What is marketing?

The common definition outlined in Google is: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and Advertising.

But I think marketing is a lot more than that, but I need to clarify that marketing is not sales.  A sale is a by-product of effective marketing. A sale is something a business needs to survive but you cannot make sales without marketing.

What is Marketing by Bath Marketing Consultancy

To me, marketing is the activity for creating, communicating, delivering and exchange offerings that have value for customers, clients, and/or prospects. Marketing is about finding out what potential customers want, making it, putting it in a place where they will see it and then selling it to them at a price they will pay.

Simples!

Well, not simples actually. Sorry. Hundreds of companies fail every year and 4 out of every 10 start ups don’t make it to 5 years old. Every sector is tough. Every industry is crowded and just because you have a talent, it doesn’t mean that this talent will become a business.

I have been in business for over 25 years and have worked in some of the largest organisations in the world (News International, The Havas Group, Euro RSCG) and I have seen successful businesses go into administration and companies I thought didn’t stand a chance make millions of pounds.

So….what separates a successful business from one which fails? There are lots of factors that influence this, but a key one is marketing. Marketing really can make the difference to your business. My advice is don’t rush to market with your idea or product. Do your research. Look at the market first. Who else is doing something similar, where are they and what are they doing? Who are they targeting and what is their price structure?

Then look at what message are they conveying? Where are they marketing themselves? How often, how? Will seasonal fluctuations impact on your offer?

Customers’ perception of your product (or service) is vital. You need to market the benefits your product will bring. For example, buy this bed as you will have a much better night’s sleep or use this solicitor to do conveyancing on a new house as they are specialists. Or, come to us for a haircut as we have the best stylists……..the list is endless, but features do not sell a product. Benefits do. Outline what you do and why people should buy it and this is called marketing.

Over the last 9 years since I opened Bath Marketing Consultancy, my agency has worked with hundreds of clients and they range from a bespoke cake maker in Bath to a high level sports company in Dubai, but each of these clients come to us with a problem; an issue. It is then up to us to provide a solution and to add value to the marketing elements.

A great deal of marketing can be done “In house” and there are many available platforms to use such as Social Media, but just because you may like doing design or know a bit about Facebook, this doesn’t mean you should do it. Play to strengths and bring in specialists to help and support you.
The investment you make in your marketing to get it right can (and often does) make the difference between a success and a fail.

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Digital Marketing. How do I do this?

Sometimes it’s impossible to decipher the wood from the trees when it comes to developing a digital marketing strategy. There are so many online platforms available these days and the vast majority are free to configure making each one saturated with millions of companies “shouting” online.

Similarly, some companies quickly configure accounts on platforms like Twitter just to be “on there.” They then do nothing with them and subsequently have accounts with no activity, no interaction and no real point. This actually damages a companies’ marketing rather than supports it as there is nothing worse than looking at a time line to discover that the last tweet or blog update was in 2016!

Putting together an effective digital marketing strategy is a common challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels actually are for acquiring and retaining customers. But they don’t seem to have a plan to how they intend to engage with their suspects and prospects or even a plan as to what content to use, when or even on which platform.

I also think there can be a fear that a massive strategy report is required which then requires a huge execution budget, but we believe that lean planning works best. Start with a separate digital marketing plan defining what you want to say, why and to whom. i.e do you want to enhance your “digital footprint” and sector credibility, raise awareness or target specific search terms and drive more traffic to your website.

Either way, begin with some R&D to find out which platforms your competitors are using and what are they saying. Look at what content are they posting. Similarly, research whether they are running Google adwords and if so, what terms do they target.

Then talk to your clients. What platforms do they use? If you are an SME, Twitter is a good platform to use to market your business. If you sell to consumers, then Facebook will be key and you may well consider implementing Facebook ads.

You need to make the case for an investment in digital marketing and then create an integrated digital plan which is part of the overall marketing plan – digital should be fully aligned and becomes part of business objectives.

What to include in your marketing plan

Marketing plan is actually your how-to guide for your marketing, advertising and business development. This can be a few months or a few years depending on the purpose of the marketing plan and the company strategy so hang in there!

However you should be aware that not one universal marketing plan fits all businesses and all scenarios – Instead, I feel that the structure for any marketing plan for a business is based around the following planning elements:

Step 1 – The prospective target market or audience and the specific marketing objectives. In other words who your ideal customer is and what would you like to achieve – start as simple as that before you go into specifics of when, how often, where, how much etc.

Step 2 – The type and structure of your company will set the planning horizon as well as the marketing and business growth strategies and tactics.
For example, a small business requires a completely different set of tactics and approaches compared to a large global corporation that markets to customers in various market segments worldwide. The small business plan might be quite uncomplicated, specific and actionable in a few months because the small business is more flexible and adaptable whereas the large organization needs more time to change its marketing strategies because market development, product development, etc take months for bigger business. There is also the issue of internal communication i.e. the larger the organisation, the more the need for communication and “buy in.”

Step 3 – The market structure. You should carefully evaluate your key competitors and other stakeholders like vendors, legal, social influence…so that you have a clear picture of what you’re up against. Every market is full of “noise” so must know where to make yours and how loud!

The old adage of failing to plan mostly meaning planning to fail is very true when it comes to effective marketing.

 

What is Marketing Communication?

Marketing Communication is basically the process of using different communication channels and tools to communicate marketing information to target groups and desired parties.

Marketing departments use various communication channels such as web, radio, printed media, billboards, opinion leaders, word of mouth, sponsorships and many other ways like television. This is also known as the promotion which is a key factor of the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion) or else called as 4Ps. The whole process of marketing is executed through this marketing communication mix.

Marketing communication can be further explained using a sort of ice burg theory. It is the tip of the iceberg and it is the highlighted and visible process. All other marketing mix activities are not directly visible to customers. Therefore this is one of the most important factors of marketing operations and these tools below are used to achieve marketing goals and objectives of an organisation.

Marketing Communication Tools/Strategies.

• Advertising – Communicating text, audio or visual messages through various communication channels with the intention of promoting products and brands and to provide information.
• Sales Promotion – An incentive given to either consumers or traders to grow sales for a short period of time.
• Personal Selling – Sales persons making sales by approaching individual customers personally.
• Direct Marketing – This is a way of communicating promotional details and other information directly to customers.
• Public Relations (PR) – The process of developing and maintaining a positive image of the company by good communication with the public and society.
• Digital Marketing – Marketing products and services through digital channels and mediums such as websites, E-mails, social media, search engines etc.
• Sponsorships – Financial or nonfinancial support given to a third part with the intention of using the third part to do marketing activities.
• Event Marketing – Organising online or offline events and activities attached to the brand or the product to promote the brand and the product through experiential marketing.

Combination of the marketing communication mix is not the same for every business; it differs with the type of business, size of the business, target market, type of the product etc.

Today Digital Marketing has influenced a lot on this subject. Therefore it is vital to create an effective and bespoke marketing communication mix combining the above tools. This is your marketing strategy.

Marketing planning and routes to market

Most small business owners know how important it is to have a business plan as a plan outlines your company’s course for success. However, one crucial element of that plan which is sometimes missing or hidden is the marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy can quite often be buried within the larger business plan and, as such, many small business owners may not give marketing the time, research and attention it deserves, assuming that they know their customer base and how to reach them. But an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach.

In my previous post, I outlined 4 core tasks to consider when developing a marketing plan, but you need to figure out how you are going to reach that target customer. You need to identify a suspect, turn them into a prospect and then a client and quite often, your marketing strategy can just be to “sell” a meeting.

Anyway, aside from the 4 core tasks I touched on in June, there is also traditional print and broadcast media, but there are also two tech-driven marketing channels that many of today’s business owners utilise and hence, should be considered.

Social media
Social media has become an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans because every type of customer is on some type of platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other networks. Small business owners can feel overwhelmed at the possibilities but should focus on the ones that can benefit them the most.
Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing company Markitors, advised companies that are
just getting started in social media to get to know their customers and what platforms they are using.
“Figure out where your customers are spending their time, and set up shop on those platforms,” Farmiloe told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms. While all three steps are key, the biggest one is really determining if your customers are on these platforms.”

Email
Though email marketing may not be a new concept like social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for many small business owners. In fact, recent statistics show that 89% of millennial customers STILL prefer email as a communication route.
Companies can implement email-marketing techniques in a number of ways, including using newsletters, promotional campaigns and transactional emails. Companies such as MailChimp and Constant Contact make it easy for companies to manage their email campaigns.

With so many marketing routes to market, you’ll have to decipher the best ones to use via testing, but don’t discount anything until you’ve tried it and make sure that these routes are part of the larger marketing plan.

How do I develop a small business marketing plan?

When developing a marketing plan, there are roughly 4 core tasks to consider:

1. Develop a very clear and focused insight into why a potential customer would use your business. More specifically, figure out the core need that your product or service will meet. Is it to help your customers get through the day more easily? Do their job more efficiently? Be respected and admired by friends? Your offering should be designed to solve client problems or meet customer needs better than the competition can.

2. Identify your target customers. Most markets and sectors have numerous potential customers to communicate with, but to succeed faster and better, a small business must study the market and determine the characteristics of its best target customers. The target customer should be described in detail. Create a fictional person who has all of your target-customer attributes, and examine what that person would say, do, feel and think in the course of a day.

3. Identify competitors that would also want your target customers. No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer’s pound. Small businesses seldom take the time to study their competitors in depth, or determine competition that may be outside their industry but just as capable of luring the customer away. Preparing to know who that is, what their core competitive advantage is and how they will respond to your offering (price cuts, increased communication, etc.) will help you figure out strategies to combat such losses.

4. Write down your brand-positioning statement for your target customers. Ultimately, your brand and what it symbolizes for customers will be your strongest competitive advantage. You should be able to write down a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements are those that are single-minded and focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.

Now that you know the elements of the plan, you need to figure out how you are going to reach that target customer………………………………………………….

10 ways to make your advertising budget work harder

No matter how big (or small) your ad budget is, most organisations struggle with making the most of their advertising budget….if they have a budget at all!

While outspending your competition would be a nice things to be able to do, not every business has the resources to match competitors’ budgets. In addition, getting into some sort of spending competition could mean spending your marketing pounds sporadically without the proper planning these pounds need to do their job.

There are so many platforms when it comes to advertising. Do I advertise online or offline? Do I advertise locally in the generalist press or do I go with trade and/or lifestyle press? The questions and dilemma’s continue….

Advertising has its pros and cons and I wouldn’t advocate using advertising as a marketing medium without the proper planning. Neither would I say that advertising alone will fast track imminent retirement. However, advertising allows you to get your message out in bulk to your prospects as well as reinforce your brand message. It can be expensive so……….what can you do to stretch your advertising pounds?

1. NARROW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
2. HONE YOUR MESSAGE
3. CREATE A COMPELLING OFFER
4. MAKE AN IMPACT WITH AD BURSTS (weekly or monthly for a set period of time)
5. SUPER SIZE THE AD (run fewer ads at larger sizes)
6. MAKE THE MOST OF MOMENTS (limited time offers etc)
7. REPEAT YOURSELF (often called re targeting when used online, in print 6-9 exposures is statistically the optimum ad campaign)
8. COMBINE MEDIA TO GET BETTER REACH AND FREQUENCY
9. USE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
10. NEVER STOP TESTING

None of these strategies for marketing in the moment require large ad budgets, they just require smart planning, strong messaging and creativity.