Author: Phil Kingsland

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3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

A clear value proposition helps a business articulate with clarity what it does, who it does it for and what’s different about the way it does it. It’s concise and most importantly based on what your customers actually think about your product or service, not what you, the business owner, think they should think.


Step 1. – Listen to your customers

Get to know what your customers really think. Do some research, online, by phone, use a third party, maybe just talk to them, however you choose, just make sure you’re really listening to them. You want the unvarnished truth, the details, the experience and you have to do your best to forget your own views of how wonderful your product is and not let your views get in the way of what your customers are actually saying.

Step 2. – Develop your proposition

Develop your proposition, by reviewing the feedback you have and building a series of statements that answer these simple questions:

  • What is the service I offer?
  • Who do I serve with it?
  • What are the benefits my customers get from my product?
  • Why is it better than what my competition offer?

Step 3. – Test your proposition

Test your proposition. With your team, with friends, with business acquaintances, with customers. Make sure it fits, it helps people to understand what you do and why you’re right for them. Listen to the feedback and modify as necessary until you have it right.


In a larger organisation there may be many more phases, but in essence these three are the key.

Now, armed with your new proposition you can look at how you express your business to your market and see whether your sales pitch, website etc. need updating. Remember your proposition probably isn’t something that you quote word for word, or paste all over your web site. It’s the foundation from which you build your marketing and sales materials.

Now you have a value proposition, you have a story that helps your sales team sell, helps your marketers market and makes choosing you the right choice for your customers.

Creating an employee value proposition

Creating an employee value proposition

A good employee value proposition (EVP) helps an organisation articulate with clarity the benefits that an employee gets in exchange for the skills they bring to the organisation.  It’s concise and must be based on real evidence and discussions with employees and what they actually think about what they get out of working for you. Every business and organisation has an EVP, whether they have defined it or not. And it’s just because of that fact that it’s worth taking the time to look at your psychological contract with your employees. Here are some simple steps to defining your own EVP:

Step 1. – Talk to your employees

Get to know what your employees really think about what you offer. Do some research, a simple online survey, a full staff engagement research programme, if they’re away from the office lots then talk by phone, use a third party, hopefully you can just talk to them, however you choose, just make sure you’re really listening to them. You want the unvarnished truth, the details, the experience and you have to do your best to forget your own views of how wonderful your benefits package is and not let your views get in the way of what your employees are actually saying.

Step 2. – Develop your proposition

Develop your proposition, by reviewing the feedback you have and building a series of statements that answer these simple questions:

  • What do my employees see as the benefits they get?
  • What are my employees’ views of the leadership of the organisation?
  • How does our vision and mission for the company influence how they see the business?
  • Do our HR processes support fully our purpose as a business and align with our culture?
  • Why is my offer any better than what my competition offer?

Step 3. – Test your proposition

Test your proposition. With your team, with friends, with business acquaintances, with employees. Make sure it fits, it helps people to understand what you do and why you’re right for them. Listen to the feedback and modify as necessary until you have it right.


Using your EVP

In a larger organisation there may be many more phases, but in essence these three are the key.

Now, armed with your new employee value proposition you can tell your staff all about it; use it as a tool to guide how you go about attracting new staff; use it to make sure all your processes are aligned and meet the needs of your people; this is your culture, find ways of ingraining it into all your employee interactions!

Your employee value proposition is your organisation’s DNA, it should run through everything you do.


Creating a vision in a complex world

Creating a vision in a complex world

From time to time, we realise that life has moved on and the things we said 5 years ago don’t apply anymore. We’ve changed, our market has changed, our community has changed.

At times like these it can be worth taking an objective look at where we’re headed and placing some structure around it. The first step is often to lay out the vision of your organisation.

A good vision statement works by helping everyone (staff, customers, other stakeholders) understand and align with the goals of the business for the future. It articulates the future environment in which you will be operating, the nature of the community you will be serving and the services you will be delivering, and how that compares and stands out as different.

Articulating your vision can be a challenging process. It requires investigation, reflection and discussion. It helps to follow a process:

  • Discovery – unearthing the detail: where your market is headed, what your product or service delivers for people
  • Development of the vision – laying out the impact you want to have on the world
  • Testing and review – once you’ve worked out what you think you’re doing, who you’re helping and the reasons they’ll buy into your business, you need to test it – with staff, with customers, with other stakeholders  – and then refine it
  • Communication – the final stage is to let the world know where you’re headed and their part in it.

Now you have your vision you can go ahead and make sure your mission as a business (how you’ll get there) is aligned and, if you like, you can also define the values of your business, to help your team understand what behaviours are expected of them.

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

If you want to get digital and aren’t sure how, or have made some effort, but it’s not paying results, then here are some simple steps to help on that journey.

  1. Find out where your people hang out. Get to know where your ideal clients spend their time online. Do they use social at all? If they do, where do they go, what do they participate in and how do they participate?
  2. Listen first. Listening is just as important online as it is in the real world. Listen to what they say and how they say it. Do they shout about themselves or do they participate in conversations? Do they respond to their clients? Work out how they engage with other brands.
  3. Once you’ve got to know their online personalities, think about how you and your business could join in the conversation with them.
  4. Don’t gob off! Social media isn’t the place to go shouting like you’re at a used car sales lot. It’s a place for conversations. Join in the debate. Speak as you / your brand would speak.
  5. Me or my brand? Some Social media gurus will tell you that social media is all about people, so you should engage as the person, not the business. I think there are times and types of business where this is an appropriate approach, but for many engaging as the business is the right option, because you are able to remind people of who you are and your fans will love you for being the business and all that you stand for.
  6. Remember your tone of voice. Don’t be overly formal if that’s not who you are as a business. Be yourself and even if your account is in your company name you can let yourself shine through and even sign off with your name.
  7. And finally for now: be helpful. The best way to engage with people is to be helpful. Remember that we started by working out where your customers hang out and we listened. Well now we need to respond to their issues – even if the thing you’re being helpful with isn’t going to directly sell your business. By being helpful you build trust and trust goes a long way in the online and offline world.

I hope you found these tips useful on your journey to digital transformation – if you’d like to add any of your own, do comment below.

Why marketing to your existing customers really pays

Why marketing to your existing customers really pays

Business has slowed. You’re looking at ways to give your business a boost. So, what should you do? More promotions to get more customers through the door? Or work on those customers who are already there?

Often when we’re looking at supplementing a shortfall in our revenues, we’ll start by looking for new clients. It feels productive and a new client could be the next goldmine for us. We often overlook the potential of the existing clients we have. Sometimes we’re even afraid to go back and ask for more work from those we’ve got on so well with as clients in the past.

Nevertheless, spending a little time on those existing clients really can pay dividends. Why is customer marketing important?

  • You have a relationship with them already. You don’t need to shout from the rooftops and hope someone will hear. You can be very targeted. And you’re less likely to be pitching against other competitors.
  • It’s cheaper – the effort required is often considerably less than winning a new account.
  • You could convert a client into a true ambassador for your business – get them to do the door-knocking for you by telling the world how great you are.
  • You might even choose to do something for an existing client that goes above and beyond what you’d normally do. Increasing trust, increasing loyalty, increasing your brand equity. This kind of activity can pay back considerably in the longer-term.
  • And even if you find there isn’t anything that you can do for your client right now, it is unlikely to do you harm when you make a courtesy call to someone who has bought from you previously.

That’s not to say you don’t need to go after the new clients. Just make sure the balance is right and you’re not missing opportunities that are sitting on the table.

Developing a digital marketing strategy that delivers leads for technology companies

Developing a digital marketing strategy that delivers leads for technology companies

You’re a technology company. You have a great product. The clients that have your product love it. But you’re not getting the growth that you want. It’s time to look at 2 things: 1) the number of leads you’re getting in; 2) how you’re closing the business.

In reality, you should look at no. 2 first – what’s your win rate? why are you losing? what are the competition doing better? These are the first questions to answer. Only once you’re good at closing the business leads you have is it really worth looking at generating loads more. And, let’s be clear, you have to be honest about why you’re not closing – “the client was an idiot”, or “they don’t understand what they’re buying”, or “our product is clearly better, they just didn’t get it” simply aren’t good enough reasons. If you truly believe that to be the case, then it’s time to look at the way you’re pitching your product. If you’re losing because they want a different feature set, then start qualifying your leads a little better. If you’re losing because of price, then take a closer look at the market. Either way, make sure you know what’s going wrong. And in the cases where you’re getting it right find out why you got it right (the real reason, not the one you made up in your head). All of this is done by talking to your customers and potential buyers throughout the sales cycle and after.

Now, if you’re clear on the best way to close business for your product, it’s time to start filling the hopper with leads. Your digital marketing strategy should help you fill the hopper. We’ll focus on digital marketing, but other marketing needs to be addressed too – we’ll just focus on digital for now, because it’s generally core to the tech sales cycle.

Our strategy can be boiled down to: “Deliver relevant helpful information to your prospects that leads them to think about your product as a solution to their problem. Use digital channels.”. Let’s break that down:

  • get to know your audience
  • get to know what they’re interested in
  • get to know how they consume information
  • get to know the emotional triggers that will spark their interest in the thing that you do
  • create stories that demonstrate how your product solves their problem
  • get the story in front of them
  • make it easy for them to contact you

Clearly there’s a lot that lies behind each of these points especially when it comes to “getting the story in front of them”, but actually if you’re doing the first 5 steps right then getting the story in front of them becomes much more straightforward than you may believe.

Want to know more? Give us a shout.

Lead generation for professional services companies

Lead generation for professional services companies

Differentiation – that’s the challenge faced by all professional services companies. What makes you any different from the rest of them? Invariably it comes down to the same thing – your people. Which is fine if you’re in front of a potential client – they can see your people, talk to them, understand their depth and breadth of knowledge. If you’re failing repeatedly at this stage, then you need to take a serious look at the people you have doing the pitch. But what if you can’t get in front of enough clients? That’s where marketing that makes you stand out will play a part.

What does that marketing need to look like? Well, here’s a one sentence marketing strategy for professional services businesses:

“Publish timely, relevant content for your audience that provides a credible demonstration of your breadth and depth of expertise and make it easy for potential clients to find you and get in touch.”

The first thing to note is that this isn’t about interrupting people. It’s about getting noticed by them as they go about their business and providing sufficient relevancy to make them take real note and contact you at a time that suits them. Let’s break this down a little further:

  • Publish: whether that’s yourself or via another channel, get your content out there, make sure there’s plenty of it
  • Timely and relevant: Hook into what’s going on in the market that your client operates in, make sure you do it when they’ll be paying attention
  • Content: Blog, press release, news story, video, podcast – whatever your choice of medium, let the story shine through
  • Your audience: this is about them not you – talk about what matters to them, what problems you solve for them, not how great you are
  • Credible: Your clients give you credibility, not your subjective opinion of yourself
  • Easy to get in touch: This is the key piece: by providing relevant content, you’ll get found more; by making it easy to get in touch, your customers will find you, and you won’t have to hound them down.

None of this is rocket science, but so many people fail to see the importance of getting these basics right.

Turning up, tuning in and switching on – how coaching works

Turning up, tuning in and switching on – how coaching works

The best business coaching involves a mix of  a number of skills. The first of which is all about making sure you turn up at their coaching session and I don’t mean physically. Mentally turning up, tuning in and switching on is key to getting the most out of a coaching session and letting your potential shine through.

If you’re working with the right coach, they’ll help you show up mentally and then they won’t let you off the hook. You’ll get to the end of the session, feel like you’ve gone nine rounds with Mike Tyson and you’ll have done all the running. It should be like playing a game of squash where you’re the novice and the coach is the expert, them standing on the T bashing the ball around, you chasing after it – only in a more structured way.

Getting the most out of a business coach is all about responding to the questions, which, if asked well, will put you on the spot and help you take responsibility for your actions. You don’t need to be told what to do, you need someone to help you unearth the strategies that are right for your business and help you take responsibility for making the commitment to following through on what you find.

Of course, your coach will need to understand your business and will need to be able to impart to you knowledge, tools, techniques and help show you the way through challenges that can seem insurmountable, but at the heart of all great coaching lies you and your business. The coach is there to help you find your way, in a way that fits with you and the potential within you.

When coaching is working well, your potential is laid bare and able to shine.

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Sometimes people just stop buying from us. Maybe the project ends. Maybe they run out of money for a while. Maybe they think they’ll get something better elsewhere. When a customer stops buying from you what do you do? How do you prioritise which ones to go after? And, how do you go about winning them back? After all they’re often a very warm prospect and it should be relatively easy, right?

If you only have a few customers who you know well it’s relatively straightforward to choose who to go after and all it may take is a quick phone call to re-establish a relationship. However, when the number is greater, the relationship less close, it can be a tall order. Here are some simple tips on how to begin…

1. Take your time

This doesn’t meant be lazy, this means recognise that in order to win customers back, it takes time. You will need to re-build awareness and trust. You will need to re-establish connections. You will need to earn their interest in what you do

2. Remind yourself what interests them and make sure it aligns with what you want to sell them

Some of your previous customers may have chosen not to work with you any more, because what you do isn’t what they want. I know this can be hard to face up to, but face up to it. Pushing water up hill isn’t easy, go for the customers who have a stronger alignment with you.

3. Now go back and look again at what your lapsed customers want

Make sure you pay attention to the detail of what your customers want and how they describe it. Then think about your proposition and make sure your descriptions will resonate with them.

4. Get started

Chances are if you have a large number of customers you want to re-engage with, you’ll now be thinking about the kind of content that may interest them. You are now figuring out your content marketing strategy. It’s all about creating interesting (to your customer, not you!) content (video, blog, stories for the media, social, etc.) that they can respond to and be reminded of your existence.

5. Don’t hit with a hard sell from the off

If you want to re-engage, do that. Engage, don’t sell. Selling comes later, once you’ve warmed your prospects up. For now, you want them to see you as knowledgeable, helpful, and worth picking up the phone to, so leave the hard sell for a while. Build a relationship. Smile. It’ll pay off.

6. Be patient

And so we’re back to point 1. This all takes time. If you’re in a hurry, sure, pick up the phone, let them say “no” and destroy your chance to re-engage in a way that adds value – that’s fine by me. But if you want customers who are excited about picking up the phone to you, then consider some of the above and let me know how it goes.


Crisis Management – 5 quick communications tips

Crisis Management – 5 quick communications tips


No-one likes to talk about the times when things go wrong. But, it happens to us all, whether it’s a marketing or communications issue, or a wider operations or general business process failure. Whether for reasons beyond our control, or not, the trick to crisis management lies in the preparation you’ve done before and plans you have laid in place to handle the unexpected.

Now, there are many forms your preparation may take and it is of course entirely dependent on the nature of your business as to the amount of time and effort you may wish to put into such preparation. One thing’s for sure – at some point you’re going to have to deal with questions about the issue – whether from staff, customers, or other stakeholders, or increasingly due to the nature of social media these days, maybe a query from a journalist or two, so planning how you will stay on top of the issue and communicate about it is a worthwhile exercise. Here are some simple tips:

1. Know what’s going on – get your team together regularly throughout the incident and keep a good record of what’s happening and decisions made
2. Appoint a spokesperson and make sure they’re briefed
3. Be prepared to apologise if it’s your fault
4. Think about what you can do to make reparations for those affected by what has occurred
5. Once you’ve had a chance to examine the cause, be clear on what you are doing to prevent a repeat.

It’s obvious that when you’re in the middle of a situation keeping your head can be difficult, but remaining objective and calm will help those around you and together you will get through to better times ahead.