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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 […]

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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Listen to improve your marketing

Marketing is often considered to be more about talking than listening. Whilst the talking is important, learning to listen can help you in numerous ways. Let’s have a look at how we believe listening can help your marketing performance.

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From Ideal Client to Target Audience

Moving from Ideal Client to Target Audience

Last week’s blog defined an Ideal Client and the fact that having a solid definition of who (it is always a who) is your Ideal Client helps you to focus your marketing and be more effective. Now let’s look at what happens when you market to this highly focused group.

Let’s define your target audience as HR Directors of UK companies in Information Technology.

Let’s imagine your service helps HR Directors to assess the skills and attitude of developers via an online portal. Although there are lots of developers out there, finding one with the right mix of skills is not easy. Your reason for targeting companies with HR Directors is purely size.  These companies probably recruit developers regularly as they look to grow their development team or simply replace those that leave.
LinkedInAccording to LinkedIn, there are currently 532 in the UK-based HR Directors of IT companies.

You have developed a series of key messages that talk of how you can help these HR Directors. You have a convincing set of evidence which proves you can walk the walk. Your marketing programme aims directly at these 532 (or more) HR Directors of UK-based IT companies.

Let’s now look at who else your key messages are likely to resonate with:

 

UK HR Directors

Depending upon just how your application is written, I am sure that every other HR Director in the country also worries about recruiting the right people with the right skills and attitude.

Maybe you’ve done some work for companies who aren’t in the IT sector and could use that evidence to talk to other HR Directors if they get in touch.

There are 4,066 HR Directors in the UK.

UK HR Managers

Companies that don’t put enough credence into the HR role may only have a HR Manager, or they may be a little smaller than your Ideal Client. They still have issues in recruiting good staff and your application may be able to help them.

There are 58,932 HR Managers in the UK

So far we haven’t even left the UK and the marketing programme you develop to focus on just 532 people may resonate with a further 63,000 people.

Your outbound marketing will be aimed specifically at your core audience, but the supporting content marketing and inbound activity is highly likely to generate 78 enquiries from within this audience of 63,000.

Would you turn them away?

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.

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.

What does your ideal client look like?

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:

  1. Name
  2. Job Title
  3. Company Name
  4. Company Size – revenue and staff count
  5. Office address
  6. Incorporation date
  7. What do they sell?
  8. 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.

How to develop your elevator pitch

If you had 60 seconds with your perfect client, what would you say?

How would you explain just why your company is perfect for supply just what they need?

Would you describe what you do or would you how you’ve helped other clients recently?

If you describe what you do (the features) you are asking your perfect client to work out for themselves just how your services will help them. If you describe just how you’ve helped others, not only do you make it easier for them to understand how you can help, but you give evidence that you can deliver a great job.

Which do you think will help your sales process more?

The question is what do you say and how do you ensure they will remember you?

My suggestion for what your elevator pitch should contain:

  • 20 seconds on the benefits of using your services
  • 30 seconds on an example of how you’ve helped others in the past
  • 10 seconds on a strapline that is memorable
If you’ve got it right they should be asking for, or giving, a business card about now so that further conversations can be had. If not, your elevator pitch probably needs some work.
I am sure you’ve heard something like this before but it is still great advice and so worth repeating.

 

What do your clients think about you?

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.