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Marketing Performance

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14 effective business marketing tools

By A Helping Hand, Deliver, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

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

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

Mailchimp

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

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

Mailchimp offers a free version for up to 2000 contacts.

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

Hootsuite

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

Subscriptions start at £39 a month (one user)

Canva

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

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

HubSpot

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

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

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

CANDDi

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

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

CANDDi starts at £149 a month.

WordPress

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

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

EventBrite

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

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

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

Zoom/Teams

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

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

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

YouTube

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

YouTube is free to set up and upload content.

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

LinkedIn

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

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

LinkedIn business membership starts at £39.90 a month.

Google Analytics

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

Google analytics is free to use.

Business cards

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

Standard business cards start around £12.57 for 100

Modern data transfer cards start at around £40

Coffee/Beer

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

Your Network

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

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image to support article about where to hire a content writer

When should you hire a content writer?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning

Four questions before you hire a content writer.

If you have clicked on this blog, chances are you’re already deliberating whether to hire a content writer. Choosing the right time and service, however, can be a mental barrier too many. Hire someone too early and you risk maxing out on overheads before your company can sustain it. Too late and apart from exhausting yourself, you will also hinder your business as it takes up too much of your time.

So let’s break it down and find out if you’re ready to hire a content writer..

How much content do you need to put out?

There are lots of factors, but small and growing businesses need to put out several types of content. There is:

  • Your blog – Potentially once a week
  • Your website – Needs constant updates
  • Social media posts – Twice a week
  • Sales copy – Hopefully often
  • Email campaigns – Once a week
  • Applications for grants – As and when

This adds up to a lot of time writing. Content plans can help with this, allocating time and resources and mapping out exactly what you are going to produce.

If you feel as though you can manage this with your existing team (that might just be you) then it is probably too early to employ a marketing agency or writer. If you don’t think you can handle that all on your own, then think about bringing in some help.

What is the quality of your current content?

So you’ve been doing your own marketing and now thanks to your efforts the business is growing. That’s great, but the more you grow, the more competition you will encounter. Your marketing and content will have to upgrade, as your business does to compete. A good way to test your content quality is through your number of readers. Be sure to set up Google Analytics in order to track how often your pieces are being viewed and compare it to your industry’s average.

Can you consistently produce content in ever greater amounts and quality? If not, think about hiring a marketing agency. They can produce professional content that represents the standard of quality you want associated with your business.

How valuable is your time?

Opportunity costs can sneak up on you, especially your own. Make sure your time isn’t worth more than it costs to hire a writer. Writing can take up an awful lot of your day, so be sure that your time wouldn’t be more valuable elsewhere. Failing to delegate can be detrimental both for your business and your health. If you find yourself still up planning and writing content outside of even business owners hours, maybe it’s time to bring in some help. Avoid the feast and famine trap.

What is your budget?

Agencies and employees cost money but don’t let that put you off. When looking for a marketing agency, find one that specialises in your size of business. This helps get the exact support you need with people who understand your budget.

There are also online content tools to help you out. Tools like Mailchimp and Hootsuite can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, with automated responses, ques of content and much more. They are not a substitute for a person, but if your content demands are just outstretching your available time, make sure you have taken all the help you can get.

Still not sure? Give us a call today and let’s talk about what would work best for you.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Time to starting marketing after lockdown

12 Top Tips for Marketing After Lockdown

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Time to starting marketing after lockdownBoris’ roadmap has offered the first realistic timeline for the opening up of the UK economy. This means that business owners are now able to start planning for a future without COVID restrictions. It’s been almost a year since the first lockdown was imposed in the UK and in that time, businesses have had to adapt their marketing to reflect the virtual, remote, new world we found ourselves in.

If all goes well, we will soon be dusting off our old business cards ready to (tentatively) start handing them out to new contacts. But will the post-lockdown marketing environment go right back to how it was, or will some of the changes stick around? In this blog, we’ll take a look at what you can expect for B2B marketing after lockdown.

Start – if you haven’t already

If you stopped marketing to your target audiences during lockdown, now is definitely the time to start again. Ideally you would have never stopped marketing, but sometimes needs must. It’s never too late to start marketing your small business again.

Freshen up on old skills

Chances are, you’re itching to get back to in-person networking. Nothing gets the point across like actually talking to someone, with no dodgy WiFi distortions, or the infamous phrase “you’re on mute”. It’s been a long time since this kind of gathering has been possible, let’s get you some refresher tips.

Listen First

When networking it’s important to listen before talking. First of all, it’s just polite. Secondly, it gives you an actual advantage when networking to know what your contact’s role, experience and personality are before you give them your pitch. That way you can take note of their key details and tailor your pitch so it’s specific to them.

Elevator Pitches

One of the unappreciated benefits of Zoom calls is that you know exactly how long they go on for. Even in short breakout rooms you get a handy reminder when you have one minute to wrap up. In the post-Covid world we won’t have that luxury. Time to sharpen up your elevator pitch. Condense the saleable points of your business in two minutes or less.

Tell Stories

You might have the best data, the smoothest branding, but nothing is better at selling your product or service than a story. The basic tenets of narrative: an empathetic protagonist, a conflict and resolution; beginning, middle and end, coincide brilliantly with the customer journey, so use them. These techniques also work well when networking virtually. Just remember to hit unmute!

Remember to Follow Up

This isn’t something you have to worry about so much when marketing remotely, since almost all virtual interactions like email and LinkedIn leave you with a way to get back in touch. However, in person, you must make that first electronic contract; either on the phone, on Zoom or an email. Opening a dialogue is the first step in building a relationship.

Make a plan

Failing to plan…. etc. Is an old, but true, adage. If you don’t plan, you won’t do the consistent marketing you need to generate a steady flow of leads into your business

Utilise Automations

Now that you’ve actually got places to be, you might need to start employing automations to cover for you while you’re out and about. Email and social media automations, such as Mailchimp and Hootsuite, allow you to plan the publishing of your content in advance. You can read more about marketing automation tools here.

Update Your Case Studies

You might have a fantastic pitch and be a natural salesman face-to-face, but prospects need to know you’re true to your word. Prove it to them with case studies. Make sure they’re informative, well formatted and include a great testimonial from a happy client.

Need a hand measuring with your marketing planning

Click here for more tips

Capitalise on new opportunities!

Alongside this return to the old, there will undoubtedly be some elements of lockdown marketing that will stay part of our everyday. In 2021 a founder/CEO will be using old and new techniques to stay ahead of the curve. Of course, you should have been doing some of this through the lockdown, but if not, it’s better late than never. Here’s what we predict…

New Digital Content

While audio-visual content might have seen a spike to fill the void in an absence of face-to-face interaction, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s going anywhere. Video content in particular is all the rage, with all platforms continuing to widen their video capacity.
Just look at Instagram TV, Facebook Watch and LinkedIn Stories. If you haven’t already, start experimenting with audio-visual content; perhaps a podcast or a video introduction. Some of the content that could be adapted to new mediums are:

  • Product explanation videos.
  • Introductory presentations.
  • Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Case studies and client testimonials.

Virtual Meetings

Love or hate virtual meetings, the likelihood is they’re too convenient to do without. While Zoom fatigue may be very real, it’s better than commuting for an hour just to catch a meeting. It’s still worth investing in good lighting, microphones, speakers, or even professional backdrops to make a good impression when meeting people virtually.

In closing

While this may be mostly conjecture, it’s good to be aware of the changing marketing environment so you can use every tool at your disposal when promoting your business. What’s for certain is the future won’t be the same as the past. In a year when traditional marketing methods were off the table, technology stepped in to pick up the slack. Now that there’s finally a roadmap out of lockdown, we will find ourselves with double the tools needed to market our businesses. Deciding which to use and when will be up to you.

If you need a hand getting your marketing going again after lockdown, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

is my marketing working?

Is my marketing working?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Measure

Marketing is a complex art at the best of times, and sometimes the means of measuring your marketing can end up muddying the water. There are a whole lot of calculations, metrics and analytics out there. In a department full of jargon, what’s the best way to see if your marketing is working? In this blog, we’ll walk you through the process of effectively gauging your marketing performance.
is my marketing working?

How can you measure your marketing?

Some of the most common ways of breaking down your marketing statistics into something more manageable is with simple figures, such as bounce rate, click-through rate, engagement, etc. No metric on its own can tell you all you need to know about your marketing performance, it depends on your goal. Let’s unpick some of these terms and what they can tell you about how well your marketing is working.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your website after viewing the first page, rather than moving on to others. This might look like a useful barometer for how well your marketing is working. However, it’s not as simple as that. The bounce rate only represents movement, not time spent on each page. For example, if a suspect spends ten minutes on your homepage, reads your mission statement and calls you from the phone number provided, that would still count as a bounce. Despite the fact that your marketing has worked in that case. It’s useful in conjunction with other metrics, but be wary of using this figure alone to measure how well your marketing’s working.

Engagement

Google Analytics, one of the best free tools for measuring your marketing, let’s you see visitor engagement. This tells us how long visitors have spent on your website and how many pages deep they went. This complements the bounce rate metric well and together they can give a rather good impression of how usable and engaging your website is. However, an engaging website alone won’t bring the clients in. You need to know that your website is attracting the right sort of visitors (those that have a need you can solve and the cash to pay for it), and that’s persuading these visitors to make contact.

Contact

The number of emails and phone calls you receive is another metric used to assess how well your marketing’s working. This is arguably better than the bounce rate or engagement, since it actually delivers potential clients to your inbox. But, once again, be careful what conclusions you draw from this metric. Your marketing may be very effective at drawing interest, but if that interest isn’t from people with the inclination and means to buy from you, it’s not the optimal use of your time. Ideally your marketing will attract genuine leads and prompt unsuitable clients to qualify themselves out. This way you can save time building relationships and writing offers for people with no intent to buy, leaving you free to spend more time developing your real prospects.

Conversion rate

Take a second and ask yourself; what’s the purpose of my marketing? Getting new clients, increasing revenue or any form of growing your business is probably the answer you have in mind. If there’s one metric you do need to remember, it would be the conversion rate. That is, the number of individuals that are converted from prospects into clients. The other metrics are useful at indicating how many prospects might turn into clients, but don’t forget that conversion rate is the real king of the KPIs.  Don’t get lost in metrics when the proof is in the pudding. If your conversion rate isn’t what you want it to be, diagnose the problem and fix it fast!

Shoring up your sales pipeline

Marketing is an investment intended to get results. You can make sure your marketing is working to increase your conversion rate by breaking it down into a sales pipeline. Every business should have a sales pipeline, but how many steps it includes is up to you. The way we usually look at it is like this:

  1. Suspects → Prospects
  2. Prospects → Qualifieds
  3. Qualifieds → Clients

You want a good conversion rate between each of these stages to be sure that you’re marketing is working effectively. Take the time to work out your conversion rate as a percentage and see which stage of the pipeline could be letting you down.

Where are you losing prospects?

If your business isn’t growing, it’s time to see where the leak is. Look at the conversion rate from one stage to the next to work out where your marketing could be letting you down and how to correct it.

sales pipeline

Before the pipeline

First off, you need a good stream of visitors coming to your website and social media profiles. If your enquiries, engagement and website traffic are low, it might be worth checking your SEO and branding. Make sure your website scores highly and that your branding is eye-catching enough to draw interest from potential clients. It might also be worth considering paid-SEO or advertising to boost your visibility amongst the your target audience.

Suspects into prospects

So, your website, socials and advertising are performing well. But are getting enough enquiries? If the conversion rate from suspect (potential client) and prospect (first contact) is lower than you would like, there are ways to change that. What on your website is stopping people from following up? Is contact information easy to find? Do you have multiple ways of being contacted? Is the call yo action convincing enough? If you’ve answered yes to these questions and the phone isn’t ringing, it might be time to take the initiative and approach your suspects first. Software like CANDDi can help you track visitor behaviour and see who’s likely to buy.

Prospects into qualified

This conversion, from the initial enquiry to a firm offer, is one of the most important in the pipeline. If you’re only qualifying a small percentage of prospects, it’s likely that your marketing needs to be tailored more towards your ideal client. You may be attracting a lot of attention, but if it’s not from people with the means and intent to buy, frankly, they’re not worth your time if it could be better spent developing relationships with real prospects.

Qualified into sales

Once a lead has been qualified, the responsibility for making the sale falls to your sales team. If your conversion rates between all the stages up to conversion are good, then your marketing is functioning as it should. If your business still isn’t growing, then maybe the problem lies elsewhere.

How can sales find out how they failed to sell?

The best solution is often the simplest: just ask. Prospects that don’t buy tend to fall into three categories:

  • Those that were won by the competition.
  • The ones that didn’t buy from anyone.
  • Those that shouldn’t have been qualified through your sales pipeline.

If you find that most of the clients you failed to win fall into the latter category, it might be worth reassessing your ideal client, or adjusting your marketing to appeal to the right kind of buyer, whilst simultaneously filtering out unsuitable leads.

The main thing to remember is that marketing’s purpose is to grow your business. So don’t bother improving engagement, bounce rate, or other metrics if your revenue isn’t rising. Follow the steps above, look into your pipeline and diagnose the problem. There are a number of different fixes available any weak points in your marketing plan.

If you would like help with the diagnostics, treatment and cure of your marketing ailments, why not contact us? Call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

 

 

SME Needs' four stage marketing process

11 Questions to ask yourself before outsourcing your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

Considering outsourcing your marketing?

If your business has more than 40 staff, stop reading here, as this isn’t for you.  If your business has less than 40 staff, please continue. This is a set of questions to ask yourself before you look at whether you should be outsourcing your marketing.

1. How old is your business?

Sort of a trick question, because it doesn’t matter. You need to be marketing your business from the moment you decide to start it, to the moment you close it down or sell it. Whether your business is one day old, or 10,000 days old, you can consider outsourcing your marketing if it fits the following criteria…

2. How big is your business?

We (sort of) answered that question in the first paragraph, but let’s put a little more meat on the bones around what was said before.
The reason for putting the arbitrary number of 40 people before you was because, at that point, your marketing is most likely complex enough to need to have an internal marketing team. Let’s ask some better questions…

3. How many products or services do you sell?

The more products or services you sell, the more complex your marketing needs. More so if they’re unrelated. There will come a point where outsourcing doesn’t make sense, as it would be more expensive than having your own marketing team.

4. How many markets do you sell to?

By this we mean industry sectors and countries. Each industry sector will need to see different marketing because, even if they use the same product/service, they will probably use it slightly differently, use it to solve a slightly different need or use different terminology. You have specific terminology and jargon you use – they will all have their own too. Each one needs a different programme of activity.

5. What marketing skills do you have internally?

For this question, let’s assume you have developed your own marketing strategy and plan, so you know what skills you need. Which of them do members of your team possess?
How many good writers do you have?

  • Can anyone build you a website?
  • Have any of your team got experience running Google Ads campaigns?
  • Which people in your team can write, build and run email marketing campaigns?
  • Have you or anyone in your team any experience of Google Analytics or Search Console so they can assess the performance of your online marketing?
  • Any photographers?

You get the picture. If you have the skills internally, you may not need to outsource.

6. Are these skills available?

It doesn’t matter how good your third line support engineers are if they are busy supporting your clients. There is no sense in using an animation expert to write and schedule your social media posts if they have no time available.

It is a simple question of priorities and opportunity cost. If you or your team are better at your/their core skill(s) and you can generate more money doing that, then you are better off outsourcing.

7. Do you want to do your marketing?

Nobody should do what they don’t like doing. Even if you are a very good marketer, if you don’t like it, you are better off spending your time running your business than doing the marketing.

8. What should you spend on marketing management?

If you are, lets say, VC-funded, you’ll have the money available to start with an in-house marketing team from day one, or at least early on.  If not, it doesn’t make sense to recruit until you are spending, at least, a Marketing Manager’s salary on outsourcing your marketing. An entry-level Marketing Manager will earn around £25K per annum, but if you want someone with experience, you need to add a further 60% onto that. Including NI and pension contributions, that means about £45K per year.

An outsourced Virtual Marketing Director will cost more per day, but you are paying for huge amounts of experience, flexibility, and convenience. If you are using much more than one day a week of marketing management time, you should start reviewing the situation.

9. How many marketing service providers do you use?

If you’re managing your own marketing and use a number of different suppliers, you are likely to be using up a lot of time. SEO, website (often different agencies), email, PPC, content etc. All will have demands on your time. If they aren’t, that is worrying.

The more service providers you are using, the more likely it is that you should be outsourcing your marketing management. A virtual Marketing Director will ensure they are delivering and aren’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

10. When you think you need one, you actually need at least two.

At the point you start considering bringing your marketing in-house, you should stop and think about what you want bringing to bring in-house. Is it the marketing doing, or the marketing managing? A good Marketing Manager won’t want to do much of the doing. The marketing doer is unlikely to, yet, have the skills necessary to do the strategic side of the manager’s role.

Bringing at least some of the marketing doing in-house can make sense relatively quickly, particularly if you do a lot of social media and content marketing. However, that person then needs to be managed too. Do you have the time and expertise to ensure they are doing what they should be doing? Using the outsourced provider to help you manage the “doer” can be highly effective.

11. Did you choose the right Marketing Manager?

The aim of all good Virtual Marketing Directors is to help you grow the business until it makes sense for you to bring things in-house.  It means they have helped you grow substantially in the time they are working with you.  Recruiting, as you know, isn’t always easy. It makes sense to keep the outsourced help for a while after you recruit. They will need to:

  • Ensure the new Marketing Manager is brought up to speed on what has been happening
  • Handover all the relevant usernames, passwords etc.
  • They can also be there as a backup – just in case…

Making the choice whether to outsource or in-house your marketing management isn’t simply a question of budgets. There is so much more to consider.

Once you have gone through the questions to ask yourself before outsourcing your marketing, and it seems like outsourcing is the right answer for your business, let’s talk about how it works. Give us a call, on 020 8634 5911, or click on the button below.

replicate your email campaign

How to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50%

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

Email is still one of the best performing marketing channels. With 281 billion emails sent every day, including over one billion per day by Mailchimp, it may seem that your Inbox is flooded and individual emails will be missed. But with a few simple changes to how you run your campaigns, you can easily increase your email marketing’s performance. Let’s talk you through how to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50% in just two minutes.

1. Send your email campaign as normal

Whatever your email campaign is about, send your campaign in your normal way.

2. Replicate your emailreplicate your email campaign

Whatever email marketing platform you use, you will be able to do this. Some may not be as easy as Mailchimp makes it, but the steps shown here are all achievable in every platform.

  • Go to your Campaigns list
  • Find the email campaign you have just sent.
  • Click Replicate. The idea is that you will be sending exactly the same email.

If your email marketing tool doesn’t give you a one-click option to do this, you should be able to either copy the HTML code or copy the contents and simply paste into a new campaign.  The replicated campaign will be titled the same as the previous one, plus (Copy 1). Keep this title, as it allows you to identify them in the future and measure your own performance.

3. Edit your audience

edit your audience for your email campaign

The last thing you want to do is upset the people on your mailing list, so you don’t want to send your email campaign to either:

  • The people who have already opened it
  • The people that isn’t relevant to

To do this…

1.       Campaign Activity – who were sent – [name of campaign]

2.       Campaign Activity – who did not open – [name of campaign]

It is very important you select ALL at this stage.  If you don’t, you will send the 2nd email to lots of people you didn’t mean to.

 

If you choose ANY rather than ALL, the following will happen…

1.       It will go to everyone who you sent the original campaign to

2.       It will go to everyone in your list who didn’t open the campaign, whether they were sent it, or not.

 

4. Edit the Subject Lineedit the subject line to improve email marketing performance

If your previous subject line didn’t get people to open it, they are unlikely to open it next time, if you use the same subject line.  Change the subject line. Perhaps ask a question, challenge them, or refer to another way this replicated email campaign can help the reader.

 

5. Schedule within 48 hours

Dependent on how time sensitive your email is, you may want to do this just 12 hours later, but it should be soon after the first campaign.

 

Once you have sent the replicated campaign, you will be able to see whether you an additional 50% opened it, or even more.

 

Historical Results

To support this article, we analysed data from email campaigns run by some of our clients over the last few years.  The data looked at 628 email campaigns over the last 5 years.

Average Open Rate on first email: 23.8%

Average Open rate on Replicated email: 16.0%

This equates to a 51.25% increase in the number of people who read the email

The replicated campaigns added a further 35% to the number of people who clicked through.

Of course, we cannot guarantee this will be the case for everyone, as it will vary from company to company. Rates across the client data analysed ranged from 24 – 69% increase in open rates, and clickthrough rates ranged from 34% – 64%.

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Risks with referrals

The risks with referrals

By Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

We all love getting referrals. 

Who doesn’t like getting a useful referral? They are usually an easier sales pitch as the referrer has already done some of the work for you.  I acquired a new client at the end of last week from a referral, so I am particularly positive about them at the moment. 

There is one real issue that stops people giving referrals – the risk to them. 

Let me explain: 

When someone refers you, particularly to one of their clients, a little bit of their reputation goes with the referral.  There is a, hopefully, small risk that you won’t do a good job.  If that happens, there is a potential risk that your referrer could lose their client.  

On the positive side, if you do a very good job, their reputation is enhanced with that client. You are then far more likely to get more referrals from that person.  

The principle of liking comes into play here which can be broken up into three simple points;   

  • having a preference for those that we consider like ourselves in behaviour, values and attitudes,   
  • those that pay us genuine compliments, and most importantly,  
  • those that cooperate with us towards shared goals and vision 

Therefore, when some refers you, by managing to match the positive perception of the referrer, their reputation is enhanced with that client. You then gain an increased trust, improving the likelihood of you gaining further referrals from that person. 

So the morale of this blog is simple, if you are looking at getting referrals from your network, make sure you deliver on your promises.  

If you are looking to further improve your prospects of effective networking and gaining relevant referrals, our marketing experts at SME Needs are here for you.  

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8 of the best remote marketing tools

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

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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

Our phones are 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.

For help with marketing your small business in this difficult time, give us a call on 020 8634 5911. I hope this has helped you and that you, your loved ones and your business stay healthy and prosperous through this tough time.

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Winning Clients: The 4 Step Programme

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments
image to support pointing you in the right direction article

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How to attract and win more clients

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.

To talk about how this process can help grow your business, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

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Sales and Marketing working together

By Marketing Performance, Small Business MarketingNo Comments

image to support article about sales and marketing working together

 

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

As a small business you measure your sales performance by number of sales, percentage of leads closed, percentage growth, 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 lies with how (and 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 (which is a necessity for measuring market 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.

the definition of marketing insanity

The Definition of Marketing Insanity

By Customer Understanding, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

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.

 

 

 

How can a small business marketing consultant help your business?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

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.
    • Needs managing to keep on track
    • How do you know they are performing?
    • Are these the right marketing activities for your business? Going to cost £15-20K a year
  2. Employ a Marketing Manager
  3. Hire a small business marketing consultant
    • Only pay for time used
    • Brings experience from lots of other companies to bear on your marketing
    • 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 a return on investment (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

How to improve your marketing performance

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

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.

 

image: make the best start to 2019 with our small business marketing tips

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

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business MarketingNo Comments

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.

If you need some assistance with taking your marketing forward, simply complete the form below and let’s talk.

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image to support article: focus your marketing

Why you have to focus your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

focus your marketing

Four key reasons to focus your marketing

There are many business owners out there who believe they can sell their product/service to anyone – sand to the Arabs and all that. I’ve no doubt they are very good sales people and could sell to anyone they sit in front of.  It doesn’t mean they should be trying to sell to anyone. I believe that you have to focus your marketing and let me explain my reasoning. Read More

appropriate clothing

Nine questions to choose the right marketing channels for your business

By A Helping Hand, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

appropriate clothing

What are the right marketing channels for your business?

As the Norwegians are famous for saying, there’s no  such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. It’s the same for your marketing. There are lots of different ways to market your business and its up to you to choose the right marketing for your business. So where do you begin? Read More

6 reasons why you should stop doing social media

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

Social media: love it or hate it, it has become part of our lives, both professionally and socially. Even if you aren’t using it, I bet your friends and acquaintances are and they are bugging you to use it as well.

For this article, let’s put aside personal use and look at whether you should stop using social media professionally.

Consistency is king

Your followers and connections are a fickle lot. They will love much of what you post and then Share/Comment/Like/Retweet, right up until the point they forget about you.

Why will they forget? If you aren’t appearing on a regular basis. We all have so many messages chucked at us on a daily basis, including lots more connections and followers on social media, it is easy to forget someone and lose track of what is happening.

If you’re just Shouting

Social media is called social media for a reason. If you want it to work for your business, you need to be sociable. If all you are interested in doing is posting your latest special offer, you are going to be wasting your time. If this is you, you really should stop using social media.

You’re just being negative

If all you do is criticise others, particularly without offering a solution, you’ll quickly get a reputation. Check out some of our MPs to see what I mean. Nobody likes to be criticised, especially if you are just being negative and not suggesting an improvement.

You’re not there at all

Not being there at all is even worse than being inconsistent. This is particularly relevant when you consider the activity of prospective clients or staff.  Almost without fail, the first thing someone does when they hear about you is check your online presence. They find your website and then follow that with your social media presence. If your Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook accounts haven’t done anything for 6 months, what are they going to think?

You’re better off shutting down your account than having one that hasn’t been used for some time.

No traffic being generated

Your social media activity is, presumably, being done to generate new clients. If not, I am wondering why you are spending valuable time on there. The question is: how much website traffic are you getting from your social media activity?

If you don’t know, I refer you to our previous blog about Google Analytics and then recommend you see how much traffic you are getting.

If you aren’t getting any traffic, there are three probable reasons:

  1. You aren’t saying anything worthwhile (see point two above)
  2. You forgot to put any links to your site on your profile or in your posts (has been known)
  3. Nobody who is likely to buy from you uses that social media platform (see next point)

Any of these are bad and you need to identify which one is causing the issues and fix it fast.

If you disagree, I have a challenge for you: nip down to your local bank and try and pay your mortgage with Likes!

Your Target Audience doesn’t use it

Are you using the social media platforms you do because you use them in your personal life and so know what to do (?!?!) or is there another reason?

Have you considered which platforms are the ones your target audience is most likely to be using? Let me give you some examples:

  • If you sell to Managing Directors of technology businesses, they are highly unlikely to be on Facebook (at least in a business mood) so activity on there would be a waste of time. Moving to LinkedIn (18,366 in the UK alone, plus another 8,648 CEOs) would be a far better option.
  • Launching a new restaurant in St Albans via LinkedIn may not be the best idea (although there are 84,394 people from St Albans on LinkedIn, including 1 food critic). Adding great images of the food and the restaurant on Instagram and/or Facebook may be more effective as people are thinking more about their leisure time

Signing Off?

Do any of the above resonate with you?  If they do, you need to carefully consider whether you should stop using social media for your business. After all, your time is precious and you need to maximise your use of that time to generate leads for your business in order to grow.

I hope this helps

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dump em - the prospects not engaging with your marketing

Dump those who aren’t engaging with your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing PerformanceNo Comments

dump em - the prospects not engaging with your marketingAs a business owner, you want people engaging with your marketing.

That means it grabs the attention of your target audience, it educates them on why they should use your product/services and they jump willingly into your sales pipeline as a new lead. Marketing engagement is key.

If people aren’t engaging with your marketing you have two choices:

  1. Continue trying to engage them
  2. Dump ‘em

Let’s look at the options.

Continue trying to engage

People who really aren’t responding to your marketing are sending you a message: they’re not interested! If they really aren’t opening any of your emails, responding to your social media activity or even taking your calls, you have to consider whether this is a good use of your time. If they were interested, they would be interacting at least some of the time.

  • They are consuming your mental energy because you believe there is still an opportunity for a sale with at least some of them.
  • You spend time liking, retweeting and responding to social media posts. Time that is a scarce resource.
  • Keeping them on your mailing lists impacts your marketing stats, making open/clickthrough rates lower than they should be.

Dump ‘Em

If you simply remove them from your mailing lists (what member rating do they have in MailChimp?) and stop engaging with their social media, you have that most precious resource to invest in those who are engaging.

Those who are engaging with you want to know more. They want you to talk to them and they are far more likely to buy from you.

The consequences

Let’s think about all of this:

Who would you rather invest your time in? Those who are engaged are likely to buy from you and your time is far better spent on them. Which is a safer bet: 3:1 or 50:1?

There is a slim chance that those who aren’t currently engaged will come back to you. It may be that they aren’t ready to buy from you just yet. I know I’ve suggested you take them off your mailing list (GDPR and all that), but that doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties. You may still be following them on Twitter and you may still be connected on LinkedIn. What’s more, by giving your time and mental effort to those more engaged, you ensure your business is still around when others return.