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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

Blue Skin and Pointy Ears – The 6 Essentials to Identifying Your Avatar

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When the film ‘Avatar’ was released, the concept of a ‘representative’ quite quickly entered into popular language – and to such an extent that most of us when we think of the word would probably still immediately associate it to the film. What remains lesser known is that an ‘Avatar’ is a key concept in defining a business’s marketing strategy. One of the most important stages in any business’s marketing strategy is to identify who you are targeting – very precisely.

While most business owners usually know the answer intuitively, they are still not focusing closely on this as a component of their marketing strategy creation. I’ve found that following a step by step process to defining an ‘avatar’ for your business, invariably leads to greater clarity and a more focused marketing strategy. The most common first question I get from my business coaching clients when we start this process is, “How do I identify the target market?” or “How do I identify the target audience?”

The mistake they are making here is that they are thinking of whom they are targeting as a “target market”. As I have explained before, target markets don’t work. The first thing you need to do is think of targeting a person not a target audience. This target person is what we call your “avatar”. The next question is, “Well, how do I select this target person or avatar?” This is a valid question, and actually requires more structured thought than you might initially think. There are  6 essential qualities you should be identifying in your avatar to ensure that you are targeting the right person for your business.

1. Sees the Benefit & Relevance

On the loyalty ladder, the person that you are targeting should be your raving fan. Whatever the problem is that you are solving, you should solve it for this person and you should be the best solution that this person can think of. This is actually the most important thing. If your avatar loves you and what you do, then everything else becomes easier. They will convert more easily, they are more likely to come back again and again – every step after this becomes really easy. So focus on this one first.

2. Easy to Reach Out To

Your avatar should be someone that you could easily get in touch with. For example, if you provide cleaning contract services you could choose a target person who is the head of operations in a good-sized corporate company, or you could choose the person in charge of operations at a school. Which one do you think is easier to reach out to? It would probably actually be much easier to contact someone in the corporation – they are in a position that is designed to be contactable. You have to carefully consider how difficult it is to actually get in touch with your potential avatar, and factor that into your decision.

3. Receptive to Marketing

Your target person should also be receptive to the marketing you use. Going back to the cleaning contractor example, while it is easier to get in touch with someone at a corporation, they are less likely to be receptive to marketing. Corporate heads have marketing constantly thrown their way, while a school is less likely to get as much and will probably be more receptive. Sometimes, your avatar may not be that receptive to your marketing – that is ok. The point here is to compare between your different avatars and, ideally, choose one that is more receptive.

4. Have a Relatively Short Sales Cycle

This is another one that is more about comparison than absolute value. You want someone where the time to go from lead to purchase is minimised. You may ask, “How short is a short sales cycle?” and really, that depends on your business. What you need to focus on is choosing the target person among your choices that has the shortest sales cycles.

5. Built-In Repeatability

You want your target person to be the kind that buys from you over and over again. This may not be the case for every business – some services are one-time only. However, with most businesses, it is a waste of your marketing spend if you are incurring all costs to get a lead and they are only buying from you once. Your marketing budget should be an investment, not a “spend” – and so when you make that investment, you want it to give you as much return as possible by increasing the number of transactions that a single converted lead makes. This increases the lifetime value of your contact, which decreases the acquisition costs – and this is a critical part of creating an unlimited marketing budget.

6. Good Spend Value & Margin

Is your customer coming in and buying products or services from you that actually deliver value? Are they buying your products that actually have a high margin? Or are they only purchasing your peripheral products rather than your core ones? Do they only buy from you when you give them offers or put things on sale?

Remember, you should be segmenting your customers not just to identify their value, but also to determine how you approach them. Your target person should be a raving fan – which means they believe in what you are doing and are willing to pay for the quality products you are creating. Often, as we run through the above 6 essentials for choosing a strong avatar my business coaching clients often say, “Ok, let me create my avatar.” But here’s the key lesson: You do NOT need to create your avatar from scratch.

Your Avatar is Already a Customer

The exercise I do – both with my clients and for myself – is to take the list of customers and go through them one by one. Categorise them and assess them based on these 6 essential qualities. Make sure you choose customers you like. Would you want to have a coffee or a drink with them? You should be fond of your avatar, and they should be – I will say it again – your raving fan. I can guarantee you, if you do not skip this step and tightly identify your target person, you will be amazed at how easy it is to set your marketing strategy.

Writing your content, defining your channels, figuring out the design of your website or marketing material – all these decisions will become so much easier once you know exactly who your avatar is. Your Avatar may not necessarily have blue skin and pointy ears, but as you define your marketing plan, you should be able to clearly visualise them and understand what would and would not work for them. You should be able to place yourself in their shoes – walk around a bit – and understand what does and will drive their decisions.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Be Targeting A Niche

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One of the problems that we encounter at London Coaching Group is when a business has such a great product that it’s accessible to just about everyone. Doesn’t sound like that’s a big problem, does it?

Well, actually, when it comes to marketing such a product, we often find that businesses are quite resistant to create a more targeted approach, as they are afraid of “losing business”.

The thing is, even if your product or service really is accessible to “just about anyone” or even something reasonably broad like “everyone in the UK” it will still serve you better to choose a niche and target it – and it’s more than likely to actually increase your sales.

Here are three reasons why:

1) Your Marketing Strategy Becomes More Focused

When you target a niche, your marketing becomes very coherent. What this means is that you can ensure that every action you are doing is pointed in a single direction, so that when your target niche encounters your product or service, they are immediately drawn in by everything you are doing. You easily start to appear like you understand them, and therefore would have something of value to them.

When you create marketing that could appeal to just about anyone, just about everyone ignores it. It becomes “just another product”. We’ve been business coaching in London for over 8 years now, and it is pretty clear in the UK: if you want to be seen, you need to be a bit different and very specific.

2) You Can Appeal to Your Customer’s Emotions More Easily

It has been proven with fMRI neuro-imagery that the parts of brain used when evaluating brands are the ones that deal with personal feelings and experiences – emotions – and not the areas that process the actual information. There have also been psychological studies with test groups showing how people make an emotional decision and use logical reasoning to justify the emotional decision – but the base decision is a result of an emotional response.

So the bottom line is, your business should be targeting the emotions of your customers. It is impossible to try and appeal to the emotions of “just about everybody” – but if you target your niche, it can often become incredibly simple to figure out what emotions are involved and how to appeal to them.

3) Niching Can Give You Faster Long Term Business Growth

When you’re planning your overall business strategy and marketing plan, you don’t have to target only one niche. However, if you do choose to go for more than one, make sure you have the resources to do it.

You will need to have multiple streams of marketing and multiple campaigns going on all at once with different messages, different styles and different strategies. If you think your team can handle that, then go for it. By doing that, you will have segmented your marketing and will be appealing to people much more directly, which is a far more effective approach which will result in greater exponential growth than blanketing everyone with generic marketing.

However, many business advisors – myself included – will often recommend to most business owners that they should focus down on one niche first and target it hard. Once you’re in, and have a really decent flow from that first niche, you can then systemise and create processes, which can be adapted for other niches to ramp up and diversify your marketing.

You can then experience fast and sustainable business growth with very little extra effort.

Remember, choosing a niche doesn’t limit your sales and is, in fact, much more likely to increase them! So choose a niche and start creating a much more focused marketing strategy.

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6 Reasons Santa Claus Wins in Marketing

Santa Claus is undoubtedly one of the best in the world when it comes to encouraging us to buy. People fill the streets spending their money, all because of a rather grand marketing campaign that has endured for decades. So how does the man in the big red suit get everyone to buy so much? And get them to leave him cookies and milk in every house? Let’s take a look at some of the lessons that we can learn from one of the very best at marketing.

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1) Santa Always Comes To Town

The promise of Santa Claus is that he will come to your house and deliver presents on Christmas Eve so you can wake to gifts in the morning. If you ran down the stairs to find your tree barren, you might start to think Santa Claus isn’t particularly trustworthy. Make sure you produce what you say you are going to deliver otherwise your marketing efforts aren’t helping you. In fact, your reputation will become damaged if your messages are incongruent with your delivery.

2) Carries Around a Bag Full of Toys

Everyone loves Santa Claus because he’s always carrying a sack of presents that he’s giving out to everyone. Sure, he gets milk and cookies, but what people remember are the presents that he gave them. Do your marketing messages sound like they’re trying to “get” something from your customer? Or are you indicating how you deliver value to them? Whatever you’re offering, highlight up front and centre the value that you’re giving them and then you’ll start to win your loyal customers.

3) He’s Making A List, Checking It Twice

Santa doesn’t deliver presents to all the kids. He makes a list, checks it twice and figures out who’s been naughty and nice. Only the nice ones get the gifts. This is a twofold lesson – Santa makes a list for his deliveries, so you definitely want to be building a list. But he also checks it – you want to make sure you qualify your list so that you’re delivering only to those who are most suitable for your business.

4) He Has A Belly Like Bowl Full of Jelly

Everyone knows what Santa Claus looks like – he’s got a red uniform with white trimmings and a round belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly! What is it about your brand that makes you instantly recognisable? You need to have something that can spread to the world so that you have presence without actually being there. Like Santa – he’s in almost every shopping centre in the world but he’s not actually there is he?

5) He has Elves, Reindeer, Shopping Centres and Parents

Santa has minions that do most of the work for him. He leverages off systems so that he only really has to work about four days of the year. How? He has representatives in shopping centres drumming up the crowds. He has Mums and Dads getting their kids excited. He has Elves making and packing and he has magical reindeer to deliver his goods. Make it your resolution to systemise as least some of your business. Get a hardworking team (your elves), develop your delivery (reindeer), run promotional events that are easily repeatable (shopping centre representatives) and create autonomous groups of raving fans that can handle things locally (parents).

6) He Lives in the North Pole Without The Internet

You can’t email Santa, or call 1800-SANTA. That kind of access isn’t feasible when you’re as important as Santa Claus. You have to write a letter, then elves screen the letters to see if they can handle it without bothering Santa and only if it’s really important does it get through to Santa. Are you too accessible to your clients or customers? Your time should be precious and respected as a business owner. So if you’re readily accessible, it can imply that you aren’t really that busy – and not really that successful.

That doesn’t mean you ignore customer service – it means you need to have a system in place where you don’t have to deal with it unless it’s actually important. Important people deal with important problems – are you an important person? Santa has a bit of a head start when it comes to marketing, but growth really doesn’t have to take that long. Learn from the best, implement tools that have been tried and tested by figures like Santa Claus, and you could be relaxing in your own version of the North Pole before long.

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How You Can Get More Breakthroughs

There are no shortcuts when growing your business. Almost every business owner I know is willing to run the extra laps in order to achieve that next level of growth. When the big dreams of business leaders aren’t being achieved, despite all this hard work, there’s got to be something missing.

Why aren’t business owners able to have enough of the breakthroughs in their business that they desire and deserve? In my business coaching experience, there is one main reason, and if you learn it, you can get more of those for your business too.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text: There are two reasons why most business owners are not able to have sufficient breakthroughs in their business. Number One – Lack of deal flow or lack of predictable enquiries in their business. Number Two – Business owners get burned out. Today, I just want to talk about number one reason, which is lack of deal flow.

Your Business Strategy Must Include More Than Word of Mouth

If in your business you get most of the enquiries through word of mouth, it’s great because it tells me that you’re technically very strong. However, the fact is it’s not sufficient because word of mouth is not controllable. You can’t up it, you can’t decrease it, depending on what’s requirement of the business. It should be one of your strategies but it cannot afford to be the only main strategy in your business.

Marketing Activation Strategies

What we really need to create in your business is a whole set of Marketing Activation Strategies that can get you predictable enquiries, predictable leads – a deal flow in your business. Rather than a trickle of enquiries which puts you in a state of panic.

How Good Is Your Marketing Plan?

Now, the question that you have to really ask yourself is today, if you were to look at your marketing plan, what is the rigour that you have in your marketing plan? Actually, the first question is, do you have a written documented marketing plan? It could be a word document, it could be a spreadsheet. Do you have one in place? Where you have listed down your five to eight strategies to get more qualified enquiries through the door and you have actually put budgets and actual activities against them. That’s the first question. If you have a marketing plan, then again, what is the level of rigour that you have in that plan?

How Does Business Coaching Help With Marketing Strategy?

If in your business most of the marketing that is happening is adhoc, reactionary, knee-jerk, and then if you’re asking or wondering, “Why I don’t have predictable deal flow?” Then I think it’s pretty straightforward. You need to put your thoughts in place. Create that marketing plan. Put rigour in place. Then we’ll move to the next step of saying how do we give you that lift?

How do we help you get leverage out of your marketing resources or the kinds of systemization that can be done so that marketing is happening day and day out in your business? All of that without massive effort and resulting in a predictable source of leads in your business, which will help you have those breakthroughs which you desire and which you deserve.

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3 Common Inbound Marketing Mistakes

Have you been wondering how to get your online marketing channels to perform better? Want your social media advertising and other forms of inbound marketing to bring you more leads and cost you less? This video explains why your “subscribe to our newsletter” button isn’t the best way to attract that consistent flow of prospects. Learn how to create your own “lead magnet” Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to talk about today is how to design a lead magnet.

What is a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet is something which makes your suspects, the pool of people who you could be doing business with, to engage with you. Now I am not saying transact with you but to engage with you because you are offering something of value to them. This is your way to understand who are the people who are interested in your products and services so that you can sharpen your marketing approach towards them. That is what a lead magnet does. Now I will share with you a very simple model so that you understand where your current lead magnets are sitting or, if you don’t have a lead magnet, how to design it.

Focus on the Avatar

The first principle is that you need to keep your avatar or your target person in your mind because you are trying to design a lead magnet for this person who is your ideal target person. Now when you are looking at that, the matrix simply works like this. On the horizontal axis you have the risk. Not you but your target person; what is the risk for the person when they engage with you through the lead magnet that you are offering? High risk is on the left, low risk is on the right. On the vertical axis is the desire. What is the desire, as far as the target person is concerned, that they want to engage with your lead magnet. The top will be high desire, the bottom low desire. So this desire and risk is from the perspective of the target person and not you. That is an important thing that you need to keep at the back of your mind.

The “Crap” Quadrant

Now let’s start with the bottom right quadrant. So this is where the risk is low for the target person but at the same time desire is also very low. You will have to excuse my language here but lot of people put their lead magnets in this quadrant and what I like to say is that this is a “crap” lead magnet. This is not a lead magnet which will attract your target person because they don’t have the desire to engage with you with that kind of lead magnet.

The “Trap” Quadrant

Moving onto the bottom left quadrant, here you have high risk and low desire.  The risk is high and the desire is low so they are not interested in what you are offering and in fact, they perceive that there is a risk in terms of their time or their effort or their money is concerned. They perceive it as a “trap”. They see it as a trap for themselves set up by you. 

The “Gap” Quadrant

This is the top left quadrant is where the risk is high, but desire is high as well. They want to get it but they perceive it to be a risk because they might have to spend some time or some effort or whatever. They perceive that this factor is there in this case. So it’s a great lead magnet but we need to reduce the risk and therefore I’d like to call it the “gap”.  So there is a gap sitting in this quadrant that we need to reduce but still maintain the high desire.

The “Snap” Quadrant

Which is actually the final quadrant in the top right, where there is a high desire and there is a low risk. This is the one they would love to “snap” up the lead magnet that you are offering. What we want to do is we want to create offers that are in this segment. This is our star quadrant. We want to create lead magnets which can be made in a snap and which will be snapped by our target person.

Examples of Different Lead Magnets

Now a quick example of what sits in these quadrants just so that you get a good look at what is happening here. So let’s look at something where the risk is low and the desire is low, under the “Crap” quadrant. In this segment a lot of the time we see people offer, and I am sure you would be familiar with this, something called newsletters. People aren’t interested, desire is low, the risk is low, and they just aren’t interested. A “Trap”, where desire is low and the risk is high, is something like a free consultation, free survey, or a free strategy session. All those are perceived as a trap because people perceive risk in terms of their time and you know what? They have no real desire, there’s no desire. So free consultations, free surveys sit in this quadrant; it is perceived as a trap. As far as the “Gap” is concerned, this is an interesting one. As I said the desire is high but the risk is also high. This could be like you have a free video – which is 15 minutes, half an hour, one hour – very valuable, and free of charge and they actually want to know about it but they don’t want to spend hour, or 30 minutes or whatever because they don’t know if it is going to be that valuable for them. So there is a gap.

Now, the “Snap” offer is a very highly researched one in the marketing field. A good offer, which is low risk and high desire, as perceived by the target person, would literally be just a one page PDF. This would be based on free tips or free tools or five ways or five mistakes and so on. But the key is just make it one page that is relevant to what they are doing and what you are offering.

Get their Email and then Engage!

Remember, to download it, what they have to give you is a simple email address. That’s it – just one field, email address. What you then do is find a way to engage with your target market, with your suspects move them up as prospects, so they engage with you. This way you build your database so that you can really sharpen your whole marketing approach towards the people who have expressed interest in what you are doing.

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Are You Creating Loyal Customers?

Do you know where on the “loyalty ladder” most of your customer base lies? Are they just customers or are they something… more? If you want to increase your profits and the speed at which your customers buy from you, this video about customer loyalty is a must-watch.

How important is customer loyalty in your business? Has this video sparked some ideas for moving your customers up the ladder?

Let us know in the comments! You may also want to read this about the importance of customer relationship management in building customer loyalty.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to do today is to introduce you to something called the Ladder of Loyalty. This is nothing to do with marriage, it is actually a business concept.

Suspects

So it’s start with our Suspects, an interesting word. But what it really means is that a Suspect is anyone who you can do business with. That is, anyone to whom you could provide value to with your products or services. This is like your market size.

Prospects

Now what you ideally want is for your Suspects to move up to Prospects. Who is a Prospect? A Prospect is a Suspect who has shown some interest in your product or service. This person has done something to engage with you to take that first step to say, “Hmm, this is of interest to me.” Especially with the digital age and the kind of of things that we can be doing online, with the whole database system availability and social media, it’s actually becoming quite easy to track how our Suspects are engaging with us, how they are becoming Prospects. Is it that they are reading some blog of yours? Is it that you know you they have engaged with an email that you have sent out? Or maybe on social media? Basically they have taken that first step of engagement.

Shopper

Now ideally with all the marketing that you are doing in your business you want your Prospect to become shopper. Now a shopper is different from a Customer or a client. A shopper is a person, is a Prospect, who has transacted with you for the first time, who has actually given money in exchange for your product or service. So a shopper is a person who has had that first transaction with you and your business.

Customer

Now I just want to make something very clear to you, that up to this point this is all marketing, right? It is quite expensive because generally speaking the margin that you make on the first transaction with your shopper is not very high, assuming you have spent some money, invested some money in marketing to get that result. Now where you actually make good margin and good money is with the repeatability of transactions, the repeatability of business, which is where your shopper becomes a Customer. As soon as your shopper transacts for the second time and third time, the person is actually becoming a Customer.  He is having more transactions with you – there is repeat business happening.

Member

Now, from this level you want your Customer to move to something called a Member. You want your Customer to become a Member, which means they have not just this transactional relationship but something more than that.  They have a relationship with you, they are engaging with you, they feel a part of what you are doing. And, again, with the technology the kind of things that are possible now, you can achieve this. Some companies have login places where you can login and go and track your order, and see how it is moving forward, that is a kind of membership area. When you have some kind of loyalty scheme running, it is a kind of a membership area. You can do something special for your customers, take them out for an event or something special designed for them, it is like giving them a sense of membership. This is a group, this is a community, this is a team that we a part of.

Advocate

From this Member level the next is Advocate. An Advocate is someone that when asked about what to expect from you as far as your services or products are concerned, would give very positive reviews for you. They would actually say, “Yes, it’s amazing, I work with them and they are absolute fine yeah.  Would highly recommend them, you should work with them. The point is an Advocate is someone when asked they will give positive reviews for your business.

Raving Fans

I am sure you would want more Advocates in your business. You would want more Members in your business but just try and make the distinction of how this ladder works and the top thing where you really, really want your Customers is something called Raving Fans. A Raving Fan doesn’t need to be asked; they just so delighted with what you do, they will actually go around sharing that secret that they have found with everyone. They are the people of abundance and they would want to reach out because they have found something amazing, which is you, and they want to tell more people about it. Now do you think you need to do any marketing as far this person is concerned? No. They are doing marketing for you. They are not just Advocates but Raving Fans for you.

The Speed of Business and the Profitability of Business

Now the interesting bit of this ladder, if you look carefully from Suspects to Raving Fans is that the speed of business goes up as you climb the ladder. Pretty logical – people who are coming to you through Raving Fans, or through Advocates obviously will want to engage your services a lot faster because they heard from someone who is reliable. Also, if you think about the profitability of the business that you are doing, the profit will go up as your Suspects and Prospects move up the ladder.  Why? Because you are not spending too much time and effort on marketing – you have built a good base who are actually giving you a better lifetime value. They are actually referring clients; there is a proper strategy that is working.  There is a proper membership strategy that is working here. There is a strategy working to increase the repeatability of the business.

What You Need To Ask Yourself

The question that you have to ask looking at this ladder is where does bulk of your base, your customer base sit? Where do most of your people sit?  What I have realised working with business owners is that a lot of business owners are still at the Shopper and Customer stage. They work with their clients and customers at arms length. They have some people who they are very close with but there is no systematic approach or systematic strategy to move these people up the ladder. Because this is where you are building the asset value of your business.  You are improving the speed and profitability in your business. So the question therefore is where do your customers sit in this ladder? And what are the kind of strategies that you are implementing to help people move up the ladder?  

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