The landscape of how we interact and buy from companies has changed dramatically over the last decade. The pace at which it is changing is showing no signs of slowing down.
It used to be that if we needed service, we would pick up a directory, find a service provider of the service we needed and start to work our way through the list until we found someone who could help. Business to business sales used to rely heavily on travelling sales reps or reputation within the local business community.
The birth of the internet changed this and rather than flicking through 500 pages of plumbers we were able to type what we were looking for into Google. Fast forward ten years and our lives seem to have sped up to an uncontrollable level, and we demand information in an instant.
Not only has this information age changed how we find and engage with brands, but it has also changed the reasons why we choose which brand we are going to work with.
We have a choice, and therefore we choose the brand that is the best fit for us. A wide selection of companies all wanting to do business with us, which means we can afford to be fussy.
In the past, we would ring around in the hope that we could find a plumber to repair our broken boiler. Our only motivation or driving factor was to find a solution that will give us hot water.
Now, within a few clicks, we can find an array of plumbers. Some will claim to be the cheapest, others will pride themselves on reliability and customer service, and others may even ethically dispose of any waste and recycle parts where possible. We can choose a service provider whose values are in line with ours.
The driving factors behind our decision making have changed dramatically. We can demand that this brand not only does the job we want it to do but does it in a WAY that we want it to.
Whatever your primary, or even secondary motivation, there will be a brand out there that can deliver the service or product you require.
What this means is that we now make decisions based on much more than “can this company do the job I need them to do?”
We are far more likely to do business with a company whose values are in line with our own, so as brands we MUST make sure that our values are in line those of our customer. And we do this through our messaging.
Even in a B2B environment, companies still make decisions based on whether a product or service providers values are aligned with theirs. Never has it been so important to make sure your messaging represents what you stand for as a brand!
Marketing Consultant & Conversion Specialist
If you liked this post, here's a few more articles you may be interested in.
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Unless you’ve been asleep for the last twenty years, you won’t have failed to notice that the internet has changed our lives.
The evolution of the internet has changed how we gather information; it has changed how we communicate with our friends; it has changed how we watch TV, and it has changed how we do business.
The changes we are seeing are showing no sign of slowing down. If anything the way in which we buy is changing even quicker than ever before. All of this means that brands need to adapt to keep pace with the way that customers buy, especially in a business to business environment. Failure to keep up with the ever-changing user journey will leave businesses chasing their competitor’s tails.
What has changed?
The way we buy and the way we interact with brands before we buy has changed dramatically over the last few years.
We need more touch points to convert a customer. A few years ago the consensus was, that in the B2B world, you needed around five touch points with a customer before they would purchase. Today that figure has risen to 8-10, although I would hang my hat on the line and say it was even higher! It also means that the average lead to sale time has dramatically increased.
Research and social proof mean that within minutes we can find out what people think about brands. If a brand has a reputation for crappy customer service, it is impossible for them to hide.
The competition got stronger. Everyone is fighting for the same customers. It is, therefore, more important than ever for brands to get across their message and value proposition. I would even extend this to include brand values – this is something I will be talking about A LOT in the coming months.
We spammed the internet. The saturation of competition has moved us to a state of distrust. Brands now need to gain the trust of customers before they make any commitment.
What this means for businesses
Brands can no longer follow the traditional sales process. Instead, they need to find ways to attract, engage, and nurture potential customers until the customer is ready to buy. If they’re not, there’s a good chance that brands are trying to attract customers with a sales model and user journey that isn’t geared around the modern, digital customer. I find this quite a lot with clients, particularly in the B2B community where digital acquisition was not part of their traditional sales cycle.
The big question is can brands pivot as quickly as their customer’s buying habits are changing?
How can brands adapt and keep up with the ever-changing user journey?
A holistic approach to marketing. Online and offline marketing activity should be viewed as one. The last 30% of marketing is how everything ties together. Multichannel attribution demonstrates the need to make sure that all of your marketing activity is interlinked.
Revise the customer journey. Brands should be reviewing and mapping out the journey their customers take. They need to think about the journey from a customer point of view. What factors are important to the customer during that buying cycle? Are they nurturing them? What part does the website play in all of this? What and where are the touch points? Are the touchpoints online, offline, or both?
Gear the website accordingly. Understanding the customer journey will mean that businesses can craft their website in a way that will help move customers naturally along the buying cycle. Micro conversions offer a ‘marginal gains’ approach to nurturing customers.
Make it easy for customers. It’s important not to sell to the customer in a way you want to sell. Remove barriers and let the customer buy in the way they want to buy; when they are ready.
In summary, If brands embrace the changing face of the internet as it unfolds; understand their customer and the journey the customer takes, they stand a good chance of staying ahead of the game. Having a deep understanding of how customers engage with their brand will mean they’re in a position to attract, engage, and nurture prospects and turn them onto customers. Easy hey!
We talk a lot in marketing about the importance of understanding your customer’s needs. There’s a lot of truth in the old saying “know your customer”, but today I want to talk about the importance of understanding ourselves. In this post, we will explore why it is so important to have a deep and profound understanding of ourselves. I will also talk about why this has to be one of the first things you when putting together a marketing strategy. Finally, I am going to go back to basics and touch three key areas that will help us understand ourselves as a business.
Not having a clear understanding of ourselves is not something that is exclusive to new businesses or people putting together a marketing strategy either. Experience has shown me, that all too often companies can lose touch with who they are and what they stand for. Sometimes they even forget their ‘why’ – If you haven’t read Simon Sinek’s, Start with Why, it’s a great read.
Why the self-obsession?
As a brand, it is so important to create your own identity, something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Regardless of what you do the rules are the same. Be yourself, shout about what you believe in, and your tribe will follow.
If we lose our identity, we run the risk of trying to be something we’re not, and for businesses, this can have many adverse effects. Customers can become confused with conflicting brand messages. Staff can also become confused, with the net result ending in the company veering way off course and moving away from, rather than towards their goals.
Why us first and not our customers? Surely they’re more important?
In my framework for developing a marketing strategy, this is one of the very first things I look at, and the reason is simple, If we start by looking at our customers, we end up crafting our brand identity around what we think our customers want us to look like. We then try to be something we are not, and we all know how that ends. It’s false, and people can see right through it.
By taking a look at ourselves first, we can be ourselves, advocate the things that are true to ourselves and be genuine. Also, it put’s us in a place where we know where are starting from; something that is integral to all aspects of marketing.
OK, that’s probably enough of the ‘why’, let’s find out what you’re about!
Before we go on, I want to clarify, this is not a soul is not a ‘soul searching’ exercise, we’re just trying to get some clear definition. For me, there are two fundamental areas that we need to explore, our core values and our identity. Let’s take a look at these individually.
We all have values, and we try to live our lives by those values. Our business should be no different.
We all have our favourite brands. If we take a moment to think about those brands and what they stand for, we will start to see the reasons why we are attracted to those brands. At this point, we really need to drill down and identify the things that are true to your business.
If we are clear about our values and relay those values through our identity, we will naturally attract customers whose values are in line with ours. Moreover, these customers will be so in tune with your values; they will become your brand champions. How many Apple brand advocates do you know? Telling you how great their new iPhone is – You may be one yourself. Yes, the technology is great, but the key driver behind this is because Apple have nailed their values and this shines through with their brand identity. Start with why, the book I mentioned above, goes into this in much more depth and uses Apple as an example. There’s a reason why they are the richest company in the world.
Try just sitting down and for a few minutes and listing the things that are important to you as an organisation. They may include things like integrity, sustainability or a fair deal for suppliers! Whatever comes to mind is probably something that is true to you, so jot it down and see how many you can come up with.
Right, let’s try and narrow that list down a bit and pick out the ones that stick out and resonate with you. Although there is no right or wrong number, I’d aim for around 3-5; otherwise, your values will turn into a mission statement!
Once we have our brand values, we need to take a hard look in the proverbial mirror and ask ourselves “Does my branding and brand messages truly represent my values?”. It may be good to ask a colleague, friend, family member, or best of all, a customer, for some feedback here. Ask them to look at your website and marketing material objectively and ask does your company voice hold true to your values? It is sometimes hard to get messages across in branding, so your ‘about us’ page is the place to talk about what is important to you.
If you have a brand guideline document, then now is a great time take a look at this. Your values should shine through here as this is your bible for anyone representing your brand. Your brand guidelines ‘are’ your identity!
Now you’ve identified your values and know exactly what you stand for as a brand; you can now start to take a look at your customers. You can enter this next phase safe in the knowledge that regardless of what you learn about your customers, your business is based around solid fundamentals that are important to you. You may even discover that your current customer base is not actually in line with your values or your identity, in which case you then have a whole host of questions to be asking yourself, but don’t worry we will come to that 🙂
The one big take away from this post always remembers the importance of being yourself and not somebody else. Only then can you create your identity and live your [business] life by your values.
In this article, I will show you exactly how to write a 90-day and empower you to get put together a short-term strategy for getting things done. As an owner of two businesses and somebody who is obsessed with efficiency, I have always had a passion for productivity. I used to ask myself the same questions I imagine you have asked yourself a hundred times. How can I manage my time effectively? How can I focus on the important things and not get caught up in unimportant distractions?
There are many different tools out there for planning your time or projects and some of them are really good. The one I have always found the most effective is the 90-day plan. I’m not going to go into the in’s and out’s of what is a 90-day plan, you can read more about that here. This article is more about how to write a 90-day plan.
When sitting down to write a 90-day plan I would always with a much broader outlook of what I wanted to achieve. Think about the things you want to achieve in the next twelve months. If you were to hit your long-term goals, where would you need to be in the next three months to be on track? What can I do that will make the most impact in driving me towards my goals? This is will be your focus for the next 90 days.
Now write down a list of all the tasks you would need to perform to hit your 3-month goals. The next thing to do is to try and break those tasks down into achievable timeframes. Where do I need to be in 1 month, 2 months and 3 months?
TIP: try to spread your tasks out evenly over the next 3 months. When you come to write a 90-day plan, you are going to be in a good proactive frame of mind, eager to get things done, just be careful not to over-commit yourself.
There will need to be some logic to this planning, as some tasks will be dependent on other tasks getting done. Now you have your tasks spread evenly over the next three months, let’s take a look at the first month, in particular, the first two weeks.
Have a think about what your diary looks like for the next month and if it is fairly consistent and you are working for the next four weeks, then take half of the tasks you have in your 1-month list and pop them into a new 2-week list. Try focus on the most important tasks, or the tasks that will make the most difference. Now take the 2-week list and split it in half again, creating two lists. These will be your 1-week and 2-week lists.
Again get the jobs that will make the most impact in nice and early. This will make you feel really good about your progress and keep you motivated.
A quick Google image search will bring up loads of downloadable templates that you can use. It’s in my content plan to create a resources page for you to use the format I use, but in the meantime, you should find something suitable here. I use Trello and create a board, it’s so easy to move stuff around and for me is an essential tool, to write a 90-day plan.
Well, hopefully, you now have everything you need to write a 90-day plan, and as always please feel free to get in touch and share your experiences.
Mindfulness is something that you’ve undoubtedly heard more and more about over the last few years. There seem’s to be an endless line of celebrities and high profile business leaders getting behind Mindfulness and going so far as to say It changed their lives. Fueled by the momentum shift towards the current wellness trend that seems to be sweeping the globe, Mindfulness claims to help us find peace within ourselves.
I confess I was one of those who jumped on the Mindfulness bandwagon and honestly, I’ve never looked back. Mindfulness changed my life in so many more ways than I hoped. I originally tried it to help manage a chronic illness, but soon realised the profound effects it can have both in your personal and professional life.
A couple of years back I was told that I would probably need a third major operation on my stomach. It was going to put me out of action for at least three months and would definitely not be a pleasant experience. I’m not sharing this with you to gain sympathy and I’m certainly not a ‘victim of circumstance’ type ‘sick boy’, but it does lay down a backdrop to the story and hopefully add some context.
In a last attempt to keep me from going under the knife, my consultant suggested trying to see if symptoms could be managed with an extensive lifestyle change. His solution was to seek help from a number of different health professionals to collectively see if we could make everyday life comfortable. I liked to call it my crack team, although the medical industry calls them a multidisciplinary team.
Under the guidance 2 dieticians, a consultant, a gastroenterologist, a therapist (CBT), and my GP we set about our task of managing my condition with lifestyle and medication. I also had to start exercising! There seemed to be a common message coming from my crack team “Rob you should try Mindfulness”, “Mindfulness can help chronic conditions, you should give it a try”. I had heard a lot in the press about mindfulness, and as somebody who follows successful business leaders, I was aware of a growing number of them who had found it really useful in business. In Tim Ferriss’s recent book Tools for Titans, he claims that 3/4 of people he interviews, practice some form of meditation. Being quite open-minded about things, I figured I had nothing to lose, so thought I’d give it a try.
I started out with an app called Calm, before moving on to a Buddhify and subsequently HeadSpace after a free trial. Quite quickly I realised that not only was I benefitting from improvements in my health, but mindfulness was offering so much more and changing me in so many different ways.
How Mindfulness changed me personally & professionally
With just one goal of helping manage my symptoms, I never expected the amazing transformation it brought with it. I genuinely believe it has changed me and that I am a better person as a result. Here are the 14 ways that Mindfulness changed my world.
- Chronic illness – Nobody can say exactly why, but there is a clear and proven connection between meditation and improvements in symptoms of chronic illness. In some cases, people have experienced a complete reversal. In my own experience, I have now almost eliminated the need for all medication. I’ve gone from having 3 different types of medication daily, to just taking 1 type, as and when I need it – probably once a week. Mindfulness invites you to explore your relationship with your symptoms. In a weird sadistic way, this is kinda cool.
- Stress – Stress is evil and ruthless. It will hunt down where you are weakest, both physically and mentally, and use that weakness to attack you. We all experience stress, it’s just how life is. What changes amongst us is how we deal with that stress. Mindfulness helps you to accept this and choose how we deal with stressful situations. I’m sure there’s been a time in your life when you’ve felt stressed and wished you didn’t feel the way you did. Imagine, how much better you’d feel if you could accept that and be comfortable with the situation.
- Acceptance – Hopefully you can see a pattern emerging here of how everything ties in together. The easiest way to manage stress is to choose how we respond and we do that by accepting things the way they are. Sometimes things are out of our control, so we can either accept that or not accept it, and work ourselves up into a frenzy. Once we learn to accept things as they are without trying to change them, we’re able to change our relationship with them, and thus choose how we respond.
- Anxiety – I didn’t ever think I suffered from anxiety, but it turns out I did. When you learn acceptance, mediation allows you take a step back from feelings and emotions like anxiety and see them for what they are. Subsequently, this allows you to realise that we are not our thoughts and feelings and thus create a separation between you and the anxiety. Mindfulness encourages you to explore these feelings which help us build a more profound understanding. Again, it won’t cure anxiety, instead, it will change the relationship you have with it and allow you to manage your anxiety at a level you are comfortable with.
- Listening – Now, I think it’s fair to say, I was never a good listener. I wasn’t being rude and it certainly wasn’t intentional, but my mind just wasn’t in the room. I was absorbed in my own busy world and constantly thinking about the next thing I had to do. Even socially I was permanently distracted. Mindfulness taught me how to be present in whatever I was doing including in conversations. By giving someone your undivided attention you naturally become a better listener. You will find that you are remembering more things too. More detail. This is because when you’re present you are actually taking in what is being said. I have also realised that I look people in the eyes and smile more now I am present during conversations. Note – All this goes out the window if you try and talk to me before I’ve had a coffee in the morning!!!
- Concentration & Focus – Mindfulness is an amazing way to learn how to focus the mind on one task at a time – preferably the task at hand. One of the techniques used on mindfulness encourages you to focus on the breath. One breath at a time. Nothing else, just the breath going in and the breath going out. Everytime you get distracted by thoughts, which you will do, you gently guide the focus of your concentration back to the breath. Focussing on the breath is a great technique to use as it is an anchor to the mind. Because it is always with us, it doesn’t matter where we are, or what we are doing, we always have the breath.
- Patience – Naturally, if you are able to accept things the way they are and you are comfortable with that, you are going to be a more patient person in general. Patience isn’t something I specifically wanted to focus on when I started meditating, but I did find myself becoming less angry about things and found myself remaining very calm in troubling times.
- Empathy – You often find that people who are not empathetic towards others are also often people who are quite critical of themselves. I was very guilty of this and empathy towards others was something that I actively wanted to change. What I wasn’t expecting though, was to discover a deep level of empathy towards myself. I learned that to show empathy towards others I first needed to love and accept myself. This has had a profound change in my happiness in general. I am no longer my own harshest critic and as a result, I am now able to have much more empathy and compassion towards others.
- Awareness – You will be really surprised at the number of wonderful things you miss in everyday life. You will start to spot things that have been in front of your eyes every day but have never sunk in. Colours, smell, noises, these are all things that we need to be present to, in order for us to enjoy. Mindfulness teaches you that awareness.
- Sleep – Have you ever lay in bed not able to sleep with thoughts rushing around in your mind? Sometimes our minds can be so busy you can lie there for hours worrying about sometimes trivial things. Meditating the last thing before sleep will help gather the mind and help it settle down, making it much more likely that you will fall asleep. My sleep used to be shocking and I was definitely guilty of having a million and one thoughts. When you learn to calm your mind and combine it with the reduced stress and worry that you will also benefit from, it makes for a much better night’s sleep.
- Productivity – It’s my view that we don’t need to work all the hours under the sun to be productive, we just need to be smart about how we work. A clear, uncluttered, unstressed mind, is far more productive than a tired, distracted one. It won’t as any surprise when I say that my productivity has gone through the roof since I started meditating. It has taught me to use short, laser focussed bursts to yield highly productive days and because I’ve already learnt how to focus, I’m not getting distracted.
- Work-Life Balance – Mindfulness has helped me accept that my work is not the most important aspect of my life. Although I knew this should be the case, I could never accept it. In my mind, I saw that I had an opportunity, a window, in which leave my legacy. The reality is that is not the case at all. My family are the most important thing to me, followed by my health and since I realised this the results have been profound. I have a much better relationship with my family. I exercise a lot and more importantly, I enjoy it. My health is better and my work is better than ever. The work-life balance is probably the hardest thing to master as a business owner and is something I want to talk about a lot in the future. for now though, know this… The key to me getting the work-life balance right was discovering mindfulness!
- Appreciation – When we learn to accept things how they are we learn to appreciate them much more. There’s not much more to say about this one, it’s beauty is its simplicity. needless to say, I appreciate people much more than I did prior to meditation.
- Self Confidence – Do you think if you became healthier, reduced your stress levels, became a better person, and kicked on your career at the same time as mastering the work-life balance, you could learn to love yourself? Of course, you could, and with it, you’d bring a level of self-belief and confidence you didn’t think you were capable of.
Did it work?
How to start with Mindfulness
Do you see what I mean about it all tying together? Now I am not saying that you will see all of the above benefits straight away, but with time and patience, these are all achievable. To help you get started I’ve put together started. Here are a few of the resources I use.
The Little Book of Mindfulness: Patrizia Collard – My mum lent me this book and I love it so much, I bought it myself. It’s one of those books you just keep revisiting and dropping into all the time.
Mindfulness: Mark Williams & Danny Penman – There are loads of accompanying material to go with this book.You get a CD with it with some great guided meditations on. Don’t bother with the app. It’s not very good at all and the content is just the meditations on the CD. Much better to spend the money on the book. I really like the structure and how it builds you up week by week. I think this book is great for people who want Mindfulness to be part of their life, but don’t think that committing 30 minutes a day is possible. This book will change that perception and break you into it gently.
Calm App – Calm was the first Mindfulness app I tried and I would definitely recommend it as a starting point to dip your toe in the water. Although I didn’t go for the paid version, some of the free content you get on there is really good. After the initial trial period, I realised that meditation was for me and decided to move on to some of the other apps.
Buddhify – Bhuddify is my go-to app for everyday meditations. The app has about 12 subjects for all occasions, like getting to sleep, travelling, or a work break. each subject has 5-7 guided meditations lasting anything from 5 minutes up to about half an hour. I use this app throughout the day depending on what I am doing or how I am feeling. I also like to use it for my bedtime meditations. All three of the apps I have suggested have their place, but if I was going to recommend just one it would be Bhuddify.
Headspace – I’m now well into my second one-year subscription of HeadSpace. It is by far the market leader in Mindfulness apps and is awesome for working on particular areas of your life like anxiety, self-esteem, relationships etc. It has an extensive menu of what it calls packs, which are mini-courses of guided meditations, designed to help in certain aspects. I have found these really useful for fine-tuning the areas in my life that I felt needed the most work. Headspace can be pretty pricey but it’s definitely worth it. I’ve found if you let your subscription lapse and don’t renew, they will email you with some pretty decent offers and you can save quite a bit of money.
OK, so that was a pretty long post and hopefully, you’re still awake. If you are then well done and now it’s over to you.I do hope you decide to give Mindfulness a try. The results I have seen over the last couple of years have really changed my life for the better. I genuinely think that taking up mindfulness is the best thing I have done. I’m not just a better person, but in my life as a business owner and a marketing consultant has also seen amazing results. As always, I would love to hear about your own experiences.
If you’ve heard about the 90-day plan, but you’re not quite sure what it is, you’re in the right place. In this short article, I will explain what is a 90-day plan and how you will find it useful in both your working and everyday life. Although many consider the 90-day plan to be a business or productivity tool, it can be used just as easily in everyday life. I used it recently to get on top of my sleeping (I will write an article on this at some point).
What is a 90-day plan?
A 90-day plan is a productivity tool designed to help you focus on the tasks that will take you towards your goals faster and more efficiently. The 90-day plan can be really useful if you struggle with focussing on one task at a time. It is also really good to help you prioritise just what needs to be done. In short, it’s my go-to tool to get shit done.
In essence, you list everything that will get you to where you want to be and decide if they need to be done in the 30, 60 or 90 days. Sounds pretty straightforward, hey? That’s because it is – Its beauty is its simplicity. I use a slightly extended version of this that looks at what needs doing this week and goes beyond 90-days – It’s not unlikely that it will take you more than 90-days to reach your ultimate goal. By pigeon-holing your tasks, you’re able to put aside the ones that are not important right now and focus on the tasks that are. You can see the tasks that you need to be working on right now – nothing else matters. Work and focus on these immediate tasks and before you know it you will reach your end goal.
Alternatives to the 90-day plan
Over the years as a business owner and marketing consultant, I have played around with quite a few different planning tools and I’ve always come back to the 90-day plan. It’s worth taking a look at some of the alternatives out there. Other planning tools I have played around with and found useful include:
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Sean Covey
The 4 Disciplines of Execution or 4DX is really good if you have a team and want to get things done. The hardest part is getting your teams buy-in, but if you can master that, it’s a machine and can be very effective.
If you’ve not tried Todoist, I’d recommend giving it a blast. It’s more of a to-do-list than a planning tool, but the ability to have multiple lists, add priority levels, and schedule tasks, makes it a great tool. It’s also multi-platform and if you go for the premium version it syncs instantly.
Goals: Zig Ziglar
I prefer his audio books as I just love listening to him – You’ve just gotta love Zig Ziglar’s energy. That aside, I things Zig’s approach to setting goals is a really good one and definitely one that will get stuff done.
Now we’ve answered the million dollar question ‘what is a 90-day plan question, it’s time to give it a try and see just how focussed and organised it makes you. To help I’ve put together a resource page dedicated just to the 30 60 90 day plan. Here you’ll find tips, tricks, hacks and templates, to help you master the 90 day plan.
Now go give it a try!
If you work in a digital space you’ve quite possibly come across the term ‘micro conversions’ and may just wonder what are micro conversions? We all know that the key metric to measure how a website is performing is by its conversion rate and that the user journey will heavily influence that conversion rate. If you understand your customer and master the customer or user journey then the riches of new customers await. Get it wrong and you’ll be sat around waiting for the sales to come in or the phone to ring.
What are micro conversions?
Micro conversions are essentially the smaller steps required to get your customer to the bigger goal. imagine you’re just about to head out on a first date. It’s very unlikely that you are thinking about marrying your date before you’ve even been on date number one. If you’re realistic, you’re keeping an open mind, you want to have an enjoyable date and ascertain if there is scope for a second date. One date becomes two, which then becomes 3 and 4, until one day you move in together. Natural progression moves you closer until one day, you decide you that you will get married. This journey you have taken together didn’t just happen the first time you met, it happened over time, one step at a time.
I have deliberately used a relationship scenario, as ultimately we are trying to build relationships (albeit a completely different one). Ideally, we’re trying to build a relationship with users and turn them into customers. So how does this corny relationship analogy relate to the performance of your website? Well if you can really get to know your customer, you can break down the journey they take and gear it accordingly. By breaking it down into bite-sized pieces or micro conversions, you can hone in on where you may be losing customers.
Conversion rates are a great metric, but if you are looking to improve your conversion rate, how helpful would it be to know which area, in particular, needed the most attention? It may well be that your checkout process is awesome, but your add basket button is at the bottom of a product page, hidden away below the fold.
Whatever your desired outcome for visitors to your site, there will be steps in between them hitting your site and reaching that desired outcome. By breaking down the customer journey into micro conversions, you can measure each stage and really fine tune the areas that need your love and attention. The net effect is much higher overall conversion rates.
As a marketing consultant, I have helped lots of companies successfully create a marketing strategy. Marketing Strategies are an integral part of any businesses plans for growth and sit at the heart of any successful marketing campaign.
How to create a marketing strategy
Whether you’re a small business, a start-up, a sole trader or you work in-house in a marketing department, hopefully, you’re all too aware of the importance of having a marketing strategy. As I discuss in my previous article, Why you need a marketing strategy, a marketing strategy is your plan of action to promote your business and every company, small or large should have one.
Over the last ten years, I have designed and perfected a sure-fire framework to create a marketing strategy suitable for any company, regardless of the size, or marketing budget. In this article, I will give you break down of the 3 key elements you need to explore in order to create your own marketing strategy. I am hoping that by the end you will feel inspired to take the first steps to hitting your goals and take control of your own marketing. So without further ado let ‘s get started and create a marketing strategy just for you!
1. Lay out your objectives and set your goals
When I sit down with a client to help them create a marketing strategy, one of the first questions I ask is what do you want to achieve? What does success look like for you? You’d be surprised at how few companies can answer this question without further exploration. This is quite alarming as if you have no idea what you want, then how will you know when you get it? Clearly laying out your objectives will give everybody involved clarity of what you are trying to achieve and also allow us to start to quantify your goals.
The first thing we need to do is lay out your core objectives. What is it you want to get from marketing? is it more sales? more leads? brand awareness? Don’t worry if these are very vague at this point, we will make them specific to the next step.
Whatever you went for, we now need to quantify. Let’s just say you went for leads, how many leads do you want? if you are struggling with this, think about how many you currently get. How much more would you need for you to consider your marketing efforts a success? 10%, 20%, 50%? What does a successful campaign look like for you?
Now we have your objectives, try to drill down and identify some tangible things that would get you there. So, if you decided you wanted to increase sales by 25% what would you need to do to achieve that? what is 25% more sales made up of? e.g £10k revenue per month. An extra 50 leads per month. 5,000 more visitors to your website? What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) do you need to hit to reach your core objectives? What are the key components required to make sure your marketing strategy is successful?
As you start to create your marketing strategy, you’ll quickly realise that you’re going to need one of two things, either time or money. It’s unlikely you will have both and if you do, that’s awesome. At this point, we need to identify what resources you have at your disposal. It may well be that as a start-up or small business, you don’t have a huge marketing budget, instead, you have a little bit of time that you can block out each week to work on your marketing. You may have no spare time whatsoever, but are lucky enough to have a budget available to bring in some help.
If you’re lucky enough to have both, it is still good practice to define the resources you have at your disposal.
2. Define your audience
We’ve all heard the saying “people buy from people” and “know your customer” well they’re true. Very true. In both offline and online marketing, the better you know your customer, the closer you can match your key messages and gear your customer journey. A common mistake I see businesses make all the time is selling how they want to sell rather than how their customer wants to buy. You master that and you remove barriers, barriers that are stopping your customer from buying. The net result… More sales!
A recent Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) research showed that if a number of businesses were pitching for the same business, the proposal most likely to win the business was the one that best understood where the customer was now and NOT the solution they offered.
In order for us to understand our customer, we first need to know who they are. Who is your target audience? What does their demographic profile look like? What are their interests? What age groups are they? The more information you can put down the easier you will find it to create your marketing strategy. Trust me, you can never know, or have too much information on your customer. You could even try creating persona’s, or pretend customers and look into the life they lead. I love this exercise. When I help my clients create their marketing strategy and map their user journey, I often do a persona walk though. I take the persona through the customer journey we have mapped out. It really allows you do get a deep understanding of what life is like for your customers.
3. Identify the best routes to market
This is the bit where we start to get some kind of idea about where we’re heading. I often talk about the marketing minefield and how to gain clarity and direction and here is where your marketing strategy starts to come together. The first part of this section is to simply list every single route to market you can think of. It doesn’t matter how irrelevant you may think it is, just pop it on the list. Your list may include things like leaflet drops, SEO, paid search, social media, telesales, direct marketing, absolutely anything you can think of.
The next step is to go through the list and explore it on merit. I like to use a simple risk-reward analysis here. What is the risk i.e cost or use of resources compared to the reward or potential return? I categorise both the risk and the reward as low medium and high. So, this is where your understanding of your customer will come in really handy.
Let’s use my good friend Stuart the window cleaner as an example, as he has recently decided he needs to create a marketing strategy in order to grow his business. Stuart would look at something like a leaflet drop and conclude that he could get some leaflets printed a very low cost, he has a few hours a week spare to spend on marketing, so can distribute them, so it is quite a low-risk strategy. He decides that the rewards could be medium to high so his risk-reward analysis suggests that it is low risk/high reward. Let’s take a look at another example. Also on Suearts list was radio advertising on his list. This would be high risk (very expensive) and low reward (not targeted enough). As you can see Stuart’s best chance of success would lie with the leaflet drop.
After you have explored every item on your list, you will hopefully have some items that are low risk/med-high reward? Unsurprisingly, these are the items you should be focussing on and where you should be spending your time and efforts. Try arranging the items in order of risk, with the lowest risk/highest reward activities at the top of the list and the highest risk/lowest reward items at the bottom. This forms your higher level to do list and is the order in which you should do things.
The final step is to put time-scales on things. What things do you want to do in the next 3 months, the next 6 months and the next 12 months?
There you have it, pretty simple hey? You now have everything you need to enable you to create a marketing strategy specific to your business needs and in line with the resources you have available. I really hope you find this useful and I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with creating your own marketing plan.
Before I get into WHY you need a marketing strategy, let me ask you a question; Do you or your organisation even have a Marketing Strategy in place? Some of you (a lot of you, I hope), at this point, will now be sitting up very tall and proud, safe in the knowledge that ‘YES’ you have a marketing strategy. Others will be slouching down in their chairs, knowing all too well that they know they should have one, but they don’t. There will also be others amongst us that are not quite sure what would constitute a marketing strategy, so let’s start off by defining what we mean.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
So here’s Google’s definition…
I love the term ‘plan of action’, it gives us clarity and direction. it lays out exactly what we need to do and it doesn’t leave anything to our imagination. A marketing strategy can take many forms. There are lots of templates available online (I will upload mine at some point soon – I promise) and as G’s definition suggests, the content can be quite broad. They can be a single page of A4 or hundreds of pages, it doesn’t matter. As long as they give clear direction on how to achieve your marketing objectives, it counts.
When working with clients, I always ask if they have a marketing strategy and I often get met with the response “Oh Yes, I do, but it’s in my head’. Let’s get one thing straight… If it’s not written down on paper or in a document it’s not a strategy! Get it written down.
So why do I need a Marketing Strategy?
Not having a marketing strategy is like setting off on a long car journey without knowing where you are going. You wouldn’t just get in the car without the faintest idea of where you were going, and just hope that you could wing it, yet time after time I speak with companies who don’t have ANYTHING in place. The most recent instance of this was a sub-division of a global brand, I promise you’ve heard of.
Here are the main reasons why you just absolutely have to have a strategy document in place.
- Clarity & vision – Once in place, your marketing strategy is going to give you clarity and vision. It helps you drill down specific, measurable targets that will propel you towards your core objectives. Moreover, you will know exactly how you are going to get there and the marketing activities you need to engage in to hit your goals.
- Order amongst chaos – I can’t speak for every strategy, but when I am working clients to produce a strategy, I make sure we end up with a clear order in which we do things. I recently worked with a client who came to me after burning through a good chunk of money on Google Adwords. Adwords is a great way to generate revenue pretty much instantly IF it is a part of your strategy. If this client had of had a strategy in place they, would have weighed up the risk and reward of an Adwords campaign and known that it was too risky – It just wasn’t where their target audience was.
- 90-day plan – Having an order-of-play allows you to identify everything that you need to do in the next 90 days. My good friend Tony Brooks talks about this in depth in his book PI Leadership: The 7 Positive Insight Steps To Peak Performance Leadership.
- Everybody is on the same sheet – There is no grey area. Everybody involved knows exactly what the plan is and the order in which to execute things.
- It is a reference point – We all get distracted now and again, and we all can get pulled off track from time to time. I revisit mine every couple of months. Your marketing strategy is a great tool for just reaffirming that you’re heading in the right direction, and of you’re not, then it helps you to get back on track. How many times have you been in the middle of something, and the next minute, you realise you’ve been totally sidetracked and now you’re in the middle of something else, that was never even a thing you were going to do?
I really could go on all night about why you need a marketing strategy in place, but hopefully, this is enough to persuade you that it is an integral part of any businesses higher level strategy. In time I am going to put together a lot more resources and share them with you on the blog, so be sure to sign up to my newsletter to keep up to date. In the meantime, if putting together a strategy is something you’d like me to help you with, you should absolutely get in touch via the form on the contact page.
I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to share your experiences below in the comments.