Business Owner. Parent. Uber?! You’re not alone.

I know a lot of business owners both professionally and personally and without exception, one common denominator we all talk (moan?!) about is the constant juggling of our professional and personal lives.

During the day we wear our business hats and the moment we lock up and leave, our hats change to the parent hat which often extends to an Uber hat taking our cherubs to activities, doing school runs etc.

But, I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.

Work Life Balance, marketing help and advise in Bath

How many of our parents or grandparents can say that they were a major feature in their children’s childhood? How many of us are no longer slaves to the corporate treadmill with limited days of holiday to take per year, a manager we dislike, having to wear suits and be at our desks from 9 to 5?

I’m not saying corporate life was bad. In fact, I acquired my trade on the treadmill. I learned to climb the ladder and to be a part of a team and got training and experience. I also received regular pay, benefits, and a level of security plus had a good social life!

So, what’s the problem? Why do we all moan about lives as a business owner??! Why, when we have a way of influencing the work: life balance do we moan!? Was the grass greener or do we have rose tinted glasses regarding the life we used to have??!

Well, in my opinion, what you win within a corporate environment, you lose as a business owner. However this is the complete opposite when looking at things from the corporate perspective.

At 46 years of age and 25 years of working life under my belt, I am still learning and as Bath Marketing Consultancy evolves and my children get older, the juggling doesn’t get any easier. You get used to it! The key thing is to embrace the freedom you have as a business owner and to rise to the challenges of building or running a business. I read a comment from a leading motivational speaker recently that “if you need a plan b, you don’t believe in plan a.” Very true. Making the jump is not a toe in the water decision. Either jump or don’t.

If you do decide to go it alone, have a plan. Do your research. Invest in proper and professional design and marketing. Admit that you are not an expert in this area just because you have your own Facebook and Instagram accounts. Marketing in the early stages is so vital as it lays the foundations for you from which to build.

Invest in yourself and make new relationships. In the early stages of running a business, it can be extremely lonely and worrying. However, time is not a commodity to waste. Use your time productively. Make an effort to meet new people either at Networking or even at a gym.  In this digital age where email and messenger seem to dominate actual physical interaction and phone calls, remember people buy from people.  Have good quality literature to hand out and a brilliant website that people can actually find in Google.

When studying for my marketing degree, one of my lecturers said that you measure a brand’s success in decades; not years and this is where marketing can and does play a major role. Hang in there. Enjoy the freedom that working for yourself allows. Spend time with your nearest and dearest whenever you can, but write a blog post for your website and Linkedin profile.  Build a strong digital footprint. Use social media. Go to events. Engage with local media and above all, embrace the label of being an “entrepreneur.”

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Digital Marketing or Traditional Marketing?

These days, the business owner needs to consider a lot when creating their perfect marketing mix. For example, do they focus resources on traditional or digital marketing…or both? Each company is different so some would benefit more from one type of marketing than another. But, why are these two types of marketing considered separately? What’s the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and how does it change your marketing mix?

Digital

Digital marketing is any type of marketing using digital means. It includes channels like social media, websites, search engine marketing, online advertising and more.

Traditional

Traditional marketing usually includes all forms of tangible and physical marketing (business cards, posters, brochures, advertisements, posters, word of mouth, radio commercials, and more. Television ads are also predominantly considered part of traditional marketing.

Can I Compare Digital and Traditional Marketing?

You can’t directly compare one to the other or say that one is better than the other. Instead, you have to look at some of the individual aspects of each and how it could benefit your marketing.

For example, marketing generally needs to produce measurable results. While both types of marketing can provide data, digital marketing can provide those metrics in real time. This means you won’t have to wait for a whole month to find out a new ad isn’t working well, and you can make more instantaneous changes. A good example of this is Google AdWords.

Similarly no type of marketing is more effective than the other all of the time. But, you need to choose the right type of marketing for your demographics, business type, industry, etc. For example, businesses whose main customer base is aged above 30 years should probably not focus on social media marketing on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. These are not ideal for reaching their target audience, so they just wouldn’t be as effective as traditional marketing.

You should never assume one type of marketing will work for every business. There are some marketing elements that are useful for most businesses, such as websites, but they can’t be universally proclaimed as the best way to do marketing! After all, just having a website isn’t enough. It needs to set out your stall correctly, have a good customer experience and, above all, be findable in Google.

In general, digital marketing campaigns are less expensive than traditional marketing. This doesn’t necessarily yield a higher ROI, though the low cost is usually attractive to businesses. For example email marketing to a subscriber database or advertising on Facebook or the Google networks. Just like anything else, digital marketing must be done right in order to give an ROI.
In terms of who your marketing efforts can reach, digital marketing has a clear advantage. Not only can you reach a wide range of people, but you can also choose to reach out to a very narrow group of carefully selected people. For example, you can put your ads only in front of select groups of people with specific browsing or purchasing habits. This is especially true with targeted ads on Facebook selling a product or service direct to a customer.

Traditional marketing still holds a slight advantage when it comes to local marketing. It is simpler to get the word out about your business locally using some fairly inexpensive forms of traditional marketing. Digital marketing can be targeted to a local area, but it must be done precisely to be effective, whereas traditional marketing like advertising in local magazines can easily be locally focused.

Traditional marketing campaigns that use tangible materials have the distinct advantage of longevity over digital marketing campaigns. People will sometimes hold onto business cards, flyers, and other physical items for days, months, or even years. It is difficult for people to keep hold of any digital marketing products, even though things like emails can be saved indefinitely in an inbox.

Hard copies can be particularly effective at keeping a business in the view of the customer. It can also lead to greater brand recall benefits long after the campaign is over. Digital marketing ends the moment the campaign is over, and it is immensely difficult to keep in the view of the customer afterward.

Traditional marketing struggles to create engagement and interaction with customers. It is generally a way to broadcast information, but it often fails to bring in new information about your customers. This is strength of digital marketing, as it’s much easier to create a direct interaction with people at any time.

Both digital and traditional marketing have their strengths and weaknesses, but elements of both should be considered for the strongest marketing mix. You shouldn’t simply ignore one altogether and embrace the other, as this may not lead to the best marketing strategy for your business. Focus on what will work best for your business specifically without trying too hard to be everything to everyone.

 

David vs Goliath – you CAN do it…..

I have heard throughout my life that size doesn’t matter! Similarly, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Well…..when it comes to business, I concur. As an owner of a business with a team of 7, we very much pride ourselves on our reaction times and service levels. We always aim to provide bespoke marketing solutions rather than off the shelf solutions. When I asked a selection of our clients why they approached BMC instead of maybe larger, more traditional “agencies” I was pleasantly surprised to find out the answers.

Below are some of my tips on how a smaller business can not only compete with a larger one, but stand out against them –

1. Always respond to prospects quickly and personally
Smaller companies differentiate themselves from big ones through faster, more in-depth human communication.

My suggestion would be, whether in person or on the phone, respond quickly and personally to a personal approach. Companies of all sizes have adopted automated software for marketing, but relying on automation loses the personal touch that differentiates small businesses from corporations.

2. Don’t solve unique problems with standard solutions.
Big companies tend to try and fit clients into pre-set boxes. Off the shelf solutions are much more costs effective to offer and hence, larger companies will try and predict solutions and have an already made solution.

Smaller companies can be nimble in their ability to customise offerings to match specific needs. Start-ups and/or smaller businesses should take advantage of this by providing more specific service to customers who would fall through the cracks at larger entities.

3. Keep the face of the company familiar.
Bigger companies tend to have big sales teams and lots of people who interact with clients. Small companies have only a few, but this, in my opinion is a strength.  Statistically, maximizing customer satisfaction through a consistent customer journey can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20% and boost revenue by 15%. Keep the point of human contact as consistent as possible so prospects feel that they’re dealing with a person — not a brand.

While startups use personal service to get in front of clients, big companies invest in technology so they don’t have to. Keep personnel the same through the inquiry, proposal, launch and implementation phases. Customers will feel more valued if they are not being shuffled from one department to the next.

Related: 4 Advantages every Entrepreneur should be using
No matter how much ground big companies cover, they can’t be everything for every customer, and that leaves an opening for startups to survive and thrive. Small companies can leverage their agility, flexibility and creativity to go above and beyond for customers where the big businesses would otherwise get stuck in the mud.

Small companies that focus on building active, solution-forward relationships with customers will find it’s easier to win out against the sluggish big businesses in today’s fast-moving market.

The Marketing Challenge for the Small Business Owner

The challenge for so many small business owners is that they have little idea or time to make marketing actually work. The majority are experts in their fields, but they simply don’t have the time to become experts in the ever changing world of marketing.

So what happens? Rather than taking a strategic approach, most SME’s marketing efforts are the result of reactive decisions that usually come with unrealistic expectations. Their marketing mix looks can look like a mix of tactics and tools from a variety of in-house and external sources.  On a good day, the business owner doesn’t truly know what is working.  On a bad day, they feel like blowing it all up and cutting of the marketing investment all together!

If any of this sounds familiar, a very good option is to take a step back… and that “step back” involves creating a strategic marketing plan. Developing a marketing plan is, in my opinion, the best chance at success, and this is why.

It Provides a Guide

The best thing a marketing plan does for a small business is it provides a route, of sorts, to follow. It keeps you (and everyone on your team) on the same page when it comes to the direction your business is heading and how it’s going to get there.
So what does this guide look like? The specifics will vary, of course, but there are some basic components that I think every marketing plan should have:

SWOT Analysis – This is basically a snapshot of your business. Who are you? What is your unique selling proposition? What are your strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition? These are all questions you need to answer.

Target Audience – Before you can start marketing, you need to clearly identify who your best customers are. You can break the information down into key demographics, such as age, sex, geographic location, etc.

Marketing Goals – It wouldn’t be much of a plan if you didn’t set goals, now would it?! Your goals should clearly state what you want to happen and by when; a sort of list of realistic objectives.
Marketing Strategies – Your goals are what you want to happen, your strategies are how you make them happen.

Budget – If business growth is a priority, marketing MUST have a dedicated budget.  Too often the small business judges everything marketing related on cost. Marketing is an investment NOT a cost!
Yes, there are ways to market your business for free, but those methods will only do so much for your business. Eventually you’re going to have to shell out some cash, whether it’s for Facebook ads, new business cards or a website revamp.

As mentioned above, budget is one of the main components of any solid marketing plan. You’re a small business owner, so you know just how important it is to have a budget and stick to it. It’s just as important when it comes to marketing, which is why creating a marketing plan is so critical.

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.

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.