Tag Archives: BizSmart

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | free business support for Worcestershire businesses

Could your business benefit?

Could your business benefit?

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd has been providing businesses throughout the county with one to one business advice through the Worcestershire Business Accelerator programme. She and the other BizSmart core advisors are looking for more businesses to take part in this free programme in 2018.
“The purpose of the Accelerator programme is to support growing businesses as they scale-up.” says Gill. “Typically, the business will have been trading a couple of years and already have achieved a successful launch but often then get stuck at this stage of growth”. Some of the challenges they encounter will be to increase their sales pipeline, manage cashflow, recruit and train staff and having to design and implement more robust business systems and processes.
That’s where the BizSmart team come in. Unlike many other business coaches or advisors, they are all experienced in starting up and running their own small business, so they bring a practical approach and relevant experience to the business owners they support. There is no ‘one size fits all’ programme, each advisor and business owner have the freedom to prioritise critical issues that are barriers to growth and spend more time on these issues in the 12 hours of one to one sessions. The advisors have different areas of specialism including sales and marketing, exporting, finance and engineering so the programme is tailored around how to best suit their individual needs.
To supplement the 12 hours individual support there is an organised system of peer to peer mentoring which all the participating businesses are encouraged to attend. This grows into a ‘support network’ of like-minded business owners who can share ideas with each other, helping solve problems as they arise in the future. Other free resources include weekly ‘lunch and learn’ webinars on various topics and specialist support from a wider team of associates.
Breda Hadley of Citrus Computing found the help and advice invaluable. She and her team are long-standing SAGE accredited business partners. Their company provide extensive ‘behind the scenes’ work for their customers particularly in making sure data back-up is done daily and running virus checks to keep that data secure. Sharing this information with her contract customers enabled Citrus to increase their pricing (and profitability) without losing a single customer for the 2018 year. Citrus customers valued the quality of support and peace of mind about business continuity should a viral attack happen to them.
Perrigo Consultants, a 5-year-old tax and accountancy business had a challenge with recruiting the right staff to support their growth ambitions. The business had outgrown their original business plan and was starting to recruit people. The business now has seven staff, including Dave Perrigo and his wife, and this gives them a lot more scope to spend time on business development activities. Clients benefit from a streamlined back office where everything is taken care of efficiently. Dave commented “Working with BizSmart makes you accountable and gives you guidance in problem areas. The quarterly goal setting keeps you on track – it’s amazing how fast three months go. I’d say it’s like having a coach for sports and fitness. It can be a lonely place, running a business, and having a strategic vision helps with motivation. It stops you being too busy to look at the business.”
Evesham-based Areca Design have benefited from 2 programmes and from receiving grant funding, enabling MD Mick Hurst to diversify the business into more profitable products including the use of innovative technology and mobile apps. His 8 1/2 year old business has successfully grown from a one-man start-up and now employs ten members of staff.

To get your business onto the programme or to find out more, please contact gill@aardvarkmarketing or visit the BizSmart website www.biz-smart.co.uk

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to imporve your digital marketing with Google analytics

How to improve your digital marketing with Google Analytics – Webinar

How to improve your digital marketing with Google Analytics – Webinar

Are you making the most of Google Analytics? How do you know whether your marketing is working if you don’t track?

Gill Hutchinson explains how to devise your own website ‘Dashboard’ of key performance indicators using analytics. This will allow you to check that your digital marketing is working well and to refine and improve your performance over time.

When we’re working with our clients on digital marketing, we always track their progress in Google Analytics. It’s the simplest, easiest and most widely used free tool for website monitoring.

Make sure whoever builds your website sets up the analytics tracking code onto each page so it can be activated. You can then log into your data anytime. If you had your website built a while ago then don’t worry, it’s easy to get your developer to add the code into your website.

We set up Excel spreadsheets for all of our clients turning their analytics data into graphs. This also enables us to track the client’s return on investment and means that as we try new things we can see what impact they’re having.

It’s important to have a plan, to measure what happens and to monitor it. Then you can review what you’ve achieved and create your next plan with those previous results in mind.

The Business Accelerator and other grant funding can be used to work in improving your marketing strategy, planning, implementation and measurement systems. So if this is something you need to do, then it’s worth talking to the Business Accelerator team.

What can Google Analytics do?

Google Analytics gives you data that can be used to track visitors and also show you how they behave when they’re on your website pages. Do they move around, spending time on lots of different pages, or do they visit one or two pages before leaving?

It’s important to look at trends as well as the absolute data. You should review trends over time. Check at least once a month at first and then once you know the ‘steady state’ situation, this can become a quarterly exercise.There is one exception to this – if you’re using Pay per Click advertising then this should usually be monitored daily.

What should be on your dashboard? You should track the same things we track for our clients, so that’s:

  • Quantity – how many visitors?
  • Quality – are they ‘good quality’ visits?
  • Content – what are your visitors looking at?

Useful things to look at include whether people are looking at your website on a phone or a computer, as this is vital to know when you’re planning your website.

All websites should be mobile friendly now, but if you know that a large proportion of your visitors are on their mobile, then this will encourage you to make your website mobile friendly sooner rather than later.

Use the Audience Overview screen and track for the last month. You’ll be able to see the number of users (people who’ve visited your website), the number of pages they viewed and also see average time on your website per visitor, the bounce rate and how many were new visitors or returning visitors.

It’s vital to track this, as you can’t possibly know whether your digital marketing is having an impact unless you monitor it.

To understand this topic in more detail and hear more about the strategies Gill uses  Click here to listen to her webinar

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to join the dots between sales and marketing

How to join the dots between Sales and Marketing – webinar

How to join the dots between Sales and Marketing – webinar

 The processes of sales and marketing can often overlap and it’s not always clear where different parts of the sales and marketing process fall. Who is responsible for each part of the  process?

It helps to define exactly what marketing is and how it relates to “suspects” , “prospects” and customers.

In this webinar  Gill Hutchinson from Aardvark Marketing  looks at the difference between the two disciplines and where one part of the process ends and the other begins. We also look at the systems that need to be put in place at each stage.

Listen to the webinar by clicking here


Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Worcestershire Business Accelerator

Worcestershire Business Accelerator Programme

Worcestershire Business Accelerator Programme

De-Mystifying Growth Support and Grants in Worcestershire by Business Accelerator – event on Thursday 6th April
This free event is being organised by Worcestershire Business Central and BizSmart. Covering “Everything You Wanted to Know about Business Growth Support and Grants Available to You and Your Clients in Worcestershire” it will bring together key people and information concerning Business Growth Support and Grants in Worcestershire together in one place.
Brought to you by the Business Accelerator Programme and being delivered BizSmart this 2-hour session will give you access to the latest information on the key business growth support available across the County and in the Districts and how you and your clients can access it.
The event is free when booked via EventBrite – places are limited to 125.
You are welcome to stay on afterwards to network – a finger buffet lunch will be provided.

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing is one of the BizSmart specialist advisors on the Business Accelerator Programme.
Time: 10am to 12 noon
Venue: Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel
Bromsgrove Road
DY10 4PJ

More about Business Accelerator
Business Accelerator is a dynamic new service that will support businesses, which have been trading for 2 years or more, to achieve sustainable growth.  The businesses selected to participate in the programme can access one-to-one consultancy support, seminars and workshops on a wide range of business topics.  They can also apply for business development grants, for both capital & revenue expenditure (on a competitive basis).
Business Accelerator is available at no cost to the participating businesses, as it is fully funded by Worcestershire County Council, the District Councils and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Worcestershire Business Central, part of the Government-supported growth hub network, brings all aspects of business support into one place, making it clear and simple for businesses to access and find the help they need.
BizSmart is a Worcestershire based business and works with business owners of small and medium sized businesses. BizSmart provides practical support to help business owners scale up and create value and will be delivering the Business Accelerator Programme across Worcestershire.


Read more about BizSmart here


Aardvark Marketing | Onee page strategic plan

Your One Page Strategic Plan

Your One Page Strategic Plan

It is great to have a dream for our business – but without a plan it will remain just that!
In this blog Kevin will take you through a simple one-page strategic planning framework that will help turn your dream into a Vision and help make it become a reality.

Can you and your team state your business’s strategy simply?

Being able to articulate a clear and differentiated strategy, supported by a strong core culture that can deliver on the brand’s promises is key for any business wanting to scale up

I’m going to share with you a framework summarised from ‘Scaling Up’ by Verne Harnish and his team at Gazelles that starts to bridge the gap between the core culture (values and purpose), the strategic long, mid and short-term and the day to day execution to deliver on the plan.

It is a simple but powerful framework that helps you to edit down your vision into a single, action-oriented page. If you run a larger business (for example 50 employees or more) then you may like to refer to the fuller version by Verne Harnish.

This builds on the thinking outlined in my previous webinars on Core Ideology, Core Purpose, Envisioned Future – How to regain Direction & Focus, Control over your Business & Confidence in your Business Model.

The first thing you should notice about the One Page Vision is that it is broadly split into a top and bottom half – the top is for the whole business, the bottom (below where it says ‘My Name’) is individual. If you are on your own in the business then there will only be one version, if you have anyone else then they should have their own versions – where the top is common but the bottom is adapted to their own roles – so every member of the team can personalise it.

In this way, it can be a very powerful way of ensuring the Vision is shared with and understood by everyone in the business.

So let’s start at the top right – you will notice that you fill in the current quarter. The idea is that this becomes a living tool that we update quarterly – enabling us to focus on specific priorities over a quarter.


The Core Values, Purpose, Stretch Goal (10-15 Yr) and Brand Promises should be a simple case of filling in from the previous webinars – if not then refer back to them for help in developing them. The brand promises come from the Value Proposition work and we would normally expect around 3.

If you have clearly defined your Stretch Goal – where you are headed for in 10-15 years time along with your envisioned future, you should then have worked out where you want to be in 3 years that puts you on track.

Again we spoke about this in … – a simple way is to start with the stretch goal and bring that back to what you think is achievable in 3 years. This might be target driven – e.g sales, role model driven (e.g. to be the Nike of the cycling industry), competitive (e.g. to knock a competitor off the number one spot) or transformational (transform this company from being… to ….) Transformation goals tend to be for larger corporations rather than small businesses though.

Once you have translated that into a 3 year version you can ask yourself what the business needs to look like to support it at 3 years – e.g. in terms of people, products, customers, money, operations such as premises, geographic locations etc. This should enable you to list a few 3 year key ‘thrusts’

If you do the same for one year you will then be able to set a one year priority and some key initiatives/ critical paths that will need to happen in order to get there – you can then fill these in.

Similarly you can set a priority and key actions for the coming 3 months or quarter to deliver that priority.

If you’ve done this well, you now have a simple road map or snapshot of the business’s vision for the next 10 years with a few milestones on the way – but you also have a visual communication aid that can be shared with others in the business.

Now we bridge the gap between the business and the individuals. Each person in the business should take the road map and work out what it means for them in their role.

So we have a business one year priority and critical paths – what does this mean for my role? What are my annual goals, targets and KPIs that I need to deliver in order to support the business achieving it’s one year priority?

And what are my quarter targets and actions to support the business achieving its annual and quarterly priorities?

You’ll notice that I’ve put the actions first with the targets at the bottom – some of you will find it more logical to start with the targets and then define the actions in order to hit the targets. The reason I have done it this way is to avoid getting hung up in the detail of the actions before the people understand the aim.

So coming to the Critical Numbers or KPIs for the quarter – you will see we are after just 2 key indicators that should address ‘what is the single most important quantifiable achievement for that person or team in the next quarter that will help the business achieve its vision?

One of this should be to do with People and one to do with Process.

Why you ask? To achieve the vision you need people doing stuff! People and Process.

The 3 main groups of people are:

Staff, customers and shareholders
The 3 main processes that drive any business are:

Make/ Buy, Sell and Recordkeeping
We need to balance the competing demands of all 6 as we grow – and you will need frequent feedback and metrics to keep things in balance as the demands on the business increase.

Here’s some ideas for people:

Staff – Satisfaction and engagement scores
Customers – Net promoter score/ Customer satisfaction
Shareholders – Cash, Accounts receivable, Business Valuation
Here’s some for Process

Make/ Buy – speed of a process, costs, quality
Sell – pipeline, sales metrics, lead generation KPIs
Record Keeping – data reporting (speed/ accuracy), etc.
You will have specific ones for your business but those with a more financial bent will notice that the people measures are largely around reputation and balance sheet metrics and the process measures are largely Profit & Loss measures.

Regardless of this – the most important thing is to start somewhere. Don’t worry too much about people or process but definitely pick two critical numbers for the next quarter.

The ideal, good, average and poor are simply to encourage staff to define a range rather than one number for each of the critical numbers – so if the most important priority this quarter is to reduce days receivable to 30 days, what would be ideal – 25 days perhaps, what would be good – 30 days, average might be 35 days and poor might be 40 days or more.

This then allows you to think about incentives/ rewards based on what is achieved rather than a simple hit or miss.

So there you have it :

Done well, the One Page Vision enables the business to articulate and share a clear and differentiated strategy amongst the team – it can be a very powerful way of ensuring the Vision is shared with and understood by everyone in the business as well as personalised to their role – helping the vision to be lived and breathed rather than filed away in a drawer somewhere and making it much more likely that the Stretch Goal will be achieved!
Click here to listen to Kevin’s webinar on this topic.
Our guest blogger, Kevin Brent, is MD of BizSmart which works with ambitious business owners who want to transform their business. Gill Hutchinson is a core adviser and marketing specialist for BizSmart

Aardvark Marketing | How to successfully implement marketing automation

How to sucessfully implement Marketing Automation – webinar

How to sucessfully implement Marketing Automation – webinar

79% of the top performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years.
However, many companies are being tempted into buying the new systems without first putting some thought into how they can be used to save time and money in their own business. Without the in-house ‘know-how’ to design and implement the right processes, there is a big risk that the investment will turn out to be a ‘solution’ that just doesn’t work. Marketing automation is potentially a powerful tool, but it must be used with intelligence.

This webinar is aimed at helping business owners make an informed decision about whether marketing automation is something that you should explore in more detail.
CLICK HERE to start on YouTube, or download from Slideshare HERE
This BizSmart lunch and learn webinar was broadcast on 13th September





Aardvark Marketing | How to get the most out of creative agencies

Getting the most out of creative agencies – webinar

Getting the most out of creative agencies – webinar

How to get the best out of using a creative agency as a SME business owmer. Creative agencies include graphic designers,website company, promotion agency or other outside supplier of creative marketing work.
CLICK here to start
This BizSmart lunch and learn webinar was broadcast on 4th August.