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put your business first by scheduling marketing time into your diary

When you should put your business first

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

put your business first by scheduling marketing time into your diaryWhen you’re running your small business, do you prioritise your business or do you prioritise your clients? Whilst it sounds almost counter intuitive, there are times when you need to put your business first in order to make it successful. let’s look at this in more detail.

Surely clients come first?

It’s absolutely true that clients pay the bills and that, at times, clients do need to come first. But if you don’t put your business first, there will be no business to serve your clients. Of course, they can go elsewhere, but let’s look at the reasons for putting your business first and what you will get from doing this.

What happens with inconsistent marketing

If your marketing is inconsistent, taking place when you have time, you run the risk of running into a feast and famine period.

  • You’re quiet, so you do some marketing
  • You generate some leads and pick up a new client
  • You’re then really busy delivering what you sold, so you have no time
  • No time means no marketing gets done
  • You have no leads coming in
  • You finish delivering for the clients and have nothing more to do

You run from periods of excess to periods of nothing. You cannot plan for the future because you don’t know what is going to happen.

What happens with consistent marketing

Consistent marketing helps your company stand out from the competition. Your target audience regularly sees your brand and how you help your clients. Your consistency builds trust and loyalty, so that when companies are ready, they come to you.

How to stop this being a problem.

1. Schedule time into your diary

Having time in your diary to do your marketing is vital. If it isn’t in there, you will always find something else to do with that time.  Don’t move it either. Treat your small business as a client and prioritise your business. If you really have to move it, make sure it happens in the same week.

2. Develop a marketing plan

The time is good, but what are you going to do? Having a plan of action means you will make the most of that time.

3. Make use of any spare time.

If you do find yourself with spare time, get ahead of your marketing plan.  If you have a content-led strategy, write some of the articles or new pages ahead of schedule. Just because you have written them, you don’t have to publish them yet.  Make use of the scheduling tools within your content management system so your marketing content is published according to your schedule.

4. Get some help

Obviously we are going to say this, but having someone independent to help you can be invaluable. Someone who can review what you are doing and answer your marketing questions will help you maximise the performance of your marketing. They will also keep you on schedule – you don’t want to tell them you haven’t done something!

5. Outsource your marketing

At the point where you are simply too busy to do your own marketing, get someone else to do it. You can concentrate on delivering for your clients and keeping them happy.

 

By putting your small business first, you ensure that you get the growth you are looking for and that you are there for your clients. If you’re doing a great job for them, they will want you to be successful and be around in the future.

how to tell if your marketing is working

How to tell if your marketing is working

By Marketing Performance

And what to do about it

It may sound like a silly topic for an article, but it is an important one. As the owner of a small business, you need to know if your marketing is working. After all, you are investing time, effort and money into marketing your small business and you want a return on that investment. Here’s X ways to tell if your marketing is working – and what to do about it if it isn’t…

1. You’re selling more

Pretty obvious comment really. If your sales have gone up, your marketing is working. If you sell directly from an ecommerce website (whether B2B or B2C), it will be obvious quickly when changes to your marketing take effect. If you have a longer sales cycle, it will take more time to see if your marketing is working. Look at your average sales cycle and assess your marketing at that point.

If you aren’t selling more, it will because of one of these reasons:

  1. Your marketing isn’t working
  2. Your sales function isn’t working effectively

2. You’re getting more leads

Improving your marketing delivers more leads. Assuming these are the right leads, this is a key measure for your marketing, showing whether it is working, or not.

As part of your marketing planning, you will have identified your Ideal Clients and target audiences. If the leads you are getting come from your target audiences, all is good. As the number of leads keep increasing, keep investing in the marketing that is generating your leads. You are checking what is working, aren’t you?  If not, go here for an ROI Calculator that will help you identify what is and isn’t working.

If your marketing is aimed at getting more leads (not all marketing is), and you aren’t, you will need to review your marketing plan.

3. You have happier staff

Something that is often not considered is the impact of your marketing internally. Happier staff will show in many ways, including:

  • Fewer resignations
  • Less sick leave being used
  • Happier customers (always a good thing)
  • More testimonials coming in (because of the point above)
  • A better atmosphere in the office

If you are making major changes to the business, there has to be internal marketing and you can see more reasons for internal marketing here.

 

4. Your marketing numbers are improving

Leads and sales are key marketing numbers, but the others that form your marketing dashboard will very quickly show you if your marketing is working. If you haven’t got the tools to measure web traffic, Ad clicks, and other key marketing measures, we recommend you put them in place very quickly. Google Analytics is free and is quickly added to your website. You can find out more here. Many web hosting platforms, such as Wix and Shopify, have their own basic web analytics, but we always recommend Google. It has more functionality and the stats you need.

 

The analytics will show you within a few hours if your marketing is working.

 

5. Your website is ranking higher in the search engines

If content marketing is a key part of your marketing strategy, you will be looking for your search engine rankings to improve. Google’s Search Console will help you identify how your content is driving ranking improvements, but you will get more comprehensive results from tools such as SEMrush. SEMrush is an agency only tool, so you will need some help here (we can provide an initial assessment and provide recommendations – click here to accept our offer).

When you do talk to an agency, make sure they are showing you both the rankings and the number of searches for the keywords being measured. Ranking for a search term with 10 searches a month is far less important than for a keyword with 1000 searches a month. Bitter experience when helping clients has shown us this sometimes doesn’t happen.

 

6. Your business is growing

Needing to add staff is a clear sign that your marketing is working. Needing more staff only comes from more work coming in. Whether that work is from your current customers asking you to do more, or more customers, it is the result of your marketing, whether that is account based marketing (ABM) or new customer marketing.

We are assuming that you are actively marketing to your current customers. If you’re not, you are missing a trick. Unless you only sell one product/service, not all your customers are buying everything they can from you. Make sure you are telling them what else they can buy. This tool will help you identify the opportunities.

If you are seeing improvements in these ways, you will know your marketing is working. If you aren’t you need to re-assess your marketing. We can, of course, help with this. Call us on 020 8634 5911 to talk.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

image to support pointing you in the right direction article

Why your business should be using a Virtual Marketing Director

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

12 reasons to be using a Virtual Marketing Director

Every small business needs marketing, but until you get to a certain size and complexity, it doesn’t make financial sense to employ your own marketing team. Here are 12 benefits your business will get from using a Virtual Marketing Director

1. Giving you time to work ON the business

As the business owner, or Managing Director, you are always busy, spinning many plates at a time. Much of your time is often consumed working in the business, ensuring your staff are delivering and your clients are happy. Marketing often slides down the priority list, particularly when you are busy. By working with a Virtual Marketing Director, we take one of those plates from you. We manage your marketing meaning you can focus on your business.

2. Providing the marketing expertise you need in your business

You’re an expert on what you do. Your business has got to where it is now because of your knowledge, expertise and dedication to delivering for your clients.  In the early days, much of your business is likely to have come from Word of Mouth (WOM) – the best route.

As your business grows, you need to do more marketing, but you’re not sure what to do and how to do it. We bring both the strategic and operational marketing expertise you need.

3. Filling in the marketing knowledge gaps

You wouldn’t have got to where you are without some marketing knowledge. You’ll know how to do some things really well, but not others. There will be times when you are looking to get advice on something – perhaps the content of an article, or whether you should choose a certain marketing activity. Perhaps more than both of these, there is the not knowing what you don’t know piece. A Virtual Marketing Director fills all of these gaps, based on many years of working with a range of small businesses and knowing what does and doesn’t work.

4. Saving you money by identifying what marketing isn’t working

Too many business owners keep spending money on various marketing activities, knowing that leads are being generated, and sales made. But they don’t look at this in detail. Not doing this means you’re missing out on ways to improve your marketing ROI.  85% of Google Ads campaigns, as an example, never make a profit. If you are spending with Google, and not looking at what it is generating, you may be wasting money you don’t need to. We recently saved a client over £20,000 a year by reducing their Google Ad spend to only the individual campaigns that were working.

5. Delivering marketing consistency

Consistent marketing keeps your target audience’s awareness levels high. When they need you, they will remember your brand. If your marketing is inconsistent (with peaks and troughs of activity), you run the risk of being forgotten at that crucial time.

6. Focusing your marketing to reduce budget waste

Scattergun marketing comes from not deciding who to sell to. By the very nature of scattergun, much of the marketing effort (therefore budget) is wasted as it doesn’t land anywhere near someone who is interested in what you sell.  Focusing your marketing is like moving from a blunderbuss to a sniper’s rifle – much more likely to hit the target.

7. Ensuring that marketing suppliers are delivering on their promises

Ever been confused by what an SEO company is reporting?  Ever been overwhelmed by what a website company is saying? Do you wonder what you are getting from a PR company sometimes?  These are just three examples of where SME Needs works to manage the specialists. We ensure they are reporting the right stats and showing how they deliver, so you know you are getting a return on investment.

8. Increasing engagement with your current clients to generate upsell/cross-sell opportunities

Too many companies forget to keep in touch with their current clients. They already buy something from you, so let’s see what else they might be interested in.

9. Encourage referrals from your clients

Do you get many referrals? Statistically companies close a higher percentage of referral leads than any other source, so lets make sure that your clients are introducing you to their contacts

10. Educate your target audience on how you can help them, rather than simply tell them what you do

Look at your competitors’ websites. Does their marketing talk about what they do or how they help their clients?  Hopefully the former, so that you can start using more effective marketing messages – about how you help your clients, as that is what they want to hear.

11. Provide the management and support your marketing exec needs

If you’ve made that first step towards having your own internal marketing team, are you supporting that person?  Are you giving them the support, training and guidance they need?  If you employed them because you know the company needs marketing, you’ll know they need support in the same way that every other member of staff does. We can provide that support and guidance so you can concentrate on running the business.

12. Grow your business until it makes sense to employ your own marketing director

At some point, it will make sense to employ your own Marketing Director. Until then we’ll help you grow.

moving marketing up the to do list to prioritise your marketing

Why you must prioritise your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Marketing Performance

Breaking the habit of not marketing your small business

If you’ve been running your own small business for a number of years, it should not come as a surprise that you may have developed a number of habits – most good, but some may be not so good. One of these not so good habits will be within your prioritisation. You prioritise your clients over your own small business!

STOP – WAIT – WHAT???

Right now, you’re saying: Of course I do. While there is nothing wrong with you doing this for much of the time, you absolutely need to put your business first some of the time. This is why…

Keeping the money flowing

Putting your clients first will keep the money flowing in for the work you have been contracted for. It’s absolutely right that you keep to your commitments on this. Forward planning is just as important

Money flowing in

As you, presumably, want to both keep the money flowing in, and increase the amount of money coming in, you need to prioritise activities to ensure this happens.  This means committing time to three things:

  1. Account management
  2. Sales
  3. Marketing

Account management

Maintaining and building relationships with your current clients will help ensure your current contracts are maintained/extended. You get to discuss what else you can provide to them too – cross-sell/upsell opportunities.

Sales

If you’re not prioritising time for sales activity, you will be tempted to follow up sales opportunities with emails only. Emails are great, but talking to your prospect is far more effective. Yes, you may then have to listen to someone saying no, but you also get the opportunity to ask why and, perhaps, change their mind if you’re on a call instead of in your inbox.

Marketing

Marketing is often the activity that drops down the To Do List when you’re busy delivering for your current clients. For some reason (and we are guilty of it sometimes), a ‘bird in the hand’ belief comes into being. “We’re better off bringing in the money we know we’ve got committed” is the thought process. That’s not a good idea. What happens when the current work is finished?

The money gap

When considering why you need to prioritise your marketing, think about the money gap. The money gap is the time between when your current clients make their last payment and the time until you receive more money. There are three parts to the money gap.

Marketing time + sales cycle + invoice period = money gap

1. Marketing Time

If you don’t doing any marketing because you’re busy delivering what your current clients have ordered, you’ll have to start again once you’re finished. From a standing start, you will need to:

  • Re-establish brand awareness
  • Explain how you can help your target audiences
  • Convince people to get in touch

2. Your sales cycle

How long does it normally take for you to convert a sales opportunity into a paying client? Maybe you’re lucky and people decide quickly. For most B2B businesses, the sales cycle is measured in weeks, or even months. If you have prioritised marketing, client attrition and replacement should become a natural circular process.

3. Invoice period

Do your clients pay up front or do you invoice and give them 14/28/90 days to pay that invoice?  Do they pay on time?  If not, you’ll need to factor in the average invoice payment time too.

The total of these three parts shows you how long it will be between payments coming into your business account. Can your business cope with that?

Consistent Marketing

By prioritising your business, and particularly the marketing of your business, the money gap problem goes away.  By regularly marketing your business, you will generate a regular flow of leads into the business. A regular flow of leads means sales happen frequently and that means the money continues to flow.

Some of these new clients will replace others who stop using your business. Hopefully most will be adding to your client numbers, growing your business.

By ensuring you prioritise your business for part of the time, you stop the money gap impacting your business and you keep your business healthy and growing. Is that a good enough reason? Of course, the next question is how much time…

How much time should be prioritised for marketing?

If you have read our previous blog on marketing spend, you will know we recommend your spend 5-10% of revenue on your marketing. The amount of time dedicated to your marketing should be a minimum of 10% of your time. If you work on your own, that means half a day a week. If your business is bigger than this, simply multiply up.

This time is then split into doing and measuring. The measuring ensures you are doing the right marketing to grow your business.

Of course, at a point where you either simply don’t have the time, or you don’t have the skills, you can call us on 020 8634 5911.

How to prioritise your marketing

When a client wants your time, you schedule it into your diary and then nobody else can have that time. So why not treat your own business in the same way?  Schedule the time into your diary and don’t move it.  When someone requests a timeslot that isn’t available, they don’t ask what you’re doing if you say that time is taken, so there is no need to say ‘that is my marketing time for the week’. If it really has to be moved, re-schedule in the same week. Don’t move it to the following week, or you will start de-prioritising your marketing again.

What is next?

Once you’ve committed the time to prioritise your marketing, you then need a marketing plan. That will be the next blog topic!  To be notified when that is published, click here to subscribe to our mailing list. If you want to talk about your marketing, you can book a time directly into the diary here.

ying and yang symbol representing why marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing

Why Sales & Marketing Teams need each other

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

ying and yang symbol representing why marketing needs sales and sales needs marketingWhy marketing needs sales

In every offline, and most online, sale there is a role for Marketing and a role for Sales. The two teams are linked and they need each, no matter what some individuals may say. Here’s an explanation of why Marketing needs Sales.

Quick version

Marketing lines them up, and Sales knocks them down!

Most marketing people will tell you they don’t want to be in Sales (a few, deluded souls may disagree here) and most Sales people aren’t interested in being in Marketing (again, a few may disagree). They are two very different skills sets but without one, there is no place for the other.

As Jason Jones will tell you in a recent LinkedIn post, the role of your salesperson is to convert leads into sales. If they spend their time talking to the right people at the right time, their time is being used well by your business and your business will be growing.

Getting these leads isn’t easy for Sales. Spending lots of time “kissing frogs” will use up his time. Marketing’s role is to get the right people in front of Sales.

The role of marketing

  • Awareness – making sure your target audience know who you are
  • Interest – explaining how you can help them (notice this doesn’t say what you do)
  • Desire – showing them what can happen if they use you
  • Action – getting them to do what you want them to do

At any one of these stages, and into the sales process, things can stall. If they do stall, Marketing goes back to awareness, but in a maintenance rather than creation mode. If a prospect likes what they see, but the time isn’t right (other priorities, no budget etc.), Marketing needs to keep your brand in their mind, until the time is right. Once the time is right, Sales can do their thing!

Why Marketing needs Sales

1. Validation

The true measure of marketing performance is growth in the business. Feedback from Sales is key to ensuring that the marketing messages being used are right. If too many leads are being qualified out early on, it is most likely a marketing problem. The messages are creating leads from too far outside the Ideal Client definition. Please note, this should be constructive feedback and not criticism.

2. Data

Whilst Marketing can collect a great deal of data, one of the most difficult, but critical, data points is “where did the lead come from”. Asking the prospect is the best way to get this information. Whilst they may see your brand in multiple places, the one they tell you, when asked, is the one that had the biggest effect and should be what is recorded in your CRM.

3. Evidence

The desire to buy from you comes from seeing the results you can deliver. When a prospect sees what success looks like, they are far more likely to buy from you. Evidence, in the form of case studies, testimonials, reviews etc. are key to this. Sales, and Operations, can tell Marketing who will be a great case study. They are likely to be the people the client emails with a great comment. Marketing’s role is to get that evidence in front of the target audience and prospects.

4. Progress

Marketing doesn’t stop when the lead is handed to Sales, no matter what some salespeople tell you. As prospects move through the pipeline, particularly if the sale process stalls, Marketing can help progress things, or maintain awareness. It is a joint effort to maximise sales for your business.

5. Feedback

New opportunities to increase your sales can be identified by both Marketing and Sales. With the Sales team usually closer to the client, they are more likely to either hear how clients are using your products in a different way than you expect. When that is fed back to Marketing, the opportunity can be assessed and a marketing plan developed to take advantage of the opportunity, particularly if it gives you first mover advantage over your competitors!

As both Jason has said, and we have, There is no point in doing marketing if you haven’t got someone with Sales responsibility and Sales will waste a lot of time without Marketing. If the traditional silo approach is taken, productivity and ROI will not be very good. By working together, great things can be achieved.

Why Sales needs Marketing

In the sales cycle there are 5 stages.

  1. Attention – Hello (is it me you’re looking for?)
  2. Information – I’m from….
  3. Credentials – You can trust us, here’s why.
  4. Discussion – How can we meet your needs?
  5. Action – What do we need to do now, to make you a customer?

That’s not to say every sales conversation goes exactly that way or every conversation that does, is guaranteed a sale but it follows a logical progression.

You can’t tell them who you are until you have their attention and you can’t solve their problem if they don’t trust you to. So the most important points are getting their attention and proving your credentials. Finding them and convincing them you are worth their time matters.

What is good prospecting?

A good Salesperson understands what prospecting is, finding those who are a match for what your expectation of a good customer is and knowing how to get in front of them. Discovering these prospects on an individual basis can be laborious, time consuming and there’s a lot that can go wrong in the cycle.

  • What if they have a need but at the wrong time?
  • What if they already have arrangements with someone else?
  • What if their last experience wasn’t a positive one?
  • What if they don’t see the value?

Unless you find the ideal candidate, at the ideal time, every time, the return on investment for your time and energy diminishes with every “No Thanks” or “Not right now”.

Why Sales needs Marketing

For a Salesperson, the dream scenario is that every conversation they start, begins with “Yes, I do have time for you, I do know who you are and this is my situation. What can you do for me?”

Even better would be if the customers came to the Salesperson, saying “I’ve seen who you are and from what I understand, you can solve my problem”.

Advertising what you do means the Salesperson can reach more prospects with less prospecting, promoting to the right audience means the Salesperson spends more time having meaningful conversations and less time sorting the potential interest from genuine requirement.

Marketing, achieves the first 3 stages of the sales cycle at a scale the Salesperson cannot reach on their own and improves the return on investment of the Salesperson’s time and effort.

This also means that the Sales and Marketing are inextricably linked.

Sales are made and deals are done when a Salesperson understands what they are offering, when they understand what the customer’s needs are and successfully matches that offering to address those needs. Not understanding the offering, means not being able to provide the right solution, which can result in a missed sale (meaning no revenue) or worse still, a bad sale meaning you may even take a loss to put the situation right.

The marketing message, the product knowledge, the right audience are all as important to Marketing as they are to Sales and it has to be a consistent message. Its important that Sales has input into the Marketing and that they also buy in to the Marketing strategy.

Going off topic or sending mixed messages increases the likelihood of a bad sale.

Sales needs Marketing to advance the sales process on a wider scale, to develop and promote a message that both they and the customer clearly understand.

Both Sales and Marketing need to figure out who bought in the past, why and what made them buy. They also need to recognise what didn’t work, what should change and what sort of difference any improvement can make.

Marketing is not selling, selling is what happens when marketing places a buyer with a need, in a position to buy. You might even argue that online for example, you don’t even require the Salesperson for the sales but that would be a mistake.

Even something as automated and impersonal as an online shopping cart has a Salesperson’s input. While marketing can drive an audience to a site, while they can reinforce trust in the brand and the product to solicit a sale, there are elements that belong to sales.

Upselling, asking the client if what they bought fulfils the total need or if anything else is required, is a sales technique. If the required product or service is unavailable, finding out what alternatives would be acceptable comes from a sales perspective. If there is an objection or an obstacle between the customer and the completing of a sale, the Salesperson is the one tasked with finding a solution.

Marketing and Sales are not separate from each other and some people can be effective at both but it works best went done together.

Sales needs Marketing to make the sale easier and more often.

 

Now that you have seen why both Sales and Marketing need each other, have you assessed the relationship between your teams? If you want a hand with Marketing, please get in touch with us.  If your Sales function needs some work, I am know that Jason can help you.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

good marketing helps your small business hit the target - an image of a dart to support the article

What does good marketing look like?

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

good marketing helps your small business hit the target - an image of a dart to support the articleThe ultimate role of your marketing is to generate new business opportunities for your small business. You know that as well as we do, but how do you ensure your marketing does this? What does good marketing look like? Spend the next couple of minutes with us and we’ll explain exactly what it looks like.

10 factors of good marketing

Consistency of marketing activity

Possibly one of the hardest things for small businesses to do is ensure that there is a consistent level of marketing activity (see our tips on achieving marketing consistency here). If you haven’t got any marketing staff within your team, it is even harder. Delivering for your clients is the most important thing you do, so if you’re busy, getting a consistent flow of marketing happening can be difficult.

But it is important because:

  • Marketing consistency maintains brand awareness.
  • Marketing consistency maximises the chances that your small business will be remembered when someone needs your products or services.

Helps your target audience(s)

If you sell a service, rather than a product, your marketing needs to both show you can help your target audience(s) and help them. A first read of that sentence may seem wrong, so let’s explain.

Most of the people who visit your website, or click on links in your social media posts do so because they are looking for a solution to an issue they have. A large number of them will be looking for advice and guidance. Many of them will be looking for a way to do it themselves, if they can. By providing them with some guidance, they see that you know what you are talking about and, when they run out of ability/expertise/time, they can come to you for more help.

Proves you understand your target audience(s)

Our target audience is owners of small businesses looking to improve their marketing performance. Your target audience is, almost certainly (unless you’re a competitor) different. The content we publish and the language we use is all about the marketing issues faced by small businesses. Is your marketing proving you understand your target audience?

  • Do you use the right terminology?
  • Are the images you use appropriate?
  • Are your case studies from their peers?

If you work across multiple industry sectors, be very careful about, for example, editing content on your landing pages so you make the right first impressions.

Uses the right marketing channels

Too many small businesses try, for example, to maintain activity levels on lots of social media channels – just in case someone sees something that convinces them to buy from them. Unless you have access to Jeff Bezo’s bank account (and are confident he won’t notice you dipping into it), you need to pick the marketing channels that are most likely to get your messages in front of your target audience(s). The marketing channels to reach millennial males are likely to be very different to those used to connect with middle-aged women. If your target audience is Finance Directors at the top 100 legal firms, you won’t use the same marketing activities to someone focusing on independent restaurant owners.

Good marketing will get your messages seen by the same person in multiple places, so you need to choose the right marketing channels. Don’t waste time and money on trying to be everywhere!

Delivers quality leads

Seeing lots of new contact forms from your website when you open your Outlook in the morning is great. But if most of the forms are from people who are highly unlikely to buy from you, you will waste a lot of time chasing them. If your marketing is working, it will be attracting the right leads for your business. Leads that match your ideal client definition, meaning the conversion rate will be much higher.

We did some work in 2019/20 for a company that, in their words “just wants leads”. Their previous marketing agency generated loads of leads they said – mostly from Pay per Click (PPC) advertising. The fact that none of the leads from this channel had ever converted seemed to have escaped his attention, as he wanted us to continue “generating leads”. Needless to say, we didn’t work together for long!

Maintains engagement

When someone first engages with your marketing, they may or may not be in buying mode.  If they are inbound, they are more likely to be, but not always.  If your marketing is good, it will start and then maintain engagement so that when they are ready to buy, your business will be, at least, one of the companies they talk to.

Supports the Sales team

The relationship between Sales and Marketing is often a fractious one (here’s our thoughts on how to get them working together more effectively). Marketing lines them up and Sales knocks them down – if the leads are good. You will know all the ways that the two departments can blame each other, so let’s not go there this time.

Marketing doesn’t stop at the point the lead is generated. It doesn’t stop when the sale is made either. Positive marketing continues engaging the lead/prospect/client until that person unsubscribes.

  • It attracts the lead.
  • It supports the sales process by continuing to provide compelling evidence.
  • After the first sale, it helps Sales/Account Management in the cross-sell/upsell/more-sell process.

Proves you can deliver on your promises

A powerful part of a good marketing plan is the evidence put out. Particularly if there is a high perceived risk attached to your product or service, evidence that you can deliver is critical in both generating the lead and converting the sale. Case studies, testimonials and reviews all play a role in proving to a prospect that you can be trusted to deliver.

Our guide to writing, and using, effective case studies can be seen here.

If you would like a free review of your case studies, click here.

Supports your business plan

If your business plan is to double the size of your business in the next two years, then a valuable marketing plan will show how the leads needed will be developed to generate that growth.

Our marketing spend survey (click here to take the survey) currently shows 83% of respondents don’t have a marketing plan and that their marketing “just happens that way” Nearly half of them are unhappy with their results! That is poor marketing.

Is a living document

A good marketing plan is adapted over time. You may be lucky and every marketing activity delivers a great ROI, but that is unlikely. But you should be monitoring the performance of all your marketing and adjusting as needed. If something isn’t working, reduce or stop it. If it is, put more resource into it, until things change.

Good marketing constantly works to produce better results.

image about making 2022 a great year

Are you ready for 2022?

By Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan, Uncategorized

image about making 2022 a great yearWith the new calendar year just a few weeks away, you really should be thinking. Thinking about what you are going to do to make 2022 a really successful one for your small business. Maybe 2021 has been a quiet one due to the pandemic. Maybe you were able to pivot your business to make this year one of your best ever. Whatever happened, 2022 is a new year and you cannot simply assume that you will get the same results by doing the same things. Here are the four steps you need to take to make 2022 a great year…

What worked in 2021?

Have you reviewed and measured your marketing performance for the last year? If not, it is time to start. By measuring your marketing performance, you can quickly make decisions about:

  • what to continue – because it is working.
  • what to review – because you believe it can work better
  • what to stop – as it is simply not working.

If you have had a really successful year, imagine what next year could be like if you cut out what marketing hasn’t worked and did more of what has been working!  Click here to our download ROI calculator.

If you haven’t let’s identify what channels haven’t worked so they can be reviewed or stopped. The time and money saved can be re-focused.

How many new clients did you acquire?

Not gross, but net new clients. Deduct the number you lost from the number you won.  Compare this to 2020. Is your net new client number higher or lower? Is it higher because you won more or lost fewer? The other way around if it is lower.

Which marketing channels did the new clients come through? How much did each new client cost? What is your lead conversion rate? What is the value of a new client (average)?

By answering these questions, you start to develop a picture of how much marketing you need to do in 2022 to hit your business goals.

Example:

  • Your business goal for 2022: increase turnover by £250K
  • A typical client spends £10,000 per year with you.
  • Last year you added 15 new clients, but lost 3
  • Your marketing spend was £30K

If the ratios stay the same, you will need a marketing budget this year of £60K – assuming the ratio of clients lost to clients gained stays the same, as does cost per client acquired.

Focus

What does your Ideal Client look like? If you look back at the clients you acquired in the last year, how many of them match the description of your Ideal Client?  If you are acquiring clients that don’t match this description, do you need to review that description or add another?

How many of the clients you lost last year matched that description? If they were a long way from being Ideal Clients, it may be that you simply weren’t able to properly meet their needs. There are times when you need to consider walking away from a sales opportunity if you cannot properly meet their needs.

Reviewing your Ideal client description, as needed, will help to re-focus your marketing messages so that they work more effectively. The marketing messages will be different for each Ideal Client you have as they have different needs and may use your products/services in different ways. Just in case you’re interested, this is one of our Ideal Client descriptions.

Planning your marketing

If you have followed the recommendations above, you will know what marketing worked for you in the last year. If they worked last year, it is likely they will work in 2022, so it is now simply a case of scheduling the activity into your marketing plan. Then decide whether to do the same amount, or more, of this marketing.

Now, what else will you be doing this year? If your growth targets are higher for 2022 than for 2021, you need to be doing more marketing in the coming year. You know what hasn’t worked, so what other marketing is likely to work?  If want to discuss this, give us a call on 020 8634 5911.

Do you have the time?

If you managed, or even did, your marketing last year, will you have the time to do it again in 2022?  If you are planning to do the same amount of marketing as you did last year, you probably have. If you are planning to do more, you may need some help. Of course, once the sales start coming in, more of your time will be focused on delivering what your clients want. Unless you have no need for a work/life balance (??), no worries. But if you do want some time away from your business (it is recommended), you need someone who can manage or do your marketing for you. Our Virtual Marketing Director service is ideal for owners of small businesses who don’t have time, but aren’t yet in a position to employ their own marketing team. Does that sound like you?

Why do all this?

Too many owners of small businesses spend too little time working ON the business, rather than IN the business. This leads to “stuff happening” rather than planned activity. As the old saying goes : fail to plan – plan to fail.  By investing a few hours in planning for 2022, you will see a significant uplift in performance and more growth.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

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.

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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