Archive for January, 2009

4 Keys for Business Growth in 2009

January 27th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

I see it time and time again; business owners / marketing managers start an electronic marketing program but only get around to sending their first message out to their customers. Alternatively, they send out another message 6 months later which contains nothing more than a promotion of one product in their business.

Yes, it takes more effort, but significantly more benefit can be derived from doing the following:

  1. Create a plan for your marketing communications with the intention of connecting with your audience, educating and providing value. Have a think about those 3 bolded words. I believe they should be the sole purpose of your messages – the repeat sales, new customers and profits will flow automatically if you do those. Your plan will include message dates, key topics and who is reponsible. For help with your planning session read our article.
  2. Execute the plan without fail. Though, be mindful that details in the plan may change in response to environmental events or unexpected changes in your business. To ensure that you do execute your plan, and execute more than your first communication / advert, diarise the preparation of each communication, and the execution date giving yourself enough time to carry it out.
  3. Whilst you may not see any results from your first communication, your message is out there, people are seeing that your business is still alive and well, and they are potentially moving closer to being ready to respond.
  4. Continue to grow your List by promoting your communications in all your customer touch points. This is very important as it does two things: 1/ ensures that you keep focused on your communications with your customers. If your emailing / sms list is continuing to grow there will be less chance that you will tire of sending your messages, and 2/ adds new prospects to the start of the sales process. Most people need to feel that they trust you and understand what you can do for them before they will be ready to buy.
  5. Mix up the communication & follow up responses: make sure you act in a timely manner when people respond to your communications, don’t forget to occasionally ring your key prospects, or send a hand written note in the mail. Electronic messaging is great for getting the majority of your communications done at low cost, but it can’t completely replace phone calls and face to face meetings. In addition, using personalisation (more than just your contact’s first name) in your messages and more targeted special messages outside your regular ‘news’ messages also helps to connect better with your contacts..

With businesses and consumers being more selective about what they spend money on, businesses that really are about providing value and serving their customers will be the ones that succeed in 2009. You need to make sure that your communications reflect those attitudes.

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Top 10 Most Important Technologies for SMEs in 2009

January 12th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

The following predictions are made by Contact Point for the most important technology opportunities that will exist in 2009 for small to medium enterprises in Australia:

  1. The Internet will continue to grow in its use as a research tool before businesses / consumers make decisions on products, services and getting involved in organisations.
    This means you should make it very easy for people to find the key benefits (not features!) of your products and services on your website, and testimonials / product reviews on your site (and other websites) will grow in importance. It also means that if your website presents your business poorly because it is out of date and looks unattended, you will be missing out on business.

     
  2. The Internet will continue to grow as a place to purchase goods and services, particularly niche products, and products where it is much more convenient to shop online instead of going to a physical store or waiting in a telephone queue.
    Allowing your website visitors to purchase goods and services doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive if you are just selling one or two items; in this case allowing customers to pay by PayPal or direct deposit will be acceptable. If you have a wide range of products then you need a full shopping cart system, and provide credit card payment options.

     
  3. Search Engine Optimisation will be important to ensure that people find your business via the search engines, but when this happens those visitors are comparing you with others (e.g. getting 3 quotes).
    Therefore if you are wanting to capitalise on search engine optimisation your website content has to be compelling, it must inspire visitors to get in touch, and your follow up and all facets of your response have to be excellent in order to win the business.

     
  4. Pay per click online advertising will provide great results for certain types of products and services.
    Testing is needed to ensure a good ROI is available for your particular business. We recommend that you allocate a budget and run tests of different advertisements over a minimum of one month, measuring to ensure that you know which enquiries were generated from which ads, and track the outcome of each enquiry. We expect high value products with an internet savvy target market to benefit the most out of pay per click advertising, but you have to test!

     
  5. Social networking will continue its rapid growth. Participants will more deliberately separate their business networks from their personal networks. Tools in social networking will continue to improve to make it easier to connect with others, get real conversations happening, and also to manage your multiple networks.
    I believe that organisations that can provide not only online networking opportunities but also physical connection opportunities, marrying the two, will be the winners. People still want face to face interaction.

     
  6. Because it allows much more rich communication, the use of video online will grow in popularity, and almost be expected in certain market segments.
    It’s important for your business to embrace video in communicating with your visitors about who you are, what benefits your products and services provide, and how your products and services can be used.
     
  7. The integration of television programs and radio programs with the internet will expand. Expect to see more ‘continue to chat with us online after the show’ and a more options for viewing / listening to programs or segments again online. There are still huge opportunities available for the media and entertainment industry to improve the experience of their viewers and grow their viewer base through viral marketing (visitors sending online content to their friends and family).
    Business owners who can present on television or radio have great opportunities here also.

     
  8. The astute use of electronic marketing (email and sms) will provide great benefits to business via more sales and improved customer retention.
    Your messages must add value and provide unique offers and opportunities to interested recipients. Adding value is made easier when you target your messages to relevant sub groups of your contacts, not just sending everything to all. I make this prediction not based on my personal desire to promote eNudge, but based what I continue to see happening in the business of eNudge subscribers which are expanding through electronic marketing. Even the major banks are starting to use email marketing, despite their ‘traditional’ view that they can’t use email because of the security risks (being a major target for phishing attacks). So few businesses in Australia are using electronic marketing well, that the scope for increased sales and improved customer retention is significant.
     
  9. The scourges of spam, viruses, phishing, trojans and other malware will continue to try and infect your PC and rip you off. Overall I don’t expect this to grow in impact, but nor will it abate.
    You need to continue to be vigilant, ensure that your computer(s) are protected with firewalls and anti-virus solutions, and don’t click on links that look even remotely suspect. I’ve noticed a decrease in phishing emails pretending to be from the major banks, and an increase purportedly from the next tier down instead e.g. the Australian Trading Post. So again, stay vigilant, and if you’re not sure ask the company allegedly sending the email, or ask your technology support provider, before clicking on links or opening attachments.
     
  10. Taking control of your internal technology systems for managing networks, backups, application access, hardware, internet and email use will continue to be vital to the smooth operation of business.
    If you have a great service provider in this area, maintain your relationship as they can be hard to find! If not you need to find yourself an excellent provider in this area – we can provide some recommendations.

What do you think?

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