Sales and Marketing working together

image to support article about sales and marketing working together

 

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

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

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

First contact

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

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

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

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

In the middle of the pipeline

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

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

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

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

Asking for the sale

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

How to Maximise the Sales rate

1. Define your Ideal Client and Target Audiences

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

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

2. Identify their pains, needs and priorities

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

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

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

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

4. Keep Talking to your prospects

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

5. Get Sales & Marketing working together

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

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

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

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

Four Questions to ask when considering your small business growth options

Which Box?

If you’ve done any studying around business or marketing, you will remember Ansoff’s Growth Matrix. For those of you who weren’t quite so “lucky”, let me quickly go through it and show you why it is a highly useful tool to help guide your growth planning and therefore your small business marketing.

Image of Ansoff's Growth Matrix to support article on small business marketing and growth plans

 

The matrix has four boxes:

1.       Market penetration = Existing markets buying current products

2.       Product development = Existing markets buying new products

3.       Market development = New markets buying current products

4.       Diversification = New markets buying new products

Where are you now?

If you are still an early stage business, you are almost certainly in the Market Penetration box. You’ve identified a product (or service) and you are working to maximise the size of your client base. You are probably selling to clients who are similar in nature, or need. Your customer base may be across multiple geographical areas, but it if you deliver a service that involves your time, you are almost certainly selling within a fairly tight geographical region. This is simply because of the time, and cost, involved in travelling to other areas.

Moving boxes as a small business growth strategy

The decision to move into a different box, from Market Penetration, is a big one. It is a big commitment and can come with some risk, dependent upon which box you are considering. The decision to move boxes should be guided by your answers to the following questions…

1. Have you maximised sales of your current products to your existing markets?

The answer to this question is almost certainly no. Unless you are the market leader for your region, there will always be the opportunity to sell more. If you are struggling, a market development or product development strategy may work for you. It will depend on whether you believe you know the product or the market more.

2. Are your competitors dominant in your existing markets?

If you were late into the market, it is likely that there are a number of dominant players. They will make it difficult for you to develop your market share, so a different box may be a good alternative for you.

3. Are there products you can sell to your existing market?

If you’re in the technology market, for example, there is always a new product to sell. Many will be updates of what you are already selling them, so that doesn’t count, but there will be alternatives:

  • If you’re an MSP selling on-premise solutions, Cloud would certainly count as new product, as would telecoms.
  • If you’re selling cost savings, are you providing a full range of utilities, plus telecoms or connectivity?

These are just a couple of examples of how moving into the Product Development box may be a good small business growth strategy. However, try not to go too far away from your core products. If you currently provide software solutions, trying to add office furniture to your portfolio is probably a first step too far.

4. Can you properly serve additional markets?

A new market can be one of two things: a new geography – selling in Birmingham, to add to Bristol, for example. Or it can be a new sector – selling to the hospitality sector as well as the leisure sector. If you want to sell to this new sector, can you say you know enough about the sector and their needs to be able to generate sufficient sales within that sector? Developing a good knowledge of the new target market is vital if you want to sell existing products into a new market.

The route through the boxes

Businesses rarely go from Market Penetration to Diversification. Why? It’s simply too much of a risk. Trying to sell products you have little experience of to markets you have limited knowledge of is a gamble. A gamble that most businesses wouldn’t take.

Product or Market Development?

Truth be told, most companies do some of both. Over time, new products appear to sell to existing markets. At the same time, the reach of businesses, particularly in our digital world is constantly extending and orders come in from around the country, or even around the world. “Accidental” market development, however, often means a lower profit margin. Getting your product, or service, to different parts of the world can mean an impact on delivery costs. Customers may not want to pay a premium (at least that’s the way they see the increased costs) to get your product. You then have to decide whether you want to deliver, or not.

If, as a business, you are looking to grow, you will almost certainly have to move into a new box. It doesn’t mean you are leaving the old box behind. Over time, it will actually mean you are working with multiple sets of boxes. One set for each product or market. As you grow you simply move again.

If you are looking to grow your business, consider which is going to be the best first step: product or market.

Of course, if you would like to discuss this in more detail and see how we can help you develop the right small business growth strategy for business, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.

How to maximise ROI from exhibiting at trade shows and conferences

Image to support post: maximisung the ROI from exhibiting

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

Before the event

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

1.  What are your key messages?

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

2.  Build your email campaigns

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

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

3.  Engage with organisers and exhibitors on social media

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

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

During the event

4.  Keep the social media going

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

After the event

5.  Get the emails out!

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

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

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

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

6.  Make the calls

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

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

7.  Keep up contact

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

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

 

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

 

 

Preparing for 2020

2019 has flown by and 2020 is waiting just around the corner. If your 2019 was full of growth and successful marketing you’ll probably want to continue that through to the new year. However, if your year was lacking in that department, then even more reason to keep reading to see our top tips helping […]

What are you talking about?


image to support blog about the right content for your blog

What is the right content for your blog?

Your marketing aims to develop new leads for your business. You need those leads to build your business and achieve the growth targets you’ve set. As part of a content-led marketing strategy, your blog is a major part of the content you produce and it is important that it performs. The question is: what are you talking about and what is the right content for your blog?

Your blog is there to do 4 things:

  1. Increase your SEO performance so the search engines rank you higher than your competitors.
  2. Attract more visitors to your website, via SEO or through the posts you put on social media about the blog articles.
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge about the topics you write about.
  4. Help website visitors decide to contact you and add themselves to your sales pipeline

So what should be in your blog if you are to have content that does some, or all, of these?

Problem solving content

Content that helps viewers to solve problems will put you in a powerful position. Whilst this sounds almost counter-productive (surely you want them to pay you to solve their problems), let’s look at why this is a good thing…

1.       It shows that you have the knowledge and expertise to help if they want you to help in the future. Just because you help them now doesn’t mean they are looking to resolve this issue every time it appears.

2.       They may have a go at fixing the issue, but if they don’t have the skills, they will need someone to help. If you have helped them get so far, they are highly likely to come to you to finish things off.

3.       They may have another supplier in place, but they are unsure about them and so looking for others who look like they have the skills they are looking for.

Content about what is new to the market/sector

There is always something new out there; it doesn’t matter what you do. E.g. the technology market is always changing, so reviews of latest products (and how they help the user) are always good. Within learning and development, there are new approaches or techniques. In marketing, there are new ways to share your content or curate others.

By talking within your blog about how these can help your target audience, you are demonstrating your understand them and their needs.

Your opinions on the latest news

The main news at the moment rarely moves off one particular topic (the B word). Sometimes they do talk about other topics; topics that are within your areas of expertise. By writing about this, its impact and how people can benefit/avoid/make the most of/solve whatever the topic is, you are again demonstrating your expertise.

Your News

Ever so often something happens within your business that is worth sharing with your audience. They aren’t likely to care when you recruit a new receptionist or replace an engineer, but adding a new Regional Director, because you’re expanding into new territories could be interesting. Perhaps the reader is a frequent visitor to your site, but has never been in touch because you don’t operate near them – until now.

A major breakthrough or a project that saved a significant amount for a client (what is a significant amount for your target audience?) is worth talking about, but it may be better to try and get this news out via publications with bigger readerships ( I know a number of very good PR firms, if you need some assistance in this area) so that the announcement gets seen by more people.

When looking at the right content for your blog, news about your business, I’m afraid, comes bottom of the pile, with a few exceptions. Why? Because your target audience are more interested in understanding how you can help them.

 

By publishing the right content for your blog, it is far more likely to be read and acted upon. If it answers a popular question, it is highly likely to rank well (an article on one of my client’s websites has ranked No.1 for a particular popular search term and now generates 37% of their traffic. It gets more visits than the home page.

We hope this helps.

The cost of an Unmanaged Mailing List

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

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

Why you need to monitor your data count

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

Monthly charges

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

Lists & Audiences

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

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

Segments, Groups & Tags

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

Groups

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

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

Segments

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

Tags

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

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

Performance rates

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

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

We hope this helps

How many steps to marketing success?

Every marketing consultant worth their salt has, at one time or another, published a “X Steps to Marketing Glory” style post. SME Needs certainly has, with our first one being “Effective Referral Generation – a few simple steps” and the most recent being “How to maximise the ROI from exhibiting at a trade show”.

What we’ve never done is an over-arching “X Steps to Marketing Success” guide. Many others have and it led us to wonder just how many steps it really took to generate marketing success – so we checked.

It’s at least three!

graph showing the number of steps to marketing success

The graph above is the number of steps recommended by the first 100 search results for the term “Steps to marketing success”.

It seems that there marketing industry says there are, on average 7.093 steps needed to deliver marketing success. Seven is the median (middle) number and 5 the mode (most popular).

The good news is that nobody thought it was really, really simple.  Nobody suggested that there is only one, or even two steps needed. However, 8 articles suggested it is as simple as 1,2,3.

Why So Few?

With the average being 7.093 steps, it got me thinking: Why is the number so few? Surely that suggests that getting your marketing right is simple, you’re unlikely to need a marketing consultant to help.

My theory is this:

A few steps makes it sound cheaper!

Let me explain my theory.

Most small business owners and directors know where their skills lie. They also know just how much money there is in the business and what they are prepared to invest. If they see an article that suggests 7.093 steps to get the marketing success they want, they will read it. They will recognise that there are a number of steps they cannot do and so will consider investing some money into getting those steps done.

If they saw an article titled “87 Steps to Marketing Success”, would they still feel the same? I doubt it.

Where do we sit on this?

As mentioned earlier, we’ve never done a “X steps to Marketing Success” blog, so there won’t be a number at the end of this sentence. What we see is that the number will be different for everyone – and it will be many more than 7.093. This is particularly true for small businesses that have done little or new active and consistent marketing for some time.

However, the results of a multi-stage marketing programme that has been thought out carefully and is delivered consistently will be impressive. It will take time, but it will deliver.

What your small business gets from a Virtual Marketing Director

11 reasons to use a Virtual Marketing Director

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

1. Only pay for what you need

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

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

2. Years of experience available for your business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Works with you to develop your Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

7. They know the language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An independent voice

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

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

What we learnt from the Brighton SEO Conference

Brighton SEO Conference image of giveaways

(see the last lesson for an explanation of the images)

8 SEO Lessons learnt or compounded

I went to the Brighton SEO Conference for the first time in 2019. Why? Two reasons: firstly to learn more about the “dark art” of SEO, and secondly because Mailchimp invited me. As a Mailchimp Partner, I like to keep that relationship running smoothly so that I can get the support my clients need.

So what are the SEO lessons learnt?

1. Misplacing Budgets

Many businesses, particularly bigger businesses, allocate budgets in the wrong way.  They will spend too much on production (specifically video). They spend too much on distribution and not enough on getting the right idea in the first place.

The traditional approach of expecting the agency pitching to have developed the ideas as part of their pitch no longer works. Target audiences are getting smaller as specific needs and wants are getting more and more personalised. The ideas that worked when advertising on TV (and newspapers) were key no longer work because of the diverse spread of communication channels today.

2. Integrating SEO into the business is a good idea

SEO is often considered to be a small tactic within the marketing of a business. It’s therefore of little concern to anyone outside the Marketing department. However, there are a number of ways that, by working together, the whole company can improve performance:

  • Naming of products should consider what the customer will consider to be the key feature(s), helping them to appear when customers search.
  • If marketing collateral is written by different people to the SEO team, they should work together to use complementary language
  • The Sales team can feedback the questions being asked by prospects during sales meetings, so it can be included in content.

3. Answer when your customers ask a question

Are you making it easy for customers to ask questions of you? Also, are you going to where they may be asking the questions? Sites such as Quora give you a great opportunity to identify the questions people want answers to.  You can then answer them on the platform, but more importantly, develop content that will answer the questions and shoot you up the rankings.

4. Look at intent within the sales cycle

Your content should help people throughout the sales cycle.  The content people see on your site when they are first researching a topic should not be the same as when they are actively buying. When aiming to educate through your content, you shouldn’t be selling.

5. Look at People Also Ask

Have you noticed when you type a question into the search bar, there are two things that appear:

  1. Featured snippet: what Google thinks is a very good answer to your question.
  2. People Also Ask: slight variations on the question and an answer to that question.

The People Also Ask section can be a great way of getting to the top of the search rankings,  often much faster than you can get onto page one for the normal rankings.

6. Don’t start a podcast unless you are really interested in the topic

Most podcasters don’t get past Episode 7. This is simply because they lose interest in the topic and that means they won’t do the work needed to produce a podcast that will deliver.

7. There are three key requirements when pitching an idea

If you want a client, or the boss, to authorise a project or campaign, there are three key requirements:

  1. Help them to justify the spend
  2. Prove the impact on the business this will bring
  3. Ensure it makes them look good

The last is almost certainly the result of the first.

8.  Only produce useful promotional merchandise that people will keep using.

As with any conference, every company was giving out goodies. These were either in the conference bag given to you at the door, or were given out when you went to a company’s stand. Which of the two in the header image do you think I will use more?

Which of these SEO lessons are you going to put into practice?

I hope this helps

 

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