confused

What does your company do?

What does your company do? Yes, there is the Government’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code system. Typical groupings include Manufacturing, Engineering, Finance, then sub-groups and niches within them. However the very idea and spirit of innovation is to create new solutions. So even if a new solution is within an existing category, this may not be the same as another business or it would hope to be different. That doesn’t mean it should be impossible to understand! You probably spend money and time trying to advertise, market, sell and appeal to customers, but do they understand what you do? Are you jumping a few steps ahead before you highlight the problem. Explain your solution – why is it better, different or cheaper. And who uses and needs this – perhaps help people understand by adding case studies. This is a problem with new companies but also with all companies. First with companies when trying to get money to fund the business, they can fail to get investor interest quite often because investors simply are confused. At Dorset Business Angels (DBA) I have the job, very often, of telling presenters how many people want to invest, after they have presented . When it is nobody of very few, the reason is sometimes due to people not knowing or “getting”, what the company does. Or not being convinced there really is a problem the entrepreneur claims that needs solving. I’ve seen investors proved wrong, but I would blame entrepreneurs for not getting their story over. What can you do? Not just as a new business but what can we all do to tell our business stories better?

The Product or Service

I have conversations most days with people calling me about their new business ideas, products and services they need to fund. Are you sure you have a product or service that someone out there really needs? Needs more than another business can satisfy? Or is cheaper or better than is out there on the market already? Great! How do you know? Well, as long as you have tested this, somehow…because you have sales, or very solid research. You know your customer(s), problems and what you can do that they will pay for. I wrote about this in: So What? Is there a Problem?

The Company

Can you delivery this solution profitably? Your vehicle to do this is a company. A team. Investors love ideas and IP (intellectual property), but what they really invest in is people. And the organisation the people create to deliver the service. A service to make a profit, and a return on investment over a specific period of time. I’m no longer surprised at pitch events for funding how, an engaging entrepreneur on the phone, can completely fail in front of an audience. You never know. A relatively dull but knowledgeable engaging, trustworthy guy (I use the term gender neutrally here), can easily win an audience with their ease at handling challenging questions on competition, finances, market issues and so on.

Communications across all media

Pitches, that is presentations at angel investor, private investor groups, require entrepreneurs to look at most of the communications elements and one specifically: audience presentation. But I’m not really overly concerned with the latter here. I think that can be over-emphasised. It’s far more important to focus on a sound business plan and marketing plan which demands using a raft of media and  integrated marketing communications. In other words in the 21st century, people buy in all kinds of ways. So you need to use communicate with customers in their buying journey, from initial interest to the final purchase, all the touch points – I wrote about this recently.

Segmentation – target your customers

One of my colleagues at Dorset Business Angels suggested it was dangerous for another colleague to promote his accountancy business as being “one hundred years in business” because it would not appeal to young people. My view? Segmentation is the issue here. A more senior audience would probably value this, a younger audience probably not. Equally, The BBC is promoting it’s BBC SOUNDS service to replace the online radio service, without the care to target older audiences and budget to promote to them. All the money is biased to attract younger audiences. It is a one message fits all approach and little clumsy. Branding products such as Mars bars and other retail products enabled the retail market for decades to target specific audiences. Segmentation and good branding separate and target audiences for products and services.

Making Words Work

John Drewry, a top copywriter writes: “The writer sees it fine, but has failed to understand that the reader is a completely different animal.” I would go further, many businesses give us the same challenge when presenting themselves to the market place. And not just new ones, pitching for funds. Think for a minute. Or just take a random look on Google. How many companies sell stuff, that your read about, that just does not make sense? You may think, you do not understand that sector. I used to keep quiet and think, “I must be stupid. It’s technical or something for a niche market.” Well, I know there are always cleverer people out there! Now I have learnt, by asking others, that I am not the only one who doesn’t understand. It’s like the old fairy-tale of The King’s New Clothes – if you don’t believe or understand what you are being told, just say so. Just ask “What does your company do?”

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Peter Eales presents at Dorset Business Angels

What investors want to hear

What investors want to hear is simply explained on an excellent 10 minute video, on Dorset Business Angels Entrepreneurs website page. On the same page there are some helpful resources for businesses seeking funding and preparing their business cases. I watched this video again recently. I thoroughly recommend it for anybody who wants help or advice on how to pitch to investors. Having watched many videos, and read a lot of blogs and articles, this video guide stands out, as succinct, clear and certainly covers what Dorset Business Angels investors want to hear. Below, I have written a summary of this Formal Pitch video which features Tom O’Flaherty entrepreneur and investor, listing topics investors want to hear from entrepreneurs for the perfect investor pitch, and importantly the sequence you should present. I have kept this article in a list format to make it as clear and helpful as possible, for presenters working in real-time. I base this on personal experience having pitched successfully, and seen hundreds of pitches, and invested too.

The Assumptions

For an angel network, the typical investment sought will be £10s to £100s of thousands. Note, the video speaks of dollars, but it is the same in the UK, ie pounds, where we typically look at £100k to probably £1-£2m. Above that you are moving into Venture Capital and debt funding.

Typical Topics

The typical topics a presentation pitch should cover will be as follows.

  • Market
  • Size of market
  • Management advisors
  • Your solution
  • How you will make money – model, customers
  • Getting to market
  • Financial projections
  • Liquidity – ROI ie the Return on investment, how much, what multiple and when, for example in 2, 5 or 10 years? And what is the exit i.e. A business exit strategy is an entrepreneur’s strategic plan to sell his or her ownership in a company to investors or another company.

The “Secret Sauce” – how to do it better

  • Cover the market first i.e. convince people there is a need. There is a danger, inventors and entrepreneurs come up with a prized idea. It excites them. But does it really solve a problem? Will people pay for it?
  • Convince people you are not a solo act. What happens if you are sick? What happens, when the company grows? What happens if one of the team runs off with your ideas, or takes customers away? Have answers for this. You need a team, an infrastructure.
  • Market: who is the target? Customer Persona – more here on this
  • Be convincing there is a customer problem. Is it a big problem or just a nuisance how big?
  • What is the customer doing now?
  • Is yours the only solution now?
  • How big is the market? How do you know? How do you determine this? What is behind the number? In the old days you’d go to a library to look up the numbers. Now define how you have sized the market; how many prospects, don’t assume there is anything magical in the process – be clear, investor can do numbers too!
  • Investors invest in people. So who else is in your team, and what are their credentials?
  • Product: what, how it relates to competition? Avoid technical detail unless asked.
  • Liquidity or ROI – how the investor gets it back ideally in a reasonable time? You may not know exactly but as much as you know.

Do your presentation in the right order – you’ll have the best opportunity!

Good Luck – Contact Dorset Business Angels if you have a deal for our Investors

Dorset Business Angels investors are always interested in good deals. Contact us, send us your deck, plan and 1 page summary. Call me if you need any help or have a question. I hope it has helped to produce a summary of the Formal Pitch video featuring Tom O’Flaherty entrepreneur and investor, listing topics investors want to hear from entrepreneurs for the perfect investor pitch, and importantly the sequence you should present. I have kept this article in a list format to make it as clear and helpful as possible, for presenters working in real-time.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

customer marketing

The Purpose of Business and The Purpose of Marketing

Peter Drucker wrote: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation.” He also wrote, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself… The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” The purpose of business and the purpose of marketing is therefore a focused complete understanding of the customer, producing something different for them to solve their problem, that has a measurable impact (i.e. innovation). Thanks to Nick Hixson for clarity on the definition of innovation – see his excellent video.

Effective Marketing is NOT

  • Advertising
  • PR
  • Promotion

Effective Marketing IS

In fact, it is not stuff produced to sell things. In fairness, it can be some of these things. But effective marketing requires:

  • A strategy – what do you want to achieve, where do you want to go from where are you starting
  • Establish a crystal clear brief
  • An absolute understanding of your customer, prospect or what is often called these days the persona
  • A problem to be solved
  • A Marketing Plan

So, in summary, “…the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” The purpose of business and the purpose of marketing is therefore a focused complete understanding of the customer, producing something different for them to solve their problem, that has a measurable impact (i.e. innovation).

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Marketing Strategy

How to “do” Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps

Does your Boardroom know how to do anything apart from add up, make things and sell? You might think that is enough? Peter Drucker said: “…the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation…Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” I was in an organisation recently focused on its sales and numbers. This got my thinking about my prescription to shift it and any outfit in a series of steps to be more marketing focused which I describe below. This of course says nothing about the personnel…. In summary 1. What is the problem you’re solving? 2. Who is/are the customer(s) 3. What are the solutions 4. What is/are your customer journey(s)? 5. Your marketing communications match this/these journeys, to try and gain, keep and grow customers. NB you monitor activity at all stages against strategy and plans. This is a super simplified approach to what is required. There is a lot more to strategy in terms of innovation, problem-solving, marketing etc. However, I write this short blog in the context of a when you might be working with marketing “non-believers”, very sales or financially driven colleagues. I guess this means most people…! How to do marketing strategy in five steps means focus on your customer, their buying journey, and as Peter Drucker says focus on marketing and innovation. Your marketing and indeed your selling match the customer journey to the point of purchase and beyond.

What is the Problem?

Be certain there is a problem to be solved with your product, service or solution. And that there is a business for you in providing your solution. Simply: research why your idea will work, will be used, make money, compete, and you can deliver it profitably. Entrepreneurs and inventors come up with ideas and ask for support or funding. Or employees and managers ask their bosses about a problem, or to support a solution they highlight a problem. Investor colleagues and Boards, I sit on will first ask the person, are you sure this is the real problem, the real issue and your solution therefore the right route to take? Too often work starts or is commissioned based upon a poor diagnosis. Peter Bregman in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article says, “Are You Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem?” More on problem solving in my article here.

Who is the Customer?

Have you ever heard people ask, “who buys this stuff?!” Who buys your stuff, precisely, is what a Customer Persona is concerned with. A Customer Personal is a fictional customer profile, a representation of your ideal customer. Personas help us all – in marketing, sales, product management, and customer services – picture the ideal customer we’re trying to attract and relate to our customers as real people. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention. More on this plus a template for you to use from our article on Customer Personas.

Your Solutions

What do you have to offer, to sell, to solve your customer’s problem? You may start with one product or service and then diversify. The whole challenge of how to evaluate the specific opportunity, research, get feedback, design, test, prototype and launch the product is written about in our article here. A whole industry and approach to business has developed in recent years with agile and lean. This is in the advent of software development, with quicker introduction of products to market. The old “waterfall”, step-by-step approach, has been replaced in many markets, by quicker cultures and processes, “trying out” product earlier that in the past, then making changes based on market feedback. And using flexible teams, modern technology and communications to help speed solutions to market. More here.

What is your Customer Journey – or Journeys?

When your typical customer, considers you then purchases, what is the pattern of their purchase behaviour? There may be some more typical journeys which you can identify. Once you have done this you can respond to them. It’s important not to confuse a similar but different “journeys here” which I would describe for the sake of forensic accuracy:

  • the potential customer, or prospect journey
  • your existing customer experience purchase e.g. a customer buying an airline ticket

The customer journey is the path and all the points of contact between a consumer and a brand, a product or a service and includes, all moments of interaction between customer and company. These can be directing such as face to face, phone, in-store and alike. Or they can be online: social, blog, email and reviews to mention just a few. Here is a useful video on how to create a Customer Journey Map.  Here is another example.

Marketing to fit the Customer Journey

What are the contact points or touchpoints, your prospects and customers have on their journeys with you? From first thinking about you to purchase, and after sales? You can list all of these on a chart and then list on a table all the people who interact at each stage. For instance, online, you call these touchpoints are all the places on your website that your customers can interact with you. Based on your research, you should list out all the touchpoints your customers and prospects are currently using, as well as the ones you believe they should be using if there is no overlap. HubSpot have long been experts in these field and here is an excellent article by them.

Growth – the Commercial Realities

A critical issue from a commercial point of view is managing the growth of your business, any product or campaign. Every year, indeed any budget period is a challenge for a business. We all have targets and objectives to achieve. Customers can never be taken for granted, they may leave, buy less, and new customers need to be found. Nick Hixson who runs Hixsons Business Enablers, wrote a fantastic blog recently: “Save Your New Business – Avoid The Chasm“, he writes, “The first people to buy your new product or service will be innovators and early adopters – people who like new things. But then you have to start selling to the rest of the market…And that’s when you hit a problem. It’s described by the chasm. A place where suddenly sales dry up. And losses mount. To avoid this double dip the new business needs to retain enough resources to fund the double marketing effort so that the chasm is reduced or eliminated.” So how to do marketing strategy in five steps means focus on your customer, their buying journey, and as Peter Drucker says focus on marketing and innovation. Your marketing and indeed your selling match the customer journey to the point of purchase and beyond.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Professional People

Marketing Professional Bodies, Institutes, Trade Bodies and Networks

Here are some of the main UK Marketing Professional Bodies, Institutes, Trade Bodies and Networks. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has estimated there are several hundred thousand people involved in marketing in the UK. If you include, digital, sales, affiliate and business development to the marketing networks the numbers may well be in the millions. Here are some of the notable marketing societies and institutes (mainly) in the UK who are also active globally.

NAME URL ABOUT THE NETWORK
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) http://www.cim.co.uk/ The Chartered Institute of Marketing supports, develops and represents marketers, teams, leaders and the marketing profession as a whole. As the largest professional marketing body in the world, CIM offer membership and career development, professional marketing qualifications, training courses and helps businesses grow with tailored support to enhance marketing capability.
The Marketing Society https://www.marketingsociety.com/ As the world’s leading network of senior marketers, we inspire and challenge our members to think differently and become bolder leaders.
The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing  https://www.theidm.com/  The IDM exists to support, encourage and improve marketing performance with development programmes to help you be the best you can be.
 The DMA  https://dma.org.uk  Our network of more than 1,000 UK companies is privy to research, free legal advice, political lobbying and industry guidance. Our members connect at regular events that inspire creativity, innovation, responsible marketing and more. Most of them are free. A DMA membership is a badge of accreditation. We give the industry best-practice guidelines, legal updates and a code that puts the customer at the heart. We represent a data-driven industry that’s leading the business sector in creativity and innovation.
Market Research Society  

https://www.mrs.org.uk/

 

 The Market Research Society (MRS) is the UK professional body for research, insight and analytics.
UK Marketing Network  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1780141/profile  The UK Marketing Network is the country’s largest and most interactive LinkedIn group for UK only marketing professionals, powered by Cambridge Marketing College and Only Marketing Jobs.
UK Affiliate Marketing Networks  http://www.amwso.co.uk/affiliatenetworks.php A list of UK focused Affiliate Marketing Networks.
The Institute of Sales Management https://www.ismprofessional.com First established in 1911 as the Sales Managers Association, the institute has striven to be the authoritative voice of selling and the custodian of sales standards, ethics and best practice throughout its existence. Now rebranded as the Institute of Sales Management, it exists to promote the professionalism and integrity of sales by providing internationally recognised learning opportunities, thought leadership, peer to peer guidance and advice and industry related news and information.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations – CIPR https://www.cipr.co.uk/ The chartered body for public relations and the largest
membership organisation for PR professionals in Europe.
Public Relations Consultants Association https://www.prca.org.uk/ The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and communications work,
helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.
The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications,
providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.
Marketing Agencies Association – MAAG https://www.marketingagencies.org.uk/ The MAAG is at the forefront of the sector, working with and on behalf of our member agencies
to adapt and respond to the ever-changing landscape.
Advertising Standards Association – ASA
Committee of Advertising Practice – CAP
https://www.asa.org.uk/ The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.
We apply the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).
The Digital Marketing Institute https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com The Digital Marketing Institute sets the global standard in digital marketing and selling certification. We have certified more professionals to a single digital education standard than any other certification body.
The Advertising Association https://www.adassoc.org.uk/ Are the only organisation that brings together agencies, brands and media to combine strengths
and seek consensus on the issues and opportunities that affect them.
The Institute of Promotional Marketing  

https://www.theipm.org.uk

 The IPM is the leading professional body for the promotional marketing industry, and we are here to serve you – our members.
The Institute of Business Development http://ibdi.org/# To provide ethical and professional leadership and guidance to business professionals globally by promoting high standards of ethics, education, and professional excellence that are recognized worldwide.

For more on problem solving using analytical and creative tools contact us:
Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Up To Date Marketing

How to stay up to date with marketing

The best way to stay up to date with marketing is to work closely with innovators and leading marketers. I do this in two ways, first at Dorset Business Angels, part of UK Business Angels Association – UKBAA- , where we work with innovative start-ups and growth companies. Secondly as a Chartered Institute of Marketing, CIM Chartered Marketer and Fellow, part of the world’s largest professional marketing body. We are all busy. Certainly I am. So to save you and me time, let me use this article as a vehicle which I will continually update with the latest from DBA/UKBAA in terms of news and innovation. And the latest ideas from CIM on how too to stay sharp with your marketing and be alert to what is innovative. In other words how to stay up to date with marketing and be innovative.

Marketing

Chartered Institute of Marketing

CIM is the world’s leading professional marketing body with over 28,000 members worldwide, including more than 3,000 Chartered Marketers. Here’s a list of their courses. Here’s the CIM twitter feed with lots of free helpful content. There are CIM events all the time you can look out for here. And plenty of content online in terms of CIM Catalyst Online Magazine, podcasts, videos, and webinars. Daniel Rowles, CIM Course Lecturer, CEO of TargetInternet.com delivered a terrific webinar on the topic of staying up to date with marketing. My topic is slightly different as I focus on innovation too. He occupies the digital space. I am more of commercial, investor centric, but still similar and share many interests. Daniel shares some terrific resources including:

  • CIM Webinars – including his “the future marketer ” for CIM Members
  • Daniel’s a huge fan of podcasts and top of the list comes Masters of Scale by @reidhoffman
  • Digital Capability– award winning model from TargetInternet – how ready is your organisation for digital?
  • Feedly – a great way to an easy way to aggregate your information feeds in one place.
  • Internet live stats for key sites eg websites etc,  Live counter showing estimated currentinternet users
  • Assesses your digital skills in a variety of digital marketing disciplines against industry standards and best practice – here
  • Digital Skills Benchmark Report from TargetInternet here

The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

The IDM exists to support, encourage and improve marketing performance with development programmes to help you be the best you can be. As someone active in digital and direct marketing, I have been a member (and a Fellow) for years. It is an agile training focused organisation, with great speakers with many courses to help you, and well worth a look. See here for website. And for helpful twitter content and updates see TheIDM here.

Digital Marketing Top Websites

From o i solutions resources to help you with your digital marketing. Tools and ideas to help you post, find content, measure, and research digital, online, marketing and social media. My favourite site, I unashamadely post regularly is the fantastic DIGITAL STRATEGY CONSULTING, celebrating 15 years of digital marketing research and news.

Marketing Professional Bodies, Institutes, Trade Bodies and Networks

Here are some of the main UK Marketing Professional Bodies, Institutes, Trade Bodies and Networks. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has estimated there are several hundred thousand people involved in marketing in the UK. If you include, digital, sales, affiliate and business development to the marketing networks the numbers may well be in the millions. View here are some of the notable marketing societies and institutes (mainly) in the UK who are also active globally.

Innovation

Innovation from new ideas, products, services, and creative entrepreneurs at Dorset Business Angels, and the many angel networks, venture capital groups and networks part of UK Business Angels Association – UKBAA- , where we work with innovative start-ups and growth companies. So working with DBA, UKBAA and CIM is the best way I find to stay up to date with marketing staying close to innovators and leading marketers.

For more on problem solving using analytical and creative tools contact us:
Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

DBA Plans

Your Pitching Checklist for Presenting to Angel Investors

Here is your pitching checklist for presenting to Angel Investors. There are 8 key items that should be included in any pitch. At Dorset Business Angels we list these on our website Entrepreneur Resources page for all companies who approach us interested in presenting to us. Here is the list:

  1. Explain what your product or service is and what problem or opportunity it addresses
    and / or solves?
  2. Itemise any IP associated with the product/service and confirm that the Company is the owner?
  3. Who is your target customer?
  4. Who are your competitors and what is it that makes your product, or service, unique, or different to theirs?
  5. What stage is your business at, are you pre-revenue, already trading, or if not, when will you be so?
  6. How many of the current Shareholders / Directors have actually invested their own money into the business and how much is that and what shareholding do they own?
  7. What is your “Pre – money” valuation of the business and how did you arrive at this figure?
  8. Explain exactly what the offer is to the potential Angel Investor, what % of the business do they get for their cash and also, what is the proposed Exit value and therefore the multiple of their investment that they could achieve?

And how does this fit into your overall fundraising process with business angels? Well this is how….

The Fund Raising Process

Prepare and submit a business proposition – send us 3 items

You can send your propositions to us. You can speak to me Peter Eales on 01202 706 975 or email us . What should you send?

  1. Ideally a One Page Summary – see below our Entrepreneur Resources website page for a template.
  2. Your Business Plan – again see the Entrepreneur Resources website page – which normally includes financials ie cashflows, P&L and Balance Sheet.
  3. And include item 3 which is as per above the key points covered in the Pitching Checklist.

These are essential points that investors want to know about any investment they may consider. Your accountant, lawyer, Finance Director or other professional advisers may help you to produce this information. If you have a PowerPoint Presentation or a similar presentation, then so much the better.

All this will enable our screening team to understand immediately if there is or is not potential. Peter Eales one of our founder directors and General Manager forwards this information to Frank Guinn our Vice Chairman to review. Frank will contact you to say if we would like to short-list your pitch for one of our Investor Dinner Events, or if we have more questions.

Present at one of our pitch events

You can then present if selected at our Investors’ Dinner. Prepare a compelling summary to give us, in 10 to 15 minutes, a description of the investment opportunity. You may find this Pitching Checklist useful to help structure your presentation.

Follow-up and due diligence

If one or more investors are interested, you will be asked to provide detailed business plans, including financials and marketing plans.

Conclusion

Investors are very focused. They are often people who have a short attention span. So be clear when you present your case. The 8 key items that should be included in any Pitch by a Company to potential Angel Investors are an essential component of your business plan and your pitch.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Shareholder or Partnership agreements

Your Strategy is the bedrock for Shareholder or Partnership agreements

In a new startup or small business, you want to ensure a fair relationship between the leadership team, govern how the company is run, set out rights and obligations and if there are shareholders, protect their investment. Do you need a Shareholder, Partnership or any other form of Agreements? And how does this vary from a Business Plan. What about all that other stuff you hear about Vision, Mission Statements and values….Words, words, buzz words and jargon perhaps. Or are they? Shakespeare as ever, summed it up: “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” However more positively, George Byron wrote, beautifully: “A drop of ink may make a million think.” To cut to the chase. Nick Hixson, from Hixsons Business Enablers, where I head up the marketing, sums it up perfectly in his helpful blog, What Shareholder Agreements Are Really For. Nick, with nearly four decades of experience advising small businesses, stresses the need to agree your strategy, vision and mission. And with his clients, he seeks to regularly revisit these, as the business develops, and situations change. The issue with a Shareholder Agreement, or in fact any type of business agreement, is that they are written at a specific time, lawyers help you in good faith, but as Nick writes in his blog, their involvement stops when the agreement is signed. Or it usually does on a routine basis, certainly. Create your strategy first, it is the bedrock for shareholder, partnership in fact any appropriate agreement. The strategy, vision and mission, agreed by the leadership team generates growth and innovation. And this is something that needs to be revisited and sustained for success.

A Toolkit

At Dorset Business Angels, the dragons den (if you like) for Dorset, where I am a founder director, a question always asked of all presenter pitches, is about the people running the business. Who is in the CEO, the key players, shareholders, is there IP and what happens if someone leaves? I covered the pitch presentation itself in a previous article, What investors want to hear. This was in essence about knowing you are solving a real problem, your market, knowing your target customer, and having a clear ROI for investors. Now let’s focus on what a startup or small business needs on its growth journey. To keep it simple:

A Meeting of Minds

I’ve been involved with new businesses, where partners or directors say: “hadn’t we better have a contract, partnership or some kind of shareholders agreement?” I’m now very clear, having worked with a lot of accountants and especially with Hixsons, the need is to get your ideas organised first. It’s about your vision, mission and strategy: simply, what you want to do, with whom and for who. It’s the same as when you go to get a service from a supplier. Such as a website. The clearer your brief to the supplier, the better job they do for you. And if you and your fellow partner(s) and director(s) can agree your strategy first, it makes documentation much simpler. I like the phrase used in law often: meeting of the minds, (also referred to as mutual agreement, mutual assent or consensus ad idem). It’s is a phrase in contract law used to describe the intentions of the parties forming the contract. It refers to the situation where there is a common understanding in the formation of the contract. Create your strategy first, it is the bedrock for shareholder, partnership in fact any appropriate agreement. The strategy, vision and mission, agreed by the leadership team generates growth and innovation. And this is something that needs to be revisited and sustained for success.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Love your Customers

Lead Generation, Business Development, Marketing? Love your customers.

Our local Tesco Manager is terrific because he seems to love his customers, the staff, he’s energetic and always walking around the store helping. I know Tesco isn’t American but this chap’s attitude is typical of service attitudes in many US firms. I love the attitude of American companies. I worked for one, the first 15 years of my career. And then after that with others distributing products across Europe. Yes, they can be aggressive, and I learned about lead generation, selling, direct marketing and hitting quotas to make profit. For the good of the company. But also, to love your customers. This can sound shallow, but in 2018 to really love your customer, just like a partner in life, you need to understand them 100%, their buying, and then deliver a service. I thought I would just remind myself a few key pointers in order to do this.

Love What You Are Doing

Like our Tesco Manager, it’s about energy. I could have chosen another example: this time I will name him, Don McQueen, Chairman at Dorset Business Angels. He is packed with energy. And few surprises, he is a serial entrepreneur, chairman of many companies and a successful in many businesses. Doesn’t he have problems? Yes. Does he somehow have an easier time than the rest of us? Of course not. But the trick is to make decisions to do what you want to do, be positive, and you can love what you are doing.

Know Your Customer

You need to know who to sell to. You need to know what their problem is that you can solve. It is hopeless, trying to sell something that people do not want. A heater in the desert or ice to eskimos. Be crystal clear who is your customer. The Buyer Persona is a great tool. The template, prompts you to supply the detail of exactly who is your customer, their background, profile, problems etc etc. You can then tailor your solution, product or services to help them.

The Customer Journey

The customer journey is the path and all the points of contact between a consumer and a brand, a product or a service and includes, all moments of interaction between customer and company. These can be direct such as face to face, phone, in-store and alike. Or they can be online: social, blog, email and reviews to mention just a few. Here is a useful video on how to create a Customer Journey Map.  Here is another example.

Love Your Team

People love people, and the younger workforce, millennials look at a brand purpose as much as just salary, when it comes to who to work for. Customers are not just the people who buy. They are the people who help create the products and services, in our company. So, following the same principle of getting to know the external customer, really work on trying to understand the team. Not just an annual or periodic appraisal but as with any relationship, real-time constant effort to empathise.

What Works Best?

I listened, or “attended” a great CIM Practical Insights Webinar on emailing the other day on Emailing. It made the point that effective emailing is loved by customers. It is wrong to imagine people hate email. Bad emails are unsubscribed. Good messages, which understand our customer problems, feelings and issues will work. And in fact, there is no problem emailing even weekly. I mention this, because the webinar presenter stressed the need to focus on your customer. Love them. To love them, you need to really know them, and fit them into marketing relationships including social media, blogs, events and your whole range of activities you engage with them. In 2018 to really love your customer, just like a partner in life, you need to understand them 100%, their buying, and then deliver a service. I thought I would just remind myself a few key pointers in order to do this.

Contact us if you have any questions

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Marketing

GDPR has reminded everyone about all the good ways to do marketing

A few weeks on and we are still all in one piece. A month on, and the key message I am getting from people working in marketing, who aim to engage with customers and markets, is: they are exploring all ways to communicate and listen. This means offline such as brochures, leaflets, magazines, events and so on as well as the more recent focus in recent years on digital which is now under pressure because of data privacy. GDPR has reminded everyone about all the good ways to do marketing. Know your customer journey. Create engaging marketing strategies and campaigns.

This is Good Marketing

But hang on a minute, you may be asking?! Isn’t this what every professional marketer learns in the Chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate or Diploma…Or indeed what a small business hears at events presented by enthusiastic local marketers preaching at events up and down the country week in, week out regarding “integrated marketing.” The need in other words, to use ever tool at our disposal.

A Simple Reminder

For every customer, there is a journey we or he/she travels to purchase a product or service. Here is very helpful template produced by UK Consultancy Customer Champions, speak to Colin Bates for more information.

Customer Journey Mapping

The beauty of this template is that it starts you thinking. For your business, it will be different. You will not have this identical journey, you will have more, lines across and down in likelihood and probably not the same. But it helps you create a model. And, in a GDPR world, we all think it terms of what data we need in any marketing approach. 

Budget Reallocation 

At a Dorset Business Angels meeting and a Chartered Institute of Marketing meeting recently I heard instances of budgets being reallocated post May 25th. What is happening is that with data privacy rules changing, the reach of marketers to be able to be effective with certain digital tools, means they are looking to reallocate spending. Leaflets and online spend is being re-evaluated, for example. In particular being more effective using existing digital tools.

An Effective Strategy 

Talking of being effective, the customer journey is about putting your strategy into action. Either your overall strategy or a campaign. I’ve used this before, but it works: 

Marketing and Sales Plan

The ICO

The Information Commissioner ICO, responsible for overseeing GDPR always made the point, that the 25th of May was just the beginning. There was no “big-bang”, but I am impressed how the general level of privacy awareness now, means nobody is prepared to put up with receiving or agreeing to send mass emails anymore. Or to allow the mismanagement of private data that ended up abusing all our privacy. But it’s not the rules that excite me. GDPR has reminded everyone about all the good ways to do marketing. Know your customer journey. Create engaging marketing strategies and campaigns.


Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited