Marketing segmentation icons

How to use brand icons to drive sales

My philosophy of marketing is that every part of your marketing toolkit that you’ve spent money developing should be working hard to generate sales for your business.

Creating a strong visual identity is a given.  But what about extending it into other marketing areas?

We have been experimenting using content marketing to reinforce visual identity branding and the USPs (unique selling points) and key points of difference of the brand.  Here’s how.

Your business philosophy

When applying content marketing tactics we find that the effectiveness is enhanced when the content is aligned with either buyer personas, pipeline stage, business philosophy or point of difference.  These all help to bring a prospect closer to purchase.

A strategic marketer will help you define a positioning can demonstrate continual advantage and which you can defend against competitors.   

Helping your prospective clients to recognise this positioning and then to relate their experience or their expected buying experience to it is the job of the tactical marketer.

Once you’ve established the philosophy positioning, identifying each part with an unique visual identity or icon is a neat way of enabling the customer to recognise elements in your content marketing and their relation to each other.  From this, they can navigate to find other related content pieces on the same theme or topic.

Case Study – the sports coach website

This client identified five buyer personas and now has a unique landing page for each one.  Their website has over 20,000 pages because they have been blogging since 2007.  This means new visitors find navigating the site challenging.  We identified a deep resource of ‘evergreen’ content which was not getting traffic and so not getting read by visitors.  From this we evolved a segmentation strategy built around a landing page and a visual icon for each visitor type.

Rowperfect Customer segmentation as icons

Customer segmentation as icons

The landing page includes links to the most popular evergreen articles and also gives guidance for the visitor on where to look for similar content. 

Case Study – the marketing agency

At Creative Agency Secrets, we have 8 icons which are all steps in the new business development process. On the blog sidebar are our list of categories – the first eight are numbered and each relates to one step in the process. 

Working on our own blog, we needed to reduce the bounce rate and encourage deeper browsing.  And so we leveraged our 8 Step New business Development Process.  This identifies a clear set of stages for a tactical marketer and a framework for their marketing year planning.  Each stage has a small icon and links to all the blog posts written about that topic.

Marketing segmentation icons

Marketing segmentation icons

It’s easy to read, easy to cross-link articles and also to reference more than one icon in each blog post.

Case Study – the financial advisor

Selling services is often harder than products – defining a clear point of difference is even more challenging for the marketer.  Collaborative Consulting was set up in response to the same-ification of the financial advisory marketplace.  The founder, John Milner, uses his long experience to advise clients differently from others – he calls these the Six Max Factors.  And using a simple graphic, each one is named and ordered.

The goal is to enable readers to become familiar with each icon so they quickly recognise them and can relate to the marketing content more easily.

This tactic will serve to reinforce the firm’s investment philosophy, remind readers why they chose Collaborative Consulting as their advisor and set the firm apart from competitors who are less explicit about the foundations of their advice and investing activities.

How to spot an opportunity to use icons

The key insight a marketer needs to bring to using logos as a sales device is to discover

  1. Is the company able to articulate its USP?
  2. Can you split that USP into several subsidiary elements?
  3. Does your content marketing strategy allow the use of visual and written elements?
  4. Can you measure changed customer and prospect behaviour as you make these changes?

That’s a great starting point – off you go!

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 

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

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 

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.

 

 

local marketing strategies for your business

10 marketing strategies for a local business

What are some breakthrough marketing strategies to grow and scale a local business?

Local teeth whitening business, already doing FB ads, Instagram ads, Adwords, little bit of content marketing on YouTube and will be “scaling” those channels over the coming weeks/months, but wanted to know about offline strategies or where else online I can get the best value for my marketing spend.

Great question – local marketing is absolutely essential nowadays.  Especially as few people are navigating social media looking for tooth whitening services, these will become more profitable than online over time.

Here’s a quick list of tools I suggest using to bolster your current work. 

  1. Set up a Google My Business account and get it address-verified (they mail you a code)
  2. Keywords – ensure city/ town / suburb / state or county are all included in metadata
  3. Directory listings – Get yourself listed on free and paid sites.  If you can afford a small spend www.brightlocal.com is worthwhile
  4. Use Facebook local targeting for advertising / brand building
  5. Set up Google Alerts for key phrases in the news that could allow you to comment / contact / build a mailing list
  6. Join the local Business Associations and contact all the relevant local business members
  7. Go to Networking events (BNI, Chamber of Commerce, Meetup.com, Eventbrite)
  8. Get happy customers to write Testimonials on Google My Business.  Also, reproduce them on your website
  9. Use media relations to get articles in local newspaper, local radio, local newsletters, (check out Yahoo Groups for local lists)
  10. Ask for Referrals – by sending two business cards with your invoice
  11. Make specific requests for social sharing via your accounts
  12. Surprise and delight the customer – e.g. pay it forward – you pay to have your teeth whitened, and I give a free treatment each month to a deserving individual and use that for publicity.

I hope that gives you a load of great ideas to be getting on with. 

But if you’d like specific coaching on what to do for this client – get in touch.  

How to Get Leads from your Business Website

This speech was given to the Grey Lynn Business Association on 10th June 2016.  It includes tips on testing how your website is working, 12 ways to make local marketing work including inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

marketing manufacturer zero to hero

Case Study: zero to local hero for manufacturer

Auckland manufacturing firm, Cabjaks makes kitchen cabinets.  They worked with Creative Agency Secrets for 3 months to improve their keyword natural search results, SEM and on-site keyword SEO.

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Summary of outcomes: Adwords results

In January when we started they sold a small amount of goods based on clicks from Adwords.
By March the revenues from Adwords clicks were up by 413%.
April is performing even better.

Cabjaks is becoming a strong brand on Google properties too

  • There have been 6 Five Star reviews in March (the previous one was September 2015).
  • We are now on page 6 of local search (up from 20+) and importantly a competitor is falling off the second page.
  • The YouTube optimisation has gained a 13% increase in views.
  • And Analytics confirms a 12% increase in website visitors over the past 30 days.

A “zero to hero” response in just three months demonstrates the success of our work with this manufacturing brand.