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Make your B2B proposal stand out

One of the joys of being a freelance consultant is that sometimes I get to act on behalf of my client and hire specialists to work on their B2B marketing campaigns.

I recently advertised a job and was stunned by one of the proposal submissions. As a new business specialist I know how hard it is to make your proposal stand out from others. This one hit all the gold stars for me.

Integrate proposals and CRM

I was sent an unique URL to view the proposal. This makes everything trackable – it was on a sub-domain of the B2B marketing agency’s website and so I know they will be able to track:

  • How many times I opened it
  • Which sections I browsed (they are distinctly separate)
  • How long I spent reading each part
  • Which sections I expanded to read further

All in all it was a pleasure to read and to be “sold” to. I felt engaged in the process and I know my actions on that page enabled the agency to get better insight into me as a prospect.

Screenshots from the marketing proposal web page.

And a final note, there’s a Squarespace service Qwilr which offers this on a 14 day trial.

Entrepreneurship and business course

What’s the best entrepreneurship / business course?

A question I answered in Quora forum: “What’s the best entrepreneurship or business course – it can be free or paid”.

The best course of action is to go apprentice yourself to an entrepreneur you respect and learn by working with/for them. I suggest doing this before or at the same time as starting your own business. Experience is worth a load more than book-learning from theoreticians.

I do not recommend paying $$$ for a university course UNLESS it is part time and closely aligned with working on a business you are currently running. Then you get to put into practice what you are being taught immediately.

I teach on a business course here in New Zealand called the Business Leadership Programme – by Love to Grow.

It takes 6 months and is 1 day per month with one-to-one coaching sessions in between formal classroom sessions. I recommend you ask them if you can join it virtually – the next course starts October 2016. It made a gigantic change to my business and taught me a lot about the parts of business entrepreneurship that I didn’t know (and the things I didn’t realise I needed to know!).

Shortcomings of book learning entrepreneurs

I find that any book, magazine or podcast that gives advice is helpful – but only up to a point. The authors never, NEVER talk in full detail about their mistakes, their mis-directions, bad decisions and failures. They may reference them, but you will not get the full picture.

The value is in experiencing these situations and learning from them.

If I were to tell you in public about experiences I’ve had like a bullying client, a supplier who stole from us, a bad person we hired etc you would begin to get more of an idea. But it would be unprofessional to write these things in public and I may get sued. But it is the EXPERIENCE of these situations that helps you to grow as a business person and entrepreneur.

My personal solutions to the need for experience and a fully rounded business education is on-the-job learning (reading / podcasts / business books / mentor advice) supplemented by:

  1. Chief Financial Officer meeting monthly
  2. The Business Leadership Programme educating and honing skills
  3. Mastermind Group of business owners – we meet monthly face to face and share / seek advice in a trusted, confidential roundtable. [We have a vacancy for 2 people to join our Auckland group – please ask]

What is your advice on how to learn entrepreneurship?

Mystery, conspiracy or just plain busy?

I wrote the headline to a prospect who wasn’t returning my calls.

The goal was to provoke a response – I also left phone messages…several.

When you have new business pipeline deals to close, remember this one thing.

The client does not owe you the business but s/he does owe you an answer.

There are 3 possible answers – Yes, No and Maybe.

Go gettem!

Be ahead of new traffic for your business creative agency secrets audience industries new zealand

Be ahead of new traffic for your business

There are millions of people around the globe who want what you have.

They just don’t know you exist yet.

We just need to stand in front of them. Because it’s not always easy for a guy in Timbuktu, Kalamazoo, Ahipara or Middlemarch to just stumble upon you. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t pursuing their dreams and goals without you.

They have gathered with others, in clusters around the internet.

That’s why Audience Industries created their Clusters Marketing Plan.

Have you strategised the year plan for your business? Your niche topics, your challenges, your product launches? Have you coordinated your social media marketing around these ideas?

But most importantly have you structured your marketing so you’re always standing in front of the people who don’t know you exist now?

Chances are: no. Because we all get caught up in the daily activities that run our business. It’s time to get organized! Where do you even begin?

Start Here –> Audience Industries: Clusters

You need to get your editorial, sales, and marketing calendar all sorted so you can get ahead of new traffic for your business. So gather up your ideas, grab a pencil and your calendar, because with the Clusters curriculum we’re going to look at your business, evaluate who your audience is, how to grow it, and plan your path to success.

For marketing specialists, in-house marketing managers and marketing directors, public relations agencies, digital marketing agencies, full service agencies alike, together let’s etch out your plan, analyse the steps and plot the route. It all starts with you and your business.

Down to the details!

Here’s what Audience Industries will cover in the Clusters curriculum:

  • Start: What is your audience learning? Who are they and what are they focused on? Let’s mine this info, find partners, and learn new ways to do things.
  • Module 1: Locate the places and audiences where your message is welcome and put them on your marketing calendar
  • Module 2: Put all your notes and ideas you’ve made over the years, do the keyword research and trend analysis, and build your launch around them!
  • Module 3: Plan joint ventures into your schedule for the friends in your business niche and get both your audiences to grow.
  • Module 4: Find out what your audiences needs and wants, build it and work strategically through your marketing and editorial calendar.
  • Module 5: Don’t get wrapped up in the wrong keyword research tool. Go after the keywords you can win.
  • Module 6: 80% of your revenue stems from 20% of your efforts: find out what that 20% is and do more of it to increase your revenue.
  • Module 7: Plot the offers you’re going to make throughout the year against the demand and be smart about it-put it in your calendar!
  • Module 8: Put everything together in one place. Make room for lead time, pre-sales, pre-launch, follow-up, upsells and coordinate with your content, keywords, audience, hashtags and offers.

By the time you have completed the Clusters curriculum, you’ll have your editorial, sales, and marketing calendar set up for the whole year! You’ll be ahead of the game, just watching your new traffic take the route you pre-planned for them. Amazing!

If you haven’t been following the Audience Industries digital trail…

THE Audience Industries is coming to New Zealand and we’ve been writing all about it. They’ll be trailblazing their way across the north and south islands, spreading knowledge about how to turn your online business into a revenue generating machine. Four curricula in all, four cities, and eight days to learn how to kick your business into gear online:

  1. Sequoia – the place to begin your website marketing.  Suitable for website administrators, marketing staff and newcomers to online and digital communications. [1 May Auckland, 3 May Dunedin, 5 May Wellington]
  2. Circles – audience engagement is the only way to keep visitors coming back to your website.  What to do, how to do it and when to do it.  Suitable for marketing communication managers, public relations, agency marketers and anyone who has done the Sequoia curriculum. [4 May Dunedin, 6 May Wellington, 9 May Auckland]
  3. Clusters – once you know the techniques from Sequoia and Circles, put it into practice in a strategic year plan.  Suitable for marketing specialists, in-house marketing managers and marketing directors, public relations agencies, digital marketing agencies, full service agencies. [10 May Auckland]
  4. Escape Velocity – designed for entrepreneurs and startups, this course pulls together everything you need to drive revenue for your business from online/offline integration.  Suitable for both bootstrapping startups and established enterprise who have a goal to grow and then sell their business. [29 April Auckland]

With these curricula combined you can be the CEO of your website. Get your tickets booked now.

Is content syndication a good idea for articles?

Periodically I answer questions on www.Clarity.fm – a broking website for experts and entrepreneurs. This questioner is a startup and wants to know if having his blog articles syndicated will be helpful for his business. The answer applies to established businesses who write articles as well as startups.

The advantages of Content Syndication

I would say that it is 100% a good idea with a couple of caveats.

First, your syndication destination should already have an audience who aligns closely with your startup’s desire clients / customers.

Second, the syndicator must allow link-backs to your website.

So definitely go do it – if it builds audience with prospects and also if it can be made to drive traffic back to your website.

The key to appraising whether these things are appropriate, are all about building audience, testing the market and getting early adopters.

So consider your articles and whether a call-to-action can be added to the bottom of each one that drives the interested reader to your website. When they get there, can you capture their details by offering something to the reader?

Improving your local SEO is an important part of your business marketing.  It’s all part of Getting your website working hard for your business [there’s a free ebook telling you how].

Read more blog posts about Profile Raising by clicking the icon below. It’s one of the steps in our 8 Step Methodology 

4 Profile

Business Relaunch

Business not working effectively? Have you considered a business relaunch?

If your business isn’t working as effectively as it once was, a business relaunch might be for you. Relaunching a business is a proactive decision taken to ensure that your business stays relevant and engaging in this new fast-paced, dog eat dog world. If a business is relaunched successfully, it can shed its old, ineffective face – and usher in it’s new, more successful era. Here are our tips for business relaunch, to make sure you nail it.

Our Tips for a Successful Business Relaunch

Do Your Homework

The first step of any major change is to work out what isn’t working. Analyse your business, and work out what was effective, and what wasn’t. Recruit someone to give you a hand with this; preferably someone unbiased who won’t sugar coat the truth. From here, go deeper and work out why your business wasn’t working; have your customers changed? Has your market changed? Is your product still what it once was? This is the defining moment of a relaunch decision – carry it out accordingly! Having extensive knowledge of both your own business and the wider market is key to a successful relaunch.

Learn from your Mistakes

Now that you know what wasn’t working and why, it is time to make some changes. In front of you there are two ‘piles’: the good things and the bad. Keep the good things – be it your software, product, or even your business cards, and take the lessons from the bad things. These lessons are the most important part of a relaunch – learn from, and don’t forget them. Make positive decisions based on what you learned – this is where your business has its grand rebirth – it is a landmark moment. You have an effective business again – go you.

Spread the Good Word

Now you effectively have a new business – but no one knows about it. This is your time to share your business with the world (again). If you can signal the relaunch of your business with an event, and promote it in such way as to get people talking about it, you’ll put yourself in a strong position to start well. Your main aim here is not only to promote your business, but also to differentiate it and shed the image of the old one. If you can express the fact that your business is leaner, meaner, (maybe cleaner and greener), and here to stay – then you might be onto a winner.

Want to read more?

This article focuses on business relaunch options, and introduces the concept of pivoting your business
While slightly older, this article shares some fantastic war stories of businesses that have relaunched.
Look here for a quick relaunching guide from Marketing Donut.

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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Contact Forms: New business development copywriting

Encouaging prospects to reveal their interest in your business is one of the hardest-to-master techniques for online new business development copywriting.  You know you have website visitors, the analytics show the passage of traffic but it’s all anonymous.

You need to get better at contact forms:

Here are the symptoms

  • lots of people visit your website (probably)
  • few get in touch to find out more
  • fewer move up the funnel towards purchase
  • pipeline does not get many new enquiries from the website

How to Copywrite contact forms

  • Be economic with words
  • Only ask for information you NEED
  • Seek originality in your wording

We found a great example from Markitors – they offer a neat free tips service.  Using the one free tip offer encourages action by the reader and recruits an email address to an autoresponder series.

And take a read of our earlier article on Best Practice Email sign up Forms

One Free tip button encourages action

One Free tip button encourages action

markitors freebie

5 Questions to ask a creative agency at your pitch

Interviewing the brand and being interviewed as the agency are core skills for pitching.

Getting to “the close” for new business and a signature on the contract requires a clear purchase decision from a brand decision maker.  If you are pitching to a brand – prepare for these questions that they should be asking you.

When you get invited to pitch there are 2 reasons you are in the room

  1. Your track record indicates you should be good enough to do the job
  2. Your future WILL deliver an excellent job
The questions are designed to reassure the brand marketing team that you will be in their future – collaborating, partnering.

Chief Marketing Officer pitch questions to agency

So how can you tell what the future of this agency will be?  the same old, same old competent delivery of past campaigns or new and exciting incremental creativity that will accelerate your brand in front of consumers?

First question: Vision

What do you, the agency, think is the future of marketing/advertising?

You want to know whether they are aware of new technologies, brands moving to new social platforms and integrating mobile solutions into their campaigns.

Second question: New Hires

Tell us about the new team members who have joined this past year.

What are the characteristics of these people and why did they join the team?  Are they crazy future-ologists, or competent deliverers.  Will they bring new expertise to the team (see answer to question 1 above) and can you see your brand leveraging their knowledge to advantage?

Third question: Team Structure

What is your creative team structure and composition?

Listen hard to how many ‘traditional’ job titles are described.  Find out about the digital specialists – are they in a separate group who get brought in to assist or are they part of the core delivery group.  What about outsourcing production and expert tool creation – how honest is the agency about areas in which they are not expert and are buying in talent.

Fourth question: Modern Marketing Communications

Tell us about recent campaigns that were not advertising-led

How many message delivery tools have they used that were not print or TV advertising, direct mail/email or public relations.  Look for innovation and incorporation of ‘gamification’, apps, integration with social media (leading edge at the time of writing is Pinterest, G+), brand collaborations and joint ventures.

Fifth question: The Delivery Team

Who will be working on our account and why?

The individual attributes of the core account team matter.  This will help you get round the agency that pitches with one team and delivers with another.  Why does the agency pick each individual and what are their skills – you’ve got to work with these people.  Go and check them all out on Linked In and Facebook.

The Agency’s reply 6 questions

We found this post from W+K London in which they tried to give the reciprocal questions the agency should ask the client.

  1. Who are the decision makers on the pitch and on the agency’s work?
  2. What are your criteria for judging the success of your agency’s work?
  3. Is your inclination to aim high and do something extraordinary, or to settle for the ordinary and avoid the risk of failure?
  4. What made you consider us for this pitch?
  5. How many agencies are pitching and who are they?
  6. Will you pay a pitch fee?

Go forth and pitch.  But be careful!

Thanks to Edward Boches for the original inspiration for this article

Read more articles on 3 New Business Pipeline and 6 Creating Opportunities from our archive.