How free images could cost your business a fortune…

011_004We wanted to tell you the great news that Getty Images has recently announced; “Getty Images is making over 35 million photos available for FREE!” Read the BBC announcement here.

However, there are some limitations about when you can and cannot use one of Getty’s “free” images. PCWorld says “Use of Getty’s photos online must be for non-commercial use”. Follow this link to read the full story.

So what does non-commercial use mean?
Does this include your blog or website?
When are we allowed to use a free photo from Getty Images without receiving a nasty letter threatening legal action for inappropriate use?

We decided to look into this further. As a specialist sales company with our own blog writing and maintaining article libraries, news areas and blog for our clients, we do not want to risk reputation damage or put our necks on the line.

We have done some further research so you don’t have to. And it seems this is a rather grey area… We asked for some independent legal advice and this is what we were told about this issue.

“You are best advised to engage a copyright lawyer, but they will give you a yes and a no answer”… So this still leaves you and us in the dark and even more confused about using photos that are claimed to be free.

We delved deeper into this and decided to go straight to Getty Images for an answer:

“You may only use embedded Getty Images for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Getty Images may not be used for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; in violation of any stated restriction; in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.”

From what we researched we would give anyone that wants to use a photo for their blog, website or other commercial uses the following advice:

  1. Refer to the Creative Commons licences. If you want to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work you’ve created, you should consider publishing it under a Creative Commons license. You can choose to allow only non-commercial uses and protect the people who use your work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions you have specified.
  2. When searching for photos, try using Google’s advanced search. This option enables you to search for images that are available to use, share and even modify for commercial use.  To do this select ‘advanced search’ then in the ‘usage rights’ drop down select the best option that suits you.
  3. Seek out other good places to find free high quality photos to use for your website, blog & other commercial uses. 4 to get you started are: Pixabay, Unrestricted Stock, Hubspot and Unsplash.

But beware that you need to read the terms of these sites carefully especially when using these images for commercial use. We do not think sites like these always have proper clearances from, say, the model in the photo for you to use their image for your business.

This is what one site says “Pixabay cannot be held responsible for any copyright violations, and cannot guarantee the legality of the Images stored in its system. If you want to make sure, always contact the photographers. You use the site and the photos at your own risk!”

B2B Buyer Behaviour: how to convert more quality leads

Derek Singleton - Software AdviceDerek Singleton of Software Advice has recently written a report on B2B buyer behaviour by in which a study found 3 key findings:

  1. Call leads fast- really fast
  2. Tuesday- Thursday is the best time to reach buyers
  3. Don’t underestimate the opportunity around the holidays

The findings show that calling prospects straight away can significantly improve your ability to qualify leads generated from a campaign. Also, there are certain times of the year, week and day when you need to plan your in-house sales team’s capacity to maximize your ability to turn click-throughs into leads.

The report suggests that if you call a lead within 5 seconds, the odds of qualifying them are 29% higher than if we call within 5 minutes.

Derek Singleton says “Our report shows that when a buyer contacts us directly for information—requesting a price quote or product demo, for instance—there is a significant benefit to calling that buyer right away. “It was amazing to see that if we call a buyer within 5 seconds of converting, we qualify that buyer at a rate 30 percent higher than our average qualification rate.”

At Nett Sales we think this research is definitely valid. We aim to follow up a message as quickly as possible by tracking who has clicked and opened the message. We follow up with a call to find out what prospects thought and how relevant it is to their needs.

The research also highlights leads that come in Tuesday through to Thursday qualify at twice the average qualification rate for other business days.

This makes sense and is something that we at Nett Sales already endeavour to follow. Calling prospects on a Monday or Friday is not as successful as the rest of the week, as these are day’s people of most likely to have off and be away from the office.

The week before Christmas is surprisingly active for conversion and qualification rates.

This may come as a surprise to some businesses, as you may think that in the run up Christmas and other holidays, businesses are starting to wind down and are not thinking about B2B buying. But during Christmas and New Year many companies and looking to allocate their budget and have the time to read emails and research online.

Derek Singleton gives some valuable advice by saying “Of course, it’s also important to understand that not every buyer deserves a call right away. If a buyer contacts you indirectly—by completing a form to download a whitepaper, access video content, or view other gated material—then you should consider nurturing, rather than calling, the lead. As sales and marketing professionals continue to compete for the attention of B2B buyers on the Web, understanding their online behaviour will be critical to success. Hopefully our data helps provide a fresh perspective for online B2B buyer behaviour.”

If you would like to read the report in full for more details, follow this link. 2013 Online B2B Buyer Behaviour Report. If you would like to learn more about what Nett Sales does and how these principles from the report can help you gain more sales more quickly contact our team on 01672 50 50 50.

Is the customer really in charge?

customerRobert Craven is soon to release a new version of his best-selling book “Customer is King” introduced by Sir Richard Branson. We have taken a fresh look at this book and put into practice Robert’s advice to help us and our clients.

Robert’s advice has made a big difference to our business as well as our clients’, so much so we have been blogging the results as we go.

What Robert says

The modern business’s secret, is that the customer runs the show. And the biggest secret today is that ‘the customer is in charge’. The other secret is that it’s harder to deliver good customer service than ever before, as customers are more demanding.

The reason that businesses were and still are so excited about the web is the belief that ‘the customer is in charge’ It would appear that the consumer, at a retail level or commercial level is taking charge. This is the power of the internet and its associated technologies.

Clearly, most customers do not feel ‘in charge’. You can use this to your advantage. Think how easy it can become to stand out from the rest when you really do put the customer in charge. Customers have been told that they should be in charge and yet they rarely, if ever, feel as though they are in charge. So see what happens if you put them in charge.

Applying this to Nett Sales

Nett Sales helps its clients get more customers. We work closely with our clients to create compelling campaigns using a blend of email and telephone work to ensure we pass our clients well qualified leads that they can turn into customers.

Robert’s advice has helped us to recognise that our customers like to be in charge and make their own decisions. This has prompted us to be very transparent with our messages and allow readers to click on the links that interest them.

For us the early stage of every campaign is very important. One of the steps that we have recently introduced is an outline schedule at the beginning of a campaign explaining how things are set up and will work. Once the campaign is up and running we arrange quarterly reviews and monthly telephone catch ups to meet customer expectations and keep everything on track. If you would like to learn more about how a typical schedule works, follow this link.

We have worked with each of our clients to recognise the features and the associated benefits for their products/ service which we have used in telephone follow-up calls. This has helped up pass more hot leads to our clients.

Are you looking to do something a bit different with your marketing? Want more sales and to engage more customers? Contact us on 01672 50 50 50 for a friendly chat and to discuss your requirements.

When email frequency gets REALLY annoying

Ilogmein‘m a big fan of LogMeIn.  It works well and gives me great control of desktop PCs from an iPad.  I’ve got the free version and naturally the company are keen to get me to sign up to their Pro package and send me special offer emails to encourage me to upgrade.

BUT… how many “last chance” emails do they need to send me?  I’ve counted 5 in 2 days, which seems more than excessive.  Not to mention factually incorrect – surely it should be “only four more chances to save…” etc :)

I don’t know how many more times I’m going to be offered a last chance as I’ve now unsubscribed and they have had their last chance to influence me.

Am I going to uninstall their product and use TeamViewer?  No.  But I won’t be hearing from them again and doubt I will spend money with them.

So think carefully about what impact repeated offers will have on your subscribers.

Give your resellers the gift of your product knowledge this Christmas

sales statsBusiness is steady but you want to make a big impact in your market to become a key player for 2014. You sell through a channel and have many resellers but some better than others!

Generally 80% of your sales come from 20% of your resellers.  So the 80% of your resellers offers a major opportunity for you (see this blog talking about the “other 80%”).

But how to engage them?

Leads are the traditional answer but many channel professionals argue that leads are not at the top of the list that resellers really want. Mauricio Roa suggests “I believe that leads should not be the centre point of a program.”

Providing an untrained reseller with great leads usually just makes them look foolish.  Resellers need knowledge and training to generate a sale.

A channel expert with lots of experience with resellers, Andy Harcup says “there is no better value than teaching the reseller to prospect. If you arrange regular vendor sessions that teach the reseller how to prospect properly then leads will come naturally.” Once your dealers understand your products/services and can talk about the benefits they bring to the purchaser, they will be more confident and motivated to make sales for you. Hesham El Komy makes a great point by saying “The quicker and better they are trained the quicker and more effectively they bring in their own net new business.” By training your resellers they will no longer be dependent on your input and leads. They will be able to gain more business for you independently.

So give the gift of great knowledge to your resellers this Christmas for a happy New Year.

The Customer Experience – What people really buy

customerRobert Craven is soon to release a new version of his best-selling book “Customer is King” introduced by Sir Richard Branson.  We have taken a fresh look at this book and put into practice Robert’s advice to help us and our clients.

Robert’s advice has made a big difference to our business as well as our clients’, so much so we have been blogging the results as we go.

This month’s tip covers why your customers are buying from you and how to engage with them to keep them buying more.

What Robert says

Knowing what customers really buy and why they buy from your business is a fundamental step to any successful business regardless of what you’re selling. Robert Craven asks the questions “why do customers buy from you instead of from your competition?” in his best-selling book ‘Customer is King’. He shows there are 4 possible answers to his question:

  1. You know exactly what unique set of advantages you offer your clients, and you set out to capitalise on these advantages.
  2. You offer a unique set of advantages, but you’ve never really identified them yourself.
  3. You offer the client no unique set of advantages and you’re just lucky to be trading.
  4. You are about to go out of business because you are virtually giving your stuff away

Robert suggests that you must figure out the most powerful benefit or advantage that your product/ service offers so that it will be totally irrational for a potential customer to buy from someone else.

This moves us onto the next point that Robert makes about what people really buy. “The only products/ services that succeed are those that offer a benefit to consumers that is greater than the cost (to them).” If you want to sell more and get your customers coming back for more you need to sell the benefits that your product/ service offer the customer and why the need to buy it.

It is important to identify the features of your product/ service. These are the attributes and characteristics of your offering. Once you have done this you can then associate the relevant benefits that each feature will give your customer and why they want your product/ service.

Applying this to Nett Sales

Nett Sales helps its clients get more customers. We work closely with our clients to create compelling campaigns using a blend of email and telephone work to ensure we pass our clients well qualified leads that they can turn into customers.

Robert’s advice has helped us and our clients engage new and existing customers by sending them knowledgeable messages which identify a pain that customers can relate to and how the benefits of the product/service will help them get rid of their pain.

We have worked with each of our clients to recognise the features and the associated benefits for their products/ service which we have used in telephone follow-up calls. This has helped up pass more hot leads to our clients.

Are you looking to do something a bit different with your marketing? Want more sales and to engage more customers? Contact us on 01672 50 50 50 for a friendly chat and to discuss your requirements.

The TRUTH about email subject lines

If you are in any way involved in email marketing, you will KNOW that the subject line is vital to the success of your email campaign.  And all the stats prove it.

But how long should your subject line be?  Well there is a strong body of evidence to help you here:

Econsultancy shows in this article that shorter subject lines are best:

mailer_mailer-blog-full

But then Email Audience says longer subject lines are best:

how_long_should_your_subject_line_be

… Confused?  Well just to finish off, Mailchip guru John Foreman says subject line length means absolutely nothing:

Graph11

As J0hn says “As your subject line gets longer, nothing happens. Cheers.”

So that’s cleared things up then.  There are three schools of thought, one promoting short subject lines, one longer subject lines and one neither.  So what I would urge you to do if you want to get your subject line working for you is to go back and read the detail of all three of these articles because they all really say the same thing in the end: “your audience is made up of individuals and will respond like individuals.  Figure out what interests them and what they respond to and give them more of that”.

Now, Next Month, Next Year

QuizzicalDogsMany businesses we know are great at focussing on the most crucial tasks that are affecting their business now and generating more sales and leads now. But what about next month, next year and years to come…?

Businesses we speak to say ‘I haven’t got time to focus on business that I’m not going to get until next year’. If only there was a way for you to plan and schedule sales, allowing you time to focus on business now, business next month and business next year.

There’s a solution that may be able to help you. A sales system.

With a sales system you can schedule reminders to prompt you act on certain tasks at the right time. For example You’ve spoken to a prospect and they’ve told you that they are in a contract at the moment, but your business offers them something that they may be interested in, in 6 months. You can schedule a reminder to contact this prospect in 6 months’ time and turn them into business for you. Rather than thinking ‘I’m not going to get business from this prospect now, ignore’.

A sales system works by listing the steps needed to turn interest into business.  And the sales system in action is your sales process.  If you want to see a typical sales process take a look here.

Your sales process helps you keep track of all the customers that are ready to buy now, or in the future and keeps you connected with them so that those future sales happen.

A good sales system helps your business grow to its potential.  Get in touch by emailing us at enquiries@nett-sales.com or calling us on 01672 50 50 50.

5 point checklist to select the right sales system for your business

footprintsIt is more important than ever to seek out practical, impartial advice to ensure that you choose the right system to match your business needs. Nett Sales is a ‘user’ of these systems, rather than a vendor. As such we can provide you with all the help and support you require to select the best software and system vendor for your business.

Here are 5 tips which will help you select a sales system that meets the needs of your business:

  • Build a selection committee from the decision makers within your business
  • Interview stakeholders from all levels to gather their system requirements
  • Document your requirements in particular anything which is specific to your business
  • Agree project objectives and deliverables
  • Research the marketplace and engage with vendors early in the process

How Nett Sales can help you?

It is more important than ever to seek out practical advice, which is why Nett Sales has teamed up with  a number of vendors and brokers.

Nett Sales offers impartial advice to ensure that you choose the system that matches your business needs, rather than just what that specific vendor offers. You can get all the help and support you require to select the best system for your business. And if you’d like independent advice on selecting the right system for you, email us at enquiries@nett-sales.com or call 01672 50 50 50.

The Peaks and Troughs of business. How to turn it into constant, steady growth

How has your sales and marketing activity gone this year? Has it been peaks and troughs or a steady stream of income?

A typical SMEs income cycle may look something like this:

typical_growth

You’ve just set up your business and you have been focussing your time on marketing to get your product/ service seen by your audience. Naturally, customers start to buy and you see sales increase. Your focus now shifts to handling these sales, processing the orders and sending out deliveries which leaves no time for lead generation and marketing.

As there is no active marketing going on, business starts to slow down.  So you kick off your marketing again. Now all your attention is on getting more people buying from you, as income has hit on all-time low. Your efforts work  but just like before you need to stop selling to get customers’ orders processed and delivered as promised…. And so it continues…. Marketing activity increases, customers buy, sales reduce, and income reduces and so on….

Is there a way where your business can get steady income from steady sales which are constant throughout the year? So your income looks something like this:

desired_growth

This would be achievable if you are able to concentrate all your time on business and not worry about lead generation and sales. Nett Sales could help. We  run your lead generation campaigns for you and find the people that are interested in buying from you now.

To learn more about the Nett Sales process and how this can generate you the business you deserve as well as giving you time to focus on business itself. Call us for a friendly chat on 01672 50 50 50 or read more about us here.