Passive marketing – or how to get clients knocking at your door

During the first week of January this year, we took on two new clients and had two existing clients ask us to do more work for them. I wasn’t at work during the first week of January, and, as one of my members of staff pointed out, I hadn’t been out networking or meeting clients for a few weeks. So where was the work coming from?

I could say it was the Law of Attraction at work, or that it was Zen Marketing, but I like to call it ‘Passive Marketing’. Or ‘sit back/go on holiday and wait for the phone to ring’ marketing.

So how does this great new marketing strategy work? Here’s what you do. You start writing a blog or an email newsletter, or both. You build up a list of contacts, by going to networking events and speaking at seminars. You give away lots of advice and ideas to help the people you meet. You have regular meetings with your clients and listen out for things they’re struggling with, with which you can help them. You build strong relationships with them so that they trust your advice. You might like to write a book and sell it to people you meet; you can even give it to some people, like past clients. You can spend time on sites like LinkedIn, connecting with people you’ve worked with in the past.

Once you’ve done all that, then you get to sit back and wait for the phone to ring! One of the new January clients came to a workshop we ran 3 months ago. We’ve kept in touch with her ever since and come the New Year, she decided she was ready to kick start her marketing. The client who decided to accept our quote for writing her blog is one with whom I meet every two months, to work on her marketing. Back in the autumn she told me she was thinking about setting up a blog and could we do it for her. After a few months of keeping in touch with her – and a few more regular meetings – she too decided it was time to take the next step.

Marketing is a long term process. It’s not a quick, over night fix. You can’t go to one networking event and expect clients to flock to you. One newsletter or a week of tweeting won’t build you a great reputation. So, if you want to practice Passive (sit back and take it easy) Marketing, then you need to put in the effort and the groundwork. Once you do, then the clients will come flocking to your door!

When a workshop is more than just a workshop

If you offer any kind of service to customers, running workshops are a great way of marketing yourself and your business.  They inform and advise and can act as a great way of speaking directly to your target customer audience.  Also, as will become apparent here, they are not a one-off event in terms of marketing, they actually offer a lot more.

At Appletree we recently held a ½ day marketing workshop for small, service-based companies.  As well as it being a great opportunity to give marketing advice and tips to the businesses, it was also a great way to use a number of different marketing activities, at little or no cost.

On the surface, it was an activity that happened during a few hours, with a captive audience who listened and participated in a lively workshop.  Dig deeper however, and it becomes clear how many marketing activities were involved in the workshop, before, during and after the event.

Let me take you back a few weeks.  Once the venue and timings of the workshop had been confirmed, an online booking system was created.  An email promoting the event was then sent out to a database of small businesses.  This database was known to be ‘clean’ and up to date, an absolute must when dealing with contact databases.  Details of the event were added to our website.  This is great for SEO, which looks for regular updates on sites in order to rank them.  We then sent details of the event to another mailing list, via our monthly newsletter, which is linked to our website.  Again, this encouragement to visit our website is a great way to share more of our services to those contacts, and to improve SEO.

A reminder email was sent to all contacts a week before the event, and some follow up telephone calls made to outline the benefits of attending the workshop.

The desired number of delegates was reached before the day, and an email was sent to each asking if they had any specific objectives they were hoping to meet as a result of the workshop.  This was the start of relationship building with our key audience.

During the day we met some really interesting people, all of whom were small business owners and all wanting to learn how to use marketing successfully to help grow their businesses.  Feedback from the day was asked from each delegate, along with a personal thank you to each for attending.  It’s this long-term relationship building that creates the most long-lasting business opportunities.

All in all, around 6 different channels of marketing were used, just for a workshop that lasted a few hours.  It led to lots of ticks on our marketing activity plan!

So if you’re considering running a workshop but don’t think you have the time, consider it as a huge opportunity to cost effectively market yourself and your business.

The case in the defence of Twitter

A client recently remarked “let me know when you get a sale from Twitter”.  In other words, “I bet I’ll never see the day we get a sale as a result of Twitter!”

A statement said many a time I would wager.  My answer, said smiling: “No, you probably won’t if you just use Twitter on its own, but use it as part of an integrated marketing plan and yes, you probably WILL see sales as a result of it.”

A great deal of our time as a marketing consultancy is spent working with clients on their marketing planning, and crucially the implementation of those plans.  We ensure all marketing activity is tied together with a common message.  We write blogs, newsletters, press articles, tweets, website copy – all focused on key marketing messages unique to our clients.  It’s the combination of all these activities, carried out regularly, timely but regularly, which is enabling our clients to become seen as experts in each of their fields.

Crucially, the information they are imparting on their target audience is being seen in a variety of areas.  Websites are great as long as people are getting to them, LinkedIn is great for networking and discussions, and Google+ is growing and will be great.

What Twitter does is allow you to ‘speak’ to a huge number of people, at no cost, and with little time.  Just make sure you apply a bit of thought to ensure your message is ‘on plan’ and you create a call to action (eg website links) and you have an effective marketing tool.

In a recent statistic I read (I know stats are what you want them to be but…) ‘80% of business decision makers now prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.’  By using the platforms social media provides, your company information can be seen this way.  Social media writing can easily be incorporated with Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, driving valuable inbound links for SEO.

I feel privileged to be involved in providing intelligent content marketing to clients who recognise what marketing actually should be, which consistent, ongoing, valuable information to customers is.  With the right marketing planning and delivery, customers will ultimately reward with their business and loyalty.

Yes, marketing is still what it always was – creating messages, identifying prospective customers and trying to influence their behaviour.  These days, it’s just being delivered in a different, I would say smarter way, and across different platforms, even Twitter.

Contact Appletree  (debbie@appletreeuk.com) and let us know if you have or haven’t seen sales from your social media plan – and yes, that does include Twitter!

The importance of long-term marketing

Alice

Businesses have a varied view of what marketing is for, and how it can be used, and it invariably depends on their financial position, the product or service they are promoting, the mindset of the management, the resources available to them, both personnel and technical, and the general attitude towards marketing and selling tactics.

But it has been noted by researchers that small businesses and sole-trading entrepreneurs are stealing a march over the larger organisations. This is because they are far more flexible in their approach towards marketing practices and how it can affect their businesses.

The other thing to note is that these smaller outfits are far more likely to accept the fact that marketing can and will take a long timespan before any results start to materialise. Impatience and impetuousness may be prevalent in both kinds of businesses, but the larger corporates may have demanding bosses, crippling financial forecasts, unreasonable objectives and impractical processes that overshadow any marketing strategies, however carefully they have been put in place to create optimum results.

It is these smaller businesses that are able to see or realise that marketing is a long-term objective that are able to benefit the most from it. This all depends if they are willing to be consistent with providing content for blogs and newsletters, contributing sociably on social networks, spreading their expertise through social media and offline networking and speaking engagements, maintaining a high visibility on the web through blogs, articles, RSS feeds and constantly responding to what their past, present and prospect clients and contacts are doing.

If your company expects immediate returns, do selling, not marketing. Instant ROI may be obtained through various pushy methods, but can it really be compared to that gained through long-term marketing, principally obtained through relationship building, research into customer understanding and responses, providing what is requested or desired, and filling the niches opened up by the misdemeanours of the larger organisations.

Long term marketing results in long term relationships and proven sustainability from your customers. Even so, once acquired, there is no time to sit on your laurels – the pace must be kept up to maintain this much sort-after and coveted friendship, by providing more benefits to make their lives better, and more relationship-building tactics to keep them from converting to the competition.

Therefore you can see how this cannot be achieved through short-term methods without your prospects turning up their noses because they don’t know anything about the company or what it is providing, or losing them immediately afterwards because they haven’t acquired enough knowledge about how your business works for you to gain their trust and appreciation. If you haven’t bothered to take the time to woo your customers to fall in love with you, how can you expect the relationship to last?

What sort of thing can you write about in your newsletter?

Alice

In my spare time I read all sort of things, and one of them is the National Trust magazine. It has recently been redesigned, bright, colourful and modern, but the thing that struck me this morning was how informative it was about what the National Trust is doing.

There is also a broadsheet-style newsletter-featurette for the local area we live in, giving a more focused approach to the properties and gardens close to home. There always seems to be plenty of news about the new features that are being planned, have just been opened and renovations to existing treasures. The style is informative, educational and entertaining, carefully written to suit all kinds of readers.

I always want to read the National Trust magazine and its accompanying literature because of its positive manner and worth while information. There is never the idea that I would ignore it when it plopped through my letter box, even if I was really busy at that particular time, but it is something that could be put aside for further scrutinisation when I have time.

One of the reasons why I enjoy it is because it doesn’t sell to me. It provides material I want to read, fascinating facts and scintillating stories. It’s style is to entertain and educate, happily, authoritatively, colourfully and regularly. When the next magazine is due I start to wonder why it appears to be late.

This concept could be transferred to your own newsletters, whether online or on paper, when communicating to your readers and mailing lists. This is not a medium in which to sell. It is a place to tell those that are interested in you and what you do more information about yourself and your business that they didn’t already know, should or ought to know, would like to know, would benefit from knowing, and once they did know would more likely react favourably towards your business.

There is nothing more gratifying than being the first to know something before anyone else. It puts you on a pedestal above your peers. Treat your readers as if you were giving them advance notice about a new product or service, letting them into a secret that nobody else knows, educating them into a fabulous tip that would improve their lives or businesses no end, make them feel really special. Then your relationship with them will be increased greatly, which all contributes towards more collaboration in the future.

The importance of a personal email list

Alice

None of us like receiving spam. So considering we all hate spam so much, why do businesses still pursue buying lists of contacts to sell their wares? Why is it that they cannot wait to build up a personal communications list – is it because it takes too long, it is too much hard work and is therefore inconvenient?

But this is a world that is becoming increasingly more savvy to email marketing practices, particularly those on the receiving end. It’s not worth bombarding people who don’t want to receive your stuff, especially since, of course, there are mechanisms in place that weed out unwanted material and dump it in a spam folder.

Therefore you need to do it properly right from the beginning, and set up an opt-in email capturing service on your website. How fast you progress in building your list will depend on how much you work at it, how much you are prepared to provide good quality information that readers are willing to receive, absorb, retain and act upon.

The result is the list that you have accumulated is yours only, and nobody else’s. It will comprise of members who have signed up voluntarily, who want to read your newsletters, who value the information you give them, who look forward to next month’s issue, who will comment and leave feedback so you can improve what you provide, both in your business as well as your newsletters.

And why are you communicating with them? To win your readers’ trust, opinion, understanding and appreciation. You extend your expertise and increase your reputation, convince them of your qualities and give them what they desire. After you have won them round to your way of thinking, they are then more likely to buy your products or sign up to your services. Marketing yourself and what your business provides is all about building upon a relationship with your customers, whether they are past, present and prospective, to facilitate business or develop advocates to influence others – and so the list can continue to grow.

And growing your list is important, especially organically. Don’t feel dispelled to increase it with purchased lists, otherwise you’ll be taking several steps backwards. All that hard work to win the trust and build relationships will have been thrown down the drain. This is a case of less is more; what value is there in communicating to a large amount of people who aren’t interested, who only press the delete or spam button, who don’t know you from Adam, and who certainly don’t care a jot? Why should you pander to them, when you could be writing to a list of people who want to know more about you and what you do, because you’ve managed to convince them you are worth while?

One piece of marketing advice given out states it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to find new ones. Think about it…