Digitalisation for SMEs made easy – in conversation with Joe Stallion (Solvi Solutions)

Do you recognise the need for ‘digitalisation‘ or ‘digital transformation‘ within your business?

Would you love to start automating your sales and marketing process?

So, where do you start?

Google search will give you myriad pages to find ‘the best tools’ and ‘foolproof ways to success’. YouTube is awash with young entrepreneurs who have ‘smashed it’ and are openly willing to show you a screengrab from their bank account to prove it.

Maybe you’d prefer to cut back on all the bullshit and find a way to achieve some great results, with a guide to help you make the most from your investment.

Maybe you (like me) should be speaking to Joe Stallion from Solvi Solutions. I had a chat with Joe recently, here are some highlights.

The Solvi Approach…

We’ve taken the approach to support smaller businesses, helping them find these tips and tricks to really manage to bring in digital transformation and use these new technologies in a way that doesn’t cost the earth.

It’s easy to invest heavily in digital transformation without seeing the expected ‘transformation’. Solvi take a different approach by recommending software solutions that don’t cost the earth. Joe tells me that by connecting software platforms together and getting them to communicate, Solvi can achieve 90-95% of the functionality of some of the big platforms like Adobe Marketo. The difference is that this comes at a far lower price tag.

I find this really interesting because when I think about ‘digitalisation’ I immediately think of Facebook and Google ads but there’s a whole other, more back-office side to digital transformation. Putting the right digital tools in place can improve and automate business processes meaning, as business owners, we can claw back huge amounts of time from the things we’re currently do manually. Online advertising is just one aspect of a much more transformative process.

But Don’t Forget the Audience…

But, wherever you are on the digital transformation journey, let us not forget the audience. After all, a click comes from a finger (or thumb), which is attached to a human and a human has needs, problems, motivations and attitudes.

So I would actually say that rarely businesses have a really clear understanding of what the audience looks like, which is a problem in itself, because it causes difficulty when you’re looking to kind of qualify in or qualify out business.

So before contemplating digitalisation and marketing automation, it’s definitely worth doing more work on understanding your audience.

  • Who are they?
  • What are their problems, needs and motivations?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • What kind of message and delivery format is right for them?

It’s up to you, me and all business owners to find this out and become more customer-centric. (How? We have more coming on this very soon).

Some tools to help you understand your audience better:

  • Have a conversation – find some customers and/or potential customers and have a chat with them, understand what makes them tick, what motivates them and what their pain points are
  • If you have a Facebook for Business account, they have various audience insight tools, which are really handy to help you understand more about a particular audience
  • Hubspot’s “Make My Persona” tool is free and can help you create your perfect buyer persona
  • SparkToro is a new insight platform that helps you understand audience profiles based on their topics of conversation, where they go online, who they follow online, what hashtags they use etc. The free account gives you 10 searches per month
  • We have long lists of free research and insight tools, drop us a line to get the full resource list.

The Growth Marketing Audit…

Having done your research, it’s then a case of starting to implement new tools and processes. This is something Joe and I discussed at length as there’s a parallel with the idea of ‘DIY research’. Our question to each other was whether to encourage clients to DIY and provide some guidance, or to recommend that they outsource this work to experts which might cost more but would pay bigger dividends.

Joe’s solution to this is their ‘growth-marketing audit’.

We call it the growth marketing audit. Basically, what it does is to analyse current marketing activities, everything external, as well as internal – what we call ‘technological foundations’. The kind of technologies that the business is using to support the sales and marketing process and customer journey.

We analyse a range of areas – from digital awareness and presence to lead generation and lead nurturing – and then basically look at how the technology that they’ve implemented supports that, and potentially what technologies they could implement in order to improve the customer journey and also improve the efficiency of their internal marketing process.

The audit provides a huge amount of value to the business in its own right. It’s a standalone piece of work which comes with a set of recommendations that the client can implement or find someone to implement for them. The value is that someone has really dug into the business, understood what works well and how things can be improved.

As Joe is often working with organisations that don’t have a dedicated marketing function, this kind of understanding can often not be surfaced by an internal team. In his experience, clients don’t always have someone to really get to grips with marketing performance tracking and analysis which is so important to measuring effectiveness and finding ways to improve.

Joe has found clients who’ve previously worked with digital agencies can end up with their marketing very disconnected from the sales process, and that is something Solvi are looking to fix.

The audit is £750 with a 50% refund if the client goes on to work with Solvi on a retained basis.

For more information – visit Solvi Solutions, check out Joe on LinkedIn.

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