Tag Archive for Business Management

What Is Your Lead Generation Process for New Business?

Believe it or not, most small to midsize agencies have no consistent process for generating online leads.

Business development doesn’t have to be so difficult. With a little forethought and the creation of simple steps and processes, you can create a system that will make it much easier to kick-start your online leads.

Here are 7 ideas to help get you started:

1. Consistently Use Lead Generation Platforms

The battle for new business has moved online.

According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web.

Lead Generation
You want to enlarge your agency’s online footprint to have the ability to consistently generate more leads. These are some proven platforms:

  • For over eight years, I’ve prescribed creating a niche blog for agency new business and have helped create over 200 personal blogs for agency principals. A personal blog can provide small to midsize agency owners with a perfect platform to create positioning of authority and appeal to a very specific target audience. It’s like a fishing expedition. You fish for a specific fish with a particular bait, you fish away from the boat (the agency’s website) so you don’t scare off the fish.
  • Repurpose your online content into white papers, eBooks, SlideShare presentations and videos.
  • Create your own training events. Add live webinars, online training courses, offline seminars and workshops to your lead generation tool box as a way to build relationships and buy-in from prospects. You’ll quickly establish value and a positioning of expertise when your first face-to-face meeting is a paid engagement.
  • Use your personal social media accounts to grow your online community of prospects and engage with them online. Most agencies still haven’t tapped into the power of social media for creating new business leads. It is networking on steroids.

2. Create Specific Calls-to-Action

A call to action is an important element for generating inbound leads. Every call to action must immediately answer two primary questions: First, what do you want prospects to do? Second why should they do it? An effective CTA will eliminate the guesswork. A resource that you might find helpful is Hubspot’s 101 Examples of Effective Calls-To-Action.

3. Qualify Your Leads

To begin a successful lead generation program, one of the first steps is to identify and qualify your best prospects.

A business development person without leads is like a fish out of water. Neither can survive very long. Yet …

Only 30% of B2B marketers know the names of decision makers in the companies they are targeting. The RAIN Group

To be successful in new business development, you must first name your prospects. Then it’s important to qualify them. Unqualified prospective client meetings are as bad as no meetings at all. It is a waste of agency time and resources.

4. Try Speaking for New Business

Speaking at events attended by your best prospects will provide you with instant credibility. It’s an excellent tactic for business development, particularly for small to midsize agency owners. Having the opportunity to speak in front of a highly targeted, interested group of prospects is the most effective form of lead generation.

Public speaking is an essential component to my business development program. I have been the keynote speaker for more than 100 events in the U.S., Canada and in the UK, speaking on topics related to leadership, business development, and social media. It’s typical to come away from these meetings with new clients. That’s why my personal marketing is designed to facilitate more opportunities to speak.

5. Eliminate Web Forms to Connect with a Person

Most people don’t like completing online forms. Prospects have no idea who gets their information,  the follow-up or how their info will be used in the future. When a prospect has an interest, it is often short-lived. I encourage my clients to make their contact information directly available to their prospective clients. Remember, you’re not selling widgets! Make it easy for them to reach out to you.

6. Add and Optimize Landing Pages for More Leads

Landing pages are vital to producing inbound leads. According to some studies, over half of landing page visitors leave within 5 seconds. You need to know how to get the most from them. For instance:

  • Using correct targeting and testing methods can increase conversion rates up to 300%.
  • According to the Marketing Sherpa’s Benchmark Report on Landing Page Optimization, only 52% of businesses and agencies that use landing pages test them to find ways to improve responses.
  • You should have only one specific offer for each landing page but 48% of landing pages contain multiple offers.
  • Adding videos on a landing page can increase conversions by up to 86% according to a study by Eye View Digital.
  • You may not realize it but long landing pages have the greater potential to generate significantly more leads, up to 220% more leads than above the fold call-to-action. Email Monks

New business success is dependent on the number of qualified leads. So, the first step toward this objective takes place by developing effective landing pages.

7. Provide Social Proof

As part of my consulting work, I’m asked to review a lot of agency websites from a new business perspective. Recently, I was reviewing the website of a large agency in New York. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t find a single testimonial from a happy client. A good number of agencies neglect to add this important component to their marketing mix.

Third-party validation is a powerful tool.

63% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has reviews and testimonials. – CompUSA and an iPerceptions study

Adding client testimonials and recommendations is one of the easiest ways to empower your lead generation program. Testimonials help to eliminate skepticism, provide credibility and trust.

 

Professional Guest post by Michael Gass, Business Development Consultant | Speaker | Author of Fuel Lines

5 tips to bring your global brand to a local audience

If your market is becoming increasingly saturated you might consider growing your business further afield. Take care though, what works in your native country might not always work in a foreign market.

Here are 5 tips to localise your global marketing campaigns.

  1. Think global – act human:
    A global company like Coca-Cola have their marketing campaigns revolve around people enjoying their products. The universal message used to frame this perceived emotion was ‘Always Coca-Cola’ which was then translated into different languages but the core message wasn’t the same. A more recent campaign was the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign which was first trialled in Australia and New Zealand in 2011 and saw a 7% increase in sales. This campaign was then subsequently rolled out globally. The message is simple and couldn’t possibly offend anyone.
  2. Research: When Proctor & Gamble first launched Pamper nappies in Japan it had a stork delivering a baby on the packaging. This packaging was effective in the U.S. but sales struggled in Japan as parents became confused by the image of the stork. It is recommended that you review your marketing collateral before launching your products in a foreign country.

    global

  1. Streamline content:
    To ensure your brand is visually consistent globally it is worth putting effort in creating assets, campaign resources and brand guidelines that can be used everywhere.
  2. Adapt to local marketing expectations:
    Expectations will vary per culture, for instance in the U.S. delivery is a key performance indicator and they prefer their goods to be delivered quickly, whereas France is much more focused on quality and delivery isn’t as much of an issue. Highlight these aspects in your communication.
  3. Global world: With social media messages spreading across the world much quicker – your cousin in the U.S., for instance, might complain about his level of service and you maybe based in the UK and this will still pop up on your time line. Customer service should be key and a global effort.

If you are looking to launch your campaign on a global level get in touch with your Comvort local agency partner today.

Professional Guest post by OWB-UK. (Agency Comvort Member since 2009).

International trade opens a world of opportunities and offers companies access to new customers, revenue and ideas

Interview with Teresa Gualtieri, UK Trade & Investment Manager who gives us an insight of the current state of the digital landscape and her advice for any businesses looking to maximise their digital outreach.

Teresa Gualtieri

Teresa Gualtieri, UK Trade & Investment Manager.

 

What advice would you give to companies looking to trade internationally?
International trade opens a world of opportunities and offers companies access to new customers, revenue and ideas that can boost a company’s profile, credibility and bottom line. Like any other major business project, research and planning are absolutely crucial to success, as well as pulling together the essential know-how, resources and team of professionals. The experience and expertise gained in the domestic market is also invaluable and the passionate belief in your product or service is no less important.

Is there anything you need to bear in mind with cross-border e-commerce?
Every country has its own tax system, covering issues such as sales tax. As you export, it’s critical that you understand these rules and comply. Similarly, you need to know what your legal obligations will be in the new market you’re entering. This includes local laws, product standards and regulations. For example in some countries you may need to modify your product, packaging or even get your goods inspected and approved before they can be sold there.

Also, it’s critical that you have an understanding of how Intellectual Property Rights vary across your markets to protect your brand and ideas.

Have there been any recent developments that you’ve been made aware of?
Yes of course, regulations change quite often, especially in the e-commerce sector. For example, the US has recently expanded the dollar limit under which shipments can be admitted to the US with no duty, fee or tax and with a bare minimum of customs formalities.

The limit had been set at $200 for over twenty years but the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 was signed into law by President Obama last February.  The most comprehensive customs legislation in over twenty years, the Act sets a new limit at $800. Another example is the ‘positive’ list for 1,142 commodities permissible to be sold through cross border e-commerce in China which was released last month. The list partially or completely prohibits importation of infant formula milk, health foods, food for special medical benefits, fresh foods, and others. Or – always regarding the Chinese cross border e-commerce – the new duty rates for items sent directly through the postal system and through free trade zones have been in place since April 8th 2016.

What are your expectations for future digital trading?
The combination of technology and the services it enables is stimulating consumer activity as society spends more and more time online. Mobile devices have driven this change with sales of smartphones and tablets surpassing laptops and desktops in recent years. Activity on social media platforms reflect this transition to an “always-on” culture and for many brands mobile is the strategic growth channel amongst the range of channels they operate. If mobile devices have already changed the way consumers shop, wearable technology will reinforce the ability of consumers to buy anywhere and do so when and how it suits them. When the consumer is “always on” and the market consists of multiple touch points for display and others for sell-through, the market is literally everywhere. Brands will need to stand out and be destinations that consumers want to spend time with during and outside of the buying cycle. Without this they will be lost as more and more companies of all types compete for screen time with consumers. Brand owners will need to adopt the mentality of media companies, invest strategically in content and understand the best channels to distribute it, by optimising the mix of owned media, earned media and paid‐for media.

How can you optimise your website for an international audience?
I would start from planning an international domain strategy and decide whether to use a Top Level Domain or a country code Top Level Domain. There is an interesting article by MOZ that I always recommend my clients to read because it sheds light on some important technical elements that not all businesses are aware of – The Guide to International Website Expansion.

Keyword Analysis is vital. If you create one keyword list and assume it will serve your SEO purposes across all the countries you target, you definitely won’t be targeting your audience in those countries effectively. Different keywords may cater to different audiences depending on location, so you need to identify which keywords are most popular in each country you’re targeting, and optimize the pages on that country’s website accordingly. In addition, remember that even a correct and accurate translation of a keyword or term may not be what people actually use to search for a product or service locally.

Speaking of translations, they are also a key element if you target markets where English is not the first language spoken. Definitely stay away from machine translations. They often sound robotic, unnatural, and sometimes, completely nonsensical to anyone who speaks the language natively. Publishing poor quality content on your website can undermine your company’s credibility to an international audience. Get help instead from someone who is fluent in the language you’re creating content for, ideally someone who is not just a translator but also a copywriter, or someone with some technical knowledge who understands your products or services clearly.

Localise content to each market. Currency, contact details, sizes, measurements, visual elements (images and what’s pictured in them), characters accepted in contact forms, tone of voice (formal vs. informal), page layout (some languages take 25% more space than English), dates and times, payment and shipping options, customer service in the local language…this list could go on and on!

If you’re going to export successfully – whether it is through your website or not – you need to understand the language, traditions and ways of doing business in your new market. Then your website should reflect these. By making this a central part of your strategic approach to exporting, you can help to build your new customers’ trust and confidence in your company.

What are the benefits of being part of an international marketing network like Comvort?
Easy access to key information and contacts are definitely the top two advantages of being part of an international network like Comvort. If you are looking to export to the UK please get in touch with UK Trade and Investment as there are professional advisers in more than 100 countries.

Professional Guest post by OWB-UK. (Agency Comvort Member since 2009).

*On behalf the Comvort Group, many thanks OWB and UKTI for the time in giving our members and readers all these interesting tips.

Business books for 2016 – take your game to the next level

Thousands of business books are published every year. Many of them are a good read, but only some are really worth your while. Unfortunately, the daily entrepreneur is an extremely busy individual. Among all those employees and daily business responsibilities, finding time to read is nearly impossible. The key to success in today’s cut-throat business environment is all about motivation. There’s time for everything; all you need to do is stay organized. The following business books will offer you the drive you need to make a change and really take your company to new heights.

Lean Business Planning, by Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder of bplans.com and Palo Alto Software. He’s an outstanding entrepreneur and a guru of everything business related. In his book, Berry tries to make its readers understand that a business plan is NOT the key to success. It’s all about the planning itself and about the journey. Rather than focus all your attention on a single master plan for your start-up, consider a manageable plan that’s adaptable and easy to understand by your team.

Elon

Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance

This book about the mind of a pioneer named Elon Musk, the founder of the famous SpaceX, PayPal and Tesla Motors. The author lets readers enter his genius mind, get inspired from his innovative ideas, and find a way to take their businesses to the next level too. In Elon Musk you’ll read about what it really takes for someone to become rich, and how far is one willing to go to make a change and have an impact on the future.

Mindsharing, by Lior Zoref

Mindsharing is an interesting business book about collective intelligence. It explores the idea of brainstorming and teamwork, and it emphasizes on the importance of working with a crowd to yield positive results. Why rely solely on your abilities when you can put together more than one brilliant brain to attain great success in business? According to the author, there’s an astounding amount of power in mind sharing. It can help you progress on both a personal and professional level; that’s because you’re constantly learning new things.

Work Rules, by Laszlo Bock

Laszlo Bock is the head of People Operations at Google. In this book, readers are taught about the great importance of hiring the best people for your business. Work Rules relies on data and research on the matter, and it attempts to prove that open-space work environments and happy employees are the key to a better company culture. If you think your employees need some motivation, or that you need some advice on how to be a better leader for your people, then you should definitely make time to check it out.

Work Rules Comvort

The Digital Marketer, by Larry Weber

Is your business operating in the advertising and marketing domain? Are you running out of ideas when it comes to developing new campaigns and retaining new customers? Well then you’re in luck. The Digital Marketer is a great book for business. It reveals some amazing tips about marketing strategies, and it offers a clear perspective of today’s most effective trends. Stop focusing on your brand and start centering your attention more on your customers. Find a way to pique their attention and they’ll want to know more your business too.

Boss Life, by Paul Downs

There are thousands of books out there “teaching” people how to make millions. Entrepreneurship is more than just about making money, living a glamorous life and giving commands. In Boss Life readers will learn that running a business is tough; and that the only way to success is honesty. The secret to having an efficient company is directly linked to an owner’s employees. The closer you are to your people, the better chances you have to thrive. Show them that you’re humane and they won’t hesitate to commit to you and your company.

Comvort reading reccomendations

Some books are life-changing, particularly those in the business domain. That’s because the best ones can really motivate us. They can persuade us to do more for yourselves and for your companies without useless compromises or bossy attitudes. The more open minded you are, the better chances you have to be heard, supported and listened to. Teamwork makes companies thrive, and thriving companies make good money. It’s a win-win!

Professional Guest post by Comvort collaborator Jason Phillips (LoveReading.co.uk!)

How Corporate Gifts can be used to Promote Your Business

Corporate gift business

How Corporate Gifts can be used to Promote Your Business

Business gifts have been used for many years as a way to say “thank you” and either build new relationships or solidify existing relationships. Gifts are usually given to suppliers, customers and even to employees. Alongside their role in improving relationships they can also serve as an additional way of advertising your business. The following steps should be adhered to; this will maximize the promotional prospects of your gifts:

Understand the gift

Everyone loves to get something for nothing and business gifts are especially good as people will never know what is going to be offered. There is a huge array of choices; from pens to clothing or even furniture! Your decision as to what gift to provide must be based upon your budget and what will most appeal to your target customer.

Promotional gifts

A gift can include a discount in respect of a specific purchase on your website. It can even be a generalized discount. Customers will be thrilled to get the gift and will visit your site when they may not otherwise have done so. This can be an excellent ploy to increase sales without pushing your business.

Excitement

The business gift has become a common place item and it can be difficult to come up with a new idea which gets potential customers excited. It is worth spending some time thinking of a new idea or concept. The promotional value and interest which can be generated by a simple campaign for a quality gift will provide better returns than thousands of dollars worth of advertising.

Have a budget in mind

It is important to view money spent on promotional gifts as investment and not money thrown away. With this in mind you need to set a budget for promotional gifts across the year. You will then be able to get your gifts to suppliers and customers at all times of the year; don’t just wait for the big holidays. This is an excellent tool for keeping your company in their thoughts at all times.

corporte gift

Focus on promotional value

Never underestimate the value of giving away small gifts at exhibitions and invents. The amount of people that you will expose to your products is phenomenal. Every visitor who takes a gift will have several contacts who they share the gift or news of the gift with. There are also many people who visit exhibitions simply to collect the gifts. This may appear to be a waste of materials but every one of these can be an additional sale and will know others who will be introduced to your company name and brand.

Loyalty

It is essential to ensure that your loyal customers receive the free gift on offer, or, if possible, a better gift. This is simply good business sense. They will become aware of the promotional gifts you are offering and if you have not included them already they will consider what value you are placing on the relationship. This may be enough for them to take their business elsewhere! Always ensure they receive the gift first, they have a presence in your industry and word of mouth is a very powerful force. Their recommendation to others can increase your sales.

The gift

Finally, it is essential, and surprisingly often overlooked, to provide your business name and contact details on the gift. Without this the gift has a lot less value! Potential customers need to be able to contact you. It is always advisable to have the contact email or phone number fairly large with a one line caption that will ensure they know what you are selling. Your company name is actually slightly less important! Of course, if you have a recognized logo this can provide most of this information in one go!

corporte gift

Corporate gifts are good marketing. They’re ideal for companies that want to boost sales, grab attention and make people curious. If your goal is to promote your business, than using gifts is a smart advertising strategy. Conventional items such as mugs, pens, shirts, hats, and notebooks may seem boring; but they have the greatest impact. An employee who chooses to wear a t-shirt with your company logo imprinted will instantly make viewers want to know more; the more people wear that t-shirt the better chances you have to help your start-up thrive.

Professional guest post by John Smith (VeritasGifts.co.uk!)