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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.

 

Which marketing activity delivers the best return on investment?

There are three ways to improve your bottom line with maximised profits:

  1. Sell more stuff
  2. Reduce the cost of making and delivering the stuff
  3. Reduce your below the line costs

Lets concentrate on No.1

In order to sell more stuff you need to have more opportunities (or sell larger quantities, but we’ll ignore that for now as well) to sell.  This means making more people aware of your ability to supply said stuff and provide sufficient evidence that your stuff is great. In other words you need better marketing.

The question is: How do you make your marketing better?

or, more precisely, how do you get a better return on investment from your marketing resources – both time and money?

There is, thankfully, a very simple answer to that: concentrate on the marketing activities that deliver the best ROI.

Lets look at this in more detail.

Imagine that you use five different marketing activities to generate your sales opportunities:

  1. Pay Per Click advertising
  2. Networking
  3. Yellow Pages
  4. Telemarketing
  5. Social media

Presuming you know how each of your sales opportunities happened upon you (you do know this don’t you?) you can track their path through your pipeline, see how many opportunities from each marketing activity turn into sales, and then compare the total sales value (for each activity) to the money you spent.

You now know which marketing activities are delivering the best, and worst, ROI.

So, in order to improve the bottom line you simply have to concentrate your budget on the best performing marketing activities.  More sales opportunities should deliver more sales, with the money flowing down to the bottom line.

I hope this helps and gives you something to think about over Christmas and the New Year

Merry Christmas

Five great sources of market information

When looking to expand your business, it’s vital that you research the market and the opportunity.  If you don’t there is a chance that your business expansion plans don’t deliver the business growth you are looking for.  The question is: where do you go to understand the size of the opportunity?

Here are five really good sources of quantitative information:

1. The Office Of National Statistics

Want to know about the businesses in your county, borough or town; look no further. ONS will provide information by industry, by size, by age and a whole lot more.

2. LinkedIn Search

How many, for example, solicitors are there within 10 miles of your office? Don’t know – used LinkedIn to find out.  With over 7 million people in the UK on LinkedIn and 141,842 UK companies  it is a great source.  Want to know if they are in private practice or within a commercial organisation – simple use another filter.

Just in case you wanted to know, there are 5,404 solicitors within 10 miles of my postcode.

3. CreditSafe

Is your prospective client creditworthy? How much money did they make/lose last year? You can find out here.  There are plenty of other similar sites out there but this is one of the best.  It’s a paid for service but it will tell you what you want to know about your clients and prospects.

4. Companies House

Don’t want to subscribe to an annual service – go PAYG instead at Companies House. Annual Reports direct from Companies House are just £1 each.

5. Facebook Ads

You don’t need to spend any money to get numbers from Facebook.  With 35 million UK adults regularly using Facebook where’s better to get information about the consumer market?

Set up a Facebook Ads account (no charge) and use the plethora of filters to understand how big your target market is. If you think of all the information you put into Facebook, that’s the number of filters you can apply to really target your search.

 

Wanna cut your marketing budget?

In periods of recession there are two budgets that traditionally get cut – training and marketing.

The argument that always goes back to the Finance or Managing Directors is that by cutting either of these budgets, you are damaging the company’s ability to move forward.  If you cut the training budget there is a good chance that the quality of customer service will slip. If customer service slips, customers generally go to another provider of your service or product. If you cut the marketing budget, how do you effectively talk to your current and prospective customers to maximise your profitability?

Sometimes there is simply no alternative but to cut the marketing budget and then the problem is what do you cut?

Henry Ford (cars) and John Wanamaker (retail) are just two highly successful people who said they know half their advertising was wasted, just not which half.  the problem then is what do you cut when you have to in order to save money?

For B2B companies I believe there is a simple and effective way of knowing what marketing works, and therefore should be kept, and what doesn’t work – and so can be cut:

ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS

Whenever you talk to a customer, particularly when they call you as a new prospect, ask what prompted them to call you.  Although I am sure there have been multiple touches, there will usually be one that sticks in the customer’s mind and, in my opinion, that is the one that counts.  Record that answer in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, in your Excel spreadsheet or wherever you keep your prospect list.  You can then analyse the data, understand your marketing performance and then make the decisions you need to.

If you have to cut money from the marketing budget, it would be mad to reduce the spend on the activities that are bringing in the money but it makes absolute sense to cut, or re-direct, the money that isn’t generating the return on investment you need.

If you would like some assistance in identifying what could be cut, give me a call or click here and I will call you

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Telling the right stories

Are you telling the right stories?

Everyone likes a story.  My little girl is obsessed with Goldilocks & the three bears at the moment and I love a Tom Clancy when I can find the time.

Buyers like to hear a good story when it benefits them, but what do you tell them?  What do they want to hear?

They want to hear stories about something that will benefit them, something that will help their company and, if possible, something that will make them look good to their boss.

Too many companies tell a story that contains these chapters:

  • Chapter One: our company has been around for a squillion years – so you can trust us
  • Chapter Two: our company makes all these widgets – aren’t they pretty
  • Chapter Three: our widgets come in red, green, blue and pink – which one do you like?
  • Chapter Four: our widgets are really cheap – how many do you want?
  • The End

Thrilling or what!

If the story went something like this:

  • Chapter One: our company’s widgets have helped 10 companies just like yours
  • Chapter Two: the little blue widget saved a company lots of money
  • Chapter Three: the little red widget helped a company improve its profitability
  • Chapter Four:  the little pink widget found them loads more customers

I reckon that Chapter Five would be about which widget the buyer wanted, when he wanted it and how much he wanted to pay for it.

The morale here- if you’re telling the right stories so that you help the buyer see what your widget can do for them. Include them in your small business marketing and you will see more leads and greater marketing performance.

Understanding your customers

Understanding your customers to improve your small business marketing

There are any number of phrases around the importance of your customers:

  • It costs 10x more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one
  • a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • A happy customer talks to two people; an unhappy one talks to everybody

These are just some that relate and I am sure you can suggest many more (answers on a postcard please) and they are all so true.

Customer Understanding is a “measure” function that should be undertaken periodically.  The first time gives you a base, from which to start.  The 2nd, 3rd and ongoing measures provide you with a performance review and a good picture of what sort of service you are delivering.

Let’s start at the beginning (more to follow):

How many customers do you have?

Has your customer count increased or decreased compared to last year and the year before?  The last couple of years have been difficult for a great many businesses and so it is expected that customer numbers will have dropped.  Many companies have been extremely happy to see their customer numbers simply remain stable; a great many have also seem them tumble and are struggling.

Within your customer count, has the average spend increased or decreased? A decreased spend is usually bad news but it will depend on what they are buying and, more importantly, how profitable those products or services are.

How profitable are your individual clients?  Do your clients follow the Pareto’s 80:20 rule?  Do you have 20% of your clients that generate 80% of your profit?  If this is the case, what individual contributions to the 80%, that make up 20% of your profits, actually contribute? If there are clients who are costing you money, why haven’t you dumped them? I am sure you can think of better ways to use the money they are costing you.

None of this is that difficult to measure, if your finance people have a good understanding of the costs within your business.  The first time may take a bit of time to calculate the results but, I promise you, it will get easier.

Why do this?  Simple: because companies that end up relying on a small number of customers for a large part of their profits run a real risk of the business failing.