20 years providing marketing advice for small business

We are celebrating 20 Years, serving small businesses on 1st May 2015…

As well as a game of Golf, I thought that the best way of celebrating our anniversary would be to provide the readers of our blog with our top Marketing Tips for each year, that we’ve been in business.’

It is a bit like a Top of the Pops, except it is called ‘Top of the Tips’. Coming in at No.1 (1995), we have:

1995 Top of the Tips: Testing

Test your headlines to improve performance. In 1995, it was all about testing your direct mail headlines. Now it’s more about PPC titles, but this strategy could still create 200% growth.

1996 Top of the Tips: Follow-up

Follow up on each of your mailings. This was as true in 1996 as it is today. Most businesses mail or email without follow up. Follow up can often double conversion rates.

1997 Top of the Tips: The three most important words in marketing

The three most important words in Marketing are test, test and test. Test everything to improve performance. It still is as true today as it has always been.

1998 Top of the Tips: One of anything is dangerous

One of anything is dangerous. Having one big client, one way of Marketing, one product, or one sales person is never a good idea.

I learned this from a client in 1998 when they came to me having just lost 85% of their business by losing their biggest client (Vodafone).

1999 Top of the Tips: Working on your business

An oldie, but a goodie – Work harder on your business than you do in your business. Michael Gerber said, “If you are working in your business doing the work, then who is running the business?”

2000 Top of the Tips: Getting past the 5-year point

We had made it into the new Millennium and past the point where 80% of businesses fail. We got past the 5-year mark. Read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber!

2001 Top of the Tips: Maximisation of your database

At number 1 during this year was maximising the current database of clients and prospects. So many businesses spend most of their time, money and effort trying to sell to people they don’t know when there is a pot of gold, just sitting there waiting to be asked for, which is winning more business from current customers and contacts.

2002 Top of the Tips: Keep on keeping on

My top tip for this years was “Never, ever give in.” Or as my good friend, Peter Thomson, put it “Keep going until they buy or die.”

The truth is most people in business give up far too early. Go and buy a book called “Acres of Diamonds.”

2003 Top of the Tips: A picture paints a thousand words

People love pictures of people. Most of all, they love pictures of attractive people and places – that’s a fact.

My tip for this year was to ‘test’ the use of different pictures on websites, emails, blogs and other materials. After all, a picture paints a thousand words.

2004 Top of the Tips: Websites are a waste of time

Having a website is not going to win you any money. In fact, 99% of small business website’s have won them little or no business, at all.

The key is creating and converting more traffic.

2005 Top of the tips: Your client and prospects are on LinkedIn

So what are you going to do about it? If you are like 95%+ of SME’s, then the answer is nothing, or very little.

The truth is that you could grow your business by at least 25% to 50% by using LinkedIn. The questions are:

  1. Do you know what to do?
  2. Are you taking action?

2006 Top of the Tips: Improvising your online real estate

The most valuable piece of Real Estate you own in your business is the home page of your website. So, you must maximise your Marketing Real Estate.

  • Improve the words
  • Add a video with a good CTA
  • Add or improve the pictures
  • Add a sign-up form
  • Add your phone number
  • Add a great offer
  • Offer something of high value for free.

2007 Top of the Tips: Losing 50% of your website traffic within 8 seconds

About 50% of your website traffic leave your site within 8 seconds of arriving and you need to worry about this and focus on reducing this.

Using videos is a great tool for getting people to listen to what you have to say.

2008 Top of the Tips: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

So, the question is – Do you have a Marketing Plan? 95% of SME’s don’t and those same 95% don’t make the kind of income and profit that they could if they had a Marketing Plan.

2009 Top of the Tips: Get the right people in the right seats on the bus

There is a great book by Jim Collins called “Good to Great.” In this book, Jim talks about the importance of getting the right people, in the right roles in your business.

2010 Top of the Tips: Are you trusting your Sales and Marketing to someone with no training?

Who do I mean? Well if you run a really small business, then the answer is probably you. The other day, I spoke at a large conference and asked the SME’s attending if they where responsible for marketing their business and 97% said ‘Yes!’. I then asked them if they have undertaken any sales training in the past five years and 89% said ‘No!’. The figures for sales training were even worse.

One Sales Director even said, “We employ experienced Sales people, so we don’t need to train them”.

One of my favourite training truisms is the old cliche where the Managing Director say – “What happens if I train my sales and Marketing team and they leave?” The answer came – “What happens if you don’t train them and you stay?”

2011 Top of the Tips: Getting from £40k to £1,000,000, or from £1,000,000 to £100,000,000

Let’s face it, there is no ‘silver bullet’. You are probably not going to win the lottery, so, if you are going to do this through your business, then you must invest time and money in your business, specifically in growing your business.

In other words, in your Sales and Marketing.

2012 Top of the Tips: Measure your results

There is NO excuse in modern Marketing methods and software to not know your key Marketing and sales numbers.

This tip involves the essential business process of measuring your sales and Marketing numbers. What Sales and Marketing numbers are you going to measure going forwards?

2013 Top of the Tips: Using Social Media Effectively

Often, I get asked questions like, “I have used LinkedIn but Facebook is not for business, is it Steve?” And this attitude is restricting the growth of small businesses.

Facebook is an amazing tool for businesses, even if you are a B2B. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Facebook Marketing is probably one of the biggest things to happen to Marketing for the past 10 years.

The problem is that most small business owners don’t understand it at all. They post information of Facebook, which rarely win business.

2014 Top of the Tips: Position yourself and your business as ‘The Key Person, or Business of Influence’

Are you the leader in your field, or standing out in a field?

What are you currently doing to position yourself as a leader in a field, or better still, in your niche?

2015 Top of the Tips: The biggest reason we see for Marketing failure

As we hit our 20th year today and we celebrate, I look back on all of the businesses we have helped and the hundreds that have helped double in size, because of our help.

We also look back on those we have tried to help but have not achieved the level of success they and we would have liked. I have to say that the number one reason by far why marketing fails is:


In other words, action is not taken and the campaign never gets launched, or the business never takes the leap of faith to get to the next level.


Now, it’s time to consider our Top Tips. We look forward to doing this again in another 20 years.

Pause for thought. I wonder how much Marketing will have changed in that time?

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