Written by Kaia Vincent
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Typically, when I talk to potential customers, the place they want to start with their marketing is a campaign. It seems to make perfect sense, doesn’t it? You want to sell more or increase brand awareness – and a campaign appears to be the best way to get fast return on your marketing investment…
Time to check your baggage
You see, building your business has been a journey. Along the way, you’ve picked up good habits and bad habits, positive thought patterns and negative thinking. That means you’ve got a whole lot of baggage – some is helping you to be successful but other elements could be holding you back.
Before you begin any marketing activity, you need to see what attitudes and behaviours you’re carrying around and how they’re working for your business – or against it.
“Next year, we’ll be millionaires.”
If you’re approaching retirement age, many of you will have lived your salad days and early careers through the 1970s and 80s. These were prolific years for new business opportunity. It was no longer just the middle and upper classes that had the chance to a start business. We saw the rise of the working class – developing successful companies and moving themselves up the social ladder.
Remember the Hooray Henrys, power dressing, and hot-shot Tycoons from shows like Dallas and Dynasty dominating our TV screens. Then there were the lovable rogues and wheeler-dealers like Arthur Daly and Del Boy.
Being bold, brash and exaggerating the truth about what your product or service could achieve were a lot more common place because of the times we lived in. And customers believed it.
No internet meant no email or websites, so communication was more personal – probably felt like more fun. Business deals were often won in social environments, such as down at the pub, over a boozy lunch, at the golf course, or in shooting and sailing clubs, or other closed membership associations.
We hadn’t heard of mental health in the workplace. Wellbeing, anger management and keeping fit weren’t mainstream concepts . The ‘stiff upper lip’ life philosophy still dominated British culture.
If your business came of age through more ‘matter of fact’ times, it could mean it’s carrying some baggage that will weigh down progress on the road to becoming exit-ready (ready to sell).
What customers expect in 2022
Let’s step into 2022, where our world of communication has dramatically changed – and not just because if the pandemic. Here’s how:
Customers want proof that your product or service does what it says on the tin – they won’t take your word for it
People are more interested in what your business stands for – they expect to see you walk the walk with authentic values
Clients and customers will ask questions about your brand story – like the origin path, your environmental credentials, and how you treat your staff
It’s your job to impress potential candidates into joining your business, not the other way around
…and the list goes on.
Do you need to so a bit of decluttering, to make space for these healthier habits and practices?
Potential buyers will be looking for a business with a modern culture to match its rich heritage.
The 5 steps to get you and your business exit ready
Brevity has developed ‘5 Principles of a Successful Exit-Ready Business’ – with a 5-stage process.
Armed with these principles, you’ll declutter your business and develop a clear and positive path ahead, shaping your business ready for exit in the next 2-5 years.
Personality – Be real
Knowing yourself is the ultimate superpower in business. Let’s get clear on your core values.
This stage covers two areas: your individual personality and your core company values.
You might be wondering how much your personality has to do with the success of your business. To be blunt, it’s hugely significant. My experience tells me that a whole lot of problems with a business start with the business owner’s attitude and behaviour. So, if you’re serious about getting the return you want for your business – you’ll need to accept that some changes will be needed from you.
For this element of the 5 Principles, we partner with an award-winning business coach who specialises in de-stressing business owners. Another string to her bow is that she is an accredited DISC profiler.
DISC is a tool that we utilise so our customers can better understand themselves; the good stuff and the bad. Because none of us are perfect. What we need to be able to do is address both sides. How can we help you exploit the best qualities of your personality for the greater good of your business? Equally, let’s address the bits that are challenging, seeing how you could make changes to minimise risk to the successful development of your business.
All you need to do is complete the DISC profile by answering (genuinely) a set of questions. If you try and exaggerate or bend the truth, then the test will be void.
The test takes less than 20 minutes to complete. Answers will be automatically sent to the business coach and she’ll decipher the findings and create a report. You’ll then have a 60-minute session with her to discuss her evaluation, as well as a session with Brevity.
Those findings will be used to help improve your approach to business. See how they bring you clarity on all the fantastic aspects of your personality and how you can use those to your advantage.
Core company values
Phew, the spotlight is off you now! It’s time to identify and assess your core company values. The Brevity team will take charge and work with you and your team to develop a set of core values for your business.
Values always need to be inclusive. They can’t just come from the top down. We encourage a shared exercise involving people from a cross-section of your business – from those on the shop floor to the boardroom.
Again, these values must be be genuine and authentic – who you really are, not what your think your company should represent to its customers. If you have values already, we’ll evaluate the methods you used to generate them and see if they still fit your business in 2022.
At the end of the ‘Personality’ stage, you should have:
Better understanding of who you are as a business leader
Strategies in place to exploit your key personality assets to your best advantage
A plan for how you can improve challenging areas – which can help at work and in your personal life
Clarity about what your business and its people stand for
A more positive outlook on life
People Power – Attract your tribe
Discover how much better each day goes when likeminded people work together towards shared goals.
To be successful in business, you need to have good people around you that you can trust and rely on. One of the main reasons businesses limit their success is because the people they employ, or customers they choose to do business with, aren’t the right ‘fit’.
The core values and insights from your DISC profile (identified in the Personality stage) allow us to attract the right customers and staff – or ‘tribe’ as we like to call it at Brevity.
This stage of the 5-step process involves the development of personas. You may also know these as avatars.
Personas will be developed for your ideal customers, your ideal employees and potentially ideal suppliers if your business is heavily dependent on 3rd parties.
Using personas, Brevity, you, and your team will better understand the personality traits of your target group and how to communicate with them. We can bring our business coach back in at this stage, too, to undertake DISC profiling on customers (if possible) – as well as on employees that stand out and shine to you (the ones you’d really like to clone!).
Persona profiles will be developed by the Brevity team. Each one will be given a name so they are very easy to remember and reference internally. They’ll be indispensable tools for the later stages of the process. Your teams – sales and HR especially – will find these very useful in terms of their approaches with customers and to attract the right candidates.
At the end of this stage, you will now have:
A clear idea of how to – and how not to – communicate with your ideal customers, employees and suppliers
Words and phrases that will attract the attention of your ideal audiences
Tools to help your sales teams sell more
Knowledge and insight that will allow HR teams create better job advertising and improve the candidate selection and interviewing processes
Performance – Deliver your message with clarity and conviction
Only when insight evolves will you reach your target audience at the best moment, in the right way.
I hope you are beginning to understand how simply starting your marketing with a campaign Is like trying to eat the fruit from a tree you never planted, fed or watered.
Insight is for the backbone of great marketing. All this groundwork will make your eventual campaigns so much more successful. That business exit is starting to look a whole lot healthier!
And guess what? This is the stage where we finally get stuck into the campaign activity itself! campaigns.
However, there’s a final pit stop here: a customer journey exercise.
You might have read books about ‘customer journey’ that were fluffy and over the top. Don’t worry, Brevity have developed their own 100% fluff-free method.
Our funnel analyses the different stages of your buyer journey and what types of marketing assets your should have available at each stage. See what triggers an initial interest in a product and service such as yours. Understand the leaks and opportunities in the way you current communicate with your customers.
Once we have evaluated the customer journey, we can create assets such as brochures, white papers, case studies, videos, how to guides, blogs, social media posts and more.
There will always be a plan in place and we’ll continuously measure effectiveness. You’ll get maximum bang for your buck because we’ll repurpose content wherever we can, for example turning blogs into newsletters.
Once identified, we’ll agree a time plan to get these assets created.
Let’s head on into the next stage…
Personalise Build deeper connections with many
Harness the power of personalised communications that resonate.
The most impactful marketing campaigns are personalised but it’s not possible to achieve on a large scale without some automation. At Brevity, we work predominantly with SMEs who have a large customer base and need to reach lots of people – but in a personalised way. That’s why we opted to use SharpSpring CRM and Marketing Automation systems – and we’re now a Gold Partner. Systems used to issue campaigns can be hugely expensive with hidden costs.
SharpSpring CRM is a bit like Sales Force, HubSpot or Microsoft Dynamics but somewhat cheaper. It’s also much more intuitive.
If you have already invested in your own CRM, we can still work with you to personalise your campaigns more effectively.
At this stage of your journey, we wouldn’t recommend simply using Mailchimp to personalise. It’s too basic. SharpSpring CRM gives you much more of a birds eye view:
See what your sales team are up to
Who is bringing in the most business – and who is not?
How many opportunities are in your pipeline?
Who are your hot leads?
What customers or opportunities have or haven’t been contacted recently?
It also allows you to automate lots of important but arduous tasks your sales team hate and avoid such as:
Automated emails out to leads where their current supplier contracts are up for renewals
As Gold partners, we will help build a system for your business. You’ll just need an administrator in-house who is responsible for the system. We’ll work alongside them to get this up and running smoothly.
When it comes to your business exit, a CRM and Marketing automation system demonstrates to interested buyers how your business is doing. Quality reports can be printed off and data exported for presentations.
SharpSpring CRM can also be used for email marketing, synching all comms automatically. It has a meeting booking functionality (like Calendly) which can be set-up for all sales people – and this can be added to email signatures and email marketing campaigns and landing pages.
Now your marketing is planned and executed in the right way, Brevity will continue to work with you for a set number of days each month to fulfil your marketing objectives.
Last but not least, the final stage of the process – Positivity
Positivity – Feel the weight lift as you achieve a happy work-life balance
Learn how professional accomplishment goes hand in hand with personal wellbeing.
Entrepreneurs live stressful lives, putting them at a higher risk of mental health challenges, due to:
Working late and at weekends
Not taking enough time out of the business
Checking phone and email when on holiday
Not spending enough time having fun with friends and family
Missing the children or grandchildren growing up
Not enjoying the lifestyle you’ve strived for
Neglecting your health and wellbeing
This and other challenges can lead to increased:
Physical health issues
Feeling miserable and unsatisfied with life
Which in turn can lead to
High staff turnaround and increased recruitment costs
Lower customer retention
Going back to the first stage of personality, we can look at how your personality changes when you are under stress. There will always be stress when running a business or in life in general. Reducing stress from your life can make you a better leader.
With all this weight on your shoulders, your dream of exiting the business can seem like a faraway pipe dream. Overcoming stress makes a successful exit seem within grasp.
Your DISC profile from the first stage of this process will show you how much your personality changes when you are under stress. If you are stressed all of the time this means that your personality is possibly having to stay in an unnatural state for long periods of time – and this is when stuff life grumpiness, anger, irrational behaviour, anxiety can happen and you may experience a higher turnaround of staff, less motivation, etc.
We can put you in touch with our wider Tribe of Women. A collective group of specialist coaches and practitioners who share the same values as Brevity and can help you minimise the stress in your life and become happier and healthier.
I’m a firm believer in having a handle on the number of stressors you can cope with. Once you know this then, you can leave some wiggle room for the uncontrollable obstacles that life throws at us – and live a less stressful life.
Taking you on this journey is important because it gears you up for the next stage of your life – retirement. Or, if you don’t want to stop working altogether, to help you understand how you could use your business expertise and life experience for the greater good – or simply enjoy the pleasures of living. The ‘Positivity’ stage of this process will give you the confidence to take one day out of your business each week to work on you. You get some ‘me time’ and the business will certainly prosper from you having this head space.
I practice what I preach. Since January 2020, I don’t work on a Monday. I also have personal coaching and I walk most days – and make time to meet with friends. Out of hours working is kept to a minimum – although I’m flexible and realistic enough to know that sometimes there’s no choice. The proof is in the pudding – I am much more productive and we have experienced the best ever year at Brevity.
Most importantly, I am happier and healthier – and my team are cheerful, efficient and loyal.
Ready to embrace the 5 Principles?
Doesn’t this sound like a more refreshing approach to your marketing strategy?
It recognises the changes that will be needed to get your business to a healthy ‘exit-ready’ point – and finds ways to tackle them The journey will not just be enlightening for the business, but for you as the business owner too.
I see a world where business owners get the rewards they deserve from all the blood, sweat and tears they have put into their business. With the benefit of financial freedom and a positive mindset they are free to utilise their business expertise and life experience for the greater good – or simply enjoy the pleasures of living.
If you’d like to find out more, book a meeting with me, Kaia Vincent. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01256 536 000.