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What your marketing needs more than money

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Three things that have the biggest impact on your marketing performance

When you start thinking about the marketing for your small business, is the first thing you think about money? Your marketing budget is really important and we cover that in more detail here, but there are three factors that will have a far bigger impact on your marketing performance than the budget you allocate to it.

You used to see lots of social media activity loosely titled “How I built an audience of 1 million people without spending a penny”. Their aim was to attract people who would then “spend money” with them to build audiences. Thankfully, those posts and blogs have gone away as people saw through them. Pretending you don’t have to spend money on your marketing is wasting time, but let’s look at the three things that make the biggest impact on your marketing performance

Time

Effective marketing takes time. For any small business owner, the choice is whether they spend the time doing the marketing, or whether they pay someone else to do it.

In the early days of most small businesses, there is time available that can be used to market your business. Networking is just one way that time is used effectively, whether that is formally (through organisations such as Fore Business, BNI or ONLE) or informally as you spend time with people to really get to know them.

Writing a blog for your business will typically take 1-3 hours and then you have to add on the time taken to distribute that content piece. Adding it to the website, producing social media posts and email campaigns – they all take time.

Quick question: is the hourly rate you charge higher than the cost of getting this done for you?  If it is, it makes sense for someone else to do it for you.

Knowledge

You will have heard many versions of this over the years:

You called an engineer out because your central heating boiler has stopped working.

He comes out, looks at the boiler and taps it with a hammer.

Engineer: That will be £200 please.

You: But you’ve only been here two minutes. Why is it so much?

Engineer: £1 for my time and £199 for knowing where to tap the boiler

It is the same with marketing. Knowing how to write and distribute a great press release is an artform, as is getting a great return from PPC advertising. These are just two examples, but you get the point. You are great at what you do, but unless you have the marketing skills you need within your business, you need to bring them in.

Having a plan

You can burn through huge amounts of time, and money, if you don’t have a plan! A marketing plan that is aimed at getting you, and your knowledge, in front of the people who can use your products/services will clearly show:

  • What you are going to do, and when
  • What it will cost
  • What you aim to get from the activities.

A marketing plan will keep you on schedule. After all, marketing consistency is a key part of keeping your brand in the mind’s eye of your target audience. The chances of them needing you the first time they see your marketing messages are slim. Ensuring they regularly see/read/hear about you maximises your chances of being contacted when they need something.

Not having a plan means you do stuff when you have time (see above) and you may, or may not, hit your targets.

What should you do next?

There is nothing stopping you for developing a marketing plan for your business. Even if you do bring in someone like SME Needs, you still need to be involved in the plan development. If you don’t, your buy-in won’t be there and it won’t be delivered effectively.

There is nothing stopping you gaining the knowledge and expertise you need. But do you have the time and does it make sense financially?

Of course, there is nothing stopping you investing the time needed to do your marketing. As before, in you are in the early days of your business, you may well have the time available. But as your business grows and clients take up more and more of your time, does it really make sense to do your own marketing?

 

The most frequent question we get asked is “how much is this going to cost?”. Perhaps people should be considering things a little differently. If you’d like to talk about how SME Needs can provide the time and the knowledge you need to make your marketing highly effective, give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or click here to book an appointment to talk.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

How to generate a great Marketing ROI

By Marketing Performance

growing your investment image to support article about getting a great marketing roi

What is a good Marketing ROI?

All small businesses should invest in marketing. Consistently delivered marketing will enhance your brand, build your reputation and drive new business. At this point, the two questions we get asked are:

  1. How much should a small business spend on marketing? See our thoughts on this here.
  2. What is a good marketing ROI?

What is ROI

ROI stands for return on investment. You want all your investments to increase in value. You put money into ISAs and your pension to save for the future and you pay professional investors to grow that investment for you. It is the same with your marketing investment.
The marketing ROI calculation is: (Marketing revenue – marketing cost)/marketing cost.
Usually displayed as a multiple (X:1) or a percentage, your return on investment (ROI) show how much you get back. If your marketing generated exactly the same return as you spent, your marketing ROI would be shown as 1:1, or 100%. Clearly you want more back, but what should you expect and over what timescale? What is a good marketing ROI?

A great marketing ROI

Neilson research is often quoted as saying the average ROI from marketing is just 1.09:1. However, this is data from 2009! A good marketing ROI is 5:1, or 500%. For every £1 you spend on marketing, you get £5 back, after the cost of the marketing is taken off. A 10:1 ROI is considered exceptional, based on a range of articles published on the topic.
These figures are based on revenue and not profit, so you need to ensure that you take your gross profit margins into consideration when reviewing your marketing performance. If your gross margin is 100% (Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is 50% of sale price), your marketing ROI needs to be at least 2:1 to make it worthwhile.

When should you measure your marketing ROI?

There is a tendency to measure the marketing ROI too early, as management look to get back the investment quickly, but you do need to measure, so when is the right time? We had a client who, a month after a trade show, moaned that the ROI from the event wasn’t good.  However, when they looked back again 12 months later, the directly attributable revenue was over £100,000! To work out when you should measure the ROI, the biggest factor to consider is your average lead time – how long does it usually take for a lead to turn into a sale? If it usually takes six months for a lead to convert, there is absolutely no point in measuring the ROI of that campaign anytime before then.

Lifetime value

Each new client your marketing generates can spend with you just once, or for many years to come.  The revenue generated from these clients needs to continue to be taken into consideration when you calculate your marketing ROI. We ran PPC campaigns for 5 years for a client. Initially the budget was just £10 a day, but over time that increased as the revenue generated continued to flow. The spend in the first year was about £3K, generating about £30K first year spend. Over the next 4 years, the total PPC spend added up to £129K, but the revenue generated from those clients was £4.3milllion – a 33:1 ROI!

How to generate a great marketing ROI

The numbers will tell you.  Once you have measured the ROI from each individual marketing channel you are using, you:

  1. Immediately stop any with a negative ROI
  2. Move your marketing investment to those channels that produce the highest marketing ROI

Picture this:
You’re currently using three marketing channels:

  1. Print advertising, generating a 3:1 ROI from £15K annual spend
  2. Pay per click Ads, generating 4:1 From £10K
  3. Search Engine Optimisation, producing a 2:1 ROI from £12K

You generate a total of £146K; a marketing ROI of 2.94: 1.

If you redirect the SEO spend evenly across the other two, assuming the ROI is maintained, you will increase sales to £164K, an ROI of 3.43:1.

If you had diverted all the SEO spend to PPC, revenues would have increased to £170K or a 3.6:1 ROI. Diverting all your marketing budget to PPC could generate £185K, but single channel marketing campaigns rarely produce an ROI that is better than an multi-channel approach.

The other factor that does need to be considered is other marketing channels. Are there other marketing channels that could produce a better marketing ROI? You’ll never really know until you try them, but we recommend you take advice before simply diving in.

We have a marketing ROI calculator you are welcome to download and, of course, if you would like to discuss your current marketing performance and how to generate a great marketing ROI, get in touch.

We hope this helps.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

how to choose the right crm image to support article

Which is the best CRM for small businesses?

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan, Strategic Planning

how to choose the right crm image to support articleSales are the lifeblood for an business, particularly small businesses. Without them, you have no business. Knowing what sales you have coming in, likely to close or simply in the pipeline, is vital information for any small business owner.  To collate this information you have three options: 

  1. Keeping it all in your head – only good if you have very few sales opportunities – and not that great at that. 
  2. A spreadsheet – a great way to start and we have a template you can use available here, but they lack functionality to help you to predict your pipeline and close more sales. 
  3. A CRM – great, but which do you choose as there are so many out there? 

With so many CRM solutions on the market today, which is the best CRM for small businesses? Let’s look at what we consider to be the most important factors when you start your search for the right CRM for your business 

Intuitiveness 

How quickly can you pick up the right way to use the CRM? Intuition is different for everyone, but the best CRMs will have done a lot of work on making it as easy as possible for you to log in and start using the platform. 

Functionality 

In our opinion, most CRM solutions put too much functionality in. They are built to provide every possible tool for every possible type of business. Presumably this is so they can capture as big a chunk of the market as possible. 

The problem for the user is then finding the right functionality for their needs. The language used by the different CRM providers varies (perhaps deliberately), so terms mean different things on different platforms. On Hubspot an individual person is a contact, but in Salesforce they are a lead – for example. 

Whilst we are fans of functionality, we believe it is far better for it to be hidden and available to be turned on. Far better than having to work out what can be turned off and working out how to stop people in your small business using different functions. 

Adaptability 

CRM solutions are used throughout a business. From the owner/MD to Sales, from Marketing to Admin. The right CRM will help the whole business to perform effectively and efficiently. But not everyone needs the same functions and the same reporting. Being able to adapt and customise to the individuals’ needs is key. 

Integrations 

The bigger platforms, such as Hubspot, are looking to completely replace your marketing technology stack. They will provide landing pages, help with your SEO, send and track email campaigns, schedule your social media posts and help you manage your sales pipeline. All great so far, but this comes at a price and that price jumps a lot as you take on more functionality and have more contacts in the system. 

A CRM that effectively integrates with other tools helps your small business in two key ways: it controls the price and allows you to get best of breed technology across the board. As a Mailchimp Partner, we believe it is the best email marketing platform out there, so being able to integrate and sync data from our CRM to, and from, Mailchimp is a real bonus. Being able to integrate with Outlook and Gmail too puts all communication in the same place. 

Reporting 

Adding data is all great, but doesn’t help you manage your business and your pipeline. We’ll go into this in more detail in a future blog, but we believe there are 4 key reports you need from a small business CRM to help you manage your marketing and your pipeline: 

  1. Leads by source – where are your leads coming from and over what time period? 
  2. Pipeline by stage – how many leads do you have at each stage of your pipeline and where are they dropping out? 
  3. Pipeline value against target – what is likely to come out as sales and how does that compare to your sales targets? 
  4. Win/loss reasons – what are the reasons you are losing sales, and why are you winning them too? 

Adding performance by individual, by office and by product will also help to manage and improve sales and marketing performance. 

Support 

Intuition and functionality can only go so far. Sometimes you need some support to work out just how to do something within your CRM. The best CRM for small businesses will have both prepared support (documents and video). They will also have either a phone number or Live Chat function  – usually for when you simply cannot get your head around something, or the support pages. 

Price 

Last, but most definitely not least, price is a key factor when identifying the best CRM for small businesses.  A search on” best free crm uk” provides nearly 34 million search results. For many people, these can provide enough, but we’ve already been worried about the lack of reporting available on the free CRM solutions. 

Once you start paying, you can quickly rack up your monthly subscription. The more functionality you want, the more you have to pay and the price steps are often huge.  

Which is the best CRM for small businesses? 

We’re not brave enough to say XXX is the best CRM for small businesses. Since SME Needs was formed in 2011, we have used for our own needs just three solutions, one being the spreadsheet we have made available for you. We currently have clients using a number of different solutions, including Keap, Hubspot, Salesforce, ACT and then specialist products like Eventpro. A previous project led to us recommending Insightly to a client because of their very specific needs and that is the important factor. What are your CRM needs? The platform we are currently using is uPilotWe’re using it because it delivers on most of the factors we list here and if you want to have a look at it, click here. 

We hope our look at the CRM factors that are important proves to be useful for you. If you want to talk more about your marketing and your use of CRM for your small business, simply click the button below. 

Image of Battleships game to support an article about battleships and your marketing strategy

The battleship marketing strategy

By Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan, Strategic Planning

Play a game to sell more to your current clients

Children’s games are rarely something that comes up in a conversation about small business marketing. There is one game (sort of) you can play that will definitely help you to sell more to your current clients: Battleships! 

Remember Battleships? 

Whether you played it on paper, the manual plastic version or the really posh one: Computer Battleships, you must remember the game.  You start with a grid, about 10 squares each way. You then draw on a set of ships (two squares for a frigate, 3 for a sub and 4 for a battleship). Your opponent does the same and then you use grid references to guess which squares their ships are in. First one to destroy the fleet wins! 

The marketing version.

The marketing version is similar, but you are aiming to build sales, rather than destroy ships. 

  1. Start with a grid
  2. Clients down the side 
  3. Products across the top
  4. Mark which clients have bought what products/services
  5. The gaps give you a list of clients to market to and try to sell more.

Why you should do this. 

There is more about why you need to be marketing to your current clients in this article, but these are two key reasons for playing this version of Battleships… 

1. Stickier clients stay with you 

You are highly unlikely to have a client that buys everything you sell from you. But the more an individual client buys from you, the stickier the relationship becomes and the longer they stay with you. 

2. Easier to sell to

They already know and trust you, so if they can use additional products/services that you provide, why would they not buy from you? 

What you get from this.

The simplest way to describe it is a list of new business opportunities. There is no reason why your current clients shouldn’t buy more from you, so why not try. They may currently have another supplier, but that can always change.  They may not actually need more from you, but (again) that can change in the future. 

Put it this way: if they know you, trust you, have a need and don’t already have a supplier, the only thing stopping them from buying from you is you asking them to. 

If we can help, please get in touch

linkedin poll asking whether you can have too many leads

Is there such as thing as too many leads?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

We asked LinkedIn to find out what people thought…

Every now and then, someone says to us that they don’t want too many leads coming in. So we thought we would ask LinkedIn what they thought about this – is there such a thing as too many leads? So we put out a 3-day LinkedIn poll to see what responses we would get.

Here is the result of that poll:

linkedin poll asking whether you can have too many leads

You can see a full list of the responses we had at the bottom, but to summarise them, the reasons people said Yes, are:

  1. Bad (wrong) leads waste your time, so they are not wanted.
  2. Leads can take your eye off the ball, leading to poor client service

So let’s look at how you can control the quality of the leads your small business gets, so you never have to worry about too many leads.

Focus

When asked who you want as leads, does the word “anyone” get used?  Let’s say you’re an accountant. If you say “Anyone with a business”, you are inviting leads that you don’t want. Leads that will waste your time.

The more focused you are, the more likely you are to get the leads you want. Why? Because a clearly defined Ideal Client includes a list of key issues and how you resolve them for that person. That set of resolutions and issues helps you develop the key messages, your marketing content and your evidence. Your messages, content and evidence are what generate the leads, no matter what marketing channels you are using.

Sales vs Marketing

Traditionally these teams, or people, disagree about a lot. One will say the lead is qualified and the will disagree. Both will say they are always flat out and they will both say the other is sitting around doing nothing.

If these two don’t agree on what a qualified lead looks like, you are always going to have a rift between them and you will always have “bad leads”.

Define a qualified lead and your pipeline stages

Your Sales, Marketing and Management teams have to develop an agreed definition of a qualified lead. As a lead moves through your sales pipeline, you have to be very clear about how a lead has been allowed to move forward. As a business, you have to be able to clearly justify why each opportunity is where it is in the pipeline.

As much as I believe Hubspot is massively over-complicated (particularly for small businesses), the way they talk about pipeline stages makes real sense. They always talk in the past tense – has been qualified, had a proposal – etc. If the pipeline stage simply said Qualified or Proposal, that could mean a multitude of things:

  • Is ready for a proposal
  • Has asked for a proposal
  • Has been offered a proposal
  • Is waiting for a proposal
  • Has had a proposal

Which is it? There is a big difference between the first and the last, in terms of both actual pipeline progress and in likelihood of a sale.

Qualify fast

Having 100s of leads in your pipeline is a bad thing. They are only there because Sales doesn’t want to show low numbers. If you have “Warm Leads” that haven’t been communicated with in months, we would strongly suggest they are no longer leads, never mind warm ones!

You are far better off qualifying out those that are unlikely to buy soon. Dedicating time to nurturing those who aren’t buying is a waste of time. Please remember, they can always come back into your pipeline at other time.

If you are getting lots of qualified leads and you believe you will struggle to deliver them, ensure that timescales are a key part of your qualification process. Far better to say to a prospect that you cannot deliver what they want until [insert approx. date] and give them the opportunity to source elsewhere (this time), than to say you can and deliver either late or badly.

Know your numbers so you can predict accurately

How many leads do you need to generate a sale? Do you know? Has that improved or worsened over the last year or so?

If you are only closing a small percentage of your leads, where is the issue?

  • If you are qualifying out lots of leads (or they are qualifying themselves out) early on, you are getting bad leads.
  • If you are qualifying them in (to an agreed specification), but not closing them, the issue is not the leads.
  • If you are then losing clients quickly, or not getting repeat sales, the issue is in operational delivery.

You need to know your numbers for these reasons:

  1. You’ll be able to see whether the problem lies.
  2. So you can compare them against previous performance and see if they are improving.
  3. So you can predict how much business is likely to be coming in, helping you prepare to deliver what those clients need from you.

Revise your marketing

If you are getting bad leads, your marketing needs changing.

  • If you are getting leads from outside your geographical area (and it isn’t cost effective to sell outside your patch), you need to ensure your marketing content specifically says where you work. Make sure any Adverts, whether PPC, social ads or even print, are only showing within your area.
  • If the leads are after something you don’t sell, your marketing messages definitely need editing to make them clearer.

Remember: the more specific you are, the better your leads will be. This is not just for networking; it is for all your marketing.

Keep talking to them

Finally, something to help you bring them back in to your pipeline when the time is right.  During the buying process, prospects can only do one of three things:

  1. Buy from you
  2. Buy from someone else
  3. Not buy

Everyone who goes through your initial qualification process MUST go onto your mailing list. Keeping communicating with them, so that:

  1. If they bought from you before, they can do so again.
  2. If they didn’t buy from you, they remember who you are when the company they did buy from stops delivering well.
  3. When they are ready to buy, you are at least a company they consider buying from.

 

So going back to our original question: Is there such as thing as too many leads?

If you answer the question in its purest form, we believe there is no such thing as too many leads!

You can have too many bad leads and that is a marketing issue.

You can have too many leads that don’t close. That is a sales issue.

You can have insufficient resource to deliver high sales volumes. That is a management issue. But by working on these six areas, you can move to a place where there is no such thing as too many leads.

We hope this helps.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image of man pondering about how to market to his current clients

Why and how to market to your current clients

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

image of man pondering about how to market to his current clientsWhen you win your next new client, will you stop marketing to them, or will you continue?  I talk to lots of small business owners who, once  the sales process starts, they stop all marketing to a prospect. They also never actually market to their clients. That is a big mistake – let’s explain why. Here’s our guide to why and how to market to your current clients

6 reasons why you need to market to your clients

1. They already know and trust you

Your clients have been through the sales process. You developed a relationship and they signed on the dotted line, so you know them and they know you. Whilst you will have some relatively new clients, many have used your products, or services, for a long time, so they trust you to deliver. As they say – a bird in the hand…

2. You already have the right contact details

Just a small point, but you know how difficult it is to get the name of the right decision maker, and their contact details. That is often half the battle.

3. They know how good your products are

They have experienced your products and your service levels for some time now. Assuming they are happy, why would you not be marketing to them?

4. They can buy more

How many of your clients buy every product or service, that they can, from you? At a guess, it’s is 0%. The more they are buying from you, the stickier the relationship and the harder it is for them to leave (although you will be delivering a great service, so they won’t want to). As they know and trust you, the sales process should be much faster.

5. They may not know you sell it

The biggest reason that companies don’t buy more from their suppliers is that they don’t know they sell other products and services.
Just because you have sold your client something, it doesn’t mean they have a full knowledge of your portfolio of products/services. Just because you know your full range, don’t assume they do.

6. They can refer you

For most small businesses, the best leads are referrals. The best people to refer you are those who know you, trust you and have used your products and services. When they are talking to their peers and the topic of conversation changes to what you do, they can easily suggest “you should use the company we use” to others. But only if you ask them to…

How to market to your current clients

There are two distinct pieces of marketing you should be doing to your clients:

  1. “Keeping them up to date with what you are doing” marketing.
  2. Promoting other products marketing.

Let’s look at these individually

Keeping your current clients up to date

This type of marketing communications does two things:

  1. Maintains the non-financial relationship and further develops their trust in you and your business.
  2. Provides them with more information for when they consider referring you to others.

It is less focused than the product promotion marketing and it isn’t designed to specifically generate leads, but it does improve awareness and it does increase your reach and potential target audience.

Newsletters

Newsletters are a great way to keep people up to date. Email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, make it very easy to do. Test whether people prefer a long version (all you want to say in the newsletter) or a short version, with links to where they can find out more.
Seriously consider doing more than one version of the newsletter, with little tweaks for each group. For one of our clients (a membership organisation), we do three versions:

  1. For current members
  2. For lapsed members
  3. For non-members who are on their mailing list

All three contain core information, with latter versions containing more about the value of being a member.

Social Media

Are you following your current clients on LinkedIn and Twitter? Build a list in Twitter and then follow on LinkedIn so you can see what their outbound priorities are. Are they looking for new staff? Are they making a lot more noise? These could be signs of change within the business that you can take advantage of. If you’re an IT company, do you need to talk to them about Microsoft licenses? If you sell furniture, do they need more desks and chairs?

By following them, you increase the chances of them returning the favour too. If they are following you and you are posting useful content, there’s a good chance they will share and comment. This increased your reach by putting you in front of their network too.

Talking to them

Whilst strictly an account manager function, it is still marketing (not all marketing has to be done by the marketing team). You are building the relationship and ensuring you are front of mind, even when they aren’t actively buying from you.

Promoting other products

Have you worked out what your clients have and haven’t bought from you? In our experience very few companies have any clients who buy everything they offer, but if they know, like and trust you enough to buy at least one product from you, why can they not buy more? A simple spreadsheet can quickly show you which clients are buying what services. Exclude any competing products or services (e.g. IT support companies cannot sell local server support and hosted server support at the same time) and then you have a list of all the clients who could buy each individual service.

Account Managers working with Marketing

Once you have your list, marketing can develop omni-channel campaigns around each product or service; maybe one per month or per quarter. Working alongside your account managers, you quickly have a multi-pronged approach to selling more products into your current clients

Sharing case studies

For clients who aren’t using a particular product, share case studies with them from clients who are benefiting from that product, particularly if they are in similar sectors. Clearly showing both the issues your product solves and the results you deliver make case studies very powerful.

Special offers

Making it easy for people to buy, using offers, really helps. Depending on what you are selling, this can range from introductory prices to extra time/quantities and all the different versions you can think of.

2 + 2 = 5

Sounds obvious, but it isn’t done very often. Combining other products or services with what your client is already buying from you can deliver enhanced benefits for your client, so make sure they know about this. You have to give them a reason to buy the additional products.

Selling more to your clients is a great way to increase sales quickly and, relatively, easily. Don’t make the mistake of stopping marketing either when the first sales process starts or when it ends. Marketing to your clients should never stop and we hope our guide on how to market to your current clients has explained why.

Of course, if you would like a hand with this, give us a call…

Let's talk about improving how you market your business to your current clients, as well as new ones. Give us a call.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Image to depict mistake

The biggest mistake in marketing today

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

Are you making the biggest mistake in marketing?

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

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

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

Do you talk about your Expert Subject?

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

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

Nobody cares what you do

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

Insurtech – re-focus

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

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

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

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

Who is going to translate?

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

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

Don’t claim what you cannot prove

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

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

They want someone who understands them

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

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

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

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

Measure the issue

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

Brainstorm

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

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

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

Revise your content

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

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

Prove you understand your clients’ needs

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

1.      Your Blog

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

2.      Your case studies

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

3.      In conversation

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

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

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Return on Investment image

Marketing streams and ROI

By Marketing Performance, Strategic Planning, Technology & your business

Return on Investment imageAm I spending too much on my marketing?

Whilst this is the question people ask, it is not quite the one they mean. Money invested in marketing should always be circular, i.e. the more you pour in the more that will come back around.

You can NEVER spend too much on marketing, but you can spend it on the wrong marketing, so the question becomes: Are you spending your marketing budget poorly?

To work this out, we need to look at your marketing ROI (return on investment)

Working out marketing ROI

The first thing you will need is a robust tracking system. Ensure you have a way of tracking which leads are coming from where and how profitable they are. This can be done through google analytics or software like CANDDi.

You’ll then need to work out your ROI for each of your marketing streams. You will probably have:

  • Social Media (this requires splitting down into each platform, Instagram, Twitter etc.)
  • E-mail blasts and newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Your website
  • Networking
  • Paid adverts
  • Others specific to you

For each of your marketing streams there are a few calculations that you will want.

How to calculate cost per lead

(Gross profit–Sum of Investment) / Number of leads = Cost per lead

This tells you how much it is costing you to bring in an average lead (the lower the better)

How to calculate ROI

Gross profit / Sum of investment = Return on investment

This formula tells you how much of your investment is coming back as profit, as long as your return on investment is higher than your total costs, then you are safe. You want your ROI to be as high as possible.

Your marketing activities have different aims and should be treated as such. Split your campaigns in two, brand awareness and lead generation. Brand awareness campaigns may only boast small ROI’s on their own but should drive traffic towards lead generation. Remember, your total marketing budget should never equal or exceed the value of its returns.

Review your marketing streams

Once you have worked out your ROI’s you’ll easily spot which channels are producing the most leads and conversions and which are performing the worst. You can now make informed decisions about which to keep and which to alter. Keep in mind no one knows your marketing channels better than you, so don’t make rash decisions that you know are counter productive even if the ROI scores aren’t what you expected. A channel might have a low ROI despite bringing a lot of traffic to your website, in which case it isn’t the marketing stream that needs to change but the conversion process.

Look at the difference between your best performing marketing channel and your worst. Find what separates them, don’t delete a channel just because it performed badly for a week. Learn as much about your audience as you can from their habits and then change up your marketing accordingly.

Is there other marketing you should consider?

There is always more to be done with marketing, new channels to explore, new angles to see, and campaigns to run. You should always consider that there maybe other more efficient ways to do your marketing. If you are unsure, reach out to others in your sector or a marketing agency that can help build your marketing strategy.

Re-Balance and go again

Once you have analysed your results and made the necessary adjustments, it’s time to run the campaigns again. That question of ‘Am I spending too much on my marketing’ could apply here for those just starting up. Don’t spend massive capital on your marketing strategies if they are guesses. Build up a bank of information about which channels resonate best with your target market before slowly increasing the budget to expand your horizons.

Measure again

This is not a once and done task. Your marketing department (that could just be you in a different hat) should review your marketing performance regularly. Maximising the amount of sales produced by your marketing campaigns requires constant changes and tweaks. This can be off-putting as it seems like a lot of work, but keeping records as you go is the key to keeping it simple.

If you would like to discuss your marketing performace and where to go next, give us a call.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Image to depicted marketing tools

14 effective business marketing tools

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

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

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

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

infographic showing what happens with inconsistent marketing

7 tips on why and how to deliver consistent marketing

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Uncategorized

infographic showing what happens with inconsistent marketingWhy consistent marketing is the key to success

Good quality marketing should be a lot of things; eye-catching, insightful, subtle, but most of all it should be consistent. Consistency brings with it a host of benefits to your business but it’s often overlooked in small businesses that don’t have a marketing department. When new business and delivery are your main priority, marketing has a tendency to fall by the wayside. In this blog, we’ll tell you why you should be consistent in your marketing, and how to achieve it.

Why you should practice consistent marketing

Break the cycle of “feast or famine”

The cycle of “feast or famine” is a dangerous business model. You need to be consistently attracting a baseline of new business so you don’t find yourself unable to make ends meet in times of dearth. Work within your capacity and slowly ramp up your marketing to achieve sustainable growth, rather than boom or bust.

Be ready for unforeseen opportunities

You never know when your prospect might be looking to buy. Keep your offers at the top of their inbox, and your brand in their mind by always being present. While old prospects might not have bought from you in the past, there’s no reason why they won’t in the future if your marketing is emphasising your quality and reliability.

Make your brand synonymous with quality

Your marketing content is the face of your brand, so you should ensure it’s a consistent quality as well as quantity. Set a brand tone that is clear and professional. Try and employ visual content that’s at least consistent, if not bespoke.

Boost your social and search engine optimization

Social media channels and search engines reward consistent brands with better rankings on their platforms. Posting on LinkedIn and website at least once a week will move you up the search rankings, as well as keeping your content fresh.

Maintain your reputation as a thought leader

Once you’ve built an audience you need to continue catering to their expectations or risk losing them to a competitor. If your marketing content is incisive and well-thought-out, you can establish yourself as a thought leader; the go-to voice in your industry. But once you’ve achieved this, you need to keep it up or risk losing the audience you’ve already built.

How to implement consistent marketing for your small business

Create a comprehensive marketing plan

The best marketing plans cover a range of mediums and platforms. You should try and create a range of video, audio and written content to get the most engagement from your audience. But most importantly, plan your content in advance. Make sure you’re not constantly marketing on the hoof as this takes more time in the long run, while also looking haphazard or slapdash.

Develop a plan that fits the resources you have available to you.

Sometimes less is more with content

If you’ve got limited resources, worry less about how often you’re posting. Instead, maybe only post a blog every other week, but make sure it is every other week. Consistency is key. Don’t use all your marketing material in the first month and then find yourself out of content.

If you do find yourself with spare time, start to get ahead of schedule. Resist the urge to post or do more, that then cannot be sustained.

Get help

If you want to do more marketing, but you simply don’t have the resources (time or skills) in-house, get help from outside…. You know who to call…

If you would like to discuss your marketing consistency and how to improve it, give us a call.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Case Study Ninja

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

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

image to support article about writing perfect case studies

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

What is a case study?

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

What are case studies for?

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

How to write perfect case studies

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

1. Identify happy clients 

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

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

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

Thees 4 parts of a case study are: 

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

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

3. The Headline

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

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

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

4. The validation 

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

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

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

The best mediums for your case study 

Written content: accessibility, SEO etc. 

Podcast: Interview with client, audio format.  

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

Video testimonials make great social media content too. 

How to use your case studies to increase sales

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

1. On your website

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

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

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

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

2. Social media

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

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

3. Newsletters

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

4. Email automations  

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

5. Proposals

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

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

 

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

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

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 your 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 Performance

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 Performance

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 Performance

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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marketing tools article open sign image

8 of the best remote marketing tools

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

marketing tools article open sign image

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.

image to support pointing you in the right direction article

Winning Clients: The 4 Step Programme

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance
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

image to support article about sales and marketing working together

Sales and Marketing working together

By Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

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.