Seminar or Conference – how to make it a success

Outline the benefits

This is not as easy as it seems, especially when you consider how many are available at one time. In addition, once you have set the date it is going to happen, whether you are ready or not! Deadlines just have to be met and planning is vital so here is Bath Marketing Consultancy’s checklist:

Choose the title with extreme care – It needs to offer something valuable to the audience not just be a sales platform for you and your business. I suggest a title along the lines of “How to…..” i.e the benefits rather than the “We do this…..” type of approach.
Venue – select on the basis of audience (i.e size and type) and your budget. VISIT IT IN ADVANCE to ensure it is appropriate, has good acoustics, air conditioning, good service from the staff, blackout facilities, toilets etc.
Invitations – these should be quality and well produced invitations not just a piece of A4 with lots of words on it about you. These have to be sent out a long time in advance; 2-3 months is about right. Always specify the day, time, contents, directions, parking facilities etc.
Follow up – always telephone as a follow up as opposed to just an email or an e shot.
Day/Date – believe it or not, this can have a massive impact on attendance. Avoid Mondays or Fridays. Obviously avoid National holidays!
Location – again, this is very important. Chose somewhere easy to reach and maybe somewhere where overnight accommodation is available.
Timing – my suggestion is not to run a seminar for a full day on one topic. Offer a morning only starting at about 10am and run until 12.30pm and provide a buffet!
Outside speakers – these really add credibility especially from a client side so maybe look to team up with another business. It also means that the audience wont get bored of one topic. (I ran a seminar on website design and content management and brought in my SEO expert = a natural partnership).
On the day – make sure you arrive early to test everything and then have sufficient staff on hand during the event. Maybe have handouts, badges etc.
Copies of the material – make these accessible, but possibly as a download from your website!!

In summary, if you are going to run an event, do it properly and professionally or risk some serious consequences. You want to be remembered for the right reasons and, if done successfully, a seminar can make a real positive impact on your business.
Need help? Get in touch with me via my website….

Direct Mail – have you used it?

About a year ago, I wrote an article giving tips on how to use Direct Mail as an effective marketing initiative, but I have come across a lot of cynicism recently about its place within strategies.

As I tweeted earlier this morning, I believe there is no such thing a junk mail – only mail that is badly targeted and misdirected. In my opinion, ALL mail has the opportunity to be impactful and interesting and it is your job (or the job of your marketing company) to make it so. Even to throw it in the bin requires an action from the recipient and therein lies the opportunity!

Your prospect probably receives 100lbs of unsolicited mail per year comprising of 500+ items. Ask yourself why your mailshot should be treated differently from the rest? If you send 10 items of literature to perfect strangers, two of them will be binned unopened, another two will be opened but not read. This leaves roughly six that will be looked at. MAKE YOURS STAND OUT!

Out with the ‘junk’
About one-third of mailshots are wrongly addressed. This is something that will have a serious impact on response rates. In addition, do not address your mail shot to ‘The Owner’ or ‘The House Owner.’ Try not to make your mailshot look too much like mail they haven’t asked for; consider all possibilities for personalisation – a handwritten envelope, use a Christian name, use a stamp rather than franking etc.
As we all know timing is essential. Try and avoid any seasonal influences (i.e. half terms). A lot of companies also match their finacial years to coincide with the standard financial year so avoid making offers in March; allow sufficient time to get into peoples’ diaries before budgets are set.

Language is also imperative. Use good English. No mistakes, be brief and to the point and avoid the unclear and ambiguous message. Also, if money is tight, try contra deals with someone else where 2 businesses run a campaign together (e.g web design & SEO) and make the offers interesting, relevant and original.

Statistics say that successful direct mail marketing will yield a 2% response rate. In my opinion this is rubbish. All you need to know is the profit per reply. Ask Johnnie Boden how direct mail works for his business.

Need help? Why not ask me?

The Role of Marketing

In my opinion, businesses must make selling a high priority within an overall plan, but such a plan is likely to be labelled a marketing or business plan. However, as I have indicated in Twitter, I see marketing as considerably more than just selling.  The Role of Marketing

I continually hear from businesses quotes like ‘we have got on really well all these years without marketing and selling so why do we need it now?’ In fact, I met a business yesterday at the Chamber of Commerce Event in Frome who told me categorically that their business does not do any marketing relying on word of mouth to grow their business. When I asked why they had a stand at the event and wasn’t that a part marketing, I was given a rather blank look!

I feel the answer to this sort of questions is that, when a company performs well to date without what they perceive as active marketing, it is unlikely that this will continue as competitor activity will ultimately mean a loss in business. Everyone loses clients periodically or has clients that spend less and it is winning new business that grows an organisation.

Whether you are doing the marketing yourself, motivating others to do it for you or outsourcing it, remember marketing is not just about having a nice brochure or a website with animation (please do not talk to a printer or graphic designer about marketing!). Marketing is about differentiating your business from anyone else. It is not about what your logo looks like; it is about giving your customers a coat hanger for them to hang their coat on and ultimately, I see marketing as 6 key areas:

1.Winning new business – using cold canvass, online marketing, D/M, emarketing etc to open doors.

2.Understanding your market – ensure you have a thorough knowledge of your own market through a SWOT, competitor analysis, discussions with existing and prospective clients.

3.Building your brand – corporate ID, advertising, PR, literature, sponsorship – all are brand builders; elements of the marketing mix + exhibitions, conferences, seminars etc.

4.Planning – you must have a proper plan (use a Consultant if need be!)

5.Managing existing clients – maybe implement an SLA & monitor quality

6.Internal Marketing – for the larger organisation, communicate activity internally.

None of the above is set in stone, they are just my suggestions…….based on nearly 20 years in the communications industry! As always, I say to people that anyone can learn marketing, but it takes a lifetime to get right and ultimately, it is an essential part of business and should not be undertaken lightly. Too many business owners seem to think that they can do all these elements. Wrong. There is nothing wrong with building a relationship with an external party and working with them to get marketing (and selling) right and I happen to know of a very good Consultancy!


Top 10 Marketing Tips for Success

1. Slash your advertising budget in half. Use the money you save to test some other simple forms of marketing. Better yet, get on the phone to the media you advertise in and ask them to reduce the prices – in this economy they are really struggling and I can almost guarantee they’ll give you a substantial saving. Use the money you save to test new forms of Marketing and Internet Marketing.

2. PR. Publicity. Expert positioning. Any time your name appears in print, you are automatically an expert. People believe what they read in the papers, see on the TV and hear on the radio. It can be as simple as writing a small column in a local paper — most of these papers are crying out for quality content. They have little money to pay freelancers to write for them and might well welcome material from you.

3. Up selling. If you don’t ask your customers to buy more from you, they’ll rarely come offering. You can build tremendous momentum with a sale if you keep offering add-ons and more “de-luxe” versions. Don’t just sell a sofa – sell it with a full carpet clean, and matching rugs.

4. Go out and meet your top 20 customers. Don’t try to sell them anything, but do ask for referrals. Take them to lunch, or even just a coffee at Starbuck’s. This is a powerful strategy simply because in this modern and hectic world, no one seems to want to do it anymore. If other people aren’t doing something, that’s a good enough reason for you to test it.

5. Networking. Go anywhere people in your target market or in synergistic businesses might hang out. You don’t have to pay to join a Breakfast club – there are lots of trade shows and events you can get in for free. The people at these events are there for the same reason you are: to do business.

6. Public Speaking. Any time you get up in front of an audience to speak about your business, you’re marketing. There are dozens of opportunities to speak to interested, qualified prospects all over the place.

7. Improve your sales skills. There is an incredible amount of top quality, free information out there on sales – you’re reading some NOW! Books aren’t expensive, either, and you can get them from the library if you don’t want to buy them yourself. Knowledge is priceless, and it’s something no one can ever take away from you. Always be prepared to invest heavily in yourself. Becoming great at selling is absolutely fundamental for business success today.

8. Emails. If you’re emailing your customers and clients less than once a week, you are definitely leaving money lying around unclaimed. Make it a habit to mail your list regularly with useful, topical content they can use. They’ll love you for it, and you will make more sales.

9. Joint ventures. Look around you and you’ll see dozens of non-competing businesses whose customers are just like yours. For instance, imagine you deal with, VOIP systems and save your customers money. Now imagine you get local accountants to let you leave your paper newsletter or other marketing piece in their waiting room. Anyone waiting for their accountant has money on their mind and will be a prime target for your “save money” message. It works.

10. Become an expert at Internet Marketing; maybe trial Pay per Click Advertising on Google. Pay per Click is the most powerful breakthrough in Marketing this century – yet very few small business owners truly understand its power.

You do not have to implement all of these, but I guarantee they will make a difference to your business. If you have a specific marketing problem, why not put me to the test by filling out the small contact form on my website?

What is a brand? How do I get one?

On more than one occasion I have been asked this question and the person asking has then quickly followed up the question with the statement, “it’s the logo isn’t it?” 

Well, in all honesty, the logo is just a small part of what makes up a brand. The logo is more of a device that helps represent the actual values of a company.

To take this further, a brand is a companies’ personality; how it differentiates itself from the competition, its perception in the market place and there are a number of elements that contribute to this. Any marketing activity a company undertakes must be consistent to provide clarity. By this I mean, your organisation should stand for something – it should have a clear USP with which you are permanently associated.

Also, and it may sound obvious, but your company must exude a positive perception that is both unique and appealing. In my experience, a company will too often plumb for a common claim and simply becomes a ‘oh no, not another one’ rather than a ‘brilliant, I will get in touch.’

A great deal of successful brands are able to differentiate themselves from the competition quickly and effectively gaining the maximum number of prospects (and existing clients) for the minimum amount of effort.

My check list in creating your brand is 

Who are your target audience? – define you TA in terms of sector, seniority, location etc
What are their real needs? – markets are becoming more and more fragmented so divide your services or specialise if need be.
Who does your competitor use? – really get to know your competition. It is essential you have the answer to ‘what should I switch to you?’
How do they choose? – who makes the decisions? who is involved? where are they getting their information on which they are basing their decision?
How does your competition operate, how do they present themselves, how are they positioned?

Where do you want to be in relation to this? – this is your USP.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? – do a SWOT and either capitalise on your strengths or eliminate your weaknesses.
Do you need to change direction?
If so, what are the implications? – i.e. you might want to pause a marketing push.

Some of the above might not be answerable, but research your market, invest time, money and energy to give your business an advantage. And of course……………use an outside Consultant to gain objectivity!

Breathe for a Change

After a great 10 minute presentation at a recent networking event in Frome, I asked the speaker Mr Ken James, if he would like to write a summary so that I could post it onto my Blog as I felt it to be of great importance and relevance to us all.

So………..below is a very important article about how such a simple act as breathing can make a big impact on your work and home life:

You can survive for 3/4 weeks with out food, 4/5 days with out water but only 4/5 minutes with out air.
Breathing is the most important thing you do.

Most people only take in around 2 litres of air on each breath when your lungs hold 7 litres.
Most people breathe into the top of their lungs when the most efficient place to breathe is into the lower lung as that is where the largest amount of oxygen can be transferred into the blood stream. Oxygenated blood is what breathing is all about. Oxygen travels around your body feeding the cells, removing toxins and keeping you healthy.
The top of your lungs are associated with the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response. Adrenalin is activated and you are on alert.
The lower part of your lungs is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system and is about being calm and relaxed.
The best way to breathe then is into the lower lung.
Another reason to use the lower lung is that the lymphatic system of your body does not have a “heart” to pump lymph fluid around your body, that is done by the diaphragm and so lower lung breathing exercises the diaphragm and so also aids the release of toxins from your body.
When you breathe you should use your nose for both the inhale and exhale as your nose has receptors that release endorphins that are 10 times more powerful than morphine to keep your body relaxed.
20 percent of all the oxygen you take in goes directly to your brain so when you breathe deeply you give yourself more thinking power.
Smoking limits the oxygen to the brain and so reduces the thinking processes. Smoking relaxes you because it stops you from thinking unwanted thoughts.
Breathing exercises can help you de-stress and improve your life in many ways.

For more information and breathing and its many benefits contact Ken James at or on 01373 834575 mobile 07799 677032

What do you think readers? Serious food for thought eh?