Posts Tagged ‘business’
I first joined LinkedIn many, many years ago, when it was probably the first and only ‘social networking’ site available. No one really seemed to know how to use it, but that has all changed now and virtually every professional person has a LinkedIn profile.
How does LinkedIn work for Appletree?
Most of our clients are within an hour’s drive of our offices. However, we also have a client in Switzerland! Back in 2009 Matt got in touch with me, because LinkedIn told him that we might know each other. We actually went to University together many years before. Because my profile and his both say that we attended Nottingham University, LinkedIn thought it was time we connected again. My LinkedIn profile explains that we help coaches, consultants and trainers to find new clients and to grow their businesses. Matt emailed me to ask if I could ask his consultancy firm with just that.
Would I have approached Matt as a prospective client, if LinkedIn hadn’t suggested it? Probably not, as I hadn’t spoken to him for years and targeting my old Uni friends wasn’t high on my list of marketing activities. Would I have approached a consulting firm in Switzerland? No, because to date all my clients have been in the UK. But because Matt found me through LinkedIn and could see how I could help him, he got in touch. The fact that he works abroad doesn’t matter, as we do all our work over the phone and email – apart from meeting once a year in London. LinkedIn is a great way to expand your market and work with a wider range of clients.
Is your LinkedIn profile up to date?
How does LinkedIn work for our clients?
One of our other clients runs a sales training company. They’ve been around for a long time and are very good at what they do. When they asked for our help in growing their business, we looked at all sorts of marketing activities and realized that they weren’t using LinkedIn as well as they could. The Directors were all on LinkedIn, but one of them didn’t have a photo on his profile and one of them was using a holiday snap instead of a professional photo. There was no consistency between their profiles – they were all saying different things about the same company that they work for. There was some work to be done, to improve their profiles; and then we started using LinkedIn to help them keep in touch with their contacts.
Every day, each of the three Directors sends out a short update on LinkedIn – details of some of the work they’re doing that week, the type clients they like working with, or a link to an article or blog post on their website. We talk to the Directors on a regular basis to find out what they’re up to; then we write the updates and schedule them to go out. This means that when our clients are busy travelling around the world running training programmes, they can still keep in touch with their contacts. The result? They’ve started to receive calls and emails from lapsed clients who want to buy from them again. Through LinkedIn, they’re growing their business.
Are you using LinkedIn to tell your contacts what you’re up to?
Over 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.
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.
“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.