What marketing actually is and the pros and cons of DIY websites by Paul Tagent of Bath Marketing Consultancy.
The majority of people who read the articles in our marketing help area are “professionals” who might not necessarily be experts in marketing or selling so it is up to us to try and provide direction in how they can improve their knowledge and/or skill set to help them reach their marketing goals.
In some (larger) organisations, there might be a sales person or a BDM as well as a marketing manager, but in the SME world, it is quite common that all these vital elements are grouped together and performed by the owner. If this is the case, there is always a danger that the whole process of marketing slips down the list settling behind IT or the accounts function!
In the case where you are doing the sales and marketing, a lot of the skills and techniques required have been outlined in this blog. However, whether it’s you or you are motivating others to take ownership of marketing, try and see the activity in the context of a marketing plan. Remember marketing is not about getting a brochure done or designing and building a new website. In fact, the process of marketing should include most if not all of the below:
Understanding your market – what am I offering to who and why?
Building your brand and proposition – what is my USP and what does it look like?
Planning your marketing strategy – what activity and/or platforms am I using to get my message across?
Internal marketing – does everyone in the company know what marketing activity we are undertaking and why?
Manage existing clients – making sure you have quality deliverables that have been outlined and fully costed.
Winning new business – test initiatives, but aim to create a discipline of running multiple activities each month.
A big feature of marketing is laying the foundations. You have to set out your stall correctly so that you’re appealing to the right people. Know your customer, but also, do you know if your market has any sub sectors within it which you can target which might add another string to your bow? Try not to get drawn into delivering knee-jerk, bulk newsletters to just tick a box. The words “so what” are used frequently in the briefing process by Bath Marketing Consultancy!
Going forwards, what Bath Marketing Consultancy has always advocated is that having a dedicated marketing function can make the difference between a business success and a business failure so allocate time and or budget to getting it right at the start.
Hands up how many of you see yourselves as in a sales role? I bet the majority of us don’t see “sales” as part of our job specs. We might work in the IT department or be back office support and have a sales team to do sales. However, have a think. Do you come in contact with people on a daily basis either professionally or personally?
I am sure you do. This means that, without realising it, you are inadvertently in sales and are part of your organisations brand. I’ll tell you what I mean.
After a session in the gym this morning, I got talking to someone I haven’t met before in the changing room. He asked me what I did so I told him about my company Bath Marketing Consultancy, what we do and with who. I wasn’t “selling” as such, but I was making conversation about business. If I made a good impression he may remember me if the subject of marketing comes up at his place of work. Similarly, he may well say to someone he knows personally that he met me thus putting me and my company on more radars. I also found out that he was in finance, specifically pensions and have since looked up their company website – they need some serious SEO work done!
This situation is common and don’t underestimate the importance of this type of marketing. If you work for a company as an employee at whatever level, do you know exactly what your company does and with who? Are you kept up to date with internal news such as new client wins, new joiners etc? Does the CEO communicate what the “brand” stands for?
To me, Sales and Branding are not just words thrown about by the communications industry to baffle the consumer. They are the key to consistency and one can facilitate the other. We all have a role to play in our business lives and a thorough knowledge of your business is very powerful. It’s not just about an organisation running an external marketing campaign with nice advert designs in magazines or running ads on Facebook, it’s about communication and this starts internally. Do you and everyone you work with know what’s happening at your company and why?
For example, the person who answers the phone can be the first point of contact for clients and prospects and hence, needs to know exactly how to answer the phone and be kept up to date with events and updates for the company he/she works at. He/she is the initial voice of the company and is vital as this could be the start of the sales process.
When I meet new people in business, I always say that they should be able to sum up their brand in 3 words. They also should be able to do the Richard Branson “elevator pitch” where they can sum up their business or the business they work for in 30 seconds as if going up in an elevator with Richard Branson. But it’s not just the people at the top that need to be able to do this. In my opinion, everyone within an organisation should be able to do it. This means that everyone is consistent so that when they come into contact with people, they are able to present the company effectively and communicate what it stands for, who it works with and why.
This is the start of an effective sales strategy and we’re all a part of it!
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!
When it comes to getting the best from your website, a lot of emphasis should be placed on how it performs in search and, just as you’d expect to scope out a website design and development project, so too must you scope out a search engine optimization effort.
In Bath Marketing Consultancy’s opinion, SEO shouldn’t be something that is just asked for as a generalist service from marketing companies. It is an essential part of online marketing and, if organisations are prepared to spend money on their websites, they should also be spending money on ensuring that the site is found.
So, questions that I would normally ask clients and/or prospects are –
- Who’s going to write the content?
- Who is responsible for PR efforts?
- Who is handling social marketing?
- Who’s doing link building?
- Who’s restructuring the website, as necessary?
Yes, the foundations can be done during the actual website build, but ongoing SEO is the key to success. Work with a specialist, agree a budget, allocate who is doing what and then work together to achieve your goals.
Marketing is a multifaceted process. It offers a wide range of tools for placing your service/product in front of clients and prospects. The main “tools” available are:
Conferences, seminars, exhibitions etc
Bath Marketing Consultancy suggests you use them all! If each tool is used for the right purpose, has the right objective, at the right time, for the right TA, they could be incredibly effective.
Before you say anything, I appreciate there are other marketing tools that I haven’t mentioned such as telesales (or telemarketing) which is ostensibly phone canvassing. However, there are 2 types of telesales, 1) is closing a sale and 2) is closing an appointment. The skills required for both to achieve success vary, i.e. to close a sale, you might use an introductory offer. To close an appointment, you may well use “I am in your area….”
|The tools of the trade!|
One initiative that may well yield results is client entertaining, but be careful that it doesn’t appear like bribery!
What marketing tools do you use and what works best? Feel free to leave me a comment.
Do you experience seasonal fluctuations with your business? If so, you are not alone! One of the trends that Bath Marketing Consultancy is experiencing right now is enquires from people experiencing just this; a period of downtime in their businesses due to the (supposed!) British summer.
What these people seem to be saying, quite correctly is, “yes, I know the summer impacts on my business, but I am going to lay the marketing foundations for the Christmas period and get in touch with a marketing professional to help me.”
Fluctuations in a business are very hard to predict exactly, but there are times of the year when traditionally businesses will be quieter than others. For example, December and January tend to be quiet as the “silly season” is in place. In addition half terms, school holidays and then summer holidays. In fact, there may well be less of a buzz about in business when major sporting events are on like the Rugby World Cup, Football Cups, Olympics etc.
During these times business is likely to be slower, enquiry rates may well fall and invoices take longer to be paid. We are all in the same boat! The trick is to make sure that you have a consistent marketing plan that will continue marketing your business during these quiet times.
You could look at bursts of marketing activity before these times or incentivising prospects to commit to working with you before they go away or take a holiday. Similarly, there is always the option of you mirroring these quiet times by taking time out too.
One key area I would suggest is do not go quiet yourself with your own marketing or you risk going of radars. Yes, there is a possibility that the markets you appeal to may well become smaller in seasonal fluctuations, but there will still be a market there for you to talk to. So do not stop Blogging, Tweeting, Advertising, Link Building etc as continued marketing and brand awareness activity over a sustained period of time really pays dividends.
Bath Marketing Consultancy has been asked a number of questions recently about the word “brand.” These questions usually relate to whether a logo is a brand or whether a brand is more than that and if so, what?
Therefore, below is my take on what makes up a brand and, if you invest time, money and resources into your brand, you are very likely to reap the rewards. A brand will be made up of a collection of different perceptions that will have been built up after exposure to every aspect of your business. This can be a myriad of different things:
- Product design and experience
- Sales experience – your sales people or distributors
- Service experience – during the sale and after
- Advertising messages and straplines
- The way you look and sound – imagery, colour, fonts, personality and tone
- Your website, blogs or mentions on social networking sites
- The price, and how you discount
- Your reputation
- The shop, office or factory experience
- Uniform, badges, vans and trucks
- Your people
- The logo
- Your name
Bath Marketing Consultancy is an expert at developing, building and then marketing brands so please let us know if you need any help.
I have always found that winning new business is something that is actually quite complicated as it can come as a result of so many different marketing activities and initiatives and these initiatives are actually quite hard to locate as to which one worked. However, one thing to consider is that it is highly unlikely that you as a business owner, can keep on top of every one of these many initiatives yourself to keep the new business tap flowing.
Similarly, if you are a business that employs people, the people you employ are also unlikely to be experts in every field of marketing so I feel you have 2 options:
1) Invest in training yourself so that you can do certain initiatives in house
2) Outsource to a specialist
For example, if you want to take control of your companies’ social media then, in this Blog I have written some 25 odd articles that are all social media related so you may well be able to fulfill certain requirements simply by reading my articles. However, if you read my articles (or books from the library) and they do not give you the answers you seek then you have the option of signing up for a social media course or outsourcing to an expert.
If outsourcing is a route you might go down, be very careful before buying in services that will come into direct contact with prospects.
Whatever you decide to do, try and see any costs incurred or time allocated as an investment rather than a direct cost to your business and this investment should pay off over time.