Create the best customer experience

The need to create a good customer experience has grown exponentially over recent years as every market is flooded with options for the buyer in terms of whom they work with and/or buy from so the need to stand out is more important than ever. Why I ask myself, is something as fundamental as good customer service now labelled; why has it become a “thing”?? 10537-mark-804938_1920

Well, it’s because so many companies don’t seem to make this thing called customer service a priority. I may have been in business for more years than I care to remember, but customer service should be something that happens naturally. Surely?

To me people and communication should be at the centre of all businesses even in this ever increasing digital world. Everyone is a customer: customers as buyers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. Whether it’s in their capacity as consumers, citizens or workers, people and the ways you engage, serve and empower them are key to future business growth.  Organisations can have the best product in the world, but if the people who represent the company or the way the company sells (before and after) the product is poor, then the product won’t sell.

There is nothing faster in marketing than a good reputation travelling fast…..apart from a bad one. If a customer has a good experience, they usually tell 2 people. If they have a bad experience, the average number of people they will tell is 7. Do the maths.

All parts of your organisation and marketing need to be connected and aligned with creating the best customer experience as this is how to create a reputation and ultimately, drive revenue.

Customer service shows that organisations are putting their customers more at the centre i.e in the sense of optimising processes and business functions around the customer.  However, to me everyone is a customer: from employees and investors to partners, customers, buyers and their contacts.

Customer experience is crucial for the present and future of your business. It always has been but in an era of a more autonomous and ’empowered’ customer who has higher expectations it is even more so.  In a society that has become increasingly reliant on digital communication, the determining factor in the buying decision could easily be the customer service.

One thing my father said to me once that has stuck with me throughout my life is “treat people the way you want to be treated” and never has a truer sentence been spoken.

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I’ve got a website, I can relax now…

Marketing for any business these days almost certainly includes having a website that sets out your stall. But I am going to just throw it out there and say that businesses can have huge (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations when having a website.

Sometimes organisations think that having a website is just a box ticked in the marketing box and that, once done, the person responsible should get a pat on the back from colleagues and then the phone will ring off the hook and their inboxes will fill up with enquiries within minutes of launch.
Similarly, sometimes organisations go through the process of designing and building a website, make a bit of a fuss when it’s launched and then leave it unattended for months or even years at a time or unmaintained so none of the working elements are updated and yet they still feel like it should be the gift that keeps on giving with an indefinite ROI.

I want to ask you all one simple question……what is having a great website that works on smart devises, is great in Google, is fast to load, is always working and gives your organisation a global platform worth to you? What would it actually be worth in money, in stress and in time.
Like millions of others, I pay to insure my house, insure my car, insure my company, insure my health……I also invest in training, have an accountant, research new technology, stay fit, have quality time outside work, attend seminars……but how much do you invest in your website?  How much per calendar month do you invest in making sure it stays live, optimised, up to date and secure?

To me the answer is simple. A website should be everything to your business and justifies investment and constant maintenance as a minimum.

Without a website, how do people realistically find you? How do people get in touch with you? Where would people go for due diligence?

So…..if you do not value your website, no one else will.

Although a hugely vital “shop window” for a company, many may have the money to invest in a website, but simply don’t like spending it and will often engage a cheap company or one man band to knock up something for them or, Heaven forbid, go to a DIY website company and do it themselves. Once done, they then leave it alone until it eventually crashes or is so out of date they don’t even refer to it.

In 2019 we’ve seen a real trend in organisations wanting advice as to what to do with their websites. People are now seeking advice about how they get them to “work” harder or what they need to do to boost their positions in Google or even, how to maintain them. Yes, websites can be done yourself and can be done cheaply and left unattended, but, please don’t!!

 

Content Marketing – What??

A marketing initiative that can make a huge, positive impact on your brand awareness and credibility as part of your marketing mix is content marketing.

But what is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the act of using unique content as a way to boost your expertise with your target market through posting articles on a dynamic area of your website like a blog. This written form of content that you post on a regular basis helps your website rank in search engines as well as increases your authority…..if the content is valuable.

How do I get this content “out there?”
Social media is a great way to promote your content and create inbound links to your Blog as is having a facility that allows others to share it to their own platforms. Bath Marketing Consultancy often posts our content to our Facebook and Twitter pages so that our followers and friends can read our free marketing tips and integrate them into their own strategies. We may well post the article on Linkedin if it is aimed at the B2B market.

Any content you create can also take the form of a video, vlog or an infographic and all are perfect for sharing on social media platforms like Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube….which is now second inline as a search engine.

Which in turn, drives traffic to my website? 
Yes. Content marketing is a subtle approach with the idea that you inform visitors about your expert opinion, instead of pushing your products and services directly. Once trust is built, readers will want to buy your products and services.

Why Use It?
Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing methods available as it creates long-term returns for websites. The new pages you create are ranked well in search engines and tend to leave a footprint for long periods of time.

In addition, you can target different search terms with these posts thus throwing your SEO net wider than just the core terms you may well have targeted with your website. For example, if you search for a “marketing consultancy” in the UK, the BMC website ranks top locally and nationally. But, having an area where we post regular content has allowed us to target smaller, more niche terms like “marketing advice in Bath” where we hold the first 5 positions in Google with our posts.

At the moment the trend is slightly against paid content so dedicate time and resources to deliver your content via articles and blog posts that relate to your products and services & then “market” these posts.

However, don’t plug them directly; demonstrate you know what you are talking about and give readers the opportunity to “read more” or “subscribe.” Potential customers want to be informed as on average people will consume over 11 pieces of content before deciding to part with their money. If you can’t provide this content, speak to someone who can as you may well miss out on prospects.

Create a marketing plan for your start up business

When you start up your business, it is likely that marketing will play a key role in its success or failure. It is also likely that marketing is going to be another hat you try and wear along with accounts, client services; sales……….the list is endless.

It is therefore essential that you have some sort of plan with a loose budget so you what you should be doing; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You must consider elements like the potential market size, the competition, your pricing, where your prospects are, their buying habits etc.

You also need to try and outline what the ultimate goal of your marketing is – geographically, profits & margins, client size or even whether you are seeking an exit strategy.

The plan shouldn’t be just about the volume you want, but whether the brand and reach you are creating is achievable. Knowing these elements will dramatically help you construct your plan.
It is unlikely that, as a start up, you have a blank cheque to spend so getting value for any spend is vital. So, break your budget up into small chunks and identify the marketing needed to get you to each point on your journey.

So……do your research. Knowing exactly who your best customers are will enable you nail your marketing. You’ll also waste a lot less and convert a lot more suspects to prospects using targeted campaigns and the right messaging.

Then make sure you have conducted some thorough competitive analysis. Who are your competitors? How much do they charge? What is their customer service like? What are they doing well? Are they dropping the ball in key areas you can do better on?

This will enable you to craft an effective positioning statement, USP and brand.
After identifying your best prospective customers and the right branding, you will be able to better select the best fitting marketing and advertising channels.

We advocate creating a marketing tool kit containing all elements you might need – a website, SEO work, social media, business stationery etc. However, these elements will be a little different for every start up. Your kit may also include TV advertising, outdoor display advertising, print ads, email, popup shops or live events.

All of this requires budgeting and time. Even if you aren’t doing Google PPC ads, Facebook or other paid campaigns, marketing requires a budget and this budget should be viewed as an investment in the business.

You can never afford to stop marketing. When you stop marketing, you stop having a business. If the big brands like Coke and Apple are still doing it with all of their billions and high market positions, then you had better believe it!

But who is going to devise and implement all this marketing activity? You may be a genius at what you do and believe you have a creative eye, but no matter how good you are, there are many platforms and factors to master in marketing so do not shut the door on getting expert help from a reputable marketing organisation.

What is a marketing audit?

Whatever the market your business operates in, it is safe to say that it is likely to be highly unpredictable and competitive and, as such, business owners cannot leave any stone un-turned in their search for growth and development.

One element often overlooked due to time or budget constraints is a full marketing audit.
By pressing pause and taking a serious look at your position in terms of the offer, the target audience, the current route to market and the actual brand. An audit can be a vital instrument to help an organisation establish its position and to identify its possible “difference” in the market as well as what resources and capacities it has as its disposal.

Conducting a marketing audit is one of the best and most sensible investments a business can make for the future.

But, what exactly is a marketing audit?
The Marketing Audit refers to the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.

The outlined definition clearly confirms the strategic and operational relevance of conducting a marketing audit, making it an instrument where businesses can dissect, analyse and assess their situation.

About the audit process
Carrying out a marketing audit can be quite time consuming and is often hard to do without bias if done internally, but it should be done by externally based skilled, experienced, and specialised marketing professionals.

Asking the correct type of questions is key to conducting a successful marketing audit. Proper R&D and the right questions unlock a business’s creative instinct and serve to stimulate the thought processes. For example, what time are we dedicating to social media and what has been the ROI?
The marketing audit also provides the business with a clear picture of its marketing function and business environment. It will help him / her to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business.

I believe that the marketing audit process should encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, since competitive advantage rarely comes from doing the same thing over and over. When businesses offer the same product and service to the same market by performing the same kind of marketing, no business will grow in the long run. In fact, it is likely that others will have conducted an audit and will be reaping the benefits, possibly from your pocket.