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 […]
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
Are you communicating effectively with those you know are highly likely to open your emails?
I am sure already know that it is far easier to sell to current clients than it is to new ones, but the key is knowing what to talk to them about.
Now I could then start discussing the quality of your account management and how will they know their clients, what the plans each client had for the next two years and where they are in their planning, but I won’t. What I will say is how many of your clients know about everything you sell and how many of them buy everything you sell?
Without a good picture of who is buying what and who knows about what, you cannot have a relevant conversation. If that conversation is irrelevant, it is highly unlikely to produce the result you are looking for.
Working all of this out is relatively easy but I must warn you, it can lead to identification of issues, particularly within your billing. Let me explain.
The easiest way to calculate who is buying what is via your invoicing. Using this instead of trying to do it from memory ensures accuracy and shows you the true value of each relationship. The problem comes when you see some of the, shall we say eccentricities that occur in your invoicing. Terminology often varies dramatically, as does categorisation and even values. I’ve often found invoices where the decimal point is too far left, meaning you’ve missed out on £100 ‘ s (if not more).
This leads to a project of billing standardisation but that’s another blog altogether.
Once you have the list of who has bought what from you, it’s much easier to then shape your marketing communications to ensure the right people know about the products or services.
I know I’ve written about this before but I thought I would add a little more as it has arisen a number of times recently in conversation with prospects and clients.
In order to effectively market your services you need an accurate description of your ideal client(s). If you target multiple audiences, simply do this for each audience.
A basic description would consist of eight points:
- Job Title
- Company Name
- Company Size – revenue and staff count
- Office address
- Incorporation date
- What do they sell?
- Who do they sell it to?
When I say this to some people they ask why do they need to be so specific; why the name? For me it helps to picture the person when developing a marketing strategy to target your ideal client. Obviously you aren’t looking to only talk to one specific company, but there will be a good number of companies with very similar profiles.
If you enjoy networking, whether online or in person, knowing the job title will help you choose the best events or discussion groups to attend or take part in. The same goes for what they sell and who they sell to. If you are a regular member of networking groups such as BNI, the job title, company name and industry sector will help your fellow members to make better referrals.
The job title, company size and incorporation date will help you identify what’s important to them and the issues they face and how you can help them.
When was the last time you asked a client for feedback on the quality of the work you did for them?
What do your clients think about you? Do you know?
The more you understand about how your work is perceived, the better your work will become and the results of asking for feedback will help your marketing too.
The feedback will be somewhere between love and loathe and hopefully much closer to love than loathe. The closer to love it gets, the more you can ask for to help with your marketing.
When was the last time you asked a client for:
- a personal recommendation on LinkedIn?
- a referral to a connection of theirs who could use your services?
- a services recommendation on your LinkedIn Company Page?
- a testimonial?
- a case study about the project you’ve just delivered?
- a video testimonial?
All of the above support your marketing and provide a little extra proof that you do a great job. The more of it is available for prospects to read, the more likely they are to pick up the phone and ask you to help them.
Of course, there is a chance that the feedback will be closer to loathe than love. In some ways this is the best feedback because it gives you an opportunity to improve. You may even get a chance to improve your performance for that client, but even if you don’t the feedback will be invaluable for when you start work with your next client.
Either way, make sure you thank them for the feedback as they have helped you, no matter what they actually say.
Your parents were right!
When we’re little, one of the first things we are taught is the importance of please and thank you. As we grew up our parents constantly reminded us when we forgot to use the words. Now we are all grown up, there are few people (except maybe your wife) who will remind you.
That’s a pity as they are just as important and will go a long way when you are managing the relationship with your clients. Right from the start, we should ensure the simple politeness is maintained.
Thanking a new client will give them confidence that they made the right decision in choosing you.
Write, or maybe call, and thank them for payment of your invoice, no matter whether it is early, on time or late. It is another opportunity to talk to them and build the relationship and maybe even talk about the next project you can deliver for them.
Even at the end, make sure of thank them for the business. Assuming it has been a completely acrimonious breakdown in the relationship, it leaves the door open for them to return to you if they need your services again or their new supplier fails to live up to their promises – the grass isn’t always greener……….
Christmas is often the time when people think about thanking their clients but may I make a suggestion? If you thank them throughout the year, you probably won’t have to fork out as much money at Christmas on gifts that may well get lost in the pile of other gift from our suppliers. If you do want to buy them a gift, make it at another time of the year so that it stands out from the crowd.
Look at it this way: it costs nothing to say thank you and could well lead to a whole pile of goodwill and new business from your current clients.
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.
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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