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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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Why You Should Have A Marketing Funnel

Do you have a marketing funnel in your business?

I suppose my next question should be do you know what I mean when I talk about a marketing funnel?

The reason I’m talking about this now is because last  Monday was the 29th February – leap day.

It only comes round every four years and for some reason is the day women are meant to propose to men.

Proposals aside  leap day and even leap year is a time when you can turn convention on its head and do things differently.

Now if you’re like most small business owners, you would very much like to grow your business and the sad fact is that if you keep on doing everything the same as you have been, your results will stay the same.

If you’re going to grow your business you’re going to have to do things differently.

And I would suggest that your marketing is the best place to start.

So what marketing are you doing currently?

If you’re like the majority of business owners I meet, you’ve got a website, you do some networking, you’ve got a Facebook page and you tweet a bit, you may even take out the odd local ad or even send out an occasional email.

Does that sound like you?

And how’s it working?

For most people that list of activity brings in disappointingly little and business growth still comes down to word of mouth – referrals from happy customers.

So if it’s not working as you’d like, why not take a fresh look and do things a bit differently.

So my suggestion is that instead of your time consuming and ad hoc approach why not put a marketing funnel in place that will work 24/7 for you, building customer relationships and delivering a predictable and reliable flow of leads.

So what does the kind of marketing funnel that I’m talking about look like?

Firstly it starts with your website.

But it’s got to be a website that converts visitors to enquirers and also generates their contact details.

How do you persuade people to give you their contact details – by offering them a lead magnet – a free report, a video – something of value that they want.

My lead magnet is my book “ The 10 Essential Business Growth Strategies” have a look www.marketingsurrey.co.uk

Once you have their contact details, an auto responder sequence kicks in.

Whether that’s 5, 7 or even more emails, you now start building a bit of a relationship with the prospect.

In the last email in the sequence you will ask for the order in some form. That might be a low level purchase (what is likely to be more successful at this early stage in the relationship a £29.99 product or a £500 product) or maybe an offer of a free consultation or whatever your first stage in the sale process might be.

If the prospect doesn’t bite on that, then they drop into your email marketing system and you regularly send them useful and valuable emails and continue to build the relationship that way.

Once you’ve built your marketing funnel, it will run on auto pilot, delivering the leads that you need to achieve the growth you’re looking for.

Now of course you can set your marketing funnel up yourself or with the help of your web developer, but if you’re serious about doing things differently in this mad and crazy leap year, it might make sense to have a word with me.

Setting up this sort of funnel is what I do and I can help you through each separate stage so why not get in touch

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How To Create A Marketing Funnel

Generating new leads is crucial to virtually every business.

The easiest way to do it is to create a marketing funnel.

Unless you’re getting a steady supply of new customers coming into your business, you’re likely to struggle.

But we all know, getting new customers is hard work and very time consuming.

But modern technology allows us to set up processes so that new prospects are attracted to your business and converted into customers without you having to do a thing.

You can be asleep, on the beach or working hard servicing your existing customers while your marketing funnel is delivering new customers on auto pilot.

So have you got an effective marketing funnel?

If you don’t know what a marketing funnel is, let me explain the type of funnel I set up for my clients.

In essence it’s a very simple 5 stage process.

Stage 1 – Your website

It starts with the website

The website is the heart of your marketing funnel in fact it’s the heart of all your marketing efforts these days.

Now the key issue is conversion. Your website has got to convert visitors to take the action that you want them to.

To do this it must contain the right messages and use the space correctly.

Remember you have 8 seconds to grab a visitor’s attention, 99% leave without taking any action and over 50% will never scroll down from the first screen.

So you must ensure that initial landing page is very focused.

Stage 2 – Drive traffic to your website

The best site in the world will be useless without traffic.

So you’ve now got to get people to your website.

There are a number of ways but the quickest and most reliable is pay per click advertising. So the next stage is to set up a Google Adwords and maybe also a Facebook campaign. This will start driving highly targeted traffic, who have identified themselves as being interested in what you sell, you your site.

Stage 3 – Get their contact details

Working on the basis that it’s a very big ask to expect someone to decide to buy from you on their first visit to your website, your objective is to build a relationship with your prospects.

To do this you’re going to need to be able to communicate with them regularly.

You will therefore need their email address.

So the second stage of the process  is to set up a “lead magnet”  – a free report, white paper, video or something similar which visitors will sign up for in exchange for their email address.

Stage 4 – Start communicating with them automatically

Now you can communicate with your prospects, you should set up an auto responder series. I would advise somewhere between 5 and 10 emails.

The purpose of the series is to start building this relationship so you should be introducing yourself and then demonstrating the value you can bring and how you can solve the problems that they may have.

In the last email in the series you should make them some kind of offer.

Now this could be a great deal on some low cost product you sell or if you provide a service like me, you can offer a free consultation or something similar.

It’s at this stage that you want to cement the relationship you’ve built during the email sequence into something concrete, whether that be an order, a meeting or a phone call.

Stage 5 – Email them regularly

Now of course not everyone is going to convert from your auto responder series and there are any number of reasons for that.

But as you’ve got their email address, they can now go into your email marketing system and you can market to them on an ongoing basis.

You don’t know what’s going on in their lives. The point of this is that it allows them to do business with you when they’re ready. This may be a month later or it may be 2 years later.

The great thing about a marketing funnel is once you’ve set it up, it runs all by itself.

So the crucial area of lead generation is taken care of with no direct involvement from yourself, allowing you to focus on other things.

Do you have an effective marketing funnel in place?

If you want to see a marketing funnel in action, sign up for my free ebook on this website and you’ll see how it works.

If you decide that you need help to set up  your marketing funnel give me a shout.

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How To Generate High Quality Leads

All businesses want to generate high quality leads.

But when you stop and think about it, the quality is more important than the quantity.

Marketing should always be assessed on its ROI – how much you get back for the amount you’ve invested.

When looking at how much you’ve invested, you have to consider the time spent not just the money.

It’s for this reason that you should focus on the quality of the leads. If you can convert 1 in 3 leads instead of 1 in 10, just think how much more effectively your time will be spent.

So which marketing channel is going to deliver the best quality leads?

There are so many different channels these days it’s really hard to know where to focus.

  • Pay per click – it’s brilliant that you only pay when someone actually visits your website
  • SEO – surely everyone searches on Google, so this must be considered
  • Email marketing – you can talk to 000’s of people and it’s virtually free
  • Video marketing – Youtube is the world’s second biggest search engine
  • Remarketing – stalk your website visitors around the web and drive them back to your website

These are all excellent marketing channels and they’re all ones I would recommend. But the subject matter of this email is where do you get the best quality leads from and in my opinion there is another channel which will deliver better quality leads to you.

Now I’m going to be a bit controversial. I’m going to suggest an old school approach.

  • It’s quite labour intensive
  • It costs real money
  • It doesn’t product the largest volume of enquiries
  • It’s not regarded as sexy

But the fact is if you do it well, it will give you high quality leads that will convert to sales.

I talking about direct mail.

Now I can almost hear you thinking – direct mail was always renowned for low response rates.

Well I can tell you that direct mail is having a bit of a renaissance and that’s because so few people are doing it these days.

In the past when it was one of the very few options around, people were swamped with “junk mail”.

But now letters have become a bit of a novelty. I open every letter I receive. Whether I read them or not is a different matter and that’s down to the skill of the marketer.

Some do’s and don’ts

  • Make your letter look like a personal communication. Use stamps instead of franking machines.
  • If you have the time to hand write the envelope, your open rates will go up even further.
  • Include an item in the envelope. Lumpy mail generates interest.
  • You must have a great offer – something that forces people to read and respond.
  • Time limit your offer so that they have to respond now.
  • Your letter must be personally addressed.
  • Your letter must have a headline which grabs attention and compels people to read the first sentence.
  • Write the letter in the same way you would to a friend – chatty, conversational and personal.
  • Use language your audience are comfortable with. For specialist audiences you will want to use the jargon of that particular industry.
  • Adding vouchers (money off, added value) gives the letter a real sense of value.
  • Include a PS and repeat your irresistible offer
  • Use direct mail to drive people to your website, where you can provide more detailed information.
  • Keep sentences short and break up the text with bulleted lists and sub heads.
  • Avoid listing the features of your product instead focus on the benefits it will deliver and how it will make the recipient life better.

As I said direct mail is unlikely to produce a huge quantity of leads but they will be very high quality and will convert well to sales.

If you want to try direct mail but don’t feel you have the copywriting skills, call me on 01483 200387, email me on mikejennings@bda.me.uk or contact me via the website www.bda.me.uk

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The Importance Of Having A Marketing System

Getting new customers and clients should be easy and I’ll show you how if you’ve got a marketing system it can be.

You’ve got a great product and lots of people would benefit from it.

All you’ve got to do is get the message out to the right people and social media in the shape of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc gives us access to millions of people at basically no cost.

That’s bound to bring you loads of customers isn’t it?

Unfortunately not.

But you’re getting masses of “likes”, retweets, and connections. That’s got to generate stacks of new business hasn’t it?

Unfortunately not.

It seems like virtually every day there are new ways to promote your business and they’re all clever and cutting edge. They’re bound to work.

Unfortunately not.

So what’s going wrong?

The difference between activities and systems

The problem is that they’re all “activities”.

Now to generate new business you’ve got to be active, but activities in isolation seldom result in people doing business with you.  Marketing systems do.

I’ll explain what I mean.

Let’s take Facebook “likes”. We’re always hearing that most people on the planet are on Facebook and the more “likes” you have, the more people you can communicate with.

Great but that’s where it falls apart.

Just because someone has liked your post doesn’t mean they’re going to buy something from you. People mistake “likes” and similar responses for a sign that people are going to do business with them.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

Social interaction is a good first step but it needs to be part of a larger system.

Let me show you how you can make social media fit into your marketing system.

The importance of your blog

Your blog needs to be a key element of your engagement strategy.

  1. Firstly you write a great blog post – something that will be of major interest to your social media contacts.
  2. You promote your blog post on social media in order to get the maximum amount of people to click through to read the whole thing.
  3. Your blog page will be set up to include your lead magnet (the item you offer for free) so that visitors will opt in to your list.
  4. You can now start marketing to these prospects over time and so convert them into paying customers.

Remember it’s the people on your list not your social media friends who will actually become customers.

Social media is a tool for getting people onto your list. It is not a method for getting new customers by itself.

If you want further information or help, get in touch.

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How To Generate Leads Using LinkedIn

I bet you’re on LinkedIn but the question is “Are you using it?”

Almost all business people are on LinkedIn but virtually no one uses it proactively or effectively.

Two or three weeks ago I wrote a piece about about how to use social media to actually generate business. In that post I was referring more to Facebook and Twitter. Those are the social platforms with the largest memberships and the greatest awareness, but they’re used predominantly for social networking and not business networking.

LinkedIn is different.

Everyone on LinkedIn is there in a business context but as I said so few people actually use it effectively.

Half the profiles you look at haven’t been filled in completely.

People think they must be on LinkedIn – they set up an account, fill in their profile in a half hearted manner and then do nothing more.

This is a great waste.

LinkedIn has more than 350 million members, all business people, all available for you to connect with and it’s all free.

Two ways to generate business

The first thing you need to do is create a business page that clearly explains and demonstrates the benefits you offer.

While you’re at it get some of your clients to give you testimonials. On LinkedIn they have to be genuine, they can’t be made up and social proof is always the most persuasive copy.

But even when you have your company page, the strategy is still going to be to drive people to your website, where your marketing funnel is waiting to convert visitors into clients.

So how do we get prospects to connect with us on LinkedIn?

The best opportunity is with groups.

Remember you can join up to 50 groups.

Your strategy with groups is not to join the groups related to your own industry because otherwise you will be interacting with your competitors. Instead join the groups which your prospects are members of.

Now there are two strategies for your communication with groups.

  1. Commenting on other people’s posts is one way to raise your profile, establish your credibility and demonstrate your expertise. It is important to be viewed as a credible and valuable member of  the group.
  2. The other route is to make postings of your own –posting teaser copy which links to your blog. These posts of course need to be interesting and valuable to the group members and not just an advertisement for your business. On your blog page you must make sure your lead magnet is prominently displayed. If visitors like your blog, there is a good chance they will be interested in your lead magnet and once they’ve subscribed to that they’re into your marketing funnel and into your process.

The second strategy is for you to identify the prospects you want to start a conversation with and contact them directly.

The advanced search button allows you to find people against an extensive list of criteria.

Once you’ve identified your prospects you have to send them an invitation to connect.

Please avoid the standard “I’d like to connect with you” message. I’m much more likely to connect with someone if they have demonstrated a genuine benefit to me of connecting.

Try and show how you can potentially add value – give me a reason to want to connect with you. Once you’ve established a connection, you must remember that you’re networking. It’s about establishing a relationship over time and not about trying to sell right up front.

If you’d like any more advice or help with your LinkedIn networking, give me a call on 01483 200387, email me on mikejennings@bda.me.uk

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Your Marketing Messages Need to Attract And Repel

The ultimate objective of your marketing is to attract only those people you want to do business with. By that I mean you don’t want to attract the pain in the arse clients one comes across only too often.

You know the sort I mean.

  • The sort who have no money
  • The sort who want to do everything just the way they’ve always done it
  • The sort who always cancel your meetings
  • The sort who don’t pay your bills
  • The sort who don’t treat you with respect

I could go on but you know the sort of clients I mean.

How do you attract clients?

The first thing to do is to understand your ideal customer in minute detail. The more you understand your prospect, the more you can get inside their head and the more you can offer solutions to the issues they have.

For this purpose I always recommend that you create an avatar of your prospect – are they male or female, how old are they, what do they do, where do they live, how much do they earn, do they have kids, married or single, what are their hobbies etc etc.

Once you really understand them, you should be able to identify what you can provide for them, what problems you can solve and what benefits you can deliver. If your marketing messages address these points then you should attract the people you want.

So how do we repel the clients we don’t want?

Whatever you do, you don’t want to start alienating people. You may not want them as customers, but you don’t want them bad mouthing you.

So in your marketing communication you identify the characteristics you don’t want ie like the ones above and you simply list them. Having said that you don’t say “If you haven’t got any money, I’m not interested in you”.

You should phrase it something like this:

Our marketing services produce the best results for companies who:

  • Have at least £5000 to spend over the next 12 months
  • Have an established business turning over at least £250,000
  • Are  serious about growing your business and not just thinking about it
  • Are open to new ideas and marketing strategies
  • Understand the benefits of working with an external marketing consultant

As you read these bullet points it’s almost impossible not to answer the questions as you go, to either qualify or disqualify yourself.

Assuming you’ve done your profiling right, the attraction part of the communication should have drawn the reader in so he’s saying “Yes I want some of this”. The second part will either qualify him or disqualify him.

If he’s qualified he’s now an ideal prospect for you and if he’s disqualified then you’ve saved yourself a load of heart ache, wasted time and aggravation.

Next time you’re writing a marketing piece, make sure you include both attraction and repulsion elements.

 

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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 Do People Hate About Your Business?

In this day and age how often will someone do business with you without checking out your website first?

The answer is not often.

We all do it. Whether to find out specific information or after you’ve met someone to confirm our initial positive feelings and to double check their credibility.

So if this is the case we want our websites to do as much of the selling job as possible, so that the prospect is either 100% sold by the time we speak to them or at least most of the way there.

Address their concerns upfront

The key to pre-selling them is to address their concerns and objections up front.

So how do you do that?

A good place to start is to identify the typical things that people hate about your industry.

Without meaning to single out anyone in particular, the following are examples of what I’m talking about:

Builders – we hate it when jobs  over run, that they make a mess and that the work always seem to cost more than we expect.

Lawyers – we hate the fact that lawyers often speak a language that we don’t understand and that you can’t have a telephone conversation without receiving a  hefty bill.

Marketing people – I thought I ought to include my own profession – marketing people are often considered to be smarmy and silver tongued and will say anything to close a deal (absolutely ridiculous I know)

Of course these are stereotypical views but I’m sure you understand where I’m going with this argument.

So having identified the 3-5 things that people dislike about your profession, you need to demonstrate how you don’t commit the same crimes.

A standard concern is often price – you’re too expensive. But remembering that most people buy on value as opposed to on price, you can counter that objection by loading up the benefits you deliver. If you can demonstrate that you deliver massive benefits then your price becomes far less important.

Another tool which answers a lot of concerns is a guarantee. Whatever the problem whether it be quality, delivery dates or whatever, if you give a guarantee(preferably money back) you give your customers immediate reassurance.

It’s all about benefits

Remember you must differentiate between features and benefits. I don’t buy a chair because it’s ergonomically designed. I buy it because it’s really comfortable and supports my back. If you’re struggling to identify the benefits contained within a feature, use these three little words – “which means that”.

This mountain bike has disk brakes(feature) which means that it will stop incredibly quickly which may save you from a disastrous crash(massive benefit)

The key to this exercise is to make sure you’re brutally honest about what people dislike about your industry and how you’re going to address them. This is why working with a very specific niche is so important. The tighter the niche the more you should understand their concerns.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, you will have addressed your audience’s key issues, overcome their standard objections and differentiated yourself from your competitors.

Done properly this approach will go a long way to pre-selling your prospects.

Now what?

These benefits are obviously key selling messages which you can use in a number of ways. You could feature them in an FAQ page, you can address each point in a different blog article or my preferred route is to actually list the benefits you deliver on the home page of your website. They’re key messages so put them in the most prominent place where the largest number of website visitors will see them.

So if you lay out credible and  convincing answers to people’s concerns, your sales process will be very much easier.

 

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Attractive and Repellent At The Same Time

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

Yes you heard right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what about the second part?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repelling those you don’t want.

Which brings us to the second part of the equation.

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

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

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

I’ll show you what I mean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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