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Bad manners are costly to your business

I’ll keep this short. You can spend thousands of Dollars, Euros and Pounds Sterling on the most engaging web site and spectacular advertising campaign, yet bad manners can (and do) cost you far more. Some all time favourites include: bad manners

  • You hit ‘delete’ instead of replying to an email
  • You ignore that phone call for the third time
  • You don’t turn up for an event you RSVPd
  • You don’t pick up on an introduction made by a mutual friend or colleague
  • Complete as you will….

Yes, we are all busy busy busy, but how many opportunities are we actually turning down by not having a 5 minute call or replying with two sentences to an email. An agency I approached recently lost two very hot leads by not returning my calls. Their competitors were elated and snapped them up. A start up I work with lost a major deal as the CEO did not reply to an email which he assumed was from yet another, opportunistic reseller.

Leadership by example, please. It starts with the CEO and runs through to the receptionist and courier.

Wishing you a prosperous 2014, filled with lucrative exits and exceptionally good manners ;) .

Unleashed: Top Four Marketing Mistakes

I’ve covered the fact that marketing varies per company (yawn, we know that!), but there are some pitfalls which you can’t afford to ignore. Whether you are selling a 50 cent mobile app to students or satellite equipment to governments, here’s the list of top, “no, no’s”.

1. Treating marketing activities like a tap that can be turned on and off – they are not. Marketing is a marathon. Activities don’t need to be maintained at the same intensity or $ spend throughout the year, but stopping activities for a period of time will wipe out much of the success gained.  Restarting  after a lull will prove to be just as difficult as it was in the previous round.

2. Shooting in all directions at once – marketing is pretty much like the game, Risk. You have to select your geography and segments (target audience) and go after them with full force. Once you have succeeded, you move on to the next. Resources determine how many you can go after at one time. It is perfectly reasonable to ‘fail’ and move on to a new territory at any given point.

3. Undefined marketing goals – this will always lead to frustration and the sense that you could be doing more.

question mark 4. Not digging deep to understand WHY?  – Why are people clicking on your landing page? Why are people really signing up to try your product? Why are they not converting to paying customers? Why are your Google ads not generating traffic? Why are people spending less than 60 seconds on your new web site?

Understanding the real answers to ‘why’ is the only way you will be able to understand what to do next.

 

 

Image courtesy of Vlado

Misguidance: The real cause of online conversion frenzy

Conversions are always high on the marketing objectives list, and quite rightly so. Not enough conversions is a death sentence for any company. They are the proof in the pudding, the hard numbers which can’t be argued with. But if I ever meet the tunnel-visioned cave people who drummed the golden, “2-3% conversion rate = success” mantra into the CEO’s head, there will be a metrics bloodbath.

For the record: A conversion is a lead or unique visitor on your web site who either purchases or tries out your product.

Fact: Target conversion rates vary per company, always, often per product. They depend on the company’s  business maturity, business plan objectives and market dynamics. A 2-3% conversion rate for one company will be a cause for celebration and a serious red flag for another…

If you’ve established a meaningful conversion target but are not quite hitting the mark, at least one of the below is likely:

1. Target audience – you are targeting the wrong people, or not enough people, with the wrong product.

2. Campaign – your offer (incl. price) and/or messaging are not attractive to your target audience. Perhaps you are giving away too much for free?

3. Timing – you are launching a B2B SaaS product to the Europeans in July and August.

4. Trust – your campaign is spot on, but your audience still needs to get familiar, comfortable and trust your product. Some direct sales may be required, especially in the beginning.

The hot lead is on your web site, ready to check out your product from the ad’ they clicked on:

5. Does your web site convey the same messaging as the campaign?

6. Is the sign up form prominent. ie the first thing they see, or do they have to search for it?

7. How many credentials are REALLY required to complete? Is the process fool-proof?

8. Have you checked the backend systems? What makes them fail?

Some food for thought before you hit the frantic, “our conversions suck”, button……

Impressive: Moses understood a thing or two about marketing

Moses’s first objective in his long and detailed roadmap was to get the Israelites out of Egypt. While everyone remembers the incredible special effects and pyrotechnics of the 10 plagues, it  was his meticulous attention to detail and long-term strategy which prevailed. Not only did he orchestrate the big show, but also focused on all the little steps and tools necessary.

Following in-depth analysis of the market dynamics and target audience, Moses prepared an impressive marketing plan which included PR, networking with leaders and influencers, attending events with marketing aids and sales tools. Guerrilla campaigns were used to grab attention and ensure he was front of mind along the way.

Skipping on to the 21st century….. This approach is highly relevant to marketing start-ups, with many tempted to opt for a big splash upfront with little planning for the long-haul. But that’s a risky tactic; success is usually the result of a build up of many smaller activities as opposed to one big push.

With a  modest budget you can simultaneously build brand awareness while pushing ahead with lead generation activities. For example:

  • Soft launching* a solid web site
  • Establishing a social media presence, including an active blog
  • Engaging a handful of selected journalists covering your field
  • Speaking and networking at selected industry events
  • Creating materials – presentations, case studies, industry stats and white papers etc
  • Selecting a segment of your target audience and promoting to them
  • Importantly, setting up SalesForce (or similar) to capture leads and build a sales funnel

There is far more to a company’s success than sound marketing, but without it you are in for a much longer and convoluted journey.

Happy Passover everyone!

*A soft launch is a gradual launch. ie Launching without a large announcement, gradually increasing traffic and adding/changing elements along the way.

 

Alchemy: The ROI from an excellent copywriter

I am frequently baffled by companies’ willingness to invest in the design elements of corporate web sites and other communication tools, only to stop very short on creative writing.

I often hear, “there’s no need for a copywriter, Simon made aliya only two years ago from New Jersey, he can do it”. With others, I fill with tears of dismay as I read the Hebrew-English written by Sarah who studied for five years in Liverpool, England.

Here’s the thing: writing is a profession. Regardless of mother tongue, how many people have personally written content for web sites and marketing campaigns? Investment in a good education <unfortunately> does not transform us all into wordsmiths.

Importantly, business partners, prospective investors and clients have zero tolerance for poorly written material. It demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and business immaturity. Whilst they will  be overly impressed with your command of spoken English, even if you slip in the odd grammatical mistake here and there, the same is not true for writing.

I have yet to come across a company that has regretted incorporating an experienced copywriter as an integral part of the creative process. S/he sets the tone for your company, articulates your offering to its target audience and saves you oodles of time going round in circles.

This isn’t a marriage. You won’t need a copywriter for everything, but they are miracle workers, especially for the initial setup stages of your activities.

Three of my recommended favorites include: Steven Greenberg and Belinda Gerber (English); Yotvat Sinai (Hebrew)

Focus: Friends, family and fools, do not a target audience make

Confession: My mother dished a harsh critique of my blog’s writing style and questioned some of the web site content too. This is constructive feedback from a woman who only has my success and best interests at heart, so I had to take stock and think about it. I eventually found a way to address all the points she raised, but then I stopped. I reverted to seeking additional feedback from my target audience.

I repeat: Friends, family and fools, do not a target audience make. Unless your company has developed a product or service which is specifically targeting the profile of your close knit circle, their feedback will not serve you effectively.

Your target audience is: an identifiable group of users who share a common painpoint and could benefit from your product in order to alleviate that pain. The more specific you are in defining your target audience, the easier it will be for you to target them with relevant messaging through direct channels.

Companies that have a broad potential target audience should focus first on identifying their lowest hanging fruit. These are people who you can easily get in front of quickly and satisfy a burning need at a price that makes sense to them.

Your product must mean something very specific to someone, or it will mean nothing to no one.

…..Now I am off to make it up to my mother…

Paradox: The “need” to follow in the competition’s footsteps

I hear this too often: “But we have to price like this / sponsor  there /  attend next month <…complete as appropriate…> as our competition always does”.

I like to separate between the current state of play in your industry and what the competition is or isn’t doing. Perhaps the industry is the way it is because all the players are playing by the same set of rules?

Not everyone is Steve Jobs, (sorry, easy example) and can change the market with their latest release. But, I do meet so many talented entrepreneurs who are leading impressive ideas on the road to business greatness, only to be bound by what their competitors are doing. Surely the fact that your competition is doing something provides an excellent reason for you NOT to be there. Differentiate,  break the rules, price yourself differently, approach another niche, change your messaging so that you don’t sound the same…. Didn’t you start your business in order to fill a market gap?

Try this quick blind test: Take your company and competitors’ 3 key messages and present them in a meeting to your team, (remove names and logos). Ask them to identify which company the messages belong to. Most will not know. Now think about your prospective customers and investors. How are they supposed to know that you are the really hot ticket?

Confused: “We run lots of marketing campaigns, all the time. We spend at least $10,000 a month on PPC”.

A structured marketing campaign comprises many elements, of which advertising is only one — and often not the most effective. Every campaign, regardless of the budget ,should kick off with:

Defined objectives -- increasing unique visitors by 60% in 3 months; 6% increase in conversions. Whatever you <realistically> need to achieve.

Budget – this really isn’t as scary as it sounds. Most campaigns demand far more time investment than financial.

Activity timeline — spread throughout the (~3?) month campaign period, including

  • Succinct messaging with an offer – a compelling reason for new people to get to your site
  • PR activities – specific event with release date and journalists to be specifically targeted (hugely important)
  • Web update – yes, the campaign should be dominant on your website
  • Advertising scheduled – PPC, PPI, Google Adwords, SEO tweaking etc
  • Social media – blog articles, tweets, infographics, webinars etc

An End, with ROI calculated — a must. You’ll often find that you hit the target without clearly mapping which specific activity derived the most leads (or whatever). The beauty of a well-oiled marketing machine is that it takes many moving parts to work together to achieve the results. Sound familiar?