Marketing advice for small businesses. Find what you're looking for below.

Telemarketing can still be a very effective way of generating business - you just have to make sure you do it correctly. What follows is my 'ultimate guide to telemarketing' - it's the absolute best advice I can give to help you succeed marketing yourself or your business on the phone.

Let's start by having a look at the contents:


As a supplement to my other ATL/BTL/TTL marketing posts, I thought I would compile a list of 20 of the best Above-the-Line and Below-the-Line marketing methods (in my opinion, anyway). If you are unsure of the definitions of these terms, then please read this post first.

If you are happy with the definitions, we'll move on to look at specific examples of each. You'll note that I have not included any Through-the-Line methods here - if you read the above post and this one, you will understand why.

Here goes:



Above-the-Line (ATL) Methods

All of the ATL methods below are very similar in intent, they only differ in advertising medium (therefore there is little point in me writing different descriptions for each). You'll have first hand experience of this type of marketing - brand-building adverts that are run across the nation, designed to keep products in your mind at all times. There is no direct response element here, they are only deployed to increase brand awareness and goodwill.

- Television advert
- Newspaper advert
- Magazine advert
- Radio advert
- Tube/Underground advert
- Outdoor billboard
- Premier football league sponsorship (okay, maybe not for most small businesses anyway, so we won't count this one)

I would like to say a quick note about the following option however as I think it differs slightly from the 'traditional' methods above.

General social media profiles

Put simply, social media (in fact, all of the internet technology we are all familiar with nowadays) was not around when the ATL/BTL distinction was developed back in the 1950's. And, in modern times, social media is actually pretty difficult to define as either ATL, BTL or TTL (please read this post for more on that).

However, I think that generally speaking, social media profiles can be considered 'Above-the-Line' because they are set up and published for all to see. What we do within these profiles can be considered ATL, BTL or TTL, although the basic profile itself should be classed ATL.

Now, we'll have a look at some of my favourite Below-the-Line methods.

Would you like a 118-page ATL/BTL/TTL marketing planning guide - plus a 14 page example ATL/BTL/TTL strategy - delivered direct to your inbox?


Below-the-Line (BTL) Methods

Intelligence-based telemarketing

Telemarketing, but not as you know it. This kind of phone-based marketing is all about research and being smart - you'll have researched the company/person in detail and you will know exactly what you can do for that specific person. There is no thundering your way through a phone-book here - you're contacting a list of pre-screened people you are sure you can help.

Targeted leaflet drop

Check your local authority rules here, but a great way of generating some quick business is through a targeted leaflet drop. For example, if you supply garden maintenance services to residents of a particular area, a well designed leaflet containing an offer might just do the trick. Just make sure that you are allowed to drop leaflets through residences of your target area by law.

Tradeshow/exhibition

Tradeshows and exhibitions are a great way to get right in front of your target audience. You are your products and services have the chance to directly engage with potential buyers and influencers - the rewards can be substantial. I've actually written a post on how you can go about generating leads at tradeshows and exhibitions - you can get to that here.

Shopping center stand

Similar to an exhibition, hiring a stand at your local shopping center can place you are your product or service in front of prospective buyers. One caveat is that the audience is not going to be as targeted as it would be at a tradeshow. However, if your offerings appeal to the general public you will find that a local shopping center provides an excellent opportunity to meet potential customers.

Local sports team sponsorship

This option is not really a 'strict' BTL method, although it's a great way of reaching a local market/community. Clearly we are not talking about sponsoring a national football league or team - that would definitely be an ATL activity - although having your logo associated with a local sports team can do wonders to help your business target a particular demographic.

In-person demonstrations

Arranging in-person demonstrations is one of my most favourite BTL methods for the promotion of products, particularly B2B. What can be better than arranging a private demo of your product with someone who has expressed their interest in what you offer? This can also be done online with systems such as Go To Meeting and similar.

Door-to-door selling 

This was actually how I started my marketing career, although the effectiveness of the practice now is not as great as it once was. However, if you treat it the same way as I mentioned in the intelligence-based telemarketing section above, door-to-door marketing can still be very profitable.

Direct mail marketing

We all hate Spam, although there is no question that direct mail marketing works well if it is executed properly. Even blind mailings (to a specific geographic location relevant to your business) work, although it's much better to send mail to people who have already opted in to hear from you. Past customers, people who have requested more information or updates - that's where you'll get the best response.

Catalogues

Related to the above, catalogues work well as a BTL method - people have signed up to look at what you have on offer so the response rate is usually pretty good. Catalogues can be issued digitally or through the traditional post.

Email marketing 

This is hands-down the most effective BTL marketing method there is. The headline figure is that it returns an average of $43 per $1 invested - a truly staggering ROI, if it's done correctly. I couldn't do that justice in this post, although I have written a checklist guide here to help you get started.

PPC/Social media ads

PPC/social media ads can be extremely well targeted and therefore should be considered for any BTL marketing campaign. While I said above that social media profiles are ATL in nature, any ads that you run through them are BTL as they should have a level of targeting attached to them. PPC ads are the same - even although they use a global platform with incredible reach, they are still specifically aimed at a certain segment of the population (at least they should be anyway). Here is a bit more information on getting started with PPC.

Remarketing

Similar to PPC ads, although I wanted to mention this separately as you can use this to specifically re-engage website visitors, people who have abandoned shopping carts or who have disappeared from any part of your sales funnel for any reason. Very powerful and definitely worth looking into. Here is a short guide on how you can start.

Post-sales coupons/incentives

Another direct BTL method is that of promoting coupons/deals/incentives to past customers. It's much, much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to a new one, so I like this method very much.

Point of sale promotion

Finally, I'd like to mention point of sale promotion. Specifically, I'm thinking about 'upsells' and 'downsells' here - items that you can offer to people who are already making their way through a purchase with you. This can be in person or on the web through your shopping cart. It's a fine line between pulling this off and annoying people, although if you can find a happy medium this option can add substantially to your bottom line.

In Sum

So there you have it - my top 20 Above-the-Line and Below-the-Line marketing methods. If you are trying to understand ATL/BTL/TTL marketing methods properly, I'd recommend having a look at the posts I mentioned earlier:

- ATL/BTL/TTL definitions
- ATL/BTL/TTL marketing: are the lines blurring


Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

_ _ _

Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
Before reading this post, you should have a look at the ATL/BTL/TTL marketing definition post as the content below might be a bit confusing if you don't understand these. However, if you are up to speed on the definitions, you may be wondering if the 'Lines' are becoming a little 'blurry' - if so, I'd say that's a valid point to hold.

Here's why.



The traditional ATL/BTL/TTL separation

So, the traditional separation of the 'Lines' goes as follows:

- Above the line: 'brand building' based advertising solely
- Below the line: direct, response driven marketing solely
- Through the line: ATL methods designed to feed leads into BTL based campaigns

It used to be that the following kinds of media would be considered ATL:

- Television
- Radio
- Newspaper/magazine ads

And the following kinds of marketing would be considered BTL:

- Door to door sales
- Telemarketing
- Direct mail
- Exhibitions

It seems simple enough and it definitely works like that in practice, most of the time anyway.

However, this was mostly due to the fact that marketers and advertisers were much more limited as to what they could really do with each platform. However, we have many more platforms and much more technology available to us. In effect, we can achieve BTL type results using what were once considered ATL methods. So now there are times when the lines seem blurry and the specific instance doesn't fit the above criteria very well.

We'll discuss that in more detail now, using social media as an example.

Would you like a 118-page ATL/BTL/TTL marketing planning guide - plus a 14 page example ATL/BTL/TTL strategy - delivered direct to your inbox?


The blurring of the 'Lines' - the effect of social media

One such case in which it becomes difficult to classify whether a promotional activity should be termed ATL, BTL or TTL is when you use images within your social media campaigns.

For example, consider the following:

Let's say you want to use an image in your social media campaign and you wonder if it should be considered ATL, BTL or TTL. You realise that social media offers a huge reach and hefty exposure - meaning it could be considered ATL - but that it can also be very highly targeted, so it could be BTL too. So, does that mean it should just be considered TTL then?

The answer is 'Probably, but not all of the time' - to effectively classify this, we would have to begin by asking a couple of questions:

First, what is my intent with the image? 

- Is it used to generate some kind of response?
- Or is it used only to add to the appeal/goodwill of the brand? 


Second, what am I doing with the image?

- Is it simply being added to a Facebook page so that people who like the page can all see it/share it/like it?
- Or is it being used as a Facebook Ad and thereby targeted so that a very specific audience can see it/share it/like it?

As you can see, it actually depends on your intent and method of distribution as to how the image should be classified, strictly.

For example, it could be that the image was used with a message saying something like 'Get 10% Off' and was delivered through the Facebook Ad Platform - this could be classified as a BTL campaign regardless of the fact that a social media platform is being used. The strict TTL option would be if the image was used to promote '10% Off' but was only added to to the page as a usual image so that people who like the page could see it.

Summing this up

In short, I'd say the Through the line method was the most applicable in situations as described above, but hopefully you can see why this would not always be the case. In every case the answer depends on a couple of variables, although you should be able to work it out by asking yourself the questions outlines above.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

_ _ _

Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
The term 'BANT' relates to a common method of qualifying a prospect or a lead. Here is a quick definition of 'BANT' - after this we will look at what we mean by qualifying a lead and whether or not this term is still useful to small businesses.

Quick definition of BANT:

B - Budget
A - Authority
N - Need
T - Timeline

BANT - Definition, Examples And Whether It's Still Useful

What do a World Heavyweight Champion and a Great Sales Professional have in common? A damn good hook! In this post, we'll discuss how you too can write a winning sales hook.

So, you're about to call your prospect for the first time on the telephone - how exactly are you going to engage them? Why should they listen to you and not hang up?

The answer is simple; because you have a great sales hook that will make them want to hear more. You've peaked their interest and they want to hear more. Period.


Telemarketing - How To Write A Great Sales Hook



Conversely, there is absolutely no point in calling up a prospect and diving straight into who you are and how great your product or service is. The person on the other end of the phone will switch off in less than 8 seconds and you'll be wasting both their time and yours.

You have only seconds to grab their attention, so you need to come up with a great hook - something that will grab their attention.

To deliver a great sales hook, pretend you're boxing

Think about a boxing match. Ideally, you'd want to hit your opponent with a devastating blow as quickly as possible, giving yourself the best chance of winning as easily as you can. I'm definitely not saying that you should think about your sales call in the same terms as a fight, but the theory is the same.

When writing your sales hook you should make sure it has the same effect:


Deliver a few powerful words right at the start about what you can do for them and they will be there for the listening! 

(We'll cover this more a bit later, but you should still refrain from jumping right into a full blown pitch - you want to use the time you have just earned to ask your prospects questions. That way, you can tailor your sales pitch to suit their needs).

So, how to you deliver the greatest sales hook ever? First, you need to formulate it, and in my experience, the best way to do this is to follow a sharp statement with a open question. Again, get away from the idea of calling up and saying something like this - it won't work:


"Hi, my name is Bill and I'm calling from ABC, Inc. I wondered if you can spare a few minutes so that I can tell you about product x? It is a software programme designed by leading experts and it will help with your HR admin. It's a great product, do you have time to discuss this with me?'

The answer will more often than not be 'no, not just now - please call back.' You'll most likely never get to talk to the prospect again and you'll have lost your opportunity.

Why? Because you gave all of the control to the prospect by asking a closed question at the end, and you didn't give them a good enough reason to engage with you at the beginning.

Those experienced in telesales always keep control of the conversation.

Be smart about what you say - you'll only get one shot at delivering your sales hook

What will work is something like the following example:


'Hi, it's Bill from ABC, inc. You'll be glad I called today - we're offering a software package designed to reduce your HR costs by 20%. How does that sound to you?'

This time, you have sounded more confident, you've been specific in the exact benefits that your product offers and more importantly, you haven't given the prospect the chance to say a flat no after you finish speaking.

By asking them how it sounds to them, you're forcing them to consider a 20% reduction in costs, to which the only reasonable reply can be positive. (If you don't get a positive reply, you'd proceed with more open questions, which I've covered in this post on effective questioning techniques).

You have now earned their valuable time, which you want to use to find out more about what they currently have in place and what their needs are. That way, you can properly tailor your forthcoming pitch.

So, in other terms, you've delivered your killer hook and have control of the call. Now you need to learn how to 'box clever' for the rest of the call, making sure that you're moving toward the coveted win/win situation.

A note on modern telemarketing

Although the above advice is still sound and you can still achieve great results from a properly executed telemarketing campaign, the market place is changing very quickly and telesales campaigns have become much more difficult.

So, before you start putting this kind of skill to use, you should really make sure you have the following bases covered: 

  • Research your prospect thoroughly - know them inside out
  • Understand exactly how your product or service can benefit them 
  • Understand that you'll probably need to nurture your new lead for a while before you can close the deal 

Further Reading 

If you are looking for more detailed information on succeeding with telemarketing, you might find the following guide useful:

- 'The Be All And End All Of Telemarketing Guides'

Here are the contents:

Part 1: The Sales Hook (as this post)
Part 2: The Sales Pitch 
Part 3: Closing The Sale 
Part 4: Handling Sales Objections 
Part 5: Proper Questioning Technique 
Part 6: People Buy Through Emotion 
Part 7: Intelligence Based Telesales 
Part 8: Trigger Based Selling 
Part 9: LinkedIn Lead Generation (The Free Way) 
Part 10: Is Telemarketing Still A Good Idea 
Part 11: Telemarketing Campaign Checklist 
Part 12: CRM And Why It’s Important 
Wrap Up



Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

SWOT, PEST and PESTLE - do you know the difference? If not, it could be the missing ingredient for your marketing campaigns.

When you are preparing a marketing plan, it is obviously very important that you take a detailed look at your current situation so that you can make the correct decisions in terms of deciding which marketing processes are viable and which are not.

To do this effectively, you need to take a detailed look at internal factors that you can control and external factors that you cannot (directly) control.


One of the ways in which you can do that is to carry out a SWOT and a PEST/PESTLE analysis. They are ideal because they help you to analyse both internal and external factors that could impact the success of your marketing campaigns.

Here's a quick look at what these terms actually mean:
SMART planning can make the difference between a super effective marketing strategy and a failed one. It really can be as simple as that.

Whether you are working on your overall marketing plan or a specific part within it, it's imperative that you have clear objectives and goals for each element within your strategy. These goals should be clearly defined, realistic and you should be able to reach them within an acceptable time-frame.

They most certainly should not be 'pie-in-the-sky' hopes and dreams without any focus or direction behind them.

So, how do you stop your goals becoming unrealistic pipe dreams? One way you can do this is to follow the SMART framework.

What does 'SMART' mean, exactly?

'SMART' can be defined an an acronym meaning:

- Specific - your goals should be clearly defined
- Measurable - your goals should be measurable so you know when you've reached them, or how far away from them you are
- Achievable - you should be able to actually achieve your goals, they shouldn't be unattainable 'hopes'
- Relevant - your marketing goals should be relevant to your overall business goals
- Time-sensitive - your goals should be able to be achieved within a reasonable time period

In this post, we'll walk through a couple of examples of setting SMART objectives - one for your overall marketing strategy and one for a specific part of your overall strategy. 

**please note that the figures in the examples below won't balance, they are there for descriptive purposes only.

An example of setting a SMART objective for your overall marketing strategy (Macro)

As mentioned above, the objectives of your marketing strategy need to be very clearly defined. Here is an example of something that is not a good objective:


"I want to take on 10,000 customers and make one million pounds in profit".

Yep, it's pretty clear that following that kind of objective will lead you nowhere. There's just no substance to it - nothing to keep hold of or work towards. However, here is an example of a SMART target that would be at home within a credible marketing strategy document:


"With an overall budget of £90,000.00, this strategy will employ a multi-channel marketing approach (Social media, PPC, outdoor advertising and organic search) resulting in an average of 8 new customers a month being secured, with an average lifetime value of £7,000.00 per customer being achieved. This strategy will begin delivering 8 new customers each month by month 4. The campaign will deliver a total return of £270,000, realising an ROI of 300%".

As I mentioned above these are only example figures and they won't balance, although hopefully you'll see that the key is to be very specific about the details you include in your overall marketing objectives. 

What has been achieved in the example above?

- We have clearly defined the marketing budget (this would be pulled from your budget forecast)
- We have clearly stated the marketing channels we will use
- We have stated the number of customers we aim to achieve along with the value of each of these customers
- We have clearly stated the time frame involved
- We have clearly stated the expected return on investment

As you can see, this is very detailed and it gives you a set of goals that you can actively work towards and measure.

As you can also see, you'll have to pull figures from various parts of your marketing strategy document in order to write a complete and useful objective. Therefore, it's common to finish writing your main objective last. 

An example of setting a SMART target for an individual part of your marketing strategy (Micro)

Let's say that you've decided - after writing up your overall marketing strategy - that you want to use PPC Advertising as a means to generate new leads and customers. It's also a good idea to have clear goals set for this specific part too (the PPC idea here is just an example, you can apply this to any part, such as telemarketing, social media, tradeshows etc).

Here is an example of a SMART target for a specific part of your plan:

"Drawing from the overall marketing budget of £90,000.00, the PPC element of the campaign will use £22,500 (25%) of the available funds. Within the 12 month period, the PPC campaign will deliver 12 new customers, each with a lifetime value of £7,000.00. PPC will deliver a total return of £96,000.00, a total ROI of 640%"

Again, you can see that this example delivers the same benefits as the example above - clear, concise and it's easy to work towards and measure.

Variations of SMART

There are a few variations of SMART that you might want to be aware of:

SMARTER

The same as above, although with 'ER' added:

- E: Evaluated
- R: Reviewed

Basically, with this version you are having your goals checked by another person/team - it essentially adds a set of checks and balances to the original.

SMARTTA

The same as SMART, with 'TA' added:

- T: Trackable
- A: Agreed

Obviously the original SMART goal should be 'Trackable' anyway, and the 'Agreed' just serves to add a layer of 'opt-in' and accountability for people who deal in teams/inter-departmental programs.

In sum

Hopefully this post has shown that it's really important to have clearly defined goals and objectives when it comes to your marketing strategy. This applies to both your overall plan and to the specific elements within it.

In my opinion, the best way you can lay out your goals is to employ the SMART framework. Doing so will help you avoid your marketing goals becoming unrealistic pipe dreams - instead they will become realistic targets that will help you achieve exactly what you want to achieve.

So, to recap: be SMART - Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

_ _ _

Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.

Using purchased lists for email marketing is one of the more dubious areas of promoting your small business that you can get into. Here's a few words that you might think of when you think of marketing to people who are not 'opted in':

  • Spam
  • Unsubscribe
  • Chancer
  • Huckster
  • Waste of time and money

That should give you an idea of the general feeling towards buying and using marketing lists.

Why Do People Still Buy Email Lists Then?

However, a lot of people do sell them and people keep on buying them. There must be a reason for that.

And the reason is that sometimes - just sometimes - using purchased lists for email marketing does work. It just does, and there's no point in denying that fact. Obviously a lot of people get it wrong and suffer some pretty serious consequences, but - as we will see below - this doesn't happen all of the time.

The rest of this post details an example of a campaign that I ran this week, with a list of around 9000 email addresses that my client had already purchased. In terms of size, it's quite a small sample to base anything on really, but in terms of an email campaign for a small, 1 or 2 man band service-based business, it's quite a large campaign. 

The Potential Risks Of Using Purchased Marketing Lists

Now, before I went ahead and set up the campaign, I explained to my client that there were a lot of risks associated with this kind of marketing. Such risks include:

  • Potentially zero returns
  • His domain name being blacklisted
  • His reputation being tarnished

That's 3 pretty risky scenarios in my book, none of which I'd like to realise myself. So, we worked out a plan of action that would try and reduce the chances of the above happening in this campaign.

Taking Steps To Protect Yourself As Much As Possible

Anyway, before we went ahead with the campaign, I took the following steps to try and minimise any damage:

  • I set up a new domain name for the email delivery/reply to address
  • I didn't include any links back to the clients website on the email itself
  • I made the email as perfect as I could in terms of introductory tone and purpose
  • I crafted a very useful e-Book to send along with the initial email

In my mind anyway, making sure the above was taken care of went some way to mitigating the negative effects of using purchased marketing lists. The proof would be in the pudding so to speak, but I was confident enough to start the campaign with these 'safeguards' in place. 

Comparing The Performance Of Purchased Lists To Opt-in Lists

I'm going to use the sector 'Business Services' for average rates here as this is the sector my client is part of.  

Average Performance Of Opt In Email Lists

Open Rate: 21.43%

Unsubscribe Rate: 0.24%

Click Rate: 2.76%

SPAM Rate: 0.3%

Source for above data

Average Performance Of Purchased Email Lists

Open Rate

To give you an idea of just how terribly purchased lists usually perform, here's a screenshot taken from a conversation over on the Smart Insights website:
The average open rate of a purchased email list is between 1% and 2%
Source
Marketing automation and its associated benefits can very likely make your professional life a lot easier. For example. if you're like most marketers - or small business owners - the chances are that you'll really struggle with the following types of marketing tasks:

- Managing email lists and segments as well as newsletters
- Delivering the right messages to each segment, at the right time
- Responding to online leads in a timely fashion
- Even capturing leads amongst growing competition
- Reducing the amount of leads wasted because of poor management
These tasks can be difficult, cumbersome and time consuming. However, they are absolutely essential if you want your marketing to succeed.

For most people involved in marketing it's the time needed for these tasks that is the biggest problem - who has time to spend on such things when there are other, more immediate, issues to be dealt with?

Time is super-important for all of us and we just don't need to waste it on basic, repetitive tasks.

Photo credit
Luckily, there is a way to deal with this - marketing automation.

I like to think of a good marketing automation system as being like a full time employee - one that works tirelessly, 24/7 in the background, taking care of tasks that I just don't have time for.

And here's an added bonus - these systems actually take care of the job better than I would myself.

They're robots essentially. No corner cutting, no breaks. Just 100% efficient and effective.

Examples of what you could use your automated system for:

A good marketing automation system can handle all of the below for you, and more. Here are some of the things you should look at automating in your own business:

- Newsletters: Email address capture, list segmentation, email delivery and reporting/analysis
- Conversion tools: e-Book downloads, landing pages, A/B split testing
- Follow up: Autoresponders, delivery of information, e-Books, video, step-by-step guides
- Lead scoring: Working out who your best prospects with the highest possibility of conversion at any given time are
- Lead nurturing: Developing cold leads into hot prospects

The last point there is a really, really important concept. Massive, actually. The ability to progressively nurture leads through your marketing and sales funnels in an automated fashion is huge.

So huge, in fact, that a properly designed lead nurturing process can add up to 80% to your sales pipeline (Sources: Yankee Group Study, Eloqua Grande Guides).

The figure above hints at the second problem that is addressed by marketing automation - wasted leads. And make no mistake, this is a massive problem.

The same study above found that businesses without a marketing automation process in place wasted up to 80% of their sales leads - that's an unacceptable risk in this day and age. You wouldn't just throw away 80% of your profits, would you?

However, it's a problem easily fixed by automation. A good system will keep all of your leads in play until they are ready to make a purchase. No waste, no hassle, no throwing away of profits. Just 100% efficiency.

Not a bad deal so far, right? So, to recap up to this point:

- Marketing automation can take care of all of the tasks you don't have time for
- It can do them better than any human could - 100% efficient and effective
- It's just like having a full time employee working for you
- And, it can add up to 80% to your bottom line by reducing waste and keeping all of your leads in play 

What's not to like?

More Benefits Of Marketing Automation

Note: I mention a few statistics from studies below - you can read more about these on this page if you are interested.

Business Growth - 4x Faster

A good marketing automation system will help you generate high quality leads online - in fact, that's one of the things it will do best. The good news here is that businesses who generate 40% or more of their leads online grow an average of 4x faster than those who do not.

Starting to get pretty serious now, right?

Reduced Waste - 80% Less

As I mentioned in my last email, marketing automation also helps to greatly reduce wasted leads. While that might not sound all that impressive, think about this: You know how much a customer is worth to you over the long term and how much your current customer base is worth combined. Now, imagine that you could add another 80% of that value, just by implementing a lead nurturing process.

How much would that add to your bottom line?

Increased Profit - 4x More

As if growing 4x faster than your competitors isn't enough, the same study above found that companies that use lead nurturing/marketing automation also make - on average - 4x more profits than their competitors.

That's definitely significant and is in part possible thanks to the next point below:

Reduced Cost Per Lead - 62% Less

A good marketing automation system will help you generate leads online, whether that's through enquiry forms, newsletters or e-Book downloads, for example. And the great news here is that leads generated online cost an average of 62% less than those generate offline - that's a potentially huge saving for your business, right?

More Time/Less Hassle

While I can't quantify this for you, i can still guarantee that a marketing automation system will free up more of your time and leave you with much less hassle than you currently have. That's because the system will take care of menial tasks that tie up your day normally - think about following up with and managing leads, sending out marketing materials and managing prospect lists etc.

Wouldn't it be great to have an automated process in place that could handle that for you?

Some Things To Think About Before You Start

Although it's really tempting to get stuck right in and start implementing your own process, you should spend a bit of time mulling over this question:

How Complex Are Your Needs?

It's really, really important to think properly about your goals before you set up a system. That's because you want to make sure that you purchase the right system for the job. For example, if you only want to send out automated newsletters, you might be okay with a budget system. However, if you also want the system to track who your hottest prospects are, then you'll need a more advanced setup.

There are so many features in modern marketing systems that you might find they can handle just about all of your marketing needs - as I said in my last email, you could even start to think about them as a 'robot employee' in some cases.

Anyway, it just makes sense to know exactly what you want, rather than realise it after you've invested in a system that can't handle your needs.

Here's a few other basics to consider before you move on:

- What are my needs, exactly (see above)
- How many leads do I need the system to manage?
- How often do I need the system to contact my leads?
- What types of content will my system deliver?
- What is my budget?
- How tech savvy am I? Will I need help with this?
- Do I need the system to score leads, or am I happy to do that manually?
- Do I need the system to handle list segmentation, or am I happy to handle that manually 

These are just a few points - the main thing I want to get across here is that you have to think properly about what you need before you rush into anything. A bit of planning now will reap dividends further down the line.

An Example Of Excellent Marketing Automation

Here is a real life example of excellent marketing automation. This is an example of a business that used automation to achieve the following:

- Re-engaging a user that had abandoned their platform
- Without them having to do anything manually 

Here's how well it worked:

- I signed up for a software as a service application after seeing it on the Chrome Web Store
- I didn't 'get it', so I quickly removed it from my laptop and forgot about it
- However, I received an excellent autoresponder from the company in question, which helped me 'get it'
- I then re-installed and have been a delightfully happy user ever since The Autoresponder Email

So, as I explained above, I had signed up to Workflowy but then quickly forgot about it - quite simply, I was in a rush, scanned it too quickly and didn't give it a chance. Anyway, as far as I was concerned, it was gone.

However, then came the email:

Hi there, new Workflowy user!

Mike and Jesse, creators of Workflowy, here. WorkFlowy is a super-powerful tool that's going to clear your mind, hone your focus, increase your productivity,and bring everlasting world peace. (We'll get back to you on the last one.)

What should you be using WorkFlowy for?

WorkFlowy is a single sheet of paper to hold your whole brain. The idea: put EVERYTHING you want to keep track of into it. Notes about your trip to Tahiti, stuff you need to get done in the next week, a list of your favorite Transylvanian romance novels, your Ph.D thesis outline - they're all fair game.

If you haven't already, might we suggest you get started? Do it right now, before you forget.
Here's what you should do:
Go to workflowy.com
Create top-level items called 'Personal' and 'Work'
Click the bullet point next to 'Personal' to zoom in
Create a 'Chores' item. List under it everything you need to do in the next week
Create a 'Goals' item. List under it everything you want to get done in the next month and year.
Zoom out and start on the 'Work' section
This should be enough to get you started. WorkFlowy is free-form and you can use it however you like.

We'll be getting back to you with more info on Workflowy features. For now, check out the 'Help' popup to learn more. And don't hesitate to contact us at help@workflowy.com with questions.

Rock on,
Mike and Jesse
workflowy.com 

Talk about an awesome email! Here's what I liked:

The Tone Of The Email - Rock On!

You can tell by reading this email that this isn't a company that takes themselves too seriously, at least I didn't think so. There's nothing stuffy or pompous about it at all. It screams personality - a friendly, engaging and helpful one at that. So, 10/10 for great pitch and tone.

The Headline: It's 6am - Where Is Your Brain At?

Although you can't see the headline in the text above, it reads: 'It's 6am - Where Is Your Brain At?'. Well I didn't even see the email until 8am and that made me feel a little sheepish :-)

I have no idea where my brain was at 6am - should I know? Should I feel bad that I don't know? Anyway, the subject header engaged me to the point that I had to open the email. So I did - again, 10/10 on the subject header.

The Content - An Easy To Get Started With Guide

What I really love about this email is the step by step advice on how to get started with WorkFlowy. As you can see it's a really simple process, although during my initial look I was just in too much of a rush to give it a chance. However, in looking at this simple explanation, I could see exactly how it worked, how easy it was and - more importantly - how I could use it myself.

And that's what I did - I went straight over to the Chrome Web Store, installed the app and have been using it daily ever since.

Just one point. Ideally, I'd have liked to have seen the email addressed to me personally, although to be fair I can't remember if I gave them that when I signed up. That's the tiniest of complaints though.

In Sum, It's Just Great

Although everyone will have a different opinion, I think that this is my favourite autoresponder of all time, bar none! Just to recap, here is what I think made it work and what I'd suggest you think about as you build your own:

- A great subject line that got me thinking and instantly engaged - I had to open it
- A great tone - friendly and helpful, not stuffy at all. These sound like the kind of people I like working with
- Great content - an easy to use, easy to understand guide with a clear call to action. No frills, but it works perfectly
And remember - this was sent on autopilot

The beauty of this process is that it's sent on autopilot, without the need for human intervention. Can you imagine if you had to send this email every time it looked like someone was going to stop using your product? You could easily forget, things could up and before you know it you've lost the prospect for good. Here's the important thing to grasp from this email - a good marketing automation system will never, ever let that happen.

Can you see why this is such an important process to have working for you? The above is only an example, you could have your system taking care of dozens of tasks for you. To see exactly how automation can help you stay on top of tasks like these, watch this video by Infusionsoft - it's definitely an eye-opener.

A Terrible Example Of Marketing Automation

In the Terminator movies, the human race is fighting for survival after 'the machines' made by Cyberdyne/Skynet became self aware and then began killing off mankind. That's an extreme case of automation going bad in my book :-).

In this case study of sorts, I wanted to write about less serious case of automation going wrong - specifically, when your email system starts delivering emails that can make you look pretty spammy.

Some background on where this example came from.

The reason I was prompted to write this was that I received a series of autoresponder emails from a reputable company recently. Although I actually like the look of the company and they seem very successful, the emails were - in my opinion - lacking, to say the least.

The First Email - After I Signed Up For An e-Book

So, I came across a promoted tweet on Twitter which was promoting the following e-book. I liked the sound of it, so I clicked the link in the Tweet and was taken to a registration page. Now, I can't remember if I filled out a form or if it auto-populated my details from my Twitter account.

Either way, I received the following email with the e-book download link:


As you can see, it's a nice, clear email template - it tells you exactly what you are getting and how to get it. Good job so far.

However, even at this stage, I was a bit annoyed at the fact that my 'name' was 'Revenue'. However, given that they'd just given me a free e-book and that the form probably auto-populated from Twitter, it was actually quite a small thing to be concerned about.

Then came the lead nurturing campaign.

The Second Email - Oops

The first thing that got me about this email was the combination of it coming from a personal email address, yet it clearly wasn't a personal email. Again, my name was written up as 'Revenue'.


Now - as I said above - I get the fact that there was probably the Twitter auto-population issue, but that is a school-boy error. There could have been an extra step that asked for your real name upon registration.

I understand that this could reduce conversion rates, although if someone isn't willing to give you a name, can they really be counted as a lead, or even a contact? (Please note: I didn't ask your name when you signed up to this series as I'm not generating business leads, I'm only providing information. If I was trying to sell something, then sure, I'd make sure to ask for a name).

Anyway, here is the next email, which I didn't answer, nor did I click on the link provided.

The Third Email

Now onto the third email. Here you can see that they are trying to move me through their qualification process. They're giving me more (free) information and they are testing the water to see if I'd be open to having a conversation with them in the near future.




However, I didn't reply or click any links in this email. Again, calling me 'Revenue' just took away any real credibility in what they were offering or trying to tell me. I wasn't even interested in reading the articles they were sending.

The Fourth Email

This was the email that really made me wince. If you look closely, you'll see that the email is written in the first person, but it's signed off from the 'Gigya Team'!



What happened to Kevin, who had been sending me the emails up to now? At least he was a real person.

The Fifth Email

This email - the last one I have received to date - was sent with the same subject line as the one above, so Gmail stored it as part of that conversation in my inbox.


This time though, you can see that they are being very direct in what they want to achieve, they use the first person again but they sign it off as the 'Gigya Team'. Unless the Gigya Team is suddenly sprouting artificial intelligence (ah, Cyberdyne!) then I'm really quite peeved with this now.

At this point, I emailed them with my thoughts and haven't had a reply, or any further lead nurturing emails, at this point.

So, now I've given you an idea of how the process went, let's think about it in a bit more detail.

In Theory It Works, Badly Executed Though

In theory, I like the process and what they tried to do: 

- It started on social media - win
- They then gave me a free and useful e-book - win
- They then tried to move me through their lead nurturing process, using relevant and useful materials - win

I like all of that and have written about it a lot on this blog. However, a few couple of things let it down badly, in my mind anyway: 

- The 'name' mess up
- First person emails being signed off by the 'Gigya Team' 

Although these may seem like small things, they actually have a strong impact. It takes away all personalisation and means I can't really engage with the emails or the offer on a personal level - it's way to clear that I'm just one of many that they are casting their net to.

What Can You Learn From This?

Well, following on from the above, it's probably quite clear that there are couple of things to learn here. Here is a quick round up:

- Make sure that you can properly address your emails, even if this means adding an extra field to make sure you catch the person's real name and not a business name. As I said above, this may mean that conversion rates drop slightly, but if someone won't provide their name, are they really a contact or a lead?
- Also, make sure that your emails are consistent and are signed by a real, named person at your company. - - Writing emails in the first person and then signing off as your business name - or a team - doesn't really gel
- Make sure you test your autoresponder to make sure it comes across well. This one came across very badly and even a quick check would have spotted that
- Don't just 'set it and forget it' - check it regularly for anything that could be going haywire
These are just a few things, but as I explained above, they have a real impact on how you are perceived - especially when this is the first time you have interacted with a potential customers

And What About The Unsubscribe Link?

This might be a very small thing, although just as a side note, I really don't like the way that the unsubscribe action is worded. I think it should be a plain option, not something that looks like it's designed to make you question your own judgement. Again, I just think that little things like this can really make a big impact on perception

Just To Say...

Although I didn't have a great experience with Gigya's email system, I actually really like the product and what it's trying to do - this post is in no way meant to have a go at them. I'm just using the series of emails as a case study to write about here. You can head on over and have a look at what they offer here - gigya.com.

Also: this was my own personal experience with their lead nurturing process - they are a good company and I'm sure there were many more success stories with their campaign. It's just that on this occasion, it didn't quite work.

Hopefully the outline above has given you something to think about when you design your own lead nurturing or marketing automation process. As always, if you have any questions, please ask and I'll be happy to help.

And, just to finish on a better note, here's a great example of marketing automation working properly and increasing profits by 308%.

Wrapping Up - The Case For Marketing Automation

We've discussed marketing automation in quite a bit of detail up to now, so let's have a quick look over what we've highlighted so far: 

- We've explained what marketing automation is
- We've looked at the things it can do
- We've looked at a great example of marketing automation
- We've looked at a really bad example of marketing automation

We've also looked at a few pretty staggering statistics. Here's a few:

- Businesses grow 4x faster with marketing automation
- Leads generated online are 62% less expensive
- Marketing automation can add up to 80% to your sales pipeline 

There's also a couple of specific, real life examples of businesses using marketing automation to:

- Double profits inside a year
- Increase profits by 308% 

Wow, that's a whole lot of benefit, right?

And that's not to mention the time and effort that is saved by employing these systems. And that's a good point in itself - the fact that when you set up a system like this, it's just like having a full time employee working for you, 24/7 in the background, making you sales.

What's that worth to you?

I think the only way for you to find out for sure is to have a look at setting up your own process now. Wouldn't it be awesome if you could realise all of these benefits in your business, and pretty quickly at that?

I'd think so too.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
_ _ _

Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
Creating a marketing strategy can be very stressful and time consuming. To make that process a bit easier, I've written up a lot of material on this blog that will hopefully simplify that process for you.

However, if you would like to know how to put together a full and proper plan, here is an example I've written using a charitable organisation as the 'client'.  This is an actually mock marketing strategy I prepared - the client is fake but all of the research was undertaken as if preparing a plan for a real business.

Please note: You'll see a few figures mentioned throughout the article - please check the links to documents at the bottom of this page for budgets/forecasts and sources.

Enjoy!

Creating A Marketing Strategy - Here's A Detailed Example

Start with your document's contents...

The contents below are the sections that I would recommend you use in your marketing planning - if you plan for each part below, you'll make sure you have every area and eventuality covered:
Online advertising can be a bit of a minefield for anyone just starting out. There are many reasons for this, although one of the main ones is that banner ads - for example - can be a huge waste of budget.

Although most advertising platforms offer excellent analytics tools, it can be difficult for you know know for sure if someone has actually understood the message you are trying to convey.

Google Adwords may tell you there were 1000 impressions of your ad today, but did anyone actually look at it properly?

Well, as I was reading through some reviews of an app I have been using for a while, I came across an ad that I think worked quite well.

Here's a bit more about it:

The Ad Itself

Here is a screen grab of the actual Advert.

The Placement Of The Advert

As you can work out from the image above, the advert is placed part way through an article, around a third of the way down. If you want to read the rest of the article - which I did - you have to answer the question correctly.

You can see the ad here for yourself.

How Does It Work?

By only allowing you to read the rest of the article if you answer the (obvious) question correctly, the advert achieves the following:

  • It makes sure that you have seen the ad and that you have understood it
  • It delivers a higher rate of engagement for the company placing the ad 
Sounds pretty basic, but it does everything you want an advert to do in terms of being noticed so I don't think it has to do any more as far as that is concerned. As for the ads content and to how you could use it your campaigns, we'll discuss that shortly.

What Are The Drawbacks?

I'd say the main drawback of this type of ad is that it's pretty obtrusive. No-one likes being interrupted whilst they are reading an article and, while this isn't a popup, it could still be pretty annoying for some readers. I didn't think it was too bad though, quite liked the idea actually.

Also, I guess it's not 100% foolproof - someone could not bother reading the short message and just take a guess, they've a 50/50 chance of getting it right. I don't think many people would be put off answering the question accurately though - it's super easy and doesn't take any time at all.

How Could You Use It In Your Small Business?

It would be easy for you to put a campaign like this into practice. There are probably limitless ways in how you could go about it, although here's one idea I think would work quite well:

  • Think of your USP
  • Write a message explaining what your USP is
  • Ask readers to confirm what your USP is
So, let's say you're a fitness instructor and you've figured out that your USP is that you are the only instructor in your catchment area to be qualified in XYZ. Your advert would say 'Fitness company ABC is the only company in the West Midlands to be qualified in fitness product XYZ'. You then ask readers of your ad to confirm the USP before they can read the rest of the article.

This type of campaign would fall under the ATL bracket - it's essentially building brand awareness (Don't know what this is? Here's a guide).. 

By doing it this way though, you know for sure that your target market is seeing your message and is fully understanding it - what's not to like?


Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

_ _ _

Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
First, what do we mean by the term 'Media'?

Just to quickly clarify what we mean by 'media' in this instance. It can be defined as any form of marketing content, including - but not limited to - the following:
  • Online ads - PPC/Banner etc
  • Marketing materials - e-books, infographics etc
  • Social shares/mentions
  • Social ads
  • Offline advertising - magazine, outdoor display etc
  • Catalogues, brochures
  • TV advertising
So, as far as we are concerned here, the term 'media' refers to anything related to both the creation and the promotion of marketing content and materials.

Okay, let's move on and have a closer look at the three types up for discussion here - Owned Media, Paid Media and Earned Media.

Owned Media
A brief overview:

When we talk about Owned Media, we are talking about media that you or your business/organisation. For example, your:
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Mobile apps
  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
What are the benefits of this type of media? 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit here is that you have complete control over this form of media. You have complete autonomy over:
  • How your websites/ads look
  • How you market them
  • What message you want to convey
This is where you build your 'house' - whatever you say goes really. 

Any drawbacks of Owned Media?

The only drawback I can really think of related to Owned Media is reach. Your properties - however great - are almost invisible if you don't market them properly. Sadly, it's not just a case of 'if you build it, they will come'. You need to market your business effectively, which means Owned Media is simply not enough. 

A visual example of owned Media:
An example of owned media
An example of Owned Media - A Blog

Designing a marketing strategy for your own business.

As you will have read in the first part of this series, there are many directions in which you can focus your efforts as you build out your marketing strategy. This is great as it gives you a lot of flexibility.

However, it also hints at the problem experienced by most small business owners and start ups - namely, where do you spend your valuable time and budget?

Image Credit
What's the best process for you to follow? Which ones should you ignore? You don't want to leave out anything important, although waste in any area is dangerous for any small business - especially in the modern climate.

The above issues and questions are exactly why I've written this guide - it's designed to give your business a boost in the right direction.

What follows is an example of the main steps you will need to take in order to craft a winning integrated plan. You'll find yourself dipping in and out of some of some of these areas a lot through each month, others not so much (please see the monthly planner below for a breakdown on this).

The example guide below will take into consideration both direct, outbound promotion as well as digital, inbound marketing processes. It's up to you if you don't want to incorporate the direct methods, although when you are first starting out I'd say it would be suicide to rely solely on digital, inbound leads - you simply don't know how long they will take to start coming in. At least with properly executed direct marketing, you have a good chance of getting new leads from the get-go. This is especially true if you are a B2B, service based business.

Also, you don't really have to perform these steps in any order, although I'd strongly recommend conducting the SWOT and PEST analysis first.

Step One: Take A Good Look At Your Current Situation

Before you can design a successful small business strategy, it's really important that you have a good look at your current situation to identify your strengths, weaknesses and other important factors that can determine how successful you will be.

The best way to do this (in my opinion anyway) is to conduct a SWOT and PEST analysis. This allows you to identify factors that will affect your marketing strategy - both in terms of factors you can control, and factors that you cannot control. Both need your attention so that you can be as prepared as possible.

I've written a post that goes over the SWOT and PEST analysis in more detail - you can read that here. It's very important that you complete this step - I really wouldn't ignore this one.

Step Two: Have A Think About Marketing Goals And Then Set Realistic Targets

As much as it is important to think about where you currently are, it's also important to have an idea of where you want to be after your campaign is finished. Actually, you want more than just an idea here - you want to define clear, specific and realistic targets that you can likely achieve.

I think it's always best to use the SMART framework when setting any kind of goal, so I suggest that you use this in your marketing plan too. I've posted a guide about using SMART objectives, you can get to that here.

Step Three: Have A Think About What Monthly Budget You Have Available

This is a very important step and is one that only you can work through. Before you do anything, it's a good idea to spend some time working out what your total monthly budget is and how much you will split between the various elements that will make up your marketing strategy.

For example, let's say you have a $1000.00 monthly budget. You could decide to: 

  • Spend $300.00 on PPC campaigns 
  • $100 on 4 blog posts (one per week) 
  • $250 on creative design, such as e-book templates, landing pages, printed promotional materials 
  • $100 on various marketing tools/applications 
  • $250 on freelancer agency fees to help in areas you need advice in 

The above is oversimplified, although the point is hopefully clear - work out a reasonable budget and stick to it. Of course, you don't have to allocate as much budget as this if you are prepared to learn how to do the majority of the work yourself.

Update: you can use the Digital Marketing ROI Calculator (linked below) to finely forecast the level of ROI (Return on Investment) you can expect from your marketing channels. You need to have a bit of background information handy, although the calculator will do the vast majority of the legwork for you.

Please see this post for detailed information on how to use the calculator.

Step Four: What's Your Message? Have You Made It Easy For This To Be Heard Across The Web And In The Real World?

I think that it's very important to consider this early on because it will save you back-tracking at a later date in order to come up with a way to make your message become easily spread across the web - particularly through social networking platforms.

What I am talking about here is actually relatively simple. You want to come up with catchy hashtags (as one example) that can help people pick up your message and spread it across their social networks on your behalf (earned media). If you think about this during the early stages, it will help achieve the following:

  • You won't have to pay to redo marketing materials to include your hashtags, stories, slogans etc 
  • You won't think 'Ah, I should have done that ages ago!' :-) 
  • You'll be able to build a social following a lot quicker than if you don't do it 
  • You'll make it much easier for your business to benefit from earned media - if people 'get' your message quickly and easily, they are more likely to share it though social sites and blogs etc. 

It doesn't have to be hashtags, it can be anything that will help your message be spread across the web. For example:

  • A personal, engaging story that people will want to share 
  • Catchy slogans 
  • Engaging pictures 
  • Any other media that can be easily shared

This might be a step that you don't think is worth taking, although I just wanted to mention it so you can at least give it some consideration when writing up your plan.

Here are a few pages that talk about what I mean in more detail:

The earned media effect - how your small business can ignite it
Great marketing - owning the search results by hacking the real world

Step Five: Properly Identify Your Target Market

The next thing you will want to do is to begin to work out who your target market is. This may sound completely obvious, although you might be surprised to find out how many small businesses don't even consider this and therefore waste a huge amount of resource with the worst targeting possible. The more specific you can be the better. Try to think along the following lines:

  • It's much better to highly target a smaller audience than it is poorly target a large one 
  • Don't feel like you have to be all things to all people - know what it is you do and focus on providing that to the right people 
  • Check out what your competitors are doing and what markets they are targeting, you'll probably learn something useful 

Tip: I've included a target marketing identification question sheet below that will give you a good start in identifying where your efforts should go. I've also written a new guide here that should help in more detail with this.

Also, I've just put together a post on developing buyer personas, which should help you narrow down your ideal target customer. You can read that post here.

Step Six: Find Companies Within That Market And Do Your Research On Them

Once you have identified your ideal target market, it's time to begin looking for specific companies within that sector. There are many ways you can do this. For example, you can use a search engine or you can purchase access to a database. However you decide to identify these companies, the important thing to remember is that you can't just contact them straight way, you need to do your research. Some things to think about would be:

  • What do they do exactly? 
  • Who do they serve? 
  • What are they proud of? 
  • Are the performing well, or do you need to wait until their situation improves before proceeding? 

Step Seven: Find The Right People Within These Companies

After you have found your target companies, you need to do a further bit of legwork. It's important that when you call the companies on your new list that you at least know the persons' name that you need to speak to.

Ideally, you will also have reviewed:

  • Their LinkedIn profile 
  • Other social media accounts, such as Twitter 
  • Any blog posts they have written or have been mentioned in

Tip: If named information is not available on the company website, an easy way to find this is to perform a search such as 'HR manager, company ABC'. This will normally bring up a LinkedIn profile along with a name (here is a useful post on using LinkedIn for lead generation too).

Free Newsletter and 21-Page Marketing Automation e-Book: Get it delivered direct to your inbox now
Step Eight: Set Up Your Lead Nurturing Process/CRM And Put Every Lead You Get Into It

I can't stress this part enough. You want to make sure that you are making the most of absolutely every lead you have - this means you'll need to record them in an automated system designed to keep your leads engaged.

Even people who don't seem interested at the time you first contact them should be put in this system and slowly nurtured over the following months and years if necessary (of course, if they un-subscribe from your emails, you need to make sure they don't continue to receive communications from you).

This holds true for all leads, whether they are generated through the web or through more direct means - you should keep every single one of them in a well organised system.

Tip: I've included a basic lead nurturing template below - you'll probably find that you'll need two or three different tracks depending on the type of leads and services you have, although the example provided should help you get started. I'll be adding more examples below over the coming months.

Step Nine: Optimise Your Website And Set Up Your Google Places Account

If you can, you should perform the basic SEO steps yourself - this will save you money and will allow you to gain an understanding of how this practice works, as well as the wider scope of digital marketing. You'll quickly find out that it's not a black art and that with a bit of effort you can do the job just as well as anyone else.

I'd recommend against falling into the trap that so many small business owners seem to get caught in - getting lost in the murky world of search engine optimisation, spending too much time on it to the detriment of other disciplines. Just focus on the basics and try not to worry too much about every new trick you hear about through SEO forums and such.

Remember:

  • SEO is an extremely important part of your strategy, although it is only one part and there are many other parts to focus on while your SEO presence builds up 

You'll also want to set up your Google Places listing at this point too - please see this guide on how you can do this for your business. It's really, really worth having this set up as quickly as possible.

Step Ten: Work On Your Social Media Accounts And Make Them Attractive To You Target Audience

If you haven't done so already, you'll need to first of all set up your social media accounts. As I mentioned earlier, it's debatable as to whether you need to be actively engaged with social media, although my personal opinion is that you really should be. If you really pushed me, I'd say that the average B2B service-based business needs to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook not so much.

I'm sure there will be many who disagree with this, it's just my opinion. If you really want to be on Facebook, go ahead and set your account up - it won't do you any harm as long as you keep it regularly updated.

Tip: this post will give you a good idea as to how you can use Twitter for local marketing purposes.

Step Eleven: Set Up Your Blog, Plan And Write Posts That Will Interest Your Target Market

Blogging is a very important part of your digital marketing strategy. It's not so important as to how often you blog (as long as it's at least once a month), it's more a case of making sure that you are regular and that your posts are of a high quality and that they are relevant, engaging and useful to your target audience.

For more information about setting up your blog and on how to write great blog posts, please see this link.

Step Twelve: Plan How You Will Create The Rest Of Your Content

A few of the steps involved here require some form of content. For example, your lead nurturing tracks will require email copy, and you may want to have an e-book on display to help capture contact details. Also, your blog will require regular new content too.

You'll need to decide whether you can create this content yourself, or whether you need to hire a freelancer to help with this part of the project. You don't need to be writing up War and Peace here, you just need to create unique, interesting and relevant content that will get your audience engaged (a great site to check out for copy writing tips is CopyBlogger).

I've written a guide that will help you source excellent freelance marketers if you decide that's what you need - you can get to that here.

Step Thirteen: Create A PPC/Google Adwords Campaign

I haven't written a detailed post specifically about this yet, although I'd suggest that you go over to Adwords and set up your first campaign. It's a very quick and efficient way of generating quality leads for your business, plus there are great guides on the Adwords site to help you through set up.

Update: I've written a beginners guide to PPC which you might find useful - you can get to it here.

Step Fourteen: Set Up Your Tools And Software Accounts

If you haven't already, now would be a good time to go through and set up the tools and software mentioned in Part Two above - if you do this early on, they will make your life a lot easier going forward. All of them are free too, so no need to spend any of your budget here.

Refer back to Part 2 of this guide more info on useful marketing systems.

Step Fifteen: Create An AGILE Sales And Marketing Plan And Stick To It

Up to this point we've gone over the main elements in some detail. The next part is just to say that it's important that as you build out the areas above it's important that you do so under an 'agille' strategy, rather than a traditional, fixed strategy.

You can read more about this here, and I've also included an agile marketing scrum sheet below that will help you measure and keep on top of things on a weekly basis. That way, you can quickly and intelligently adapt when needed.

What To Do Now

Hopefully, this example small business marketing plan has given you a good idea as to what you need to have covered in terms of developing your route to market plan.

Now, please review the documents below and check through the links provided above - taken together, they're designed to help you start with each element and get off to the best start possible.

Links To Free Marketing Plan Templates

Please note that these files are hosted on Google Drive - you can add them to your own Drive account (no Google Account required), or you can download each file to your device. I'll be adding to these templates over time, so please check back for updates.

Target Market Identification Sheet (Doc)
Digital Marketing ROI Calculator (Spreadsheet)
Marketing Strategy Checklist (Doc)
Basic SEO Checklist (Spreadsheet)
Agile Marketing Strategy 'Scrum Sheet' (Spreadsheet)
Example Telesales Pitch (Doc)
Example Lead Nurturing Track (Doc) (please see this post while the file is being updated)

Go Back To:

Part 1 - Potential Marketing Methods
Part 2 - Useful Marketing Applications

Good luck, and please let me know how you get on.

By Alan MacDougall

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, designed to help small business owners and start ups maximise sales revenue.

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Alan MacDougall
Hi there! I'm Alan and I write all of the posts on this blog. I hope you find it useful and if I can be of any help just give me a shout. Also, please feel to connect with me on LinkedIn.