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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.

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Cross Selling – The Quickest Way To Grow Your Business

Cross selling is possibly the most valuable business development tool available.

In the world of business development and small company marketing, the key question is how can I grow my business and what’s the fastest way to do it.
When most people think about growing a business, they normally think about winning new customers. While new customers are really important, the fastest and easiest way to grow your business, is to leverage your existing customers and cross sell them into other products.
Just think about it. Your existing customers have already decided that they like you and your products enough to buy from you. So when you offer them something new, as long as it’s something they need, in all likelihood they will buy it from you.
How often do you hear the refrain “I never knew you sold that”.

So as a business owner your mission is obvious. The best cross selling tip I can give is to say you must make sure that all your customers are aware of the full range of products and services you provide so that you’re giving them every opportunity to buy everything they can from you.

Gap Analysis To Identify Cross Selling Opportunities

In order to identify where the cross selling opportunities lie, one of the first things I do with my clients is to carry out a gap analysis.
What we do is we list all the products or services the company sells along the horizontal axis of a spreadsheet and then all the customers down the vertical axis. We then put a tick in the cells to show all the products each customer is currently buying. Then by using the detailed knowledge the client has of his customers we put a cross against those products which they don’t currently buy but which they realistically might buy, that they are currently either getting from somewhere else or they’re not buying at all.
This process identifies where the opportunities lie. It is now down to the marketing and sales functions to convert these opportunities.

For further help with cross selling call Business Development Advisors on 01483 200387 or email mikejennings@bda.me.uk


Grow Your Business – 4 Items to Check

Grow Your Business, courtesy of StariSob, RGBStock.comDo You Want To Grow Your Business But Wonder Why You’re Not Getting The Results You Think You Should?

Lots of people in business work really hard, they put in long hours and then are mystified when they don’t get the results they had hoped for.

There can be lots of reasons for this lack of success but have a look at the issues below. If you’re guilty of some of these then it shouldn’t be too difficult to refocus yourself and rechannel your energies into more productive avenues.

1 Doing the “nice to do” rather than the “need to do”

At the beginning of the day, many of us make a list of things we need to do that day. All the tasks need to be done but some of them will be easy to complete, some not so easy. Some you’ll enjoy doing, some you won’t like so much. Some will have a large effect on your business and some will have very little impact. So the question is how do you prioritise your time and what order do you do the jobs in? The truth is that you probably won’t get all the jobs done every day and some will drop off the list as others take their place.

Too many people will start with the easy jobs, the ones they’re familiar with. Unfortunately these may not be the ones that have the greatest impact on your business.  How easy is it to reorganise your files. How much more would your business gain by you putting together a hard hitting and perfectly targeted marketing campaign.

The business owners who identify the tasks with the greatest benefit for their business and address these first, leaving the less important jobs to last are the ones who reap the benefits.

2. Demanding perfection in all your small business marketing

Perfection is something we all strive for. Perfection in your small business marketing will give you fantastic results but how long will it take you to make everything perfect. Forever is the answer. Waiting for perfection can become an excuse for procrastination.

It’s much better to do your marketing, measure your results and learn from your mistakes. In this way you will be getting closer to perfection and winning new business in the process.

3. Being too similar to your competitors

In most areas of business, there’s  lots of competition – lots of similar businesses offering similar products and services.  How should customers select one company from another? Successful businesses differentiate themselves and make themselves stand out from their competitors. Their products, their service levels, their marketing. It’s because you offer different products to everyone else, presented better and marketed differently that your business will stand out and become the supplier of choice.

4. Being busy for the sake of being busy

Most small business owners work hard. You’re busy trying to grow your business. You’re rushing around, getting frazzled but not getting the results.

It’s very easy to mistake movement for progress. Do you know what you’re trying to achieve. Where are you trying to get to. If you’re going on a journey, you need to have a map of how to get there and an idea of how far it is.

So before you start rushing around like a headless chicken, develop a strategy and a plan and work single mindedly towards your goal.

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Small Improvements to SME Business Marketing Can Equal Business Growth

Small Improvements to SME Business, courtesy of lusi, RGBStock.comSmall improvements in business marketing is how to grow our businesses

We’d all like to grow our businesses, wouldn’t we?

Most of us would love the idea of growing our businesses by 25% or  50% or 75% or even 100% over the course of the next year, wouldn’t we?

But of course, even if we could handle that sort of growth without the whole thing collapsing around our ears, we all know that that sort of growth is impossible. Business development experts might promise you that sort of growth, but you and I know it’s never going to happen.

Because let’s face it, we’re talking small business marketing and if we manage to grow our lead generation activity or the number of referrals we generate by 10% we think we’re doing pretty well.

Focus On All The Key Drivers

So if we agree that 10% growth in all the key areas is possible, you’d be surprised by the compound effect that will have.

Let’s play around with an example and see what happens:

Number of leads – 100

Conversion rate – 20% = 20 sales

Number of transactions – 3 = 60 sales

Transaction value – £50 = £3000

Margin – 50% = £1500

Buying lifetime – 4 years = £6000

Now if we increase each driver by 10%, let’s see what happens:

Number of leads – 110

Conversion rate – 22% = 24.2 sales

Number of transactions – 3.3 = 79.8 sales

Transaction value – £55 = £4389

Margin – 55% = £2414

Buying lifetime – 4.4 years = £10621

This equates to a massive and as we thought just a few minutes ago, impossible, 77% increase in profit. This has been achieved by increasing all the key drivers by 10%. Just think what would happen if we really pushed the boat out and managed to grow each one by 15% or even more.

So what does this tell us. It tells us that by focusing on all the key drivers within our business and achieving quite realistic growth in each one, we really can grow our total business by phenomenal amounts.

For help to identify small improvements call Mike Jennings on 01483 200387

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Improve Your Online Presence In 7 Easy Steps

An online presence can help every small business grow.

Here are 7 easy tips for you to enable you to improve your online presence.

Improve Your Website

1.    Target your text
Make sure your text is aimed directly at your target audience. It is very easy to start writing in a more generalised, narrative sort of way. Identify precisely who you want to attract and write exclusively for them. This is of course relevant to all small business marketing communications and especially so for web sites. Don’t try and be all things to all men otherwise you will fall between two stools and end up appealing to no one in particular.

2.    Be careful who you link to
We all know links are important for SEO but don’t link willy nilly with all and sundry. If you link with sites which don’t match your professionalism it will reflect badly on you. Link only with sites which add to your readers’ experience and which reflect well on you.

3.    Be able to back up your claims
If you make claims about your skills and experience or the clients you’ve worked for, make sure you can back them up when needed. Prospective clients are likely to check you out carefully before deciding to work with you and if any of your claims are found to be fraudulent not only will you lose the opportunity to work with them but potentially with a much wider range of businesses as your fame or infamy proceeds you.

4.    Keep up to date
If you have a news section on your site, make sure it is up to date with relevant and interesting information. If you only have two items on the page and the neither are from the last year, it gives your visitor a very negative impression.

Your Blogs build online presence

1.    Blogging online isn’t for everyone

These days everyone’s blogging. Or so it seems. But the fact is that it’s not for everyone. Some people hate writing or aren’t very good at it. Some people genuinely don’t have the time. If you fall into one of these categories, that’s just the way it is. A badly written or boring blog that is seldom updated is unlikely to achieve anything anyway.

2.    Reply to comments

If you ask readers to comment on your blog, you really owe it to them to reply.  Just think how good this will be for building relationships with your readers.

3.    Give Testimonials

Why not occasionally give testimonials for or recommendations for other companies. Don’t always talk about you or your own company. By making reference to other people you will build your own credibility and therefore the effectiveness of your blog.

Visit the BDA webiste to read more about Internet Marketing.

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Business Networking Tips

Business Networking, courtesy of Jana Kollarova, RGBStock.com

Business networking is an effective form of marketing, especially for small business.

Networking has the potential to generate large returns for low investment – if it’s approached in the right way.

Five Business Networking Tips

The very best tips are always simple, so here are five simple tips to improve buisness networking:

  1. Practise saying what you do – in language ANYONE can understand. If you’re technical, then your customers are buying your expertise, but they still need to understand you first.
  2. Remember Radio WIIFM. People receive on Radio What’s In It for Me, so explain what you deliver not what you do (benefits not features).
  3. Help other people. If you’re helpful then others will be too.
  4. Follow up. If you offered to send information then do, if you found a business really interesting follow up and say so.
  5. Enjoy! People like to be around people enjoying themselves – not necessarily having a party! – but definitely wanting to be there.

Business networking becomes easier with practice and good preparation is a key element. Networking should form part of the business development strategy to make sure results are delivered. Read more about Getting the best out of networking.


Hold on to Your Customers

Customers, image courtesy of Steve Woods, RGBStock.comHold on to your customers is simple advice and sound advice too, as it can mean the difference between growing and standing still (or even moving backwards).

Business growth can be achieved by reducing the number of customers you lose as well as by finding new ones.

Business Growth by Acquiring New Customers

In any business it is important to know the cost of acquiring a new customer. This means taking into account all related the marketing expenses (whether that’s networking or direct email, or the cost of maintaining a website) as well as any pricing decisions that have been made (possibly through offering new customer discounts) and other associated costs. Typically this is a higher cost than expected. Replacing lost customers can be costly in terms of money and time.

Business Growth by Keeping Existing Customers

Avoid the costs of replacing customers by keeping them. The time and money spent holding on to existing customers will be less than acquiring new ones.

To hold on to a customer you need to know why a customer might move away. Some reasons include:

  • maybe you don’t provide the products or services they need now,
  • maybe your customer has met someone who can do the same as you
  • maybe your customer has forgotten about you
  • maybe someone has offered a better service at a better price

Keeping existing customers means having a strategy, planning the actions to be taken and then implementing them. Read more about Holding on to your Customers.

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How to Increase Turnover

Turnover image courtesy of Sigurd Decroos, RGBStock.comBusiness development is all about growing turnover and more importantly profit. But what exactly is turnover? Turnover is money coming into a business, which is not the same as profit. However increasing turnover certainly should increase profit as well.

Two ways to generate additional turnover:

  • Win new customers
  • Find ways for existing customers to spend more

How do you do that? Through better marketing. Marketing is what attracts customers to spend – it’s about having products and services the market wants and informing them about how those products and services will benefit them. It includes a whole range of activities such as  producing a website, Google Adwords, email marketing, social media, blogging and more traditional media such as advertising, direct mail, newsletters, PR etc.

Four Steps to Improve Turnover

Here are four steps you could take to help increase your sales

  • Existing customers. Definitely the easiest and quickest way to grow your business. Upsell and cross sell your products to your existing customers. Identify which products they don’t buy from you and then tell them about them. You should also keep them informed of all new products and innovations
  • Referrals. Actively ask your existing customers to refer you to their contacts who would benefit from your services. Make referral marketing an active part of your marketing armoury as opposed to a matter of chance.
  • Promotion. Adding a promotional offer into your sales pitch will dramatically increase your conversion rate.
  • Leads. Leads are the life blood of most businesses. Rev up your marketing machine to generate plenty of leads and then ensure that your conversion strategies are in good working order.

However, for dramatic business growth, focusing on the seven levers to business success will deliver spectacular results.

Business development advice can help every small business to increase turnover and also to grow profit. Find out more about business development advisors.

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What is Profit? Business Development Grows Profit

Increasing Profit image courtsey of Steve Woods, RGBStock.com

The ultimate objective of business development is to grow profit. But what exactly is profit?

Unfortunately there’s no one correct answer – accountants can provide a precise definition, but even then there’s more than one sort of profit. For a small business, profit can be described as the difference between the money coming in and the money going out – it’s also what you pay tax on.

In relation to business development, profit is all important because the aim of almost all businesses is to make money and normally as much as possible.

How to Grow Profit

There are only two ways to grow profit:

  • Increase income
  • Reduce costs

That may sound easy, but as with most things in business, it’s taking action that counts – and most importantly, making sure that the right actions are taken.
Some people will prefer to focus on one of the two areas above. While cutting costs immediately impacts on the  bottom line, costs can only be cut so far before it starts to have a negative impact on the business. This is where  a business development advisor can help by keeping both elements in balance.

Steps to Reduce Costs

To reduce costs, the following steps can help:

  • Understand and examine current costs. Although this may sound obvious, it is important to understand every cost and what benefit it delivers.
  • Identify alternatives. There is always more than one way to achieve a specific result, so look for alternatives (who else provides the same service, can you renegotiate costs with an existing supplier, do you still need it, etc)
  • Implement. Make decisions, implement some alternatives and reduce costs.

The objective of a cost reduction exercise must be to grow the business’ profit.

Steps to Increase Income

For most small businesses, increasing income is the same as increasing turnover. Find out how to increase turnover.

Business development advice can help every small business to grow. Helping to identify areas where costs can be reduced and providing ways to increase income. Find out more about business development advisors services.