Before we get into the real ‘meat’ of this post let me ask you a question, do you know the difference between being a tactical business owner/manager and being a strategic owner manager and how education marketing can benefit your business?
The reason I ask is, if you don’t then this post is for you, and subsequent posts in this series.
It’s a known fact that around 90% of all owners and managers are tactical, 9% are strategic and the lucky 1% are a mix of both, these people are as rare as hen’s teeth and the ones we all hear about as being the business leaders we need to emulate and follow.
Let’s follow our own path.
Tactical owner/managers usually think “how do I get that sale today, I’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow” this is because they don’t really understand the strategy behind long-term sales or marketing. There is nothing wrong with this approach if you want to live for today and end up giving yourself a heart attack. When you tell them that its twice as difficult to get an appointment with a prospect than it was 5 years ago they normally try twice as hard to themselves and their team an appointment.
A strategic owner/manager will look at the problem from a holistic viewpoint and come up with fantastic strategies that will help ease the situation, their problem is they have no interest in tactics, so they never develop the idea, they go around in circles.
The 1% that can see both sides are the ones who make great things happen. This comes through determination and discipline to get both the tactics and strategies working in harmony so every criteria at every level is met.
Now I have seen a tactical person paired with a strategic person and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, usually they drive each other mad because one is wanting to get on and make the sale and the other is waiting for the perfect moment, it never happens unless the strategist can explain their ideas in a way that a strong tactician can really understand.
Here’s a story that illustrates this perfectly but this applies to any business in any sector:
Two sofa shops open in the same town 3 days apart and let’s assume that one is tactical and the other is strategic.
So, you go into the Tactical Sofa Shop buy a new sofa, the tactical salesperson hits you with “we have the best sofas in town, we won’t be beaten on price, doesn’t matter where you go, that’s our promise”. Usually over a 2year period, if it stays open that long, you could expect a 5% growth rate with this approach.
The second store, The Strategic Sofa Shop, the salesperson has been trained to ‘sell the shop’ and not the ‘products’, so she hits you with “you want to buy a sofa?” now on the way to the sofa section she is telling you everything about the history of the shop, the owner and how his passion for furniture and fabulous customer service lead him to open the shop and how not only are the prices competitive but every salesperson are trained on the construction and sustainability of sofas and how that can really benefit the customer.
On this journey you are not getting the feeling that you are being sold to, you get the feeling that this shop cares about you and your purchase so when you need some other piece of furniture to go with your sofa where do you go…yep, The Strategic Sofa Shop, it’s an easy sale.
The reason being, not only have they educated the customer on the shop and its history etc they have also built a rapport with them and rapport and trust sells better than anything, you just have to make sure you deliver on those promises and that you listen to the customer, there is nothing worse than hearing a salesperson talking over a customer.
This is the fastest way to boost sales that I know.
It’s been proven that people will pay more if they perceive there is greater value or a deeper reason for buying over one supplier than the other.
Let’s stop there, in the next post we will talk about how educating your clients and prospects can propel you far above your competitors, but today I want you to look at your sale process and find out if you are selling tactically or strategically.
Have a fab day.
So here we are at part 2 of Tactics vs Strategy and how we can help make education marketing the difference to us and our clients.
In part 1 we talked about the Tactical Sofa Shop and the Strategy Sofa Shop and what the difference was. If you haven’t read it go back as this post will make more sense if you do.
In this post we will wrap this section up with how you can use your USP or unique story.
I call it your unique story because this story will be at the centre of everything you do regarding your marketing and PR, this will help it work harder.
This is at the very heart of education marketing
When we educate a client or prospect it gives them a totally different perspective of who we are and how we can help them.
To give you an example:
I helped a client last year sell services to other businesses and this service basically is to increase brand awareness, loyalty and increase client retention, amongst other things.
We found that not only their salespeople but every other salesperson in this sector were selling on incentives only. A tactical sale.
What we decided to do was use a strategic sale and help educate the client or prospect so they had the full picture of what my client was offering, this was 3 ways to increase performance, sales and profits. When my client presented it was such a revelation because their client could see the full picture of how they could help through fantastic well researched market data.
There are lots of places to gather any data you require on the web today.
Let’s take a look at selling shoes, yes for some the most mundane of items but presented correctly they can sell themselves.
Now did you know that there are 214,000 nerve endings in your foot? Me neither! These nerve endings connect to every organ in the body. Did you also know that your feet sweat a cup of water every day, some notice it more than others, and depending on the quality of the shoe determines if this moisture is let out or not, if not you can transport it around your house as bacteria, fascinating data and all readily available.
So, if you were a shoe store and you had all this information to hand how much more qualified would you be to sell shoes than your competitor? You’d be an expert in shoes.
So you would have strategic objectives along the lines of:
- Selling more shoes
- Sell better quality shoes
- Build your brand loyalty
- Establish yourself as an expert
- Build a relationship with the buyer that means they don’t go anywhere else
Follow my drift here.
Now I found this information with very little effort so imagine what you could find about your industry sector that would make you an expert to your clients and prospects.
All this marketing data, not product data, can be added to your unique story to separate you from your competitors, just like my client, and this should flow through all your marketing material, both on and offline.
Be a market expert and not just a product expert.
The company who truly wants their clients to learn with them will always beat the ones who just want to sell products. Think Apple and Samsung, the amount of market data these giants churn out is incredible. You have to do the same to differentiate from your competitors.
So, to use our shoe example, the key to choosing which data to use is easy, most people think a shoe is just a shoe (product data) but when you educate them that a shoe connects them to every organ in the body, that’s market data and that elevates you to a whole new level.
Let me ask you a question, as we approach the Christmas period do you notice that calendars are placed right by the checkouts, why because at this time of year most people either want a new calendar for the coming year or they give them as presents. The rest of the year they are tucked away. This is not a coincidence, market data proves that people buy calendars at Christmas.
As an exercise and just to prove me right or wrong, do some market research on your sector over a period of time. Keep track of everything you find that will be of value to your customers and add it to an excel sheet. Do this every week until you have so much data your competitors can’t compete with you.
As a final point the most strategic thing you can do, for yourself and your business, is gather all the market data you can that makes your product or service more important to your customer, add it to your unique story and go back to your customer base and try it out. I can guarantee that it will open more doors than your ever thought possible.
Remember think and plan like a master strategist but implement and follow up like a great tactician and you will be ahead of the game.
Have a fab day.
Innovation is the lifeblood of any company, large or small. As some of you who follow me on Twitter might know I often put out statements like the one above, but what I rarely do is explain what this means to you and your company.
So why is innovation the lifeblood of all organisations, large and small? Well first off without it you will die, that’s a fact, in today’s connected 24/7 world if we don’t innovate we stand still and in some cases go backwards. There are lots of examples out there for us to refer to. Kodak springs to mind and no doubt you can think of a few too.
So how do you innovate within your organisation?
Well to begin with it starts with the people and the customers. The people within your company, and I hesitate to call them staff as this is such a derogatory word for people who keep you afloat and help grow your business, these people are fellow travellers that are either with you for a long-time or a short-time but however long they contribute more than you could ever know or you should. The same goes for customers.
What you should do continually to innovate is ask, try, learn, fail and repeat.
Don’t be afraid to do any of the above, whatever level you are at in the business, because without it you could become the next Kodak.
As you can imagine there are lots of events spread around the country at any one time, especially throughout summer, so how do you make yours stand out above the rest?
In this post I am going to take you through 5 ways you can achieve event success so that when you hold your next event you will be ready and people will know all about it.
4 weeks before event: create your strategy to publicise your event, you by now know which traction channels work for your business, if you don’t read this post first, so you have your 3 traction channels but for events they should include Facebook and Instagram, why? Because Facebook has a fantastic events system and Instagram is perfect for photos and it’s owned by Facebook so it integrates seamlessly. See the video below for a quick overview of a Facebook event.
3 weeks before event: Start ramping up what will be on and when, so if you have a full program people can decide what they want to see and when.
- Use pictures and videos from a previous event to ‘sell’ this one. Show people having a great time
- Choose the best pictures and videos you can as these will be ‘shared’ by your audience
- If it’s something like a gig then it’s easier to promote as its in a specific venue at a specific time, the way to win is to make it as simple as possible for people to find you, decide if they want to attend and then book tickets.
The more hoops people have to jump through the less likely they are to attend.
2 weeks before event: Visitors to your page, profile and website should be talking about your event and asking questions, if they are not go back to week 3 and start again.
This is really important as the more people talking about your event the greater the attendance will be. You need to create a buzz around it so this week is vital and I can’t stress that enough.
1 week before event: All your channels should be in melt down by now with people asking questions. Anticipation for the event should be at its highest, the week before an event is when the most engagement should be happening, if it’s not go back to week 2 and find out why you haven’t created a buzz.
If all has gone to plan Facebook and Instagram should be at fever pitch and you should be posting pictures of the event preparation, everything from the putting up of marquees to what food will be served. Remember if there are timings and tickets to book this is the week to ‘push’ those, people shouldn’t have to ask it should e a given.
Day of the event: ask people who are attending to share with friends of all social channels to mop up those last few. There will always be people who leave everything to the last minute and then complain that they can’t find what they are looking for, me included.
The watchword for any event is preparation. You wouldn’t dream of missing out something major from the event, like the marquee, would you, social media is the best way, and quickest way, to let large amounts of people know of your event, so use it. I find that Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the best channels for this, and it that order, because they are quick and easy to use. So use them!
After the event: this is the most critical stage and it amazes me how many people don’t do anything once the event is finished. Most time people sit back and congratulate each other on a job well done. That’s great and so you should, if it has been a job well done, but you aren’t finished yet.
This is where you website really shines. Yes you have had everything on your website regarding the event, that goes without saying, but know comes the most crucial part, the blog post.
A write up on the event is a great way to collate everything you have from the previous month. While the event is in preparation mode and then actually taking place you won’t have time for this, unless you have someone employed to blog, but I wouldn’t recommend this as it’s a waste of valuable time. It’s far better to use social media to create a buzz before and after.
Let me walk you through the after part.
The event is over and it’s been a great success, now comes the collation part of the process.
- Collate everything from the previous 4 weeks, pictures, videos and all the best comments from social channels
- Create a blog post on your website and give a blow by blow account of what happened, this can be used to promote the next event, using all that fantastic information
- Circulate your blog post on social media and you will receive even more comments and questions
- Google loves this and it will be there forever for you to refer to and for people to find when preparing for the next event
Now I know at this point you might be thinking “why didn’t we use Google Adwords or Facebook ads to promote the event?” You can, no doubt about it and it can be part of your strategy in week 4, but I would only use it if you cannot gain any traction through week 4 into 3. An event should create its own buzz, if done correctly. This goes for ‘influencer’ marketing also, use it only when you feel you have to.
That’s not to say it shouldn’t be part of you strategy, it should but if you are on a tight budget use it wisely. Get in touch if you think I can help you with that?
Depending on the size and scale of your event you could start 8 weeks out or even 12, use this post as a guide to start thinking about how you can market and promote your event differently.
I hope this has helped clarify a few things for you when planning an event and please leave comments and ask questions I love to know what you think.
NLT (Next Level Thinking) is a concept by Keith McMean to help you break out of the old way of thinking when it comes to your business and how to grow it successfully. If you have any questions or thoughts on traction we can talk them through in the comments, this way if you have a fantastic idea I can give you the credit you deserve and if I use it in a future post you’ll be right there with me.
Traction for a business is a sign that it’s growing, that it’s taking off. If you have traction you are headed in the right direction.
So does traction only apply to start ups? Short answer, no it doesn’t, traction can apply to any business or organisation at anytime. You just have to spot the signs that you need it.
The tell tale signs for an established business are lack of growth, stagnation, high turn over of staff and a decline in sales.
You might have heard the term ‘traction channels’. If you haven’t that’s fine I hadn’t until a few years ago, I knew what marketing channels were and how they were used but never traction channels.
According to the book Traction: A start up guide to getting customers written by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares there are nineteen traction channels for your business to exploit and they are:
- Viral marketing
- Public relations (PR)
- Unconventional PR
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Social display ads
- Offline ads
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Engineering as marketing
- Email marketing
- Targeted blogs (niche)
- Business development
- Affiliate programs
- Existing platforms
- Trade shows
- Offline events
- Public speaking
- Community building
You should be able to attract your niche target audience through a combination of at least any three of these traction channels. My one piece of advice would be, experiment, don’t stick to the ones you know and use already as it will mean you are missing out on some fantastic ways to attract new members to your audience or community.
The other point to consider is that your competitors could be using the same channels in what could be a very crowded marketplace already. Better to try a few new ones and see what happens. Testing is always good and its productive in the way that it can open your eyes to what else is out there and could work.
This method of finding new and exciting channels has served me well over the years.
If you’re a start up
So you’ve found your three traction channels and you are ready to get serious. Where do you start? This is what stops most businesses before they’ve even begun.
The problem can be that they focus so much on the product or service they are building they forget to promote it. I keep hearing and reading that we should have our product ‘nailed up good and tight’ before even considering promotion. Rubbish!!
Look at it this way, if you build an app if you don’t get feedback from the very people you are hoping will download it how do you know that what you have built they will want? You won’t. Its far better to include them through a blog on your website or Medium or a Facebook group than it is risk building something you think is fantastic and they don’t.
I would rather get the concept sorted and a development strategy in place and then speak to my audience to find out if I am on the right track than concentrate on features that I think they might want or need. Better to get it from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
There is nothing more frustrating than letting your idea loose on the world for nothing to happen, nobody downloads it because they have never heard of it.
This process follows 50% production and 50% promotion, the benefits and possibilities are endless for the following reasons:
- Incorporate knowledge gained from your audience feedback
- Great traction development brings with it good data and that’s key to making sure you are on the right track
- Which of your messages, blog posts and updates are resonating with your audience/community?
- Which customers are the easiest to attract, this customer will be with you for the long haul if you get it right and become your brand ambassadors
- You will find out which, if any, obstacles you might come across.
You have to be prepared to ‘pivot’ or change course as you gather data and feedback, but its far better to do it at the beginning than it is half way through or at the end.
The other problems you could run into are, if you do build it and then promote it you will have to make revisions to the product at the end cost more time and probably money. If you have all the information at the beginning this will make the final product not only a better product but a product that people want, because you’ve already asked them. Does this make sense?
In the long run you will have a better product that more people want, why? Because you have taken all the guess work out of it.
The other reason you should employ the 50/50 rule is you get to experiment with the different traction channels and this gives you a head start when you get to the end of the production cycle as you will already know which ones work. Admittedly this way takes longer to get your product to market but in the long run you will have tried and tested what works with your target audience. A sure fire winner in my book.
If you’re an established business
The same principals can apply to you every bit as much as they apply to a start up, why, because that is what you might have to become.
Let me explain, lets say you have a dozen products currently available a few offices scattered around the country and just less than 1000 staff, all seems great until you realise that the bottom line is suffering, you are not the leader in the game you once were. It sucks!
The first thing you should look at is the products you offer and are they fit for purpose, do people actually want them? Once you have decided that maybe 2 or 3 of them can go what do you do with the rest? Well lets imagine that you flagship product is still performing well, let’s keep that as it is and maybe use it as a lead magnet for other less well liked products. This is an easy short term fix but it’s not going to save the company.
Think like a start up!
Now instead of thinking like a large organisation, think like a start up. Look for new and exciting products and service that people actually want only this time ask your audience what they would like and how they would like it served up to them, you could be missing a trick here to launch a really innovative and exciting product. I realise we are getting into digital transformation territory here but throughout the whole NLT process you will see how it all fits together, trust me 🙂
So what do you do if you recognise your organisation and what’s currently happening to it? Easy scroll back up to the start up section of this post and read it again, employing what we’ve already gone through in your new or existing products or services.
What do you think are you ready to give it a chance and maybe think in a totally different way to how you currently do? Fantastic… you’re on your way.
NLT is a concept by Keith McMean to help you break out of the old way of thinking when it comes to your business and how to grow it successfully. If you have any questions or thoughts on traction we can talk them through in the comments, this way if you have a fantastic idea I can give you the credit you deserve and if I use it in a future post you’ll be right there with me.
You can keep up to date with the whole series by subscribing to my free newsletter here
Traction book on Amazon
Photo credit: Andy Kaiser