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How Do You Differentiate Your Business From Your Competitors?

How to differentiate your business from your competitors is an issue we all face as, whatever you sell, you’re bound to have plenty of competition.

So you need to make your business stand out.

Read more

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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.

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How To Grow Your Business In 2016

At this stage of the year it’s right for you to take a look at your business and ask yourself some important questions.

What state is your business in and are there ways in which you can grow your business in 2016?

Can you improve the product, improve your service, improve the customer experience.

The ability to continually innovate and improve plays a big part in the development of any successful business.

Standing still is not really an option.

The trouble is once your business is up and running, especially if it’s going well, it’s very easy to stop thinking about it in this way and just focus on running it.

The following questions are the kind of thing you should be continually asking yourself.

• Have I got a plan for my business? Do I and my staff know what our objectives are and where we’re going?
• What additional products or services can I offer to my existing customers?  Cross selling and up selling are the fastest and most cost effective ways to grow your business.
• Do I really understand the problems my customers face and is the business set up to solve them?
• Do I communicate with my customers often enough – telling them about new products, special offers, developments in the industry or the company or just thanking them for their business?
• How often do I ask my clients for their feedback, regarding the service they receive from me and what additional services they would like me to offer?
• How can I improve the quality of my products or services, so that they are of even more value to my customers?
• How is my business differentiated from my competitors or is it just another “me too” business with no obvious reason for customers to choose me over the competition?
• What about my pricing? Have I priced my products to be the same as everybody else or is there a definite rationale behind my pricing whether high or low?
• How good is my customer service? Am I really delighting my customers at every stage of the process or are there areas where I could improve the customer experience?
• How watertight are my sales processes? When a lead or enquiry comes in, am I confident that every one is handled as well as it should be and that none are falling through the cracks?
• Am I getting as many referrals as I should and do I have a process in place to regularly generate referrals?
• Have I got clear marketing objectives and a marketing plan to deliver them?
• Do I get enough leads and enquiries via my website or blog? If not, how can I increase this, so my site becomes a lead generating machine for my business?
• Am I limiting my business by trying to do my own marketing? Should I bring in an expert who can deliver the new business that I need?

It’s this last question that I’m particularly interested in.

If you’re either not doing any marketing because you’re not sure what to do or are doing the marketing yourself but not getting the results, you are in fact inadvertently sabotaging your business.

Luckily I’ve got a solution for you.

I will do your marketing for you and deliver you boat loads of new customers while you focus on all the other important questions.

If you want to discuss this further give me a shout on 01483 200387 or email  mikejennings@bda.me.uk

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You Can Do It Fast Or You Can Do It Slow

So you want more customers.

In that case you’ll need more leads and more prospects.

OK so how are you going to get them?

Well there’s two ways – a quick way and a slow way.

Or I could phrase that another way – there’s the way that involves spending some money and there’s the way without spending money.

So it really depends on how quickly you want to do it.

The slow way

If you’re not in a hurry you can rely on your website appearing high on the organic listings on Google, so that when your prospects are searching for a solution to their problem, up you pop.

So we’re talking about SEO or search engine optimisation.

The problem with SEO is that not only does it take a considerable length of time to achieve those rankings, but Google also regularly changes its search algorithms which means that one day you can be ranking well and the next you’ve disappeared into the back of cyber space. I know I’m talking from painful personal experience.

But now the question is how do you get onto the first page of Google and it does have to be the first page because anything else will not deliver you any meaningful volume.  Not only do you want to be on the first page, but the top half of the first page.

The answer is simply to have the best website in your area of business.

That’s it – just have lots of high quality content, delivering masses of value to your visitors. On top of that you also want lots of high quality people linking to the site.

These characteristics will tell Google that yours is an authoritative site which is worthy of a high ranking because you offer the best solution to their searchers queries.

But that’s a long term strategy.

You probably want traffic and customers right now.

So what’s the other option?

The fast way

The fast way to generate traffic is to buy it.

That’s right you have a marketing budget and you go out and advertise in a range of ways.

The thing now is to ensure you spend your money wisely.

Designing the ad is just one part of the process. There are plenty of other aspects you must pay attention to if you’re going to get a return on your investment.

Remember the way your sales funnel works online is to drive people to a landing page where they give you their contact details in return for a report or white paper.

Below is a list of things you’re going to have to think about.

  1. What are you going to promote? You must have some offer or report of sufficient value to motivate people to give you their contact details. That’s the first thing you have to think about.
  2. Your landing page is the next thing on your list. Sending people to some generic, badly designed page will just lead you to wasting your money. Take great care writing and designing a killer landing page and you’ll get boat loads of sign ups.
  3. Once you’ve got the sign ups, what are you going to do now. You need a system in place which builds trust and credibility, making you the number one choice when they’re ready to buy.
  4. Where are you going to run your ads. With the proliferation of pay per click media, there are all sorts of options these days. Not all of them are necessarily on line. Don’t forget our old friend off line.
  5. Once all this is in place, you need to write and design your ads and get the campaign live.

Blimey there’s lots to do, so you’d better get busy.

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Give More, Get More

For most businesses the number 1 issue they face is how to win new customers.

Or to put it another way their number 1 issue is to convince their prospects that they are the best option to solve their problems, that they are best placed to help them.

I know that this is the case for my business and for my clients.

So how do you go about doing this?

Well the answer is really simple – …by helping them.

I’m not talking about your existing clients. Naturally you’re helpful to them, otherwise they wouldn’t be your clients.

I’m talking about your prospects.

The best way to convince them you can help them is to help them.

Obvious really.

So how do you do this?

The solution is to help them resolve some issue in their business…BEFORE…you ask them to become clients.

Now the standard response I get to this suggestion is “if I give my stuff away, people will just take my free stuff and won’t need to hire me”.

Actually, and fortunately, that’s not true. In fact the more valuable stuff you give away, the greater the likelihood that prospects will turn into clients.

The more stuff you give away, the more people will want it.

To work out what you need to give away it may make it easier if you plan it out on a piece of paper.

On the left hand side write down what the problem your prospect suffers from is and on the right write down the result if you resolve the problem.

In between you should list the steps that you can/will take to resolve the issue for the prospect and so position yourself as the obvious choice of supplier.

So for my business, my prospects want more clients.

So on the left I would write “Not enough clients” and on the right I would write “Lots of clients”

I will now insert the steps I will advise them to take.

My starting point will be that they need to get more visitors (traffic) to their website.

They need to give these people a reason to engage with them when they’re there by providing an incentive for them to leave their contact details ie a special report – this is what’s called a lead magnet

Having got the contact details they now need to nurture that relationship by regular email contact so that the prospect gets to like and trust them.

The last step will be to offer some kind of incentive or special offer so that prospects will contact me which will give me the opportunity to sell to them.

The way I make this happen is to offer a free half day’s consultancy in which I will look in detail at the prospect’s business. I will identify their niche audiences, create an avatar of their typical client, create an irresistible customer proposition for the prospect and then finally suggest appropriate channels for communication.

I do all this for free which provides an incredible deal for my prospects and positions me as a proven expert in their eyes.

So all you’ve got to do is work out how you can do the equivalent. What problem would your prospects love you to solve and how are you going to go about it?

While your competition are telling  prospects how helpful they can be if only they’ll give them some money, with my approach you’ll be showing your prospects how helpful you can be before they become clients.

It’s very hard to compete against that.

Make sense? It’s not hard to do. But like anything it’s all about implementation.

Categories: business growth

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Turn Luke Warm Into Red Hot

We all want red hot prospects.

– Red hot prospects want what you sell.
– Red hot prospects are willing to pay the price you want to charge.
– Red hot prospects are likely to spend the most money with you.
– Red hot prospects are of course the most likely to become customers.

So when we describe a red hot prospect what do we actually mean?

A red hot prospect is someone who needs what you sell, they generally know a lot about you or your product, they’re positively disposed towards you and they probably are happy with the prices you want to charge them.

The question is do you get enough red hotties or are too many of your prospects luke warm? Or even worse do you simply not have enough prospects?

So what’s the secret?

The trick is to have provided all the information to answer all your prospects’ questions, to have overcome their objections in advance before you ever speak to them.

So how do you do this?

Write down the 5 concerns or objections that people have about your product or service. Just ask yourself the question “what would stop me from buying this?”

Price is always likely to be one of the factors. So what are the others?

Having identified the issues, you need to develop real answers that address and overcome the concerns that would stop people from buying.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself and identify the real concerns – not just the easy or obvious ones and make sure your solutions are convincing and persuasive.

Price should be one of the easiest to overcome. If you list enough benefits that you deliver then it becomes easy for people to see why you charge the price you do.

Remember benefits are usually the answer to the question “why should I care about that?” I don’t buy an ergonomically designed chair because it’s ergonomic – that’s a feature. I buy it because it supports my back.

In addition to listing all the benefits you deliver, another really good way to address the concerns that stop people from buying is to offer a guarantee and if relevant a free trial.

The purpose of a guarantee is to take away all the risk from the buyer so that if the product doesn’t live up to expectations they can get their money back and obviously the free trial let’s people try the product either at home or in the office for long enough that they can be certain that it’s right for them.

What’s next?

You now want to ensure that you manage to communicate your solutions to your prospects to turn them from luke warm to red hot.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

Firstly you can create an FAQ page on your website and drive people to it via a link in your email marketing or auto responder sequence.
You can make each point the subject of a blog and cover them off that way or you can make each one a subject in its own right in an email and send them out to your list.

The point is that if you work out convincing answers to the concerns that people have, you’ll have done a lot of the selling before you ever start the sales dialogue.

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The Only Two Principles You Need To Worry About

You won’t be surprised to hear that basic human principles don’t change much at all, and this includes marketing principles.

Over the last ten years we’ve seen the Internet come charging over the horizon and make itself comfortably at home in the business community. More recently, we’ve seen a financial meltdown which we’re only now recovering from.

But even so, things are now pretty much as they’ve always been.

Marketing principles don’t change and that’s because we’re still human and we’re still motivated by the same things, driven by the same emotions and the same hopes and fears as we’ve always been.

So, let’s look at the simple challenge facing your business.

Growing your business is a simple process you can break down into two parts:

1. Generating qualified leads.
2. Converting them to paying customers.

It’s that simple and it’ll always be that simple.

So, when people tell you that internet marketing is different – they’re wrong.
It’s the same as any other kind of marketing: the style and the delivery mechanisms might have changed but the substance will be the same.

And how do you get the highly qualified leads?

Well this is where the difference in style comes in.

Online, you might want to use AdWords, natural search, banner advertising, stuff like that.

One seriously underused strategy is to use offline media to drive people online.

The last few years has been a great time to be doing it because the recession meant that businesses haven’t been advertising as much as normal with the result that ad space has been cheap.

So once you’ve got your qualified leads, what do you do with them?

You want to turn them into paying customers.

Conventional wisdom tells us to convert the qualified leads into sales by “selling” them.

While this might work occasionally, it’s fraught with peril, because if you fail to sell them that first time you’ve lost them. Probably for good.

A better solution in many cases is to begin a relationship with them.

Get their details – name and email address at a bare minimum, but the Holy Grail is a postal address as well – and then start sending them interesting material including but not exclusively sales material. Emails, a paper newsletter, direct mail, postcards… the list is limited only by your imagination.

How do you get them to give you their details?

Simple: offer something of value like a free report or a white paper, something of value that they will exchange their contact details for. There are no real rules, other than it really needs to be something useful and with a high perceived value to your prospect.

So you can now start marketing to them until they buy, they die or they tell you to stop.

Sounds easy doesn’t it ?

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So What Else Do They Need?

We’ve all heard the pitch “Dramatically grow your business in the next couple of weeks without really trying” far too many times.

But we all know that growing your business is hard work and for most of us if we can grow 10% a year, we’re doing pretty well.

But I am now going to tell you that there is a way that will allow most businesses to grow very significantly that’s really not too difficult and that you can make a start on right away.

For this to work you are going to have to be an existing business with clients or customers already. If you’re a start up or a very new business it is still absolutely relevant but the benefits will take a bit longer to come through.

So the question you need to ask yourself is: What else do my customers need?

Now you sell whatever it is you sell. So ask yourself what other products relate to what you sell that would be relevant to your customers.

I’ll give you an example:

A few years ago before the economic downturn I was working with a company who installed swimming pools. Through the boom years they were doing very nicely installing swimming pools to affluent households in Surrey.

Then came the economic crash of 2008 and suddenly everyone got scared and business dried up, which isn’t good when you’re talking about swimming pools. So the question was what could they do if no one felt confident enough to invest in a swimming pool.

The answer was to offer a pool maintenance service.

All the people they’d installed pools for over the years needed to have the pools maintained – whether that was a monthly cleaning service, supplying swimming pool chemicals, annual maintenance for the filtration system, provision of safety fences to keep children and pets safely away from the water or even a landscaping service for the area around the pool.

When their primary business slowed down, it could have been disastrous. But by identifying and providing all the services relevant to the core business they managed not just to survive the downturn but actually to grow through it.

The key to this was their database.

They had a relationship with all their past customers so when they went back to them they had great success selling the new products and services.

They became a one stop shop for everything relating to swimming pools.

Joint Ventures

Now the next question is are you going to provide these additional products or services yourself or are you going to use an existing supplier.

If you can supply them yourself – great.

But if you can’t then this is the perfect opportunity to create joint ventures.

It’s easy to find out who provides the extra services that your customers need and you just need to agree how the relationship will work.

Will you white label someone else’s product and present it as your own or bring in the partner in their own right?

Either way it should open up new revenue streams from old customers and in the future from new.

It’s all about the relationship

Most people believe that having the solution, whether it be intellectual property or physical product is the most important element.

It’s not.

It’s having the customer relationships.

Once you have that, then it’s easy to offer them the all the other related products.

So ask yourself this question: What else do my clients need that’s directly related to what I sell?

When you’ve found the answer you may well have cracked the question I asked right at the start of how you can dramatically grow your business quickly and easily.

 

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Why You’re Rubbish At Sales

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s true.

Most people are rubbish at sales.

Why?

The simple answer is because they’re selling.

I define buying and selling differently to most people. To me buying is a considered and pleasurable process where you happily exchange money for something you want.

Selling on the other hand is hard work.

You try to convince people that they need whatever it is you’re selling. It’s all about overcoming objections,  pushing people into corners and then closing the deal.  Put like that it sounds more like institutionalised bullying.

Selling is a tough job which is why most people are rubbish at it.

People have developed in built resistance to sales techniques.

If you’re like me as soon as you recognise a salesman going through his  patter, the barriers go up and the chance of me buying go down.

Now you may very well have excellent products which will do a great job for me at an excellent price but because I feel I’m being manipulated, that the salesman isn’t thinking about me and my needs, but thinking about his month end figures and commission, I react negatively and escaping becomes my primary objective.

We reject sales people because they’re selling.

The top sales people don’t sell – they create the environment in which customers want to buy.

How To Become Great At Selling

As I’ve just said, to be great at selling, you have to stop selling and allow customers to take the decision to buy.

Now if you’re going to buy something, you are going to want to know all the details about the product:

  • What does it do – not just from the manufacturer’s point of view but from more importantly what does it do from your point of view.
  • What benefits does it deliver to you?
  • What guarantees does it come with?
  • Can you trial it in advance?
  • How can I get hold of it?
  • Do other users recommend it – what social proof is there?

What I’m saying is that you need to market your products to your prospective buyers in order to create the environment for them to buy.

So tell me: Are you doing this?

Are you starting with the three Ms of marketing:

MARKET————–MESSAGE—————MEDIUM

  • Have you identified in granular detail exactly who your niche audiences are?
  • Have you crafted  the right messages for each of your target groups so that your marketing messages are totally relevant to each group?
  • Have you identified where these groups of customers hang out? Only when you know where these people spend their time can you decide which media and which methods of communication will be right to communicate with them.

It’s time for you to stop hard selling your prospects and to start creating the environment  in which they  will want to buy.

 

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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.