Getting the best out of advertising

If you make your advertising professional to look at and I would bet that your ad will stand out from the crowd especially when a great deal of media houses seem to offer “free design” if you book an ad – how does free design ensure that your ad is on brand and is delivered with the due care and attention it needs?

Anyway, at the risk of me repeating myself from previous posts, DON’T forget the response mechanism – one of your aims when running an ad campaign is to generate some sort of response, so make sure that your ad contains your organisation name, the address, a phone number and possibly a website URL. (You would be amazed at the amount of times I have seen ads that miss out this sort of vital information…..including a competitor of a client of Bath Marketing Consultancy‘s client in the legal sector who saw fit to run an ad promoting a particular person within their firm, but omitted the persons details in the ad as well as the address of the business!!)

I digress. When purchasing advertising space there is one key word to keep in mind……negotiate! I have yet to meet any company that has paid “rate card” for its advertising space so nor should you. If need be, just make an enquiry and sit back as the sales person will call you time and time again to clinch the deal often making the deal more attractive each time! Sometimes you can wait until the very last minute before agreeing by which time the sales person is desperate! (don’t forget sales roles are commissioned based so every sale is vital for a sales person).

In addition, you have other “deals” which you could try in order to get the best value for your spend. Such as, you should be able to negotiate on colour and positioning as well or maybe even a full page for the price of a half page or a premium position for no extra cost!

One platform to be aware of is the enhanced directory listing such as Yellow Pages or maybe an online directory. Sales people will be looking to “up sell” a free listing and will usually quote all manner of increased visibility possibilities. However, it is very likely that they are approaching your competitors with exactly the same pitch so the pitch might live up to what actually occurs. In addition, if you approve a number of these enhanced listing sales, your total spend might become way beyond your budget.

Following on from media advertising there is advertising on the internet……..but that is another story!

Plan your marketing and stand out from the crowd

In business one of the key aims must be to turn a “suspect” into a “prospect” and then into a paying “client.” Competition is increasing in every sector and the emphasis on providing a great package to clients has never been stronger. You can pretty much take it as read that clients simply do not want to part with their hard earned cash unless they really have to and the days of them flicking through the Yellow Pages to find someone to help them are long gone. Reaching and retaining new clients are not only the key to business success, but these clients also play a huge part in on organisations’ on-going marketing.

I read recently that the general feeling among clients is that differentiation is lacking between the offers made to them and you will find that your competitors are not as active as they should be when marketing themselves so Bath Marketing Consultancy feels that organisations who make a concerted effort to stand out will have a major advantage when it comes to attracting new business.

In my opinion there are probably 3 ways in which you can “lose” business –
You can lose an existing client
You can have your proposal rejected in favour of another organisation
You can fail to be invited to pitch/tender
…and it is this final reason which is the worst because you haven’t even got to stage 1. As I have written in a previous article (Leaky Bucket), your objective is to keep the bucket full of water; to overflowing if possible, but the bucket has a hole in it and this means water will leak out. In this case the client is the water and it is almost impossible to plug the hole.

However, do not despair! With the right planning, you can make the diameter of the hole very small indeed.
Contractual agreements, proper client maintenance and servicing all go some way to facilitating this. On the flip side, there is also the danger of opening the tap above the bucket and letting new business flow in continuously neglecting existing clients as a result.

If you truly believe in new business the only way to look at things is to consider every existing client as vulnerable and new business as a constant need. In addition, no matter how busy you are at the present moment, you must sell for tomorrow. If you wait until a time when your business is less busy, it will be too late!

Make sure you put real effort into making yourself (and your business offer) remarkable. You must stand out vs all the competition and you must put a real marketing strategy in place which will keep the tap turned on at the right speed!

Writing a winning proposal – Part 1

I have recently found myself in a number of pitch situations where the prospective client has wanted to review a number of similar organisations before they make a decision on who to work with on their marketing.
I have written a number of articles about how to prepare and improve the pitch process in this Blog, but not all business can be won face to face; some of the decision process is made when viewing a written proposal or tender so I thought it would be beneficial to share some of my experiences about the written side of winning new business.

What advice can be given about the production of such a document? Well, to me, the same rules still apply. Guarantee that the client problem is identified, the objectives defined and the means selected are consistent. The client wants a specialised solution so the document must take the client through the full consultation process by indicating empathy with their problem while revealing your unique solution to it stressing how you add real benefit to the process.

Your document should encompass 5 roles which should all feature:

  • Consultant
  • Information Provider
  • Problem Solver
  • Professional Partner
  • Negotiator
  • The resulting document should therefore comprise of a number of sections that lead on from the previous section, but always write from a client’s point of view.

Later in the week I will outline and define these sections of the document.

20 golden rules for running a successful business.

Below is a list of the 20 things to consider when running a successful new business programme:

  1. Plan
  2. Create a fire, it is not about flicking a switch and sitting back
  3. Invest your time as well as your money
  4. Treat your company as a brand – define it
  5. Remember marketing is more than just new business and sales
  6. Develop a clear vision
  7. Aim high – but try and factor in some sort of safety net
  8. It is better to do a few things really well than loads averagely
  9. Remember the competitive framework – be noisy in a loud market
  10. Treasure your database
  11. Test, Test, Test
  12. Use all the tools of the trade – don’t rely on one initiative
  13. Invest in your own development
  14. Consider contra deals with complementary businesses
  15. Selling a meeting is the only thing you can do initially
  16. Work hard at keeping your name in the papers = Press Relations
  17. Prepare
  18. Use thr right team
  19. Keep in touch with your contacts
  20. People give business to people who want their business

As mentioned, these are Bath Marketing Consultancy’s top 20 rules, but they might not all apply to you and your business. If you would like me to elaborate on any particular point, please get in touch with me.

Over to you!

Marketing is more than new business.

Although I am a great fan of business plans, it is having a marketing strategy that will make the difference to your business. Such a strategy should be based on the results of the research you have conducted. It should also include existing clients. There’s nothing worse that producing exciting promotional material aimed at potential clients (see last week’s Blog posts on “The Company Brochure”) and forgetting to circulate it to your existing ones. It goes without saying that existing clients are still going to be your mainstay; your foundation and must never be sacrified on the altar of new business.

Strategy
There will be people within your business who are simply not motivated by new business or even by the whole idea of marketing. You, yourself may be the sort of person who just sees marketing as increasing sales. This is not a crime! However, there does need to be a dedicated person to drive the marketing process forward and this someone can even be an external person such as a marketing consultant who you “tap into” when you need him or her.

I feel that there are 20 golden rules when looking at marketing and these will be posted later in the week.

Do you have any comments on this or any of my other posts? Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me direct via my website.

Key writing techniques

In my experience, there are two types of advertising techniques being used at the moment by businesses – direct response advertising and branding advertising. The former is by the far the most productive way of advertising for the smaller business as it allows a way of monitoring ROI usually through making  a direct ‘offer’ or appeal to the reader backed up with a simple call to action. The retail sector use this type of advertising i.e.”our product is now on sale at a reduced price, call us to find out more…”

Brand building or brand awareness advertising is becoming more and more dependent on the larger budgets and, as such, is something that is simply not possible for the smaller business.
With these facts in mind, it is not just the advertisement with the nice pictures in that work. More and more emphasis is being placed on the actual wording of the advert and, as such, I have put together some simple tips and areas to consider when writing content.
  1. Put the key points in the first line of each sentance to encourage people to read on
  2. never repeat the headline in the first line of the text
  3. keep in mind that you only have 5-10 seconds for your main message to be absorbed
  4. use simple, clear language
  5. avoid gender or age bias
  6. only ask questions that the reader will reply positively too
  7. use active rather than passive words
  8. check the friendliness of your work by reading out aloud – if it sounds stilted, start again
  9. keep lines to between 20 and 60 characters in length
  10. make sure that YOU is used more often that I or WE
  11. use evocative words to help paint the picture

Keep these in mind and your advertising will be more effective!

If you have a marketing problem, fill out the brief form on my website and I will come back to you within 24 hours.

5 Top Tips to help SEO

Below are the 5 main areas Bath Marketing Consultancy think you should look for when building a website which effectively can prevent a site from getting proper rankings:


 • Lack of content on the homepage. There are some very big companies who believe that they can get decent search engine rankings without adding readable text to the sites homepage. This is a huge mistake. 

Having a site Designed Entirely in Flash. Adobe has made a lot of great strides in making its files readable, and should be commended for it. However, text in Flash files gets embedded into images, which aren’t read by the search engines. In many cases, the search engine sees a big blank spot when Flash is presented, so it can’t judge how relevant a site is.  


No hierarchy. For very large sites, the lack of a clear hierarchy presents a problem. The distribution of pages on a website should look like an organizational chart for a major corporation. The homepage would be the CEO, the category pages would be the directors, and so on. A lot of sites present a very wide and shallow profile, so the search engine can’t distinguish between an important category page and an ancillary product page. Hierarchies can be created using breadcrumbs, good directory structures, and HTML sitemaps, and are always recommended for sites with hundreds or thousands of pages. A Bad URL Structure can also keep pages from getting found which makes your pyramid look a lot smaller in the search world.
 • Same Title on Every Page. Many enterprise level corporations are obsessed with branding, and want to be sure the same message appears on every title. A search engine can’t figure out the topic of each page if all the titles are the same, and the information at the left of the title is the most important. If your company name (xyz.com) starts every page title, you are robbing your site of a higher natural search engine position. 


 • Set It And Forget It Mentality. Part of keeping a site relevant involves making sure the site is updated frequently in order to stay fresh and account for search engine algorithm changes. In the corporate world, inertia can set in, so outdated information may be left on the site for years, and changes to the website may happen infrequently or as part of an initiative where all the pages are updated at the same time. After awhile, search engines visit less frequently, and competitors who keep fresh websites get priority in the search engine rankings.

There are quite a few other mistakes made when it comes to building websites and most of those mistakes are made in the small business sector. However, search engines have gotten very good at spotting many common mistakes, and can usually figure out the relationship between pages on smaller sites. Larger sites, however, may be compounding their design mistakes and may be fractionalizing the value that search engines apply to each of that sites pages. 


 Sometimes a cheap looking site with minimal SEO work can be more effective in search engines that an expensive, well-known branded site.

Drop me an email and I will take a look at your site.

Social media

Bath Marketing Consultancy came across an article recently that gave a whole load of stats about online trends relating to social media and its usage in the US which I found staggering.

I have pulled out a few snippets so that you can see the actual scale of the numbers being touted about. I am seeking similar stats for the UK, but am pretty confident that the UK won’t be too different in its usage of social media, especially as a marketing tool as searches for ‘social media marketing’ in Google are up nearly 200% in 2010.

Brace yourself as one in ten people surveyed went to a social networking site in December 2009, up almost 100% from December 2008’s 5.8%. In addition, 25% of all page views came from the top
social networking sites and that is up 83% from the 13.8% posted in December 2008.

Over a 12 month period (Dec 08 to Dec 09), 28% of social media visits went to MySpace, with 68% going to Facebook whose market share surged 286% year-over-year.

The social media market has grown over the same period of time, but consumer usage is growing at a staggering rate with social media influencing everything from buying behaviour to how we work.

Where will things go next???


Spotting the marketing thief

This is as much a post asking for advice as giving it and based on a recent problem I have experienced.
In a nutshell, I recently identified a prospect who was wasting money on unsuccessful marketing. He also had a very poor brand identity, performed badly in organic search and would have complimented Bath Marketing Consultancy’s client base due my sector experience. I approached him and we had 3 subsequent meetings lasting about 45 minutes each time and were really getting on.

He requested a formal proposal which I submitted identifying key strategies and initiatives over a 6 month period with costings…………..and he has now gone underground. Not only that, his pa has obviously been briefed to use the ‘he’s in a meeting’ line and he has blocked my number on his mobile. To top it off, the pieces of advice we discussed have been implemented………..not by me.

I believe that I am a good judge of character and this particular person never gave any indication that he was never going to engage me. However, it has become abundantly clear that he has simply used my experience and advice for his own gain.

In my numerous years in the marketing industry, I have come across certain people and situations where the personalities don’t work. In addition, there have been times when I haven’t won what I pitched for.

However, this is pretty much the first time this type of thing has happened and, in a small business community such as Bath, word can get around.

Are there any steps to prevent this type of thing happening? Do I name and shame the prospect in question to make sure he doesn’t do it to anyone else?

Advice would be much appreciated paul@bathmarketingconsultancy.co.uk