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Why Your Marketing Funnel Should Be Like A Production Line

Have you ever thought about the similarity between a marketing funnel and a production line?

Marketing funnel

Your marketing funnel should operate like a production line

I’ll show you what I mean.

Virtually everything today is produced on a production line.

Cars are the classic example.

As the car progresses along the line, robots put the thing together.

First there’s the chassis, then the engine, the doors, the wheels, the wiring etc etc.

The car starts off as a few unrecognisable components and as it moves down the conveyor belt it gradually takes shape until it drops off the end as the shiny finished article.

Your marketing funnel should work the same way.

The processes should be planned and refined so that your prospects enter the production line (marketing funnel) in a raw and uncommitted state and are moved through the process and slowly start to look more like a customer until they come out the end the finished article, ready to do business with you.

So what should the stages within your marketing funnel look like?

Stage 1 Prospects arrive as complete strangers and you have an initial engagement with them.

Stage 2 Your auto responder series starts providing them with information, advice and benefits and they start to form a positive opinion of you.

Stage 3 You continue to give them relevant and valuable information and advice and they start to like the way you interact with them and to trust your expertise.

Step 4 You make your pitch to them –  to make a sale, arrange a meeting etc.

Step 5 They interact with your sales team and drop off the production line as beautifully formed, ready to drive customers.

So that’s the way your marketing funnel works and as I said it’s just like a production line. There are a set number of steps for prospects to go through and success depends on you having a seamless and well oiled process in place.

The prospect must be moved along the conveyor belt with each process kicking in automatically.

If you haven’t got one, your marketing will be a bit like British Leyland in the 1970s – unplanned, old fashioned and likely to disappoint you.

So what’s the solution?

Two options spring to mind.

  1. You can hope that BMW offer to buy you for several billion quid.

Or

  1. You can get in touch with me on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or 01483 200387 and I can help you set up your production line.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Win New Customers From Your Small Business Marketing

How to generate new customers is the issue most small businesses focus on in their small business marketing. The fact that when I start working with a new client, I focus on how to maximise the value of existing customers isn’t the point here. Most clients prioritise new customers.

I’m going to give you therefore 7 very simple tips which while being pretty obvious, will make the process of acquiring new customers significantly easier.

small business marketing delivers new customers

1. Identify your niche audiences

The key to marketing is relevance. Marketing will only be successful if it is totally relevant to the people consuming it.

It’s therefore vital that you identify a number of niche audiences as closely as possible so that your marketing talks to them directly.

2. Use a variety of marketing channels

Different people like to receive information in different ways and from different sources. Many businesses use one or two ways of communicating and leave it at that. The problem with this is that if your audience don’t use these channels much or if these channels stop working for some reason then you’re in trouble.

Smart marketers use multiple channels (10 or more) with each channel supporting and backing up the other ones.

With traditional and digital media together there are now more channels available to us(many of which are now free) than ever before.

3. Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system

You need to be able to keep track of all your prospects and to keep a record of all contacts and actions. The most basic way is just to use Excel but this is very basic and has no clever functionality.

There are plenty of CRM systems such as Act or Goldmine which are very sophisticated and will help ensure that maximise your customer and prospect contacts

4. Provide helpful educational information

The more you give out to the market, the more you will get back.

By providing interesting and informative information to the market, you position yourself as an expert and start building relationships with your prospects.

5. Have more conversations with more people

The more people you talk to, both face to face and on line, the more business you’re going to do.

Login to your chosen online networking / social media platforms every day and ask questions, answer questions and provide input and feedback.

6. React quickly to sales enquiries and always follow-up

Speed of response is always impressive. If you do a good job at the very first contact, the prospect will have a positive impression of you from the start.

It always amazes me how many people fail to follow up an enquiry or lead. A while back I phoned four carpenters when I wanted a bookcase made. Only one actually called me back. You also need perseverance. You’re not going to get through to the relevant person on the first call. It may need 5 calls or maybe more. Stick in there.

7. Measure your results.

If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not you won’t know where to invest your money for maximum return.

You have to know where your money is generating a profit and where you’re simply losing money.

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You Must Show Your Prospects That You Can Solve Their Problems

Show them you can solve their problems

You may have what appears to be a great small business marketing programme but is it giving you the results you want?

For your marketing to have real traction and to generate the levels of response you want, you have to answer the questions your prospects are asking and show them how you are the correct solution for them.

Remember, it’s not about you.
Spend most of your time talking about what your prospect cares about.  When you create marketing materials, you must remember that your prospect isn’t interested in you, your product or service. What they really want to know is what’s in it for them.

The rule of thumb is to spend a very small amount of time (only about 10% of your sales piece) talking about yourself.  You do this to establish your credibility and trustworthiness. Spend the rest of the time talking about what your prospects care about—which is their problems and challenges. Once you’ve discussed these, tell them how your product or service is the solution they are looking for.

Make a valuable offer.
Lead generation is an important component of your small business marketing. In these pieces you often see lines like “For a free information package” or “for more information.”

However, using the words “more information”  makes it sound like what you are concerned about—making the sale—instead of what your prospect cares about.

Instead try offering a free report or a free e-book which addresses their problem. This will still contain many of the same items as your “more information” would, such as samples and information about your product, but is more appealing for a prospect to respond to.

To discover what to put into your introductory kit or report, try getting on forums, social media sites and other places where you can survey people about what questions they want answered.

Use a headline, not your logo, at the top of the page.
A common mistake is to put your logo and branding at the top of a sales letter or to use letterhead when contacting prospects. Again, this says the focus is on you instead of on your prospect.

The most valuable real estate is at the top of your letter. Use it to put a headline that will have a powerful impact and determine whether or not your prospect continues reading.

Here’s something else – and it’s extremely important. Don’t use “wish washy language” at the end of your letter.  Don’t say things like, “If you are interested in finding out about ten ways you can ensure you will be prepared for retirement, call us 01483 200387.

Instead, use authoritative language in your call to action. Tell your reader what to do.  For example, say, “Complete the enclosed reply card and post it today to receive your free report on The Financial Planner’s Ten Secrets to Retiring Early.”

Follow these three tips in your lead generation promotions and more people will take you up on your offer.

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Do You Have a Premium Version Of Your Product?

In all types of business you’ll find premium products.

These will be dressed up with exclusive sounding titles – “Executive service”,” Gold Standard” “Premier Club” etc.

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 or maybe the product is delivered extra quickly 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”.

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 the standard ranges.

The great thing about premium products is that they give you a really easy opportunity to upsell and increase your transaction size.

Now considering that we’re currently going through tough economic times, 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.

I’ve been working with a removals company recently and have persuaded them to launch a premium removals service. The premium quality comes from the more robust packing cases they use, the fully comprehensive insurance they offer and the level of unpacking they do at the other end but the price is about 30% more and the margin about 40% more. And yes somewhere in the region of 20% of customers take it up.

The other thing about premium products is that it’s not a hard sell item. 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. A classic example of this is Amazon and their delivery charges. You can pay one amount for standard delivery or a higher price for express delivery and you can bet that plenty of customers will opt for the express delivery.

So look closely at your own business and decide how you can dress up your product or service and offer it as a premium product. You may well be very surprised at the difference it makes to both your turnover and more importantly your profit.

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Give To Get – The New Mantra For Small Business Marketing

For your small business marketing to be effective, in deed for any marketing to be effective, you have to focus on your customers’ needs not your own.

Of course you will have your objectives for your marketing – you know what you want to achieve, but your marketing must  focus on your customers’ or prospects’ needs.

So the question is what can you give to them that they will find valuable?

My business is a classic example. I provide small business marketing and marketing advice so I haven’t really got anything physical I can give away but I can give away the knowledge I have built up over the last 20 years or so.

So I do.

I give away my knowledge and expertise on my blog, through emarketing, through social media and on my website.

Some people think I’m mad. Surely I’m giving away what I should be charging for. If people  can get all this information for free why would they employ me.

I give away all this free information for a number of reasons:

  1. To demonstrate my expertise to the market place.
  2. To engender a positive response in my readers.
  3. Because in marketing as in life, the more you give, the more you receive.

If what I give away helps people with their own marketing issues, that’s fantastic. So when they have a marketing challenge that they can’t sort out by themselves, where are they going to go for help? That’s right, they may well come to me.

Have a look at your own business and identify what you could give away that will be of real value to your customers and prospects. Your business may well not be consultancy based. If you sell real tangible products, sampling is the fastest way to increase sales of a product.

So remember – the more you give away, the more you will get back.

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The Importance Of Having A Marketing Strategy

Strategic marketing is about the BIG picture. If you want to massively improve your results you need to think strategically.

A marketing strategy is a focused plan, which will usually be split into bite size chunks – monthly, quarterly and annual. It’s a flexible plan, which needs to be reviewed regularly.  You need to know what works and what doesn’t.  You need to know what needs fixing and what needs discarding.

Tactical marketing

Tactical marketing is how most small business owners market their services.  Often they will be looking for the one killer marketing tactic which will make them rich and successful.  Because they’re  thinking short term, looking for a quick fix, they usually have no overall marketing strategy or co-ordinated approach to the market. Decisions are made and actions taken in isolation, which don’t build upon other activities.

This may manifest itself by undertaking a particular piece of marketing – say direct mail or email marketing. If after one or two forays into the market they don’t get the result they were hoping for, they abandon it.

They would never think of developing a 6 month campaign with each communication building on the previous one, until they have constructed a compelling proposition which generates a fantastic response and earns them a load of money.

Instead they continue to produce ad hoc activity which fails to deliver the desired results and so is gently abandoned..

Marketing strategy first – marketing tactics second

If you want to start seeing some real, measurable progress, you need to know what your marketing strategy is.  Only then, can you possibly know what the correct tactics will be for what you want to achieve.  Otherwise, it’s like trying to plan a route somewhere, when you don’t have a destination!

Decide what you want to achieve and get specific.  This means putting some numbers together, such as your target turnover, profits, unit sales, client numbers etc.  Then, decide what resources you are prepared to invest to make this happen.  For example, how much time / money are you able to invest in your marketing?  Until you know exactly what your resources are, you cannot possibly select the correct marketing tactics for your overall strategy.

So, it’s strategy first, the overall big picture of how you’re going to approach your market, followed by your tactics which will enable you achieve your strategy.