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7 Secrets of Successful Small Business Advertising

When many people think of marketing, they automatically think of advertising. Personally I virtually never suggest my clients use traditional newspaper and magazine advertising.

Why?

Because most small business advertising doesn’t work. There are many more effective and less expensive ways to market your business.

However if you are already advertising or plan to in the near future, here is some basic advice to help you get the best from it.

1. If Your Advertising Isn’t Being Effective – Stop It Immediately
That may sound ridiculously obvious but you would be amazed at how much small business advertising is done just because that’s what their business has always done and they don’t really know whether the ads are working.

2. Test And Measure The Effectiveness Of Your Advertising

Unless you test and measure your advertising you won’t know whether it is working or not. When I say working, what I mean is: is each ad generating more profit than it costs? So if each ad is costing £300, is each one generating more than this in profit?  When you are doing this calculation, you shouldn’t forget about the amount of time involved in organising the ad. What this means is for the ad to be genuinely profitable it will need to generate significantly more than the cost.

3. Only Run Ads Which Produce A Response

Large corporations run brand advertising which is designed to build and sustain awareness of their brand. For small business advertising, brand advertising is almost certainly a huge waste of money.
The purpose of your ads must be to produce a response –  a phone call, a visit to a web site or even a purchase. Only in this way can you be confident that your advertising is actually generating business.

4. The Importance Of The Headline

The headline is the most important part of the advertisement. It needs to grab peoples’ attention immediately. The headline must interest readers enough that they want to find out what the ad’s about and read on into the body copy.
Small changes in a headline can produce huge changes in response. Experiment with headlines, continually refine them until you get to the ultimate in attention grabbing.

5. Address Your Reader Personally

The copy of your ad needs to be a personal communication to the individual reading it. It needs to be about them. It needs to address their needs, desires and fears and it needs to constantly communicate the benefits of what you are offering.

6. Tell Your Readers What To Do Next

Along with the headline the call to action is the most important part of the advertisement. You’re looking for a direct response from your readers so tell them what they should do next. Do you want them to call you, to visit your web site for more information or even to make a purchase? Whatever response you want, tell them exactly what to do, give them all the information they need to do it and make it easy. If it’s too complicated you’ll lose them.

7. Negotiate The Best Deal

When it comes to actually booking your advertising there are a couple of points to remember.

Only advertise on right hand pages. Our eyes naturally fall on the right hand page as we flick through a publication. Statistically more people see ads on right hand pages.

Never pay the full rate for advertising. If you negotiate you may well reduce your costs by 20% – 30%. This can make a big difference to your budget and can sometimes turn an unprofitable ad campaign into a successful one.

Once again, my experience is that many businesses are wasting money on ineffective advertising when they could be getting a much better return from other forms of marketing (Email marketing, tele marketing, direct marketing, internet marketing, referrals, strategic alliances etc) But if you do it well and test and experiment, advertising can become a highly profitable element of your marketing mix.

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How Attractive Is Your Business To Prospective Customers?

Winning new customers  is a vital part of the business development process.  But for your business to attract a constant stream of new customers, all aspects of your customer proposition have to be spot on.
Likewise you  must ensure that your marketing is delivering – getting  the right messages into  the right hands, at the right time, accompanied by the right incentives.
If at any stage of the process customers don’t like what you’re offering, they won’t buy. They’ll find someone else who ticks all the boxes.

So ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we tell our prospects exactly what we do?
  • Do we tell them what benefits we will deliver to them?
  • Do we know what our customers really want?
  • Are our products and our marketing tailored to our customers’ specific needs?
  • Do our customers perceive us in the way we would like them to?
  • Does our business stand out from our competitors or are we just a “me too”?
  • Are there powerful reasons to choose us instead of a competitor?
  • Do we provide guarantees against all our products and services?
  • Do we remove any risk customers  might perceive in buying our products?

If you answer NO to any of these questions, then you’re selling both your business and your customers short. The result will be that you lose sales which you should be winning.

So what should you do about it?

At Business Development Advisors we run “Marketing Fundamentals” workshops to address precisely these questions.

These fun, fast paced, one day workshops will address all the key elements of your marketing proposition, positioning your business in the most attractive way, making your business totally relevant to your target audience and making it easy for prospective customers to buy from you.

The effect will be to turbo charge your marketing and your sales.  Whereas before your prospects may have had unanswered questions in their minds and any number of reasons not be buy from you, now all their concerns will be answered and your business will become the obvious choice.

For more details of our “Marketing Fundamentals” workshop, visit https://bda.me.uk/marketing.html

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The Five Big Mistakes Made By New And Growing Businesses

It’s a sad statistic that 80% of new businesses fail within their first five years. The following points are mistakes that individually can seriously damage your business. Put all together and you’ll become just another statistic.

  1. Trying To Sell Something People Don’t Want
    It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised.
    Choosing a good product to sell should be easy. It may not be original but if you choose something that people are already buying, maybe give it a bit of a twist and then you go out and market it better than the others, you’ll probably be successful.But that’s not what a lot of people do.  Very admirably, they create something new, something the market isn’t currently providing. Now that’s great as long as there isn’t a good reason why no one else is selling it.Your product may be fantastic. But do people want it? Possibly they should want it. It may be something we should all need. But do people really want it. If they don’t you’re in trouble.
  2. Wasting Money On Ineffective Advertising
    What’s the quickest way to start marketing your business. That’s right – advertising. If you look through your local paper you will see any number of local businesses doing uninspiring, instantly forgettable advertising. When you’re starting a business, money is invariably tight. Every pound spent needs to generate a profit.
    If your advertising isn’t generating a profit, you should stop it immediately. If an ad costs you say £300, if you’re not making more than that in nett profit then you should stop it.
    Now I know the argument about it taking time to build awareness. Small businesses shouldn’t be doing brand advertising. Each ad should generate an immediate response and make a profit.
  3. A Website That No One Knows About
    You may have the world’s most beautiful website. You may have spent weeks crafting the words and selecting gorgeous images. You may have spent thousands of pounds with highly skilled designers but if no one finds it then unfortunately you’ve wasted all your time and money.
    At the same time that you’re creating your website, you must spend time thinking about how you’re going to drive traffic to it.
    Here are a few ways to make sure your website gets found:
    1.Search engine optimisation
    2. Pay per click advertising
    3. Email Marketing
    4. Traditional Advertising
    5. Viral Marketing
    6. Inbound Link Building
  4. Not Creating A Back End Of Products And Services
    Most businesses make their money by developing long term relationships with customers. The cost of acquiring new customers is very high. Luckily the cost of selling to existing customers is much lower.  So the secret is to create a “back end” so that as soon as you’ve made your first sale, you have something else to sell them. Your customer has already made the decision to buy from you once, given the right offer they’ll be happy to buy from you again.
    Create a sequence of products for your customers to buy and watch your sales grow.
  5. Not Allowing Yourself Enough Time or Money
    Few businesses become successful overnight. If you take the right steps from the outset, then you can build your business pretty fast. But it will still take time.
    When you start out you should decide how long you think it will take to build your business. Realistically you should now probably double that time. And of course it’s not just time that you need. You also need money. You must make sure you have enough cash to get you through this extended period. It’s such a shame when good businesses fail because the owner underestimated how long it would take and how much it would cost to get it up and running.
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What Are The Most Powerful Words In Marketing?

The words you use to communicate with your customers are very important. Copy writing is all about hitting your prospects hot buttons and getting them to take action. There are certain words which when used correctly virtually guarantee you a great response rate.

Below I’ve listed a number of these copy writing “power words”. Use them in your brochures, web sites or sales letters and see the impact they have on your marketing.

Free
The most powerful word you can use. We all love anything that’s Free. Free will always draw the eye and will ensure that the sentence is read.

Easy
We all want things to be easy. We want results to be easy to achieve. We want everything easy. If your product or service makes peoples’ lives easier, make sure you tell them.

You
The magic word in all good copy. Using the word ‘you’ forces you to have a personal conversation with the person reading it.

No Risk
If customers perceive there to be a risk in buying your product, then they probably won’t. If you can remove that risk then the decision to buy from you becomes so much easier. Remove the risk, massively grow your sales.

New
Everyone wants the ‘new’ thing. We may be bored with old stuff but something ‘new’ may well get our interest.

Limited
Scarcity is an important marketing tool. If there is a limited supply of your product, customers will take action out of fear of missing out.

Simple
People don’t want to have to wrestle with something complicated. If it’s simple and you don’t have to be a genius to understand it I may be interested.

Solve
People buy things that are going to solve their problem. Outline the problem and then demonstrate how you can solve it.

Guaranteed
The ultimate risk elimination is the guarantee. Take away the risk and there’s no reason for me not to buy from you.

Yes
There’s something about the word ‘Yes’ It just works wonders. When you speak to customers use it a lot.

Important
It’s important to use the word important. People want to know about important things and it’s a word that grabs the reader’s attention. And that’s important!

Fast
We all want things to happen fast. If you can do it – tell them.

Proven / Proof
If you can prove the claims you’re making, you remove the scope for scepticism.

Now
There comes a point when you need to tell your customer what to do. They need to call you, or order from you or ‘click here.’ But you don’t want them doing it tomorrow or next week. You want them to do it now.

So make sure your copy is full of these “power words”. If you’re not confident of your copy writing skills or you need further advice call us on 01483 200387

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Overcoming Objections or How To Avoid “I’ll Have To Think About It”.

We’ve all been there haven’t we?

You’ve made a really good pitch and you’re just waiting for your prospect to say yes. Instead he utters those fateful words “ I’ll have to think about it”.
Your heart sinks.
We all know that if we don’t close the deal there and then, the chances of ever getting the order are very much reduced. The deal’s not necessarily dead but the chances of success are now very much reduced.

So where did it all go wrong? He was giving you buying signals all through – or so you thought.

It’s common for even experienced sales people to leave the overcoming of buyer resistance almost to chance. “Push benefits, and they will buy.” “Turn cattle prod to stun, and they will buy.”

But make no mistake. Not only is that often not enough… the truth is that even seemingly enthusiastic buyers will often have hidden doubts. Fail to address them and overcome the objections and you may fail to sell.

Overcoming Buyer Resistance
I think we all know that to sell you have to offer  the right product to the right person at the right time in the right way. In reality you aren’t forcing your customer to say yes, you’re taking away his reasons to say no.

Selling isn’t brilliantly creative and it certainly shouldn’t be either trickery or brute force. It’s nothing more than showing your prospect that your product is the right one for him.

Inevitably your prospect is going to have questions in his mind that he will need answering before he will commit. This is the process of overcoming objections.

Overcoming Objections
For every sale there’s will be an infinite permutation of objections. I’m just going to look at a few standard ones here.

It’s Too Expensive
Remember, it’s seldom about price. It’s about value.

When a prospect says your prices are too high, he’s really telling you that the value of your product sounds too low. It doesn’t have enough benefits to get him to pay the asking price.

Solution: Find services like yours that cost more and build a comparison. When told that my services are too expensive I will often ask the potential client how much he pays to have his car serviced. Premium garages often charge £120 an hour or £800+ per day. Aren’t my services worth as much as a garage mechanic?
Another approach is to put a value on the results of your service and then relate that to the cost.

I’ll Have To Think About It.
Somewhere along the line you haven’t convinced him, you haven’t answered all those questions in his mind.

Solution: You need to find out which boxes in his mind still need ticking. You will have to go through the issues one at a time and overcome the objection. Eventually you should get to the stage where you’ve removed all the reasons to say no.
However there are ways to encourage him to speed up his decision making process. One way is to impose a deadline for the special terms you’re offering him or to emphasise that there is only a limited availability.

It’s Not For Me
This might just mean you have to target your message more carefully. Selling to the wrong audience wastes money. So does selling to the right audience with the wrong message.

Solution: Make sure you’re targeting the correct niche audience. No one can be all things to all men. Additionally you should give him examples of customers similar to him using your product. If this can be backed up with testimonials even better.

I Don’t Have Time To Go Through All This
He’s really saying that he’s bored and he doesn’t see enough immediate benefit to go on with your sales pitch.
But the truth is we make time for interesting and valuable things.

Solution: Find the hook. Open with a benefit and show how your product or service is going to solve his problems and deliver value to him.

I Don’t Know Anything About You
Now he’s telling you he needs to trust you and wants to see proof that you are as good as you say you are.

Solution: Client testimonials are the obvious solution. If some of your clients would be prepared to speak to your prospect and recommend you that would help enormously. Additionally if you can give a guarantee of your service you remove the risk the prospect may be worried about.

What Makes You Different To Anyone Else?
He’s telling you that you’ve failed to differentiate your offering from everyone else’s.

Solution: You need to look at what makes you stand out from your competitors – what is your USP.  If the answer is nothing then you’re going to struggle to convince customers to choose you. This means you may need to re-engineer some aspect of your business so that you do have something which makes you stand out. 

Planning For Success
If you plan your prospect’s potential objections in advance you should be able to overcome the objections when they arise plus it gives you much clearer opportunities to demonstrate your product’s value and to plan your sales pitch and renewed confidence in what you’re selling.

Frankly, wouldn’t you have to be crazy to say “no” to all that?

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How Do You Convert Readers into Customers?

Why do we write blogs? Is it for fun? Maybe.

Is it because we’ve nothing better to do with our time? Probably not.

Is it because we like to share information with others? Yes but that’s not the primary reason for blogging.

Most people who write blogs do so because they want to attract visitors to their web site and ultimately to convert them into customers.
Unfortunately many bloggers become frustrated because they do all this work and get very little result. Plenty of people may visit the site, they may well read the post but this traffic doesn’t convert into paying customers. Many bloggers then become frustrated and give up.
However there is often a fairly straightforward reason for this poor result.

Convert Readers Into Customers

As any marketing person will tell you, to make a sale you have to be delivering your marketing messages to the right audience. If you deliver your beautifully crafted messages about prime Scottish beef to vegetarians, you’re unlikely to make a load of sales. It’s all about targeting the right people.

This is where the trouble often starts.

Commonly the blogger, being an expert in his field, will write very detailed and technical blogs, going into the detail of the subject. The problem with this is that the only people who will be interested in that level of detail will be other specialist practitioners. Prospective customers want more generalised information and to understand how the subject relates to them, what the solutions to their problems will be and how they can benefit.

Keyword Density

Before starting to write a blog post, most people will decide what their keywords are going to be and ensure that those words are used frequently. The number of times keywords are used within a section of text is referred to as keyword density. Keyword density is one of the determinants that Google uses when ranking your site.
When the blog post is targeted at the wrong audience, the wrong keywords will be used. This means that the keyword density will be measured on the wrong keywords which will therefore attract the wrong readers.

So if you want to convert more of your readers into customers, you need to make sure you are writing for the right profile of readers.

  • Decide who you want to attract to your web site
  • Be clear about how you can help them  and solve their problems
  • Identify the keywords that they will search on for help with their problems
  • Create the right keyword density to rank well on the search engines.
  • Write in their language about topics they are interested in
  • Make it clear how you can help them

For more help and advice on writing blog posts which convert readers into customers contact Mike Jennings on 01483 22 00387 or email mikejennings@bda.me.uk or www.businessdevelopmentadvisors.co.uk

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7 Ways To Generate More Sales Leads For Your Business

Sales leads

Leads are the essential first step in the sales process. A steady flow of good quality sales leads, when allied to an effective conversion strategy will lead to a regular stream of new business, allowing business owners to plan ahead with confidence.
This post contains 7 common and effective lead generation ideas, which you should consider using in your marketing arsenal. Of course there are plenty of other methods of lead generation but these 7 will give you a good start.
Why do you need so many?
Many small business owners make the mistake of relying too heavily on just 1 or 2 sources of leads.
The problem with that approach is that if one of those lead sources slows down or stops delivering, you are in BIG trouble! It’s far better to develop a wide spread of ways to generate sales leads.

Sales Leads via Word of Mouth
If you want to get the marketplace talking about you to their friends, give them something to talk about!
The golden rule of generating leads via word of mouth, is that you need to be remarkable if you want people to remark on you!
– Remarkable for the methods you use.
– Remarkable for the results you generate.
– Remarkable for the products you sell.
– Remarkable for the service you provide.

Sales Leads via Email Marketing
This is easily one of the most powerful forms of lead generation. For very little cost, a professionally copy written email marketing campaign will generate a steady supply of high quality, targeted sales leads for your business. Don’t do like most small business owners and use amateur marketing copy – it doesn’t work.

Sales Leads via Twitter
Twitter is a relatively new medium and one many people are using very badly. Your objective is to get potential customers to follow you and then to use your tweets to demonstrate your expertise and to reveal a bit about your character. Potential customers can then decide to interact with you and you can start to build a relationship.

Sales Leads via Telemarketing
If you don’t fancy picking up the phone yourself there are plenty of telemarketing agencies out there. Setting aside the skill of the telemarketer, telemarketing is a numbers game. If you make a few calls, you may well not get any joy from it. However if you make a large amount of calls, the chances are that you will generate a quantity of sales leads.
To do telemarketing you do have to stick at it and not take rejection personally.

Sales Leads via Networking
Networking is one of the classic ways for lead generation. A quick search will reveal plenty of local networking groups. Most of these meet for breakfast although some meet at other times of day.
These days you can also network online which has the benefit that you don’t have to leave home to do it and it’s also free. Whether you choose online or offline networking, the key is to network with the right kind of people. You should also remember you’re not just connecting with contacts directly but with all their contacts. So don’t write off someone just because they may never be a customer for you because they may know someone who will be.

Sales Leads via Direct Mail
Direct mail has been around for ever. However since the advent of digital communications direct mail has fallen out of favour. This therefore presents a real opportunity for people prepared to send things through the post. Due to the decrease in the amount of direct mail people receive, a hand signed letter from a fellow businessperson can really have an impact. Of course the letter you send and any accompanying collateral have to be well crafted and relevant to the recipient.

Sales Leads via your Website or blog
Bottom line: Your site should be a lead generating machine for your business.
Get your site’s SEO right so that people can find it and get it professionally copy written, so people feel compelled to interact with your site, click your links and get in touch.
Also, make it easy for people to contact you. Publish your phone number and email address on every page. If you use a contact form, just ask for their name, email address and message. You don’t need anything else to begin with and every extra piece of info you ask for, massively lowers your lead conversion rates!
If you need help with generating sales leads talk to Mike Jennings on 01483 200387 or email info@bda.me.uk
www.businessdevelopmentadvisors.co.uk

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Business Growth through Leads and Sales

Sales Process image courtesy of Steve Woods, RGBStock.comBusiness Growth can come from more sales and more sales can come from understanding where leads and sales come from and then improving the process.

Lead Generation and Sales Process Analysis

  1. Know your lead generation process – (or make sure you have one!). Everyone in business has a lead generation process, even if it’s just attending an event or advertising locally then sitting back and waiting. Some processes work better than others!Understand your sales generation process by answering questions such as:
    • Where do leads come from?
    • How many of them become sales?
    • How long does it take from lead to sale?
    • How many leads are being generated per month?
    • How many leads are needed to achieve business targets?

     

  2. Dig into the information you have and ask more questions to understand the whole sales process.
    • Why do customers buy from us?
    • How did our customers find us?
    • How can we increase conversion rates?
    • Why do we lose customers?

    This will allow us to uncover the sales process we actually use – or maybe that will be the sales processes we actually use. Understanding what we do and what works will allow a new, efficient, sales process to be defined that can be repeated. A repeatable process can then be used to increase efficiency in lead generation and sales.

A Repeatable Sales Process

From the work done in step one, look at the full sales process and work out how it can repeated faster and faster – that will generate more leads and so more sales. More sales is business growth.

If you need help with lead generation or lead conversion, then contact Mike at Business Development Advisors.

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Customer Contact: Stay in Touch

Customer Contact image courtesy of sanja gjenero, RGBStock.comCustomer contact is how we build relationships and in my book, 10 Essential Business Growth Strategies I highlight the importance of simply staying in touch – with customers and potential customers. There are lots of ways of staying in touch with customers – sometimes called ‘marketing touches’ and our marketing plans should include details of how we will continue to stay in contact. This doesn’t have to be as much work as it might sound at first.

Here are some examples:

  • If you attend a networking event, make sure you at least say ‘hello’ to any attending customers (existing or past ).
  • If you talk to someone at an event, then follow up with an email – see, 2 marketing touches straight away.
  • Newsletters may seem obvious and there is debate about whether they work or are any use. If your newsletter meets a need and arrive sat the right time, then it will work – as long as you have asked for the right action within your newsletter. Newsletters don’t have to be newsletters – they can be announcements or updates, anything that communicates with your customer and provides something useful.
  • Making a telephone call or sending a letter, especially after you‘ve met someone keeps the contact going.

Plan your customer contacts into your overall marketing plan and it makes contact more efficient – you know when to contact someone and then you can look into using technology to automate the process – even more efficient.

For help keeping in contact with your customers and growing your business, read the essentials in the book.

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Networking as a Marketing Tool

Networking image courtesy of Steve Woods, RGBStock.comNetworking can be found everywhere these days – online and offline and it sometimes seems as if a new business networking group is launched every week, or more!

There are a number of reasons why business networking is so popular.

  • Networking does generate business, especially if you network with your target market – but your business group can also allow you access to your target market through their contacts (marketing through your network rather than to your network). Find out more about Getting the best out of Business Networking.
  • It’s easy to set targets and measurements around attending events and so check how effective it is. How many events do you need to attend to make a sale – and so how many events have you booked? How many people do you need to talk to before you meet for a more detailed discussion – so how many people have you met this week or month? However, be wary of setting the wrong sort of measurements.
  • Be clear about your reasons for attending an event and then the measurement becomes worthwhile
  • Small business needs suppliers as well as customers and suppliers can be found at business networking events. Also partners, opportunities for joint ventures, collaborations, etc.
  • Compared to other marketing activities networking can be cost–effective. However marketing through business networking can also be expensive – not just in terms of money but also in terms of time spent participating and following up… and it’s the follow up that must also be taken into account.

Cost Effective Networking for Small Business

As with all forms of marketing, business networking should be planned into the overall marketing strategy.

Six tips to get the most from networking:

  1. Plan your strategy and how you will measure success.
  2. Be clear about why you want to attend a particular event or join a particular business group
  3. Set aside enough time to make the most of the opportunity. This means planning before events, travelling to and attending the event as well as time for follow up afterwards.
  4. Remember that people that network for different reasons, so not everyone will be there for the same reason as you.
  5. Think broadly about networking. You can network anywhere a group of people gather – online or offline. Networking isn’t just about business networks.
  6. Keep track of the cost of networking to make sure it really is an effective marketing activity for you.

Read more tips on business networking.

For more information about networking visit the BDA website or call for a chat on 01483 200387.