Gaining New Clients From Marketing
- What Is Your Goal?
- It Starts With A Mind Set - Inbound
- Why Is This Important For Professional Services?
- SMarketing - Sales & Marketing Alignment
- Getting Started – Positioning Statement
- Inside Your Clients Mind - Building Buyer Personas
- Finding Clients – Using The Right Marketing Channels
- Get Planning – Map Your Campaigns
- Putting Pen To Paper – Developing Content
- Rinse & Repeat – It’s A Continual Effort
- Gaining & Proving ROI
- Finding Resource – Don’t Try & Do It Alone
What Is Your Goal?
If you don’t have a goal them you can’t succeed, it's impossible.
If your business needs 25% growth then great, what does that look like in monetary terms? £500,000 increase in turnover?
There is no point approaching your marketing without first deciding what your business needs. Let's start at the beginning – what’s your driver? Why do you need to grow?
- You are relying on one or two large clients and its risky
- You have just lost a large contract
- Excess capacity
- You need to lose some bad fit clients, but to do so you need new ones
- Your competitors are moving in and its either grow or be trampled on
- Wage increases are needed to retain good staff
- Investors are demanding more return for their investment
There are lots and lots of reasons, what’s your true reason? It might just be you want a new Ferrari!
To define your goal follow these steps:
- Define a financial turnover increase, work out the % you need/want (keep it realistic) and use your turnover to get a figure
- Take your current clients that are inline with the ones you want to attract more of and work out an average yearly spend (remove extremes and don’t worry about the fact that all clients are different, just get an average, trust me )
- Divide the turnover you want to gain, by the value of each client. Example: £500,000 / £30,000 = 17 new clients
That’s your goal: £500,000 increase in turnover, 17 new clients.
Remember all Goals have to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
"We want to gain 17 new retained contracts, that equate to £500,000 increase in turnover per year, for our accountancy services, over the next 12 months."
It Starts With A Mindset - INBOUND
This eBook sets out a path that will enable you to take control and really turn your business into a growth machine. Repeatable and predictable results is the goal, and it all comes down to one thing, Inbound!
But what is Inbound?
Firstly let's just get the obvious out the way – Inbound is NOT a task, a marketing channel or a strategy. What it is, is a way of thinking and approaching your businesses growth. It’s the mindset that allows you to become a growth business rather than flat lining.
It’s all about helping people; giving guidance and information. This goes much further than just marketing, it also impacts your sales and services. To be truly inbound your whole business needs to adopt.
This doesn’t happen overnight, it could be a 2 year program. But that doesn’t matter, its about working towards that ultimate goal.
What does this mean in real terms? It means giving people content that will help them on their journey, giving them customer support they expect on the platform they expect it, being available on the phone when you say you will be and delighting people past their expectations. Why? Just turn over the page…
Why do all that, what’s in it for you?
Think about this example and it should help see why –
Let's say you offer accounting services…
- A company needs help, their accountant keeps missing deadlines and just doesn’t appear bothered about their books, they go to Google for a search around, to see if this problem is common
- They Google “do any accountants really care?” and Google brings back an article on a blog “Why Might Your Accountant Appear Not To Care?”, they click on the post
- The post goes into reasons why this might be the case, one point stands out “the accountant might be the wrong fit, you might be the wrong niche or size for them” and this rings alarm bells in their head. They realise that their account is much smaller than most of the other clients their accountant has and decided its time to change.
- They notice there is a free download on the blog they are reading on “How to find a new accountant”
- They download the eBook and give it a read, they find it really useful
- The following day they receive an email from the blog providers with an invite to a webinar with the heading “What Your Accountant Should Be Doing For You” and they sign up
- They attend the webinar and realise that all the content they have been reading Is from a local accountant that focus on businesses that are small to medium sized and decide to reach out for help
- After a couple of conversations they decide to make the move to the new accountants.
Timely, Relevant & Informative Marketing
The inbound approach allows people to build confidence in the right types of business without pushy sales. It wasn’t an accident that the article came up in Google or the eBook was ready for download, it was mapped out with clever planning and foresight.
If you understand your customers, you can pave a road to helping them, and in turn you can use Inbound Marketing & Sales to turn them into a long term client. Not just that, if you plan this properly they will be good fit clients that will not only stay with you a long time, they will also refer you to their friends. Win Win.
Why Is This Important For Professional Services?
It is all about the considered purchase. Two scenarios:
- You want to buy some bananas, what do you do? You pop into a shop while you are out and buy some. You don’t research it, you don’t go out of your way to a different shop, you get the most convenient ones.
- You need a new IT Support company, what do you do? You go online, you research through Google, you check out companies social media, you speak to friends, you way up your options. It might take you 6 months to make a decision and after speaking to a few companies you go into negotiations with a company about your contract and then sign up.
With a considered purchase (example 2) you need to become your potential clients friends, support them through the research, so when they are ready to make a decision you are at the top of the pile.
Would you rather go with a company that has given you eBooks, blog posts & webinars for Free over the last 6 months, who have shown their skills without forcing sales on you or would you rather stick a pin in the yellow pages?
SMarketing - Sales & Marketing alignment
At the start of this eBook I mentioned that Inbound is more than just marketing, it’s a way of thinking and behaving across the whole organisation. This is why you need alignment between sales and marketing (SMarketing, a phrase by Dan Tyre)
Okay lets point out the obvious – what’s the point in marketing and generating leads if you don’t have alignment with Sales? The expectations set from marketing must be fulfilled by the sales team and then followed up by the service your company delivers.
Think about this: Your services page has a button that says “Free Consultation” and when you click it you get a form that goes through to sales. If sales follows this up with a full blown sales pitch, what do you think will happen? That’s right, the potential client will go away frustrated, disappointed and feel like you have tricked them. On the other hand if the sales rep phones to book a video consultation and on that video call they listen and give some guidance to the potential client, they will feel like you have given them value and insight. You will have gained some of their trust and gained valuable knowledge about their challenges, so you can further HELP them move forward, closer to the point of purchase.
Getting Started – Positioning Statement
As my mentor Coman said to me “You can be everything to nobody or something to some people” and it is totally true. If you cast your net wide you won't be able to pull anything back in.
What does that mean to you? Think about it…
Company A has just gained a new contract they will start in 12 months time. It’s a massive contract for them and will need a huge influx of staff, around 100 people. They have a training requirement on their hands as they don’t have the resource to carry this out internally.
The main requirement is to ensure all their new staff can use the Office 365 & SharePoint platform, so all the work is properly stored and the processes get followed. So they go searching for a training company to help.
What do you expect they search in Google:
A.“Training Company” or
B. “Office 365 & SharePoint Training Company”?
My guess would be B, but even if they entered A and got the search results up, which listing would they click on, a generic training company or a specific Office 365 & SharePoint training company?
The Positioning Statement puts you in your place!
Where do you belong? What’s your hole in the world to plug? If you find it then you can do the following:
- Focus your efforts at those niches
- Geographically target the correct people
- Create content with the correct tone and voice
- Understand the specific buyer so you can help them when and as they need it
- Fine tune the challenges you solve, for the people you solve them for
- Be super laser focused and gain a reputation for what you are great at
- Find good fit clients that will be happy with your service and stay with you a long time, finding new clients is far more expensive than retaining them and bad clients waste too much time hampering growth
The list goes on but hopefully you see my point. It's too competitive to go after everyone - focus and the competition becomes much smaller.
“But what about all those clients I will miss out on?”
You will gain far more clients being focused than you ever will be when you are generic. Don’t fear it, embrace it.
"The biggest challenge I have when talking to companies about positioning statements and focus is generally from the board of directors. They take a little time to come to terms with channeling all their effort at a smaller subset of potential customers.
At first it feels alien to them, to pull themselves out of the firing line for potential work. It doesn’t take long though to see that you are never really in the firing line for the work, its just noise and wasted effort. With focus comes efficiency, a happy workforce, happy clients and a true growth business.
Embrace the change!” Jonathan Harrison
So What is a Positioning Statement?
In short it is around two sentences that says what you, as a company, do.
Key things to consider:
- Geographical area
- Your Core Values
- Your Differentiators
We are highly skilled architects! We work with large building companies with over 100 employees who build affordable housing. We focus on projects within the UK. We do this effectively though experience, innovation, contacts and having frameworks we can customise.
How to get started…
- Look at your top 5 clients, the ones who stay with you, are loyal and who don’t cause you many problems.
- Use a spreadsheet to look at the key items to each of them: size of the company, what is the key contact like, how much do they spend, what services do they use, what makes your services so good for them etc
- Use this information to craft your statement. After all these are the types of clients you want more of, right? I always remember speaking to a very successful food retailer in Scotland and he said “I just want to sell more of our best seller, we know they sell well, so let's sell more” You are not in retail but I believe that statement is still relevant.
Inside Your Clients Mind - Building Buyer Personas
To really reach your potential clients you need to understand them. If you have done a solid job with your positioning statement then you are halfway there. Lets dig further…
Think about your potential clients, what platforms do they use, how do they engage, how do they search, what devices do they use and so on. The more you can document the better your efforts will be.
Start with the work you did on your positioning statement and pick out the key people who started communication with you to gain those contracts.
For each person note down:
- Job Title
- Education level
- Personal Interests
- Are they married, have a family?
Once you have this data you will most likely see a common thread amongst them all, or maybe they split into two distinct threads. Don’t be exact with this, we are building a picture of the typical person who reaches out to you for your help and services. For example, you might find they all are: between 40-55, mostly male, have a family, work long hours into the evenings, all have masters degrees so very well educated, are the MD of the business and love eating out.
Now stop and think about this information…
If you know this information think about how this will impact:
- What type of marketing materials you might produce
- How you might try and reach these people
- What will catch their attention
- What tone to write content in
- What platforms to advertise on
A male in their mid 40’s, that wears a suit and tie on their LinkedIn profile isn’t going to react to the same content as a bubbly 20 year old women.
Although this stuff is simple when you break it down, it's impossible to get right if you don’t. Not only that but by going through these tasks you really get to the bottom of the people you want to talk to, so you can really help them, build trust and potentially find opportunities to work together.
"Why does this matter to me, I have a team to do this?"
Firstly if you have a team and are reading this then unfortunately they are not doing what you need. That might not be their fault, they may not have the resource or skills to deliver all this, but either way they need this information to be able to focus and they are not the ones dealing with the clients on a day to day basis, chances are you are or have been in the past.
I am not saying you have to do the work, but you have to help with the information.
Finding Clients – Using The Right Marketing Channels
I could generate an eBook worth of content on each marketing channel but that wont help you right now, what I will do is tell you how to find the right channels as this is the key to success.
Think about your potential clients, what platforms do they use, how do they engage, how do they search, what devices do they use etc. This just follows on from the buyer personas, it’s the next logical step.
There are things to help: social media listening tools, just browsing yourself, looking at competitors and making sure you take notes as you go.
What’s key to this is not what channels you use, but what channels your potential clients are on and how they engage. The task is to figure that out and then to have the resource in place to make the most out of it.
Just remember, content & media is how you reach people but it has to be relevant, timely and informative.
What’s on offer? Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email, Text, Message Bots, Chat Pains – the list is endless. Get the right channels, with the right content, at the right time and you will succeed.
Get Planning – Map Your Campaigns
This may be you or a member of the team, but the information gathered so far will enable you to map campaigns that fit your audience and bring in the right clients.
What is a campaign? Think of it like a bubble that captures all the data about the efforts you put into marketing. The effort may be focused on “The Power of Big Data for Investment” for example.
The focus comes down to two things: research and industry knowledge.
You understand what challenges your clients face and what you are trying to help them with. So focus on this and build your campaigns around it.
Think about the challenge you are helping to solve and then think about how you will deliver that.
If you are driving traffic from Search Engine Adverts then you might want a landing page with a Free eBook offer. If you are using social media you might want regular blog posts on the topic, that link back to a main page on the subject and then regular posts on social media with snippets of information from the posts.
The key is it all links back to the campaign – on topic and geared around your Goals. To track this you will need some technology and Hubspot can help with this, from a planning and an execution point of view.
Things to consider
- Come up with an idea that solves a key challenge of your clients
- Decide on content that helps the potential clients in all stages of the buyer journey (awareness– they have a challenge but not sure what to do about it, consideration – they are aware what’s going on but not sure what options are available and Decision – they have decided how to solve the challenge but have not decided who will help them yet)
- Ensure you pitch the content to your buyer persona so they will relate to it
- Decide on which media and platforms you will use and what you will generate to capture their interest
- Ensure you can nurture these leads once you hook them in with automated marketing (emails, blog posts, social media content etc)
“How do you manage this?”
The only way to manage this is with tools. You need the right tools to do the right jobs and ensure the efforts of your team are successful. Hubspot is a great central platform for this, as it allows you to see everything in one place.
Putting Pen to Paper – Developing Content
Things to get out of the way…
- Don’t hand this task to a member of the team who doesn’t have the time and isn’t skilled in creative content writing. It just won't get done.
- Yes content is expensive as it takes time and resource, but the results will make it worth while. If you have the right team in place they will make the most out of every word generated!
- The results gained from doing this right are often mind blowing, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Give it time, quarterly reviews are a great starting point and KPI’s are vital. Remember if the goals are defined properly the team can work out how much traffic they need and workout conversion rates.
Content comes in every form: website service pages, blog posts, emails, social media posts, eBook, whitepapers…. The list is endless.
But if you do all the previous steps correctly then you will only produce the right content, that will result in the goals you set being hit. This means you are as efficient as possible and your returns are as big as possible
Rinse & Repeat – It’s A Continual Effort
Planning the content and the work needed to execute your marketing is vital, but once you have done that you need a team in place to ensure this is executed every month.
It isn’t enough to plan and have strategies, you have to keep pushing on every month. Marketing is a long term strategy that takes time and effort. The rewards are new clients and continual growth.
What needs doing every month? Things like: new blog posts, social media content, data analysis, testing, optimisation and so on. Lots of creative and geeky stuff that means you get more and more sales for every pound you spend.
To find new leads you need content, to ensure the content reaches those potential leads you need advertising or authority which takes time, to convert those leads you need to nurture them, to ensure you convert enough into sales you need to optimise. This stuff takes effort, every week.
Gaining & Proving ROI
One of the biggest long term struggles people have is proving the ROI (Return On Investment) on their marketing efforts. Why? Because how do you know if a social media post impacted a sale or not???
This comes down to one simple thing, technology. By using the right technology you can centralise your data, track activity and prove what's going on.
Yes this does all seem a bit “Big Brother is watching me” and it is in a small way. But what you are doing is checking the impact of all the hard work to ensure its having a positive impact, and allows you to alter the things that are not.
The only way to do this with any accuracy is to use one platform for all your efforts. Typically marketing teams have over 8 different tools doing jobs for them: SEO tools, social media tools, email tools, CRM and on it goes. Disparate tools gives Disparate results!
If all data is centralised in one tool then you can connect the dots. Engagement on a blog post, connected to engagement on Facebook, linked to a contact form submission on the website and a sale. True, proven ROI across marketing channels. There are not many systems that can actually do this, Hubspot is the one we use.
Once you have this information then reporting and proving success becomes easy!
Finding Resource – Don’t Try & Do It Alone
This comes down to time and skills. Without dedication, time and skill set, this just won't yield any decent or sustainable results.
Firstly, don’t just throw a team at it, your goals need to be set and planned out so you put the correct size team in place. Plan and resource to your goals, not the other way around.
To get a sense of the skills involved, these are some typical items required on a monthly bases to achieve true growth from marketing:
- Creative content
- Website/page building
- Email creation
- Data analysis
- Project management
- Strategising & planning
- Technical set up of tools
- Optimisation for Google Results
- Optimisation for users
- Social Media
Can one person do all this? Can one person have all these skills? Can you make this part of someone's role in your business? The answer will be NO. You need the correct skills and team to help you. Most successful marketing is achieved with a mix of internal and external resources to ensure ownership, costs and skills are all accounted for.
Summary – Getting Started
Now that you have read this eBook you will either be sitting back going “How the heck am I going to get started?” or you will be enthused ideas ready to go. Either way what do you do first?
My advice to anyone looking to grow their business is put down on paper the goals. Don’t lose sight of them, keep referring back to them with every decision.
My top 5 checklist of things to keep you on track:
- Does this task help me get closer to my goals?
- Is what I am setting up sustainable?
- What happens if the person that starts this journey decides to leave, can they be replaced?
- Do I have control?
- Do I have complete transparency on what’s happening?
Over to you, go back to the start of this eBook and look at your goals, once you have these nailed think about the investment needed to realise those goals. Typically a business needs to invest 15% of the growth into marketing. So £750,000 increase in turnover, look to spend £112,500.
Make sure its right for your business
Whatever you decide to do, just ensure it is right for your business. Don’t get pushed into a corner you don’t like or bullied into a decision.
Your business needs to succeed and you need to be happy with how that will be taken forward. If you don’t understand, ask for explanations, if your goals don’t feel achievable then question them.
Real Inbound Marketing is an investment, a long term investment. Take the time to make the right decisions because the wrong decision could impact your business for years in lost opportunities and wasted budgets.