Training. Do you offer it?

If you have the capacity to offer it, training can be a great form of PR. I say capacity as I know only too well the demands running training can make on a business! However, many of your clients will wish to keep in touch with your specialisms and/or possibly use you to bring new staff up to speed with something like knowing how to update the website you designed.

Whatever the plan and the subject matter for your training, the materials have to be prepared, peoples’ requirements checked off against your agenda, venue booked, marketing collateral sorted…..the list is endless. There is also the possible issue as to who should give the training. Not everyone is a good trainer or presenter and your organisation’s website design guru may have to be forced to hand over his/her lovingly prepared material to a more charismatic speaker!

The rewards of successful training are high. Your attendees will be grateful. Their peers will be grateful. Word of mouth will spread and you may have converts for life!

Some of the questions you will have to make a decision on are –

• Do you offer the training / course to a a single client or to whoever has an interest in the subject matter?
• If you do decide to offer to a single company, your place or theirs?
• If you offer training to multiple companies, will any of the attendees clash or conflict – “we didn’t know you worked with them and us.”
• Should you charge and if so, how much?
• Do you limit numbers?
• Do you invite local editors and media?
• Will there be a follow up plan?
• + lots more…………….

Don’t be fooled by the hours of prep and planning you’ll need to dedicate to this type of activity but it can be a very worthwhile marketing initiative.

Personally, I am not a fan of the online training videos and web casts etc and would far prefer being able to physically attend a course of value where I can interact with the presenter and the people around me. To me anyway then, the lure of an actual “live” course which was relevant and local to me would be high!

The style of the training, how it is presented and how it is marketed are subjects for another day!

There’s no such thing as junk mail

This is a bold statement, but junk mail is not a label I would give to bulk mailings be they printed or emailed. To me the term should be more like misdirected mail or poorly targeted mail.

Back in 2011, 21.9 million UK adults took action thanks to Direct Direct Mail for Marketing
Mail they received. Don’t be surprised by that figure – Direct Mail is still
making a difference to marketers and customers alike, with an impressive 48% of the UK population responding to a Direct Mail piece they received in the past
12 months. In fact, the stats for including direct mail to the marketing mix are quite compounding –

  • Of the 21.9 million UK adults to respond to Direct Mail, 6.2
    million went online to order something, and 7.3m went to a store to order
    something in person
  • 8.3 million of those who received a mail piece kept it to
    view again in the future
  • 9 out of 10 people open Direct Mail (FastMAP).
  • 49% of adults are more likely to open Direct Mail if they
    are intrigued by the package (British Market Research Bureau, 2010).
  • 75% of customers like receiving special offers and vouchers
    via Direct Mail (British Market Research Bureau, 2010).
  • Direct Mail response rates stand at 3.42% (Direct Marketing
    Association).
  • The opening rate for Direct Mail sent to prospects stands at
    91%, making it the best way to bring on board new customers (Billets Media
    Monitoring).
  • 95% of mail from stores, 95% of mail from gambling companies
    and 99% of mail from department stores is opened or responded to (Billets Media
    Monitoring).
  • 17.7m people ordered after receiving a mail order catalogue
    in the past 12 months (Royal Mail Consumer Panel, 2010).
  • Return on Investment and Costs
  • Catalogues have the lowest cost per lead of all Direct Mail,
    followed by inserts (Direct Marketing Agency).
  • 34% of business to consumer marketers consider Direct Mail
    to provide the best return on investment, making it the best method of marketing
    in their view (Target Marketing).
  • 29% of marketers are increasing their Direct Mail budgets in
    2012, and 49% will keep their budgets the same (Target Marketing).
  • The ROI of Direct Mail has increased year-on-year for the
    last decade, standing at £3.20 in the last OMD Brand Science report.

– Source. Central Mailing Services.

But how do you utilise your direct mail campaigns to give them the best chance of success?

  1. Have something to say
  2. Show the recipient you understand their business and their challenges
  3. Keep your message simple
  4. Be relevant – stick to 1 message
  5. Put it all on 1 page if possible
  6. Sign it yourself – personalisation is still an advantage
  7. Hand write the envelopes
  8. Don’t be afraid to test – maybe do a pilot campaign to start with
  9. Follow up
  10. Double check spelling and grammar
  11. Be interesting and maybe even provocative to gain attention

In direct mail campaigns, always include some sort of response both for the intrinsic value and also to aid the follow up and make sure that you are able to handle responses.

 

Presentations and the art of listening

When I first entered the marketing and advertising industry, my CEO at the time said that presentations need to be dialogues rather than monologues and I’ve never forgotten this piece of valuable advice.

I used to dread making presentations and it is very easy to get yourself into a bit of a state when your presentation is looming. You can lose sleep by worrying about how you will be received, but always remember, you are the expert and that the audience is there to listen to you as what you have to say will be of value. Don’t get into the mind-set that you’ve come to do a presentation and try and avoid the natural instinct to just get it done as soon as possible come what may! The danger is that your presentation will be a monologue with no real human content; just your single-minded gabble!

When you pitch or do a presentation, there is a theory that the “sales” element should be 75% listening and 25% talking. With this in mind, why not open with a question to quickly engage your audience and get their input.

For example, you could start with “Good morning. I have got a considerable amount of interesting material with me to go through, but perhaps I could focus on any specific needs or areas you’d like me to address.” Quite often prospects are only to happy to have an audience for their problems and, as they talk, you could re order your pitch to target them even better.

I also came across some statistics recently about the percentages involved when delivering a presentation.

40% of people hear through their eyes (i.e. what they can see and the impression you make)
20% respond from their ears
40% react from their feelings

To me this indicates that words are simply not enough to win you the business or to make that great impression you want to make. Your appearance and your manner can have a huge effect. You know your market so dress accordingly. Similarly, with regards to your manner, you must be confident and positive, but also be professional. I know of one really good presenter who tends to swear a lot which doesn’t always go down well! If you are using equipment, use it as an aid not a prop.

Finally, don’t be complacent or arrogant. You are the visitor, the guest, the invitee so never forget this. Also, you should know your subject matter inside out and if you don’t you shouldn’t be there in the first place!

Establish your brand

The more you look around, the more it becomes evident that most service professionals are alike in relation to winning new business. You may be not be a marketing person or working within marketing services. You may be an accountant, an architect or a solicitor, but whatever the title and sector, we all have tangibles services to offer. Too often these services remain hidden secrets.

This must change!

We must make our services known. We must make our audience aware of our knowledge base and

experience so that our new business suspects could become business prospects and business clients. In every sector competition is fierce and everyone is clambering for attention. Most prospects will find it hard to differentiate between us and find it tricky to understand what the offers are so they need to be marketed to.

Prospects deserve to be spoken to in a professional, informative and considered way. Advertising is everywhere these days. On petrol pumps, on a screen in the post office, on the back of toilet doors, on buildings or even in the air so how do we decipher who is who and what is what?

People play a vital part when deciphering who is who. How may times do you meet the person before the company and say that he/she was so and so from somewhere? Similarly, how a company presents itself, the messaging it uses and the language it employs are also contributory factors. This is called……………the company “Brand.”

I think “brand” is one of those words that is widely used but never 100% understood.  What does “brand” mean, and how has the word’s application changed over time? The first definition of “brand” is the name given to a product or service from a specific source.  Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark.”

However, a brand is not just a logo or an icon. It is what the company stands for. It is the name. How it acts. How it makes people feel. Getting this right and marketing it correctly will ultimately influence whether a business succeeds or fails.

Yes, I am a marketing person and marketing people always go on about the importance of marketing, but take your time before rushing out and buying a cheap website, having a logo designed from an online store for $10, setting up Facebook and then hitting the networking groups. There are companies out there that can help you get it right first time. Yes, they charge, but that is what they do. They are called marketing companies. They are not called advertising agencies, website design agencies or social media agencies. These are likely to be companies “specialising” in 1 or possibly 2 areas of marketing and not the whole suite of marketing techniques.

We receive a lot of enquiries from people who have set out of the traps with their marketing only to regret it 12-18 months later. Cheap can be very expensive so do your research. How do the marketing companies you talk to present themselves? What is their “brand.” Do they speak your language and ultimately, are they nice people who you’re going to get on with?

We are here if you need us and are happy to meet people at our offices for a free initial conversation.

Onwards and upwards!

Well, January is out of the way. Phew………and………breathe!
How did it go? Were there any changes in your market? Are there any new players in town? What did you decide to do?

One area that will constantly need addressing, updating and auditing is your marketing. Nothing stays still for long in the world of getting your name out there. Whether Google decides to unveil any more challenges or whether there are other platforms to use, marketing is a constantly evolving process. It’s not a singular event or a boxed ticked. Similarly, it shouldn’t have an end; just a start and a middle.

Maybe in December when you had 5 minutes, you may have constructed  a list of initiatives to implement and maybe even planned ahead, but will this plan still be applicable? What if there is someone new operating in your space? What if you’ve taken someone new on who might have some ideas?

The list of ways you can get your message out is a long and sometimes complicated one, but our advice is don’t panic! What we very much advocate is evaluating what you’ve done and testing new methods. For example, just because you advertising in a certain media in 2014, does this mean you repeat for 2015? No. Consumers like to be tested and challenged. They like to see something new and exciting. They don’t want to see an old typeface in a quarter page advertisement containing a stock shot. Originality + keeping your message modern are 2 key elements.

We are not saying that each year should come with a re brand. What we are saying is that it might be a good idea to look at your logo or your website or even your sales material to really gauge whether it is time to update any of it.

Marketing companies also need to stay on top of uncertainties in technology as well as invest in their skills and/or personnel. Maybe, if you’re using one, 2015 could be the time take a look at what else and who else is on the market?

WordPress. Should it be used as a website?

WordPress is a great platform for creating your blog, but
should you create your entire website using WordPress? Bath Marketing
Consultancy has created both blogs and entire sites on WordPress before and we’ve
learned that there are some good reasons to use WordPress to create your
website, and some good reasons not to.Wordpress. Should it be used as a website?

So………..here’s our rundown of the good, the bad, and some of our

experiences using WordPress to create websites.

Software: Frequent upgrades, plenty of plug-ins, large community
behind it

Good: WordPress is an open-source product and there are
plenty of developers, so the (sometimes frequent!) security flaws get repaired quickly
and new features and plug-ins appear regularly. The large, helpful community of
users can help you fix problems. If you’ve had a problem, chances are, someone
else has too!

Bad: Plug-ins can sometimes stop working when you
upgrade WordPress to the latest version. Since plug-ins are often developed by
individuals, mostly volunteers, fixes aren’t always done immediately.

Functionality: Built-in search, search engine optimization
(SEO)

Good: WordPress has a built-in search function and
facilitates SEO. The search function is easily added to all pages of your site.
WordPress allows you to tag all contents, create custom keyword-rich URLs, and
allow trackbacks and pingbacks, all of which help your site to be found in
online searches.

Bad: WordPress search is limited — results are sorted
by date, not relevance, and there are no advanced searching options. For a more
robust search function, you should install Google Site Search on your WordPress
website.

Platform: Based on PHP and MySQL

Good: Allows experienced developers to completely
customize sites.

Bad: Not as easy to customize for non-developers or
those who know only HTML. WordPress has its own PHP syntax and functions that
create a bit of a learning curve, even for experienced PHP coders. Also, you
can’t just preview a post in your browser without having a WordPress testing
server set up.

Design: Plenty of templates

Good: Even if you don’t hire a designer to customise

your site, there are enough templates so your site won’t look too much like
everyone else’s site.

Bad: The templates are not designed to further your
brand. You may find one that is similar to your current branding, but it won’t
match exactly. You might want to start with a simple template, which takes care
of a lot of the drudge work of setting up the site. Then, to customize the
template to match your branding, you definitely should hire a web
designer/developer.

We can spot a WordPress website a mile off so iIf you want
to make some pages in your site look significantly different from a regular
“blog” structure, you will need to spend a lot of time working with style
sheets and PHP.

Updates: Content Management System (CMS)

Good: Can be used as a simple CMS, and it is relatively
standards-compliant. Adding new content doesn’t require much training and there
are many plug-ins you can use to add CMS functionality to your site.

Bad: With some work, you can turn WordPress into a
CMS, but WordPress is not really a full-featured CMS. For example, WordPress
won’t keep you from introducing bad code if you use Word to write your posts
instead of WordPress. It also doesn’t do workflow management or track user
roles.

Overall, creating a website with WordPress is
straightforward, especially if you are happy with an existing template.
However, if you want to customize the look and functionality of the template,
you’ll need to have robust web development skills, or hire a developer……like Bath
Marketing Consultancy!

It’s important to keep in mind what WordPress does well, and
what it does only with great effort, so you can have realistic expectations
from the beginning.

As long as you want your site to leverage WordPress’s
strengths, such as blogging, posting frequent updates, and sorting by date or
alphabetically, WordPress is a good way to go.

But….and this is important to keep in mind, if you’re
looking for a straight CMS, highly customized page layouts, but few of the
blogging features of WordPress, you’d probably be better off going with a
straight CMS solution, not WordPress.

Outsourcing sales and marketing….yes or no?

Outsourcing sales and marketing....yes or no?A question posed to me recently by a prospect was “is this process called “sales” something that could be outsourced as we don’t really have the time to do it properly?”

My simple answer was…”no!”

To me, is it possible for an outsider to make the impression required and not be found out as some sort of impostor! The only way in which it could work is for that third party to be incredibly economical with the truth especially if the prospect presses for answers to questions such as “who exactly are you?!”

I would never advocate putting your companies reputation on the front line without the person doing it having an intricate knowledge of your company. However, what you can outsource is the marketing of your organisation; the getting in front of people bit.

We’ve met a number of new organisations already in 2014 and have uncovered a trend in the larger ones where “marketing” is largely initiated in house. When pushed what they mean, inevitably areas like the brand, the website, the construction of the sales database and even the printed material had been done in house. So, on face value, these larger organisations seemed to be very active with their marketing, but they had turned to us for a review of their activity to see where things could be improved upon.

There is nothing wrong with having an in house team of people to administer marketing, but in our experience, the messaging and strategy must be correct before platforms like social media, direct mail, email marketing etc are configured and used and, to get these elements correct, I feel that turning to someone external and independent is the best way forward.

Be careful not to treat all prospects the same and bombard them with the same message. Similarly, why not take a step back and actually ask them if they want to hear from you and if so, using what platform. Do they want an eshot or something printed in the post? Would they prefer to hear certain things like case studies, advances in your resources or even new people? What features and benefits are you telling each category of prospect about – do you cherry pick the information you send out?

Also, what about your team? Do they all understand the core values of your business? Do they buy into them? Have you talked to your clients about what they like about you?

Do not under estimate the effectiveness of going backwards a step before going forwards with your marketing!