Category Archives: Marketing

Staying focused can be hard work these days…

‘I try to stay focused on my creativity,’ said Christina Aguilera. Well, what can I say, me too, how about you?

It might have been mentioned before that we live in a very busy world which makes staying focused very difficult. This affects most people and covers all walks of life, making It one of the biggest challenges we face. Now, I cannot really help you if you are a nuclear physicist looking to get more focused but if you are looking at increasing your new business sales, I might be able to offer some advice;

So, what are the specific issues you face regarding focusing your business development?

As I see it there are three key issues:

  1. Short cuts
  2. Silver bullets
  3. Impatience

I do apologise if this sound a bit like a Haiku but it can be further explained with the following example:

Bob is a Business Development Director who has been tasked with increasing new business sales for his company. Bob has a very busy job and is bombarded with communications about how he could take his company to the next level using the latest trick every day. Bob, like many people, likes to use tried and tested tools, preferably ones he feels comfortable with. What will he do now then? Here are some options:

  1. Bob could look at previous marketing campaigns which may have worked in the past and look to re-instate them, praying they still work
  2. Bob could pursue the latest tool promised to solve all his problems
  3. Bob could spend some time reviewing and understanding his target markets and put together a structured strategy to approach them

Will you be surprised if I told you that any of the above options could still land him with no further sales?

This is the problem so many of us come across, no matter how much thought you put into a campaign ensuring your planning is spot on; you still may fail, in THE SHORT TERM. One of the biggest issues with our busy world is that it is full of choice and so we have become dependant on instant solutions that deliver immediately. But, when it comes to selling, particularly expensive stuff, it’s impossible to get immediate results and you really need to apply patience in order to get any meaningful leads.

As patience really is a virtue these days, most people abort business development campaigns too as soon as they feel they have had no results and start again on another old initiative or a different silver bullet and so on and so forth. Now that sort of thing really does not help your focus or your new business sales, does it?

I don’t think there is one answer to this, as it will make me another business person offering silver bullets. All I would say, is that every business has specific needs and details make all the difference. If you want to look into this further, click on this link (preferably on your mobile) to fill in our questionnaire and we can get back to you with some ideas.

 

About making a choice

We recently asked a carpenter to make us some shelves for our kitchen.  In the process of discussing our requirements, we went from having a few shelves for our cook books to having a floor to ceiling unit in the corner of our kitchen. That took some careful measurements and calculations then off he went to make our unit.

Some time passed and he came back to take some final measurements. It was Monday morning and I had about a million things to think about but it was then that I was asked to make a choice between a corner unit or a straight forward shelving unit. What I should have done was to ask him to leave it with me so we could discuss it but instead I felt compelled to make a choice there and then. I chose a corner unit, which came out completely the wrong shape and size for our kitchen. Not a good outcome; luckily it sorts of fits in our living room.

At this stage, I think it’s important to mention that there is never just one choice.  However, if you need to make one, here is what I learned:

  1. Immediate choices are not a must. Some things are better off being carefully considered.
  2. Making the right choice takes specific skill and knowledge. Sometimes it’s wise to involve other people who are better placed to make a particular decision.

Your business development strategy, just like many other elements, involves making choices. In order to make it work for your company, you need to consider a variety of things, such as:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • In what order?
  • What is their key issue?
  • How can you solve it?

Once you are clear on the above, you can work out what tactics to use to better connect with your target markets.  At this stage, your choice should be based on where your target markets search for helpful information. This will almost certainly not be based on one tactic, or platform but rather on a variety of tools which fit together.

Simple, right? WRONG!  Doing this right takes some skill and research. It might take some time to put together and you might have to ask an expert. But done correctly, it will work much better than applying the latest craze which everyone is talking about.

Our Big Ticked Lead Generation system was designed to provide a means which may be right for you if you operate in the B2B market and have a complicated, long sales process.  Check our website for more details or give us a call to discuss further.

One trick ponies and comfort zones

Our fixation with not being a ‘one trick pony’ in business, is apparent in the examples below:

  1. Famous last words: Some of you may remember Stuart Baggs, ‘The Brand’, who famously told Lord Sugar during the Apprentice show in 2015: ‘I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a 10-tricks pony. I’ve got a whole field of ponies, waiting to literally run towards this job…’ This approach kept him going for quite a few episodes until Lord Sugar decided to fire him.
  2. Synonymous with failure: According to an article I read in The Story Telling Blog, in the 1800s small travelling circuses without big headline acts or a menagerie of exotic animals were known as dog and pony shows. The very average acts on the programme were derided as ‘one trick ponies’

No one, it seems, wants to be a one trick pony, with only one talent, one skill and one way of standing out.  I would go further and say that in our fast-developing world, it is very hard to keep growing your company based on a very limited offer. This is why so many companies look to acquire additional talent through acquisition and joint projects. Appealing to new markets and developing new products all depend greatly on demonstrating relevant skills and knowledge. In the world of business, ‘a field of ponies’ is therefore definitely better than a ‘one trick pony’.

Why not apply this to your marketing strategy, then?

In my experience two main factors affect your marketing strategy:

  1. Looking for the magic bullet: so many people I come across look to over-simplify their marketing approach by believing that they must choose one discipline to promote their organisations.
  2. Staying within your comfort zone: Knowing what you are good at and how you wish to come across, is very important. Still it’s easy to confuse this with only choosing marketing strategies we relate to and understand.

It might surprise you to consider that the important choices to make in your marketing strategy relate to your target markets and the priority in which you want to approach them. The tools and platforms you wish to use can vary and are driven by where your target markets choose to consume information, and not the other way around.

When considering how to approach your target market, it is therefore very important to keep an open mind and not try to limit yourself to your own comfort zone. Having realised this ourselves, we have joined forces with Make Digital Work to create a cross platform product aimed at starting sales conversations. You can find out more about this here.

What will you buy your business this Christmas?

It hit me a few days ago, as I was eyeing some iPad Pros at a well-known shop: we should all buy our business a Christmas present even if it’s just another excuse to buy another present. Having thought about it a bit more I realised that whilst an iPad will be lovely, the top three things on my list of presents for my business in 2019 are:

  1. Growth
  2. Security
  3. Joy

I wonder if you have ever thought about it yourself.  Whether you are a business owner or senior manager in a larger organisation, there must be things you wish for your business in 2019. Self employed or not, we all spend so much time at work that we should wish to make it a nicer place for us to be.

If you are hoping for similar gifts to me, you might think that the concept of buying these for yourself a complete nonsense. How can you buy growth and where do they sell security not to talk about joy? All true but as it is nearly Christmas, I would like to remind you of a lovely quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’

Before you accuse me of having too many sherries way too early, here are a few things you might consider which can affect these elements in your business:

Growth: It’s a big word so why not break it to its components,

  • Planning: There will be hundreds of free planning workshop to chose from in January, why don’t you book yourself on one of them or consider signing up with a good coach?
  • Skills: Are there any areas, professional, technical or general that could contribute to growth in your business? Consider some training courses for you and the team.
  • -Marketing/ lead generation: Creating a good campaign or re-designing your website can make a difference to new sales. To make sure you get results, put together a strategy for your business.

Security: This is a bit misleading because we actually have very little control over what happens around us. However, you can consider the little that you can affect, things like:

  • Forecasting: How good are you at analysing your sales pipeline? Many of us lose the will to live when it comes to detail analysis of Excel spreadsheets or CRM reports but getting better at it can do wonders for identifying potential problems in advance.
  • Sales Pipeline: There is nothing that affects sales more than a developed pipeline. You should always consider short term as well as long term opportunities to ensure that new sales are flowing

Joy: We all tend to underestimate joy as a real focus. It is often thought of as a by-product of living a full life, but it isn’t necessarily so. For me, the two most important elements of joy are:

  • Interest: is your work still interesting and challenging? If not, it might be time to alter what you do and shift things a little.
  • People: Are you surrounded by people you enjoy spending time with? Are they doing a good job helping you develop things? If not, it might be something to consider for the New Year

I hope this has given you some food for thought. Here at Your Business Development Team, we want to wish you a merry Christmas and offer you a little present from us: Click here to download a copy of our 13 creative lead generation ideas document.

See you in 2019…

Becoming a clairvoyant, or how to grow your pipeline in a predictable way?

You may have heard of the Maslow Hierarchy which shows how our needs as humans develop as we become more established and comfortable.  In the middle of the said hierarchy, just above food and shelter, sits security which most of us see as key to our lives. We can spend some time arguing about whether we can ever truly be secure, but I wanted to discuss one of the key elements of your business security: your pipeline.

Regardless as to whether you run your own business or the sales team within a bigger company, developing your pipeline is key to both your security and growth:

  • Without a pipeline, you will struggle to forecast the future of your sales which affects all major business decisions
  • Pipeline development helps you tackle your growth strategy, from immediate to further opportunities, existing and new markets

Despite its importance, many of us treat our pipeline development rather carelessly, leaving most of it to faith. Typical approaches include:

  • Relying solely on repeat business and referrals
  • Frantically looking for leads only when levels of sales have reduced dramatically
  • Running a variety of lead generation tactics without focus or strategy
  • Trying to convert any business that comes your way

This approach will either leave you with a small pipeline covering only immediate opportunities or a very large one full of long-term possibilities and pies in the sky. If you wanted to truly use your pipeline as a tool for growth and development, you need to have one which includes long term suspects which are being nurtured and developed into mature prospects, which will turn into customers. To achieve this, you will need to establish three things:

  1. Have a good understanding of your target markets
  2. Create continuous, relevant communications to create interest
  3. Follow up with your suspects and prospects continuously

Follow this, and you will end up with a funnel shaped pipeline like this one which is aimed at creating new opportunities in your desired markets and developing them into sales. You may already be doing this or a part of this but now is a good time to review your process and ask yourself if you and your team are getting it right. Economic uncertainty, like that which we are currently facing, can change market conditions, meaning you end up with less repeat business and referrals so make sure you are developing a strong pipeline to tackle it.

As always, we are happy to help and discuss your individual circumstances so get in touch.

Quality over quantity, top tips to building your new business database

Good old Emil Zola must have seen a glimpse of the future when he said, ’If I cannot overwhelm you with my quality, I will overwhelm you with my quantity.’  I am not entirely sure what he meant by it but these days we see plenty of examples of people trying to impress us with their quantity, rather than quality.

2018 has seen the data debate take to centre stage through the introduction of GDPR, which was introduced to stop the unauthorised use of personal data. There was much talk about the change it would bring beforehand, but we hear very little of it now. Dare I say that not much has changed in terms of B2B e-mail in my in-box. Even so, assuming that, like me, you think that communicating to a smaller but engaged audience is better, you might want to consider how you build this database in the first place.

Let’s consider some different methods to building your database:

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Buying a data list -Providing a solid start

-Allowing you to communicate with the right industries and decision makers

– The data is very cold which affects the speed of conversion

-Very niche markets can be hard to identify

Using your own client and contact list -Building on your existing industry knowledge

-Communications will be better received as it’s a familiar audience

– Much of the data might be out of date

-The list may not be very strategic in terms of new and target markets

-GDPR compliance is questionable

Using Social Media platforms to build your following -This is potentially a very engaged audience as they have connected with you

 

-Using this data outside of the specific platform can be difficult

-Many contacts will not appreciate a direct approach

Using digital funnels or landing pages to attract interested parties -As this method is based on targeting people who searched for your product or service it has the potential to provide you with highly qualified leads -Because this method is so specific it can be very slow in terms of building a database

 

Once more we have concluded that there is no one winner and no silver bullet. My advice would be to use a variety, if not all, of the above methods to communicate with your target audiences. The important thing is to create an overarching strategy which governs your marketing and lead generation system thus making it focused and tailored to your business.

This means that you have a specific process in which your funnel works, which involves several activities happening at the same time. Such a system will ensure that you are seen in front of the right audience at a volume and frequency that allows you to develop a substantial pipeline based on your new business conversion rate.

If it sounds interesting, check out  our system here or give me a call to discuss your requirements.

 

 

The truth about making a choice and why would you want to skin a cat anyway?

Many animal lovers hate the saying ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’ but if you actually check its origin you might be even more disturbed. According to Edward Brumley, Buddhist, Vegan and Atheist, ‘The phrase is just a more recent rendition of an older proverb that was expressed in many different ways, in which various animals were killed in diverse and sundry creative fashions. The earliest known version was recorded in 1678 in the second edition of John Ray’s collection of English proverbs, in which he gives it as “There are more ways to kill a dog than hanging… ‘

Let’s move on swiftly but stick with the idea that there is more than one way to achieve your goal. This notion is worth keeping in mind when it comes to your marketing even if it often looks like you have to choose. Well, let me break it to you gently, you don’t have to. To make things clearer, here are the main two choices you have when you consider your marketing strategy:

  • 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.
  • 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.

In addition, most marketing methods could be divided into the following categories:

  • Offline marketing which can be seen as old school by some, includes methods such as direct mail, leafleting, telemarketing and telesales
  • Online marketing which some will describe as all the rage, includes methods such as e-mail marketing, SEO, Social Media and ad words

Many companies feel they have to choose between the different options. This is sometimes the case due to budget limitations or the marketing company they work with. In my opinion, the choice needs to be down to the various target markets you are after. Here are a few examples to clarify what I mean:

  1. If your target market is stay at home mums who like to shop locally, you may choose to place targeted adverts in Facebook and use local groups. In this case, you will be utilising an inbound digital marketing campaign
  2. If you are targeting Estate Agents in Cardiff, you may choose a direct mail campaign which is followed up by telemarketing. In which case, you will be utilising outbound offline marketing campaign

Now, I am always for being as specific as you can when it comes to your target market. If you can narrow it down to people who only come out when it rains on a Sunday, that is great. However, our reality is made up of a very wide choice in nearly every walk of life, which means that even if you are specific, you still need to consider more than one approach to reach more people. By this, I mean that you need to adopt marketing campaigns that reach out to your contacts using a number of platforms. If you can e-mail, connect on LinkedIn and telephone them all in one campaign, you increase your chances of getting through to more people. Of course, you can choose to place some strategic Blogs alongside Ad Words and landing pages instead.  The point is that the choice is yours and should be based solely on your growth targets and marketing strategy.

As always, I am happy to discuss your specific questions further. In the meantime, you might find it useful to check out how our lead generation system works.

B2B E-mail marketing the right way, what and how?

If this image resonates with you, you may well be one of those people who cannot wait for GDPR to take hold, hoping that their inbox will considerably shrink as a result.  Well, I am sure it will, particularly from a private e-mail perspective but not so much when it comes to your business e-mails.

Why is that I hear you cry? In my latest Blog I talked about the future of B2B e-mail marketing and you can read all about the differentiation made by the regulations between corporate and private data. If you are past that stage and have decided to carry on using e-mail marketing with corporate date on a legitimate interest basis, you will need to consider a number of things.

Using legitimate interest as your legal basis to send marketing e-mails is not a licence to carry on spamming.  On the contrary, it puts you on the spot and gives you an extra responsibility to make sure you are compliant and respectful of people’s data and inboxes.  What does this mean? you might ask, well here are some examples:

  1. Carry out an analysis for each campaign you are planning, to determine the following:
  • Is the campaign absolutely necessary?
  • Is there a less intrusive way in which you could do this?
  • Will this seriously undermine your recipients privacy?
  • This questionnaire might help you out with your assessment
  1. Update your privacy policy notice on your website and add a link to it at the bottom of your e-mail
  2. Tell people why you are writing to them and ensure there is a clear and easy link to unsubscribe
  3. Include your company name and contact details so your readers know who it came from you
  4. Use a proper e-mail marketing software (like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor). These ensure that unsubscribing is done properly, and you cannot write to these again.

All of the above is important and relatively easy to achieve but the key factor to consider is the content. The main point that GDPR is making is that people do not want to get unsolicited sales e-mails that are all about you and what you can do for them. They are a lot more likely to interact with you if you think about them and what they are likely to be interested in.  So, here are a few things to consider when it comes to making your content more compelling:

  1. Consider your target markets and ensure your lists are segmented to allow you to send tailored e-mails
  2. Create a campaign and content plan, ensuring you are sending out focused communications based on target market interests
  3. Make your e-mail template pleasant to look at and connected to your brand and website
  4. Blend your e-mail marketing campaigns with Blog pots, articles, guides and other useful materials
  5. Keep the e-mail message simple and include relevant links for people to find out more
  6. Don’t bombard people with communications; we are all busy and even useful e-mails can become a nuisance if overdone
  7. Don’t forget to analyse the data and follow up

I hope you found this useful. I read the other day that only 40% of UK business are ready for GDPR and truly hope that you are. If you are doing your own e-mail marketing and looking for some support, have a look on our website or get in touch.

 

 

How will GDPR affect B2B Marketing? An update on the state of play

When I first started looking into GDPR last summer, I, along with many others, had identified that big changes were in store for direct marketing. I even thought that this may be the end of e-mail marketing as the most popular B2B marketing tactic. It then became obvious that the regulations distinguish between corporate subscribers and personal data. This is significant as it could mean that the rules for B2B direct marketing may stay largely unchanged. This Blog attempts to give you the latest low down and provide some clarity:

A key fact some people are not aware of, is that GDPR itself does not mention marketing at all, rather the two relevant documents here are:

  1. The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)
  2. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR)

As you might have guessed, both have existed for some time but GDPR has given them extra importance since it has the power to act against offenders. One more important factor to bear in mind, is that the new e-privacy Regulation (ePR) which is currently being agreed by the EU to replace the PECR will not be completed by the time GDPR comes into effect in May. The new ePR may bring some additional changes affecting B2B marketing which are unconfirmed at present.

But what are the actual rules and what can you expect to be able to do or not in the B2B market after May 25th?  Well, I did a lot of reading and found some useful Blogs but they all said slightly different things, here are a few examples:

  1. In May 2017, the Upfront Blog interviewed Lecturer in Law at University of Hertfordshire Henry Pearce who said: ‘At present, PECR specify that B2B email marketing and similar activities would not have to obtain the express opt-in consent of any individuals whose personal data were involved in said activities. Therefore, in the context of B2B marketing activities involving personal data, if individuals are given the option to opt-out this is sufficient to establish consent. The GDPR broadly also retains the abovementioned conditions for processing of personal data contained within the DPA, but with some important clarifications, particularly regarding individual consent.’ Read more…

What did I make of it: Whilst Mr Pearce did his best not to answer the question directly the Blog does provide good guidelines for ensuring your data system is robust.

  1. In July 2017, Blue Sheep Blog wrote about the new e-PR and said: ‘Although an unfinalised draft, the new e-Privacy Regulationcontains several key points relating to electronic communications that will affect B2B (and B2C) businesses, including applications to more communication services, simplified rules on Cookies and changes to soft opt ins which relates to messages to existing clients.’  On the subject of B2B data being classed as personal or not the Blog said: ‘Depending on whom you ask, you’ll hear mixed messages’. Read More…

What did I make of it: This Blog does a good job of clarifying the situation and explain the distinction between B2C and B2B data.

  1. In January 2018, Lead Forensics produced a Blog which related to the definition of ‘personal data’, ‘sensitive data’ and ‘business data’. Under the business data category, it read: ’GDPR only applies to data relating to individuals, not relating to businesses. So, data that is clearly related to a business such as business name and address, landline number and info@ email are all outside of GDPR ruling. However personal business email addresses can fall under a classification of “personal data”.’ Read More

What did I make of it: Very helpful infographics for those who like the information summed up clearly.

  1. In the light of personal business e-mails being considered ‘personal data’ you might want to read the Marketing Centre Blog which clarifies the term ‘legitimate interest’: ‘Legitimate Interest is one of the 6 lawful reasons for processing personal information defined in GDPR. The regulation states specifically that “the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.”In fact, the DMA view is that B2B marketers will be able to make use of the legitimate interest legal grounds for their marketing activity in most instances.  Keep in mind, though, that the definition of legitimate interest is still a matter of debate. GDPR requires the sender to justify that a communication is in the legitimate interest of and does not risk the privacy of the individual. ‘Legitimate interest’ should not be used as a reason to ‘catch-all-and-carry-on-regardless’. You can download the DMA guidance on legitimate interest here. Read More…

What did I make of it: The Blog raises some key points and offers some useful links. It helped me understand how legitimate interest works.

 So how do you settle it?

The surprising answer is, read the Direct Marketing Guide put together by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office – they are in charge). The document is well written in easy to understand language and includes plenty of examples. It’s not even too long.

Key points to take away:

  • Whilst we await the new e-PR to be agreed by the EU parliament the main legal documents referring to B2B marketing are DPS and PECR
  • There is ambiguity as to whether business e-mail addresses (for limited companies and corporates) are considered ‘personal data’
  • The main justification for B2B marketing under GDPR will fall under ‘legitimate interest’ though you will have to treat this with care
  • The biggest change to practice will be around data management so you need to sort this out as a matter of urgency.

As always, we will be delighted to help if we can. Do check out our GDPR support here and get in touch if you would like more information.

 

A few key reasons not to throw the baby out with the bath water

Current affairs offer us many examples of throwing the baby out with the bath water, Brexit being a particularly prominent example. If you read The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters, you will be aware of how the chimp can rule our lives, leading us to make some hasty choices to prove that we know best.

With GDPR now in place I hear many business owners declaring that as these new regulations are a headache, they will give up on marketing all together. Others are being less defiant and plan to give up on e-mail marketing as a strategy. I understand this approach as many business owners of established companies hold two key beliefs which support it:

  1. They know they get most of their new business from referrals
  2. They see marketing as an expensive overhead with no guaranteed results

You might be surprised to hear that I don’t disagree with these beliefs: I regard networking and referral marketing as my key new business strategy. Like everybody else, I have seen mixed results from new business campaigns. The difference is that I have not given up on pursuing new business from scratch and have instead created an eco-system utilizing many strategies.

Sounds mysterious and complicated you might think. Others will regard it as marketing speak and they are probably right. What I mean by it is that I have come to accept a few beliefs of my own:

  1. Every strategy has its own rhythm and requirements which need to be taken into account in order to drive it forward.
  2. Referrals are great and much easier to deal with and convert. However, they don’t necessarily drive your business in the direction you currently seek.
  3. Very few things in life are guaranteed. Marketing is certainly not one of them but it’s essential to your business.

So, before you and your chimp run ahead and delete your marketing databases, suck your e-mail marketing company and free yourselves from the marketing overhead altogether, remember:

  • GDPR is not an excuse to stop marketing but rather to do a better job of it
  • Developing new markets is essential for your business to thrive and grow
  • Things rarely work by magic, but they will deliver value if carefully planned and executed.

As always, we will be delighted to help if we can. Do check out our GDPR support here and get in touch if you would like more information.