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One in Ten

Thousands of new businesses are started in the UK every year and yet few of them last for one year, let alone ten. This book is the story of one of the successful ones and is full of motivation and inspiration.  Buy your copy of the book now for just £12.99 + £2.50 p+p.

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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

And what happens to your marketing when that happens?

Building green unitThe way in which products and services are marketed is very different. With a product, you can show your potential buyer what they are going to buy and they can compare your product to those of your competitors. But with a service, you can’t show anyone what they’re going to get, until you’ve delivered the service.

At Appletree we specialise in promoting services, because that’s what we’ve always done. However, when Phil called me, to ask for help in marketing his product, I had to think again.

Phil’s company designs and sells eco buildings – stunning arc shaped constructions that can be put up anywhere. Standard ‘product’ marketing says that he should advertise the ‘product’ with images of how it looks from the outside and inside and he does this very well on his website. There are images showing how the buildings can be used, to help potential buyers to picture themselves living or working within one of the buildings. He will be taking a section of a building to an exhibition later this year, to allow more people to see it, touch it and walk through it. Phil has run a number of events at their ‘show home’ so that people can experience it. All this is standard ‘product’ marketing.

However, there is a huge element of ‘service’ involved in buying one of these buildings. Each one is individually designed for the person buying it. The buyer can choose the size, number of sections, layout of the rooms and use of the space. This means that there is a lot of hand holding, through a long design process. Phil and his team will help clients to secure planning permission for putting up a building, if it’s needed. They will advise on the best layout, to give their clients the best use of their building. They project manage the installation of the building, to make sure that everything works – the electricity and water supply – and are on hand to smooth out any teething problems. All these elements of buying an arc are actually a ‘service’ and as such, the marketing that’s needed is different. It’s about building up the reputation of the company, to reassure potential clients that they will be able to take their project from design to a fully working building with the least amount of hassle. A few photos on company’s website won’t be enough to persuade buyers to trust them!

Do you sell a product or a service? Are you using the right marketing tools to promote what you do?

If you’re not sure, or you’d like a quick review of your marketing, just get in touch to tell us what you do and we’ll give you some advice on the best marketing for your business. Call us 01635 578 500 or click here to email us.

topsecretI have discovered what it is that makes the best companies successful!

After many years of watching successful small businesses become more successful, while watching other businesses fall by the way side, wondering what it is that makes them different, I have found the secret. Yes, some of the good ones have really good marketing. Some of them have only average marketing and yet have a charismatic business owner who carries them through thick and thin. Others have great marketing, a great leader and many other ‘great’ things and yet they still fail. So what is it that the successful ones have, that makes them successful, despite everything else?

It is FOCUS. They have it in bucket loads. They are focused on their business goals and on their marketing. They focus on their clients and on how best to look after them. They have focused businesses that do not stray from the path. That is what makes them successful.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

At the start of 2014, we created a new Business Plan for Appletree. We hadn’t been as focused as we could have been for a while – getting distracted by a few new business ideas. The Business Plan changed all this. It showed that the best way to grow a profitable business at the time was by focusing on looking after our existing clients. The numbers proved that if we spent more time meeting with, talking to and listening to our current clients, we could generate more income than if we spent that time on marketing activities such as networking. (It meant we would also save a lot of money by not having to pay for networking meetings!) So for most of 2014, that’s what we did. Our marketing activity and spend was minimal; our interaction with clients took priority. We focused on doing the work they really wanted us to do, instead of chasing new ideas and services that might or might not have worked. By the end of our financial year, the numbers showed record profits and a record profit margin. Focus works.

On the other hand, I’m working with a client called Louisa, whose business isn’t doing so well. She’s tried lots of different ways of making money – offering her clients many different products and services. The marketing she’s done in the last couple of years has highlighted many different messages and ways in which Louisa’s consultancy business is different to her competitors. She’s even tried changing the name of her business, to better reflect what she does. None of it has worked. Why not? Lack of focus!

If your business isn’t doing as well as you’d like it to, take some time out to look at what you’re focusing on. Do you have a vision for your business – what’s driving you and is it compelling enough to attract clients to you? Is your message clear – what do you actually do and what makes you truly different from the other businesses in your market? Does your marketing have a clear focus – do you know exactly who your ideal clients are and what help they need from you?

Pick one path and stick to it. Put all your energy and focus into one direction for your business and you’ll find it much easier to find the clients you need and earn the revenue you deserve.

Not sure how to pick the right path? Get in touch and we’ll help you find it with our clever, energising and focused Marketing Strategy workshop!

Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Five: ‘Follow the Crowd’ Marketing

Number 5


“I have to use cold calling to promote my business,” they say.

“Why is that?” I ask.

“Because everyone else in my industry does it. So it must work.”

These people are committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five – using marketing tactics that you think you should use, just because you’ve seen other businesses try them. There is no rule that says in any particular industry, you have to use a particular marketing tool. It’s much more important to work out what marketing will work for your individual business. In blog five of the series we’ll look at how you can do this. (If you’ve missed any of the previous blogs in the series, click here to read Number Four, where you’ll find links back the previous ones.)

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five – ‘Follow the Crowd’ Marketing

The marketing tools that you could use to promote your small business are numerous. There are now many more tactics available than a few years ago, thanks in part to the growth of social media. There are also dozens of more ‘traditional’ ways promote what you do. So where do you start?

You need to start by reviewing the Massive Marketing Mistakes we’ve covered so far in this series. When you know what makes your business truly different (Number One), what your goals are (Number Two), how you’re going to reach your goals (Number Three) and who your ideal clients are (Number Four), you’ll find it much easier to select the most appropriate methods for marketing your business.

However, if you just jump into trying any old marketing, because you think you should, or because it seems that everyone else is doing it, or because the salesman says it will bring you new clients, then you’ll be committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five.

Your business is individual and different. This means that while there may be some marketing tactics that will definitely work for you and others that definitely won’t, don’t make any assumptions. Don’t follow the ‘you just have to try it, don’t you?’ routine. That will cost you time and money that you probably don’t have!

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five?

First review what makes your business really different. Having a strong eUSP will make it much easier to promote your business. It will cost you less, because your message will be clearer, no matter which marketing tools you use.

Then remind yourself of your goals. If you’re only looking for three new clients this year, you won’t need to do nearly as much marketing as you’ll need, if you’re looking for hundreds of new clients. However, the marketing you’ll need to do will be very different.

How will you reach your goal? If you’re focusing on selling more to your existing clients, don’t waste time on Twitter looking for new clients. However, if you want to promote your existing services to new clients, then social media, backed up with some strong recommendations, could be the way to do it.

Remember to think about your ideal clients. Where do they hang out? If they use LinkedIn, then make sure you have a good presence there. If they only attend industry networking meetings, make sure you attend them too.

Plan your marketing carefully, before starting anything. Consider your own particular business situation – don’t think you have to try cold calling “because everyone else in my industry does it.”

Based on your planning, create a shortlist of around ten marketing tactics that you know will work for your business. Think about how to integrate them, to make sure they’re all working together, with the same message for promoting your business. Click here to share with us your top ten tactics and we’ll happily give you some feedback.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Six is not setting a budget for your marketing – or spending money on your marketing without knowing what you’re spending. We’ll show you how to avoid this mistake and get the best from your budget in the next blog in the series.

Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Four: Trying to Work with Everyone

Number 4


“Who are your clients?” I ask.

“We can work with absolutely anyone,” they reply.

This is Massive Marketing Mistake Number Four – thinking that everyone will want to work with you and trying to persuade everyone to do so. You need to specialise and focus on targeting specific clients and that’s what we’ll look at in this fourth blog in the series. (Click here if you need a reminder of Mistakes One, Two and Three.)

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Four – Trying to Work with Everyone

If you’ve been following this series and avoiding the Massive Marketing Mistakes, you’ll know what makes your business different and you have some clear goals for your business. You even know how you’re going to reach those goals. Now you need to look closely at the clients you really want to work with, who really want to work with you. If you think anyone could become your client, you will waste your precious marketing budget and time in chasing people who don’t actually want to work with you.

Ideal clients are people who are attracted to working you. They are happy to pay what you want to charge. They respect and value your experience and expertise. They love recommending you to potential clients. Don’t they sound like wonderful people to work with?

Non-ideal clients don’t pay what you want to charge and they pay late. They don’t listen to your advice. They don’t recommend you and they’re always complaining. Why would you want to work with people like that? And yet far too many small businesses waste their resources in going after these people. Stop it!

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Four?

Focus your attention and your marketing on finding ideal clients. Work out what makes them tick and what makes them nice people to work with. Decide what they’re allowed to expected from you. When you’re clear on this, non-ideal clients will stop calling you and ideal clients will find their way to you. Here’s an example of how this works:

One of our clients had been chasing all sorts of potential clients. Her business was new so she thought she should work with anyone who showed a slight interest in her business. She found that many of the potential clients were messing her around, taking a long time to decide whether or not to use her services. They didn’t want to pay her full fees. Then they didn’t pay her on time and they were always asking for more. We showed our client how she could find much nicer clients to work with, by looking at the type of person she was. She realised that her ideal clients were people just like her. They share her values and beliefs. Now she only looks for people who see the world as she does. Now they come and find her and her marketing is much more targeted and much cheaper!

Who are your ideal clients? What makes them tick? What do they believe in and stand for? How do you want to them to treat you? Click here to tell us who your ideal clients are.

If you’d like to work through a wonderfully clever process that will show you exactly who your ideal clients are and how to attract them to you, get in touch to find out when and where we can do this and how little it will cost. Here’s what one client wrote in a LinkedIn recommendation recently, following such a session:

“I am in the business of helping clients create raving loyal fans, so I rarely make any recommendations unless deemed worthy as my word and reputation is one of my core values and won’t risk losing that reputation on “fluff”. There is a reason why Chantal is so busy. She is amazing. Thank you Chantal for the clarity and fun session you gave Louise and I. It is a breathe of fresh air that someone out there knows what they are doing and does it in a fun, professional manner in a way that helps people really understand what next steps they need to take in order to become successful.”

Dominic Kitchen

Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Three: Chasing New Clients

Number 3What’s the third Massive Marketing Mistake that businesses make, which leaves them struggling to build the business they want? The first is not knowing where you are; the second is not knowing where you want to be. In this third blog in the series, we’ll look at the problems caused by not knowing how to get there.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Three – Chasing New Clients

You’ve successfully avoided the first Massive Marketing Mistake by working out what really makes your business stand out from the crowd. You’ve avoided the second one too, by setting your business some inspiring goals. Now you need to think about how you’re realistically going to achieve your goals. Too many business owners invest too much of their limited time and budget into trying to take on new clients. Thinking that you need lots of new clients is a Massive Marketing Mistake!

There are four simple ways to grow your business, based on existing versus new clients; and existing versus new services, as you can see in this diagram. Always start with Strategy 1 before you jump into the other strategies.


4 Strategy Marketing Diagram

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Three?

Focus your business on looking after your existing clients rather than chasing new ones. Unless you have a completely new business that doesn’t yet have any clients, you will have at least one. They are far more important than potential clients and can actually help you find new clients. Here’s an example:

At Appletree we carried out a survey of our clients, towards the end of 2014. There are two other blogs that you can read here, to get the full story. We had this survey done in order to find out how we could improve our service to our existing clients. They were asked questions about how likely they would be to recommend us and what they would like us to do differently. We looked at the results and made some specific changes for each of the clients who took part in the survey. One client said she would like us to do something differently on her monthly Mentoring calls. So we did what she wanted, without making a song and dance about it. And the result? A wonderful, unprompted recommendation on LinkedIn from her! Look after your existing clients and not only are they likely to buy from you; they will also be more likely to recommend you.

What are you doing to look after your existing clients? How often do you surprise them by giving them more than they expect from you? What proportion of your Marketing Budget do you allocate to looking after your clients? (And if you don’t have a budget, you’re committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Six!) Click here to tell us how you look after your clients.

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