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small business

Start with the customer to make your online marketing effective

By | Online Marketing, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

It might seem obvious the it is always the hardest conversation I have with small business owners is around their customers. Narrow your focus down to those ideal customers that your services is made for. This means not everyone with a pulse. Tom Fishburne cartoon is a common scenario I see when I chat with business owners. There is a tendency to want to attract everyone and by default, you attract no-body.

Everything becomes easier when you have focus. So many small businesses are now trying to grapple with online marketing. They ask me, “should I be doing adwords, social media, email marketing, Facebook” etc. It always comes back to who is your target customers and where do they hang out? Are they using social media? What words are they typing into google to find your services.

Online marketing can be very affordable and is a necessary part of your marketing. Let’s face it, we all use google to search online, we are all shopping online and we are all seeking out recommendations online before we buy. If your small business doesn’t have an online strategy then you are invisible. Talk to us about how we can support you with a digital marketing strategy today. One that suits your budget and gets results.


Quote from E-Myth

“If you have identity issues, if you, as the leader, don’t know who you are and what values you stand for, what do you think the likelihood is that your business will suffer from the same identity disorder?

Look at yourself. Do you want to be liked by everyone? Have you not taken the time to understand who you are as a leader and what values you represent? If this describes you, then root out the assumptions and beliefs at play here. Dive into yourself and discover the unique ‘you’ that has come into existence to bring value to the world. Now, do the same sort of inquiry for your business. Discover your true business identity, and then watch as the right customers are magnetically attracted to your clear brand promise. Don’t worry about alienating some. Focus on those who you can best serve, and see your business grow exponentially towards your dreams.”

What is your secret sauce?

By | small business marketing | No Comments

Are you memorable or boring? Are you safe or unpredictable? In small business it is important that you are creating something your customers feel compelled to shout about. How do you do this? What is your secret sauce?

Well I believe it has something to do with the customer experience you provide.  The Dijuluisgroup is a company that focuses their efforts on creating world class customer service organisations.

Let’s face it; there is so much choice with products. Just look at the supermarket shelf and the choice of different sorts of bread, milk, yoghurt or tea. Everything has become commoditised. The real last point of differentiation is your service or more so the customer experience that you deliver to your customers in a consistent delightful way.

Everyone will say that they have great customer service but interestingly as John DiJuluis points out that is an internal view point and when you ask your customers you might be surprised about how they rate your service. Most people however only notice your customer service when it is bad. If you screw something up, believe me it is memorable! Customer insight is a key. dijuliusgroup

Customer experience speaks more to this secret sauce. It is about your companies culture and focus on delighting the customer at every touch point. How do we personalise their experience. How do you deliver your experience to the customer currently? If you are not sure how you stack up why not take some of the surveys on the dijulusgroup site. They have one for the organisations customer experience aptitude and one for theindividual. If nothing else it will make you think.

Two key questions to keep in mind.

  1. You can make price irrelevant. John tells the story on Jay EhretPower to the small business of two hairdressers. One had a sign in his window “HAIRCUT ONLY $10”. The salon across from them was a totally different salon and had an average haircut cost of $50. The suggestion was to put a sign in the opposite window saying “We fix $10 haircuts”. The challenge to make price irrelevant is to create a haircut and an experience that is so different is like taking a 60 minute holiday.
  2. Create a fantastic customer experience everytime. Imagine instead of charging $100 per hour for a consultation you charged $1000. Now note down what you would do differently and do it. Make the experience exceptional.

Look at how I create an exceptional experience.

Dan’s Quick tips:

Use the customer and your name a few times when on the phone.

Add some value by doing your homework before you meet a potential client, the web is an awesome tool for this

Ask your customers for feedback every chance you can and act on it, own it, improve it.

Your personal brand Vs your company

By | branding | One Comment

I was speaking with a client the other day and he suggested I need to separate  me Dan the person,  from MacInnis Marketing the brand. This statement got me thinking. Is this advisable or even possible when you are a small business delivering a service?

The personality of the brand MacInnis Marketing is all tied up with who I am and my values. My value is intricately tied to that. The very reason clients choose to use me as a consultant is I would argue because of who I am? Obviously this is different if you run a  large company with a number of employees, but in a small business doesn’t the person count more? Isn’t it more relationship based? Do you choose your dentist, accountant, lawyer and doctor because something about their personal brand resonates with you?

Tom Peters from FastCompany says how important it is to nurture your personal brand “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom explains in today’s world of self publishing, of social media, of 1 to many everyone has the chance to stand out as a brand.

Anyone can have a website, twitter account, Facebook page and as Tom explains, any body does, so how do you know which one is worth visiting or following? The answer Tom suggests is branding. The branding is the promise of value you receive so you go back again and again. Professional service firms are all about delivering an intangible service and so to stand out it is the individual that must distinguish him or herself. As Tom explains “if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What if you don’t want to grow beyond yourself as a entrepeneur. What if you are not looking to hire, then what? Laura  Bergell’s wrote a great article on discovering your brand and Laura would suggest the essence is knowing who you really are and how your customers see you.

Here is how my customers say they see me:(worlde)

So I believe your personal brand is all wrapped up in your company when you are a small business and particularly a sole practitioner so here are some ways you can work on your personal brand:

1) Identify the qualities that makes you distinctive from others.
2) Think about the things that can add remarkable,measurable,distinguish and distinctive value in you.
3) Increase your visibility
4) Analyze the feature and benefits you are giving to your customers.
5) Continuously evaluate your self,how you as a brand is doing.
6) Never limit your scope. (Thanks Kuldeep-Kashyap – student)

So I guess thinking about my client’s comment I am really glad that my personality, values and strengths are part of my brand and I hope to evolve and grow by the gift of feedback from my clients. I don’t think can separate myself from my brand and in fact I want to do the opposite and use forums like this to further build my profile and identity with others.

Good food for thought!

Does your small business depend on you?

By | small business marketing | No Comments

It’s your baby. You have slaved your guts out and built a business. But is it just a good job or is it something you want to grow or eventually even  sell?

Running a business often the owner is at the centre of it all.  So if the owner leaves, then what is the business worth? Can you delegate? Have you built something of value outside your expertise.

Marketing podcast with John Warrillow from Marketing Ducktape is a good at explaining some tips about businesses set up to sell rather than just employing the owner.(Click to listen, right click and Save As to download) – subscribe now via iTunes John has a new book called Built To Sell.

John has some good points:

1. Outsource your sales and marketing function – can it function without you showing up every day. Can you take a vacation?

2. Positive cashflow

3. Employee retention program

4.  Don’t share equity

Keys to creating a business you can sell:

1. Isolating product and service – meaningful to your customer

2. You can teach your employees to deliver

3. It is repeatable – the experience

4. When you come to sell, get a business broker

5. Evaluation. Figure out what you think your company is worth and how much upfront.

Go to John’s site Builttosell.com and take his survey to see how sellable your company is.

Do you understand the mechanics of your small business?

By | 1 | 2 Comments

I was with a client the other day I it made me ask the question, do small businesses understand the mechanics or the business operating system of their business and how to control and leverage it? I would have thought so, but it does require some strategic thought.

Here are some of the questions I would be asking:

  1. How do we make money? What is our unique selling proposition.
  2. Who are our key customers? What do we know about them?
  3. What do our customers love about us, what do they want us to change?
  4. How much is the cost of sale for our service or product?
  5. How much does it cost us to create a lead?
  6. Who do we market to?
  7. How do we communicate and market our offering?
  8. What is our operating profit?
  9. What are our goals for growth?
  10. What are our goals for our company?

The mechanics of your small business system once you understand can be tweaked for optimum effectiveness. The right marketing strategy can be the difference between attracting the right customers and throwing money down the drain.

Having a well considered business strategy and reviewing it year on year means you have a plan and a measure to benchmark success and failure against.

So do you understand your business mechanics?

Customers buy for their reasons not yours. 5 ways to join their conversation.

By | small business marketing, social marketing | No Comments
Awareness Inc pic

Awareness Inc pic

How many times do I have to say it. It is all about them, not you. They don’t care about you. Still, I am constantly confronted by businesses that continue to focus on themselves and not their customers.

Today the tide has well and truly turned. Everywhere  you can see how the customer is controlling the conversation. Harley Davidson president got it when he said “ the more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing”. And you know what, if you don’t engage they will by-pass you. It is so easy for them to ignore. They can turn off the tv, delete the email and fast forward the podccast. It is all about them. They choose. They determine your brand value, they listen to their friends on twitter talking about a bad experience and they research new products by visiting user forums.

So where does this leave the small business. It is simple and here are my 5 top tips of ways to join your customers’ conversations.

1. LISTEN – start connecting by listening. This means act like a customer. Ring your own phone number. Stand in your own queue. Understand them. Invite them to participate in improving your product or service. Educate them and inspire them, but mostly join their conversation. Observe conversations in your sphere. Listen to the experts in your business on blogs, tweets and other social media forums.

2. LOOK – at your communications, your website for example. Does it talk about the customer and their problems and how you solve them or does it talk about YOU! Remember no one cares about you, nor do they care about everybody, the care about themselves. So don’t be all things to everyone. Just communicate to the select target market and explain how you can help them.

3. ACT – If you get some feedback, good or bad act on it. Show you care. A blog is a good way to join the conversation with your customers but it is no good if you don’t act on the information. You have to show that you are invested and you care.

4. CREATE – opportunities for your customers and employees to communicate and build an extended online community. They are going to have the conversation with or without you so you may as well be listening and providing input. Marketing is now a dialogue and two way conversation that requires listening and if you are good at it, you will empower your customers to create their own ideal products and services, review yours and provide feedback and nurture your business. They will tell you how they want their information, and what they want. You just have to listen and be willing to share the process.

5. EVALUATE – evaluate your on-line community and strategy and make sure it suits your customer needs. As you can see from the conversation prism below, there are many ways to join or start a conversation and you can’t give your attention to all. Pick the best way and medium that suits your customers and make a start today.

PR 2.0 pic

PR 2.0 pic


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