Monthly Archives: December 2017

Main marketing trends small businesses should consider in 2018

This time of year, the whole world and his wife are talking about future trends so I thought I should jump on the bandwagon too. I have spent a few hours wading through tons of articles and have created a list of my favourite trends from top influencers. To make sure it is useful, I have added a little translation relating the trend to small businesses. I hope you find it useful

Forbes: Place your brand purpose at the heart of your business strategy. Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defined purpose. This is where an organization identifies an aspirational mission and ties it to its day to day offerings. This unifying theme creates experiences which are centred around making tomorrow better than today. Successful marketers in the year ahead will place brand purpose at the core of business and brand strategy and use it as a lever of growth with internal and external audiences.

What does this mean to small business: The idea of appearing helpful to clients and prospects will continue to be important to your marketing strategy. Brand purpose takes it a bit further and suggests that you relate your communications to your core business values. In other words, don’t just come up with a load of vague useful guides but make sure it is all connected to an overall theme related to how you specifically solve problems in your market place.

Marketing week: With GDPR coming into effect next May, marketers must get to grips with their data to ensure they are fully compliant. Marketers will need to take a direct interest in the makeup of their databases and what GDPR allows to be done with them, and then train their teams. This should hopefully be aided by clearer guidance from the ICO in the coming months, though that has been promised throughout 2017 and so far, little has materialised.

What does this mean to small business: Whilst we are awaiting some firmer guidelines from the ICO, make sure that you review your data and data policy, to ensure that you comply with basic requirements. As many SME’s don’t have the knowledge or resources themselves, don’t hide behind it, get some help.

Neil Patel: Changing formats mean content roles are shifting: In recent years, there’s been a consistent shift away from content churning. The brands experiencing the most success with content marketing aren’t just flooding their audience with content, they’re taking a media publishing approach. Blogging by itself doesn’t tie into all the pertinent marketing strategies of growing companies, and it doesn’t address the issue of new formats for consumption. The content team will need to grow and adapt for the next year and should include people who have a variety of talents including video production, audio editing as well as content optimisation and analytics.

What does it mean to small businesses:  I am afraid it means that creating content is going to become more complicated and cost more money. The problem is that even in a B2B environment content has become very important and you need to work at it. In my opinion, you don’t have to go the full hog as before; content needs to be a part of your strategy ensuring it’s considered and budgeted for.

Circle C Studio: `Account-based marketing and sales strategies: This is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. ABM has been a hot topic in B2B marketing for the past few years and it picked up a lot of steam in 2017. For B2B firms with long, complex sales cycles that often involve many stakeholders and transactions that are typically high-value in nature, ABM represents a more effective way to generate new business than solely relying on “inbound” approaches to lead generation.

What does it mean to small businesses:  This one is music to my ears and something that we have been working on a lot in 2017.  Many small businesses seem to approach small and big companies in a similar manner. This often means that when approaching a larger business, they tend to stop at one senior contact rather than researching and finding multiple decision makers. You can also see this as confirmation that you need to deploy a number of tactics to make a campaign strategy work.

HuffPost: Growth Hacking: Also known as growth driven tactics, these are marketing processes specifically targeted for increasing growth in revenue. SEO is the still one of the best growth hacking strategies simply because you are getting more traction from people who are already inquiring about your product or service. As technology evolves to allow additional search options, you have to adjust your strategy to meet your audience where they are looking for you.

What does this mean to small business: In 2018 the need for outbound marketing will continue to grow. With customers everywhere having less money to spend, the race to their wallet will require you to come out of your comfort zone and go after your target markets. HuffPost mention SEO but of course there are many other tactics you can use for Growth Hacking including e-mail marketing, direct mail, LinkedIn and telemarketing.

Some interesting ideas there I am sure you agree. Not very much of the thinking is new but I think that it supports the notion that difficult market conditions require a tighter strategy. Here is how we can help in case you were wondering.

Have a great Christmas and a successful 2018!


Why is lead nurturing not really a sales job?

If you have read any of my Blogs lately, you will have seen that I am very interested in buying and selling styles.  I have also written quite a lot about follow up and why you, or your sales team, should not have the sole responsibility for it.

Working with customers to supply them with new business leads has made me realise how important timely follow up is.  That’s still the case but recently I have come to understand the kind of follow up required in order to benefit from new business leads and I thought it would be good to share this with you.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between outbound and inbound marketing:

Inbound Marketing: This term is used to describe the tools you create to help people approach your business when they are interested in your product and service. These tools include your website, referral marketing, content marketing and so on.

Outbound marketing: This term is used to describe pre-meditated activities you undertake to approach your target markets directly. These activities include tactics such as e-mail marketing, advertising and telemarketing.

Many established businesses I come across, survive almost entirely on inbound marketing and particularly referrals. This is a phenomenon I have written about before and would advise against. This Blog, however, is interested specifically in growing SMEs who utilise outbound marketing activities through their sales and business development arm. Not surprisingly, these companies generate many leads and then become a victim of their own success, struggling to keep following up with all of them.

When this happens, the business is effectively throwing away much of the budget and effort they put into their lead generation. Their problem is no longer of generating numbers but of converting them at a high enough percentage. This problem arises from two main areas:

  1. Growing businesses are very busy and as a result, non-urgent but essential activities, such as lead nurturing and systematic follow up, get put to one side.
  2. Follow up is normally an activity assigned to the sales team. However effective follow up requires listening skills and patience which is not at the forefront of every sales person’s mind.

What is the problem then?

When you are conducting a lot of lead generation activities, you will find opportunities before they find you. This means that you often speak to interested parties when they are very early on in their buying cycle and have not made up their mind on what they want and from whom.  This means you will need to conduct quite a number of conversations before you are in a position to make the sale. Hence why persistent, polite and long-term follow up communication is so key. 

So, what can you do? ·

  • Reduce your lead generation efforts·
  • Nag your sales people to follow up more·
  • Recruit a telemarketing assistant ·
  • Outsource your follow up requirement

Here is what we do:

Lead generation is key to continuous growth but your sales people’s time is better used developing hot sales opportunities. The reality is that effective follow up takes some experience, which means that outsourcing can provide a good solution for the following reasons:

  • You get access to considerable experience and skills
  • The activity must generate results to be continued
  • The contractual commitment required is considerably reduced

Click here to read more about our lead nurturing solution and get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.