Small Businesses need help with Digital Marketing

Too many small and medium-sized businesses (SME) run the risk of being left behind simply because they have no idea how or indeed if, they should be embracing things like content marketing, digital marketing and social media marketing.

Traditional and more established businesses and professions have resisted the temptation to get drawn in or to jump on what looks to be a bandwagon, but the truth is that today customers find, research and select the people and companies they choose more often than not based on some sort of internet research.

Sure that “internet research” might mean a simple Google search or a recommendation from a friend or colleague via Facebook or LinkedIN but it’s just as likely to mean reading a well placed and well written article on a subject they’re interested in.

With such a wealth of information, advice and opinion at their fingertips, prospective customers can arm themselves with product or service knowledge, supplier and price comparisons and pretty much everything the need to know to narrow down their search to just a few potential providers.

On that basis how would you or your organisation fare?

A well designed and consistently and competently executed Digital Marketing program will act like a magnet, positioning you in prospective customers’ minds and pulling informed and qualified buyers to your website.

It can be confusing. It looks like there’s a lot to learn, a lot to achieve and potentially even a lot of money to be wasted if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So where should you start?

Could you do it yourself and when is it right to outsource it to the professionals?

To help you address those very questions, I’ve teamed up with a technical and creative expert in the space, Rick O’Neil and together he and I have developed a completely free and entirely comprehensive on line course for anyone looking to develop their own digital marketing, content marketing or social media marketing program.

You can sign up for it here

For those who would prefer a workshop to discover what it all means and how to do it yourself, you can find it here

If you think “Sod it, life’s too short and I want the experts to do it” you can find the outsource option here

AND…if you really don’t know what you should do….here’s a ready reckoner to help you decide.

I hope it helps!

Where do the big deals get done?

Where do you think the really big deals get done?

If you want to win the really big deals. If you want to command the premium price and if you want to build mile-high barriers to entry for your competitors, then you need to be on the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in.

Metaphorically speaking, most organisations invest all their time and energy running round the outside of the building trying to pick off a few easy wins and hoping that by process of osmosis and hard work, they will eventually make their way in and beyond the reception desk and maybe into the elevator and just maybe into an office or two.

 

Phew.

And when they get there, what they find is that they now join the long queue of their competitors who have also been on the same journey and invested them same effort and resources to get to the same place.

And then what?

Then they all have the same conversations with the same sort of people about the same sort of stuff. And it doesn’t matter if your “thing” is better, or faster or does more stuff …you will now be lobbying for your rightful share of mind and share of the same budget and eventually (if you’re lucky) you may just get a chance to under-cut the competitor in front of you.

Great job…

…..meantime.

In an office of someone no one else gets to speak to, another company is shaking hands on a huge deal that you and your fellow competitors never had a clue about. Price will be premium and never in question and customer will never for one moment have considered that there may be other companies out there he should approach as an alternative.

Why?

The company he’s shaking hands with never planned to get into the elevator and to join the queue to pitch an alternative to the person with the budget for the known and well understood  requirement.

 

Instead, that company invested in a very real and very deep understanding of the customer. It found and learnt about the problems, ambitions, challenges and drivers that were core to the customer but would make no sense at all to the competitors looking from the outside, simply trying to find a quick way to sell their products or services. It sought to work with and help the customer address one singular but significant problem.

That problem was so close to the customer that “solving it” hadn’t yet been tasked out to the various departments to “go and find me a X”….that would mean all those in the queue could have a go at pitching for it.

It never got that far.

It never left the boardroom at all.

And of course, having solved that one seemingly arcane but significant problem, the company is able to extend their engagement and open up the rest of their products and services as a trusted adviser/partner or collaborator. They will go on to build deeper, wider and higher barriers to entry and the queue of reps in the hall way will be left with less and less to fight over.

If you’re looking for the big deals at the premium prices, they are not to be found where all your competitors are looking.

Being on the “inside” doesn’t require decades of investment and years of research or countless hours at networking events.

It requires a different approach to your preparation and the way you develop your proposition. Most of all it requires a willingness to stop doing what everyone else is doing and assuming if you know a few buzz words and few hot buttons “it’ll do”…because it won’t.  You’ll sound like an opportunist and you’ll be given your place in the queue behind all the other competitors.

This week I have seen one organisation moving from a position of “also ran” to one where they could be the “supplier of choice” in a vast and hugely profitable market simply by taking this approach.  It will have cost them a great deal less and was in fact a great deal quicker than the usual approach they would have taken to “join the queue”.

I suspect you could achieve that too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be relevant – be specific – be quick about it

Check this out as a sales pitch:

“We are brilliant at IT. We’ve got loads of big customers and loads of staff and more offices than you. What ever you want or need when it comes to IT you should come to us because we’re brilliant. We are better than you at it. We are probably a bit better than our competitors (or at least we will try harder) and we have great brochures, oh by the way – what keeps you awake at night?”

Are you sold?

I didn’t think so.

This, however, is what 99% of the propositions customers hear sound like to them.

Well actually they really sound a bit more like “blah, blah, IT, blah, IT, blah, staff, blah, you, blah, blah, blah – same old question at the end”.

Not only do these sorts of propositions net very little and have little impact, they are also highly forgettable and what’s worse entirely interchange-able. So “you” could be anybody, from any company, with any product or service.

Assuming you want the end result of your conversation with a customer to net you a positive and enthusiastic next step, lock-out for your competitors and a ring-fenced and highly profitable opportunity for you, can I suggest you re-think how you’re presenting your proposition?

No one buys IT (insert your “thing”).

People are looking to achieve a desired outcome for themselves or for their business and they are looking for ways they can achieve that desired outcome as quickly, cost effectively and in as risk-free manner as possible.

The desired outcome is where their focus is, it’s where the budget sits and it’s where you will get their attention. 

People will pay the company who can help them achieve that outcome. 

Is that what you can do?

Is it?

Good.

Well tell them that then.

They don’t care about anything else.

PS:

If you’re really smart, you’ll also check out this article from HBR about the end of Solution Selling – it’s Gold Dust and it’s what I help companies do. 

To my total delight one of the sales people I asked to read it this week, did…and to his delight he put it into immediate use in front of a high value and high-profile prospect and it worked.

See – I do know what I’m talking about, honest.

You may also enjoy this article I wrote for Surefire Excellence about being credible in your market…