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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

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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

heartbeat image for feast and famine article

How to avoid the feast and famine trap

By A Helping Hand, Focus, Uncategorized

heartbeat image for feast and famine articleBy their very nature small businesses have limited resources. Whether your business consists of one person or 30, there is always a long To Do List. Without very careful use of these resources, it is easy for a small business to fall into the feast and famine trap. This article outlines the feast to famine trap and how to avoid it’s pitfalls.

What is the feast and famine trap?

See if this sounds familiar…

  1. You do some marketing
  2. It generates some leads and you convert some into sales.
  3. Heads down; we have to deliver the sales, so we get paid.

But whilst you have your head down and are delivering what you sold…

  1. You don’t do any marketing
  2. So you don’t generate any new leads

Which means: no new sales and you’ve run out of work again. So you start the process again..

Marketing… Sales… Heads down. No marketing, no sales….

This trap starts happening either to very early-stage businesses, or to those going through a bit of a sales slump. If you’ve been through this (or are in it) how can you get out and avoid it in the future?

Why you need to avoid the trap

There are 4 primary reasons. Let’s look at them…

1. Irregular Cashflow

Never knowing how much money will be coming into the business from one month to the next makes it very difficult to plan for the future. You’ll probably end up with an overdraft for a chunk of the time (paying more bank fees). Whilst you will ensure you pay the staff, your earnings may get hit, at least temporarily.

2. Energy & Stress levels

Across your team, energy levels will rise and fall. Great when energy is high, but you know it can only last so long. If energy levels drop, service quality can easily drop too, threatening the relationship you have with your clients.

Your stress level is, almost certainly, going to be constantly high. You’re worrying permanently because of the fluctuating work and cash levels.

3. High staff turnover and Job insecurity

How can you plan, recruit and retain staffing when you’ve never quite sure how much work you will have next month? Your staff are also going to be worrying, distracting them from their jobs and impacting service quality – again.

4. Client satisfaction

Your clients will quickly see that you are really busy part of the time, as you are dedicating less time to them. They won’t like that and will start looking for alternatives.

How to avoid the feast and famine trap

If you know that the marketing you are doing is working, why not do it consistently? A consistent flow of marketing activity will deliver a consistent number of leads and sales. Easier said than done, we know, so you have three choices:

1. Dedicate time to marketing

By blocking out time in your diary – and not changing it – you are making marketing a priority and that will help you deliver consistent marketing and avoid the trap.

2. Add an in-house marketing team

These additional resources allow either them or you to do the consistent marketing that is needed to deliver the leads and sales you want. But it does mean recruiting (takes time and money), salaries (more tied up money) and, lockdown notwithstanding, desk space. All of which tie up valuable resources – time and money. This ignores the fact that finding someone with exactly the right mix of skills is going to be very difficult.

3. Outsource your marketing

Of course we are going to say this, but what other option is there? There are also a number of key benefits here:

  • The outsourced marketing company can start immediately.
  • They bring with them huge amounts of experience, working with companies very similar to yours.
  • You get the mix of skills you need, and nothing more.
  • If they don’t deliver, you can very easily get rid of them.
  • When there is enough marketing requirement, they will help you recruit and simply walk away.

This is a common trap that many fall into but getting out needn’t be difficult.We hope this article helps and moves your business out of this trap very soon.

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

Tel: 020 8634 5911

Time to starting marketing after lockdown

12 Top Tips for Marketing After Lockdown

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Marketing Plan

Time to starting marketing after lockdownBoris’ roadmap has offered the first realistic timeline for the opening up of the UK economy. This means that business owners are now able to start planning for a future without COVID restrictions. It’s been almost a year since the first lockdown was imposed in the UK and in that time, businesses have had to adapt their marketing to reflect the virtual, remote, new world we found ourselves in.

If all goes well, we will soon be dusting off our old business cards ready to (tentatively) start handing them out to new contacts. But will the post-lockdown marketing environment go right back to how it was, or will some of the changes stick around? In this blog, we’ll take a look at what you can expect for B2B marketing after lockdown.

Start – if you haven’t already

If you stopped marketing to your target audiences during lockdown, now is definitely the time to start again. Ideally you would have never stopped marketing, but sometimes needs must. It’s never too late to start marketing your small business again.

Freshen up on old skills

Chances are, you’re itching to get back to in-person networking. Nothing gets the point across like actually talking to someone, with no dodgy WiFi distortions, or the infamous phrase “you’re on mute”. It’s been a long time since this kind of gathering has been possible, let’s get you some refresher tips.

Listen First

When networking it’s important to listen before talking. First of all, it’s just polite. Secondly, it gives you an actual advantage when networking to know what your contact’s role, experience and personality are before you give them your pitch. That way you can take note of their key details and tailor your pitch so it’s specific to them.

Elevator Pitches

One of the unappreciated benefits of Zoom calls is that you know exactly how long they go on for. Even in short breakout rooms you get a handy reminder when you have one minute to wrap up. In the post-Covid world we won’t have that luxury. Time to sharpen up your elevator pitch. Condense the saleable points of your business in two minutes or less.

Tell Stories

You might have the best data, the smoothest branding, but nothing is better at selling your product or service than a story. The basic tenets of narrative: an empathetic protagonist, a conflict and resolution; beginning, middle and end, coincide brilliantly with the customer journey, so use them. These techniques also work well when networking virtually. Just remember to hit unmute!

Remember to Follow Up

This isn’t something you have to worry about so much when marketing remotely, since almost all virtual interactions like email and LinkedIn leave you with a way to get back in touch. However, in person, you must make that first electronic contract; either on the phone, on Zoom or an email. Opening a dialogue is the first step in building a relationship.

Make a plan

Failing to plan…. etc. Is an old, but true, adage. If you don’t plan, you won’t do the consistent marketing you need to generate a steady flow of leads into your business

Utilise Automations

Now that you’ve actually got places to be, you might need to start employing automations to cover for you while you’re out and about. Email and social media automations, such as Mailchimp and Hootsuite, allow you to plan the publishing of your content in advance. You can read more about marketing automation tools here.

Update Your Case Studies

You might have a fantastic pitch and be a natural salesman face-to-face, but prospects need to know you’re true to your word. Prove it to them with case studies. Make sure they’re informative, well formatted and include a great testimonial from a happy client.

Need a hand measuring with your marketing planning

Click here for more tips

Capitalise on new opportunities!

Alongside this return to the old, there will undoubtedly be some elements of lockdown marketing that will stay part of our everyday. In 2021 a founder/CEO will be using old and new techniques to stay ahead of the curve. Of course, you should have been doing some of this through the lockdown, but if not, it’s better late than never. Here’s what we predict…

New Digital Content

While audio-visual content might have seen a spike to fill the void in an absence of face-to-face interaction, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s going anywhere. Video content in particular is all the rage, with all platforms continuing to widen their video capacity.
Just look at Instagram TV, Facebook Watch and LinkedIn Stories. If you haven’t already, start experimenting with audio-visual content; perhaps a podcast or a video introduction. Some of the content that could be adapted to new mediums are:

  • Product explanation videos.
  • Introductory presentations.
  • Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Case studies and client testimonials.

Virtual Meetings

Love or hate virtual meetings, the likelihood is they’re too convenient to do without. While Zoom fatigue may be very real, it’s better than commuting for an hour just to catch a meeting. It’s still worth investing in good lighting, microphones, speakers, or even professional backdrops to make a good impression when meeting people virtually.

In closing

While this may be mostly conjecture, it’s good to be aware of the changing marketing environment so you can use every tool at your disposal when promoting your business. What’s for certain is the future won’t be the same as the past. In a year when traditional marketing methods were off the table, technology stepped in to pick up the slack. Now that there’s finally a roadmap out of lockdown, we will find ourselves with double the tools needed to market our businesses. Deciding which to use and when will be up to you.

If you need a hand getting your marketing going again after lockdown, give us a call and let’s talk.

Tel: 020 8634 5911

How to market over the Christmas holiday

How to manage your marketing over the Christmas period

By A Helping Hand

What to do, and not do, in readiness for the festive season

It’s time to think about Christmas marketing (and I don’t mean glühwein and sausages). It can be a stressful time of year, more so for people running their own small business. It might be your only week off in the year and let’s face it, you have enough to worry about with Christmas presents without worrying about social media presence as well!

To save you some of that stress, we’ve put together a guide for what you need to do (and more importantly, what you don’t need to do) with B2B marketing over the Christmas holiday. Follow these five tips to save time doing what’s essential, so you can spend the rest of your holiday doing what’s really important.

1. Don’t be Elf!

It’s easy to go overboard with your Christmas marketing activity. It’s an easy aesthetic to affect, and there’s Christmassy content puns by the sleigh-full. Just remember that if you’re not open for business there’s no point drumming up trade. Also, Christmas isn’t for everybody, for faith among other reasons. What’s seen as festive to some can come across as tasteless or tacky to others.

But don’t be a total Scrooge either. Keep it simple and professional: say Merry Christmas to your current clients and save the heavy selling for the New Year.

2. Update your business hours

If you’re shutting up shop for the Christmas holidays make sure to update your opening hours. It’s unlikely that you’ll receive enquiries at this time, but if potential clients don’t know you’re closed, you could lose out on potential leads.

Quick Tip: Make sure you update your opening hours across all your visible platforms: your website; LinkedIn; Google My Business; Facebook or any others you may have.

3. Schedule your Christmas marketing

You might have specific events, offers or updates to share over the Christmas holiday, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your hard earned holiday hunched over your laptop. Twitter has a new feature that allows you to schedule tweets for a later date from its desktop app. Other tools, like Hootsuite, allow you to schedule posts on many more platforms. Similarly, Mailchimp can schedule any seasonal emails, and social media posts, you might want to send to your clients. If you make good use of these marketing automation tools, you might even be able to close your laptop for a while.

4. Take a break!

Okay, now you can put your feet up. No, really. Why not close your laptop as well? It can be hard for small business owners to switch off, but if you don’t your family won’t be happy and you will get both cranky and tired. Follow the advice given in the previous points and you can afford to relax. If you’re not open for business, there’s no point in marketing. Over the holidays, your prospects aren’t buying and you’re not selling, so ease off the promotion. Remember that you are one of the company’s biggest assets! Save yourself from burning out and switch off, even if it’s just for a little while.

5. Strategise for the year ahead

Once you’ve taken some family time, you can, if you wish, go back to work. It’s worth taking some time during your quietest couple of weeks to take a birds-eye-view of your marketing strategy. Make use of free analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to see what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. With the New Year just around the corner it’s the best time to pivot your strategy, to double up on what works and cut out what doesn’t.

 

That concludes our five steps to help you market over Christmas, and hopefully enjoy a bit more of your holiday. The main thing to remember is that there’s no point marketing if you’re not currently selling! 

Instead, to recap:

  • Update your opening hours and let your clients know when you’re closed.
  • Queue any necessary social posts or emails via automation tools.
  • Take a moment to measure, assess and plan your marketing for next year.
  • Rest and recuperate for a busy new business year!

We hope this helps and gives you a very Merry Christmas!