A simple funnel, with the three key transition steps

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.

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:

Periscopes

Is Periscope on your radar?

There seems to have been quite a lot of noise about live video streaming services over the last week or so, since Twitter-owned Periscope launched, inviting us to “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes”.

Video streaming has been hitting the headlines since Meerkat was the talk of this year’s SXSW. I have to confess this totally passed me by, but as a Twitter user, I found out about the launch of Periscope so decided to have a look and see what it was all about.

If you’ve not had chance to download and have a play yet, here are some screen grabs from the iOS app (not available on android at time of writing). I’ve chosen an example from the folks at Mashable to help demonstrate the app’s potential for marketing and engagement.

IMG_5176 IMG_5169 (1) 2015-04-02 17.24.40

You can tell it’s in a very early stage of experimentation by many users, with ‘test’ or ‘view from [location]’ type titles of the streams, but I’ve already watched useful broadcasts from Guardian Tech and Mashable that help showcase its potential. Viewers of these live broadcasts can make comments or show their ‘love’ by tapping the screen and generating a heart which floats up the screen along with those of other viewers.

It’s clearly very early days, and I’d expect to see lots more updates over the coming weeks, but here’s my first take on the pros and cons that I can see a week or so in, along with a glimpse into what the future may hold…

Pros

Even at this early stage, I can see some pretty significant upsides to this platform, including

  • Speed to market: being able to broadcast and view live video streams pretty much ‘on demand’ will be a huge benefit to organisations and brands that want to get a live video in front of their audience fast
  • Authenticity: What you see is what you get…in real-time. No editing or polishing, broadcasters respond in real-time to the comments
  • Accessibility: Without the need to invest in any expensive kit above a decent iPhone, even the smallest of business can use the platform to engage with their target audience using the medium of video

Cons

For the time being, though, these are offset by some pretty significant cons.

  • Search: At the moment, it seems that you can search for users but not content. This seems a pretty fundamental flaw for me, as discovery of new users to follow will be driven by [for me, anyway] by an interest in certain types of content, language or even location. The home screen of the app is too random at present – a list that is crying out to be filtered into a curated list of stuff I actually might find interesting, that I can choose.
  • Bandwidth: On more than one occasion, on separate streams, I’ve seen ‘broadcast too full’ with as few as 157 [see below] live viewers of a stream. Again, I’d hope that this would be something that gets improved over time as more people adopt the platform.

Periscope bandwidth issuePeriscope bandwidth

I’m left with no doubt that the ability to video stream in real time has lots of exciting possibilities but, as with all forms of social media, the starting point has to be in how best to deliver benefits for the audience. One good example I’ve seen is from @pauljholden, a Comic Artist on Judge Dredd who I’ve seen broadcast a couple of times, answering questions whilst you can see him at work.

As with any form of social media channel, I’d always recommend to clients that they should listen, observe and learn about any platform before diving in. The focus on live video streaming (of any flavour) will only gather pace over the coming weeks and months as brands begin to experiment and find the use case best suited to their audience.

I’ll return to this in a later post, but in the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who is thinking of incorporating Periscope (or Meerkat) into their communications plans. Where do you see the opportunities and potential pitfalls?

Kill your business before someone else does

Back during the dot-com boom of the late 90s, Jack Welch of GE tasked his business units with an exercise he called “Destroy your business.com”, in which managers would seek out ways in which emerging dot-com competitors could put them out of business. The process identified opportunities to invest in projects to improve the business.

Fast forward a decade and a half and such exercises are as valid as ever. The pace and scale of business and societal change is ever-increasing, yet how often does your business review its business strategy and plan in the context of these shifting external factors?

Yes you’ve got some numbers to hit and depending on the type of organisation you work in these are likely monitored and reported on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly…and whenever someone up the line asks for them.

radar screen image

How effective is your business strategy radar?

You most likely have dashboards that look like an airliner’s flight deck, with dials and flashing lights telling you how fast, in what direction and at what altitude your numbers are travelling. But is your radar turned on and working at a wide enough range to effectively anticipate incoming competitive threats that you can’t yet see?

Here’s an exercise for you to try. Maybe even include it as the final item on your next board or management meeting offsite:

  1. You have just been told that there is a hidden camera and microphone that has been live-streaming the meeting to the world. As well as your current (known) competitors, there may be other firms thinking of entering your market, all of whom have heard and seen what has been discussed.
  2. Appoint yourselves immediately as the board at Competitor X with an agenda to create an action plan to exploit what you’ve just heard. Where are there unmet customer needs that you could meet to steal business? What weaknesses in systems, product or company policy can be exploited? (For the purpose of this exercise, Competitor X has no constraints of time, money or skills).
  3. Develop a strategy as Competitor X that will kill your current business. Pick the top 3 most damaging and effective tactics you will employ to kick-start your attack.
  4. Present back to your next board or team meeting (as yourselves) the defensive actions you will take to mitigate and remove the external competitive threat as proposed by X.
  5. Repeat the exercise at least quarterly – maybe choosing a different competitor or source of threat each time to keep the radar range refreshed as widely as possible.

I’ve seen this work really well with clients in a workshop environment. Taking the time to look at your business through the eyes of your competition (known and emerging) can be invaluable in helping you to identify any blind spots in your business strategy whilst identifying prioritised and highly actionable projects for short to medium term improvement.

If your competitors are working out the best ways to kill your business – how will you beat them to it?

In what other ways does your company review the external competitive threat? And how often and in what format? I’d love to hear examples of what you find works for you.

 

 

The role of trust in content marketing

Life these days can be so complex, we don’t make the time to stop and reflect*.

In a recent piece in The Observer, Why the modern world is bad for your brainDaniel J Levitin opens with

“Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting.”

Two words immediately sprang to mind as I read this. Content marketing.

In this increasingly content-rich, multi-media, everyone-is-a-publisher world we live in, the rate of increase in additional information available to B2B buyers has exponentially outpaced the increase in the amount of time available to digest and process it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a marketer that I notice the ever-increasing tsunami of lead generation bait-disguised-as-content. You’ve all seen them – “3 reasons why these 7 killer tips will transform your business in 10 ways. Download this white paper today!” I exaggerate for effect. A bit.

Often, the content is flimsy and doesn’t live up to the hype of the headline. Yes, you’ve got my attention but is what you have to say worth hearing? Will it add real value to my day-to-day life? Does it address a common issue or problem faced by people like me? No? Then you’ve lost me and you’ve lost my trust. And if I don’t trust you I’m certainly not going to buy from you.

shutterstock_134893019 (2)

Worse still, your actions may have made me a little less trusting of content I see from other brands. So poorly conceived content marketing has the potential to undermine the trust  in (and thereby the effectiveness of) the technique for everyone.

Insights from the excellent Edelman Trust Barometer 2015** suggests trust may already be a barrier to overcome for brands seeking to acquire new customers – with over 2/3 of respondents distrusting content created by brands they do not currently use:

Edelman trust barometer - content creators

So what can marketers do to build trust into their content marketing efforts?

Here’s 3 thoughts to get the ball rolling:

  1. Make sure the content truly lives up to the promise of the headline – think more broadsheet, less tabloid.
  2. Make sure the headline addresses a known, real customer issue or pain point – not only will this help achieve cut through, this will also help your target audience to find it online (search engines were the most trusted source of general information and news in the Edelman survey)
  3. Make sure you understand the buyer’s landscape – do you know what trade publications or academics are relevant to your target audience? Can you partner with them to co-create content? Such a third-party endorsement from a trusted source will help provide validation of your content (and keep you honest in generating truly excellent work to boot)

How is your organisation using content marketing to build trust with your prospect base? Have you seen any particularly good examples of content marketing in practice? I’d love to hear from anyone with experiences and best practice to share.

**Here’s the Edelman Trust Barometer 2015

*with thanks to the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

34 minutes that should change the way you look at social media

I love facts, me. Hard, numbers-based evidence. As marketing professionals, it’s this objective assessment of the relevance or performance of campaigns and channels that stops us being perceived as ‘fluffy’ by our colleagues in other functions.

Which is why I loved every one of the 34 minutes of Mark Ritson’s recent speech at Melbourne Business School. The scope of his presentation was how social media is used by brands to communicate to target customers in Australia.

According to Mark, social media has been the “Greatest act of overselling in the history of marketing” – meaning that its value for brand communications has been drastically overstated for what is a primarily social (person to person) media.

I’d highly recommend investing 34 minutes to watch this video, but as a taster here are my top three facts from Mark’s presentation:

  1. If you look at the top 10 brands in Australia, the number of Facebook likes as a proportion of their total customer base was 2-3% – so 97% of customers are not engaged (have hit ‘like’ at some point) with the brands on Facebook.
  2. It gets worse. The proportion of the customer base that had recently engaged with the brands’ content on Facebook in the last 7 days was just 0.02%.
  3. Twitter is no better, with at best 0.7% of brands’ customer bases as followers on Twitter

Add to this the fact that as few as 20% of users turn to social media to research brands (meaning 80% don’t) and the picture starts to build that for all the fanfares, noise and excitement about the growth of social media, the jury is well and truly out on its use as an effective brand (b2c) communication.

Take a look for yourself – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Watford Workshop featured on Radio Verulam’s The Business

Watford Workshop logo

Over the last few months I’ve been doing some volunteering for Watford Workshop, helping them with some B2B Marketing activity.

The charity helps disabled and disadvantaged people to develop work skills and allows them have greater independence, become more integrated into the community and where possible move them onto mainstream employment.

To achieve this, Watford Workshop delivers comprehensive, high quality and competitively priced services to its commercial customers from their workshop on Century Retail Park.

The broader issue of disability in the workplace was covered by Radio Verulam’s Trevor Merriden in a recent episode of The Business. The programme features the work of the charity along with interviews with some of the staff, which you can hear again below:

If you would like to find out more about the types of services offered, take a look at www.watfordworkshop.co.uk or drop me a line.

Andrex Scrunch or Fold – has FMCG creativity found a new bottom?

Warning: this post contains contextually relevant toilet humour gags the author was unable to resist.

One of my first bosses in B2B Marketing told me why she had chosen to pursue a career in B2B as opposed to the (at the time) more glamorous world of FMCG Marketing “I didn’t find the idea of marketing nappies or tampax that challenging or interesting”.

Her words have stuck with me since and I was reflecting on this when I saw the recent Andrex campaign which asked the nation whether they “scrunch or fold” when using their market-leading product:

Andrex pack

Admittedly, there’s only so much you can do with loo roll (literally and creatively) – especially one that’s been market leader since 1961 according to the Superbrands Annual 2012. But there’s a reason for that. I may be an old-fashioned prude, but behind closed doors up and down the country, how we wipe our backside is our business.

Yet I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the results:

Andrex results

A staggering 14,728 people voted, although it is not clear how many others spoiled their paper.

Perhaps I’m missing the point and all will be revealed in a forthcoming awards submission for Andrex which will show results that during the campaign, the PCEI rose by 243% (Paper:Cheek Engagement Index – a standard measure across the industry).

Or maybe it was a test marketing exercise to feed into the new product development process? Was Andrex about to launch “pre scrunched” Andrex, one wonders, and have these landslide results flushed that idea down the pan.

I know it’s not possible to stick to the classic “soft, strong and very very long” for every campaign, but loo roll is loo roll. Use the full marketing mix to innovate and tell me about the features that make Andrex superior to the competition. I don’t need selling on the ‘benefits’ and certainly don’t want to segment myself as a ‘scruncher’ or ‘folder’ as some sort of lifestyle statement with deep emotional engagement to the brand!

All of this reinforces that, like my boss all those years ago, I am very, very happy to have spent the last 15 years as a B2B Marketer.

But how about you? Do you love or loathe this campaign? Does it make you proud to be a B2B or FMCG marketer? I’d love to hear your thoughts (about this campaign, not your toilet preferences please).