"Marketing, marketing, marketing……

..when does it ever end?\” Was a question I was asked recently. The person I was with ran a niche, online retail business dealing with a specific type of beach clothing and he was exhausted at the amount of marketing initiatives he had to learn and then juggle to get his business where he wanted.

The initiatives he was running were SEO, Social Media, Events, PR, Sponsorship and product trials and he was exhausted!

My advice was to try and put in place certain disciplines where he did certain things at certain times and to try and make these disciplines part of his routine. \”Easier said than done,\” was his reply! I cannot stress enough how important marketing is to a business and how, if done correctly, it can make the difference to a business succeeding or failing so that extra effort to make time for it can really pay off!

\”What do you do then?\”
\”All of what you do and probably more\” I said as even more colour drained from his face!

In all seriousness, marketing has always been something that shouldn\’t have an \”end.\” It is a process not a singular event and, if you are in business and want to establish yourself as a creditable brand, the hours must be put in. You are the one person who knows the intricacies; what your company stands for, why you are different etc.

In addition, you are very often a large part of the brand so do go to networking meetings, invest in a decent online brochure that you can amend as your business changes and be proactive. Once thing a business can sometimes find it has in abundance is time and using it as a positive rather than a time to panic can make a huge difference not only to your chances of success, but to your levels of enthusiasm.

It still amazes me when clients of Bath Marketing Consultancy tell me how great they feel to see their new website climbing the rankings, or see a magazine with their ad in it!

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!

Every (prospective) client is different

The subject of this post might sound obvious so why on earth did I pick this topic and what am I on about?!
Well, I thought I would share with you my recent experiences in relation to the differences in personalities and ways of workings from new clients that I have come across and how to prepare for the first meeting.

As expressed on my website, experience has taught me that every client is different in terms of their requirements, their industries, their expectations, their experiences and of course, their budgets. With these in mind, I feel that it is essential that the small business owner can adapt to these inconsistencies, especially if service is core to their offering.

What do I do to give myself the best possible chance of working with this prospective business?

Well, I feel preparation and research play a vital role in preparing for each meeting. Really invest time to get to know the person or persons you are about to meet. Make sure you know their role within their business, their job title, their background and, wherever possible, try and make sure that you know as much as possible about their business. To do this, look at any biography they might have on their website. In addition, do some online research into what they might say on Twitter or Facebook or……..what is said about them. Maybe you could add a Google alert based on any postings, press releases or even trends within their market. Or even, try and get hold of any current marketing material.

Secondly, to demonstrate your credibility, do you have any examples of working with similar organisations or even examples of working within similar markets. Presenting case studies can really help your cause.

Thirdly, not every prospective client will come into a meeting wanting to simply give you their business so it is up to you to convince the prospect that you are a worthy appointee and the right person to deal with. Try to find common ground with them – mirror what they drink if need be – and try and develop a conversation about personal issues. After all, your personality and character are huge influences in the decision process.

Fourthly, try and ascertain exactly what they expect from the relationship – timescales & deliverables. I always take very specific notes so that I can email over a contact report bullet pointing what I got from the meeting. This acts as a point of reference if they decide to appoint you.

Finally, if the meeting moves towards costs, this is actually a good sign. BUT, be very careful not to buy business. Most organisations will respect a business that offers a fair price and will not respect one trying to buy their business. After all, if you don’t value what you do, no one will.

With competition in pretty much every industry and sector increasing, potential clients hold most of the power and are more than likely to be speaking to a number of people offering what you do. The fact that you are sitting there means that you are in with a shout so do your research, be yourself and be confident.

Possible objections when cold canvassing

When it comes to objections, how many could you come up with? How many have you had? I am sure the prospect will have more, but below are a list of the ones I have encountered and some tips to overcome them –

1. Happy with competition – am I the same? Is my offering the same. Very unlikely.
2. Too expensive – how do they know? Prices are project based and talk about value rather than cost.

3. Used you before – may have used the company, but have they actually used “you?” After all people buy from people not companies.

4. No budget – irrelevant as you are in it for the long term.
5. You’re too big; we’re just a small business – flatter them with your attention.
6. Put something in the post – danger here! Tell them that your services are tailored so would be far more beneficial to meet up rather than send literature.
7. Too busy at the moment – very typical. Have your diary open for the next 3 months and just put in a speculative date that can be changed.
8. I’m not interested – anybody in business should be aware of what is out there. Since when was ignorance bliss?!?
9. I’ll think about it – try and help them in the thought process.

If you can keep a mental note of what might come up as an objection you can sort of prepare your answer. My suggestion is to accept the objection and then try and neutralise it by offering a different perspective. Remember that your aim is to get a meeting not to make an immediate sale.

Websites & Internet marketing

The Internet. Let\’s be honest, we cannot resist the lure of the Internet. Everyone is using it for marketing. It is impossible to resist!
However, with the sheer volume of people and businesses using the Internet, my suggestion is to try and be different in the way that you use it. Be helpful and that means offering interest and/or value. A web site that offers data or offers training/instruction or even a game is one that will stand out. In return that site may gain the one and only thing you are really looking for – visitors.

Although results are still a little unclear, I see the Internet as a platform that has evolved incredibly quickly and this brings fresh challenges to its users. To help, I have put together what I see are the 3 ways it has changed:

Yesterday – the first era of Internet Marketing.
This was the web brochure era. If you were on the web you were cool! Just showing your brand or company on the web was deemed state-of-the-art. Most websites were full of hip graphics – and that was about it. The price of a website was huge and very few actually worked as they all suffered from the same syndrome – the \”about us\” syndrome. They all looked the same and did nothing to add value to the browser.

Today – the second era of Internet Marketing
Here is where people started catching on that \”about us\” needed to become \”about you.\” These sites then started to build traffic and relationships by giving access to information. The \”whizz, bang\” design element started to tone down and sites became easier to use; quicker and more user friendly. They also became cheaper.

Tomorrow – the third era of Internet Marketing
I see the main purposes of a website is to crystallise a brand and get a business’s personality across. The best sites in my opinion, provide a rich, interactive experience making their companies appear like an old friend. The very best ones, look good, work well, capture data and drive enquiries.

To sum up my last 4 posts on advertising and now the Internet; my advice is that these are both initiatives that I would advocate using for marketing, but only if you can do them well and can justify using them. There are literally thousands of businesses that can help you, but I would always suggest working with a business that is independent i.e not just offering the one initiative that you are reviewing.

After all, if you approach a graphic designer or a website designer, this is what you will get – graphic design or a website. Dont be afraid to talk to a consultant or someone who can look at the bigger picture of how these initiatives can be used together.

The advert – avoid these mistakes & categories

The \”Tombstone\” ad

Following on from my post yesterday on the merits of advertising, I thought it was worth pointing out some of the traps that professional services organisations can fall into when advertising.

Firstly, most of the adverts I see are all very similar and more often than not, of poor or average quality. A lot of small businesses fall into the trap of buying advertising space and letting the media house that is selling the space do the design as it comes as \”part of the service or inclusive of the price\” – the deal clincher for the sales person. Be very carefull as most media houses are not your brand custodian and can make a real hash of your advert.

Continuing on that theme, when putting together your advert, categories to avoid falling into are :

  • The \”Tombstone\” ad – black & white, obituary-style. Yuk!
  • The \”Boring\” ad- offering nothing new, nothing enticing; blah, blah, blah…..snore!
  • The \”Over scripted\” ad – reams & reams of small print, cramming in as much as possible.
  • The \”Pompous\” ad – this is where the organisation simply boasts. i.e \’..we\’re number 1 in\’ or \’..we\’re the leader in the UK..\’
  • The \”Feature rather than benefit drive\” ad – \’..we do this\’, \’we offer that\’ rather than \’..we can help you for this\’ or \’..we can do this better, cheaper, faster that others….\’

And finally……….

  • The \”Metaphor\” ad – the horrible ad with a jigsaw with a piece missing or the staircase visual  with the heading -\’..we can get you to the top\’

My suggestion is to ALWAYS try and promote how what you are advertising can add value. After all, would any of the advert types I have listed above really influence a sophisticated buyer of professional services to change his/her decision?!

I am a big fan of the line \”people buy people\” (see my website) yet not enough people seem willing to get that personal chemistry across via an advertisement.

More advice to follow folks…..

The Brochure Part 2 – A New Approach

Following on from my previous post, I think that the planning and the production of the company brochure should be the catalyst for producing a range of print material for the The Brochure Part 2 - A New Approachorganisation. I am talking about looking at corporate ID and other design issues such as stationary. Either way, my suggestion is to change the way you view printed material to try and produce genuinely client orientated, helpful material that will be collectable rather than binable.

The aim should be that anything printed takes elements of your business and your expertise and, without telling everything, puts it at the client’s disposal  thereby offering genuine help in a convenient format. This should result in it being an efficient sales tool due to its appetite whetting and longevity.

In addition to the brochure, there are also other initiatives like the newsletter. This can be a valuable print tool if well produced. Most organisations find that contributors don’t meet your deadlines and that once a quarter becomes far from easy! Newsletters have to be single-mided and client orientated offering really up-to-date news, opinions, technical advice etc. They must avoid being ego massaging tools!

Whenever consideration turns to print material, the question of design rears its ugly head. Let’s be totally clear, I would never underestimate the power of design. It is undoubtedly a vital element in the marketing of your organisation. With design, you have the power to distinguish yourself from your competition. It is a way to reveal your personality – your brand – so get it right. Use a blend of house style and creative identity.

Print is very much a subject I could go on and on about, but I am hoping that this and the previous article go some way to helping you in your thought process.

Good luck!

 

During the pitch..

Following on from my last 2 posts, I thought I would continue with some more helpful tips about the actual pitch itself to help you get it bang on.

Enjoy it!

Firstly, if you are going to use charts and/or graphs, be creative. Keep them simple, clear and uncluttered. Do your upmost not to read them and simply talk around them. If you can, use recognisable logos to back up your experience and use multi media rather than powerpoint.

When pitching, one of the key things is to remember not to waffle. In my first ever agency pitch in London, I got very nervous, lost my way and managed to say “etc” about 30 times! Luckily my CEO stepped in and we managed to win the account!
Research has proved that a speaker has the whole audience’s attention for about 10 minutes, half their attention for the next 10 minutes and after 30 minutes, most of the audience are simply not interested and their minds are on other things.
  • Keep the focus on the client’s business – offer reassurances and demonstrate how you add value.
  • Try and make a key point every 3 minutes.
  • Get the pace of your delivery right and try not to use ‘umm’ as a filler.
  • Make sure you are heard by everyone and even try and get interaction from the audience.
  • Body language + eye contact are essential. Remember that the communication of your pitch is 58 body, 27% is voice & 15% is content.

A lot of the rest of my advice is obvious – try and enjoy it, remember that you are the expert, keep hands out of pockets, breathe deeply to calm nerves, if you get stuck – take a sip of water to catch up, dont be arrogant, stick to the timetable etc etc.

At the end of the pitch, CLOSE – ask for the business. Try and leave something behind like a brochure or a DVD of the presentation. When you get back to the office, review things and judge how you think you did………………and, if you win the business- CELEBRATE!!

I hope my last 3 posts helped you and please feel free to get in touch with my via my website or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!