Tag Archives for " marketing "

Business Development Strategies

Business Development Strategy

Are you struggling to convert leads into prospects, and prospects into customers?

Have you depended on referrals & word of mouth as your only source of generating new business? It might seem like an easy way to win clients, but there are some major flaws to it too (as have been highlighted during this pandemic!).

In this week's episode of the Agency Accelerator Podcast, I talk about why relying on referrals & word of mouth as your major business development strategy can be a fatal mistake, and talk about some key proactive marketing & business development strategies you should always be focusing on.

[1:58] The two major flaws about relying on just referrals or word of mouth

[3:19] Understanding Your Target Niche

[3:54] Identifying your Ideal Target Customers

[4:19] Marketing advice to agency owners

[6:32] Moving your audience through 3 stages of getting to know, like and trust you to buy from you

[7:39} Recognising that the Sales Cycle rarely very short

[8:27] Creating Value-Added Content

[9:35] Taking a Value Selling Approach

[10:11] Converting Leads to Customers

[11:51] An idea for a re-engagement campaign with past clients to generate some immediate business

[13:13] Using LinkedIn as an outreach platform

[14:39] Interviewing Dan Englander in the next week's podcast

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Get rich QUICK in 2019 (but sadly not with me)

Get rich quick

Is 2019 going to be the year you get rich?  It seems everywhere you look there is someone on social promising you a way to effortlessly earn 6 and 7 figure sums of money. If I am honest, I have almost fallen for it – with compelling messaging and stories of how the writer was poor until they discovered this one magical method, that no one else is doing – and now they want to share it with you………for a fee (of course!).

Here is such a message I received today ‘Learn …5 ways to hit a million in 2019…!!!’

Yet if it seems too good to be true, then undoubtedly it will be.  It’s one of the harsh realities I have learned since I have been selling my online leadership & management courses – that being, there is no such thing as a quick rich scheme and if you are considering clicking on one of the many promises of ‘6 steps to earning a 7-figure income in the next 30 days’ then let me save you the disappointment and tell you it will fail.

The secret to success

There is no magic bullet, just loads of marketing hype that fails to deliver, and lots of new channels to reach your audience (just think of the days before social media, AdWords, Facebook ads etc. etc.).  Yet the same methods for successful sales and marketing 10 years ago, still apply today.  The only activities you need to focus on are finding your niche audience, offering a truly value added service or product to them, and then be really consistent about communicating with that audience.

Remember you need to take your target customer on their buyer’s journey:

  • That starts with building awareness of you and your product/service
  • Then build empathy by showing them you really understand their challenges
  • Then build trust and credibility by discussing previous clients you have solved this for
  • And FINALLY, you can start selling to them (because they will be aware of you and be interested in what you have to say)

The reality

So, sorry to burst your bubble if you have been enticed (as I have) by sexy promises you read on Facebook or LinkedIn, they won’t work (or they haven’t told you the whole story).  To help me find the best and most successful methods for marketing, I always use this equation: ‘is the effort in less than the results out?’.  If this answer is no (e.g. investing a lot of time going to twice weekly networking events that deliver little in the way of opportunities) then I stop doing it.  If this answer is Yes (e.g. sending out regular useful and thought provoking emails (as I hope this one is!)) then I do more of it and do it consistently.

Sales is a simple equation


Clients often hope I have the ‘magic bullet’ solution to helping them achieve their revenue and sales goals.  Indeed, generating sales and putting marketing strategies together is often part of the conversation and work we do together.  The reality is there is no magic bullet (otherwise I would be very rich) but having said that some activities are more successful than others.

All businesses need to apply a simple equation: the effort you put in has to be less the results you generate and every sales & marketing activity should be measured against this (to help you determine if you should do more or less of said activity).

Unfortunately, many organisations blindly continue to invest time in activities that are the reverse of this equation and they take a great deal of time and generate little.  Why?  Because that is what they always do.  I recently had a conversation with someone about networking.  This person went to a weekly networking event, taking a chunk of time out of her day, but couldn’t really quantify the outcomes.  Her justification for going was that we always go to this event because our competition do!

So, the first thing that needs to be done is to work out the goals you are trying to achieve from a sales or marketing activity.  After all, if you can’t or don’t measure it, how do you know if it’s successful?

Here is a story on this point:

A company takes an exhibition stand at a conference.  It costs £25,000.  At the end of the conference:

  • Marketing thinks it was a great success, great branding and they received good compliments
  • Sales got 70 leads so feel pretty good
  • Sales Director is disappointed since 6 weeks later and only 3 serious opportunities can be attributed back to this event
  • Finance thinks £25k is a lot to spend
  • MD asking what was the return on investment?

My question to you: Should they do this again next year?

Without clear goals at the start it is impossible to know but based on the above Effort in definitely was not less than the results out (and when you factor in the indirect costs of people’s time as well as the direct costs, this was a significant investment).

My message is: set some measurable KPIs before you start the activity and get everyone on the same page so that you can easily measure the outcomes.  It’s a good discipline to get into that will allow you to measure this equation and make a judgement on whether you should do more or do less of this type of activity.

As I said at the start of this blog, this is an area I work with many clients on so if you would like to have a chat, please drop me a line.

Why customer personas aren’t just a marketing fad

Implementing strategy with Da Costa Coaching

A bug bear of mine is that so many websites are written from the perspective of the company rather than the customer.  So for example, the format for a typical website is “We do this and we do that, click here to find out more”.  This, like much marketing, is written from a company centric perspective yet it isn’t rocket science to realise that in order to keep the interest of the reader, all marketing should be client centric.  If you buy into this then you will also understand that in order to be customer centric, you have to have detailed knowledge of your customers – and the latest term for this is Customer Personas.

Your customer personas describe your typical client and will probably cover 80% of your client base.  If you get an understanding of who they are, their key challenges and drivers – then you bring them to life and will find it much easier when producing marketing or content to consider with whom you want to engage.  Let’s take me,  I have 3:

David (50 years old) the CEO of mid sized business (25-200 staff) – He is the driving force of the business with clear vision and ambition to grow the business. He doesn’t always communicate with the rest of the staff/management team that well. He isn’t always patient with staff and his ambitions sometimes leave rest of business behind and looks for external help around people and infrastructure.

Jane (40 years old) Owner/Manager of small business – Enjoys the rewards of working hard including eating out and nice holidays. Gets frustrated that her staff don’t always get it. Keen to delegate more but doesn’t have the right level of management team beneath her. Surrounds herself with a great external network of mentors, coaches and allies. Frustrated that the business takes one step forward and one step back so looks for external help.

Sarah (35 years old), HR Director/manager of mid sized business – Trying to deliver the people agenda for ambitious companies. Can sometimes be a lone voice when the business is moving too fast without considering the people/infrastructure. Turns to coaching to support the development of senior teams but also can be the person tasked with finding a coach.

When I am writing (including this blog), I first consider who I want to engage with (which will rarely be all 3) and then what their challenges are around the particular topic I am writing about.  I can then consider the key words they might type into Google and so on.  If you want to read more about this, download this whitepaper from my client, Southerly Communications.  If you want some help with yours, then get in touch.

So whilst the term customer persona is relatively new, the ideas around it aren’t (and they are very sound).  Is your business clear about your personas?  Is your marketing communications company- or customer- focused?

Get your social media presence sorted (part 2)

Social Media contacts - Da Costa Coaching

I wrote on this topic a while back and since it was really popular, I thought I would add some further thoughts.

In the 21st century, a crucial part of attracting and retaining the best staff is to ensure you have a strong, clear and up to date online presence. The Z Generation (those born after the millennium) sees social media at the centre of their communities. A report by Sparks & Honey, a US advertising agency describes this generation as the “first tribe of true digital natives” or “screenagers”. But unlike the older Gen Y, they are smarter, safer, more mature and want to change the world. This is also why CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies are more than just good for positive PR but crucial for attracting and retaining the younger, Z generation who want to “make a difference in the world”.

Glassdoor Research shows that when candidates have access to information about a job and company—before deciding whether to apply or accept a job offer—employers have seen an average of 22 percent reduction in turnover. The tide is already shifting with employees having more voice with the social channels. Review portals like Glassdoor and independent surveys that rank companies in terms of employee satisfaction have become important tools for potential employees checking out employers.

Of course your social media presence isn’t just about staff, it has to engage with all your stakeholders, including current and potential customers. The importance of social media is not just because of the Z-Gens but also due to the prominence of mobile devices and the X gens/baby boomers also using social media more frequently.

The success gap is widening between businesses that are using social media in an informal, ad hoc manner and those taking a more planned, strategic approach.

This has significant implications:

  • Businesses that use social media strategically are more satisfied with the results than ad hoc users, who are more skeptical about the value of social media.
  • Businesses that use social media as part of a planned corporate approach are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to anticipate revenue growth than ad hoc users.

So how does your social media strategy fit in with your marketing plan – and how strategic v adhoc is it? And how are you measuring and adapting your online presence? Want to find out more then get in touch.

Get your social media presence sorted

staff retention

2015 will prove an challenging year for attracting and retaining top talent.  As part of this, a key agenda activity for HR and marketing will be to ensure your social media presence is up to date, attractive and reflective of the aspirations of your business.

The next generation of job seekers are looking beyond job boards and now engages with potential employers on social media sites.  Glassdoor research shows that when candidates have access to information about a job and company, before deciding whether to apply or accept a job offer, employers have seen an average of 22 percent reduction in turnover. The tide is already shifting with employees having more voice with the social channels through review portals like Glassdoor and independent surveys that rank companies in terms of employee satisfaction.

So does your social media presence reflect the image you want to give to a potential new employee?

Here are a few thoughts:

Twitter – an excellent way to communicate to lots of candidates. Here’s a few pointers to get you started:

  • Mix it up a bit: Mix your tweets up to keep your followers engaged. Try tweeting industry and company news, as well as careers advice and current vacancies.
  • Get everyone tweeting: This gives a good perception of collaboration and personality which are attractive traits from a jobseeker’s perspective.
  • Set up a schedule: Tweeting too regularly can be annoying. Aim for once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.
  • Re-tweet others: It’s not all about you. Re-tweet others to build credibility and trust.

Facebook – is a perfect medium to give your employer brand a boost. Here’s how to make it work for you:

  • Share photos: Share photos of events, charity fundraisers, employee birthdays and award ceremonies.
  • Communicate in a human way: If jobseekers post questions respond in a friendly way.
  • Get people talking: Don’t just shout about how great you are. Post useful content for your fans and ask questions to get the conversation going.
  • Make it a team effort: Give your colleagues the freedom to contribute to your page.  Satisfied and happy employees are the best brand ambassadors out there.

LinkedIn – is a great way to build your company’s credibility in the eyes of the job seeker. Here’s how:

  • Create a company page: You can attract followers, create a careers section and update your company status.
  • Join relevant groups: Join in the conversation and then promote your company as an employer of choice by contributing to discussions, providing advice and sharing news.
  • Create a company group: This is an excellent way to help prospective employees feel a sense of belonging long before the application process begins.

Let’s discuss how this works for your business.

Da Costa Coaching helps position Harris Kalinka for success

Harris Kalinka is a visualisation company specialising in bringing to life golf and architecture designs and ideas. They have offices based in the UK, Latvia and China.

The business had developed two distinct business streams that over time developed into 2 brands, 2 websites and 2 businesses to run. They approached Da Costa Coaching to help figure a way to combine the brands and simplify the running and marketing of the business.

Rob spent time working with the directors to establish their true market differentiators and what the common denominators were to both their businesses. It was agreed that ‘telling stories using images and animation’ was both important to the client and what HK is passionate about (after all, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’) and this commonality led to the merging of the two brands into one – including developing a new combined website.

hainan-golf-course-visualisation-hole-7-940x529Andrew Harris, MD of Harris Kalinka commented, “We knew we needed to combine the brands but had struggled to find a way to do so – including seeking external help prior to engaging with Da Costa Coaching. Rob helped us stand back, take a look at our business and the market place and ultimately make decisions with confidence.”

Andrew approached Rob because of his extensive background in the marketing, positioning and branding world (20+ year’s experience including 11 running his own marketing agency) together with his reputation as a pragmatic business coach.

The coaching intervention took place over a 6-month period and involved monthly face-to-face sessions together with reviewing documents and support between meetings.

At the end of the process Harris Kalinka has a new website that they are proud of, brings all their brands and services under one roof and is starting to get noticed and generate new business opportunities. They also have a clear vision and clear direction for the future.

Andrew Harris said of the experience and results, “Working with Rob was worth the investment both in our time and money. His pragmatic no nonsense approach both challenged us and got us thinking in new ways. Engaging with a coach was a worthwhile activity that delivered exactly what we wanted and needed.

You can learn more about Harris Kalinka by clicking here

Make it clear!

See further with Business Coaching

I have found in business that when we keep things simple; using plain English, clients can better understand how to apply the ideas to their business.

I was with a client last week who had been asked to write a business plan by their bank.  When I asked the client why they have to do this they couldn’t tell me but showed me a complex template they needed to complete that clearly wasn’t going to be useful for them in the longer term in business but was just a ‘tick box’ exercise for the bank. On a score of 1 to 10, how useful is this?  1?

As opposed to sounding smart by using MBA language that no one understands, sometimes by going back to basics we get a wider understanding and buy in.

Let’s use an example:  Business Strategy

I googled this and Wikipedia’s definition is ‘Business strategy is a field that deals with the major intended and emergent initiatives taken by general managers on behalf of owners, involving utilization of resources, to enhance the performance of firms in their external environments’

Wow I am already confused!  Does that motivate me to want to go further?  No.  Imagine, as a business coach, if I used that type of language with a client?  I might sound smart but I wouldn’t last long!

When I explain what Business Strategy is to a client I simply explain it as ‘everything that you do in your business that helps you earn money in the future’ (or Revenue is ‘money today’ and Strategy is ‘money tomorrow’).  Now does that make more sense?

These simple and clear definitions help clients understand what strategy means and therefore how they should spend their time when doing ‘strategy work’. It becomes much easier for a client to list the type of activities that falls within this category and allocate sufficient time to do them – rather than shy away from business strategy because it sounds too complicated.

The moral of this story is that if we keep our language simple in business, we create better understanding, a common language and a focused, aligned and motivated workforce. So do you apply this when developing your marketing messages and all other external communications?  Let me know what you think and don’t forget you can download a range of useful whitepapers by clicking here