Posts Tagged ‘businesses’
In my last blog, I wrote about the first of the 4Ps of marketing. These four Ps are some of the fundamentals of marketing that underpin many of the best campaigns. Click here to read P is for Price and how best to use pricing to promote your business.
Number 2 = Product
So now onto the second P of Product. What do you actually sell and how do you go about promoting it?
When you sell a product, that is what you sell. Whatever it is, you can talk about the size of the product, the colour, the features it has that makes it better than something similar that your competitors sell. However, when you provide a service, it’s a very different story. Services are intangible and include coaching, consultancy of all types, training and speaking. A service is something that you can’t see or touch. Very often, clients have to pay for a service before they receive the benefit of it – you have to pay for your training course before you attend it. So if you’re the training provider, your challenge is persuade your potential client to part with their money before they really know what they’re going to get.
And what exactly are they going to get? Are you really selling consultancy or coaching? No – you’re selling your time, your experience and your expertise. You’re selling a solution to your potential client’s problem. You’re selling something that will take away the pain they are feeling and help them do something different.
But isn’t that what all the other consultants and coaches are selling? Yes – and that’s where your marketing needs to be really focused on what makes your solution better than and different to that of your competitors. Because the thing that really makes your consultancy different to other consultants is You. Your USP (Unique Selling Point) is actually You! You need to rely on your reputation and the particular experience and expertise that you bring to your clients. You need to put yourself into your marketing, so that your potential clients really get to know you and trust that you can help them to solve their problems.
All of this means that when you’re selling a service – time, expertise and experience – the sort of marketing that is going to work best is the sort that shows off your expertise and experience. Networking, speaking, writing articles, sharing tips on Twitter … but not advertising in a magazine or putting up a poster.
In order for your marketing to be really effective, you need to understand what it is that you’re selling. When you’re clear on that, you can focus your marketing efforts in the right places.
In the third blog in this series, we’ll look at the next of the 4Ps – Place: where can your clients buy what you sell and how does that affect your marketing?
Many, many years ago, when I was first learning about marketing (we’re talking way back before Social Media existed and email marketing was unheard of) I learnt about the 4Ps of Marketing. They were gospel and had to be applied to any marketing that was done. I even wrote essays about them and answered questions on them in marketing exams.
Times have changed and marketing has moved on a huge amount since those distant days. However, some of the fundamentals of marketing still need to be considered, for it to be successful. So over the next few blogs, I’m going to write a mini-series in which I’ll tell you a bit about each of the 4Ps – Price, Product, Place and Promotion. I’ll show you how you can put them into practice in order to successfully promote your business.
Number 1 = Price
I wrote recently on this blog about why, when you provide a service, you should not promote your business on price. You can read that blog here. It is much more important to promote your business based on what makes you different and better than your competition. The other big challenge that we all face with promoting our service businesses, is how much to charge – and how to work out how much to charge.
How do you decide what to charge? Do you just pluck a number out of the air? Or do you look at what your competitors are charging and do something similar?
If you sell a product, you can work out how much it costs you to produce that product and then add on your profit margin, to get your selling price. But how much does it cost to ‘produce’ your service? Some people will tell you to decide how much you want to earn over a year, look at how many days you want to work in the year and from that, you can decide how much you need to charge per day. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has done this successfully, achieving their target earnings in the number of days they want to work. Most people end up working more days than they’d like, due to lower days rates than they’d hoped for.
However you go about setting your prices, think about how to use them in your marketing. I know I keep saying that you must not use price to promote your service … but price does have a part to play. If you want to promote the quality of your service and show how much better it is than your competitors, then you can think about charging more than they do. What you must also do in this case, is show your prospective clients the value they will get from working with you. Think carefully about the benefits that your service will bring to anyone who uses it. Don’t talk about the features – show prospects what they will get from your time and experience and how you will solve their problems. All your marketing material needs to answer the ‘So what?’ question that potential clients will ask about your service.
If you use networking to promote your business – ideal when you provide a service – it is vital that you talk about the value that you provide, to the people you meet. If you strike up a conversation and start telling someone how much you charge, before you’ve explained the value they could get from your expertise, you won’t have a very long conversation. The same applies to online marketing – promote your value and benefits through any social media where you can have a ‘conversation’ with prospects.
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.
Massive Marketing Mistakes – Number Six: Spending Money on Your Marketing
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.