Adapt your Marketing during the coronavirus

2020 really has been crisis management for a lot of businesses as the virus has not only changed the way consumers buy goods and services, but the pandemic has changed the way people do business and communicate (I wish I had shares in Zoom!)

This situation will, in my opinion, reward organisations who have adapted to the changes and the way they market themselves. Sitting it out has not been and will continue to not be an option.

In order to be successful, companies must be visible. None more so than online. Organisations already in a space where they deliver what they do to the doorstep or the consumer have thrived and will continue to do so. The flip side is that companies who have traditionally relied on a physical presence have been hit terribly.

So, what can organisations do to keep the tills ringing? What do they do with regards to getting themselves in front of the prospective customers?

The use of the Internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other channels to reach consumers (digital marketing) is now even more critical to a companies’ marketing. This is because the virus has been causing us all to spend more time online searching. Your prospect therefore, simply must be able to find you in search engines (Google has an 86% market share) and being able to adapt the sales process will be the difference between success and failure.

Drive traffic to your website by utilising social media, Google’s search and display networks; use email marketing and optimise your website. Google very much indexes pages so use a blog and write authentic, insightful content.

The latest trend we are seeing is that paid ads are becoming cheaper. In other words, traffic on the web is up and there are fewer advertisers due to the decrease in smaller businesses advertising. This is because the way the big ad networks make money is through an auction system. They need small businesses to drive up the cost per click (CPC) for ads so that way the big, billion-dollar companies have to spend more money on ads. When we average things out per industry and globally, we are seeing paid ads producing a much higher ROI than before the Coronavirus hit. If you don’t have as many small businesses advertising there isn’t as much competition, so the cost per click decreases.

With your website and business, consider what you can give away for free or offer payment plans. Anything you can do to help people out will be appreciated. You’ll also find that it will drive you more visitors through sharing.

You could also explore running limited time promotions or if you are selling consulting services, you can accept money over a period of a year.

It is a sad fact that we all probably have more time now so use it to your advantage. Put in the effort so you can think and plan. It’s not too late and, that way you’ll come out of the Coronavirus stronger!

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!

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.

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.