Why we presented?
Assertive Marketing was asked to present by the SEIA Vic Committee because a growing need for Solar Installer companies to understand more about marketing. “It was the perfect opportunity to talk about the book” Said Gerard McAllister Director of Assertive Marketing. “Given our many years in the Solar Industry helping the smaller businesses it seemed appropriate to launch the book at this conference”.
Criteria for presentations
All of the presentations at the conference are there to serve as training for the Solar Installer. “It is important to the integrity of the Conference to have all of our speakers deliver something of value to our delegates”. Said Phil Smith SEIA Vic President.
About the Book
This book is about helping small business compete against larger companies. It is a simple “How to do” book that explains the concepts and ideas of modern Marketing and gives a structured approach to your marketing. Showing you practical tips, advice and “To Dos” that the Solar Installer can follow and get success from. It is an interactive real guide where documents can be downloaded and used for your own business. You can even ask the author for advice.
The SEIA Vic Conference
The SEIA Vic Conference is becoming one of the premier events of the Solar Installer year. The Conference brings together a mixture of older experienced Installers who have the practical knowledge of years of experience, and younger innovative Installers that are all over new technology. This year the conference came to Melbourne and the quality of presenters were amongst the industries best.
You can find out more about the “How to Market you Small Installer Business” Book here
The Digital plan
The digital plan or strategy that you embark on will also be determined by what goals you want to achieve. We suggest that you embark on a digital strategy to build brand awareness and create sales in a wider area. By using the following techniques, you can successfully market your business with minimal expenditure. The idea is that you build the business and then put marketing spend back in when the time is right. This strategy is based on the following methodology. Your digital platform is created from many assets such as your website, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
The Digital Platform
“Facebook continuously modifies its algorithm, which is out of your control. Fans may or may not see content depending on this algorithm”. Joe Pulizzi
The digital platform is all the assets put together as a form of communication with your market. This is all social media, Google search facilities and any other blogging sites that you may have. As we are dealing with small business I will assume that you have a website and are currently dabbling in at least one form of social media such as Facebook. Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that social media sites like Facebook should be the focus of their digital marketing. This is not the right way of going about it, and if you are doing so I recommend you stop it now and re-evaluate your strategy. Your website is the most important asset you have, and all traffic should somehow be directed to it. Other social media platforms are run by other entities and businesses. Make no mistake Mark Zuckerberg owns Facebook and all the material on that platform. Once you have put something on Facebook you have no control over it. This goes for all the other social media sites. If the owners change their rules and policy, you have no say in the matter.
Picture. 1. Your Digital Platform
Your website is the most important of these assets as it is the only one that you own and can really control. All elements must lead back to your website. The basis of this plan it to increase the value of this asset so that it becomes a viable selling tool for your business.
Having a website is an essential part of marketing your business. If designed correctly, your website can be one of your most valuable assets. The stats are clear that most people will do their research before they contact any company. In fact, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases (retailing today 2014).
How do I Build My Website?
Starting your website is like hiring an employee. First, ask yourself, what is the purpose for my employee? What should this employee be doing for my business? You hire an employee for a specific reason and know exactly what you want the employee to do. A website is no different in that essentially it is working for you. But unlike an employee, websites never sleep, are always available, and can network constantly across the globe to millions of people.
Reasons for having a Website
There are many reasons for having a website as they can serve many functions for your business. Here are a few of the main reasons that a website is designed for a business.
Sell products and services
Having a website that is easy to read, easy to navigate, and is informative about your products, services, and prices is essential to the success of your business. When you offer your products online, keep the customer in mind. This is your chance to show them the quality of your products and the ease of shopping with you. Websites offer consumers the chance to look at all your products, order products that might otherwise be out of stock, request more information, easily compare prices with other businesses, and gives them a chance to provide you feedback or check your ratings. Your products and services are also available 24/7 and are easily accessed.
By building a web presence online, your customers will have one more way to find and interact with you, as well as research your products and services. If they like you, they’ll become brand advocates and share your business with their social network. A link is easy to share online, and you may find that your business’s customers are doing all the work for you. Leads will generate themselves. A website reaches customers that may have never known about your business otherwise. You can even increase their chances of finding you by taking your business to social media. Marketing through platforms like Facebook, Linkedin and other social media are great ways to establish your business’s reach. Always make sure that it is done as part of your Content Marketing Plan.
Your website is just the same as a store window. When a customer looks through it, they should see what they want and know that they have come to the right place for it. Your website is your brand name, your image, and your customer service. Everything conducted online is an extension of what your business provides its customers in person. When you design your website, allow customers to comment on, rate, and review your products and services. Consider establishing a blog to inform your readers and entertain them so that they may share your brand through social media. Your website is often where customers will go to review your credentials. Make sure that you are knowledgeable of your products and services. Keep an eye on your competition. And have a friendly, and regular presence online, where marketing through social media has great potential. Customers want to know that you are both approachable and available.
Take the First Steps
If you think it’s time to start building a new website or making a change to your existing one for your business, begin by forming a vision for what you want to accomplish with it. What will be the purpose of this website? What kind of voice or style will it have? What are your customers looking for when they want your products and services? This once again can be taken from your Why or Purpose statement. You can also look at your market research into your competitors and target markets.
The website technology
Most of the small business websites that we deal with are created within the WordPress technology. As a small business this content management system will allow you to create good, sometimes sophisticated websites. The important thing is that it also allows you, the small business owner, the ability to make your own simple non-structural changes. However, I would recommend that you do not try to create the site from scratch on your own. It is very time consuming and most small business owners do not have the time to dedicate to this task. Once again work out your budget and research who can help you put the website together. This will be an investment, but the website will pay for itself in the long run.
A plugin is an additive to your website that allows you to do something beyond the norm. For example, there are SEO plugins that allow you to manage your SEO activity.
When you have your website, here are some things that you must ensure you do.
Make sure all links to external sites to be opened in a new tab. – this will keep a visitor to your site on your website instead of taking them away. Once they move on they may not come back.
Website Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is how well your website is ranked and therefore can be found on Google and other search engines.
Organic SEO – Increasing Google ranking by generating interest to your website.
Paid SEO – Paying for Google advertising
The following is a strategy on how to increase your websites SEO in a competitive market. There are 2 ways in which Google ranking can be increased, they are Organic (doing things that attract links and references to your website) and Paid advertising (paid Advertising on Google search pages).
The essence of a good organic SEO is by making your website worth looking at and relevant to a searcher on Google. The following strategy is how we propose to do this:
Meta Description and Keyword Discovery
What goes on behind the pages of your website. The goal of this initiative is to get your website on to the first page of Google search. Here are some definitions and explanations.
SEO Title This is the HTML tag or main heading. It is the first thing that you see in a Google search.
A Meta description is a description about what the web page is.
Keywords are phrases that describe what you do.
These are strategically placed behind the website to help search engines find your site. I will use the Assertive Marketing website as an example.
SEO Title is “your products or services – Your Company name” Ours is “Affordable marketing services – Assertive Marketing Melbourne”.
Meta description is “We provide your product and your services to your area and surrounding areas” So ours is.” Affordable marketing services to small business designed to fit your business. Good marketing services in Melbourne, Hallam, Berwick, Victoria”
Keywords is “your products or services” Ours is “Affordable marketing Melbourne”
Find the right description and keywords that are being searched and mixing that with what the top companies are using then adding them to your website. This is a laborious process and takes time.
- Find what keywords the competitors are using and add them to your website.
- Add a SEO content manager plugin to your website to help manage the keywords (We suggest Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress)
- Regularly change and modify these descriptions and keywords to keep them at the forefront of the search engines and the changing market.
- Keep repeating the process.
Getting your website to the first page of the search page. Then getting it to the top 3.
Note: SEO is a long-term commitment and cannot be done overnight. It takes months and continuous manipulation to get this right and still needs constant working. Once you get it right the rewards will follow.
This is what is on your website, what everyone can view. Is it interesting, informative and to the point? Can someone who is looking for your products or services find exactly what they are looking for and are able to do something about it?
What we have learned
- The digital platform is all the assets put together as a form of communication with your market. This is all social media, Google search facilities and any other blogging sites that you may have.
- Your website is the most important of these assets as it is the only one that you own and can really control. All elements must lead back to your website.
- The digital strategy that you embark on will also be determined by what goals you want to achieve.
- The basis of this plan is to increase the value of this asset so that it becomes a viable selling tool for your business
- We suggest that you embark on a digital strategy to build brand awareness and create sales in a wider area.
- By using the techniques, you can successfully market your business with minimal expenditure.
- The idea is that you build the business and then put marketing spend back in when the time is right.
Are you screaming to be reviewed Online?
A lot of companies think that they live and die on the reviews that they get. So, I thought I would talk about some of the psychology behind the online review. So why do people review a business? This question can’t be answered by a simple generalisation of the public. But here are my thoughts on them.
The good review
This one is when someone is either very happy with your service or you have asked them to review you because you need to increase your ranking.
The bad review
This comes from someone who is dissatisfied by their dealing with you. So let’s look at why someone would want to give a bad review. It is generally because they have lost some kind of control over the situation. The order was late, served not to their liking or they are just angry about something.
People do read reviews
Reviews are a good way for other customers to find out about your business, so they are important. The point system can destroy you if you don’t watch them.
The star or point rating system
The rating you receive on your profile is the average of all the reviews that you receive. This means that if you receive 10, 5-star reviews then you have a 5-star rating, Well done! But what if someone then gives you a 1-star review this will drastically reduce your average. You are no longer a 5-star company but a 4.6-star company. Unfortunately, 10 people have said you were great and only 1 has said otherwise, so now you suffer a mediocre review. In a way the 1 bad reviewer has more control over the situation than the 10 other reviewers. Get another bad review and the situation gets worse.
Here are some things to help you get a better online profile
- Respond immediately
- Always be polite and apologetic to someone’s complaint
- Never get personal
- Never engage in an argument online
The most important thing is to know your brand
If you know your brand and have a strong one it will outweigh any review system. Your customers will swear by you and will keep coming back. So, encourage them to take the time to give a review of their experience. Ask them to make comments and not just a rating.
Always talk to your customers. There is one thing that I always tell my clients and that is, if you have a customer (or past customers), you should communicate with them. A lot of companies think that if they email or call a past customer they will be annoying them. You won’t. If you have a customer that is satisfied with what you have sold or serviced them then they will be happy to hear from you.
Getting the message out there
I once spoke at an industry event and mentioned this point to the audience. Most of them were small tradies. I told them that they have every right to contact someone who has bought from them. So, do it. I took a call from a member of the audience a few months later and he said that he sent an email out to his customer base and received a great result.
What are you waiting for?
So, if you have a list of past customers and I know a lot of you do, put them in an email list and send them a message. This can be about any product enhancements or updates or even just to keep in touch. Remember if you don’t talk to them someone else will.
Are you putting all your eggs in one basket?
Do you do Digital or Traditional Marketing? A lot of marketing advice these days is to “go digital”. The rise of digital marketing companies is staggering and a lot of them are young companies that only think in one direction and that is how to market for Google. Or how to be found on Google. But is this the only thing that the modern small business needs to do?
Increase your business without the hard work
Digital marketing is a great way to increase business without doing all the old-fashioned hard work. And that is great. You can build a company profile by using Search Engine Optimization techniques and approaches to get your message out there. The only thing is that this takes time. A lot of small business do not have the luxury of time.
When the time comes to purchase
The thing that digital marketing does so well is it gives you the opportunity to be in front of a potential customer when the time comes. What I mean by this is that when someone decides they need your product they will look online and hopefully find you. Or they have seen your digital activity and approach you for your products.
Digital marketing creates the situation so that if you are doing it correctly you will be on the top of the lists i.e. high placing on Google. What it also does is put you up amongst your competitors.
Control is in the hands of the buyer
This is considered passive marketing. It also means that the control is all in the hands of the buyer. What if you wanted to be in front of a potential buyer before the decision time giving you the control? Then you must look at a more traditional type of marketing approach.
How to take control
Here are some marketing ideas that will help you take the control:
- Industry events
- Industry publication hard media advertising
- Sales and Business Development techniques such as cold calling, dropping in on business
There are more, and the majority are offline. It is hard work. But what it will do is put you in front of a potential buyer without your competitors being there. By building a direct relationship, giving you a stronger position to get them to buy your product.
Perhaps a different strategy
To do this you need to look at a different kind of strategy, a more traditional one. I’m not saying ditch the digital marketing but look at other ways to market your business. Don’t fall into the trap of putting all your eggs in the digital basket.
I have been working with sales channels for quite a while now and I find that there are simple approaches that make it easier to obtain good sales results. The first thing to do is ask what the best channel for your products is. I will in this instance talk about the industrial sector as it is where I have done most of my work. But this does not mean that we are only talking about B2B sales. Many of the industries I have dealt with have a many-tiered approach to the channel. For example a manufacturer, distributor, the retailer then end user.
Knowing this, who do you communicate to? The simple answer is all of them. If you do not let all segments of this channel know and understand your product then it will fail. I will explain why. The key to a successful sales channel is ease of flow. You have to make every stage flow on the next stage with ease. This is done through good communications to every stage.
It is a simple case of the “Chinese whisper” game that we all learned at school. Not so sure on the political correctness of that term these days, but I only remember it being called that. This is a case of every story changes from one person to another. This is human frailty of communication as we will all put our own spin on it so as to find the easiest way to communicate.
The way this works in channel management is:
The manufacturer must train and help promote the product to the distributor to give the best possible chance of promoting your product to the retailer. If he gets any of this message wrong then the message has changed.
The distributor will then train and promote the product to the retailer to give the retailer the best chance of promoting your product to the end consumer. If he gets this wrong then the message has changed.
The retailer will then educate and promote your product to the people who are going to finally put it in their homes or car and so on. Get this message wrong and you lose the sale.
So the retailer lost the sale and tells the distributor that they don’t want their product in their product line. The distributor tells you the manufacturer that they don’t want it because they can’t sell it to the retailer. The manufacturer now has no one to sell their product. How did it all go wrong?
The fundamental issue here is communication. Once you, the manufacturer, tell the next person in the process it is up to them to continue that message. Now it is important to note that there are three steps in this process that involves salespeople. You, the distributor and retailer.
There is something important you need to know about salespeople and that is this. Their living is dependent on one thing only. That thing is getting the sale. Wage, commission, self-esteem the lot, is all dependent on their end goal. They need to be focused on this or they will fail.
This is why I look at salespeople in the following way. I can say this from many years of sales living myself. They are like water flowing down a hill. The water will find the easiest path to get to its goal. The Goal being the bottom. The water will cut through weak dirt, around rocks sometimes over things to get to the end. Now water is controlled by gravity, which builds momentum and forges its way through by the easiest path.
The salesperson has a similar goal, not driven by gravity but in a not too dissimilar way, a need to survive. So like the momentum of water and gravity a salesperson needs knowledge and confidence. So many times have I seen a salesperson sell a product that he knew more about (confidence), overselling an alternative product, even if that alternative was the better item. Thus you need to make his job (flow) easier.
This is done also in a multi-tiered approach. Tell the right message to all stages of the channel. The distributor knows the right message, the salesperson has the right message but the end user should already know about your product. How easy is it for a salesperson to get to his goal when the buyer says “I’ve heard about this particular product and what it can do, can we talk about this product”.
Thus it is not a simple case of manufacturing the product and saying I will let my sales channels do the work of selling for me. It is up to the manufacturer to have control on all the stages especially when it comes to communication. Have your message right so as you don’t create confusion, misunderstanding all of which destroys confidence. Good communication comes from understanding your end user and the reasons why they will need your product. Ask this question: What need does my product fulfill? The answer will define your communication message. The message from this will help the process flow through your channels which will increase sales.