Four questions to make the New Financial Year more profitable and productive

With the end of financial year fast approaching, it’s an opportune time to pause and take a moment to step back from the day-to-day running of your business and regroup, refocus, and realign with your greater vision and goals.

Not sure where to start? Here are four questions that will help you start the New Financial Year off more profitably and productively.  

What has worked?

When you look back over the last year look at what has worked well.  From sales and marketing strategies to systems and procedures, what has generated the most results or made the most difference in your business?

These are strategies and tasks you want to give priority to. You might even want to plan to invest more time, money and resources in these areas to grow them further and generate more return in the next half of this year. 

What hasn’t worked?

When you look back over the last year look at what hasn’t worked.  This is an important opportunity to learn from mistakes and hindsight. 

What sales and marketing strategies haven’t worked? What products or services aren’t selling? What business relationships aren’t profitable or working? What have you learnt from the challenges you’ve had over the last six months?  

What could be done better?

Before you rid your business of everything that didn’t work, it is important to ask “why” it didn’t. Are there still opportunities to be had if done right or better? 

When you look at what has worked, are there opportunities to make it even better, faster, bigger or more effective? Always be looking for areas to improve. 

What is your market telling you?

This is perhaps the most important question. Over the last year, what has your market been telling you?

What products and services are the most popular? Who is buying from you? Why are they buying from you? Why do they need and want your products or services? Why are they coming to you and not someone else? Are they responding to some marketing messages better than others?

What feedback have you received? If you’ve had complaints, have they been addressed in your business and with the customer/s?

Have you had more new customers than this time last year? Have you had more repeat customers than this time last year? Has your average customer transaction price increased from this time last year? Why?

Answering these questions will give you greater clarity on what you need and want to achieve, where you need to focus your efforts, how you can be more strategic and targeted with your marketing and how you can measure your success. 

Here’s to a happy and profitable New Financial Year!

Amanda 


Six questions to position your brand effectively in the mind of your customers

How your customers and potential customers perceive your brand directly impacts your bottom line. So how do you make sure you position your brand effectively in the mind of your customers? 

Here are six questions to help you ensure your brand is more engaging and appealing to your customers, now and in the future.

1. What do you want your brand to stand for?

Work out what your brand stands for, what the purpose of your business is – beyond making profit and what you’re passionate about. What is your vision? What difference do you want to make in the world? What do you believe in?  What problems are you solving? Do you have a cause?

When you know who you are as a brand, you not only communicate better with your customers and potential customers, you appear to be more authentic. The decisions and actions you take as a business owner can also be considered more carefully to ensure you stay true to what you stand for.

2. Where do you want to be in the market place?

Determine where you want your brand to sit within your market. Do you want to be the luxury, expensive brand of your industry, the cheaper alternative or somewhere in the middle? Do you want to be seen to be more exclusive to a certain group or available to the masses? Are you the optional extra or the essential?

3. What do you want to be known for?

When your customers and potential customers talk about your business or give you a testimonial, what do you want them to say? When someone sees or hears your business name what do you want their first thoughts to be?

Is it your results, professionalism, creativity or innovation? Is it your consistency, quality, simplicity or availability? Choose what you want to be known for and determine what products and services you need to offer, what actions you need to take and customer interactions you need to have in order to achieve it.

4. What personality do you want your brand to have?

Your brand’s personality describes the way your brand thinks, speaks, acts and reacts, which then gets reflected in your social media, blogs, marketing messages and your day-to-day communication with your customers, suppliers and business associates. 

Do you want your brand to be humorous or more serious? Relaxed or professional? Enthusiastic or refined? Elegant or cheap? Young or old? Inspiring or more factual and realistic? Innovative or predictable? Choose what human characteristics you want your brand to have in order to make it more relatable and engaging to your customers and potential customers.

5. What emotions do you want to spark?

A brand, by definition is a collection of thoughts and feelings about your experiences with it. When you create the right emotional affiliation with your brand, you increase awareness, sales and retention. 

For this reason, it is important to work out what emotions you want your customers and potential customers to associate with your brand. Is it safety and security? Love and passion? Awe and wonder? Confidence and trust? Hope, excitement or happiness?

Keep in mind that this is different to how you will appeal to your customers through your marketing, as you will normally use more negative emotions like frustration, fear or guilt in order to motivate them to act.

6. What do your customers want from you?

Once you have answered all of these questions from your perspective, answer them from your customers’ perspective. What do they need and want? What are they looking for from you and from your industry? What do they prioritise as most important? 

While you may own your business, your customers are the ones who keep you in business, so always make sure your brand is aligned with what they want.

How did you go about positioning your brand in the market place? Are you happy with where you are or is it time to make some adjustments?

Amanda


Five ways to make your marketing more strategic

Too often businesses take an unplanned approach to their marketing, either following the crowd or acting on a hunch they decide to “try it and see”. But it’s the fastest way to blow your marketing budget. 

True marketing magic happens when the right product or service, with the right message meets the right people, at the right time, on the right marketing platform. Though, to do that you need a strategy, and you need to test and measure your results. 

So stop doing what you think you should be doing, what the company down the road is doing or what you heard would be good to try and start strategising the best way to create the marketing magic for your business. Here are five tips to get you started. 

1. Qualify your marketing efforts

In order to make the most of your marketing campaign and investment you need to:

  • Check there is a need for your products or services
  • Craft messages that are relevant and emotionally engaging with the audience that have the need
  • Ensure the platform or strategy you use will reach a large amount of the audience you are targeting 

When you start to evaluate your marketing efforts, strategies and opportunities even on this simple criteria, by asking is it relevant and targeted to your audience and reaching a high percentage of those you are targeting, you can quickly protect your budget from marketing strategies that “everyone is doing” and start to see what to say yes to and try, and what to say no to or stop. 

2. Know the purpose 

Whatever marketing or advertising you do, there needs to be a clear purpose for it. You need to know what you want someone to do after reading or hearing the specific message you have created, as this will impact the call to action you use. 

Is it to call you? Go to your website? Sign up to the mailing list? Buy immediately? Once you know what you need them to do, you can then make sure your copy, call to action and incentive all work together to make it happen.

3. Ensure there are real benefits or an opportunity to get a return

It sounds obvious, but many marketing campaigns have been done under the guise of “increasing brand awareness” (sponsorship can be an ideal example of this) which is fine if you have brand awareness to start with, have a large marketing budget to play with or if it’s a highly relevant and targeted opportunity, but it’s impact is very hard to measure. 

Whatever you look to invest your marketing dollars in, there needs to be real benefits and return. So, to use the sponsorship example, find a way to proactively reach your audience in a measurable way like sponsoring a prize and getting the business cards of those who enter. 

4. Test your message on a smaller campaign 

Before you embark on a larger marketing or advertising campaign test your headline and message on a smaller one. 

It could be through a focus group, survey, Facebook advertising campaign, a Google Adwords advertisement or a smaller mail out to test and measure the results. Better to find out a message doesn’t work on a small scale with a small investment rather than a large one. 

5. Don’t confuse persistence with foolishness

While you need to allocate a set amount of time to tell if a product, message, platform or strategy is working, you don’t want to keep wasting time, money and effort on something that isn’t. 

To prevent this from happening, set a cap or measurement on your efforts. It could be a time limit, or a set amount of mail outs you do to in order to test the product or service, message or platform to see if it is getting a response. 

As entrepreneurs we need to be mindful that sometimes business ideas, products or services and marketing campaigns don’t work the way we think, want or hoped they would. 

When this is the case, it is important for your business and your bottom line to stop instead of persisting, put it down to education and move on to the next project, idea or strategy.

How do you ensure your marketing is strategic?

Amanda 


Turning industry stereotypes into powerful points of difference

Whether we like it or not people make assumptions about us, our business and even how we conduct our business based on the industry we are in. 

Don’t believe me? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a used car salesmen, lawyer or journalist? When you call a tradesman are you expecting them to be on time or late? Tidy or messy? What about when you meet with an accountant? Are you expecting a passionate, engaging person or a person who has less personality than their calculator?

While some people certainly do fit their industry stereotypes, many of us don’t. But as frustrating as it can be to be judged according to a perception, idea or bad experience someone else is responsible for, it can provide you with a very clear way to differentiate yourself and a very powerful method to sell. 

To show you here are four tips to help you turn your industry stereotype into powerful points of difference. 

1. Define your industry stereotype

In order to rise above the perceptions and bad experiences people have had with others in your industry you need to define your industry stereotype. To do this take everything bad (joking or otherwise) someone has said about your industry and combine it with common perceptions people have of someone in your field. 

By doing this you now have a list of what not to do, and how to differentiate yourself in the mind of your customers.

2. Create your industry “villain”

Once you have your “not to-do” list, create the “villain” of your industry to give all of the negative attributes a personality. For some industries like real estate or investment, you might paint a really shady, unscrupulous, self serving character, though for others it might be quite mild in comparison yet still appeal to common industry frustrations. 

The key is to make this “villain” realistic and relatable, because this is the person you are getting your customers to focus all their negative feelings and bad experiences on instead of you and your industry as a whole. 

For example a tradesman might say something along the lines of… 

“Have you ever been left waiting for hours without a phone call wondering where your [tradesman] was? Then when they finally arrived [x] hours late, after trampling dirt all through your home, you find out [insert frustration: the job has to be delayed/the job would take longer than anticipated/the job was more expensive than quoted/they don’t have all the materials or equipment they need/it wasn’t done the way you wanted etc.]?” Continuing on with the pain, frustration and inconvenience caused.

3. Become the “hero”

Once you establish the pain and frustration the “villains” cause your potential customers, you then need to establish yourself as the “hero” who swoops in to save your potential customers.

To do this you need to paint the picture of how you, your products and services, the way you deliver them and/or the way conduct your business is vastly different in comparison to everyone else in your industry, using the proof of testimonials where possible. 

Through your marketing copy, and when you are talking to your potential customers, show them how you provide what they need and want, taking the weaknesses of the industry “villains” and turning them into your own marketable strengths. 

To use the tradesman example above, you might follow on by saying…

“But imagine if instead you received a phone call an hour before your tradesman is due confirming your job details along with his estimated time of arrival. If, when they turn up – on time – they removed their shoes, communicated clearly on how long it would take, explained what was involved, had all of the tools and materials needed in their fully fitted out workshop on wheels and delivered on time, on budget with the highest quality workmanship – guaranteed. Then after they finished, they cleaned up all of their mess leaving no trace they had been there other than a job well done. That is what you receive with [business name]”

4. Follow Through

While positioning yourself as the “hero” can generate interest and sales, delivering on what you promise is the true key to overcoming industry stereotypes and creating raving fans that will go on and sell your business for you. People can’t help but talk about someone who is breaking the mould, particularly when the person has helped them greatly. 

Have you ever found yourself stereotyped based on your industry?

Amanda


The four-step formula for more powerful marketing and advertising

Every day your customers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages and advertisements. They are there when they turn on the television, listen to the radio, drive past a billboard, wait at a bus stop, go to a public bathroom, search online, open an email, read a magazine or newspaper and even check their letterbox. 

As a result the customers you are targeting are smarter, more informed and value driven, they research their purchases and tend to see through the marketing hype and the manipulative, pushy sales tactics. They are time-poor, have shorter attention spans, scan more than read and want to know what you can do for them before they give you any more of their time or money.

To reach them, your marketing approach needs to be different, strategic, targeted, customer-focused, value packed and concise. Not always the easiest feat, but here’s a little helping hand, a four-step formula you can follow to help you create more powerful marketing campaigns, advertisements and copy.

Step One – Know who you are marketing to and why 

High conversions and great results come from strategic and targeted marketing campaigns where you truly “get” your customers and what they need or want.

To do this effectively you need to be revisiting and redefining your target market regularly. Your customers needs, problems and priorities can change, and who you want to target can change based on your experience, price increases, product changes, the campaigns you are running and your customers’ willingness and ability to spend.

Drill down as specifically as possible so you can find the commonalities in the group of people you are targeting. This will help you uncover which pain point, solution and incentive will be the most effective. I can’t stress enough how important this is to establishing a personal message, the kind that makes your customer feel that you are talking directly to them, even though you may be targeting thousands. 

Step Two – Identify what you are really selling

In order to market your business effectively you need to know what you are selling. This doesn’t just mean being an expert in your products and services, it means becoming very clear on what benefits you are offering your customers. 

To give you an example, let’s use an accountant. Service wise an accountant may offer customers tax returns, bookkeeping, BAS lodgment and structuring, but what they are really selling is peace of mind and security. Their customers can feel at ease knowing that their financial obligations are taken care of and their assets are protected if worse ever came to worse.

In the same way, a mattress store is selling comfort and a good night sleep. A fencing company is selling safety and security for your family. When you find what you are really selling, you can find the emotional pull, motivator or persuader that will most appeal to your target market.  

Step Three – Work out how you do it differently

When you know what you are selling and the benefit it supplies, you need to work out how you do it differently to everyone else. This will allow you to shape a more powerful outcome or result that people will receive simply by choosing to work with you.

Look at what your customers want and need, and then look at what your competitors are doing and not doing compared to you. What is different? What makes your product, service, business or you as a provider different and of more value to your potential customer?

Do you have more experience or expertise? Do you have better processes or follow up? Do you have a guarantee? Do you have consistent or unrivaled results? Do you use higher quality products? Do you have a wider range of colours shapes or styles? Do you have a more personalised service or a quicker turn around? 

Step Four – Stop marketing your product, start marketing your value

Good marketing is not about you, what you do or even what you want to market; it is about your customer, what they need and what is going to most appeal to them in order for them to hand over their money to you. You need to get out of your ego, and into theirs.

Be the solution. Look for ways your products or services and what you are really selling can help your customers solve what they need to solve or achieve what they want to achieve. When it comes to sales and marketing “nice guys” who have a genuine interest in their customers and a desire to help them, finish first. 

Amanda


Marketing words that boost engagement and conversions

Words are powerful. They can move us, engage our emotions in ways we don’t even realise and persuade us to take a course of action we may not have ordinarily taken.

That is why the words you use to help you tell the story of your products and services are so important. They can be the difference between telling and selling, and someone browsing or buying.

Fortunately, there are some words and phrases that have been tried and tested to help boost engagement and conversions regardless of your industry. So to help you, here are seven words I’ve found as a copywriter to be extremely effective, regardless of who or what I’m writing about.

1. “You”

No word in marketing is, or ever will be, as powerful as the word “you”. The more you can make your marketing about your target audience, and their needs, their problems, their desires and their frustrations the more effective it will be.

Remember your potential customer doesn’t care about you – at first anyway, they want to know what is in it for them and how you can solve their challenges and meet their needs like no-one else can.

With this in mind, one of your main objectives when writing your marketing material should be to use the word “you” as many times as possible. Customer focused words like “you” should appear at least twice as many times as self-focused words like your business name, “we”, “us”, “ours”, “me” or “I”. 

2. “Guarantee”

When you are willing to back your own product or service with a guarantee, particularly a 100% money back guarantee, you minimise the risk for your customer and give them a sense of safety and security at the time of purchase.

Offering a guarantee can also help you persuade your potential customer into feeling like they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by buying from you.

3. “Free”

While some marketers over the years have questioned whether the word “free” is still effective in marketing, the fact remains that we all love freebies. The impact of the word, however, depends greatly on what it is linked to.

“A free quote” for instance, isn’t a good “free” incentive. Let’s be honest, would you pay someone to come and give you a quote for a job if a quote was all they were giving? I know I wouldn’t, it’s just something we do in order to generate business.

The key is to offer something that is relevant and of value to your audience. So if you were looking at offering the ever popular “free consultation”, instead of leaving it at that, articulate what value they will receive in a consultation with you (and FYI a sales presentation or the opportunity to come and “find out how we can help you” isn’t value). What will you give them, or talk about in the consultation? What will they have or be able to do by the end of it?

When you start approaching your free offers like this, you will start to see just how powerful the word “free” can be in your marketing.

4. “Instant”

Let’s face it; given our lifestyle, most people you market to will have a short attention span, little patience and a growing desire for instant gratification. You only need to look at the growing credit card debt to see this is true. We don’t want to wait, we want it now and, while some of us may meet it with some scepticism, we are, generally speaking, intrigued by anything and anyone who can deliver us the instant results or changes we are looking for.

If you can build an instant element into your offering and marketing, whether it is instant access, download, delivery, implementation, value or results, it can be incredibly rewarding.

A word of warning though, when you build up a customer’s expectations like this you need to be 100% confident that you can deliver on it. If there is one shadow of a doubt – or you have to rely on someone else to fulfil your “instant” promise (like a third party or supplier) think about what else you could do instead.

5. “Easy”, “Quick” or “Shortcut”

We all want to know the easiest option or the quickest way, it forms part of our desire for instant gratification. We’re willing to look at whatever will speed up the process of being, doing or having what we want, or make the process that much easier.

Perhaps your product or service is easy to buy, easy to use or implement or has the potential to make your customer’s life easier (be specific with how). Or maybe it’s the shortcut they’re looking for that will deliver what they want in record time. The easier and quicker something is, the more desirable it becomes in the mind of your customer.

6. “Never”

The word “never” can be incredibly powerful when you are pointing out the negative benefits of your product or service. If you’re wondering what a negative benefit is, it’s something your customer will avoid (and want to avoid) by buying and using your product or service. Essentially it demonstrates how you can help them avoid pain.

Obviously how you use it depends on your business and what you sell, though some examples are “never miss a payment again”, “never worry about a deadline again” or “never pay too much in tax again”. The key is to make the negative benefit realistic, of high importance to your customers and for ultimate impact something that is weighing heavy on their mind or keeping them up at night.

7. “Proven”

By having a proven system, formula, methodology or product, or a strong track record of generating results, you take the risk and fear out of buying from you. It’s one thing to say that you are great, it’s quite another to be able to back your claims up. The effectiveness and credibility of your message amplifies when you prove you can do what you say you can.

Don’t just make “proven results” or a “proven formula” another claim though, say how and why it is proven or draw on testimonials and case studies to show that it is proven.

So there you have it, seven words that when used right can generate great results in marketing. The next challenge is to find which words will work best for you and your business.

Have you found certain words work wonders in your marketing?

Amanda


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