Posts Tagged ‘business’
In the A ? Z of Marketing, U is for … Unique
What makes you different? What makes you stand out from all the other people who do exactly what you do?
I meet a lot of business owners who proudly tell me that they’re different to their competitors. “How are you different?” I ask them. The answers I hear usually include phrases like ‘providing value’, ‘building relationships’, ‘working in partnership with our clients’. And I just yawn. Why? Because I’ve heard it all before!
When you provide a service, it can be hard to distinguish your business from the others around you. Unless you compete on price and can say that you charge less than anyone else, you need to look for a better way to show potential clients why they should work with you instead of anyone else.
Here’s something for you to think about.
Who are you?
If you run your own business, or you’re the public face of the business where you work, you’ll be meeting prospects and getting to know them. Have you noticed that you don?t like everyone you meet, or that you don?t ‘click’ with every single person you speak to? This is because we like people who are like us. We gravitate towards others who share our values and beliefs.
Like it or not, when services are involved, people really do buy from people. This means that some of your customers will buy from you, simply because of you. There will be other companies that can do exactly what you do, and possibly for less money, but if someone who is in the market for your service meets and likes you, you’re in with a great chance.
How do you promote ‘you’?
By being yourself! Be authentic and true to your values. Let people get to know the real you and the ones who you like will want to work with you.
What about the people with whom you don?t click? Don’t waste time chasing after them ? after all, why would you want to work with someone you don?t like?!
How do you do what you do?
Once you’ve worked out how to promote ‘you’, think about how you do what you do. The way in which you deliver your service will be different to the ways that your competitors do it. For example, one of the things that makes Appletree different from the millions of other marketing companies out there, is that we get stuff done. We don?t leave it to our clients to do all their marketing. We often receive calls from clients asking us to do something, to which we can reply “we’ve already done that for you.” We like to be a step ahead of our clients, so they don?t have to think about their marketing and can instead focus on doing what they do.
What makes your business different and how do you tell people about it?
In the A ? Z of Marketing, T is for ? Targeted Marketing
I often meet people who tell me they?ve tried all sorts of different types of marketing because ?Well, you have to, don?t you, in order to see what works!? or because everyone else in their industry does something, so they think they have to do the same. When I ask them if that marketing works for them, they usually tell me that it doesn?t.
So how do you know what marketing will work for you? Targeted marketing will always work. When you know exactly who your target market is, what they want and where they hang out, you can create a marketing strategy that actually works.
Here?s a true story for you to consider. Four years ago, someone had the idea of creating a local food festival in Wallingford, in Oxfordshire. The Wallingford Food Festival was born and the first one ran over one day, attracting around 30 local food producers to show off their wares. About 1500 people visited the event, coming from all over the south of England. In its second year, the numbers of both producers and visitors increased a bit, but the real change didn?t happen until the third year. 40 producers booked stands for the now two day event and visitor numbers reached an amazing 4000 over the weekend. This year, there were 50 producers and nearly 5000 people came through the gates over the Saturday and Sunday!
How did they do it?
The Wallingford Food Festival is held in May each year. In January 2013 the organiser decided to ask a local marketing company to develop a Social Media plan for promoting the event. Working with an improved website, where visitors could buy tickets online and where producers could book a stand, the team went to work. Regular email newsletters were sent out to producers to encourage them to shout about the event. Facebook and Twitter were used to reach prospective producers and to engage with local people, encouraging them to visit. In 2013 tweets where posted from Monday to Friday during business hours and the campaign ran until the end of May. At the Festival, anyone buying tickets on the gate were asked for their email address, so they could receive newsletters and information about the next event.
The next campaign started in January 2014 for this year?s Festival. This time, more focus was put into Twitter and Facebook, with posts being sent out all through the day and into the evening, seven days a week. The producers really got behind the campaign to help spread the word. Someone was on hand over the whole weekend, to answer the flurry of questions that came through Twitter (what time do you open? Can I bring my dog?) and to send out reports, photos and updates. The result? Far more engagement, more followers, more mentions and more people enjoying the Festival!
All because the marketing was targeted to local people who are interested in family events and good food. There was no point paying for advertising in national papers (although the Sunday Times did a great review of the event for free!) LinkedIn is great for business, but when you want to talk to consumers, Facebook and Twitter are better. Food is very visual, so they?re great ways of showing some of the delicious things that could be bought over the weekend.
So, the next time you find yourself wondering what sort of marketing will work for you, think about your target market. Get to know them, what they want and where you can find them and you?ll be able to carry out marketing that really works.
Take look at www.WallingfordFoodFestival.co.uk because we?ll be doing it all again next year!
Content is Queen
When I first set up Appletree back in 2000, I worked as a freelance copywriter. I wrote content for all sorts of marketing material, for all sorts of small businesses. As time has passed, we’ve done a lot of other things to help businesses with their marketing.
But one thing has stayed constant ? the provision of content for our clients. Why? Because content is the best way for our clients to promote themselves. It’s also been a great way for us to promote Appletree, so this blog looks at why Content is Queen!
When you provide a service to your clients, rather than selling products, what you?re actually selling is your expertise and your knowledge. You are selling all the stuff in your head that you?ve collected over the years of doing what you do. To get that information and knowledge out of your head, you need to create content. It will form the basis of all the marketing you do ? regardless of the different marketing tools you use.
Show you know your stuff
With services, you need to encourage a prospect to worth with you, before they?ve seen the results you could achieve for them. To help you do this, you need to demonstrate to potential clients that you know your stuff. There?s no better way to do this than be creating content. Share your knowledge in a free email newsletter; put your opinions into a regular blog; give away snippets of advice in your tweets. This will all show prospects that you really know what you?re talking about.
Send traffic to your website
When you put new content onto your website, you give the search engines a reason to go back and look at your site again. You also give real people a reason to visit it again. You could update your website just by changing a few words, but why not share a blog post, add an article or put up a useful fact sheet? That way, when you tweet about the latest addition to your site, you have something that is really worth looking at. And keeping visitors going to your website has got to be a good thing!
Integrate your marketing
Ad hoc marketing just doesn?t work. You need an integrated, consistent approach and content is a great way to do this. If you write an email newsletter every month, turn the copy into one or two blog posts and dozens of tweets. Create a video about the same topic. Give a talk at a networking meeting to discuss the same issue. Add a fact sheet to your website too. This way, you?ll give out a consistent message to your prospects without confusing them with too many different messages.
So the next time you?re wondering what would be the best way to promote your business, take a look at the content you?re sending out and work on improving it in terms of quality and consistency.
In the A ? Z of Marketing, R is for ? Referrals
Referrals are a brilliant way to find new clients and grow your business. They are a very low cost way of marketing and usually have a high conversion rate. Some people advocate a ?referral system? that you plan out and follow. I?m sure that some of these systems work, but here?s my take on a more relaxed and equally effective take on getting referrals.
What?s the best way to get referrals? Give them!
If you turn up at networking meetings expecting to receive a steady flow of referrals, you?ll be disappointed. For someone to refer you to someone they know, first they have to trust you. After all, why would they recommend someone who might not do a good job? That would look bad on them. So to start getting referrals, start giving them. Listen to what help people are asking for and think about who you can put them in touch with. Who do you know who is looking for what they offer? Think about who you can introduce them to. This will help you build up a relationship with the people you meet, showing them that you?re trustworthy enough to be recommended.
When is the best time to ask for a referral? When someone says ?Thank you?
You?ve just had a great meeting with one of your clients, when you helped them with all sorts of issues. At the end of the meeting they say ?Thank you so much for your help; I really appreciate it.? You could just gracefully reply ?You?re very welcome.? Or you could add on ? ? and who else do you know who might need the same sort of help??
When someone has thanked you for your help, they are seeing you in the best light. This is when they will be the most open to thinking of other people to whom they could recommend you. It also works with prospects. I often spend time on the phone or at networking meetings providing free advice to people who aren?t my clients. When they say ?Thank you? I ask who else they know who I can help. And it works!
What should you do with every referral? Say thank you properly!
A few months ago, Lucy contacted me, asking for some marketing help. She told me that Pete had recommended me to her. Pete is someone I?ve met at a few networking events, but we?ve not done any work together. I arranged to meet with Lucy and to thank Pete properly, I sent him a thank you card. I put a personal note in the card and posted it to him.
A few days later Pete phoned me to say thank you for the thank you card! He?d never received one before and was really touched by it. About a month later Pete called me and asked for my help with his marketing! We haven?t done the deal yet, but I know that Pete will continue to recommend me to people who he meets.
So, to generate a bigger flow of referrals into your business, give more, ask at the right time and then say thank you. Of course, keeping in touch with people helps keep you in their minds, which also helps. Combine all these tips and you?ll be able to grow your business through referrals.
How much of your new business comes through referrals? What do you do to increase that number?
This Month’s Appletree Award for Customer Service goes to …
In particular the award goes to three people who were working at Basingstoke Hospital earlier this month, for going beyond the cause of duty and really looking after the people in their care.
First there is Leah, a student nurse who works twelve hour shifts. She’s on her feet nearly all day, doing whatever is asked of her. Being the least qualified person on the ward, she has to do all sorts of jobs that other people might not want to do. But she does it all with a smile. And when you’ve come back from surgery having missed supper, she’s the one who dashes off to find you something to eat before the kitchen shuts for the night, rather than leaving you hungry.
Next is the nurse whose name I don?t actually know. She’s the one who wakes you up every hour during the night to check your blood pressure, post op, and who apologises for doing it. Without these regular checks, problems could go unnoticed, so they have to be done. At 5.30am when everyone else on the ward was asleep, this lovely nurse is the one who brings you a mug of tea and some biscuits, almost to say sorry for disturbing you and for doing her job.
Finally there is Paul, the nurse who comes into the ward in the morning and makes everyone laugh, no matter how they are feeling. He helps people get dressed, he picks things up that patients drop and can’t reach and he even finds felt pens so that patients can write on other patients’ plaster casts!
All these people have busy jobs to do and yet they do them with a smile and with compassion. They do things that are not in their job description, because they know it will help one of their ‘clients’. They make their ‘clients’ feel special and cared for. And that’s why they get this month’s Appletree Award for Customer Service.
How can you make your clients feel special and cared for? What can you do that goes beyond what they expect of you?