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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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.”

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.

Burn baby burn…..

I saw this quote many years ago from the marketing director at leading advertising agency, Young & Rubicam and I have never really forgotten it.

“Marketing is rather like building a darn good fire. You need to start off slowly, gently nurturing it and not expect results immediately. With constant care and attention, the fire will grow and grow and the investment of logs rather than kindling will produce even greater results. The fire can now burn freely and produce the rewards. But beware, if it is left unattended for any length of time, you can be left trying to resurrect the ashes.”

For many organisations, marketing is viewed as some sort of magic switch – “business is slow so we need to do some quick marketing” – which can be flicked on and off during tricky times. This is NOT the case! Marketing is a never ending process, not an event or a knee jerk reaction to something that is happening in your market.

We always advise people to take baby steps with their marketing; test new initiatives, implement new ideas and set aside time each day for marketing rather than do “marketing” one morning a month. Little and often is the key and make sure your message stays “on brand” and consistent. After all, it is highly unlikely that your prospects are only looking for what you offer at the exact time you offer it. You need to remain on radars so that your name is at the top of the list for when the prospects are looking.

To help you, most social media platforms can be automated, emarketing can be done very easily, you are very likely to be spoilt for choice with networking opportunities and print is now much cheaper than it used to be.

My advice to every business out there is to continually market their companies even when business is booming as this lays the foundations. Don’t fall into the trap of delaying your marketing until you’ve finished the latest project as, you will very likely raise your head at the end and wonder where the next project is coming from. Then is is too late to kick start the marketing process. The fire needs attention or it goes out!

Marketing (and sales) should be run continuously regardless of your current successes, failures or situation. Put a plan together and use as many platforms to get your message out there!

I’m a business owner and need to do some marketing

The majority of people who read the articles in our marketing help area are “professionals” who might not necessarily be experts in marketing or selling so it is up to us to try and provide direction in how they can improve their knowledge and/or skill set to help them reach their marketing goals.

In some (larger) organisations, there might be a sales person or a BDM as well as a marketing manager, but in the SME world, it is quite common that all these vital elements are grouped together and performed by the owner. If this is the case, there is always a danger that the whole process of marketing slips down the list settling behind IT or the accounts function!

In the case where you are doing the sales and marketing, a lot of the skills and techniques required have been outlined in this blog. However, whether it’s you or you are motivating others to take ownership of marketing, try and see the activity in the context of a marketing plan. Remember marketing is not about getting a brochure done or designing and building a new website. In fact, the process of marketing should include most if not all of the below:

  1. Understanding your market – what am I offering to who and why?
  2. Building your brand and proposition – what is my USP and what does it look like?
  3. Planning your marketing strategy – what activity and/or platforms am I using to get my message across?
  4. Internal marketing – does everyone in the company know what marketing activity we are undertaking and why? 
  5. Manage existing clients – making sure you have quality deliverables that have been outlined and fully costed.
  6. Winning new business – test initiatives, but aim to create a discipline of running multiple activities each month.
A big feature of marketing is laying the foundations. You have to set out your stall correctly so that you’re appealing to the right people. Know your customer, but also, do you know if your market has any sub sectors within it which you can target which might add another string to your bow? Try not to get drawn into delivering knee-jerk, bulk newsletters to just tick a box. The words “so what” are used frequently in the briefing process by Bath Marketing Consultancy! 

Going forwards, what Bath Marketing Consultancy has always advocated is that having a dedicated marketing function can make the difference between a business success and a business failure so allocate time and or budget to getting it right at the start.

Time is precious so don’t ask for too much of it

After nearly 300 articles I thought it was worth clarifying something. Basically, throughout a number of the articles I write I make references to my own experiences within the marketing profession. This is where I tried and tested the theories and put into practice a lot of the marketing advice and deliverables I now give to clients. This means that the advice and help I write about comes mainly from my own practical experiences; a sort of “How to…..” area on this website designed for you the reader to interpret and implement should you so wish.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to share with you in this article was my findings about standing out in your market.

The more research I have done in my career, the more I have realised that professional services are all very similar when it comes to winning business. You may work in the research industry, be an accountant, an architect whatever, the bottom line is that we all have intangible services to offer to other professionals.

The intangibles are primarily information and knowledge and too often these remain hidden assets! For you to attract new business, this must be changed – we must make our target audience aware of our knowledge base as this in turn means that the “suspects” we are after move to becoming “prospects” and then clients.

Competition in all markets is increasing and it’s up to you to grab the attention; to differentiate yourself. You have to make the right noise at the right time to the right people and this is where effective marketing comes to the fore.

Some of the fellow professionals and contacts I talk to tell me that some of the offers made to them are very hard to understand so make your message simple to understand. Don’t get caught by the “lots of white space” design sometimes proposed by graphic designers. Don’t try to be too clever or have a meaning that is too cryptic. Time is a very precious commodity in business so don’t ask for too much time from the people you want to target.

So much is out there when it comes to furthering your skills or learning how to make your presence known to potential clients so try and be personable, professional and use simple skills in preparation, prospection and presentation and to build all this around a well thought through marketing plan.

And this is where Bath Marketing Consultancy can help………..

 

I’m not in sales. Yes you are like it or not!

Hands up how many of you see yourselves as in a sales role? I bet the majority of us don’t see “sales” as part of our job specs. We might work in the IT department or be back office support and have a sales team to do sales. However, have a think. Do you come in contact with people on a daily basis either professionally or personally?

I am sure you do. This means that, without realising it, you are inadvertently in sales and are part of your organisations brand. I’ll tell you what I mean.

After a session in the gym this morning, I got talking to someone I haven’t met before in the changing room. He asked me what I did so I told him about my company Bath Marketing Consultancy, what we do and with who. I wasn’t “selling” as such, but I was making conversation about business. If I made a good impression he may remember me if the subject of marketing comes up at his place of work. Similarly, he may well say to someone he knows personally that he met me thus putting me and my company on more radars. I also found out that he was in finance, specifically pensions and have since looked up their company website – they need some serious SEO work done!

This situation is common and don’t underestimate the importance of this type of marketing. If you work for a company as an employee at whatever level, do you know exactly what your company does and with who? Are you kept up to date with internal news such as new client wins, new joiners etc? Does the CEO communicate what the “brand” stands for?

To me, Sales and Branding are not just words thrown about by the communications industry to baffle the consumer. They are the key to consistency and one can facilitate the other. We all have a role to play in our business lives and a thorough knowledge of your business is very powerful. It’s not just about an organisation running an external marketing campaign with nice advert designs in magazines or running ads on Facebook, it’s about communication and this starts internally. Do you and everyone you work with know what’s happening at your company and why?

For example, the person who answers the phone can be the first point of contact for clients and prospects and hence, needs to know exactly how to answer the phone and be kept up to date with events and updates for the company he/she works at. He/she is the initial voice of the company and is vital as this could be the start of the sales process.

When I meet new people in business, I always say that they should be able to sum up their brand in 3 words. They also should be able to do the Richard Branson “elevator pitch” where they can sum up their business or the business they work for in 30 seconds as if going up in an elevator with Richard Branson. But it’s not just the people at the top that need to be able to do this. In my opinion, everyone within an organisation should be able to do it. This means that everyone is consistent so that when they come into contact with people, they are able to present the company effectively and communicate what it stands for, who it works with and why.

This is the start of an effective sales strategy and we’re all a part of it!