Review of Accelerate, ‘the magazine for ambitious business owners’ produced by NABO.
I picked up this magazine at a NABO Networking launch meeting last week. Their meetings have an interesting format: low entry point, no ‘lock-outs’, one2ones within the meeting, education slots etc. I approve! At a time when many traditional networking groups seem increasingly ‘tired’ (even those that now include peer-to-peer development), it will be interesting to see how NABO’s approach works out.
The whole publication is well-written and designed (although my copy has already fallen apart, possibly through over-use). Anyway, I picked out the key learning points that seem particularly useful:
Article about the growth of Stefan Boyle’s print company, Print Republic
“We were making the mistakes that other companies were making: we were talking about ourselves. We didn’t talk from a customer’s or prospect’s perspective.”
Article about training consultant, Frances Tolton
Jonathan Jay advised her to find out what customers actually want. She asked them: “If you had money to spend on training, what type of training would you spend it on?” She also went to her current clients and asked the simple question: “What else can we do for you?” He also advises: “Find the type of marketing you are best at and invest first in that.”
Article about Doug Richards (ex-Dragon’s Den)
“Go out into the world and see what is out there and what people want.”
“Ask for advice. Ask for help.”
“Get the initial pricing right…Listen to the customer and be confident about your product.”
Article about franchise owner, Freddie Rayner
“Dormant customers represent the best group of potential sales.”
List of 27 Steps to Success
“Answer your prospective buyers’ unspoken questions: “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s so special about your product/service?”
Interview with Jonathan Jay about getting more customers
“Some people actually want to keep their business small…they can operate from home without any other staff, are quite happy earning little more than a salary, even if they have to work longer hours than they would do for someone else, because they have autonomy.”
“One reason small businesses stay small is that business owners try to do it all themselves. They answer the phone, open the post, fix the IT issues and build the website.”
“Circumvent the reasons, dispel the excuses and go about getting your product or service into more people’s hands.”
“The cornerstone of growing a business is finding more customers.”
“When you delegate, outsource and automate, you free up time and energy. You stop doing all the jobs you hate and aren’t good at. You focus on the number-one priority of the business owner – the strategy of taking today’s business into tomorrow. And you do that by improving your sales and marketing.”
“Your most important role as CEO [is] the growth of the business. So get out of the business for two days and stay in a hotel, without your phone and without email access. Get a good night’s sleep then start thinking; “What could this business look like if I couldn’t fail?”
“Nothing is impossible because someone has already done it before you.”
“Get a mentor…spend time with like-minded people…Get a sales and marketing education.”
Article about Daniel Priestley of Triumphant Events
“In hard times, jettison anything that isn’t core business.”
“Give talks, write blogs, articles or even a book about your expertise…develop a new product or training programme that spreads core value, develop a social media presence and embrace joint ventures.”
Interview with Fiona Challis, NABO’s sales expert
“What business owners are actually selling is benefits…value add.”
Ask “What are your customers buying?”
“There’s a pain that you’re going to ease or remove, or there is a real business benefit for them…In this climate, people will do more to avoid pain…a gain is seen as a luxury.”
“Some people don’t have a plan. They don’t even know what their goals are.”
“Follow-up is a key component of sales success.”
Interview with Wendy & Rob Shand of Tots To Travel
“Really listen to what your customers tell you and then respond.”
Article about winning more customers
Make sure your home page:
- Clearly communicates what your company does and the audiences you serve
- Uses a conversational tone
- Offers useful, educational content as well as product or service information
- Is optimised for top ranking in search engines
- Is updated regularly and includes a compelling call to action
Put your telephone number and address on every page
Customer success stories are always effective…describe the problem that the customer is solving with your solution
Thank [customers] for their recommendations
Prospects want information, solutions, help advice, samples, ideas, designs, savings, quality, service, support, assurances or guarantees.
“Only give your time to ‘qualified prospects’…You need a qualification process – preferably automated.”
“Outsource, delegate or automate any activity that is not income-producing, that you don’t enjoy, you aren’t good at and you do repetitively…Business owners should be guiding the growth of the business and focusing on improving the marketing and sales strategy.”
“Find companies that already have the customers you want…and get access via a joint venture partnership.”
Ask “What are the things that customers hate about your industry? Solve those and you have a point of differentiation.”
Interview with Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing
In answer to the question: What can a business owner do in the next month to improve their marketing? He suggests you write seven short sentences:
- What is the purpose of your marketing, what do you want people to do
- Stress your competitive advantage
- Define your target audience
- Detail the marketing weapons you’ll use
- Describe your niche
- Focus on your identity
- Note your marketing budget in relation to projected gross sales
Commit to that plan.
I couldn’t help noticing how much of the advice is customer-focused. In line with the tips I give in my newsletter, articles and blogs, you can’t metaphorically spread your wares on a table and shout ‘buy my stuff’! You have to supply products or services in accordance with demand.
I also note throughout the magazine that Jonathan puts a lot of emphasis on the power of writing a book. (Phew, I’ve done that!) NABO members are encouraged to write a book about their specialist area and use it to generate leads and position themselves as experts in their market.
“Book-writing is a ‘big part of everyone’s personal development [because] it gives you an edge of credibility.”
He suggests creating a pamphlet version of the book and sending it to prospective clients for free.
To promote the book, use:
- Press releases to targeted industry publications
- Ezine Articles
- Twitter messages
- Pay-per-click adverts
- Email blasts
The objective of this activity is to drive people to a standalone web page where people provide their postal address in order to receive a free copy (these prospects are your sales leads).
Wendy & Rob Shand again
“We realised how pivotal writing a book was to the peak positioning of the business…Writing a book is the best way to establish credibility in your chosen market. As a marketing strategy, offering prospective clients a free, or low-priced book brings you an ongoing flow of clients.”
“A book is a huge positioning tool; it’s a credibility tool that sets you up as the only expert in your field. And there’s a big PR element to it too.”
In summary, there are three strands in the magazine. One is to put your customer first. Ask what they want and then provide it. The next is to outsource, delegate and automate anything you can, so you you can focus on sales and marketing. The other is to present yourself as an expert via a book that you use as a sales generation tool.
Seems like a good plan to me, Batman!