Ghost Street interactive agency

Building Trust with Clients

New clients take a bit of work – you have to work hard to get to know them and they you.

Ghost Street interactive agency

Ghost Street logo

Having been part of the BizDojo community we were lucky to meet a host of great folks in the co-working space on K Road.

So it’s always a delight when we get to re-connect in the interests of client work.

Not only does it look good to be able to say “we know them already” but it builds trust with both parties and also some strong marketing too.

Nice work, Tim Dawson of Ghost Street and fun to be collaborating.

Networks of networks

Which makes me think about questions I have had this past fortnight about the networks which work for me and where and how I find them.

Challenging – because when I moved to Auckland I knew few people. So here are the ones which I find useful for meeting smart folks who think, challenge, may become clients and have good things which I’m interested in hearing others talk about….

Which are your go-to meetings, groups and influencers? Please add to the list.

 

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile RaisingStep 5 – Relationship Development and Step 6 – Opportunity Spotting.

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

Symbol for profile raising as part of new business developmentSymbol for relationship developmentSymbol for creating new business opportunities

Marketing for a web design business

I’d like to chat about marketing for my small web design business.  I’ve got to this point without needing to do much marketing, however, to grow, I need to be doing something!  What’s your advice?

Having looked at many, many web design agency websites, there is one clear point of difference which you creative-web-designshave that others do not have.  You BOTH do web design and you’re a Shopify expert.

But the website doesn’t separate the customer journey (pathway through the site) for these two groups.  It’s important to shortcut the number of clicks a visitor makes on their discovery through your site.

Recommend: Separate links to detail pages for these two services

I asked you about the split in clients between web and Shopify – and you told me it was about 50:50.  Then you told me some of your clients were first timers – getting a website or ecommerce store for the first time.  This group needs to be treated differently from clients who know how to buy web services.  This group can lose you money as they are inexperienced.

Recommend: Set up a page for FirstTimers to guide them through how to brief an agency.

You also told me that some of your work is advice, particularly for Shopify clients.  You charge an hourly rate for this work.  This is a good rate, but it’s non-repeating business.

Recommend: You offer two services for advice.  One is straight advice; the other is training.  Double your charges for training because you are teaching clients how to be self-sufficient and to run their own Shopify stores.

Symbol for creating new business opportunitiesSymbol for new business analysis[Click the icons to see other articles on these topics]

If this advice is useful for your business, consider hiring us to help tutor you through effective business marketing.  Can’t pay?  Join our newsletter and you’ll get a free 8 article series of practical business marketing tips to implement yourself.

Marketing and Cash Flow

How to Cash Flow your Marketing

Finance people see marketing activities differently.  They may be blocking spend that you perceive essential.  To understand the Chief Finance Officer’s perspective on marketing, we decided to interview expert CFO Trish Love about how she makes decisions to spend money on Marketing.

Marketing Activities versus Cash Flow

Trish has an 8 step process she uses to appraise marketing budgets and to prioritise spend. She explains “these steps are not sequential but there is a loose logic I follow.”

  1. Budget the Activities In – both the time and money.  As a CFO you must have a budget before you commit spend.  If you mentally allow for some cash to grow the business – later you can refine the spend detail.
  2. Budget for contingencies – there WILL be some.  If it’s in your budget it’s easier to make a decision – if it is not in a budget it needs a higher benchmark of certainty in order to justify the spend commitment. We have 90 day planning and strategy cycle.  And so the next step is whatever you think the budget is going to be, double it.  Do this for money and also often for time budgets.  For contingencies – there will be some. Things to remember: contingencies happen.  If you are wrong about the $10k budget and right about $5k spend then you’ve got $5k more profit but your budget was conservative.
  3. Take a “can’t afford to get it wrong” approach – have measurable results. You can’t afford frivolous spend – your CFO will ask for measurable results as often as possible.  Not all these will be very refined e.g. it can be difficult for some campaigns to map directly to winning a customer.  As a CFO, I take this approach as often as I can without being overly focused on it.
  4. Consider alternatives – choose wisely via expert advice.  This is part of your decision making process.  Review your options – what are the best high level strategy? the best tactics? who should deliver? when? should this be internal or external?  All these give a flow chart or mind map to demonstrate your decision making pathway.  In my experience, while drawing these together a natural path illuminates.  You can see which route is best.  An example I had recently was a review where I could see we may not be able to afford $20k but we can get 80% of it done for $8k.  This told me that this path is be the better one for our business.
  5. Plan – time in your calendars, money in your budgets. This is self-explanatory – book marketing meetings and time to do the work as a regular diary event.
  6. Prioritise – time, money, outcomes.  To illustrate this, let me ask you a question. “If you took advice from a marketing expert one day and each day you took their advice you got $5k revenues in return. Then how many days of the week would you meet your marketing expert?  If the results from marketing is cash flow positive why wouldn’t you do more of it?”  I find business decision makers choose not to do marketing because of a lack of trust, a lack of competency, a lack of time or a lack of know-how.  If you to spend the first $500 to make $1,000 or to spend $1k to make $2k… the “scaffold-up” method of spend and results is one approach for a small business.  This enables you to afford marketing as you grow.   My advice to marketing people who are pitching for more budget is this:  you have to bake the marketing cake with all the ingredients – if you miss out the baking powder and eggs, you’re blown. the cake won’t work without key parts – your marketing expert should help explain this to you.  This conversation tends to get people stuck.  You are in a situation is when it’s so obvious to the expert but they forget to frame the outcomes in a way that resonates with the business owner.  It’s the advisor’s role to have that conversation.  CEOs in NZ are money- and time-conscious so know what the deliverables are – scaffold up.  Systems, general operations, finance, marketing – are the 4 area of a business.  Then remember to give each of the 4 turn about for budget and attention.
  7. Sequence – also in parallel and cross pollenating effects.  Once we’ve got the plan now put in the ongoing sequence….I look for the easiest way to do things.  Do a marketing activity once and use it 3 separate times.  The sequence has to be carefully thought through so you can do work in parallel with cross pollenating effects.  Do a newsletter – look for different vantage points for the reader depending on which part of your business is writing the article.  How will it resonate?
  8. Some activities are not negotiable – decide what these are and hold the boundaries – too easy to let them slip otherwise.   You need to know what these are.  Make a conscious decision if you have an inverted pyramid you must know how far way down you can go before you run out of money… each strata reflects a different activity and cash.  Know which you can do before you run out of money and time.  Decide to hold the boundaries of the things which are critical; don’t let them slip.  If something is insidious you may not notice.  If it’s intentional it still may slip but you know it’s happening.  Agree up front what is in this bucket.

 Getting along and working effectively for the good of the business is the outcome we all seek.  So there you go.  I hope this summary helps marketing folks to understand finance folks and vice versa.

Identify prospects for your business (Map vector designed by Alvaro_cabrera - Freepik.com)

How can I identify prospects for my business?

Client acquisition. I need to IDENTIFY the most likely prospects for my agency. How do I do that? 

Good question and spot on…. you are in exactly the same situation as us here at Creative Agency Secrets.
My advice to you would be
  1. Focus on Local marketing…. set up SEO/SEM to be found in the metropolitan areas where you ALREADY have clients
  2. Testimonials – work these hard on Google My Business and any other relevant marketplaces
  3. Write blog posts to appeal to industry segments who could be clients e.g. I wrote this blog Top Tips for Marketing Tradesmen and got an enquiry from Vancouver, CA.
So that’s a direct answer to your question which you should be able to execute yourselves.
If you would like to buy coaching advice with more ideas for you to run as tactical marketing, we charge by the hour. I recommend having a conference call for 30 minutes every 2 weeks.

Further reading on Local Marketing tactics

marketing tactic blows away the competition

Devastating marketing tactic blows away the competition

Every marketer dreams of being able to help their clients achieve an unassailable advantage over their competition. Kinda like Asterix and Obelix the ‘indomitable Gauls’ against the Roman Empire.
Indomitable Gauls make Romans wary

Indomitable Gauls make Romans wary

A Killer App for Professional Services Marketing

I dream of finding a marketing tool or service which will knock my opposition’s pitch out of the ballpark.  Today I think I have seen one.
The commercially savvy partners at Simmonds Stewart IP lawyers have provided FREE a giant set of legal templates for download.
I’m very impressed with them giving away templated legal documentation as part of their brand building.  They caveat appropriately about the use of these, but for startups, it certainly gives gigantic brand building opportunity and of course allows the prospective client to quickly bookmark their favourite lawyers’ website for future reference.
Is there an equivalent which could make your professional services business stand out in the same way? This could be a devastating marketing death-blow (Vulcan death grip?) for competitors.
Just thoughts….
Conference wrap up

The BEST conference wrap-ups engage

Just been to a conference and got sent the self-congratulatory showreel wrap up of vox-pops from speakers and attendees.  2 minutes of my life wasted.

Take a contrast for Conferenz and Spark’s CIO summit – a slide deck which has real insights and learnings which I can take away as a non-attendee.

The only thing they’re missing is a sign-up form to encourage me to ask for more information and an invite for next year’s event……

To be fair, they had a show reel too…. so not yet a perfect performance!

testimonials table example

Rocking Testimonials for your brand profile 

Testimonials are self-evidently a great way to win new clients and grow your business profile.  If you want to consider adding them to your tactical marketing armoury, there are some prior considerations to resolve.

  1. Does your business get testimonials spontaneously?
  2. Have you got any existing testimonials?

If you aren’t a long-established business, then it will be more difficult to encourage spontaneous outpourings of delight and joy. 

Never fear, we’ve got a plan for you.

What’s already in the can?

Start with any existing documented positive feedback that you or your client can find. And plan

a page on your domain where you can drop in all the quotes from clients.

Make it easy to find e.g. www.yourdomain.co.nz/testimonials

Make the most of the page so the viewer finds it a helpful resource, not a chore.  Lay out the page so the most recent testimonial is at the top and the reader scrolls down to see others.  If there are obvious different services or products which have received reviews, clearly separate them too.  A series of embedded tabs can be a neat solution here.

testimonials table example

Tabbed testimonials example

Starting from zero

A different opportunity exists for businesses without any rave reviews.  You may feel it’s hard to ask for favours, to ask for sales or to ask for testimonials.  Let us help you make it easy.

Business “workflows” are a trendy catchphrase that is a way of describing ‘how-we-do-things-round-here’. Any marketing activity which you do more than once deserves a workflow process.  The reason is that it becomes part of normal business life and is easier to reproduce if you do it frequently.

Think about how you are going to set up the business process to get new testimonials regularly from clients and customers.

Here’s ours. 

Our marketing meeting has “Testimonials” as an agenda item.  We review a list of recent clients and pick a couple to approach.  The lead person who works on the client phones up and asks (using a pre-agreed script) if we can have a testimonial.  Further, we ask for it in three places – spoken, on LinkedIn and on Google.  The spoken one we write down as we chat and then send back to the client for approval. 

What’s so easy about this is that the client doesn’t have to actually write anything – they just talk.  Most people find that easier. 

Then we upload the testimonial or ask the client to do it on social pages.  We also link back to the client’s website (like we do on the Creative Agency Secrets Testimonials page).  It’s nice to give them back some strong SEO link juice.

Task completed! 

Testimonials add to your SEO

Ask for testimonials on your Google My Business page.  Note, you have to have a gmail address in order to create these so it can be a challenge for some clients if they have to create an account.  The great output from this is that your testimonials are visible in public search (alongside the search map) and when you have over 5 published, you get a star rating too.  That makes you stand out even more from competitors.

Get more mileage from each testimonial

Remember I suggested you get clients to ‘just talk’ and you write the testimonial?  Well that chatting will almost certainly contain a lot of information.  Take all your testimonials and copywrite a long and a short “sound bite” version of each.  Put the short version on the website testimonials page.  Copy the long version of each to a blog post – and link to it from the short version on the testimonials page.  Creating on-site links is good (reduces bounce rate) and also helps show an expanded authentic “customer voice” to each one.

Gamification of testimonials

Inspired by Gabriel McIntyre’s “Getting Paid Faster with the Invoice Challenge”, we set about adapting it to suit our need for client testimonials.  [Seriously, watch the video – it’s genius.]

Here’s the case study of the campaign we ran to get testimonials and support a good cause.

Now, where else can you get and share testimonials? We know they’re on Linked In, Facebook, Neighbourly (NZ local media), Yelp, Finda, Localist….. There are heaps of places – but don’t try to game the system.  Just pick the site(s) you know your clients and prospects use. 

Over to you to share your favourites.

This article was first written for publication 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.

Getting the best from Facebook updates for business

before

Before starting – cramped text and hyperlink not embedded

A quick tutorial showing good practice to encourage click throughs.

We start with a quick look at the “before” scenario.  The text is continuous and the url (hidden in the image) is not embedding correctly.  The post gets no clicks or click throughs to the website.

  1. Before starting – cramped text and hyperlink not embedded
  2. Type the URL first and then Facebook allows you to select the image you want
  3. Inserting blank lines in the text spaces it out and forces the “See More” link to appear
  4. Corrected hyperlinks to See more and Hyperlink to your website or blog.

 

correct image upload

Type the URL first and then Facebook allows you to select the image you want.

Separate lines

Inserting blank lines in the text spaces it out & forces the See More link to appear

Moving forward to some of the resolutions – each one is explained in the caption.

Facebook business post errors

Corrected hyperlinks to See More and site link.