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  • #968570
    paulc8712
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    • Total posts: 17
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    Hi All.

    I’d like to hear any advice and experiences people have had in targetting other small businesses, sole traders and tradesmen in their marketing / advertising.

    Our market (website development & management) is quite competitive, however I beleive we provide a great value for money offering for our target customers. We sit in between the DIY/self serve websites, and full custom built websites. We are pitching our services to small businesses that don’t necessarily have the time or skills for a DIY website, nor the requirement (or budget) for a custom built website.

    Our conversion rate from leads is quite good, and our customer loyalty is great. The difficulty we are having is finding an effective means to generate leads. Like a lot of businesses – our budget is limited. Especially when we don’t know what kind of yield we can expect.

    We have tried:

    Mail out flyer to target businesses.
    This was time consuming, and costly (approx $1 / mailout). We sent out approx 300 flyers – with no calls resulting.

    Online advertising
    There is a massive amount of competition for selling website development. It is very hard to get the message out there. We have had some results, but the leads/$ yield was low.

    Local newspaper
    This was not as expesive as i’d though, but after running a full colour ad for 2 weeks, we received no calls. It was disaapointing to say the least.

    Cold Calling
    This has been very effective. However, we hate doing it. We ensure we only call businesses (no issues with the do not call register), and never call after 4pm. We looked into some 3rd party cold calling companies however the packages were way beyond out modest budget.

    Referrals
    This has been by far our most effective way of getting new leads. I am not sure how sustainable this is – and will not scale up to generate more growth.

    So – at this stage we are going with cold calling to supliment the volume of referrals we get. I’d be interested to hear what other experience people have had in marketing to other small businesses. What has worked, and what hasn’t.

    #1033933
    ThinkSimple
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    • Total posts: 41
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    Hi Paul,

    My company, ThinkSimple, is currently investigating the viability of starting an outbound call centre operation. We have developed, and are about to lauch, an outbound call centre application called SimpleOutbound http://www.simpleoutbound.com.au with a view to sell it into small to medium sized companies who use excel, or worse, to manage there outbound calling campaigns.

    You mentioned other 3rd party cold calling companies and their packages being beyond your budget. If you don’t mind me asking, what sort of money were they talking??

    I know from experience that set up costs can be a huge part of this process. Our model has $0 set up costs and you only pay per activity (that is call or call attempt) with 100% transperancy.

    Cheers

    #1033934
    paulc8712
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    • Total posts: 17
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    Hi Tony.

    We indeed manage our cold calling campaigns using Excel. :-)

    With the operators we contacted, there wasn’t necessarily a setup cost. It was more that the minimum number of calls / hours was quite high .. and was probably suited to a larger organisation.

    Without naming names, one company was looking for ~$10,000 to target a minimum of 330 companies – with 110 hours of calling over a 2 month period. Another would target 1000 companies for $2640. A big variation. The cost/call isn’t that bad – it’s just the number of calls is higher than we want at this stage.

    Our experience with calling was that we get a lead from about 1 in 5 calls. We do some basic research to come up with a list of target companies we call. At this stage of our development, we would like to be getting just 5 new leads / week .. so looking at around 25 calls / week. We’d also like to be able to adjust the call rate on a week to week basis depending on our workload.

    #1033935
    Anonymous
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    Hi Paul,

    What about contacting the Assoc eg Plumbers Assoc and see when they have a Trade Night or Expo and go along and have a booth at there show.

    Or send out invitations to come along either to your premises or to a function centre to showcase your websites and offer them a free gift or food etc…

    #1033936
    mtpocket
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    • Total posts: 49
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    HI Paul!

    Mail out – goes to rubbish
    Online adv. – never click
    Local Paper – the wife check it time to time. Myself only checking on competition.
    Calling me – I blow you off in a minute ,because I am working or if any interest ask for a later time usually after 6.
    Referral – nothing better than that!

    This is what I read and check:
    When I wait for the morning coffee at the coffee shop I check what ever is around or on the counter for a quick reading.
    Waiting for lunch is the same.
    When I am waiting to be served or when buy material I check for any reading material to kill time.
    I think if you go by bunnings, mitre10 and hand out some plain flyers will get the attention better. -not on the weekends
    Some plumbers like myself not belong to any organisation, but we all shop at the same place for material. Trade breakfast and Friday bbqs are common to attract attention by different companies.

    #1033937
    ickle Kids
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    • Total posts: 55
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    Might be worth while to tap into businesses that share the same target market:

    e.g What about trying Book keepers/Accountants who service tradies/SMEs? You can always try a referral % kickback to them for the referral.

    e.g. leverage off a paving/tiling/timber merchants newsletter list. Offer them a free gift / offer etc to pass onto their database from you. Good introduction.

    e.g. forums for tradies, sme’s etc

    anyway, hope that helps!

    #1033938
    Felicity_Sapphire
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    • Total posts: 45
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    Great topic Paul.

    I have been trying to target the same type of businesses and have just done a mail out – shame you didn’t post this a couple of weeks ago!!

    I’ll certainly be checking out the suggestions that others have made.

    Felicity

    #1033939
    Alan Maddick
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    • Total posts: 410
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    I spend a lot on web development and I think sharing information, even at a very basic level is very important in your industry. You all seem to make web development and seo seem so mysterious etc. I would look at running seminars freely explaining the importance of being on the web, the basics of seo etc. As previously mentioned see what existing events you get on board with.

    We target tradies and have found direct mail quite effective (1-2% hit rate) and this year we are advertising in trade journals etc. Hopefully it will pay off!

    #1033940
    Jay-T
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    • Total posts: 119
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    Hi Paul,

    I’d say that every one of the ideas you’ve tried actually do work but what has probably happened is that you’ve missed the strategy/systems component.

    Ideas are for the most part useless – which why you can moonwalk down to the book shop and buy a book on “101 ways to market your business” for only $20.

    Why?

    Ideas are cheap – they rarely ever work like you expect them to.
    Systems on the other hand can be very expensive to buy (franchises, proven marketing campaigns etc)

    Systems and a solid strategy are what makes ideas work for example:

    The secret to direct mail isn’t necessarily the copy but the sequence.

    I’ve seen lots of direct mail studies that show you get your biggest responses percentages happen on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th mailings – and the worst happen on the 1st which means you’re chopping the legs of the campaign before you’ve started.

    So if you’re just trying the “idea” without the strategy you’ve missed an important element.

    every idea you’ve mentioned has a hidden element that drives their success but no one hardly ever talks about.

    #1033941
    paulc8712
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    • Total posts: 17
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    Thanks all for the feedback.

    I have looked into advertising in some trade magazines (HIA is one that springs to mind), but the costs were a bit high for us at the moment.

    We had thought of approaching complementary businesses – but the reality is that *I* wouldn’t refer someone to a business I hadn’t dealt with personally and could recommend them, so I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do the same. Obviously there are a small number of businesses we do deal with – but how many people are going to ask there book keeper if they know someone who does websites (or visa versa).

    mtpocket – your responses certainly resonate with what we have observed. Our cold callign success has been to gauge a level of interest, then arrange a time to call to discuss details. I like the idea of coffee shops and trade supply places – and will look into that further.

    And willa – I do take on board what you are saying. Our marketing is definately built on “ideas” – not proven systems. Like most small business owners – our core knowledge is in the products/services we offer. Marketing is a black art – and we basically hope to come up with something that works. I’m sure of our budget was bigger, we could get in a marketing consultant who could come up with a proven system. Unfortuantely, our budget is limited. That’s why we are looking to other small businesses to hear of what works for them.

    #1033942
    Bullet Web Studio
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    • Total posts: 22
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    Hey Paul,

    This might sound obvious – but have you tried knocking on a few doors in your local industrial area? A client of ours in a similar industry has had some success doing that.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    #1033943
    yourvirtualboard
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    • Total posts: 569
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    What mtpocket has answered for you is gold – this is your target market and their opinion. It may also pay to survey others to find out where they get their information from. At least then you will have a more targeted approach rather than an ad hoc one.

    I guess it’s obvious that if cold calling is working then even though it’s not your preference it needs to be done, at least until you find something that produces better results. There are telemarketing companies out there that do provide reasonable rates without massive commitment up front. It may also be worth looking at someone casual or virtual to do this for you as well.

    #1033944
    danmac30
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    • Total posts: 25
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    Hi,

    I think you have a good offering although it is too broad and not explained in real customer terms. I think the problem for you lies firstly in having a plan and thinking like your customer.

    It is good that you have narrowed your target customer to small business/ tradesman, but this is still too broad if you have a small budget.When I go to your site you are not talking their language, about their problems or giving them a taste of your expertise. Customer success stories, some tips, a taste. With a service it is all about building expertise and a relationship.

    I think you need to be more strategic about what you do to and have a plan. Here are some quick suggestions. Map out these things:
    Who is your specific ideal client? Where can you find them?
    What is the biggest frustration they face?
    What specific results do you deliver? What is the most important aspect of your offering to them?
    How do you do it differently than everyone else?
    What specific reason is there to engage you and your business?

    If you “give to get,” then you might get more leads organically. Build a plan and it will start to make more sense where to invest your precious marketing dollars.

    #1033945
    paulc8712
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    • Total posts: 17
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    We have thought of door knocking .. but have not tried that yet.

    danmac30 – what you have said makes a lot of sense. It always sobering to read a critical assessment of your website. We will review how we explain our offering on the website. I notice that you practice what you preach with your own website.

    We do have a quite good conversion rate for leads – so i think once we get a foot in the door so to speak, and can explain our offering we do well. Also our customer retention is excellent – so our customers do like the service we provide.

    What exactly do you mean by “give to get”?

    #1033946
    danmac30
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    • Total posts: 25
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    “Give to get” is give concept of giving the target market something useful, a reason to begin a relationship with you. An idea could be some web design tips? It could be developing a quoting tool that tradespeople could have as part of their website. It could be many things but something that the particular audience will find useful. I for example have some free resources and some resources that require a email and name. I do this to start the conversation. You are much more likely to get someone to be a prospect if they have had some experience with you. It also shows you are the expert they were looking for and establishes trust.

    For more information google Chris Anderson and look at his book. Free the future of a radical price. (you can down load it for free I think).

    Cold calling is starting one level below this. Use your creativity. Think of things that could educate, entertain, be useful tools. If it is unique it might just give you an edge to create some “buzz” and rather than using a “push marketing” strategy, you can use a “pull” one. Are you wanting to be remarkable? Start now with how your position your website offering. Don’t be “me too”, most people with yawn.

    The other thing I forgot to mention is you need a complete marketing strategy. Ad-hock marketing activities are bound to fail. When you really understand your customers and their needs and buying cycle your marketing activities can then be successful in moving your prospects through the sales funnel to being customers. They understand that are the perfect fit for your services and they in-turn will become “screaming raving fans”.

    Need any more help, happy to chat.
    Cheers,

    Danielle MacInnis.

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