How complex is your Marketing?

Why you need multiple strands to your marketing plan

do you have a marketing plan

Developing a marketing plan for your business takes time. It takes you away from generating cash through delivering for your clients. Now I’m asking you to do it multiple times! Read more

Why multiple mailing lists are a big problem

multiple mailing listsEmail marketing is a great tool when used correctly.

It’s cheap, completely trackable, and it can be personalised so that the content only goes to the right people.

It is also causing a lot of heartache as people get their head around GDPR and what they can and cannot do via email.

Let’s ignore for a moment that email is covered by PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) rather than GDPR. The biggest issue for email is consent.

This blog is about the issues that multiple mailing lists can cause with consent.

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‘Tis the season for a new marketing strategy

In the next couple of weeks, Christmas trees will begin to pop up in shopping centres, lights will appear in the streets and the radios will begin playing carols on repeat. It can only mean one thing.  Christmas is coming.

The question is: do you need to change your marketing to fit the festive season? Is there any way you could use the Christmas period to your advantage?

If the answer is yes, the trick is to start planning early. As Halloween ends, the shops waste no time in getting their decorations up. It may still be a few weeks away, but it’s now considered the run up to Christmas. So, embrace the season and find out how you can create an effective Christmas marketing campaign.

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What is your 2018 Marketing Strategy?

what is your 2018 marketing strategy?

2018 is coming fast

January 2nd 2018 still seems a long time away. In reality, it is only 15 weeks or so.  If your financial year is the calendar year, what are you planning to do to attract new business? What does your 2018 marketing strategy look like?

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Imagine a Full Sales Pipeline

What does a full sales pipeline look like and what would it mean for your business?

Every business has a sales pipeline. Not every business has the full sales pipeline they want to have! Does your pipeline have enough prospects to enable you to meet your sales targets? Do you have sales targets?

Let’s look at your sales pipeline and the numbers around it. After all, the first thing I always do with a new client is look at the numbers.

If you have a sales target of one new client a week, what impact will this have on the marketing effort you need to put in?

One new client per week needs 5 new prospects per week, assuming you close 20% of qualified sales

5 new prospects per week means 10 leads per week, assuming 50% of leads qualify themselves out or you qualify them out

10 leads per week means 500 new visitors to your website, assuming 2% of visitors contact you.

Are you generating 500 new visitors to your website each week?

Of course, you need to edit these numbers to match your current sales and marketing performance, but they give you an idea of what is involved. If your conversion rates are better than those used above, you need less visitors.

What I’m asking is:

  • Do you know what your numbers are?
  • Have you calculated how many website visits you need to generate?
  • What are you currently doing to generate them?

If your Sales team is not hitting your business targets, it may not be their fault. Of course, it may not be Marketing’s fault either if you aren’t providing the resources they need to hit these goals.

How can this be improved?

If you haven’t got the budget to generate the new visitors you need each month, perhaps through Google Adwords or other paid search, let’s look at how these numbers can be improved in order to reduce the need:

Is your website doing its job?

Check the exit rates using Google Analytics and see which pages are not performing. Test new content to see how you can improve the performance of the page.

Does the content show what you do or how you help your target audience?

Does every page have a Call to Action that guides visitors through the site in a way that will engage them and get them to contact you?

Add Goals to Analytics and see how you are performing. You should consider goals such as number of pages or time on site, rather than simply did they go to your Contact Us page.

None of this costs money, but it will take some time and effort. Your website’s performance will impact both the number of enquiries you have and the number that are qualified. If your content suggests you do something a little different to what you actually do, you are likely to get lots of enquiries that are for something you don’t do.

Sales support:

What is marketing doing to support the sales process? Marketing’s job doesn’t finish when the lead is handed over to a salesperson. There needs to be a support programme which ensures that a hot lead remains a hot lead for the duration of the sales process. How long is the sales cycle in your business by the way?

YpuIf Sales and Marketing work together (heaven forbid!!), hitting your sales targets will be far easier as your close rate improves.

Sales:

I’ve always said my role is to line them up and Sales has to knock them down. I’m not a Sales trainer (but I know a man who is) but I can quickly help you identify where there is room for improvement, if needed.  Your Sales team will know whether they are converting enough. They will looking for ways to improve, but if there is room for improvement in the Sales function, may I suggest the following questions need to be asked:

  • Are they talking about your business or about the prospects?
  • Are they telling stories to help the prospect understand how they help?
  • Are they only moving forward when asked to by the prospect?
  • Are you using software to help you know when the prospect is moving forward?

The numbers in your pipeline will tell what you need to do to achieve your goals.  Sales and Marketing need to work together to ensure that the numbers within your pipeline are as good as they can be.

I hope this helps.

Key tips to improve small business SEO

What is key for small business SEO?

I don’t normally talk about the nitty gritty within my blog. However, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a topic I’ve had a number of client conversations about recently. So it seemed like about time I added it to the curriculum.

SEO is one of those areas of marketing that is seen as a black art. It is portrayed (often by SEO consultancies themselves) as something complicated and mysterious. They want it to be a marketing tool best left to the experts. I have a different outlook on the subject.

The search engines are in the business of putting the right content in front of people when they search. If they don’t the users will simply migrate to a different search engine. Every think the day will come when Google isn’t dominant and NanoBrowser takes over the world?

So what the best ways to ensure your website is meeting the needs of both the search engines and the searchers? What are the SEO tools you need to use to get found?
To me there are two key things to look at:
1. Content
2. Keywords and their positioning

Content

Let’s quickly go back to the bad old days when the colour of your hat defined whether you were a good guy or a bad one. White hat SEO was following considered best practice whilst black hat was trying to work the system and use underhand techniques such as background coloured content to fool the search engines. Stuffing keywords into the content to the point of making it unreadable was very common and I saw a website selling kitchens only a year or two ago where the word kitchen appeared over 30 times on the homepage alone! Thankfully the search engine algorithms are much smarter now and are looking for relevant content. Google’s Panda update and the move to semantic search with Hummingbird has thankfully stopped keyword stuffing and made the whole exercise of finding good information both easier and more pleasant.

Whilst the guidelines are getting more and more blurry (and woe betide you if you break a rule you didn’t know about), there is still a general rule that says if your content is relevant to the search term and reads well, it will rank higher than other sites where the content isn’t as good.

Keywords

Positioning of keywords is still important in getting you found. Whilst social signals, editorial links, user reviews and a lot of other stuff now impacts the rankings, the keywords still need to be there and be in the right places.

Let’s look at the key places:

  • Page title: Include your most important keyword in the title and keep it under 55 characters.
  • Header tags: H1 and H2 tags tell search engines that the header is important. Putting your keywords into these them will ensure your keywords get picked up and help your ranking.
  • Meta description: You know that bit of text that appears under the search result; that’s the meta description and it’s job is to lure the searcher into clicking. If this content reads poorly or is stuffed with keywords, it’s won’t do its job. Keep it under 155 characters.
  • Alt tags: Google doesn’t see your pictures but its algorithms see the text attached to them. The image name and the alt tags all help to get you further up the search results because Google gives precedence to image results, even if it’s a general search rather than an image search. Although a picture may say a 1000 words, don’t put that many in the alt tags.
  • Content: Obviously! Your content needs to revolve around your keyword—just one keyword, not as many as possible – for each page. Synonyms, phrases, and figures of speech that stand in for your keyword are okay, as long as they mimic natural speech patterns.
  • Content headline: If your keyword isn’t here, you will struggle to get a decent position on the SERP. The keyword here tells search engines that you have some very relevant content and it also improves click-throughs by informing the user of the same.
  • URL: Use your keyword in the URL in a way that it describes the page contents and helps the user in navigation as well.

I’m not guaranteeing that following these guidelines will get you onto page one as it will depend on both the level of competition and a bunch of other issues, but before you start to invest in SEO, make sure you’ve got the basics right. The results you can see in the image below took me about a month to generate, simply by following these simple steps

Additional Steps

If you have WordPress as your content management system, seriously consider Yoast as your SEO plugin. Yoast is very good at guiding you to produce both good SEO results and readable content. Get someone to ensure your website isn’t broken, even a little bit, as it will help your SEO performance. Tools such as SEMrush provide a good report on broken links, unbalanced HTML/content and a number of other issues. If you ask me nicely, I’ll run a report for you!

I hope this helps.

Take your marketing budget to the casino

Casinos are great places.  You never know how much money you’re going to come out with, no matter how much you take in.  More often than not, you emerge with significantly less, but sometimes it can be an awful lot more.  It’s a bit like your marketing in many ways.

Let me explain.

Let’s start in January and add some more detail to my statement.

You start three different marketing activities in January (spending £2,000 per month), and you can see more website traffic and you’re getting more inbound enquiries. Some of these enquiries then converted into sales and new client sales totalled £16,000.

In February your spend was the same and sales totalled £11,500

March followed a similar pattern and created new client sales of £8,500.

Your first quarter’s marketing budget of £6,000 generated £36,000.  That’s a 6:1 return on investment. Not too bad, but could be better.  As you’re now going into your 2nd quarter, what could be improved so you improve the ROI your marketing is delivering?

If you haven’t measured your marketing, there is no way of knowing how to improve that ROI.  Let’s go to the casino.

£2,000 on the blackjack tables could generate some great results.  Just one hand could turn your £2,000 into £5,000 (assuming the casino pays out 3:2 on a blackjack), but many hands that turn the money over many times could create a lot more.

Roulette gives you a real chance to win a lot of money with a right single number paying 35:1.  That’s £72,000 if you get real lucky.  Even betting just red or black could double your money each time you get it right.

Poker is a different kettle of fish as you’re playing the other players as much as playing the cards. This could easily the table to lose your money on fastest.

Let’s assume you had a good night and came out with the same £36,000.  What games would you play next time you go in?  If you don’t know and simply guess that roulette, with a single number strategy, delivered your winnings, your money could disappear very quickly.

It’s exactly the same with your marketing budget, albeit over an elongated time period. Knowing what marketing delivers new sales, and what doesn’t, allows you to reallocate your resources to maximise your return on investment.

Taking my own medicine

Sorry guys, but it’s time to leave

Those of you who know me will know that I’ve attended BNI, on and off, since 2003.  For many years it was part of the marketing mix for my old company and it’s been part of SME Needs’ marketing mix for nearly two years now.

The problem is that it hasn’t delivered an acceptable return on investment for me this time and so I need to take my own medicine and part ways with the group.

The very first step I take with any new client is to Measure their marketing, so they understand what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t working. From there the right decisions can be made about where to invest their time and marketing budget.

The last thing I can therefore do is continue doing something that isn’t working.

All I can say is thank you to the members who did refer business my way and a very special thank you to the members who have delivered on their promises when I’ve referred them into my network.  I will continue to refer you as I know I can trust you with my reputation.

What will I do now?

All my work comes from networking, just not BNI.  What I will do is invest this time in an altered networking strategy and ensure I spend more time with the network I already have, keeping them up to date with what I’m doing and ensuring I know what they’re doing, so I can make the best introductions I can.

I look forward to my lie-ins on a Tuesday morning!

Two Approaches to Planning your Marketing – Part Two

Last week I talked about how this blog was inspired by a discussion on LinkedIn and then discussed the pros and cons of working to a number given to you by the CFO or accountant.  This week we start from the opposite direction and will be going back to the accountant with a required figure.

Pros of starting with the planning

  1. You consider all possible activities except those you know that will have outrageous costs attached, such as TV advertising
  2. You’re considering what activities are most likely to deliver the best return in investment, especially if you have done them before and have the evidence to support your thoughts.
  3. It is more likely to be flexible, especially when you start achieving your business targets
  4. It is led by the business’ needs, not those of the accountants!
  5. Depending upon the perceived ROI you have an opportunity to re-visit your budget and decide to spend more.
  6. Far better to work down from the “Gold Standard” than work up
  7. If more money does become available, you’ll know exactly what to do with the money

Cons

  1. There is a chance you will spend more than the accountant wants you to
  2. You’ll have to make sure you track the results so justify yourself to your accountant/CFO
  3. It takes a bit longer
  4. You get to argue (sorry – put your point across) with the CFO – is this really a con?

Marketing is all about demonstrating the value you can provide to your customers in order to tempt them into buying from you. It should therefore be the same within the company.  The activities/campaigns in the marketing plan need to show value to the wallet holders in order to be authorised.

Its fairly obvious on what side of the fence I fall, but then again I’m a marketer and not a finance geek.  I hope this has been useful to you and I look forward to your comments.

 

New company, mature skills

SME Needs is a new business but is based on many years of working with, and helping, small businesses to resolve issues.

The role of SME Needs is to help small businesses resolve issues, whatever they may be. I don’t claim to be an expert on every aspect of operating a small business; that would be silly or really big-headed!

What I can do, in order to help my clients, is make use of the skills my network has. I believe in having a deep, rather than wide, network. This means they are people I have known for a period of time, I have a good knowledge of their work or I have personally used their services. This means I am happy to put my reputation on the line by introducing people from within my network to help my clients.

An example would be James Potter. I have known him for a number of years and he has helped me improve my LinkedIn skills dramatically. If you want to improve your LinkedIn skills, he is the first person I would recommend.

Another would be Daren Bach if you wanted to improve your SEO performance.  He helped my previous company get to No.3 on the first page of Google and stay there.

I have lots of other people I can call on to help you so get in touch and I will see who I can introduce you to