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Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Six: Spending Money on Your Marketing

Number 6


How often do you think that you’ll just spend a little more on a bigger advert, just to see if it works? Or do you pay out for a networking event in the hope that it might bring you the right sort of clients? And how often do you get to the end of the month and realise that there’s no money left in the bank – and no new clients to show for it?

If you do this, you’re committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Six – not setting a budget for your marketing and not knowing what you’re spending your hard earn money on.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Six – Spending Money on Your Marketing

As a small business owner, you probably don’t have a limitless pot of money to invest in promoting your business. You need to be careful about how much you spend and what you pay for. You need to spend some money in order to market your business in a professional manner; and you need to make sure you still have enough to live on too!

Many small businesses that struggle to grow don’t set aside a certain amount of money to spend on their marketing. They try to do everything on the cheap, or do it themselves. “We’ll spend money on marketing once we’ve got some new clients and we can afford to invest,” they say. But if you don’t invest in your marketing in the first place, how are you going to find the new clients you need, to fund your future marketing?

While your funds might be limited, you still need to decide what you can afford to spend. Why? Because if you don’t set a budget, two things will happen. Firstly, you’ll end up spending more money than you can actually afford. You’ll be tempted by that great advertising offer or just one more event. The people selling this to you rely on you not having a budget. Secondly, if you don’t know what you’re spending your money on, you can’t measure your marketing (and then you’ll be committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Nine, which we’ll cover in another blog.)

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Six?

First, take a look at the list of potential marketing activities you’ve identified, after avoiding Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five, which you know will work for your business. Then go through the list and work out how much it will cost you to carry out each activity. Be realistic and look at what it could cost to have the work done professionally (such as building a website or writing content for your blog). If you’re going to do it yourself (and you really have the skills to do it) think about the cost in terms of your time.

Once you have an idea of what it will cost to do everything on your list, for a whole year, think about what you can really afford to spend. You could set a budget that is, for example, 10% of your turnover. Or you can look at what funds you have available, for example if you’re working part-time while also running your business, or if you have savings. Does either method give you enough to pay for everything that you want to do? Probably not, so be ruthless! Take off your list those activities which would be nice to have, but which are not essential and are too expensive right now.

One of our newer clients at Appletree set a budget for what he knew he could afford to spend on his marketing every month. He asked us what we could provide for him, for that budget. We worked out his goal – to attract more visitors to his website – in order to promote his existing services to new clients. We identified his ideal clients. They are owners of larger business who don’t spend time on Facebook or Twitter, looking for new suppliers. They need reassurance of quality services and expertise. They want to read quality ‘Thought Leadership’ articles that provide them with useful advice. Having done all this planning meant that we could advise our client on the best marketing to do, from the list of potential activities we created. Every month, we write a well-crafted blog for our client, which we post on his website. We also put Thought Leadership articles onto LinkedIn for him. We promote this content through LinkedIn, building up our client’s profile and helping him develop strong relationships with potential clients. The result? More traffic going to his website with more visits from new contacts – exactly what he wanted to achieve!

Do you have a budget for your marketing? How did you set it and what will you be spending it on? Leave a comment here to tell us about it, or get in touch if you need some help setting your budget.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Seven is trying to do all your marketing yourself. In the next blog in the series we’ll look at why this isn’t a good idea and what you can do to avoid this mistake.

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.

Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Two: No Business Goals

Number 2


This is the second blog in a series looking at the biggest marketing mistakes people make when trying to run their own business. The first mistake is not knowing how your business is different to that of your competitors. You can read it again here.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Two – No Business Goals

Avoid the first Massive Marketing Mistake by working out what really makes your business stand out from the crowd. This is your starting point, or where you are now. The second Massive Marketing Mistake that too many business owners make is not having clear goals for their business. They don’t know where they want to go.

How often do you get into your car and just drive? Where do you end up? Do you get to where you wanted to go, or do you just go for a nice drive in the countryside? If your business is just about having a ‘nice drive’ then it’s fine to meander along without following a map. However, if you want to build a business that earns you the sort of income that you deserve to earn, without working seven days a week and more hours than is good for you, then you need a goal – a destination.

How do you avoid the second Massive Marketing Mistake?

Decide where you want to go! This could be the number of clients you want to work with. It could be the amount of turnover or profit margin that you want to achieve. It could be the number of staff you employ. Whatever your goal, if you run your own business, then the goal needs to inspire you. Don’t let someone else dictate your goal – it has to be relevant to you. Knowing your goals will help you plan the most appropriate, cost effective marketing to help you reach them. Here’s an example:

One of our clients would like to retire in a few years’ time. His wife is already retired and is enjoying spending time with their grandchildren – and he’d like to do the same. He’s not looking for vast numbers of new clients, as his business is ticking over nicely. This means that he doesn’t need to spend a huge amount of money on marketing that will attract new business. Instead, his marketing is focussed on keeping in touch with his existing clients and looking after them.

What are you goals for your business, for the next month, six months, year and five years? Spend some time thinking about your long term goals (e.g. 5-10 years) and then break them down into more manageable, short term goals (e.g. 1, 6 or 12 months.) Click here if you’d like to share your goals with us.

The third Massive Marketing Mistake is spending too much time chasing after new clients, instead of looking after your existing ones. We’ll show you how to avoid this Massive Mistake in the next blog in the series.

Showing you how to avoid these Massive Marketing Mistakes is something we work with our Marketing Mentoring clients.  To find out more about the current offer, click here.

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