Category: Lead Generation

Marketing For Small Business

Being smart with marketing ensures the success of your business by attracting more customers, and keeping them coming back. Small businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy — and you know you need to look after your back!

Whether you own a bakery or a finance business, you need no-nonsense marketing strategies to secure a greater share of the market. Empower yourself to apply clever marketing plans and ideas without breaking the bank, or your back.

Making Marketing Work in Your Small Business

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be a good marketer. But neither is there a silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution. Every small business is different — the marketing plan and tactics for a mortgage broker are entirely different from those of a computer reseller. However, the process of building a plan, sticking to it and applying the time and resources it needs is the common secret to success in marketing.

Remember the purpose of marketing is to help your customers, or potential customer, in the decision making process.

Here are few tips to help you be brilliant at marketing:

  • Put your customers first. Understanding who your customers are, what makes them tick and what they really want and value, and of course staying in touch with them long after the sale, puts you ahead of the competition.
  • Know your target market. ‘Anyone who is breathing’ is not a target market! Targeting your marketing activities fairly and squarely at the people who need and want your service or product is the secret to creating quality enquiries and getting prospects to open their wallet.
  • Understand that marketing is not advertising. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that advertising and websites are the only two ways to attract more business. You can market your small business in literally hundreds of ways, so it pays to know what they are and then eliminate the ones that won’t work, or that you can’t afford, up-front.
  • Get a handle on the seven Ps of marketing. Getting your product, pricing, placement strategy (distribution) and promotional strategy as well as people, processes and physical evidence, working together is crucial to good marketing.
  • Know who you are. As important as understanding who your customer is, you need to identify and spell out which is the problem you solve and why you are the best option.
  • Get the know-how. Knowing what not to do when it comes to marketing is as important as knowing what to do. Let’s face it, the world of marketing can be tricky to navigate. Identify what you need to learn and seek for help if you don’t know where to start.
  • Set sales goals and targets. Marketing really is a numbers game. Marketing efforts that won’t directly or indirectly bring in new business have absolutely no point. Know what your goals are in terms of revenue, expenses, profit, number of enquiries and, of course, number of new sales.

Essential Tools for Good Business Marketing

If you’re armed with the marketing essentials you can’t help but succeed in attracting new prospects and bringing in more business. Spend some time on getting your marketing toolkit in place and be prepared at all times.

Here are a few items to pack into your marketing toolkit:

  • A plan and a budget: Getting a plan that will support you for years to come is essential to keep you on track. It doesn’t need to be as thick as a book, but it does need to be written down, clearly communicated to your team and acted on day by day — even when business is booming.
  • A great product or service: Advertising your business has no point if the customers don’t want, value or love what you have to offer. Make sure you do your research and listen to your customers before sending your product or service out to the market.
  • A professional brand: A brand is much more than a logo. Your brand is the experience a customer has when dealing with you or your business. It encompasses everything they see, hear, think and feel about your business. Invest up-front in developing a brand that stands out from the crowd. A great customer experience is the best marketing tool!
  • Powerful marketing materials: Your business card, sales brochures, sales letters, website, signage and uniforms speak volumes about your business. Make sure they look professional and appealing at all times.
  • An elevator pitch: In the course of marketing your business you’ll get asked thousands of times ‘What do you do?’ Don’t make the mistake of boring the poor person who asked the question. Make sure you have a fun, interesting and memorable pitch ready at all times — and be able to deliver it in the time it takes to travel a few floors in an elevator.
  • A simple database: The backbone of all good marketing is about building a solid database of past, present and future customers (prospects) so you can keep in touch and communicate regularly via e-newsletters, emails and phone.
  • A brilliant website: Your website must attract attention and give value to those who visit. Use it as a tool to retain and keep in touch with existing customers as well as for enticing new customers. The online world can be very scary to many small-business owners, but, if you don’t embrace it, you may find yourself out of business.

Clever Ideas to Market Your Small Business

You don’t need to spend buckets of money on marketing. Creativity and dare to do something different, can be the difference between business success and business failure. Here are just a few ideas to market your business:

  • Attend networking events. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Get out there and network — meet and greet. You can never have too many friends in life, even if they don’t end up as customers.
  • Sponsor a local event or charity. It really does make you feel good to support your community, and everyone benefits — you, your staff, your customers, the people you sponsor and, of course, the community at large.
  • Host seminars and events. Hosting your own events and inviting along your best customers and some of their friends is a great way to get to know people, connect at a personal level and build deep relationships.
  • Collaborate with other businesses. Identify businesses who are serving the same customer you are targeting and engage with them to create complementary service, referrals, talks, events, etc. You will all benefit!
  • Use social media. Using social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, producing your own videos for YouTube or writing your own blog are creative methods of letting people know about you and your business. Go on, have a bit of fun. You don’t need to do it all, choose the one where you will find most of your customers and ask them to share with their friends.

Top Marketing Tips for Businesses on a Low Budget

Most small-business owners, especially those starting out, don’t have lots of money to spend on marketing. While the old saying — you need to spend money to make money — is true, you can still generate new business without having to spend lots. Try a few of these tactics for a start:

  • Focus on relationship-building marketing strategies such as networking, building alliances with other businesses, and calling old customers, friends and people you once worked with.
  • Find people who are prepared to help you with marketing pro bono, on a commission basis or a uni student who’s studying marketing and might need some hands-on experience.
  • Sharpen your own online marketing skills and learn how to use key tools and write blogs, and market yourself on the social media sites.
  • Promote your business on free online directories and publish your articles on other websites with links to your site.

If you need help to identify the areas you need to focus for your business, drop us an email at hello@bbcs.ie for a free 30 minutes consultation.

Is it time to Ramp up, Restart, Reboot or Rethink?

COVID-19 continues to pose serious challenges for small business owners. Figuring out how to start again in its economic shadow will not be easy.

Is it safe to assume that things that worked before will still work in the coming months and years? Should assumptions about how businesses create value be reviewed? Will ongoing disruption bring opportunities as well as pressures? Might this actually be the best of all possible times to make changes?

Reality bites, but optimism endures 

The results of a recent survey published by the CSO early in June show that more than 70% of responding SMEs reported a decrease in turnover in 2020 compared to 2019. Almost a quarter saw turnover fall by more than half in the year and about 40% saw their turnover decrease by between 10% and 50%.

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More than half of enterprises changed their mode of operation due to the pandemic, the most common changes reported were developing an online presence, increasing operating hours and developing new products.

However, despite the challenges faced, the small business community, business owners and entrepreneurs are confident for summer 2021 and the second half of the year, according to a new report from Small Firms Association (SFA)

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In a different survey when 150 SMEs were asked about the developments they envisaged during the remainder of 2021. Their answers were equally split between Ramp up (I expect to experience strong growth based on pre-COVID-19 operations, strategy, product and service offering), Restart (with minor adjustments. I expect to more or less return to pre-COVID-19 performance, with some adaptations (e.g. social distancing, customer churn, minor reduction in employees, maintaining broadly same product/services, finance etc).) & Reboot (I expect to make significant adjustments outside the scope of pre-COVID-19 strategy/plans (e.g. developing new products/services, reducing employees, divesting assets, seeking new markets and sources of finance etc).

Nobody said that they might need to completely Rethink their strategy, and their answer

Dialogue: a key to successful change 

Extensive research with SME founders has shown how entrepreneurs manage the uncertainty generated by growth, revealing in particular how dialogue can encourage them to adapt to change.

Why is this so? Dialogue helps founders to develop critical self-awareness – to take their blinkers off, step outside their bubbles and hold themselves to account. It exposes personal bias and limitations that risk an unhealthy adherence to outdated assumptions. It identifies new opportunities that can bring increased performance and competitiveness.

With all this in mind, many business owners have shared their post-COVID-19 plans with someone. This demonstrates that entrepreneurs are investing time both in listening and, crucially, changing in the face of “new normals”. Continuing to gather diverse inputs will be vital to navigating the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.

From inputs to outcomes

A research piece from the Small Business Charter in the UK, suggests that dialogue is an important but frequently hidden tool that business owners can use to prepare for change. It is likely to be especially helpful as they contemplate their place in a post-COVID-19 economy.

It might not provide quick fixes. It might even prove frustrating initially. But it can give rise to many valuable insights into how to survive and thrive – precisely what is needed as founders try to build better, more resilient businesses.

The bottom line? Amid the turbulence of COVID-19, small business owners must continue to invest their time in sharing their own thoughts and seeking out those of others.

Whether ramping up, restarting, rebooting or rethinking – or exploring a combination of these options – it is good to talk.

How to Grow Your Revenue (Part 2)

10 Strategies To Help To Grow Your Revenue

In the previous article where we used the example of a restaurant and we mentioned that there are only 4 methods to grow your revenue:

  1. Increasing the number of customers
  2. Increasing average transaction size
  3. Increasing the frequency of transactions per customer
  4. Raising your prices

Below we list 10 strategies to help you to increase your revenue.

Reach out to old contacts

Getting in touch with prospects where you weren’t successful in closing the deal can help broaden your opportunities. There is an art to getting it right. If the prospect explicitly said they weren’t interested, then you could be wasting your time. But if it simply wasn’t the right time, it’s always worth another try. Check your old notes and ensure data is up to date, ask lots of questions to gauge what has changed in their business, provide them with updates to the product or service since you last spoke, and share valuable content to remind them why they were once interested.

Customer Loyalty

It is important not to overlook your existing customers when you are trying to grow revenue. Before you commit time and resources to finding new business, build on the relationships you already have. Look for opportunities to sell more to existing customers by offering them incentives for increasing business, upselling and cross-selling opportunities. If they currently buy competitors’ products that you can supply, offer special discounts to secure that business.

According to research, it costs as much as five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Focus on customer retention marketing, selling product ‘bundles’ that work well together, as well as upgrades, so that every customer gets the best out of your business. Develop customer loyalty schemes, send regular communications, offer help and support, and remain the obvious choice for your customers.

Prioritize your conversion-rate

Measuring a sales funnel is a great way to work on improving your conversion-rate between each stage of the sales pipeline. The top of your funnel is the awareness stage, where your brand is getting noticed. The middle is the consideration stage, where qualification and nurture take place. Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where leads turn into customers. This is a visual reputation of your pipeline conversion-rate. Your business will have more opportunities, or leads, at the top of the funnel than at the bottom. Your goal should be to increase the number of leads that convert into customers.

Expand your market

By increasing the number of leads you add to your sales pipeline, you increase the number of opportunities you have to generate business revenue. So, why not identify markets that could benefit from your products and services that you haven’t yet targeted? Conduct research and look for gaps in the market — consider new demographics, locations or sectors and tailor your marketing and sales approach to meet their needs. Undertake a segmentation strategy to spot smaller industry segments you could reach out to, update your content marketing material, add relevant case studies and dedicated landing pages to your site and create targeted digital ads.

New Customers

Winning new customers is important for growing revenue and for protecting your business against losses from competitive activity or natural wastage. Set up a formal process for contacting prospects. Set targets for sales representatives or telephone sales staff to contact new prospects. If you have sufficient budget, run advertisements in trade or consumer publications that cover your target market. Include a response mechanism in the ad, such as a reply voucher, email address or telephone number, so that you can capture contact details when prospects reply.

New Products

New products help you increase sales to existing customers and open opportunities to earn revenue in new market sectors. Although you should plan to develop your own new products over a period of time, you can increase your range in the short term by sourcing suitable products from other companies. Look for products that complement your existing range. Companies that sell garden tools, for example, can increase revenue by sourcing and marketing garden care products.

Product Variations

You can increase revenue by developing variations of your existing products. Companies that market computer software, for example, offer consumer and professional versions of products such as word-processing or accounting packages. Adding or removing features from the same product is a simple way to create products for new markets without investing in product development. Changing pack sizes can also open new market opportunities. A company selling household cooking products could repackage products in bulk to win business in the professional catering market.

Increase Your Sales Velocity

Sales velocity is a helpful sales pipeline metric that helps businesses measure the effectiveness of their pipeline. It is a simple equation that requires four numbers to work out — the number of opportunities in your pipeline, your average deal size, your conversion-rate, and the length of your pipeline.

Sales velocity = number of opportunities x average deal size (€) x conversion-rate (%) ÷ pipeline length (days)

The result you get is your sales velocity — this is roughly the revenue you generate every day. To increase your sales velocity and, in turn, grow your revenue, work on improving one of the numbers at a time. Increase your top-of-the-funnel opportunities, grow your average deal size, boost your conversion-rate, or reduce the length of your pipeline.

Sales Incentives

With the right incentives, your sales force can help you grow revenue. Structure your incentive programs to concentrate the team’s efforts on making sales to new customers or selling new products to existing customers. If you sell products through retail outlets, offer the sales force incentives for opening new retail accounts. If you use social media and have a website, make sure your digital team have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) linked metrics such as increasing conversion (more customers), sales growth and frequency of purchase.

Utilise technology

Embracing technology is an investment — but when it comes to growing revenue, it’s all about your ROI. Including the right tools in your strategy from the outset can make all the difference to your pipeline. Whether it’s to align teams, manage data more effectively, automate, improve or streamline processes, innovative technology is a must. From customer relationship management (CRM) software, customer service automation, to website personalisation and lead generation software — there is a perfect tool to help your business generate more revenue.

There are good outsourcing opportunities if you don’t have inhouse expertise to introduce automation technology, in the LinkedIn Group The Beauty of Outsourcing you can find some inspiration.

How to Grow Your Revenue (Part 1)

4 Methods to achieve the growth you want

Growing revenue is essential for small businesses that want to expand and make a profit. While cost control also makes an important contribution to profit, revenue growth ensures the long-term viability of the business. To grow revenue, look for opportunities in your existing business relationships as well as identifying new sources of income.

Believe it or not if you want your business to bring in more money, there are only 4 ways to Increase Revenue: Increasing the number of customers, increasing average transaction size, increasing the frequency of transactions per customer, and raising your prices

Restaurants have just reopened, offering outdoor service, so let’s use them as an example. If you want to increase the amount of revenue that a restaurant brings in. Here’s how to apply these 4 methods:

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Photo by IG: ristorante_rossini

Increasing the number of customers means you’re trying to bring more people in the door, or under current restrictions into the outdoor seating area. This strategy is relatively straightforward: more visitors to your restaurant will equal more tabs, which (assuming the average transaction size stays the same), will bring in more money.

Increasing average transaction size means you’re trying to get each customer to purchase more. This is typically done through a process called upselling & cross selling. When a customer purchases an entree, you offer them appetizers, drinks, and dessert. The more of these items the customer purchases, the more they spend, and the more revenue you collect.

Increasing the frequency of transactions per customer means encouraging people to purchase from you more often. If your average customer comes in once a month, convincing them to come to your business once a week will increase your revenue. The more frequently they visit your establishment, the more revenue your restaurant will bring in, assuming the average transaction size stays the same.

Raising your prices means you’ll collect more revenue from every purchase a customer makes. Assuming your volume, average transaction size, and frequency stay the same, raising your prices will bring in more revenue for the same amount of effort.

Remember not every customer is a good customer. Some customers will sap your time, energy, and resources without providing the results that you’re looking for. If you’re spending a lot of energy serving customers who don’t come in often, have a low average transaction size, don’t spread the word, and complain about the price, it doesn’t make sense to attract more of those customers.

Always focus most of your efforts on serving your ideal customers (Do you remember the 80/20 rule?). Your ideal customers buy early, buy often, spend the most, spread the word, and are willing to pay a premium for the value you provide.

The more ideal customers you can attract, the better your business.

 

Lead Generation Hacks: 5 Strategies That Will Grow Your Leads

A couple of weeks ago, we carried out a poll across different business communities with one very simple question. As small business owner, what is your main challenge to continue growing your business?

We provided 3 key options and the alternative to add more if they felt like it. The results are very interesting:

52% of small business owners said they would need more resources (time, expertise) to grow their business, 30% said they need more customers and only 18% said they need more revenue
Small business owners more leads more revenue

So in this article, we will address how to get “more customers”. In order to have more customers you need two things, to attract more qualified prospects (leads) and increase your conversation rate (leads who buy your product or service)

Small Businesses rely on several channels to drive leads to their businesses and boost their conversion rate. But often, these channels don’t deliver the results that they can bank on. If you’ve spent a lot of time creating content, hoping to attract the right leads, but you still aren’t getting results, it can be discouraging. But hear this: you’re not alone.

What does your potential customer want? Once you’re able to answer that question and tie it to a powerful message that resonates with your target customers, you’ll consistently generate leads. Growing your leads will always be easier if most of your attention is focused on syncing your landing page with your other marketing channels.

No matter what channel you’re using, HubSpot’s statistics found that 54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than by traditional paid marketing. This also means that you have to give top priority to creating the right content. Once you’ve committed to that mindset and approach, implement these six lead generation hacks to grow and covert your leads faster.

Hack #1: Lead generation starts at home—review your messaging

If you’ve been actively promoting your message through your website, your homepage will be getting visitors from referring sites, social media sites, search engines and other sources.

But is your message reflecting what your potential customer needs? The first thing you need to do is to understand your customer, their concerns and challenges and then provide them with a solution

Some ideas to show case your content in your home page would be to have a list of the latest posts and adding a must-read section on the sidebar, which is important if you want people to find your best content the moment that they arrive on your homepage.

On the flip side, if you have an offer (e.g. an e-book, a report, software) on your landing page, you’ve got to ensure that your messaging (copy) and offer are in sync.

The two should always be in sync, so that visitors will not be confused when they get to your homepage.

Hack #2: Link to your webinars directly in your content

One of the best lead generation tips you should take away from this post, is how a webinar can work brilliantly in your favor.

A webinar is a relatively low-cost way to get your useful message in front of a targeted audience who actually signed up for it when they registered and, 52% of marketers believe that webinars and seminars are the most effective methods for generating targeted leads.

If you can host a webinar and link to it directly to your content, your prospects will take you more seriously, because you’ve provided value before asking them to register. This is quite different from a webinar landing page that doesn’t offer much value to the user.

If you’re not using webinars to drive leads to your business, you have to start today. – Lewis Howes

When people are engaged, magical things can happen, right on the spot.

Engagement is the sole purpose of hosting a webinar. Stay time (duration) is influenced by the ease of entering into the webinar, the topic and whether or not attendees stick around during the Q&A.

The role of webinars in the sales process can’t be ignored, because most companies have experience higher sales when they host a webinar.

When you have the attention and trust of your attendees, you can recommend a product or service that’ll help them. You have a responsibility to qualify your leads and map your prospect’s buying journey. Every stage of the customer buying process is important during the webinar.

When you compare all of the lead generation tactics, webinars are the second most effective delivery mechanism of premium content for digital marketers.

Linking to or citing a high-value webinar within your content will position you as a go-to expert in your industry who cares about people.

Hack #3: Follow up, Follow up, Follow up

The success rate of any form of communication with your audience is follow up. Once you manage to get a large audience for your webinar and then deliver a fantastic webinar full of value for your customers, the next thing is to thank them for their attendance and provide some extra value in the form of content, offer or invitation for the next event.

Something to have in mind, for a telephone call or email conversation, your follow up action should be not more than 48 hours after. A memorable webinar, probably will remain fresh in people’s mind for up to 5 days. So consider to introduce some sort of automation to make the process easier, even if it’s to write the content of your thank you email before the event, and have it ready to send the following day.

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Hack #4: Use strong verbs to write powerful headlines that draw attention

A verb is a “doing” word. Or, better yet, it’s an “action” word.

If you want to create a lasting impression in your writing, you have to draw attention with verbs. But first, answer this question:

What makes a headline powerful?

Isn’t it the structure, keywords used, length, topic, and, most importantly, the action word (verb) that appear in a given headline? Each of these can and should evoke curiosity and persuade people to click.

If you can give adequate attention to crafting your headline, you’ll not only generate targeted leads, and there’s a possibility that your search rankings will improve because of a lower bounce rate and the additional time that your visitors are spending on your page.

Copywriters all over the world know the power behind a well-crafted headline, 8 out of 10 people will click your headline if it catches their attention. So, what are you going to do about your headlines?

No matter the platform — your blog, social media networks, other blogs (when you write a guest post), or when you create any type of content that will drive leads — you’ve got to make sure that your headline contains strong verbs. Strong verbs are used to convey a direct message. You’ve always got to have it in the back of your mind that we live in a fast-paced world.

In addition to using strong verbs in your headlines, you also have to focus on length. Headlines that are too long tend to be easily forgotten or ignored.

According to a report by the Guardian, headlines with just eight words generated a 21% higher click-through rate than longer headlines.

Hack #5: Create an irresistible offer

Ultimately, you want to get people to say “yes” to your offer. It all goes down to creating a risk-free and high-value offer. This simple formula explains it better:

If you have difficulty growing your leads, it could be that your offer isn’t compelling. It’s not irresistible.

How do you recognize an irresistible offer?

A compelling offer is like a slice of orange at mile 18. An offer you can’t refuse is like a marriage proposal from the guy or girl you’ve been waiting for your whole life.

You want them to say yes, to download your latest e-book, yes to your email forms, yes to your webinar or yes to your premium physical product.

An irresistible offer will help you attract clients and retain them. Remember that when your offer is scarce, relevant, in high demand and exclusive, it becomes desirable.

Conclusion

Don’t get fooled by every fancy lead generation tool out there. Choose 2 or 3 lead generation strategies and make the most of each one. Remember that driving quality leads and engagement to your business will take time.

Building any real, successful business takes time. Nurturing your social network presence, crafting a solid email marketing campaign, diligently working on creating and producing quality content, all of these tasks require a significant amount of time and focus. You’ll expend energy, but you have to move out of your comfort zone to achieve results – particularly when it comes to building your lead generation campaign.

You need data-driven content to nurture your leads. And, if you want to maximize your time, you have to repurpose your content and expand your reach so that you can drive fresh leads to your business.

“Hacks” are not some magical push-button tactics that don’t have a strong foundation. On the contrary, they’ve been proven to work and many successful brands and industry leaders still use them to acquire new leads and convert them into customers.

Real satisfaction comes from what you learn in the process of applying these proven lead generation tips.

It’s the same with increasing sales. You have to make up your mind to learn along the way because your customers believe in you—and you can’t afford to let them down with outdated advic