Saturday, 20 April 2013

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!


To read more great marketing and business development tips and advice, please visit my new website. 


                                                SME Business Growth

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See you there!

Monday, 8 April 2013

More Information Is The Key

Short Copy Attracts, Long Copy Sells

Sometimes one, short, punchy classified ad in a print publication can attract a lot of customers. It's amazing what a 20-word ad, strategically placed in the right publication, can do for bringing in business.

Can that same classified sell? The answer is almost certainly no. A short classified is a lead generator only. The selling happens after the lead comes into a store, or when you send the prospect your full-blown sales letter, brochure, video or whatever.

It's very difficult to sell an item of significant value with a short ad of any kind. 

A 20-word ad simply doesn't contain enough information to give a prospect all the information he or she needs to make an informed purchasing decision.

Rather, these valuable tools should be used for what they are intended - to get customer attention and bring them in. Once attention is gained, it's the long copy, the large sales packages, that does the selling. 

Long copy almost always outsells short copy. 

A four page sales letter will almost always outsell a one- or two-page sales letter. A 6-page sales letter will generally bring in more sales than a 4-page sales letter. An 8-page sales letter will generally outsell a 6-pager.

Is there a point of diminishing returns? Perhaps. It depends on the situation. Marketing is not like math where there is always a specific answer to every equation. But the general principle is this:  

The more information you give to your client, the more likely they are to buy.

I've already written about the need to educate your prospects: let them know all about the benefits that they will reap from buying your product or service, the problems it will solve, how you intend to reverse the risks that are inherent in buying anything. You often can't educate them enough with just one page, or 60 seconds, etc. In any case, your sales offering deserves all the promotion it can get!


But wait a minute! What about the notorious "short attention" span of today's consumer - you know the busy shopper who is constantly being bombarded with advertising, marketing and media information from all sides. Do they really have time to pay attention to a lengthy sales pitch?

The answer is, yes they do, once you have their attention and interest. The problem of the short attention span is only a factor in the attention grabbing process. But once you have a customer front and centre, or looking at your sales materials, they become very discriminating and need a lot of information and persuasion to become buyers. The more you give them, the more likely they are to buy.

And yet, one must still consider the short attention span factor. Once the attention of a prospect has been captured, it must be kept. People who write novels are good at this. They know that if the first 10 pages of a book is a drag, most people will drop out and not finish the next 200 pages. So they write in a way that is designed to keep people turning pages.

For example, every chapter ends in a mini-cliff hanger, goading the reader to start the next chapter. The novelist "salts" each page with literary inducements, and little cliff hangers all of which lead up to the big payoff at the end.

It takes a very special talent and high level of skill to keep people interested for 200 pages, but good writers do it all the time. 

If a 200-page book can keep people reading, you should be able to keep people reading through your 4, 6 or 8-page sales letter, or your brochure, or even your larger print ads. Yet it doesn't just happen. Writing sales copy that grabs attention and then keeps the reader engaged and wanting to learn more is a high art. There are just a few ways to do it right, and unfortunately, a lot of ways to do it wrong.

Over the years, many tips, tricks and techniques have been developed to keep prospects interested in what you're telling them. For example, many sales letters today - and you have certainly seen a lot of them if you read your junk mail at all - say right up at the top in the first paragraph something like: "Please keep reading because further in this letter, we are going to reveal to you a way you can get a $25 value item completely free."

Gimmicks like these work very well, but they are not enough. Sales copy has to be compelling from the first paragraph to the last. When a prospect reads the first paragraph of a sales letter or print ad, you want to make sure they read the second paragraph and the third, and the fourth, and all the way to the end where you make your final "big pitch."

You need to keep "salting" the sales copy with intriguing information that will compel the reader to keep reading.

Fortunately, there is a very good way to do this. In fact, if you employ this one easy sentence structure, which we will describe to you in just a minute, you'll keep your readers hooked on what you want them to learn about your product. The best thing about this special writing technique is that anyone can learn to use it, and it is almost guaranteed to keep your prospects reading. But before I tell you what this one simple technique is, I first want to tell you this ....

Okay, now go back and read that previous paragraph again. That's what I mean by "salting" your sales copy with inducements to read further. I started hinting at something the reader wants very much - in this case - a special secret technique to write great sales copy! I don't tell you what it is right away. Rather, I start building excitement about what we will reveal. The reader will keep reading to find out what this "one simple technique" is. That's salting the copy.

Note that the length of a sales message holds true across all formats. A 30-minute television infomercial is a much more powerful seller than a 30-second TV commercial. A large, say, 8-by-8-inch space ad will always outsell a small classified ad. 

The whole beauty of a Website is that is allows you to dump literally unlimited amounts of information about your product onto your page. The Web is perhaps the ultimate long copy sales vehicle.

So don't sell yourself, or your business, short. Get your prospects' attention and then tell them all about the great features and benefits that await them when they become customers. 

If you are excited about your product or service, they will be too!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Your Customer Is For A Lifetime..

Understanding the True Value of a Customer


The failure to understand just what a customer is worth is one of the biggest mistakes both experienced and start-up business owners make.

By not understanding the life-time purchasing potential of each customer, the marketer remains focused on short-term gain, and cannot formulate creative strategies that can get maximum potential out of each dollar spent on attracting customers.

Let's take an example: A company sends out 10,000 sales letters at a cost of 50 pence each, for a total cost of £5,000. The sales letter does fairly well and pulls in a 3.5% positive response rate, meaning it resulted in 350 new customers who ended up actually making a purchase. If the product being sold carries a £15 profit per sale rate, that means 350 x £15 = £5250 in income based on the sales letter effort.
Just £250 for all that effort!

And perhaps that £250 does not account for the time, cost and effort that went into writing and producing the sales letter. Results like these would cause most sellers to sour on this particular kind of marketing tool. It hardly seems worth all of the trouble to create a sales letter, obtain a mailing list, mail them out, fulfill orders - all just for a small profit, or maybe even a small loss.

Well, there may be nothing wrong with their basic math, but the problem is that they are forgetting about something very significant. The sales letter may not have produced much profit, but it did bring in 350 new customers. If each of those 350 bought once, the chances are very favorable that they will buy a second time.

A prospect who buys once becomes not just a customer, but a "captured customer." 

Those who make a lot of money with sales letters know that just about all of their first mailings probably won't produce a profit. That's why they have a "back-end" offer ready and waiting to go after the first round of sales come in - because that's where the true profits are generated.

In our example above, the sales letter created 350 proven buyers. A second mailing to these 350 captured customers will almost certainly have a better than 3.5% success rate. It may have a 25%, 50% or even higher success rate. If a second mailing sells a product to 100 of the 350 captured customers, and again let's say the profit for each sale was £15, then an additional £1,500 has been earned - but this time by spending only £175 on mailing costs. (350 letters @ 50 pence each = £175). Suddenly, things are looking much brighter and much more profitable!

But this is far from the end of the story. Every captured customer becomes a name in what the most companies consider to be their most valuable possession - their "house list." This is a database of the names of captured customers who can not only be sold a second time - but can be sold again, again and again - possible for years to come.

Let's say a captured customer buys another 10 times a year for 10 years, and for simplicity, let's say the profit remains at £15 per sale. That means this particular customer is worth £1,500 - that's his or her "lifetime value" to the seller.

Now let's go back to that original mailing of 10,000 sales letters that cost £5,000. If it produced 350 new customers with a lifetime value averaging £1,500 each - that's a total astounding total value of £525,000 over 10 years! (350 customer x £1,500 = £525,000.
 
Now how good an investment does that original £5,000 seem to be? It seems to be utterly fantastic - and that's because it is!

But wait a minute! There's still more to this picture. It's highly likely that many of those 350 captured customers will tell a friend about your business, and even refer them to you for another sale. It's impossible to know how many of those 350 will make an active referral that will result in a sale, but we can reasonably assume it will happen.

The value of the captured customer keeps getting better and better!

Please keep in mind: We may be oversimplifying this a bit in terms of the numbers we are throwing around here, but the principle is strong. Every smart entrepreneur never looks at a single sale to a single customer as the end point. Rather, this is the beginning of hopefully a long-term relationship with that customer, and many more sales in months or even years to come.

When one considers the life time value of a customer, it changes the dynamics entirely; it helps the marketer think more creatively, strategically and in the long-term. It helps the seller determine how much it is appropriate to spend on each customer in terms of buying inducements.

When you calculate the lifetime value of each customer, you get a much clearer picture of just what that individual means to your business in solid pounds and pence.

Certainly, not every customer can be guaranteed to be worth X amount of business -- but you can come up with a pretty close average. With this kind of information at your disposal, you can make far more intelligent decision on how much to spend on a variety of marketing tools to capture X amount of customers. You will also be better able to predict your future cash flow, which enables you to plan for future growth with far greater confidence and certainty.

Keep in mind, it doesn't all "just happen." It's amazing how many new seller never think in terms of getting that second or third sale. This is perhaps particularly true of sellers using mail order methods of marketing. They develop one product, write one sales letter, hope for great results on the first mailing - and have no back-end product in place and ready to go as soon as the first orders come in.

Almost no one makes a significant profit on a first round marketing effort, no matter what it is. Many savvy entrepreneurs calculate what they call a "loss leader" - they know they'll probably lose money on their first efforts, but they know the real money is made in the subsequent rounds of customer contacts.

Let's take our original mailing of 10,000 sales letters, for example. That's strictly a "cold marketing" effort. That is, it's a first attempt to find "qualified customers," those that are truly interested in buying the product being offered.

Cold contacts are always more expensive than subsequent "hot contacts." 

True, the seller can take steps to make the initial cold contact as "warm" as possible, such as by using a highly qualified mailing list of names purchased from a reputable mailing list dealer. But even "pre-qualified" lists always carry a greater level of risk than those names which the seller gains through his own direct contacts with customers he or she has sold with his own efforts and products.

Smart entrepreneurs know that "creating customers" is more lucrative than merely "making sales."  When you create customers, the sales began to almost take care of themselves.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Finding Your Niche

"You Can't Be All Things To All Men"

I know this may come as a shock to you, but it's true. You cannot hope to market your products or services to everyone, even if you think everyone needs them. You limit your potential by not focusing on select groups of people or businesses. These specific groups are called "niches."

By focusing on one or more niches you're able to connect with these people at a much higher level, and consequently you automatically gain more business. 

I'm sure you've heard people say things like, "This person really connects with me, and they really understand my business." This is what you do when you choose to market to these different groups. 

What’s also important to understand is that certain groups of people or businesses are likely to want and need your products and services more than others.  

More importantly, your niche must focus on the groups who can AFFORD your products or services. There’s no point in targeting groups who want and need your products or services if many of them can’t afford to buy or pay for them! 
 
"Yes, but if I limit my market won’t I be reducing the chances of doing business with more people?”

Of course you will, but to succeed in today’s competitive market place you need to concentrate your marketing on a smaller number of well chosen segments or niches into which you pour all your resources.

Think about how many "marketing messages" you are bombarded with every day: TV, radio and newspaper ads, sales calls, product placements, Google, even Facebook and Linked In...we have learned to tune out most of this marketing. In fact, probably the only marketing messages that get our attention (and interest) are the ones that target some specific need, want, or concern that we have.

So you, as a marketer, must understand the needs, wants, fears, concerns, etc, of your target market. With a few exceptions (such as food and beverage) the only way to do this effectively is to narrow your focus. 

Finding Your Niche(s) 

To do this, you must find out what your target market needs, and also determine what you are best at. You should also look at what your competition does best (and worst). We can break this down into three steps:

1. Competitor analysis
Identify their strengths and weaknesses, the products or services that sell well, and those that don't (and why). How you use this information will depend on your individual business circumstances. For example, you may want to capitalise on a competitor's weaknesses, or move into a niche that they don't serve well. Or you may want to join them in servicing a segment that is very profitable, either because you can compete effectively with them, or the market is under-served.

2. Analysis of your business
- What do you do best? Do you have a competitive advantage, or any particular expertise in a general or specialist area?
- Who do you want to serve? Perhaps you have a specific mission or purpose (beyond making a profit).
- What are your capabilities when it comes to serving your target market?

3. Market analysis
- What does your market need or want from your product or service (and others like it)? Try to determine whether there are any natural segments or niches within your broader target market. 
- How will you market and sell to the different types of customers in your target market? How easy it will be to get their interest? And, crucially, who can afford your product?!

For example, a BMW garage knows that, out of the entire car market, they will sell the most cars to middle-aged drivers with higher incomes. Yet even within that segment, a SUV will have a different niche to a powerful sports saloon. Imagine what a waste of time and money it would be if BMW were to try and promote their large, 4WD SUVs to young men who are looking for speed and performance!

If you can create this bond between you and your niche market(s) you’ll grow your business to unprecedented levels. That's the power of niche marketing. By concentrating on specific groups, you can achieve very high market shares in that particular category because people automatically come to you.
 


You'll ‘own’ the market.

So narrow your focus, and leave the mass marketing to the Coca Cola Company!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Why Should They Believe You?!

Build Instant Credibility With Testimonials

We all know how powerful word of mouth advertising is: consumers are much more likely to value the opinion of an independent third party, especially if that person is in their social circle. 

A positive testimonial about your product given by past, satisfied customers is one of the most powerful tools known in marketing.

You can’t afford not to incorporate testimonials into all your ads, sales letters, brochures and more. because they are powerful tools of persuasion. In the eyes of potential buyers, a testimonial is much like having a trusted friend recommend your product. 

A testimonial is that part of the ad - perhaps the only part - that doesn’t seem like just more ad hype. 

That’s because the message of a testimonial is not coming from the seller themself. Customers know that businesses will say just about anything to make a sale. Everyone has a well-developed, “let the buyer beware” mentality when he or she confront ads and sales pitches. We all naturally and habitually cast a skeptical eye on most ad claims. We are on the constant lookout for deception. 

However, a testimonial from a “real person” is different. When a potential buyer reads or sees a testimonial from an “ordinary” person, he or she gets the feeling they are receiving an endorsement straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. And they are! That’s the beauty of a testimonial. 

When an objective, third party individual, who has no financial interest in your company, is willing to put his or her reputation on the line to promote your product, it says a lot about how good that product really must be.

Testimonials “prove” that your product is as good as you say it is. 

It shows potential buyers that others have already tried and tested the product, and found it good enough to go out and brag about it and tell others to buy it. When a customer confronts a testimonial, he or she thinks: “Hey, it worked for him, so maybe can work for me, too!” You can't beat that kind of endorsement.

The best testimonials are made by people who are, or appear to be, in the same demographic group as your potential buyers. 

This way, the testimonial endorsement appears to be coming from a known and trusted person. Testimonials made by well-known people or admired celebrities are also powerful persuaders. 

If you don’t have any testimonials for your product or service, go out and get them. Contact satisfied customers and ask them simply tell what they liked about your product, and how they benefited from it. Have them sign their testimonial statement, and get their permission to use it in all your marketing mediums. 

If you can include a picture or live video tape of satisfied customers making a pitch for you, all the better. Keep all of your signed permission editorials on file for future use and reference. and because you must have proof of permission to use another person's statement in your advertising media.

Also, get both a first and last name to use in your testimonials.

Testimonials that are signed, "Mike K., Kent" can easily seem faked or simply made up, (and they often are!). Customers are wise to that.Even if you are a brand new business and have yet to create a satisfied customer, you should strive to get testimonials you can use. These can come from people you know and who are familiar with your product.

So whatever you do, use testimonials! No marketing vehicle is complete without at least one.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Basingstoke Business Expo 2013

If you’re looking to make new connections and grow your business in Basingstoke, this is your chance to network and be inspired. On Thursday 7 March 2013, Memo Events is organising its third Business Expo in the region. Join over 400 local businesses for a day filled with inspirational keynote speakers, influential contacts and fantastic networking opportunities. 

Supported by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Hampshire County Council, this free business to business show will also feature key exhibitors from across the county. 

As well as an exhibition, the event will also host a number of superb seminars and free workshops on a number of topics and subjects including social media, marketing, growing a business, creativity, employment law and motivating yourself to achieve super success in 2013.

The event, which is being held at the Apollo Hotel, will open its doors at 9.30am, with a free speed networking session at midday, giving visitors the chance to network with each other in a friendly and structured way in order to spark new relationships and open opportunities for business after the show. 

The Basingstoke Business Expo is open to anyone in business, from business owners to entrepreneurs and business professions to people looking to start-up a business in the area.
Tickets for the event are free and can be pre-registered at www.basingstokebusinessexpo.co.uk.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Say Something Bold And Different!

Clear and Precise Communication Is Essential


The headline of your advertising message is so important, because it's role is to catch the attention of your target market and encourage them to read, or view, the rest of the message. 

Often, though, headlines in print ads, or at the top of sales letters, or even on roadside billboards are so vague and uncommunicative, that they do nothing to help sell what they are supposed to sell.

Perhaps the biggest mistake headline writers make is being general, vague, using a cliché, or making a statement that is so bland, it has almost no impact on the reader. It does absolutely nothing to grab the attention of the reader. If a headline on an ad does not grab the reader and pull the reader deeper into the ad, all is lost. Even if the ad has killer, persuasive body copy, it may never get read if a ho-hum headline does not stop readers, pique their interest, and prompt them to read more.

Let's look at some examples of do-nothing headlines on various kinds of marketing vehicles: 
  • On a roadside sign: "Stop in and Save!"
  •  In a newspaper print ad: "The Best Food In Town."
  • The name of a motorcycle dealer: "Bob's Motorcycles." 
In the first case, "Stop in and Save!" is so clichéd and so overused by so many merchants, a sign declaring this message is all but invisible. What makes it different? What makes it stand out? What makes it believable? On the outside, nothing. 

What about the print ad headline: "The Best Food in Town." Oh wow. Another restaurant claiming to have the best food in town! What restaurant doesn't claim to have the best food in town? What's the alternative? "The Third Best Food in Town!" In a weird way, this latter facetious example is a better headline because people would really notice it and think about it, and maybe even be curious about it.

What about the last one, "Bob's Motorcycles"? Does anyone really know who "Bob" is? Does anyone really care? How many guys named "Bob" live in that town? What does the information that "Bob's Motorcycles" is owned by "Bob" do for the business? The answer is absolutely nothing, unless you know "Bob" personally.

A headline, or roadside sign or the name of a business should all carry their own weight by articulating something clearly about the product, service or business it is shouting about. "Bob's Motorcycles" would be far better off calling itself something like "Highway Adventure Motorcycles" or "Born to be Wild Bikes" or "Great Escape Motorcycles."

"Stop In and Save" is a street sign which says next to nothing, and certainly nothing new. How about a sign that shouts out to passers by: "Save 35% on Motor Oil Today!" or "Your Birthday This Month? Eat Free!" or "Free Milk With $25 Purchase Here!"

All of these road signs are making incredible, exciting offers and they are saying something specific. A person who is having a birthday will have a real reason to stop at the restaurant offering a free meal. When he gets inside, he may discover that he has to come with a paying friend, or two, but it's still a great motivator to take action on either stopping in or buying.

So, not only should your headlines and other immediate media messages be different and exciting, they should tell the consumer something specific - and almost instantly about a benefit they will get right away if they take action as soon as possible.

The same is true for all other aspects of marketing messages, such as the body copy of an ad, the information in a brochure, or the copy on a web site. Specific and unambiguous information must be offered which gives the looker a clear-cut idea of what is being sold, why it's good, why it's a great deal, and why a person should buy, and with as little delay as possible.

Clear and concise communication in all manner of media messages about your product or service is essential. Use specific information, avoid cliché statements, and say something bold and different so that your message stands out from the pack. Even a short slogan or business name should carry it's own weight by saying something specific about what is being offered or sold.