, , , , , , , , , ,

Does Your Business Use Facebook Ads?

Facebook could be described as the world’s second-largest billboard (with Google at number one). But advertising on Facebook is a whole other beast to appearing on search engines using Google Ads or even Bing Ads.

Creating ads on Facebook is a relatively easy process – it’s designed to be as simple as possible, because not everyone has a degree in computer science! What’s more, compared to advertising on Google, Facebook is an affordable way to promote your company online.

If you aren’t currently using Facebook ads, you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity.

Facebook ads can achieve a variety of different objectives from promoting specific products and offers, to building brand awareness and engaging and increasing your social media audience.

Social media is what I like to call a ‘fleeting medium’, in the sense that a Facebook post you write today could very well be forgotten tomorrow, replaced by another great post by your business. Rather than seeing this as a negative, advertising on Facebook positively plays on social media’s fast-paced and modular nature.

A/B Testing

If you’ve done email marketing before, you’ll be aware of A/B testing, and how it can help produce superior results. Facebook offers precisely the same ability, in which you can test two forms of the same advert, and see which performs better before launching the successful advert to a wider audience.

Reach a Mobile Audience

Much of today’s browsing occurs on mobile phones – a fact Facebook fully understands, given that they have well over 1 billion mobile users logging in each month. That’s a vast audience you can reach with your adverts.

Take Control

Want to change your advert’s design? Facebook is ideal if you’re concerned about spamming people with the same images and videos over a period of time, allowing a greater level of creative control when it comes to switching out one advert style or message for another.

Facebook, however, has one single killer app that blows search engine advertisement out of the water…

Audience Targeting

While Google, Bing and Yahoo! have a lot of coverage, with around 12 billion searches each month on Google alone, they lack the laser-focus offered by Facebook.

Facebook ads and boosted, or promoted, posts can be targeted to precisely hit the right market for your business. You can choose age, location, gender, and even associated interests, and even what’s known as lookalike profiles; those profiles who are similar to your existing customers in a single country.

The social network even allows you to exclude your existing customers in order to attract strictly new clientele. That means rather than taking a scatter-gun approach to online advertising, you can pinpoint the exact market you want to reach.

There are some huge benefits to using Facebook advertising to complement your wider marketing strategy, and given that much of today’s marketing occurs online – and in the hands of mobile phone users specifically – Facebook offers companies the opportunity to promote themselves, their services and their products to even larger audience than has ever been possible before.

If you’d like assistance in successfully marketing your business both off and online, simply contact me on 01483 200 387 to find out how I can help.

, , , ,

6 Simple Marketing Tips To Grow Your Business

When times are tough we all need more business. But if you’re not sure how to go about it, the following six simple marketing tips to grow your business will ensure that you win and retain loads of new customers.

To be honest it’s not rocket science – it comes down to the kind of advice your mum gave you about how to interact with people.

  1. Be Visible

How often have you heard yourself say “ I didn’t know that business was there”. If you don’t know about  certain businesses, you can be sure there are plenty who don’t know about you.

So are you visible to prospective customers if they decide to go looking?

  • Make sure your website looks good. If it doesn’t, upgrade it. Don’t let your website let you down.
  • Have a blog, that you update regularly. I blog once a week. www.bda.me.uk/blog
  • Participate in social media – let people find you on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Be Credible

When your prospects go and look at your public presence, will they feel motivated to get in touch?

  • Have compelling testimonials on your website. There’s nothing as persuasive as other customers singing your praises.
  • Make sure your phone is always professionally answered by a human being. If your office isn’t always manned, use a telephone answering service. How sad would it be to generate interest and then lose the opportunity because you don’t answer the phone?
  1. Be Memorable

Your objective is to ensure that when your target audience need what you sell, that they think of you.

To generate the awareness the following model works well :

  • You need to construct a database. Ideally you will already have a list of contacts – people who have enquired before, people who have completed a sign up form on your website, names you’ve generated from networking, trade shows etc.
  • If you haven’t got your own list, you can buy names and contact details from list brokers but these will never be as good or as receptive as your own list and you could get a reputation as a spammer.
  • Email your list regularly with valuable and useful information. This should be an on-going activity as response will increase over time as recipients grow to trust you.
  • Analyse response to your emails, tracking who opens them and who clicks on your links.
  • Have a process to follow up respondents. This may be a particular sequence of emails or you might prefer to take the bull by the horns and phone them.
  1. Be Personal

The more you can tailor your emails to the specific recipients, the more response you will get. Remember it’s about them and not about you.

All your readers are interested in is what’s in it for them so make sure you give them plenty of personal content.

  1. Be Consistent

The secret to success will be developing the trust of your readers so that they come to think of you as an expert in your field. You’re not going to do this with one or two emails. You must commit to sending regular emails at a given time each week, fortnight, month or whatever regularity you decide on.

To achieve this you will have to set aside regular time in your diary to do the work.

  1. Be Persistent

This kind of marketing requires a medium/long term commitment. As I said you have to commit to doing this over an extended period of time. As we all know, everyone will be at a different stage in their decision making process. No response today doesn’t mean that they won’t respond in six months time.

Persistence is even more vital in the follow up. It’s too easy to give up after one or two unsuccessful contacts. You need to continue trying until you get either a “yes” or some useful information about their buying intentions.

If you manage to take these six simple marketing tips on board, I can guarantee that you will pick up more customers and more business.

 

, , , , ,

Attractive and Repellent At The Same Time

Your marketing message needs to be attractive and repellent at the same time.

Yes you heard right.

But surely you want to attract as many people as possible?

That’s true you do but at the same time there are some people you’re better off without and your marketing message should tell those people that you’re really not the right supplier for them.

If this is sounding a bit left field for you, let’s start somewhere easy.

Your marketing messages should be written specifically to attract your ideal customer 

I’m sure you know who your ideal customer is. The more detail you have about your him or her, the better. Something I always do with my clients is to create an avatar for their deal customer.

Are they male or female, how old are they, where do they live, how much do they earn, what do they do, what publications do they read, do they have children, what do they do in their spare time etc etc.  I even give them a name.

Only when you’ve created this detailed picture can you identify what their issues are and therefore what you can do to solve their issues and therefore become their supplier of choice

But what about the second part?

Have you identified the customers you really don’t want?

Who are the customers who you want to avoid? Those that complain endlessly? Those that continually try to beat you up on price? Those you wish you didn’t have, but continue to keep  because you don’t have anyone to replace them?

The interesting thing about your marketing message is that it can be used to BOTH, attract the type of customers you want, AND, repel those who don’t want.

This isn’t hard. Let me give you an example.

For most of us, we need to communicate with our prospects before they actually become customers. Your marketing materials therefore have to contain compelling reasons why the prospect should talk to you.

Now whether that’s your website, email marketing, sales letters, brochures or whatever, the text will be full of the benefits that you deliver and how you can solve their problems. The more you can provide real tangible benefits during the conversation, the greater the likelihood is that they’ll actually become a customer.

Repelling those you don’t want.

Which brings us to the second part of the equation.

Now I’m not suggesting you should be rude in any way. Everyone should be treated with equal respect but you can detail the characteristics of those you don’t want to have contact with..

You might do it as follows: “I’m happy to offer this service, I think it will be very helpful and valuable to you, BUT the reality is that unfortunately I can’t talk to everyone. So in order to take me up on this offer you need to…”

…and that’s where you start to list the criteria that will eliminate those you don’t want to do business with.

I’ll show you what I mean.

In my world, I can’t really help people who have an idea for a business, but haven’t actually started trading. At this stage they’re looking for free advice. Nothing inherently wrong with that, we’ve all been there, but they’re not really the people I want to invest my time in. So, I put in language saying, “You need to be up and running already. You don’t have to be huge, but you do need to have some momentum.”

That’s an easy one. It’s a rather obvious group I don’t want to attract more of and I’m sure you’ve got a similar one.

But to make this really work, you want to dig down and think about what frustrates you about certain types of customers, so you avoid getting more of them.

For me, I get a lot of people who are very sceptical about marketing. They’ve never really done any marketing. Their business comes from word of mouth and referrals.

These people tend to need a lot of convincing that marketing will work for them.  They’re also very likely to bail out if the marketing doesn’t immediately generate spectacular results, reassuring themselves that, as they already knew, marketing doesn’t work.

Whereas, people who have already done some marketing and now want to do more are ideal for me. They understand what marketing can do and they’re committed to working with me to get the best possible results.

So, how do I repel the group I don’t want, and attract the one I do? It’s not hard. Following on from the wording above I will say “Ideally you are doing some marketing already, but recognise that you need some help”

This will therefore resonate with people who know that marketing is the way to build their business and are going to get on board with the activities I put in place.

One of the great things about good marketing is that it just doesn’t get you new business-if you do it right, it gets you precisely the type of business you want

 

, , , , , ,

The Power Of Premium Products

When the subject of premium products comes up most people think they only relate to exclusive product sectors and top end businesses but that’s not the case.

premium-quality-golden-seal-products-services-31970092

Premium products can be found in all  types of businesses.

Now in some instances they may be dressed up with exclusive sounding titles such as “Platinum service”,” Gold Standard” “Premier Club” etc but the fact is that premium products can be found in the most everyday sorts of businesses but they can have a remarkable impact on sales and more importantly on margin. The great thing is they often entail no extra effort.

So what is a premium product?

Quite simply it is your standard product which you’ve added value to in some way. It may be that the packaging and presentation of the product has been upgraded, you may have upgraded the functionality in some way or perhaps it has more high quality ingredients in it.

A good example of premium products is currently being demonstrated by the supermarkets. They all have premium ranges these days. Sainsbury’s call it “Taste The Difference”, Tesco call their range “Finest” while Asda call their’s “Extra Special”.

Or take a typical restaurant. Everybody has a specials menu and the items on the specials menu are always more expensive. The ingredients may be a bit more fancy but the price will be a lot more fancy.

Now I can’t claim to know the figures but while the cost price will be a little bit more, the margin will be significantly higher than on the standard dishes.

Now considering that we’ve been going through tough economic times for the last few years, you might think that there is no place for premium products.

But you’d be wrong.

The fact is that something like 20% of consumers will regularly pay more for what they perceive to be a superior product. All you have to do is work out how you can add value to and upgrade your standard product so that you can offer it as a premium product.

A little while back I was working with a removals company.

Now you might think that there’s no scope for a premium product in the removals business but there is. We created the “Reassurance Plus” product by using more robust packing cases, by having a more comprehensive insurance plan and by enhancing the unpacking service in the new house. The price of “Reassurance Plus” is around 26% more than the standard product and the margin nearly  40% more. And yes somewhere in the region of 20% of customers take it up.

My wife is a chiropractor. Chiropractors have recently twigged that they can charge more for appointments at certain times of the day. Early morning, lunch time and in the evening are outside of the standard opening hours but are more convenient for people who work during the day. While the service is exactly the same, a premium price can be charged for these times of day.

The other thing about premium products is that it’s not a hard sell. You simply make the customer aware that you have a premium product and the difference between it and the standard product and then leave them to choose.

Another useful technique is to create three levels of service –  gold, silver and bronze versions of your product. The thing here is to make sure that your existing product is the bronze level. Human nature being what it is the majority of people when faced with a choice between three options will go for the middle or silver option. So if your existing product is the bronze level you will get a massive uplift as the majority opt for the silver version and a few will actually go the whole way and buy the gold version.

So look closely at your own business and decide how you can add value to your product or service and offer gold and silver versions.

Every time someone buys anything other than the basic version, you’re making more money. You may well be very surprised at the difference it makes to your turnover and more importantly your profit.

, , , , , , , ,

What Do Your Customers Really Want?

Do you know what your customers want?

I mean what they really want.

focus-what-you-need-sharp-bright-red-want-front-row-plain-gray-needs-blurring-receding-distance-white-32012842

When we buy anything, the motivation is always “what’s in it for me”. What will this product do for me?

There are a number of almost primeval buying motivations which drive most of our purchases:

    • Will it make me more money?
    • Will it save me time?
    • Will it make me more beautiful?
    • Will it make me more attractive to the opposite sex?
    • Will it make me feel better?
    • Will it make me healthier?
    • Will it make my life better?

People don’t care about you or your business, they only care about what you can do for them. To be successful you have to appeal to your customers’ self interest.

We don’t buy what we need

When it comes to making buying decisions, in most instances we don’t buy what we need, we buy what we want.

There are so many product categories that prove this – no one needs designer brands, sports cars, ipads etc. There are always cheaper, more functional alternatives but we want these items so we justify to ourselves why we should have them.

What this means is that so many purchases are made not for logical reasons but for emotional ones and you need to recognise this in your marketing. You need to appeal to people’s emotions as opposed to their logic. You always need to explain to your target audience what they will get from your product – how it will make them look, how it will make them feel, what other people will think of them when they see them with it.

Once we’ve set our sights on something we want, we then go about collecting the justification for the more extravagant package.

Last summer I needed to buy a new car. I’m not really interested in cars so it wasn’t anything fancy but the extras made it more desirable and more sexy. Did I need the extras – no not really but I did want them.

So how did I justify it to myself. The blue tooth functionality gave me the ammunition I needed. With blue tooth I could talk legally on the phone while driving. To be honest I do actually need that (having been done for talking on the phone earlier last year) but it made the decision easy for me.

So when you’re creating your sales materials remember people buy what they want and then justify it as a need.

Don’t fill your collateral, especially your website with boring information, especially not boring information about you and your company.

Instead focus on making them want what you sell because if they want it they will find the justification.

, , , , , , , ,

8 Tips To Ensure Your Small Business Success

1. Niche Your Audience

There is a lot of competition out there and it’s tough. The worst thing you can do is to try and sell to everybody. Unless you’re Coca Cola you can’t be relevant to everyone. Much better to identify a small target group so that you can target your messages to them with laser like precision. With more limited budgets this is far more effective.

2. Your website is not a brochure

Long gone are the days when you can view your website as “an online brochure” and you have one just because everybody else does. Small business websites need to earn their keep and generate business.

3. You can’t ‘cheat’ Google – they’re smarter than you

A few years ago you may have got away with a bit of keyword stuffing or buying inbound links by the bucket load. Not any more. Google is focused on giving their customers the best results to their search and will rigorously analyse your site and your text for relevance. So focus on providing relevant, fresh and appealing content that will attract customers to your website.

4. Is traditional advertising right for you?

For most businesses these days, traditional advertising in local newspapers or magazines is rarely the best option. The costs are high and fixed, the targeting imprecise and you’re dealing with an increasingly sophisticated audience. If you’re dealing B to C where it’s difficult to get hold of prospects’ names and addresses it may still be relevant but proceed with caution and test on a small scale before you commit much money.

5. Blogging can be very powerful

Blogging is often overlooked as it demands significant input and because it’s not an overt sales medium. But it is a very powerful medium for demonstrating your expertise and is a great way to keep your website content fresh, which our good friend Google always appreciates.

6. The power of video

Today’s consumers are time strapped and want information fast. Many people, especially younger people are reading less and watching more. Video is a great mechanism for getting not only your message across but it also allows you to communicate your personality .

7. Facebook and Twitter may not be right for your business

Everyone’s become obsessed with social media. Every small business owner I work with says “Shouldn’t we be on Facebook and Twitter?” My response is always the same(how boring do I sound) If your audience are hanging out on social media then yes you should be part of the conversation. I mean it’s free and provides a quick and easy way to communicate with both customers and potential customers every day if you want. But if you serve an older demographic who are not spending their time on Facebook and Twitter then you’re wasting your time.

8. Make it mobile

The way people access the internet has changed and will go on changing. Web browsing from mobiles and tablets will outstrip PCs in the next few years. For certain categories such as mini cabs and restaurants it is absolutely vital but all of us need to make sure that our websites display effectively on these media. If it doesn’t you are potentially missing out on a large section of potential audience.

 

, , , , ,

The Most Valuable Asset In Your Business

What’s the most valuable asset in your business?

No sorry it’s not you.

The most valuable asset in your business is your database.

Your database most probably contains your existing customers, lapsed customers and prospects.

Now each one of those is highly valuable in its own right.

Existing customers give you huge opportunity for cross selling and upselling.

Lapsed customers can become current customers again if you make them the right offer.

However because we all need to regularly bring in new customers, prospects have a unique role to play.

So how do you generate a prospect list?

Developing an opted in list is one of the key objectives of online marketing as this will allow you to communicate with them repeatedly over time. Statistically 1 in 4 of your opted in list will buy from you at some stage.

The following steps will enable you to build a list of people interested in whatever it is you sell.

Create an effective squeeze page

What is a squeeze page?

A squeeze page is an online page whose sole objective is to capture the email addresses of prospects.

The secret of a successful squeeze page is to be totally focused on your objective to get those contact details.

To do this you must offer something attractive enough that people will give you their email address. The most common approach is to offer a special report or white paper. But there’s nothing to stop you offering attendance at a webinar or something similar. You just have to make the decision about what is going to be attractive enough to persuade your audience to give you their details.

Your copy therefore needs to be direct and to the point spelling out the benefits they will receive from your free item. You should avoid any links or other distractions. Visitors find the offer attractive enough to sign up or they don’t.

Content is king

The content you use to attract people to your squeeze page must be consistent with what you’re offering. By the same token the free gift you’re offering should be relevant to the products or services you’re promoting. But don’t make the mistake of trying to promote any other products or services on this page as they will distract visitors from your number one objective them giving you their contact details.

Your approach to your copy will be similar to other direct response copy. You’ll need to include:

A headline
– Bullet points
– Testimonials
– Deadlines
– Scarcity
– A call to action

All the things designed to make people take the action you want them to.

Bring on the traffic

Once your squeeze page is ready to squeeze the contact details out of your visitors, you’ve got to attract people to the page.

You’ll want to use a variety of different ways of doing this. Here are a few:

Social media offers you access to potentially huge numbers of people. Regular posts on Twitter and Facebook can generate large numbers of visitors to your squeeze page.

Banner advertising OK there is a cost involved in this but banner advertising will put your squeeze page message in front of potentially large numbers of relevant people.

PPC you need to be a bit careful with Pay Per Click advertising, especially with Google. At the moment Bing take a more relaxed attitude to directing traffic to squeeze pages than Google.

Email signatures think how many emails you send every day. If you add a couple of lines of persuasive text and a link, you will be driving traffic to your squeeze page all day long

So there you are. You now have all the tools you need to start building your database. I promise you it will be worth the effort.

, ,

Unlocking the Value of your Customers

We all want to build a loyal customer base. It takes the pressure off customer acquisition and is far more rewarding and enjoyable than continually chasing new customers.

It also allows us to relax a bit knowing that we have a healthy pipeline in place.

However lots of businesses focus on new customers at the expense of nurturing their existing customers. Not only is this hard work but it’s also bad business as you risk disappointing your existing customers with the result that they may leave and even potentially share their negative opinions with others along the way.

So the question is how can you generate greater loyalty within your customer base and how you can maximise their value.

Getting the basics right
When we buy something there are usually a number of essential outcomes we want from the experience:

  • The right quality
  • The transaction to be completed efficiently without any undue delays.
  • To be kept informed during the process so we know exactly where we are.
  • To agree an appropriate price and for that price to remain fixed.

It’s amazing how many businesses fall down on these basic elements. You just have to look at the rants on the forums and social media to see that most complaints are down to one of these issues. Too often businesses make promises that they’re never going to be able to keep in order to secure the order. While they may get the initial order, there’s very little chance of them getting further work.

Make it personal
The more tailored and relevant your product/service feels to a customer and their situation, the more loyal they’ll become.

We like buying from people who understand us and know our tastes. To do this you need to have detailed knowledge of your customers. Consider what they buy from you, why they buy it, when they buy it and also what they don’t buy from you but could.

Reward their loyalty
If you could incentivise your customers to stay loyal and bring new ones to you, just think you much you could save from your marketing costs and efforts.

So you should think about what rewards you could afford to offer. The key issue you have to calculate is what is the cost of the reward against the increase in profit that is generated.

Depending on your customers and your budget, there are different reward options you can consider such as:

  • A loyalty discount or bonus
  • A VIP service
  • Regular updates on special offers etc
  • A free gift
  • A freeze on your prices offering this year’s prices next year
  • Giving them an upgrade for the same price
  • Giving them discount on new products

Whatever you choose you must make sure that it is of a high enough perceived value that it generates the increased loyalty you’re looking for.

At the end of the day, your objective is to is to build close relationships with your customers and delight them at every stage. If you manage to achieve this, they will stay loyal and become raving fans of your business and refer new customers to you.

 

, , , , , , ,

How Social Are You On Social Media?

So are you using social media to market your business?

How social are you?

We all know how much furore there’s been over the last few years about social media and the truly amazing stats about the number of Facebook and Twitter users there are. If you admit to not using these platforms you’re likely to be viewed as a dinosaur. There is a perception that we all ought to be on all the platforms.

But why?

If you think about the phrase “Social Media Marketing” the most important word to remember of the three is marketing. The other two really just describe the medium you’re using. And marketing doesn’t change just because the medium changes.

Marketing is always about the 3Ms Market Message Medium. You have to give the right messages to the right people in the right way and allow them to respond and let you know that they’re interested in what you’ve got.

Now the fact is that social media and especially Twitter is not the right medium for communicating your message as it’s not about selling. Additionally you can’t select the audience you communicate with it selects you.

Your objective therefore has to be to move your audience from the social media channels to your own website. Of course you can do this by posting the right links but tracking and measuring how effective your efforts are is virtually impossible.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t make contacts, build relationships and maybe gain business from social media. What I am saying is that it will probably take a lot of effort and time and that you could probably have greater success with other marketing channels.

The next question to ask is whether social media is right for all businesses.

The answer to that will depend on who you target audience is. If your target audience hang out on social media then fantastic. If they don’t, you’re wasting your time. If you’re a driving instructor and your audience is teenagers then yes social media is 100% right for you. But if you operate B to B and your audience is 40 60 year old men, then I suggest you’re probably wasting your time.

The final part of the jigsaw is you.

Do you enjoy the social interaction? Are you the kind of person who’s comfortable going to a networking event and working the room with the clear objective of making contacts and connecting other people together.

If you are then you probably love social media and doing it won’t seem like working at all. If you’re not, the chances are that you won’t engage with social media enough to make a success of it.

, , , , ,

In Marketing More Doesn’t Always Mean More

Every day I work with small business owners, helping them to market their businesses more effectively.

With the cynicism that business owners have about marketing, the most difficult thing is usually to persuade them that they need to be actively marketing their businesses. But just occasionally I come across someone who really believes in marketing and who is frantically doing every marketing activity they can think of in the belief that the more they do the more successful they will be.

More doesn’t always mean more

While I have to admire their enthusiasm, in marketing terms, more doesn’t always mean more. If the activity is getting no response, simply doing more of it will give you even more of nothing, if you get my meaning. In fact doing more might actually be harming your business. People may actually start forming negative impressions of you and your business and may start unsubscribing from your list or start saying negative things about you.

If your marketing is having no impact there are two things you must do.

  1. Stop your activity immediately before you waste any more money and before you damage your reputation.
  2. Analyse what you’re doing and work out where you’re going wrong.

There are several areas you need to consider:

  1. Is there demand for my product? Is it solving a problem in people’s lives
  2. Am I marketing to the right audience?
  3. Do my audience all have the same needs or should I be tailoring my message of different segments of the audience?
  4. Is my message clear? Is it obvious what I’m offering and why people should buy it?
  5. Are the benefits clearly spelt out?
  6. Am I using the right communication channels is the message being delivered in the right way?
  7. Is the language I’m using appropriate for my target audience?
  8. Am I offering the right incentives to stimulate buying?
  9. Is my marketing co-ordinated? Does it all work together consistently?

The answer to the lack of success you’re having is bound to be contained within one or more of these questions.

You will need to honestly assess what you’re doing if necessary being quite brutal with yourself. Now I know how difficult it is to be truly objective with your own work, so if possible, bring ina third party who can look at what you’re doing and give you an objective and dispassionate view point.

Once you’ve identified what you believe to be the problem, make the changes and then start marketing again but in a limited and small scale way.

Monitor the results. If you’re now getting the results you’re looking for great. If not continue to tweak and trial until you get it right.