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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@ extmktg.co. uk (remove the spaces!)

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Client growth

Listen!

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

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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

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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.

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Client growth

Who’s booming during the pandemic – a good news story by EXT MKTG

Have any of you thought about the lack of good news stories? I’ve been asked many times ‘which sectors should our business focus on’? I’ve done some digging and I’ve found a whole bundle of growing companies and sectors and so read on for a dose of positivity!

Starting with consultants McKinsey, a report published at the end of September stated “Executives are more hopeful about the economy than they have been at any time so far during the COVID-19 crisis”. (Link) Good start and more to follow…

Looking at UK Manufacturing, something we’re always concerned about, a Guardian article reported “The PMI for manufacturing, which makes up around 10% of the economy, rose from 40.7 in May to 50.1 in June, while services, which make up 80% of the economy’s output, rose from 29 to 47.” 

Within Online Retail & Delivery Services sectors, Amazon have listed 15,000 job opportunities and Hermes have said they need 10,000 more staff as the shift home shopping continues and Christmas is round the corner. Within this scope, HGV drivers are also in demand as the number of job postings role by 9.7% as reported in this article by the Guardian. (Link)

Supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are also creating thousands of new jobs and are still opening new stores. Morrisons are also hiring 20,000 staff to handle online shopping and for covering other staff members who may be off temporarily. 

Ocado has been named the fastest growing UK brand according to BrandZ’s annual Top 75 Most Valuable Brands report, due to a 63.3% growth in brand value! Meanwhile also in this report, Deliver has grown by 40%! Boom. That’s some seriously great growth and hopefully helping restaurants keep going too. (Link econsultancy, they have removed the article now) 

Boohoo (owners of Boohoo, Pretty Little Things, Oasis, Warehouse and Nasty Gal) have seen their revenue grow by 45% according to a statement released at the end of August this year. And Nike’s digital sales have grown 82% year-on-year between June and August. 

Gousto (pre-prepared home meals) are creating 1000 more jobs and I’m sure their competitors will also be enjoying a boom. 

I’ve also looked at businesses that have started during the pandemic; a BBC article named four female entrepreneurs that started businesses, these are; a beauty subscription service (Tingle), Caribbean food kitchen & delivery (MJ Eats), Date Night subscription boxes (Box42) and marketing consultant (CharlieComms). (Link)

Tech is clearly a winner right now, and according to AppsFlyer, there has been a rise of 35% in European e-commerce mobile app installs during local lockdowns in March and April, 12% higher than at the peak of Q4 2019 holiday rush- this is showing a predicts that for this year’s “holiday quarter” should be record breaking. 

And finally, the FT have done a ‘Top 100 Companies prospering during the pandemic’ and I’ve written out the top 25. (Link

  1. Amazon
  2. Microsoft
  3. Apple
  4. Tesla
  5. Tencent (online gaming, China)
  6. Facebook
  7. Nvidia (graphics chips for gaming, US)
  8. Alphabet (tech platform, US)
  9. Paypal
  10. T-Mobile
  11. Pinduoduo (ecommerce, China)
  12. Netflix
  13. Meituan (ecommerce, China)
  14. Shopify
  15. Zoom Video
  16. JD.com (ecommerce, China)
  17. Abobe
  18. Audi
  19. Abbie (pharma, US)
  20. Kweichow Moutan (beverages, China)
  21. Chug Pharmaceutical (pharma, Japan)
  22. Alibaba (ecommerce, China)
  23. Sea Group (tech, Singapore)
  24. Home Depot (retail, US)
  25. ASML (tech, Netherlands) 

So it’s not all terrible, we have to navigate ourselves and adjust all the time, this is no different. 

If you need ideas or just to talk and hear a positive voice, let’s talk. 

Zara, Founder and Director of EXT MKTG, zara@extmktg.co.uk, https://www.linkedin.com/in/zaradeegan/

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Client growth

Today’s marketing jargon explained

When I came up with my company name, I thought yeah it makes sense, it’s the abbreviation of external marketing – EXT MKTG – but it may take a while for it to be easily digestible. I think about it a lot and then started to wonder about current marketing lingo and how there are more definitions and abbreviations since I completed my marketing degree all those years ago. 

Thankfully, SWOTs, Marketing Mix and the 4 Ps are all still current/ valid but there is so much more, especially when you work in the field. Here’s what I’ve come up with as the most important and widely used, with a particular slant on metrics as this area seems to be where most the abbreviations fall. 

A marketing campaign – by definition – is a set of activities within a timeframe, using multi-channels and methods to promote a particular service or product, for example in terms of B2B, a new service being offered so that businesses can measure the existing projects of that service in the pipeline/revenue, and then from promoting it from October 1st, how many more projects or revenue is being generated from four weeks of buzz around it. Maybe it’s a new coined phrase for your service? Or have you moved into a new revenue stream from making a particular product or buying out services from another firm? 

Being ‘Channel agnostic’ – a slant on how to think about the customer journey, it’s not about the channel per se, but the communication received in whatever form by the customer when interacting with the brand or company. A business or brand communicates consistently and without preference to all channels, in the hope that consumer who sees the content become customers. In the B2C world, a brand seen to be ‘channel agnostic’ will position themselves as believing they are customer-centric and the journey starting with them but shouldn’t that always be the case? 

Digital communication evolves constantly but more recently it’s taken huge leaps, WhatsApp is no longer for just between friends etc. Digital is finally being considered within the marketing team’s job description instead of a separate department. Of course digital specialists exist, but the commerce or digital team should not be separated, they should be brought to the fore. Who are your digital gurus? Are their ideas at the start of your marketing and business development plans? Do you have SEO specialists on your books?

A report by We are Social and Hootsuite stated some great stats earlier this year; 

“More than 4.5 billion people now use the internet, while social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark. Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population is already online, and the latest trends suggest that more than half of the world’s total population will use social media by the middle of this year (2020).”

Source – We Are Social

What about looking at measures of success? What is successful for your business, ROI or hopefully more than that?! 

An article on how marketers should report marketing activity to CEOS stated that they care most about the ‘CAC’ (Customer Acquisition Cost) which is…. 

“This is your total Sales and Marketing cost: Add up all the program or advertising spend, plus salaries, plus commissions and bonuses, plus overhead within a given time period. Then, divide it by the number of new customers in that same time period. For instance, if you spent $300,000 on Sales and Marketing in a month and added 30 customers that month, then your CAC is $10,000.”

Source – Hubspot

What about Share of Voice, what does that mean? 

Share of voice is a marketing metric that helps your business determine how much exposure your brand is receiving. The primary goal of looking into your share of voice is to gain insight into the overall visibility of the brand. With that in mind, it’s also a useful marketing metric to utilize when conducting competitive analysis.”

Source – Alexa

Here’s an article on how to measure it (lots of other information out there!)

I saw a poll recently on LinkedIn that asked if I podded?! Its to do with conquering the LinkedIn algorithm – we are all having our content filtered / manipulated so we only see the content from the people you engage with the most, so if you have a big family and always like their posts, you will probably only see the activity your family are up to, which personally, I find annoying. I’d like the news in chronological order from all my contacts please, not this filtered version which gives me a very slanted view. 

Have you reported your MQLs or SQLs? These are Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads. Most of the time any business is excited about the prospect of a new project and getting proposals / quotes written and contracts drawn up so checking where or how the lead came from does not happen. It should! I always ask how did you find us or hear about us? Might sound obvious. Here’s a good article on the topic and includes info on lead scoring.

Some more links below for further reading and get in touch if you want to hear where I would put my marketing efforts / budgets these days. 

Zara, Director and Founder of EXT MKTG 

https://www.iabuk.com/jargon-buster

https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34054/the-6-marketing-metrics-your-ceo-actually-cares-about-cheat-sheet.aspx

https://www.articulatemarketing.com/blog/5-essential-marketing-metrics

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Client growth

What is External Marketing

By definition, external marketing is the action of promoting your business to people outside your business, otherwise it’s internal marketing and that definitely has lots of benefits too. External Marketing takes many forms, it can be your website, social channels, market research, advertising to clients or your target audience, media coverage etc, the goal is attracting new business and winning more clients. Everything that is communicated to people outside your business needs to be ‘bang on the money’. The communication has to speak directly to who it’s targeted to. This doesn’t always have to be for commercial gains, it could be to attract new talent to your company or to celebrate a milestone or an amazing new hire. I like to think of it as beating a large drum! 

My company, External Marketing, helps businesses get better known – my five word strapline! I think it’s clear and self-explanatory what we’re about, the objective is to tell my clients that our specialities are broad but ultimately we will help them ‘get better known’. I started my career in the press office of Vivienne Westwood, which began to teach me how my marketing degree was relevant in the real world. Having the brand/media alliances for the right product was the main prerogative, but the day-to-day for the interns was juggling the product across the publications. I continued for four other roles in PR before moving into Business Development and then in roles that crossed over Business Development, with PR and Marketing. Big lessons were learnt along the way and I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from every experience, looking at how businesses attract clients, win business, market themselves properly, use various channels of communication and what to do when you’re busy vs when you’re quiet. 

Positioning your business right is something that needs time, care and precision. Time needs to be spent thinking carefully about who your business is and where you want to be positioned.

According to the citation on wikipedia – the most detailed explanation I could find on market positioning- it is ‘one of the most powerful concepts of marketing’ and I fully believe it is. Cutting to the chase – positioning is about the perceived value of the product/service/brand, what does it feel like it should cost, what do you think the experience with ‘it’ will be? If you bought an iPad, you’re buying an expensive tablet with cool packaging, via an easy and engaging e-commerce site or from a gorgeous Scandinavian style store filled with plants and ‘tech gurus’ but was it worth it in hindsight? What’s included in the price is the care that Apple has taken over the product hardware and software but also the after-sales and free service you get while the product is under guarantee but most importantly, you’re buying into their brand and the brand they’ve built attracts customers like bees to nectar; flipping the traditional model of selling to customers. 

This is relevant to your business because if think about Apple or another company or brand you admire when you think about your positioning – what do you like/ don’t like and what might work, then get in touch, and we can discuss that further. If you get your positioning right, the bees will come in swarms. 

I’m Zara Deegan, Founder of External Marketing, get in touch via the Contact button.  

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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.  

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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.