Are you the CEO of your business website?

Yes I’m asking you if you drive business success from your website?

Is someone in charge of making your firm’s website successful?  Making the websitedeliver business goals?  It doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed or work for a giant corporation, if you have a website we will teach you how to drive proactive success with Blogging Concentrated education.

Announcing the Blogging Concentrated New Zealand Tour

Running to five dates, we are bringing the US founders of Blogging Concentrated, Dan Morris and Rachel Martin, to NZ so we can get ahead learning how to become the CEO of our websites and drive business success.

Five dates, Four Cities, Two Leaders and One YOU.

Join us in Auckland on May 1, May 3; Wellington on May 6th; Nelson on May 7th and Christchurch on May 9th for the best, practical website marketing execution training available.

What will I learn?

Websites are the modern marketer’s best tool to build new revenue streams and grow audience engagement.  This training comes from the leading edge of best practice with two international practitioners sharing their up to date knowledge.

Learn specific techniques that will deliver outcomes including:

  • Audience engagement with clusters marketing
  • Persuasion and action techniques
  • How to tell a story
  • Using data dashboards to improve conversions
  • The copywriting words that create engagement
  • How to use custom sidebars to optimise your adverts
  • A YouTube strategy to keep viewers on your videos
  • And more….
Watch the 4 minute video Dan and Rachel recorded about the NZ sessions 
Everything taught in the sessions is based on real-world learning and used daily in Dan and Rachel’s own business websites.  They know these techniques work.
You will be learning practical solutions from knowledgeable technicians.

Blogging Concentrated Testimonials

“I think you are going to revolutionize the way I write posts – the Adsense lecture was phenomenal. We will be contacting you with more specific questions e.g. How on earth do we get the CPM per post spreadsheet – and everything else, once we decompress what we’ve learned.”  R Miller

“You know when you go to a conference and you sit through sessions that simply regurgitate stuff you already know?  Yeah, I hate that, which is why I’m so excited about being at Blogging Concentrated Atlanta, Dan R Morris and Rachel Martin have put together a ton of original content that is not just informative but actionable.  When they come to your town you should definitely sign up and go.”  Simon Salt

“Stay in front of your audience was worth the price of the conference ticket! Wow!” Penny Woodin Rogers

“@DanRMorris 16 minutes in and mind exploding with actions already!” Amie Flowerday

“Hi Dan,  Just wanted to say thank you so much for all the valuable information you and Rachel gave us this weekend.  You can not put any price on what we learned, and I am forever in debt to you both!”  Emily Luscombe

Want to pay less for the event?

The Blogging Concentrated business has 2 parts – training events and BC Prime, a subscriber community who buy training and advice by monthly subscription.  If you’re curious about the depth of knowledge these guys bring to training events – read the BC Prime page – note the huge quantity of 2014 Release Archives – impressive, eh?  6 – 10 new pieces of educational content per month…

Choose BC Prime when you book your ticket and pay less – but GET MORE.

Ready to become the CEO of your website?
Join us by booking your ticket

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There are two prices, one for BC Prime members and one for the public.
Avoid limp education, buzz phrases and marketing hype.  Concentrate on workable, practical solutions that you can implement immediately on your website.
You know where to come!

 

Business & Marketing Tip: Following up with leads and relationships

A mutually beneficial client winning strategy

Marketing education is a big part of our overall new business strategy. At Creative Agency Secrets we strive to find ways to connect with our potential clients and be a part of their marketing success whether they work with us or not. We hold complimentary marketing management and idea calls, host free marketing seminars, create appraisals for websites and so on. But what makes it all work is our ability to follow up with the people we meet and educate. It’s one of our core lead generation and client winning strategies, and it could work for your business as well.

What following up does for your business

Staying connected develops relationships between you and your prospective clients or friends. This means you build up a network of people who can use your services, direct you to new clients and endorse your work.

Here’s a case study of a sports equipment online retailer we manage marketing activities for called Space Saver Rowing Systems. The client was so impressed with our work that when their manufacturer started looking for marketing assistance, the client directed them to us.

In another example, we worked with Zeald website designers to host a free marketing event. From that connection we gained several new clients, among them – European Auto Spares. We followed up with them individually after the event.

We’ve got loads of these stories and all because we helped our contacts in their endeavours and kept up communications with them.  In short, following up with people can net you leads and create a healthy flow of revenue for your business.

relationships casKeep the relationship flowing: the different ways we follow up

Meeting summaries for prospective clients – summaries are quite common, usually in the form of a dreary PDF or bullet-pointed word document. Along with that, we like to include anecdotes or a friendly sentence relating to something new we learned about the prospective client from that meeting. This gives those who joined the meeting more reason to read the email and even better, a reason to reply. To the right an example of a regular email following up a business meeting.

Something that we love to include in these that makes all the difference, is a link to one of our helpful blog posts or free eBooks. We look for a related topic in the email, then link a keyword or two and mention it may help. For example, if the email pertains to construction an email campaign, we might link to our cold emails eBook!

Newsletters – if you run a regular newsletter about your personal or company activities, invite your contacts to it. Make sure first that they’ll get something out of your blog posts and focus on explaining that to them. Newsletters don’t only inform, they help keep you and your business in the minds of others. This can make the difference between whether or not they think of you when new work arises. For an example, sign up to our newsletter list and see what you learn.

Related business – categorise your past clients and business friends by business type. This lets you update contacts in different industries on related updates to your activities or information you find.  To make the most of this, as soon as you form a new business relationship you should create a related industry update alert via a tool like Google Alerts. This way you’re following the industries most related to your activities and the alerts remind you that you have a connection to that industry. Then you can report any exciting news you find straight to them.

Us? Well, we’ve created our subcontracted services listing for exactly this reason. It’s an activity we do whereby we list all the work we can’t do or isn’t related to our services, and those listings get picked up by other businesses with the right set of skills for the job. It’s a fairly simple information sharing activity but with huge potential impact. As a result, people loves connecting with us.

Follow themif you keep up to date with the activities of your contacts you can provide more relevant input or updates. This is another exercise making sure you keep your follow ups linked to you with context as opposed to random email drops asking them how they are.

Daily tasks for this would include reading LinkedIn status updates. Weekly or monthly tasks include reading your contacts’ newsletters. One way we keep up with our industries and clients is by setting Google Alerts searching for company names. We also set an event on our Google Calendar that has a list of company websites and blogs to read up on in the description.

In Summary

Be diligent and consistent when you’re following up with people. Sometimes they are busy or skip emails, life gets in the way. Keep trying while not being too aggressive and you’ll grow on the minds of your clients and leads. Change up your approach to be more informative if a friendly nature doesn’t catch their eye. For example, you could direct them to tools or blog posts that will directly improve their way of business or provide them with a new opportunity. We posted up several examples of catch up emails and following leads through email that we’ve written previously to help you on your way.

Many of these ways to follow up with contacts can fit into your day to day activities, especially if you’re a marketing agency like us. If you spot yourself working on something that could help out some of your business contacts, send them an email and keep up to date. But more importantly – keep your business in their minds, and leading with a positive impression.

 


The blue icons opposite are part of our 8-Step New Business Development Methodology.  6 Create Opportunities icon5 Relationship Development icon

Click each icon to find more blog articles on the topic – educate yourself in modern marketing

 

 

GoHachi introduces you to new biz dev prospects

Getting in front of the people you want to sell to is difficult. Hell, we even wrote a how to manual about ways to research and find contact details of people online.

GoHachi threatens to make this history with its network-of-networks approach to business referrals and introductory sales.

I was an early beta tester and I love the idea of joining together all my networks and using whichever works best to connect with prospects.

So when Hachi invited me to test it out again, I jumped at the chance.

Hachi is improved

Take a look at the nice graphics and easy site layout.  All good for UX.

I added in my Linked In contacts.

Hachi linked in connections

Hachi linked in connections

– but was a bit confused because I thought I’d already done them.

My profile photo isn’t rendering properly (but I know what I look like).

Hachi helps make a connection to a prospect

Hachi helps make a connection to a prospect

So I thought I’d try out a couple of new introductions.

I browsed the “surprise me” tab to see who Hachi thought I should connect to.

Then I ran and saved a search for “marketing managers” in Auckland, New Zealand.  Came up with someone at Fonterra – a  milk marketing and buying company so I thought I’d give it a go.

Hachi offered me 5 possible routes to connect and I selected Jason – who I know from PocketSmith (cute financial planning tool).

Irritatingly, it doesn’t offer me the chance to just click and send.  I have to manually type in his email (necessitated going to Linked In which I thought I’d connected).

Hachi requires you to insert email

Hachi requires you to insert email

There’s a nice page where you can keep track of all the introductions you have in progress.

Let’s see what comes back.

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Failure of the creative agency business model

Reading a great post about the lack of scalability in the creative agency business model is a great reinforcement for me and validation of the business that we run here at Creative Agency Secrets.

Years ago I realised three things

  1. No agency staff are trained on how to do biz dev
  2. A process must underpin successful, reliably consistent new business
  3. Only by getting buy in from all the senior team can it work in the medium term

Our new business methodology underpins all our work and that’s why, like Blair, our  recommendations from past clients fall into 2 camps. The politely nice and the ecstatic. For the latter, we  succeed in embedding a process that has continued long after our consulting assignment ended.  That is the difference the Creative Agency Secrets team makes in new business development.

Follow our 8 step New Business Methodology in the categories on the right side you’ll see articles listed on each step that can help your business embed, codify and practice new business development successfully.

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Online marketing for accounting firms: a research summary

Accountancy firms are the backbone of the business economy serving every sector of the community. Business owners use their accountant to get advice and recommendations on a wide range of commercial issues. They are trusted advisors for New Zealand business.

Yet accountants often present themselves poorly online. They are difficult to find on the internet, their websites are dull, unremarkable, and aren’t easy to use for prospective clients who want to research and find an advisor.

The attributes of a good business website:

  • Findable on search engines for search phrases that relate to the industry or product not the business name
  • State the services or products offered in clear, non-technical language
  • Illustrates specialisms and points of difference for the firm
  • Helps guide the customer to the correct service they need
  • Enable the customer to get in touch with the business by a range of communication channels – including social media as well as traditional telephone and email
  • Name key members of staff and their contact details
  • Show office locations, ideally on a map

Every business uses some form of marketing promotion to bring in new clients and to keep current clients coming back for more.

A website is the linchpin of modern business marketing activity. Most other marketing work directs curious web searchers to the website. These days, who hasn’t got a business card without the firm’s URL?

Creative Agency Secrets has appraised a substantial amount of accountancy firms’ websites for evidence of current marketing and promotion activities within the industry.

 

Here’s what we found

  • Over one quarter of all firms surveyed do no marketing promotion aside from their website.
  • 38% have some basic promotion, normally in the form of a newsletter.
  • And at the other end of the scale 6% are very active and seek to engage website visitors and encourage them to get in touch with the firm.

Where does your firm sit on the proactive marketing scale?

Top performers include

  • Deloitte
  • Cabbage Tree Accounting
  • William Buck
  • Astill Hawke
  • DJCA
  • Gilligan Rowe

What sets these firms apart?

The best accountancy firms have several key attributes in common

  1. They are highly informative both on their business, what they offer, and their industry
  2. Their web pages maintain public resources for research and self-discovery
  3. The have prominent and recent communication activity using written, audio and visual media which engages readers and keeps them on the website
  4. They encourage the visitor to reveal his identity to the firm

Why do prospective clients find these factors appealing?

Imagine going into a shop for the first time – you browse around looking for the product you want to buy and at “just the right moment” a sales assistant steps forward and offers to help you. They guide you in an un-pushy manner to the product you want but stay on hand to answer any further questions you have. A modern website needs to do the same job for the firm.

But on a website a visitor is anonymous.

You have no idea who has visited your site – just tracking cookies and the number of visitors in your analytics. The Firm doesn’t know their names, what their interest is and whether they are looking to buy some accounting advice.

Social Media

Businesses are moving into the social media scene. Yet most accountancy firms have not taken advantage of the core social media sites.

twitter researchfacebook researchother social media research

Our research reviewed accountants’ websites for public links to social media sites. We expected to see LinkedIn used the most because it is the professional business social media site but we were wrong: 34% had LinkedIn pages; 34% had Twitter and 46% had Facebook profiles.

Firms with an active social media presence tended to also have higher scores in overall web presence and influence. There are many additional influencing factors and it is important to note that where a company is on social media, they also have invested time in YouTube videos, blogging, or email marketing as well.

We ranked firms comparing their activity on the web by assessing how often they updated their marketing activities and what tools they used to market themselves online. This shows that activity really does boost your noticeability as an accounting firm online. What’s more interesting about these results is the outlying firms with our assigned activity scores of 2, 3 and 4 who also have a good Alexa Rank which suggests that content is an important factor in gaining a prominent online presence.

Online Marketing Tools used by Accounting Firms

There are a lot of opportunities to display expertise using content marketing techniques online.

Newsletters

When searching there accountancy firms’ websites for newsletters, we looked at whether firms actively requested prospective clients’ email addresses, and the ways in which the firm used them. Many displayed historic newsletters but they were often displayed in PDF format which is less searchable or sharable.

Of those with newsletters, a significant amount website visitors had no way to subscribe to receive the news online. Giving visitors the ability to subscribe gets you their email address for a mailing list and analytics information about those visitors. Mailing lists are a great way to start a dialogue with customers by building a self-service database. An opportunity lost by these firms.

Opted in databases of email addresses are among the most powerful marketing assets a firm can own. They can even be used to deliver a series of emails called autoresponders. These can welcome new subscribers, give them an introduction to the firm, and explain its services.

Blogging

Many of the news pages or blogs for the accounting firms we researched are static and have not been updated for many months or even years. They have no clickability or linking to other pages in the website and they are created on a single web page. This means an individual article cannot be hyper-linked, only the whole page.

By creating a blog-style page, the opportunity exists to create more internal and external links to your site which again increases the chances for search engines to visit more frequently as well as encouraging visitors to browse across multiple website pages. This also provides opportunities for other websites to link to specific articles from you which ultimately lead the visitor to your website.

Videos

Larger accountancy firms host videos on their websites, mainly used for training. None have made use of online broadcasting technologies like webinars, podcasts or recordings. Video and audio recording is now cheap and easy to do. They are a good way to communicate and to enable listeners to share your content and are far more engaging than text.

Training

Many accountants provide training and conduct seminars for in-person attendance. It would be very easy to broadcast a training event or record it at the same time for later broadcast. Training is a fantastic marketing tool but if someone can’t make the event time, watching a recording means they can still gain value from it.

 

In Conclusion

Most accounting firms have the beginnings of a good website presence. However they need to add new functionality that works to continuously draw new visitors into the website from search, from the email database and to encourage them to reveal their identities and join in a dialogue with the firm. This can be enhanced by including social media in their marketing plans as they create more and more points of contact for potential clients, as long as you know your clients use social media to connect. LinkedIn is particularly good because of its professional nature.

If you’re an accounting firm looking for a free website appraisal, you’ll find one here at Creative Agency Secrets.

Get in touch with us.

All my LinkedIn contacts are 3rd degree – how can I connect?

We got an enquiry from a reader who asked this question “I’m utilizing LinkedIn for meeting clients but currently everyone seems to be a third degree. what are some ice breakers I can use to introduce myself.”

As you know, it’s very difficult to get peoples’ attention as they are busy professionals.

Here are some suggestions for you.

  1. Become the ‘go to’ person for interesting articles online about the topics relevant to your clients’ interests.  Share these using Linked In Groups.  Don’t use these groups to promote jobs you are recruiting for.
  2. EVERY DAY check who looked at your LinkedIn profile.  Send them an invitation to connect saying ‘hey, you looked at my profile, did you notice the articles I’m sharing about XYZ.  If you connect with me you get these sent to you as I publish.  Thanks and best wishes.  Use this article we wrote to find their names for 3rd degree connections 
  3. When they connect with you, you can see their email address; add them to your email list of folks who receive your shared articles, get their permission to mail them, and set up a newsletter outside of LinkedIn (we recommend FeedBlitz.com) to send out these messages, preferably linked to a blog of your own.

If you would like to work with Creative Agency Secrets and let us coach you as you build your skills, organize a skype call with us to give us a fuller brief.

4 Profile raising icon5 Relationship Development icon

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posters for anniversary campaigns

Anniversary Promotion Campaigns

posters for anniversary campaigns

posters for anniversary campaigns

Celebrating an anniversary whether it be one, ten or a hundred years is certainly something to be proud of. You, as a company should almost be bursting at the seams to tell potential and existing customers the news.

Of course, for customers to get as excited as you, they expect something in return. That’s how the system works. They support you for x amount of years and at each anniversary expect a little appreciation. As Mark Twain astutely noted: “It is better to give than receive- especially advice” and following this I will offer my own – He’s right.

Even the historical dynasties knew of giving to receive, the churches preached it for centuries. “For it is in giving that we receive” (St. Francis of Assisi); is it sacrilegious if it’s true? Yes I am referencing from the 1200’s but the point is timeless. Why do businesses offer sales at anyway? They give a little in order to gain a lot 

The question of course is how to celebrate and promote your anniversary. This can depend on a variety of facets such as the length of time of existence, the size of the company and the type of company.

Types of anniversary campaign

It is for this reason I have come up with 4 simple categories.

  1.  Sales & Giveaways
  2. Promotions & Interaction

  3. Reincarnation (Sticking with the religious theme)

  4. Internal Appreciation

Sales & Giveaways is relatively straightforward. Simply reducing the final bill for the customer will obviously get them interested – more bang for your buck has traditionally been the ‘go-to’ strategy. Giveaways however can work equally effective. The total bill may not reduce however the value perceived would still have increased. Better yet, it means more of your product is being consumed by your customers.

A common tip often acted upon is to link the number of years celebrated to the sale/gift. Whether it be 10% off if you’re celebrating your tenth anniversary or every 5th item is free for your fifth, linking the years to the deal instils that number into your customers brains, meaning they will be more likely to associate your business with success and longevity. As has been hugely publicised, customers who associate success and longevity with your business are more likely to purchase from you.

Remember, you can be clever about it – 40 years 40% off may be too much of a discount for some stores so be clever! 40 = XL in Roman numerals so have an XL sale, whether it be just a larger sale than usual or a sale focused on extra-large items, it will most likely prove cheaper than 40% off but have a similar effect.

Promotions & Interactions. This deals with how your company reaches out to your customers and the general public. Obviously, if no one has heard that it’s your anniversary no one will be excited. This therefore is critical that it is done right. Larger companies may not have to worry about it and let word of mouth do the work. Smaller companies however have their own competitive advantage – personalisation.

Personalised, handwritten notes prove effective time and time again. These interactions will obviously be critical to making your customers aware of your anniversary. Under interaction I have associated cut-cost ways to deliver value to your customer – tours. Customers are always interested in how their favourite good is actually made, so offer it! They aren’t expensive to run as attendees would actually prefer to see the business running as normal as possible and give your business greater exposure to the public..

Buy a brainstorm session with our team of experts

We help you with the thinking – you put it into practice.  Affordable creative ideation from $100.  Get in touch.

Reincarnation – an old classic _/\___/\___/\___/\___________ and we’re back. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the reincarnation of old products and methods when companies celebrate birthdays or anniversaries so I won’t go into any detail about it. However, many don’t even consider replacing current prices with the traditional ones. An example would be if Coca-Cola were to sell cans for 5c each – their original price. You may be thinking, this should be under the sale category and you’re probably right, but as it refers to the original price, it could be seen as the rebirth of the price; ok compromise, it’s both.

Finally, internal interaction. They say nothing is more important than the customer; if that’s true then employees can’t be far behind. When celebrating an anniversary, celebrate your employees’ efforts. They are just as much a part of the company as the customers and therefore, deserve similar recognition and perceived benefits. Traditionally a party always goes down well, however ensure that at least the long-time employees receive a memento, something which they can be proud of and something that will portray your eternal appreciation.

Most successful anniversary campaigns utilise more than one of these categories so for greater success, try and aim to hit at least two. And remember, no matter what strategy you choose, conveying your appreciation for the past and enthusiasm for the future never hurts.

Got any other clever little anniversary tricks?

 

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time

New business development copywriting – writing a chasing email

Message in a bottle.

Message in a bottle. (Photo credit: elvis_payne)

We’ve all been there – sent a message and  you’re not sure if they have read it, ignored it or whether it’s not arrived.  How do you politely write a follow up message that provokes action?

One of my cardinal rules in new business development is to remember this one thing

The prospect does not owe you their business – but they do owe you an answer.

So with that in mind, let’s set the scene.

You have invested time and effort in sending a crafted message or proposal over to a prospect – how do you follow up so that you don’t annoy them, what timeframes are appropriate, how can you ensure you are remembered – but not as a nagging irritant?

Why do prospects not answer?

There are many reasons but the main ones are

  1. your offer is not of interest, and not compelling enough to warrant a reply
  2. they are too busy doing other things

The first tends to relate to SEO companies sending spammy offers by email; the second is the one we need to laser in on – because it does not mean your offer is not of interest, it’s just not as pressing as other things at this time.

The aim of your follow up email is to filter out which one applies to you.

Writing Follow-up emails to prospects

Rule number 1 – keep it short.

Whatever you say, enable the reader to glance at two or three sentences and get your full message.

This is not an opportunity  to add to your earlier email content so don’t be tempted to re-iterate your pitch.

Rule number 2 – communicate the bare minimum

Remember we are trying to find out whether they are interested or not.

If they are interested – it could just be the timing is wrong… so your ultimate answer is ‘possibly’, in this case.

The message needs to say who you are; why you are chasing and a reminder of the services.

I always start with a summary of the situation in the email subject line.  So even if they don’t open it, they can see the context.

Following up on our meeting to discuss …………….

Creative Agency Secrets marketing proposal submission………

So, now to the body – here are three possible sentences for you to copy
Thank you very much for your time meeting yesterday.  The actions agreed were…..
 
We discussed your objective of  ………….The topics worthy of more investigation are………..
As agreed we sent you a proposal and could you confirm that you’ve received it?

Rule number 3 – write with grace and if you can, humour

Nagging may work with your spouse or children, but I think it’s bad behaviour in business.  You want to set the tone for your future relationship here and so getting off on the right foot is key.

Use phrases like “My recollection was….” or “I think we agreed that you would do….” So that you are reminding them without sounding hectoring.

Rule number 4 – give the recipient an easy get-out

Even if they don’t give you business today, you don’t want the prospect to write off your company as inappropriate for future projects.  And so thinking about how you can enable them to quit with grace is a good tactic.
Try this one where we were passed from the CEO to the Marketing Director
I waited on X and then emailed him directly.  Is it possible he doesn’t know what we discussed and that you, suggested we meet?
 
Don’t want to push if this is inappropriate, so could you give me some advice?
 See that last line?   Asking for advice is a great way for you to put the boot onto the other foot – get them to advise you on how to pitch their colleague.  I love this and use it quite a lot.  They know their firm and the characters better than you do.
Rule number 5 plan one, last, follow up after this one
The final, final thing to do is to then write a last message telling them that you won’t bother them again if they don’t reply but you would like them to confirm that they aren’t interested at this time.
This then allows them to write back saying ‘no’.  And for you to thank them and say that you’ll stay in touch.  This way the conversation ends and closes off the dialogue and you’ve got an answer rather than just a nothing void.
5 Relationship Development icon7 Make New Biz Happen icon

How to find contact details on Linked In outside your network

You have read everything on our Resources page haven’t you?

Readers, you are in biz dev, you want leads for your business and you need to get contact details of key personnel in target organisations:  Have you read the B2B Lead Generation slidedeck?  It’s linked right there on the Resources page – top of the list.

Today we add in more goodness to that research process.

How to find contact details for someone outside your network

This is a fabulous process from Andy Foote’s blog.

LinkedIn makes money by limiting search. One of the most annoying restrictions is being unable to see Last Names on LinkedIn searches. Fortunately Google to the rescue. Here are step by step instructions on getting full name Profiles.

(1) Start the search in People. My example: “hr manager accenture”

(2) “Mary F” is the prospect but I need her Last Name. – Linked in will only show a limited profile because she’s outside my network.  But it does say that she is an Outsourcing Manager at Accenture

(3) Copy “Outsourcing HR Manager at Accenture Toronto Canada Area” into Google and click on the search icon.

(4) Bingo! Click on the Google Search result and you find the full name Profile (of Mary Frank).

How cool is that?

Read Andy’s full blog post of 5 Exceedingly clever LinkedIn hacks