LOOK AHEAD… Are you really talking to the right markets?

I often say to people that the difference between marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t is macro economics.  I’m still not sure why they don’t teach it to marketers at university.  Anyone can campaign into a hot market and win work, but arrive too late and it gets a whole lot harder to succeed.  Macro economics is key…

The new financial year is here, everyone has done their budgets and know they want to grow revenue in the next one and three years. But if your existing markets are shrinking or have shrinkage on the horizon and people are doing things differently, it’s time to take a big hard look at the market… before you get to more marketing.
None of us have a clear crystal ball to look into the future, but it is pretty easy to sit back from the big things going on in the world and draw some even bigger assumptions about what might happen next.  And from that, you can plan about what you need to be selling and to whom.

That’s marketing folks.  Working out how to present what you offer in the right bite-sized packages to the most attractive of targets so they can recognise their need for it and “buy it”.

So what are the macroeconomics telling us about the coming year or two ahead of us?

Residential Property

81,000 apartments have been approved nationwide in the past year (at the time of writing). This is almost twice the long-term average of 44,600 and heaps more are coming to market.  Absorption rates are traditionally much lower.   Rapid development of inner city apartments is being chased by developers across the country and professional services firms attached are doing well out of the momentum.  But will an oversupply come?  Or will the market keep absorbing the growth?  This is your question to answer…  If you suspect this trend might flatten, I sure hope you are thinking about the next places you might get revenue now, before you need it.

Ageing Population

39% of the population is aged over 50 and heading headlong towards the years of retirement and leisure if their budgets allow it.   It will become a critical driver of the economy and underpin a lot of change. This shift presents many professional services, health services and property firms with the opportunity to tailor their product and service offerings to new clients or meet their old clients with new offering that take into consideration their changing needs, desires and aspirations.  It will also become a critical driver of the economy.

Tourism

There were 6.6 million visitor arrivals for year ending March 2014, an increase of 7.6 per cent relative to the previous year. There were 2.3 million visitor arrivals to Australia during the four months to April 2014, an increase of 9.2 per cent relative to the same period of the previous year.  Could tourism be getting hotter again?  How will this bring opportunities for property, services, and entertainment that have not existed with such force in the post-GFC period?

Reframing retail

Online shopping now represents 6.6% of total retail spend in Australia. Now whilst that number doesn’t seem that significant, it is up by 5.1% in just one year and no doubt heading higher.  Surely this presents opportunities to some and the prospect of pain to others.  Have you considered how it might affect your clients, whether they are retailers, property developers, or shoppers? Are businesses changing their mix of online offline fast enough? Are you? Do you understand how to market in a rapidly changing digital environment?

Agribusiness

We export more than half the agricultural produce grown in our country.  As the food bowl for Asia, we have a unique opportunity to build brands to export and lock in contracts for the future growth of business producing agricultural products for offshore markets.  But this takes commitment, and strategic action.  A international export brand is not instantly created.  It is hard work.

Wealth

Assets in the Australian Superannuation system have more than doubled since June 2000, increasing from approximately $480 billion to $1.3 trillion as at June 2011.   A growing mandatory savings rate in Australia is feeding the hungry wealth management machine.  But their needs are changing.  An ageing population requires something different from the financial industry to what it got when it was working.  Have the financial services industry got services and products right for this?

Health & Wellbeing

We’re living longer but we also want to keep living better, and that tension will generate billions of dollars in opportunities. Businesses that help Australians combat the ‘lifestyle factors’ of working longer and living faster will thrive in coming years.  Businesses that ignore this shift may not.

If you’re still trading day to day thinking same-old same old I urge to consider it time to change… and usually that change commences with listening to your market, analyzing its needs in the future and adapting to fit.

Change is ahead.  Make sure you are ahead of it in your business! 

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Want to win more tenders and bids?

Is tendering and bidding competitively a problem for your business?  Do you feel like you are constantly being scrutinised on fees, and laying blame for why you lost costly bids and submissions in your office?  Well.  It is time to stop and learn the tricks… and this time, to apply solutions. 

It’s May… the first active month of the year.  Easter is behind us, as is all the challenges of long weekends, holidays and the disruptions it causes in your clients’ decision making. If the economy holds course, construction, finance and consulting should only get busier. So it’s time to start kicking your tendering into form.

We’ve seen almost every mistake in tendering and bidding for consulting work.  So today, we’ve put together the best learnings for you to draw from.  And having taken several companies from 25% success rates to 75%+ success rates we certainly know how to make a difference.

1.  Consider what the real problem might be.  Get an objective, independent opinion.

If you are losing bids a lot, stop laying blame on individuals in the business who are trying their hardest, probably with limited time and support and start looking pragmatically at the tendering you are doing that is working, and the tendering that is not working.  Which pieces need more tooling, more training and more support from the business to improve them?

We often come into businesses and undertake a review of eight to ten tenders, without knowing whether they won or lost, and provide feedback on what could have been done better.   We can often tell you quite clearly which ones lost!  It is amazing how apparent it is.  This is a great place to start.  The results of an independent review will set you up with an action plan for the next tender you write that could change everything.

 

2.  Put in place tender procedures. 

When your team receives an invitation to tender, what happens?  Does it sit in their intray for two weeks awaiting perusal, being ignored before a grand panic with four days to go?   This is probably the first sign of a problem.  If you rip a tender or bid response together using boilerplate information, it is usually very obvious to the client.  (And these are the ones we can pick out as losers first off).

Instead consider putting in place a tender procedure that starts with and includes:

Bid/No Bid review: No one should start work before key personnel has agreed that this submission is winnable.  We have excellent templates for what these should include, just ask.

Bid Kickoff meeting: Bring the accountable personnel together and write down exactly what your expectations are of each other.  If you don’t write it down, chances are people wont take it seriously. They probably wont respect or realise the deadlines either.

Key Content Review times: If a tender team is relying on each other, meeting deadlines should be important.  Respect for each others’ timeframes allows a tender to be produced in a more orderly way at a lower cost of time.  Reviews should be staged, depending on the scale of the project, to allow for iterative feedback for authors before content is moved into a design platform.

Framework for Document Production: The response document can be only be produced once baseline content is agreed.   Within the tender kickoff process, should be a clear document setup process that ensures the executive summary answers the requirements, rather than delivering back your “easy-way-out”.  If set up appropriately, trained administrative resources can run the document production fairly easily, and deliver a great result.  Without a process, this is hard work.

Tender draft and final review processes:  Know who is required to review your bid and will they be available to do so on the day required?  This is all important to submitting on time, with minimised risk.

 

3.  Put in place powerful presentation templates that serve the purpose.

Why go to all the effort of producing a tender response or bid for an important piece of work and then skimping it by putting it in an ugly, badly branded old template that does your business a disservice?  Your business should have a selection of tender templates that suit their reuse and customisation requirements. They should be aesthetically pleasing, and functional for all to use.

We pull together multiple tiers of tender documents and train a business how to present themselves, in the most positive light possible.

 

4.  Understand your methodology…

A methodology is a blow-by-blow account of HOW you are going to deliver your proposed services to your client and what they will get as deliverables.  It is not a generic area in any bid.  And it is not  a place where you say “We can do it and we have done it before. Or we’re really good at it”  A client wants to read HOW and only how! You’d be surprised how many very mature, large businesses do this badly, time and time again.

 

5.  Articulate your value… Real value not buzzwords.

Value is not just another section to re-spout off the basic benefits your team can deliver.  Value is where you do something to make or save a clients’ money.  It is important to consider what value you can specifically bring to the project, and no doubt, this will change for each and every submission. Make it good.  A strong value section can seal your fate.

 

6.  Make sure you’re bidding into a relationship wherever you can be.

Tendering cold can be a huge waste of time.  Consider, if you are bidding cold, the strategic nature of the bid.  Do you want to develop a relationship with these people, or if you lose will you never speak to them again?  If the latter is the case I hope you have a big reason for responding because non-strategic bidding can be a big waste of money. And if you don’t have a list of organisations you really want to target, maybe it is time you started thinking more strategically.

 

7.  Make your content flow.… rather than jump around.

Drafting and content weaving is incredibly important in a bid.   Tenders are often put together by a couple of key people, writing sections or parts of sections in isolation from each other, meeting occasionally.  Then the sections are combined, often at the last minute by a junior marketer or admin resource that rarely takes responsibility for bringing the story together.  In fact, this is one place that lets a lot of businesses down.  I have spent the last week working to weave the writing of multiple technical professionals so their construction methodology flows smoothly for a large tender.  It is no easy job.  Working with them we’ve made sure their story is communicated well and is consistently presented in all staged of a multi-year delivery process.

 

8.  Look at your “story”… is it strong enough?

Does your submission tell a joined up story that explains exactly how your business will address the specific site, service and delivery required by the client?  Or is it a cut and past rush-job that doesn’t really say much other than how good your team is?  All too commonly, even a tailored methodology reads like a standard template and that, frankly is not good enough in todays’ competitive tendering environment.

 

9.  Have you selected the right team for the job?

The people being offered to do a job need to have the right skills, experience and track record to seal the job, and should be saleable and available!  If your team is not strong, chances are it will be visible to the reader/evaluator.  So make sure you select the right team for the job before you start.  They are a huge part of any service story.   Even the best IP can’t make me overlook WHO will do the job!

 

10.  Consider the resources writing your tenders

Are they trained in tender writing and how to use your company’s templates?  Can they manage their time and efforts efficiently to achieve the best outcomes? Do they know the difference between responding quickly and responding well?  The skills to write a strong commercially smart response in a short timeframe do not come naturally to all professionals, so take the steps to ensure that they know what they should do with a tender response.  Train your team and build up their skills in tender and submission writing so your change of winning is good if you are going to bid.

 

11. And finally, know that cheap is not a tendering strategy… it’s giving up on yourself!

Price is something people trade on when they have nothing else to differentiate themselves on… Notice I left price out of all the above points… If you bid into a strong relationship with a good tender that demonstrates how you will create value, price should be much less than 50% of the criteria most of the time.  Cheapness is not the position most services firms want to be known for in a market.

So focus on pricing yourself right and demonstrating great value for your clients and target clients.

 

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The things you should have done by now…

The new year is well and truly here.  In fact it feels like we’re halfway through the year people around us are so busy. A good problem most people say, as the opportunities are converted from concept into billable work and marketing and business development needs diminish. But should they ever really diminish?

We’re busy here at Stretch too. Terrifically busy. It doesn’t stop us from knowing that we must maintain our relationships always, and reach out to the people around us regularly. Relationships are what make all of us in professional services successful. Never is there anything more important.Knowing this, I want you to think about all the things you should have done since Christmas in your business to service your relationships and set yourself up for 2014.

And when I talk about relationships, I don’t just mean the people you are working with right now. I mean:

  • Existing and Former clients (sometimes your best referrers)
  • Influencers of key networks
  • Known contacts (or “friends” of your business)

February is nearly over so by now you, or your team of client facing staff should have taken the time to do all of the following simple marketing and business development tasks. Many of these are common sense… but it is amazing how quickly we forget to do them (or deprioritise them) when things feel busy.

1.  Call or catch up personally with all your existing or recent clients (email doesn’t count). Yes… logical I know. But how many of you have rung EVERYONE who paid your business money in the last year? The new-year is the best and easiest time to connect with people. You can connect on the pleasant stories of Christmas holidays and school year commencements, before moving to discuss projects that lie in front of you (and them!) for the year. You can capture the insight into their pipeline that might be much harder to ask about mid year (depending on your confidence and connection). It is almost too late to do this now, but if you haven’t done it… don’t put it off any longer, get started.

2.  Decide whom your priority clients are, and what markets you are focussed on in 2014. Are you going to chase everything that moves or are you going to select growing markets, building presence and relationships with ideal clients? Once you know who you are targeting this year you can go about building a fresh “story” for this market to grab people’s attention.

3.  Work out whom you know (and need to know) in your priority markets and set action plans for maintaining known contacts and reaching out to new ones through existing networks.

4.  Have you planned some marketing that specifically reaches into your priority networks? Whether you plan to host events, write informative papers and get them into your networks’ hands, run a campaign or blog regularly, make sure you set a rhythm and make someone accountable. 80% of marketing fails in lack of execution not lack of good intention.

5.  And finally, have you shipped your first communication for the year? Don’t put it off. Easter, will be here before you know it. In fact it is probably worth pointing out that there is only 6 weeks until Easter school holidays start which disrupts people’s decision making nationwide. If you have important stories to tell, February is the time to start. But don’t just send out fluff for the sake of it. Make it awesome, valuable, insightful content that gives your network an edge for knowing the information you’ve shared. Then they’ll come back for more, and maybe even seek out your services.

I could go on, but frankly, if you do even a few of the above five, you’ll be much more front of mind in your market. Remember, proactive, organised people in services industries are the ones everyone wants to work with.

Let me know how you’re going… Rebecca

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Christmas wishes and other thoughts

Christmas has found its way here again despite all the busy-ness. Hard to believe isn’t it. So to send you into the holidays with inspiration, we have put together the seven things you need to know, to market your business in 2014.

1. Highly engaged communities are the future of marketing.

Online, offline and in every kind of business there is, having a group of people that like what you do and are loyal to you as both people, and as a company are crucial to your success. Your marketing should work to create this loyalty, but also to service it, so people feel validated in choosing you for their next project. Remember that old adage… people really want three things in life… 1) to be loved, 2) to make money and 3) to belong… It is the third one you can engage with.

2. Economics really do matter in marketing and business growth.

Even the best marketers can’t fight an economic trend that is heading south. So rather than market into industries “because that’s what we’ve always done”, take a long hard look at the economics of what’s coming and grow in the markets that matter for your future in 2014, THEN plan for it. It’s a gimme.

3. Price is not a unique story.

If you are marketing your business based on price, then frankly you probably aren’t very unique or special in what you do. Even the simplest businesses can find better angles to sell their services on, so look deeper, or consider changing your business so you dont get “priced out” of a market. Price is and always should be a last resort.

4. People do business with people. So please don’t forget to be bothered with your personal relationships.

Given the choice I will always choose to do business with someone who bothers to call me once a quarter and engages with me as a person and I’ll bet you do too. So take the time to connect with people rather than just process the relationship as work. Get to know them, their opportunities, challenges and needs. And note: email is not an engaging communication tool.

5. Communicating with your clients regularly makes you look more organised and proactive as a business.

Common sense I know, yet so many businesses let routines go by the wayside. Be better than that in 2014… set yourself a 90 day plan to communicate with existing relationships and try your hardest to stick to it.

6. Social media is here to stay.

So please, work out which bits of it you need to use and stop telling yourself “it isn’t important”. There are some social media tools that are frankly just good business practice. Make it your business to ensure you use them properly.

7. Accountability and empowerment is more important than most leaders realise.

Your senior consultants need to play a role in the marketing of your business, but if they are not empowered and “made accountable” for their role in it, chances are, they won’t actively participate. [It is a bit like cleaning the pool when you have a creepy crawlie doing it for you - unnecessary and undesirable].

With the year rapidly coming to an end please know how important you are to us. We enjoy every day, making a difference to our clients’ businesses, changing the way you think about marketing and making it easy to implement and both cost effective and rewarding for you to do so.

We wish you a warm and enjoyable Christmas break, and look forward to seeing more of your success in 2014.

Warm regards

Rebecca, Kate and Jess

The Stretch Marketing Team

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LinkedIn introduces new contacts field for better relationship management

You may have noticed that your contacts tab in LinkedIn looks a little different recently. This is because LinkedIn has rolled out a relationship tab, which contains some simple CRM tools to help manage our relationships better.

These fields include the ability to put notes, reminders, history and tags against contacts. All the information entered into these fields remains private so only to you can see it.

The relationship tool will also automatically put any LinkedIn email chain history beside the contact. You can also choose to sync your Google, Outlook or Yahoo email and calendar so any information attributed to the contact in the one place. Just think of it like a timeline of all the events and communications you have had with the connection.

Another great field is the notes tab. Here you can add your own personal notes beside each contact, again all this information remains private so you can put down any details about the contact that you would like to remember.

There is a reminder tool so you can schedule actions in the future. For example you might have a contact that you met at a function last week and you would like to make sure that you stay in contact.  You can use the reminder tool to set a recurring monthly entry to help you stay in touch.

Because we all meet so many contacts regularly and can sometime forget how we met them, there is a tool which allows you to add all these background details. As an added bonus you can even add the person who referred you to this connection. This is a great way to track referrals and enable you to regularly thank those people who are great connectors.

Finally, the tag tool enables you to tag contacts into categories, and you can set up your own categories. For example you may want to setup tags for clients, prospects, industry influencers or colleagues. This is great way to segment your contacts, so when you open LinkedIn you can select prospects and easily see those people you need to follow up.

As you can see this new LinkedIn relationship tab is great for business development and managing your connections.  With the Christmas season now in full swing and new connections are being made at a greater frequency it is the perfect time to make the most out of this tool. It is also opportune to start planning your actions, targets and follow-ups so you hit the ground running in January.

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60 days til 2014… What are you forgetting?

Today marks just 60 days until the end of the year (And yes, just 49 days until businesses close down on December 20 this year), and if you are as busy as many of our clients are, it means it’s time to start thinking about three things:

1.  Christmas and all the important marketing activities that need to be done before it gets here (blogs, ecards, gifts, drinks events)

2.  Client relationships and all the important people that need to be cared for now, in the hope of maintaining visibility well into the New Year.

3.  Which big macro-trends are growing in your market and what are you doing to get in front of them in 2014?

Now is not the time for rushing around in your day-to-day job and ignoring your key relationships, saying to yourself, “We’re too busy to get the finished this year” or “We can’t really afford to do marketing” or “Nothing has changed in our market”.  Marketing at this time of year is cheap, all it costs you is your time, and perhaps a little bit of generosity and it is crucial.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, or work with us, you’ll know we often preach about how important November and December are to your business development pipeline and planning.  November and December are the months when good personal, caring, interactive relationships are solidified through active social efforts.  That is… get out there and talk to people that are important to you – face to face for the last 49 days before the Christmas holidays.  You might not win any work doing it, but you will show people your proactive nature and no doubt enjoy their company.
And when they need something you might be more memorable than the guy that sent an ecard and didn’t bother to drop in with warmer wishes.

Whilst most of you will dutifully send those brand-enhancing ecards in early to mid December, remember people don’t want to hear from you by ecard.  They want to see you, know you care, and have a chat about the things that are important to them.
If you don’t give them the chance then frankly, they just mustn’t be that important to your business right now (and in the future).

It sounds simple, but today is the day to get things moving…
1.  Make a list of everyone you need to catch up with before Christmas.
2.  Make another list of everyone you need to drop in a small gift personally to. (and send an ecard too)
3.  And consider whether you need cards, gifts, ecards, or something rather clever to demonstrate your Christmas spirit  to those who are special to your business.  Get it ordered or arranged if you do.
4.  Work our which macro-trends you’ll be backing next year and how you’ll shift your business to meet them.

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The laws of networking and ten terrific networking questions

The power of networking is common knowledge nowadays. What’s not so common is knowing how to consistently and effectively do it. Networking is simple, but far from easy, especially for those just starting out, or out of practice.

Whenever I’m speaking to a group about networking at least one person asks, “But what do you say (or talk about) when you first meet someone?” And someone else will inevitably ask, “What do you say (or do) when there’s a lull in the conversation?”

My response to both questions is the same. First decide if the person is really in the mood to talk to you. If you feel like someone doesn’t really want to talk to you, it’s no big deal. Move on to someone else.

If the person seems willing to engage in conversation then remember these… the supreme laws of networking.

Make fewer statements; ask more questions.

In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie says we should “allow the other person to do a great deal of the talking.”

Don’t cross-examine
Nobody likes being cross-examined. So be sure to ‘disclose’ information about yourself where appropriate. Get talking about, football, golf, holidays or kids or whatever makes you happy. Reveal a little bit about yourself first and you’ll probably find some common ground emerges there too.

Use non-verbal cues
A big proportion of your communication is non-verbal and people will make judgements about you based largely upon your appearance. By focusing on the image that you want to project, you can influence the outcome of your communication. Consider the impact that you are having with the clothes you wear and deliver your questions with a genuine sense of curiosity.

And ASK QUESTIONS

Here are my favourite ten networking questions for teaching new networkers…

  1. What do you do?  Tell me about yourself?
  2. What are you working on these days?
  3. What do most enjoy about it?
  4. Have you been in this industry forever? (Gives you a great read on their career)
  5. How are you finding things at the moment?  Busy? (Gives you a great read on their level of activity)
  6. So what do you do for fun?  (Start to find something personal out about them)
  7. Have you got something good planned for the weekend?  [Or holidays if they are near]  (If you can find things in common in weekend life you can truly connect)
  8. Do you have kids, dogs, surfboard (most easily asked if you have an interest in kids/dogs or surfboards and the other person looks like they do too – people connect best when talking about something they are passionate about.)
  9. See if the client shares any of your interests  (football team, sport).  So, who are you backing in the AFL finals?   (This can give you a whole pocket of conversation to pursue)
  10. Pick a major current affair dominating the newspapers and ask a question… What do you think of the new Cabinet ?  (This requires that you read the paper regularly)

 Do you have others you like? How do you find networking? 

 

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No BUTs in Business Development…

The word “BUT” in business development (BD) is a word that usually precedes an excuse for why you haven’t done something you should have.  It means that you (or someone in your team) got too busy or too lazy to prioritise an important business development task.  And today I want to propose that you ban it, completely from your business development meetings.

“I saw Bob at an event “BUT” I haven’t followed him up with an email or a coffee meeting yet”;

“I want to be visible in the market BUT I haven’t got out of my own way to find a networking group in my primary target market and get active with them.“

“I booked in to attend the chamber of commerce event, BUT I couldn’t get to it.”

“I know which companies I want to target BUT I don’t know the people I will need to do business with”.

BUT is an obstacle to achievement.  It is an excuse to justify why, and frankly it is an impediment to progress on so many fronts.

In one of my client’s Business Development meetings, where the word BUT is banned, we encourage the team to use the word “AND” in their statements.  It might sound silly to some, but lets look at the difference it makes to the tone and culture of that team:

“I saw Bob at the event last week AND I followed him up and set up a coffee”  or “I saw Bob at the event last week and I have connected with him on Linkedin and invited him to coffee”. Or even “I saw Bob at the event last week AND I need to set up a coffee”.

“I want to be visible in the market, AND am working with the industry association for my primary target market to get active and become more well known.”

“I booked in to attend the Chamber of Commerce event AND will be going on Wednesday if you’d like to come.”

“I know which companies I want to target AND I am working through each target to identify the key person I want to make contact with to progress these relationships”

AND comes before a task where your team is taking personal accountability,

BUT comes before an excuse for why something didn’t get done and does not frame anything proactive.

When you change the language you use around business development deliberately you change the way your staff are expected to frame their personal responsibility for it.  In this market where there is no room for mistakes, it is important that you are servicing every opportunity to build business and target market rapport that you can.  There is simply no room for BUT in anyone’s business development meetings at the moment, so if you are hearing it a lot, consider what it is doing for your BD culture:

  1. Constant excuses waste the productive meeting time of those who are trying to truly progress things and could be reporting on achievement and taking accountability rather than broadcasting on all the things they haven’t done.
  2. A culture of “allowing” excuses from a handful of people can be demotivating for those who are doing the right thing and actively pursuing their BD.
  3. The word BUT and a culture of excuses can undermine the very thing you are trying to achieve with good BD communication: to drive accountability, and make BD enjoyable.

So why not consider banning the word BUT from your vocabulary and your BD meetings.

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Is your business fit for this new financial year?

Nine days into the new financial year, and we have entered officially into the five-month active period leading to the slow-down at the end of the calendar year. With this in mind, is your business fit to power through this period to seek out and capture new opportunities, and new markets?

The clients that we work on a regular basis that have taken an active stance in their marketing and business development, keeping their business fit, are exceptionally busy.  They have clear goals, strategies and are actively implementing them to build on profitability and capture new markets.

This active approach resonates from management right down to their staff members who are positive, motivated and empowered, and working on a range of exciting new projects rather than being frightened about future prospects or the future of their jobs.

So what are the new financial year resolutions that will help kick-start your business fitness routine?

 

1. Have foresight and keep up to date with trends

Just like aerobics Richard Simmons style is out and Crossfit is in, businesses must keep up to date with what is going on their markets and the trends affecting them. Consider where the key opportunities and trends will be for the next six to twelve months, then actively pursue them.  Carefully consider the markets and opportunities you are currently pursuing and if there is no growth prospects here then its time to move on!

 

2. Have accountability and clear goals

Every new fitness regime has an end goal and agreed measures along the way, for example a healthy diet and going to the gym four times a week will help you to loose x amount of kgs. So, to get your business fit to capture growth opportunities clear goals and measures should put in place with individuals held accountable for markets and action items. Lets be honest, if individuals  are not accountable with a clear reporting structure in place then it is almost guaranteed that your goals will not be achieved.

 

3. Get motivated with influencers

Getting fit by yourself is hard, that’s why it is important to enlist the support of industry influencers to help achieve your goals. Consider who these people are in your new markets. Are they industry associations, non competing consultants or business advisors? Once you have found out who they are meet with them and work out ways that you can work together, share knowledge or collaborate on how to put you in front of your target market.

 

4. Announce it to the world

When you announce to your friends and family that you intend on getting fit this is often a great motivator to keep going and they in turn they will know how to help you. The same is true in your marketing. By being clear about what opportunities you are pursing and what is your unique offering to this specific market, others around you will know how to help you. Consistency is key here, by remaining focused on the market you are pursing and sending out the right messaging for them will allow more opportunities to be presented to you.

 

5. Work hard, but with the right equipment

This may seem obvious but you must train hard using the right equipment to reach your goals. In the marketing context this is done using a combination of the right tactics that will resonate with your audience. For example, if you are an accountancy practice who is targeting busy professionals you need your marketing and messaging to be highly accessible and right for your target audience. So, you could use a combination of networking in the circles that they are involved in, blogging, public relations social media and public speaking at events to establish credibility and visibility to this target market.

 

6. Don’t quit and be consistent

Consistency is key in any new fitness routine. You cannot expect results overnight but with motivation and persistence you will achieve the growth goals you desire.  By sticking to your guns and using the right tactics you will regularly put yourself in front of your target market thus increasing your visibility and credibility and have the right sort of activities to fill you pipeline and generate greater profitability for your firm.

This is the perfect time to set goals and take action. With only five months until the slow down at Christmas an active stance now will get your business fighting fit to capture new opportunities, generate greater revenue, increase staff morale and achieve your growth goals.

 

Kate Chaundy is a Marketing Consultant with Stretch Marketing

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Google changes everything, making good content the winner

If you are using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics that seem a little “confusing” or involve offshore (or onshore) people posting low quality content on yours or someone else’s website on your behalf, chances are you are now doing significant damage to your website ranking on Google.

Google has just this week released algorithm changes titled “Penguin 2”, a revision to the changes they made late last year, and these go after Black Hat SEO (otherwise known as dodgy SEO)  in the strongest way possible and make quality content marketing the winner of 2013.

According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, Google want to increase the ranking of high quality content and real topical authorities online, rather than allowing businesses to buy large quantities of backlinks and practice dodgy SEO to increase web rankings with low quality sites.

Its great news for our clients, and other businesses that have been developing great websites, good quality content and their positions of authority in their markets for some time. And it represents a turning point in the power of Internet search. You now have the power to be highly ranked on Google through good quality content, opt-in marketing practices and the drive of corporate “personal brands”. And you can outreach those with the ability to pay a linkbuilder now too… All the offenders recognised by Google will suffer the ultimately penalty of having their site rankings dropped significantly off the radar. Google punishes you terribly if you try to cheat the system they create.

The sad part about it is that many in the web and marketing industry don’t keep up with changes to technologies, selling the same thing this year as they did last year. So they will keep “selling” backlinking to you as an approach without knowing of these changes… or they will sell them to you knowing you know no better and knowing they are getting a “backhander” from the linkbuilding company (trust me it happens everywhere).

Why try buy a quick and dirty marketing outcome when your company is not quick and dirty…  It is your choice… but now, thanks to Google, you really don’t have a choice but to get good at producing quality websites and strong content and do it regularly if you want to rank.

Watch the video by Matt Cutts, the Head of Google’s Webspam Team. It tells you everything you need to know about the future of search this year.

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  • Rebecca Wilson

    Founder and MD of growing Professional Services Marketing firm, Stretch Marketing, I keep myself on the cutting edge of business trends, digesting technology changes, Internet forces, industry challenges and business opportunities on a daily basis. Myself, and the Stretch Marketing team learn constantly so you can access smart marketing and communications thinking locally, and nationally, whenever you need it.

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