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!

Can Your Business Afford to Stand Still This Year?

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingIf your business is standing still – always doing the same things, the same ways, for the same people – then you could be missing out on new opportunities and new business. Your competitors will be innovating – looking for different ways of making money – which means that you could be losing business to them.

Every year your competition becomes fiercer, more pressure is put on margins and new products or technologies come along and nibble away at your market. This means that just doing what you’ve always done is a recipe for eventual failure. You need to innovate and improve your offer continuously, or someone else will either steal your market or leave you working harder for less money.

So how do you innovate? Where do the new ideas come from?

Steve Jobs from Apple said “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.”

Innovations happen most frequently when you need to solve a problem. You may not know which one thing about your service niggles your customers most, because it might be very small. And yet when you find out what it is, it could open the way making huge improvements. So you need to make a point of asking your clients what it is about your service that they don’t like.

Towards the end of 2011 we decided to run a workshop, to help service based businesses to get more from their marketing. In the run up to the event, I realised that there was only so much help and advice I could give the delegates in one day. This was a problem for me, because I didn’t want my delegates to get all fired up and then not be able to carry on marketing their businesses. After a bit of thinking I came up with the idea of an ongoing mentoring programme, to provide a regular top up of marketing ideas and momentum. And hey presto – a new service was created! The clients who have joined the programme are making great progress already!

Innovative Marketing

You don’t have to restrict innovation to developing new services. You’ll also find a lot of scope for applying new ideas in sales and marketing. I recently started working with a new client because he’d been using the same marketing tactics for the last year. While they used to work, bringing in a steady flow of new clients, over the last six months he’d noticed that flow almost completely dry up and he didn’t know what to do. He wanted some ideas on what could be done differently with his marketing. There are so many marketing channels now available to you that you’re almost spoilt for choice!

Innovative Pricing

You can also be innovative in the way you charge for your service. Experiment with a mix of incentives, or price test your new services, to see what response you get. Don’t think that cheaper is better – some clients won’t take you seriously if they think you’re too cheap; and offering endless discounts can devalue your service and expertise. Look at ways in which you can add value to what you provide, without adding to the cost of delivery.

Can your business afford to stand still this year? What will you do differently this year?

Marketing planning and why now is a great time to do it

Planning, that old exercise of writing a list of things you are going to do, only never to look at the list again!  Sound familiar?  The start of a new year is generally filled with repeated resolutions that are quickly forgotten once day to day life starts. We all do it in various aspects of life, but planning for your business and your marketing is crucial.  Your business has the people, resources and desire to make the year a great one, why not augment that with an effective Marketing Plan.

Marketing planning should be something you look forward to as it is this plan of activities that will lead to business over the year.  There are however a few golden rules that must be applied to your plan.

The plan must be something that works with you at all times, it must not be completed then ‘filed’, never to be seen again.

The plan must be visible, either as a chart on your office wall which you can tick each time you’ve completed an activity; or a spreadsheet that you populate with activity, costs, and results.  It really doesn’t matter how you choose to see your plan, the important bit is that you do see it, daily.

It also needs to reflect activity that can be carried out by you, on a regular basis.  It may include the number of prospect calls you’ll make each week; the client visits you’ll book to focus on repeat business and upselling; the target number of tweets you’ll send out daily; the networking events you’ll attend each week.

Whatever the action, make it SMART, that old marketing adage which still applies to business today: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.  Some of the activity can be outsourced to expert providers, but again this can, and should be, ticked off your list and measured in terms of performance on an ongoing basis.

Creating a plan now will also make future planning far easier.  Reflect on which activity has worked: created the most leads and most importantly, provided the best return on investment.  Without a plan you can’t accurately reflect which marketing activity works best for your business, so which to do again, and which not to.

When you know where you want your business to be in 12 months time, you’ll have a much greater chance of getting there.  With a strategy in place and a plan of action to follow, any marketing for your business will produce much better results than ad hoc initiatives.

For practical help in writing an effective Marketing Plan for your business, why not come to a workshop we’re running on the 24th January at the Harwell Innovation Centre, Harwell Campus, near Didcot from 9am to 1pm.  At the end of the workshop you’ll have an effective and achievable Marketing Plan to take away and put into practice.  For more information on the SOS Marketing Workshop click here.

How not to run an event

So you’re planning to run an event. A workshop or perhaps a seminar, where you can share your expertise with an audience. Or maybe you’re aiming high with a conference? Here are some tips for you to follow, if you want to make a complete mess of the event and ruin your reputation!

  • Use a sound and lighting company that doesn’t know what it’s doing
  • Put a screen behind your speakers and keep changing what’s on it to distract your audience
  • Enlist the help of a compere who has never done this role and ask them to wear something outrageous
  • Use live music to keep your delegates entertained. Make sure it’s badly played
  • Don’t bother booking any reserve speakers, in case any of your headliners drop out at the last minute
  • If you’re using a stage to stand on, make sure it’s really small and that your audience can see what’s underneath it
  • By all means have some people helping you during your workshop, but have them sitting at the front of the room where everyone can see what they’re up to
  • Introduce your speakers by simply reading what’s written in the programme
  • Allow your compere to be judgemental and opinionated – after all, people have come to listen to him/her
  • During breaks, make sure you don’t clear the tables; let the empty cups and saucers build up and don’t worry about putting out more bottles of water
  • Sit down while you’re presenting your material – don’t waste energy by standing up.

I could go on and on, because I’ve been to many events where I’ve spent as much time watching how the event was run, as I’ve done listening to the material.

If you want to create a really great impression and leave your audience wanting more of what you have to offer, then think very carefully about how you run events. Avoid the glaring mistakes made by some people and you can use events to promote and grow your business.

Why you have to write that book!

Chantal Cornelius, Appletree MarketingLast week I launched my brand new (and first) book! It was so exciting to have dozens of copies on display at the workshop I was running, with people picking them up and looking at them. It hardly took any time at all before people were asking if they could buy a copy (silly question!) And then someone asked if I would sign their copy for them. I felt really honoured to be able to do that. All the hours of hard work and worry were paying off. People where wanting to read what I had to say – and wanting to pay me for it. I only ordered 50 copies from the printer and as I write this, less than a week later, I’ve already sold 20 copies.

Since the workshop I’ve sold copies to prospective clients I’ve met and taken the book to networking events. I have a number of copies that I will be giving to clients when I go to see them. And I’ll be getting back in touch with some past clients and people I’ve not spoken to for a while, to give them a copy. It’s a great marketing tool for me – as well as a really useful marketing resource for anyone who uses it.

Soon we’ll be on Amazon and going global!

The majority of the people who think about writing a book never actually get around to doing it. Yes it’s hard work, but is it worth it? Definitely. Can you write a book? Of course you can! Just give it a go and see what happens!

Click here if you’d like to order a copy of Magnetic Marketing and we’ll send it to you.

Want to know how to develop a consistent brand? Take a Holiday (Inn)

Back in May I went to a workshop in London that was held at a Holiday Inn. Before we started, I helped myself to a mug of coffee from the row of jugs at the coffee station. None of those silly cups and sauces, which don’t hold much coffee and which need two hands. When we came out on a break, there was plenty of fresh coffee, as well as a huge range of different teas. And there were muffins! At every break it was same – plenty of hot drinks and clean mugs, as well as an endless supply of lovely things to eat – not just those biscuits in packets.

In July I attended a three day course in London, at another Holiday Inn. The service was exactly the same – big mugs, an endless supply of tea and coffee, and different yummy, home made things to eat at every break. When you’re on an intensive three day course, from 9am until 6pm, you need a good supply of refreshments, as well as happy, smiling staff who are more than happy to find more biscuits, when you’ve eaten all they’ve put out for you.

Recently I spent another day at a meeting at yet another Holiday Inn and guess what? We got the same level of service. The only thing that was different was the pick & mix sweets and the pop corn that arrived for our afternoon break!

It’s not that I spend a lot of time in Holiday Inns on purpose – it just seems to happen. However, because of the consistent branding and service, when I was looking for a venue for my full day workshop near Oxford, I’ve decided on Holiday Inn. When I went for a look round, they told me about all the different delicious options I could have at the breaks and yes, they serve the drinks in mugs!

So if you’re looking for ways to keep your clients coming back for more, look at how you can develop a consistent brand and service. And if you want some practical advice and exercises on developing that consistent brand and service, come along to the workshop on 16 November 2011. Click here for all the details and come and see how Holiday Inn do it!

FastTracking: Smart moves for smart businesses

One thing I see quite regularly in business is the need for new blood. Many small businesses find themselves in a cycle – the ‘feast and famine’ rollercoaster. They spend lots of time doing marketing, generating new exciting work and clients and then get wholly distracted by the work these clients bring in. It’s wonderful to see growth, but then they can lose sight of their marketing. Suddenly the work dries up, or they learn to cope with their demand so they start a massive push for marketing again. But the new work coming in leaves them too busy to focus on their marketing again.

It’s such a simple problem, but once you’re on this rollercoaster, it’s almost impossible to get off. Businesses are left being either too busy, or not busy enough. And when they aren’t busy enough, they figure out how to get too busy again. Surely, structure would help? Inconsistent marketing leads to inconsistent results. You’ll never have a steady income of clients, workflow or finances that way. A successful small business knows how to maintain a consistent stream of work and how do they do it? Consistency and planning. So, I’ve been working on a way to get small businesses out of this cycle, and am very excited – this would change a lot of businesses for the better.

FastTrack Your Business in Just One Day is an interactive workshop that will show you how to plan your marketing and fit it conveniently into your busy schedule, to give you a regular flow of new clients. It’s a smart move for any business to make. The workshop will help you create a plan that you can take away with you and put to work in your business, straight away. We’re going to cover things like where to go with your business; how to get there; which clients can make it happen for you; and the best marketing activities you can use to attract them. In just one day, you can walk away with a clear plan to follow – one that’s appropriate to your business. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme, which is why I’m looking forward to it. This is a workshop that could change the way you see marketing and your business.

There’ll be opportunities to network with other businesses, alongside exercises and practical advice – it’s a unique opportunity to meet people at a pivotal time in their business marketing. If you’d like to join me, click here to find out more and to book online for just £49 +VAT for the whole day.