Thanks to Glenn Marvin of Konnector who interviewed me on his 302 Temporary Redirect Show (that’s a geek joke – a website has a 302 error code…. ).
5 key activities for B2B Marketing
During the show Glenn asked me what my “always on” fundamental B2B marketing activities are. If you want to listen it’s at 18:25 through to 20:24.
Database of clients, suspects and prospects. Regularly updated.
Regular communications to your database
Trade shows and local in person meetups
LinkedIn to recognise the names of people in your industry – and LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Speaking at conferences, events and being a PR spokesperson for your trade magazine.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Konnector-podcast-302-show-1.png11462038Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2018-04-20 14:36:002018-04-23 13:39:02Featured on the 302 Temp Redirect show
By Blair Enns, Pricing Creativity Webinar Host – May 2018, details here.
The value conversation is where value pricing theory goes to die. The difficulty in mastering this conversation is what causes most people to give up on value-based pricing completely and revert back to selling time and materials. It needn’t be so difficult, though.
There’s a hack to the value conversation that a successful former client of mine pointed out after reading the manuscript of Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour. When he explained it to me over dinner I thought, “This is brilliant. I should put it in the book.” In the end, I didn’t include the hack because I feel strongly that mastering the value conversation is one of the most valuable skills in all of business – a skill that can transform careers and businesses. So, while encouraging you to learn that skill, I’ll now give you the shortcut. But first, some context.
Perhaps the Most Valuable Skill in Business
There are three tiers of financial success in a creative firm that I can correlate to pricing strategies. The lowest tier of true financial success is occupied by the efficient cost-based pricers – those firms that bill as many of the available hours as possible. An efficient firm might bill around $200k in adjusted gross income (AGI) per full-time equivalent employee (FTE), whereas the average cost-based firm might bill around $140k in AGI per FTE.
The next tier of success is where you find the value-based pricers – those who charge based on the value to the client and not based on their costs or inputs of time and materials. These firms escape the limits imposed by the pursuit of efficiencies, moving their AGI/FTE number north of $200k, into $250k and maybe even the $300k range.
The very highest tier of financial success, however, is reserved for those value-based pricers who master the value conversation. These firms can push into the $400k range and beyond, with no real theoretical limit. A well-facilitated value conversation not only has a profound effect on the income of the firm, it creates more value for the client and it is a thing of beauty to behold. I consider it to be one of the most valuable – perhaps the most valuable – skill in all of business.
The Value Conversation Framework
Here’s the simple four-step framework for facilitating the value conversation:
Confirm the client’s desired future state (What do you want?)
Agree on the metrics of success (How will we know we have achieved these things?)
Uncover the value that would be created by hitting these metrics (What’s this worth?)
Offer pricing guidance (I’m going to bring you a range of solutions in the $Y to $X range.)
There’s lots of nuance around the “how” of each of the four steps above, but it’s really that straightforward. You’ll notice that by the end of the value conversation you haven’t even begun to think about solutions. Your entire focus is on the client: what they want, how you’ll measure their success, how much value you might create for them, and finally, some initial ideas on what you might charge for helping to create such value. After this conversation, you retreat to think about costs and solutions, building and pricing your proposal accordingly, while following the rules set out in Pricing Creativity.
The Reality: Few Get There
So, why are there so few firms mastering what seems like a simple conversation and moving to the highest tier of financial success?
The reasons are many:
This mastery is a sales skill and not a pricing skill
It requires you to be selling from the expert practitioner position and not the vendor position
It’s tactical knowledge acquired from doing, not implicit knowledge acquired from reading or listening
It requires you to be talking to client-side executives charged with value creation and not middle managers charged with managing a project or budget
The first few conversations can be awkward, and few push through the awkwardness to get to the incredible riches on the other side
All of these reasons and more make a value conversation hack so valuable. So here it is…
Early in Pricing Creativity, I tell the story of the first time I saw a one-page proposal based on value rather than inputs. It was the principal of that firm that I found myself having dinner with while the book was in pre-production. Commenting on the manuscript he said, “You left out my hack!” What did he mean, I asked? He replied that he never mastered the value conversation. (Chapter 9: Master the Value Conversation – to me, perhaps the most important chapter in the book.)
Instead, early on in the sale – much earlier than I would advocate – he would put a one-page proposal on the table with three options. But he didn’t view this proposal as the final one. In fact, he said that the initial proposal was never the final one. It was only there to serve as a catalyst for discussion over what the client really valued. The hack, according to my client, was to put at the bottom of each option, “Choose this option if X is important to you.” X might be speed to market, customer service, low risk, knowledge transfer or anything else. He would then ask the client, “Which one of these options is the most appealing to you?” The client would point to one, and in doing so, reveal what he most valued. This would direct the conversation. “Ahhh, so educating your team as we develop the product (or programme) is something important to you?”
In this way, the early proposal led to a more targeted value conversation in which the client and the firm could talk through specific value drivers that the client had revealed by simply pointing to an option, all while framed by the context of the initial prices. The discussion would result in the firm coming back with another proposal more specifically targeted to what the client most valued.
To Hack or To Hold Firm?
As someone who values rule-breaking as much as I do rule-making, I love this hack while I simultaneously worry about sharing it with you. There is no substitute for mastering the value conversation. I’ll repeat that I believe it might be the most valuable skill in all of business, but I also know that the size of the gap between those who understand value pricing and those who truly implement it is problematically large, especially in the creative professions.
As I craft this parting advice I find myself wondering what I would do if I were in your shoes (Win Without Pitching is a productised service business – we don’t value price the way a customised service firm like yours should) and I don’t think I would deviate from proper sales process and a good value conversation. But not all value conversations are good and easy, especially in the beginning. And like all good hacks, I would keep this in my back pocket for those situations where I saw that an elegant theory was clashing with my harsh reality.
So use at your discretion. If you do try it, I’d be interested in hearing how you make out.
Pricing Creativity Webinar Registration Details
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Blair-Enns-Headshot.png300400Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2018-04-18 10:00:002018-04-20 15:01:31Hacking the Value Conversation
“So little thought goes into websites” I said this afternoon, prompting my colleague, Conrado Langer to add “You just described humanity in one sentence!”
Reviewing the social sharing icons for two clients this week we had opposing experiences.
One was getting great traction – but the sharing icons overlaid the blog text when viewed on a tablet.
Our bad – we reviewed the settings and adjusted the screen size for when the layout switched to the mobile enabled format.
The other just installed a social sharing plugin without thought to their blog layout or users. It scrolls round to two rows, and includes some which are barely used including the highlighted, VK. This is a Russian site with few privacy controls and full of undesirable content. An unlikely choice for English-speaking consumers.
A poor choice of social sharing icons
Relevant social sharing icons
Do you know your audience? Do you know which social channels they use? If the answer isn’t yes you need to go do some research.
My choice of social sharing icons for a consumer business in 2018 are:- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
And if you are chasing a youth audience – consider adding Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat (QR Code)
My choice of social sharing icons for a B2B business in 2018 are: LinkedIn, Email, Facebook, Reddit
And if you’re a creative, film, art or music business consider Vero the newly launched service.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/sharing.png2581216Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2018-04-16 10:00:052018-04-13 16:08:45Social Sharing Icons - choose the right ones for 2018
In doing market validation research for a client, we researched the Business Accelerators who are best known in New Zealand. Since I couldn’t find a place where they are all listed, I thought I’d create one. [We did this before for Youth Entrepreneur Organisations in New Zealand].
The Mums Garage group have pulled together a pretty comprehensive “Startup Ecosystem Map” list which goes from pre-seed investment upwards including regional connections – highly recommend as they encourage you to submit additional resources not yet on the list.
Check out these as a starting point for your own individual needs. And please use the comments to add others to the list.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/business-Accelerators.png7161266Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2018-04-06 10:37:492018-04-09 15:07:27Business Accelerators in New Zealand
It’s that time of the year again where we remind you about the benefits of good ol’ directories! Before the internet, we relied on finding services through the big yellow brick of a book we received each year. Thanks to the world wide web, we now find them stuffed under uneven table legs or as a booster seat. Today we find what we’re looking for with a click of a button. Does your business stand out?
In 2016, Google took away the right-hand sidebar where the paid adverts were displayed. Now the paid posts soar straight to the top, making it a tough battle for smaller companies to get noticed. Directories can be a cost-effective way to help get found via search engines. Being active on directories increases the chances of your business getting noticed.
Why updating your information is vital
It is important to keep your business updated in directories. If your business has gone through a recent change and you didn’t update your information, you could lose a lot of potential customers!
Never forget to NAP, this means not sleeping on the details. Make sure your Name, Address and Phone data is accurate and up to date. Location and accessibility are two of the most important factors when it comes to customers. If your telephone number is an old one and a customer can’t get through to you, they’re unlikely to try again. Likewise, if you were to put your address as a small town in South America, a New Zealand customer wouldn’t follow up with your business!
Pro tip: Check the directories your company is listed in and confirm your details are correct. Some websites take their information from others; resulting in a cycle of incorrect information.
Updated List of Directories
This year, we bring you an even bigger list of potential directories your business may be found in. Take a look to see where your business is listed and where it isn’t.
It’s the only thing standing in between you and your next big client.
NB: Not all directories will apply to every type of business, some are more specific to particular fields. (eg. Tripadvisor will benefit restaurants and hotels over a telecommunications company.)
Create a personal profile and connect with and online attorney network.
Reviews and rankings of design agencies around the world.
Directory of beers, breweries, bars and stores around the world.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/map-local-directories.jpg8531280Anagha Sridharhttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgAnagha Sridhar2018-03-29 12:48:422018-03-29 16:48:41Boost Your Business with Local Directories
You asked us about Trade Marketing. This is when you sell something to another business and they sell it to the ultimate customer. Fundamentally it’s just selling but because it’s restricted to selling within a single industry or “trade” it gets another name…. the key thing for you to know is that the principles of B2B marketing still hold true.
Trade marketing is a sub-type of B2B
What I love about any B2B is that the audience is individually identifiable. You can get or build a list of actual individuals who you can sell to. The best way to start that is through identifying these things
sub-type of industry
job title of decision makers and decision-influencers
Then you are within reach of a clearly identified audience. List broker will sell you lists, you can research and build your own too. If you choose the latter, please start with the trade association or professional body for the industry. That’s a great way to short-cut list building.
After the list, how to approach
Getting a list is only the beginning. You need to brand build with specific campaigns so that prospects recognise your business name or your product name (or both). Trade shows can be useful here because people who are interested are all gathered into a single location on a single day and you can meet many face to face.
Getting your strategy aligned with the prospect’s need is critical. Because it’s so easy to mess up an approach and build bad feeling against your brand. For this reason we always create a hypothesis and we test this out before a general launch.
Today a mailing list of 100 names is being tested for a client. When we see how it’s received [Good so far, thanks for asking 54% open rate 4% click through] then we can make decisions about whether to adapt / improve or just to roll it out to the rest of the prospect list.
Top 10 tips for trade marketing
Automate follow ups – have a pre-set process for capturing and following up
Time is always short – but don’t cut short conversations on the stand. Invest in the people who do come to build relationships
Connect on LinkedIn to everyone you meet if possible
Be very clear about what you are promising to prospects
Have a “cute” offer [fidget spinners are popular now]
If you use scrolling video at a trade show, always sub-title it so people get the message from afar
Put on your best smile. It’s my biggest business success tool – people remember my warm smile
Make eye contact and be the first to break contact after smiling and saying hello. This is un-threatening
Have a ‘golden question‘ or two ready for your prospect discovery questions
Turn up every year – as long as the show brings in prospects, plan to be there. Consistency pays off
Creative Agency Secrets is expert in B2B marketing. We understand how to research trade buyers, how to build a list of possible buyers, how to present your product or service to them and how to get them to buy from you over and over again.
The first webinar will help you gain a deep understanding of how to write a website strategy, what to improve on your current website and marketing communications, how to test your website is working well.
The second webinar teaches you the tools you need to assess the effectiveness of your existing website, and helps you to draw up a list of actions to improve its alignment with your business website strategy.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2018-02-23 10:00:002018-02-23 11:46:01Kickstart business website user skills
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2017-11-24 20:49:542017-11-24 20:49:54Best books for Pitching and winning marketing work
This November, we’ve got another breakfast seminar happening! We will be covering 3 ways to change your business thinking and actions for 2018 success.
Has your business reached a standstill even with new business strategies and tactics implemented?
Perhaps it is time to renew your thinking with us! Getting your thinking right is the key to developing the right business strategy and tactics. Digital marketing is one of the most effective tools to utilise when unlocking business growth and boosting brand awareness. To help you better understand how incorporating digital marketing and the right business strategy can unlock secrets that underpin success, we have this insightful breakfast seminar lined up for you.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Abigail Mokhttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgAbigail Mok2017-11-10 16:16:122017-11-10 16:16:123 Ways to Change Your Business Thinking & Actions for 2018 Success