This month, we’re talking to Helena Murphy, an investment and growth expert with 11 years’ experience in the business. Having successfully raised nine rounds of investment for both herself and other entrepreneurs, Helena consults for some of the biggest corporations, banks and big four accountancy firms on how to run their start-up accelerators. With her website The Guide to Growth, Helena works directly with entrepreneurs on how best to grow a sustainable business and raise investment.
Here, Helena shows us how to sharpen up and streamline your business’ growth marketing strategy, touching on return on investment, customer engagement and lead generation in the process.
Scale and cost are major priorities for SMEs taking their first steps towards developing a marketing strategy for growth. What can small businesses do to refine their marketing requirements to ensure good ROI?
Firstly, you should define your marketing goals and exactly what your definition of a good ROI is. Is it your marketing’s goal to convert to a sale straight away or to capture an email address? How much is that conversion worth to you?
The key to ensuring a good ROI, whatever your marketing channel, is to understand where your customers are. You can plough thousands of pounds into Facebook advertising, but if your customer isn’t on Facebook your message will fall on deaf ears.
Once you’ve figured that out, then delivering as much completely free value as possible is the key to long-term success. How can you get your customers to like, know and trust you?
Get to know your customers and understand how you can add value to their lives. What challenges do they face that you can help them with? How can you make them happy?
What do you think is the key to success for SMEs implementing an effective marketing strategy?
The success of your marketing strategy is entirely dependent on how customer-centric and data-driven it is. It can be tempting to create a marketing strategy based on what you think might work for your business or jump on the latest marketing trend.
However, an effective marketing strategy is one that is informed by data. Measuring and analysing key metrics such as customer acquisition channels and customer lifetime value will ultimately mean your strategy will be more profitable.
Which marketing channels do you think SMEs should be investing in, both now and in the future? And do you have any marketing predictions for the next 12 months which could benefit small businesses?
For the next 12 months onwards, I think investing in a video content strategy and live streaming is the way to go.
Customers like to engage and connect with the people behind the brand. Live streaming and video opens the doors of your business like never before. It allows you to demonstrate your experience and expertise in your field, enabling you to build value and trust around your product/service offering.
At The Guide To Growth, and for many of our clients, video and live-streaming have had the highest conversion rate of any of our marketing efforts.
What advice would you give to SMEs for measuring the effectiveness of their growth marketing strategy?
Having a system to ensure that you consistently track and analyse your key metrics such as community growth, site visitors and conversions using Google Analytics is vital. Systemising this process can be overlooked and often means it doesn’t get done. We advise entrepreneurs to set a meeting with themselves or their team once a week to review their core metrics and implement learnings.
What questions do you think SMEs should ask themselves before deciding on their marketing strategy?
There are three key questions you should ask yourself before you create your marketing strategy:
Once you have the answers to these questions, there are some key questions you should also ask about your customers:
The trick then, is to ask them and prove your assumptions are true.
To what extent should small businesses focus on lead generation and the cultivation of new customers when planning out their growth strategy? Or, is taking care of existing customers ultimately more important?
Lead generation and customer retention are equally important when creating a growth strategy. If you focus too much of your time on lead generation and you forget to nurture your existing customers, you’ll find you’re always having to pump cash into the marketing funnel for quick wins that deliver a one-off return. This ultimately leads to high customer acquisition costs and low customer lifetime value which is neither profitable nor sustainable.
Of course, not everyone will be able to buy from you again and remain a customer for life, however, you should look after and nurture your existing customers with the goal to turn them into brand ambassadors. After this, they’ll do lead generation for you through the recommendation and referral of friends, family and colleagues.
Having an effective customer journey is becoming more important to business growth. What practical steps can SMEs take to ensure their customer journey leads to conversions?
There are five steps to creating an effective customer journey. It starts from the moment someone learns about your business and is a continuous loop that encourages repeat purchase and referral.
Attraction/Growth Marketing - These are the tactics you use to help people find out about you. They bring awareness of you and your brand to new people. Forms of this are guest blogging, being featured on podcasts, in press, working with an influencer, online advertising, speaking opportunities and collaborations.
Engagement - At every opportunity, you have to provide a way for your customers to engage with you, whether that is signing up for your email or interacting with your social media accounts.
Nurture - This is where the majority of the value is built around your brand. This stage is all about educating your audience about what you do and building value around it.
Inviting people to buy - Some brands are so focused on marketing and nurturing their audience, that they forget to actually ask for the business and sell. On the flipside, some other brands focus solely on selling their product/service and its features resulting in low conversions, as no value has been built around the product/service. Therefore, once people are at this stage in the customer journey/sales funnel, I use this little rule – Value, Nurture, Value, Sell. You can apply this rule to your social media channels, to your email funnels and to all your nurture marketing.
Surprising your customers - This step is about what you can do to surprise and delight your customers once you have them through the door. How can you get people to refer people to you and encourage them to buy again?
As a self-confessed fan of an actionable business strategy, can you offer any practical tips which SMEs can use to kick-start a growth-focused marketing strategy?
Firstly, understand what your definition of growth is and what your sales targets are. How will you measure your success? What does your business look like 30 days from now? 90 days from now? One year from now?
Secondly, map out a month-by-month plan of sales targets and plot your marketing strategies around that.
Finally, we’ve created some great free resources for you to use at The Guide To Growth to help you create a growth strategy for your business. You can download our free growth plan template here and what-to-do-when marketing checklist here.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to read the rest of the Q&As in our Business Basics series. You can find a selection of recent articles using the following links:
For more of the latest news, articles and features from Gazprom Energy, visit our blog and newsfeed. Alternatively, visit the homepage to find out more about our business energy solutions, or call us on 0845 230 0011.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.
Expert business bloggers share 50 tips for SMEs – Part 1: sales, marketing and finance
Expert business bloggers share 50 tips for SMEs – Part 2: people management and recruitment
Expert business bloggers share 50 tips for SMEs – Part 3: business growth, leadership and networking