the Ideal Client definition. A teamwork approach from Marketing & Sales will ensure you are both working towards attracting the right audience.

2. Identify their pains, needs and priorities

No matter how you argue, your target audience cares not a jot about what you do. They care about how you can help them. They want what you do to help them with their priorities, deal with their needs and make their pains go away. If your marketing messages and content show how you can help them, they are far more likely to engage than if you simply talk about what you do.

3. Identify what you believe to be the best marketing channels to communicate these key messages to your target audience.

It doesn’t matter whether you really like using Facebook or Twitter, if your target audience doesn’t use them, there is no point in using those social media channels. If you are struggling to work out the right channels, we can help, or talk to your peers.

By collecting information on what marketing channels are working, you can fine-tune your choices.

4. Keep Talking to your prospects

Just because they didn’t buy from you this time doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you in the future. Even if they buy from someone else, they may want to talk again in the future, if their original choice proves to be unsuitable.

5. Get Sales & Marketing working together

If Sales are moaning about the quality of the leads, and aren’t talking to Marketing about it, they only have themselves to blame. When the Marketing team is just blaming Sales for not handling them properly, banging their heads together should help. If the leads coming in meet the definition of your Ideal Client, there are two possibilities:

  1. The Ideal Client needs to be re-defined as it isn’t quite right
  2. Sales are not following through correctly

Working together, Sales and Marketing can define and develop the right sales support materials, including timings and choice of transmission channel – digital or physical. Failure to do this weakens the ability of the Sales team to close the deal.

Everything we do is about marketing support for small businesses. If you are a small business and looking for some marketing support, simply call us on 020 8634 5911 or email us by clicking here.

How to maximise ROI from exhibiting at trade shows and conferences

Image to support post: maximisung the ROI from exhibiting

Offline marketing covers many things, but trade shows, conferences and exhibitions make up one of the most popular activities. But too many companies invest £1,000s on appearing at trade shows and conferences, to only then not follow up. They lose out on the sales opportunities they went after by attending the event. If you are planning to exhibit at an event soon, here are our tips on maximising the ROI from exhibiting.

Before the event

Maximising the ROI from exhibiting is far easier when you follow these simple rules. You need to start work before the event takes place. It’s no good getting back from the trade show, or conference, and then deciding what you’re going to do. By the time you’ve got it all planned and set up, you will have missed the boat.

1.  What are your key messages?

What do you want to say to the people you met at the event? What is it that will ensure they remember you in the weeks and months after the event?

2.  Build your email campaigns

During the event you will have collected x number of leads. They will have filled in a form, given you their business card or let you scan their badge. Whilst a large percentage of them won’t be actively looking for what you sell at that moment in time, if they spoke to you, they are likely to at some point. The aim of these campaigns is to initially educate your leads on how you can help them (not what you do) to reinforce the conversation you have at the event. They should not be hard sell, as that is likely to put people off.

Remember to give them the opportunity to unsubscribe. All your emails must have unsubscribe links on them, but make it very clear in at least one of your emails. This will increase the trust they have in your business, because they will know you aren’t going to spam them going forward.

3.  Engage with organisers and exhibitors on social media

If you are active on social media, make use of the activity generated by the event organisers. Liking, sharing and, most importantly, responding to their posts will often generate a response, thereby increasing your reach. If you are posting about attending, use the hashtags they recommend to maximise the chances of others engaging with you.

Don’t forget to look at your fellow exhibitors too. There’s a good chance some of them will be in the market for your services or products.

During the event

4.  Keep the social media going

Even though you’re busy trying to talk to as many people as possible, and boost your lead count, take time out to engage with the social media chatter going on around the event. Share pictures of your stand, especially when it is busy. Busy means popular and attracts others, but only if you’re doing this when the event is on and there is still time.

After the event

5.  Get the emails out!

People go to events for various reasons. To learn, to find new suppliers, to take a bit of time out. Whatever the reason, when they get back into the office, they are quickly back into their everyday activities. The bag of flyers and giveaways will go into a desk drawer or the B1N file and rarely get looked at again. A Series of emails, starting as soon as people are back in the office, will reinforce the conversations you had with people at the event.

Don’t expect that this part of the follow-up will generate a mountain of leads for you. There may be some people who are actively searching at the time, but most won’t be. These emails should entrench your brand into their mind’s eye, ready for the future.

Use the ranking tool within your email marketing platform to see who, and how they, engage with this campaign. As a Mailchimp partner, we are regularly checking the contact rating Mailchimp provides

Remember to tag (assuming your email tool allows this) everyone so you know where you met them. When they convert to leads in a few months’ time, you’ll know what marketing channel was the initial engagement tool.

6.  Make the calls

Those who are actively interested will have asked you to call them. They are hot leads and should never be ignored – you’ll be surprised by how many don’t follow up.

Once you’ve completed these calls,  start following up with those who were highly engaged with your email campaign. If they’ve read most, or all, of your emails, move the relationship forward. They still may not be ready to buy, but if you start to build a personal relationship with them, you should be first choice when they are.

7.  Keep up contact

Once you’ve sent this initial email campaign and made the calls, it doesn’t mean that’s the end. The ROI from a trade show or exhibition usually takes months to really show. By keeping up contact, via email or phone, will maintain awareness levels so that they know who to call when they are in need of the services, or products, you provide.

We had a client who was unhappy two months after and event we’d been working with them on. The event had cost the best part of £10K to attend (including stand, collateral and time) and they had a few sales, but not many after two months.  When we reviewed things again 10 months later, it had generated clients who’d spent over £100,000 with them – and were still clients.

 

So if you are considering exhibiting at trade shows and conferences, make sure you put in the time and effort to follow up. By doing this, you are far more likely to maximise the ROI from exhibiting. Of course, if you want some help in maximising the ROI from exhibiting, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

 

 

Six great marketing technology tools for small businesses



Today was the second, and last, day of the Technology for Marketing Show. This seems to be just the right time to look at the marketing technology products that we know and trust. Some are free and some you have to pay for, but all provide real value and will help you with your marketing, if you fit their target audience.

Let’s start with the free marketing technology

Google Analytics

If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, you are really missing a trick. Google Analytics is a great tool for telling you how well your website is performing.

Adding it to your website is child’s play, especially if you have a WordPress site. Once you’ve set up your Analytics account, you either add the code (they provide) to the Theme settings or use a plugin.  Either way, you will be live in less than ten minutes.

Google Analytics will tell you:

  • How much traffic you get to the site.
  • Where it has come from (natural search, social media, paid search etc.).
  • The average time people spend on the site, and the average number of pages they visit.
  • Which pages aren’t working well, via the Bounce Rate and Exit Rate statistics.
  • The devices people use to visit, and for e-commerce sites, what devices they use when making purchases.
  • Demographic information about your audience, such as sex and age.
  • The flow of people through your website.
  • And much more…

All of this can then be compared to other time periods. Is your website performing better than last month, or last year – or yesterday?

If you are going to use one marketing technology tool, this is the one we recommend as an absolute must!

Search Console

image of Google icon - provider of some of our marketing technology setAnother Google product, formerly known as Webmaster Tools, Search Console will help you to analyse your search engine optimisation performance.

  • What search queries are you ranking for, and where are you ranking?
  • The volume of searches there are for that query.
  • Whether Google has a sitemap to work from – always a good thing.
  • The number of links, both internally and externally, linking to your site.
  • How mobile friendly your site is
  • And more

Again much of this can be compared against other time periods to see how you are performing. Just be careful when considering the average search position. This is an aggregation of data, so a high volume of searches with a low SERP figure will drag your average ranking figure down significantly.

Yoast

image of Yoast logo one of our marketing technology setStrictly a plugin and most often seen in WordPress sites (they do others), Yoast is a highly effective tool to help you to improve your search engine rankings.

Yoast is frequently updated, so you can be confident they are keeping up with changes that the search engines are making to their algorithms.

Once you tell Yoast what you want your page to rank for, it provides a traffic light grading to show how well they believe that page will rank. It doesn’t promise to get your onto Page One for that phrase, but it will point you in the right direction.

As SEO is split into two key variables, so is Yoast. It looks at how easy your page is to read and then at the technical SEO. The internal and external links, image alt tags and sentence length, as well as use of title tags, such as H1s and 2s.

Definitely not to be used before you have done your keyword research. Definitely one to use once you have.  There is a premium version, but we recommend you start with the free version. You can then upgrade at the point you are comfortable with what you are doing.  Join their mailing list and they will provide a steady stream of useful tutorials and articles to help you make the most of the tool.

 

Let’s now switch to the paid for products…

CANDDi

image of CANDDi logo part of our marketing technology setMore of a sales tool than a marketing tool, but CANDDi can be highly effective when used properly. In our opinion, it is far more suited to companies selling higher value products or services, usually in the B2B market, rather than for B2C companies.

Where Google Analytics will tell you how many people have been on your site, CANDDi tells you what individuals are doing, what company they work for and WHO is visiting your site.

Before you get too excited, it cannot tell you who for every visitor. If the visitor searches from a fixed IP location, their IP lookup tools will tell you what company the visitor is from. If you already have, or the person gives it to you, it will tell you who is visiting. CANDDi will also notify you when that person comes back too!

The Process

Imagine a lead comes in because somebody filled in the contact request form on your website. CANDDi will tell you:

  • what pages they visited, so you know what they are interested in.
  • when they visited, and how many times.
  • whether they downloaded anything you have been actively promoting.
  • Where they are in the world, helping you qualify the lead.
  • Some, if not all, of their social media details

You have a chat and they want to think about things.

When they come back, you are notified so you can follow up the lead (not straight away, that’s a little creepy). Timing is key to making the sale so knowing when they are thinking about you is a real help.

With contracts starting at £149 per month, on a 30 day term, the pricing and terms are far better than their competitors.

SEMrush

image of semrush logo one of our technology setIf you want to take your SEO performance seriously, SEMrush will really help to improve the performance of your website.

By showing you how your site is working technically, SEMrush helps you to get the basics right. After that, it is about showing you how you are ranking, in comparison to your competitors, for the keywords you provide.

It is stuffed full of ways to help you improve your website’s performance:

  • Listing your backlinks, including a toxicity score (toxic links are bad)
  • Brand monitoring, so you can see when your brand is being talked about.
  • On-page SEO checker, showing you exactly what is wrong and where.
  • Organic research, showing you what your competitors are ranking for
  • Keyword Magic Tool, helping you find the keywords to really up the performance of your SEO and PPC campaigns
  • And much more…

SEMrush is an agency tool, designed to help agencies manage their clients’ marketing and image of a pair of SEMrush socks

 

SEO performance and the pricing reflects that. The lowest price is $99 per month but if you are using a marketing agency to help you with your marketing (and they are using it), they can provide you with savings on that price. They make great socks too!

Mailchimp

SME Needs is a Mailchimp PartnerRecently rebranded as a customer relationship management tool, Mailchimp is still best known as an email marketing platform. If you want to communicate with your audience cost effectively, email makes absolute sense. We all get huge numbers of emails every day but we still open the ones we want to. If you are sending personalised and relevant information to your audience, you will get open and click through rates you want.

Mailchimp does provide a free version, but there are limitations, perhaps most notably allowing only one user. But the chargeable versions start at just $9.99 and its worth it to get the additional users (2 more) and all the functionality.

Mailchimp always had segments and groups to help you manage your audience, but the addition of tags makes it far easier to send only content that is relevant and they will want to read. Most people (69%)[1] believe that sharing data is a key part of today’s society and 57% of consumers happy to receive personalised marketing. If you are following GDPR guidelines and using your customer data sensibly, your email marketing is highly likely to be effective.

We recommend Mailchimp simply because it is the most intuitive platform we have tried and at a price point very few SMEs cannot afford.

Consistency is key

Marketing technology is only useful if you learn how to use it, and then use it regularly and consistently. That means either working your way through the training tutorials that all of these platforms provide. Or working with a marketing agency that regularly uses them and can help you make the most of the benefits marketing technology can bring to your business. If you would like to talk about how we use them with other clients, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

 

[1] DMA figures, Sept 2019

The cost of an Unmanaged Mailing List

Earlier this year, Mailchimp changed its pricing plan. Managing your mailing list just got much more important, not least because you may start paying more for your account with them.

Pricing PlanOld Plan New Plan  
Data RecordsNo. of usersPriceData RecordsNo. of usersPrice
FreeUp to 2000 subscribers£0Up to 2000 contacts1£0
MonthlyUp to 52,000 subscribers
Essentials500 to 50,0003from £7.95 per month
Standard500 to 100,0005from £11.93 per month
Premium10,000 to 200,000unlimitedfrom £237.99 per month
Pay As You GoUnlimitedyou bought creditsUnlimitedYou buy credits

Why you need to monitor your data count

One of the biggest changes that impact the pricing of Mailchimp is the change from subscribers to contacts. It used to be that only subscribers counted towards your pricing.  It didn’t matter how many data records you had within your account, or how many lists. It was only the number of subscribers that counted.

Monthly charges

This has now changed, so that all data records are counted (minus archived, cleaned and deleted records). Add up subscribed, non-subscribed and unsubscribed to see how much you are going to be paying. If you’re approaching the limit of a Free account (2000), just a small number of unsubscribed contacts could mean you have to start paying. If just 20% of your list is unsubscribed, you have a monthly bill of £23.87 (Essential plan, up to 2,500 contacts). Bearing in mind that, once they unsubscribe, very few people come back, you need to clean out your data regularly.

Lists & Audiences

One of the biggest issues with Mailchimp until recently was the Lists function.  This allowed you to build as many lists as you wanted. The problem was that a single person could often end up in multiple lists. When someone unsubscribed, they only stopped getting emails from that particular list – not every list they were in. With GDPR now firmly in place (and not going anywhere, even if Brexit happens), sending people emails after they have unsubscribed is a big no-no and likely to get you into all sorts of trouble.

The changes make managing your mailing list so much easier, without having to complicate matters with multiple lists.

Segments, Groups & Tags

In the last section we discussed Lists and how they can be a problem, particularly for GDPR purposes. Having just one audience and then making use of segments, groups and tags help you avoid this problem.

Groups

Designed to be contact-facing, Groups allow to gather contacts with the same attributes. Perhaps they have all bought specific categories of products or have attended specific events. Contacts can choose which groups they want to be in. Perhaps they wish to receive information about particular services, for example.

Individual contacts can be in multiple groups and, if they unsubscribe, their data stays in the group, but they will never receive any emails sent to subscribed members of the group.

Segments

Segments allow you to create groups of contacts based on multiple criteria, whereas groups are single criteria-based. Perhaps you have sent out a number of emails and want to send a further campaign to contacts who have clicked on a link in any of those emails. You can build an ANY segment to look at up to five different email campaigns. Alternatively, if you wanted to create a group of contacts who opened all of them, you can use an ALL segment.

Tags

Tags are just for you, to help organise your contacts. You create tags and then attach them to contacts in a way that helps you to categorise them the way you want them categorised. Mailchimp has a number of ways they automatically tag contacts to help you manage and engage with your audience. Geographical tags, engagement level tags and Import date tags are all automatic. Of course, your tags can be as detailed or as light-handed as you want them to be. Perhaps you want to tag contacts in your sales pipeline so you can communicate accordingly with them?

You can then use these tags to group contacts for campaigns. After all, the more personalised the email you send, the more likely it is to be opened and engaged with. That is, after all, what you want to happen.

Performance rates

Having lots of people in your audiences is a great thing, if they want to be there and you control what you send to them. You will get higher open rate percentages and higher clickthrough rates. As a marketer, you want to be able to show the boss (even if that is you, as well) high levels of engagement. The more people are engaging with your email marketing, the more they are likely to be doing what you want them to do – usually buying your products/services. So why would you keep data in your audiences who don’t want to be there?

The changes Mailchimp has made do mean that you need to manage your data more proactively in order to control the costs of your email marketing. However, the changes they have made also make it far easier for you to control the data. You can make it more appropriate to the contact and more personalised as you collect and use data. From there you will get better results from your marketing. Of course, if managing your mailing list is proving to be difficult, SME Needs is a Mailchimp Partner and we are more than happy to help you get the best results from your email marketing

We hope this helps

The Definition of Marketing Insanity

marketing insanity image

Are you suffering from Marketing Insanity?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. The definition of marketing insanity is, therefore, doing the same marketing over and over again and not getting any better results. So why do so many small businesses insist on this approach when it comes to attracting new prospective clients?

There are two reasons for this:

  1. They haven’t measured the performance of the marketing they have been doing.
  2. They have knowledge of only a certain number of ways of marketing their business.

Does this sound like an issue you have? Let’s see how we can improve things for you.

Why Measure your marketing?

There are three reasons to measure your marketing:

Time

Time is a resource that you always need more of. Using up time on marketing activities that aren’t generated leads and clients for you is wasting that time. It is time that you cannot get back. It’s gone forever.

Money

The old saying “time is money” counts here, but it is also the amount of money you spend on marketing activities that don’t work, that has to be considered. The more money you waste on marketing activities that don’t work, the less reaches your bottom line.

Quality

Too many people measure the vanity metrics of Likes, Follows and Shares. Whilst important, as they are likely to be pointing people at your website, or where people buy from you, they are not THE measures of success. From there, people often then measure the number of leads developed by a particular marketing channel.  Again, whilst important, it is not the most important measure. The most important measure of success is return on investment. Let me explain.

Leads that don’t turn into sales are also a waste of time and money. If you stop measuring at Leads, you risk wasting more time and money. If the leads aren’t turning into sales, they are probably the wrong leads.

Limited Knowledge

When, as a business owner, you have limited time, you can only do so much. If you invest time in learning how to do certain types of marketing, you want them to work otherwise you think that you have wasted your time.

That’s actually not true.

What you’ve done is tried something that you can now cross off the list.  There are huge numbers of ways to market your business and the chances are you only have time to work with a small number. If you have tried certain marketing channels over and over, don’t succumb to marketing insanity. Get some advice and look at what other marketing channels you could be using.

 

 

 

What your small business gets from a Virtual Marketing Director

11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director

If you are looking to improve your marketing performance, you have a number of options. One you may not have considered is a Virtual Marketing Director. Not an interim, who is with you for a few months before moving on again. Not a full-time marketing manager, who may be an expense that doesn’t make sense at this time.  Here are 11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director…

1. Only pay for what you need

You need to be marketing your business from Day 1 but that doesn’t mean you need a Marketing Manager from Day 1. Until your marketing is complex enough to need a full-time Marketing Manager, hiring a Virtual Marketing Director makes perfect sense. Why spend at least £40k a year on a full-time employee you don’t need?

A Virtual Marketing Director can be used from as little as one day a month, up to (realistically) 4-6 days per month. If you need much more than that, it is time to consider recruiting your own Marketing Manager.

2. Years of experience available for your business

A Virtual Marketing Director will come to you with many years’ experience, usually working within and for companies very similar to yours. They know their stuff.

That experience is always increasing. As you are only using them for part of the time, they are working with other companies. Marketing activities that are tried and tested within their other clients can then be brought into your marketing mix with great success. Of course, they will do the same in the other direction – it’s only fair!

3. Helps you focus on who you want to sell to

You cannot sell to everyone, so there’s is no point trying. By focusing on the people who are most likely to buy your product or services, your marketing budget will be used far more effectively.

4. Helps you develop the right marketing messages to attract prospects

Too many businesses think about their marketing from their side. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help you think about things from your client’s side.

It’s no longer the case that you can expect your target audience to work out how your products/services can help them. You have to help them understand. Show your target audience you understand them and you really can help them with their wants/needs/issues. When you do this, your target audience are far more likely to consider you are a new provider.

5. Works with you to develop your Marketing Strategy

The marketing you’ve been doing has been at least somewhat successful. It’s got to have been for you to grow your business to what it is now. To take your business forward, you need to review your marketing strategy to keep that growth happening. Your Virtual Marketing Director will help to identify the right marketing channels, the right providers and the right consistency to deliver on your business goals.

6. Has a network of specialists to provide marketing support for your business

You may know a number of marketing specialists and use a number of them.  Where there are gaps, it’s virtually guaranteed that your Virtual Marketing Director will know people and companies to fill the gaps. They will have used them in the past, so know exactly what they can deliver for you.

It also saves you a lot of time sourcing new suppliers.

7. They know the language

Every industry has its own language; marketing is no different. If you don’t know the language, it is easy to get befuddled. Your Virtual Marketing Director knows the language and will help you keep suppliers on track and honest.

8. Keeps a consistent level of marketing happening because you don’t have time

Back in the early days of your business, you did your own marketing. You had the time back then. As your business grows, the amount of time you have available becomes less and less. However, your marketing needs more and more time. Your Virtual Marketing Director will ensure that your marketing campaigns go out on time. Without a consistent marketing flow, your target audience can quickly forget about you.

9. Will keep measuring performance so that you maximise the ROI from your marketing budget

You want to maximise the ROI from your marketing budget. Your Virtual Marketing Director will keep an eye on what is going on, reporting to you and the board regularly.

It is, after all, in their own interest. They want to prove that the marketing strategy they helped you develop is the right one. The numbers will show whether this is the case.

10. Will help you find junior marketing support at the right time

As your business grows, there will come a time when it makes sense to employ a junior marketing executive to “do the doing”. When there is sufficient need, perhaps to manage your social media, to produce and publish blogs or develop marketing collateral, it makes sense to employ someone rather than keep outsourcing.

Finding someone with the right skill set isn’t easy. In the same way your Virtual Marketing Director will help you manage suppliers, they will help you to find, and then manage, a junior marketing executive.

11. Will help you recruit a Marketing Manager when your marketing requirements need it

The ultimate job for your Virtual Marketing Director is to help you grow to the point where your marketing is sufficiently complex and of enough volume, that you need to employ a Marketing Manager. Whilst they may be sad that the relationship with your business is ending, they will be tremendously proud that they’ve helped you grow to the point where they need to move on.

An independent voice

One additional benefit of a using someone from outside of the business is their independence. They don’t have a vested interest in the business (except that they want to do a great job for you), so can speak their mind. Having that independent voice within the business can be refreshing and can provide you with someone to talk to who won’t be thinking “what do you want me to say?”.

For a small business that is committed to growing, making use of a Virtual Marketing Director is a no-brainer. You get the experience and support you want, but only in the quantities you need. Make use of them until you need a full-time Marketing Manager. If these reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director get you thinking one could be useful, let’s have a chat.

How can a small business marketing consultant help your business?

Question: how can a small business marketing consultant help your business?

Quick Answer: by helping you to:

  • develop and implement the right marketing strategy and plan for your business
  • one that brings you the type of clients you are looking for, and
  • helps you achieve the growth targets you have for your business.

If we look at this in more detail, it looks like this…

We often get asked how a small business marketing consultant can really help a small business. After all, isn’t the classic consultant there to tell you the time, after borrowing your watch? Let’s look at the key ways a marketing consultant can help a small business:

In the beginning

Some time ago, you decided that the life as an employee wasn’t for you. You loved doing what you do, but didn’t want to do it for someone else all the time. So you started your own business. For a little while you delivered for your clients outside of normal working hours, because you recognised the need for cash to pay the bills.

Success meant you were quickly able to say goodbye to your employed colleagues and go it alone. Your clients loved you and what you did for them and kept asking for more. You worked hard, steadily built a team around you to continue delivering on your clients’ needs.

As the responsibilities of running a business and delivering for your clients added up, the rate of growth slowed because you weren’t able to get out there quite so much. Marketing and business development activity slowed as operational activity took priority.

You are an expert at what you do

You know you, and your team, do fantastic work and that delivering that work has to be your priority, but you want to continue to grow the business. But how? What are your options?

  1. Employ a junior marketing executive to keep the social media happening, and the blogs being published.
    1. Needs managing to keep on track
    2. How do you know they are performing?
    3. Are these the right marketing activities for your business? Going to cost £15-20K a year
  2. Employ a Marketing Manager
    1. Going to cost £30 – 45K a year
    2. Is there enough work to keep them busy and stimulated?
  3. Hire a small business marketing consultant
  4. Only pay for time used
  5. Brings experience from lots of other companies to bear on your marketing
  6. Has a network of experts around them with the skills your business needs

Show you which “50% is working”

The old adage still holds true. Many small business leaders know they are generating leads and sales, but cannot identify what is bringing them in. Word of Mouth is probably responsible for a chunk of them, but what else?

By identifying what marketing is and isn’t working, your small business marketing consultant will quickly deliver an ROI on their fees through the cost-cutting opportunities identified. After all, why spend money on marketing that isn’t generating leads of moving people through the pipeline.?

helps translate features into benefits

As an expert in your field, you know exactly what you are doing, all the software and hardware involved and all the jargon. Day to day activity means this is the language you are using all the time.

But it always isn’t the language your clients use. You need to look at the language your clients and target audience will use. You should also be looking at what a client gets from using your products or services and make sure your marketing talks about the benefits and what success looks like. A small business marketing consultant will definitely help in this area. They will have gone through this many times and will know what questions to ask you to get the information needed and ensure you are using the right marketing messages.

Develop the right marketing strategy for your business

You would naturally expect a small business marketing consultant to say they can help you by developing the right marketing strategy for you, but what does that mean? For us, it means the following:

1.     A marketing strategy that builds on what you know is working

2.     One that is focused on achieving your growth targets

3.     That fits with your budgets and utilises the skills available within your business

4.     A marketing strategy that aims to bring in your Ideal Clients

There is one last factor; the most important one: it is a marketing strategy that you have contributed to, are committed to and have bought into. Only at this point do you have the right marketing strategy for your business.

A marketing consultant keeps marketing happening consistently

Once you have a marketing strategy and a plan in place, you need to ensure the plan is followed and that marketing happens on a consistent basis. Whether you have a internal junior who needs guidance, training and some management, or whether you have no resource at all, a small business marketing consultant really can help.

Thinking about recruiting a junior marketing exec?

Sometimes there is a lot of “stuff” that needs doing and it makes sense to recruit a junior marketing executive. How are you going to find the find person? If you were looking for someone to help you deliver your product or service, no problem. You know exactly the skillset and the attitude you need. But if you’ve had to bring in a marketing consultant to help develop and implement the right marketing strategy for you, how likely is it that you can find the right junior marketing exec?

A small business marketing consultant will have worked with you for some time and will understand your business culture, so the right attitude profile can easily be developed between you. The consultant will be able to identify the skillset and the aptitude you need. Plus, be able to “smell the cow’s excrement” at interview stage.

A small business marketing consultant can help your business in a number of ways. We hope we’ve shown you how above. Of course, if you would like to talk about how we can help you specifically, give us a call on 020 8634 5911

 

How to Improve your marketing performance

If you’re looking to improve your marketing performance, it’s safe to say you’re not getting the results you want. Let’s have a look at how you can get the results you want and improve your marketing performance.

There are a number of stages to this process

Know exactly what is and isn’t working

When people say to us that their marketing isn’t working, it’s rare that they are able to say exactly what isn’t working.  Is it their social media marketing or their email marketing? Is it their networking or trade shows? It is unlikely that everything isn’t working, but without knowing what is and what isn’t, you cannot take any action to improve your marketing performance.

Continue doing what is working – it pays the bills

You cant stop marketing while you work out what is the right marketing strategy for your business, but you can stop what isn’t working and carry on what is.  By doing this, you instantly improve your marketing performance. It also means you continue to get a flow of leads into the business, albeit not as many as you would like.

Identify exactly who you want to sell to

Is your marketing attracting the clients you want to sell to? If not, it’s probably because you’re not being specific enough in your marketing so that you attract the people you want to talk to. There is nothing wrong with working with a range of different clients, but you shouldn’t go chasing everybody because you don’t have the time or the money.

Set Targets

How can you measure your marketing performance without having targets to measure against? If you want to improve your marketing performance, you need a set of targets that will show the progress you’re making. Targets such as web traffic, leads and sales will clearly show how your marketing is improving.

Identify what issues they need to resolve

The days when you simply said “we sell a widget” and people come a-running are long gone. Your prospects want to know how what you sell is going to help solve an issue they have. That could be as complex as meeting FCA compliance requirements or as simple as providing new laptops for their staff. Whatever it is, they expect to help them.

Develop messaging that shows how you can help

Whatever marketing channels you use to improve your marketing performance, you need a set of core marketing messages that will help you improve your marketing performance. Messages that demonstrate you understand them, their issues and what they are looking to achieve will help them believe you can help.

Gather evidence that proves you can deliver

There’s a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. Your target audience needs to see proof you can deliver on your promises.

Testimonials, case studies, reviews and ratings are all really useful in helping someone believe you can help them. If the evidence is from their peers, their level of perceived risk will drop even further.

Develop and agree a marketing strategy you believe will work

There are many things that go into developing a successful marketing strategy: skills, time and budgets. You will have your opinions about what you believe will, and won’t work and you need to believe that the strategy uses the right balance…

  • Skills can be sourced from within your business or externally
  • Time – the skills may be there, but if those staff don’t have time, it needs to be sourced elsewhere
  • Budget – (you have to pay for everything)

We believe that combining the knowledge, expertise and opinions from SME Needs and our clients is the best way to develop a marketing strategy that both parties buy into and believe will succeed.

Gather the resources and skills you need to deliver

As referred to earlier, the marketing skills needed to implement your plan, to improve your marketing performance, need to be sourced from somewhere. If they aren’t available from within your business, where will they come from? Two options:

  • From third parties you know and trust
  • From your marketing consultants

Our approach is one of finding the right people from within our network, or from within yours. Of course, we can do a lot of what is needed, but we’ll never attempt to build you a website or get your marketing content into the press. Our partners have the right skills and so we bring them in and manage them on your behalf.

Implement the plan

Once you have a plan that you’re agreed upon, it’s time to implement that plan. There’s little point in investing time and money on developing it, if you don’t then do it! Hopefully you will see the improvement in your marketing performance you are looking for.

Measure, adapt, go again

As you go, you need to measure your marketing performance. Is it improving? What is improving and what isn’t delivering? By measuring your performance, you get the information you need to make further adaptations to your marketing to develop a process of continuous marketing improvement.

We hope this helps

If you need a hand with improving your marketing performance, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or click here and we’ll call you.