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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 […]

The dangers of too much content

too much content

 

Content is Good. Content is Wise. That is what you will hear from most marketing consultants, from a lot of SEO companies and many of your peers. Good content is great at two things:

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The unmanaged mountain of opportunity

Somewhere in your office is a big pile of opportunities.

It’s probably just by your monitor or it may be in a desk drawer. If you use hotdesk, it’s probably in your bag or it may even be a series of images in an app on your phone.

What I am talking about? that pile of business cards you’ve collected over the past few months and done little with.

Within this pile of business cards could be your next 5 clients. What is five new clients worth to your business? How do you make sure you don’t miss out?

Filter them

If you’re an avid networker, you’ll have a number of cards which were “forced” on you by the card collectors and distributors that inhabit every networking event. They have almost certainly added you to their mailing list, you’ll have unsubscribed and now forgotten what they do.  The B1N file is the best place for them.

Look for the ones that are most likely to be prospects or be able to introduce you to prospects.

Now add them to your database, but make it very easy for people to unsubscribe.

Segment them

Providing everyone with the same information will not help you. Dependent upon which tools you use, segment your contacts into different groups.

  • MailChimp: use data columns and segments or add them into different groups
  • For Infusionsoft, use Tags
  • For Hubspot, it’s Personas and Smart Lists

Every automated marketing tool will have its own set of tools that allow you to segment by geography, product sales, lead source,, industry sector and any number of personal criteria.

Talk to them

Finally, use the information to talk to them. Use the segmentation tools to ensure that the information you send them is relevant:

  • For clients: what other products can they buy from you?
  • For prospects: what evidence can you show them so they see you can help them with their needs? Are you running any offers to tempt them into buying?
  • For nurturing: do you have white papers or recorded webinars showing your knowledge and expertise?
  • For introducers: do they know what your Ideal Client looks like so they can introduce you?

The unmanaged mountain of business cards on your desk can deliver new business, but it takes some effort and it takes real consistency.

I hope this helps.

Lessons from a Brighton Bar

Demand generation lessons

The beachfront at Brighton is rarely a quiet place. Even in the winter, you will see a number of brave/foolhardy/daft* souls walking on the beach, the promenade and the pier.

This weekend was always going to be a busy one, with plenty of sunshine and the Brighton Marathon, but my wife and I took the kids anyway. Whether we’d remembered about the marathon or not is besides the point.  It was when we went looking for some lunch that I noticed a great lesson in demand generation.  Let me explain.

The bar in the picture is the Brighton Music Hall.  As we arrived, it looked very busy, with few tables available. What I hadn’t seen at that time was the stack of picnic benches to one side.  By not having all of their tables out, the crowd is concentrated together and makes it look busier than perhaps it really was.

The clever piece was the way they managed the addition of tables. As they saw that the turnover of guests seemed to slow, they added another row of tables that were quickly filled by new guests walking off the promenade. After all, there are few people who don’t measure the quality of an unknown restaurant by the crowd of diners.

I was looking at another company earlier today – a completely different business – who also managed their demand well. They did it by saying, on their website, that they are completely booked for April & May, but they are still happy to talk.  Again, by suggesting they are really busy, they portray themselves as providing a sought-after service.

The lessons here:

  • Keep a good eye on your customers
  • Make them think you are popular – meaning more will want you
  • Keep talking to them. Keep them informed, even when you are really busy

 

 

 

*delete as appropriate

What Mary Poppins teaches small business owners

Having small children means having to watch films and programmes you normally wouldn’t choose. Sometimes, however, you learn something new when you do, at least, have one eye watching. This weekend somehow ended up with Mary Poppins being watched and this is what I believe small business owners can learn from the lead character

  • Dress to impress

Mary never had a stitch or hair out of place and so came across as the professional she was. Whilst I’m not suggesting you need a lacy collar done up tight, you should always be dressed to ensure both you and the client are comfortable. Tatty jeans and trainers are never going to go down well – even on dress down Friday – but that doesn’t mean a three-piece, tie and cufflinks either.

Wear what works:

  • Is it suitable for the work you’re going to be doing?
  • Does it say the right things about you?
  • Would you be happy if someone walked into your office wearing what you are?
  • Know who your client really is

Whilst Mr Banks should have been paying Mary Poppins’ wages (did he actually pay her before she left?). However, it could easily be said that Jane and Michael were the clients, as it was their lives that Mary quickly impacted. In Edwardian London, the father:child relationship was still described as “Children should be seen and not heard”. So George would simply expect Mary Poppins to ensure this was the case. However, the children seem particularly adept at getting rid of those who displeased them. The previous nanny would not stay a moment longer.

Remember that the person who pays the invoices may not be the person with the most influence.

  • Use the right language

Is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious the ultimate in jargon or what? It’s a word only Mary knows the meaning of and will confuse both customers and staff.

Hopefully the consultant speak, like “blue-sky thinking” and “anything outside the box” is long gone. Many people still find it very easy to use their industry jargon, whether talking to colleagues or clients. Whilst it’s okay to use it in the office, remember that most customers won’t know what you’re talking about. Whether they admit it to you is a different matter! If you do this with prospects, there is a real chance they will simply buy from the company that doesn’t overuse jargon – simply because they understand them.

  • It’s not always fun

Most people start a small business because it is something they enjoy doing – or they enjoy the money they expect to get. They expect to have fun doing what they love. Unfortunately there are aspects of running a business that aren’t fun. Accounts definitely falls into that space and some people even think marketing isn’t fun (can you imagine that?) but they need to be done. Mary Poppins recommends a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Ever wondered why you see so many business owners with bowls of sweets on their desks? Perhaps that’s the sugar?

On a more serious note, if you cannot get someone else to do it, look at how you can mix up the jobs you need to do. This can either be in bite-size pieces or by getting the nasty stuff out the way first.

  • Get out at the right time

Mary Poppins could quite easily have stayed with the Banks family and taken their money. The value they would have received would have deteriorated as she’d already delivered the real value she provides. That’s not great.

It can be easy to continue taking the money from a client when you’ve been working with them for some time. Ask yourself: are you still delivering value and as much value as you did originally?

Whilst you will often make a real impact very early on, and then settle down, be careful that you don’t get too comfortable. The last thing you want to do is get to a point where the client asks you to leave – better for you to say it’s time to go.

 

I must admit that I did watch chunks of the film, even if I hadn’t intended to. And I’m glad I did now.

No more Growth Vouchers

It’s too late – at least for now

The last Growth Vouchers were given out yesterday, with the lucky recipients having until the end of June to use them to get the strategic support they are looking for. The infographic here shows how things have changed in the last few weeks.  As you can see, the marketing produced over the final couple of months has generated a huge amount of interest.  I am sure the 3,500 accredited Growth Voucher advisors will have picked up more work because of it. My latest Growth Voucher project is for a dental practice looking to increase its private practice work. During the time I’ve been working within the Growth Voucher programme, I’ve dealt with: 1. a mobile application developer 2. a veterinary practice 3. an e-commerce company 4. Two IT support companies Growth for these companies has varied from 15% to over 300% since they used the Growth Vouchers.

Don’t you wish you could have got the marketing support you needed before the scheme closed down?

New Year’s Marketing Resolution?

2013 is here!

The New Year is traditionally the time when people make their resolutions, with February often seeing the end of even the most resolute of resolutions.  Why not make changes things this year and make business resolutions that you stick to?

Have you got the information you need to make the right decisions about your marketing budgets?  Why not promise to collate what you need and improve your bottom line?

Imagine what could happen:

  1. More accurate information being collated, leading to….
  2. Improved decision-making about how to invest your marketing resources, leading to….
  3. More phone calls from clients interested in your services, leading to….
  4. More sales and a busier team, leading to….
  5. A better return on investment. leading to….
  6. MUCH BIGGER CHRISTMAS PRESENTS IN 2013
And if you don’t fancy bigger presents, I am sure you can think of other ways to use the increased profits you can generate from your New Year’s resolution.

 

Consistency is Key

As you develop a following, whether for your newsletter or on social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, they will come to expect a certain amount of information from you. Let’s explain why marketing consistency is key.

Your followers follow you because you have provided them with interesting information and they would love some more. If that flow of information falters, you risk upsetting them. They will probably forgive you the first time you miss a blog/article/post but their patience will diminish rapidly the more you fail to deliver.

Maintaining marketing consistency over long periods of time is not always easy.  As you get busier delivering to clients you find the time available for your own marketing gets more rare. It is therefore best to have a series of blogs (etc.) planned ahead. That way you can maintain your consistency and keep your followers happy.  You never know, they might even start to refer you to others and your following increases.

Marketing is all about getting more people interested in your services, so keep your consistency levels high and the followers will come.

 

 

How to qualify your prospects as a small business

Are your properly qualifying your prospects?

As a small business, of course you want to generate as much business as possible. Your marketing is aimed at generating as many prospects as possible. However, not every prospect is going to bring their business your way, and so it is vital that you identify which are worth your time and effort and which are not. Being a small business, you don’t have the time to entertain every single prospect; you have other tasks that need attending to. So how should you go about qualifying your prospects?

Can you provide a solution?

The prospect needs to be clear as to the exact nature of your products or services. Similarly, you need to grasp precisely what it is the prospect requires or how you may be able to provide a solution to a particular problem. There is no point in proceeding any further if the prospect is looking for something you simply do not provide, so it’s best to just walk away at the first possible opportunity. Ensure your website and any marketing material is clear and updated regularly so anyone who comes across it can easily understand what it is you offer.

Do you have the time?

This is something that is often overlooked with qualifying prospects. Yes, it may be very nice to receive an enquiry, but if you don’t have the time to fulfil it, then you need to say so from the outset. If you take on the work but know that you already have more than enough to fill your time, then some or all of it is going to suffer, and you could ultimately lose out on future business. Check with the prospect first what sort of timelines they have and then consider whether your schedule will permit the work. It is believed that most businesses have 15% pipeline close rate efficiency, meaning that time and resources go into something that 85% of the time doesn’t drive revenue – don’t let that 85% include time wasted on prospects.

Does the prospect have the funds?

The last thing you want is to press ahead with the deal only to find that they cannot pay you for the goods or services. One way of ensuring that a prospect is likely to pay is by running a credit check or gaining access to company credit reports. This can be an incredibly useful way of highlighting whether a prospect has a healthy credit history and could save you a considerable amount of time and money in the long run. Company credit reports can let you view important information such as credit rating and limit, 5 year accounts, CCJ information and full director information, as well as links through to debt scores to find which of your outstanding debts are most likely to be paid, and access to any media stories about that particular company.

Are you speaking to the decision maker?

A sure-fire way to waste time and effort is to do your dealing through someone who isn’t the main decision maker in a company. If you only speak to an assistant or someone who is not the decision maker, then you will likely have to wait for them to feed the information back to the relevant people, which takes time and could be misinterpreted. Always ask to speak to someone in authority, such as a Sales Director, and question the sincerity of a request from someone who is not willing to talk to you themselves.

These are just a few points you should consider when qualifying your prospects, and each prospect will have to be handled slightly differently, but they should give you a good basis from which to start.