4 Ways to Boost Sales

Based on the S&P 500, the current bull market is now nine years old.

The 10-year yield has crept up from 2.2% to 2.8% in the last year (see chart), making loans costlier for businesses and families. Oil prices have also doubled since bottoming out in January 2016.

graph of US 10-year yield indicating strong sales to augment with email marketing strategy

Marketing activities during boom times are often focused on increasing sales from current customers and expanding the client base while people are buying. During the inevitable  downturns, companies often retrench and focus on current customer retention and cost effective initiatives such as email marketing while reducing costlier activities such as trade shows and print ads.

Here are four tips to help drive sales during good times and bad.

BETTER TOGETHER
Ask your marketing person if they know what the sales team is pushing right now and the common obstacles to a prospect saying “yes”. If they’re not sure, consider how your sales and marketing teams can work closer together. The purpose of marketing is to help sales – neither can reach their potential if they are working in separate silos. A sales and marketing team is a powerful combination.

EMAIL MARKETING
Does your company send educational newsletters to customers and prospects? I find this to be the most cost effective way to drive long-term business. Why do you think every company is so eager to collect your email address? Because it allows for a direct connection with potential customers.

PUT IN YOUR CONTACTS
A contact list is one of your business’s greatest assets. Businesses where contacts are kept in spreadsheets or Outlook are leaking sales. There are plenty of lightweight, cloud-based Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM) that don’t cost an arm and a leg. CRM software is exceedingly useful and allows for more advanced sales tactics such as automated marketing.

SURVEYS
Want to know how to improve your business? Just ask your customers. Not only does a formal survey demonstrate to your customers that you care about their opinions, it’s an excellent way to learn about other offerings that they wish you provided. Some of the most successful business moves I’ve seen came from simple, one-sentence suggestions from a customer survey.

Following these four suggestions will go a long way toward an increase in sales.

5 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Website

PICTURES OF PEOPLE

When you’re looking through your vacation photos, do you just skip through all the scenic shots and look at the pictures with people? Most folks do.

The same applies to websites, and there’s plenty of heatmap data to support it. Moreover, people want to do business with people. Websites without people make your business seem like a faceless corporation.

There’s also a sneaky trick you can use with people photos: have them look at what you want your visitors to read. Check out the heatmap comparisons below of how where the baby is looking affects visitors’ behavior.

Baby looks at camera → people look at baby
Baby looks at text → people look at text

 

 

 

 


CALL-TO-ACTION BUTTONS

“Buy now”
“Call us for a free consultation”
“Request a quote”

It’s no secret that call-to-action buttons work. Yet they still aren’t used very effectively most of the time. The key is to only have one per page so it draws attention like a bullseye.

You want your call-to-action buttons to stand out, but not clash. Let me introduce you to every designer’s buddy: the color wheel. Colors opposite each other go together well.



Your call-to-action buttons should be either the same color as your logo or the color that’s opposite of your logo on the color wheel.  So if your logo is red, try out a red or green button. If your logo is dark blue like mine, then try out an orange button.

HOW TO COLLECT AND USE TESTIMONIALS

Make a habit out of collecting testimonials from happy customers. If you ever get a nice email about a job well done, just respond, “Thank you so much! Do you mind if I add that to my website?”  Everyone says yes.

As weird as it sounds, the right way to use testimonials is not to have a Testimonials page. People aren’t interested in a bunch of carefully curated congratulatory quotes.

Instead, place a testimonial or two on your specific product or service pages. That way there will be a natural flow from product information into someone saying how great it is. That is so much more effective than just listing a ton of quotes all on one page.

ADD CONTENT

Ask any SEO service provider and they’ll tell you that content is king when it comes to getting ranked in search engines. Specifically, Google likes pages with at least 200 words. Why do you think this post is so long?

If you’re not sure what to write about, just ask your sales team what questions they are asked the most.  That’s a perfect place to start.

WHITE SPACE FOR THE WIN

Overly busy websites stress me out. They’re like the digital versions of hoarders.

It’s okay – ideal actually – to have plenty of text, but keep your paragraphs short.  And when it comes to visuals, it’s all about quality over quantity. A few great photos and one call to action button are infinitely better than a having pictures and links all over the place.

         

To ensure you don’t give your customers heartburn, make sure your website looks more like the second one than the first one.

Which Website Company Should You Hire?

There are a LOT of marketing companies out there. How can you possibly know which one is right to build your website?

The best approach is to think of your website as a 24/7 salesperson. You wouldn’t want to hire a salesperson based on who would work for the least pay, would you? We all know how that would end up.

The same applies when hiring a web developer. Unfortunately, many businesses think of websites as a commodity and end up hiring whomever will build their site for the cheapest. In fact, much of our work comes from businesses that went that route and decided they were tired of having a website that’s worse than their competitors’.

An effective website can give a huge shot in the arm to your bottom line. To get the best return on your investment, focus on long-term value instead of hiring the lowest bidder.

Why?

Programmers can cut corners to save money, therefore the cheapest bid will almost always result in the worst website. We program websites to optimize for SEO, rapid pagespeed loading time, and to be mobile-friendly. These things take time, but have a significant positive impact for years to come. It would be very easy for a website programmer to skip these best practices to save hours and most companies wouldn’t notice.  This allows the person cutting corners to submit a much cheaper bid than those who would have built the website the right way.

It will attract companies who quickly churn out websites, with little long-term interest in your business. That means they’re looking to wrap up the project as quickly as possible and move on to the next one. As a full service marketing agency, most of our clients have been working with us for 7+ years, so we are highly motivated to build a quality website that will look great and drive sales for years to come.

How should you decide which website company to work with?

Pay attention to what questions they ask.  If they’re asking you about your business goals, profit margins on your product X vs product Y, and they’re researching your competitors, then they’re focused on the right things.  If instead they’re asking about what colors you like and what pictures you have, then they may be good at making pretty websites but not one that will maximize your ROI. Those things are also important, but they are secondary to your business goals.

Ask for referrals.  And not just to look at other websites they’ve built, but to speak with the owner. It’s fair to ask for the contact information for a client or two of theirs. And when you call, ask if the website has helped bring them more business.

Finding the right company to build your website can be a daunting task. As with most things, you get what you pay for.  By paying to attention to what questions they ask you, and asking for a couple referrals, you should find your match in no time.

The Marketing Blueprint for Success

In the marketing world, we often fall prey to the shiny new object syndrome. It seems that every week there’s a new tool or SEO technique that will solve all our problems.

While these shiny new objects may have value, they should only be used to supplement the tried and true sales and marketing strategies that have worked for so many years. This post will break down what those are and why they work. Consistently implementing these techniques will be very effective for just about every business on the planet.

Pull marketing – This drives interested parties to your website, often via SEO, Pay-Per-Click, or other “referral” websites.  For example, if someone searched for “HVAC contractor in Los Angeles” in Google.  These visitors are highly coveted because someone seeking your product or service finds your website. If your site isn’t ranked in Google, does it truly exist? Not really.

Push marketing – Send occasional, yet consistent emails out to your contact list. You do have a contact list, right?  Your emails should be actually useful to the recipients or else it’s just spam. I generally stick to 80% educational and 20% promotional, often by leading with useful information and then tying it into something my clients’ offer. And when sending eblasts or newsletters it’s best to follow the old marketing adage of, “Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.” If you’re not sure what to write about, just start with the questions that your customers ask you the most.

Website – What do push and pull marketing have in common? They drive people to your website! And if your website sucks, then all of your efforts will be in vain. You need a website that is informative, looks professional, and nudges the prospects into the next step of the sales cycle, whether it’s to “buy now,” “request a demo,” “schedule consultation,” “contact us,” etc.

There you go! That’s the foundation of successful marketing:

  1. draw interested people to your website,
  2. remind people you exist,
  3. and have an effective website.

None of these items is a quick task – or else everyone would do them – but they are a winning combination that have been proven to work time and time again. So the next time you see a shiny new object, such as artificial intelligence, don’t even think about it until you have the fundamentals down first.

Stale Website? When to Update Your Existing Site vs. Building a New One

Your website looks dated. Sure, it sort of gets the job done. It says what you do and has your phone number, but no one feels better about your business after seeing it. If it’s really bad then it’s turning people off, especially if your competitors have better websites.

What can you do?  Well, you can either refresh your existing site or have a new one built.  There are pros and cons to both.

Refresh your website

This gives your site a striking new appearance and can also be combined with adding new content, making the site mobile-friendly, secure (HTTPS), and increasing the page speeds – these are all great for your search engine rankings, by the way. Refreshing your site is a fraction the cost of building a new site.

example of a website refresh

Before & after of a comprehensive website refresh by Key Marketing Group.

Build a new website

This is where you keep your same web address but have a new site built from the ground up. It will have the most modern programming techniques, be built in 4k resolution, and also be mobile- and SEO-friendly.

We do plenty of refreshes and new websites at Key Marketing Group. I’d say maybe 80% of the time we’re able to refresh an existing site unless it was built a long time ago or was sort of hacked together in a do-it-yourself website builder. Often when people call me and I tell them I can update their existing site, they say every other marketing agency said they needed to build a new site.

Here are a few scenarios to help you determine if your website can just be redesigned, or if a new website is needed.

  1. Your website was built less than five years ago by a professional programmer, although it doesn’t look all that great and can use some fresh content.
    DIAGNOSIS:
    Refresh existing site. 
  2. Your website design is okay but not amazing. Google’s free PageSpeed tool also shows that the pages are loading slow, which is not good for SEO.
    DIAGNOSIS: Refresh the existing site. 
  3. Your website is not mobile-friendly and/or is not secure (HTTPS). Note: Not being mobile-friendly is critical and can really hinder your site’s usability and search engine rankings.
    DIAGNOSIS: We can generally take care of this without a rebuild. The exception is if the site was built a long time ago in a now outdated programming language that doesn’t play well with mobile. 
  4. Your website has minimal or poor content, and was either poorly built or built a long time ago.
    DIAGNOSIS: Have a new website built. Think of it as if the foundation of an old house is falling apart. At some point it’s best to just rebuild.

The next time you ask, “Do I need to build a new website or can I update my existing site?” The answer is generally that an update will do just fine unless your site is pretty archaic. Whichever route you go, it’s also a good time to freshen up on your marketing messaging as well. Better messaging on an attractive website goes a long way toward getting people to pick up the phone.

Four Keys to Marketing Success

Marketing should inspire people to do business with you. It should get the right message to the right people, and be informative and honest. Here are four tips that will guide you down the path of a successful marketing campaign.

  1. Find what matters

Avoid “selfish marketing,” which rattles off a bunch of product features that people may or may not care about. Instead, you need to find what matters to your prospects and speak to their pain points accordingly.

The best way to find what matters is to ask your customers.  A professional survey from an unbiased third party is the best way to do it. When we conduct surveys for our clients, we’ll generally start with a 15 to 30 minute phone call with about a dozen customers. Then we refine our questions and send an email out to all of their contacts.  The result is a report packed with gripes, compliments, and suggestions from people who have firsthand experience with your product or service. That, my friends, is the best way to know how to sell your products or services.

If doing a proper survey doesn’t make sense at this time, at least call a few of your customers or even browse online forums to see what people are saying. You will always learn something.

Once you know what matters, update your website and sales materials so you prominently address what your customers’ “elevator rants” would be about.

  1. Marketing shouldn’t trick people

If the recipient knows what the marketing team knows, would they still want to buy the product? The answer should always be yes. Even if a statement is technically true, don’t be slippery with the wording. It makes people mad, and your company’s reputation is one of its most important assets.

  1. 80% educational / 20% promotional

Between emails, ads, text messages, and websites there is a ton of noise out there these days.  People have evolved technologically and are much better at filtering it out now. Your content needs to be informative or else people will tune it out.

Try to have your content stick to 80% educational and 20% promotional.  Find ways to help your prospect do their job better, then write about that. Then they will want to read your stuff, and by doing so, will view you as an authority on the subject and will contact you when they’re ready to buy.

Educate your prospects and the sales will come.

  1. Nudging ‘browsers’ into the sales process

This tip is for those of you working with more complex or high dollar sales cycles. Rather than swinging for the fences with your requests (ie. request a demo), find some smaller step that can nudge your prospects into the sales process.

I have one client where we switched a button from “Request a Quote” to “Request a Sample” and saw a big jump in requests that turned into sales. Why? Because requesting a quote means giving all the specs of a job, which people might not want to do up front. Requesting a sample means you’re just sending them something for free.  But guess what? About 70% of those that requested samples ended up making an order for the product.

So, one way to nudge people into the sales process is to offer something for free, such as a sample of your product or trial period of your services. This is very effective due to people’s innate desire to reciprocate.

If a sample or trial doesn’t make sense for your company, even just being more strategic with your call-to-action can go a long way. For example, instead of having a webpage say “request a quote”, it could say, “let’s chat to see if [xyz service] makes sense for your project.”  The former sounds official and might require approvals from up the food chain. The latter makes it much easier to pick up the phone because it sounds like a casual conversation.

Don’t push, but nudge your prospects into the sales process. Contact us today to get started.

Why You Should Work with a Marketing Agency

Company execs looking to boost sales often wonder if they should work with a marketing agency. They know that hiring an employee with extensive marketing experience is costly and lacks flexibility. Plus, by hiring an agency they have access to a team of professionals with unique skillsets as opposed to one person attempting to be an expert at everything.

Here are some of the benefits of working with a marketing agency:

  • Expertise – A good marketing agency should have lots of experience helping many companies. For example, Key Marketing Group has been helping B2B businesses with their marketing since 2012 and we’ve seen firsthand what strategies increases sales. We’ve also vetted tons of programmers, designers, writers, etc. and found the ones that are the best at what they do and brought them on board. That means you get access to the in the best in the business without having to sift through all of the good and the bad yourself.
  • Flexibility – Unlike having an employee, with consultants you can ramp up or scale back services as you please. Whether it’s a new product launch, trade show materials, or a website update, we are at your service when you need it. Another benefit of working with an agency is that, unlike hiring a nomadic programmer that is a friend of a friend, we hang on to everything and you can email us years from now asking for a login or design file and we’ll send it right over. I can’t tell you how many people have hired us because their previous programmer is now MIA and now they want the stability of working with a reputable marketing agency.
  • Convenience – All it takes is an email or a phone call to get started. You can have a specific request (“I need a new company brochure”), or our personal favorite, or want to discuss how to achieve a goal (“I want to sell more of this widget in Los Angeles.”). There’s no forms, tickets, or cheesy hold music. Just an experienced marketer who is at your service.
  • Single point of contact – You have one contact with Key Marketing Group who you are welcome to email, call, or text. Whether you want to build an online ordering system or have an SEO question, you get to contact one person who will take care of everything for you. It’s so much easier than working with different vendors and having to explain your goals each time.
  • Save money – No need to pay for healthcare or payroll taxes when you work with a marketing agency! We also don’t have one hour minimums or any other gimmicks. So if you just want to have a twenty minute call on sales and marketing, then you only pay for 20 minutes. Many of our clients have said they pay us much less than if they would’ve hired someone. And if you already have great in-house marketing, we’re happy to work with them too. For example, if they need a video and aren’t sure where to start, we can help them out to make their video idea a reality.

Ready to give your sales a shot in the arm? Feel free to contact us to discuss your goals. We can always start off with a small project and see what you think.