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Client growth

My Top 5 Tips for a Tip-Top Year!

Aaahh, 2021. A brand-new year, and hopefully a brand-new chapter for all of us, too. In other words, an opportunity to ensure you’ve pivoted in the direction you know you need to head: visualising and planning for the clients you want to target, the headcount you want to achieve, and the profits you are determined to report.

I’m being asked a lot “where do I start?” – well naturally it depends on what you have done before, and I can certainly help business on that deep analysis. Perhaps you’re already storming ahead, and just require some fine-tuning? Or, perhaps you’ve done the groundwork and are keen to ‘dig deeper’ this year: Or, like many firms, you might want to go back to basics and rebuild your business a little differently. Whatever stage you are at, I can help you. And, of course, remember that the groundwork always sets the scene for future in-depth analysis. So, as a “Light Guide to the Basics”, here’s what I would suggest:

1)    Measure where you are right now

It is so important to check the temperature of your brand; where (and how) your business is listed; what people, sites or bots are saying about you; how many followers you have; and who’s visiting your website. When you input a new lead into your CRM, do make a note of how you connected: were you introduced by a mutual contact? Did they find you via a search engine? Did you meet by online networking? Essentially, if you don’t track all of this, how can you know what’s working, and what isn’t?

2)    Tidy up your sales pipeline

Business owners and sales professionals often grow to hate their chosen CRM software, so do keep asking if what you’re using right now still suits your business needs. Don’t be embarrassed if your ‘tool’ of choice is a simple Excel spreadsheet: personally, I’m a big fan of Excel; all areas of my life are logged in a spreadsheet somewhere, but dig a level deeper, and check if the columns and formatting are working as well as they could. Maybe you need something more dynamic… more analytical? There are a lot of sales CRM that are free that might suit your sales process better. Ideally, you should allocate a dedicated amount of time each week to track and act upon your sales pipeline. So, whatever your choice of solution, make it works 100% for YOU, at your present stage of business development. And acknowledge that it may well change over time – because it probably will!

3)    Diarise time for creative inspiration and new business

I’ve worked with enough creative businesses – including some incredible minds – to know that spending time on client work, then supporting your team is how your days and weeks are going by, but is never going to get you the business growth you’re actually capable of. Schedule time in your diary to go down the rabbit hole of reading, scrolling, Googling…whatever it takes to seek out valuable inspiration. It’s worth it in order to conjure lots of ideas; and it will certainly benefit your client base.

On the flip side – do prioritise achieving your business goals. Your company may have a mission, but without a solid sales plan or an idea of how to attract and reel in those companies you’re desperate to work with – how are you going to do it? You do have to be in the right mindset, but half a day a week (let’s say a minimum of 3 hours) should get your head straight, and should motivate you to start chasing those leads, turning them into opportunities and winning more work.

4)    Write your idea of a sales and marketing plan

To me, sales & marketing sit in the same box. Marketing draws them in, but for the purpose of sales. And, really, 2021 is just like any other year: it has four quarters and 52 weeks, so your commitment to developing sales targets and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) marketing plans should still apply. Being a business leader means you’ll always have a lot of ‘urgent’, ‘critical’ tasks to attend to; but, without the compass and map that your sales & marketing plans should provide, how will you know where you’re going?  

5)    Ask for help!

Ah yes. This old chestnut! I know that marketers, outsourced business developers, PRs etc don’t always have the best reputation. But if you pick the right expertise to partner with you, getting the right help can be a massive time-saving exercise. You went to the effort of getting a great accountant, right? So, do the same for the other aspects of your business that you want managing perfectly. After all, at the end of the day it all boils down to money.

So, those are my top 5 tips on where to start (if you haven’t already!) Sending you all my very best wishes for a profitable, killer year, and if you want to learn more about External Marketing’s expertise, you can contact me on zara [@] extmktg.co.uk, #externalmarketing #salestargets #marketinggoals #B2Bmarketing #creativeminds #positivity

Categories
Client growth

Making the right decisions

This article is written at the time of a global pandemic but ‘it’ will not be mentioned again. I also promise not to use the aggravating term ‘new normal’. We are focusing on the positives and acknowledging change happens while being fully respectful of the delicate situation we’re in and of course saddened by the loss of others from recent events.  As B2B marketeers and BDs, we want to help those on the journey of restructuring or repositioning, as like any business, there are tough times and times the ship feels fairly steady. In the life span of a business, there are places you have to turn, times for reflection, time to go back a step or take a big leap forward. These things can cause nauseating doubt for a business owner, lead to sleepless nights and sometimes thoroughly questioning whether the next step is the right one.

Depending on mood or mindset and the size of the necessary change, some will see it from a worst-case point of view but what’s most productive is to objectively analyse the situation and think about the view from your client or end-user. What’s most important is business survival. 

There are a few options on how to analyse the change you are going to make – you could make a decision matrix, list pros and cons, do a SWOT analysis, consult with your board or peers, or do what I do most of the time; rationalise it when explaining it (in my head) to the most critical or negative person you know; what would you say and how would you say it? Ask yourself; what are the alternatives and consequences? Is your assessment thorough? Do you need to gather evidence? Do you need a test audience/test scenario? What/who will be impacted? Can we carry on if we don’t make a change? 

Decision-making is reacting using learned behaviour. I read an article about the neuroscience behind decision-making and the research concluded that there are two hardwired processes for decision-making, one is pattern recognition and the other emotional tagging – in short (you probably guessed) pattern recognition is making assumptions based on previous experiences or ‘patterns’ using 30 different parts of the brain and emotional tagging is where emotional information attaches itself to thoughts and experiences stored in our memories. Why is this helpful? This insight tells us that our judgement is swayed and by trying to be as objective as we can, seeing the decision from different points of view, will hopefully bring us to the right decision.

Once you have chosen the route you are going to take – write down the script. Answer in note form; what are you doing, why are you doing it and what will be the positive and negative implications. This will form the start of your stakeholder communication. Remember stakeholders are clients, staff and investors. More than ever, clear and precise communication is key. Examples of decisions currently taking place – shutting or reducing your physical office, changing sectors you are working in, restructuring your team – all three are tragically happening across all sectors globally, and the method of delivering news is sensitive. Methods of communications include; email, posted letter, emailed letter, social media post, LinkedIn post, website announcement, phone call, text/Whatsapp, video call or Slack/Microsoft Teams message. Faxes are definitely over these days, right? You need to keep on message but tailor to suit the right audience. More on this in my next article and if you would like to hear more from me, get in touch via the Contact button.  

Categories
Client growth

Improving internal communications for your business

In my first article I wrote about making the right decisions for your business, and then touched on how to communicate your message. There’s a reason there are A LOT of communications specialists around: because the discipline is so broad. Internal and external communications both have unique considerations and corresponding channels, so in this article I want to focus on HOW a business leader can deliver news internally.

The nuances in communications – for instance, sharing a piece of good news versus announcing a new company strategy – needs to be considered very very carefully, as it is vital that the message is delivered coherently, considerately, and with care.

An article posted in the PRCA blog stated that ‘continuous communication’ was key to keeping your staff motivated and happy during this pandemic. “One cannot over-communicate to the very people who drive and make your business what it is.”

I actually find that internal communications can be muddier than external. In part, this is due to the levels of familiarity that colleagues, sub-teams, teams, departments and offices all have with one another, not to mention the range of communications channels. From memes to memos, from signage to WhatsApp message – a new starter might find it takes him or her quite a while to figure out what the hell is going on, unless internal communications has been carefully strategised. 

An organisation’s size and composition and the frequency in which its leaders want to communicate are likely to be two of the biggest influencing factors when it comes to deciding upon the most appropriate communication channel. Business leaders need to have a strategy in place stating what methods of communication they want their team to use to discuss clients, projects, IT issues etc and the list of most popular platforms in use at the moment in extensive, here’s a list I’ve prepared myself to help desmystify it:

  • Slack – used for calls / messages 
  • Workplace by Facebook – used calls / messages, has a newsfeed, you can do polls, set-up events – like facebook for people, but for businesses!
  • Microsoft Teams – used for calls / messages. I tried to find other features, but the only feature that makes it unique is that it is part of the Office 365 which your business may have anyway so it’d be free but so are most others! 
  • WhatsApp – used for calls / messages 
  • Skype – used for calls / messages 
  • Moxtra- software that is white-labelled and customisable- so everything from calls and messaging to task management and document storage. 
  • HipChat – developed by Atlassian – calls and cloud storage, apparently has good security and good search functionality 
  • Trello – a subsidiary of Atlassian but it’s a ‘collaboration tool’ 
  • Atlassian – good for project managing / calls / messages
  • Blink – used for messaging and cloud storage
  • Fuze – used for calls / messages 
  • Zoom – calls / messages 
  • Chatwork – a business social networking tool for small businesses (chats can be conducted privately or in a group. Chatwork also offers task management, video calls and CMS). 

From what I’m aware, all chat platforms have the ability to have groups set with a topic, just like WhatsApp group, so rather than being a ‘new’ feature, it’s something we have all come to expect. But in terms of business software, the list is much, much bigger! And when it comes to server storage, collaborating on live documents, accounting, expenses, HR, project managing, social media management, website software, marketing mailers and CMS, the list is endless! 

We spoke to Communications & Engagement specialist and famed copywriter Helen Greenwood and asked what she considers to be the three most important aspects when developing an internal communications strategy. Helen’s response was “audience, relevance and timing”. She followed on to say: “People are far more likely to pay attention to a piece of communication if it’s clear that it’s relevant to them – for example, if the content of the communication influences how they feel or act. That means businesses have to think very carefully about how to craft and position their communications if they want their target audience to take notice. As most organisations comprise multiple audience groups, this may mean that one message has to wrapped in a range of ways in order for it to land successfully and achieve the intended results”. 

To discuss how to improve the internal communication at your company, please get in touch with Zara from External Marketing and we’d love to help. Our website is here.