The fundamental flaw with many company’s new business strategies is that they do an intensive burst of communications to create some engagement and interest with their target customer, and hope that is enough to generate sales. Sadly they will be dissappointed. It’s not how marketing works.
Think right now of your top 3 favourite brands of car or perfume. It’s no doubt easy to think of 3 but maybe harder to think of 4, 5 or 6. So the question is, are you one of your target audience’s top 3 brands? If not, they won’t remember you (and therefore won’t buy from you).
So what do we need to do to stay at front of mind with our potential customers? Here are 5 things to consider:
It’s about saying the right things to the right audience AT THE RIGHT TIME. You have to be present for them at the right time – when they have an issue, challenge or problem that your product or service can solve.
Think of it this way – every time you communicate with your target audience, you refill the sand timer – and from that moment on, it begins to empy. If you haven’t communicated again with your client; reminding them who you are and how you can help them BEFORE the sand timer runs out, then when they need your services, they will have forgotten you.
Many businesses have peaks (and therefore troughs) in their marketing communications activities (for instance, a a new product launch) and then things tail off. It’s great to have a burst but you need to continue it consisently. Remember the sand timer? Well this burst approach will ensure it runs out before your next big push and that means the client has forgotten you.
This is a tough one. There are lots and lots of channels you could be using to engage with your clients but my advice is find the few (that your clients use) that you can use well and consistently – and focus on them, rather than getting sidetracked by the latest marketing tool, new piece of software or channel.
Less is more and keep it simple are 2 thoughts that spring to mind here.
If you want to keep the sand timer filled then plan ahead. This is why a marketing strategy and a marketing plan (and a content plan) is crucial – it tells you the best ways to reach your target audience and how & what you are going to say to them, and when. This ensures you are consistent with your audience communications, and you create messages that resonate with them (not just sales messages but genuinely adding value).
Most of my target audience knows this (after all it’s what they do for a lot of their clients) but it doesn’t mean they do it! Often my job is to hold a mirror up to the client and remind them what they already know! I often say, I am not teaching you anything new, just reminding you what you already know and holding you to account to do it!
Let me end by asking you a question, what do you do to keep your prospect’s sand timer filled so they never forget you, and consequently you are there when they need your service? Drop me your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Since we are just starting our new year, I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on 2018 and share with you the reoccurring themes and biggest business challenges that came up time and time again during my coaching sessions with clients. So here are my top 5 (I would bet most of these were and are relevant to you in 2019).
This is usually a question that is asked early on and one of the reasons for engaging with a coach such as me.
In the agency world, there seems to be a constant mismatch between being super busy, working long hours and yet, not being profitable enough. This results in lack of investment in the business, not enough hours for the owner to work on their business, high staff turnover (if you have staff) and burnout.
As my clients know, the answer to this, whilst it’s not one thing, is definitely to sell value, outcomes and transformations and NOT time.
This kind of goes hand in hand with one because if you are run ragged servicing low paying challenging clients then you will have little time for new business. So firstly, get that right so you have time to look for new business.
Secondly, know your customers (define your customer personas). Understand their challenges (that you can solve) and market yourself against these challenges (rather than telling them how wonderful you are).
Understand their buying habits so you know where they ‘hang out’ (networking?, LinkedIn?, Facebook ads? (yep they can work for business) and so on).
Give away some value for free to demonstrate your credibility (such as a blog like this one) and build rapport with them through regular communications.
Like all the issues, this is a big one with a long answer. So let me give you a few quick thoughts on this:
This is all about getting your structure/infrastructure right, so you have room for growth. I always tell my clients to build their business structures today for the business they want to be tomorrow – that way you can grow in a managed sustainable way. If you don’t have the structures in place and grow rapidly, you are just as likely to shrink as rapidly – and have a stressful time in doing so!
So they are the top 5 challenges that I helped my clients solve in 2018. Will they be the same in 2019? Did I miss anything? Do let me know by dropping a comment or sending me a message.
We all know that in many aspects of the marketing world, return on investment (ROI) is hard to measure and whilst it might win you business, it also helps you lose it (by not delivering or not being able to accurately measuring it).
A conversation about ROI is often linked to a purchase decision (i.e. if the client thinks they will get good ROI then they might buy from you).
We all try to quantify ROI if we can, which can be particularly challenging if we are selling something like PR. Yet is this the best way to get a client to buy? How do we connect emotion to this conversation? To be honest, we probably don’t!
We would be better served talking to the client about what their cost of inaction (COI) is because that’s where the emotional decision making will take place.
You see, if you are really selling something that cures a pain for a client (have a read of this blog on the subject) then you can also talk about the cost to their business if they take no action?
This discussion is much more real to your client and also laden with emotion. Thus it’s much more like to get the client moving and help them make the decision to buy from you.
Let’s take a moment to consider why. There are 2 main types of motivation that move us on in life:
ROI is a toward motivation (something I aspire to, that i wish to move towards)
COI is an away from motivation (I need to move away from my current situation because it’s painful, precarious and a risk to my business)
Can you see how COI conversations are much more likely to result in the client taking action NOW and purchasing your solution?
I fell foul of this in the early years of running my agency coaching business until I decided I needed to better understand my target customer. I spent time researching and talking with my target audience, developed my customer personas/avatars and consequently started developing content (including my website) from the customer’s perspective.
A key learning here is that if you really understand your client, it is much easier to address their pain with your solution.
So here are 3 things you can action today:
Once I had this understanding in place it become much easier to engage with my target market and resulted in higher win rates and increased revenues. So I find it strange that agencies typically only talk about ROI when selling, rather than COI (or both!).
What are your experiences with this? I would love to hear about your views in this area.
Yet in business, I see time and time again, agencies trying to sell their prospective clients a vitamin pill. This is not a good way to sell.
Imagine going to your best friend’s wedding and having too good a time and waking up with an almighty headache the next morning. Would you reach for a pain killer or take a vitamin pill? Well a pain killer of course!
Clients who are in pain have an urgent need to solve that pain (with your solution). Yet many agencies are trying to sell their prospective clients a vitamin pill (something that is nice to have but not urgent) rather than a pain killer!
So when you are marketing & selling your product or service, are you addressing the client’s pain or are you telling them your product is something that would be great to have in their business?
Getting this positioning wrong will have a massive impact on your agency.
A real bugbear of mine is that most websites make this mistake by starting out selling the vitamin (which looks like telling the client how great YOU are and what YOU do on your home page).
This could well be the case with your own website?
They are trying to sell the client something they may not be aware that they currently need (the vitamin pill) because although it might enhance their business, it doesn’t solve one of their major pains right now (the pain killer).
Let me give you a real example of this – something that happened to me last week. I got a cold call from a company that can track visitors to your website and give you detailed info on them.
Sounds great right?
The issue is that this isn’t one of my current pains. A current pain for me (regarding web traffic) is that I would like to get more traffic to my site. Only then would it be worth investing a monthly fee on visitor tracking software. Meanwhile that product is just a vitamin pill for me, so I am not going to buy it! The guy on the phone wasn’t really listening to me and just tried to tell that spending £500 / month on their software was a good investment. Not if it doesn’t solve one of my key pains!
They needed to better target by understanding who they were calling first.
If we start by identifying the client’s pain then we ‘stand in the client’s shoes’ and demonstrate we understand them (which builds empathy, a crucial part of the sales process). The language we use when we discuss our product or service will then be geared to show the client how we solve that pain rather than just discussing the features of our product (which we can do later).
So 3 things we can all do better in our agencies:
If we do this we are much more likely to build empathy with a client which will lead them to say ‘tell me more’ and then you have started a dialogue that can more easily lead to a sale.
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:
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.