8 ways to promote local businesses

Our exclusive video of 20 minutes of pure ideas and stimulation about how to promote your business locally:

 

 

policies

When having clear policies is a marketing advantage

This week I’ve had two clients get frustrated by media comments which did not allow a talk-back response.

Our solution?

Set up your company policies and publicise them.

Why policies are a point of difference

In both cases, bloggers and journalists were doing their job and calling out the client brand on key issues.

Professional disagreements are normal.

By stating your position on key issues, your brand can become better known and also has the ability to influence the way the whole industry thinks on these points.

How to market using your policies or principles

  1. Create a page where you list your principles.  e.g. We believe in transparency and not charging markups [that happens to be true for Creative Agency Secrets].
  2. Create a menu link to the page
  3. When a blogger or journalist contests a situation, write your answer on your blog. Also, write it in the comments on their site if you can.
  4. In writing your answer, refer to your principles/policies and link through to that page on your site.
  5. Create categories in your blog that relate to each principle e.g. transparency; fair pricing
  6. Also, make icons so each has a clear visual image associated with the principle – this helps readers further identify with each principle – you can link from each icon to the category in the blog so that case studies and examples can be read in more detail.
  7. Be prepared to stand by your principles and to be called out by media.

As an example, we use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile Raising.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

Local Marketing event in Auckland

Marketing strategies to grow and scale a local business

Most of New Zealand’s businesses are local. Knowing how to get known locally is an important skill. Today we’re showing you our latest tips for local marketing success.  Better still, they’re all things you can do yourself – today.

Ready for your local marketing quick-fix?

Local marketing is absolutely essential nowadays whether its a neighbourhood, a city or a country. Few of your customers are in social media looking for your locally supplied services.  Having robust local marketing tactics is essential. The key is to get value from both online and offline marketing spend and the cross-overs are increasingly beneficial when focused on local marketing.

Rebecca Caroe shows you 8 tactics for local marketing success. In just 20 minutes you’ll know what you need to do and how to do it for your business, today.

Want more?  How much more?

If you want to learn the secrets to compound growth for your business, get private coaching advice. Bespoke for your unique situation and with a 100% refund guarantee if you’re not satisfied.  No risk!

button

 

Customer Feedback

Don’t Be Boring Is The Best Way To Gather Customer Feedback

Customer feedback. These simple words are in every businessman’s mouth (and 2-hour long Powerpoint presentations) and can give you priceless insights if done right. This data is essential to measure customers’ satisfaction and make your products/services meet their needs. But let’s be honest, the ways people use to collect it are not thought through like they should. From annoying guys with clipboards knocking on your door to spammy messages in your inbox, research is carelessly planned by most companies. Fear not, though: we have a few suggestions for you on how to seize your customers’ opinion.

Yeah, you know where I’m going: the infamous surveys. Right now, as I mention the words “fill a form”, I can almost hear your eyes rolling. It’s something loathed by most of us, and some planners consider just a necessary evil. Doesn’t matter if you are the poor soul who’s spreadsheeting the results for that damn thing or, God forbid, the one answering to an endless questionnaire.

Understanding the importance of this kind of research, many companies offer rewards to customers in a hopeless attempt of getting useful information to work with. Burger King, for example, used to encourage customer feedback offering FREE FOOD if you completed their online survey. However, even a free burger was not incentive enough to make me bother to finish those.

Ok, so where are those brands failing miserably?

The process itself is outdated. If the activity is too laborious, doesn’t matter what “prize” you are offering. People tend to quit or, even worse, answer rubbish by mindlessly marking “x” on random fields just to be done with it, giving you worthless data.

Now you are probably asking yourself the million dollar question: is there a way to avoid wasting your resources while collecting useful data?

Make it fun

Surveys must be dynamic, well designed and lighthearted. No one can stand boring lists of questions and tiny “tick boxes” in this day and age. You can use a tool like Typeform, a Spanish startup that is mastering user experience for all kinds of forms, from a simple suggestion box to a more intricate survey. You can check an example at the end of this article. Their innovative service promises to keep “focused and engaged respondents” with a beautiful interface, responsible for a 59% completion rate on the platform. That’s a MASSIVE result.

Make it meaningful

Your customer has to understand the objective of giving you feedback and see that you are actually listening. You can start showing your appreciation by making him part of the creative development of new products, like McDonald’s did with the “Create Your Taste” campaign. There was no money involved, just a warm feeling of belonging and the thrill of signing your own McDonald’s sandwich. Crowdsourcing at its finest, bringing excellent results (and funny memes, because internet).

Here at Creative Agency Secrets, we made a testimonials campaign for ourselves by partnering with a charity called StarJam. Offering donations in exchange for a few words from our clients, we turned their feedback into social proof for our own brand on the internet. You can check more details reading our case study.

 

Customer feedback formpowered by Typeform

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.

Only the digitally confused need attend!

No, I don’t want you to come to our event unless you qualify

On 27th September I’m speaking at a breakfast event. [ticket reservations below]

It’s about de-coding digital marketing for folks who are confused about how to do digital communications successfully.

Why am I doing the gig?

Despite digital being commonplace to me, it’s not that clear to everyone.

You may already be using some digital channels and be having some successes in bringing new revenues to your firm.  This event isn’t for you. 

This event is for the “digitally confused”. 

You know if this is you or not.  YOU qualify as being digitally confused if you’re unsure how to get good results from digital or online marketing.

My acquaintance, David Baker wrote to me this week and I want to quote him verbatim.

“An outside advisor like me comes into your firm and we bring several valuable things:

  • Perspective. It’s hard to see your own label when you’re in the jar.
  • Insight. There’s no need to reinvent the flat tyre over and over again.
  • Courage. Sometimes you just need a push. You need permission from just one more person.

I’d say that most of you should never hire an advisor and you’ll be just fine, thank you very much. You’d do a lot better if sometimes you thought less about the consequences and did what you know I’m going to tell you anyway!”

For the rest, let’s see you sign up to the breakfast on 27th September in the box below.

‘Nuff said.

P.S. And if you’re wondering why I wrote this – it’s to deliberately exclude people who would not benefit from the event.

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.

How I plan to benefit from a lost pitch

A question from Quora was sent to me to answer. And it demonstrates so neatly why many new business people get discouraged by apparent failures. My answer shows how to play the “advantage” card from a disappointment and position yourself for future success while gaining valuable business experience from the situation.

My business partner’s dad/investors asked for a pitch, to which he said no after a while, but still plans to use some of the ideas. What can I do?

I told her this idea I had for a concept store that she just shared with her Dad who offered to invest/add it to his Group. After talking a few weeks ago, he just sent us a decline letter, but she says he & his partners may still use some of my ideas. I’m lost… and she doesn’t care.. What can I do ?

How to benefit from a failed pitch

Write back to each person, individually, thanking them very much for their time in hearing your pitch. Be sure that they understand how much of the pitch was your concept/idea. Say you’re sorry that they have decided not to progress working with you at this time.

Tell them that if they use your ideas in future you will be keen to

a) work on the project, or
b) receive a commission payment to reflect your intellectual capital investment

Tell them that this is only one of many bright ideas you have to contribute to their businesses and ask for an introduction to two other people who might be keen to work with someone of your talents.

Four days later, follow up with a phone call to each one to check they got your email and to ask for the introductions.

The outcome will be that you will probably not get any money from a) or b). But the introductions you receive will give you entry into a new circle of prospective employers and clients.

Why this works

The psychology of getting them to acknowledge your contribution (which they may use in future without paying) provokes the principle of reciprocity. You gave them something of value and now you are asking for something of value in return (introductions).

The follow-up shows that you are more determined than most (e.g. your business partner) and therefore are “one to watch” for the future who may benefit them again.

Lastly, in future don’t share your ideas with your business partner again without first gaining agreement about how they are to be used and valued.

Google Alerts

How to Use Google Alerts to Drive Business

Google alerts are an extremely useful resource for promoting your business online. First of all, if you aren’t using Google Alerts to track your business, you’re missing a seriously useful hack. They are particularly handy for staying up to date with relevant and timely information regarding your business, so you can react immediately to any publicity or news as soon as it happens.

But that’s not all Google Alerts are good for…

Google Alerts can also be used via RSS as a news aggregator on your website or blog! This is particularly useful for showing your visitors you know what is happening around you as well as demonstrating a position of authority with regards to your particular topic. Displaying the latest, relevant news results provides a great reason for your fans to continue returning to your site. Tailored, niche content is much easier to digest when it is a subject aligned with your own browsing interests. It may even help increase the likelihood of your visitors purchasing from you!

The best part about this is it can be totally automated, so you don’t have to spend time curating material. But make sure you have tested and refined your alert keywords in order to get the best results. Or, be sure to check the results from time to time in order to filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your brand.

We will be putting together a guide explaining how to get Google Alerts displaying as an RSS feed on your website shortly…

The next application for Google Alerts is a little more intricate: With a bit of research and a thorough understanding of your target market, you can even use Google Alerts to find new business!

Example: How to use Google Alerts to Generate Leads

Our client provides storage equipment solutions to the global rowing community. Although they can retro-fit single pieces of equipment inside an existing boathouse, their biggest projects come from clubs and organisations who have or are building brand new facilities. These new facilities obviously require a complete fit out of storage equipment and therefore, are our client’s ideal market. So how do you know when a new facility is built and looking for storage equipment? Timing is everything – if you find them too late, they may have already sourced a supplier and you’ll have missed the boat. Google Alerts provides the answer!

By setting up alerts with keywords such as “new rowing boathouse”, “rowing building new boathouse” and “new rowing club” for example, you get a nice summary of boathouse developments happening around the world.

Of course you have to continue your research beyond the alert itself to determine the lead’s value. Sometimes, results are completely irrelevant, and sometimes they are duplicates of material you have already covered. However, on the whole, they are incredibly useful at identifying future projects, as they are often newsworthy topics in their local area.

google alerts example creative agency secretsgoogle alerts example creative agency secrets

The next step is to track all your leads in a spreadsheet. Information such as who to contact and where they are located is particularly important. Additional research on the lead’s website often provides the necessary information to point you in the right direction.

In our client’s case, we were interested in contacting the architects of the boathouse, so that we could get involved with the club and their design process, as early as possible.

We have experienced great success building up a database of quality leads for our client in recent months. It is then up to our client to continue the dialogue with the prospective club and come to an arrangement. We have had a great deal of success converting these previously unknown prospects into happy customers, and have done so without investing hugely in advertising, outbound mailing campaigns or other conventional outbound marketing activities!

We have been able to minimise the time taken to research new sources of business through alerts and have increased the prevalence of new business, while making it easy to filter out results of no value. And as it updates you each time a new boathouse is being developed, you don’t waste time searching for them manually. A weekly check of your alerts inbox provides you with enough

Regardless of your industry or business, there’s bound to be a positive application to use Google Alerts for. Whether it is direct lead generation, building a database of bloggers and journalists to share content between, or even researching a network of businesses whose interests align neatly with your own, the uses for it go on and on.