Talking the other day with a group of business owners about twitter I came to the conclusion that many have the focus on the wrong end of the stick. Yes it is possible to undertake initiatives to build your subscriber base, and indeed build it into the thousands; but is this where the priority should lay? I say no and here’s why.
The problem is that if the pursuit of numbers is at the cost of gaining follower engagement; if it means that folk are not really committed to what you might have to say and to taking your recommended action; and if this means they don’t go on to click on links and look at, say, your video presentations, then what is your purpose in using twitter in the first place?
The reality is, that if you think numbers, first, and engagement second, you are making a fundamental error at 3 levels:
- firstly you don’t have the time or resource to be wasting time building a subscriber base of time wasters that you have not built a meaningful and value laden rapport with;
- secondly, the social media is about participative engagement, it is, at the heart, solidly founded on ‘pull’ based marketing; see you tweets simply as ads and you’re getting it wrong, you are not going to be drawing them in; and,
- thirdly, what the heck is using twitter really all about. It’s about gaining pre-planned results in the most efficient and effective way possible. Going for numbers is doing the wrong thing; it’s not efficient. And no matter how good you get at doing it the final result will stay the same, close on zero, so it’s not effective.
Welcome back to the fifth and final presentation in this mini series where we’re looking at exactly where and how should business owners of professional service firms focus their business development energies and shape their online marketing strategy; where might things go wrong; and what should be done about these
Lets get stuck back in. Okay, so you know you marketplace, your clients, their reality, their needs, their wants, their concerns.
What should be the starting point if you want to communicate effectively so as to build relationship and establish trust using the internet, online video and the social media?
Well one way to go forward would be to start by asking 3 simple questions, in this order:
- Firstly, what would people you’d like to be buying your services need to believe that would make the purchase of the service from yourselves an automatic decision? [By way of example the response might be, because: you give exceptional value; you really care; you ensure things are done right 1st time every time; whatever];
- Secondly why aren’t people you’d like to be purchasing your services buying automatically from you at the moment? [Perhaps they can buy the service at a lower cost elsewhere; others are perceived to offer a better or more reliable service; or they are perceived to be better skilled; or they don’t know us; whatever]; and
- Thirdly, why do people need to buy now? You might be able to relate to: changing legislation, prices set to change; get in now for first 1st mover advantage; don’t delay if you want to avoid problems further down the line; or after such and such a date it’ll be too late; whatever, the list of options is huge.
Knowing the answer to these questions provides the basis for much of what needs to be thought through.
The process of communicating in the modern era using the social media is a subliminal one; its based on relationship building and the establishment of trust. No you are not going to be hitting people with hard sell messages, if you do using the social media you’ll fail; the best approaches focus on:
giving of your best and constantly adding value with every approach you make;
helping people to appreciate their situation;
giving of insights and ideas; and
by giving of your very best and holding nothing back
Using such an approach you will come to be seen as someone that not only self evidently helps people to understand things better but also who really know their ‘stuff’ and who really care.
Never forget selling professional services in the web 2.0 era is first and foremost about getting people to know, like and trust you. This can only be really effected if in giving of your very best you are seen to be doing so with no obvious prospect of immediate return.
Other considerations than these three come some way down the line as if you don’t score on each of these three counts at the outset you’re not going to be in the shortlist later on as others will have stolen the march on you!
By marketing, in the way I’m suggesting:
you’re going to be playing to your strengths;
you’re going to be in your sweet spot;
you’re going to be playing to clearly defined needs of clearly defined market segments;
you’re going to be communicating in ways people want to be communicated with; which will be very much appreciated; and
your approach will be strategic, this will be will be paramount.
The tactics you’ll use must all fall into a strategic context; you’ll not be firing off all over the place.
You’ll be doing far less but working in far better and more focused ways with the consequent effect that the results you’ll achieve will be so much the better than otherwise.
The fourth area that really counts is having done all this is to look for ways to shortcut what you’re doing; to get around the many obstacles that typically arise.
One of the most important aspects of your business development plan must be to appreciate where the obstacles to achieving your goals really lie. Finding the answer to this is usually a pivotal moment in our work with clients; it’s the point where we arrive at the top of the hill; its going to be downhill after this.
Why aren’t you at your goal’s end already?
What has stopped you succeeding already?
Keep on asking why and why and why again until you really get to the heart of the answer. The obstacles should start to come into focus, that’s if you’re really being honest with yourself or selves. Keep focused on the ‘what and the why’ issues until you’ve bottomed these out as the how to address things will come directly from the ‘what and the why’ issues you conclude with.
For example lets say we have a accountancy firm which is asking the question: why is our taxation department floundering? Why is it not achieving fees of £750,000 pa . Why does it remain stagnant at £450,000 pa.
By asking the question What has stopped us achieving our £750,000 fees goal? maybe the firm’s partners will conclude:
- We don’t have a sufficiently high profile for this service, we’re only known as accountants, not tax consultants;
- We don’t have a clear taxation service offer;
- We don’t have a really clear idea of who we’d like to be selling our taxation service to
Our current communications pay little attention to this area of our service offer and certainly they aren’t focused in any way or client type specific;
- We don’t have a list of high net worth target clients;
- We don’t have a strong image in the high net worth market segment locally;
The competition have a high profile partner always advising folk what they should be doing using the internet and a newsletter
We’re not regularly in contact with people we’d like to be serving whom we already know
Now all that needs to be done is to convert the apparent obstacle into goal by inverting the question into a statement
- We have a high profile for taxation service;
- We have a clear taxation service offer;
- It’s clear in all our marketing communications to whom we offer our taxation services;
Our website and marketing literature pay serious attention to our taxation service offer;
- We have a list of high net worth target clients and we’re working on building it up;
- Our taxation partner has a high profile locally and is seen in all regional online professional forums communicating helpful information using video and the social media;
- We have a strong image in the high net worth market segment in our target geographic marketplace;
- We’re in contact on a regular basis with people we’d like to be using our taxation services, whom we know already, communicating in ways they’ve told us they’d like to be communicated with.
Now all that remains to be done is to prioritise the list and agree tactical activities that will enable the firm to achieve the stated objectives.
Simple short circuited and clear.
You may even test your thinking a stage further:
You may ask is the achievement of all the goals necessary to reach our ultimate goal? I say this because the list you’ll compile will probably be much bigger than the short list I’ve complied. Or you might ask: What if we set a fees target at £1million or £1.5 million, what would need to change?
Again the focus is on the’ what’ which when inverted becomes the new goal.
Or maybe you might ask what could be done that might shortcut the attainment of two objectives at the same time using just one tactical approach.
All this is based on the thinking that its results that matter. Results that are produced in the shortest time possible to and give the desired or better results; its this that counts.
The fifth area that really counts is Being Action-Oriented on a monthly, weekly, daily basis.
Just how often have you heard this one. Dear of dear oh dear oh dear! But in the business development context just how often do you fall short?You already know that taking action is the key to business development success.
Research, analysis, planning, setting up systems, these are all great but things only start to happen when direct action is taken and then followed up on a timely and as planned for basis.
Now there is another dimension to this and it’s this: When your plans are laid and you absolutely must be able to confidently say that this is what we are committed to. My point is that its absolutely essential you go forward with confidence.
The key to all action focused success is staying focused on what needs to be done today and doing it. Whether its absolutely the right thing to be doing or to be focused on isn’t the issue, its that you’re doing something, that you’re making progress, its this that counts; your performance review will take account of whether what you’re doing is best focused.
Don’t let emerging obstacles distract you;
Don’t go looking for more ideas, magic bullets;
Don’t get distracted; and
Don’t let client matters get in the way.
Working on not in your business on business development matters will be the crux of your success. Why is it so many chose to neglect it then wonder why they’re not performing as anticipated?
To conclude this one, the solution is simple. Your tactical plans making up each and every part of your strategic plan must be segmented into monthly, weekly and daily tasks.
You must never lose sight of what your trying to achieve and of the importance of taking sustained timely action; you must monitor your success and adapt where necessary; above all you must treat the process with the due respect it deserves.
The sixth area is to rise above your fears and doubts. Fears and doubts are natural. They are a natural protection device developed over hundreds of thousands of years.
Knowing that you will be fearful and that this is normal you must simply commit to your plan of action without overdue concern.
Communication in the Web 2.0 era is not a quick fix, building rapport, relationships and trust does not happen over night it must be worked at; you don’t have the time to focus on your fears and doubts;
they are such a waste of time.
Accept that you will make mistakes; accept this as being the fastest way to learn. Make mistakes quickly, learn from them, then move on with revised plans based on your new levels insight; this must be your maxim.
This also points to the critical importance of monitoring and reviewing progress to aid the learning process, to make the most of emerging opportunities and to obviate those fears and doubts. There’s just no other way that works. All professional service business owners have to learn this; its just a matter how long the message really takes to get through!
Making mistakes is an inevitable consequence of rigorous online professional service marketing, whether it be in terms of what you undertake, how you undertake it, how you say things, what you say etc. You get the point I’m sure.
The seventh area that really counts online when undertaking your business development activities is to keep things simple.
Many business owners court disaster either because they do little to nothing on the business development front or what they do, they make as complicated as can possibly be imagined!
Working on the internet you’ll be faced with a myriad of things to do to take your business forward. Over time you will indeed be able to use increasing numbers of different avenues but at the outset
keep it really simple. Pick just one or two ways to proceed and develop mastery in those areas; by that I mean get them working well before you move on to other initiatives.
By going for a multitude of initiatives at the outset little progress will be made as you’ll be spreading yourselves far too thin, far too early and given your expertise will be relatively limited,
in terms of really knowing which are the optimal things to be doing and how best to go about doing them, you’ll be wasting a huge amount of effort.
This is where bringing someone in, on an outsourcing basis, we discuss this in the next series, can help hugely; but even here we caution taking things step be step, not taking on too much and you learning quietly, quietly as you go. In this way you can easily take over as you move on or you have in place people on the outside who know you and whom you can trust.
This is why we recommend they provide coaching to your key people so that as they undertake works on your behalf, they’re involved, they’re learning on the job, they’re skill-set is shaping . As such an otherwise slow learning process is short circuited
The eighth area of concern is getting your business development strategy honed into systems, processes and projects and for there be a project management system in place so you can ensure things are done in a timely proper fashion.
Edward Denning [quality guru] said:
“If you can’t explain what you’re doing as a process you don’t know what you’re doing”.
Now that you’re planning to work on the internet and given that there are so many options as well as new ones coming on-stream weekly, defining what you’re doing and seeing how it will all work out in practice is mission critical.
In short your online marketing strategies must be focused.
Your definition of all that needs to be done in terms of systems, processes and projects is critical; if you can’t or don’t do this then staying on top of the management of your over all business development works will be onerous in the extreme.
The ninth area of concern is to recognise that you can waste a huge amount of time if you don’t recognise that you can’t do everything yourself; nor should you try .
Why work at learning something that takes hours to learn minutes to put in place and will never have to be done again; bring someone in to do it as a one off.
Why spend time doing things that can be automated using software; it makes sense to buy in the appropriate business development software; but I do caution.
Beware of black-hat software that undoubtedly gives you an initial advantage but which is frowned upon by Google; it could cause your site to be taken out of Google’s rankings altogether.
Disaster. Nothing less!
Take well considered advise if in doubt. Get it wrong and all can be lost.
Why spend time learning to do something where you can never be as good as the best and it really does matter that things are done to an high standard; in this case outsource… more coming later but suffice to say:
Welcome back to the fourth presentation in this mini series where we’re looking at exactly where and how should business owners of professional service firms focus their business development energies and shape their online marketing strategy; where might things go wrong; and what should be done about these
So taking off where we left off at the end of the third post Lets consider some business development basics:
All the evidence shows that with the right approach, mindset and skills you can take your firm where ever you want; just look at those who’ve gone before.
If you’re to take your business to a new level then ‘your consideration of your business development approach, must come first.
It never works being opportunistic and chasing the quick and easy. Accept this and plan strategically.
Stop worrying about the ‘business development cost’, Read More…
Welcome back to the third presentation in this mini series where we’re looking at exactly where and how should business owners of professional service firms focus their business development energies and shape their online marketing strategy; where might things go wrong; and what should be done about these
So taking off where we left off at the end of the second post where we were talking about business owners not having a strategic approach and as a result they were doing the wrong things, let me be clear here.
Your strategy is your firm’s statement of strategic intent defined in terms of clearly defined objectives for however many goals have been set; a system is all the arrangements that come together for attaining a specific objective, its the interplay of all the parts, a process simply is a step by step singular part of a single system.
So the strategic plan defines the over riding approach, the system defines what’s to be done and the processes, of which there will be many, set out how , step by step, everything will be achieved.
When using such an approach you’re clear about exactly what you’re aiming to do, how you’re going to bring everything together and how each component works in the context of each other. If your project management arrangements then ensure that what’s to be done on a timely basis gets done and your monitoring processes allow you to know what’s working and what isn’t and providing you adapt accordingly which is another process, you’ll be working optimally.
Such an approach is essential Read More…
In a recent econsultancy blog post ‘30+ fascinating stats from Econsultancy’s Q1 2013 reports’ some interesting stats were revealed. Click on the link to see the full report.
Just to be clear before we start. What is ‘digital marketing’?
Digital marketing is marketing that makes use of electronic devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, cellphones, digital billboards, even game consoles to engage with clients and other business partners. Internet Marketing is a major component of digital marketing.
We can consider digital marketing from two perspectives: ‘pull based digital marketing’ and ‘push based digital marketing’. So what are these?
With pull based digital marketing, the consumer actively seeks the marketing content, typically using web searches or opening an email, text message or web feed. Your use of web sites, blogs and streaming media, based on audio and video, are examples of pull digital marketing. Read More…
Welcome back to the second presentation in this mini series where we’re looking at exactly where and how should business owners of professional service firms focus their business development energies and shape their online marketing strategy; where might things go wrong; and what should be done about these
So taking off where we left off last time. One of the simplest shortcomings of many professional service firm business owners is that as professionals you’ve simply not given sufficient thought to exactly what is the ‘true value’ you bring to your clients in terms of what they’re looking for; that’s to say, and here’s the crunch, in terms of how they see things.
And because of this your communications fail at the very first hurdle. Why? Because you’re not talking about what people want to know; or to hear about, you’re focused on what you want to say.It is the failure to get this over, that’s to say the value you offer in the context of what people are looking for that leads you to fall short.
Express things in all their full Technicolor glory when Read More…
Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
And if you want to get your message over in ways that mean its going to be taken on board; here’s something you need to think about:
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge
But never forget you can go overboard:
If I had a little humility, I’d be perfect.
I don’t know about you but I’m fascinated by Pinterest. If you want to take a look at my collection of quotes then you can do so by clicking here
See you soon.
In the following series of posts that I will post every two days I’m going to be looking at exactly where and how should business owners of professional service firms focus their business development energies and shape their online marketing strategies? Where might things go wrong? And what should be done about these?
There’s a real dilemma facing many professionals today. They tell me their business is stagnant, that they’re working harder and harder and that their business development works seems to be going nowhere so they’ve decided to go online to promote themselves, their firm and their services. Read More…
I don’t know about you but I have to do a fair amount of photo editing? Maybe it’s making up banner ads; maybe its for photo images for videos; maybe it’s for an image for a PDF; maybe it’s for video images or maybe its for a background slide for a PowerPoint presentation. Just recently I started to use Pixlr for my photo editing. It’s a free photo editor with a high level of functionality. Click on this link to take a look.
But as you’ll know, having access to a service, doesn’t mean you’re going to use it. So to help you along the way, I came across a really useful YouTube video taking you through all aspects of the use of Pixlr. It really is useful; there is nothing being promoted; it’s just excellent quality content.
It really is very straightforward photo editor and the results nothing like as hard to come by as if you’re using one of the professional [expensive] programmes such as Photoshop. No it isn’t as sophisticated as others but it is straightforward and I have yet to come across anything I want to do that I can’t do with Pixlr. Take a look.
Welcome back to this second half where we are considering the notion that Yes Content is King’, but then it’s how you use it that matters most.
We continue where we left off in the last ‘Content is king’ presentation and start with consideration of our second key point.
Key No 2. There has to be a concerted effort to ensure that as a result of your endeavors to create, and deliver, exceptional quality content you be acknowledged for this and be seen as the thought leader, a precursor of becoming known as the trusted authority in your niche.
Now to Key No 3. Your job in creating exceptional quality content is to do more than just build relationships based on educating a few people who may in time have need of your services.
You have to make sure that the content you create, in whatever formats you create it, be it, that firstly, it all works in concert, in the campaign context, using a myriad of inter-linkages, and that secondly, wherever it is placed that it all links back to your blog and from here to your website; as in my case back to http://onlinevideoforprofessional.com
Key No. 4 Having created quality content it should demand of you that you make it available as widely within your target market area as possible, such that people searching for the like, or for the services your firm delivers, can access it.
If folk can’t find your content, then you’re not going to become part of the conversation that’s going on out there across the web, and your competitors, who are, are going to steal a march on you. Be utterly clear, there is no point creating quality content, if once it is created, you don’t get it in front of your target audience. This means putting it out using as many appropriate channels as possible in the most appropriate formats.
Content can and should be re-purposed in many different ways so as to best ensure it gets maximum exposure For example a quality 1000 word blog posts
- can be made into pages on your website;
- can be made into articles and posted on article submission sites [so creating back links];
- can be tweaked and posted as guest posts on other firms or people’s blogs;
- can be re-made into audio presentations;
- can be re-made into video presentations;
- can be re-made into podcasts;
- can be used as responses to questions on forums;
- can be used as hard copy documents and be given out at events or sent by mail to prospects;
- can be book marked on social book marking sites; and
- can be used in various ways on the many social media sites you may be using. As such, they can be posted on Facebook; or LinkedIn; they can be tweeted about on twitter; they can even be used with an image on Pinterest; which is now the third largest social media site in the world after the ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter.
Can you see how around persuasive, quality content everything pulls together?
Key No. 5 Create content on a regular basis.
Key No. 6 Re-create the same content in a variety of formats. Produced in different formats not only does this broaden the spread of people you get your content out to but, it provides far more different types of viewer to access your materials.
Key No. 7 It must be your avowed intent to get your content out to the places your prospects spend their time. This means you need to know: What websites do they visit? What forums do they visit? What blogs do they read? And what emails to they subscribe to?
Key No. 8 Test, track and analyse your contents’ performance.
Key No. 9 You have to do more than publish. You have to encourage and engage your networks in conversation. Once you have your channels working, simply pushing out evermore content isn’t going to work beyond a certain superficial level! By encouraging and engaging with your networks in conversations, the more engaging the better, the more highly you’re going to be regarded, the more highly you will rank in the SERPs; and the more people are going to be brought into your fold.
Key No. 10 Make use of social media PR opportunities.
Make no bones about it. The notion that content is king and that this is the new world is a fact. People will either wake up to this reality in the near future or there will be no future; its becoming an ever harder and ever more cruel world out there. Only the toughest, they used to say would survive, now it’s only the most communicative, or should I say, the most communications savvy.
Without a doubt professional service firm business owners, are going to have to start thinking about their marketing from a radically new ‘content focused’ perspective. Putting your head in the sand isn’t going to help.
The sooner you start delivering on these tactics and focusing in on delivering exceptional quality content, to very specific target recipient groups, the sooner you will forge ahead of your competitors and mark yourselves out as the trusted authority in your niche.
That’s it, see you in the next.
For more information if you want to take a look at my book The art of persuasive communication and view the first few chapters click on the link.
The other books in this professional business development series include: