We’re now just days away from a brand new year, and with vaccine programmes already underway, it’s a safe bet that 2021’s going to be a lot more palatable than the 12 months we’ve just had to endure.

2020’s been a funny year for businesses – some have thrived, some have struggled, but however this year’s been for you, chances are you’ve got some lofty aspirations for 2021.

And this article is designed to help you achieve them, by handing you a ‘ready to go’ marketing plan that you can fill in the blanks on and hit the ground running next year.

As you’ve probably guessed from the headline, this plan is for B2B businesses only.

If you’re B2C, there’ll still be a lot you can take from what follows, but some of the specific advice we dispense just won’t be relevant to you, so make sure you take it with a healthy pinch of salt.

We’ve put together this plan based on our work over the last five-and-a-half years, working with B2B businesses in dozens of different sectors, from marine engineering firms to solicitors, from HR advisors to rates reduction specialists.

The result is that there’s not a scrap of theory here – just a proven strategy that has worked consistently in scores of businesses over the last few years.

You’ll also notice that the strategy we suggest really is very, very simple.

You see, the truth is that B2B marketing just isn’t that complicated, but it’s not in the interests of most marketing coaches and consultants to tell you that, as it’d make it more difficult for them to sell tickets to events and get buyers for their latest programme, system or training.

As a result, the complexity of B2B marketing is regularly overstated, and the result is that B2B business owners like you remain confused and ill-equipped when it comes to knowing what marketing you should be doing.

We want to change that, which is why we’re laying it all out and sharing with you the simple, three-step marketing campaign we’ve used in our business, and in the businesses of our clients over the last few years.

As we enter 2021, we hope that you can take this plan, transplant it straight into your business and get and keep more customers in the process.

A word of warning though. This plan isn’t a ‘get rich quick scheme’, or a bullet made of precious (or even semi-precious) metal.

It’ll take time, effort and application.  It won’t work overnight.  But it will work.

 

 

Three simple steps to more B2B customers

So here’s the plan; it really is this simple:

  1. Build the biggest audience you can of your target market
  2. Make friends with your audience
  3. Give that audience opportunities to buy from you

Yep, that’s it!  That’s the super simple strategy we’ve used over the last few years to generate many millions of pounds of sales for our clients.

Underwhelmed? We don’t blame you.

But the truth is that while we could overcomplicate it, we don’t want to – we’d rather make it more accessible and make it easier for you to get going with it, start seeing results and trust us more as a result.

So, let’s go through each of the three steps in turn, and put a bit more flesh on the bones:

Build the biggest audience you can of your target market

Whatever ANYONE tells you, by far the single biggest success factor when it comes to marketing is your audience.

You can have the best product in the world, and produce the best marketing to support it, but if no one sees that marketing, you’re not going to be successful; end of story.

And that’s why building a big audience is fundamental and non-negotiable – without it, there’s little point in trying to execute the rest of the plan; it just won’t work.

The good news is that building a B2B audience is MUCH easier than creating a B2C one.

With B2C, you’ve got the complex world of Facebook advertising and Google Ads to contend with, as you seek to get people to give you contact details that you can market to.

In some circumstances, those lead generation techniques might be appropriate for B2B businesses too, but for pretty much all of us in the B2B space, creating an audience is as simple as getting out your credit card and buying it.

Yes, cold contacts won’t be as ‘qualified’ as leads that opt into your website via social media or other advertising, but when it costs you 15 times less to get the data, it’s fair to say that building a list by buying it is a lot more cost-effective.

B2B data is freely available, if you know where to look, and if you don’t, you’re in luck – we’ve detailed exactly where that is:

Buying data from data brokers

Over the past few years, we’ve bought a lot of data, both for ourselves and for our clients.

Averaging at about 30p per contact record, you’re able to be incredibly specific about the data you want; job title, size of company (both turnover and number of staff, location, industry – the list goes on.

Yes, these people haven’t asked to be on your list, and haven’t yet expressed an interest in your product, but if you get your selection criteria right, you’ve got a straightforward communication channel to the people most likely to buy from you, and plenty of opportunity to explain why your product/service is worthy of their attention.

In terms of brokers, we’ve used Market Location (based in Leamington Spa) for a number of years, and they’re pretty good, but our advice is to speak to a few, see what data’s available and make your choice.

Always ask for a sample first  – if they don’t give you one, they’re no good.

Data acquisition

An alternative to buying from a broker is to do your own sourcing, searching on the web for pools of data.

One great place to look is on industry association websites, which often list their members along with their contact details.

Since that information is freely available, it’s also freely contactable – it just needs to be processed into a data sheet that’s usable.

You could do this yourself – both the research and compiling – but our recommendation is to outsource it to someone who’s more suited to doing lower value tasks.

If you want to stick to an agency in the UK, we can strongly recommend Emma Mills and her team at MiPA; if you’re happy to go further afield, there are some great outsourcers in the Philippines who can do this sort of job in their sleep. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the very best B2B database in the world, with many millions of business professionals on there, so it’s likely to be a key part of your B2B strategy.

You can use LinkedIn in two main ways:

Grow your connections

Having lots of connections is great, because that’s more people you can engage with (we’ll come onto how to do that in a minute).The LinkedIn search function’s pretty powerful, so you can be really specific on who you’re looking for.Once you’ve connected with them, your posts and articles will start appearing in their feeds, subject to the whim of the algorithm.You’ve probably been sent private messages on LinkedIn (maybe you’ve even sent a few yourself) – this might work as a strategy, but it’s generally too sales-focused and the truth is that people don’t like being sold to in the LinkedIn inbox.

Acquire data

Once you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn, you can go straight onto their profile and access their ‘Contact Info’. The majority of users will have an email address on there, which can be taken off and stored in your database.Back in the bygone days of old, you used to be able to export your entire list in one handy CSV, but those days are gone.

Now, it’s a relatively manual process, but it’s one that’s worth doing, since when you’ve got someone’s email address, you can email them as many times as you want until they unsubscribe.

A quick word on GDPR here: business data is classified differently to personal data, so as long as the data you extract from LinkedIn is business data – i.e. NAME@COMPANYNAME.com rather than kriss.akabusi@gmail.com – you’re golden.



So that’s how to deal with the people you’re connected to, but the super good news is that you don’t even need to be connected with someone to acquire their data.

A tool like Wiza allows you to extract data for about $0.30 a record – it works in conjunction with the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and means you can export a pristine CSV in a jiffy, chock full of the right sort of data.

 

Similar, but less powerful tools include Skrapp and GetProspect, both of which allow you to navigate onto someone’s profile and access the contact information on it.

Make friends with your audience

Okay, so you’ve got your audience.  Now you need to make friends with them.

Why?  Well, the truth is that – all other things being equal – we’re way more likely to buy stuff from people that we like.

That’s not to say that people don’t buy from businesses they don’t like, but if they’ve got a choice, they won’t.

Veteran marketing consultant Dan Kennedy puts it like this:

“Relationship controls the flow of money more than core competencies or deliverables”

Dan S Kennedy

In more detail:

“Rich marketers invest as much or more in fostering and strengthening relationship as they ever do in improving deliverables or competencies past the ‘good enough’ spot.

Really dumb marketers keep trying to boost retention/customer value and/or referrals by investing in making the deliverables better and better or giving more and more of them and/or in getting better and better at their skills related to their deliverables.”

To paraphrase, relationship trumps EVERYTHING, particularly in a crowded market, as long as your product is “good enough”.

Why does relationship matter so much?

The reality is that if you’re selling to business owners, you’re probably not selling something that people WANT to buy.

Whether it’s consultancy, or accountancy, or HR, or telecoms, or any number of products or services, the reality is that there is very little desire there for the things business owners need to run their businesses smoothly.

They NEED them, but they don’t WANT them – they don’t get excited about buying them.  And if you’re selling something that people don’t want, then your relationship with the people you’re selling to becomes even more important, because it’s a reason for them to choose you vs A.N Other.

How to foster relationship with your audience

Once again, the answer is super simple: you need to communicate with them.

Think about the interpersonal relationships you have in your life, and how you maintain and improve them.  In almost every case, communication is key.

The same is true with your B2B audience – fail to communicate with them regularly and effectively enough and they’re just email addresses in a spreadsheet that don’t know or care about you in any way shape or form.

Thankfully, mass communication has moved on rather a lot in recent years, which means that it’s easy to communicate with many thousands of people every single week, and that’s what you’re going to need to do.

So, what are you going to say?  Read on to discover our 4-step guide to effective mass communication with your audience….

 

What sort of content should I be producing?

What should I talk about? This question is probably the biggest stumbling block for most business owners, and it’s the one that means that most of them fail to communicate as effectively or as often as they should.When it comes to the kind of content you should be producing for your audience, the most fundamental question to ask is very simple:“What is my audience interested in?”

Answer this question, and you immediately get an answer to the question of what your content should focus on.

Because, here’s the reality: if you don’t communicate with them about what they’re interested in, your communication isn’t going to resonate.

There’s an important point here though – a lot of business owners are a bit lazy here and skip a step, assuming that their audience is just going to be interested in what they’re interested in.

Which means that a solicitor rabbits on about new legislation changes, or an HR consultant talks about the intricacies of employment law.

Instead of just opting for ‘industry updates’ or what’s been going on at the office, you need to delve a little deeper – who is your customer and what interests them?

As the great copywriter Robert Collier said, “Enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind”.

James Donald – Ideal Result Private Client and owner of ClubSport UK and a Little Kickers franchise – is a good example here; he runs sports classes for kids.

If he just banged on about his classes every week, his audience would soon switch off, so he needs to go beyond his product, and ask a more fundamental question: what would parents of the kids actually want to know about?

Once he’s asked that question, what he sends out is easier to come by – advice on getting kids active, events going on in the local area and so on and so forth.

Go through a similar process with your business, identifying what your audience is interested in and what you can talk to them about.

How do I make my content interesting and engaging?

This is a valid concern. If you can interest and entertain your audience, then they’ll gravitate towards you. But equally, if you do the opposite, you run the risk of repelling them.However, as long as you’ve got step one right, and your content focuses about topics that you know your audience are interested in, you’re halfway there.

Once you’ve got the topic right, the challenge is to deliver that topic in an engaging way, and the single best way of doing that is to use the power of story.

We’re predisposed to listen to and read stories, so if you can deliver your message in that format, you’re far more likely to keep eyeballs on your content and get your message delivered.

 

How do you come up with ideas for content?

The easiest way to come up with content is to produce a list of the key 5-10 topics that you’re going to be talking about regularly.Once you’ve developed that list, you’ve already got a much clearer idea of the kind of thing you could talk about.The key then is to tie something recent and relevant to one of those topics.

Effectively then your piece of content is in two pieces:

  • The story or interesting relevant news item
  • The segue into the topic or lesson that you want to share

Once you’ve clearly defined your list, you’ll then need to keep an eye out for things that happen that you can use to illustrate the topic or the point you want to make – they might be things happening in your life or items in the news.

The more you do this, the easier it’ll be to come up with ideas.

How do you use content to build a relationship?

I’m sure this isn’t the first time that you’ve heard about the importance of content to build a relationship with your prospects, but you might be wondering how the actual ‘relationship building’ works.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it works in a very similar way to building a real-world relationship – the more they get to know you, the more elevated your relationship becomes.

That means letting them inside the curtain and allowing them to understand more about you – what you like, what you dislike, what your favourite food is and what you enjoy doing at the weekend.

The more personal stuff you can get into your content, the more people will start to feel like they know you, and the more you’ll be able to build that relationship.

The key thing is to share stuff that people relate to – think about the everyday commonalities you share with your audience (the funny things your kids do, your dog massacring your shoes etc) and get those in.

What format should your content be in?

You might have noticed so far that we haven’t talked much about the format your content should be in, and that’s because there’s no one-size fits all answer to that question.

The media you use to deliver your message will depend on your prospects – who they are and where they spend their time.  Having said that, the first place we’d recommend spending your time is…

Email

For most Ideal Result B2B clients, email is the primary means of communicating with their audiences.

The reason why is simple – it’s the media that’s most reliable when it comes to getting your message in front of the right people, and thanks to all the work you’ve done in step one, you’ve managed to amass the email addresses of plenty of the right people.

So, as a bare minimum, sending emails to your audience once a week is a non-negotiable.

That content can also be shared onto LinkedIn, where you’ve built up a decent bank of connections, and if you’ve got an audience on Facebook, then it won’t do you any harm to post it on there too.

(If you are posting on Facebook, it’s probably worth spending a few quid to promote your content, ensuring it gets seen by the right people – Facebook don’t tend to give you a ton of free visibility.)

But just so we’re clear – it’s ONE piece of content, distributed in different places.  Don’t fall into the trap of trying to create multiple pieces of content for multiple medias, as you’ll end up doing them all badly, rather than one or two really effectively.

When it comes to email, we’d recommend 300-400 words max, any more than that and you’ll lose the attention you’ve worked hard to capture.

Here are a few more pointers on creating killer emails:

Be who you are

When writing your emails, don’t try and be someone you’re not.  A lot of business owners try and present a sanitised version of themselves, not giving opinions on things or saying how they really feel.

The more personal you are in your emails, and the more you let people into your world, the more they’ll know you, like you and trust you; and as we’ve already said, people much prefer doing business with a person than with a faceless corporation.

Just steer clear of religion and politics unless you want a fight in your inbox…

Tell a story

Following on from the previous point, writing emails that your prospect relates to is a great way to bring them closer to you, and that’s where storytelling comes in.  Tell a story about something interesting or amusing that happened to you this week.  If you can tie it into what your business does, then great, but don’t stress too much about it – if it’s really interesting, people will read it.

Write to your friend

The other thing that business owners do when they sit down to write their email is put on a corporate mask and start talking in a completely different way to how they’d usually talk.

Interestingly, a lot of business owners refuse to let go of this formality – the misapprehension is that it somehow comes across as unprofessional to write informally.  It doesn’t, it comes across as human.  Use the word ‘you’, cut out all your dull-as-dishwater jargon, and email as if you were talking to your mate Ed.

This point also holds visually too – super-designed emails don’t get read, they get skimmed.  The more your email resembles a personal one you’d write to a friend, the better then engagement you’ll get on it.

Just write.

Here’s the harsh truth: your first couple of emails might not be that good.  But ‘not that good’ and sent is much better than perfect and never sent.  Stop thinking that each email has to be a work of art and start sending – the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start to bring people closer to you, the sooner they’ll engage and the sooner they’ll buy…

Video

Video shouldn’t be overlooked – it’s hugely powerful, and the truth is that lots of people prefer to watch, rather than read.

However, we wouldn’t advise sticking 100% with one over the other – for every person that likes watching videos, there’s someone else who’d rather read an email.

It’s for that reason that many of our clients – like Carolyne Wahlen at Golf HR – send out both, all with the aim of capturing the attention of as much of the audience as possible, no matter their content preferences.

Blogs and articles

In addition to the concise messaging in your emails, it’s also worth creating a few longer form pieces of content too, like the one you’re reading right now.

That longer form content is an ideal way for you to showcase your expertise, and educate your audience in more detail about something that they want to know about.

Longer form blogs also play a key role in pleasing Google, so if your product or service is something that people search for, having a few longer, keyword-rich pieces that add value is a smart move.

Once you’ve created a blog post, it’s well worth spending a small amount of money to promote it to your audience on Facebook – start with your Facebook likes, since they’re the people most likely to engage with it.

If you don’t have much of an audience on Facebook, try importing your existing database into the ad platform and showing ads to them.

Printed newsletter

Despite – and perhaps because of – the online revolution, physical marketing stands out more.

There’s less of it, and studies have shown that people are predisposed to trust what they read in print more than something they read online.

This is even the case with online newspapers – the printed version of the same story will elicit more confidence than an article on the Internet.

All of this means that – if it’s right for you and your business – a printed newsletter is a great way to engage with your audience, as long as you’ve got addresses for them.

Unless you’ve got a seriously high margin product, we wouldn’t recommend sending a newsletter to everyone you’ve got an address for – pick the people who are most engaged with you, and send it to them.

In terms of content, everything we’ve talked about above applies – don’t make it super salesy.  Instead make it interesting, engaging and entertaining.

Our sister business Ink Newsletters can handle the design, print and fulfilment of your newsletter – check them out at inknewsletters.co.uk.

Which format is right for your business?

As a bare minimum, you should be sending a text-based email.  But in reality a mix of formats is going to get you a better return than just sticking to one like white on rice.

That’s because people consume content in different ways, and by delivering your content in the way that suits their consumption, you’ve got far more chance of it getting consumed.

How often should you be sending content to your audience?

This one’s a bit like the eternal ‘piece of string’ question, but at the risk of giving a vague answer, we’d say “a lot”.

A lot of business owners are reticent to put out lots of content, and the reason cited is usually that “people don’t want to hear from me that often”.

That’s almost always not the case, especially if you’re creating content that people actually want to read.

Remember, the average person with an average job receives 121 emails every single day, which means that if you send once a week, you’re one email in 847 emails that week.

Weekly is what we’d suggest as a minimum, as any less than that decreases the amount of attention that you’re likely to get to an infinitesimal level.

Sure, creating a weekly piece of content might get you a few unsubscribes each week, but the flipside is that you’re engaging regularly with the people most likely to buy from you – every week that goes by with some engagement from a prospect brings them closer to you.

Give your audience opportunities to buy

So, you’ve built your audience and engaged with them – earning the right to start sending them sales messages.  The next and final step is to get them to buy something from you.

The right time to do that will differ depending on what you sell.

Some businesses want a steady trickle of customers each month, so they’ll need to be monitoring how well their prospects are engaging with their content and then making more sales-focused approaches to the most engaged people.

Other businesses (like ours) prefer to take on customers in chunks, and if your business is similar, then the best thing you can do is plan semi-regular launches where your content becomes markedly sales-focused.

We do a launch three times a year, where we’ll put together a campaign – sales page, sales video, emails, direct mail, supported by Facebook and LinkedIn, and that works well for us.

Whichever approach you opt for, there are a few keys to creating effective sales content (whether it’s a video, brochure, letter or email campaign):

Sell what people want

The truth is that if you’re a B2B business, no one really wants what you sell.

Instead, they want the RESULT of what you sell, which means that your sales message needs to focus on that, as opposed to your product.

You’ve probably heard about the importance of extolling benefits over features, but the most effective sales messages go even further than that – beyond the benefits and into the core things that every person wants, deep down in their soul.

We’ve distilled these down into nine things – these are the key drivers that make people buy stuff, and it’s vital to ensure that you work out where your product fits, which of these it delivers and ensure that you cover them off in your sales message: 

Let’s take our business as an example – no one wakes up and wants to buy marketing consultancy.  So just sending out a message that says something like, “Buy marketing consultancy, we’ll make your marketing better”, just isn’t going to be effective.

So what we need to do is connect our service to as many of the core drivers listed above as we can.

For us, we’ll explain that as a result of our marketing expertise, we can deliver you more income (#9), more free time (#7), more ease (#6) and the conclusion is that you’ll take a big step towards being secure and set up for life (#5).

It doesn’t just work in marketing – let’s take HR as an example:

HR is boring.  No one wants to buy it.  And yet we work with three HR providers and help them all to get more customers.

We do that by focusing on these deep-seated desires, rather than surface-level benefits.

Having an HR provider gives you more free time (#7), more security (#5), takes tasks off your plate, making your life easier (#6) and gives you the foundation to build a better business and make more money (#9).

Before you construct a sales message, think carefully about where your product sits with these desires, and ensure you appeal to them in your message.

Create urgency and scarcity with offers and deadlines

Lots of business owners believe that offers “cheapen their brand”, or that their audience doesn’t respond to them.

Or they tried something once, and they didn’t get any takers, and therefore: offers don’t work in their business.

None of this is true.

Position your offer correctly, and it’ll BUILD your brand, rather than cheapen it.

Create the RIGHT offer for your market, and they will respond to it.

It might not be a ‘Black Friday’ style discount; maybe it’s a bonus, or a limited time guarantee or a trial of an additional service thrown in for free.

But it’s got to be SOMETHING.  And here’s why:

By nature, people aren’t action-takers.

We’re lethargic.  We’re procrastinators.  We dilly-dally.  

We get bored. Distracted.  Tired.  

We’re about to buy and then we realise there’s something else we need to do.

We can’t be bothered to go and get the card we want to use to buy.

We try things on and then decide to think about it some more before buying.

We think we “ought” to get that sorted, and just never get around to it.

The list of reasons why people don’t take action could go on forever, but the important thing is the list of what you do to GET people to take action.

And if the answer is something along the lines of “send them the quote and then wait to see if they want it”, you’re leaving money on the table.

A recent example of the importance of a strong offer, is a campaign we ran with Emma Mills from MiPA to get her some more PA clients.

Emma’s got a highly engaged list of business owners who watch her MiTV video blog and read her emails, and she’s well known for providing high quality PA and call answering services.

So you might think that if someone needed what she has to sell, they’d just get in touch and buy it; no need for an offer right?

Except that for all of the reasons already discussed, people DON’T take action, even when they know, like and trust the business that’s communicating with them AND understand that what they sell will benefit them.

So Emma had to give them a reason to take action.

We put together an offer, wrote the sales letter and sent a campaign to her list, explaining why they should buy her PA service and that they’d need to take action in the next two weeks to get the offer.

The result?  A whole bunch of new clients for Emma and – most likely – some sort of gold-studded collar for Ralph, her adorable little canine sidekick.

The fact of the matter is that there’s now a healthy dose of new revenue coming into MiPA every month that simply wouldn’t have been there had we not created an offer and deadline.

Not because people didn’t want or need it.

But because they hadn’t been given a compelling to take action NOW.

The reason that more monthly revenue now flows into MiPA each month is because someone created a limited time offer and compelled an individual to take action.

It’s not rocket science.  We all know it in theory.  But it needs to be re-stated, for the simple reason that most people don’t translate that theory into action.

And here lies the opportunity: despite the fact that we all look around and see the evidence of offers working, a majority of businesses will steadfastly refuse to do offers.

And even if they do, they probably won’t pair it with a deadline, or tell anyone about it.

Evergreen “offers” aren’t offers at all, but rather eternal discounts that slash profitability and create inertia, and the antidote to this problem is hard and fast deadlines.

Once the deadline’s gone, so has the offer.

Your deadline can either be a time limited one (buy before DATE to get X) or a numbers limited one (the next 10 to respond get X).

Generally speaking, for our business, we find time limited deadlines to work better, but you’ll need to play around and work out what’s best for your business, your product and your audience.

What assets do you need for your sales campaign?

When we’re putting together a sales campaign, there are a number of elements we’ll always include.

You might not need all of them, or have the technical capability to deliver them all, but the more you have the better.

Sales letter

This one’s non-negotiable.

When we say “letter” we don’t necessarily mean “something you pop in the post”, although that might be sensible for your audience.

Instead, it’s a core sales message, clearly explaining why your product solves your prospect’s problem, and giving them several good reasons why they need to buy it now.

Once you’ve created the message, it can manifest itself in several different ways – as a physical piece of direct mail, as a script for a sales video and as an online sales page.

Your sales letter is the primary mechanism during your sales campaign, and your goal during the campaign is simple – get as much traffic to it as possible.

Email campaign

You didn’t think we’d neglect email, did you?  Email is going to be the single best way for you to drive traffic to your sales message, especially if you did a good job at step one and managed to build a massive audience of people to market to.

At the genesis of your campaign, the first few emails will be designed just to drive people to view your sales message, but as the campaign goes on, your emails can become more detailed and share more information about both your product and the offer.

An important thing to note: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one email is enough.  It’s not.

During an intense period of sales activity (we wouldn’t recommend any more than three weeks), you’ll need to be sending regular emails – the more eyeballs on your sales message, the more chance of making sales.

And don’t forget, if you’ve done a good enough job at making friends with your audience, you’ll have built up enough good will to get away with a sales campaign without getting tons of unsubscribes or angry responses (you’ll probably still get a few though!).

Paid traffic

During your campaign, paid traffic can be a great way to drive more traffic into the sales message, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to get your message in front of brand new people and expecting them to buy.

Remember, you’ve built strong foundations by creating an audience and engaging with it – those are the people most likely to consume your sales message, and most likely to buy, so these are the people we want to send to our sales page or video.

Upload your list into Facebook and show them ads, or use your remarketing pixel to promote your campaign to people who’ve been on your website in the last three months – the more engaged they were prior to your campaign starting, the more likely they are to buy.

Direct mail

Getting a physical message into the hands of your prospect is a smart thing to do, and direct mail can be a fantastic way of cutting through all of the online clutter and getting your message read.

We wouldn’t recommend sending to everyone on your list though – that’s a great way to go broke.

Instead, you want to send to your most engaged contacts.  Most CRMs and email marketing software will help you to organise your database and identify the people who engage most with the content you send out – export that list and send only to them.

It might be that you still want to drive your contacts online to consume your sales message, and one way of doing that is to send a postcard with the right URL on it and a few words around it.

A postcard will generally be much more cost-effective than a first class stamp and several pieces of paper, and there a number of companies that can fulfil it for you – we’ve used Flow UK Ltd and can recommend them.

Video

We touched on video above, but it’s worth some more explanation.

If you don’t have a video as part of your campaign, you’re definitely missing out on sales, since there are plenty of people that just won’t read long-form content.

Your sales video can feature clients explaining why they work with you and what results you’ve delivered for them, you talking to camera and explaining why they should buy from you, or a mixture of both.

The fantastic thing about video is that it allows you to measure the engagement of your content even more precisely.

We use a video tool called Wistia (which integrates with Infusionsoft, along with other CRMs), and it allows us to precisely track who watches our videos and how long they watch them for.

The result is that during a campaign, we’ll know exactly who’s invested the time to watch our ten-minute sales video – if they’ve made it through the entire video, then they’re worth reaching out to personally, since they’ve shown a real interest and who we are and what we sell.

So, what are you waiting for?

So, we’ve reached the end.  Hopefully we’ve fulfilled the dual aim of showing you just how simple this strategy is, while still filling in enough of the detail that you’ll be able to get started straight away.

The truth is that it really is as simple as building an audience, making friends with it and selling to it.

It might sound too easy, but given that we’ve done it across many dozens of sectors over the past five-and-a-half years – the proof is in the pudding, it really does work.

There is one big “if” though.

It only works IF you do it.  Because the truth is, the majority of people reading this won’t.

They might get started, send a few emails and then get bored or disheartened.

Or they might grow their list by 50 and then forget to keep adding more.

But when you get all three elements right, and stick to the process, it WILL bear fruit.

It won’t happen overnight.  But it will happen.  And the hard work, the graft, will all be worth it.

Is it a super-sexy, complicated marketing plan with lots of moving parts?  No.

Is it proven, incredibly effective and able to deliver you the growth you want in 2021?  Yes.

We’ve put together a simple spreadsheet that’ll assist you in keeping track on how your strategy is going – it’ll help you ensure that your list keeps growing, and your content keeps going out, as well as helping you measure your returns from your activity.

If you’d like a copy, you can grab one for FREE – just pop your name and email address in the box below and we’ll whizz it over to you pronto.

 

I logged onto Skype over the weekend.

I remember first using Skype at the age of 16 or so, and thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread, but – as we all know – things have moved on A LOT since then.

What was abundantly clear once I’d spent about three seconds on the platform is that Skype really hasn’t.

It’s clunky, slow, unintuitive and lacks functionality, and it’s impossible not to conclude that it’s Zoom’s poor relation, despite the fact that Skype had an eight-year headstart on its younger, better rival.

Back in 2011 though, Skype was in the boxseat. 

That was when Microsoft bought it, with hundreds of millions at their disposal to improve, innovate and market it.

It was hip, it was cool; it was even a verb.

But fastforward to The Great Pause of 2020, which perhaps should have been Skype’s moment in the sun, and there’s no doubt that it’s Zoom wearing the crown, with Skype playing the role of the jester, or maybe even the pauper.

There’ll be multiple reasons why it’s turned out this way, but what it drums home to me is that things change, and faster than we can imagine.

And whether your product will still be relevant in two years is in large part down to how well you listen to and study your market now, understand how their requirements are changing and evolving, and ensure that what you deliver continues to meet their wants and needs.

Resting on your laurels and getting complacent is not a smart strategy – it’ll just allow a competitor to zoom in and steal your audience…

Seb

My son Jim’s nearly two now, so he’s at the age when he comes up with a brand-new word every single day.

And, to be honest, it’s very enjoyable – I went up to see him just before I went to bed the other night and heard him talking in his sleep, with the main words being “Thomas”, “Peppa”, “tracks” and “nee naw”.

Anyway, lately he’s become extremely interested in cars, and as soon as he sees ours he runs towards it and attempts to clamber into the front.

But you know what prompts him to use the word “car”?

Whenever he sees the KIA badge.

You see, that’s the car he always drives in, and as far as he’s concerned, “KIA” and “car” are one and the same thing.

I discovered this while watching the cricket with him – the KIA advertising hoarding prompted him to shout the word over and over again.

Jim’s exposure to the KIA brand means that it’s well and truly in his consciousness, so much so that it’s inextricably linked to his concept of what a car is.

Do your customers have your business so firmly ingrained into their minds that you’re the first option they consider?

When you get to a place where you’re the first business that comes into a person’s mind when they consider a specific product or service, you’re already in an elevated and advantageous position in comparison to your competitors.

And the good news is that you don’t have to buy advertising hoardings to do it – just create useful, regular and relevant content and deliver it to the right people using a couple of different medias and you can be the KIA in your prospect’s mind.

Have a great week,

Seb

I declined a game of Cranium yesterday.

We’d just been for a pub lunch, so I was in a fairly soporific mood anyway, but the truth is that most board games just don’t float my boat.

They’re too convoluted, too complicated.

You spend half the game trying to work out how it actually works, which dice to roll at each stage, what the 27 different colours represent and how many cards you need to break free from the “Witch’s Spell” that you get to the end feeling like you’ve actually failed in your primary goal: to enjoy yourself.

My brother in law has a particular penchant for hugely complicated games – I’ll never get the time back I “invested” in Killer Bunnies; a vast mess of a game that we constantly had to check the rules during and never actually finished, even after three hours.

It’s no accident that the most successful board games of all time aren’t the ones with 38 different types of cards and numerous oddly shaped dice.

You might say Monopoly’s complicated (you wouldn’t if you were comparing it to Killer Bunnies), but the other big hitters are the usual suspects: Chess, Checkers, Scrabble and Battleship.

Sure, these games are nuanced and have hidden depths, but on the face of it, they’re relatively easy to pick up and play, and as such they get picked up and played very regularly.

Board games are not the only thing that gets overcomplicated – it happens in marketing too.

Over the last few years, there’s been an increase in people feeling like they need to create 43-step “funnels”, with their prospects pinging through their CRM like a ball in a pinball machine.

There’s nothing wrong with these funnels in theory, but in practice most businesses:

a) Don’t drive enough of the right traffic to warrant that level of engineering
b) Will start the process of building that sort of strategy into their business and then get bored or disillusioned
c) Simply don’t need it

It was Confucius who said, “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” and the same is true with marketing.

For most businesses, it really is as simple as building a big audience of the right people, adding serious value to their lives and then making your product available.

Aim to build Scrabble, not Killer Bunnies.

Seb

Depending on the time of year, my journey to and from the office can be fairly arduous.

When the schools are in session and I leave at the wrong time, it can take me a good hour to trawl the ten miles from my house in south Birmingham to the beautiful barn we work out of.

And often the journey leaves me longing for those six weeks where the parents are off the road, and I can zip straight to Meriden in 20 minutes.

(Thankfully, schools finish this week, so those six weeks are upon us at last!)

Anyway, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve actually wanted the journey to last LONGER, and the reason why is simple:

I’ve got my teeth into a new audiobook.

(I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to suggest one can get their teeth into an audiobook, but it makes as much sense as sinking teeth into an actual book, so I’ll stand by the phrase.)

The book is by David Mitchell, and if that name immediately makes you think of the David Mitchell who is actually famous for writing books (like number9dream and Cloud Atlas), then you’re thinking of the wrong one.

Instead, the audiobook is called David Mitchell: Back Story, and it’s a memoir written by the actor and comedian most famous for his work on Peep Show and his trademark rants on Would I Lie To You?

And I’ve got to be honest: it’s outstanding.

Whilst it’s not a surprise that Mitchell is good at writing, it’s NOT what he’s famous for, and yet he’s probably sold more books than most authors for whom writing books is their day job.

When you build an audience of people that like the other products or services you’ve provided, there’s very often opportunity to sell them other things, purely based on their existing relationship with you.

Here’s the fact of the matter: no one who doesn’t already know and like David Mitchell would invest in Back Story, but because there are so many people who DO know and like him, he’s effectively been able to diversify his product range and create an additional revenue stream.

And I’m willing to bet that it’s made him good money, even though it’s not his ‘core product’.

What else could YOU sell to your audience, and how could you use your relationship to create an additional revenue stream?

Seb

P.S. If you like David Mitchell, I recommend trying the book on Audible, and if you’ve got an recommendations for me, hit reply and let me know.

My fridge broke a couple of weeks ago, no longer did I have a fridge freezer but a freezer freezer! So off I popped to get a new one – but once again those marketing people were pulling sneaky tricks.

To see what they did this time have a watch of the video.

Have you seen the Tesco ads that have been doing the rounds for the last few months?

On one level, there’s nothing very revolutionary about them.

On another level, they’re absolutely genius.

Each video talks about a different meal and explains some of the ingredients that go into making it.

Not exactly rocket science is it?

But what makes this particular advertising campaign so brilliant is the way that it’s not really about the food.

There’s David’s ‘Hot or Not’ Chicken Curry, where David explains that he has to surreptitiously slip yoghurt into the curry he shares with his wife.

Alice’s ‘Peacemaking Cupcakes’ which she makes after fighting with her stepmother.

Jimmy’s ‘Steak for Two’, where Jimmy fries up a couple of beautiful looking steaks for his dad and his dad’s date.

I could go on. But you probably get the point.

The food’s there, sure, but the focus on every single one is the story behind the food, and the people behind it.

Often the food is used as a vehicle the protagonist needs to experience a certain emotion, or to enhance or mend a relationship.

It elevates it beyond sheer sustenance, and makes it a lot more important than that.

It’s a very different approach to those comedic ads with Ruth Jones off of Gavin and Stacey, with Ruth making wise cracks at the checkout about how cheap the food is.

And it’s a smart departure, for at least three reasons:

1) We love stories. Humans are hardwired to respond well to stories. Whether it’s the guy in the pub who’s really good at spinning a yarn or that TV show that we just can’t stop watching, pretty much all of us respond well to stories.

By including something that appeals to everyone they’re trying to reach, Tesco are able to reduce the friction in their television advertising and get more eyeballs on their advert. Because it doesn’t blatantly try and sell their wares, more people will consume it.

2) It evokes emotion. By telling stories that resonate with their viewer, Tesco are able to evoke an emotional response to their ads, and as we all know, an emotional response is far more effective when it comes to getting someone to take action than a purely rational one.

3) Once they’ve told the story, they still call to action. These Tesco ads aren’t ‘brand awareness’ ads that’ll win a hatful of advertising awards without generating any extra sales.

The creators have clearly thought carefully about how they’re going to generate a positive ROI on them, which is why, once the story’s been told, they call the viewer to action by explaining that they can get the recipe in store (and the ingredients).

And because they’ve sold the recipe so well, you do actually want to try it.

(Well, I do anyway!)

We can all learn something from Tesco’s approach here. Here’s a super quick run through three of the ‘take aways’:

1. If you’re not telling your story in your marketing, then it’s not as powerful as it would otherwise be.

2. Thinking about the inner emotions that your prospect feels and then tailoring your message to evoke those emotions is a smart thing to do.

3. Selling the outcome of your product, and extolling the benefits of it will be far more effective than just selling the product itself.

It’s smart marketing from Tesco, and if we take some of these principles and put them into practice, we should be able to create some smart marketing of our own.