Bored with your Board? Then fix it!

Which of the following adjectives would you use to describe Board meetings at your company?

Dull? Dreary? Disappointing? Dire? Dysfunctional?

Dull-Boring Sign

Entrepreneurial? Enlightening? Enthusiastic? Exciting? Effective?

My suspicion is that many owner managers, managing directors All those in favour!or CEOs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) might be tempted to select one from the top list. If that’s you, do you ever wonder if there is any point in having regular board meetings? Can you afford the time, resource and cost?

Let’s look under the hood of BoDs.

Regulatory requirements
While it is relatively straight forward for a single individual to establish a UK Limited Company and become its sole director and shareholder, it is a legal entity which creates duties and responsibilities, enshrined in the Companies Act 2006, with the potential for personal liabilities and even penalties.

The articles of association delegate the management of a company to its board of directors. They describe how decisions are to be made and how the board is to operate, commonly referred to as Corporate Governance. corporate-governanceIn essence you need a board meeting whenever you need to take a decision which requires board approval, to comply with legislation, whenever a director requests a board meeting or to approve the annual accounts. The need for an effective board will increase in proportion to the number of shareholders, especially if they are external.

SME boards in practice
As a director you need to ensure that the number of board meetings held, the subjects on the agenda and the way meetings are conducted, demonstrate that you are complying with your duties as a director. For example, that each of you is promoting the long-term success of the company and exercising independent judgement. Although some SMEs may pay lip service to board meetings, many hold regular meetings, scheduled quarterly or monthly.

The role of the board
The board has several distinct roles including:

  • Leadership – creating a culture of excellence
  • Setting strategy – the orientation of the board ought to be about the future; the direction of the business as opposed to its past performance
  • Ensuring human and financial resources are in place
  • Reviewing management performance
  • Establishing company values and standards
  • Ensuring obligations to shareholders and other stakeholders are understood and met

There are three types of board member, all of whom share the same duties but bring a different perspective. These three roles are:

Chair
a. Leads the board
b. Sets the agendachairman-of-the-board
c. Ensures the board is an effective working group
d. Promotes a culture of openness and debate
e. Ensures effective communications with shareholders
f. Ensures all directors receive accurate, timely and clear information

Executive Director
Has an operational role in the business and typically will represent and speak to the issues around a function, division or business area. Directors all share the following 7 duties:
1. Act within powers
2. Promote the success of the company
3. Exercise independent judgement
4. Exercise reasonable care, skill, and diligence
5. Avoid conflicts of interest
6. Not to accept benefits from third parties
7. Declare interest in proposed transaction or arrangement

Non-Executive Director (NED)
There is no legal requirement to appoint a NED, although it is considered good practice. A NED has the same duties as an Executive Director, but has additional roles given s/he is not involved with day to day operations. A NED will add value to the business if s/he is able to:

a. Constructively challengeYoda-Ultimate NED
b. Help develop strategic proposals
c. Scrutinise management performance to ensure achievement of goals and targets
d. Ensure financial controls and risk management processes are in place
e. Determine appropriate remuneration
f. Assist with succession planning and the appointment of Exec Directors

From “bored” to “bullish”
What should you do to fix your boring board? Is it possible to move from “average” to “awesome”? Here are my five steps to boardroom effectiveness.

a. Take the temperature! Complete a board audit, including the views of all participants, to establish what is and what is not working. On the basis of your findings give the board an opportunity to discuss what should be done to enhance its effectiveness. Develop an improvement plan and implement it promptly.

b. Review the composition of the board to ensure that it includes the right mix of people, skills and experience. Consider appointing a non executive director to provide a fresh, external perspective and a complementary range of skills and experience

c. Clarify and communicate to all board members their duties and responsibilities as directors. Implement a development plan for individual directors and the entire board, to build skills, develop trust, enhance communication and improve decision-making.

d. Stop looking in the rear view mirror. Success concept.It’s a board, not a production or sales meeting! Adjust the agenda and timing to devote more time to strategic issues and priority topics. Keep it focused, short and on track. Develop, or recruit, a chairperson who can lead the board effectively while enabling all members to contribute freely.

e. Get the basics right. Agree the meeting dates well in advance and monitor attendance; it’s not an optional event. Provide board papers at least one week in advance and insist people come to each meeting fully prepared and ready to contribute.

If you have a great board tip, please share it in the comment section.

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What makes a great CEO? Ask Steve Ballmer.

The balmy days of August were livened up, corporately speaking, with Steve Ballmer’s Steve Ballmerannouncement that he would step down as CEO of Microsoft sometime in 2014. The race begins to find the individual who will take on this epic leadership challenge. Given Microsoft’s position as a leading global technology business, the person specification attached to this Executive Search brief will be bursting with superlatives.

Media commentary on the announcement has inevitably focused on his tenure as CEO. If you Bing (I would normally have said “if you Google”, but that would have been a cheap shot) “Steve Ballmer” you have to dig deep before you find anything positive written about him. Once you get past the announcement, the viral videos of “crazy Steve” on stage you are presented with articles such as:

Steve Ballmer’s Mixed Legacy (WSJ)
Steve Ballmer – Six big misses at Microsoft (Economic Times)
Why Steve Ballmer failed (New Yorker)
Steve Ballmer failed to take Microsoft beyond the PC (Bloomberg)
Steve Ballmer: The. Worst. CEO. Ever. (Pando Daily)

Is this all one can expect as an outgoing CEO after devoting a lifetime to building a world beating business? Do the facts stack up to this mainly negative narrative?

Microsoft. Where it all began.

Microsoft. Where it all began.

Steve Ballmer was Microsoft’s 30th employee back in June 1980 (when it had revenues of only $7.5m!) when he joined the (as yet) unincorporated Microsoft as its first business manager. After holding several leadership roles, he was appointed CEO in January 2000 when Bill Gates moved to the role of Chief Software Architect. Mr Gates relinquished this role in 2006 when he moved to his current role of Chairman.


What kind of business did Steve Ballmer inherit?
Revenue $19.7bn, operating income $9.93bn and net income $7.78bn.
Cash reserves $17.2bn, R&D spend $2.97bn. (Full year 1999)

How are things now, after 13 Ballmer years?
Revenue $77.8bn, operating income $26.7bn and net income $21.8bn
Cash reserves $77bn, R&D spend $10.4bn

His operational scorecard includes: report-card
1. Quadrupled revenues (x 3.95)
2. Quadrupled cash (x 4.4)
3. Trebled operating profits (x 2.7)
4. Reduced profitability (net income/revenues declined, 39.5% to 28%)
5. Acquired 110 businesses (that’s one every 6 weeks!) including the likes of Visio, Great Plains, Navision, Skype and Yammer as well as taking multiple minority stakes and making several divestments.
6. Led an Executive team with almost 100,000 employees in over 100 countries

That’s some scorecard! One of which, I suspect, the majority of business executives and CEOs would be extremely proud.

You might have thought that delivering these results would secure his place among the leviathans of corporate America. You’d be wrong. The fundamental responsibility of a listed company CEO role can, it appears, be distilled down to a single indicator.

In 1999 Microsoft’s market capitalisation was $400bn. It was THE most valuable company in the world. It’s market cap is currently around $285bn. report-card-commentsThat’s a 28.7% decline in value, the equivalent of almost $9bn each year. Steve failed to move the value creation needle and so it’s game, set and match to his critics.

It’s difficult to disagree that value creation is not the domain of the CEO but let’s dig a little deeper. When he inherited the world’s most valuable and (probably) profitable company, there was really only one direction to go, especially as Microsoft’s P/E ratio in the first quarter 2000 was a sizzling 58. Its PE today is a more modest 13.2, or 77% lower. (Apply the earlier PE today and he’d be handing over a $trillion business).

Jeffrey Immelt CEO GE

Jeffrey Immelt CEO GE

If CEOs are also responsible for the froth of a bull market, then it’s fair to say Mr Ballmer gets an “F” for his tenure. He’ll be in good company, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, inherited a business in September 2001 valued at $415bn which today is worth $240bn. Timing, as they say, is everything!

In the meantime, while the jury continues to pontificate on your legacy, Mr Ballmer, there’s still time for one more of your crazy dances.

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Make time for Offline – BusDev and the SME #7

At its most simple there are three business development objectives:BusDevFunnel

  • Keep existing customers (retention)
  • Add new customers (conversion)
  • Increase the base of prospective customers (generation)

A well designed and built website, coupled with effective online marketing, will keep users coming back and make it easy for website visitors to convert to become either users or paying customers.

Effective online search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns will drive traffic to the site and enable the number of prospects to increase. Previously I outlined some of the important online SEO steps to improve site visibility as well as using PPC to drive relevant traffic to the site through the smart use of keywords.

Another part of the online BusDev toolkit is a series of techniques collectively known as Offline SEO. While some of these techniques are technical, the majority do not require technical expertise, and may be contributed to by a range of people in the business.

The objective of offline SEO is to build Trust, Authority and Relevance with your target audience which will draw them to the Authoritysite. This is a longer term strategy, and underpins online SEO activities.

The tools at your disposal are many and varied but here are my Top 5 offline SEO strategies; ones that will positively impact your site metrics.

1. Be active on (relevant) social media
If you are a business to consumer (B2C) company then you should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. If you are a B2B company then LinkedIn is likely to be more relevant SocialMediaIconsto you than Facebook. Social media activity can be executed by your digital agency or in-house marketing team, but it also provides an opportunity for everyone in the business to get involved, with appropriate training and the guidance of a company social media policy.

While this may seem like an insurmountable task for the social media newcomer there are many productivity tools, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, to make the task more efficient.

2. Produce an informative blog
A blog is a great way to build credibility and authority in your geographic region, market sector or functional specialisation. A blog is straight forward to set up with tools such as the leading blog HowtoBlogapplication, WordPress. The hard(er) part is the regular production of quality content, for which there are a variety of “curation” tools such as MyCurator, Scoop.it and Feedly as well as blog amplification tools such as Triberr.

3. Publish a quality, online newsletter, or Ezine
An Ezine is an e-mail newsletter that is produced regularly and distributed via e-mail to an audience of subscribers. This is not an e-mail broadcast to a massive mailing list, rather regular communication of quality content with your “house list”. It’s a great way of keeping in touch with existing customers while reaching out to prospects. Useful e-mail automation tools are applications such as AWeber or MailChimp.email_overload

Good Ezines will increase your business profile, develop stronger relationships, generate qualified prospects and even produce sales. They keep your business visible to the audience and enable you to become the voice of authority on a range of subjects.

According to the Direct Marketing Association E-mail marketing returns over 21 times the cost of investment and is the digital marketing method of choice for business worldwide.

4. Build links
Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo send out “spiders” that crawl millions of website pages to index the content so that they can present meaningful responses to user searches. Links are theGoogle-spider streets between pages. Using sophisticated link analysis, search engines can discover how pages are related to each other and in what ways.

Quality links reinforce your position as an expert, attract other quality links and drive traffic.

The 5 most effective link building strategies are:
a. Press coverage: be newsworthy (even viral!) and earn the attention of prominent bloggers and news mediaviral-content
b. Guest blogging: publish your valuable and informative resource on other blogs and participate in online conversations
c. Broken link building: Using automated tools to find outbound links which link to sites that are no longer there, contact the linking website and offering to change the link to a more relevant article.
d. Infographic placement: infographics are a neat way to present complex data or ideas which attract links and often result in being embedded in blogs.
e. Resource page links: Resource pages are curated pages that link out to other useful pages on the web. They are fantastic link building opportunities that don’t take a lot of time to action.

5. List on quality directories
Linking to quality directories such as Yahoo! Directory, DMOZ.org, BOTW.org, Googleplaces, businessmagnet.co.uk and B2BIndex.co.uk only take minutes each and can be highly effective.

Health warning: Google changes its search algorithm over 500warning times per year. Most of these changes are minor but every few months Google rolls out a major algorithmic update that affects search results in significant ways with a consequent impact on offline and online SEO strategies. Keep your eye out for Penguins and Pandas!

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It Pays to PPC – BusDev and the SME #6

In the previous article we looked at 5 basic steps to enable your business to become visible online. These were having a well-designed and user-friendly site; developing an effective keyword approach; using on-page and off-page optimisation techniques and keeping the content fresh, relevant and authoritative.

Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)

While natural, or organic, search success (i.e. page 1 search result on Google, without paying) is the aspiration of the digital marketing community, paid search has the potential to create traffic in an efficient and cost-effective manner to enable you to grow your business.

Paid search results are delivered through Pay per Click, or PPC, campaigns. As with most things digital PPC has become a specialist subject with individuals and organisations providing services and automaton software in this space alone. But there is no reason why the SME owner cannot embark on this as part of his overall marketing approach.

Search is the biggest driver of leads for many small businesses but many are also apprehensive about investing in PPC campaigns through a lack of knowledge or confidence or the belief that they will not see an adequate return.PPC Image

Despite these concerns there are a number of very good reasons to adopt PPC. It’s performance-based, targeted in use yet broad in its reach, easy to start, low cost and provides valuable market feedback which can be used to refine other elements of your digital marketing strategy.

So, here are 6 practical steps to create an effective paid search campaign, without overspending.

1. Create your (Google Adwords) account

Google Adwords is the dominant force in the PPC market although bingAds, Microsoft’s Yahoo!Bing network is becoming more important. Facebook and LinkedIn also provide paid search opportunities. Take some time to download and review the Adwords Campaign guide and other resources which are available.PPC Advert Example

Adverts comprise a headline of 25 characters, two subsequent lines of text each of 35 characters and a display URL. There is an art to the use of this space so be creative with the title and ensure keywords are used early.

2. Clarify your PPC budget, objectives and metrics

Although PPC campaigns can be delivered at very low cost, there is a cost and you need to determine how much you wish to spend on a daily basis and build that into your marketing and financial budget. You should also clarify what product or service you wish to promote and the outcomes you wish to achieve in terms of visitors and conversions.

The fundamental PPC metric is Clickthrough Rate (CTR) which is the number of clicks your advert receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (or impressions). The higher this metric the better which indicates the validity of your keyword choice and the relevance of your advert content.

3. Develop targeted keyword and campaign strategies

PPC has the potential to connect your business directly with the user by attracting him/her to a small advert which appears at the top or right of the results page. The advert displays as a result of the keyword choice that is made and payment happens if the user clicks on the advert. So it is important to develop a list of specific, targeted keywords that are relevant to the products and services you offer and, where relevant, location-based.PPC Campaign

The more specific the keyword terms, the more targeted the resulting traffic which will help improve conversion rate and return on investment (RoI). For example, the search term “shelving” produces 38m results, whereas “wooden shelving units manchester” produces 3m results.

Grouping adjacent keywords into campaigns enables you to test various approaches which may be based on the advert content, timing, geo-location or keyword/phrase. If you intend to run multiple campaigns you may wish to consider some of the PPC automation tools that are available.

4. Manage the PPC bidding process, review and adjust

Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding enables you tell AdWords the amount that you wish pay for a conversion; either by setting a target (average) or a maximum CPA bid.auction-hammer

Review your campaigns, keyword groups and individual keywords to see which perform best by measuring how many people click through, how many convert to a sale (or other action), and what your overall ROI is for each campaign. Much of this can be done using Google Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics. You can then start to do things like introduce ‘negative keywords’, specifying those words or phrases you wish exclude from your campaigns. Google reports can be used for this but you may prefer to simply export the data into Excel for further analysis. Move your budget to the more successful campaigns and keep doing trails.

5. Deliver the goods – optimise for conversion

There is no point investing in a great PPC campaign if you then simply take the user to your home page, or, even worse, an awful website! The impressive CTR you may have achieved will be nullified by high bounce and low conversion rates. It goes without saying that if you don’t have a good website, spend time and effort on improving that first.clicking-mouse

Set a clear goal for the user visit in terms of conversion and ideally, take him/her to a dedicated landing page related to the campaign group.  If the search is for “wooden shelving units” then ensure the advert links to the relevant page and optimise that page for the desired conversion, which may be a download, request for quotation or direct entry to the order process.

Don’t listen to people who tell you that they never click on paid search results. Over 95% of Google’s revenues come from advertising, so LOTS of people do!

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Google Page 1 is a Dream! BusDev and the SME #5

Let’s do the maths on being visible online.

1. Google has 91% market share of all UK online searches, and 89% share of global searches. By anyone’s definition that is a monopoly position

2. The top 5 organic results of Google’s search engine results page (or SERP) SERP Componentssecure a total of 83% of clicks. The top 5 positions, according to one survey, gained: 53%, 15%, 9%, 6% and 4% of click-throughs. It pays massively to be the number 1 organic search result

3. Google uses over 200 factors to rank your website. Google will not reveal these factors or their relative importance as they change their algorithms over 500 times per year. Having said that, Google does publish various Guides and has some great online tools, of which many SMEs simply do not take advantage. Google Analytics is a must as are their Keyword and Webmaster Tools.

4. Typically, large businesses have a classy, up-to-date website design, the latest interfaces and a dedicated, internal team armed with a significant budget. SMEs don’t!

Bottom line….unless you operate in a highly niche area the typical SME is unlikely to get to Page 1 of Google naturally. So what to do ? Give up? No, put these 5 basics in place regarding website design and in the next blog we’ll consider how to use paid search, in a cost effective manner to help achieve your visibility goals.

5 Basic Steps to Online Visibility

  1. Design and build your site for humans but with search engines (i.e. Google) in mind. Woman Ordering Online with Credit CardEnsure a coherent flow, intuitive structure and hierarchy with well-designed pages that load quickly and relevant content which is updated regularly. Make it easy to navigate with fresh, useful content and people will stay and may even return. Remember that users now are equally active on tablets and mobiles so design for those formats too where appropriate.
  2. Understand how your potential customers might look for your product or service and develop a keyword strategy to suit. Learn how to use the Google Keyword tool and build a list of relevant keywords for your business. The tool also gives tremendous insight into alternatives that you may never have considered. It’s often a surprise to know that your “pet phrase” (i.e. solution provider) is simply not used as a search term by people outside your company. keyword-researchTake some time to research competitive sites (using right click>view page source) and look at what companies appear in searches for various potential keywords.
  3. Do the basics of On-Page Optimisation which will include:

Keywords
Keywords should generally be placed near the top of the page and at the beginning of paragraphs. Avoid keyword/synonym stuffing and ignore the Keyword Meta tag.

Title, Meta Tags & Alt Tags
Take advantage of the number of characters shown in the Title (70) and Meta (156) tags, adjusting them for each page as they also show up in the SERP (search engine results page) ranking. Images and videos are really helpful too, so include good titles and “alt tags” for every image.

URLs
Set up your URLs, and link anchor text for that matter, in a logical way to give the user an idea of what to expect from the content of the page. The URL www.mydomain.co.uk/index.php?12345/ is not as useful as http://www.mydomain.co.uk/plumber-brighton/

4. Do the basics of Off-Page Optimisation which will include promotion to search engines and directories; building back-links from relevant, quality sites; developing a presence on social media channels, providing useful content through blog commentary, article submission, technical papers, infographics and instructor videos.

5. A successful website will be relevant, authoritative and fresh-lemontrustworthy but you also need to keep it fresh and current, with great content, or it will soon go past its sell-by date.

While you may think these 5 basic steps to online visibility are too complex, or simply an extravagance, remember that online search is the first response of a B2B prospect. Remember, your competitors may be way ahead of you and increasing their digital lead.

You would never consider retaining a featureless telephone system or an antiquated I.T. infrastructure. Your business deserves a good chance of being found online. Now is the time to devote resources and budget to make it happen.

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Before you launch online! BusDev and the SME #4

Putting out fires

Among the many challenges (cash, order book, keeping up with legislation, cash, putting out fires, health & safety, cash, people problems, cash…….) faced by owner managers and SME management teams is the perennial problem of there being too many things to do and too few resources available. Add to that the potential for a skills gap and it’s easy to see how almost half of UK SMEs might have no effective online presence, as indicated by the GO ON UK study referred to in my earlier blog.

The fortunate SME CEO will either recruit a top flight digital team or appoint a quality digital marketing agency to achieve the company’s online objectives. Unsurprisingly few SMEs are in this enviable position and often rely on the CEO, FD or IT Manager to handle the project.

Websites You May Like

A website will be of little use to your business if all you do is secure your preferred domain name, buy a hosting package and arrange for a few pages to appear online. It’s an involved process and to be effective requires that you consider a number of integrated elements from strategy, design, structure, optimisation and, possibly most crucially, what will happen once your “killer site” is launched.

So before you even think about going online take a while to consider the following:

1. Define your objectives

Objective

What will online success look like? What do you hope to have achieved online in, say, 3 years time? A website is part of the overall marketing strategy of the business, not an isolated project. It should therefore be integrated into the way the business takes its products and services to the various markets.

Almost anything can be sold on the internet now, and already is. If online revenues are expected then you will need to consider content management systems, e-commerce capability and payment options in addition to strategies to attract visitors to the site. If you wish to generate useful leads or enquiries online then you will be

interested in how best to communicate your value proposition, provide clear product and service information, case studies and client testimonials.

In both case you will be keen to drive traffic to the site, develop effective ways for your visitors to connect with you and innovative approaches to turn them into brand advocates.

2. Define success

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

What are the metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) that will help you measure if your online investment is delivering? At the minimum KPIs for e-commerce websites should enable you to track the effectiveness of the funnel of the online sales channel. Although there are a number of other service providers in this area, you should ensure your website includes the required code snippets for Google Analytics and Webmaster tools.

Top level KPIs will include: £s Sales & £s Margin; # Unique visitors; #Signups, Subscribers or Accounts and Conversion or Abandonment rate.

There will be some overlap with top level KPIs for a lead generation website:# Unique visitors, #Signups, E-mails or Downloads, # Leads or #Enquiries and Conversion rate.

Metrics should be visible to the business, reported regularly within the monthly management information and will be underpinned by other metrics at a more detailed level.

The direction and trend of these indicators should lead to either celebration of success or adjustment of the tactics being used.

3. Appoint an owner

Developing and launching the website is a project in itself and requires a coherent plan, effective project management and appropriate resources. The important task begins when the site is live.

Appoint an internal owner (ideally also involved in or responsible for the website launch project) whose role will be to maximise the effectiveness of the online channel and drive the KPIs or metrics in the right direction.

This may provide a welcome internal career opportunity for someone and if the individual is new to this type of role provide training in analytics, optimisation techniques and online marketing. They will also need a budget to spend which should be derived from a well thought through digital marketing plan.

Alternatively it may be more sensible to recruit externally. In that event take the opportunity to appoint an experienced digital marketer. This is an important investment and may be crucial to future business success.

David Karp wearing Google Glass at the Tumblr ...

Wearing Google Glass    (via Scott Beale)

This person will also require content for the website and will look to the wider organisation for assistance in this. So communicate the need for people to actively contribute and lead by example.

Yes, SME CEO, you need to get yourself involved online and please stop telling folks that you don’t understand it. The internet is here to stay. Your business success WILL depend on it and before too long you’ll be seeing people wearing their internet on their faces in the form of Google Glass! Happy days!

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“Be visible online, stupid”. BusDev and the SME Part 3.

James Carville, the political strategist for Bill Clinton in his successful 1992 Presidential campaign against George Bush, developed 3 key themes to keep the campaign team focused.

“Change v more of the same”
“The economy, stupid”
“Don’t forget health care”

“The economy, stupid” gained increasing campaign prominence, written onto a large sign in Bill Clinton’s office, often used in his speeches and adopted and by grateful commentators before moving into cultural media, even appearing in shows like West Wing.  It’s adaptations have become as numerous as those found for the term “Watergate”.

A recent report, “Britain’s Digital Opportunity“, by GO ON UK, chaired by the nation’s digital sweetheart, Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of LastMinute.com and Lloyds Banking Group, found that 36% of SMEs in the UK have no website and of the 64% that do have a web site, 15% have no functionality other than the provision of information.

In case you did not realise, official UK business population estimates show there are 4.8m private sector businesses employing 23.9 million people with a combined turnover of £3,100 billion. SMEs account for 99.9% of these, of which 3.5m are sole traders and SMEs (up to 250 employees) account for 1.23m. If the GO ON report is anywhere near correct then a couple of million UK businesses are not engaged with potential customers online either at all, or in any meaningful way.

Should this news be a matter of concern to these businesses? These 2m business leaders might like to take note of the following:

1. Of the top 5 most effective demand generation tactics, a website is the most effective
2. The first thing a B2B buyer will do when looking to source a product or service is to search online and then look at web sites of potential suppliers
3. 83.5% of all searches use either Google or Bing, with Google being the clear leader at 67% market share

These 2m businesses have opted out of participating in this flow of business activity. To my mind this is commercial suicide! Maybe a large banner with the words “be visible online, stupid” should be placed above the entrance door of each one?

What options are available to the 36% segment (no web site) to establish a web presence in a cost effective and simple manner? The Google search “I want a website where do I start” returns almost 20,000 results!

There are pre-packaged online store services such as Amazon Webstore or Google Sites, template-based web builder services like Moonfruit or Weebly or more sophisticated web design packages like WordPress. If there are some funds available then a good investment would be to engage a web design firm or freelancer. Top tips: choose one who is local to you and who has a great portfolio.

What about the business owner or managing director who has nothing more than an online brochure (the 15% of the 64%)?

Educate yourself about how your competitors and industry operate online. Secondly, connect with people in your network who you believe are having some success online to understand what they are doing and how they do it. Finally, attend online marketing conferences or some of the many (free) webinars that are available. Smart Insights is an excellent source of information and advice as is HubSpot. This should give you greater confidence on the subject and enable you to formulate a list of requirements.

As it says on the GO ON UK website: Be informed. Be inspired. Act now!

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