How valuable are your clients?

Every business needs clients and the income they bring in order to not only sustain business, but to grow. But………….each client has a different value and how do you determine this “value?”

Firstly, you need to do a realistic assessment of the monetary value of the client to your organisation. Secondly, conduct a review of the cross selling opportunities. In the first case you should be assigning a value to you of the client: everyone instinctively knows that not all clients are profitable and that some are more profitable than others. Get the figures and study them, including maybe a “lifetime” projection. You should be reviewing administration time, the allocation of resources, travel, expenses incurred and maybe even the emotional time dedicated!

In the second case, I am talking about you and your colleagues co-operating in order to exploit the opportunities within a client organisation to the full. Getting more from an existing client is 10 times easier that winning a new client from scratch so do not make the assumption that the client knows exactly what other goods and services your business offers. Have you considered doing a client review? In this previous article I talk about some of the options you could implement.

In addition to the audit process to determine the value, one option for cross selling could be to run some sort of seminar with existing clients. The content of the seminar would need to be given serious thought, but selecting a relevant topic or possibly offering some training could work well. Both of these routes are ideal for maintaining visibility, for enhancing reputation and for giving the client something tangible to take away.

In my opinion, the glory days of a corporate jolly are long gone as clients usually want something tangible to justify giving up their time to a supplier!

Conferences and exhibitions might also be considered, but these are another story all together…..!!

Website and SEO still in demand, but dont forget the other stuff

The title of this post pretty much sums up a lot of what we at Bath Marketing Consultancy are being approached to do by prospective clients in 2012 and, as a result, we have designed, built and launched 5 sites in the last 3/4 months –

http://impronta.co.uk/

http://mastercocompacttractors.co.uk/

http://www.mastertradesbath.co.uk/

http://helpchildrentoread.com/

http://www.steineracademyfrome.co.uk/

However, what we are also finding is that organisations still very much need help and guidance with regards to their ongoing marketing activity. Yes, “online” is still proving to fill the bulk of the marketing work we do; especially search engine optimisation and social media marketing, but we are also seeing a shift towards businesses needing tangible marketing collateral to use as hand outs at events like mini brochures or having direct mail pieces as well as strategic sales literature.

Relying on a singular marketing initiative is something we would not advocate and therefore, suggest that each organisation “test” a number of initiatives to see what works and what markets are most receptive. Bath Marketing Consultancy has even written a post about suggestions to try!

Keep in touch and cross sell

Following a recent discussion on Live Radio Bath Marketing Consultancy participated in, one worrying statistic that came out was that, at any one time 40% of your client base are being targeted by your competitors. This statistic is not only worrying, but it emphasises the need to KIT with them (Keep In Touch).

However, having regular contact with the people who have bought from you not only will help keep them loyal to you, but it also opens up opportunities! So….what type of contact with clients would be of value to them and what initiatives would open up these “opportunities?”

A report on some original research –  What client can resist this type of thing?! Free information is hard to turn down, but what you present MUST be new and relevant. The client undoubtedly knows a great deal about his/her market so make sure that the information you present is of interest and is original.

An in depth analysis of their market – Again, hard to turn down for a client! However, the information you discuss must be insightful and reveal your “intellectual capacity” and understanding of their market!

An invitation to participate in research – The subject matter is critical here, but if it is relevant to the client and if the fellow participants are peers in their sector, the likelihood of them participating is quite high. People like to be flattered so making them feel that their input is valuable is possibly the way to do this!

A critique of current activities – Be careful here, but you are the professional so, in the case of marketing, offering to review certain initiatives might be a good way of drumming up business for yourself as well as demonstrating your knowledge. A good time to offer this might be after a change of personnel at the client’s organisation. Be constructive rather than critical.

You are the expert – If you can substantiate this claim then your client should be listening to you. It is not necessarily about being the biggest in your sector, but maybe offer your services and the offer of a meeting can be hard to resist!

These are just a few pointers to help you keep in contact with your clients close and them away from prying competitors and, by doing some of these initiatives, you might just add to your revenue!

 

3 years old and still learning

The vast majority of the posts Bath Marketing Consultancy writes contain marketing tips, advice and help on how to achieve the best results from certain marketing initiatives. But before I go down that route, I think every now and again it does a business good to stop, take stock and reflect on things.

With this in mind, I launched Bath Marketing Consultancy exactly 3 years ago in ridiculously hard economic times, without any clients and without any real financial support to fall back on. Why? Well, to be honest, I really believed in what I wanted to launch and was fortunate to find that there was not only space for a full service pay as you go marketing company in and around Bath, but it seemed like one was actually needed.

Leaving a good, established “agency” in Bristol with a regular income + perks to venture into the unknown on my own was, in retrospect, complete madness (my wife and I also had 2 babies at the time to add even more pressure!), but, I think I would’ve continued kicking myself if I hadn’t at the very least given it a go.

So….what did I do? What advice can I impart to help people who might be in a similar position to mine back in 2009?

Well………one of the most important aspects of launching a new business is patience! Yes, always research your market and do the very best to start with at least one client, but patience is such an understated attribute when starting from scratch as nothing will happen overnight. In fact, nothing might happen for months. But stick with it and things will happen.

I was asked recently by a company I am involved with what I would do if I had my time again. I didn’t really have an answer. Yes, business is going well, but I have made some mistakes and yes, not every person I have worked with has walked away singing my praises, but, these negative aspects of running a business have actually given me the most to learn from. For those of you who follow Bath Marketing on Twitter or like Bath Marketing on Facebook, you will know that the recent events involving a small claims court vs a non paying client have been also hard, but again, I have learned a great deal…..and I won the case!

When it comes to the dreaded subject of marketing, please, please, please see it as in investment and not a cost. Do not try and pull in every favour from every person you know who “knows IT” to do your website and then screw a designer for every penny or design a logo yourself online. If you cannot afford to give your business a professional identity and a decent online shop window, then my advice would be to wait until you can. Yes, I would like to think that Bath Marketing Consultancy provides the best one stop shop for all SMEs, but there are plenty of (lesser!!) companies out there who could help you.

Once you have a logo, a website, business cards etc, go out and meet people. Share ideas. Swap stories and maybe even join a networking group. One of the worse things for a one man band is to sit staring at a computer screen for hours and hours doing nothing or sitting by a phone waiting for it to ring and networking allows you to at the very least, meet like minded people……….and possibly get work.

Yes, I have written many articles on marketing and what to expect and what to do, but ultimately, if you are an SME or someone just starting out, effective marketing could be decisive in whether you succeed or fail so don’t ignore it!

More sales please or do I mean marketing?

The word “marketing” has had numerous definitions and interpretations over the years, but, in layman’s terms Bath Marketing Consultancy sees marketing as a process that identifies and fulfills a customer need and this is not to be confused with the word “sales!!”
Yes, selling plays a part in marketing, but making a sale does not fall under the heading of out and out marketing. Similarly, marketing is also not just getting a brochure done or a website designed and built. I see marketing therefore, as much more than just a singular initiative or selling; it is a never ending process that should sit at the heart of every business.

The process of marketing should involve all of the following:

  1. Understanding your market
  2. Building your brand
  3. Planning the business strategy
  4. Managing existing clients
  5. Internal marketing/communication
  6. Winning new business

…….and these elements combined in a well thought out and fully costed marketing (or business) plan will facilitate “sales.” One other important aspect of marketing is that it is not just a quick fix when times are slow. It is a long-term effort that, if committed to, will yield results for your business.

Why “do” marketing??
Recently I met a prospect who told me that their business had got on well enough without dedicated marketing and why did they need to look at marketing now? My answer was that, in my experience, no company can sustain growth without a dedicated marketing strategy and the correct marketing platforms. Yes, businesses and brand can be built on reputation and referrals, but these things are unlikely to go on forever. In addition, every market is full of competition in some shape or form and I would assume that competitors are targeting new clients as well as your own so even a direct mail piece included in an invoice that encourages a repeat purchase could be a very effective piece of marketing.

In sum, my definition of marketing at the start of this post maybe brief, but it must encompass initiatives like winning new business. One area I always advocate to my clients is that of discipline i.e. to facilitate successful marketing may require a change in discipline, but if a business remains focused on what it wants to achieve and employing the correct routes to get there, the rewards are there. For example, how much of a market share do you think your business has? Probably quite a small percentage right? Well, flip the coin over – how much is left for you to get??! How much difference would be made if your share increased by 1 or 2%? Well, marketing and the selling it will facilitate will get you there!

Rugby and Tweeting; an interesting mix!

Last weekend I had a weekend pass for my belated 40th birthday present from my wife and children which took the form of tickets for both days of Twickenham World 7s Rugby.

As an ex player and an avid rugby fan, I was very much looking forward to the weekend and, combine this with spending 3 nights at my Dad’s away from the interrupted sleep I get at home from my young family, the weekends appeal was even higher!

What I wasn’t expecting was an email the night before from the RFU promoting the use of Social Media over the weekend along with asking me to get involved with the key sponsors of the weekend – O2, HSBC and Marriott Hotels. Unsure of what to expect from the proposed hashtag (#7stakeover) and the Twitter account to follow (@Official_RFU), I set off to Twickenham.

Arriving at Twickenham early on Saturday morning to a carnival atmosphere, I decided to shoot a quick video on Social Cam of the drummers before I entered the actual Stadium which I then posted to my Facebook page and my Twitter account.

I then added the hashtag feed to my Tweet Deck account just to see what was trending (LMFAO was requested a lot!). Little did I know that Twickenham would boast over 103,000 people over the weekend and the social networks of Twitter and Facebook along with Social Cam etc were going wild. Thousands of people were Tweeting song requests which were broadcasted over the speaker system with the account holder credited. In addition, The Marriott Hotel were asking the crowd to “like” their Facebook page for the chance to win weekend breaks. The crowd could also “Tweet” pictures taken which, if selected, were posted onto the large screens at either end of the stadium.

Having “followed” the RFU Twitter account, I was also able to view scores in real time when I was in the car park having lunch so I didn’t miss a thing!

The final swansong was HSBC doing a 360 real time “Fan Cam” of the whole stadium and then allowing people to go in and tag themselves in the crowd, which I did – very impressive.

To me, the use of Social Media really impacted positively on the weekend and shows how, if embraced by organisations large or small, the likes of Twitter and Facebook can really play a huge part in enhancing customer experiences and promoting brands positively. By the end of the weekend, even my father who is 67 and a social media dinosaur, really understood how effective social media can be!

Social Media – do it now!

Following on from Bath Marketing Consultancy‘s last post on social media and effective SEO, I thought it would be helpful to elaborate on certain key points to try and demonstrate how effective these 2 initiatives can be for an organisation, especially those who operate as small to medium businesses.

One area I think is key is that social media is not a generation initiative. I have lost count of the number of clients I speak to who dismiss Twitter, Blogging and Facebook as things that “teenagers do.” Yes, teenagers do use Facebook and Twitter, but the fastest growing group of social media users are adults in their 40’s. Twitter has only been around for 6 years, but is already used by 200million people and over 1billion “Tweets” are posted each week. Similarly, Facebook is nearly at 1billion users so platforms like these cannot simply be ignored or dismissed.

The big question a business should ask itself is whether its target market are using Twitter etc. If so, and it is very likely that they are, why would you not want to interact with your target market on a free platform?!

Social media doesn’t have any geographic boundaries to it and allows organisations to create trust with their brand. It allows people within an organisation to develop relationships, share knowledge, interact and above all, meet new people.

Even the major brands and companies across the globe use Twitter. If you want to test this, put something negative about BT or Eon on Twitter and watch how quickly someone replies to your comment! Why do they do this? Well, the users of a product or service are who control marketing to a certain extent. Would you base your decision on where to go on holiday on the glossy brochure? Unlikely. More likely is a visit to Trip Advisor to see what other people thought about the hotel or the beach. People trust other people and if you came across a review from someone you know from a social media platform, you are even more likely yo believe them!

A very famous quote from E Qualman, Socialnomics, a while ago was “we dont have a choice of whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”