Brilliantly Simple Marketing for SMEs – a diagnostic tool for #CIMSmallBiz15

I recently had the privilege of presenting to a group of small business owners at The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s SME Marketing event (#CIMSmallBiz15), where I attempted to cut through the jargon and present a very simple diagnostic tool to help SMEs to understand where to focus their marketing efforts for maximum effect.

The presentation is embedded at the bottom of this post*, but here’s some notes to provide additional context.


Two recent surveys by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Elance/Odesk caught my eye when preparing for this presentation.

  • 59% of SMEs surveyed had sought external advice to help them grow their business…
  • …But only 7% had sought advice about marketing
  • …Yet 46% believe they spend far too much time on marketing, as they don’t have the necessary skills or a background in marketing

My aim here is to provide a simple, jargon-free tool that demonstrates how ‘marketing’ can help realise the growth potential of any business…and to give the 46% a method for prioritisation.

Identifying the blockages

This is a simple diagnostic tool to identify which areas of your marketing needs attention. You can then be more focused on addressing specific transition points within your marketing funnel and clear any blockages.

Here are the four constituencies within this basic funnel:

Strangers – people with a need for your service that don’t know you yet

Friends – people you have a connection with that have given some form of ‘permission’ to keep them updated (e.g. opted in to an email newsletter, followed you on Facebook or LinkedIn)

Customers – people who have actually placed an order and have paid you money

Advocates – loyal, repeat customers that are happy to recommend you to other strangers….

And so the loop continues.

Three key transition steps

As shown below, there are three key transition steps to move prospects through the funnel

A simple funnel, with the three key transition steps

A simple funnel, with the three key transition steps

Build – building an audience of interested, engaged prospects

Convert – adding value to and nurturing that audience over time and converting to sales

Delight – providing ongoing value beyond the sale, deepening loyalty and increasing likelihood of repeat purchase, referral and recommendation

Examples for strategies to clear blockages at each of these transition points can be found in the presentation deck* at the bottom of this post.

What to do next – 3 things I urged SME business owners to do

Ask for help – don’t be in the 93% of businesses that don’t ask for help. Speak to a marketing agency or freelance consultant.

Draw the funnel for your business – take some time out, on your own or with your management team, to map out the funnel for your business and where you feel there are transition challenges – at the build, convert or delight step.

Hijack your diary – dedicate regular time to working ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ the business. I totally understand the pressures involved in finding time to think about marketing your business, but someone has to! You are the boss, but if you need it, I herby give you permission to make time for this – an hour or two per week, offsite, wherever you will not be interrupted.

Where are the challenges in your funnel? Do you need a fresh pair of eyes or external sounding board?

Feel free to contact me for an informal chat about how a simple, jargon-free approach to marketing your business might just make the whole topic a bit less daunting.

*Presentation deck from Steve Revill’s presentation at #CIMSmallBiz15:


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