Sunday, December 27, 2009

Get Ready for a Great 2010

Christmas is just about over and the New Year is just around the corner.

Going by the activity in the last quarter, 2010 looks set to be much better for buisness. Most seem to be waking up to the fact that sitting on your hands and doing nothing, hoping to sit it out and that the storm will just pass by isn't an option.

Doing the Second World War, Cadbury's chocolate continued to advertise heavily despite a severe shortage of their products and no chance of increasing revenue. But, once hostilities ceased and production restarted fully, the Cadbury's name was the one on peoples mind. It built their business to be the strong brand it is today.

Don't sit on the fence and wait for the world to pass you by. Get out there and let everyone know who you are and what you do - the business world hasn't stopped.

If you need help working out the best way to get your products and services in front of the right people - on the internet or in the real world - call me at Alloy CRM for a chat and see if I can help.

What do your customers really buy?

Do you really understand why your customers might buy your product or service?

Is it because of the 'features' you offer?

Let's say you wanted to buy a new laptop computer.

You might go out and look for one with 3gb of ram, a 2.5 hour battery life and a 250gb hard drive.

But in reality you're not looking for those features because they excite you. You look for them because:

> 3gb Ram means your laptop will run quickly, smoothly and allow you to have several programs running at once without too much adverse effect.

> A 2.5 hour battery life means you can sit on the train on the way to a meeting and work for pretty much all of the journey being more productive and not wasting time.

> A 250gb hard drive means you can store all of your holiday picture and videos without running out of space.

These are the 'Benefits'

Before you went into the PC shop you did the analysis of what you wanted out of your laptop (the benefits) and the features required to achieve them.

Understanding the difference between features and benefits is critical to successful marketing and sales.

Sometimes (often, maybe) the benefits are not so clear cut as the laptop example. Take the motor industry for example.

A car, whatever type or size it is, will get you from A to B in the dry and warm. Even the performance of the car is pretty irrelevant as the speed limit is 70 mph, and it's often impossible to use the acceleration or cornering capabilities of high performance cars in this country.

So why does one person buy a small car and another buy a large luxury sports model?

It comes down to life style, status or aspirations. If that's the case then your advertising needs to reflect that.

Have you ever seen an advert for a Bentley or an Aston Martin with it parked in an Asda car park? No, but you might see an ad' for a small family car with happy parents putting their smiling children into the back seat and ample shopping in the boot outside a smart supermarket.

The Bentley is more likely to be sitting outside the Savoy Hotel or some other very swanky part of London's West End.

Right. If we understand the difference between the Features that people buy as against the Benefits that people are really looking for then we need to work that out for our business and products or services.

I came across a very useful device to help with this process in a book called The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds.

He suggests going through a routine he describes as 'So What?'

Start by writing down a feature and then asking yourself 'So What'. Answer that and continue asking 'So What' until you really can't answer any more.

Now you are potentially at the root benefit that your customers are looking for and in a position to find ways of communicating that in your advertising and marketing.

If you want more help to find your core benefits read The Jelly Effect or call me for some personal advice.

Alloy CRM - Sales and Marketing Strategy

Monday, November 9, 2009

Successful Email Marketing

Email marketing is a useful tool in your marketing armoury and can produce excellent results if used with care.

I have a blog post that talks about the benefits of using email broadcasting here.

But I want to add to that with some practical advice from my own experiences.

I, along with 3 other Norwich based business men, have been running a monthly networking event that attracts around 50 visitors every time. We work with a large database that has been collected and built over 5 years and is managed through an excellent autoresponder system to ensure that subscribing and un-subscribing is handled correctly.

But here's the extra that we have learnt over time.

We used to send out two versions of the email - one which was html based and had attractive graphics and a pleasing layout, and a very plain text only version that simply had links to the appropriate events page on our website.

Like all good marketers we constantly test and measure the effectiveness of our campaigns. Over a long period there is no doubt that in terms of desired results - in our case, bookings for the event - the plain text version wins hand down.

Why should that be? I can't give a precise, scientific answer. However we must assume that the more complex html version didn't make it past the various virus checkers and junk mail filters and the recipients never even got to see the message.

The second observation is that of the delivery time.

We have consistently found that sending the message to arrive between 10am and noon gives us our best chance of instant bookings. I guess earlier than that and it gets lost among the overnight junk. We also find the Tues/Wed/Thurs work best for us too.

So, in summary, use our experiences as a starting point, but do make sure that you do your own testing. Try different times and formats - and measure the results.

If you need advice on sales strategy, email marketing or finding an autoresponder just call or email me and I'll try to help.

Useful autoresponder links:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is the 'Home' page of your website of any value?

Is the 'Home' page of your website of any value?

The way in which all the main search engines, such as Google, work is that they find your home page, follow it's navigation links and discover all the other pages that make up the site.

If you've been doing your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) correctly, each of those pages will be targeting a tightly focused small number of keywords or phrases. The purpose is to help Google understand EXACTLY what that page is about so that it can effectively determine when to show that page in the organic , or natural, listing as a good potential page for the searcher to view.

This shows that Google indexes pages rather than sites as a whole. Your Home page probably isn't sufficiently keyword focused to be shown in most listings as a response to a search query. This leads to some SEO experts to say that the Home page is of little value.

I beg to differ.

1. Unless you are a totally internet based business relying upon the search engine rankings to gain site visitors you will be using your domain name -, which is effectively your Home page - on your business card, flyers, brochures, newspaper adverts, on your van and anywhere else you can legally find to display it.

2. If someone hears about your business they might just type in your company name. That could well produce your home page at the top of the search engine listings because it probably isn't product or service targeted.

So your Home page is absolutely vital. It's your office reception. Most bricks and mortar businesses spend a great deal on making their reception area feel warm, inviting and confidence building so that you might feel happier doing business with them.

Make sure your Home page creates a great impression and easily directs visitors to the part of the site they are looking for.

But in reality, every page on your site is a 'reception'. If that's the first page they go to on your site then it's really got to do the same job as the Home page, but do it's sales job as well. That's going to be tough to get right.

Is it any wonder that making profit from your website can be so tough?

If you need help with your site to make it profitable my Wesite Profit Program might be your answer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The 2 Appointment Sale Problem

As part of your selling do you often have 2 parts to the process?

Maybe 2 meetings or phone calls before the sale is completed?

This is quite common and, for sales with considerable commitment, tends to end up with a more solid sale with less buyer remorse and fewer cancellations.

However, handling a 2 appointment sale like this needs some thought.

During the first appointment or call the process is pretty standard:

Questioning and listening to understand the problems and pain
Understand the implications of the problem
Put forward the appropriate benefits of your solution

At this point, in a one appointment sale, you would go for the close. The buyer should, at this point, fully understand how your solution will make the difference and be really enthusiastic about it to the point of wanting to go for it there and then.

But now we're going to have to walk away.

A couple of days later we're back with the buyer to complete the sale and here's where many sales people go wrong.

You have lived and breathed this sale and how you're going to pitch the final close today since you left last time and you are absolutely bouncing with enthusiasm.

Unfortunately your buyer isn't in the same frame of mind. Although really enthusiastic at the end of the last meeting, that has dissipated very quickly since then. A million and one other things had happened in his business and personal life that have pushed the importance of your solution way down the scale.

The answer is to go back at do exactly what you did at the first appointment. 'Remind' the buyer of the problems he's facing and 'confirm' that's the case. Review the benefits and how they will overcome his issues.

Done carefully, within a relatively short time, the buyer will be back up full of enthusiasm as he was last time and gladly signing the order form. The bonus is the stronger sale that you have now.

If you then have a delivery point, why don't you do the same again? Go through the same process to ensure your customer feels great about his purchase and looks forward to the pleasure it will give him.

If you need help with your sales on or off line then contact Roy Gough at Alloy CRM.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So this is how the World economy works

It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea. It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to choose one. The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the pig grower. The pig grower takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel. The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her "services" on credit. The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.... .

Friday, August 7, 2009

Help Others - Help Yourself

I'm always brightened by the enthusiasm within new and pre-start businesses at sales & marketing training sessions. Yesterday was no exception. A diverse collection of traditional and innovative business ideas. I wish them all success as they are putting in plenty of thought, action and hard work.

I'm certain that doing those training days does my businesses brain the world of good too.

How could you help others that might help you too?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Local Business Website Profit Success

Norwich based, up-market gents hairdressers Truman's wanted a web site that would do justice to their quality men's grooming services and desirable Elm Hill location. Within days the website, created by Alloy CRM, was ranking at the top of the search engine listing for their keywords and phrases.

Just as icing on the cake, after just a few days, Truman's received a call from a lady in Felixtowe who had found them in the search listings. She went on to book a top of the range grooming day for the special man in her life - business, and valuable revenue, that could not have come about just a few weeks earlier.

You can see Truman's site here:

Alloy CRM can create websites with excellent Search Engine Optimisation ( SEO )and generate profit for Small businesses at sensible prices.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Testimonials make it all worth while.

I received a great testimonial from a grateful client today:

" I saw a prospect in November it came to nothing.

He was nosing at my website as it's the new tax year etc. He saw the video and was very impressed and has just signed up. A significant annual fee!

Many thanks :-) :-) "

That was from Simon Clarke, a partner at Great Yarmouth Accountants, HW Chartered Accountants.

What did I do to make it happen? I produced this short business video for HW Accountants just a few weeks ago and Simon uploaded it to his web page just last week.

I always look for ways to maximise the use of the Internet to increase leads, sales and profits. It has been my strong opinion for some time that the use of video on websites help build trust and confidence. This just proves it!

If you do the Return on Investment sums I should think that it comes out pretty well!

Need a video like that on your site? Call me at Alloy CRM and have a look at some other interesting video on my Alloy CRM video channel at You Tube.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Websites with a commercial focus

There is more to a website than making it look pretty.

The whole purpose of a commercial website is to increase sales, revenue and therefore profit.

Without having that as your foundation what is the point of spending a great deal of money to achieve nothing?

I sat with a small local organisation recently. They are not, and don't need to be, commercially focused. Or at least they didn't think they were.

Just because they're not my traditional target market didn't mean that I would skip my interrogation of their financial position and reasoning behind the decision to have a good web presence.

Digging around I discovered that they are a charity and require money to maintain their building. They have spare capacity for hire and filling their venue would go a long way to alleviating their financial needs.

So yes, the right web presence could have the desired effect and, if done properly, could attract hirers who are prepared to pay more than they are currently charging.

But there's more...

Using my commercially creative side I have suggested a way in which the website could generate its own recurring revenue without a great deal of effort. I won't go into details here as it's still in its embryonic stage at the moment. But suffice to say that the business model is sound and could transform their facility for everyone in their community.

You don't have to be in a commercial environment to use commercial logic. But doing so can resolve a surprising number of non commercial issues and problems.

Need help with your website profits ? Alloy CRM

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Important Twitter News - Read Now!

Just a quick post about some interesting news I saw today.

Twitter, the social networking site, is about to launch it's own comprehensive search engine within it's own results.

Why is that significant?

Loads of people 'Tweet' interesting web links to their followers. So these pages will have been given a great vote of confidence as being interesting, important or just entertaining. It will also you the value of the 'Tweeter' too. I guess that means the number of updates and followers?

The new Twitter search engine will follow these links, analyse the pages for key words and content, then return them in the search results.

Wow! If you're not Tweeting your latest blog now, best you get doing it sharpish!

It will also you the value of the 'Tweeter' too

Here's the article:

Need help with your online marketing and website profit? Alloy CRM

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tips for using video to gain customers

It's reasonably well accepted that having a video on your site can be good for buyer confidence, good for sales and if hosted correctly, good for SEO too.

But there's some things you must do to ensure that you get maximum benefit.

Let's start with the video its self:

Don't make it too long
Boredom thresholds are low. Our exposure to modern day 'bite sized' TV programming and short, snappy adverts that are mini stories in their own right means we are intolerant of anything that labours a point. A front page video snippet shouldn't be more than a minute or so long. If longer is required, create a short 'taster' for the front page and a link to the full version further into the site.

Make it have a purpose
Just like the headlines and content of your site, your video should be focused on drawing in your visitor by providing useful and interesting content. If it's to gain your visitors confidence then tell them how you've successfully helped others for example.

Make it interesting, amazing or funny
A difficult one this as it won't always come off. But if you can do it you have the chance of it going viral - a link to your video forwarded on to loads of other people with the obvious business benefits that it would bring.

Where you host you video is important too:

Hosting on your servers
Not always the best option. However, if you have long videos or you want better quality it might be the right way to go.

Hosting on Video Sites
External hosting avoids the possibility of racking up bandwidth charges if its popular. The biggest bonus is that your video might be seen by more people and gain you extra business. There's a load to choose from with YouTube the most popular and well known. Google videos no longer accepts new uploads presumably because of their YouTube purchase.

How you setup the video on the hosting is really important as the whole point of the exercise is to attract visitors to your site:

Choosing a user name
Just like themeing for your website, the user name you choose ought to be keyword based to help with SEO

Setting up the description
You always have the option to write a short description which will show up next to your video (or at least the first few lines) Kick this off with your web address. Start it with http:// and it will automatically be a clickable hyperlink, so if they like what they see, you are only a click away.

Also include, in the description, your keywords and phrases that match your target. Include them in the tags too. That will help push your video up the listings when someone does an appropriate search.

Start a Channel
This is a customisable area to showcase your videos with its own description and profile that can include all your SEO friendly keywords. The channel also shows your favorite videos and those people who are following you. So just like any other Social Media exercise you should find ways to increase your following.

If you need help with getting effective video onto your website contact me at Alloy CRM.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Customer Dis-Service

My car went in for its MOT today so Gill and I had an hour to kill down near the harbours mouth and Gorleston sea front.

The weather was beautiful and we strolled up to the hotel overlooking the beach and sat down at an outside table to relax for a while with a cappuccino.

It was still a little chilly in the wind and I kept my coat on. With my hand on the end of the metal chair arm I became aware that the green hammerite paint felt a little 'soft' in places. Looking closer at the table and the other chairs it was obvious that they had been painted recently in time for the start of the summer season.

Concerned by the soft paint I looked at the underside of my sleeve to discover a small splodge of matching green paint on the material. Thankfully my coat is old anyway, but it's still one I wear often by choice.

Concerned that someone after me may ruin a good, and maybe expensive, piece of clothing I sought out the staff inside the hotel to alert them to the problem.

I was taken aback by the complete lack of interest and was simply told that the outside furniture had been painted yesterday and none of the managers were in. No apology. No concern. I was thrown really and walked out.

With a clear head I went back a short while later and voiced my feelings. The answer was 'No managers are here, what can we do?'

I pointed out that finding the offending chair, plus any others still not fully set, would avoid anyone else doing the same and potentially placing a hefty claim on the hotel.

Still no action so I left my card and said I would be writing to the owners. At last some response! An apology! But still no action.

What ever happened to care and responsibility? Not for the first time this month I have pondered that question.

Customer Relationship Management and Customer Service done well enhance a business. Done badly they can ruin it.

Will I tell everyone this story, probably. Will it increase sales and their business, very unlikely.

Alloy CRM for Customer Relationship Solutions and online marketing

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 Top Tips for Pay Per Click Campaigns

Here's 5 top tips for making Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns work effectively and generate a return on investment.

1. Don't send the the click to your website home page.
Make sure the web page you send your 'clickers' to is absolutely relevant to the search term and the advert wording. Nothing is more frustrating (and likely to cause them to 'bounce' back to the search listings) than being sent to your home page and then having to hunt around for the specific information they were expecting to find.
Create specific 'landing pages' for each of you ads.

2. Don't Have all the keywords as 'Broad' terms.
Keywords can be set as follows:

"driving lesson" - Exact phrase match. Set inside quotes the phrase can appear along side other words. For example someone searching for:
bus driving lesson or driving lesson in london
the ad would show.

[driving lesson] - Exact Term match. set inside square brackets the ad will ONLY show when that phrase, as listed, is typed on its own with no accompanying words. Not even the plural driving lessons

driving lesson - Broad Match. Without anything around it will show your ad for a host of variations:
driving to school for a lesson or teachers who are driving you mad in a lesson

As you can see the Broad Match option can be too far wide and be shown for totally unrelated queries attracting 'tyre kickers' to click rather than real prospects.

3. Don't ignore negative keywords.
Adding in negative keywords, by prefixing with the minus sign, for example -bus , would exclude your "driving lesson" phrase when used in conjunction with bus as in bus driving lessons or bus driving lessons london

4. Research your keywords thoroughly.
Look for unusual, maybe off the wall, ways that your customers might describe your service or product. Seek out phrases that might begin with 'How do I...' or 'What is....'

5. Monitor and manage your account EVERY DAY.
It is far to easy for your cost to spiral if you are not watching what's happening. Click costs on competitive terms can really sky rocket. But if you're careful and diligent you can maximise profit against the cost of clicks.

If you need help to set up ar manage a PPC campaign contact me at Alloy CRM

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here's a great Contact Management tool you can use

I'm always on the look out for CRM tools and software that are suitable for the SME market. Using Outlook goes so far but then it's difficult to take to the next stage. With GoldMine having moved out of the lower end products there doesn't seem too many good alternatives around

More often than not I'm disappointed as they are lacking in functionality or simply haven't been thought through properly. I have to say some of them I've looked at are just fundamentally flawed.

So it's good to find one that seems to do everything I would expect from an SME targeted system. Not only that but the basic version is free too!

Have a look at it here:
Free CRM Product

What is Free CRM?
F ree CRM is a web based software solution for customer relationship management and sales force automation. Free CRM is great for contact and lead tracking, sales and contact management, sales pipeline management and forecasting, customer service and business management.

What can I do with Free CRM?
F ree CRM software and sales team automation tools speed sales and customer service with real-world features that make your jobs easier. With integrated email campaigns, call automation and tracking and group calendaring, Free CRM is smart groupware.

Free CRM Product

If you need help with your Contact Management and CRM visit Alloy CRM

Monday, March 16, 2009

Get to the point on your website

Get to the point!

Your potential customers, generally, don't want to mess about.

When they arrive on your website they are probably looking for either of two things:

1. If they know of your business by recommendation they are just looking for how to contact you - email or phone.

2. If they arrived by searching or a tenuous link verbally or otherwise, it's information they're looking for.

They haven't the time or the patience to rummage around to find stuff. You need to get straight to the point.

Make sure your contact phone number and email address are prominent 'above the fold' that is the section of your web page that can be seen without scrolling down.

Make it bold and, if your purpose is to solicit phone calls from enquirers put it at the top right of the screen. This tends to be the spot that takes the eye.

If they are after information - then give it to them!

They're probably not particularly interested at this moment that you have been in business for 30 years, or that you have the best staff team around. All they want to know is, do you sell the type of things they are looking for, what variations/options are available and how will these solve my problem or fulfil my desire.

If you've made them click a couple of times to get that information, they've probably already gone back to the search engines to find an alternative. Harsh, but true.

If you get past that, then they want to know why they should choose you and how they can be confident that you are the right supplier. Why would they want to know that first before knowing even if you are a potential supplier?

Analyse your website home page, or at least the first page they are likely to see, through your customers eyes and ask yourself if it fits the bill.

If you need help to make your website work then look at our Website Profit Program from Alloy CRM

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting sales when times are tough

If times are tough where do you look for extra business. Is there a secret, untapped, vein of potential revenue that you can try?

Maybe there is a vast community of potential customers that you've never even come across before that are just crying out for your solution?

Sad news folks - the reality is that it's unlikely. So best you look elsewhere.

It's widely accepted that most businesses fail miserably when it comes to looking after, and selling to, past satisfied customers. Why is that? These people are probably the most receptive to your offer of further products and services.

But, beware, if you haven't contacted them at all since you made your last sale, don't just blast them with a sales pitch. That will go down like a lead balloon.

So what can you do?

Try regularly keeping them informed about things that are related to your product but are helpful to them. It could be tips on how to use your service or product better, changes in legislation that affect them or research progress that could help them in the future when they are considering replacement. The objective is to be their helpful friend in your sector.

By all means add a small piece at the end of your connection to remind them about what you have to offer, but don't make it an all out sales pitch.

The easiest way to do this of course is by email. That way the process is much simpler and cost effective. If you haven't been keeping in touch in the past, don't expect a huge rush of orders from your first mailings. But if you seed links back to appropriate parts of your website for more information, or a phone number to call for help, you could end up with some leads you might have otherwise lost to your competition.

Managing an on-going email campaign such as this can be difficult without the right tools.

There are two providers I use regularly, aWeber - probably accepted as the industry standard, and SendFree - not quite free if you want the emails to look right, but still inexpensive.

If you would like to go down this route and need some help and guidance, please contact me through my site Alloy CRM site where I help businesses increase sales, revenue and profit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Master Email Lists to Increase Profits

I spend most of my time now working with on-line sales and marketing, but for the last 10 years I've been specialising in CRM - Customer Relationship Management.

They may seem worlds apart but there is a great deal that brings them together.

The whole purpose of having a website for your business is to generate enquiries, leads or direct sales. Either
way you will be collecting some data about your prospective customers. Probably all their details when they have purchased but maybe just their email address when they first enquire.

What you do with that data can make a great deal of difference to the result - a sale and maybe a second sale later on.

The smart businesses do that by using CRM. It isn't a piece of software, it's a process.

Keeping in touch with the people on your list can really make the difference. If they have made an initial enquiry, then sending them an answer quickly followed by a number of sequenced emails with more information and appropriate offers is likely to result in a sale down the line because you bothered to keep in touch.

Doing that can be a pain and time consuming, even though the end result is worthwhile.

There are a number of autoresponders around that make that process easy for you. Once your enquirer has handed over their email address via your web page, a whole series of email followups can kick-in, all designed to entice your prospect to take the next step.

Once you have written the emails and decided the gap between each before they are sent out, the whole thing is automated for you. Those email addresses are now held securely and have agreed that you can send them appropriate information. So, if you have a new product or service to shout about, it's easy to send out a mail to everyone who has ever enquired.

You don't even have to worry about people who un-subscribe or whose email address bounces. That's all done for you at a really sensible and cost effective price.

There are two providers I use regularily, aWeber - probably accepted as the industry standard, and SendFree - not quite free if you want the emails to look right, but still inexpensive.

If you would like to go down this route and need some help and guidance, please contact me through my site Alloy CRM site where I help businesses increase sales, revenue and profit.

Where's all the music videos on YouTube?

If you're a YouTube music video watcher you will have noticed that they have pulled all the professional music videos over the last few days.

The Performing Rights Society (PRS) have been trying to negotiate with YouTube for some time about how to ensure payment for song writers and artists when music videos are played. But YouTube, owned by Google, pulled out of the negotiations yesterday unexpectedly.

The principal of PRS is that payment is made to artists and songwriters every time their recorded work is played. Not just on the radio and tv, but in work places, shops and pubs too. Although built with good intentions, it's a pretty hit and miss affair with monies being distributed in an arbitrary fashion.

This break down doesn't surprise me however. I spoke to the PRS a few years ago about how to deal with the use of a well known track as a background for a promotional video for a non-profit organisation and hosted on YouTube.

They had no solution whatsoever to cover that other than an enormously priced global option covering all sorts of other non-related use of the material. I suggested that I would contact the band and their agents directly to agree rights but was told firmly that when the PRS caught up we would be charged the extortionate rate in retrospect.

I questioned how they were going to handle the increase in music used on video hosting sites and their answer was basically to just shrug their shoulders.

The PRS seems to be very outdated in it's view of the way music is used now and is burying it's head in the sand over how it needs to change to accommodate new media. So I can understand Googles' frustration and decision to withdraw.

Sadly it's not just us at the user end that suffers, it's the artists too who have lost a potentially valuable revenue stream by promoting sales of their new album through YouTube. But I suspect that the PRS don't really car about that?

Alloy CRM helps businesses to increase sales, revenue and profit

Monday, March 9, 2009

Maximising your Networking Investment

I went to BNI leadership training today. I'm doing an extended term as Chapter Director. I don't mind, I really like the job.

The thoughts of a 7:30am start and 5 hours of training doesn't always seem like a good idea as the alarm goes off when it's still dark and evil thoughts of pulling a 'sicky' go through your half-awake brain.

But the end result was worth it.

Looking beyond the practical stuff of how to run effective networking meetings and chapter growth, what really comes shining through is the real purpose, and benefit, of putting aside a couple of hours every week to attend.

Making the financial commitment to be a BNI member for a year is not insignificant and shouldn't be taken lightly. Every member needs to maximise the potential they have of generating new business and profits to ensure a good return on their investment.

Every moment you are in a BNI meeting should be focused on that one goal. But managed incorrectly, it can turn sour and unprofitable very quickly.

Being a 'Hunter' and simply looking for every opportunity to capture business from other members and their contacts is unlikely to go down well and you could face the prospect of less business rather than more as members lose confidence.

BNI, and any networking for that matter, needs to be looked at as a medium to long term investment.

I would be reluctant to hand over an introduction to my best, most lucrative and sensitive customer until I am completely satisfied that you will do a fantastic job that will give me credibility for introducing you! So you need to prove to me that you are great at your job, you are committed to staying with the group (I don't want to be having to 'recommend' your replacement to my clients in 2 or 3 months) and that you are doing what ever you can to help the other members.

Offering to take on a role in the running of the Chapter is not only a great way to show your commitment, but also increases your own visibility within the group. If you do the role well you gain credibility as well as getting visibility.

BNI is not the only form of networking and the structure approach is not for everyone, our own Antidote Network for example provides a great alternative business forum. But I really do think that BNI is a great form of generating business and my profits would suffer without it.

If you're in BNI, or thinking of joining, make sure you maximise it's potential - hold up your hand and offer to help. You'll probably benefit more than you think.

Information about my BNI Chapter, Innovation.

Information about the Antidiote Network

Alloy CRM helps businesses increase sales, revenue and profit both on and off-line

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Green Shoots of Recovery?

I heard today that a major estate agent in Norwich believes they are seeing movement in the housing market.

They have been selling housing stock at the lower end of the price range, which must be good news. The downside is the price reduction those owners have had to make in order to sell. Apparently they had to drop from around £140k at the top of the boom to £100k now.

Realistically though the boom peak prices were just off this planet and needed a major correction anyway so the losses aren't as large as they appear.

In another whisper I heard today, the banks seem to have found their business loan application forms again and are actively handing out money. I guess (hope) they are being a bit more careful in their credit checking rather than the lax "does he breathe and can he sign his name' check they seem to be using on some lending up to last year.

If your with me and see the twinkle of light at the end of the tunnel, then make sure you hit the ground running when it all takes off by having your on and off line sales strategy already fired up. Need help with it? Contact me at Alloy CRM for help with increasing your revenue and profits.

Someone made me think about networking

As the Chapter Director of a BNI (Business Network International) group in Norwich, I was passed the contact details of someone who had shown interest in visiting and maybe joining our group. I sent out the appropriate invitation and received a reply that said they had spoken to most of our members at other networking events and they were not able to sell to them then, so there would be no point in joining. I sent them a polite (hopefully) reply explaining what networking is really about.

Yes there will always be an element of the hunter in us all at networking events, some events are more suited to it than others. Andy Bounds excellent book The Jelly Effect explains how to maximise this process well. He goes through the process of identifying your 'Big Fish' in the room and succeeding in securing a meeting later to discuss business opportunities.

However groups like BNI work on a different dimension. They are based on relationships. Understanding what your fellow members do, how they add value and their ideal target customer gives us the background knowledge we need to find them suitable prospective customers in our daily travels and maybe within our own client base.

To do this effectively we spend a great deal of time understanding each others business and gaining confidence and trust in their ability to fulfil. That's not a quick win. It takes time to build that sort of relationship, but once it's there is very sound and can be very lucrative.

So if you're just about to look at networking as a new form of marketing then make sure you understand how networking works before you blunder out there and think it's a waste of time.

Roy Gough of Alloy CRM helps businesses increase sales both on and off line.

Ideas to Survive

I saw an interesting piece today that looked at what happened in the Great Depression between the first and second world wars.

It appears that, although many industries floundered, there were a couple of exceptions that bucked the trend and actually grew during that period.

They were Radio and Printing.

It has been suggested that they flourished, even boomed, as they were new and emerging mediums for business at the time.

If we look at that relative to the present, it's the Internet that shows up in the same way.
The Internet possibly has the same ingredients?

Additionally there the advantages of:

Lower cost base
You can automate much of the sales and customer acquisition process
You can automate fulfillment too

If that's true, then we should all be looking at how we can move our business to a more Internet based model to survive.

Alloy CRM, Sales and Marketing both on and off line.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Can I have a rescue package from the Government too please?

I don't think I've made any huge blunders in investment or expansion decisions.
I haven't traded in a way that I knew would produce unacceptable risk.
I haven't paid myself huge bonuses for making a loss.
I haven't stashed away any cash that was laying around into untouchable pension funds either.

All I've ever done is worked honestly and to the best of my ability with my customers interest foremost.

So what determines that some industries can have buckets full of cash thrown at them to keep them afloat in the interest of job retention?

What about the 'industry' of hard working small businesses that are going to the wall every day with the loss of 1000's of jobs?

Seems somewhat unbalanced to me - especialy when it's not us that caused the problem in the first place.

Bangers 'n Mash and the Internet

Pay Per Click advertising, through Internet search engines, still remains a bit of a mystery to many business owners. Not just the mechanics of making them work, but the core of why they can be so cost effective.

I always try to make things simple with real world analogies. So here goes.

Imagine you are a butcher specialising in rather exclusive sausages.

I'm delving into a personal fantasy here. My favorite meal, you may be horrified to know, is bangers and mash and my favorite 'restaurant' is a cafe tucked under the M40 flyover on Portobello Road in West London. They always have a choice of 6 or 7 unusual and delicious sausages, several mash combinations and few different varieties of gravy to finish it off. Absolutely superb!

So, back to the story, you're a butcher specialising in unusual sausages and you want to open a shop. But rather than opening your shop in the general high street you choose an unusual cul-de-sac. Here EVERY shop is a Butcher specialising in sausages.

Is that commercial suicide? Not necessarily.

The good news is that every person who wanders into that street is a potential customer, they just wouldn't be there otherwise. The bad news is that they may only buy from one shop.

But there's further good news. You will only pay your costs of being there on footfall through your door. In other words you will only pay when you actually attract someone into your shop and potentially sell some sausages.

So your job as a butcher is to make your shop window the most appealling and attractive in the street.

You can count the number of people who walk past your window and those who walk through the door. You can also measure the number that actually buy and how much they spend against that charge you pay for everyone that walks in.

Armed with those ratios and cost per sale, you can change your shop window as many times as you like to test the effect on your ratios and ultimately your profit.

But you're not restricted to how many times you change the window, so you can refine it constantly to maximise the results. Unlike many other forms of advertising, you are only paying for a defined result - someone walking through your door.

There's one more important aspect too. There will undoubtedly be some spots on the street that 'perform' better than others. If your shop window is effective in getting larger percentages of passers by into the shop, you'll be promoted to a better spot.

But you can short cut that promotion too by changing the amount you are prepared to pay each time someone walks in your door to try and secure the shop position you want. The more you are prepared to pay the better your position.

If you're still with me, I'll relate that to Pay Per Click advertising and make our butcher an internet business.

Your cul-de-sac is the phrase that potential sausage buyers might type into a search engine such as Google. They might type 'Wild Boar Sausages'. Your shop can sit in any number cul-de-sacs of key phrases that may be typed in by sausage buyers.

Your shop window is the 4 line advert that appears on the right hand side of the search results page. How good your ad' is determines the number of people who walk through your door into your website - the point at which you pay.

The final part, the one that decides if the project is worth while, is how effective the inside of the shop is in getting customers to buy. Are your potential customers seeing what they expected after being attracted in by your window display, or do they see Beef and Lamb joints with the sausages tucked right at the back of the shop out of site? That's the landing page on your website that you send visitors to.

Pay Per Click (PPC) can, if managed correctly, be a very effective and productive way to increase sales and profits. It should be considered alongside more traditional forms of advertising. Once you've tasted it's success you may find that your advertising spend will be reviewed in the light of it's results.

If you need help to make your website produce profit through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising contact me at Alloy CRM.

A simple guide to website ranking with links

One of the key factors influencing how your site is indexed, and ranked, in the search engines is that of inbound links.

These are hyperlinks to pages on your site from other sites on the web. The basic theory is that the more links you have, the higher the value of your own site. Why? Because the search engines will assume that, if all those other people think your site is interesting enough to link to, then it must be important.

That was the premise a few years back, but sadly that assumption was abused by the darker side of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). They set up thousands of sites that were just 'Link Farms'. Pages and pages of listings with links to other sites. The more links you had on these sites, the better value you appeared to have, thus skewing the listing results.

Google got smart to this idea and, in an attempt to reduce the effect, they introduced a system of ranking each page it indexed. It's ranking process included a host of factors but was mainly designed to weed out the Link Farms. In fact sites that were/are still found to be listed on these sites are often penalised heavily and their own indexing can be severely impaired making it difficult to appear in any of the results listings.

So let's go back to the beginning. Inbound links are important, but they have to be carefully chosen and prepared links.

Here are the three key factors you should consider:

1: What is the Page Rank (PR) of the page and site that will show the link? The higher the PR the better as it seen as an important site and it's outbound links are valued higher too. Not only that but it will 'feed' some of it's high ranking across to your page as a bonus.

2: Is the site relevant to yours? As an example let's say your site was about pet products. If you had a link on a site with heaps of information all about dogs - that would make sense to Google and be valued. A link on a dating site would be seen as totally irrelevant and virtually ignored.

3. Use good 'Anchor Text'. Having a hyperlink to your pet product site showing as on that dog information site is not so effective, and meaningful, as having the hyperlinked text saying 'Buy dog baskets, leads and dog food'. Google sees and understands the relationship between the wording on the information site, the anchor text and that of your site - so it will value the link higher.

So to summarise, links to your site are good, but not all links. Be careful about accepting offers of links, especially if they are asking you to pay. Take time to consider those key factors before you commit.

Finally there is the issue of reciprocal links - the 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine' of the internet world.

You may be offered a link to your site in return for a link to theirs. If you accept this and the link to them is shown on, for example, page 2 of your site and the link to you on their site also points to your page 2, it will easily seen as reciprocal and not a 'vote' of confidence in your or your website, therefore valued less.

Turn that around based on the 3 key factors earlier in this blog. If the link from them is on a page of information about dogs, the anchor text reflects that and the page on your site which it points to is about dogs that's good.

So in return, work something on the same principal but using different pages, perhaps about cats. That way the links are less likely to be seen as reciprocal.

I hope that all makes sense, but you can always talk to me about how to maximise your website profits at Alloy CRM, Sales & Marketing Strategists

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Effects of Facebook?

There have been a couple of articles in the Daily Mail recently about the effects of the internet, specifically social networking sites, on us and children in particular.

The first was suggesting that social networking sites could produce cancer. At first glance you would probably say rubbish. However we need to dig a little deeper beyond the media headline hype.

Our bodies have evolved to be a socially interactive animal. Devoid of that element in our life can cause mental, and physical, problems. This is well documented by prisoners and hostages over the years. On the surface, social interaction via sites such as Facebook fulfills that requirement in our life. But does our body understand that?

Is our body hard-wired to determine the required social interaction as being face to face where it can receive not only words but also facial expressions and body gestures? The internet removes all of that. How many times have you misinterpreted an email, got the wrong end of the stick and reacted inappropriately?

So if you take the case of someone who's life revolves around the internet and they just don't meet anyone, how is the body going to react?

Dr David Mickel, the GP who discovered the possible cause of ME, believes that the body generates symptoms, and sometimes real illnesses, in an attempt to force a change in circumstances to rectify the life balance.

So if that's the case, maybe the theory of Facebook causing cancer may not be so far fetched.

Thankfully, for the vast majority of us, social networking sites are just a relatively small part of our life and we live, most of the time, in the real world.

The second article was a front page headline suggesting that the same social networking sites are causing our children to have remarkably short attention spans. Well if you've got this far down my blog you certainly don't suffer from that!

In this case I think we need to look at the wider world that our children are brought up in. It's a world of short, sharp messages and multi-tasking.

Most informative programes on television are broken into micro-segments with several themes running in tandem throughout the show. Flipping backwards and forwards between them with quick updates to remind you what's happening. I find that type of programming quite frustrating as I'm used to the traditional format but it must be popular as they all use it now.

Written media has taken the same direction too. The popular press and magazines consist of snippets supported by photographic images, almost a comic style, with no real substantial essay type material.

And then, of course, there is texting. Rapid, word truncated, conversations that are conducted whilst doing something else.

So is Facebook causing the problem? I doubt it. I think it's more about the new world we live in - good or bad is up to you to decide.

If you want help to make use of the internet to produce profit for your business contact me at Alloy CRM

What's your page rank and what is it's influence?

The search engine Google works hard to identify the websites that it believes would be the best option to show at the top of the listing when we type something into their search box.

Google takes loads of different factors into consideration to determine that all important list. Bottom line is that Google wants to keep us using their search engine above all others and rightly believes that, if it offers the best and most useful sites for us to visit, we'll keep coming back.

As a guide to how important Google thinks a site is, they have a Page Rank system. Ranging from 1 to 10, with 10 being the top, each indexed web page - note I said page, not site, is allocated a ranking number.

You can see the Page Rank for any site quite easily. First you need to install the Google toolbar for your web browser here:
By default the Page Rank (PR) tool probably won't be on there, but you can add it in easily by right clicking on your newly installed Google Toolbar.

With that done every web page you visit will show the Page Rank. You will find that lots of pages have a PR of less than 2, maybe even 0, which means that they are unlikely to show up in Googles search listing other than for very unique phrases such as your own business name if it's unusual enough.

At the other end of the scale are sites like which has a PR of 9 - even they can't make 10! The difference between each rank increases enormously as you go up the scale. So you might be able to move from 2 to 3 reasonably easily, but the move from 6 to 7 is enormous.

So how can you influence your own PR and stand a better chance of ranking better?

Three key factors really:
1: Make sure that Google understands what your site is about by the careful selection and use of keywords throughout your content.
2. Relevant content, more relevant content and even more relevant content! The more there is on your site the more Google will absorb and value your site accordingly.
3. Links into your site from other sites. The higher the PR of those linking sites the better. So if you could get a link to you from that would benefit you tremendously.

I've been fairly simplistic about how the PR system works and can be influenced. There are a whole host of factors to be taken into consideration and I may well delve into those a little deeper in another post.

If you want to improve your standing in the PR stakes give me a call or click here to improve your website profit

Alloy CRM helps businesses to increase sale, revenue and profit

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Get your business to the top of the Google rankings - For Free?

No this isn't some scam - It's simply using Google's own Google Maps based free business listing.

This facility allows you to set up your own business listing with a web address, real address and contact phone. You also have the ability to write a description of your business with opening times and a number of other bits and pieces.

If you set up your listing the same way as you would the SEO of your web site, that is with keywords and phrases in the description, you have a good chance of your listing being shown when a web searcher includes a geographical reference. For example, 'plumber in norwich' (go and do that search now) brings up a Google maps list of plumbers who have taken the trouble to create their own listing.

Just like any SEO work you may have to be a bit smart with the keywords and phrases you use, especially if it's a competitive sector, but it's worth a try for free surely?

If you need help maximising your Google listing drop me a mail or visit my website.
Need help to make your website produce profit?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How are you selling?

Sorry to keep harping back to this again but I just think it's so important - especially in the current climate.

I guess that in your business you will have, or do, one of these things:
1. Have a retail shop
2. Have a trade counter and display
3. Have a demonstration area or showroom
4. Have an exhibition stand for trade shows
5. Have a presentation you use either one to one or at events
6. Used a designer to create your ads and leaflets

If you are serious about growing and increasing profit through sales you will have spent a great deal of time and care making sure that these are right.

By that I mean you would take care to make sure that your products and services are presented in a way that fits the environment and client you are targeting.

If you were looking to buy a Bentley you would expect the showroom to have a certain ambiance and appear upmarket. Buying produce from a farmers market you expect it to look fresh and presented well but may feel cheated if it was all laid in cardboard boxes that seemed to come from a wholesaler rather than directly from the fields. Would you man your exhibition stand in jeans and tee shirt if you were hoping to sell to business leaders?

We are all influenced significantly not just by the product but also it's presentation. That presentation needs to reflect, and tap into, the likely reason for buying.

It is said that there are 3 reasons people buy:

I have yet to see ad ad for a Bentley parked outside a roadside layby cafe surrounded by white vans and lorries. It's more likely to be on a beautiful country road, outside a stately home or the Savoy hotel, building a desire to be part of that lifestyle.

Where am I going with this?

Fire up your web browser and look at your own website.

Does it have the right ambiance? Does it look how a buyer would expect it to look?

Help your customers understand what they will gain, save or avoid by using your product and you will have a better chance of getting the result you want from your website.

Maybe you need to look at your other advertising, not just your website, in the same way too?

If you need help with sales have a look at our Sales Accelerator
If you need help with your wesite take a look at our Website Profit Program

Monday, January 26, 2009

Selling into Larger Companies

One of my fellow BNI members asked me to help him with his sales plan a couple of weeks ago.

Up until recently he had been working mainly re-actively and with smaller companies achieving reasonable success. Now he has been targeted with opening up some of the larger businesses in the area and was finding it difficult.

With smaller companies the organisational chart is pretty flat and you tend to be talking, straight away, to the owner (director) of the business. His buying decision can be almost as if he is taking the money you are asking him to invest straight out of his pocket. His choice is do this or put the money towards the next holiday/new car.

If he is convinced that your proposal is the way forward, then he will 'instruct' everyone else in the business to fall in line and help you get the job done. It's a relatively easy yes-no process.
If you want to break into larger companies you may not be talking to those at director level initially. Getting this, lower level, person sold on your ideas won't automatically secure the sale.

This person may have to sell your idea up the chain of command. Two problems with that:
1: This person probably isn't as capable of selling your concept as you
2: They may not understand fully the agenda of those above and may not pitch correctly

The New Strategic Selling process from Miller Heiman lays out these problems and ways to overcome them.

Typically you need to find 4 key people within the organisation and understand their drivers and requirements
1: Financial Buyer - Probably just looks at the bottom line of a proposal and values against cost saving
2: Technical Buyer - Will this be fit for their purpose and is it significantly better than what they have in place
3: User Buyer - Is this going to be a pain to implement and run with or will it save time and effort
4: Coach - This person is critical to find. They will be sold on your offer and help you understand, and get to see, the other 3.

With those people identified you need to understand if they are open to change or insistent that the current situation is fine. Then you can start tailoring your offer to tap into their problems and requirements.

Working with larger companies can be rewarding as the deal size tends to be larger - but be prepared for some hard work!

The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World's Best Companies

Roy Gough and Alloy CRM help businesses to generate revenue and profit through the Website Profit Program and real world sales processes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How can we beat the recession?

We know that the internet is taking an increasing role in purchasing decisions and that we need to maximise our exposure there.
But how do we do it with limited budget? You've probably spent your marketing and advertising budget every year so can't find more to fund internet marketing too.

Well lets have a look at what you are spending your budget on now and the results you get from it. You may well have invested in some or all of these - Yellow Pages, Trade journals, Newspapers, TV/Radio and Direct mail.

Now tell me, honestly, if you can quantify, EXACTLY, the return on your investment for each activity - down to individual adverts.

I suspect that your answer may well be a bit vague. Henry Ford, famously didn't say "Half my
advertising works, I just don't know which half" (someone whose name I can't recall said it).
If that sums up your advertising budget, now is the time to be more prudent and use a medium that allows you to value every penny you spend, test and measure the results on an hourly basis and tap into the internet sales that are increasing as we speak.

Pay Per Click advertising in the search engines, such as Google and MSN, along with Facebook is the smart way to use your marketing budget effectively and get return on your hard earned investment.

More information on cost effective PPC advertising here from Alloy CRM

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What make a website a popular website?

With billions of websites out there all trying to attract your attention, it might be interesting to look at a few really successful sites to understand what might make them so popular.

Now these are just my views on these sites and there are probably a whole load of other factors too, but here goes.
Enormous breadth and depth of information/content
Is this one of the greatest entertaining/time wasting sites ever?
Saving money is on many peoples agenda normally. It's probably on everyones agenda in the current economic crisis
Another great time waster but the interaction factor just makes it so absorbing

'Adult' Sites
Exciting and teasing (so I'm told)

Now lets summarise that -

Money Saving

Do you think it would be worth making your website good enough to be described in one, or a few, of those terms? I bet if you did, it would be far more successful and earn you a lot more money than it is now.

Try it.

Alloy CRM has a Website Profit Program designed for small businesses that will increase profit.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Internet sales preditions for 2009 UP!

A report in eMarketer confidently predicts an increase in internet sales of about 4% in the US. Now that's not much but against high street drops of up to 10% it seems like good news to me.

Additionally a survey by ATG also in the US at the back end of last year, in the midst of the downturn, showed that purchasers would be turning to the internet to both research their requirements and actually buy where appropriate more than ever before. One of the triggers, along with price, for a purchase was no cost delivery.

So what should we take from this?

Well, there is no doubt now that EVERY business should be represented on the internet. But more than that, it needs to show your business in a professional and trustworthy way otherwise those potential customers will just head straight back to the search listings to find someone else. We know they are spending, and making purchasing decisions, via the internet - you need to make sure your are getting your fair share of those sales.

If you need help to make your website work and produce profit, I offer a Website Profit Program designed to help and guide you.

Alloy CRM is a Sales & Marketing Strategy consultancy that helps businesses find new ways of increasing Sales, Revenue and Profit.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year - New Revenue?

New Year - New Revenue? What can you do differently in 2009 that could significantly improve your revenue and profit?

Here's just a few ideas:
  • Look back through your customer list and see who hasn't bought from you in the last 12 months. Contact them, find out why and rebuild the relationship if they are still potential customers.
  • Check back to see who you pitched for business but lost out. Try re-packaging your offer in a different way and contact them.
  • Build a follow up program for everyone who buys from you. Use that to maintain contact, make your customer realise you care and probably gain some referrals and testimonials into the bargain.
  • Don't just carry on with the same old advertising. Be bold and look for something different. Try different publications, divert some of your spend to internet marketing and review your website to make sure it isn't losing you potential customers.
  • Be more targeted about looking for new customers. Look at your customer base and see which industry sector and size profile produces the best results for you, find out where those sort of businesses hang out and join in with them.
  • Try networking. There are plenty of events around each with it's own style and visitor profile. It might feel scary the first time but it's worth the effort. Networkers love to help each other and you could well create some useful contacts.

All the best to you for 2009 - may it be your most profitable yet.