Not All Marketing Is Created Equal

Tell me if this conversation sounds familiar –

“We tried that but it didn’t work so we haven’t tried that again”

Imagine if you had a baby who saw everyone else walking around upright on two legs and tried to stand then walk….. but fell over. Do you think they have the same thought process?

I regularly hear of businesses large and small who try a marketing tactic and do not get the result they were hoping for and form a quick belief that because it didn’t work for them, it’s not worth investing further in it and look for an alternative.

Marketing has never been more powerful or influential in generating and increasing sales to a business. It is a Formula One car.

The only problem is – not everyone is a Formula One driver.

As I write this I am imagining that you can drive. However, would you be able to win the Monaco Grand Prix if you had a Formula One racing team?

Two factors will determine your success.

How well you can drive a Formula One car and how well you know the track and opponents.

In other words – exactly the same as marketing.

When you hear of companies making incredible business growth a lot of it is developed through the same marketing activities that every business has at their disposal. The difference – they know how to use their marketing Formula One car and they know the track and opponents better than anyone.

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Guest Blog: A Framework To Create A Digital Marketing Team

Digital Marketing Team - Ross Kingsland

Guest blogger, Simon Swan, provides a framework that you can follow to create your own Digital Marketing Team. Simon Swan is a digital marketer who has worked with start ups and large government organisations to develop and instagate strategic digital marketing strategies.  Simon has a wealth of experience and hands on knowledge that has seen him become a trusted advisor in his field. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.swan-e.co.uk/

@Swanny_s

A Framework To Create A Digital Marketing Team

The rise in digital marketing has created a wealth of opportunities and at the same time, removed barriers to entry to a number of sectors where a start-up, sole trader or large corporation is now competing with one another globally.

So what does this all mean?

For marketers and businesses alike, the rise in digital marketing is changing the business landscape, this means embracing new business models, test the status quo, question the Hippos (Highest Paid Persons Opinion) in your organisation, understanding new marketing tactics and changing yours and the  business mind-set (e.g. not being afraid to trial out and fail on new strategies to connect to your customer, or prospect or community) and more importantly harnessing the right frame of mind to embrace this new world of digital.

But changing your mindset and embracing new strategies is easier said than done and therein lies the problem…

Lack of relevant digital qualifications

There is a distinct lack of digital marketing “qualifications” to support the growth within universities, colleges and schools, all not offering academic options that are aligned to digital for students wanting to specialise in digital communications and marketing (e.g. social media, affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation).

Go and visit a number of organisations and they will claim they “do” digital – unfortunately
that means it’s a dept siloed off in a corner of the organisation, with a small select team to get on with the job. So how can more companies embrace digital? Well below is a handy framework that can be used to understand whether you’re recruiting the right type of skills

Introducing a Digital Marketing Framework

This was taken from a book called Inbound Marketing by Halligan & Shah, and is called theDARC framework.

  • D – Hire Digital Citizens – An understanding of the online environment and can display a working knowledge. It is important your team and individuals understand digital tactics and can display examples. This doesn’t mean having a Facebook account and tweeting random comments but they’re are using digital to support their own interests and hobbies e.g. can demonstrate they have their own blog, they have edited, created and posted videos on YouTube.
  • A – Hire for Analytics – Understanding of digital trends and have a curious and analytical approach to what impacts product sales or why there has been an increase in traffic levels to a specific web page. They should also have a good understanding of spread-sheets and be able to interpret trends.
  • R – Hire for Web Reach – They can display examples of how passionate they are on a subject area through promoting online, perhaps their hobby or interest through a blog, social media and can display examples of how they have increased traffic to their website or blog using  SEO or paid search or retail products through affiliate marketing
  • C – Hire Content Creators – The importance of good content on a website can be a key USP over your competition so look to hire someone with good writing skills and more importantly can write for the web to engage with users. The internet has removed the barriers to creating content, anyone can now create content and publish it to the world. The skill is not necessarily writing content but how your content can stand out from the crowd, what USP can you offer that no one else can and more importantly can you create your own niche?

What Is Your 2013 Business Strategy?

2013 Business Goal Setting Ross Kingsland

2012 is nearly over. Some of us met our goals, some exceeded them and some can’t remember what they said 12 months ago. And now 2013 is fast approaching.

It is at this time that we reflect on how successful our business and lives have been over the last year.

Many will blame the economy. Some will blame circumstances in their lives. A handful will blame themselves.

One thing I do know through years of coaching and working with businesses is this. For many business owners, goals are nothing more than hope.

If it happens – “great”, if it doesn’t happen then the “maybe next year” mantra is rolled out.

And it is not because our intentions were anything less than good. We set out with a strong idea of where we want to be and where we are going – but something happens along the way. 12 months is a long time in business.

Some of us struggle, get caught out, rely on a “good” economy to keep our business going. The reality of business is very different. Unless you are adapting, flowing, continiously improving you will not achieve your goals.

Then there are a few who not only survive in a recession – they actually become more successful. I am fortunate enough to say that this is one of the business principles that my business is leveraged by. When a recession is here – we celebrate.

Here’s the truth about recessions: There are more millionaires created during a recession than at any other time of an economic cycle.

Why does this seem counter intuitative to your experiences?

The amount of money that is in the world has not been reduced, it is simply in someone else’s bank. This means that while one business may be struggling that same money is invested elsewhere.

So how do the millionaires succeed where other businesses fail? Strategy

Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you are about to set off on a car trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Would you simply get in the car, unprepared and set off driving without a map, checking the fuel or car condition? As an intelligent person I would imagine that you wouldn’t adopt this approach.

Instead what do we do? We plan the route with the use of maps, perhaps speak wtih friends who have done the whole or part of the journey, ensure you have fuel in the tank, check the tyre pressure and water levels, assess how long the trip will take and factor in your timescales.

Then you get in the car and drive. You know where your destination is and you know what roads and changes you need along the way to ensure you reach your destination.

Imagine this, even as you are driving in the dark with your headlights just showing a couple of hundred meters ahead of you – you know that you are still on the right path.

Why does this work? You had a specific outcome that you wanted to achieve and you planned how you were going to achieve it, then you made that decision to start the journey. And if, like me, the journey has not gone quite according to plan – did you stop and give up? You ask directions, get help – maybe even use the Sat Nav.

And then you finally arrive at your destination. You’ve been through some experiences to achieve it. But it was worth it in the end.

How can you use this for your 2013 Business Strategy?

Start today by writing down your answers these questions to develop your strategy

1. What specific goals do you want to achieve by the 31st December 2013?

2. What are your current resources and skills?

3. What resources and skills will you need to achieve your goals?

4. How can you get access to the resources and skills to achieve your goals?*

*remember: what got you here will not get you to your goal

5. How committed are you to achieving your goal on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being not very, 10 being 100% committed, nothing will stop me!)

Everytime I ask the last question everyone says 100%.

If this is so then why do so many of us not achieve our goals? Lack of action and committment.

Whatever your goal make it a MUST not a WOULD BE NICE.

Many people talk about what they are going to do, few actually take action and do something. Be one of the 0.01% that seize the opportunity and make a decision to create the business that they want, on their terms.

So, when would now be a good time to make your decision?

 

In friendship

Ross

ross@inceptionbusinesssolutions.com

 

3 Step Formula For Selling Anything Online

So, let’s imagine that you have developed a trusted relationship with your clients. You have led them through a process of demonstrating trust in your services or products but they don’t know what to do next.

All modern marketers live by the philosophy that you can always improve the effectiveness of your marketing through split testing.

And this is because the market changes so rapidly that we have to keep testing to find what works.

The biggest problem in online selling

Business owners and marketers have struggled with how to “pitch” online with variable results.

Worse case scenario: they have no strategy how to write an offer.

This is dangerous. You usually only have one chance and you can never go back and take the client through the process again. You are losing money at the final hurdle, the last step and it could be easily avoided.

This formula works consistently and across every industry because it is based on psychology. Don’t let the simplicity fool you. It works.

  • Here’s what I got – state what your product or service will do for them
  • Here’s what it will do for you – benefits on a superficial, psychological level and at a deep meta message level
  • Here’s what you need to do next – specific instructions coupled with psychological influencing strategies.

I have mentioned psychology several times during this because the formula without psychology will work. Add psychological influencing principles and your conversion rate increases considerably.

But do not read this idly. Test it against your current page. Only through split testing your web pages can you develop the most converting page for your website.

I HAD To Share This With You – What To Avoid When Presenting To Your Board

I’ve recently read some well intentioned advice from mentors, coaches, experts and gurus who have all come from similar positions.

They are hired to go into organisations and advice buisness owners on what they need to do to take their company to the next level in whatever skill set that may be. I saw one consultant offering advice to a marketing executive who was trying to convince his MD about the value of marketing. It read:

“…….ask him where he spends his money: whose shirt is he wearing, which car does he drive, who does he bank with, which airline does he use, which is his favourite restaurant, which phone is in his pocket, which gym he goes to, what laptop does he use and so on.

Then ask him why, and if he says anything like I feel good in them, it’s cool, it’s convenient, it’s cheap or luxury, the people are friendly, the product does what it’s supposed to, I keep going back there because they know me – that’s all Marketing.

If that doesn’t work, ask him where next year’s new and returning customers are going to come from if there’s no communication outwards or brand building, no understanding of what value you’re offering at what price, no product innovation and no understanding of what it’s really like being a customer”

This was painful to read.

Imagine if you were the MD receiving these questions from a marketing executive who is basically calling you an idiot.

So, why is this approach so ineffective? It starts from the position that you are right and he is wrong about how to run his business.

And no one likes to be told they are wrong. But everyone does have self doubt on something in their lives. It’s natural. It’s what keeps us moving forward trying to find ways to improve and be more efficient.

How can we reposition this that will be eloquent?

FIrst off we need to start from the position that they are fine as they are, in whatever they are doing. They do not need to do anything to their business if they do not wish to.

Everything in the world has a cause and effect. If you do X then Y will happen. If you do nothing then Z will happen.

If the MD decides to invest in marketing (X) then sales / brand awareness / customer loyalty etc (Y) will increase. If the MD does not decide to invest in marketing then it is possible that you will lose sales, brand awareness will decrease, customer loyalty will fade (Z).

As soon as you become emotionally attached to the situation your judgement becomes clouded and the most effective action to achieve the goal may not be pursued.

With the example above, what was particularly interesting was that the conversation was about what the marketing executive wanted to do – not what the business needed or wanted to do.

If you were the MD how would you feel?

I emailed the maketing executive separately to give some caution to the “well intentioned” advice from the “expert” to consider his approach to influencing a a senior executive. Watch this space.

For more non positional influencing strategies I recommend I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris available at amazon.com

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Im-Ok-Youre-Thomas-Harris/dp/009955755X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352991286&sr=8-1

Halloween Special: How Groupon Kills Most Small Businesses

 

Groupon can make or break a small business.

As well as every testimonial on Groupon there are thousands of horror stories of small businesses losing significant amounts of money and in some instances, bankruptcy.

So, what is it that separates businesses who are successful and those who are less so?

Client Lifetime Value

In many Groupon horror stories a company will approach Groupon who will develop an advert for their email list and mail it to them. The business will then sit back and wait for the new “customers”. The business will fulfill their obligation to the Groupon voucher and the “customer” will consume the offer and leave.

And while this may work for a handful of businesses, very few actually capitalise fully with the Groupon offer.

A business philosophy of mine is this:

Customers are valuable, Clients are invaluable

The difference between a Groupon customer and a Groupon client is their lifetime value to your business.

A Groupon customer will be a one-off purchase and consumption of your service or product.

A Groupon client will be introduced to your business and will be led through a process where they can achieve the outcome they want.

To illustrate this with an example:

A hairdressing studio offers a cut and blow dry at a discounted rate through Groupon at £47.

A Groupon customer will come in for the cut and blow dry, use the voucher and leave having spent £47.  They are not contacted or marketed to again by the hairdressing studio.

A Groupon client will come in for the cut and blow dry. Their experience is increased through time spent discussing the cut, colouring, styling, products etc. The client is given an outstanding experience and their contact details are taken for further consultations. The client pays £47 and an additional £19 for hair products. THEN the Groupon client relationship is developed. They receive a follow-up email from the stylist with some suggestions on how to keep the style looking professional for longer. Over the course of several weeks they receive useful information on their hair, styling and colouring to maintain the professional look for longer. Then once trust has been developed a follow-up appointment is recommended to the client and agreed upon.

It is then possible to understand what the full lifetime value of your Groupon Client is rather than just thinking of them as customers who purchase once.

 

What Is The First Word You Think Of When I Say “Sales Person”?

“Greasy”, “deceptive”, “liar”, “slimy”, “manipulative”, “sleazy” one person shouted out “great guy”

So I asked “how many of you in this room are sales people, raise your hands?”

About 50% of the room raised their hands.

However, not all of them were aware that they were sales people.

“If you’re an owner of a business you had better be raising your hand” a further 30% raised their hand, and my last question had 99% with their hands in the air….

“If you are a parent you had better be raising your hand”

And I used the example because are kids great sales people. You don’t have to teach them with how to deal with rejection, they let it pass on by and keep coming. “You can’t have an ice cream” 10 minutes later they’re licking a cornetto with a smile on their face. No one taught them any scripts, nothing

What I want you to understand is that the single most important skill in life come down to one thing. We hate the word selling and all the negative conetations that come with that, but it’s the word that all leaders have.

So I’ll give you the word that it really is – influence.

What changes companies? Leaders. The only way to change a company is leadership.

Leaders solve problems and maximise resources.

If you could solve the problems then it would already be solved. You have to get others to help you do it, and that requires influence. If you can get people to maximise thier resources that requires influence.

If you’re going to get people to partner with you, provide resources or capital you need influence, develop supplier relationships. If you’re going to have an impact on your kids, on your community on the world then it requires influence

And yet most of us think of it as selling as so we don’t master it

If you can’t influence, you can’t lead

But if you can influence powerfully, intelligently and with integrity there is no limit to what you can envision and make real.

And if your influence becomes more than you just you and you are able to influence systems, people, companies, cultures,

If you can turn other people into influencers, now what ever you envision about can be made into reality.

So the question becomes, how do you influence? And how effective is your current strategy?

Profit Builders: Do You Have Customers Or Clients?

It’s interesting how we position our selves, products and services often without realising the impact of what is happening and the subsequent effect to our business.

To use one example:

Around your office or business, do you use the word customer or client?

Although this sounds like a very small difference the effect on your relationship with them is dictated by this.

To understand this we can use the Webster Dictionary

Definition of “Customer“: one that purchases a commodity

Definition of “Client“: one that is under the protection of another, a person who engages the professional advice or services of another

Consider what the impact of this really is.

If you have customers, the position that you are adopting is that they are purchasing commodities. Commodities are abundant, replicable and replaceable. If your business perspective is based on this, how do those customers then view you offerings?

It becomes very difficult to differentiate yourself, charge a premium, develop loyalty to you if that is also their perception of you – a commodity provider.

Conversely, by using the word client in its place your whole perspective changes. You are now a trusted advisor to them. You have their best interest at heart – above your own.

And what happens to you in the eyes of the client? You become trusted, they show you loyalty, you are irreplaceable, you are needed.  Your purpose is to give your clients the best short term and long term results and benefits.

That may not sound like much of a strategy for increasing profit but look at it from the other side.

You will never let they buy less than they should, or at least you won’t be shy about offering and recommending, if appropriate, that they buy more because you have their best interests at heart.

Imagine that you were a doctor. You have a duty of care to your clients (patients). If someone who was sick came to see you and at the end of the consultation they ask which medicine of the two you recommend. It is your duty to recommend the medicine that you believe will give the most benefits and fewest side effects. Or would you let them take the “cheaper” that may have more side effects with fewer benefits?

Customers will see you as a commodity provider.

Clients will see you as trusted advisors.

Is Your Business Marketing Tactically Or Strategically?

Many clients and business professionals I speak with often confuse the two and regard nearly everything they do as strategic – well it sounds more professional for a start. But dig a little deeper and businesses rarely utilise a strategic marketing approach.

There is a considerable risk in the tactical approach.

Running a business from a tactical perspective always means that you are chasing one marketing campaign and launching straight into the next one. When I was launching a service provider into the health sector I came into the role of Marketing Director and found that their marketing department was very busy being tactical with no overarching strategy. There was no reason for many of the tools that were being employed other than to “be seen by our customers and maybe we’ll get a few sales”.

So the company had gone from one conference or trade show to the next trying to showcase their service. Short term the tactical marketing strategy had a limited success. A handful of leads were generated and of that a small percentage converted.

The strategic approach

Now I’m not saying that what I did was brilliant or even clever, as someone who has always got to the route of a problem quickly we discovered that by the nature of the tactical approach the customer leads that were being generated were next to useless. Here’s why.

In the National Health Service staff change roles and responsibilities frequently. The single biggest problem with the marketing tactics that were being employed was that it targeted individuals that were only usually in their role for one year. This was significant because it meant that each year the sales team had to go out and start the sales process all over again with brand new prospects who had never heard of our organisation before.

First thing I did was identify the target decision makers in each area of the country and started to build a marketing campaign around the existing relationships that we had and leveraging that for strategic referrals and relationship building. Recognising that resources were limited I approached a company who was in a similar space with a complimentary service and formed a joint venture. This meant that they were also marketing our product in front of the customer even when we weren’t there. I called it a pincer movement.

By embedding our service into the heart of the appropriate NHS service at a strategic level the company saw a rise in profits from £48k in year one (at which point I was brought in) to £3.4million by year 3.

I’m pleased to say that we were able to do this at a time when the NHS was being completely reorganised with a reduction in spend of up to 50% in the areas that the company was working with.

My advice would be that by focusing on tactics you will only ever achieve the level of success that tactics will bring.

A strategic perspective in your approach will bring the rewards you really are aspiring for.

There Are Only 3 Ways To Increase Revenue

I was working with my personal trainer the other day who came to me with a problem:

“How can I grow my client base?”

One of the principles I learnt very early on in my career was that the first question that someone asks you is rarely the real question they want answered. What he really wanted to know was “how can I make more money?”.

While this question obviously has a lot more depth behind it, for the purpose of this blog I will tell what I told him.

“There are only 3 ways that you can increase your revenue.

1. Increase the number of clients you work with

2. Increase the revenue per transaction per client

3. Increase the frequency that they purchase”

That’s it. Now, the secret to this answer is this. Each principle can be ranked according to how easy it is to achieve.

Increase revenue per transaction per client.

This is by far the easiest principle to implement. You set out an up front “contract” of the service that you will deliver against how much it will cost the client to achieve that result. Once you have a client in your system they develop loyalty to you (if you are genuinely providing an outstanding service) and will stay with you even if your fees increase.

Increase the frequency that they purchase

If clients working with you they are predisposed to give you money for your services. Why not – they are already doing it so there is already implicit trust established and bonding the two of you. As their trusted advisor, coach, mentor, trainer if you recommend something they are much more likely to purchase this based on the trust that they already have in you.

Increase the number of new clients that you work with

By far the “hardest” of the three as you are going out into the marketplace to attract new clients to you. This is where most marketers spend most of their time looking at new ways to reach a niche with the latest technologies. When marketed exceptionally the results are very high, executed good to average the results are average at best. Competition is too intense to be anything less than exceptional – long gone are the days when just about any form of marketing and advertising worked.

Assess what principle you are currently using. Assess what principle the best in your industry are using. I guarantee this. Most of the top names in most industries communicate more to their own customers than they do trying to attract new customers.

Why? Because they recognise the power of word of mouth and viral information in our world which is more powerful than any marketing message that they can craft that might meet some of the wants and needs of new customers.