How Can You Use Authentic Marketing To Grow Your Business?
So far, 2014 has been a really good year for Appletree. In fact, in terms of profitability, it has been the best year in all the 14 years that the business has been running. Our turnover has not been as high as in previous years, but our profit margin has been up and my stress levels have been down. There have been times when I have turned away potential clients, because I've been too busy looking after my existing ones.
Why is this? Why has this year been so great and what secrets can I share with you? I sat and pondered these questions while on holiday in Crete at the end of October, so this issue of Scribbles is the result of that pondering.
I hope that you find some inspiration from my thoughts.
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What is Authentic Marketing?
I think there are four lessons I want to share with you.
What are you really good at?
It all started towards the end of 2013, when I realised that I had too many people in my business. For some time I had been trying to grow Appletree, by taking on more
clients and more projects; and therefore by taking on more staff to do the work. However, I noticed that I was allowing the business to drift away from what we're really good it – providing marketing content for clients and getting their marketing done for them. And eventually I accepted that I'm not very good at managing staff! So unfortunately for a couple of lovely people, 2014 was the year that heads rolled and Appletree went back to being just me again. And I love writing marketing content, so that's what I've been focusing on.
When you’re completely clear on what you do, networking is much easier and it makes it simple for people to recommend you.
What do your clients expect from you?
In February this year, I found myself unable to go networking or go chasing after new clients (all thanks to an unfortunate event on a ski slope.) I love selling and I love the buzz of taking on a new client. However, sitting in my office for a whole month, I realised that I really needed to focus on looking after my existing clients. They expect us to get their marketing done for them and they will often phone to ask for something to be carried out, only for us to tell them we've already done it. They rely on us for new ideas, marketing inspiration and expertise.
There are only so many hours in the day, so if you're not careful, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. Or you can concentrate on looking after the lovely clients you have – which will actually save you a fortune in networking fees and petrol!
What can you give?
One day in the autumn, a nice lady approached me at networking event. "We've met at a few of these meetings," she reminded me. "And while we've never really talked about what you do, you've been really helpful and I've decided that I'd like you to do my marketing for me."
How's that for an easy sale?! My approach to marketing Appletree has always been with the spirit of generosity. If you have a question about marketing, ask it and I will do my best to answer it for you. No fee. No ties. If I don’t know the answer, I'll find out, or I'll point you towards someone who can help you. (Seriously, if you have a question, click here to email it to me!)
When one of my clients calls to ask if I can make a quick change to their website, or look over an article they've drafted, the answer is always "Yes, of course." It is never "Yes and I'll charge you for my time." And it never will be.
The time you put into networking, the talks and presentations you give, the newsletters, blogs and tweets you write should all be about sharing what you know. The resulting flow of new clients will speak for itself.
What are you REALLY good at?
I know that business can be tough. Mine has certainly had its up and downs in the last 14 years. I've tried a few different ways to energise the business and to make money, but these alternatives have always been in line with what I know – marketing. I would never consider going off at a major tangent or setting up a side line just in the hope of making a fast buck. Why not? Because I believe this confuses your market. If times are tough, you have to adapt and flex and change and look for ways in which you can still provide your clients with a service that you understand.
Build on your expertise and become more of an expert than your competitor who wanders off in search of an easy win.
So why is this issue of Scribbles called Authentic Marketing? Because the four lessons above are based on the four core values of Appletree. When you're true to your values, marketing actually becomes really easy. When you focus on being authentic, clients will come to you.
What are your core values and how can you use them for authentic marketing?
Buy One Give One
In the spirit of generosity I have decided to make my second book, One in Ten, more accessible. It is perfect for anyone who is thinking about starting a business, or who has recently started a business, as it will give them the inspiration they need to keep going. If you've been running a business for a while and you're wondering how to keep going, it will help you too.
For every copy that I sell between now and the end of 2014, I will give away a copy. You can either receive two copies for the one you buy, so that you can give one copy away as a gift; or I will give away a copy in your name, to someone who needs it.
Click here to buy your two copies for just £12.99 + postage.