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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

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: https://lnkd.in/gt3DQW-g

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!! 

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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 zara@extmktg.co.uk

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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

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!

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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

How influencer marketing can make a difference to your business

Influencers are the latest buzz topic in the field of marketing and communications, and my latest ideation around that is ‘how does it translate from B2C brands to B2B’ and what is most effective. 

Quick dictionary definition- “Influencer marketing” is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people and organisations, my cynical side is saying it’s basically buying posts from people who have taken years to build up thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers! Case and point Kylie Jenner making $1m per post…! But when it’s comes to marketing a business though, there are tried and tested methods that work. 

Some more background; the levels of influencers are named as follows: Mega: 1 million + followers, Macro: 100,000- 1 million followers, Micro: 10,000- 100,000 followers and Nano: 10,000 or less followers. 

‘Influencer relations’ is different, it’s about building relationships specifically and the purpose isn’t always brand to the influencer, it can be fans, partners, or clients or having banter on twitter with another football fan for example. 

In the world of B2C, PR agencies and departments are wanting influencers to endorse their brands and will pay money for that to happen. Contracts are usually drawn up following an agreed brief, more details below as you read on. 

As I’m interested in how the negotiation works and set-up of brands and instagrammers words, I’ve gone out to some accounts I follow and asked for their opinions and insights. The results were so mixed and the ASA’s rules came up, they have only defined certain aspects of influencer marketing (see link) so a lot is still unclear. The most succinct description communicated was as follows: An #AD was always paid for, but #Gifted and #PR samples are given (free) but in return for content, that content would have to be approved by the brand prior to posting. There’s usually a written brief, key messages and hashtags, photographic style and comments, tags and timing that need to be used and final approval needed. 

Interestingly sometimes, so I’ve been told, brands don’t always like the photos or copy and demand changes or reject the content, even though the influencer has thousands of posts in the same style shown publicly on their feeds. It’s disappointing that fees are being discussed before thorough research is being conducted. 

In the B2B sector, I believe influencer marketing is defined in a variety of ways, yet all publications and articles state how incredibly important it is to every marketing mix and that it should be a big part of every marketing strategy. It’s another channel that needs careful consideration and its own internal discussion and planning. One article I read, defined B2B influencer marketing as ‘an area of marketing that focuses on working with key leaders to drive or showcase a brand message. It is also often said that influencer marketing B2C gets results within 30 days, but B2B can be six to twelve months. 

Some opinions are that the main audience groups for B2B influencer marketing are your clients and your team, whereas others have discussed credible industry experts adding value to your content. Your clients and your employees are two massive ‘influencer’ audiences who can or will speak volumes for you- can they succinctly discuss your business’ values and best case studies? I think that all three of the above audience groups (customers, team and credible industry experts) need to be communicated to clearly in order for them to repeat the messaging to their networks, but for your business to be actually doing influencer marketing – I think one-to-one business to market expert communication – is the definition of B2B influencer marketing. 

I also believe it could be argued that it isn’t a new section of your marketing strategy, and it’s something all businesses are doing anyway but now it’s a topic that needs focus and it will, in time, reward your business. 

The topic can be boiled down to really excellent communication; using word of mouth well and spot-on content marketing to generate buzz. This is something I hope all businesses are currently doing, and it is also something I’m able to help with, I wrote an earlier blog on communication here too. 

Something I learned in my early days of sales is that ‘people buy from people’. I’m Zara Deegan, Founder and Director of EXT MKTG, get in touch for more views and insights into marketing your business or brand. 

References: 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/shamahyder/2019/07/02/why-influencer-marketing-is-the-next-hottest-thing-in-b2b-marketing/#29fc224c1192

https://cmo.adobe.com/articles/2019/3/5-tips-for-successful-b2b-influencer-marketing.html

https://www.pressboardmedia.com/the-top-100-instagram-influencers-in-the-world/
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Client growth

Getting communication right

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 – need to be considered very carefully, as it is vital that the message is delivered coherently, considerately, and with care. This may sound obvious to those of you who are GOOD communicators, but I’ve been in company announcement sessions looking at the Partners of my firm asking myself “What the hell are they on about?!”, and wondering how what they’re saying impacts the rest of the team. 

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. Some of the most popular platforms in use at the moment include: 

  • Slack – calls / messages 
  • Workplace by Facebook – newsfeed, calls / messages, you can do polls, set-up events – like facebook for people, but for businesses to use. 
  • Microsoft Teams – calls / messages. I tried to find other features, but the only feature that makes it unique is that it’s part of the Office 365 which your business may have anyway so it’d be free but so are most others! 
  • WhatsApp – calls / messages 
  • Skype – 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 – subsidiary of Atlassian – ‘collaboration tool’ 
  • Atlassian – project managing / comms
  • Blink – messaging and cloud storage
  • Fuze – calls / messages 
  • Zoom – calls / messages 
  • Chatwork – 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 your communications issues or complaints for how communication travels or gets lost within your organisation, please get in touch with us via Contact button, we’d love to help.

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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.