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.

 

What is a marketing audit?

Whatever the market your business operates in, it is safe to say that it is likely to be highly unpredictable and competitive and, as such, business owners cannot leave any stone un-turned in their search for growth and development.

One element often overlooked due to time or budget constraints is a full marketing audit.
By pressing pause and taking a serious look at your position in terms of the offer, the target audience, the current route to market and the actual brand. An audit can be a vital instrument to help an organisation establish its position and to identify its possible “difference” in the market as well as what resources and capacities it has as its disposal.

Conducting a marketing audit is one of the best and most sensible investments a business can make for the future.

But, what exactly is a marketing audit?
The Marketing Audit refers to the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.

The outlined definition clearly confirms the strategic and operational relevance of conducting a marketing audit, making it an instrument where businesses can dissect, analyse and assess their situation.

About the audit process
Carrying out a marketing audit can be quite time consuming and is often hard to do without bias if done internally, but it should be done by externally based skilled, experienced, and specialised marketing professionals.

Asking the correct type of questions is key to conducting a successful marketing audit. Proper R&D and the right questions unlock a business’s creative instinct and serve to stimulate the thought processes. For example, what time are we dedicating to social media and what has been the ROI?
The marketing audit also provides the business with a clear picture of its marketing function and business environment. It will help him / her to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business.

I believe that the marketing audit process should encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, since competitive advantage rarely comes from doing the same thing over and over. When businesses offer the same product and service to the same market by performing the same kind of marketing, no business will grow in the long run. In fact, it is likely that others will have conducted an audit and will be reaping the benefits, possibly from your pocket.