If you want guarantees, I can't help you.

I met with a potential client the other day who launched his online business very recently. It’s in a relatively new but growing sector and there are some big players in the market with huge budgets behind them, but there is room and opportunity for new entrants.

We were introduced by a creative friend of mine who had developed the brand and online presence for launch. The client wanted to start seeing results and was demanding action but there was no plan in place beyond the publication of the website and setting up social media accounts. The creative team needed some structure and direction for the next phase of the business.

Now launching a brand, website and social media accounts without a long-term plan is a whole different can of worms which we can look at another day. My thoughts for today are around client expectations, how unrealistic they can be, and how they can be managed.

The client seemed reasonable enough when we met. He was keen to move quickly, to see the action he felt had been lacking and the results he expected.

We chatted for a while about what he’d done so far - how they’d created the product and launched the business. I talked about my approach; how we would start with an in-depth review of the business objectives and vision, the products, the market and target audiences etc before developing a plan. I had already provided a price for phase and for the plan itself, so this was a chance for me to expand on what’s involved.

But then the client started talking about wanting to work with marketing people who would love his product, tell him it was amazing and that they would get the sales he needed. He expected very quick growth and was looking for guarantees – he wasn’t interested in discussing objectives and making a plan.

“I just want someone who’ll say ‘This is a brilliant product, it’s going to fly. Leave everything to me and the sales will come flooding in for you – I guarantee it’”

Now, with the best will in the world, I can’t help with that. As marketers we can control what we say, how we say it, where and who we say it to. But we can’t control the world economy, global events, the weather or the personal circumstances of potential customers. These and hundreds of other factors determine how people spend their money every day. No one can control this, and no one can guarantee sales.

I told this guy that if he wanted guarantees then I wasn’t the person to help him, that he had to go with business relationships that work for him and wished him luck with the next stage of his business. We chatted some more and went our separate ways.

Despite losing out on potential income, the outcome was the right one for both of us. Had we worked together, this client would constantly be chasing unrealistic goals and demanding results, putting pressure on our business relationship. With the budget he has available he could achieve steady growth, but the approach needs to be organic and the pace much slower than he wants. And nothing can be guaranteed.

It would be irresponsible of me to tell him what he wanted to hear, take his money and watch the rate of growth fall short of his aspirations. 

The ability to manage client expectation is just as important for a consultant as delivering expertise and I’m not prepared to promise what can’t be delivered.

If you’re looking for some honest advice on your current marketing issues, email me to arrange a free consultation. 

The benefit of an outsider's perspective

We all have that one issue on our 'To Do’ list that’s been there far too long. That one issue that just seems to get bigger every time you start to think about it so actually it’s easier to just tackle the Day Job and leave it alone. You don’t have time to tackle it anyway because the day job involves a hundred and one things to do. And they all have pressing deadlines. 

Big challenges don’t have a deadline, there’s no delivery plan and no one pressing you for updates. They are just there. Waiting for someone to take hold of them and make things happen. 

For many small & medium sized business owners, the big ongoing issue will be a marketing challenge: improving lead conversion; sorting out coherent email programmes; updating the website. As a business owner, you will recognise that these are all critical factors in your growth. Yet you have a business to run - with people, assets and finances to manage. You try to address the big marketing challenges because they’re important. Yet every time you start, something crops up that demands your attention elsewhere. 

It’s tempting to believe that you and your colleagues are the only people who can deal with this. After all, you know your business inside out, you know your products and your audiences, and you understand your marketplace better than anyone. In all of this, you’d be right - you are the expert in your business. No one can solve the issue without tapping into your expertise. And whatever plans are implemented, particularly if a change in process is required, they must work for you and your colleagues. 

But even if you have marketing expertise in-house, an external viewpoint will provide the focus, energy and freshness that unpicking these challenges demands, asking questions every step of the way. Questioning brings clarity, and clarity is half the battle: untangling all the knots, identifying the blocks to success and developing a workable solution. An outside view can help you achieve all of this.

Then you have to deliver that workable solution, and this is where external support really can pay its way. A consultant whose only job is to help address your marketing challenge(s) will keep the momentum going, will only demand your input when it’s needed and will channel it in a positive way so your time is well spent. 

Things might get sticky along the way. It can be hard to invite an outsider to look at your business close-up and you might have to answer some uncomfortable questions, but the impact can be remarkably positive.

Just start the conversation and see what happens. A journey starts with a thousand steps and all that...

Call 07879 993744 or email to arrange a free 45 minute consultation.

Step back before planning for 2018

Where do you need to focus your marketing effort to get the best return? What’s working for you?  What’s not working?  What can you do today to make a difference to your business this month?

Before you start thinking about how to spend your 2018 marketing budget, can you answer these questions? Honestly?

If you can, then you're on the right track and likely to be ahead of your competition, and you probably don’t need any help from me.

But if you can’t tell me what return you're getting for your marketing spend, then investing a small amount of time and money now will help ensure your 2018 budget is spent more effectively. 

You may have decided you need a marketing person to help update your sales brochure for 2018, and I can help with that.  But is a new brochure the best way to spend your hard-earned budget?  How will you use that brochure?  Where does it fit into your overall sales and marketing strategy for the next 12 months? 

Or have you just run out of brochures and need new ones?

Your brochure may well need an update.  But equally there may be small, inexpensive changes you can make today to your existing sales and marketing process that will generate more income from your existing clients.  Perhaps you don’t need to spend money updating that brochure just yet.

Before you commit to spending money on marketing in 2018, a marketing audit will help identify areas of opportunity.  Those most likely to generate revenue, and therefore where to focus your time and money.

So how does it work?

A Quercus Marketing audit starts with a discovery workshop involving key members of your team. Together we’ll examine all areas of your business and current marketing activity – from your products, pricing, customers and promotion to your business objectives and sales processes. 

I will need your help in this; combining the expertise you have in your business with my marketing skills gives the best results. The session may take a few hours, and will involve a lot of Post-it notes, but there will always be sweet treats and coffee to help us through! 

What do I get out of this?

Ten days after the workshop, you'll receive your audit discussion document.  Every business is different, but the document will generally include the following:

  • Market overview & context
  • Review of current marketing activity
  • A SWOT analysis of your current marketing and where relevant, the wider business.  Marketing is integral to every aspect of your business so shouldn't be looked at in isolation.
  • A priority action plan: 2 or 3 things you can do now to unlock income from your customers and prospects.
  • Other opportunities for development

As an independent consultant, my job here is to provide recommendations for your business, not to sell services you don’t need.  As such the action plan and opportunities will be focused on what's best for you.

What happens next?

After discussing the report and action plan, you may decide you have the time and resources within your team to implement the recommendations, and that’s great. If you decide you need outside help, then we’ll discuss what support you need, agree a cost and make a start.  

However you prefer to work, I’m confident that Quercus Marketing can help you get your marketing strategy on track and, more importantly, achieve your business goals. 

If you want to take a fresh look at your marketing, give me a call to start the conversation…a chat costs nothing.