Copy - Content - Marketing Communications Planning

Monday, 30 March 2015

The key sales messages you must be making all the time

Surprisingly we all forget that we are all different.

We seem to think that with a bit of segmentation and buyer persona analysis we can group our prospects and customers into a couple of nice looking columns on a database.
This of course is not how it is in the real world. It's a very good idea to undertake thoughtful targeting, but sadly everyone we are in contact with is at a different stage of THEIR buying cycle.

What are you trying to tell me?
However you can overcome this by making sure you use certain key messages throughout your marketing communications. Sometimes you just need one or two, in others like long tail direct mail items you need all of them.

The key messages you have to have working for you all the time are:
  • I'm here
  • I'm relevant to your needs
  • I'm very good at what I do
  • I'm risk free
  • I'm really easy to deal with
  • I'm an asset to others
Take a look at the landing page of your website, or the last direct mail piece you sent out.

The challenge is to make sure that above the fold on your website homepage, or within the body of the headline and first two paragraphs of any direct mail going to prospective customers, you can include all of the above messages.

So you could use the following as a template.

If You're Looking for a UK Based B2B Copywriter - Then You've Just Found One

Thanks for visiting the website of Simply Great Copy, my name is Chris Crossland and I've specialised in all media B2B commercial copywriting  for the past 30 years. 

I make two really important promises to new and existing clients  - I will work on the project until I get it right, so no limit of the number of revisions as along as the brief stays the same and when my invoice is settled you own the copyright and the IP.

You are always welcome to comment and amend the work we create together and I will always justify my approach. 

Check out the attached client testimonial list - if you want to contact any of them to find out why they work with me, please do.

The next call is yours to make - you can contact me on etc etc

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Selling - the only question you really need to answer to make a sale

Here's a little known fact. the vast majority of businesses go bust because they provide products or services that no one wants, understands, or trusts.

Why should anyone buy what you sell?

Now one of the best tests you can use to see if your business has a sound product or service offer, is to as this simple question:

What makes what we do so different that our customers will want to buy from us?

It's an easy question and one which as a copywriter I ask my clients, especially when we meet for the first time.

I get two types of answers:

  1. vague, illogical, ill thought out, confused and incoherent
  2. clear, concise and easy to understand
Now I'm not saying that just because you have a clear explanation of your offer all is fine, because many company owners really believe in their own bullshit. 

But I have found that really good offers that are delivered with clear and easy to appreciate  messages which are totally understood by customers, are the mainstay of every successful business or organisation I've ever encountered.

As you read this be honest with yourself - is what you provide a benefit to the customer or just something you do with a hope of getting paid?

Customers won't tell you they are confused by what you offer, they will just walk away of click on something that does makes total sense to them.

Customers won't argue over the cost, they will find something that fits their price/benefit calculations and buy from someone else.

So to make more sales today and tomorrow all you have to do is ask the one question honestly - what makes what we do so different that our customers will want to buy from us.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Do you follow up enough?

Well I don't and I should know better because I know when I do, it works well for me.

I've read and had it confirmed over the years, that following up is one of the biggest differentiators between individuals, businesses and organisations that flourish and the rest that just about get by.

Start with your own experience.

How many times have you been approached at a networking event or prospected,  and after expressing some interest heard those wonderful words- " I'll get back in touch next week" - and then nothing happens.

My reward when I have done my daily follow up calls

I've said it and DONE NOTHING. Firstly it's very rude and it also shows you to be all talk and no action.

And yet I still forget to follow up.

I think I fear rejection and use excuses like the dog needs a walk, or I've got other work on.

But I know if I allocate time, have all the info to hand and get on with it - I generate huge amounts of business.

So now I have a new system and I hope it might work for you.

I decide in the morning who I'm going to follow up that day. It could be one person or perhaps five.

I then get a list of all the contact details and resolve to make the calls or if requested follow up emails during the day.

Sometimes I get some done in the morning, or all during a break - but I get them done and then reward myself with something nice. Chocolate biscuits are always high up on the list with fresh ground coffee.

Currently it takes 7 to 12 contacts to secure a first order.

Most of us and that includes me, give up after 2 or 3.

When I'm stacked out with work I never follow up - when the order book is getting a bit thin, I follow up and it fills up again.

I must be mad.

But only recently after adopting my daily follow ups regardless of how much work I have,  I've found the work coming in on a constant basis.

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Change a cold call into an info call

I was asked last month to review some cold call scripts and create some "new ideas to improve sales".

WOW - are people still using cold calls to make sales I thought - what a waste of time and money.

Cold calls can really upset prospective customers and are so old school
The scripts were painful, but the service was good and customers were enthusiastic about the service they were getting.

So why cold call?  Seems that the existing team were targeted and rewarded on number of calls made per day and that was that.

Long story short is I declined and then we had a little row, and I was given an opportunity to change things. I introduced the concept of the info call. It works well for products or services and all you need is:

  1. The type of business you want to target
  2. Someone with a warm and non aggressive telephone voice
  3. A printed and digital version of an info document about what you do which has at least 10 good testimonials quotes
  4. A good follow up process
And then you call and say

"Good morning/afternoon - my name is <your name> from <your company>"
"We provide solutions to <identify main pain point you provide solutions for>"
"I would like to send some information about our services to <their company> who would be the person to send it to?
"Thank you - would they prefer it via email or in the post?"

Don't sell anything, just get the info and get of the phone. If they want to buy or want more info there and then, just take the contact details and get someone else to call them.

Then mail or email them something and make sure there is a time limited offer included.

Then wait a week and then follow up - making sure they have had the info and are aware that the time limited offer is coming to an end.

The result - less calls, more orders, and happier staff. Happy Days!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Postcard marketing - 5 reasons they work so well

I still hate sending postcards when I'm on holiday but I think the world of them as a business development device.

Can you ignore a postcard?
I've used them in most market sectors with brilliant results - here are 5 reasons why you consider using them:
  1. They don't get ignored - you don't have to open postcard to see the message. In test after test postcards get picked up and scanned read without judgement whereas envelopes get picked up with preconceived notions of junk mail.
  2. They are understood - a postcard has a front and a back one with an image, the reverse with some words. The recipient knows what to expect - so you just get their attention.
  3. Postcards are low cost - It's a simple printing process with a wide variety of different finishes available. And if you are mailing them, you can personalise them using variable data printing, changing text, images and graphics for no additional cost. Many mailing houses can print and mail in one process saving you time and money.
  4. They can be targeted very easily and quickly - if you have to respond with speed to a competitor offer or have something to say to a few local people, postcards can be designed and printed within days.
  5. They are retained - it's been found that cards which have calendars on them or just a beautiful image, are retained, or passed round. It's the ability to use nice materials that seem to make the difference.
So 5 reasons to use postcards - there are loads more but the above are why they have worked for me and my clients.

Image courtesy of chayathonwong2000 at

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Prepare for changes to the buying cycle

The buying cycle follows the journey that new and existing customers go through before they purchase. It can be extended to after they have purchased - this is when they should become advocates for your products or services.

The traditional cycle includes:

  • Raising awareness
  • Recognising possible solutions to a real or perceived problems
  • Research of possible solutions
  • Identification of possible suppliers
  • Final shortlist
  • Initial contact
  • Request for solution costing
  • Negotiation and specification analysis
  • Purchase
  • Post purchase research to confirm purchase decision
The biggest and most significant change to this cycle is the decision to purchase. 

When customers decide to buy - you have to be ready
The following changes need to be appreciated and changes made to how sales are made and managed:
  1. Purchase decisions are being left to the last possible moment
  2. There is an expectation that everything is negotiable
  3. Estimates have to be within minutes
  4. Delivery times have to be very quick
  5. Price has to include everything
  6. Terms have to be flexible
  7. Sales staff have to knowledgable and have the ability to negotiate price
  8. Credit checking has to be fast
  9. Customer expectations have to exceeded at all times
Ask yourself the question - "Can the staff I employ to take and make sales deliver all of these?

If the answer is no then get training because this is an area where sales are won or lost.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Friday, 13 March 2015

Check your online footprint

Our nature is to be inquisitive. It's in built and part of the way we protect ourselves and the people and things we cherish.

When we meet new people, or have to visit new places, or undertake new actions, we try and find out as much as possible to satisfy the organic need to predict possible outcomes.

Not so many years ago we sought the comfort of others as being the only way of finding out more. And still today anyone who we trust who recommends someone, some place, or some product or service, has tremendous influence on our decision making process.

What's online about you or your business today?

But increasingly as we have to make decisions in real time rather than at leisure, we turn to the internet for valuable insight into the people and things we need to know more about.

So what if someone put your name, or your company name into any number of search engines. The easy option is to do it yourself. Check yourself out as if you were someone who wanted to find out more about you.

Check social media, LinkedIn, Google images, Youtube, Shareslide, etc etc. What you find might surprise you, and even if it doesn't surprise you - does your online footprint enhance you or your business?

One check I always run on a business is to put the company name followed by testimonials. What happens when you search using your own name or business details?

The problem we all face, is that increasingly, we are never in the room when a vital decision is being made that could have an impact on our success. We must all manage as best we can our online footprint,  because sometimes that's all we have to create and manage the way we are perceived.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What can you do with contact details?

Clients change on a daily basis, new ones arrive, existing ones make additional purchases, some never buy again, others die, many more move, and some will never have a need to contact you again.

How well do you know your contacts?

All this needs to be reflected in the data records you hold - and maintaining an effective and up-to-date client database is time consuming.

So let’s assume you have made the investment and your data is a clean and current as it could be.

Now what – is it just a reference point or does it have the potential to become a rich asset to help you grow your business?

There are many ways of doing this – a simple method is segmentation. Segmenting your data can be and should be related to purchase history, but the real fun starts when you add a bit of informed intuition.

Why not consider profiling by potential lifetime value?

Take a look at all your existing clients and consider what they have purchased, the value, the channel, the time or times they have purchased, the size of the company, the contact point, the relationship you have now and in the past, the profitability based on all the associated costs of serving the account, 
and crucially what potential they have to purchase more from you.

Segment in to High, Medium and Low potential.

Now review the results and set some realistic growth targets and set about creating suitable cross-media marketing communications plans to support sales and account teams.

This activity will give you a good idea of the value of your proposition, the markets you serve well, the potential you miss out on, and importantly what changes you could make to products, services or processed that would improve your profitability and competitive advantage.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Monday, 9 March 2015

Online stats to start the working week off with a scare

Everyone likes a nice dose of stats in the morning
These are gleaned from a variety of sources – probably a bit out of date but the links should guide you to the latest scary numbers:
  • 81% of B2B purchase cycles start with web search, and 90% of buyers say when they are ready to buy, “they’ll find you.” (Earnest Agency)
  • More than half (53%) of marketers rank content creation as the single most effective SEO tactic. (NewsCred)
  • 57% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. (NewsCred)
  • Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound marketing leads. (NewsCred)
  • 33% of clicks from organic search results go to the top listing on Google. (Social Fresh)
  • 85% of B2B buyers believe companies should present information via social networks. (Iconsive)
  • And yet – only 20% of CMOs leverage social networks to engage with customers. (Marketing Land)
But what does it mean and what can you do today in order to make sure you and your business are in the best position to capitalise?

I recommend the following:
  1. No need for a knee jerk reaction – most of your competitors will be in the same position you are, and the ones which are able to benefit from the above are way out ahead of you already so a few extra days won’t make a difference
  2. Make sure that within a week every page of your website has your contact details clearly visible, make sure you include a landline no – just having a mobile makes you look flaky, and make sure you have an address. No address increases your flakiness (if there is such a word)
  3. Make sure within a week you have clear calls to action on most pages. FREE quotes, FREE downloads, no obligation quotes, time sensitive discounts, 1st time purchaser discounts, 90 day guarantees, free advice, etc. etc.
  4. Make sure that within 2 weeks you have:
  • Social media marketing strategy agreed
  • Landing page optimised
  • A good SEO strategy and plan
  • Someone with at least some copy experience to review your site and make keyword recommendations
  • Identify resources either inside or outside the business to help
Or just do nothing. You know that’s really what you want to do. You know all that online stuff is just bollocks. It sure will make it easier for your competitors, and people like me who create, manage and develop awareness throughout the purchase decision buying cycle.

Tomorrow and for the next few days I’m going to focussing on simple solutions you can do to enhance your online foot print.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday, 5 March 2015

5 reasons to love printed marketing collateral

Yesterday was my online warning, but today I want to give you 5 reasons why printed marketing items will never go out of fashion and in my opinion need to be used at every point of the decision making process.

Much easier and engaging than a tablet

Here are 5 reasons why I love print:
  • 1.       Unless you are in a cave or going through a tunnel, or its night time – you don’t need a power source to read printed items. It might not seem much, but the fact that you can pick up a brochure of leaflet and engage with it without having to peer at a screen is often overlooked.

  • 2.       Print is instantly portable. You can hand a brochure or leaflet to a colleague, you can even use it to start a debate. You can add notes. You can fold it up and stick it somewhere safe. Printed items are just brilliant for getting messages across.

  • 3.       Using variable data printing each printed item can be personalised, with relevant copy, images, graphics, tables, and colours all being changed according to who its being presented to.

  • 4.       Printed marketing material is one of the most effective ways of putting your brand in the hand. There are hundreds of different papers and finishes that you can utilise to enhance your brand – a screen is just a screen. There is no texture and no tactile relationship possible with a screen.

  • 5.       It’s not expensive and with digital printers and new offset technology you don’t have to produce 1000’s if you just want 50

There are loads of other reasons why print for me is still the media of choice, for raising awareness and educating your new and existing customers about what makes you and your business special.

If you are set against it I suggest you visit your local printer and ask for some ideas on how they can help you grow your business. 

Many printers are reengineering so that they become cross-media specialists.I work with quite a few and frankly they can give most creative agencies a good run for your money.

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Online has only just started

You hear a lot about content, inbound, outbound, cross media, SEO, etc etc.

Everyone who has a business has comes to terms with having to create and manage an online presence and appreciate that their online footprint is a deciding factor.

To put it simply - you can't be in the room when you or your business is being evaluated, but you can manage those perceptions with a positive, endorsed online presence.

There is a view that online has got about as intrusive as it can, and with an engaging well optimised site and an active social media strategy all will be well.

What happens when connection speeds are 100 times faster than they are today? 

I suggest we all have to take a different view, and here's why:

  1. The current infrastructure that delivers online is at the Morris Minor stage of development. Perfectly adequate, but bugger all performance and dubious reliability. Over the next 5 years the majority of the UK will be benefitting from an online infrastructure that will feel more like a Porsche 911.
  2.  The use of real-time screen communications like Skype will increase 100 fold. Inbound enquiries will be dealt with customers who want to and will expect to see who they are talking with and complex screen sharing will be normal.
  3. Mobile/Tablet platforms with even current software will enable decisions to be made very quickly - with many decisions being made by AI.
  4. Many of the professional services we pay through the nose for such as accountants, lawyers, marketing consultants, designers and even lowly copywriters will have to compete with very low cost alternatives. It is already muted that 50% of court cases will be held online within 10 years. And new automated business software based on scanned documents will mean that management accounts and final year end numbers will be available instantly.
  5. Staff will be very savvy not just with Word, but with Excel and all of the adobe Creative Suite, so designers will have to add value elsewhere.
So my message is we all have about 5 years - some market sectors a lot less.

I'm looking forward to it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Monday, 2 March 2015

Why do you buy? And why is it important?

Pretty simple really and it's got nothing to do with selling.  

We should appreciate why people buy and then create communications that help them to buy, not help us to sell more. Selling is old school now - all we have to do is to make it easy to buy.

There are 3 reasons we buy stuff:
  1. Because we need something to solve a personal problem like buying a present for a difficult rich uncle, or a problem that is hindering business development, or a problem that we think we have
  2. Because we want something to make us feel better or something we perceive will enhance us
  3. Because we just want something new - it's been found that over 40% of people wandering around a shopping mall are there because they want to find something to want!
Why do we like a deal? Even when we didn't want one

So how should you arrange your key messages to your existing and prospective customers or clients?
  • First by thinking about your product or service delivers for people - what fears does it deal with, what desires or aspirations are fulfilled, and what  simple or complex frustrations are going to be solved
  • Second you need to create a single or perhaps multiple set of easy to understand statements that are people can engage with. Not just about factual things like price and performance but critically on how people feel when then use your product or service
  • Third on the list is what is the best media to use to reach out or provide people with these messages. Here you need to understand the difference between inbound and outbound messages, they are very different
  • Lastly - make sure you have a way of listening to what your customers want. And if you can't find out by listening find out by asking!
Over the next few days I'm going to be sharing some research I've just  completed on the impact that online will be having on various parts of the services sector. It appears we are just at the start of this online revolution - oh joy

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Headline writing tips - part 5

If things like sub-heads and credibility statements are just gobblygook then check out parts 1-4.

But hopefully you have everything in place to craft a nice clear call to action and the right contact details.

A call to action is a combination of encouragement, threat, and permission statements, which are designed to get readers to DO SOMETHING. In most cases it should include a real person's name who will be able to pick up the phone and deal with the enquiry with total confidence.

I get a bit fed up when you see a nice image of a product, with the company name as the headline and then just a telephone number. As they say in all the best tweets WTF.

The image needs an appropriate headline and sub-head followed by some relevant credibility statements and then a request or instruction to do something - this is the call to action.

They might if you ask them!
It could be soft and engaging like "if you need any additional information call or email Chris"

Or perhaps a bit more edgy " Orders not placed before the end of March will miss out on 10% early bird discount - call Chris now or miss out on your guaranteed saving"

Or include a statement which gives permission to ask for something -" quote the reference number below for a guaranteed 25% reduction on all tyres - just ask Chris for more details"

The call to action is very important and often overlooked, but it also needs to be helped with a decent set of contact details.

I recommend the Rule of 3 - 1 x landline number. - 1x mobile number and 1x email as the absolute minimum.

If you can add a physical address this boosts credibility, and then make sure you include your web address. If you are using the marketing item to drive inbound traffic then make sure you give the right URL.

Headlines need to work hard but won't work in isolation. They need lots of support, which is why advertising in particular is such a fascinating discipline.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at