Interview between Tony Gresty, Managing Director of ASG Services and Jan Klin
How would you describe your company and its mission?
We supply to mainly large distribution companies as well as directly into the materials handling industry, racking manufacturers and IT providers.
We have offices in Warrington and Atlanta, Georgia. Where we employ approx 26 people comprising production, installation, sales and support staff.
Our mission is to provide our customers with the most appropriate solution available that represents the optimum value to the client.
How long have you had a website and what is its main purpose?
Our initial web site went on line approx 8 years ago now and was aimed at supporting our sales team as a reference site to direct potential customers too.
Our next site was quite technical with several down loadable data sheets and information about or products. (www.asgservices.co.uk)
Then we started to look at e commerce as a way of generating sales enquiries and this is when we started discussions with you about how to completely shift the focus of the site towards tangible returns.
This subsequently involved a complete redesign of the site so that it was as completely search engine optimised as possible.
Does the site work for you? ie deliver the benefits you were expecting?
When you mentioned in a meeting that search engine optimisation could easily add in excess of £200,000 per annum to most small companies turnover I was quite sceptical.
After getting embarrassed about my current site when you informed me of all it’s short comings we put down an action plan to go forward.
Search engine optimisation has added significant benefits to the company.
Once we added pay per click advertising and blogs etc I can safely say that over £200,000 has been achieved already and we are changing our business strategy and products because of it.
What is your online marketing strategy? – which methods do you use to attract potential customers?
Our online marketing structure is very direct. We had done very little traditional marketing other than through our sales team. Subsequently most of our work came from within the industry.
Now we produce more quotes every month from sales team of fewer people and subsequent cost. That means we have been able to employ a full time marketing manager to manage not only E commerce but also other marketing activities that we weren’t doing before such as press releases etc.
It remains to be seen how more direct work will affect our average order value within our business but it has certainly reduced the cost per quote by a significant margin.
How does your online activity mesh with your offline marketing?
Online marketing is a great way of providing the sales team with direct opportunities to quote customers.
These customers need to be responded to very quickly as compared with our other routes to market such as referrals etc. We keep a very tight control on branding but this is done not only by our marketing manager but also by our designers that are constantly able to offer fresh materials within the same brand image.
This is vital as keeping a tight brand image adds value to customers perception of the company.
Other minimal forms of marketing such as advertising within the trade press and exhibitions are done on a very minimal budget and on the same basis of our Web culture. i.e.to provide the maximum amount of active sales leads for the minimum amount of spend.
I believe within marketing circles brand awareness marketing such as exhibitions is called “Willie waving!”. I am of the opinion that markets are changing and with customers being less loyal if we aren’t constantly focused on lead generation we may in future not have a Willie to wave.
How much business do you do on the web?
I suspect we now generate approx two – three leads per day from web based activities. While many of these are for small order values of just a few hundred pounds we have received massive enquiries for both the UK and USA market which have directly lead to contracts. We have had particular success around some of our most important keyphrases – Floor Marking Systems and Warehouse Rack Labels
Some the 42% sales growth we achieved last year was from an improved UK materials handling industry market but it was by no means all of it. We have been able to offer more products and services to a larger customer and industry base as a means of our web based activities.
How do you see the future regarding your online activity?
I have changed my opinion of e commerce completely over the past 18 months. I now view search engine based marketing as a priority in our marketing activities and don’t see how that we change in the foreseeable future. I am conscious that as other businesses look at how to capitalise on search engines as a way of generating business that this may impact on the cost of pay per click advertising but feel more than confident that our generic search engine results will continue to strengthen and reduce the opportunity for competitors to compete.
On top of that I believe that with the support of SEO knowledge gained from you and also constant detailed reviews of how search engines operate I am sure we will be able to stay ahead of our competition in this field as well.
What is the single biggest lesson you have learned about your web activities?
Ignoring the bigger picture on e commerce could have cost us the lead on our competitors in the UK. Spending a few months getting this section of your marketing correct can give very big returns to your sales figures.
Can you imagine life without a website?
Life without the web would be a lot slower like it was in the good old days when you could drive to an appointment and enjoy the drive as we didn’t have mobile phones either!
Anything else you want to add?
The web tools available to provide essential marketing information, that in traditional marketing are difficult and costly to find, make making web based decisions easier to make.
Having an open mind to new ideas in this as well as other fields should provide larger benefits to companies than the cost of implementation.
Thanks Tony and happy willie waving