Who knew The Archers would end up inspiring one of my blogs on business growth?
This week I was interested to listen to an exchange between Kirsty at the health club with the dreaded Miranda (a high maintenance client!) and later her colleague Linda Snell. I quote it in full in the blog below but the gist of it involved an issue with deeply annoying 'entitled and self obsessed' customers. And it set me thinking about the value businesses place on the folk most keen to spend the most money.
Now, whether you perceive them as 'entitled and self obsessed', or 'clients who need to be nurtured to ensure they stay loyal for years to come' is entirely down to you. And, more importantly, how you how choose to segment your client base and the services you offer to each level.
However, in my experience, far too many business owners spend too much valuable time chasing after the needs of the POOREST paying customers and nowhere near enough considering the needs of the clients who are spending the most.
Take a look at this weeks blog and decide for yourself where you stand on that spectrum ... I promise you, it could be the start of a MASSIVE change in how you do business.
What a great week it’s been for the bloggers! A stonker I’d say. The news has been awash with metaphor potential.
Coaches and referees…
I only caught a small amount of the rugby International on Sunday but the short section that I did hear has caught the headlines.
The Italians were confusing the English game plan by not committing bodies to the ruck, confusing the England players. England Captain Hartley asked referee Roman Poite to explain and was given a brilliant response from the Frenchman; “I’m a referee not a coach.”
Not surprisingly the coaches have been out in force – business coaches, life coaches, sports coaches, technical coaches – grabbing this brilliant opportunity to tease yet more metaphors out of the story. And to engage their audience.
Cock up at the Oscars
The came the BIG one. The Oscars. When Warren Beatty managed to read out the wrong name for Best Picture. Well, more to the point, he read out the RIGHT name but from the WRONG card. Oops.
Looks like the guy in the wings gave him the wrong envelope. A small process error – he hadn’t moved the previous envelope to the bottom of the pile – and hey presto, history was made.
Well, standby for a flurry of emails about the simple processes in your business that can so easily go wrong and cause a serious – catastrophic even – cock up!
Fifty Shades of Chocolate Factories
And today it’s World Book Day. Every man and his dog is sharing their favourite business book, their most inspiring author, metaphors around Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, who knows, probably Fifty Shades of Grey too. Zillions of opportunities - there's probably even an inspiring book about plumbing out there somewhere.
I don’t know what to say!!!
My point is, the question I MOST get asked when I challenge clients to stay in contact with their customers – past, present and potential – is "but what do I write about?”
And the answer is simple. Just look and listen around you. Opportunities present themselves in every shape and size on a daily basis. In the news. A plot from East Enders or the return of Broadchurch. A funny thing that happened to you at the traffic lights. Something your kids said. A customer story.
Many of my weekly blogs are video based – and they all stem from stories that are personal to me. My forthcoming birthday invites. My favourite local gin. A trip to a French market.
Each of my featured stories from this last week would have worked for pretty much ALL businesses in some way. I mean, I’ve managed to use all three!
You simply need to engage your antennae and ask yourself, ‘how can I use that?’. Truly it’s not difficult and it allows you to communicate in a way that doesn’t simply say ‘we sell X – please buy from us!’.
I’m pretty certain you don’t buy from people who do that to you – and neither do your customers.
So, have a great week - and do let me know about any great examples of media inspired blogs you've either written or read.
You might be wondering what funerals and plans for our forthcoming BIG birthday do for the family has got to do with direct marketing? Watch and learn I say.
Without even thinking about what I was doing, I naturally created a top-notch direct marketing pack that's designed to get me the result I want.
So, if you want to understand the power of getting the elements to any direct mail campaign right, watch my short video here ...
Bring on the barbecue and cake I say!
What is it with men? Or maybe it’s just my husband! But certainly his filter for ‘these socks REALLY should be in the bin’ is a LOT higher than mine. Meaning that I have to regularly raid the clean washing basket if we are to remove socially unacceptable footwear from general circulation.
However, I hadn’t counted on Boris and Bella’s intervention. We have two cats – well, overgrown kittens at 18 months – and they have a very keen nose for new and exciting toys hidden in strange place. Especially ones you can chase, catch and stalk. And old socks from the bin rank pretty highly it would seem!
My point is – for me they had no more use. For them, Daddy’s old socks had a whole new purpose and lease of life!
So, there I was updating my website and CRM system, I found myself frustrated by the potential volume of work needed to create all the new resources and ‘value adds’ necessary to connect with new prospects. No time! Stressed! Arghhh!
So, just to keep the project moving, I had a quick rummage through my ‘old stuff’, just to see if there was anything there that would ‘make do’ while I created some new ‘shiny shiny’ versions.
And blimey, I was surprised! Like, REALLY surprised. I mean, this stuff was good!
Not many people get through to my direct line - it's a number I give out rarely.
So you'd better have something important to say if you call me - or you're likely to hack me right off....
...which is exactly what this person achieved the other day with an extraordinarily bad cold call!
But in truth, could you say you've never committed the cardinal sins that this lady managed? I bet you have.
To find out how badly wrong she got it, check out my video blog here.
I took a trip to the O2 to re-energize my thinking for 2017 ... how are you getting your ideas and energy fix?
Since I started doing video blogs just under a year ago, the most frequent question I get asked is 'how do you do you video blogs'!
Well, in this week's blog, I tell all. And yes, you'll be VERY surprised at just how small it is!!! Astonished actually. I certainly was. One of the cleverest pieces of engineering I've seen in a long time.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a very proud Auntie to both my sister's two kids - well, more adults than kids nowadays but you know what I mean! And it has been a particular privilege to have played a small part in my nephew Justin's extraordinary business journey over the last six years.
He has taken his specialist head-hunting business from one man to a team of 22. From London to Dubai and Hong Kong. And from Zero to a serious 7-figure turnover. And I think the key to his success comes in the form of three massively important lessons all business owners would do well do reflect on.
If you want to find out more about those three lessons, watch my video blog here ...
So, someone asks you to go spend a week of your own time, working long hours, for no pay, and you have to cough up £500 to stay over too. And you say YES without a moment's hesitation.
Well, if you want to know why I did just that recently, check out my latest blog and find out more about the power of speaking in public and why, as a business owner, you need to master this vital art.
Literally just days back from our brief anniversary trip to southern Turkey, yes, I will admit I didn't take advantage of any belly dancing. Shame, I hear you say. Or maybe not, perhaps!
But to find out how we ended up on our first ever break to Turkey - and why you need to deploy the exact same strategy in your business - take a look at this week's video blog ...
Sometimes it's the simplest things that make the BIGGEST difference.
Check out how one guy dealt with his headsh*t in the most practical way you can imagine. It's going to have a momentous impact to what happens next in his business.
Every business wants to find ways to increase income without adding hugely to overheads. Makes sense do maximise income and profit wherever you can, after all.
Check out how the Cinammon Kitchen added best part of £200k to their bottom line ... it will make you stop and think about what your version might be!
Check out the video below...
Like they said ...
Gold - Always believe in your soul.
You've got the power to know you're indestructible
Always believe in, because you are Gold
If you've been inspired by Rio 2016, find out how Chris Meers and Jack Laugher - our Gold medalist Divers - could inspire you to create the vision you need in YOUR business.
Working with a client recently with my Four Man Business Builder programme, we had come up with a novel idea for a direct marketing campaign.
Check out my video blog here to find out why one lady was hopping mad with what she received - and what my client did next. It's an interesting exercise in 'putting your head above the parapet' syndrome!
Watch the video blog here>>
Prince Philip is 95 years old today - blimey! And still working at a pace that would put most of us to shame.
Famous for his gaffes and witty one-liners, find out about his surprising BIG lesson to small business owners - it's less than 1.5 minutes long but it's dynamite!!
Find out how one client made a massive difference to her 'desired outcomes' - in brief, she wants to get in front of prospects in their homes where knows she's MASSIVELY more likely to win the business.
Check out this one subtle change that made all the difference...
Following our fab whirlwind trip to Russia a couple of weeks ago, here's the BIG business lesson I learned - well, FIVE Baboushka-sized lessons in fact - from the new, energised generation of market-focused businesses out there.
Check out what I discovered on my video here ...
Find out what it is about the game of rugby - famous for its 'odd shaped balls'! - that inspired me this week to discuss the power of marketing and sales process ...
There's something about the 'Spring' that adds up to 'renewal' and 'fresh thinking' isn't there?
And that goes for your marketing too - time to put on a fresh pair of eyes and add some fresh thinking to you messages so that your customers are much more likely to 'get it' - and more to the point 'buy it'!!
Find out how with my video blog here ...
Here with my first ever video blog, discover how I used my trip to the mountains to explain you can help keep your customers 'sticky'. Ways that will keep your customers coming back time and time again ...
In session two of my Mastermind programme I ask my masterminders to consider the music that empowers them. It’s a great way to reveal subtle layers of personality and drive. Funny too – last year we even had ‘Billy, Don’t be a hero’ by Paper Lace as one of the entries!!
But considering what I wanted to bring to the discussion, I’ve had my ears on the ‘look out’ and in popped Holly Johnson’s ‘Ascension’. It’s from the new film about the life of Eddie the Eagle, with the soundtrack and album 'Fly' written by Gary Barlow of 'Take That' fame.
Let me explain why I chose it - and the lessons it teaches every business owner...
Sometimes people buy from you straight away. Sometimes they’ll naturally seek you out ‘when the time is right’ … for them. But more often you will need to generate interest in what you do by running a ‘campaign’, in other words giving people who you are already connected to a reason to buy – NOW.
Today. Not next week or next month. But NOW.
Of course you still have to show that what you do is the right fit for them and will scratch whatever itch they have. The point is simply about helping you to generate some interest and find some people who can be persuaded - with the right incentive - to act NOW.
And if you're wondering about the daffodils - don't worry, all will become clear!!
In any common-sense marketing plan, you need to have an annual programme of campaigns – that could mean 20 or more but more often it's likely to mean just two or three. Planned in, prepared, written and ready to fire off on time.
The trouble is that most business owners struggle for inspiration on how campaigns could work for them. And my simplest piece of advice is that it’s a great reason for a campaign – if you say it is!! Provided it you execute the campaign with confidence and give it real momentum it WILL resonate with some of your audience. And you only need SOME people to act to make it worthwhile.
So, here are some starting points to get your creative juices flowing …
Delivering one of my Marketing Masterclasses on Friday last, we spent some time talking about Robert Cialdini’s definitive work on the Psychology of Persuasion, ‘Influence’. If you’ve not read it – you should.
As a part of this, we talked about the power of social proof. How getting ‘people like me’ to share their stories and testimonials, making it much more likely that your customers will buy.
I was asked a very interesting question. And it sounded like this …
“But how do you go about getting testimonials? I mean, you can’t just ask, can you?”
Like I say – interesting.
Because I’d suggest that simply asking or a testimonial is far and away the simplest starting point.
I’m not being judgemental – I simply think it’s interesting the perceived barriers that people see. It was clearly a block for this person and she hadn’t been able to see a way round it – as yet, no-one had volunteered a testimonial so she didn’t know what to do.
If simply asking for a testimonial feels uncomfortable, how about sending a letter or email that reads something like this …
Now, I don’t make a secret of not being in the ‘first flush of youth’ – I think ‘middle aged’ or ’50 something’ covers my age profile well enough – but like many who share my profile, I’m pretty active on social media.
I check in on Facebook every day – multiple times, usually – for my business and socially, and use Twitter and LinkedIn for business (albeit to a much lesser degree). To be honest, I’ve not embraced some of the newer platforms – Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and so forth – and tend to focus on ‘the big three’ - and from what I can see I’m not alone.
But, as a marketing specialist, I can’t tell you how many clients I talk to whose decisions about media choices are heavily influenced by one, or both, of the following thought processes …
And both of these display a massive ignorance of both the facts and the massive potential Facebook (in particular) and social media (in general) offers pretty much every business in today’s market. I can’t think of any other media that would be so viewed so dismissively by so many, without reference to the facts.
So, what are the facts?
I work with a LOT of business owns devising and crafting their marketing plans, marketing funnels and the sales & marketing ‘machine’ that needs to sit behind it all.
And there is one subtle shift in thinking that I frequently see that could get them – and you - thinking VERY differently about marketing.
You see, most people are keen to drive their customers towards a buying decision. I get that. It’s obvious.
Only, actually it’s not. Because we, as consumers, instinctively DON’T like being sold to. Or feeling like we are being backed into a corner. You know that - you're a consumer too after all!
Which is why, as a marketer, you need to back up a step.
One of the most critical parts of any marketing or business strategy is getting the pricing right. Especially for smaller business owners where issues around fear of losing business and 'self worth' often get in the way of charging what the job - or the person - is worth. Getting your pricing right is key.
In my experience, most business owners start with the worthy idea that they will work less hours, for more money and spend more time doing the things they love – with the people they love.
However, this rarely turns out to be the case! With most earning less and working longer hours than they ever did before! If you’re not charging enough you will always be pushing water uphill - why ever would you want to work twice as hard for half the money?
Pricing can be a complicated area and it's worth reviewing my top strategies and ask yourself if you’ve got your thinking 100% right - making your ‘dream lifestyle’ a much more likely prospect!
I’ve run a handful of workshops recently on the subject of ‘writing great sales copy’. As part of the exercise I’ve asked for people to submit their efforts in advance – we use them in the group to dissect what’s going on and how they can be improved, and I offer my rewritten version to show a VERY different approach.
It’s been an interesting exercise!
Notable issues that have arisen …
Something of an obsession with keeping the letter to just one page – because ‘people will lose interest’ – which is an interesting analysis, assuming that length rather than content is the key to commanding someone’s attention!
An almost universal failure to bring the letter to any viable conclusion – other than to ‘call me if you are interested’. The risk here is that most people will come to the conclusion that ‘direct mail doesn’t work for me’.
Most people want to sound ‘professional’ when they write to people – the inevitable result being that they sound ‘dull’. Certainly they fail to evoke any form of curiosity or reaction at all. The assumption it would seem that not sounding ‘professional’ is risky – whereas I would suggest that sounding anything other than ‘interesting’ is the biggest risk of all.
The GREAT COPY checklist...
So, without the full nine yards of explanation, here’s my ‘sales letter essential checklist’. I suggest you print it out and use it to check against what you are sending out – and, by the way, sales letters don’t just go in envelopes … they can be video scripts, or web pages, or emails too.
Every business needs a GREAT sales letter. Whether it's one you send by post; or a video; a web page; or an email. A smart piece of copy that drives your audience to the incontrovertible conclusion that they need to take action.
Because, if you can crack the 'perfect' letter to are a VERY long way to having a marketing system that works for you.
Yet, in the many years that I have been working with SME business owners, I've come to the conclusion that most people are shocking at writing compelling copy that makes people want to act. Worse than shocking in most cases. You might be compelled to hurl the offending item out of the window or into the bin - but little else.
Which is why I'm on a bit of a crusade to help people get better at writing sales copy. And I started by asking myself why it is that most people are incapable of making what they sell sound attractive to the people who should need or want it the most?
And I think the answer is simple - it's because people are bogged down with the idea that there is a 'right way' to write a sales letter. And I want to prove them wrong.
Working with my Mastermind group last week, we focused some time on challenging our patterns of thinking. You know the kind of thing, thoughts and scripts that 'run' automatically and dictate the way we behave, meaning we tend to respond in much the same way every time, given similar sets of circumstances.
It doesn't take Einstein to work out that this can have a massive impact in business.
In fact, if you want to find a short cut to failing in business, I strongly recommend that you adopt all of the above - and move swiftly to the inevitable outcome!
Think about people like Richard Branson, any of TV's 'Dragons,' or any other successful business person you admire - and ask yourself the question… 'do they think like this?'
The answer is simple - of course they don't.
I have been working with clients recently who are in the process of launching a new franchise business. It has posed some interesting challenges to the way they have always been used to working AND how they need to market the concept.
Anyone who has studied Gerber's defining work The E-Myth will be familiar with his idea that all business owners should aim to 'franchise' their business. That is to say, to create a model that runs without them right at the centre of every day operations - and, when this is complete, they should make a decision whether or not they actually WANT to run the 'franchise' themselves or sell it.
As I say, it poses interesting challenges and at the heart of any successful franchise is the need for systems. Everything needs to be systematised. The central operating process. The look. The marketing. Brand values. Customer service. The messages. Everything has to be replicable by someone else and still be wholly recognise able as the original. Think of Macdonalds. KFC. Prontaprint. The customer needs to have total faith in the outcome wherever they experience it.
Now, I get to meet many business owners and a large proportion of them are enamoured with the idea to franchise their business. The idea that you get to make the money while someone else does the work is intoxicating I'll grant you! Just reward for a great business idea you might think.
But make no mistake, most business owners are nowhere near the position they need to be in order to provide a proven, systematised operation that another business owner will invest in. The key issues seem to be ...
Last Sunday night - a classic June summer's evening - where we literally watched the sun go down on Sir Elton John - Captain Fantastic himself. Along with most of the audience, we fitted a certain 'age profile' and most people there were loyal fans of MANY years - me since 1972. However, I was surprised to find myself learning an interesting business lesson about the value of a great relationship with your customers.
Part of the Elton John brand over the years has been his 'tiara's and tantrums' persona so when he let forth with a major rant about the stewarding, we weren't too surprised. That it went on - and on! - and became evermore colourful in its tone was more of a surprise.
In particular he vented against a particular stewarding lady who he felt was taking her crowd control duties too far - he accused her of stopping his fans from enjoying the show by getting them to sit down and to not wave their arms. She stormed off in tears.
Just one song later and Elton apologised profusely explaining how frustrated he gets on behalf of his fans who have paid good money, and who have supported him over the years. They deserved better. He said he knew the guys were only 'doing their job' and that the issue was more about how they'd been briefed. The lady in question arrived on stage later to hugs and apologies from Sir Elton - she even sat with 'Rocket Man' at the piano and he dedicated his next song to her.
My huge thanks this week go to James Ashford, a fabulous business speaker I had the pleasure of listening to at a conference I was also speaking at this week.
His theme was understanding what it is that often stops people getting stuff done . The important stuff in their business - like their marketing, for example. The stuff that will make it grow.
It's all too easy to be daunted at the giant size of the 'to do' list - that feeling that there is so much still to be done. And his point was, focus on what you've got done, not what you've still got to get done. Keep moving forward by taking one step at a time. In other words, focus on progress - not perfection.
Now, I teach this stuff all the time but I immediately recognised some of my own behaviours here and he has given me a great opportunity to pause and reflect. I often don't get started on important parts of my marketing, because there feels like SOOOO much to do. Like writing my blog posts - ideally not the night before they're due out!
I recently worked with a lovely new client - Hayley - and we drew up her first-ever marketing strategy along with an action plan to make it all happen. I know she was daunted by the task and we broke it down into bite-sized chunks, in order of priority, to help her focus on what she had to do. But even so, this was new territory for her.
I was so pleased to receive this comment in an email from her this morning …
Over the last 5 years I've been delighted to be involved with the Haines Watts Young Entrepreneur of the Year (HWYE) competition where, as the name implies, we are on the look out for some great young business talent. And it's that time of year again and we are kicking of the 2015 competition.
So, could this be you? Or maybe someone you know?
Young entrepreneurs are our future business leaders and start-up businesses in the UK create more jobs than those in any other major European economy - so we need to support them. The HWYE competition is our way of doing this.
Entering the competition at www.hwye.co.uk is easy - you just fill in an online entry form - and if you make it through to the semi-final stage you’ll get publicity, a cash prize of £250, plus a year-long mentoring and support programme from a Haines Watts partner.
And, of course, you may win the ultimate accolade by being crowned the overall Thames Valley Young Entrepreneur of the Year and receive an extra £500!
I had an interesting conversation with a prospective customer this week and we were discussing the role of social media in driving traffic to a website. “The problem is,” he said, “I don’t come from a generation that knows anything about the internet and social media.”
And I accept that this is, on the face of it, an interesting conundrum.
By the time you read this blog, I’m going to be on my way up to the Lake District – my main purpose is to go on a Kayaking Course.
I’ve only been in a kayak once before and, to be honest, I was pretty hopeless and struggled getting it to go in the direction I wanted. But no-one was teaching me ‘how’ … and that’s something I intend to put right this weekend. Meaning that I’ve hired an expert and he and I – and Mr Day – are heading out onto Lake Windermere with all the gear.
Because, the thing is, I’ll be damned if the opportunities that are open to me are going to be defined by my age. Kids these days do kayaking at school and beyond and learn the basic skills and confidence early on.
That wasn’t the case for my generation so, if I want to have fun out on the water, I need to take matters into my own hands - meaning I’ve got to get out of my comfort zone and have a go. It’s what started me rock climbing 10 years or so ago and I hope it’s what will make me passable in a kayak over the next few days too.
Each year in the early Spring, Steve and I hop over to our house in France – and there are two things you can set your watch by … 1) the weather will take a dramatic turn for the worse (check out the Europe forecast for Friday!) and 2) The French Air Traffic Controllers will go on strike.
Looks like we may have achieved a home run on both counts!
The fact is ‘sh*t happens’ every day. It’s not a conspiracy – it’s just a simple fact. Ask any business owner what unexpected ‘googlies’ they get bowled on a day-to-day basis. Like the dollar rate fluctuating. Unexpected staff absences. The server failing. Interruptions in the supply chain. Foreign suppliers being, well, ‘Foreign’!! And even flooding – that can be fun too!
But of course, the BIG lesson is not about what happens to you – it’s about how you ‘react’ to it.
As I may have mentioned once or twice (!), last Tuesday – 31st March – was the last day to apply for the £2000 Government Growth Voucher. This is a scheme that has been running for 15 months. Now, I know the Government didn’t make a great job of promoting the scheme but I’m not sure that alone explains the behaviour I’ve experienced in this last week. Because I have had more enquiries in the last 10 days than in the previous 10 months. Seriously. It has gone berserk here – in a good way!
One of the things I teach when I’m working with clients is Robert Cialdini’s brilliant work ‘Influence’ – what he describes as the ‘psychology of persuasion’. One of the key ‘weapons’ of influence he talks about is SCARCITY which, in marketing terms, manifests itself either as a deadline – scarcity of time available – or there being only a limited number available.
The fact is we find it incredibly stressful to have our options limited in this way and we are compelled to act.
If you’re interested in the theory, Ciladini explains this by referring to ‘psychological reactance theory’ which was developed by a chap called Jack Brehm. He explains that, as our opportunities – or freedoms – are threatened, our desire to reassert control becomes overwhelming.
So when scarcity is increased – or the time to access is decreased – we will instinctively react against the interference by wanting the item more than ever before. And one easy way to regain our freedoms and put ourselves back in control is to buy or possess the item under threat.
I’m going to keep it short this week – no strangled metaphors; no stories; no powerful personal development messages.
I simply want to tell you about a shocking £25 million missed opportunity affecting thousands of business owners.
In January 2014 the Government put up £30 million to support small businesses get great strategic advice from key advisers, all with the aim of growing their businesses. It was called the Growth Voucher.
15 months later, and with just 4.5 days to go before the scheme stops, less than £5 million has been distributed. And the reason is that most small and medium sized business owners still know absolutely nothing about the scheme. That’s £25 million off their target – and 18,500 fewer business owners have received advice that their original target of 20,000.
It’s an absolute shocker! I can hardly get my head round just how inept their whole marketing process has been.
Many of you who know me will know that my ‘specs’ are one of my defining features. I recall announcing to my Mum when I was about 4 that I definitely would never wear glasses – by the age of 4 ½ I was wearing them. That’s just how it is when you are small.
Well some years – number edited to protect the innocent! – later, that’s no longer the case. I have given up the specs in favour of surgically implanted lenses.
You could say I have had a moment of clarity – and you’d be absolutely right.
It means I’m starting to see some things differently. At one level I’ve rediscovered mascara and being able to see the time if I wake up in the night. And I’ll now be able to see how a hotel shower works without an advance recce!
But, joking apart, it also means that I will be able to literally see things differently from now on – all the compromises and adaptations that I have simply got used too are a thing of the past. I can just get on with my life and embrace what’s out there to be seen the way nature intended.
I am a great fan of the gym. Genuinely. I realised some years back that I was much more likely to ‘do the stuff’ if I worked with a personal trainer motivating and guiding me, than trying to do it on my own.
I can’t speak for anyone else but for me it simply works. The accountability makes a BIG difference for sure. And I can’t keep pushing back my start time to later and later in the day (often to the point where today becomes tomorrow! … sound familiar?). It’s more fun too.
I learned a VERY valuable business lesson from my personal trainer yesterday and I'd like to share it with you.
In January Jon – my PT - and I agreed some New Year goals for me. In addition to my 100kg deadlift goal - more of that in another article! - I would definitely like to shed a few pounds to feel more like the ‘me’ I’d like to be. I don’t believe in dieting and we agreed that some renewed commitment to healthy eating principles definitely wouldn’t go amiss. And it was with much enthusiasm that I set about the food diary that Jon requested, so we could see what was going on.
So yesterday, after we'd discovered that I seem to have put ON weight since Christmas, we had a ‘discussion’ about what I’d written. Of course, it makes interesting reading and I could easily justify all the choices I'd made … I was tired; we’d had people round for supper; it was the weekend; I was using stuff up after Christmas; it was ‘just the once’. Believe me, I’m no slouch when it comes to a good excuse!
You may have gathered from my last blog that decorating is underway chez Lanham-Day. The bedroom, which has been a long time in the planning and it feels like just about as long in the execution!
Not helped by what has turned out to be some ‘communication issues’ between me and my key trades – ie. the carpenter, the electrician and the decorator. Or they might say they have had communication issues with me! And before you say; ‘what’s that got to do with me?’, I believe there is a huge and important metaphor between what I’ve been going through and what I see, day-in-day-out, with business owners pulling together major marketing projects.
Surely it couldn’t be me?!
OK, I get that I am probably a ‘difficult' client to work with; I 100% know what I am looking for in my new bedroom project and it’s all driven round a glorious painting with all the colours coming from its palette. Plus it’s all very contemporary with lots of unusual lighting effects – I’d show you a picture but it’s not finished yet!
However, we need to stay flexible because some of the detail just can’t be finalised until some other element is complete, meaning we are having to work ‘on the fly’ to some degree, in order to get the perfect finished result. It all comes back to that central vision.
Just before Christmas we – as in, Mr Day and me - went to see ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Winners, Diversity at the O2 as a belated Birthday treat for me. For the uninitiated they are a group of street dancers led by the enormous and charismatic Ashley Banjo.
I booked the tickets several months ago and it has to be said that Mr Day was less than keen – all not very 'manly' I guess! – and had been trying to palm off his ticket to friends for some while! To be fair, many of the audience were under 16 and very obviously from the dance fraternity. But the majority just came for the spectacle and we weren’t disappointed.
But that’s not what this blog is about. Dance and business, per se, aren’t obvious bedfellows.
Ashley Banjo is a very interesting guy. If you’ve ever heard him speak on dance - or even current affairs - programmes you’ll have spotted what an inspirational giant of a man he is. Unequivocally the ‘leader’ of his gang – it’s definitely not a democracy in Diversity! – he uses his position and fame to spread the message that you can truly be anything you truly want to be.
Dream. Believe. Achieve.
The Diversity mantra says it all. And, now at the start of 2015, it’s a message that many business owners should consider:
There are all sorts of signals for the start of Christmas – and a key one for me is the BBC’s SPOTY – Sports Personality of the Year.
It’s compulsory viewing in our house as Mr Day watches anything loosely defined as ‘sport’. But, that said, I love it because it’s such a great celebration of human endeavour and ferocious enterprise. The efforts that focused individuals will go to to achieve their dream is extraordinary.
This year’s Helen Rollason Award, for example, went to all the competitors in the first ever Invictus Games for injured servicemen. Honestly, humbling doesn’t even begin to describe their achievements.
And of course there is an incredibly clear message for business owners here.
I was delighted - albeit a little surprised - to get a call last week inviting me to be the sole guest on an hour-long business TV programme. Surprised because the session was due to go out live just 24 hours later!
They didn't say - and I didn't ask! - but I'm guessing they got properly dropped in the proverbial doo-doo by whichever guest they'd had booked in and who cancelled at the last minute. But hey, their loss was my gain and so I agreed.
Anyone who knows me will confirm that one problem I don't have is the ability to talk! So, with zero preparation time - I was running my Mastermind group all the following day - it was always going to be a case of winging it and relying on my beliefs and convictions about marketing and business.
In truth, I suspect the outcome was better than if I had been 'prepared' - there was no script just a great discussion about marketing principles and how to apply a marketing funnel in your business - a weakness that most businesses have is the complete absence of a structured funnel.
We covered some good stuff - key principles every business owner should know - so set some time aside and take a good look.
As I explained in my blog last week. This can be really easy – depending on the building tool you choose to help you. There are lots around – most of them far more technical than I want to have to deal with (!) - and I so was massively relieved when I discovered the Squeeze Page Toolkit because it does what it says on the can!
It’s so easy to use, I’ve become a bit of an evangelist - and as a result I managed to persuade the guys who created it to offer my clients and contacts a great discounted rate. Meaning I can now offer people a substantial discount if they use my special link – thanks to Dan, the Squeeze Page Man! See www.buildyourlist.co.uk/vanessa
Simple steps to building your squeeze page …
I chuckled to myself this week while I was preparing for a call with a client. “Life used to be so much simpler,” she wrote. “You use to be able to print a business card and put an ad in the Yellow Pages, and your marketing was pretty much done!”
I SOOOO empathise with how she feels. I often say the exact same thing when I speak on business and marketing – though I’d add networking via your local Chamber as the third essential pillar, back in the day!
Well, times have changed for sure. And one of those pesky new notions you now need to get your head round is the Squeeze Page, or Landing Page. Most people have no idea what one is, or how to create one. So, following my theme of my ‘dealing with the basics’, let me explain.
Working with one of my Super Success Accelerator clients this week on his marketing progress made me realise that it’s not necessarily that people lack the ‘will’ to act – it’s more that they often don’t know ‘how’ to act. Key bits of the jigsaw are missing and so nothing happens.
By the end of the session we had got a whole bunch of key pieces in place and he’s well on his way. So my blog over the next few weeks is going to be about getting some of the basics sorted.
This week – connecting up your CRM system and getting started.
Nearly everyone who passes through my doors ends up investing in a ‘proper’ CRM system. Excel spreadsheets, Outlook and out of date data systems just won’t cut it in the modern marketing world.
Your ability to stay in touch with your customers, past customer and connections is VITAL. And it’s not just about selling – people will soon get bored with you banging on flogging them one thing or the other. The vital item is your – ideally – weekly ‘value’ content. Like this blog for example.
Which CRM system?
Well, there are literally hundreds available so I completely get that it’s hard to choose. However, in my book, in additional to the CRM basics, it needs to be able to do the following:
However, don’t procrastinate. Check out some systems – make a decision – get started.
I use InfusionSoft – the top end of the market but SUPER powerful and will replace a member of staff! Check it out here: Link to Infusionsoft>>
However, the super-effective alternative that I have also been using with clients is AllClients. You can get yourself up and running in no time, and it costs about £25 a month – and you get a discount if you go via my link here! Link to AllClients>>
I did a talk on Tuesday evening down in the New Forest. The audience was largely retired business women so I had to think hard about a topic that would be entertaining and interesting to them – most of my usual repertoire is more suitable to current business owners.
So I decided to look at how Sex has played a part in advertising and promotions through the ages, and how both major and minor brands are using ‘sex’ as a way to engage with their audience. Classics such as the Flake Adverts running from the 60s through to the 90s, the Gold Blend series, Brut – if you count Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan as sex symbols! – and many more.
My favourite example was simply from a small local florist who cheekily had photos of himself getting in the shower with a discreetly placed rose, with the headline ‘Are you going to give her one this Valentine’s Day?’ Brilliant!
All the businesses using this approach have recognised that ‘sex’ is an important and engaging conversation - just look at the extraordinary success of 'Fifty Shaes of Grey' and consider just how BIG that conversation is. They have built and communicated their brand values far more effectively than by using a more earnest or ordinary approach. And it’s fun too. Making people smile is a smart thing to do in advertising.
My audience loved it. So objective achieved.
But I think the biggest lesson I learned was when I discovered that a number of people had cancelled their booking when they saw the title for the talk.
Was I troubled by that? No. Absolutely not. I most certainly don’t see my role in business as being about never offending anyone or always being non-contraversial. Being 'grey' may well be safe but it won’t attract anyone. Being controversial may put a few people off – but it will attract so many more. You put your head above the parrapet.
So ask yourself, is your advertising and approach to marketing grey? Or are you inviting contrary opinion and starting a conversation.
"There’s no ‘I’ in team!"
Yep, it’s one of those trite old phrases that always rocks up at sales conventions and leadership development symposiums. And it’s easy to ignore it for that very reason. However, if you are truly ambitious to grow your business, you ignore the power of your team at your peril.
Let me tell you a bit about the Ryder Cup and how this demonstrates this point perfectly. Yep, I know many of you will have no interest in golf, but you’d do well to pay attention here.
The bi-annual Ryder Cup starts today in Gleneagles - in fact, I've just watched match one tee off. Twelve top golfers are representing each of the European and US teams and they will battle it out over the next three days for the uber-prestigious 2014 Ryder Cup title. But, as the European golf team has proved time and time and time again, collective team effort invariably beats a group of super-talented individuals.
More often than not the US team has out-performed the Europeans on paper but, in the two days of team matches, Europe invariably accrues a massive lead over their rivals making them virtually unassailable on the final 'individuals' day. In the last 10 events, Europe has won an impressive 7 times, usually against expectations.
The fact is, in business you can't do it all on your own. And it's a valuable lesson recognising the enormous power that lies in building a brilliant team around you.
The vast majority of small business owners start out on their own and, despite having plans to grow, find they get stuck when they start to bring people into the business. I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for many years and I see the same 'team' issues recurring time and time again …
I had an interesting conversation with a potential client earlier this week – we were talking about how I could help with marketing planning and help them understand where they should be focusing their activity. Whilst they were happy to invest in my time, there was a clear reluctance to ‘spend’ more on marketing ongoing. And to be honest, this is not unusual. A lot of business owners are fearful of spending – and in doing so, they are massively limiting their ability to GROW.
So, let’s look at the issues this raises here…
I received a great email this morning from the guys at GoToWebinar telling me all about their new GoToWebinar App. Basically it means attendees can now easily join webinars on mobile devices – you just punch in the relevant webinar ID, and Bob’s your Uncle.
So, lesson one to any of you out there using webinars as part of your comms mix – you need to be aware of this and you need to be telling your followers, as it will definitely make attendance improve.
But there is a much BIGGER lesson for ALL business owners here. App technology is massively important in creating ‘stickability’ with your customers. The added convenience – and loyalty - an App can bring is massive.
The trouble is, most smaller business owners will be stuck in the ‘it doesn’t apply to me / my sector is different / it will cost too much / only for bigger businesses’ 'stinking-thinking' trap.
Which, at best, suggests a ‘closed-mind’ – at worst, it’s the writing on the wall about where that business will be heading in the future. Like the Black Cabs, you can only fight it for so long – the fact is, customers like smart thinking and you can either join in or be left behind.
So, have you integrated App technology into what you do?
Or even thought about it?
I found myself having a video conversation with a client yesterday morning. They are a ‘professional practice’ and they provide advice to ‘high net worth’ clients. And they are not alone. Literally hundreds of other businesses do exactly the same for exactly the same types of clients all over the UK.
They, like the majority of other advisers in their sector, are very protective of their professionalism – understandably – and don’t want to do anything that might harm their brand. I completely get that.
But they also want to get their message across. They want to stand out from the crowd. I completely get that too.
So, there we were talking video. There are a lot of VERY good reasons why they – or you – would want to use video in marketing these days – not least of which being that Google owns YouTube (that’s quite a BIG clue) and YouTube is reckoned to be the most under-rated social media platform around.
Plus we are very good at consuming video – most of us practice for a few hours every evening. In fact, according to The Guardian back in October 2013, we spend an average of 4 hours every day fine-tuning our video consumption skills!
Each week I speak with business owners where time and time again I see a lack of understanding of some of the basic principles. No criticism intended – I get that people are good at doing ‘their thing’ and some of the technical aspects of marketing can feel quite daunting.
However, here is the good news – it ain’t that difficult. Honestly. I’m the wrong side of 50 (depending on your point of view I guess!) and I’ve mastered it. So come on, here’s how explained in six easy steps - take a good look at your process and decide whether you’ve got all – or any! – in place.
1 Understanding how a marketing funnel works for your business
Whether yours is a classic B2C (ie. consumer market) business, or B2B (ie. business market), both need a ‘marketing funnel’ sat behind the marketing process. More people going in at the top, and fewer falling out at the bottom – more in, more out. Simples.
B2C – chances are that you need ‘volume’ you want to attract people who will buy. So numbers are important to you is you need volume purchases to make your business model work. Once you have these guys in your ‘funnel’ you can build your relationship with great communications, content and offers, encouraging repeat purchases.
B2B – invariably you don’t need the same volume in terms of purchasing (not always, but largely true). Over the short-term, rather than drawing in large numbers of ‘leads’ to sell to, you should probably focus on defining your ‘dream list’ and taking your business to them. The classic ‘sell the meeting’ strategy.
BUT – you do also need to draw in the numbers in terms of developing your influence over the longer term. People who are attracted to you due to your expertise have the potential to become customers but it’s going to be a much longer process for you to convert to cash. You need to be using your funnel to move them closer to you step-by-step and the way you engage is by sharing value-based information, building trust and relationships.
Memories of summer holidays in Cornwall as a kid. Sun-drenched beach picnics with my teenage sister eying up the surfing lifeguards. Sitting in the back of our car – a mini – looking at the view from some remote headland whilst it pelted down with rain – what Mum used to call ‘clearing up showers’. If we were lucky we’d get taken to some run-down hotel overlooking the beach for a Cornish cream tea. That’s when I first came across the Watergate Bay Hotel.
The relatively recent re-emergence of this hotel is a superb lesson in business reinvention and laser-like customer targeting. Rather than appeal to the masses, they have made a very clear statement which is attracting their target sector in their droves. Every business can learn from what they do.
If you went there today - and MANY do – you’d hardly believe the transformation from back in the 70s. With Jamie’s Cornish ‘15’ restaurant in the car park and Newquay airport just up the road, Watergate Bay Hotel now nestles in the middle of Wimbledon-cum-Clapham on Sea.
The wealthy, up-and-coming city set and their young families flock there to enjoy traditional English beach holidays without slumming it in a B&B or caravan, as the masses are doing just a handful of miles away in the dreaded Newquay! Their customers have limited time and plenty of money to spend; the content of the car park tells a very clear story.
It’s not just for families – though there are a lot of them – and the hotel has created a sensational haven for people with a few bob in their pocket. However, families – multiple generations thereof – undoubtedly dominate.
And not just in the summer; you can be hard pressed to get a room at Watergate any time of the year. We spent a delightful anniversary weekend there in late October a few years back and the place was packed!
Standing out in a crowded marketplace
But it’s not the story across the South West with many in the tourist industry having struggled in recent years. There are still massive fluctuations in employment across the year and it can be tough for locally-run and rural businesses to survive. Large, ageing hotels can be found everywhere on the coast, yet few are enjoying the success of Watergate Bay.
The business properly understands that, in order to attract, you need also to be prepared to repel. By not mindlessly pursuing ‘everyone’ they have created the perfect haven for ‘someone’.
Heading down to France on holiday last weekend, I realised we hadn’t downloaded the latest Jack Reacher audiobook to while away the 13 hour car journey – drat! So, I headed into my audiobook library and decided to have a re-listen to Chris Evan’s Autobiography ‘It's not what you think!’.
Not least because Chris has sold us several Christmas trees for charity over the years – he used to live locally and donated all the trees on his estate for a charity sale and always managed to negotiate the price UP! – we were also great fans of his right from his early broadcast days on BBC Radio London. His is an interesting story of drive and ambition and is not without its – much publicised – ups and downs.
Whether you like him or not, there’s a lot any serious business owner can learn from his journey, in particular his ability for reinvention and a tendency to think big.
The ‘top tens’…
He starts each chapter with a ‘Top Ten’ – eg. Top Ten best DJs I’ve ever heard! – and these are very revealing as the story progresses.
I was especially struck with two of the Top Tens from the period when he was purchasing Virgin back in 1998. For those not familiar with the story, after a shock exit from Radio One, Evans saw an opportunity to buy Virgin Radio, which was already a long way down the road to being purchased from Richard Branson by Capital Radio for £87million. His subsequent successful purchase was both audacious and unexpected.
I asked myself, how could someone with little time (the clock was ticking and the Capital deal was almost signed), just £2million in the bank, no track record as a business owner, and with a raft of bad publicity behind him following the Radio One exit, successfully raise £85 million, successfully take on a massive corporation and win?
I think these two particular Top Tens help us understand the reason why this extraordinary deal went ahead...
I had the pleasure last weekend to spend time with over 150 entrepreneur business owners, all driven to grow their businesses. The energy across the four days was extraordinary – a real sense of shared excitement and commitment as people mapped out their dream, and filled in the detail with how and when they were going to achieve it.
On days three and four I was positioned as an ‘expert in marketing’ and had the chance to consult with 42 of the attendees – yes, that is a lot of talking even for me!! – and so I was able to drill down into some really specific issues with them, albeit over a very limited timeframe!
But in reality, only a few of the attendees will achieve their dream. They will take massive inspiration from the event and will use it as a turning point in their lives – personally and professionally.
In contrast, there will be others where it will simply be another ‘thing’ they did. Nothing will change for them. They aren’t going to achieve their dream business. You know that. I know that. And probably, deep down, so do they.
And I believe there is one single – simple - factor that will define who falls into one group versus the other – and it is their behaviour.
Because, wasn’t it Einstein who reckoned that the definition of insanity was continually doing the same things – but expecting different results?
Direct mail is becoming increasingly rare – what with the cost of postage going up – and this means it is a BRILLIANT opportunity for clever marketers who are keen to get their products and services noticed.
Which is why it was just so ruddy frustrating to receive this mailshot from a company called AMBRO only a few days ago. Everything about it is wrong meaning it is VERY unlikely to get the take up they might have hoped for.
OK, I’m all for giving people credit for having tried and to have at least got something onto my desk, but I’m simply not sure I can even go that far in this instance. However, it does provide a fantastic learning opportunity for the rest of us. I’ve picked out 12 errors – it’s worth having a look at the photo first and see what you think before reading my thoughts …
It’s worth mentioning that I’ve no idea who AMBRO are – I’ve never worked with them before, so this is a COLD mailshot. In itself, not an issue, but it is a case of having to work that much harder to get my attention. Unfortunately they did get my attention – but for all the wrong reasons!
The message about the importance of ‘branding’ can be a hard one to get across to smaller business owners. How to make it clear that it’s about SO much more than your logo and that your brand ‘stand’ for something important. Well, maybe my tale from one of the UK’s BIGGEST brands will teach us all a lesson on the importance of making sure that everything you do lives up to your brand values
How excited were we to hear about a possible heatwave – at last! Hoorah! Mr Day – the goodly ‘other half’ - likes to be prepared for such things and ordered 8 bottles of Ambre Solaire factor 15 and a single bottle of P20 from Tesco Direct in readiness for the glorious summer ahead (well, surely all that rain has to average out somehow?).
So, I was jolly surprised when I answered the door to the postman a few days later, only to find him laden down with nine separate parcels of the same size. I assumed they were some technical gubbins for Mr D’s business – but no, on later inspection, we discovered they were the very same 8 bottles of Ambre Solaire factor 15 and a single bottle of P20.
… I am also one of the keynote speakers on the day - so that also needs prepping! It has reminded me just how VERY planned and organised you need to be when you do a show. It really is like a microcosm of all your marketing, held up to scrutiny for just a very few hours. Now you see it – now you don’t!
Which means you really DO have to get a lot of your thinking right before you turn up – or you most definitely risk being one of the shiny suited, clipboard clutching, business-cards-in a-bowl-champagne-draw, same-as-everyone-else exhibitors who you invariably see at shows (they are the ones sat around catching up with Facebook on their iPhones too!). And they wonder why they didn’t get a lot of business as a result?
Like in all things marketing you have to think VERY carefully about exhibiting at a show. Ask yourself…
Brendan Foster and most of the other commentators were writing him off and saying he ought to stick to the track in future. But Mo is a class act and I have no doubt he’s now got the measure of this arduous race and will be back with a better-adapted strategy next time. He’s already said “I'm not going to finish it like this. I will be back!”
People are very quick to criticise – after all, he’s a world and Olympic Champion, surely he should have done better?
It’s the same in business though isn’t it? You get really good at ‘the thing’ that you do. You know how the market works, how the ebbs and flows run, what to subtly change in your marketing to get the result you need.
Now, I like to be thorough in the things that I do but I’m no rocket scientist or supreme intellect (well, unless my husband is asking, obviously!). However, I can’t understand why most other professional marketers consultants don’t seem to see the world the same way I do? Is it arrogance or just stupidity? Read on …
If you’ve been keeping up (!), you’ll know I’ve been talking a lot about the government Growth Voucher scheme and how you can get up[ to £2000 match funding towards your marketing planning strategy. And lots of very smart people have been talking to me about this following the webinar I did last week.
Now, to be one of the official scheme advisers, I need to be an Accredited Adviser, which basically means I am a bona fide professional with experience. Which is true, I am! Accredited Advisers get put onto the Enterprise Nation Marketplace and that’s where people like you get to choose who you want to work with on your marketing under the scheme.
But I suspect rather fewer business owners are aware of the six very discreet stages in the funnel – all of them equally important. Most businesses should think very carefully before missing out a step.
1 – The traffic driver
The method you use to drive people towards you and your business. This might be Google Adwords taking people to your website. It might be your business card. It might be you speaking at a local business show. It draws your target customer towards you.
2 – The lead bait trigger
The reason that people will ask to be added into your funnel. This can be your free ‘7 secrets’ book, or a video training session, a free trial at your gym, or a money off voucher at the local restaurant
Two things really struck me. Firstly, the level of detail used to describe the customer was very shallow and very general. Plus they had only identified one customer type.
So I challenged them on both points. Their response was to say ‘it’s hard to be more specific, everyone has their own reasons for buying and it’s not possible to narrow it down any further’.
In truth both issues were wrapped up in the same flawed thinking. The idea that if you start to be too specific, it means you risk missing out on people who don’t conform to this more narrow definition. Far better to stay broad and encompass everyone.
But of course, the big risk here is that, by failing to get properly to grips with the detail and keeping it generic, they will fail to target their message to anyone in particular at all. If you want to appeal to MORE people you MUST narrow it down.
I don’t mean by a phone number or email address and a contacts page – they are pretty much always there. What I’m talking about is being engaging and giving people specific opportunities to express interest in key subjects and ask for more information. It’s what we call a ‘lead magnet’.
The problem with relying on the ‘contact us’ approach is that a) it’s passive and b) it pretty much presupposes people are ready to buy. It’s like walking into a shop and being asked "can I help you?" - the vast majority of us say "no thanks, just looking", purely because we don’t want to be hassled by a sales person.
Over the years we have been ‘taught’ (mostly by bad sales people) that showing too much interest means we will be ‘sold to’ and it makes us disinclined to ask for help until we are already reaching for our wallets.
But of course, the risk is that you end up back in the office fighting with a backlog of emails and phone messages and your ideas stay put on the flip chart. Not helpful at all.
So here are my tips for turning brainstorming into the most powerful implementation plan you’ve ever seen …
On the day;
• Create an action plan – prioritise all your ideas and group them into key timescales. Eg, By the end of this month. By Easter. By July. By the end of the year.
• Photograph your flip charts – it’s easy with a smart phone or iPad
• Convert your flipchart images into a useable document using an ‘App’ – I use ScanPages – so that you have a legible A4 format that works on your desk
When you get back to the office;
Which is why I love going on an away day – out of and properly away from the office – to let rip with a full day of brainstorming and planning. My colleague and I spent a the whole of last Wednesday doing just that and it amazed me what we got done. And it made me stop and think – why? What is it about being out of the office – with someone else – that allows you to ‘land’ all that stuff that’s banging around in your head and start to turn it into a reality.
So this is why I think it works …
• You’re away from the routine and the ‘stuff’ – all the things that interrupt your flow are simply not there
• You give your brain the time and space – the humdrum of daily work simply doesn’t allow you to do this
• Being in a different place gives you another viewpoint – literally
• It’s NOW. You’ve turned up, the pencil is sharpened and the flip chart is blank … so you don’t have a choice, you have to get started at the very least!
It’s a slick High Street machine and one of the reasons I transferred my business to them a few years back was that I was so impressed with the customer experience. Great knowledgeable staff. Great environment. Great support.
So I really couldn’t believe it when I saw this letter a couple of days back, brought to my attention by one of my clients. She brought it to me as an example of shocking customer communication – which it undoubtedly is. But the fact that it comes from the Vision Express brand is simply extraordinary.
Let’s just check it out in all its glory…
• It’s not on official letterhead – so no brand in evidence, anywhere!
• It was printed on cheap copier paper – so incongruent with the quality of the VE brand
Look, I’m no fan of getting wet and cold, and even I can see that the UK weather is unprecedented… the worst in 250 years, according to one source. I nearly invited my postman in today for a coffee, the poor soul looked thoroughly wet, cold and miserable!
But true to great British resilience we are all making the best of it, aren’t we? One client made me smile in the week describing how he and his neighbours were out and about in Thames Ditton in their pyjamas and 3am in the morning, helping with sandbags for neighbouring properties. Only the Brits eh?
Which is why we might expect just a bit more support from the ‘harbingers of doom’ - otherwise known as ‘the great British press’.
He talks us through the six key ways in which we are hard-wired to respond to certain cues. They are…
• Reciprocation - You give me something … I have to give you something back
• Commitment and consistency - I am compelled to be consistent in the way I behave
Social proof - I’m more likely to want to do what others around me are doing
• Liking - All things being equal, I’m much more likely to do business with friends …All things being not quite equal, I’m still much more likely to do business with friends …
• Authority - We are ‘pack animals’ and we look for leadership...essentially, doing it because the bloke in the posh suit said so!
• Scarcity - If I can’t have it … I suddenly want it all the more!!!
Are you too 'professional' to market your business?
Today I'm off to speak with a group of dentists based up in Oxfordshire. I've partnered with my financial advisor ‐ who happens to work a lot with dentists ‐ and he has asked me if I'd deliver a marketing 'shot in the arm' to them. He can help with managing their wealth in the long term ‐ I can help them focus on building it in the short term.
So, in putting my presentation together, it made me realise the very specific marketing dilemma many of the dentists in the audience will face. And, unless they overcome any pre‐conditioned barriers they may have, they are going to be deaf to what I have to say.
Because the thing is, dentists and other clinicians often worry that any 'marketing' they might engage in will be perceived badly by their patients. Too salesy and manipulative. Greedy and money making, I guess. And in that sense they are demonstrating the far extreme of a spectrum of attitudes/ behaviour that runs from 'pile it high and sell it cheap' at one end to 'oh, I couldn't possible risk sounding like a tacky salesman' at the other.
2014 is going to be ‘the year’ for my business. Well, at least that’s how I’ve planned it in my head!
However, making ‘new year’s resolutions’ has never been any kind of antidote to failure – in fact, there’s all sorts of evidence to show that nearly all the promises we make to ourselves at New Year are quickly broken, largely because there was no real plan or intent. It was simply an empty dream.
So what’s going to make the difference for me in 2014? Well, first and foremost I plan to get VERY focused on what I want to achieve – getting real CLARITY about where I want to be in 12 months’ time. But, much more important, I’m making sure I stay on track and ‘get the stuff done’, which is why I’m harnessing the guaranteed support and accountability of not one, but TWO Mastermind groups.
For those of you not familiar, Napoleon Hill coined the phrase ‘mastermind’ to describe what goes on when a small group meet to collaborate on a single topic. Essentially, collectively their minds are greater than the sum of the parts - - a ‘mastermind’ in fact.
Which is why ‘masterminding’ works. Combined with the fact that you generally learn more by helping others solve problems, than you do by solving your own.
Making sure you achieve your goals for 2014...
I don't know about you, but I usually fall into Christmas in a frenzied rush of trying to get all my business loose ends sorted before closing for the break. Yet I always go into the holidays with a wonderful feeling of how it will all be 'alright' in the New Year; somehow it's all going to be different.
I tend to picture a sense of calm, where the year to come will be a model of vision made reality by methodical execution, and getting exactly the results I want. But here we are, just a week into the New Year, and I wonder how many of you have started to drown in a sea of catching up with emails, sorting urgent issues and back peddling on the prep for appointments that you should have sorted pre Christmas. Already that 'calm' is beginning to look like a distant dream!
If you are truly committed to making your goals (personal AND business) become a reality in 2014, you need to stop and think - powerfully; the calm and the dream simply won't happen unless you plan for it.
Go west! ... towards Santa's stonking customer loyalty and promotional stunt
It's Christmas and I'm a bit of a sucker for anything schmaltzy - but I challenge any of you hardened cynics out there not to mist up just a little at this brilliant PR exercise by Canadian airline WestJet.
It scores on so many levels, not least of which that it is going the rounds on social media and getting them massive exposure worldwide. Think of the impact on their team - whether or not they were involved in the exercise, the goodwill will have rubbed off. And to their customers - again, not just those involved - consider the loyalty this exercise has bought. How likely are they to book with competitors in future?Check it out here>>
Have you got a marketing funnel in your business?
As part of my Killer Marketer session I've been talking to people about what it means to 'think like a marketer'. After all it sounds like a cool thing to be doing but what does it actually mean? As I was preparing the content for the session, I felt I needed to give some insights as to what I meant by this.
I gave this question some considerable thought and, from my experience, it struck me that what most business owners think of as 'marketing' is what I think of as 'selling'. Everyone wants more customers -the lifeblood of any business. Hearing the till go 'kerching' is a wonderful thing after all! But the concept of taking completely unknown people - people out there in the ether that fit your target customer - and converting them to a paying customer with no steps in-between is largely unrealistic.
Have you heard of Small Business Saturday? I think it's a really exciting development and it's happening in the UK for the first time on Saturday 7th December - one of the busiest shopping days in the calendar
It's something new over here but it's very established in the US - and receives a phenomenal level of support there - and there's a big push to make it a key part of the business calendar over here. As a business owner, you ought to be aware of it, whether it's to use it to come up with your own promotion, or just to support and promote it.
I'd like to introduce my guest blogger for this week - David Holland who owns EXELA. He is the leading expert and top Infusionsoft Certified Consultant in England! His blog is all about the process you need to use to maximise your business. There's a lot you can learn from this.
Automating your marketing sounds fantastic. Being able to watch the money roll into your bank account with no effort – happy days.
All you need to do is predict the needs of all your prospects and customer, now and in the future, and set up interactive systems that changes their behaviour based on individual decisions that customer make…in real time…SIMPLES!
If that sounds like a heck of a lot of effort, you are right. Many large corporations employ huge teams of smart people to ponder the complexities and come up with strategies and techniques using advanced technologies. And do they succeed? Well some get closer than others. Companies like Amazon work hard to continuously nurture customer, upselling, cross selling, collecting reviews and testimonials. All done in the most efficient and automated way possible.
I'd like to introduce my guest blogger this week - Suzanne Dibble, The Small Business Law Expert! I'm sure some of you will know her already, she is the go-to lady when it comes to business law, a legal marketing supremo . Her blog is all about making sure you are properly protected from social media legal implications. Scary stuff if you read what she has to say below.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Social Media Summit on the legal implications of using social media.
So many of us use social media now, whether for our business or for personal use and it is important to understand the legal implications of our tweets, our posts, our pins etc and make sure that we aren't doing anything that gets us into hot water.
I shared with the Summit the story of the Virtual Assistant from Milton Keynes who is being sued by a Middle Eastern business because she named and shamed them on Twitter for non payment of an invoice.
The unpaid invoice was for £146 and the claim may cost her in excess of £100,000 (not to mention the time, stress and worry about being taken to court).
Just a few weeks ago it was our 10th anniversary – well, 10 years since we were married but 35 years to the day since we met, it just took us a while for us to be sure! Anyhow, we decided to have a special day at the Limewood Hotel in the New Forest – it’s a relatively new 5 star jobby, with the restaurant run by Angela Hartnett (Gordon Ramsay’s protégé, ex of Claridges, Michelin Stars etc), a super-expensive luxury spa, top-of-the-range room rates and so on. So you would expect it to be good. Very good.
And the great news… it was. Extraordinarily good in fact. They made it extremely easy for us to spend our money with them – and so we did, willingly.
What the guys at Limewood have understood that, in an area saturated by mediocre hotels catering to the holiday trade, or hen and stag nights, that there will always be some people who don’t want run of the mill, affordable, ordinary or generic. Some people want exceptional and are prepared to pay for it. Whether it’s for a week’s break or just one special day; everyone wants ‘the best’ some of the time.
And the Limewood understands that, in order to create an exquisite experience, you have to have an eye on the detail. The detail counts for a lot.
I’m delighted this week to share a guest blog from a super-interesting guy who knows about all things technical and web-wise. What sets him apart is that he genuinely understands the language and knowledge divide that makes it so hard for many business owners from taking brave technology steps in their business. The inimitable Stuart Morrison takes a light-hearted look at web jargon.
Busting the web jargon – an amusing analysis of web-speak
So you sit down with your tech guru, master of all things web and ask him (it's usually a him) something simple like "Can I have my phone number and email address at the top of my website?"
His response usually begins something like this, "You need to deploy virtual archives with state-of-the-art vertical web implementation and relational documents using Bayesian arrays to overcome the end-user deployment interfaces and enable virtual architectures to deliver a dynamic interface". You may have lost the will to live, but they then go on like that for another 10 minutes and you're not even sure the person in front of you is even speaking English anymore.
It's a frustration a lot of website owners have, understanding exactly what they have just been told. Why can't website designers just use normal words and explain things so a business person can understand them?
We all acknowledge that, as items become rarer, they become more valuable. Limited editions, flawed stamps or a double struck coin, for example. In the final chapter of Cialdini’s Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, he explains why the idea that we may not be able to access a ‘scarce’ item is so powerful that it is one of the key pillars of many successful marketing campaigns
“There aren’t more than five convertibles with this engine left. When they are gone, they’re gone. That’s it – ‘cause we’re not making ‘em any more.
“… there is no telling when we will get more in.
“… there’s only two left and you wouldn’t want the other one!”
How often has our decision to buy been influenced by the thought that another customer looks like they may be interested in it? In shops at SALE time this can end up in physical tussles between competing customers!
Meaning that an offer where there are ‘only 10 places available’ or ‘the first 50 will be sold at only £X’ create very compelling reasons to buy.
Similar to the ‘not many left’ concept is the deadline. The idea that time is running out and we need to act now. Sales of products as the deadline approaches will always peak.
This Cialdini stuff is hot property you know! So much of it is ‘obvious’ but I’m not sure any of us really understands just how POWERFUL it is. His book ‘Influence’ talks us through the main reasons that we are persuaded by others to do the things we do. His Weapon No. 5 is ‘Authority’.
He cites the most amazing real research example. He takes us through situation where two people have agreed to help with some research at their local University. When they get there, it seems one is to assist the Chief Researcher and the other is to be the ‘Guinea Pig’.
The Guinea Pig is duly strapped to a chair / machine with sensors attached and it is explained that if they give a ‘wrong’ answer to any of the forthcoming questions, they will receive an electric shock and experience some slight discomfort. As the experiment progresses, the more wrong answers they give the stronger the shock will become. I’m guessing by now that the ‘Guinea Pig’ is beginning to wish they were the Research Assistant!
It’s a simple fact that we all prefer to deal with people that we like and so, in a business context, it pays to get people to LIKE you.
In Cialdini’s book ‘Influence’ he talks about the Tupperware phenomenon. These use many of the rules we’ve already covered in this blog – reciprocity, social proof, commitment and so forth – but its most powerful weapon is the ‘liking’ rule.
Even though the Tupperware sales rep is on hand, the party is hosted by someone you know – your friend. It trades on the attraction, warmth, obligation and friendship that go hand in hand with your relationship with the hostess.
The next in my series about our automated Click-Whirr! responses. There are six key weapons of influence - and weapon three is ‘Social Proof; our need to conform to what other people think, say and do. The power of the testimonial, in other words.
Here I explain some of the evidence surrounding social proof and give you some one single mega-powerful strategy that you can deploy in your marketing.
We all hate canned laughter don’t we? But it continues to be used by producers – because it works! If other people think it’s funny – then it must be! Even when we KNOW it’s canned laughter.
Bar staff, buskers and charity collectors routinely put loose change in the collecting pot / tip jar, because they know we are much more likely to give if we can see that others have done so.
Social proof is the basis for cultish behaviour – if other people are doing it, it must be OK and reasonable. As Cialdini quotes … “Where all think alike, no-one thinks very much” – Walter Lippmann. Click-Whirr!
The third in my series about our automated Click-Whirr! Responses. According to Cialdini, there are six key weapons of influence. Weapon two is ‘Commitment and Consistency’ - our need to justify any decisions we make with the behaviour that follows.
We’ve all done it, haven’t we... no sooner than we have bought into a program of some sort - joining the gym, going on a diet, some form of study - that we suddenly become much more of an advocate than we were just moments before. Our need to follow through, to justify ourselves with our consistent behaviour is very strong. We automatically play the ‘consistency tape’. Click-Whirr!
Key messages from Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion’
Cialdini’s superb book gives us some useful insights as to why we humans behave the way we do, particularly regards our automatic responses – the Click-Whirr! response.
There are six key weapons of influence which any serious marketer would do well to understand. And the opening weapon is ‘Reciprocation’; our need to give back – our sense of indebtedness to someone who has done something for us or given us something. It is VERY powerful.
Here I explain some of the evidence surrounding reciprocation and give you some useful strategies that you can deploy in your marketing using this technique super-powerfully.
In Robert Cialdini's 'Influence - the psychology of persuasion' he takes us on a journey that shows just how many of our behaviours are subject to automatic programming. What he describes as a ' Click-Whirr' response. Whether you like it or not, you don't always have a choice in how you react - even when you don't want to react in a certain way, you still feel that you have to.
The book uncovers 'six weapons of influence'. As an experimental social psychologist his job is to prove or disprove reasons for our behaviours. He lists a fantastic catalogue of stories that really leave you wondering if you have any control over what you do at all!
As a marketer in your business, you'd do well to understand what's going on in your customers' and prospects' minds - and how you can make it more certain that they will take the actions that you want them to take. I'm sure we've always wondered why some people find it so much easier to sell their products and services - and why we, or others struggle. Over the next few blogs I'll be going through his six weapons and looking at the evidence that he shares on …
• Commitment and consistency
• Social proof
• and scarcity
But let's start out by understanding better the automated 'click-whirr' response.
You get what you pay for …
In one example, he spoke of a friend who has an Indian jewellery shop in Arizona. Despite her best efforts, her 'turquoise' range was not selling. Going away for a few days, she left a note to her staff to sell them at half price. One her return she discovered that the range had sold out - only the staff had misread her note, thinking she wanted them to DOUBLE the cost. Click-whirr! You get what you pay for. Expensive equals good.
Can I just push in here … ?
Queuing for a copier machine in a library, he set up an experiment where individuals went to the front and asked if they could push in …
Local Councils failure to plan is selling out our High Streets!
Listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 last Monday morning, I was interested to listen to a feature about the issues with our fading high streets. Bill Grimsey – famous for developing retail giants Wickes and Iceland – has put together an independent report that lambasts local government for its failure to address one of the most important – and harmful - social revolutions of our time.
As an example, just by asking every local authority in the UK whether it had a business plan in place to focus on rebuilding the High Street, 50% did not!
Don’t you think that’s extraordinary? If a business were to go to the bank and ask for funding – without a plan to show how it was all going to work – they’d be laughed straight out of the front door! What are our local councils thinking? Or not thinking, more to the point. Surely I wasn't the only business owner to be utterly astonished by this. However do they propose to bring about change if there isn't even a plan?
As Stealers Wheel sang back in the 70s (please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers it?!) – it’s all about being Stuck In The Middle. Which is where many businesses end up if they don’t have a proper pricing plan with multi-layered options to suit different levels of customers.
Too often I hear the cry of ‘it’s just not possible in my business. Our sector doesn’t work like that’. Nonsense I say. There will always be people who want the cheap option, those who’ll pay top dollar and most who will, by definition, end up somewhere in the middle.
The risk you take my not creating premium and budget options is that a) you’ll end up doing the most for the people who want to pay the least and b) you’ll miss out on customers who want to top level service. They’ll simply get frustrated and go elsewhere. At best, it means you are leaving money on the table that could be in your bank.
Don’t presume to know better than your customer what they do and don’t want
The interesting stuff hangs around exactly HOW do you create your offers – how do you position your offers to get the result you want?
Option 1 – go for the straight bronze, silver and gold – eg. £100, £200 and £300.
Option 2 – make it REALLY easy for people to buy Silver – eg. £150, £200 and £300
Option 3– make it really easy for people to buy Gold – we saw a great example of this with the Economist recently …
Originally they had just two offerings …
Have I misunderstood? Surely the point of sending someone marketing materials – in whatever media you choose – is to get them to DO something. To take action.
It’s just that I worry I’m missing the point because so much marketing I see doesn’t seem to be doing this at all. Not even trying.
Of course there is always an argument for ‘positioning pieces’ but most businesses don’t have the luxury of a budget for marketing where there is no requirement for a return on investment. For the vast majority – certainly of SMEs – this is costly vanity marketing at its worst.
From where I am sitting, most marketing seems to be lacking all passion. I’m left wondering – ‘well, if YOU are not that excited about what you do, I’m not sure I am either … ’
So, don’t be DULL!
The cardinal sin of marke
ting is being DULL. It’s unforgivable! Go on, arrest my attention. Make me stop and HAVE to read about you. Amuse and intrigue me with your wit and clever thinking. Tease me with your benefits which seem oh-so-relevant to me. Tempt me with your offer – one that I’m struggling to ignore. Make me WANT to pick up the phone and ACT.
Make me an offer I can’t refuse
Too many items make no offer at all – in fact, the majority. They just say what they do – and then, well they sit back and hope the phone rings I guess.
You MUST have an offer. Something that’s going to move me to the next stage of our relationship – and for most campaigns, that’s probably about getting me to make my first purchase with you.
The offer needs to be:
I’ve worked with SME business owners for many, many years now and I’d say they almost universally suffer from the same problem. They don’t have a decent list. In fact, for the most part have zero understanding of the value of building their list / database or managing it any proactive way at all.
The problem lies with their marketing focus, which is essentially driven around the need to sell stuff to people. They meet people through networking, or from an event, judge who the ‘most likelys’ are and try to drive the ‘close’ right from the start. They get a telephone or website enquiry, and the same applies. Anyone who doesn’t look they’re in the mood to buy will largely be ignored.
This is such a BIG mistake.
Starting from a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT marketing position
When you shift your goal to building, the way you market changes radically. Your activity switches solely to getting the right people onto your list. The goal is never to sell – only to give value.
Why is it that the rules you apply to the communications that you RECEIVE aren’t the ones you apply to the ones you SEND?
I was politely reminded the other day (by my “wonderful” husband!) of a situation I found myself in a few years ago regarding image copyrights.
We’re in the process of revamping our website and one of the images that we use cost us a few hundred pounds for breaching copyright. £850 to be precise, and that had been reduced down by 50% on appeal.
To sum up, we had purchased the image for a specified use, and when it got used for something else (accidentally, I promise!), it was spotted by Getty Images and then we ended up with a large bill. Not the cheapest lesson I’ve ever had – but I learnt a lot and it won’t happen again!
When it comes to images and the internet, it’s a bit of a minefield out there, if I’m honest. Most people assume that images are free and in the public domain because “I found it when I searched under Google Images...” This unfortunately is not the case and I’ll try and clear some things up here, so you don’t end up with a big fine like I did!
I spoke in my last blog about the need to work ON your business to secure a long-term future for you AND your customers. I also touched on the importance of getting properly focused so that you use the time available to best effect – making 90 minutes work like 180!
There is a whole heap of psychology about the power of concentration and I won’t go into the details here, but the simple facts are:
• If you accept the general premise of the 80/20 rule, then 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. 20% of the average business day is 90 minutes (or thereabouts).
• The brain can generally spend 90 minutes at a time in high-power mode – after that concentration will wander. Plan to work in 90 minute chunks – one a day, every day, will make massive difference to your business over time.
It’s a conundrum isn’t it? Of course, every business owner WANTS to spend more time working ON the business –after all, lots of good stuff generally happens when you do. But many business owners tell me that it just ain’t as simple as all that.
I’ve had this conversation a 1000 times and the one barrier that comes up time and time again is CUSTOMERS. Essentially, “I can’t afford to spend time away from my business / switch the phone off / disconnect from email because my customers expect me to be there for them. And without my customers, I don’t have a business. “
Now, don’t imagine I don’t have some sympathy for this point of view. Building a business on your reputation as a highly-responsive and customer-focused person has much to commend it – it certainly stimulates customer ‘stickiness’ which can only be good for business.
I was at a mastermind meeting recently when the subject of email frequency came up. One of the other members announced that they had made the decision that every day was reasonable. The cumulative intake of breath from the rest of us was audible.
Really? Gosh, that’s rather a lot don’t you think? I don’t think I’m ready to do that. Jitter, jitter, jitter!
There is no definitive answer of course and yes, you do need to feel comfortable with what you are doing, but there are some very compelling arguments for upping your frequency;
1 – Results. The more engaged you are with the people who really want to engage with you, the more likely you are
Do they really want it for free – or are they willing to pay?
A couple of times recently I’ve come across that awkward reaction when someone thought I wanted something for ‘free’ – and they wanted me to pay. Oo-er – all rather uncomfortable…
Both times I think the situation felt ‘awkard’ because the other person assumed I didn’t want to pay. From my perspective I was simply continuing the conversation to the next stage - which I guess we would all aspire to achieve with customers – and they didn’t stop to ask or check my expectations.
In both cases we’d already done some work together and there were the usual follow up questions. I mean, we do all say, ‘if you’ve got any questions, just ask’ don’t we? But what happens
I’ve been a professional marketer for over 30 years and so I’ve lived through the whole internet revolution. When I first started working in 1980 – and when I started CProject in 1988 – no-one had ever heard of the internet. The only way any of us could tell people about what we did was to tell them in person on put it in a brochure and send / give it to them.
Then the 90s came along heralding the worldwide web. Fantastic we all said – we don’t need to talk to anyone anymore and we don’t need brochures – the internet can do it all for us. Marvellous! And cheaper.
Which is why most websites you see are simply online brochures – companies telling people what they do without having to send out a brochure. It’s a lazy response to a HUGE opportunity and suggests the website is the subject of a ‘box ticking’ exercise supported by a ‘wait and hope’ marketing strategy.
So, here I come, I find you on the internet, you look like exactly
I was on a course last summer when the presenter spoke about the two most dangerous words that would impact our benefit from the sessions.
I’ve thought about it long and hard since – and I reckon they are the two most dangerous and limiting words for any business. They’ll limit growth, opportunity, new ideas and enjoyment. They’re killers in fact.
What are they?
Yep. Simple really but if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone react to a piece of valuable business information with the response ‘I know’, I’d be rich.
Sure, they ‘know’. But the point is, they don’t DO.
You could say I’m a bit of a cyclist. Well, you could say it but it wouldn’t be strictly true! I do have a decent road bike and I’ve done quite a few big jaunts over the years, including cycling to Paris. But does that make me a cyclist?
Physically I’m about as badly suited as you can be to cycling – dreadful at endurance and hills KILL me! – but once I get in the groove I can get through the miles and persistence counts for a lot. I’m good at persistence.
For lots of reasons I’m a bit out of practice with lots of time out to deal with family matters in recent months, plus major leg / knee surgery a couple of years back (oh, and a deep vein thrombosis). So I decided to book an event to force me to train a bit and get the cobwebs off. It’s at the end of June.
Now, I can procrastinate with the best of them – week one involved getting the bike serviced, which ran into week 2. Then I decided my crash helmet wouldn’t pass the necessary safety standards so had to wait until I got a new one. Then pumping up the tyres, checking my outfit looked passable (fluorescent isn’t the most flattering for women of a ‘certain age’) and, four weeks into my training programme I finally got on the bike. Yes, that’s right, I now have only 14 days to train for the event. Perfect!
Playing to win – the only safe way to get down the slope!
Twenty plus years ago I had a very serious ski accident – over the years I’ve had 7 major knee ops, more physio than can possibly be good for anyone and I have some pretty impressive Xrays. Quite a lot of metalwork going on knee-wise I promise you!
Which, not surprisingly, means that ski slopes can be a challenging place for me. I’m 100% fine providing it’s sunny, wide, flat, cold (but not icy), not bumpy, not crowded and, preferably, devoid of Italians (they can be a bit mad on skis!). So, as conditions rarely meet my demanding criteria, it won’t surprise you to hear that ski slopes aren’t always great for me. I’m often very scared and I’ve probably had to face more of my personal demons on skis than in any other place.
One thing I learned skiing is that
The joy of being SMALL! And the BIG business benefit too!
What is it with the many small businesses that are obsessed with looking BIGGER than they really are?
I come across it time and time again, with websites being opaque about how many there are in the team, using ‘stock’ photography showing bland teams of ‘happy’ employees when in truth there are only one or two of them. And hiding where the business is based, when they really working from a small studio, local office or even a home office.
When you are trying that hard to look BIG, often the net result is you actually look SMALLER as a result.
It’s not that I don’t get it. Business owners are worried that if they look like they are a one-man-band working from home, people will think they don’t have the capacity or skills to do the job that’s needed.