Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has Google changed the way it ranks websites?

There has been an email going around the last few days scaremongering that Google has radically changed it's natural listing ranking format by including 'Google Places Pages'.

Google Places Pages are what we have know for a long time as Google Business Listings.

They have been a useful long term SEO tactic for local businesses such as trades and B2B suppliers. Not many people had latched on to the fact that Google has, for a long time, shown listings and a small local map with markers when a geographic qualifier was included in the search term.

Like any SEO activity, the 'secret' to success to being shown in that map is relevance. A good description, keywords and choice of categories is more likely to bring a listing higher. Add to that a few reviews and the always important external inbound links to the website from influential sites, and you have a top listing when someone types in 'Plumber Gorleston' for example. The more refined the geographic term - the better chance you have of success.

So is this new?

No not really. All that's happened is that Google have decided to give it a little more relevance than they had done previously.

Any web designer worth his salt would have organised a Google Business Listing for you anyway and encouraged you to get your customers to login and leave a good review. Plus, of course, look for good directories and sites to gain links from. Inbound links are good for your website and your Business Listing too.

Google Places Pages are covered in my email Website Marketing Course which all my clients receive now, once their site is up and running.

So looking at this email, it's more about trying to sell you a link on their directories rather than 'new' news. But a useful reminder of it's importance all the same.
Need help setting up a Google Places Page, or Google Business Listing if you prefer it in old money, then just call or email me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Be Careful With Your Web Content

One of my FaceBook friends re-posted this article today (you can click past the popup advert).
It's important that everyone with a website should read it and follow the results as they unfold.

Creating content for your website MUST be from you and your business, not pinched from someone else's site. That's an infringement of copyright. The Internet is NOT in a copyright free bubble and writers have as much ownership over their words (and images) as if they were in a printed publication.

That doesn't mean to say you can never use others text and articles.

There are plenty of resources where writers are happy for you to use their work provided that you credit them accordingly and include any web links that they ask for.

Try this one for example
And for images
So there is no excuse.

The other side of this is that you must protect your own work online by ensuring that it clearly says the content of your web site or blog is your copyright. That way you have at least a fighting chance of protecting it.

What makes some people so obnoxious?

The bloke in front of me in the gastro pub queue that we go to most weeks, to meet up with our daughter, came back and moaned that his wine was short measured. It was one of those multi size glasses with lines to show 125ml and 175ml.

He didn't do it politely, he was positively aggressive.

It was pointed out to him that it was small wine (125ml) and that's what he'd been charged for but he started to accuse the barman of giving him a drink not listed on the wall mounted drinks menu (in fact it was shown on there).

I felt I couldn't just stand back and see the barman, who has always been pleasant and helpful to me, be treated in this way. I suggested that, as the drink wasn't short measured and neither had he been over charged, he shouldn't worry about it.

Then it was my turn to get the verbal abuse. I was told it had nothing to do with me and maintained that the staff were unhelpful and useless.

I pointed out that I go there most weeks and the staff are great. He reckons he goes there every week too.

But he's not any more apparently, because they've banned him and his family.

It's amazing the difference in attitude you see and receive depending upon your own towards them isn't it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is your product or service 'One Size Fits All' ?

A meeting with a sizable Norfolk based business during the week reminded me of an analogy I have used in the past when running sales and marketing workshops.

Making your product or service appeal to a much wider audience can be a challenge for many, and even seem unnecessary to others.

Niche is king and specialising can be the route to fame and fortune.

But does making that product 'one size fits all' mean you are missing out on extra buyers and profit?

Think for a moment about a flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK.

It's simply an aeroplane that takes it's passengers quickly and efficiently between the two points in order to achieve something beyond the flight itself.

For some it's an essential to their job and the important part is the work at the destination. For others it could be the first part of a very special holiday. It could even be an trip to visit a relative in ill health at an inconvenient time financially.

But they will all travel on the same 'plane, on the same route and to the same destination.

Some of those people will want to make the flight part of the experience and really enjoy it, others will need to relax as much as possible to be fresh for the challenges on arrival, some will need to manage the trip as cheaply as possible.

The mainstream airlines deal with this extremely well by dividing up that metal tube into First, Business and Cattle Class. Each section has it's own level of service, comfort and added value with a price tag to match - but it's still just a flight between the two points.

Understanding your customers is the key.

You probably feel that the vast majority of your customers fit into the 'cattle class' bracket and you may well be right. The airlines allocate more seats to that category than to the others. But they still realise that there is value, and profit, in providing the higher levels too.

Think about your own product and customers. How could you offer a First and Business class variation? Or conversely, if that's where your products are now, how could you offer a budget version - maybe under a different brand so that you don't devalue your current status?

What would that include? What would you need to charge? What would you have to do in your marketing and sales to ensure that those likely, and in a financial position, to take up the offer could see the benefits and value.

And remember that, if you are going up a level, those benefits will not be the ground level result of getting from A to B. They are more likely to be about status, dreams, lifestyle and goals. You need to tap into them.

If you need inspiration visit the website for Bentley cars. That site doesn't sell cars. It's sells the feeling of pride and pleasure you will have from owning one. Then go to Kia cars and see the difference!

If you need help working out how best to sell your products, just ask.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Get yourself found on Google - but differently!

Here's a damn good reason why you should have a clear sign on your business premises.

I have used a local computer parts reseller in Great Yarmouth recently and they were very helpful and friendly.

Looking for an external USB sound card for my laptop to improve the sound quality, I thought I would give them a call to see if they had what I needed to avoid a longer trip into Norwich.

But I couldn't remember their business name or, although I could drive you there, their address either.

A search on the 'net didn't throw them up instantly so I took a trip down Google Streets to see if I could work out at least the road name.

Didn't need to! Their sign was showing clearly on the end of the building. Job done and they got the phone call - not one of their competitors in the town.

How many of us have visited a shop or office in real life and then can't remember it's name later? However you can clearly remember where it is.

If you work from home you may not want to do that, but it seems like a really good idea to me otherwise.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Am I to be the next James Bond?

Am I to be the next James Bond?

A deviation from my normal business based blogs today - but interesting.

We all dream but most are forgotten within moments of waking. The vivid one I had last night hasn't gone away (perhaps it was one from the film 'Inception').

I'm sitting in the doorway of an aircraft. A bit like the large sliding door of a rescue helicopter but at 10,000 feet and at aircraft speeds. I have a camera in my hands and I'm taking photographs of the ground. It has a spy feel about it, as though I shouldn't have been doing it.

I'm harnessed so that I wouldn't fall out but feel I'm slipping through. I'm not too worried though as I have a parachute on my back.

I don't remember the next 'scene', which is a shame as I would have liked to experienced it, because I must have slipped out of the harness and parachuted down to the ground.

So here I am looking across a very 'Eastern Block' village/small town with a couple of old weather beaten workers toiling in the fields. I approached them and tried to converse in English and then French (my only other foreign language of sorts) but they don't understand and their accent is definitely Eastern European/Russian.

I feel apprehensive. I'm watching carefully for signs of 'The KGB' perhaps?

I have obviously acquired a Babel Fish in my ear (a device used in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy that enables you to understand any language) as I'm now conversing freely with the farmers.

They seem pleased to see me and invite me to meet the Town Mayor where I'm treated a bit like a hero.

But all the time I'm watching over my shoulder for the arrival of the KGB who will know my real purpose for being here and I fear what they will do to me.

A bell rings and I feel anxious.

Blasted alarm.

Do you think I will see part two tonight? I really hope so. It was just getting exciting.

I've no doubt that those of you into dreams will tell me what that's all about but, whatever it means, I enjoyed it!

By the way, I am available for bit parts and walk ons if anyone is in the film industry. But I do draw the line at walking out of the sea in Speedos.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflecting on a life of change

As I work my way through my 60th year (blimey that's scary) I reflect on the changes I've seen in that time. Has this last half century and a bit seen the greatest change in the way the human race lives and works?

When I think back to my very early years, and starting at infants school as it was known then, I was part of a family that had a car and telephone - not because we were rich - simply because my father worked as a local representative for one of the Fleet Street newspaper publishers. They were the tools provided as essentials for his job. Amongst my contemporaries, those luxuries were very few indeed

Our holidays consisted of visits to relatives back in London or in Eastbourne where my Grand Parents lived. You might find this difficult to believe but, in order for us to use the car for our holiday, my Dad had to work some of the time whilst we were away to secure it's use!

I can remember one of my class mates holding us all in awe with his tales of a rare holiday to Brussels to visit the Worlds Fair. He was the only person I can recall ever having a holiday beyond the South East of England.

Dad's area that he covered included across to the Fens, Wisbech and March. That meant staying away from home for several days and neither Mum nor I had any real idea where he was or when he would be home.

The World beyond Norfolk seemed a very long way away and I didn't really know much about what it looked like, other than from books, until we bought our first television in the later part of the 50's.

I used to read the Eagle comic every week and wonder at the marvels of communication and travel that it depicted and assumed that they really were impossible, certainly in my life time.

How wrong I was.

We think nothing of travelling all the way around the world and feel deprived if we are out of contact with our friends and family, were ever they are, for even a few hours.

Have we seen the greatest ever change in humanity and it's environment?

It certainly feels like it.

Has it been for the good?

The jury is still out on that one, but my feeling, when I look back to those naive and relaxed years, is that maybe there have been as many downsides as there have been benefits.

Let's hope the next generations manage to harness the power we have at our finger tips and use it for the good of us all rather than for just selfish means.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I feel jealous.

Why? Because I spoke to a lady today who knows she is to be made redundant after many years in the public sector and is planning to start her own business when that happens in a few months.

But why should I feel jealous about that?

Most of us in business work on the 'just in time' model.

Sometimes we come up with new ideas, products or directions and they need to be actioned NOW. Maybe because financially we need to, or perhaps it's a small window of opportunity that someone else will fill if we don't act right away.

That means we have little time to make really good preparations and build the confidence building collateral our prospects might look for to justify calling us. So we wing it!

Wouldn't it be nice, just sometimes, to have the luxury of time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do you do cold calling?

The quality (or lack of it) of cold calls I seem to be receiving lately is upsetting.

Nobody really likes to receive cold calls I'm sure, so is it not vitally important to excel in that call to make sure you get the result you are looking to achieve?

I had yet another Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company call me this afternoon.

Without introduction to who they were, they proudly told me that my website wasn't ranking a particular keyword phrase and presumably would have gone on to tell me that they could get it to number one in the Google list within a week.

They obviously hadn't done their homework as the phrase is one of the most competitive on the internet and I have only one sub-page deep in my website targeting it. So the chances of that being sustainably achievable in a short time scale without resorting illegal methods that could potentially get me removed from the index completely - are zero.

Not only that, but they had based their statement simply on the fact that I have, as a short term test at the moment, a Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign running that targets the phrase.

They didn't ask me what my business goals and plans were and how that keyphrase fitted in with them, nor had they looked at my website to understand what I was really about.

You might get a good idea of how that call ended today. I should have offered to mentor their sales staff perhaps, but I didn't get their company name and when I called 1471 the number had been withheld, surprise, surprise!

I'm occasionally asked to run call campaigns on behalf of my clients, often targeting very high powered individuals within global industries who have an even shorter fuse than me! But I get through and get the job done because I take the time to research and find out what they are up to and what they really need.

Every business needs to do some cold calling at some point and if it's going to be successful it needs care and thought to get good results.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't make it difficult for your website visitors

Tolerance levels are low. Patience is short. Not accepting that in our prospects can ruin the chances of a sale.

This morning I found a great system to help people with their web marketing. Really impressed with it, I searched around the site to see if there was an affiliate program for me to recommend it onto my contacts and clients.

Then I encountered - 'The Form'

It was lengthy and had a fair splattering of agreements that I had to agree to, which I had expected when money is involved. But, each time I tried to complete the process, it threw up messages saying that something was missing.

OK, that's reasonably normal, but what I hadn't noticed was a message in small type at the top pointing out something else I'd missed in addition to the main error it had highlighted. Not only that, but each time I had to re-accept all the agreements by ticking a bunch of boxes again.

After five attempts to say I was getting exasperated would be an understatement and just about to ditch the whole thing. It's a good job it was a damn good product otherwise I would have been long gone! I do wonder how many potential affiliates they lose?

It strikes me that they hadn't asked someone outside of the business to fill in the form as a test. If they had, it surely would have come to light.

Do you have a form or your site? Have you really looked at the messages that appear if something goes wrong? What about the page that they get taken to once completed? Is it clear what will happen next? Is it clear that the process has been successful?

Website visitors COST MONEY to attract - don't throw that money away.

If you need help or advice on your website marketing contact me via my website here:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don't switch off

A client of mine called me today and we were chatting about how his business was doing. He'd been struggling to get enough work in for his family team over the past year. Times have been tough in the building sector.

He told me that he and his wife had been out for a meal a few weeks ago and the locally owned gastro pub they chose was looking a little tired but the food was fantastic.

Remembering what I'd taught him - never miss a business opportunity - he took a note of the owners details and contacted him later to show him their portfolio.

It hasn't got him the pub job - yet - but it did get him a three month contract to do a major project in one of the family homes.

Turns out that the pub is one of three they own in the area and, if all goes well with the current job, he'll be well positioned to take on the renovation work that's planned for them.

Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can get you work.

But, if you 'switch off' when you are out socially, you might not realise that you're in the right place, at the right time, right now!

Terry Rees and his family owned property maintenance and repair business is based just outside Norwich.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why is CRM important to your business?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is critical to all businesses. Why?
Here's the answer in just 4 sentences:

> Turning prospects into customers doesn't happen just by accident

> Attracting your target prospect into a potential customer is demanding

> Losing a prospect to your competition is annoying

> Losing a customer to your competition is devastating

Working with a good CRM software makes selling and repeat selling a whole lot easier. It helps make sure that those prospects and customers don't get swallowed up by your competition.

Need some CRM software? This new product could be the answer for you even if you use an Apple Mac.
Limited special offer available now.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some real website crackers!

I always love to see websites that make you scream in horror!

In these days of templates and easy to use web generators you can't really believe that stuff like this is still around.

Anyway enjoy these www's - (woeful web wonders)

Ohh, The bucket's over there in the corner by the way.

If you want to make sure your customers feel comfortable and happy when they visit your website contact me at Alloy CRM and I'll help you sort it out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thanks is always appreciated isn't it?

Those of you who know me well also know that I really get a kick out of helping others and, like most people, I feel good if someone thanks me for it too.

Working in business networking circles it's just part of life that you would sincerely thank someone for giving them a referral, great advice or some old fashioned help. I wouldn't even dream of doing anything else and most of the business people I know work in the same way.

It's a shame everyone doesn't think like that.

Here's three situations that have arisen over the last six months. I'm sure you won't have been guilty of these but it's easy to let them pass by without realising the effect on the other party.

> I changed my car towards the end of last year and it had previously been fitted with a bluetooth mobile phone device that tapped into the radio. When I changed my mobile phone in February I just couldn't get it link despite internet searches and re-reading the manual.

The next day I saw a van in the traffic queue next to me advertising the system fitted to my car, so I jotted down the phone number. I called them and spoke to a guy out on a job. He was obviously busy but within just a minute or two was able to tell me how to fix it. I thanked him, apologised for disturbing him and told him how appreciative I was.

I was delighted when the fix worked and I'm connected up now. So I found them on the web and sent them a message telling them how helpful their man had been and how grateful I was. In return I offered to find a way of promoting his business within my networking contacts with no charge simply to repay their kindness.

And the result? Nothing, zilch, zero. Not even a 'Sorry we're out' message. My positive feelings towards that business have all but drained away now.

> I have an offline spam filtering system that sends me a message each morning with a list of, and a link to, all of the trapped emails from the previous day. Most of it is of course rubbish but one came through early in the week that looked like it was genuine but was markered as having a virus.

Now this is important to know if you are the sender as you don't want to be either sending out a mail with a virus in it or having most of your mails binned before it reaches the recipient. So I took the trouble to investigate the mail without jeopardising my own security and sent all the details to the sender (a genuine company with a good product to sell). There were some other issues with the email that would potentially stop it working for them and offered some sound advice to overcome them.

And the result? Nothing, zilch, zero. Not even a 'Sorry we're out' message.

The third example I'm not going to go into detail as it involves me helping a member of my extended family who I helped with a business opportunity. Don't really see or speak that often, but I was happy to help and use my contacts to make things happen.

And the result? Nothing, zilch, zero. Not even a 'Thanks for helping' message.

It doesn't take much to maintain contact and you never know what it might lead to.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Self Assement Tax a nightmare?

That's certainly how it seems to me!

I've had my forms drop through the door recently and already they're at the bottom of the pile in the hope that they will go away.

Simon Clarke of HWCA , a really business focused accountant, has passed me a useful Tax Guide which takes the mystery out of those Self Assessment Tax Return forms. You can download it here:

If the very thought of even opening the envelope fills you with dread, or you always have good intentions but inevitably leave it longer than you should, perhaps you could benefit from a free initial consultation with him as he is a proactive, forward thinking business advisor / qualified accountant.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How did you choose your business name?

Choosing a business name always seems an exciting time and loads of ideas run around your head before you finally settle on 'The One'. But there's a few things that you should consider before those ideas run wild.

1. If the business is not going to be a global player, and potentially a household name, then including something that indicates something about what you do can help potential customers decide if they should be calling you or not.

Clever is ok, but if it leaves them mystified, it hasn't really helped the cause. Would Aviva, Corus or Square Giraffe say anything about your business?

If your business is really local I would even consider making it blatantly obvious what you do - Suffolk Management Training or Norfolk Plumbing Repairs.

2. Next on the list is to find out if your chosen name already exists. A search on Companies House and Trade Mark listings will show up whether your new business 'McDonalds Take Away' might get you into deep water with their legal department or simply get you confused with others of a similar name.

3. Finally you need to consider the Internet.

You really do need to have a domain name that matches your business name. Without that people will struggle to find you. If you have got this far and the domain name isn't available then I would go back to step one and start again.

If you are a UK based business then you absolutely need to have the version of your business name but I would also buy the .com .net .tv .info and .biz versions too. Just think of the consequences of a competitor setting up in the same business, taking one of those domain suffixes, marketing it like mad and taking half your business. Just allow enough in your budget to buy all of them to be sure.

If we take one of the business name examples above I would also buy the hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions - suffolkmanagementtraining as well as suffolk-management-training. The second version is easier for people to see, understand and remember when it's on your physical advertising.

Hyphens can help too if the words could be mis-read when put together. There are some famous 'howlers' in this department which must have horrified their owners once they realised:-

therapistfinder - 'therapist finder' or could be 'the rapist finder'
expertsexchange - 'experts exchange' or 'expert sex change'
whorepresents - 'who represents' or 'whore presents'
penisland - which is actually 'pen island' apparently

Advertising the hyphenated version of each of those domain names would have saved a great deal of embarrassment!

If you are choosing your business name, then choose it wisely.

Needs some help getting your business up and running? Just call me. Sales & Marketing Strategy with AlloyCRM

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is selling tough for you?

Is selling tough for you at the moment? I guess for most of us it is, especially in the current economic climate.

Being a good (great) salesperson helps and will at least keep some sales flowing in, even during hard times. But just being great isn't enough anymore really. Life, the world and your prospects have moved on and the word 'gullible' has definitely been removed from their dictionary!

I have always believed that, to be a great sales person, you have to know the basics first. It's just like any new skill you learn there are some primary text books to cover and understand before you move on to more advanced stuff.

Richard Denny's Selling to Win is one of those text books. Every new sales person should at least read and understand it's contents, but it's also good to read as an occasional refresher for us all. But sales life has moved on dramatically and we need to view the process in a new light.

I came across Sean McPheat, a sales training guru, recently and downloaded his excellent eBook The Sales Persons Crisis . It just requires your email address to access and there is no charge. It's a really worthwhile read and should help you understand and cope with the changes in sales techniques required to compete today.

More sales resources are available on my Alloy CRM website here:

Monday, April 26, 2010

A sales meeting got me thinking

A meeting today with a small group of new sales guys for the cross platform (Mac/Apple & PC) contact management software I'm overseeing got me thinking.

I went through with them the product and it's competitors looking at a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) for each. Looked at the potential triggers for purchase and potential problems it would solve, followed up by some marketing activity ideas to get them started.

But even after all that the question was - 'Where do I start? What businesses should I target?'

Yes it's too easy to get carried away and perceive that the whole world is a potential customer and you just end up spinning around not knowing who to talk to first. Been there, done that.

When you are starting out selling something new there is always a little trepidation - Will it sell? Can I sell it?

Making a few quick wins (sales) will boost confidence and give a chance to learn what makes the basis of a good sales presentation for this product.

So looking for the quick wins is probably the first step. You've probably done an exercise to identify your ideal customers and maybe broken them down by size/sector or similar. Within that is there an identifiable group who are in a position to make a quick decision and get the purchase under way?

We identified for our Contact Management product that we could be selling to sole traders who have a decent client/prospect base such as business coaches or trainers - these people want to maximise the return from their clients through repeat sales - and businesses with a sales team where the sales manager needs visibility of the sales process and manage his team effectively.

The sales manager sale will probably be larger but will take time as the proposal will have to go to the board of directors and there is a possibility that other competitive products will be evaluated before the sale is completed.

The sole trader sale on the other hand is a one-person decision process and they will arrive at that decision fairly quickly. It may not make the same profit as the larger deal but it gets one under the belt and builds that all important confidence and that was my advice to the guys today - get out there and network with those sole traders and learn!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't hide your success - shout about it!

We had a stroll around the beautiful grounds of Blickling Hall in Norfolk today. A really picturesque setting with a National Trust managed stately hall as it's setting - well worth a visit.

Next to the car park is a shop called Samphire that sells excellent local food including their renowned local sausages.

You can't miss that their sausages are good (and I can tell you that they are good!) because everywhere you look it says that Gary Rhodes says they are the best he's ever tasted! In fact it's quite difficult to walk out of the shop without buying some the message is so strong.

We British are pretty poor at being proud of what we do well. Make sure that, if someone tells you how good you are, you let everyone know - on your website, in your advertising, on your van, in a press release to the media.

Don't hide your success - shout about it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's special about your home page?

On a recent web marketing course I was running, one of the delegates said ".. so my home page is a bit like the reception area of my bricks & mortar business?"

Well yes, he's probably right.

Those visitors who arrive on your website after seeing your domain name in your adverts, on your business card or on your van, will most certainly land on your home page. You then have just a few seconds to create the right impression - exactly as you would when someone walked into your main reception.

Things get complicated from then on.... Not everyone will land on your home page.

Some will go straight to one of your sub pages that have been suggested by Google, or one of the other search engines, as relevant to their search phrase. They don't know (or care for that matter) that the page they've been sent to isn't your pristine, smart reception home page.

But they will certainly treat it as such! That means you have some hard work to do!

Every page on your site needs to stand up as a viable and professional reception page otherwise you'll fall at the first hurdle and they will look elsewhere.

Get looking at your web pages in isolation and see how they stack up.

Who's your ideal customer?

How often do you really sit down and think about who your ideal customer would be?

I did this excercise with a client recently. I started off by narrowing down the size of business, then the sector and finally came up with some suggested target customers.

But what really developed from this was the ability to write some compelling material for their website that would focus on the problems and issues that business (and ones like them) probably have.

Writing grabbing headlines and sub text that tunes into the day-to-day business problems they confront and then showing how you can solve them is a great way to get your prospective client excited about you and your services.

I often use the process outlined by Andy Bounds in his book, The Jelly Effect, to really get to the route of why customers might buy from you. Getting away from what you think they want to buy and understanding what they want to buy can make a big difference to the results of your marketing efforts.

Try it yourself and see what you come up with, then try the wording on your website. Measure the results in terms of conversion rates over a few days and draw your own conclusions.

If you need help - just ask!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What are your buyers buying?

I spent some time last week with a small start up that manufactures very small run art decor occasional furniture.

They wanted me to help them setup and layout their web site based on Actinic, the popular off the shelf web shop application.

The key concept I had to get across was that their customers are not buying 'a nest of tables'.

They are buying something that makes them feel good. An attractive place to put down their wine glass at the end of a long day and relax - a table that you pull out when you have friends round and they are so taken with it they want to know where you found it.

It's the good feelings you have inside that your buyers want when they are looking for this sort of purchase.

Is that the sort of product you sell? Think about how they might feel when they have bought it and make that the centre of your sales message and it's supporting images.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cheap as Chips or Reassuringly Expensive?

Deciding your price can be difficult, especially when you are just starting out or creating new products or services.

It's very tempting to finding out your competitors pricing and just undercut it.

But is that the best policy? Consider these points before you do that.


10-15 years ago their slogan was a very clear 'Stack 'm High and Sell 'm Cheap'. It's taken all those years to modify our perception of them to be targeting the better quality supermarket retailers. It couldn't have been done over night.

They changed their out-of-town outlets to look upmarket and introduced quality brands. They made them better places to be and added 'service' to their offer to change our perceptions.

If we position ourselves as 'cheap' have we got the time, or resources, to take ourselves up in value so that we are working on better margins and become more profitable?

Price Perception

Something that has no charge is often perceived as having no value. The Business Link Workshops I have been delivering have a poor attendance from those who have booked. Is that because they are free, they have no perceived value?

Similarly, if we charge bottom prices does that brand our offer in the same way?


Creating your offer as different from the competition - finding a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - means you can charge a more realistic price as you are offering something different to your competition, taking price comparison, as a means of customer choice, to a lower priority.

Being different can make a massive difference.

Avoid Selling on Price

Find ways of selling on the benefits of your product or service. Tap into the desires, wants an needs of your potential customers and sell them Solutions rather than features. Everything in you marketing and advertising should represent how they will Feel after they have purchased rather than what it is they are buying.


Some businesses will find this more difficult than others as there are sectors that are really price sensitive such as home electronics. However, if it were all about price only, who would ever buy a B&O sound system instead of a Sanyo or a BMW 5 series rather than a Ford Mondeo?

Need help with your sales and marketing strategy? Call me and just ask.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Compete on Price

If you are going to sell the same product or service as everyone else, sold in the same way and in the the same street too, then there is only one thing that differentiates you from your competitors - Price!

I don't know about you but I don't just want to be competing on price. That's reduced margins and a constant price war between you and your competitors to be the cheapest.

So how do you get away from price?

1. Don't sell the same product or service in the same way as everyone else.

Don't sell the 'same'! Find a way to re-package or add value to make your offer different. Seek out you customers and work out what they are really looking for when they buy from you. Tap into their desires and needs. Sell not just a product or service but an outcome.

Look for things that go with your product and bundle them in with a different price tag. Make yourself an advice and expert centre.

Do anything that steps you above your competitors and makes the price just one part of the buying decision rather than the only buying decision.

2. Don't sell in the same place.

Look for somewhere 'different' to sell. Size up your competitors and where their main selling and advertising focus sits.

Working out your customers real requirements will help you understand the problems they have and solutions they need which drive them to look for your products and services. Look for times and places that these may appear.

Work out what they may be asking or looking for - it may be different to how you would traditionally have thought. Then find ways of 'being there' at the right time.

This is all about finding your own Unique Selling Proposition or USP.

Without it you'll be selling on price and ever-reducing margins.

Need help getting your business moving? I'll see if I can help with your Sales and Marketing Strategy or your Website Profit