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How to manage your marketing over the Christmas period

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!

The power of brand knowledge

How can small businesses utilise the power of brand knowledge?

Knowledge is Power. That’s a phrase we have many times over but how does it connect to you as a small business in an ocean of competition fighting for the same space in the minds of your target audience?  Through harnessing the power of brand knowledge, this blog answers that exact question.

This post answers it above by providing a pyramid which consists of four brand developmental building blocks that helps to positively establish your brand in the minds of your clients. 

Why is this helpful you ask?  

Each stage of this pyramid has its own rewards and merits as it helps you to build aspects of your brand which are covered below. This culminates in gaining active, loyal, and recurring clients, who also share the benefits of partnering with you to those around them. 

Brand Resonance Pyramid building blocks

Step 1 – Identity 

Firstly, we start with salience, the fundamental foundation for all the other brand building blocksSalience is the ability for a small business to build a detailed firm awareness of our business in their headsKnowledge from the perspective of a small business is in how you convey who you are to your clients. Who you are is dependent on how clients recognise you when you come to their minds.  

The biggest businesses and brands in the world all had to start with being recognisable. When we think of some of the largest B2B brands such as IBM or Adobe, the performance of their products would mean absolutely nothing if you didn’t initially recognise them! 

Once you reach the point of salience, you become a part of the mental conversation of a client that gives you the potential to gain opportunities to business growth and awareness! 

Step 2 – Meaning 

Simply being recognised isn’t enough though, once you achieve the base of brand knowledge in salience, clients then search for the meaning of your brand and consider is it matches their needs and wants.  

This can be surmised by the next question that forms in the minds of potential clients; ‘what are you?’ 

What your business isis dependent on how you meet the needs of your clients in terms of product or service performance, as well as socially and psychologically. 

One fantastic example that allows you to express the meaning of your small business is through providing case studies and testimonials. This covers both the performance and provides positive imagery of what it means to do business with you. 

Step 3 – Response 

Following this, clients will make judgements about your business and construct feelings towards your brand: 

  • They will assess the quality of the product or service; the actual quality, as well as the perceived quality based on your marketing message 
  • They will also consider the level of credibility your business has through three key criteria: the level of expertise, the amount of trustworthiness and through the extent of likeability 
  • Consequently, clients will weigh up the level of relevancy your product or service has towards their needs and wants 
  • Finally, clients will measure you against potential competitors and consider what competitive advantages you have that makes you the superior choice to select 

Clients will have formed these judgements based on the quality and likeability factors you have provided in your marketing messaging or through referrals 

You will know you have reached this stage because clients will be making enquiries, as well as increase their levels of engagement on platforms such as social media or by click-throughs on email newsletters. 

Step 4 – Relationships 

Once you show this level of knowledge through your marketing communications, you reach the pinnacle of the pyramid, brand resonance. 

This is the place all small businesses will want to reach because once you reach this stage; it activates four crucial factors: 

  • A fierce loyalty which results in recurring clients and purchases 
  • It evokes a strong attachment and trust in which they consider it a ‘special’ engagement 
  • You develop a powerful sense of community amongst your clients who feel like they are part of a business ‘family’ who share similar values and understanding 
  • Clients remain actively engaged which is the strongest form of resonance as they carry the business values and vision as an ambassador into their personal conversations and engagements, this is one of the strongest forms of word-of-mouth marketing and is viewed as sincere and authentic by those that hear of your business  

Similar to stage 3, as a small business, it will become evident you have reached resonance through seeing increased engagement from clients, but on top of this, they will carry your brand strengths and values in conversations, both online and offline if the occasion occurs where your brand is recalled or relevant to the discussion. 

What does all this mean?   

Once you have achieved all 4 stages, the relationship your clients have with you, and your brand, will both increase the frequency they refer you within their network. Furthermore, they remain a loyal client for a long time to come.

Transmitting knowledge is a key cornerstone in building a healthy flourishing business, and at SME Needs we have the rights tool, connections and listening skills to share your vision with your potential customers.

How to maximise ROI from exhibiting at trade shows

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.

 

 

Switching suppliers – the buyer’s perspective

which supplier - from the buyer's perspective

When was the last time you looked at yourselves from the buyer’s perspective?

We asked one of our clients if we could talk to one of their recent prospects (they closed the deal). We wanted to better understand what was important to the 1st contact and the way they went through the process of searching for a new supplier.  This is what she had to say:

As the office manager at my firm, my Managing Director told me to find us a new supplier. The current supplier was failing to provide the service we needed. The responsibility to look for a new provider fell to me, but I was completely snowed under with work. I had a really limited time to shop around.

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7 reasons why your business must have a marketing budget

image of multiple £20 notes to illustrate article about marketing budgetsYou must market your business if you want to attract new prospects and then convert them into new clients. So why it is that less than 50% of small businesses have a marketing budget?
If you want to achieve the growth targets you have set for your business, these are the 7 reasons why you must have a marketing budget. Read more