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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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Posts Tagged ‘business’

votenotgifOver the last few months, in the run up to the election, I’ve listened to what many of the sparring politicians have said about different issues. I’ve noticed how they went about trying to persuade people to vote for them. It occurred to me that politicians could learn a great deal from small businesses and how they promote themselves.

As the owner of a small business, if I spent my time (and marketing budget) telling my potential clients how bad my competitors are, would I win new business? At networking meetings, instead of telling the other attendees how my business could help them, I could focus on bad mouthing other marketing companies. I could write blogs about how other Marketing Consultants get it wrong and don’t look after their clients properly. My website could show a list of local competitors with details of why you shouldn’t work with them.

If I did that, as the owner of a small business, would I attract new clients? No – quite the opposite! I would just damage my business reputation and turn people away. Why would anyone want to work with a business that just puts down the competition?

So why is it that all politicians spend their time and election budget focusing on what their opponents do wrong, rather than what they will do right? Maybe if they put their efforts into listening to what their ‘potential clients’ wanted, and then created a solution that works for them, some of them might have won a few more votes!

Is There a Time NOT to Go Networking?


One day last week we had a really busy day in the office, with some interesting issues to sort out. By the end of the day I was ready for the TV and a glass of wine. Before I left the office I checked my diary and realised that I’d booked to go to a breakfast networking meeting at 8am the following day. That meant getting up earlier than usual and a 40 minute drive to the meeting, instead of the usual 5 minute walk to my office. I would need to be awake, interested and enthusiastic, instead of warming up gently in front of my computer. Given the day I’d just had, I didn’t see this happening, so I sent the meeting organiser an email with my apologies.

Does it matter if you turn up at a networking meeting and you’re not on top form? I think so. If you’re not able to present yourself at your best, show interest in everyone there and put some enthusiasm into what you do and say, you won’t get the best from your time (and money). You could also do yourself and your business reputation more harm.

Even when I am feeling on top form and ready to attend a networking meeting, I still sigh when someone asks me “What do you do?” Why do I sigh? Because it’s the dullest question you can ask of someone else! It actually shows that the person asking it isn’t really interested in your answer. They will politely wait for you to answer, in the hope that you’ll be quick and then ask them “What do you do?” so that they can then talk at you for 10 minutes. If you don’t oblige with the required question, have you noticed how many people will help you by just saying “That’s interesting and what I do is …”?!

In August 2014 Appletree turned 14. To make my networking a bit more interesting I made myself a badge. It simply had the number 14 on it. Now you’d think that a few people might notice and ask me about the badge. They might have wanted to know why it said ‘14’ instead of my name, wouldn’t you? I was amazed by the number of people who either didn’t notice it, or who didn’t ask me about it. They just stuck to the standard “What do you do?” question.

So, the next time you’re planning a networking meeting, think about two things. Firstly, are you in the mood for it? If not, treat yourself to a lie in and a peaceful morning in the office. Secondly, what are you going to ask the people you meet?

I’ve been writing a series of tweets that give you 101 alternatives to the “What do you do?” question. You can find them and follow us here. Once the series is finished (I have about five more to add!) we’ll publish them all here in this blog. If you have any suggestions for good questions we might not already have in the list, get in touch to share them.

Number 9In the previous blog in this series, we shared with you the first rule of marketing. The second rule is this: Find out what marketing works for your business and do more of it.

You’ve carefully planned your marketing – you know exactly who your ideal clients are and how to attract them. You’ve worked out what you can afford to do, who will do it and when. Your marketing is going really well and new business is coming in. But how much of your marketing is effective? Which activities are working best? If you don’t know, you’re committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Nine and you won’t be able to follow the second rule of marketing.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Nine – Not Measuring Your Marketing

A huge number of businesses don’t actually measure their marketing. They put time and effort in planning and carrying out their marketing and that’s as far as they go. Then, a year down the line, they realise that they haven’t got as much new business as they had hoped for, or they’ve spent more money than they had planned to, just to get enough new clients.

Successful businesses measure their marketing activity. They know what’s working, what isn’t working and how much it’s costing them. They’re able to adjust their marketing as they go along, to get even greater benefits. They understand the importance of measuring their marketing as it allows them to find out what marketing works and do more of it.

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Nine?

The way to avoid this Mistake is simple – measure your marketing! What should you measure? The answer is everything! Any marketing that you do needs to be measured. Start by measuring the number of enquiries you generate from each marketing activity and how much it costs for each enquiry. Go a stage further and measure the number of new clients generated from those enquiries. Some activities may generate many enquiries, but if they’re not the right sort of enquiries – not your ideal clients – you won’t get the conversion to clients that you want.

When you measure your marketing, you can make sound decisions about the best marketing to use for your business. You can stop doing what doesn’t work and do more of what does work. And that way, you’ll be able to build a strong, sustainable business.

That’s the end of this nine part series, in which we’ve looked at the Massive Marketing Mistakes that too many small businesses commit. If you need help with avoiding these mistakes on a regular basis, our Marketing Mentoring can help. There’s a special offer for any new clients who start working with us in May 2015 – click here for full details.

Number 8“I’ve tried direct marketing and it doesn’t work.”

“I went networking once but it didn’t bring me any new clients.”

These are phrases that I hear on a regular basis. It’s a bit like saying “I had one ice skating lesson and still didn’t win the first competition I entered.” Instead of falling over and hurting yourself, you need to invest in a number of lessons and do plenty of practice, to make sure that you reach the right standard. Sending one piece of direct mail without researching it first and doing any follow up afterwards is unlikely to get you any results. In the same way, going to one networking meeting isn’t enough time to allow new people to get you know you properly. This is ad hoc marketing. The first rule of marketing is that ad hoc marketing does not work. If you try it, you’ll be committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Eight.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Eight – Using Ad Hoc Marketing

When you provide a service such as coaching or consulting, your prospective clients need to trust you before they will share their problems with you and part with their money. You need to build up a relationship with them.

When I first started helping coaches and consultants with their marketing, it was commonly thought that it took up to six ‘touches’ with a prospect before they would buy from you. This meant that a prospective client might, for example, meet you at a networking meeting (1), they might read about you in a press article (2), read an issue of your newsletter (3), hear you speak at a presentation (4), be recommended to you by one of your clients (5) and visit your website (6). With the development of social media, this number can be reported to be as high as 40 touches! Whatever the number, what it means is that you need to keep doing your marketing on a regular basis, using the right mix of activities, so that you ‘touch’ your prospects as many times as is needed, to build up the right level of trust, before they will buy from you.

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Eight?

If you’re following the advice in this series of blogs, you will have created a list of potential marketing activities (the post about Mistake Number Five will help you do this). Next you need to consider how many times you need to do each one and over what period of time. It’s about doing the right number of the right number of things. You can’t choose 10 activities and only do each one once. You would be better off using just three marketing activities and doing them more often, and over a sustained period of time.

Planning your marketing also means that when someone comes along with a great offer, for a one off activity – such as an advert in a magazine or a stand at an exhibition – you’ll know whether or not it’s worth you doing it. If you know that advertising in certain publications works, go for it. If you know that you don’t have an exhibition stand and you’re not comfortable standing around handing out leaflets, you’ll find it easy to turn it down.

Take the time now to look at the list of possible online and offline marketing activities that you have created. Are any of these ad hoc or can they all be done on a regular, sustained basis? Refine your list of activities, if you need to, to make sure that your marketing is ongoing, rather than ad hoc.

In the final blog in this series, we’ll look at Massive Marketing Mistake Number Nine, which is failing to measure any of your marketing.

Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Seven: Trying to Do It All Yourself

Number 7Are you a Marketing Consultant? If not, why are you trying to do your own marketing? Are you a website designer? No? So why are you spending time setting up your own website?

Too many owners of small businesses think that they have to do all their own marketing. Most take this approach as they think they can’t afford to pay someone to do what they can’t do themselves. However, if you’ve avoiding Massive Mistake Number Six and have set yourself a realistic budget, you will know what needs to be done and what you can afford. If you are trying to save money by doing it all yourself, you’re committing Massive Marketing Mistake Number Seven.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Seven – Trying to Do It All Yourself

One of the best pieces of advice given to new business when they start up is this: no matter what you ‘do’ (the work you’re paid for) you also need to be able to do three things. They are Marketing, Finance and Admin. If you can’t do any of these activities, you should outsource them to someone who knows what they’re doing.

Why? Because if you try to do everything yourself, two things will happen. Firstly you’ll spend a lot more time doing your marketing than someone who is a specialist in that area. It comes naturally to them, so they can do it much more quickly than you can. Then, because you’re spending so much time doing what someone else can do, you’ll find that you don’t have time to promote your business properly or look after the clients you have.

How do you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Seven?

Unless you’re trained in marketing, you need to look for people who can help you with some of the different aspects of promoting your business. To help you decide where to look for help, start by looking at the list of possible marketing activities that you put together (the list that helps you avoid Massive Marketing Mistake Number Five). Look carefully at each activity to see if you can do it yourself or if you need help. If you don’t like writing but you know that a blog and a newsletter will help you find new clients, then you will need someone to do the writing for you. Hate making phone calls? Look for someone who loves cold calling. Love speaking to strangers? Then you can do your own networking and public speaking.

Many people believe that they have to do their own writing for marketing materials such as blogs and newsletters. “It has to be my own voice,” they say. Or “I’m the expert, so how could anyone else know enough about what we do here?”

At Appletree we work with a team of talented freelance copywriters. A good copywriter is someone who can quickly learn a great deal about someone else’s business and who can write in that person’s voice. One of our clients publishes an email newsletter every two months and a blog every two weeks. After a planning conversation about topics, a brief goes to our copywriter, who produces a draft of the copy – usually very quickly. The draft is sent to our client who regularly comes back with comments such as “I couldn’t have put it better myself,” and “It’s perfect to publish as it is.” We hardly ever need to make changes to the copy, as the writer really understands the topic and has learnt the client’s voice and style. This saves our client lots of time and allows her to focus on doing what she’s paid to do.

Are you trying to do all your marketing? Are you spending hours on work that actually stops you from doing work that you can earn money for doing? If you need help finding the right people to help you, then get in touch and we’ll recommend some of our preferred suppliers.

Massive Marketing Mistake Number Eight is doing ad hoc marketing. In the next blog in the series we’ll look at why ad hoc marketing doesn’t work and what you can do to avoid this mistake.

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