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

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

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

Idea - intellectual property IP

The Intellectual Property IP contribution to Company Value can be vital.

As the WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION WIPO puts it: “A crucial point about legal protection of intellectual property is that it turns intangible assets into exclusive property rights, albeit for a limited period of time.” It makes intangible assets a bit more tangible, and assets tradable. You may have created new ideas. But you need to protect them. Protected by IP rights they acquire value. Your ideas then cannot be commercialised without your authorisation. You can include your IP rights on the balance sheet. When? This is something you need expert advice upon – more on this below. You may complete an IP and technology audit. Indeed, that could show your IP worth more than your “tangible” assets! At Dorset Business Angels, our Chairman Don McQueen, Vice Chairman Frank Guinn and expert colleagues in IP have been frustrated seeing young inventors failing to protect their ideas and inventions; they and other businesses frequently lack commercialisation capabilities. By this I mean, the process to introduce new product or service to the general market; understanding IP is part of this. We offer mentoring to try and redress this. And partner with experts to pass on expertise. The Intellectual Property IP contribution to company value can be vital. Of course, some directors maximise IP opportunities: they create, protect and utilise IP. Others are wasteful. You need first class legal and financial IP advice on IP. And a great management team to realise IP and valuation opportunities.

IP on the Balance Sheet

Here is a concise and excellent explanation from Metis Partners, who are a multi-disciplinary IP firm with a proven track record in the assessment, exploitation, monetisation, valuation and sale of intellectual property assets (“IP assets”). “It is often difficult for companies to get recognition for investment in IP assets on their balance sheets, despite the fact that these assets often make up in excess of 80% of the company valuation. Although certain types of IP assets can be capitalised at cost, the accounting rules don’t make this easy – typically, the most valuable IP assets such as the company brand cannot be capitalised on the balance sheet.” more on this here. Metis are also behind the excellent Intellectual Property League Table – you can read the IP 100 top hundred league table and case studies special report.

Company Valuation

If you have Intellectual Property IP it will add value to your business. So on this topic, how do you value a business? For existing businesses there are a number of ways, typically:

Earnings Multiples – a formula for how to value a business based on a multiple of net profits (the Price/Earnings (P/E) Ratio representing the value of the business divided by its post tax profits.). Accountants can usually provide the multiple for your sector.

Equity strategy that will increase the multiplier. Building business assets. But while multiples of earnings can be used as a business valuation method, there is no standard P/E ratio figure that can be used to value every business. Certain sectors, such as IT and technology have higher ratios than retail for example. If the business is reliant on a few products or has one or two key people for example, this creates a higher risk of buying the business which will also mean a lower P/E ratio.

The less reliant on an owner the business, the higher the business valuation.
Other drivers of business valuation include:

 

  • new product range capability
  • Price/margin increase opportunity (for more profits)
  • Expansion of distribution channels
  • Expansion into new markets
  • In fact a marketing mix review, assessing opportunities to leverage the capabilities of the company, this will affect the value

Silicon Valley valuation modelNick Hixson Director of Hixsons shared this with us, a more modern, and more helpful approach perhaps?

Its all about the team – so all employees have shares.

Valuation – 2 bases aggregated: Asset value – what they have created in real assts plus any IP, plus future value, calculated in simplest terms as probability of future earnings. So, if the future value is £100m, and there’s a 1% chance of it happening, value now is £1m.

Critically, release of money isn’t all in one go, nor is it predicated on future milestones. Usually, you get more once sales pass £x, profits achieve £y etc. SV valuations and release of funds are based on learnings. Learnings occur when they get better info on market, customers, whatever is critical and adapt pans fast such that probability improves. Thus is how valuations move. If probability of success becomes 2%, suddenly valuation goes from £1m to £2m.

Value

Our investors at DBA are looking for a good deal. Value. Chairman Don McQueen in a recent interview with Dorset Magazine gave his “Top Tips for a Successful Pitch”. Don is highly experienced with matters IP. Interestingly, whilst he values greatly IP and always asks about it of our presenters. He did not list it as one of the key tips. IP is valuable, don’t get me wrong, and will greatly affect company value – crucial to an investor. “Pre Money Valuation” is the value of the company before business angel investors put money into the company. It’s a matter of opinion. Typically investors wanting a lower price (understandably) and owner/entrepreneurs seeking the highest price. But there appears to be noticeably higher submitted Pre-Money-Values these days that we receive. And perhaps accounts for a good number of rejections! In the end, what is the key thing the investors are looking for? It goes back to what Don McQueen says in his Top Tips, it is ultimately the quality of the management team, that makes the difference. That is the reality. That is the view of investors. The Intellectual Property IP contribution to company value can be vital. Of course, some directors maximise IP opportunities: they create, protect and utilise IP. Others are wasteful. You need first class legal and financial IP advice on IP. And a great management team to realise IP and valuation opportunities.

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

Brent Hoberman

People Love a Story, so what is yours?

How you can be ready to share your ideas at events, conference, networking, face-to-face then promote this online? I attended the UK Business Angels Association UKBAA Summit at Canada House in Trafalgar Square a year or so ago: there was a real buzz to the UKBAA Summit event. This was a terrific event because each speaker really knew their stuff, the content was relevant and speakers first rate. Many speakers had a great story to tell on investing success and even failures, but still fascinating and helpful to the audience. There were entrepreneurs, people interested in investing, finance and the whole angel, VC and crowdfunding area which is booming in the UK, and in fact globally. Speaker after speaker, individually and in panels gave very focused insights. And in networking sessions everyone wanted to know who was who, and might they help with a deal. Money talks. People love a story so what is yours?

It got me thinking, when I saw speakers such as Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com, and Founders Factory; Gerard Grech CEO of Tech City, and Lara Morgan all crackling with energy: people were on the edge of their seats listening to these guys and totally engaged. What I was thinking was how a top performer in their field exudes a confidence and class that is just obvious to the audience? This is similar to higher levels people have associated with certain top sportsmen such as Lionel Messi or Roger Federer. The latter two and the top performers at the conference share a focus, total belief, incredible competence (sure!), but must have worked harder than most and combined skill with honed methods to be good at capturing our imagination.

The Story

Even so, it could be that great conference speakers and succesful business people have just been lucky. Would we have listened to their story or anything they had to say when they first started out? I actually think we would. Not necessarily on the topics they speak about now, but it is pretty well established now in business-thinking, that a strong vision is based on a firm set of values or a clear “why” (see Simon Sinek’s video Ted Talk), which drives a leader’s passion. So an Alan Sugar or Richard Branson would  have been able to deliver a rousing “stump speech” even early on in their careers. People love a story and if you are clear about what is important to you, your company and vision, then it is worth having your stump speech ready.

In the USA they call it a a stump speech is a standard campaign speech used by someone running for public office. The term derives from the early American custom in which candidates campaigned from town to town and stood upon a sawed off tree stump to deliver their speech.

And if you are able to prove to people and to yourself you make happen, it isn’t just words. That is powerful.

Clear Pitch, Story and Offer

Why are you doing this? Your reason. And why  should people choose you? What does the market say about your product? And here are a few key marketing questions I always ask myself about a pitch:
  • What is the problem to solve, what is the solution?
  • Who suffers from this/benefits from this? A profile of your target customer “a persona“.
  • Elevator Pitch – overarching message, “one line” + 4 subpoints. Here is a great video to support this.
  • How is it differentiated? cheaper, better, different – or possibly a combination.

If “pitch” is a word you are not used to then, change this for “offer”. What is it you are offering to people.

Support your Story Online

So when you or any of us go off to an event, conference or to meet people face-to-face, have we got something about our story online for people to look at? A website page, case study, or at least some contact details. You need a website, social media business pages ready – LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps Facebook, these are probably the minimum online resources you need to share your story. Plus of course some protocols and basic company rules of what is and is not going to be posted – words and design guidelines. A blog is ideal to start sharing your story, articles and helpful content. The picture can be built up with a little thought ahead of any event you attend. Then taking a few photos and posting them online will get you noticed.
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