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Steve Osborne
Top 10% Sales and Marketing

director at

Member Since December 2012

Berwick, VIC, 3806

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Marketing, advertising and design consultant with many years experience in small business marketing strategy; brand advertising; packaging and identity design. Expert in developing creative campaigns to attract new prospects for professional and service-based businesses. Deep and broad experience with digital and traditional media channels; sales and general business acumen

Qualified skills

Sales and Marketing
Graphic Design
Advertising
Branding
Offline and Direct Marketing
Business Consulting

Steve Osborne answered this question

How to increase my online business sales?

Garbo, having looked over your website, there are numerous ways to increase your traffic. Advertising is the most obvious. However, increased traffic doesn't necessarily equate to increased sales. If your current marketing and sales systems are faulty, more traffic will simply result in greater numbers of lost sales.The choice of which methods/channels to use depends entirely upon your available budget and expected return. By which I mean, first establish the goals for your marketing. Where are you now? Where do you want to be at a given future time? What resources can you make available to get you there?The questions have only just started. What percentage of your current visitors become buyers? Whatever the figure, find out why and quantify your funnel. Where are visitors coming from?How valuable are your current social channels?Where are buyers coming from? What characteristics do they share? Are would-be buyers dropping out of the shopping cart? What does it currently cost to acquire a customer? Who is your customer? What would attract her to the site? How often does she buy? What would entice her to buy more/tell her friends?The list of potential questions to be asked goes on and on. When you've established your goals, you can certainly go about answering them yourself with access to good reference material and advice. But to figure out which questions are relevant to your business may require outside help from a marketing consultant.This is probably not the answer you want to hear, but I think you must start with the fundamentals before spending any money on increasing traffic.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How much does advertising cost on Foxtel?

Call the Foxtel advertising department and ask them.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is a good coffee shop business plan?

NickA good coffee shop business plan is exactly the same as any other business plan. Without one, how will you know where you are going and how will you recognise when you've reached your destination?There are good answers to this question within Savvy, here:https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/1364-do-i-nee...https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/595-are-business-plans-a-thing-of-the-pasthttps://www.savvysme.com.au/article/3427-considering-starting-a-business

Steve Osborne answered this question

What makes a good marketer for my business?

Nathan, if you describe the problem you're having with marketing your business, we might be able to describe what makes a good marketer for it. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting very generic answers. Like these:A good marketer for your business is: someone who understands the target market and its issuessomeone who understands the business visionsomeone who understands marketing strategysomeone who understands marketing budgetsI'm being deliberately vague. The real answer depends on your business, your goals, your budget. If you can be more specific, I and others will do our best to assist.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How can I encourage students to book in for these workshops?

More background required please, Tiffany. What is your current strategy for attracting new business? Which tactics have been successful and which less so?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What makes you different from your competitors?

What makes you think you need to be different from your competitors?No, I'm not trying to be smart. It's a legitimate question. Do your customers or prospects buy based on differentiating factors? Do they value differentiation? If so, to what extent? If not, why are you trying to be different?Reading between the lines of your question, I'm guessing you're trying to find a "USP" for your business. Perhaps you're launching a new product into a highly commoditised market, or perhaps your services are the same as other providers in your industry.In my view, the idea of a traditional marketing USP is misguided, outdated and not based on empirical evidence. People buy the product/service that most easily fulfils their needs/desires, which may not necessarily be the one different from all others.Take a good look at your competitors. Are they in themselves differentiated? Or are they all pretty much the same, with superficial, meaningless distinctions? For example: one is red, another blue. One provides services for industry A, another industry B. Take a good look at their customers. Are they in themselves differentiated? Notwithstanding the nature of the product/service, are they all the same – a cross-section of the market?So why differentiate when being distinctive will do?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I need an accountant to start a business?

The short answer is no. While highly recommended, it's not mandatory. The extent you need an accountant (or any other professional service provider) will depend on your type of business, revenue, structure.For example, if you're running a hobby business out of your garage while employed full-time, you might simply need a bookkeeper.If however, you intend to build a company servicing other businesses or the general public, I strongly suggest you seek a good team of advisors immediately. It will be an investment well spent.If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Talk to an expert and discuss the business model before starting, if only to find out what you do and don't need.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I need a lawyer to start a business?

The short answer is no. It's not mandatory, but it will depend on the type of business.If retail, you will want a lawyer to attend to your lease agreement.If service based, your fee-for-service contracts.If a family concern, your succession plan.If with other people, your partnership agreement.The list goes on, but you get the picture. Call in an expert when you need them. Alternatively, it can't hurt to discuss the business model with a lawyer before starting, if only to find out you don't need one.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What are some ways to monetise a site like mine?

To me, you're asking the wrong question.The question should have been: How do I get people to write guest posts for my tour guide/bike hire/camping supply business?The people who made money out of every goldrush in history were the merchants selling shovels, not the diggers and prospectors.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Should I Start A Sole Proprietorship Trust Partnership Company?

Whichever best suits the type of business you are building.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How much should I capitalize my business with at the beginning?

Enough to enable you to carry out the formative aspects of your business plan, plus a 3 month contingency.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Where do I get funding from?

If you're a startup (no revenue; untested business model) – from investors: venture capitalists; family and friends.If you're an established business (profits; proven revenue model) – from a bank.If you're an upstart – (revenue but no profit; business model in need of development) – from a combination of both the above.In all cases, you will need two fundamental things: a business plan that demonstrates the degree of risk/rate of return involved for the lender/investorskin in the game

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do I come up with a business name?

Not an easy question to answer, Richard. But if you get really stuck, there are marketing consultants and identity firms whose job it is to do this.You will want your business name to: help you stand out from your competition; provide recognition for your company, and; steer potential clients toward hiring you.In my own experience, there are several qualities that help make a great business name. It should be: meaningful – say something about who you are and what you do future-oriented – permit growth and changememorable – easy to say and spellvisual – looks good when presented graphicallyunique – able to be trademarked and ownedThere are many different categories of naming – descriptive; metaphoric; acronym; family; fabricated, among others. The trick to selecting the right type can sometimes lie in knowing who your target market is and what are their particular problems.In other words, positioning.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Where do I get a government grant to start a new business?

There are good answers to a similar question here:https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/56-how-do-i-o...And if you are a Job Seeker with an idea for a small business, you may qualify for this:https://www.employment.gov.au/self-employment-new-...

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Is your bookkeeping and accounting done by the saame company?

Like Steven, I see nothing intrinsically wrong with having one company handling both aspects; a case could easily be made for the advantages. A client of mine does exactly that–she runs the bookkeeping business and her partner the accounting business. The businesses are separate but linked. They would claim their clients enjoy: 1. faster processing times; 2. more knowledgeable consultancy; 3. greater contribution to business growth.For myself, I have two separate firms performing these functions. And I run Xero myself, doing basic data entry which the bookkeeper checks each quarter and prepares the BAS. The books are then handed to the accountant each EOFY.I suspect a majority of small businesses run this way. It's cost efficient, timely and accountable.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do you know companies have an on-shore team?

Yes, you are certainly entitled to ask any supplier if any aspects of their production are outsourced. I suspect the importance of the outcome is relative to the amount of money being spent with said supplier, and the degree of personalisation required to complete the production function.For example, it is now common for accountants to outsource bookkeeping related functions to offshore (read cheaper, but no less qualified) suppliers. The reasoning is that they are better able to concentrate on more important advisory functions for their clientele.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How can I get a venture capitalist to pay attention to me?

DebraA similar question* was asked some time ago by one of the Savvy community. Ling asked:"What can I reasonably expect from venture capitalists for my new startup?"Altho' you may or may not be a startup in the traditional sense, I think the way you get VC's to pay attention to you is to give them what they want. Here is the answer I gave back then, which applies equally to your question:Without knowing what your startup is about, my comments are pretty general. Therefore, it depends. Amongst many other things, it depends on what industry you're in, what the scalability potential is like and how much skin the founders have in the game.The first and most obvious thing to say is: they expect a return. And that mighty quick. My experience preparing business plans for VC investment taught me several things – the most important being: 1. your idea is worth precisely zero until it is implemented. Investors want to see a working model. 2. investors are taking a big risk, therefore will expect a big return. After all, if your startup is not doing something that's never been done before, by definition it's just another business. And if all you need is money, go to the bank. So expect them to ask for at minimum, 30% return over 3 x years on say, $1mill. 3. investors are most interested if you can clearly show your three different customers. If you can define these three distinct groups early on, you stand a better chance of growth and a better return on exit. A wiser man than me defined them thus: Customer One is your end-user. It is to serve her needs that your business was created. Without this customer, you don't have a business. Customer Two is your bulk-buyer. This second customer is the one on whom rapid expansion will pivot, based on the idea that it's easier to sell to one who buys 1,000 than it is to sell to 1,000 who only buy one (customer 1). This customer shapes the speed and scale of growth. Customer Three is the business buyer. This is the entity that will eventually buy your business. This individual or company will ultimately make more from your assets (customers, database, products) than you can. This customer shapes your positioning, your customer information collection, your database. And this customer is the most difficult to identify. But it's this last customer the VC's are most interested in, because that's where the greatest value lies. If you can demonstrate a firm grasp of how each customer group is linked, you can argue a simple and very powerful case for investment.
Everything else is just logistics. Ask Neil at Wardour Capital about this stuff. He is the expert.**Note to SavvySME Questions Admin: there is no system available within the site to refer to previously asked questions, if they were answered more than a few months ago. Perhaps a form of cross-referencing could be devised so questioners could find out whether their question already has an answer?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Who here utilizes letter drops for professional services?

Hi AnitaIt may fall into the "traditional" and in some eyes out-of-date box of tactics, but we've had considerable success with direct mail for professional services selling B2B.And depending on the service and the offer being made, even unaddressed mail-outs to all businesses within a postcode area has had an effect. Caveat here: the offer has to be compelling and the creative delivery outstanding.Here's a recent case study example on behalf of an accountancy client: The campaign comprised a highly targeted sales letter within a custom envelope.The firm's principal was repositioned as an SMSF Audit Specialist, and we ran a traditional direct mail campaign to his database of accountancy prospects.As a result of this single mail-out, the firm won over $30,000 of new business, and an ROI of almost 2000% was achieved.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Is There A Rule In Using Google Images For Flyer Advertising?

Yes. The rule is: don't do it.If you do not own the image, it is not yours to use.See above answers for copyright-free alternatives.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Does anyone have any experience good or bad using Upwork?

Like Jef, I too have used UpWork/Elance for some time. Much less so these days, not because of any bad experiences, simply because I find it too hard to distinguish between a huge number of competing freelancers.The platform I'm currently using for outsourced dev work is PeoplePerHour. I like the recommendations they provide and find their system much easier to work with. Another I also recommend is Envato Studio. A lot of good WP designers and developers are available, each of whom is vetted before registering.And it's this lack of third party quality control that's at the heart of the UpWork problem.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How Do You Deal With Business Owners Sensitive To Criticism?

My approach is to set myself up as the harbinger of Doom right from the start. I make it very clear that my communication style is one of simple, unadorned, straight-talking language and that I don't mince words.I make sure the client understands that the "fault" of speaking directly lies with me, and they are not to feel offended when I use firm words.I have found this approach to work more than 80% of the time, even with fragile egos.As a general rule, I adjudge a person's basic personality type and adjust the language style to their preferred mode. Accept that between 15–20% people are just plain thin-skinned, and you'll never appease them, no matter what you say.

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Would you attend training Workshop Run over 5 consecutive days?

Definitely 1 day a week for five weeks, rather than five classes in five days. And that assumes the class is for no more than 2 hours per session. There is no way everyone will attend over 5 consecutive eight hour days. The reasoning is that no-one has a week where they don't have some commitment they can't get out of. Whether it's the school run, or a dentist/doctor/lawyer appointment, or a gym membership, daily life just gets in the way.Much easier to schedule a shorter time period with a longer time apart. And you can suffice with basic tea and coffee catering.If the "blocked-in" approach is favoured, I suggest no more than 2 consecutive sessions per week, after hours. That way, you can have each session running 3 hours (with decent catering) from 6–9pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, on 2 consecutive weeks.Preferred days of the week is a moot point. Experience tells me Tuesday and Wednesday are easiest for most people, but each audience differs. There will always be those who can't do it, due to the reasons above.The final alternative is a 3-day block over a weekend. Start at 4pm Friday, run 9-5 Saturday and 9-3pm Sunday. This approach works particularly well for retreats and remote locations, where the attendees are removed from distraction. However, it will carry a much higher price tag.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How long do you wait to make a follow up call?

Many of the small business owners I work with, regularly submit proposals as a culmination of a new business pitch.One of the hardest things for them to get accustomed to, is the fact that their proposal is way, waaaay down the list of priorities for the client.We would all love them to write a cheque on the spot, but the reality is much different.Firstly, your proposal is probably one of several they've received for the same project, whether or not they said you were the only one pitching. In the best case scenario, they are going to need some time to reflect.Secondly, no matter how important you consider your services to be to the prospect, you cannot live their lives for them. Or decide which business decision they need to make first. The prospect's priorities and timetable are counter to yours.If she decides it's more important to take a week's holiday before deciding whether her bookkeeping and accounts system needs an overhaul, you have to wear it. Choosing a beach resort is far more pressing than choosing a web development partner.For me, I tell the prospect when I will call back. I suggest at the exact same time, one week to the day in future. This degree of precision and attention to detail might seem petty at first glance, but the impression it gives is one of serious intent. If the time and day are not suitable, I ask for a better one, and make 100% sure I stick to it. To the second.If the prospect's reaction is to "blow off" a timed response, one of two things is happening. Either, you didn't read the wants and needs correctly to begin with, or the prospect has already made his decision. And it's not you.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What do you suggest for a font for a picture book? Helvetica?

I suggest the reason Helvetica appears popular is because it's common and easy to specify due to lack of choice. The best of a bad bunch, not necessarily because it's the right font for the job.If the type for your picture book is to be set in a large size for children, I would use an Oldstyle serif. If for adult readers, a Modern serif in a smaller size. In all cases, I would be looking for a font with a larger than usual x-height to aid legibility, particularly if type were to be set over images. Instinctively, I would avoid sans serifs for areas of dense body copy, because they are less legible. But great for headings/sub-headings if set against a serif for text, when applied to longer form reports and documents.It will come down to the type of content you are presenting and the impression you wish to create in the mind of your reader. A trained designer will be able to make an informed choice.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What fonts do you find the most professional?

JohnYour question reminds me of the Desert Island typography game. You can only take 10 fonts with you, so list your go-to typefaces to cover every conceivable written situation. Yes, it's fun and interesting, but no, it can never be definitive.What the font "says" about the business depends on whether it has been selected for corporate/internal use and is therefore standardised across multiple media, or for a piece of promotion. For the latter, the only consideration is whether the type appropriately conveys the message to the market.In every case, font choice is down to the skill of the designer, and how successful S/He is in creating the desired impression in the reader.Font choice is completely subjective. One man's Helvetica is another man's Comic Sans. What I consider professional may not carry the same connotation with others. In the most basic sense, most typographers and designers I know generally accept that serifs can traditionally be invested with impressions of: conservatism, elegance, legibility, high quality etc. And sans are often associated with: modernism, clarity, adaptability, etc. Equally, the reverse can be true, depending who you're talking to.I have a short list of personal Desert Island favourites, but none are selected on the basis of "professional appearance." All are selected for their appropriateness to the project. Horses for courses.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What helps you decide to spend your money on advertising?

SteveThe only thing that influences advertising spend is ROI – return on investment.After you've factored in all the variables – available budget, target market, sales cycle, media channel, creative execution, desired outcome, plus a little bit of gut feeling – you're left with measuring how many prospects/leads/enquiries/sales were generated per dollar spent.That measurement assumes you've defined what a good quality lead looks like, as opposed to a large volume of enquiry from less-than-perfect candidates.For example, a low-cost competition campaign on Facebook may yield X entries, only a small percentage of whom are actually interested in purchase. As opposed to spending the same amount on direct mail to a targeted database, and receiving far fewer, but more highly qualified leads.To that end, there is in my view, no difference between "brand" and "retail" advertising. Unless the campaign achieves a ROI, it can be judged to have failed. Sometimes we have to learn these lessons the expensive way.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Should A Small Business Employ Or Outsource Marketing Help?

Jackie, my stock answer for most service-based businesses is definitely to outsource, for the following reasons:Depending on your familiarity with the plethora of tools, tactics and media available, it makes sense to go with the experts. Seldom will a business owner or single employee be across all relevant methodologies.An outsourced agency is in my view, more responsible and more accountable. Even tho' it's not "money out of their own pocket," an independent agent can see what's needed, rather than what's wanted. An employee might not be allowed the flexibility to make recommendations or decisions that impact spending.There's an adage about "sticking to your knitting." If marketing is not your strong suit, stick to what you do best – be it sales, manufacturing, people management, networking, product development etc. – and employ a range of the best minds available to fill in the gaps. Those skills are not easily embodied in one person (see Point 1).The situations where it makes more sense to employ full timers arise when the business is sufficiently developed to afford, or require, dedicated in-house marketing staff. Even then, it should be looked at as a team effort, again see Point 1.One exception might be when a new business partner is being considered for a business experiencing strong growth. If that person is a marketing expert across several fields and can make a substantial contribution to ongoing growth, it might make sense to bring them on board as a director or profit-sharer, rather than an employee.Hope that helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Is It Possible To Have 2 Invoice Templates With Different Logos?

I'm by no means an expert with Xero – a user only, but I can confirm that it is possible to set up your invoice templates to carry different corporate identification. In fact, that's exactly what we do when billing to different client groups.Once set up (which I consider simple because even a bookkeeping klutz like me was able to do it), you need only select the appropriate template option at the time of billing.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Which email marketing service is the best?

Aside from the excellent suggestions (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor) from Chloe, we've had success with MyEmma.Support is fantastic, pricing reasonable, templates well-designed, usability excellent.We started out on a $35/mth plan, which has now gone up to US$49 for 2500 contacts. Great value, in my experience. And ideal for most small businesses.Have also tried iContact, but switched to MyEmma, due to all the above benefits.

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At what point should I cut off slow paying account customers from additional credit purchases?

Probably depends on what kind of relationship you have with your client; how crucial they are for your overall revenue; what proportion of total revenue they make up and whether you want to retain them or not.Personally, I ditched offering credit terms for clients many years ago. And when I did offer credit, terms were no longer than 45 days.It's crucial you A. have a signed agreement/contract that clearly spells out your T&Cs, and; B. stick to them without fail.

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Should I send an introductory email in the first instance, and then follow up with a phone call?

VijayaMore info required please. What kind of business? What kind of product or service? What kind of prospect do you want to attract?Different industries have different accepted ways of making cold calls. However, all are based on making a compelling case for why the "call" is worthwhile. Your strategy will dictate what kind of tactic should be used.

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I would love to know what stops you from using a maintenance service?

PeterSame reason we no longer have petrol attendants and are happy to pump our own. We've been conditioned to do the basics ourselves, at little or no cost.If you can demonstrate a clear and compelling reason to use and pay for such a service, you might get some traction. But is has to be a lot bigger than the standard save time, save money.

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Someone said 'consultant' is a bit wishy washy these days. Thoughts?

PeterBusiness naming is a perpetually interesting subject. There are as many different approaches as there are different kinds of names. And there are many traps for young players. Seeking professional advice can often mean the difference between great and merely functional.As someone who has devised many new business names and tag-lines, I recommend you start by deciding what you want the new name to do for you. To make that decision, you need to understand the possiblities. Amongst many things, a great name can:achieve separation from your competitors
demonstrate to the world that you are different
reinforce a unique positioning platform
create positive and lasting engagement with your audience
be unforgettable Sometimes described as a one word commercial, a name engages and persuades. But not all names are equal. A great name:communicates the strategy is easy to use fits your existing nomenclature is ownableAltho' successful names may appear to have been created by magic, it is possible to develop names that are dynamic and effective if you have the right process in place. Professionally, I use a 6 Step Naming Guide process with clients. And if you couldn't already tell, naming is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of marketing.I work with 4 major categories of names. Deciding which is right for you involves a number of preliminary steps.1 Functional/DescriptiveThese work best when the business names its products and the strategy is to direct the bulk of the recognition to the company name e.g. BMW, Subway, IkeaThey work worst when they are company names. A descriptive company name is asked to perform just one task – explain to the world the business you are in. It's an unnecessary and counterproductive choice.2 InventedA. Names built on Greek or Latin roots; B. poetically constructed names based on rhythm and the experience of saying themA examples: Acquaint, Agilent, Allianz, Aquent. These are good because they sound serious and are free from negative connotations. Not so good because there is no direct message and they can sound a bit cold and aloof.B examples: Google, KitKat, Kleenex. Easy to say, use and acquire. Lots of potential marketing energy, memorable and emotionally engaging. Tough to be taken seriously in a professional services environment.3 Experiential A direct connection to something real, a direct experience. On the upside, these names rise above the descriptive because their message is more about the experience than the task. Experiential web portal product name examples: Safari, Explorer, NavigatorThe downside is that they are over-used. Note that the same three web portal examples above are also names of SUVs.4 EvocativeDiffers from the others in that they evoke the positioning of the service, rather than describing a function or a direct experience. Examples of airlines: QANTAS – functional; UNITED – experiential; VIRGIN – positioning (evocative)Powerful differentiators and deeply engaging, but hard to get right. If created out of sync with business positioning, can be an ugly mess.I won't go on. There's the better part of a decent article here already!Suffice it to say, if you go down the DIY route, begin by thinking about the desired business structure. Are you always going to be a solo practitioner, or will the business expand to employ others?If the former, it's perfectly acceptable to use your own name plus a descriptor: Peter Howard, Education Consultant. Unfortunately, this functional approach asks as many questions as it answers. What kind of education – pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary? What kind of audience – individual students, groups, classrooms, teaching staff?What kind of consultant – active, passive, advisory, implementer? The answer to these questions is found here: consider the result you achieve. How has the life of your client been enriched? What do you leave behind after you go?It's not about what you DO, it's about what they GET.When you know what's of greatest importance to your client, you'll know the kind of name best suited for you.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What do people think of a cash price for service over product cost? Or does that sound like a hidden surcharge?

While not necessarily sounding like a hidden surcharge, it does sound a little strange/fishy to offer a discount for cash payment on a B2B service. As a service business, you are perceived to be "above" that sort of thing. Personally, my expectation would be of a somewhat inferior service, altho' I might not be able to resist a bargain!However, it's perfectly acceptable to offer a discount for volume on B2B services e.g. Buy Package One and get Package Two at a reduced rate. Or buy all three Packages for 20% off the total.And to assist cashflow, it's perfectly acceptable to offer a discount for prompt payment e.g.Take 5% discount off the total shown, if paid by the 15th of the month of invoice.You would still want me to pay by EFT.On the other hand, it's quite acceptable to have a cash only price if for a retail product. The reason being, quality of the product is a given. I can compare like with like over two or more suppliers. Of course, such offers attract bargain hunters, who are seldom repeat purchasers.Do you include EFT as cash equivalent, or are you generally referring to payments by card? If EFT does the job, why not cease to offer credit card terms?

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I design websites specialising in hair extensions, hair websites/businesses. Is 'Hair and Beauty Websites' too boring?

If for a business identity, I see nothing wrong with using 'Hair & Beauty websites' as a descriptor to accompany the business name, which can then be a little more creative, if desired.Alternatively, you could use something likeSilky Smooth (Name)Salon Websites (descriptor)Either way, make sure the descriptor phrase is in your keywords. You don't have to be boring, so long as you've got the pragmatic bases covered.

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How feasible is 30-40k a month doing web design and SEO as a new company?

It's totally unfeasible, unless you have a client. Either several high-paying, or lots of low-paying. What is your marketing strategy for attracting these clients? You're entering such a saturated, highly competitive, price-driven market that your value proposition will need to be outstanding, compelling and unique, in order to build your business.Lots of good advice in previous answers. Good luck.

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For those who attend expos, what do you take that I might not have thought of yet?

Hannah, tell us what you've thought of already and we'll tell you what you're missing.I've designed/consulted on many expo stands across several industries and have a basic laundry list of do's and don'ts, standard requirements and duties. To avoid boring you with the comprehensive list, tell us whether you feel confident going into this, and if not, what are your specific areas needing improvement.For example:have you allowed for more than just yourself to man the stand?what is your "call to action" – the single thing you want stand visitors to do?have you scripted your elevator pitch?The more info you can share about your current state of preparation, the more relevant the answers will be.

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What is the best way to attract young marketing talent for your small organization?

Give them something beyond a pay cheque. Give them challenges, respect and compliments. Give them something to believe in.

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How do I measure customer interest in the planning stage of a startup?

If you're not already aware of it, Steve Blank (The Lean Launchpad, The Lean Startup) has a great phrase he uses for every startup in the same position as yours. "Get out of the office."https://steveblank.com/tools-and-blogs-for-entrepr...Meaning, you have to actually talk to people ie. potential customers. Not just a few, but lots and lots. About 100 is a meaningful base from which to draw conclusions. And not just once either, but many, many times to: test your ideastest featurestest methods of deliverytest the business modelBlank insists interest measurement is not something that can be done at the desk or from the computer. It must be done in person, so you can see and hear what really matters to people. It's only after doing your market research can you confidently take the next step, whatever that is – development, launch, VC funding,etc.

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Would SME owners be interested in a custom news service?

Not unless it offered something to make people want to change from their current resources. Parity is not enough. What are you offering that can't be found anywhere else?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What percentage of the total marketing budget are companies willing to spend on digital marketing in the consumer goods

While I understand the question James, if you're trying to get an average for FMCG products, it's impossible to answer.Depends on: the total budget; the size of the company and the size of the market; the business' positioning relative to its competitors; the specific goal of the marketing; the specific industry; and the specific company. There is no hard and fast formula, as far as I know. Because even in the same industry, no two businesses are exactly the same, and everyone's goals are different. Other observers may completely disagree.If you want a broad brush approach, I would estimate an established business to be spending between 2 – 12% of revenue across all marketing; and a contender business between 10 – 25%. The variance is considerable because the proportion of online to offline will alter depending on the factors above. Can I suggest you rephrase the question and provide more specific information about the situation you're in and what you want to achieve.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do you convert a physical piece of artwork/picture into a digital one?

Depends whether the desired output is 2D or 3D. And what you want to use it for.If two-dimensional, you photograph it and digitise the file into the format you require.If three-dimensional, you convert the file into a hologram or set it up for CAD and output it from a 3D printer.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How can a PR campaign help my company grow?

Strictly speaking Susan, on its own PR won't help a company grow. Or rather, it can't. However, once achieved, it's what you do with the results that will foster growth. PR does one thing exceptionally well. It garners publicity. If you can convert that publicity into sales, then your company will grow.The advantage of PR over other forms of promotion is the perception of third party endorsement. Meaning, the audience is more likely to accept the positioning of a company if it comes from an unbiased writer. Unsolicited commentary carries more weight than paid promotion. Of course, the trick is to get the publicity in the first place. Media coverage is notoriously difficult to manage and only the stories of greatest interest to the target audience will get published. The message contained must be relevant to the audience, and sufficiently interesting to capture attention. In the main, it requires expert practitioners who know their way around the appropriate media and are adept at finding the right angles to promote stories. Well-managed PR can certainly enhance launch campaigns, build product and service awareness amongst target groups, and stimulate traffic to information resources. Then it's the job of Marketing to convert those enquiries into sales leads, and hence, grow the company.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is the number 1 marketing effort a very new B2B SaaS has to focus on?

In my view, the company/product's value proposition is the No.1 item on the marketing agenda for a new business offering. All marketing messages are derived from the value proposition, particularly the flagship positioning statement. It's difficult to overstate the importance of this area when the product is in launch mode.In basic terms, a simple, relevant and repeatable positioning statement is required that: 1. identifies the problem faced by prospects, 2. explains your plan to help them overcome it, and 3. describes a successful ending to their story.Or to put it rather more flippantly: if you are the cure, what is the disease? If you are the solution, what is the problem? If you are the answer, what was the question?This statement is a mandatory piece of product and service marketing. Without it, sales staff have no pitch to make and prospects will not see the necessity for the service. If not categorically locked down before you start going after sales, your effort will at best fall short, and at worst, fail outright.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do I find potential clients interested in software development and management?

Figuratively, you find out where they live. Then use a combination of appropriate inbound and outbound tactics to reach them and convey your message.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Sales and Marketing

Do you qualify your leads?

JefAny number of words have been written on the subject of prospect/sales qualification. So in short, as answer to the first, yes. The question is somewhat circular. If a lead is not qualified, they are not a prospect. If a prospect is not qualified, they cannot be nurtured. Qualification happens, for the most part, whether actively managed or not.At length, in answer to the second, I have four basic questions I ask as lead qualifiers. Qualified prospects are those who answer all the questions, with a predominance of A responses. If 2 or more B answers are received, the lead goes onto the list as a low priority. If any question is not/cannot be answered, the lead is scored even lower.Qualifying Questions for service-based businesses:Q1. How many customers do you currently service per week? And what level of increase is desired?
A1a. Increase of 10 – 20%, we are more interested (realistic goal)A1b. Increase of 50% or more, we are less interested (unrealistic, or desperate)Q2. What is the expected timeframe to achieve this goal?
A2a. Specific (weeks or months) – we are interestedA2b. Non-specific (wishful thinking) – less interestedQ3. Has a budget been considered?
A3a. Percentage of desired sales or fixed amount – interestedA3b. Driven by new sales (wishful thinking) – less interestedQ4. What is the level of commitment?
A4a. Pressing need – interestedA4b. Partner buy-in required or other factors need alignment – less interestedHope this helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How Does Your Brand Go Viral?

PaulaBrands don't go viral, content does.There is only one trick to having a picture/article/video/meme/tweet/post/etc. become insanely popular and that is, there's no trick.You can't control it. Those that try invariably come unstuck. You can't control or influence in any meaningful or measurable way what people will or will not find funny, sad, hateful, shareable or tweetable.For a business, the best you can hope for is to consistently provide entertaining, informative and educational content for a clearly defined audience and trust that someone, somewhere, sometime, happens to like it and recommend it to others.Different if it's personal tho'. There, anything goes.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I sell my product to someone else to resell?

HannahBefore you do anything, I suggest you take a long, hard look at your pricing structure. 11.90 profit, purely what I make on shirt not including my labourI'm not sure you grasp the meaning of the word profit. If I read you correctly, selling at $35, you get $12 for making a shirt. Meaning $23 goes in materials and overheads. I'm guessing each shirt takes minimum 2 hours to manufacture, using machinery you've provided. If that is roughly correct, you're making $6/hour as wages and zero profit. Depending on how much you value your time, I suggest your wholesale price should be $135. That's just to cover wages, and still there's no profit.Forgive me for being deliberately flippant, but your figures reveal a serious issue that needs to be addressed before you settle on a wholesale price to your friend. If she sells them for what they're probably worth – say $125 – you're going to be seriously out of pocket within a week.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How much should I pay someone to develop a website using Squarespace Shift?

Hi YeeBecause SquareSpace is a self-managed, or DIY platform, I'm guessing your plan is to be very "hands-on" in the site building process. You probably want the ability to change designs and page layouts on the fly, and see alternatives before making a final decision. If your intention is the opposite – to have it all done for you – there are other development/platform choices better suited for your needs.So, assuming the former, I suggest you manage the process by engaging someone at an hourly rate, rather than a flat fee. And you do your work face-to-face, at the same location. That way, you can see what is required to bring your ideas for the site to life. You will learn as you go, better equipping you to build or adapt the site in the future.Your investment may be relatively considerable up-front – say 10-20hrs @ $50/hr – but quickly taper off as you become adept with the tools.Think of it as an investment in your own professional development. Hope this helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Would a self-drafted contract with an individual, not based in Australia offer any protection?

AllisonRebecca Carroll-Bell and Jenny Tse are two of the legal minds here on Savvy who could undoubtedly answer this question more fully. From my own observation, this looks like a straightforward proposal confirmation document requiring agreement on the scope of work prior to the project being commissioned, and subject to the standard Terms and Conditions of your business.

Sales and Marketing

Suffering From Marketing Overwhelm?

Are you drowning in marketing ideas and making little progress across all platforms? Should you be pushing social media? Or getting into cross-promotions? What is all for!#%? It's easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of marketing activities that these days, often seem compulsory. And the biggest victim is productive time. The time spent researching the variety of on- and offline advertis...

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your take in regards to neuromarketing as an advertising technique?

My take is that neuromarketing is less an advertising technique than a market research measurement tool. Whether the science of studying brain patterns in response to marketing stimuli works or not is a moot point. You either interpret the measurements or you don't. Various measuring tools have been applied for decades and will continue to be applied for as long as anyone is interested in consumer behaviour and responses.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ananda Raj Pandey
Ananda Raj Pandey, Developer at SavvySME

Market Trend

How can you create trust with customers?

Ananda, as Lisa sys, it may be semantics, but the problem lies in the way the question is framed.No-one can "create" trust. You can't "make people believe in your products." Depending on the value of the product or service, people will only buy from vendors who are trustworthy. Low value, less trust required. High value, greater trust level needed.Trust is earned, not bought.I'm curious as to what kind of resistance you are finding amongst customers (or prospects) that is causing you to question your sales techniques?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What kind of events would you want SavvySME to host?

In person informational topics presented by guest speakers followed by facilitated networking, appeals to me. As does the idea of a debate, provided there is strict administration and oversight. Very easy to degenerate into an online personality clash!

Steve Osborne answered this question

As a small business owner, where do I start with marketing?

Yee, inspired by your question, I started writing an answer but soon realised it was turning into something more. For the detailed response, see my new article: Suffering from marketing overwhelm?And for the short response, segment your audience, then apply my variation of the Rule of Three.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Public Relations (PR)

What's your reputation worth?

It's a good question Jef, but only raises others.Which companies or situations are you referring to? Is it the businesses or the people within them? What was the perceived standing of the business and what did it do to compromise its reputation? What did it gain in the short term and what was lost in the long term? It's difficult to address your question without context. A specific example or two would help.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What to consider when looking for a business partner or employee?

There are three separate and somewhat generic answers required here, I think. Because of course, it depends on who you are, what your business is and what your short & long-term goals are. Having qualified my answer, here's what is important to me.1. The most important qualities needed in a business partner are a personality or temperament that fits with yours; non-duplication of skills, meaning look for someone with a different and complementary skill-set, not a clone of yourself 2. The most important quality in an employee is enthusiasm. Skills can be taught, but passion cannot 3. In a service provider, value is paramount. The right solution at the right price. That doesn't mean cheap, it means the closest match of budget to expectation.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Startup

What is the difference between hype and speculation?

Jef, my view of a generally accepted definition of the two phenomena is this:Hype – self-serving and self-generated. Meaning, anything paid for or instigated by the business (PR, advertorial, advertising, some aspects of social media) in support of quickly enhancing the entity's reputationSpeculation – comment or opinion from a third party source. Meaning, column inches or social media at arm's length. The outcome is often the same as for hype, but I think the difference lies in who did it or how it came about. Someone within an organisation may well "speculate" about an event concerning the same organisation, but as soon as they publish, it is by definition, "hype."

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do you turn a good business idea into reality?

For me, the key steps for a start-over would be very simple. I wish I had come to this realisation much, much earlier in my 25+ years in business instead of searching for an elixir. First, ensure the product range and service delivery is properly worked out. Once you have something to sell, you need just two things to run a profitable firm:1. a method for attracting new prospects2. a scalable system for converting those prospects into profitable clientsThat's it.If you can consistently get those two things right, any business will be successful. Get them wrong, and you will be doomed to continually wonder and wander, looking for magical solutions. It's a cliche, but what that really means is: get the basic stuff right and the rest will follow.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your best advice for someone looking to start an online retail store?

You could tell her – "Don't."Or if her dream is to make a small fortune, tell her to start with a large one.Of course, free advice is worth exactly what she pays for it, so it's likely she will proceed anyway.In that case, I suggest she start with a plan. Several plans, in fact. the first would be a business modelling exercise. A very good template is the one provided in Business Model Canvas, by Alex Osterwalder. It very quickly tests viability.Once she has established whether the business is viable, a marketing plan is required. It can be very simple, but needs to address three key areas: 1. Positioning – establishing credibility, clarifying value. People won't buy unless they feel they know and trust the supplier. And they won't make a commitment unless they understand the value being provided.2. Attention – awareness, promotion, offer. The marketing message must address the prospect in terms she understands and is interested in, whether the tactics are PPC, social, offline, direct etc.3. Making the Sale – persuasion, relationship, conversion. The site should be structured to motivate prospects and avoid the many mistakes made by inexperienced traders. Give prospects what they want and sell them what they need. Ensure return traffic and repeat sales.If she can't or won't engage outside expertise, the road to riches is likely to be slow, expensive and wasteful. And simply copying someone else's apparent success can be incredibly frustrating (see Business Model above).This is all an oversimplification, so firstly see whether she is approaching the idea with an open mind. After doing due diligence, oftentimes the best course of action is to not proceed at all.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Business Management

How to improve my speaking skills during networking events?

Ling, if it's the introduction part you're struggling with, I endorse Steve's advice to ask a question first. Get the other person to open up a little before you jump in with your "carefully crafted, word -perfect, self-serving" elevator pitch, guaranteed to leave the impression of a sleazy salesperson.

I jest.

Be aware the other person is often just as nervous as you are. Remember, you don't have to always be selling. Listen for points of common interest, or concerns you might be able to help with. It's a conversation, not a competition. I've got a couple of good "elevator" templates if you need them.

If however, it's a lengthier talk you're giving, say anything from 3 – 10 mins or more, the structure I use has never failed me. It's a well-known system called: Tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em.

Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; then tell 'em again what you just told 'em.

Sounds silly? Not really. It's the Rule of Three. If you haven't heard of it before, it's an intriguing and highly effective use of sequenced triggers to ensure a memorable presentation. And rather than go into detail here, I'll write an article if you're interested.

 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Aside from LinkedIn, SEO, SMM, SEM, are there other ways to market to potential clients?

Leo, you might try the old-fashioned face-to-face methods. Join a large, local business organisation or CofC and get to know the members. Attend business events in your area and seek out people who are positions of influence. Join a professional networking group such as BNI and again, establish connections. Cultivate relationships until you are in a position of trust.

The online media you mention are simply digital versions of pre-internet methods. With the great disadvantage of remaining impersonal. Meaning, just because a prospect shares a LinkedIn group with you, it doesn't give them a true sense of your worth. A clue yes, but is that enough to convince them to attend the seminar?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your favourite or preferred project management system?

Maria

After looking at quite a few including a couple already mentioned and several highly sophisticated (expensive!) tools, I went with Project Bubble.

It fits my main criteria in that it's intuitive to use, shareable and has easily defined tasks. Plus, it's okay to look at.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Investor Funding and Capital

What can I reasonably expect from venture capitalists for my new startup?

Hi Ling, without knowing what your startup is about, my comments are pretty general. Therefore, it depends. Amongst many other things, it depends on what industry you're in, what the scalability potential is like and how much skin the founders have in the game.

The first and most obvious thing to say is: they expect a return. And that mighty quick.

My experience preparing business plans for VC investment taught me several things – the most important being:

1. your idea is worth precisely zero until it is implemented. Investors want to see a working model.

2. investors are taking a big risk, therefore will expect a big return. After all, if your startup is not doing something that's never been done before, by definition it's just another business. And if all you need is money, go to the bank. So expect them to ask for at minimum, 30% return over 3 x years on say, $1mill.

3. investors are most interested if you can clearly show your three different customers. If you can define these three distinct groups early on, you stand a better chance of growth and a better return on exit. A wiser man than me defined them thus:

Customer One is your end-user. It is to serve her needs that your business was created. Without this customer, you don't have a business.

Customer Two is your bulk-buyer. This second customer is the one on whom rapid expansion will pivot, based on the idea that it's easier to sell to one who buys 1,000 than it is to sell to 1,000 who only buy one (customer 1). This customer shapes the speed and scale of growth.

Customer Three is the business buyer. This is the entity that will eventually buy your business. This individual or company will ultimately make more from your assets (customers, database, products) than you can. This customer shapes your positioning, your customer information collection, your database. And this customer is the most difficult to identify.

But it's this last customer the VCs are most interested in, because that's where the greatest value lies. If you can demonstrate a firm grasp of how each customer group is linked, you can argue a simple and very powerful case for investment.

Everything else is just logistics.

Ask Neil at Wardour Capital about this stuff. He is the expert.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Does anyone know how to actually sell something that is free?

Hi Michael, as Lisa says, Ripe Near Me appears to have somewhat stolen your thunder. Also, I can’t see anywhere in your model where revenue is going to come from. I have assumed there is an up-sell planned in the future.

To answer your question, I took a look over the Fresh Near You site, searching for reasons your uptake is failing. I have drawn just one conclusion. It is this: despite your research and admirable endeavour, the value proposition is not powerful enough.



Here’s why.



The single most important reason a vendor will sign up is if you show or prove she will enjoy an increase in traffic to the farm gate. Not just any old increase mind, but ten fold. Anything less and natural human apathy kicks in.


It’s not enough to promise a doubling of traffic. If she currently has one walk-in a week, two is not going to rock her boat.

Ten just might. 
So what you’ve got to do is get them over their (quite reasonable) ‘can’t be bothered/where’s the benefit?’ attitude. In other words – show me the money.


The way to do that is to work really, really hard on developing your end-user base. You must create demand amongst your secondary target audience of food buyers, in order to on-sell the benefit to your primary target audience of vendors. 


So the question now becomes: is there a big enough market to support the business model/service? And only more market research will answer that. But not the kind of research that has you asking people whether they would buy the service if provided. Because of course, people will say yes. They just won’t actually do it. You’ve got to find a way to test people on their behaviour, not their intention.


The reason most people (and I’m grossly generalising here) will say they want the service but fail to act, is that there are already enough low-effort alternatives available. With the best will in the world, why would I trek miles out of my way to buy 2 x kilos of organic potatoes when I already shop at the local farmers market, or can buy them at the supermarket? You have to overcome the convenience factor. 


And to do that, you must demonstrate to the end-user (again, as a ten-fold increase) the compelling benefit of making the journey. In your case, a tough ask.


Clearly, there will be a die-hard core of anti-supermarket, support-the-farmer, dedicated organic produce buyers. But your competitor is wherever they are currently buying the same service from. It will take a gargantuan effort to change that behaviour. I ask again: is the audience big enough to support the model?


In my view, for this model to work I think you need to forget the minority targets. They are buying the products anyway. Just not from you. Find a way to tap into the mass market. Your audience is the cashed-up, Masterchef obsessed, full-blown foodie. There are a lot more of them about than the organics-only crowd.


And what you’re selling is: exclusivity. 


The rationale is: superior taste. 


Translated into marketing as: to put real love into your cooking, you must use authentic flavours. Authentic flavour comes from the freshest ingredients. And they are only available from authentic growers.


In summary – unless there is sufficient demand from end-users, vendors will continue to ignore you. Create demand in the biggest sector you can find. Give end-users a compelling reason to use the service. When demand has risen to a sufficient level, convert your free subscription vendors to a paid version of the model.


And there is the revenue stream. Now the question becomes: is it worth it?


I hope you'll forgive my long-winded answer and find this (extremely condensed) marketing strategy of some use.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Can you recommend good web developers in Sydney?

Hi Yee

I have several recommendations in Melbourne, if you're happy to work remotely. Does it matter where the firm is based?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Neil Steggall
Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Leadership

What is the number one skill required to build a successful SME?

Neil – at risk of over-loading the answer, a coupla years ago I did some research amongst seminar attendees on this very subject. When asked to rate their importance for success, those surveyed ranked the following seven qualities most highly: perseverance, the desire and willingness to take the initiative, competitiveness, self-reliance, a strong need to achieve, self-confidence, and good physical health.

None of these are particularly surprising; you'd expect a person who was a successful entrepreneur to be self-reliant and self-confident. However, the top three in ascending order:

3. having great perseverance – sticking with it and not giving up;
2. taking personal initiative – pushing an idea forward; and
1. self-reliance - responding positively to all challenges and learning from mistakes.

The good news is that all three of these behaviours can be learned. You don't necessarily have to be born with them to ensure the success of your business.

Sales and Marketing

Your marketing sucks. No? wait…

Your marketing sucks. No? Wait… yes it does. I’ve seen it. In the twenty-five years I’ve been working with services businesses, I’ve heard countless variations on the central theme of: “why aren’t we attracting more new customers? We’re doing the right things so why isn’t our marketing working?” Here’s why. You’re doing it wrong. You think you’re doing the right things, ...

Steve Osborne answered this question

From go to whoa, what is the process for getting a new product into either/both sports retailers and pharmacy chains?

Can anyone tell me whether line fees are required for the bigger retail chains, in the same way as the supermarkets?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Are leaders in SMEs keen on developing leadership skills?

Hi Louise Here's a dumb but genuine question. What exactly is meant by the term 'leadership'? 

It's bandied about so much by politicians, media, big business etc. and I really don't understand why. My rule of thumb has always been that natural leaders emerge only out of crisis. It happens when a group of people start seeking someone to steer a path out of their current problem. Other than that specific situation, all we're often talking about is a steady hand on the rudder. If so, then it's simply good management and a skill which can be learned. 


So in answer, perhaps SMEs simply don't see a need? 'Leadership' is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Branding

You can’t build a brand with branding.

Content warning: don’t read any further if you’re happy to accept prevailing branding practice  The idea that a strong brand can be created through branding is wrong. I’m betting most everything you’ve heard or read from branding professionals has lead you to assume there is only one way to build a great brand – with branding. They couldn’t be more wrong.  Ever since the term ...

Steve Osborne answered this question

Would you pitch advertising/design/marketing concepts to clients?

Thanks to all who've posted comments so far. Here's a bit more detail on how this might work.

The model is intended to attract concepts only, not execution ie. production would not be included in your submission. This is not a 99Designs model.

There are two levels of involvement – open briefs and closed briefs. Open (or public) briefs are accessible by all and any group member can respond. Payment would vary depending on the brief and the client. Closed briefs are by invitation only. Only those who have proven themselves on public briefs are eligible. Everyone working on a closed brief would be paid for their contribution. 

The entire model is managed by a team of experienced marketing heads. So the briefs would be well-written. This team makes the final decision as to which responses are shown to the client, so yes, you would be competing against other members within the co-operative on open briefs. However, the responses are selected on the simple basis of "best idea wins." The management team controls client communication and production.

A submission would have 3 x mandatory and one optional component. 1. a strong, memorable, two sentence headline or title that clearly conveys the idea. 2. a concise, one paragraph description covering the Who, What, When, Where of the idea. 3. the How ie. an insight into how the concept would be realised. This might include suggestions for production. 4. (optional) some sort of reference image, sketch, drawing, storyboard – whatever you felt might aid the idea.

The model does not preclude you from working with a partner(s), or from submitting multiple responses. The model is intended to induce the best ideas with the least amount of physical labour.

The idea started because we all have a massive file of rejected, unsuited or self-censored concepts. Either the client didn't appreciate their beauty/profundity/cleverness, or didn't have the budget! Whatever the reason, they they never saw the light of presentation. We wondered, what if there was a way to get some of those brilliant, but unused, ideas into the hands of businesses that needed them? Without necessarily revealing where they came from/who did them. Clients get to go outside their formal agency setups and draw from a larger pool of top talent (some of whom might want to stay anonymous because of conflict of interest issues). 

So the co-operative idea was born.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What content for newsletter would make you read one?

There are of course tons of tactical tips for getting your newsletter opened, but in my view there's just one strategic reason a newsletter gets read: relevance to the target audience.

No amount of special offers, jokes, or stunning graphics etc. will substitute for compelling content. Get the basics right and the rest will seem easy. Research the "pain points" of the audience; walk a mile in their shoes and feel their troubles/joys.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Who knows how much do copywriters charge to write a web page?

In our firm, a typical small website project goes like this:

We give clients a comprehensive Briefing Sheet containing a wide range of questions about the business, the market they're in, their competitors and their goals. From the answers supplied and our subsequent telephone conversation, we write the copy and produce a final draft in a format suitable for supply to a web developer.

Fee is $250 per page, with a minimum of 5 pages. This includes one round of alterations. A page is 400 – 500 words.

The reason there is a minimum page count is because it's difficult to write a single page in isolation at a reasonable fee, if it has to be matched to existing content. 5 pages of original content is usually enough for a very small site and might cover: Home; About; Services Overview; Service Description; Contact/CTA.

We do this kind of project as a fixed price deal, because so many small businesses want the surety of not having fee overrun. The only time additional fees are required is if a meeting is needed to further clarify content issues or to discuss marketing in general. In that case, we make an allowance of $250, covering up to 2 hrs. 

Note that this methodology does not apply to all or any other firm, and should not be viewed as representative. It's simply the way we do it. Bigger projects with bigger budgets are done differently, with a lot more analysis, meetings and discussion.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do I change my business name?

Assuming you want to continue trading while you make the transition as quickly as possible, I suggest the following steps:

1. Register the new name at ASIC; register domain
​2. Prepare new identity – logo, stationery etc
3. Create interim website – something that will suffice while ongoing development takes place
4. Select change-over date
5. Send out message to customers advising of change
6. Change signage
7. Reopen the following day

Hope this helps. On the other hand, if all you want to do is transfer the name and assets of one business to another, register the new name and talk to your accountant.

 

Sales and Marketing

Suffering From Marketing Overwhelm?

Are you drowning in marketing ideas and making little progress across all platforms? Should you be pushing social media? Or getting into cross-promotions? What is all for!#%? It's easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of marketing activities that these days, often seem compulsory. And the biggest victim is productive time. The time spent researching the variety of on- and offline advertis...

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Your marketing sucks. No? wait…

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Branding

You can’t build a brand with branding.

Content warning: don’t read any further if you’re happy to accept prevailing branding practice  The idea that a strong brand can be created through branding is wrong. I’m betting most everything you’ve heard or read from branding professionals has lead you to assume there is only one way to build a great brand – with branding. They couldn’t be more wrong.  Ever since the term ...

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Speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 2 of 3

Part 2 of 3 Four Colours of Buyers The first studies of personality types were done around 400BC in Ancient Greece, by Hippocrates. Hundreds of years ago, astrologers began using the four elements of nature – earth, air, fire and water to describe common traits. In modern times, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung refined the study of personality types. He identified patterns of behaviour and suggest...

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Speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of 3 How to influence buying behaviour Will an understanding of the Buyer Group Colours make a difference to you or your business? Yes, if you choose to modify your communication style depending on the type of prospect you attract. And because you have no control whatsoever over the personality types visiting your website or talking to you at a networking function, your communication mus...

Sales and Marketing

Failing to convert? Are you speaking to your prospects in Klingon? Part 1 of 3

Part 1 of 3 Problem: There’s plenty of interest in your services and consequently you’re getting lots of opportunities to present your offering. But you’re consistently failing to convert the majority of prospects into buyers. Have you considered that you’re speaking to them in @#$% Klingon!  You don’t know why they don’t buy – they’re coming to you via referral, website, ...

Branding

Is branding necessary? Can branding be replaced for service-based businesses?

    Forget branding. Unless you sell soap. Or cornflakes. Or petrol. Businesses; services; products; people. Can they all be considered brands? Are they all targets for brand building? There is a whole sub-section of the marketing profession that’s fixated by “branding.”  I'm quite prepared to be shot down in flames, but in this article I reveal the reason why I’ve singled out the w...

Steve Osborne answered this question

How to increase my online business sales?

Garbo, having looked over your website, there are numerous ways to increase your traffic. Advertising is the most obvious. However, increased traffic doesn't necessarily equate to increased sales. If your current marketing and sales systems are faulty, more traffic will simply result in greater numbers of lost sales.The choice of which methods/channels to use depends entirely upon your available budget and expected return. By which I mean, first establish the goals for your marketing. Where are you now? Where do you want to be at a given future time? What resources can you make available to get you there?The questions have only just started. What percentage of your current visitors become buyers? Whatever the figure, find out why and quantify your funnel. Where are visitors coming from?How valuable are your current social channels?Where are buyers coming from? What characteristics do they share? Are would-be buyers dropping out of the shopping cart? What does it currently cost to acquire a customer? Who is your customer? What would attract her to the site? How often does she buy? What would entice her to buy more/tell her friends?The list of potential questions to be asked goes on and on. When you've established your goals, you can certainly go about answering them yourself with access to good reference material and advice. But to figure out which questions are relevant to your business may require outside help from a marketing consultant.This is probably not the answer you want to hear, but I think you must start with the fundamentals before spending any money on increasing traffic.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How much does advertising cost on Foxtel?

Call the Foxtel advertising department and ask them.

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What is a good coffee shop business plan?

NickA good coffee shop business plan is exactly the same as any other business plan. Without one, how will you know where you are going and how will you recognise when you've reached your destination?There are good answers to this question within Savvy, here:https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/1364-do-i-nee...https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/595-are-business-plans-a-thing-of-the-pasthttps://www.savvysme.com.au/article/3427-considering-starting-a-business

Steve Osborne answered this question

What makes a good marketer for my business?

Nathan, if you describe the problem you're having with marketing your business, we might be able to describe what makes a good marketer for it. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting very generic answers. Like these:A good marketer for your business is: someone who understands the target market and its issuessomeone who understands the business visionsomeone who understands marketing strategysomeone who understands marketing budgetsI'm being deliberately vague. The real answer depends on your business, your goals, your budget. If you can be more specific, I and others will do our best to assist.

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How can I encourage students to book in for these workshops?

More background required please, Tiffany. What is your current strategy for attracting new business? Which tactics have been successful and which less so?

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What makes you different from your competitors?

What makes you think you need to be different from your competitors?No, I'm not trying to be smart. It's a legitimate question. Do your customers or prospects buy based on differentiating factors? Do they value differentiation? If so, to what extent? If not, why are you trying to be different?Reading between the lines of your question, I'm guessing you're trying to find a "USP" for your business. Perhaps you're launching a new product into a highly commoditised market, or perhaps your services are the same as other providers in your industry.In my view, the idea of a traditional marketing USP is misguided, outdated and not based on empirical evidence. People buy the product/service that most easily fulfils their needs/desires, which may not necessarily be the one different from all others.Take a good look at your competitors. Are they in themselves differentiated? Or are they all pretty much the same, with superficial, meaningless distinctions? For example: one is red, another blue. One provides services for industry A, another industry B. Take a good look at their customers. Are they in themselves differentiated? Notwithstanding the nature of the product/service, are they all the same – a cross-section of the market?So why differentiate when being distinctive will do?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I need an accountant to start a business?

The short answer is no. While highly recommended, it's not mandatory. The extent you need an accountant (or any other professional service provider) will depend on your type of business, revenue, structure.For example, if you're running a hobby business out of your garage while employed full-time, you might simply need a bookkeeper.If however, you intend to build a company servicing other businesses or the general public, I strongly suggest you seek a good team of advisors immediately. It will be an investment well spent.If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Talk to an expert and discuss the business model before starting, if only to find out what you do and don't need.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I need a lawyer to start a business?

The short answer is no. It's not mandatory, but it will depend on the type of business.If retail, you will want a lawyer to attend to your lease agreement.If service based, your fee-for-service contracts.If a family concern, your succession plan.If with other people, your partnership agreement.The list goes on, but you get the picture. Call in an expert when you need them. Alternatively, it can't hurt to discuss the business model with a lawyer before starting, if only to find out you don't need one.

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What are some ways to monetise a site like mine?

To me, you're asking the wrong question.The question should have been: How do I get people to write guest posts for my tour guide/bike hire/camping supply business?The people who made money out of every goldrush in history were the merchants selling shovels, not the diggers and prospectors.

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Should I Start A Sole Proprietorship Trust Partnership Company?

Whichever best suits the type of business you are building.

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How much should I capitalize my business with at the beginning?

Enough to enable you to carry out the formative aspects of your business plan, plus a 3 month contingency.

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Where do I get funding from?

If you're a startup (no revenue; untested business model) – from investors: venture capitalists; family and friends.If you're an established business (profits; proven revenue model) – from a bank.If you're an upstart – (revenue but no profit; business model in need of development) – from a combination of both the above.In all cases, you will need two fundamental things: a business plan that demonstrates the degree of risk/rate of return involved for the lender/investorskin in the game

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How do I come up with a business name?

Not an easy question to answer, Richard. But if you get really stuck, there are marketing consultants and identity firms whose job it is to do this.You will want your business name to: help you stand out from your competition; provide recognition for your company, and; steer potential clients toward hiring you.In my own experience, there are several qualities that help make a great business name. It should be: meaningful – say something about who you are and what you do future-oriented – permit growth and changememorable – easy to say and spellvisual – looks good when presented graphicallyunique – able to be trademarked and ownedThere are many different categories of naming – descriptive; metaphoric; acronym; family; fabricated, among others. The trick to selecting the right type can sometimes lie in knowing who your target market is and what are their particular problems.In other words, positioning.

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Where do I get a government grant to start a new business?

There are good answers to a similar question here:https://www.savvysme.com.au/question/56-how-do-i-o...And if you are a Job Seeker with an idea for a small business, you may qualify for this:https://www.employment.gov.au/self-employment-new-...

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Is your bookkeeping and accounting done by the saame company?

Like Steven, I see nothing intrinsically wrong with having one company handling both aspects; a case could easily be made for the advantages. A client of mine does exactly that–she runs the bookkeeping business and her partner the accounting business. The businesses are separate but linked. They would claim their clients enjoy: 1. faster processing times; 2. more knowledgeable consultancy; 3. greater contribution to business growth.For myself, I have two separate firms performing these functions. And I run Xero myself, doing basic data entry which the bookkeeper checks each quarter and prepares the BAS. The books are then handed to the accountant each EOFY.I suspect a majority of small businesses run this way. It's cost efficient, timely and accountable.

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How do you know companies have an on-shore team?

Yes, you are certainly entitled to ask any supplier if any aspects of their production are outsourced. I suspect the importance of the outcome is relative to the amount of money being spent with said supplier, and the degree of personalisation required to complete the production function.For example, it is now common for accountants to outsource bookkeeping related functions to offshore (read cheaper, but no less qualified) suppliers. The reasoning is that they are better able to concentrate on more important advisory functions for their clientele.

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How can I get a venture capitalist to pay attention to me?

DebraA similar question* was asked some time ago by one of the Savvy community. Ling asked:"What can I reasonably expect from venture capitalists for my new startup?"Altho' you may or may not be a startup in the traditional sense, I think the way you get VC's to pay attention to you is to give them what they want. Here is the answer I gave back then, which applies equally to your question:Without knowing what your startup is about, my comments are pretty general. Therefore, it depends. Amongst many other things, it depends on what industry you're in, what the scalability potential is like and how much skin the founders have in the game.The first and most obvious thing to say is: they expect a return. And that mighty quick. My experience preparing business plans for VC investment taught me several things – the most important being: 1. your idea is worth precisely zero until it is implemented. Investors want to see a working model. 2. investors are taking a big risk, therefore will expect a big return. After all, if your startup is not doing something that's never been done before, by definition it's just another business. And if all you need is money, go to the bank. So expect them to ask for at minimum, 30% return over 3 x years on say, $1mill. 3. investors are most interested if you can clearly show your three different customers. If you can define these three distinct groups early on, you stand a better chance of growth and a better return on exit. A wiser man than me defined them thus: Customer One is your end-user. It is to serve her needs that your business was created. Without this customer, you don't have a business. Customer Two is your bulk-buyer. This second customer is the one on whom rapid expansion will pivot, based on the idea that it's easier to sell to one who buys 1,000 than it is to sell to 1,000 who only buy one (customer 1). This customer shapes the speed and scale of growth. Customer Three is the business buyer. This is the entity that will eventually buy your business. This individual or company will ultimately make more from your assets (customers, database, products) than you can. This customer shapes your positioning, your customer information collection, your database. And this customer is the most difficult to identify. But it's this last customer the VC's are most interested in, because that's where the greatest value lies. If you can demonstrate a firm grasp of how each customer group is linked, you can argue a simple and very powerful case for investment.
Everything else is just logistics. Ask Neil at Wardour Capital about this stuff. He is the expert.**Note to SavvySME Questions Admin: there is no system available within the site to refer to previously asked questions, if they were answered more than a few months ago. Perhaps a form of cross-referencing could be devised so questioners could find out whether their question already has an answer?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Who here utilizes letter drops for professional services?

Hi AnitaIt may fall into the "traditional" and in some eyes out-of-date box of tactics, but we've had considerable success with direct mail for professional services selling B2B.And depending on the service and the offer being made, even unaddressed mail-outs to all businesses within a postcode area has had an effect. Caveat here: the offer has to be compelling and the creative delivery outstanding.Here's a recent case study example on behalf of an accountancy client: The campaign comprised a highly targeted sales letter within a custom envelope.The firm's principal was repositioned as an SMSF Audit Specialist, and we ran a traditional direct mail campaign to his database of accountancy prospects.As a result of this single mail-out, the firm won over $30,000 of new business, and an ROI of almost 2000% was achieved.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Is There A Rule In Using Google Images For Flyer Advertising?

Yes. The rule is: don't do it.If you do not own the image, it is not yours to use.See above answers for copyright-free alternatives.

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Does anyone have any experience good or bad using Upwork?

Like Jef, I too have used UpWork/Elance for some time. Much less so these days, not because of any bad experiences, simply because I find it too hard to distinguish between a huge number of competing freelancers.The platform I'm currently using for outsourced dev work is PeoplePerHour. I like the recommendations they provide and find their system much easier to work with. Another I also recommend is Envato Studio. A lot of good WP designers and developers are available, each of whom is vetted before registering.And it's this lack of third party quality control that's at the heart of the UpWork problem.

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How Do You Deal With Business Owners Sensitive To Criticism?

My approach is to set myself up as the harbinger of Doom right from the start. I make it very clear that my communication style is one of simple, unadorned, straight-talking language and that I don't mince words.I make sure the client understands that the "fault" of speaking directly lies with me, and they are not to feel offended when I use firm words.I have found this approach to work more than 80% of the time, even with fragile egos.As a general rule, I adjudge a person's basic personality type and adjust the language style to their preferred mode. Accept that between 15–20% people are just plain thin-skinned, and you'll never appease them, no matter what you say.

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Would you attend training Workshop Run over 5 consecutive days?

Definitely 1 day a week for five weeks, rather than five classes in five days. And that assumes the class is for no more than 2 hours per session. There is no way everyone will attend over 5 consecutive eight hour days. The reasoning is that no-one has a week where they don't have some commitment they can't get out of. Whether it's the school run, or a dentist/doctor/lawyer appointment, or a gym membership, daily life just gets in the way.Much easier to schedule a shorter time period with a longer time apart. And you can suffice with basic tea and coffee catering.If the "blocked-in" approach is favoured, I suggest no more than 2 consecutive sessions per week, after hours. That way, you can have each session running 3 hours (with decent catering) from 6–9pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, on 2 consecutive weeks.Preferred days of the week is a moot point. Experience tells me Tuesday and Wednesday are easiest for most people, but each audience differs. There will always be those who can't do it, due to the reasons above.The final alternative is a 3-day block over a weekend. Start at 4pm Friday, run 9-5 Saturday and 9-3pm Sunday. This approach works particularly well for retreats and remote locations, where the attendees are removed from distraction. However, it will carry a much higher price tag.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How long do you wait to make a follow up call?

Many of the small business owners I work with, regularly submit proposals as a culmination of a new business pitch.One of the hardest things for them to get accustomed to, is the fact that their proposal is way, waaaay down the list of priorities for the client.We would all love them to write a cheque on the spot, but the reality is much different.Firstly, your proposal is probably one of several they've received for the same project, whether or not they said you were the only one pitching. In the best case scenario, they are going to need some time to reflect.Secondly, no matter how important you consider your services to be to the prospect, you cannot live their lives for them. Or decide which business decision they need to make first. The prospect's priorities and timetable are counter to yours.If she decides it's more important to take a week's holiday before deciding whether her bookkeeping and accounts system needs an overhaul, you have to wear it. Choosing a beach resort is far more pressing than choosing a web development partner.For me, I tell the prospect when I will call back. I suggest at the exact same time, one week to the day in future. This degree of precision and attention to detail might seem petty at first glance, but the impression it gives is one of serious intent. If the time and day are not suitable, I ask for a better one, and make 100% sure I stick to it. To the second.If the prospect's reaction is to "blow off" a timed response, one of two things is happening. Either, you didn't read the wants and needs correctly to begin with, or the prospect has already made his decision. And it's not you.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What do you suggest for a font for a picture book? Helvetica?

I suggest the reason Helvetica appears popular is because it's common and easy to specify due to lack of choice. The best of a bad bunch, not necessarily because it's the right font for the job.If the type for your picture book is to be set in a large size for children, I would use an Oldstyle serif. If for adult readers, a Modern serif in a smaller size. In all cases, I would be looking for a font with a larger than usual x-height to aid legibility, particularly if type were to be set over images. Instinctively, I would avoid sans serifs for areas of dense body copy, because they are less legible. But great for headings/sub-headings if set against a serif for text, when applied to longer form reports and documents.It will come down to the type of content you are presenting and the impression you wish to create in the mind of your reader. A trained designer will be able to make an informed choice.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What fonts do you find the most professional?

JohnYour question reminds me of the Desert Island typography game. You can only take 10 fonts with you, so list your go-to typefaces to cover every conceivable written situation. Yes, it's fun and interesting, but no, it can never be definitive.What the font "says" about the business depends on whether it has been selected for corporate/internal use and is therefore standardised across multiple media, or for a piece of promotion. For the latter, the only consideration is whether the type appropriately conveys the message to the market.In every case, font choice is down to the skill of the designer, and how successful S/He is in creating the desired impression in the reader.Font choice is completely subjective. One man's Helvetica is another man's Comic Sans. What I consider professional may not carry the same connotation with others. In the most basic sense, most typographers and designers I know generally accept that serifs can traditionally be invested with impressions of: conservatism, elegance, legibility, high quality etc. And sans are often associated with: modernism, clarity, adaptability, etc. Equally, the reverse can be true, depending who you're talking to.I have a short list of personal Desert Island favourites, but none are selected on the basis of "professional appearance." All are selected for their appropriateness to the project. Horses for courses.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What helps you decide to spend your money on advertising?

SteveThe only thing that influences advertising spend is ROI – return on investment.After you've factored in all the variables – available budget, target market, sales cycle, media channel, creative execution, desired outcome, plus a little bit of gut feeling – you're left with measuring how many prospects/leads/enquiries/sales were generated per dollar spent.That measurement assumes you've defined what a good quality lead looks like, as opposed to a large volume of enquiry from less-than-perfect candidates.For example, a low-cost competition campaign on Facebook may yield X entries, only a small percentage of whom are actually interested in purchase. As opposed to spending the same amount on direct mail to a targeted database, and receiving far fewer, but more highly qualified leads.To that end, there is in my view, no difference between "brand" and "retail" advertising. Unless the campaign achieves a ROI, it can be judged to have failed. Sometimes we have to learn these lessons the expensive way.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Should A Small Business Employ Or Outsource Marketing Help?

Jackie, my stock answer for most service-based businesses is definitely to outsource, for the following reasons:Depending on your familiarity with the plethora of tools, tactics and media available, it makes sense to go with the experts. Seldom will a business owner or single employee be across all relevant methodologies.An outsourced agency is in my view, more responsible and more accountable. Even tho' it's not "money out of their own pocket," an independent agent can see what's needed, rather than what's wanted. An employee might not be allowed the flexibility to make recommendations or decisions that impact spending.There's an adage about "sticking to your knitting." If marketing is not your strong suit, stick to what you do best – be it sales, manufacturing, people management, networking, product development etc. – and employ a range of the best minds available to fill in the gaps. Those skills are not easily embodied in one person (see Point 1).The situations where it makes more sense to employ full timers arise when the business is sufficiently developed to afford, or require, dedicated in-house marketing staff. Even then, it should be looked at as a team effort, again see Point 1.One exception might be when a new business partner is being considered for a business experiencing strong growth. If that person is a marketing expert across several fields and can make a substantial contribution to ongoing growth, it might make sense to bring them on board as a director or profit-sharer, rather than an employee.Hope that helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Is It Possible To Have 2 Invoice Templates With Different Logos?

I'm by no means an expert with Xero – a user only, but I can confirm that it is possible to set up your invoice templates to carry different corporate identification. In fact, that's exactly what we do when billing to different client groups.Once set up (which I consider simple because even a bookkeeping klutz like me was able to do it), you need only select the appropriate template option at the time of billing.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Which email marketing service is the best?

Aside from the excellent suggestions (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor) from Chloe, we've had success with MyEmma.Support is fantastic, pricing reasonable, templates well-designed, usability excellent.We started out on a $35/mth plan, which has now gone up to US$49 for 2500 contacts. Great value, in my experience. And ideal for most small businesses.Have also tried iContact, but switched to MyEmma, due to all the above benefits.

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At what point should I cut off slow paying account customers from additional credit purchases?

Probably depends on what kind of relationship you have with your client; how crucial they are for your overall revenue; what proportion of total revenue they make up and whether you want to retain them or not.Personally, I ditched offering credit terms for clients many years ago. And when I did offer credit, terms were no longer than 45 days.It's crucial you A. have a signed agreement/contract that clearly spells out your T&Cs, and; B. stick to them without fail.

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Should I send an introductory email in the first instance, and then follow up with a phone call?

VijayaMore info required please. What kind of business? What kind of product or service? What kind of prospect do you want to attract?Different industries have different accepted ways of making cold calls. However, all are based on making a compelling case for why the "call" is worthwhile. Your strategy will dictate what kind of tactic should be used.

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I would love to know what stops you from using a maintenance service?

PeterSame reason we no longer have petrol attendants and are happy to pump our own. We've been conditioned to do the basics ourselves, at little or no cost.If you can demonstrate a clear and compelling reason to use and pay for such a service, you might get some traction. But is has to be a lot bigger than the standard save time, save money.

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Someone said 'consultant' is a bit wishy washy these days. Thoughts?

PeterBusiness naming is a perpetually interesting subject. There are as many different approaches as there are different kinds of names. And there are many traps for young players. Seeking professional advice can often mean the difference between great and merely functional.As someone who has devised many new business names and tag-lines, I recommend you start by deciding what you want the new name to do for you. To make that decision, you need to understand the possiblities. Amongst many things, a great name can:achieve separation from your competitors
demonstrate to the world that you are different
reinforce a unique positioning platform
create positive and lasting engagement with your audience
be unforgettable Sometimes described as a one word commercial, a name engages and persuades. But not all names are equal. A great name:communicates the strategy is easy to use fits your existing nomenclature is ownableAltho' successful names may appear to have been created by magic, it is possible to develop names that are dynamic and effective if you have the right process in place. Professionally, I use a 6 Step Naming Guide process with clients. And if you couldn't already tell, naming is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of marketing.I work with 4 major categories of names. Deciding which is right for you involves a number of preliminary steps.1 Functional/DescriptiveThese work best when the business names its products and the strategy is to direct the bulk of the recognition to the company name e.g. BMW, Subway, IkeaThey work worst when they are company names. A descriptive company name is asked to perform just one task – explain to the world the business you are in. It's an unnecessary and counterproductive choice.2 InventedA. Names built on Greek or Latin roots; B. poetically constructed names based on rhythm and the experience of saying themA examples: Acquaint, Agilent, Allianz, Aquent. These are good because they sound serious and are free from negative connotations. Not so good because there is no direct message and they can sound a bit cold and aloof.B examples: Google, KitKat, Kleenex. Easy to say, use and acquire. Lots of potential marketing energy, memorable and emotionally engaging. Tough to be taken seriously in a professional services environment.3 Experiential A direct connection to something real, a direct experience. On the upside, these names rise above the descriptive because their message is more about the experience than the task. Experiential web portal product name examples: Safari, Explorer, NavigatorThe downside is that they are over-used. Note that the same three web portal examples above are also names of SUVs.4 EvocativeDiffers from the others in that they evoke the positioning of the service, rather than describing a function or a direct experience. Examples of airlines: QANTAS – functional; UNITED – experiential; VIRGIN – positioning (evocative)Powerful differentiators and deeply engaging, but hard to get right. If created out of sync with business positioning, can be an ugly mess.I won't go on. There's the better part of a decent article here already!Suffice it to say, if you go down the DIY route, begin by thinking about the desired business structure. Are you always going to be a solo practitioner, or will the business expand to employ others?If the former, it's perfectly acceptable to use your own name plus a descriptor: Peter Howard, Education Consultant. Unfortunately, this functional approach asks as many questions as it answers. What kind of education – pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary? What kind of audience – individual students, groups, classrooms, teaching staff?What kind of consultant – active, passive, advisory, implementer? The answer to these questions is found here: consider the result you achieve. How has the life of your client been enriched? What do you leave behind after you go?It's not about what you DO, it's about what they GET.When you know what's of greatest importance to your client, you'll know the kind of name best suited for you.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What do people think of a cash price for service over product cost? Or does that sound like a hidden surcharge?

While not necessarily sounding like a hidden surcharge, it does sound a little strange/fishy to offer a discount for cash payment on a B2B service. As a service business, you are perceived to be "above" that sort of thing. Personally, my expectation would be of a somewhat inferior service, altho' I might not be able to resist a bargain!However, it's perfectly acceptable to offer a discount for volume on B2B services e.g. Buy Package One and get Package Two at a reduced rate. Or buy all three Packages for 20% off the total.And to assist cashflow, it's perfectly acceptable to offer a discount for prompt payment e.g.Take 5% discount off the total shown, if paid by the 15th of the month of invoice.You would still want me to pay by EFT.On the other hand, it's quite acceptable to have a cash only price if for a retail product. The reason being, quality of the product is a given. I can compare like with like over two or more suppliers. Of course, such offers attract bargain hunters, who are seldom repeat purchasers.Do you include EFT as cash equivalent, or are you generally referring to payments by card? If EFT does the job, why not cease to offer credit card terms?

Steve Osborne answered this question

I design websites specialising in hair extensions, hair websites/businesses. Is 'Hair and Beauty Websites' too boring?

If for a business identity, I see nothing wrong with using 'Hair & Beauty websites' as a descriptor to accompany the business name, which can then be a little more creative, if desired.Alternatively, you could use something likeSilky Smooth (Name)Salon Websites (descriptor)Either way, make sure the descriptor phrase is in your keywords. You don't have to be boring, so long as you've got the pragmatic bases covered.

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How feasible is 30-40k a month doing web design and SEO as a new company?

It's totally unfeasible, unless you have a client. Either several high-paying, or lots of low-paying. What is your marketing strategy for attracting these clients? You're entering such a saturated, highly competitive, price-driven market that your value proposition will need to be outstanding, compelling and unique, in order to build your business.Lots of good advice in previous answers. Good luck.

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For those who attend expos, what do you take that I might not have thought of yet?

Hannah, tell us what you've thought of already and we'll tell you what you're missing.I've designed/consulted on many expo stands across several industries and have a basic laundry list of do's and don'ts, standard requirements and duties. To avoid boring you with the comprehensive list, tell us whether you feel confident going into this, and if not, what are your specific areas needing improvement.For example:have you allowed for more than just yourself to man the stand?what is your "call to action" – the single thing you want stand visitors to do?have you scripted your elevator pitch?The more info you can share about your current state of preparation, the more relevant the answers will be.

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What is the best way to attract young marketing talent for your small organization?

Give them something beyond a pay cheque. Give them challenges, respect and compliments. Give them something to believe in.

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How do I measure customer interest in the planning stage of a startup?

If you're not already aware of it, Steve Blank (The Lean Launchpad, The Lean Startup) has a great phrase he uses for every startup in the same position as yours. "Get out of the office."https://steveblank.com/tools-and-blogs-for-entrepr...Meaning, you have to actually talk to people ie. potential customers. Not just a few, but lots and lots. About 100 is a meaningful base from which to draw conclusions. And not just once either, but many, many times to: test your ideastest featurestest methods of deliverytest the business modelBlank insists interest measurement is not something that can be done at the desk or from the computer. It must be done in person, so you can see and hear what really matters to people. It's only after doing your market research can you confidently take the next step, whatever that is – development, launch, VC funding,etc.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Would SME owners be interested in a custom news service?

Not unless it offered something to make people want to change from their current resources. Parity is not enough. What are you offering that can't be found anywhere else?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What percentage of the total marketing budget are companies willing to spend on digital marketing in the consumer goods

While I understand the question James, if you're trying to get an average for FMCG products, it's impossible to answer.Depends on: the total budget; the size of the company and the size of the market; the business' positioning relative to its competitors; the specific goal of the marketing; the specific industry; and the specific company. There is no hard and fast formula, as far as I know. Because even in the same industry, no two businesses are exactly the same, and everyone's goals are different. Other observers may completely disagree.If you want a broad brush approach, I would estimate an established business to be spending between 2 – 12% of revenue across all marketing; and a contender business between 10 – 25%. The variance is considerable because the proportion of online to offline will alter depending on the factors above. Can I suggest you rephrase the question and provide more specific information about the situation you're in and what you want to achieve.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do you convert a physical piece of artwork/picture into a digital one?

Depends whether the desired output is 2D or 3D. And what you want to use it for.If two-dimensional, you photograph it and digitise the file into the format you require.If three-dimensional, you convert the file into a hologram or set it up for CAD and output it from a 3D printer.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How can a PR campaign help my company grow?

Strictly speaking Susan, on its own PR won't help a company grow. Or rather, it can't. However, once achieved, it's what you do with the results that will foster growth. PR does one thing exceptionally well. It garners publicity. If you can convert that publicity into sales, then your company will grow.The advantage of PR over other forms of promotion is the perception of third party endorsement. Meaning, the audience is more likely to accept the positioning of a company if it comes from an unbiased writer. Unsolicited commentary carries more weight than paid promotion. Of course, the trick is to get the publicity in the first place. Media coverage is notoriously difficult to manage and only the stories of greatest interest to the target audience will get published. The message contained must be relevant to the audience, and sufficiently interesting to capture attention. In the main, it requires expert practitioners who know their way around the appropriate media and are adept at finding the right angles to promote stories. Well-managed PR can certainly enhance launch campaigns, build product and service awareness amongst target groups, and stimulate traffic to information resources. Then it's the job of Marketing to convert those enquiries into sales leads, and hence, grow the company.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is the number 1 marketing effort a very new B2B SaaS has to focus on?

In my view, the company/product's value proposition is the No.1 item on the marketing agenda for a new business offering. All marketing messages are derived from the value proposition, particularly the flagship positioning statement. It's difficult to overstate the importance of this area when the product is in launch mode.In basic terms, a simple, relevant and repeatable positioning statement is required that: 1. identifies the problem faced by prospects, 2. explains your plan to help them overcome it, and 3. describes a successful ending to their story.Or to put it rather more flippantly: if you are the cure, what is the disease? If you are the solution, what is the problem? If you are the answer, what was the question?This statement is a mandatory piece of product and service marketing. Without it, sales staff have no pitch to make and prospects will not see the necessity for the service. If not categorically locked down before you start going after sales, your effort will at best fall short, and at worst, fail outright.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do I find potential clients interested in software development and management?

Figuratively, you find out where they live. Then use a combination of appropriate inbound and outbound tactics to reach them and convey your message.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Sales and Marketing

Do you qualify your leads?

JefAny number of words have been written on the subject of prospect/sales qualification. So in short, as answer to the first, yes. The question is somewhat circular. If a lead is not qualified, they are not a prospect. If a prospect is not qualified, they cannot be nurtured. Qualification happens, for the most part, whether actively managed or not.At length, in answer to the second, I have four basic questions I ask as lead qualifiers. Qualified prospects are those who answer all the questions, with a predominance of A responses. If 2 or more B answers are received, the lead goes onto the list as a low priority. If any question is not/cannot be answered, the lead is scored even lower.Qualifying Questions for service-based businesses:Q1. How many customers do you currently service per week? And what level of increase is desired?
A1a. Increase of 10 – 20%, we are more interested (realistic goal)A1b. Increase of 50% or more, we are less interested (unrealistic, or desperate)Q2. What is the expected timeframe to achieve this goal?
A2a. Specific (weeks or months) – we are interestedA2b. Non-specific (wishful thinking) – less interestedQ3. Has a budget been considered?
A3a. Percentage of desired sales or fixed amount – interestedA3b. Driven by new sales (wishful thinking) – less interestedQ4. What is the level of commitment?
A4a. Pressing need – interestedA4b. Partner buy-in required or other factors need alignment – less interestedHope this helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How Does Your Brand Go Viral?

PaulaBrands don't go viral, content does.There is only one trick to having a picture/article/video/meme/tweet/post/etc. become insanely popular and that is, there's no trick.You can't control it. Those that try invariably come unstuck. You can't control or influence in any meaningful or measurable way what people will or will not find funny, sad, hateful, shareable or tweetable.For a business, the best you can hope for is to consistently provide entertaining, informative and educational content for a clearly defined audience and trust that someone, somewhere, sometime, happens to like it and recommend it to others.Different if it's personal tho'. There, anything goes.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Do I sell my product to someone else to resell?

HannahBefore you do anything, I suggest you take a long, hard look at your pricing structure. 11.90 profit, purely what I make on shirt not including my labourI'm not sure you grasp the meaning of the word profit. If I read you correctly, selling at $35, you get $12 for making a shirt. Meaning $23 goes in materials and overheads. I'm guessing each shirt takes minimum 2 hours to manufacture, using machinery you've provided. If that is roughly correct, you're making $6/hour as wages and zero profit. Depending on how much you value your time, I suggest your wholesale price should be $135. That's just to cover wages, and still there's no profit.Forgive me for being deliberately flippant, but your figures reveal a serious issue that needs to be addressed before you settle on a wholesale price to your friend. If she sells them for what they're probably worth – say $125 – you're going to be seriously out of pocket within a week.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How much should I pay someone to develop a website using Squarespace Shift?

Hi YeeBecause SquareSpace is a self-managed, or DIY platform, I'm guessing your plan is to be very "hands-on" in the site building process. You probably want the ability to change designs and page layouts on the fly, and see alternatives before making a final decision. If your intention is the opposite – to have it all done for you – there are other development/platform choices better suited for your needs.So, assuming the former, I suggest you manage the process by engaging someone at an hourly rate, rather than a flat fee. And you do your work face-to-face, at the same location. That way, you can see what is required to bring your ideas for the site to life. You will learn as you go, better equipping you to build or adapt the site in the future.Your investment may be relatively considerable up-front – say 10-20hrs @ $50/hr – but quickly taper off as you become adept with the tools.Think of it as an investment in your own professional development. Hope this helps.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Would a self-drafted contract with an individual, not based in Australia offer any protection?

AllisonRebecca Carroll-Bell and Jenny Tse are two of the legal minds here on Savvy who could undoubtedly answer this question more fully. From my own observation, this looks like a straightforward proposal confirmation document requiring agreement on the scope of work prior to the project being commissioned, and subject to the standard Terms and Conditions of your business.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your take in regards to neuromarketing as an advertising technique?

My take is that neuromarketing is less an advertising technique than a market research measurement tool. Whether the science of studying brain patterns in response to marketing stimuli works or not is a moot point. You either interpret the measurements or you don't. Various measuring tools have been applied for decades and will continue to be applied for as long as anyone is interested in consumer behaviour and responses.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ananda Raj Pandey
Ananda Raj Pandey, Developer at SavvySME

Market Trend

How can you create trust with customers?

Ananda, as Lisa sys, it may be semantics, but the problem lies in the way the question is framed.No-one can "create" trust. You can't "make people believe in your products." Depending on the value of the product or service, people will only buy from vendors who are trustworthy. Low value, less trust required. High value, greater trust level needed.Trust is earned, not bought.I'm curious as to what kind of resistance you are finding amongst customers (or prospects) that is causing you to question your sales techniques?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What kind of events would you want SavvySME to host?

In person informational topics presented by guest speakers followed by facilitated networking, appeals to me. As does the idea of a debate, provided there is strict administration and oversight. Very easy to degenerate into an online personality clash!

Steve Osborne answered this question

As a small business owner, where do I start with marketing?

Yee, inspired by your question, I started writing an answer but soon realised it was turning into something more. For the detailed response, see my new article: Suffering from marketing overwhelm?And for the short response, segment your audience, then apply my variation of the Rule of Three.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Public Relations (PR)

What's your reputation worth?

It's a good question Jef, but only raises others.Which companies or situations are you referring to? Is it the businesses or the people within them? What was the perceived standing of the business and what did it do to compromise its reputation? What did it gain in the short term and what was lost in the long term? It's difficult to address your question without context. A specific example or two would help.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What to consider when looking for a business partner or employee?

There are three separate and somewhat generic answers required here, I think. Because of course, it depends on who you are, what your business is and what your short & long-term goals are. Having qualified my answer, here's what is important to me.1. The most important qualities needed in a business partner are a personality or temperament that fits with yours; non-duplication of skills, meaning look for someone with a different and complementary skill-set, not a clone of yourself 2. The most important quality in an employee is enthusiasm. Skills can be taught, but passion cannot 3. In a service provider, value is paramount. The right solution at the right price. That doesn't mean cheap, it means the closest match of budget to expectation.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Startup

What is the difference between hype and speculation?

Jef, my view of a generally accepted definition of the two phenomena is this:Hype – self-serving and self-generated. Meaning, anything paid for or instigated by the business (PR, advertorial, advertising, some aspects of social media) in support of quickly enhancing the entity's reputationSpeculation – comment or opinion from a third party source. Meaning, column inches or social media at arm's length. The outcome is often the same as for hype, but I think the difference lies in who did it or how it came about. Someone within an organisation may well "speculate" about an event concerning the same organisation, but as soon as they publish, it is by definition, "hype."

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do you turn a good business idea into reality?

For me, the key steps for a start-over would be very simple. I wish I had come to this realisation much, much earlier in my 25+ years in business instead of searching for an elixir. First, ensure the product range and service delivery is properly worked out. Once you have something to sell, you need just two things to run a profitable firm:1. a method for attracting new prospects2. a scalable system for converting those prospects into profitable clientsThat's it.If you can consistently get those two things right, any business will be successful. Get them wrong, and you will be doomed to continually wonder and wander, looking for magical solutions. It's a cliche, but what that really means is: get the basic stuff right and the rest will follow.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your best advice for someone looking to start an online retail store?

You could tell her – "Don't."Or if her dream is to make a small fortune, tell her to start with a large one.Of course, free advice is worth exactly what she pays for it, so it's likely she will proceed anyway.In that case, I suggest she start with a plan. Several plans, in fact. the first would be a business modelling exercise. A very good template is the one provided in Business Model Canvas, by Alex Osterwalder. It very quickly tests viability.Once she has established whether the business is viable, a marketing plan is required. It can be very simple, but needs to address three key areas: 1. Positioning – establishing credibility, clarifying value. People won't buy unless they feel they know and trust the supplier. And they won't make a commitment unless they understand the value being provided.2. Attention – awareness, promotion, offer. The marketing message must address the prospect in terms she understands and is interested in, whether the tactics are PPC, social, offline, direct etc.3. Making the Sale – persuasion, relationship, conversion. The site should be structured to motivate prospects and avoid the many mistakes made by inexperienced traders. Give prospects what they want and sell them what they need. Ensure return traffic and repeat sales.If she can't or won't engage outside expertise, the road to riches is likely to be slow, expensive and wasteful. And simply copying someone else's apparent success can be incredibly frustrating (see Business Model above).This is all an oversimplification, so firstly see whether she is approaching the idea with an open mind. After doing due diligence, oftentimes the best course of action is to not proceed at all.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Business Management

How to improve my speaking skills during networking events?

Ling, if it's the introduction part you're struggling with, I endorse Steve's advice to ask a question first. Get the other person to open up a little before you jump in with your "carefully crafted, word -perfect, self-serving" elevator pitch, guaranteed to leave the impression of a sleazy salesperson.

I jest.

Be aware the other person is often just as nervous as you are. Remember, you don't have to always be selling. Listen for points of common interest, or concerns you might be able to help with. It's a conversation, not a competition. I've got a couple of good "elevator" templates if you need them.

If however, it's a lengthier talk you're giving, say anything from 3 – 10 mins or more, the structure I use has never failed me. It's a well-known system called: Tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em.

Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; then tell 'em again what you just told 'em.

Sounds silly? Not really. It's the Rule of Three. If you haven't heard of it before, it's an intriguing and highly effective use of sequenced triggers to ensure a memorable presentation. And rather than go into detail here, I'll write an article if you're interested.

 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Aside from LinkedIn, SEO, SMM, SEM, are there other ways to market to potential clients?

Leo, you might try the old-fashioned face-to-face methods. Join a large, local business organisation or CofC and get to know the members. Attend business events in your area and seek out people who are positions of influence. Join a professional networking group such as BNI and again, establish connections. Cultivate relationships until you are in a position of trust.

The online media you mention are simply digital versions of pre-internet methods. With the great disadvantage of remaining impersonal. Meaning, just because a prospect shares a LinkedIn group with you, it doesn't give them a true sense of your worth. A clue yes, but is that enough to convince them to attend the seminar?

Steve Osborne answered this question

What is your favourite or preferred project management system?

Maria

After looking at quite a few including a couple already mentioned and several highly sophisticated (expensive!) tools, I went with Project Bubble.

It fits my main criteria in that it's intuitive to use, shareable and has easily defined tasks. Plus, it's okay to look at.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Ling Lee
Ling Lee, at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Investor Funding and Capital

What can I reasonably expect from venture capitalists for my new startup?

Hi Ling, without knowing what your startup is about, my comments are pretty general. Therefore, it depends. Amongst many other things, it depends on what industry you're in, what the scalability potential is like and how much skin the founders have in the game.

The first and most obvious thing to say is: they expect a return. And that mighty quick.

My experience preparing business plans for VC investment taught me several things – the most important being:

1. your idea is worth precisely zero until it is implemented. Investors want to see a working model.

2. investors are taking a big risk, therefore will expect a big return. After all, if your startup is not doing something that's never been done before, by definition it's just another business. And if all you need is money, go to the bank. So expect them to ask for at minimum, 30% return over 3 x years on say, $1mill.

3. investors are most interested if you can clearly show your three different customers. If you can define these three distinct groups early on, you stand a better chance of growth and a better return on exit. A wiser man than me defined them thus:

Customer One is your end-user. It is to serve her needs that your business was created. Without this customer, you don't have a business.

Customer Two is your bulk-buyer. This second customer is the one on whom rapid expansion will pivot, based on the idea that it's easier to sell to one who buys 1,000 than it is to sell to 1,000 who only buy one (customer 1). This customer shapes the speed and scale of growth.

Customer Three is the business buyer. This is the entity that will eventually buy your business. This individual or company will ultimately make more from your assets (customers, database, products) than you can. This customer shapes your positioning, your customer information collection, your database. And this customer is the most difficult to identify.

But it's this last customer the VCs are most interested in, because that's where the greatest value lies. If you can demonstrate a firm grasp of how each customer group is linked, you can argue a simple and very powerful case for investment.

Everything else is just logistics.

Ask Neil at Wardour Capital about this stuff. He is the expert.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Does anyone know how to actually sell something that is free?

Hi Michael, as Lisa says, Ripe Near Me appears to have somewhat stolen your thunder. Also, I can’t see anywhere in your model where revenue is going to come from. I have assumed there is an up-sell planned in the future.

To answer your question, I took a look over the Fresh Near You site, searching for reasons your uptake is failing. I have drawn just one conclusion. It is this: despite your research and admirable endeavour, the value proposition is not powerful enough.



Here’s why.



The single most important reason a vendor will sign up is if you show or prove she will enjoy an increase in traffic to the farm gate. Not just any old increase mind, but ten fold. Anything less and natural human apathy kicks in.


It’s not enough to promise a doubling of traffic. If she currently has one walk-in a week, two is not going to rock her boat.

Ten just might. 
So what you’ve got to do is get them over their (quite reasonable) ‘can’t be bothered/where’s the benefit?’ attitude. In other words – show me the money.


The way to do that is to work really, really hard on developing your end-user base. You must create demand amongst your secondary target audience of food buyers, in order to on-sell the benefit to your primary target audience of vendors. 


So the question now becomes: is there a big enough market to support the business model/service? And only more market research will answer that. But not the kind of research that has you asking people whether they would buy the service if provided. Because of course, people will say yes. They just won’t actually do it. You’ve got to find a way to test people on their behaviour, not their intention.


The reason most people (and I’m grossly generalising here) will say they want the service but fail to act, is that there are already enough low-effort alternatives available. With the best will in the world, why would I trek miles out of my way to buy 2 x kilos of organic potatoes when I already shop at the local farmers market, or can buy them at the supermarket? You have to overcome the convenience factor. 


And to do that, you must demonstrate to the end-user (again, as a ten-fold increase) the compelling benefit of making the journey. In your case, a tough ask.


Clearly, there will be a die-hard core of anti-supermarket, support-the-farmer, dedicated organic produce buyers. But your competitor is wherever they are currently buying the same service from. It will take a gargantuan effort to change that behaviour. I ask again: is the audience big enough to support the model?


In my view, for this model to work I think you need to forget the minority targets. They are buying the products anyway. Just not from you. Find a way to tap into the mass market. Your audience is the cashed-up, Masterchef obsessed, full-blown foodie. There are a lot more of them about than the organics-only crowd.


And what you’re selling is: exclusivity. 


The rationale is: superior taste. 


Translated into marketing as: to put real love into your cooking, you must use authentic flavours. Authentic flavour comes from the freshest ingredients. And they are only available from authentic growers.


In summary – unless there is sufficient demand from end-users, vendors will continue to ignore you. Create demand in the biggest sector you can find. Give end-users a compelling reason to use the service. When demand has risen to a sufficient level, convert your free subscription vendors to a paid version of the model.


And there is the revenue stream. Now the question becomes: is it worth it?


I hope you'll forgive my long-winded answer and find this (extremely condensed) marketing strategy of some use.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Can you recommend good web developers in Sydney?

Hi Yee

I have several recommendations in Melbourne, if you're happy to work remotely. Does it matter where the firm is based?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Neil Steggall
Neil Steggall, Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

Leadership

What is the number one skill required to build a successful SME?

Neil – at risk of over-loading the answer, a coupla years ago I did some research amongst seminar attendees on this very subject. When asked to rate their importance for success, those surveyed ranked the following seven qualities most highly: perseverance, the desire and willingness to take the initiative, competitiveness, self-reliance, a strong need to achieve, self-confidence, and good physical health.

None of these are particularly surprising; you'd expect a person who was a successful entrepreneur to be self-reliant and self-confident. However, the top three in ascending order:

3. having great perseverance – sticking with it and not giving up;
2. taking personal initiative – pushing an idea forward; and
1. self-reliance - responding positively to all challenges and learning from mistakes.

The good news is that all three of these behaviours can be learned. You don't necessarily have to be born with them to ensure the success of your business.

Steve Osborne answered this question

From go to whoa, what is the process for getting a new product into either/both sports retailers and pharmacy chains?

Can anyone tell me whether line fees are required for the bigger retail chains, in the same way as the supermarkets?

Steve Osborne answered this question

Are leaders in SMEs keen on developing leadership skills?

Hi Louise Here's a dumb but genuine question. What exactly is meant by the term 'leadership'? 

It's bandied about so much by politicians, media, big business etc. and I really don't understand why. My rule of thumb has always been that natural leaders emerge only out of crisis. It happens when a group of people start seeking someone to steer a path out of their current problem. Other than that specific situation, all we're often talking about is a steady hand on the rudder. If so, then it's simply good management and a skill which can be learned. 


So in answer, perhaps SMEs simply don't see a need? 'Leadership' is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Would you pitch advertising/design/marketing concepts to clients?

Thanks to all who've posted comments so far. Here's a bit more detail on how this might work.

The model is intended to attract concepts only, not execution ie. production would not be included in your submission. This is not a 99Designs model.

There are two levels of involvement – open briefs and closed briefs. Open (or public) briefs are accessible by all and any group member can respond. Payment would vary depending on the brief and the client. Closed briefs are by invitation only. Only those who have proven themselves on public briefs are eligible. Everyone working on a closed brief would be paid for their contribution. 

The entire model is managed by a team of experienced marketing heads. So the briefs would be well-written. This team makes the final decision as to which responses are shown to the client, so yes, you would be competing against other members within the co-operative on open briefs. However, the responses are selected on the simple basis of "best idea wins." The management team controls client communication and production.

A submission would have 3 x mandatory and one optional component. 1. a strong, memorable, two sentence headline or title that clearly conveys the idea. 2. a concise, one paragraph description covering the Who, What, When, Where of the idea. 3. the How ie. an insight into how the concept would be realised. This might include suggestions for production. 4. (optional) some sort of reference image, sketch, drawing, storyboard – whatever you felt might aid the idea.

The model does not preclude you from working with a partner(s), or from submitting multiple responses. The model is intended to induce the best ideas with the least amount of physical labour.

The idea started because we all have a massive file of rejected, unsuited or self-censored concepts. Either the client didn't appreciate their beauty/profundity/cleverness, or didn't have the budget! Whatever the reason, they they never saw the light of presentation. We wondered, what if there was a way to get some of those brilliant, but unused, ideas into the hands of businesses that needed them? Without necessarily revealing where they came from/who did them. Clients get to go outside their formal agency setups and draw from a larger pool of top talent (some of whom might want to stay anonymous because of conflict of interest issues). 

So the co-operative idea was born.

Steve Osborne answered this question

What content for newsletter would make you read one?

There are of course tons of tactical tips for getting your newsletter opened, but in my view there's just one strategic reason a newsletter gets read: relevance to the target audience.

No amount of special offers, jokes, or stunning graphics etc. will substitute for compelling content. Get the basics right and the rest will seem easy. Research the "pain points" of the audience; walk a mile in their shoes and feel their troubles/joys.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Who knows how much do copywriters charge to write a web page?

In our firm, a typical small website project goes like this:

We give clients a comprehensive Briefing Sheet containing a wide range of questions about the business, the market they're in, their competitors and their goals. From the answers supplied and our subsequent telephone conversation, we write the copy and produce a final draft in a format suitable for supply to a web developer.

Fee is $250 per page, with a minimum of 5 pages. This includes one round of alterations. A page is 400 – 500 words.

The reason there is a minimum page count is because it's difficult to write a single page in isolation at a reasonable fee, if it has to be matched to existing content. 5 pages of original content is usually enough for a very small site and might cover: Home; About; Services Overview; Service Description; Contact/CTA.

We do this kind of project as a fixed price deal, because so many small businesses want the surety of not having fee overrun. The only time additional fees are required is if a meeting is needed to further clarify content issues or to discuss marketing in general. In that case, we make an allowance of $250, covering up to 2 hrs. 

Note that this methodology does not apply to all or any other firm, and should not be viewed as representative. It's simply the way we do it. Bigger projects with bigger budgets are done differently, with a lot more analysis, meetings and discussion.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How do I change my business name?

Assuming you want to continue trading while you make the transition as quickly as possible, I suggest the following steps:

1. Register the new name at ASIC; register domain
​2. Prepare new identity – logo, stationery etc
3. Create interim website – something that will suffice while ongoing development takes place
4. Select change-over date
5. Send out message to customers advising of change
6. Change signage
7. Reopen the following day

Hope this helps. On the other hand, if all you want to do is transfer the name and assets of one business to another, register the new name and talk to your accountant.

 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Gino Lancaster
Gino Lancaster, Business Partner at Red Planet Design ~ Digital Marketing Company

Sales and Marketing

Ever engaged a service provider from a cold calling telemarketer?

Making a sale directly from a cold call is impossible, or if it happens, a complete fluke. it's like throwing a fishing line into the ocean and expecting a whale on the hook when you reel it in. No business owner in their right mind will commit to a substantial outlay for professional services of any kind based on a phone conversation with someone they've never met, or know nothing about.

However telemarketing, done well, is not a complete waste of time. In fact it can reap good results, if done with specific ends in mind. (Disclosure: we provide clients with ideas and scripts for small-scale telemarketing campaigns.)

For example, a recent self-managed campaign for an IT services provider resulted in a ratio of 4 x qualified leads per 20 calls, with a close rate of one-in-four. Each of those closed deals was worth over $5,000 to the client.

So, it depends on what you're trying to achieve with the resources available. The crucial elements are, in order of importance: the list; the offer; the script(s); the CRM; the Plan B. Unless you have all these ducks in a row, any cold-calling campaign is, in my view, destined for failure.

Happy to advise, if help is required.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Is there such a thing as too much marketing?

There is probably no such thing as too much marketing, but only if it's effective.

Meaning, if marketing is poor/misjudged/fails to reach the audience, etc. – is ineffective – then yes, it's money wasted therefore too much of a bad thing.

Measurement is everything. If you know what you want to achieve and have devised a strategy to reach the goal, each tactic can then be measured for effectiveness. An ideal balance will be reached – neither too much nor too little – just the right amount to achieve the goal.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Tim Greig
Tim Greig, Owner at Green Galah Pty Ltd

Branding

What's the one word you could use to describe your brand?

Tim

Your question hits precisely upon one of my greatest marketing bugbears! It may be semantics (plants tongue firmly in cheek) but I question why anyone would want to be called a "brand"; and if so, why on earth would someone restrict themselves to just one word?

I posted an article on the subject here: /article/75-is-branding-necessary-can-branding-be-replaced-for-servicebased-businesses

in which I argue that the practice of "branding" should be disregarded. Unless you sell soap, cornflakes or petrol. I'd be delighted if you let me know what you think.

Steve Osborne answered this question

How important do you think a business logo is for a sole trader?

Julie

At risk of upsetting the apple-cart, I suggest the importance of a logo is low on the requirements for a sole trader, particularly in your line of business. Of far greater importance is your business name. It's the first thing people/prospects are aware of; the first part of your "brand" to get recognition; the first thing you say on introduction. And for many people you meet/talk to, it will be the only thing they take away. Because you don't get to hand over a card on the phone, or sometimes even at a meeting.

So it's true: you are literally the face of your business – in thought, word and deed. Everything you think/feel, say and do affects how you are perceived in the minds of your prospects. These things are more important than the minor detail of your logo.

Secondly, your business name will always be used in context. Prospects will know who/what is being referred to. 

This opinion is backed with over 20 years in design & creative services. In every one of those years, I've never met a single person who made a sale based on the look of their logo. The vast majority of your clients/prospects simply don't care.

Having had a quick look at your website, I wouldn't sweat it too much. There are certainly several aesthetic improvements that could be made, not least of which is a logotype for your business. But don't misconstrue "logotype" as a complex, abstract or overwrought symbol accompanied by a stylised typeface. Which is often the result from a cheap design site.

It's simply a wordmark; an intelligent selection of a suitable font for your business name and its subsequent consistent use across your communication. Your local graphic design firm could probably handle it quickly and efficiently without you needing to crowdsource.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Jenny Spring
Jenny Spring, Managing Director at

Web Design

How can a website/graphic designer attract more referrals?

Jenny

While the obvious time to ask for a referral is immediately after you've provided exceptional results for a happy client, there is another time within the sales cycle that asking for a sales lead can work just as well. It's during what I call the "honeymoon" period ie. immediately after you've had your proposal accepted but before you actually start work.

For example: Mary, the Mktg Mgr from ABC Apartment Developments (builders are your ideal target market) is your recently converted sale. She is completely enthused and excited about whatever it is you've proposed. She can't wait to get the program/website started and see you in action. So the conversation goes something like this:

"Mary, we're really excited to be starting this work for you. You know we specialise in the building industry, which is why we value our relationship and your judgement of our work so much. Who do you know in the marketing department of XYZ Office Developments (builder in related but non-competitive area) that would benefit from a similar relationship?"

Mary is anticipating a great result from you. She's in a bouyant mood and very likely to give you not only the name but also an introduction, should she know someone. If she doesn't know anyone at the nominated company, she'll be just as likely to make her own suggestions of other people in the industry.

Note, you must be specific about the company you wish to target. Simply asking at the outset, "do you know anyone who needs our services?" will result in a blank look, followed by a NO. Mary has no idea who needs your services. But she does know lots of people in her industry.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Micha Wotton
Micha Wotton, Head of Development at SavvySME

Sales and Marketing

How to choose an appropriate media for marketing a business?

MichaThe answer is... it depends. Of a great many things, here are but three: 1. who you're trying to reach; 2. what you want them to do once you've reached them; 3. what your budget is.Do I detect from the tone of your question that you're asking what form of advertising you should employ? Because that's slightly different from marketing, in general. Meaning, advertising is a subgroup of marketing, and you need to have a strategy in place before you start picking the tactics or media you're going to employ. If you know what you want to achieve with the budget available, your tactics will pretty much pick themselves.If you don't yet know how/where to reach your target market, I suggest you haven't yet fully identified your niche. Or, you're aiming the net too wide. Sharon is dead right to advocate starting with a marketing plan. You've got to do your research and develop your value proposition so as to make media choice synonymous with your business aims.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Kealey Nutt
Kealey Nutt, Director at Eleven & Twelve

Offline and Direct Marketing

How do you pitch a creative idea to a client?

Hi Kealey

Actually, you might be surprised how often companies get pitched new creative ideas. More often than not, big businesses have a policy on unsolicited ideas. Just ring up their Communications Dept and ask.

You might also be surprised how seldom an idea gets implemented as a result of a cold call. No-one, but no-one will spend money on a solution for which there is no problem. So what's so different about an ad agency pitching for an account, you ask? See above. There MUST be a perceived need on behalf of someone within the client organisation for the pitch to be invited. Of course, that may simply come down to knowing someone who knows someone, but that's what personal networks/social media connections are for.

You won't get in the door unless you have a willing audience. Find out which people within the organisation are those with either 1. a vested interest in improving their own standing in the eyes of their superiors, or 2. their superiors. Those in decision-making positions. Then engineer a chance meeting across a crowded cocktail bar...

But please bear in mind: an idea by itself isn't worth much. An idea put into action, tested, and proven is worth a lot. 


The truth is that creative in and of itself has little value in most cases. Implementation is what counts. You have to prove that the concept works first and show the ROI in order to get it developed and refined. That's why the ad agency wins the account based on what seems like simply showing a bunch of pretty pictures. They actually win based on their capability to implement the idea.

I'd be interested in what other Savvies like David Price and Anne Miles have to say on "how to win pitches."

Here's a link to a very good book which might save you a lot of time and trouble dealing with this subject in future: http://www.winwithoutpitching.com/manifesto 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Michael Reid CA
Michael Reid CA, Do All The Things! at Michael L Reid CA

Customer Acquisition

How to generate more business for your web development agency?

Michael

The answer is the same whether you're a web developer, a financial planner or a plumber. The applicable marketing principles cross all service industries. And you've no doubt heard them all before. 

Accept there is no shortcut, no silver bullet when it comes to prospect attraction. If there were, everyone would be using the same idea! 

Find your niche. You must identify your market, which means sacrifice. In other words, look for an opportunity to specialise. You have greater chance of catching the right sort of fish if you bait your hook in a small stream than the whole ocean. 

Follow this simple 5-step formula for building a professional practice. Not necessarily easy, but certainly simple:

1.    Start by providing a truly great service. Present it attractively and with a compelling message

2.    Identify a local audience that: a. needs your service; b. can afford your service; and c. is big enough to support competition

3.    Concentrate solely on servicing the bejesus out of them. Recommendations carry a hundred times the weight of advertising

4.    Keep fulfilling and exceeding the expectations of your core customer group, and your reputation will grow

5.    When this has allowed you to earn enough to advertise, do so to expand your market. The goodwill you have earned and the reputation you have built will bring expansion opportunities to your doorstep. 

If all else fails, seek professional help. A fresh set of eyes can do wonders for your vision.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Dj Hodgson
Dj Hodgson, Marketing & Communications Manager, BDM at David Henderson Online

Regulatory and Compliance

What are the legal considerations when starting a business?

Dj, I think you've answered your own question!

It depends entirely in what business area the idea is based. Financial planners need a license to practice, graphic designers don't. Online retailers need to comply with rules imposed by merchants, banks and PayPal etc., Facebook doesn't.

Some basic research into the idea will quickly reveal the level of compliance needed.

Try: http://www.business.gov.au/BusinessTopics/Registrationandlicences/  

Steve Osborne answered this question

Kealey Nutt
Kealey Nutt, Director at Eleven & Twelve

Business Growth

How can I use discounts or promotions to attract more clients?

Kealy, There's a section on Anthill called Antmart that might be what you're looking for. 

It works by running a heavily discounted offer which is redeemable only when a predetermined number of people take it up.

Go to: http://www.antmart.com.au/live-deals/

Another straightforward advertising opportunity I've used is SourceBottle. It's low-cost and seen by lots of your (I imagine) potential prospects. Allow the Sourceys to write your ad for you – very clever people.

Go to: http://www.sourcebottle.com/want-an-advertisement.asp 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Tim Gardner
Tim Gardner, Owner at Apprahensiv

Sales and Marketing

What can I do with a $100 marketing budget?

You don't specify a timeframe or any goals, but here's a suggestion for what it's worth.
I would spend my $100 on membership of my local business networking group (CofC, council-organised, church-based, whatever) ensuring there were at least 50 – 100 members.
Next step is to volunteer your speaking services at a regular networking mixer. Ensure your content is entertaining, riveting and contains tons of valuable information. Strike the right balance between sales pitch and info bank.
During your presentation, make it clear you're looking for referrals and provide an incentive for members to get to know and like you through ongoing 121 contact. 
Utilise available social media and press coverage both before and after the event. Obtain testimonials and (smartphone video) interviews with attendees to post on your website/blog.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, bake at 35 degrees C for about six weeks over summer. Repeat.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Nick Chernih
Nick Chernih, Founder at LinkBuildSEO

Digital Marketing

Are you getting value from your email list?

Nick, at risk of glossing over a great many variables, in my experience it usually comes down to how well the message (your content) is conveyed to the market (your list).
Some of the variables are: suitability of offer; appropriateness of language; layout, legibility and graphics; whether the message is an unadorned sales pitch or an offer for valuable information, etc.
Overall, it comes down to the value you are perceived to provide. The answer to that is slightly more complex, but common mistakes are: 1. providing solutions to non-existent problems; 2. giving answers to questions that have not yet been asked; 3. misjudging the importance of your offer. 
Sometimes it's possible get it exactly right. For example, last year I ran a highly targeted (single shot) email campaign to a specific audience of several thousand, selling a seminar. I sold out four seminars to 85 attendees in a day and a half, with a waiting list for the next one.
The offer was right, the timing was right, the list was right, the perceived value was right. I think you have to keep working on your style and content (perhaps seek professional advice) until you find the right balance.

Steve Osborne answered this question

Wendy Huang
Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Business Growth

What are your favourite business websites?

From a predominantly marketing perspective, here are a few I like:

Small Business Info  – http://sbinformation.about.com/MarketingProfs – masses of info, great forums – http://www.marketingprofs.com/ The Ad Contrarian – irreverrant views – http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com.au/ 

Steve Osborne answered this question

Henrik Larsen
Henrik Larsen, Director at IePlus Pty Ltd

Information Technology

What tools can I use to create a quick campaign landing page?

Listed by Brent hall above, I use: Lander

Steve Osborne answered this question

Gill Walker
Gill Walker, Owner Director, Principal CRM Business Consultant at

Sales and Marketing

What are the differences in the way men and women do business?

Answer to both questions: No.

I don't buy in to the whole – men/logical; women/emotional debate. It's probably possible to point to generic examples of men being more competitive and women being more reflective, but as both buyers and sellers, I think we are fundamentally more influenced by personality type than gender.

My recent article post explains. Go to: Are you speaking to your prospects in Klingon?  

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