Kevin Gallagher, Author at Stargazer Digital

Join THE MAILING LIST & GET THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO KILLER GOOGLE ADS FOR FREE

Join others just like you who joined our mailing list and receive helpful tips and tricks on how to grow their business with Google ads. This ebook will not be free forever, get it now before we list it for sale


Kevin Gallagher

Author Archives: Kevin Gallagher

Just someone who likes to help hard working business owners get the business and sales they deserve.

How to build trust with customers before you go on a home visit

We live in a digital world where everything is set to automation and people hide behind emails and their websites.

However in some industries, like the trade industry, there is no hiding.

If you are in an industry where you have to go on home visits then building trust is something you must do very quickly.

It’s not something you can do via online, or can you?

When I first started doing content marketing for the trade, I knew of the many benefits it could bring to a company in terms of growing leads and sales.

However, there was one major advantage that I had never even thought of until my clients starting telling me the stories. When they went on visits to see clients their customers felt as if they really knew them, almost friends even.

I know it is hard to believe, but it’s true. Let me begin by first explaining to you what content marketing is and how it works.

Please save your skepticism until the very end as if you leave now you will be missing out on something miraculous.

In the beginning I knew that the trade industry had issues building customers trust on home visits but I didn’t know how to solve that problem.

Heck, this is probably why you are reading this post as you have that challenge too!

It wasn’t until 3 years later that I realised I had solved the problem without even trying.

This solution is not a quick one and in my clients case it took 6-9 months to work.

So let me quickly explain to you what content marketing is and how it will make your customers love you before you even set foot in their house.

Basically, content marketing is answering every question your customers have ever asked you and turning those questions into blog posts or videos, depending on what you are most comfortable with, then putting this content on your website.

It is said that nearly 60% of the buying decision is already made before someone contacts you.

10 years ago that would maybe have been 5%.

What will it be in another 5 years 80%?

Regardless, people are now looking on Google for the answers instead of phoning you. They search on Google for the answers to the questions they used to ask you.

If you answer these questions in the form of blogs when your customers searches for them they will find your content and you will build trust, authority and affinity with your customers.

But that’s not the best bit, and although that really helps build trust with your customers what I’m about to share will enhance that trust times 10.

If you want to hear the proof straight from one of my clients mouth just watch this video here.

If you are shot on time let me give you the gist to what he says:

“ It is quite ironic, you go to peoples’ doors, instead of me saying ‘Hi I’m John from Superwarm’, they are opening the door and saying ‘Oh hi John, good to see you’.”

“I am a little taken aback, then I realise, they have read half a dozen blogs we have written and they feel as if they know you. And that is a surprise.”

Here is where the biggest value comes. Think about all the questions people ask you on a home visit and create a guide answering all these questions. Put this guide on your website for everyone to read.

Here are two examples of one I have done for my clients:

Not only this, when someone phones or fills in a form on your website for a home visit, include a copy of this guide in the email, you will be amazed by the results.

Then when you visit the customer you will not have to sit there answering lots of questions all you will have to do is close.

In the video above, my client mentioned he increased his close rate from 33% to 70% by doing this. It increased the trust when he went to visit them.

Can you believe they answered the door by saying “ Oh hi John”, even if he had never met them before?

I would like to end with one of my own stories where I had experienced a bad example of a home visit and building trust in the hope that you would avoid doing this kind of sales tactic.

I was looking for some new windows, and my wife and I received a cold call telling us about a new government scrappage scheme.

They arranged someone to come out and see us to discuss.

I won’t name and shame here as that’s not what I am about.

So at 7:30 in the evening there was a knock at the door and there on my doorstep stood a 20 year old man wearing a lovely suit, grasping the latest iphone in one hand and a window in the other.

He sat for about an hour telling us how great his company was and telling us how bad all the competitors were before then measuring my windows.

Oh, and also told me there was no government scheme, WTF!

He tapped a few times on his oversized calculator and then told me it would be

£22,000 for my windows.

I nearly choked on my chocolate digestive.

He then went on to say, “But that is before the discount!”

After the discount it was £11,000.

But he could call his supervisor to see if we could get a trade price if we were ready to buy today.

This would mean they would be giving it to us at cost and they would make no money on it at all.

I kid you not, this is a true story.

After speaking to his boss on the phone he said he could give us it at £7,000 trade price.

When we told him we were not going to make a decision straight away he was not happy, I could see him fight back the urge to say something, his new sales training still ringing in his ears no doubt.

So he left after two and a half hours.

I did feel sorry for the guy, but that’s not the end of the story.

The next day I got a call from the company saying that they said they will send a joiner out to remeasure our windows as they could give me a price at cost.

I told them that the young chap had already given me a cost price but they insisted they would give us ‘factory cost’….. is that even a thing??

So, I said yes but the joiner never turned up. They then called back and said they would arrange another joiner to come.

I said if the price was not nearer £3,000 then don’t bother (as this what I was told it should have cost) they said that was fine, but never called me back.

Phew! That is not a way to build trust with the customer.

It is hard enough to build trust, this was just a massive reversal of trust.

It makes me feel sorry for the companies out there that actually care about their customers as it makes it so much harder for them.

Want trust? Then care.

6 Ways to Get Quality Business Sales Leads that Actually Convert

Are you looking for ways to gain more quality business sales leads that don’t waste your time?

In order for your business to grow, it needs plenty of genuinely interested potential customers to engage with. After all, without sales, you can only get so far.

However, as you’re probably aware, finding ways of reaching the right people can seem elusive. The internet is full of contradictory tips, advice and companies promising to get you more leads than you know what to do with. In fact, some of them can sound a bit too good to be true.

As an experienced digital marketer, I understand it can be frustrating when you don’t know where to turn for help. I feel it’s my responsibility to try and help guide businesses towards ways of getting better quality leads that actually convert, which is why I’ve decided to come up with this blog post.

Below, you’ll find six ways to help you gain more business sales leads for your business – whatever that might be. But first…

Why you shouldn’t buy business sales leads

If you’re thinking of buying your leads online, please stop right there. These are what’s known as cold leads, and when you call them up or try to engage with them, they won’t have a clue about who you are or what your business is offering.

This means that very few of them are likely to become customers, and you’ll be wasting your own time as well as theirs. As digital marketing agency Three Deep says, most of the leads you’ll get from these online business sales leads companies will, quite frankly, suck. Here’s why (from the same link):

“In most industries, online lead generation is a big business. If you start a company and prove that you are able to generate a steady stream of leads for a particular product or service, you will find a ready market willing to pay you for the leads you generate.”

This is pretty much the same across all industries, but the next point strikes a particular chord with me, and I think it will for you, too:

“Last year I was doing some research on home mortgage rates. I found a site that asked me to register to check rates in my area. Within the first 30 minutes of filling out that form I got calls from three mortgage companies. Three more called me within the first hour. I couldn’t believe I fell for my own lead generation tactics!

So, what can you do instead? Well, here are six ways to get more business sales leads that actually convert:

1. Harness the power of emotion for better results

It’s been proven that websites with a stronger emotional impact produce a greater intent to buy, according to researchers as Missouri University. So, next time you write a web page, a blog post, or well, anything at all, try to tap into the emotions of your audience.

Here’s what entrepreneur and avid marketer Neil Patel has to say on the matter:

“When your content drives people to a state of happiness or joy, they will automatically respond to your offers, feel obliged to share your content, and will stop at nothing to tell others about you.”

So, when you’re next writing a piece of content, you could really benefit from including one of the following (via Kissmetrics):

  1. Psychological triggers – focus on feelings, rather than product specifications, with emotional words such as ‘exciting’, ‘blissful’ or ‘delighted’
  2. Memorable experiences – talk about life events that relate in some way to what you’re saying
  3. Visual storytelling – include videos, photos and infographics where relevant
  4. Social proof – what are other people saying about their experience with your product or service?

Give it a go – you might be surprised at the results!

2. Use LinkedIn to gain higher quality leads

In all my years publishing content, I’ve come to learn for myself that LinkedIn is one of the best places to post it. Not only was I getting plenty of great comments and feedback from contacts and groups I was posting in, I was also getting more quality leads as a result.

This is backed up by the fact that in 2014, over 80% of social media leads came from LinkedIn, making it THE top social media platform for online lead generation.

In order to get the best results from LinkedIn, my advice here is to post your most valuable, well-received content, ask questions and respond to people’s comments. Keep it engaging, and don’t be afraid to share the odd link or resource that doesn’t come directly from you.

Share your content with relevant groups, and work on gradually building up a quality list of relevant contacts who share your interests and who will interact with you.

3. Maximise your online sales leads by testing, tracking and optimising

There are plenty of ways you can maximise your marketing efforts to get more business sales leads. All it takes is a bit of time and understanding.

And okay – having a good sales team (or getting good at calls yourself) is part of it, too. For instance, did you know that 80% of sales are executed by just 8% of salespeople? That means there’s a lot of failed attempts to learn from.

The first and most important thing, however, is understanding how online leads actually work. Where are these people coming from? Knowing the process your online leads are making to get to your website in the first place will ensure you can help them more in future. In fact, it may involve a process very similar to the one I’ve talked about previously.

Next, I’d highly recommend using various tools and software to help you test, track and optimise your content and marketing efforts. There are so many tools out there you could be using, so there’s no excuse not to keep improving! They can tell you anything from who is opening and clicking on your emails, to how visitors are interacting with your website, and any roadblocks they are experiencing along the way.

All of this will help you become so much better at acquiring quality new business sales leads.

4. Get more leads out of social media

Really like the idea of using social media, but just feel like you’re not doing something right? There are plenty of great tips out there to help you!

For instance, did you know you should never send people to your home page from social? Always send them to the relevant page you’re promoting, and only promote content or pages that you know is already converting, so you can get the most out of your ad budget. Using trackable links will also be able to tell you more about where your leads are coming from.

Always remember that Twitter and Facebook are first and foremost social platforms. If all you do there is try to sell your product or service, you’re probably going to fall flat on your face. Instead, try and engage with your audience; ask questions and respond to comments.

Here are some other great tips on how to get more business sales leads from social media.

5. Avoid the same old networking tactics

The problem with networking events is that they generally take up a lot of time, with often limited results. Well, that is, if you’re going there solely to get promising new business sales leads.

I find the problem lies within looking at networking in a very old-fashioned way. After all, we now sell online, so why should networking be limited to a conference centre or auditorium?

Instead, you should be seeing *everything* as a networking opportunity – from carefully building your contact list and interacting on LinkedIn, to hosting your own physical get-togethers or webinars, and reaching out to old contacts you just haven’t heard from in a while!

Don’t forget to put effort into your networking; take the time to read someone’s blog post, look at their bio, or bring up a shared memory from last time you spoke. Be as personal as possible, otherwise you’re just another face in the crowd.

It’s also important to think about the value you can offer someone, and do what you do for a higher purpose – not just to benefit your career. Networking with a passion can really make a difference to how others see you.

6. Save time on poor quality leads

Finally, in order to obtain better quality leads that are ready to buy, to have to really know your buyer personas. Your website should be built to talk about THEM – not just about your company, products or services.

A customer-centric website will not only help you increase leads and sales, it’ll also keep customers coming back for repeat business.

So, how do you develop your buyer personas with razor-sharp precision? Well, if you’re an established business, start with your best customers. Ask them what attracted them to your company. What did they like, and what put them off?

If you don’t have any customers yet (or if you want even more valuable feedback), take a look at online reviews relating to your products and services. What are people happy about? And more importantly, what are they complaining about the most? That will tell you what to avoid.

You can even use some of these gems (including language) on your landing pages for maximum impact! That way, the people you really want to get through to will feel as if you already know them.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and remember, it’s so important to put quality before quantity when acquiring new business sales leads for your company.

It’s definitely worth the time to ensure you’re getting plenty of genuine, quality leads that will actually convert into sales, so your business can grow. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your time.

If you have any questions about how to get more business sales leads, feel free to leave a comment below. I’m always happy to help!

3

9 Essential Things You Need to do Grow Your Small Business

Growing a small business can be tough, and there are times when we all need a bit of a helping hand.

Sometimes we’re so busy focused on just running our businesses that we simply don’t have time to try a new growth strategy or put the time into things we kind of already half-know we should be doing; like marketing.

Of course, marketing – when done right – is one of the biggest ways to grow your business; but a lot falls under that umbrella. So, how will you know which areas you should be focusing on when you do have the time?

I specialise in helping small businesses achieve the growth they need, and so often it helps to just take a step back to look at the bigger picture – as well as getting some expert advice.

That’s why I asked some of the most influential sales and business leaders about the essential things that YOU should be doing to help grow your small business. Here’s what they said!

1. Know your customer and the unique value you have to offer – Pam Moore, CEO of Marketing Nutz

“Before spending even one dollar on social media, content marketing, influencer marketing, digital marketing, or paid media you must know your customer and the unique value you have to offer them.

It is not enough to master the social networks or learn how to create content that converts. You must define what success looks like and build a strategy and plan that connects you with your audience and helps you achieve success.

When you inspire your audiences to connect with you with a goal of helping them achieve their goals, you achieve yours by default. Inspire – Connect – Achieve!”

(Visit Pam’s website: The Marketing Nutz)

This is absolutely essential for any business. However, you’d be surprised how many are still ready to start a marketing campaign without fully knowing who their customers are.

Getting your buyer personas right shows your customers that you understand them, and that what you’re selling is relevant to their needs.

And if you can address their problems, challenges and questions in a helpful way that shows them the impact your solution will have on their lives – be it through your website, blog, social media or in any other format – you won’t go far wrong.

2. Don’t just rely on inbound marketing straight away – Ian Cleary, Founder of RazorSocial

“My advice: Don’t listen to the advice which says that inbound is the only way to attract an audience. I love inbound marketing but you need to support this with outbound marketing. Especially at the early stages of the business where you need to build up the authority of your website to drive traffic.

Reach out using email to build links, relationships, generate PR, guest post on sites and more. Outbound marketing and Inbound marketing go hand in hand.”

(Check out Ian’s website Razor Social)

In my experience, this is absolutely spot on. Inbound marketing is incredibly effective, but it can also take months to have a proper impact on your business.

That’s why I now recommend to anyone that they should also be investing a budget towards things like Google Ads whilst they wait for inbound to have an effect.

Over time, they can gradually reduce their ads budget as inbound takes over. Unfortunately, everyone wants to see instant results, so if that’s all you’re looking for – rather than a long-term and cost-effective marketing strategy – then inbound probably isn’t for you.

TIP: Check out my blog: ‘How Long Does Inbound Marketing Take to Work?’ to find out more.

3. Plan your social media campaigns in advance – Neil Patel, Entrepreneur and Marketing Expert 

“If you’re running a social media marketing campaign on a budget, you need to reduce the time you’re spending keeping things online. Instead of wasting time publishing posts every few hours, you should schedule things beforehand.

This simple organization technique will save you countless hours and help you improve your efficiency and productivity. There’s also another technique that can take things to the next level. Instead of just writing out social media posts for the next few days, why not let the system publish them for you?

Meet Edgar is a great way to manage your content beforehand, allowing you to write social media updates once, and then have them sent out multiple times afterward. This is a great way to keep things organized, without repeating yourself by constantly updating your social feeds.”

(Visit Neil’s official website)

Neil is right in that social media can be a bit of a time sucker – if you let it.

Picking a set time of the day (say 10 or 20 minutes) to schedule out your posts and do a little interaction is really all you need to ensure you’re staying ahead of your social media campaign, but also that you don’t spend too much of your time publishing posts throughout the day.

Hootesuite and SocialPilot are two other great examples of social media schedulers that allow you to stay organised and plan out your posts ahead of time.

4. Take stock once in a while – Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker and Brand Evangelist

“You’ve probably heard the phrase: “Working IN your business rather than ON your business.” Many, many small business owners find themselves in that spot.

They’re so busy concentrating on the inner workings that they think there’s no time to work on the big picture. However, setting goals and knowing exactly where you are in terms of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is essential for making data-driven (instead of emotional) decisions.

You need to make the time to evaluate this on a regular basis to keep a healthy growth mindset. Another key ingredient to mindset is your attitude. Attitude impacts success in everything we do—work, play and especially relationships. You know that when your attitude or outlook is pessimistic, things don’t go very well.

But when your outlook is optimistic, it’s a different story. I like to think that business mindset is made up of an individual’s “collection” of attitudes.

And in addition to attitudes of confidence, gratitude and optimism, I think it’s also essential to add an attitude of learning to the mix. Always be asking yourself: “Why did this work when that didn’t? What can I learn from this?” Applying an attitude of learning to your approach to your business can set you up for seeing those “opportunities” that got lost in the weeds before. Attitude, Perspective… Mindset.”

(Check out Ted’s official website here)

This is definitely one of the biggest problems I hear from business owners – and I totally get it. You’re so busy making sure your business is running smoothly, your customers are happy and your bills are paid that it feels like you have no time to dedicate to a marketing or growth strategy.

There’s nothing stopping you from constantly trying to learn, and improve on what you have. But remember, there’s always going to be help out there if you’re struggling – or don’t have the time to grow your business as fast as you’d like.

Digital marketing agencies can help, but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea (and they can be expensive to-boot). It all comes down to a personal choice.

5. Fail fast and often – Jeff Bullas, Digital Entrepreneur and Marketing Blogger

“The fast moving digital world almost taunts us to fail fast and often.  Because sometimes the cost is just time. Make a small typo in the blog post and it can be edited out in seconds. But I am not talking about aiming to make mistakes but be willing to commit to spending some of your resources on trialling and testing new tactics. 

We trialled one Flipboard magazine content tactic and on some days its organic traffic generation kicks sand in Facebook’s face. We also republished some of our best content on Medium as a trial and attracted a following of over 60,000 readers. You won’t find that in your average marketing 101 course handbook.

Trial and error and testing can reveal new sources of traffic and improved lead generation because you moved out of your comfort zone.”

Never be afraid to make mistakes. It’s how we all learn, after all! It’s better to take a chance and have it fail than never to take that chance and wonder what might have been. Just weigh up the risks and mitigate them where possible.

(Visit Jeff’s official website)

6. Find ways to become more efficient – Susan Solovic, Small Business Expert, Bestselling Author and Keynote Speaker

Look at repetitive tasks you and your team perform. Do they all have procedures written for them? See how they can be accomplished more quickly and be sure you have procedures that capture the most productive ways of accomplishing repetitive tasks.

Be sure that you allow these procedures to be improved on over time; don’t fall victim to the “We’ve never done it like that here” mentality.

(Check out Susan’s official website)

Looking over the way your business operates and agreeing that there’s always going to be room for improvement should never be seen as a weakness. Nobody can say they’re perfect, after all.

I say this to people I work with a lot, but if they can save 20 minutes from a task that’d usually take two hours, that’s great. I don’t care how long it takes someone to do something – as long as the quality of their work isn’t suffering, then I see that as a win. And you should, too.

7. Take the time to understand what your audience is searching for – Steve Slater, Senior SEO & Digital Advertising Manager at TopRank Marketing

“There are 3 main things that small businesses should focus on in order to grow their business:

1. Understand search. Not simply understanding SEO but understand what search can tell you about your audience. Understand what search can tell you what your audience wants, needs, and is looking for. You can glean a lot of that by reviewing SERPs for your keywords.

2. Leverage that knowledge when it comes to your search marketing strategy. Use the understanding of your audience to craft content and user experience. Use it to develop a PPC strategy.

3. Finally, get really comfortable with Analytics. You should have an objective for your digital marketing and that objective should be measurable. Measuring your marketing efforts is the only way of knowing whether or not those efforts are leading to growth.”

(Visit Steve’s website: TopRank)

This is a big one. Once you know your best customers and the questions they ask you on a daily basis (write them down!) then you’ll have a good idea of what they’re typing into Google.

You can also follow Steve’s advice above to learn even more about the specifics of what they’re searching for. Then, use those phrases to answer your customers’ biggest questions somewhere they’ll be able to find you when searching on Google.

Blogs are an idea place to keep helpful, valuable content and provide you with a platform to establish yourself as a trustworthy, knowledgeable source. Keep addressing the problems, concerns and challenges your customers have, and you’ll start to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

8. Build out your company story and team pages – Joanna Lord, Marketing Leader

“These days, consumers want to connect and support not just a product, but the company and mission behind it. Too often companies throw together ‘About Us’ sections that are sterile and less than compelling.

Businesses need to spend time and resources putting up pictures that reflect their team and culture, and shaping the “why” behind the company for everyone to consume in a beautiful way.”

Nowadays, people want to know more about your ethos and the experience they’re going to have as a customer, rather than just caring about the end result.

Customers are now doing their own research and you’ve probably noticed they’re not only more informed about your products and services, but also about you.

Taking the time to make your website more personal and displaying team or behind-the-scenes photos will help them connect with you and your business.

(Check out Joanna Lord’s official website)

9. Provide quality, helpful content – Matteo Gasparello, Marketing Strategist from Strategico

“Focus on content marketing – Showcase your expertise by creating long-form, in-depth articles that describe problems of your industry, and how to solve them.

Make sure to include a case study that explains how your product/service solved specific pains for your clients. Content marketing is the best way to build your reputation and position you as a leader in your market.

It can also directly generate sales: two years ago I was managing a startup that sold Spanish food online in the UK, and the biggest orders came thanks to a post on “Spanish Christmas food” that we released in November.

The post generated backlinks (great for SEO), shares and it was mentioned in online publications that were talking about Christmas gifts and traditions.

That was a great way to end the year! In general, I recommend to every small business to give content marketing a try: it’s definitely worth the investment of time and money.”

(Visit Matteo’s website Strategico)

Content marketing is a vital part of an inbound or digital marketing strategy. When done right, it CAN generate sales. However, as I mentioned above, it can take time (a few months) to build up enough to generate a steady stream of leads and sales.

This is why it’s more of a long-term strategy – so, if you’re looking for instant results, you may wish to supplement it with Google Ads in the meantime.

One final thought…

If you’re seriously considering growing your business – or you don’t have much choice in the matter and it’s make or break time – then you don’t have to go it alone.

There are lots of online resources to help small business achieve better growth, quicker. However, the best piece of advice I can give you is to consult a professional. Or even better – two or three!

They should listen to where you are now in your strategy, and what you’re looking to achieve, before giving you some free, impartial advice. If you do decide to invest in some professional help, always trust your gut and ensure they answer all your questions and tell you exactly how they’re going to help.

TIP: Here are 16 questions you should try and answer if you want to grow your business. Do you have any more specific questions about how to grow your small business – or any comments relating to the above advice? Just drop me a comment below – I promise to reply with something helpful!

1

Fatal Marketing Errors That Are Silently Killing Your Small Business

How would you feel if I said you’re doing something right now that could potentially cost you your business?

Your business is your baby.

From day 1, you’ve been there to nurture it, watch it grow and put in long hours of hard work to ensure that it becomes a success.

Because you wanted a better life for you and your family, and these skills are the only way you know how to do that.

Where would you be without it?

Well, I’m sure you don’t even want to imagine that.

However, there are mistakes that all small businesses make – unfortunately, some of them could be fatal.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s better to know what those grave marketing errors are before they land you in a situation that’s impossible to get out of.

That’s why, as a digital marketer who specialises in helping small business reach their goals and gain success, I’m going to tell you how to identify those mistakes, and expand on what you should be doing instead.

The rest? Well, that’s up to you.

1. Not having a strategy

Maybe you dived headfirst into the deep end to market your business, because you thought your passion would shine through.

But just like anything, you need a strategy if you’re going to get anywhere and be able to repeat that success (unless you want to depend on sheer luck – and trust me, you don’t).

There are plenty of ways you can put together a strategy.

For instance, there are tons of blog posts and advice online (if you’re prepared to do your research).

Or, you could take the time to speak to a digital marketing agency or two (or three).

They should be happy to give you some free, impartial advice.

The best place to start with your strategy? Outlining the goals you want to achieve.

Then, working out how you’re going to get from A, to B, to C.

Oh, and this next part is absolutely essential to any good strategy,

so listen up…

2. Guessing your audience

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; your audience (AKA your customers) is everything.

In fact, that statement is so important that I’m going to go ahead and ask you to read it again.

Your audience is everything.

If you don’t know who they are and what they care about (and only think you know), how are you going to get them to care about what you have to sell?

Maybe you’ve already got an idea of who your customers are – but for new businesses, it can take a bit of work before you really get to know them.

Either way, it’s always a good idea to keep working on your customer personas.

Watch this short video below that explains how to create an empathy map, a fantastic way to understand your customers.

A big shout out to André “the email king” Chaperon for finding the video.

Instead of asking just who they are, their age, or their job role, you need to understand their story.

By story, I mean the story they tell themselves that’s related to your product or service; the journey they’ve been through.

Because they’re stuck.

And you need to change that story for them in a way that’ll make their lives better.

When you can, speak to them. Listen to what they have to say.

Build up a profile, and make it as detailed as possible so you can become someone they know, like and trust.

A lot of times when I speak to clients, we come up with content ideas by thinking about the questions their customers ask.

They’ll often get stuck and say they don’t know.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of reframing the way they’re thinking, but a lot of the time they don’t know their customer.

This is a huge red flag for me, and the reason I’ve introduced a different strategy to help understand their customer personas.

Still, even if you think you know, they’ll still surprise you every day.

That’s why I’d never stop there.

This is something you should never actually close the book on – in fact, I actively encourage people to constantly build up a more detailed picture of their ideal customers, and what makes them tick.

This means you can really hit the mark when it comes to getting noticed by the right people – for the right reasons.

3. Consistent content misfires

This stems from my second point.

If you don’t know who your best customers are, anything you put out there in the way of marketing is going to be hit-and-miss – and more often a miss than a hit.

This could apply to absolutely anything – from coming up with compelling Google Ads and writing a blog, to social media.

Plus whatever you choose to display on your home page.

At the start, you will misfire with some of your content; it’s inevitable.

So, don’t panic.

But one of the biggest errors you can make is writing content that YOU think is interesting.

Because what you care about isn’t necessarily the same as what your customers are going to care about.

Instead, (and sorry for repeating myself), take the time to hear what your customers are saying.

What concerns have they expressed to you?

What are their biggest challenges?

And how about the questions they ask you time and time again?

That last one’s really important – because those are most likely the questions they’re going to be typing into Google.

Taking the time to answer those questions in a helpful and thorough way – say via a blog – will help them find you a lot more easily.

One of my clients is a heating engineer, and had a lot of people contacting him about particular models of Worcester Bosch boilers.

They were obviously doing their research, and understanding what these models were.

Another way to find what people are searching for is using Google’s keyword tool, in AdWords.

It’ll show you what people are searching for.

As an example, we were able to look up the traffic on different Worcester Bosch boilers, and ending up writing a lot of content around that – like reviews for specific models.

Just remember to make it all about them – not you, or your products or services.

4. Giving up too soon

If you’re looking to get the most out of your marketing, I understand it can be frustrating when you’re not seeing the results you so badly need.

But some things can take time.

This picture below is an image that my wife used to text me when I felt like giving up.

It’s really effective.

For instance, if you’re trying your hand at content marketing, you may not know it takes time until you start to see a promising outcome – months, in fact.

But it’s so worth it (trust me).

Maybe you’re constantly switching your social media tactics, or changing agencies because you’re not getting what you need from your SEO or Google Ads.

But the truth is, this can lead to very inconsistent and segmented messages for your audience.

If you’re too busy to take care of your business’s marketing yourself, choosing the right agency can be vital.

I’ve put together a blog post that might be able to help you find someone you’re comfortable with and can trust.

I know that link is mainly about Edinburgh agencies, but really it could apply to anywhere.

5. Blaming marketing for a bad product

This is, unfortunately, another classic. When you don’t know your customers, or your target market, and you just assume that everyone’s going to love your product or service…

You might be in for a terrible shock.

Remember this?

But do you know where businesses with this issue tend to stick the blame?

Why, marketing, of course!

I know this is hard to hear, but sometimes you’re just selling the wrong product.

Nobody wants to be told they’ve wasted time and money for something no-one wants.

That’s why it’s always important to go to the people who might want it and ask them

what do they think?

What is it the one thing that could make your product or service better?

Will they want it then?

One last thing…

When it comes to marketing, it can be a minefield out there.

I know it can be tough, and feel like a constant uphill struggle – and it can be frustrating, or even scary, when your business is your life.

You depend on it to support your family and create the life you want for them – am I right?

But please, don’t worry too much.

Despite the title of this blog post, it actually takes a lot for you to accidentally kill your business.

Getting the right advice/plan now can make all the difference when it finally comes to seeing the results you need from your marketing efforts.

The best advice I can give you is to speak to a digital marketing agency, and tell them about the problems you’re having.

They should be happy to listen, and provide you with some free, impartial advice.

Or, if possible, learn how you can be doing some of the marketing for your business yourself.

I know you’re busy, but understanding how to manage your own PPC for instance, can save you a good chunk of money.

But only if you learn how to do it properly.

I had someone come to me the other day who just jumped into the deep end, and spent £1,800 on Google Ads.

Did it win him any business? Sadly, no.

As a result, he was in quite a predicament – especially after receiving an £800 bill from his web developer.

He was devastated, and beside himself with worry.

So, if you decide you do need some outside help (most successful business owners do), then trust your gut.

Try asking these vital questions when choosing an agency.

Conclusion

These are the biggest fatal errors that you really can’t afford to be making with your small business.

But don’t worry – they don’t have to be fatal, and there’s still time to make changes.

Follow my advice above, and you won’t go far wrong.

It’s true that marketing your business can feel like a full-time job in itself – but there are plenty of options.

Including hiring someone to take some of the weight off.

However, I’m not just one to write a blog and run – if you have any specific questions about any of the points above, I encourage you to leave me a comment below – or get in touch with me directly.

I’m here to help! Wishing you all the best with your small business marketing!

Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress: Battle of the Website Builders

Are you looking to build a new website for your small business – without breaking the bank?

If getting a new website is a priority, but spending thousands for a web designer and developer isn’t an option, you’ve probably already been looking at website builders such as Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.

After all, they all have great options (including customisable templates) that are easy and intuitive to use – even for the most inexperienced of us.

But how will you know which to choose?

For those unfamiliar with all three of these website builders, it might seem a bit overwhelming when you don’t know where to start (and if this is the case, I’d recommend doing as much homework first as possible, by reading up on blogs like these).

You may even decide that none of these are for you, and take my advice further below (but we’ll get to that later).

However, as an experienced digital marketer who specialises in helping small businesses succeed, I’m going to compare all three of these website builders first – so you can make a more informed choice at the end of the day.

Wix

If you’re determined to handle all aspects of your small business’s website yourself and you want something simple, Wix is a good option to use.

You don’t have to be an experienced design pro to use it – in fact, with so many ready-to-go designs to choose from, you can make a choice, adapt it to suit your needs, insert your content, and have a professional-looking website in what feels like no time.

Another thing I like about Wix is that it’s also pretty all-inclusive, and every Wix account comes with the drag ‘n’ drop website builder, web hosting, web pages, blog, online storage space, online scheduling and invoices.

It’s also optimised for those more experienced with web design, and have various client projects on the go. So, in a way, it’s sort of like the best of both worlds.

Main features:

  • Over 500 site designs, in 70+ categories
  • Easy-to-use drag ‘n’ drop builder
  • Free site hosting
  • Responsive, mobile-friendly designs
  • Customisable fonts
  • Image editor included
  • Blog module (so you can publish blogs easily)
  • Integrated social media (link to your Facebook, Twitter etc.)
  • Great 24/7 support
  • Option of using your own domain name (choose whichever .com or .co.uk you like!)
  • WYSIWYG editor (to edit site content)
  • Additional 250+ apps available via Wix’s App Market (including Shopify, live chat, and email subscription integration)

Pros:

  • Full design control (with some limitations)
  • Easy-to-use drag ‘n’ drop builder
  • Responsive designs built using HTML5
  • Mobile site editor
  • So many designs to choose from
  • Regularly updated with new designs
  • Support available

Cons:

  • Lacks advanced features
  • Limitations apply (can be frustrating for pros)
  • No CSS code available (for displaying HTML in various different views)
  • Ads (free and starter plan)
  • Not ideal for SEO (if you’re planning on non-branded organic search)

Cost:

The good news is that Wix has a free option, along with five paid options ranging up to $24.90 per month. Which isn’t a lot compared to the likes of Squarespace (which is next on my list).

Squarespace

Initially launched in 2004, Squarespace now has over one million customers, and some notable businesses have chosen them over the others on this list.

They pride themselves on allowing users to create sleek, stylish websites in a simple, straightforward way (essentially, drag and drop). It’s perfect for beginners – and pros – although, notably, there aren’t any free options for this service.

They also have some top names, such as actors Keanu Reeves, and John Malkovich – the latter of which has used Squarespace to create his new(ish) fashion brand’s website.

The video below is not only beautifully shot, but also highlights how he was able to use Squarespace to achieve the sleek, smooth look of johnmalkovich.com.

Anyway, we’re going off-topic slightly here… my point is that at least on the surface, Squarespace looks pretty damn impressive. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on beneath the surface.

Main features:

  • Modern, purpose-built templates (to get a website ‘straight out of the box’)
  • Option to install multiple templates on your site (for more options)
  • Blogging module (so you can publish blogs with ease)
  • Easy-to-use style editor and custom settings (make your website unique)
  • Configure pages, fonts and colours to get the look you want
  • Mobile compatibility built-in (so your site will look great on mobile)
  • Customise your content layouts (great for getting the look you want)
  • Image editor built-in (from Aviary)
  • Supports social media (link to your Facebook, Twitter etc.)
  • Use any domain name of your choice
  • Add your own custom CSS (design the view you want for HTML)
  • Components to support ecommerce (if you have a shop)
  • Includes CDN for images (Content Delivery Network to optimise your images)
  • WYSIWYG editing (edit images and text whilst seeing how it’ll look for others)

Pros:

  • A very comprehensive range of features
  • Easy-to-use and intuitive
  • Simplistic, stylish designs (great for the design-conscious)
  • See immediately how your site looks on mobile when editing
  • Good selection of add-on features/widgets available
  • Top class support via live chat and 24/7 support tickets

Cons:

  • Requires high quality images
  • You can only use one sub-navigation
  • You’re unable to edit the page title in blog posts – which could also be bad for SEO
  • It’s not cheap, plus there are no free options
  • Preview mode is missing – so doing a larger update can be problematic

Cost:

Various price options available starting from £10 for a personal account, and ranging all the way up to £30 per month (based on 1-year contracts).

WordPress

Finally, the titan of the pack; WordPress. If you’re looking for a flexible, reliable choice that can be used at a beginner’s level – but also suits more experienced web developers – WordPress is usually a go-to for many small businesses. A lot of well-known brands and household names use it, after all.

WordPress also has great drag-and-drop builder themes (similar to Squarespace) such as Divi Builder – which has lots of different templates as ‘child themes’ which you can customise to suit your needs.

This is something I’ve used myself quite a bit, and it makes creating a website a lot simpler – once you get the hang of it. I actually find it quite relaxing to use, and can build websites from scratch this way.

Although WordPress is relatively easy to use, it’s not the simplest option available on this list. You’ll probably still find there’s a small learning curve for those who haven’t used it before.

There are various themes and plugins to get to grips to that can help you achieve everything you need for your website. Along with the difference between pages and posts, categories and tags… it’s all good though, trust me.

This platform also makes it easy to publish lots of lovely, helpful content that will help answer your best customers’ questions and make informed choices about your products or services.

Main features:

  • Thousands of themes and page styles available (many of them free!)
  • Easy theme customisation (use a theme or template and customise it to suit you)
  • Responsive, mobile-friendly designs (will look great on mobile)
  • Open-source structure (save time by using code developed by someone else)
  • Auto updates (so you’ll always have the latest version)
  • Image editor built-in (albeit basic)
  • Plenty of handy widgets and plugins
  • Retina-display options available (for higher pixel density)
  • Scheduling option for posts (so posts go out whenever you schedule them)
  • Mobile features to support multiple OS

TIP: Plus, there’s all of these other hidden features that you might not know about.

Pros:

  • Simple and convenient
  • Plenty of options to suit your needs
  • SEO-friendly
  • Low-cost (essentially free – but you can choose to pay for extras if you want to)
  • Great design bundles available
  • Very secure to use
  • Support and guidance via the WordPress forums
  • It’s a universal platform that a lot of people are already familiar with – you might be, too

Cons:

  • WYSIWYG editing is not supported (although themes like Divi Builder get around this issue)
  • No pre-built effects
  • No direct support if you run into issues (although some theme developers will be able to offer some assistance)
  • Complex, sometimes bloated, code

Cost:

WordPress is free to use (with tons of free plugins and templates) but you still have to pay for your domain name and web hosting.

Advice from an experienced digital marketer

The best advice I can give you is to ask yourself why you need a new website. If you want to drive sales, there’s so much more to it than simply getting a new site – and most of the time, it’s not something you can do yourself.

In my experience, putting together a new website and making sure all the nuts and bolts are working correctly – not to mention ensuring you’re good to go from an SEO standpoint – can be difficult if you’re also focusing most of your time on your business.

So, save up (if you can); put money away every month if you have to, until you can afford for an experienced web developer to put together a professional website. If that’s not an option, there are other, cheaper ways to do it (like the options above) – but getting an experienced eye to help you out is definitely a good idea.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful when comparing Wx vs Squarespace vs WordPress. Especially if you’re new to website builders, and you need to make a choice for your small business, it can seem a bit overwhelming to decide.

The best advice I can give you is to do your homework (read more blogs like this one) think carefully about what you need – and how much of the work you’re able to do for yourself.

For instance, if you already have a bit of experience developing websites, when WordPress or Squarespace might be a good option for you. But if you’re a total beginner, you might find Wix appealing.

Do you have any questions about which website builder is the best fit for you? Feel free to leave me a comment below. I’m here to help!

1

What Services Can I Expect When Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency?

Do you want to know more about the type of digital marketing services or deliverables you can expect when hiring a digital marketing agency?

If so, I can completely understand why; you’ll want to know you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Perhaps you even have a specific idea of exactly what you think you’re going to need in your head.

However, in all my years of experience as a digital marketer, it’s never really that simple. And really, what you think you need may be quite different to what you actually need.

Below, I’m going to explain why deliverables can vary so much between agencies, and what you should really be looking for.

Typical digital marketing services an agency can provide

Firstly, telling you which deliverables you’ll receive when signing up to a digital marketing agency is a very hard question to answer, without knowing your situation.

And even after doing an assessment, the deliverables you’ll receive as part of your marketing strategy will vary greatly from agency to agency. Some may provide you with literally no deliverables at all, whereas others will give you various different types of content on a month-by-month basis.

Saying that, the typical deliverables an agency can provide include:

  • Buyer persona research (documented, so you can use it in future)
  • Content marketing (blog posts, ebooks/premium content etc.)
  • An SEO audit (to give you a better idea of areas for improvement)
  • Email marketing (a series of automated email workflows)
  • Landing pages (pages specifically designed to convert visitors to leads)
  • Calls-to-actions (buttons that initiate actions from visitors – usually to sign up or download an offer)
  • Conversion optimisation (to help increase your website’s conversion rate)

Typically, you can expect around two pieces of content per week, to keep your marketing efforts at a level to which you’ll see a good return of investment. However, the first month usually involves ensuring you have everything set up to ensure your marketing will provide the best results.

This may include setting up marketing automation software, and doing many of the other things mentioned above (like buyer persona research, an SEO audit, and setting up email marketing workflows). However, you should also remember that it’s not necessarily about quantity, but quality.

Finding which deliverables you actually need

A good digital marketing agency shouldn’t be able to just reel off a list of things you need, without first doing an assessment of your needs. If an agency tries to do that? Run. (Also, run if they ever mention link building!) However, they should also be able to give you a good idea of what they’re going to do for you BEFORE you sign up.

They can do this by talking to you about your business, such as your revenue goals, current revenue, and what you’re currently doing in terms of marketing your business. Your deliverables should inevitably always be tied to a specific goal.

As an example of this, a blog post can help increase traffic, whilst an ebook or guide can help convert visitors into leads, and help them to make a more educated decision.

However, like I mentioned above, what you THINK you need, isn’t necessarily always what you should be getting.

For instance, I had a conversation with a guy the other week, who asked me: “So, what would you do for me?” To which I replied: “I don’t know yet.” He then started talking about how he needed his Facebook and Twitter fans/followers to improve, as he thought that was best.

I told him I wasn’t simply going to take his money just to increase his social media presence. I explained he needed to be getting more back, such as an increase in sales and overall revenue. So, this is a good example of how your perception of a deliverable may be very different to what you’ll get.

Advice from an experienced digital marketer

When hiring a digital marketing agency to provide deliverables that’ll help you achieve your goals, my advice (and brutally honest opinion) is to look at inbound marketing agencies. Simply because they’re more set-up to provide you with the deliverables and all-in-one holistic solution you’ll need.

I call myself a digital marketing agency only because a lot of people don’t necessarily understand what ‘inbound’ is. It’s actually the most effective way of marketing for the digital world, and includes all of the methods mentioned above. So, now you know, seek them out!

For all of the deliverables I’ve mentioned in this article, what you’re going to get all comes down to one thing; trust. Find an agency you can connect with, and that you feel you can trust. Because in the end, it’s all about people; not deliverables.

No-one can guarantee results, but choose an agency that listens to you and can give you a good indication of what you can expect in return – only AFTER doing a thorough assessment of your needs.

Next steps

By now, you should have a better idea of the types of deliverables you can typically expect from an agency. For your next steps, make a shortlist of inbound agencies you’d like to speak to. But take into consideration the advice above, and always trust your gut.

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below!

How To Avoid a €20 Million Fine With New Data Laws (GDPR)

Are you feeling confused about the EU’s new GDPR requirements and what they’ll mean for your business?

Maybe you’re not even 100% sure of what it is, or if it even applies to you. In which case, you’re probably going to need to sit down for this.

With the news that only a fifth of UK businesses are prepared for when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May 25th 2018, a lot of businesses may end up facing harsh fines, which is why it’s vital to ensure this information is made readily available for everyone to get up to speed as soon as possible.

Why? Well, if you’re not GDPR compliant by the date above, you’ll face heavy penalties of up to either 4% of your global annual turnover, or €20 million – whichever is greater.

And if that doesn’t put the fear into any business, I honestly don’t know what will! (Despite another recent study by Symantec showing startling results that that 23% of businesses feel they won’t be fully compliant by May.)

Which is why, as an experienced digital marketer, I don’t want you to get caught out. I’ve put together this blog post to discuss how GDPR affects you, and what you should be doing to prepare for it.

This post will cover:

  • What GDPR is and why it’s being introduced
  • How it will affect businesses in the UK
  • Initial preparations for how you can stay compliant

What is GDPR anyway?

GDPR (or the General Data Protection Regulation) is a new European privacy regulation, which is set to be implemented in all local privacy laws across all countries in the EU and EEA. It applies to any businesses or companies that sell products or services to – and store personal information of – citizens in Europe.

And as long as you fall into the definition above, it doesn’t matter whether you’re located within Europe, or anywhere else in the world. This law still applies to you.

This new legislation is being introduced to give citizens of the EU and EEA more power when it comes to their personal data, and how it’s used. This applies to individuals, customers, prospects, contractors and employees in terms of control over their personal data. It also aims to take some power away from large organisations that use this data to make a profit.

It sets out to provide reassurance that their data is protected, secure and in safe hands at all times. This  personal data could apply to any information related to an individual, including their name, email address, photo, social media updates – even a computer IP address, according to the GDPR Directive.

Under the GDPR, there’s also no distinction between personal data within a work environment, compared to a private or public environment.

Feeling a bit bamboozled yet?

How will it affect you?

Once GDPR is introduced, the responsibility will fall on you to ensure you’re compliant. Companies and organisations who don’t comply with GDPR will face potentially very hefty fines, up to €20 million – or even more.

This applies to any business or organisation that offers goods and/or services to EU citizens. And that’s whether your business is in the EU or not – even the data processing itself doesn’t have to take place within the EU for the onus to be on you.

There are eight key rights for individuals under the GDPR that I really want to mention here – including what you’ll need to do to comply with these rights:

1. The right to access

As in, the right to access their personal data at any time. They can also ask how this data is being used by a company or business after they’ve given it. You must be able to answer this fully and honestly. You should also be able to provide the individual with a copy of their personal data. This should be free of charge, and in electronic format – if they request this.

2. The right to be forgotten

If an individual is no longer a customer, or if they take back their consent to use their personal data, they have the right for that data to be permanently deleted and no longer accessible in any form. Holding onto it for any reason will violate this law.

3. The right to data portability

Individuals will have the right to transfer their data between different service providers. This must be done in a way that’s commonly-used, easily accessed and in a machine-readable format. You must be prepared to do this upon request.

4. The right to be informed

Essentially, this applies to any data gathering by companies or businesses. You must inform individuals before you gather their data, and they will have the right to opt into this. Consent must be freely given instead of simply implied.

5. The right to have information corrected

Individuals will have the right to make sure their data is up-to-date and correct at any given time. You must be prepared to access and update this information as and when requested to do so.

6. The right to restrict processing

Individuals have the right to request that their data should not be used for processing. They can choose to keep their record in place, but for it to remain unused.

7. The right to object

This applies to direct marketing, and gives individuals the right to put a stop to having their data processed for this use. Processing must stop immediately upon receipt of this request. You must also make this right clear to individuals at the beginning of any communication.

8. The right to be notified

In the event of a data breach that results in compromising the personal data of an individual, you must inform the individual within 72 hours of becoming aware of it.

This is what you need to do to be GDPR compliant

GDPR has huge implications for most companies and businesses currently based in the UK – and beyond. Which is why it’s vital you start thinking about your processes now, and keep up-to-date with the latest GDPR news to ensure you’re fully compliant by May.

It’s recommended that all businesses that work with, collect, store and/or use personal data should designate someone in your team as a data protection officer or data controller in charge of GDPR compliance.

The ICO have highlighted 12 steps you should be taking right now to ensure you’re prepared for May 2018. Here’s a brief summary:

  1. Ensure key decision makers in your business are aware of GDPR and its impact
  2. Document the data you hold, its origin, and who it’s shared with. An information audit may be a good step
  3. Update/introduce a privacy policy to be displayed for anyone entering personal data on your website
  4. Ensure your current procedures allow you to fully comply with the individuals’ rights outlined above – are you able to send personal data electronically, on-demand?
  5. Carefully plan for how you can update your procedures to ensure you can handle requests regarding personal data within the relevant timescales
  6. Update your privacy policy to include the lawful basis for your data processing activity within the GDPR – this should also be documented and easy to view
  7. Carefully consider how you ask for, record and store consent in terms of collecting personal data – you may need to make some changes for compliance. Consent forms must also be stored, as the burden of proof will fall to you
  8. Decide whether you’ll need systems in place to verify the age of individuals and whether you need to obtain consent from a guardian
  9. Begin taking steps to ensure you have the right procedures in place to deal with any breaches in data (this includes detecting, reporting and investigating breaches)
  10. Read up on the ICO’s code of code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments, along with the latest guidance from Article 29 Working Party, and how/when you should implement these in your business
  11. Determine whether you need to formally appoint a Data Protection Officer. Consider how this fits in with your business’s structure and governance arrangements (if applicable)
  12. For businesses operating in more than one EU member state, find out your lead data protection supervisory authority. Refer to Article 29 guidelines for help and guidance

If you follow the above steps (or the ones that apply to you), this should go some way to preparing you for when the new legislation comes into effect in May.

Advice from an experienced digital marketer

Don’t panic. There’s plenty of time you ensure you become GDPR compliant before May 2018. In the meantime, I recommend keeping up-to-date with the latest news and tips on GDPR compliance. I’ve highlighted some key resources below to get you started.

If you have an email list, I’d highly recommend updating (or introducing) a privacy policy, and linking to this when running re-permissioning campaigns. This is because even if someone signed up to your list before May 2018, you will still have to prove that they have consented under the new GDPR legislation.

SuperOffice have a good example of how to begin collecting personal data in future:

Key GDPR resources to keep bookmarked

Your next steps

Now is a good time to review how your business currently deals with customers’ personal data. And start thinking about the steps you can take now to become GDPR compliant. This may include running re-permissioning campaigns if you have an email list already.

Bookmark the above links, and ensure you stay notified about the latest updates and developments concerning GDPR. It may be worth designating someone in your business to be responsible for ensuring you’re fully GDPR compliant when the new law comes into effect next year.

Do you have any specific questions about GDPR? Let me know in the comments’ section. I’ll reply with something helpful!

Where to Advertise Building Services for Maximum Impact

Are you not getting the results you need when advertising your construction business?

Perhaps you’ve been spending your advertising budget on things like The Yellow Pages, radio ads, trade shows, magazines – or if you’re really brave, even SEO and Google Adwords – without seeing much of a difference.

Or, if you’re like some of the businesses that come to me, maybe you’re mainly relying on referrals to get by. You probably realise this isn’t the best way to scale your business, but you’re hesitant about where to start when placing ads.

This is a challenge many are facing these days when it comes to construction marketing – and one you can’t afford to ignore.

As an experienced construction marketer, I know it can be tough trying to decide where to advertise your business. That’s why I wanted to help, by listing some of the best places to do so below.

Where should you be advertising your construction business?

As a rule of thumb, you should be advertising where your best clients are hanging out – whether that be Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. Buying behaviour has changed in recent years, so instead of interrupting them with something like a radio ad, attract them with something that’s going to draw them in and offer them value.

Some of the things you could do include coming up with enticing ads on social media, or trying inbound marketing (in other words, coming up with quality content that answers their questions). The latter is very cost-effective, but it can take a while to work, and is tough to do when you’re trying to run a business.

I’ve gone into more detail on some of your best options for where to advertise building services, below.

1. Your blog

Your website’s blog is one of your biggest marketing assets. It’s an extremely important tool for generating leads and establishing authority with your audience, because it’s how your best customers will find you when they type their questions into Google.

Well, at least that’s how it should work. Try and aim to publish two blog posts a week that your ideal customers will find helpful, and valuable – without sounding salesy. It can be a great, cost-effective way to generate more leads and sales.

However, you should also bear in mind that it can be tricky to do yourself, and it can take quite a before for you start seeing results.

To get started, try coming up with a list of questions your best customers ask you on a daily basis. Here are a few examples:

  • What kind of home extension will be most suitable for me?
  • What are the best renovation services in Edinburgh?
  • How long will my conservatory project take?
  • Will I have to take time off work when my project is underway?
  • What is the process involved in home remodelling?
  • Which materials are used when installing a home spa?
  • How do I find the best home renovation company for me?
  • How much will professional home extension cost?

If your best customers are asking these, chances are they’re typing them into Google.

TIP: Don’t already have a blog on your website? It’s quite simple to add one. WordPress is the most common one to use, and it has a super easy platform.

Also, bear in mind it’s not as simple as just writing and publishing blogs every week. It’s actually part of a much wider process or strategy.

TIP: Read all about the 9-step process you can use to generate more leads and sales for your construction company.

2. Facebook and/or LinkedIn

Depending on your market, Facebook or LinkedIn could be a good call when it comes to ads, as everyone’s hanging out on either one or the other and both have good targeting options to help you focus on very particular groups of people.

For instance, on Facebook you can get very specific with your targeting and focus on people based on their likes, interests, behaviour, or even their job role in a company.

So, which one should you be using?

Well, if you sell direct to customers, Facebook is usually the first port of call. However, if you’re focusing on other businesses, I’d lean more towards LinkedIn.

These platforms may be great for creating very targeted ads, however, it is still a bit of a learning curve. You need to add a specific budget, and if you go over that, it will stop (so no worries there).

However, a big mistake a lot of people make is thinking they can get great results on these platforms without paying. For engagement, it can be good. However, I wouldn’t bother using it as a channel to drive traffic and sales unless you’re prepared to pay.

3. Google MyBusiness

Google MyBusiness makes it easier than ever for potential customers to find your construction company online, and is extremely helpful for anyone who wants to know more about your business.

This is because when they do a local search for the services you provide, it should come up with your construction business’s listing, including a description of your business, photos, contact details and opening times.

Never heard of Google MyBusiness? Chances are, you’ve probably been using it without even realising – simply by doing a search for building supplies or a restaurant and looking at the local results it brings up.

So, what does it do? Well, in essence, it combines Google search, maps, and Google+ together with Reviews, Insights and Google Analytics into one easy-to-use interface.

It’s also completely free, so if there’s one thing on this list you really ought to do, it’s claim your Google MyBusiness listing today.

TIP: For the full down-low on Google MyBusiness, check out my blog post: ‘Construction Marketing: What You Need to Know About Google MyBusiness’.

4. Google Adwords

Google Adwords (otherwise known as ‘paid search’) is effective, and the ‘go-to’ source for a lot of advertisers. It basically means you’re paying to display a listing that will show up at the top of Google.

Your ad will display to people depending on which keywords you’re targeting, and what they type into search. Often, it’s not even obvious that you’re clicking on an ad, unless you look closely.

However, this tool can be expensive in the wrong hands. Although, you don’t have to sit by whilst your budget spirals out of control – you can pause or adjust a campaign any time.

Learning how to do Google Adwords the right way can take a bit of getting used to. In fact, I wanted to help with that, which is why I’ve written a guide based on 15 years’ experience of using Adwords myself. It’s called ‘The Ultimate Google Adwords Companion’ and it’s absolutely free to download.

TIP: I’ve also put together some tips here so that you can improve your Adwords every week – it takes under 30 minutes!

5. Retargeted ads

Ad retargeting is a great way of making the most of your ad budget, as it means your ads are only displayed to those who have previously visited your site in the past 30 days.

It could help to dramatically increase your conversion rates and ensure you’re getting the most out of your ad budget.

You can use ad retargeting on platforms such as Google – which allows you to place an ad on other websites that are opted into their network – or on Facebook. A great benefit of this is that it only comes in at a fraction of the cost.

Wondering how it works? Well, have you ever been looking at something you’d been thinking about buying, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet, and then later on when you’ve been on Facebook or YouTube you’ve noticed an ad for the exact same thing? It serves to remind you of your interest, and you’ll probably end up clicking on it.

That’s why retargeted ads tend to work so well. It basically keeps you at the forefront of people’s minds!

TIP:  Just remember to rotate your ads every week. This helps to keep things fresh, otherwise people may get bored and you won’t get as good results.

Advice from an experienced construction marketer

All said and done, the one thing you have to realise is that your business won’t grow or scale to the place you want to get it without marketing. That’s the reality. If you don’t have time to market yourself, that’s fine. However, you will need some outside help.

Saying that, marketing yourself is the cheapest way; but it’s not easy. One of my own clients, Superwarm, started off doing ads on Facebook himself. He was doing really well, with okay results. However, it got to the point where he’d done all he could do, which is why he decided to approach me to really turn things around.

I strongly believe I can teach anyone to market their own business. However, most of them simply don’t have the time or inclination to make it work. Save yourself a lot of heartache and time, and ask yourself: do you?

If you don’t have the time, but you do have the money, it’s worth getting outside help. And if you do decide to go it alone, don’t try it without a strategy. Facebook and Google ads are a waste of time and money in a lot of cases – that is, when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Your next steps

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful when discovering where to advertise building services for the best results. For your next steps, I challenge you to go away and think about which platforms would be the best for you to advertise on. And, if you haven’t already, I’d strongly advise creating a Google MyBusiness page!

Want some more advice or guidance on how to best market your building services or construction business? Shortlist a few inbound or digital marketing agencies to speak to, and ask them what they can help you to achieve. They should be able to advise you further.

Is Industry Knowledge Important in Content Creation?

Are you wondering if industry knowledge really matters when it comes to content creation?

If you’re looking for someone to help with your content marketing – be it an content marketing agency, or a writer – it’s not uncommon to worry about whether they have enough experience writing about your industry. The good news is that your worries are probably unfounded. The bad news? Well, there are other things you should probably be more concerned about. As an experienced digital marketer, I’m going to explain why, along with what you should really be looking out for when hiring a content marketing agency, or writer.

Why industry knowledge shouldn’t matter

Don’t get me wrong, industry knowledge can have a slight advantage to begin with when hiring an agency or writer. However, you should never let that be the decider when choosing someone to help you create content. Otherwise, you could be losing out on some amazing content. Here’s why: It really comes down to the way the content is being produced. Most good content marketing agencies or writers who have experience writing for inbound will get the basis for your blog posts, ebooks, emails etc. straight from the best source of all; you. They can do this with interviews, either via phone or email. After all, you’re the one who has the experience, passion and knowledge of your industry. You know your customers inside-out, so who better to contribute to content than you? The content should be written in your voice, to best reflect your values and thought leadership. And when you’re the source for the research, industry knowledge becomes secondary in content creation. Besides, just because someone has experience writing about your industry, it doesn’t necessary make them a good writer. Or know how to best lay out an article to get the best results for content marketing. So, if you shouldn’t really be looking for industry knowledge, what should you be looking for? Well…

Vital things to consider when outsourcing content

You may not be a content expert, or necessarily know what to look out for when choosing the right content solution for you. However, if you’re looking for a content marketing agency or copywriter who can really hit the mark, ask to see samples of their work. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the content written carefully with the relevant buyer persona in mind?
  • Is it easily scannable and well-written?
  • Does it contain relevant headings and sub-headings?
  • (And most importantly of all) Does it answer real questions people are asking? Is it helpful? Does it help them solve a problem?

Your content should always be based about specific questions your best customers (or in other words, buyer personas) are asking. Not what YOU think your customers are going to want to read about. Next, you should ask how the content is going to be produced. How much input will you have? If a writer or agency just plan to go away and create your content based on what they can find on the internet, this is bad practice (although sadly not uncommon). As mentioned above, the best content should come from you. Finally, certification can also be a good indication of a good content marketing agency. For instance, the Buyer Persona Institute is a great sign that they’ll know how to write for your buyer personas and create detailed buyer persona research. Other things to look for can include HubSpot’s inbound certification, which at least shows they understand the basics.

Content marketing must serve a purpose

Content marketing has to first and foremost serve a purpose. It should always be performing and getting you results in order to justify its existence.  And, it needs to have a strategy behind it in order to give you the results you need. Without a strategy, it simply won’t work – which is why it’s always best to come up with a strategy first, rather than just hiring a writer. For instance, I see websites all the time, where I think: “That’s a nice bit of content, but what’s the point?” It’s either going on about a new product or service the company wants to promote, or it’s talking about a trade show or conference they’ve been to. Newsflash:  customers don’t care! They want to read something they can actually take value from, so that after reading, they can go away and feel like they’ve learned something. Otherwise, you might as well just create another sales page, or send out a self-promotional press release. Instead, you should want to make the readers’ lives easier in some way. Perhaps help them understand why your solution is a good fit, or answer a question that they just can’t find the answer to anywhere else. Content creation for the sake of it isn’t an option, so you shouldn’t just throw any old topic at the wall and see what sticks. Saying that, like a hit record, sometimes you’ll be surprised which content performs best. TIP: You can use platforms like Google Analytics to measure performance and write similar content around your best performing topics.

Advice from an experienced digital marketer

So, by now you’ve probably figured out you need a strategy for your content marketing to succeed. Hiring an agency is probably your best bet, as most writers (unless they have agency experience) simply aren’t geared up to write for buyer personas, or the web. When finding the best inbound or digital marketing agency for your content marketing, ask them about the types of results you can expect, and their experience in getting these results for previous clients. Ask to see case studies, and examples of content they are currently producing for clients. And like I mentioned above, don’t forget to ask how involved you’ll be when it comes to producing the content. If the involvement is minimal, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. TIP: As for how much you can expect to pay for content marketing, it can vary from anywhere between £1,500 – £4,500 when hiring an agency. But you’re paying for so much more than just content – such as a holistic strategy that covers content, SEO, email marketing, automation, conversion optimisation and more. Finally, always remember that the reason you’re doing this is to get more business. Your content needs to tie back to your goals in some way, and whoever is in charge of your content creation should have methods in place to be able to do that.

The next steps

I hope this blog has helped to give you a better idea of what’s really important when it comes to content creation and content marketing. For your next steps, I challenge you to go away and think about what you really need to achieve with your content marketing. Then, shortlist a few inbound or digital marketing agencies to speak to about these goals. They should be able to advise you further.

How to Establish Market Presence For Your Business

Are you struggling to establish market presence for your business?

Whether you’ve been going for a while, or you just started your business a few months ago and are still finding your way, it can be tough trying to establish yourself in the marketplace. Trust me; as a digital marketer, I’m approaching by businesses experiencing this issue ALL THE TIME.

But what can you do about it? I could list strategies all day, but I know you’re busy.

That’s why I’m going to give you some tips to help you establish market presence for YOUR business, below.

The best way to establish market presence

In my opinion, it’s always best to go to the pros – that is, an experienced digital marketing agency. They should be able to talk to you about your business, and the buyer’s journey your customers tend to go through. They’ll also be able to devise a strategy for you based on the goals you want to achieve for your business.

But let’s go back to the buyer’s journey for a second. The first thing most agencies will say to a business looking to establish presence, is to go backwards. After all, it’s great to be able to engage with customers who are ready to buy right there and then, but unfortunately, most of the time it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, an agency will help you consider how people initially find out about you online – what do they do first? They take their search to Google, of course!

Now, I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say that all I want is for everybody who may want to use my services to know about me. However, achieving that is often easier said than done – and getting people to know you exist is only half the battle.

TIP: Here’s an exercise for you. Try typing in your products or services into Google and see if you show up. Can you see any results for your business? If not, it’s not exactly great, but it’s not the end of the end of the world, either – that’s because I’m going to give you some tips on how to fix it, below.

Look deeper into the buyer’s journey

Your customers go through a journey when they discover they need your product or service. They’re looking for a solution to a problem, and trying to find help. Any agency will tell you that’s when you want to put yourself in front of them; when they’re about to need/buy what you’re offering. This is also known as the bottom of the sales funnel.

Think about it; when you increase your presence by selling a product, you’re increasing that presence for just one person. Even if the person didn’t necessarily buy your product, they might tell someone else. You might stick in their mind because you helped them out, and answered their biggest questions.

A reputable digital marketing agency will help you get to your customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey; not just when they’re ready to buy. They’ll do this by creating quality content that answers their questions about your product or service, from the moment they know they have a problem, right up to deciding which solution is best for them, and making a decision.

And the best place to publish this content? A blog, of course! An agency will help you match the language and phrases your customers use when they first contact you (a bit of SEO comes in handy, too!).

And remember, not everyone will be ready to buy, but the leads who are only just beginning their research are arguably just as important as the ones at the bottom of the funnel.

Nurture your leads with clever emails

With the right digital marketing approach, an agency will even be able to help you grab the attention of a lead who is only just beginning their buyer’s journey, and isn’t even aware you can help them yet. You can then help nurture these leads into becoming customers with clever email marketing – something that your agency will be able to set up for you.

So, when your customers are ready to buy, who will they go to? Probably the person that helped them by giving them lots of helpful information!

In other words, they’ll go to you.

At this point, I cannot stress the importance of your email database. For instance, did you know that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter? And 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media.

Any good agency will be able to help you keep your email database up-to-date, fresh and segmented as much as possible. They’ll also ensure your customers opt-in to your emails; that way, you know you’re sending them to people who actually want to hear from you.

TIP: Here are some great email automation tools I can highly recommend to get started with nurturing those all-important leads, but your chosen agency might use something very similar.

How this strategy works in real life

I’ve used the exact same logic to help one of our most successful customers; Superwarm. They initially started with only 1,000 visits to their website every month. And now? They’re getting 137,000! That’s 1,644,000 visits per year – and the leads and sales just keep on coming.

Because Superwarm got in there relatively early and started publishing helpful content that their customers would be searching for, no-one can catch up to them – they’ve essentially left their competition in the dust. A lot of people in Edinburgh have now heard of their brand, despite not all of them necessarily buying boilers.

Think of it this way; a homeowner reads just one blog about how to fix their faulty boiler, and it helped them. They didn’t buy a boiler, but they kept the name of the company in mind, so that later down the line, when they do need a replacement, Superwarm is the one they’ll go to. They’ll also recommend them to friends!

Next steps

By now, you should have a much better understanding of how to establish market presence for your business. A digital marketing agency is your best friend, and above I’ve highlighted some of the key aspects they’ll be able to help you with.

The most important takeaway here is this: In order to get in front of the people who need your services, you have to be generating traffic from Google – and a digital marketing agency will help you with that.

The alternative is spending a fortune on ads when you don’t know are working.

So, what comes next? Well, here’s a suggestion.

I challenge you to start thinking about the different stages of the buying cycle your customers go through. Make a list of some of the questions they ask at each stage, and think about how you can answer those questions. And for the best results, contact a digital marketing agency to discuss your options, and how they might be able to help you.

Do you have any specific questions about establishing market presence that I haven’t answered above? Please let me know in the comments’ section – I promise to reply!

1 2 3 29