"Andy, you are rubbish at this."
So said my tennis coach, Vicky, last week.
She wanted to know what was going through my mind every time I hit the ball.
So, she had asked me to shout “good”, “bad”, or “OK” every time I hit it.
Now, I'm not very good at tennis. So, I shouted “good” if I got it over the net and “bad” if I didn't.
But she told me: "Your objective is not just to get it over the net. You’re supposed to hit it where I'm not. You aren't just trying to get it in; you’re trying to win the point."
To be honest, I was a bit embarrassed that I needed this pointing out! In fact, I've since found out that everyone else in the world knew this.
But, as soon as I changed my focus, my game improved – almost immediately. I now know what “good” looks like. So I'm aiming for it and often achieving it.
So how does this apply to communication?
Well, if you had to grade each of your communications as “good”, “bad” or “OK”, how would you decide which each was? Would it be whether your communication:
All these are useful, yes. But they aren't the true measure of good communication.
So, here’s my version of Vicky’s advice:
"Your objective is not just to communicate. You’re supposed to trigger actions as a result. You aren't just trying to say things. You’re trying to cause things."
And, once your focus changes to this, like my tennis, your communications will improve – almost immediately. You now know what “good” looks like. So you aim for it. And you will often achieve it.
If I'm being brutally honest, even though I'm focusing on the right things now, Federer could probably still beat me. Probably.
But that’s fine. I'm better than I was. And I always aim for success, not perfection. And, now that I'm focusing on the right thing, I keep improving.
What about you? Will your communications be better today than they were yesterday? Well, if you focus on the right thing – their impact, not their content – you've got a great chance.
Copyright © 2014 Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.
As 2014 draws to a close, here at Donut HQ we’re getting ready to take a short break. It has certainly been a busy year. Across the five Donut websites we’ve published a wealth of blogs, news, guides and articles – all with one aim, to help small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs everywhere.
Our thanks go out to all our brilliant blog writers, our generous expert contributors and our valued sponsors and partners. And we’d also like to say a massive thanks to you all for stopping by on a regular basis, for your comments and feedback and for your support on social media.
We will be bringing you more small business news, views, information and advice in 2015. In the meantime, in case you missed anything, you can catch up on some of the things we have learned this year (below).
Have a great festive break – and check out our guide to work-life balance if you need help switching off! See you in 2015.
Editor, Marketing Donut
“Consumers that watch a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy it.”
“41% of shoppers abandon an online shopping cart because of hidden charges.”
“Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends and click-through rates are generally highest on weekends and midweek on Wednesdays.”
Andy Bounds reveals the cautionary tale of a brilliant proposal that failed at the first post because of a poor covering email.
“SMEs in the UK are missing out on up to £77bn in annual revenues as a result of not having mobile-optimised websites.”
“Online libel cases have doubled in recent years due to the social media explosion, so don’t think that social media is still a grey area in the eyes of the law — it’s really not.”
“72% of UK customers would ditch their purchase for a competitor if they didn’t get an email reply within one day.”
“You wouldn’t train your in-store staff to constantly shout out brand messages — apart from looking unprofessional, it would drive people away. So why do brands do this on social media?”
“Albert Einstein said: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts’.”
“Google considers over 200 factors when ranking a website and one of those that has become more influential is website and page loading times.”
Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.
Things are changing on our local high streets. Consumers are shopping in a different way and these new habits are bringing exciting new opportunities for independent retailers.
Just last month, a report by the Local Data Company in conjunction with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) revealed that the number of independents is now at its highest level in four years following a net increase of 432 new stores in the first half of 2014.
There are lots of reasons for this positive news – consumers are keen to support local retailers and the recovery, although unsteady, is certainly helping too.
But the biggest driver seems to be a shift in shopping habits. New data shows that we are increasingly swapping the old weekly food shop at an out-of-town supermarket for more top-up trips made locally. And that is driving footfall to all kinds of shops on our high streets.
The recession has permanently altered the way we shop. We are less keen to drive to out-of-town supermarkets. And we are determind not to waste food as we once did. That means we would often prefer to buy our food locally as and when we need it.
What’s more, when we are visiting a Tesco Metro or a Sainsbury’s Local to get some essentials, we are also increasingly visiting other local stores as well.
But that’s not the whole picture. We’re also lapping up any opportunity to get a bargain. While the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury struggle, discounters such as Aldi and Lidl are flourishing. And of course, we are increasingly shopping online too.
All this has prompted Goldman Sachs to suggest in November that one in five big supermarkets may need to close. It points to “altered shopping habits” as well as competition from the big discount chains and pressures from online retailers.
These are clearly seismic shifts – not just recessionary aftershocks.
Now’s the time for independent shopkeepers to grasp these new opportunities. It’s about promoting what makes you special and giving customers the kind of friendly, personal service that big names just can’t deliver.
Tell your customers just how much good they are doing by shopping locally. According to Independent Retailer Month, for every £1 spent locally, 50-70p goes back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online only 5p trickles back to the local community.
After all, a recent survey by Vend has found that 53% of consumers who choose to shop at small businesses do so to support the local economy and 30% of shoppers choose small businesses to buy one-of-a-kind items.
The convenience of online shopping, however, is undeniable. Independent retailers can also win more business by having an appealing and accessible website where customers can browse, get information, order online and either have goods delivered or click and collect. Judicious use of discounts and deals will also appeal to many shoppers that are counting the pennies.
Above all, at this time of year, it’s well worth getting involved with Small Business Saturday. Taking place on 6th December, this grassroots campaign encourages consumers to shop locally and support small businesses in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.
You can download support and marketing materials on the Small Business Saturday website. And look out for the Small Business Saturday bus – coming to a town near you in November and December.
Blog by Rachel Miller, editor of Marketing Donut.
What factors help a customer to buy?
There are a wide variety of things that influence a purchase decision – budget, timing and personal psychology to name a few; but there is one fundamental factor that brings all these influences together – value.
Value is a subjective perception created through a blend of need, price and the belief that one product is better than another. Good value is seen as a high quality solution which meets all of a customer’s needs at a reasonable price.
Here’s how need, price and belief play into a perception of value:
I see a pair of hiking boots on offer and I recognise the brand; but the fact that I don’t go hiking means that I won’t value them highly.
Some marketing works to convince the consumer that they have a need. For example, if I’d read an article explaining how hiking boots improved posture, helped stimulate blood flow and were good for your feet, then by the time I saw the boots I may have developed a “need” for them.
Grooming potential customers this way is an excellent way of enhancing the perceived value for your product or service and can help you break into new markets.
Set your price point as high as you can; this helps to enhance the perceived value of your product.
A big mistake is to slash prices. This can work, particularly when it comes to more exclusive discounts, but offering a huge discount lowers the perceived value of the product. Who is going to pay “full price” for a sofa at DFS when most of the year they are offering 50% off?
The price point will often lead customers to believe one product is better than another. However, people will not be willing to pay a higher price if they do not believe in the product; the two factors work in tandem.
Belief is about your brand, your marketing and their knowledge of the product range. It is what 80% of your marketing budget helps to create. And it is the one area over which you have the most control.
So how do you go about creating this belief in your product or service?
There is no single method, but there is a core concept: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I will understand.”
People may forget the specifics but they will be primed to receive your brand, and priming can be important in establishing credibility.
For example, you conduct a PR campaign where you write thought-provoking articles relating to your product or service. In the article you describe the problem (establish a need), drop some hints as to a solution (brand priming) and get it featured in an established trade magazine (credibility).
Visual memory is more powerful for most people than verbal memory, particularly when “show me” still involves some verbal explanation – “show and tell”. Exhibitions and trade shows are great for this.
"Involving" your prospect creates an experience that uses all three types of memory/learning: verbal, visual and kinesthetic (touching and using) to create an almost unbreakable belief in your product. If you are there to tell the prospect the benefits, you can create a need. At the same time you show how the product or service meets those needs visually. Then, the final step, you let the prospect try with the product, get them involved in using it and create an experience.
Creating a complete and immersive experience of your product or service increases recall, generates belief in the product and, in the end, turns prospective customers into brand ambassadors. You aren’t as likely to share the fact that you saw some new product, but you will want to tell people what you just tried out - experiences are made to be shared.
Copyright © 2014 Richard Edwards, director of event and customer experience specialist Quatreus.
What do Baader, McIlhenny, International SOS, Hoganas, Tetra, Bobcat, Gallagher, Seas Getter, Hamamatsu, Arnold and Richter, Petzl, Lantal, Tandberg, WET, De La Rye, Belfor, Ulvac, Gartner and EOS have in common?
They are all companies you have probably never heard of. They have global market shares of over 50% in their sectors and have been around for a long time.
These are the “hidden champions” or “supernichists” according to Hermann Simon, author of Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders.
These businesses have embedded themselves in the value chain of their clients; and they are the undisputed market leaders in their niche. They focus on narrow, small markets and become the best in that market.
Their strategy is to dominate market niches by transforming general markets in which they are a nobody into market niches where they are somebody.
They are mostly family businesses. They are often based in rural communities. They have a long term perspective. They have CEOs that have been there for over 25 years. The CEO is most likely to be the owner. They are customer-focused and they look after their staff extremely well. They invest in training and innovation. They are ambitious but they stick to what they do best. Above all, they deliver superior quality.
All of the companies have an international focus. They focus on China, Russia, India. They know that Japan is a source of innovation (“What happens in Tokyo today happens in the rest of the world tomorrow”). All their managers speak at least three languages, and increasingly their people reflect the diversity of their client base.
Approximately 70% of these hidden champions only sell directly and maintain intensive, lasting relationships with their customers and suppliers. They have five times more contact with regular contacts then “normal” businesses.
They spend double the average spend on R&D. Because they involve staff in vision, values and strategy, innovation is easier. And of course they involve their customers in the innovation process. The main focus is on ongoing improvement versus breakthrough innovations.
The typical “hidden champion” is a one-product, one-market company with limited organisational complexity. The top management is very lean and leaders tend to be promoted from within. They have high-performance cultures and are intolerant of shirkers. Shirkers get fired. If you stay, you stay for a long time. The average length of service is 37 years — which allows the organisation to retain knowledge and expertise.
The message is simple — you can do it too. Hidden champions teach us that instead of managing only one great thing brilliantly, good management means doing many small things better than the competitors. The sum of many small advantages ultimately leads to success. Genius is not required.
The Scottish Independence vote was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was a triumph of democracy and 97% of Scotland’s citizens are now on the electoral roll. This means that there are two real winners from the referendum, the people who organise the jury service (97% of people are now eligible for jury duty) and marketers.
Not only do we have almost all of Scotland’s population’s data available to access on the electoral roll, but we also get to examine a marketing case study like no other.
The referendum was an example of two very different styles of marketing. The Yes campaign, headed up by Alex Salmond, was all about emotion. The Better Together campaign, headed by Alistair Darling, was all about rational considerations.
Despite the victory for the Better Together campaign, it’s not a clear that they ran the better campaign. The reality is that both campaigns were lacklustre in some ways.
The Yes campaign made a basic marketing mistake. It was all spin and no substance. You might think that’s a bit unfair, but when your campaign is basically the marketing equivalent of trying to re-create the “They cannae take our freedom” speech from Braveheart and you get accused of lying about things, then it’s a sign that on some level you have failed. In the end, their campaign lacked solid foundations and cost them victory.
Emotional appeals aren’t everything. You need facts and figures.
The Better Together campaign was about the rational. Alistair Darling quizzed Alex Salmond about the economy, what currency we would use, what the impact on jobs would be. This is important, of course, but it’s boring. There wasn’t any emotional appeal. It was a total snoozefest. This failure meant that polls started to show leads for the Yes campaign and caused Better Together to panic.
No matter what YouGov says, quantitative surveys aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Dan Hodges put it best during the referendum when he pointed out that the poll which showed the Yes campaign had its first lead was the result of just 13 people saying they would be voting yes. If you’d asked them on a different day, got them in a different mood, or asked others, the results could have changed drastically and the entire narrative of the campaign would have been very different.
With surveys, you need to back up the data. Look at search trends and combine this with some qualitative analysis from interviews and focus groups to get a much stronger idea of what your results mean.
The turnout for Scotland in the 2010 General Election was almost 64%. For the Independence Referendum it was almost 90%. What’s more, 97% of Scottish citizens registered to vote. In marketing speak, 97% of Scotland entered the sales funnel and 85% of them responded. I’d kill for those sorts of stats.
So, what’s the difference between the referendum and the general election? The referendum was seen as important — it would have a tangible effect on people’s lives.
That’s why you need to find out what matters to your target audience and use it as a hook to solve their pains.
Copyright © 2014 Steve Haynes, SEO and site optimisation consultant for inbound marketing agency, Tomorrow People.