How do I make my digital marketing effective?

I talked recently about marketing in the current climate, the recent social media Digital Marketingand online search trends as well as some suggestions for your marketing in a video on our Facebook page.

Adding to the video, here are 3 action points you could and should be looking at to make your marketing more effective:

  1. They will help you understand exactly how this time is impacting on them and may well give you an insight into what you should be talking to similar prospects about. Become a problem solver!
  2. If your customer wants to press pause, make sure they have a reason not too and try and put in a mechanism that plans them taking things further with you. There should be a benefit for them that isn’t just cheaper pricing.
  3. Create a sales message that is actually engaging. So much scrolling and page turning is done these days (or “scan reading”) making your message very easy to skip past. Make people stop and look!

In a digital era, where almost everyone is digitally enabled, you want to ride with the wave and not against it. Most businesses have come to realise the power that digital marketing holds and they have at least put their toes in the water. Digital marketing is all about boosting your footprint and then maintaining that profile and position while you grow your brand.

A digital marketing strategy allows businesses to have direction; it allows organisations to know their market share, and hopefully gain a competitive edge. Getting the plan of attack right is important and that why you should work with an expert who has proven experience in marketing.

Why pay for a marketing agency?

A digital marketing agency really should have a number of potential marketing plans based on the budget and the objectives of its clients. Sit down (or Zoom!) with a marketing expert, discuss objectives which are realistic, play to strengths and invest for the future. It isn’t a coincidence that the biggest spenders are the most successful companies!

For an SME, it is likely that your marketing budget will be small, but make sure you have one. Look at the potential cost per lead and conversion and work out what sort of budget you can afford.

Digital marketing can give countless options and usually is a cost friendly and result-oriented route to market.

 

What do I do with marketing during the Coronavirus

Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said about the current situation? These are incredibly trying times for us all both personally and professionally.  Peoples’ mental and physical health will be challenged like never before and some of us will lose loved ones well before their time. Quite frankly this is horrible.

On the business front, I already know heads of companies who were running very successful organisations who are now laying off staff and shutting their doors. Dreams in tatters and finances in ruins. Hospitality, retail, finance, marketing, property…….all will suffer as people stop spending and uncertainty kicks in.

Where does this leave us and what can we do when it comes to paying the bills and putting food on the table? A huge amount of client facing roles will be on pause and I pray that these people and people on the front line are looked after by the Government.

For others who trudge into an office each day for work, there was a time when working from home was a pipe dream, but with this virus forcing people to work remotely, there are jobs you can do from your own home.

Whether that’s working remotely for a company or starting your own business, there’s no shortage of work-from-home opportunities that we all need to look at either for the next few months or maybe even permanently.

Affiliate marketer, animator, graphic designer, web designer, bakes, blogger, bookkeeper, research, consultant, data entry person, copywriter, proofreader, online teacher, photographer, translator, virtual assistant, voice over artist, script writer, website tester……are all roles that can be done remotely.

What are we doing at BMC? Well, we are very fortunate that a lot of what we do can be delivered remotely and hence, my team is all working from their respective homes. We are open for business and today we are furiously updating clients’ websites with corona virus messages and making sure that these websites are optimised and performing well.

Ongoing, while I appreciate marketing is probably at letter Z in the alphabet on the priority list, I think website positions in search will be even more in demand in the next 6-12 months. With people at home now, the world wide web will see huge increases in people searching for goods and services and hence, we strongly advise that we all take a look at how we are performing online and how we are utilising social media and video to make sure that, when people are in a position to buy from us, we can be found. Organic SEO, paid search, SEM etc are all initiatives that we can do and we are more than happy to look at any website client or not and do a free audit to try and help.

What actually is good customer service?

Tricky this one as the scope is wide. There is also the, what I might feel is good service, other people may not and vice versa situation. Either way, customers today no longer seem to place such emphasis on the price or the actual product.

Customer Service in Marketing
Customer Service in Marketing

Instead, how they feel after interacting with customer service can have a big impact on how they make decisions to buy again in the future. A good interaction with the company or organisation can keep customers satisfied and loyal, while just one poor interaction could lead them to stop doing business with companies again. This can be very evident in the food and banking sectors. Having said that telecoms, legal, marketing, leisure.…….

Customer service really does influence buying behaviours and should become part of the “offer” companies make to their prospects in their marketing…..but only if they can substantiate it in real life. Customer service is not isolated to the actual purchase, it should also be part of aftersales and marketers have a tremendous opportunity to leverage effective customer problem resolution to increase loyalty and, potentially, sales.

The concept not only assumes that customers with successfully resolved issues are more likely to interact or transact with that company again, but that they can also be very instrumental in convincing others to do business with that company as well.

Companies can and do invest time and money to get in front of prospects and maintain clients and, I’ve said it many times, but there is nothing as effective in marketing as a good reputation travelling fast.

What is an online marketing strategy for my small business? And why do I need one?

The key to this question really lies in developing a firm understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.  Understanding the cogs that make the business turn, that generate revenue, attract and retain customers really is what marketing is all about.

There are so many platforms available where companies can market themselves and the internet simply adds more options into the mix, but the underlying principles remain the same. If you understand what makes your business tick and what your “offer” is, yo u already have a better  understanding of marketing.Small Business Marketing StrategyWhere many business owners fall down is that they understand their business well enough (their “features”), but fail to get across the benefits of working with them. Similarly, environments change as do the players within them and SMEs need to stay in touch with changes and adapt with them.

In addition, whilst most business owners recognise the internet is a force to be reckoned with, they fail to embrace the true opportunities that could help to secure the future of their business. In my experience, this new era means a constantly changing environment with factors that need first to be understood and then utilised within your marketing mix.

As an example, before the internet, small service businesses would rely heavily on directory listings in printed media such as the Yellow Pages or Thomson Local to be found locally by their potential customers. You need an electrician so you grab the massive yellow book and turn to E for electrician. These days, Google search has virtually replaced these doorstop directories as we all turn to our phones or laptops to “Google it” instead.

This is where adapting to the changing environment really comes in, by optimising your company’s Google My Business listing it can appear when customers in your area search for the services you offer, simple.

As every business is unique there is no ‘one size fits all’; you must understand and utilise the right mix of ingredients for your business, whether it is all or a combination of the marketing tools available on and offline.

Discuss the job in hand and then play which tools to use to get the job done, that’s a marketing strategy, simple!

The methods are changing rapidly, and your time is precious. So if it makes sense to you why not leverage the knowledge and expertise of a trusted consultant? Find someone with their ear to the ground who can advise you of the current landscape.

DIY. No. Speak to professionals.

Entry level marketing has become an incredibly accessible activity for businesses these days with a high number of platforms being either set at a very low entry price or actually free to use. I am of course referring to web builders like Wix or Square Space and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. tools-4278993_1920

This to me, this not only creates confusion as to what to use to do what, it also fills each market with even more, unwanted “noise” with everyone shouting about themselves online. It also, massively devalues the role of the professional marketer. After all, you wouldn’t do your own dentistry or house conveyancing would you? No. You’d pay a professional.

Markets like retail or professional services are flooded with hundreds of businesses all trying to get noticed and so much of their marketing activity is directed online. But, if everyone is posting onto Facebook or Twitter desperately directing traffic to a homemade website, is this the best first impression you would want your prospects (if you can attract any) to have?

I ask this not only as someone who has spent nearly 30 years in the communication industry but also as a consumer. So many times in my professional life I come across the potential customer who asks questions like “well, I can do it myself with Wix so why should I pay you for a website” and in my personal life I am bombarded by poorly designed marketing campaigns trying to get me to engage with them and, even if I do out of curiosity I find a poorly designed website which is all features and no benefits.
I saw a program on TV recently where budding Interior Designers were given a brief and they were judged on the end results. One designer was critised for doing pretty much what the client wanted and didn’t add any of his ideas or opinions deciding to stay safe and let the client dictate the end result. A judge asked if he would go into the shop in question and tell the owner how to ply his trade and he answered no. Why is it then, that when it comes to such a vital activity as marketing, is there a tendency for businesses to do it themselves or, if they come to a professional, allow clients to heavily influence key elements like design?

Anyway, I digress. The key element to me is to make sure that when delivering your professional services, remember that the client came to you for your advice and help. The client may be paying the bills, but why buy a dog and bark yourself? Make sure that you can clearly demonstrate the added value you bring to the table. Here are some tips as to how using marketing as an example….

Start with business value – Outline your impact; include all the ways (marketing) benefits their organisation.

Know your own metrics – Most marketing activities have a set of KPIs they use to demonstrate impact on financial outcomes, and it’s critical to be thoroughly knowledgeable about them.

Explain the inherent uncertainties of marketing measurements – I’d love to be able to give an exact figure and what exact return this will bring, but marketing is not like that!

Have a budget strategy – Yes ROI is vital, but so are other elements like brand awareness, website traffic, email open rates and these can be hard to quantify when it comes to ROI.

Over the past decade or two, technology has significantly enhanced our ability to track and measure some aspects of marketing performance. Today, most forms of digital marketing are highly “trackable.” We can know who has opened our emails and who has viewed our content. These elements along with what platforms to use what type of design, what style of campaign, message etc are what a professional marketer will know and will understand. That is what you are paying for!

Sales. Marketing. Which is which.

On a weekly basis we receive up to 15 speculative applications from people looking for employment and/or work experience within the marketing sector. A high percentage of these applications are because the person wants to “get into marketing;” “has really good interpersonal skills” and “is creative,”………and I do not fully understand what these actually mean when it comes to marketing………and does the person fully understand what marketing is?

The marketing sector is one of the more varied careers out there and covers a wide range of skills, but there are times when I feel that the term marketing has become almost a buzzword not just among businesses and brands, but among people wanting to get into the industry….without actually knowing what it entails.

Depending on whom you ask, marketing can mean very different things and one of those things is sales.  A key job of Marketing is to understand the marketplace from the perspective of the customer looking back towards the company – what we like to call the features and the benefits of the company or product. Sales are what you make when you’re actually face-to-face with a customer, convincing a person to buy your product. Marketing is the planning part of sales.

Another misconception regarding marketing is that advertising and marketing are synonymous. Similarly, many people have the misconception that publicity and public relations (PR) are also the same thing. They are all, however, remarkably different.

Marketing is kind of an umbrella term that is about promoting your brand or service using a number platforms and strategies. It incorporates strategy and planning and it might consist of a number of elements to make people aware of you or your product.

Advertising, however, falls under that umbrella with its own subsets of disciplines that work to bring attention to your brand or product.

Advertising is really a collection of the actionable steps you take to get the word out usually across a paid for and above the line platforms. Marketing is the strategy behind taking those actions.

You should never do adhoc, one-off or knee-jerk advertising. Running ads left, right and centre just to see which one generates enquiries is a quick way to blow your budget. Running bespoke designed ads for the sake of running ads is a great way to get exposure…….and good to dangle in front of the competition…… but that exposure is unlikely to benefit your business. On that note, why do media sales people STILL continually bang out cold calls offering last minute or late space deals? No recipient of one of these calls should ever sign up to a one-off advert based on price.

What we advise is that you need to sit down and put together a marketing plan or strategy about what your offer is to what market, why you are different and how you’ll get to them. If advertising falls into the discussions, what is the message you want to convey, to who and where are you advertising?

Yes sales, advertising, PR and direct marketing are all elements of “marketing.” But they are elements of it and should work together to give you a proper, planned and fully-costed marketing plan.

 

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.

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.”

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.