Client growth

How to improve your new business efforts easily

A short while ago I hosted my second talk for the Agency Collective, a membership club for agency owners where we all support each other in various ways, and I addressed ‘New Business’ as I’ve spent years of my careers being a hybrid new business and marketing professional.

The members who attended the talk all had burning questions about new business issues they were facing and after having a good think about it, I started off the Q&A session listing some common themes and lessons learned from the creative businesses I’ve worked for and with that have easy fixes!

Here’s what I’ve come up with: 

1 – Don’t make your presentations too long, including too much info about your company and too many case studies. Stick to the point – address the brief and the client/ sector specifically, convey how you will uniquely solve their business issue.

2- Do question the brief as soon as it comes in – always challenge it, explore what they mean, ask for ideal budget, stakeholders, ideal duration of projects, it might be a bigger or smaller scope than it first seems and the more information you can gather, the more accurate your response will be.

3- Make sure you plan enough time to respond to the big pitches, skipping over the detail when they ask for a set amount of pages in portrait, and you’ve 200 landscape pages so it will all need editing!

4- Don’t customising every proposal – keep to a template where possible and always try and up-sell other services as ‘Additional’. Sometimes you’ll need to create a bespoke pitch document of course, but there’s should be set standards and pages you use for a simple fee proposal or pitch document that are your ‘key’ pages that lift the heavy loading when you have to submit something.

5- Keep on top of having your latest case studies in a presentation format, or even photographed or the assets ready.

6- Make sure you prioritise your pitches into tiers if you can – are they Gold, Silver or Bronze, how much time do you need to spend on Gold vs Silver, what parts can be delegated and what can be pulled from previous pitches?

7- Do cap resource for New Business – You need an allocated time for your team to work on New Business with you, not always per month but hours per proposal/ pitch when you’ve read the brief. Or if you do decide to set an amount of time per week or month, it may be utilised one week but not the next but having it ‘allowed for’ means that not all your teams time will be booked out on billable work.

We try our upmost to support and consult with our clients on their new business presentation, we write them, edit them, write up game plans – because it’s simply part of marketing. You’re marketing to your new business prospects, sales just means money comes in afterwards!

Do get in touch with us if you need our expertise with your new business pitches or proposals hello@ uk (remove the spaces!)

Client growth

Amplify your marketing content!

Amplify! Six out of six – my final part of six sections to consider in your content strategy (recap: Set Goals, Know your audience, Niche down, measure everything, listen then amplify!).

If you’ve nailed the first five steps, then you’re well on your way but one last thing – put your content in the exact right place for your target audience, the people who are engaging with it, being advocates for your business, for your team- your biggest promoters and your target audience and where they specifically need to see your business name in lights.

The options for ‘amplifying’ or channels are endless;
1) Online – you’ve got social, SEO, PPC, email marketing, google/online ads, virtual events, virtual networking, online PR, WOMM, influencer marketing, partnerships, business listings/ directories and blogs

2) Offline – (took me longer to think of all these!)- physical post/ piece of content printed and delivered, guerilla marketing, advertising, print ads, TV, radio and in-person real life events!

To go back through all six parts – here’s where I’ve posted the first blog so you can scroll through at the bottom of each page: and you can also click back and forth through our articles at the bottom of the page.

And here’s a really great quote to inspire you to follow the steps;
“The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run. It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.” — Seth Godin” 

Where do you amplify? And what have you thought about the six sections I’ve gone through? Look forward to hearing your thoughts

Client growth


Listen! Part 5 of six on how to have an amazing content strategy. My last post/article was on measuring so this sensible next step is about taking a view from a wider perspective – your account management team, sales people, even influencers – what have they talked about or remembered that you wrote / posted 6 months ago or more? Those insights are crucial; in my view this ‘listen’ part could be more valuable than the measurements, but I know marketers we do love to measure – it proves ROI, but this is qualitative and this also shows that you value the people who are meeting people on behalf of your business.

Ask every single lead that comes to your business – how did you hear of us? Ask people you interview who mention they liked your website- what stood out?

And you can also take your qualitative research further and pose questions on your social channels in the form of polls or Q&As, or you could incorporate questions or feedback requests into a mailer, even incentivise responses with a good deed or prize.

I think this is a really good part of the six I’m going through and I hope it got you thinking. Do you listen to the whisperings or ask for feedback? Comment below or get in touch to chat more

Client growth

Measure everything!

When it comes to your content marketing strategy, you’ve got your goals written out (my first part of six posts) so it’s watching those results but a bit more too. 

Some examples include giving away a white paper/driving traffic towards web based results, executing email marketing campaigns, receiving direct contact in a sales capacity and social posts (in the capacity of earned media). Google Analytics is clearly a favourite tool for analysing unique hits, popular content pages, referral traffic etc.

The best article I’ve found on what to do to get started in analytics is here:

My personal and probably fairly basic go-tos:
1 – Always love a content drill down – what are you most popular case studies or blog posts? That is huge for informing if you PR was successful, which projects are most interesting to prospective clients and hires and what content is the most interesting on your blog.
2- Acquisition / Sources – who is linking to your website and make sure it isn’t unwanted – check who is linking to you and why and what they’re saying for your own reputation management and those sources that are working – maybe think about investing in that platform for your marketing spend for next year
3- Look in All Pages and ‘Average time on page’ are people really reading your content?
4- Same report but then Bounce Rate – if its a high bounce rate then maybe something on that page isn’t working

What do you measure? What do you wish you were measuring but you’re currently not?! Confession time!! 

Client growth

Finding your niche!

Niching for your content and marketing – the third of six pointers in my ‘content strategy’ map (see earlier posts for any missed).

The widely documented topic – create yourself a niche, don’t be everything for everyone, it won’t work. When setting out your business strategy and business goals, you’ll have thought about your product and/or services, your values, your logo and your target clients. In a book I read recently, they justified the reason to niche as thus; if you have a small target market and service all the companies in that sector, you’d be too busy and effectively screwed. I’ve also met some business leaders recently who have two or more niches but they don’t overlap so that can work too just as long as they are kept separate. 

When you niche, your audience will know who you are and what you’re going to speak about and what services your business offer- instinctively and intuitively. You can become known for being a specialist in your field and that is worth a lot. It definitely helps define a marketing and content strategy!

Tips on niching:
– Look at who your customers are
– Think about what problem your business solves and what the heart of your agency is
– Know your niche industry inside out
– Know your niche market’s competitors
– Test your niche market and analyse (you could create a separate website page and direct traffic there for several months and see how it tracks)

One of the biggest benefits of niching is building a strong following who will become your ambassadors and help you draw new opportunities in.

What do you think? Are you niche? Do you want to be more niche but don’t know how? Get in touch

Client growth

Knowing your audience for your content planning

In my earlier article, I said for any content plan you need to know a few key things, one of which is your audience. So how do you ‘know your audience’? I have a lot of thoughts on this but I’ll try to keep it brief. 

Firstly, check your google analytics – how much traffic are you getting, from where, phones or web, what are they typing into google to find you and it’s always worth checking who is linking to you as for your reputation and insight into marketing spend, always good to know who- so check over a big timeframe like a year to be thorough. Gender / Age / Interests – you can do a lot of digging! From the age you’ll be able to appreciate what social platforms your audience are potentially using.

Secondly, who responds / engages with your content?

Third point – if you aren’t making much noise across any marketing channels then there won’t be much to analyse, don’t feel bad, ignore the above two points and just think about your TARGET audience!! Who do you want to be targeting, what do you want them to think and feel about the content you’re putting out and what is the action you want to drive them towards?

Fourth – Test, test, test – Try different approaches, different examples in your copy and posts, find what they’re interested in from you and your business’ content.

How well do you know your audience? Do you know exactly who you’re targeting with your content? Get in touch with any qs

Client growth

How to create your Marketing Goals

We are ideating here at External Marketing about what it means to start your own content plan, inspired by a conversation I’d had recently and so I wanted to go through all the points to offer more insights to help get business owners started. 

The first thing to think about when writing a content or even marketing plan is setting the right goals. Yes, they should be SMART like any goals, we covered this acronym back at uni back in… 2004?! …And it’s still relevant today and probably will be for another x amount of years. 

Here is what marketing goals should do: 

1) Drive inward enquiries via website or otherwise 
2) Generate the right client type and size
3) Raise brand awareness
4) Grow the Founders/ Directors personal brands 
5) Empower influencer marketing internally and externally 

You need SMART goals in order to measure, otherwise there’s almost no point. Being scatter gun is sometimes what’s possible but without reflection and measuring where your new business opportunity came from for example, you won’t know where to focus your time on next quarter/ year.

Hope this helps. Any questions – please get in touch!

Client growth

Sales strategies for agency owners

How to approach ‘sales’ is different for different types and sizes of businesses but there are some common themes and thinking where I can hopefully shed some light and provide some food for thought. 

Every business leader needs to have an idea of where they want to be in 3 years, even if it’s just the back of napkin plan, but something to aim for will give you 2 key things (1) an aspirational end goal (2) a position to work back from to where you are now and allow you to envision the steps necessary to get there in reverse order.

When it comes down to a ‘Sales Strategy’, I write them regularly for clients, it’s part of any thorough marketing strategy and ties in with a company’s positioning. Who you are as a brand and your business’s core values in combination will dictate who you work with and vice versa; who you want to work with will influence the brand’s TOV. A good sales plan needs to be ‘SMART’ and rigorously monitored to keep you accountable to it. If the sales plan is well designed but sales are not converting, it is usually because the business is not staying on top of its leads, pipeline and deal closing. You will know your weaknesses, and if you need to outsource tasks or even the writing of it, make that decision for your business, to help you get to your 3 year goal. 

Next, (as mentioned in my earlier article* <add link here) and I can’t stress this enough, you must make time for your sales! Make time to research and cold call new prospects, make the pitch relevant to their business, ask open questions, chase up proposals, chase up leads and catch up with your network. Get on top of all SQLs and MQLS, you’ll be glad you did! For every proposal I write, I expect about a 50% success rate. If you’re losing more than that, look into why and always ask when you have not been successful, but don’t take it personally, there’s always something to gain whether it’s a contact or knowing they aren’t the client for you. 

Pricing Strategies – this is a big topic and one I can hardly get into lightly, but there are a lot of philosophies and thinking here. Heard of Blair Enns?! He is passionate about value-based pricing, but that won’t be right for every business and potentially not during a recession and not always for a brand new client. Know your value and stick to it. Be consistent. Know what you are and what you are not, do not try to be what you are not it will dilute your brand and reduce the effectiveness of your client delivery. 

Closing strategies – the phase ‘always be closing’ some may say is out-dated but I think the message behind the technique is fundamentally valid, and, if used with robust emotional intelligence, will more often than not convert leads into clients. Once you have a client, it’s up to you to keep them loyal by constantly reaffirming why they work with you through the value you consistently add. 

You are done. No need to say more, no need for small talk – so many get the sale then talk themselves out of it with irrelevant chit chat. Do not commit this cardinal sin, instead: be professional, concise and above all respectful of their time and your own. 

Happy hunting.

Client growth

The basics of story telling

Draw a picture with words and describe the story as if you’re talking to a friend.

Storytelling is an art that requires creativity, imagination and a level of understanding of the subject. For our clients, we have to think about the position of the business and know the audience who we are speaking with and how they will best receive information, which requires emotional intelligence; put yourself in their shoes, imagine you are them – how would you want to receive this story? We have to give away just the right amount of detail, too much and you will collide with their collective amygdala (fight or flight/crocodile brain), so keep it concise because people have very short attention spans. But that is not enough by itself, you need your story to be novel and different. We also have to show expertise, give clues to brand values or archetype and provide confidence in the fact that we possess valuable knowledge that will benefit them. It can take many, many, many drafts and sometimes the ‘one-liner’, as I like to call them, can be simply written in-house — but sometimes taking external counsel can really help to distil the message to its true essence.

Think about the type of story you want to tell.

Storytelling helps a business create in-bound sales, via outbound marketing, but how and what something is said, sells, when you are not trying to sell. We are all familiar with the age old refrain ‘it’s not what you say, but how you say it’, right? Well, it’s an age-old refrain for a reason.

Do you want to talk about yourself to create new connections? Spark action? Motivate? Educate?Demonstrate social proof? You’ll need to briefly show how experienced and knowledgeable you are in the given topic, but, and I cannot stress this enough, you then must ask questions of your prospect and get them to tell you their story. Cast your mind back to a time where you sat and listened to a senior professional reel of their entire life’s work – dull right? No one wants to watch someone sniff their own farts for an excessive portion of a meeting. Remember: people’s interest in your affairs is limited, but their interest in their own is limitless.

If you’re talking about your work, and the clients you work for, the format is simple but remember if the story is for your website – make sure you explain the ‘characters’ so an outside could understand. Sometimes businesses are so quick to try and prove themselves, that the reader is lost on who the leading character is and what they’re about. Make it relatable.

One tip I read recently was to write in a single sitting; there could be a collective of characters, that bring out the best in you for example and that breadth of characters will develop the story well.

More advice; paint the scene and have good dialogue!

Some thoughts on what good stories are:

–       Entertaining – the reader is engaged

–       Educational – give something to the reader’s hunger for new information

–       Organised – convey the message in a methodical manner

–       Memorable – they go away feeling good about your story and talk about it in the pub with their friends, this provides you with as much control as exists over stopping buyer’s remorse as much as possible after the fact when the dopamine levels drop back down and new distractions push your story back down the priority queue. If you are not memorable then you won’t close. Fact.

What about the CTA (call to action)? Get people to donate? Follow you? Get in touch? Actionable steps – and make them accountable using time frames.

Where is your story going? Is it written, spoken, video or audio? Different people receive information differently, consider your audience – the more information you can gather in discovery phase of a pitch cycle (i.e. key decision maker loves visuals) will help you determine which medium to use/focus on.

Once you’ve got to this part of reading my article and when thinking of your story; start making notes and laying down the pieces of the jigsaw then make a structured plan. If there is language you use internally, explain it, if there are acronyms or industry jargon, explain them once at the top.

So go ahead and write your first draft. Re-organise it. Polish it. Then show it to someone. If you get writers block, just try to start putting copy down and don’t think too much about the rules. Just write.

If you want to check if you have a good story – get in touch. We’re EXT MKTG (External Marketing) and we work with small to medium sized creative businesses who can’t or won’t do marketing for themselves. We start with the brand then look at the comms.

Client growth

Why is a having a strong business brand important?

It represents who you are, it’s your shop window. It’s what people see as a first impression if they haven’t come across you before. Your icon, colours, fonts, name, strapline- all elude to if your businesses are likeminded and trusted to fulfil their needs. And your brand ‘tone of voice’ represents your brand personality and values. Financially speaking, your brand is how your business will be valued, separately of your client billing so the importance of getting it right, has never been more important. 

I wonder if even all business leaders see themselves as needing to do B2B marketing? The fact is, we all need to, we all need to speak to other businesses on some level. 

We are producing brand audits, refreshed branding and producing brand guidelines for our B2B clients to steer them right in this new age of B2B marketing. Businesses know they are being judged on their websites- that’s been happening for decades- but also everything else such as google business pages, reviews, LinkedIn Company page information and activity, sustainability policies, hiring policies, directory listings, referral traffic sites, etc – the whole picture of your business is there for everyone to see – have you double-checked yours? 

Salesforce, a pioneer in B2B marketing, is now using emotional selling – their Trailblazer videos – to get your ‘buy in’ to use their software, to improve your life. The first video indicates that using their CRM system means you’ll be able to spend more time with your children. They are also using a character – Einstein – too. A classic B2C approach in the B2B world and one tactic for sure, not necessarily right for everyone! (this is leading my thinking into the tangent of ‘Isn’t everyone really doing B2B marketing, wouldn’t all businesses rather win clients on a large scale via a business than on a one-to-one basis but let’s save that thought for my next blog article). 

And… back on the topic of BRANDING for your business…

Have you thought about all the touch-points your customers and contacts have with your brand? How do potential clients sign up to news? What’s on your news page, has it been updated in the past year? When did you last tweet? Do you need twitter?

Ever asked your family and friends and employees what they think of your external marketing? Their experience with your company’s brand forms part of your influencer marketing plan. This plan, hopefully part of your 2021 Marketing Strategy, is specifically about your business and the key messages you want to say about your business to key people, aka influencers. And as I wrote in a previous article, your influencers are clients, customers and employees. 

So have a think about this. Think about what your brand is saying about your business and what are the touch-points delivering in terms of messaging. 

If you think you need some help thinking this though or planning what to do next, we’re well versed in discussing ‘pain points’ and making things better. 

Zara // External Marketing Agency // Founder & Director