“Start with the end in mind,” advised Stephen R Covey in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.
Begin each day with a vision of your direction and destination.
People use the ‘Start with the end in mind’ principle to set their personal goals and vision. It reminds us to follow the same principle when planning our goals in business.
When your goals are set and acted upon, you know that everything you do today will, in some part, move you towards achieving your objectives.
How you will make a success of your business is written in your business plan.
An effective business plan states your intentions: what you will achieve – the company’s objectives or goals – and how you’ll go about it. These are the strategy and tactics which describe how you’ll make the money to bring you the success you’ve set your heart on – the’ what’, ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ you’ll do business.
Some business plans take up just one page. The value is in their clarity: sentences describing the financial targets you wish to achieve and by when. It could be as concise as:
“Raise the revenue of this business from £7.5M per year (current year) to £16.5M per year by May 2020.”
It goes on to summarise what you’ll need to do in order to achieve the target.
You’ll break it down into the number of customers spending a minimum and a maximum amount of money with you, how often and for the length of time you want them to remain customers.
Then you’ll decide: how many leads you will need to convert and how many prospects you’ll turn into customers. And how many meetings you’ll need to arrange with ideal prospects, the number of phone calls and communications you’ll need to write in the process. This is where an effective marketing plan comes in.
Marketing with intent
Your marketing plan supports your business plan by giving the detail about:
- Who your prospects and customers are
- Where you will find these people
- How you will acquire them, and
- How you’ll retain them.
An important aspect in all of this, of course, is how you will communicate with them. There will be face to face meetings, at the start of the business relationship and at intervals throughout. Phone calls will be made. You will also be emailing your soon-to-be customers, keeping your website up to date and posting on social media.
Your business plan, marketing plan and content plans work together to generate sales.
Take your current marketing communications and review each one for effectiveness. Continue with those which are performing well and improve those which bring lower results.
For each communication, ask yourself:
- What you want it to achieve
- What action do you want the reader to take? Is it clear?
- Is the communication part of the process to educate, build your reputation and stay in a prospect’s mind until they are ready to buy?
- How much income do you want to generate from this communication?
- Are you providing all the information they will need and want at this stage?
- Where does this communication fit into the objective of attracting more people to buy more from you more often?
Read more about content planning in “Audit Your Communications Plan”.
Joined up planning
Always align content production with your business objectives.
Let’s use a company website as an example.
Sales are the lifeblood of every business. A business with plans to expand needs more customers spending more money for longer. Directors, managers, leaders and executives review their business plans and identify every opportunity to generate more leads and sales.
They review business objectives, decide upon a winning strategy and put those plans into action.
Excellent marketing communications focused on key messages are essential.
You’ll need powerful sets of words for your website, sales literature, advertising and emails. You’ll need case studies. You’ll need articles, blogs and social media posts. You’ll need words that inform, support, teach, persuade and sell.
At first, it may seem overwhelming until you start to plan.
Focus on the target audience. Who will buy your new product and service and why? How many more customers of this type do you need in order to meet your targets? Observe and know what makes your customers content.
Set goals for every piece of content
Keep the end in mind.
Start with the call to action and use your writing to lead the reader to do what you want her to. If you want your reader to pick up the phone and call you, or to subscribe to receive your regular emails – set up your market analytics system to measure this activity.
The figure to measure is the conversion rate. Read more about “Vital Website Statistics”.
Your website as a valuable company asset
Conversion rate is the percentage of people who complete the task on the web page they visited or email they opened. This task could be: make an enquiry, send an email, phone, add their name to a list, recommend a friend, buy now.
Find out more about objective setting for written content.
You may decide that, in line with the new targets in your business plan, you need to raise the conversion rate on certain pages of your website by 1%. You will know the guide conversion rates for your industry. You’ll also know you can increase the likelihood of keeping visitors coming back to your site by improving the quality of content.
International usability and web expert Jakob Nielsen did the research.
Fifty per cent of the problems people experience when using a website are not technology related. They are caused by poor quality content.
Content which lacks essential information or is difficult to read cannot help your customer understand your business or buy from you. When reading on smaller screens, content is even harder to read. Make it snappy, keep your readers happy and they’ll come back for more.
When you write with intent, you are increasing the potential for information-hunters, and buyers, to return to your site, instead of a competitor’s.
In raising our target conversion rate, we can calculate the number of leads this would generate which in turn feeds into your business plan.
Your website is now becoming a much more effective lead generation machine: attracting interested people to your company. You will begin to gain clarity on the type of content which leads to sales.
We cannot continuously be in front of our prospective customers – but let’s not miss an opportunity to keep in touch with them.
Companies who sell to businesses and consumers usually find they make numerous contacts before a sale is made. Every communication is an opportunity to move your business relationship along and make a positive difference to your prospect.
A website which brings leads and sales into the business goes on to become an income-generating asset which keeps on working even when you are not.
Increase your profits through high-quality communications
Successful marketing campaigns depend on:
- Excellent website content, high-converting campaign landing pages and money-making emails
- Sales letters, flyers and brochures which readers keep, refer to and read at length, leading to an influx of enquiries.
- Blogs, articles and social media posts keeping you in touch so customers buy again and again.
Each of these communications is an asset you can leverage to generate income and grow your business.
If you have neither the time nor the passion for writing, ask a professional writer to help.
Start a simple tactical content marketing plan today.
Audit your marketing communications to discover and define your target audience. List the content you will produce for this group of people:
- Types of content may be: emails, web pages, mailshots, blogs, sales letters, flyers (for exhibitions and events)
- Some of the topics you can write about are:
- the services you provide and how people benefit; case studies
- essential and interesting information related to your services
- what to be aware of in your industry right now (and how legislation may affect customers).
- Use blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn posts to position you as the authority in your profession locally and among your network – these will extend the relationship social media and face-to-face contacts are helping to grow.
Your business history, background and personal history (including why you do what you do) will form the basis of a good story for your ‘about page’.
Check your company’s service level agreements. Could you extract and re-write sections which describe how you help customers (writing in an informal tone of voice)?
Measure. Improve. Repeat
If you have set up a process to review your business plan quarterly, take note of the figures from your website. All online activity is measurable. Using the right software, you will know exactly what’s working (and do more of that) and what’s not (then you can use a different method).
Your analytics system will help you test the market and avoid risky unprofitable activity. For ads, run two different ones and check the results. Everything is measurable whether it’s our website usage or social media presence. Being successful is easier than ever thanks to continuously improving digital tools.
Reviewing the figures will help you trace profit to specific pages, social media posts and even phone calls.
The more accurate your information, the better your ability to drive profits through your website and other digital and print channels.
In the second year, you will monitor the quarterly business plan and have 12 months of results for comparison.
With this information, you can update your content plan to include those subjects which inform, educate and help people understand what you do and to make the right decisions in relation to your services.
Use your content to instil clients’ confidence in you and strengthen your reputation.
Case studies. Recommendations are powerful negotiation tools. Have professionally written case studies on your website (and use them in all your communications). Ask your copywriter to interview your clients and tell the story in their words – to make the content more relevant to the reader. Use the case studies on your website, social media, leaflets, mailshots and in referrals, calls and customer meetings.
Flyers. Handout at trade shows, exhibitions and leave on promotional tables at events.
Blogs and newsletters. Publish blogs on your website and send emails to your mailing list when new posts are added. This is an effective way to communicate your industry knowledge to your best prospects and stay in their minds until they are ready to buy from you. Emphasise in your messaging the knowledge and experience of your staff and their expertise which as a team provides a high level of support to your customers. Know what is important to your reader. A company’s ethical policy is becoming more and more important to many people as they seek to make better-informed choices about what they buy.
Review the costs of running your website and social media accounts against their role in generating leads and sales.
Great content can help you exceed your business
Use content to help boost your business.
Every piece of content your product becomes an income-producing asset you can use again and again to create business value and form part of our business expansion plans and even exit strategy.
Continuously align the way you run your website to the way you follow your business plan and you will see significant results.
No website should be an overhead but an income stream which works within your marketing strategy to win business over your competitors.
Would you like to discuss how to align your content plan with your business plan for greater effect? Call me on 07711 361532.