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.”

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!

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………..

 

It is not downtime it is time to try some more marketing.

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes your marketing wont hit the levels you’re after. I know I always write about successes and success rates; about how to overcome answerphones or how to get the best from key marketing initiatives, but don’t panic. Marketing is not all about sales. It’s about making sure that when your prospects are in the market for what you offer, you get a crack at selling yourself and/or your company.

Nothing you would have done to date will have been wasted when it comes to marketing. Marketing is a process, an activity that keeps going and shouldn’t have an end. If there is downtime in your business, don’t turn the marketing tap off. Invest that time into additional marketing activity. Write articles for your Blog, use social media to make new connections, speak to your existing clients or work on your website. Maybe even run some sort of offer to incentivise a sale – “For the next 30 days, I am offering a free 1 hour review of your xxxxx” or “for the next 30 days you can buy xxxxx at 50% off.” These elements all require time and not necessarily budget.

If you could “invest” in some paid for marketing, what about aligning your organisation with another complimentary one and hold some sort of seminar. I ran one at a hotel in Bristol many years ago with another company entitled, “Why cant I find my website on Google” and we packed out the room! We also had key media there who did a write up about the seminar afterwards.

Remember, the success of a brand is measured in decades not months or weeks and your success remains mostly in your hands. Plan your marketing for the next 3 months and stick to it. Set yourself a realistic target such as 1 new meeting per week. Collate the names of the key people you want to speak to and pick up the phone. You are the expert in your field and people need to know about what you can offer them. Make sure your marketing talks about the benefits you bring not the features. Send an eshot in advance of the phone call with a case study.

What you can do for someone is a lot more attractive than telling them what you do, trust me! When in a social situation and someone asks me what I do for a living, the mere mention of marketing tends to send people to the bar! Mind you, by the end of the night those people who head to the bar are the ones usually asking me questions about what they should do about their marketing!

What a year – thanks to all

Well, that is pretty much it for this year for Bath Marketing Consultancy. Work is far from over for us, but I hope that the posts I have written in 2011 have helped you with the way you not only look at marketing, but the tactics and initiatives you employed this year.

With regards to my business, 2011 has been a phenomenal year and below is a list of the new clients we have had the privilege to work with.

  1. A2B Rylands Removals (Dorset)
  2. Bath Teeth Whitening (Bath)
  3. PRPi Training (London, Hong Kong, New York)
  4. Perudo (Mells)
  5. Counter Tops (Bath)
  6. Minerva Report (Bath)
  7. Northgate Training (Bath)
  8. Crallans Solicitors (Bath/Bristol)
  9. Moore Scarrott (Taunton)
  10. 1st Recruitment (Jersey, Guernsey, Sydney)
  11. Restore Bath (Bath)
  12. Amesbury Physiotherapy (Wiltshire)
  13. 3D Media (Wiltshire)
  14. Mango Ink (Bristol)
  15. Heads Up (Bristol)
  16. Arks and Sparks (Bath)
  17. BMH Solicitors (Bristol)
  18. Ilton Estates(Taunton)
  19. Nynehead Developments (Somerset)
  20. Impronta Coaching (London)
  21. Castlemead Insurance (Bristol)
  22. Scott Bates & Coles (Devon)
  23. Stephen Graver Kitchens (Wiltshire)
  24. Red Back Design (Bath)
  25. OnTarget Writing (Somerset)
  26. Harmony Audio (Somerset)
  27. Grass Root Gifts (Bristol)
  28. Masterco Compact Tractors (Bridgwater)
  29. ICC Salcombe (Salcombe)
  30. Egremont Trust (Devon)
Growth

What we find encouraging is not only the number of new clients we have worked with, but the variety of industries and variety of marketing initiatives we have employed. The other element worth noting is that 90% of the businesses listed above are “local” to Bath Marketing Consultancy meaning we have not deviated from our initial offering when we opened in 2009 of providing a full service, pay as you go marketing service primarily to the local business community.

For 2012 we already have a number of projects scheduled to go live in January + we will know the decisions of 2 tender proposals so I don’t see Bath Marketing’s foot coming off the pedal anytime soon!
Anyway, here is wishing you a great Christmas and New Year………….. and let me know if you would like a professional company to take a look at the marketing for your business!