Monday, 14 January 2013

Test and Measure your marketing activities

In our experience, anything that you measure usually improves. Therefore we recommend that you test and measure your marketing activities to better understand what works, what needs a tweak and what does not work, so should not be repeated.

Many of our prospect meetings for A1 Marketing identifies that many business owners simply do not know which part of their marketing is working and what is not. It is common for all marketing activities to be viewed as one and no measure of how a new customer specifically finds you.

We recommend to measure your marketing activity to the level that you can tell for each new customer or sale, which part of your marketing worked.

Once you know this, you can then start to test different variations of that activity and then gradually improve this even further until your marketing becomes even more powerful and profitable. So for example, your last batch of new customers came from your Google Adword campaign, but by testing different alternative messages do you gain even more enquiries?

We suggest that you try and use codes or references, utilise online analytics and try specific landing pages for any online activity to get much closer to measuring your activity.

As a must, you need to ask each new customer how they found you and why they brought from you, but please ensure your questions drill down to find the true reason which may be the first reason they were interested in you and not the 5th time they saw your last marketing message or what actually made them make the contact to purchase?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Payroll - Real Time Information

HMRC is introducing a new way of reporting PAYE - called Real Time Information, or RTI. From April 2013, employers will be legally required to report PAYE in real time. This means that information about all PAYE payments needs to be submitted to HMRC online each time a payment is made as part of the payroll process, rather than at the end of the year as they are now. For more information, please see as there are also some actions to get ready for the start date to ensure your employee records are up to date and accurate.

A true key business influencer

If referrals are a key part of our clients marketing strategy, then we ask them to focus on their key business influencers. These are not contacts in their network that are 'nice to know', but people who are 'advocates' of their business and are willing to influence the success of the business with referrals or recommendations.

Many clients have a long list of contacts in their network, usually with the hope of obtaining a referral, so one activity we recommend is to rate your contacts from 1 to 5, with the following scale:

1 - Nice to know and have in my network, but unlikely to refer in next 12 months

2 - Nice to know and possibly could refer in the next 12 months

3 - Good to know and may refer

4 - Great to know and is likely to refer with personal attention

5 - A 'KBI' who currently refers business.

If you can't score them, as not even nice to know, then remove them from you network! This simple exercise gives you focus for your limited resources. Diarise time to speak to and meet with your contacts rated 4 and 5.

It should also be your objective to move your contacts up the scale from 'nice to know' to 'referrer'. How you do this will be different for each individual, but a personal touch, knowing what is important to them and the application of focus will move your contacts closer to the desired 'KBI' status.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and contacts a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Our best wishes to you for a successful 2013.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bookkeeping software in the cloud or in your office

We have just returned from the annual conference of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. Amongst the speakers were a number of bookkeeping software providers speaking about their product and the pro's and con's of cloud based software.

The requirement will be different for each business and who in the business needs to use the accounts software and why. But two questions we would encourage you to consider before making a commitment in reaction to a sales message is:

1. Does your accountant or any accountant easily support the new software and is it compatible to their system?

2. Do you really need a cloud based / online accounts system? Especially if you are outsourcing your bookkeeping, as the information each day will only be as up to date as the last visit by your bookkeeper

Friday, 14 December 2012

For all businesses with First Aiders

Late in 2010, the HSE announced that it strongly recommended that all first aiders should refresh their knowledge on an annual basis.

Our experience is that very few businesses are aware of this notice, as there was no formal notification to all businesses. Were you aware?

The recommendation is to avoid the natural knowledge fade, as the certification is still valid for 3 years, and therefore keep the basic skills up to date. There was talk of making this compulsory, but much lobbying resulted in this just being a strong recommendations. However many consider a 'strong recommendation' by the HSE to be as good as a compulsory requirement!

So we have developed 3 products to help your first aiders refresh their knowledge on a more flexible basis that attending annual training courses, whilst of course saving the cost of covering their position and travel expenses.

A cloud based version of the DVD
An elearning version to provide greater administration and tracking (elearning room)

For more details, then please contact us at A1 First Aid.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The intelligence in your data

There is no lack of data which we can use to analyse our business. If your business relies on online traffic, then we would suggest you have an understanding of a web analytics programme that provides data to suit your product or service and helps with the understanding of your underlying business. However, if you are not online or work as much offline, then what is your system for understanding your data?

Data can tell us so much about our customers, suppliers and staff. For example, gaining an insight or profile of your ideal customer, trends, being able to predict your future sales patterns, knowing the point when a prospect changes from a cold to a warm lead, maximising your resources, testing a product launch or knowing the cost of your recruitment efforts, are to name a few. But how do we ensure we are measuring the right things. Owner of A1, Mike Foster, speaks on the topic of 'The top 5 numbers in your business'. This is not saying you can only have 5, but don't have too many focuses and more importantly know what activity truly drives the success of your business.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Google advertising - a step too far?

We recommend the use of Google advertising, pay per click, to our clients if their business suits this medium, but has the latest addition to the Google income stream gone a step too far?

Were you aware that a competitor can now tag a sponsored advert onto your Google places listing? So your potential customers find your listing, thanks to your marketing efforts, but are shown an attached advert beneath it which will usually carry more benefit statements than your place contact listing will allow.

So is there a balance that Google should be considering? Many business owners are voicing their concerns that this is not perhaps the most professional approach, but, of course, it will drive income for Google so we guess it is here to stay. Some will be embarrassed to use it as it is so direct, but we have seen quite a bit of activity in this area over recent weeks with our customers placings.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The value to your organisation of different behaviourial styles

We enjoy working with Thomas International as an accredited provider of the personality and behavioural analysis reports, using D.I.S.C. profiling.
So what value to your organisation does someone who has a High D, I, S or C profile provide?
Please read more from our recent blog to discover the value to an organisation of someone who has a high dominant factor of:

D - Drive
I - Influence
S - Steadiness
C - Compliance

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Creating and building trust

How often do you hear the phrase 'people buy from people'. When we completed a research project into why people do buy from people, then 'trust' was the most important factor required before a buyer decides to buy from you or not.
Trust is much deeper than a gut feeling of whether you will be ripped off or not, so what can we do to make ourselves more trustworthy with our prospective customers?

Deliver on your promises - perhaps obvious, but it is where so many fail
Remove the risk - offer a guarantee and show your belief in your product or service

Position yourself with authority, expertise and recognition
Have proof of delivery such as testimonials, articles, awards and case studies
Tone down the selling but still solve the problem

Friday, 9 November 2012

Focus on your ideal customer and resist trying to market to everyone

You may argue that your product and service can be purchased by anyone, but if you want to make the most of your marketing resources in terms of money and time, then we suggest that you look to focus your activities on attracting your ideal customer. So why?
  • Your ideal customers usually make up most of your profits
  • Working with ideal customers is much more rewarding and enjoyable
  • You can concentrate your marketing efforts more efficiently
  • You can better understand the need and how you match your benefits
  • You will be able to better identify any expectation gap
  • You can easily adapt as you know your environment
So the best ways to identify your 'ideal customer' is:
  1. Customer profiling - review the trends of your top 20% of customers
  2. Segmentation - use demographics, classifications, life cycles, psychographics and contextual marketing to focus on your ideal prospect
  3. Market research - ask your ideal prospects, not your friends, some key questions such as what they expect, where they are buying now, why, and how often they buy.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Mike Foster to speak again at this years ICB conference in London

We are pleased to announce that A1 owner, Mike Foster, will again be speaking at the conference of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. Mike will speak at the Savoy Place venue in London on the 7th November on the subject of growing a business.