bad copy, unclear business name,

What do you do? Explain, clearly or lose leads

I want to showcase this list of three businesses who want to grow their international connections.  Shared by a reputable international facilitator organisation, these exemplify the utter incompetence of smart people when answering the question “What do you do?”.

I despair.

bad copy, unclear business name,

Poor descriptions of business loses leads

How to differentiate your business

We did some work this week with a consultancy who describe themselves as “Family Business Specialists“.  How straightforward.  I know who they advise…. I don’t yet know what they do – but that three word description allows me to filter myself in or filter myself out of using their services.  Either I am or I am not a family business.  Either I need or I do not need a family business advisor.

Who wants to work with an

“Extremely passionate and dedicated consultancy who loves its customers.  We live to server our customers.”

Now maybe this is a clever IT joke “I server my customers, you server your customers etc”. Or more probably it’s a spelling mistake nobody spotted.  Never mind that – every consultancy can claim passion, dedication and customer services.  It doesn’t say what TYPE of consulting they do or for whom.

C’mon.

10 questions to answer before writing your elevator pitch

  1. Who are you and what do you offer?
  2. What is the company history?
  3. Who are the key personnel?
  4. Who are your clients?
  5. Which are your case histories?
  6. Who are your competitors?
  7. What’s different about you?
  8. Who is your target market?
  9. What are your company objectives?
  10. Where does your company want to be in 5 years time?

This is Step 1 in our New Business Development workshop – during which you write a one year marketing plan, and from which you will understand how all the parts of the “marketing mix” join up to deliver successful communications to your prospects.

 

Read more blog posts about Step 1 State your Business by clicking the image below – it will take you to that category on our blog.  Teach yourself, how to describe your business successfully.Symbol for who is your brand in new business development

Hanging Gardens home page

Your home page is failing its purpose

I had to write to a client recently to tell them that their home page was failing.  It was not delivering value, it was not doing its job and was actively causing problems for the business.  And this made me realise that few businesses understand the job a home page does.

Hanging Gardens home page

Hanging Gardens home page

What should a good home page design do?

If you are an online shop, the home page has the job of showing the specials for the month or new product lines.  It is often a straightforward design to implement. 

If you are a software company, the home page is usually a sales page promoting and explaining your principal products.

But most business websites have a different challenge, especially those who do not sell by ecommerce.  They have had a website for a few years; they may have had a couple of redesigns and the business website has probably grown to tens, hundreds or thousands of pages over this period.  The priorities of the business shift over time and the website home page needs to support the new business goals and objectives. 

This throws up questions

  1. How often should I change my home page?
  2. Should the home page have all the information about the business?
  3. What should the home page prioritise?

The job of a website home page is to get the visitor to her destination in as few clicks as possible.

Why do visitors come?

Your entire website comprises a heap of different information, advice, products and services and a visitor may be interested in all, one or none of them.  So how can you guess what the latest web visitor wants? 

This is where intelligent home page design comes in. 

Home page as sign post

The principal task of the home page is to signpost the visitor FAST to where she wants to go.  So let’s work out what this means for your website.

Go to your web analytics account and find two reports created from your actual visitor traffic this year.  These are

a) the pages visitors went to on the site.  This shows which are the most popular

b) the search queries people typed into Google which had your website showing up in search results (this comes by linking Search Console to Google Analytics – here’s how to set it up).

Your job is to line up b) with a) so we get the maximum number of people coming to the site and getting quickly to the exact page they are looking for.

Designing for Destination

You now know the top two to five pages on your website (after the home page itself).  I’m going to offer some advice here which will help you brief your designer on the changes you need to make to your home page. 

Firstly – simplify the main menu.  Can you remove any of the top menu items?  Give the visitor as few choices as possible, stay focused on those top destination pages.  Can you reduce your menu to 5 options?  (Home, About, Contact Us plus 2 others?).  Can you remove sub-menus or drop-downs?  We advised Armour Safety to put icon images of their popular product groupings on a side menu; ordered by popularity.  Clicks followed immediately we made the change.

Secondly – highlight popular destination pages in the home page design.  Make it very obvious in the home page design elements what these are.  You can use images, boxes, icons, buttons, large text – all are useful devices to focus attention. By repeating these popular destinations in the home page design and the top menu, you increase the chances that the visitor will choose an already popular pathway.  Coxmate.com.au now does not show its products on the main menu – they send visitors direct to the shop which has its own home page and details all the categories.  Similarly, Apartment Specialists has 3 buttons on the home page, I’m Buying; I’m Selling and I want a Valuation.  All three are on their menu, but the buttons make it easier for visitors to quickly decide where to click.

Thirdly – you have to reinforce the already popular page destinations – this may sound counter-intuitive.  Don’t try and encourage traffic to pages that are not already popular i.e. double down your bets on the well-performing pages.  This is the 80:20 rule in action.  For the visitor who does want something unusual if they cannot find it from your menus, be sure to make it very clear how to get in touch to ask the question. 

So go check how your home page is performing in its duty as a sign post – and don’t be afraid to make changes iteratively – one small change at a time so you can measure the effect before altering other elements.

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 1 – State your Business.

Click on the icon to see more posts in that category.

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine 

B2B Marketing Validation (Green Light by Alachua County)

How to market validate a B2B startup

What are the best ways to validate a B2B idea without spending a lot on product development first?

I currently run a B2C online service. I’m looking to pivot to B2B as a way of growing our business.

Creative Agency Secrets are very practical and tactical marketers so in this answer we will give you a series of steps to run through. You will need to run through them all several times – for example, if you do 1,2,3 and it’s not working, go back to 1 and start again, improving each time.

You will need to be very self-critical in order to improve and if you have not got experience in B2B, we strongly recommend you find a mentor or coach who can be objective and help shortcut the number of iterations.

  1. First – write out the revised offer as it would apply to a B2B situation. Make this a one-page print and pdf brochure.
  2. Second – approach people you already know and who could buy the service and ask them to appraise the document and give you honest feedback. You can find these people on Linked In or via the local chamber of commerce. Get the feedback face to face if possible and / or by phone. DO NOT use email. You want to be there in person to ask supplementary questions such as “why did you say that?” to clarify your understanding.
  3. Third – try to push a sale or two from one of your market testing interviews. Be prepared to offer a money back guarantee or a discount with the option to name them as a client as the quid-pro-quo.
  4. Fourth – You should now have a sense of which TYPE of B2B firm could buy the service. So go and buy a mailing list of similar businesses in your local area. Approach them all and repeat – raising the price, reducing the guarantee as you get more focused onto your sweet spot.
  5. Fifth – as you approach more, try to refine the offer and price if sales are not forthcoming. This will allow adaptation to refine the offer to suit the market. And also gradually withdraw from the face to face and phone and pull back to web (low cost) sales. You may still need telephone follow-up. Experiment with having a colleague do this calling rather than yourself as you further move to lower cost marketing tools.
  6. Sixth – re-invest any profits into improving the marketing method and collateral.

That should give you a methodology. Now you will need very strong copywriting, CRM and sales skills. Buy or hire these for your support team.

Good luck and happy to help further.

Learn How to Growth Hack your Website in May

Learn How to Growth Hack your Website in May

What it means to Growth Hack.

Growth Hacking is a new phrase meaning to aggressively make a step-change in business success.  It’s not just a cute phrase, there are specific techniques which can make significant improvements to website success.

You define success and we’ll teach you how to make it happen.

What is your #1 marketing and sales problem?

Get the answers about how you can growth hack your web success with USA experts Dan Morris and Rachel Martin during May 2016.

Face to face consult or small group workshops.

Email [email protected] with your #1 marketing and sales problem.

Rachel Martin website GrowthHacking expert

Rachel Martin website GrowthHacking expert

 

 

Step One: State Your Business

This section is all about explaining in as few words as possible what’s your business does, what product or service it makes, and who you sell it to.

One way of describing this is an elevator pitch. Let me give you an example my business creative agency secrets, has the strapline “marketing success unlocked”.

That is the quick version of what it is that we do.  We offer marketing success to people who previously found this a problem that they could not resolve. You notice that this actually is also incorporated into our logo which is two things, a C. A. S. initials and also a padlock which is open. Thanks to Ross Murray who is our wonderful graphic designer, he designed this for us and it was a great moment when we saw what he had created and how well it aligned with what our business does. You can contact Ross and Angela Murray at www.redspark.co.nz

We then have a longer version of our elevator pitch.

A marketing agency specialising in execution marketing for small and medium businesses.

And of course we have an even longer version, you can read this on our website in the about us page.

How do you describe your business?

Here are some ways that you can help to think through the different options

  • What’s the company history?
  • Who are the key personnel?
  • Who are you trying to sell to, your target customers?
  • Do you have some specific objectives of the business, this may be to grow it, to sell it, to create an income for yourself, to be a social enterprise?  There are many more
  • Who are your competitors, what is unique, special or different about you?
  • What’s your track record? In previous businesses and in this current one.  What sort of clients have you helped?
  • Do you have case studies? Are they well known?  How did they reflect on your business?

Write down longhand the answers to all of these questions.

You may have some other questions that you think are particularly relevant to yourself. From this, you want to try and build 3 separate statements about your organisation.

The first one needs to be the equivalent of a strapline to go alongside the company name and logo. Here are some examples from clients

SD Talent, best practice human resource management for your team, outsourced.

Crossfire, trusted fire engineering.

Baucher Consulting Ltd, better tax stories for you: a better tax system for everyone.

Read the other posts from this series here!

Audience Industries Will Help You Drive Revenue Online

Audience Industries Will Help You Drive Revenue Online

Are you new to digital communications, work in marketing or as a web admin? Good. You’ll want to hear this:

Your online activities for your business can significantly monetize your audience!

Maybe you knew this already but, if you’re here, you may need a little help getting to that point. Lucky you, we have just the thing! The Audience Industries NZ tour is coming to town!

How Audience Industries Will Help You Drive Revenue Online

The Audience Industries program is made up of 4 separate curricula, which together cover everything you need to know about increasing your online profitability.

Let’s focus on the most widely applicable course, the Sequoia curriculum. With 6 modules and 4-8 hours of your time, learn how to turn around your online efforts in simple ways that will make a huge difference to your business.

  1. Learn your audience’s ladder of value, where they came from and when they’ll be ready for you.
  2. Keep the audience coming back for more with pro marketing.
  3. Build the ultimate audience with every word you write.
  4. Stand out so your audience can find you.
  5. Find out how to get your audience from each of your social media platforms to you.
  6. Don’t sell yourself short. Your knowledge is worth a lot more. Start to understand pricing, format and what to expect in the future.

Intrigued?

I thought you might be. When it comes to your business, what you’ll take away from the Sequoia course will be invaluable. There’s no question.

Dan Morris and Rachel Martin

Founders of Audience Industries and your online marketing gurus for the tour, will be arriving on our shores in May to share their marketing expertise with us.  Are you in or near Auckland, Dunedin, or Wellington? If so, read more about the tour and book your spot now while the going is still good!

If you want to improve your online revenue for your business, don’t let this tour pass you up. Book now and take the first step towards maximising the potential of your website.

Grow Your Online Marketing Programme with Audience Industries

Grow Your Online Marketing Programme with Audience Industries

Grow Your Online Marketing Programme with Audience Industries

Let’s get serious about your online marketing programme

Do you want to make your business work? Of course you do. So get serious about your success and let’s talk about what it’s really going to take for your online marketing programme to get you the numbers you want from your website.

Audience Industries is coming to New Zealand for a second year in a row and these two international experts from the US, Dan Morris and Rachel Martin, want to sit down with you and show you what you need to know to operate your business online and make it successful.

A sneak peek of what you’ll take away from the courses: Escape Velocity

Do you know how much you make per visitor? Per pageview? How much should you really be spending on your online marketing efforts? You’ll get the tools you need to find out and take action to make your online business pump out the numbers you want to see. Set your goals and learn from Dan and Rachel just how to achieve them with Escape Velocity.

Sound like you? This is just one of four courses in the curriculum for the Audience Industries NZ tour. You want to grow your online marketing programme? This is it. Sign up for Escape Velocity in Auckland for April 29th and learn how to tighten up your goals and really reach them.

What else can you look forward to in the 2016 Audience Industries NZ tour?

  • Auckland, April 29th – Escape Velocity Curriculum

  • Auckland, May 1st – Sequoia Curriculum

  • Dunedin, May 3rd half day – Sequoia Curriculum

  • Dunedin, May 4th half day – Circles Curriculum

  • Wellington, May 5thSequoia Curriculum

  • Wellington, May 6thCircles Curriculum

  • Auckland, May 9th – Circles Curriculum

  • Auckland, May 10th – Clusters Curriculum

Click through to read about each course in depth including the curriculum.

If you’re ready for Escape Velocity, book now and ready yourself for an event that will take you straight to the heart of the 5 key metrics you need to know as a business to operate successfully online.

Have you forgotten about directory listings for local search?

Yet again, Google has changed its search page layout – the right sidebar went last week…. Now, does that matter for your business or not?

The old sidebar had adverts in it and now adverts only appear at the very top of the search listings.  This is a “reduced real estate” situation in the lingo.  Where 8 adverts used to appear, there are now only 4.  That means that competition for advertising space is doubled – prices may rise.  What that means for most business owners is that if advertising gets more pricey, you can choose whether to adjust your budgets.  I recommend spending on natural site search as an alternative.  Every recent Google algorithm update has hit the ‘game-the-system’ players hard and rewarded websites with strong on-site content.  Put your money into your own website rather than into Google’s pockets.

Local Search Matters

So first, let’s check your business and how it shows up in the Google local pack.  This is the map and associated listings with pins showing locations.  Google are showing a map of local businesses into your search results.  This allows the physical location of a business to influence whether prospects choose you or not.  So it’s important to get listed accurately.  Go first to Google My Business https://business.google.com and start registering and verifying.

Local google search showing map and address

Local google search showing map and address

Is your information accurate?

Step one is to clean up your NAP citations.  NAP is the acronym for Name, Address and Phone data. This clearly tells a visitor that a business is local.  You should claim your business and get listed accurately.  Be consistent, don’t shorten words like Street or use different variations of ST. St, and Street.  [Did you see the comma and full stop there?]

Now, what about other citations?

Do a broad search for your business name, owners names and all possible variants as well as geographic searches.  List every website where you can be found.  There may be many as most directories are aggregators of others’ content and so mistakes get flicked on and on to more websites.

In the good old days every business was on Yellow Pages and I still think that’s a great place to start your directory listings.  But Yelp is increasingly important..  go and search for your business on yelp.co.nz and ‘claim’ it.  Then you can log in and edit the details.

Yelp claim your business

Yelp claim your business

When you claim your listing, be very careful to select the correct category for your business. And please, be consistent – write down a standard short and medium length text description which you can use everywhere.  Also write one about your products or services.  And another about the business owner(s).

Now here’s a list of the local directory sites where it is worthwhile “claiming” your business listing and this is the process I recommend you run through for each one. 

  1. see if you are already listed
  2. is the information NAP accurate?
  3. edit or insert for the first time as necessary
  4. keep a record of your logins so they aren’t lost to the business when you leave
  5. set a future diary date every 6 months to review and update the listing.

Selected New Zealand online directories

Please share your tips for other directories as we can all learn more!

This article was first published on 

Improving your local SEO is an important part of your business marketing.  It’s all part of Getting your website working hard for your business [there’s a free ebook telling you how].

Read more blog posts about Who You Are and Profile Raising by clicking the icons below. Each is a step in our 8 Step Methodology 

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?4 Profile

What is the New Business process?

Continuing our series on the Art and Science of New Business – Read Part 1.

I’m going to start with the definition of a business process –

Process – a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that serve a particular goal.

I took that definition from Wikipedia but it’s very straightforward if you do something in exactly the same way over and over again you will get the same outcome and that’s a process.

I want to remind you of the title of this article series is the Art and Science of Generating Leads.  The difference between an Art and a Science is that in the science everything is replicable exactly, every single time that you do it.  And art is not.

Generating leads is not always identically replicable. This is because markets change, economies evolve, your product or service may differ; the needs of your customers and prospective customers may be altering over time.

This does not mean that it is impossible to create a replicable process. But it does mean that you must acquire more skill than just following a series of “paint-by-numbers” tasks.

But you knew that didn’t you?

A business process gives an outcome

Let’s begin with working out the different steps that lead to an outcome.  I’m going to give you an example from my own

BNI logo

BNI logo

business here. It’s Wednesday morning at 7 AM. I am in a cafe with a group of 32 other trusted business individuals who are all working to help me generate leads for my business. The group is called Business Networking International. We meet once a week in order to do our best to help each other win more customers. How we do it is a straightforward, replicable business process.

It’s a methodology developed by Dr Ivan Misner.  He found it to be effective and set up a network. He’s grown it to over 180,000 members in many countries across the world. It is a tried and tested methodology for business owners to find a group of other business owners whose business is to help you find leads for your business.

Sounds extraordinary? Well it is.

I’m not going to tell Dr Misner’s story here, but suffice it to say at a certain stage in my business I found BNI to be a very useful discipline to help me establish a business process around finding new customers. I commend it to you and suggest you go and research the organisation today; their website is www.bni.com.

The new business development 8 step methodology is a process

8 step new business process. Step 1 Who are you?In order to make a process you first need to ensure that you’ve got all of the component parts lined up and ready to work I will say that step eight is the actual process because you string together all the components.

Step one is Who are you and what do you do? and that’s the topic up next.

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