I need to re brand

“I want to re brand my business” is a statement I have had thrown at me quite a lot recently by companies who contact Bath Marketing Consultancy.

“Why do you want to…?” is what I throw back……. Bored doesn't mean a re brand

Boredom not a reason for a re brand
The answer I generally receive is that “it is about time” or “I want a new logo” or maybe even “I am bored of the way my company looks.” In my opinion, none of these answers is a proper reason for a re brand and actually, explaining to people what a complete re brand involves i.e the work and the potential costs, timescales etc quite often leads to a swift change of mind by the person I am meeting!

What I want to get across is that, just changing your logo and/or you corporate literature and/or website does not classify a “re brand.” To me, an organisations’ brand goes far deeper than the way it presents itself or the colour of its logo. A brand is all about your personality as a business and is made up of a number of different elements which I have covered in a previous article. Establishing a brand can take decades and making changes to a brand is not something I would to do without some serious thought.

Yes, there are specialist brand agencies out there who will meet the brief of a re brand and charge you a small fortune, but the vast majority of the businesses Bath Marketing Consultancy works with are small to medium enterprises and this means that budgets are very rarely huge and therefore, spending money on “marketing” is a decision that the business owner will not take lightly. I more often than not advise organisations on modernising their look in line with recent upgrades in areas like fonts or a change in industry standard website settings; a sort of evolution rather than a revolution, but very rarely have I come across a business large or small that really needs to re brand.

Yes, I work with a number of start ups who come to me to come up with and launch their brand, which is a very different kettle of fish, but, if you are a business owner and think you need to “re brand” your business, don’t make knee-jerk decisions about your business and the way it looks and operates. Give real thought as to why you want to do it and what the potential outcome could be; talk to your existing customers……and maybe then bring in an expert in this area.

The hardest marketing?

I have been asked this recently, “what is the hardest marketing to use.” When I questioned as to what this particular prospect meant, he elaborated by saying that he meant that he had real trouble in using Social Media and “was it easy?”

I have written a similar post as a result of being asked about the “best marketing platform to use” but, when looking at Social Media, I think using it as part of your marketing strategy is essential. Not necessarily because it is a sure fast track to early retirement. No. It is because, when used properly, it really can allow you to network incredibly effectively without incurring the costs usually associated with networking. Don’t get me wrong, interacting with human beings around a fry up is a great way to meet new people, but platforms like Twitter allow even the shyest person to network.

If there are any problems with Social Media, they are usually down to small businesses jumping straight in with both feet without any real strategy as to their objectives. For example, apart from the networking side of Social Media, what else does it do? Well, for me, it has allowed me to demonstrate my knowledge of the sector I work in, find new associates to work with, make friends and……….really build my brand to a global audience. Not bad for a platform which is pretty much “free” to use!

Another platform which can be hard to justify using is advertising. Again, I have written a post dedicated to what I feel are the best ways to get the best from advertising which will help you, but the key thing is to decided what type of advertising you want to run – brand awareness or direct response. For either campaign type, provide enough information to the customer so that he/she can make a decision rather than trying to be clever with words and pretty pictures.

In sum. When it comes to marketing and what platforms/initiatives work best, it is all about doing what works for your business. Test everything and speak to people rather than just diving in! If need be, give me a shout and we can have a talk.

2012 – what marketing are you planning?

Well, 2012 is now here and for most of us in business, it is back to work; back to the daily routine, back to the grindstone; back to the corporate treadmill.

However, don’t feel down or gloomy about being back at work or the year that lies ahead as a new year is actually a perfect opportunity to really go for it and make strides into building (or growing) a great business platform.

I am not a great one for making resolutions, but I stand by my suggestion that putting together an effective and cohesive marketing plan could make the difference to what you and your business achieves in 2012. So……..if you havent started thinking about this, do it now!

To get you thinking, I put together 30 questions to test your business and, although these were done a while ago, they are still very much worth looking at as they may well prompt you into thinking about things in a different way.

Already in 2012 the internet is awash with Blog sites making marketing predictions about which initiatives to employ. One of the best I have read places great emphasis on how to get the best from your website in terms of how to use title tags effectively. For those already baffled by the term title tags, title tags are the primary text that defines a web page. They are required for all HTML documents. Search engine bots use them to help identify the content of a page so begin the tag with the most valuable and relevant keyword phrase.

Continuing on from the trends from 2010/11, social media and the importance of unique, quality and relevant copy for your website have been highlighted as areas that will be key for successful online marketing and I am very much in agreement with this. I came across a website recently called Hub Spot Blog that gave a string of facts to do with social media and its power for marketing. See here.

But what about more traditional marketing avenues? Well, there will always be a place for traditional advertising, but bunging in ads willy nilly as a result of a sales call selling “last minute space” is not the way forward. Plan what you want to advertise i.e are you looking to make direct sales as a result of the ad or simply generate website traffic.

Email marketing is also an area where I see continued growth in 2012. Why? because email marketing is incredibly cost effective and can provide excellent stats as to actions made as a result.

One area I do think may well become important for the medium sized business is exhibitions and trade shows. They can be expensive, but done correctly and marketed for 2-3 months in advance using Twitter etc, prospects can turn up to meet you on the day who are very “warm.”

Watch this space I say and if you need to talk to someone about what you should do in 2012, get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy.

Seasonal marketing

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.

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. 


Overcoming the dreaded answerphone

voicemail message

How many times do you pluck up the courage to make a sales call either as a cold call or as a follow up and you are met with the answerphone?? It is definitely one of my pet hates as there is no industry standard procedure with regards to what to do and how to deal with it…! Calling at the best time when answerphone might not be on is definitely one of the key objectives, but knowing when this is is hard, in fact it is pretty impossible.

So………..how do you not only meet, but actually beat the dreaded voicemail?

Certainly the nervous “Hello xxxx, this is yyyy and I would like to speak to you re zzzz and my number is 01225 xxxxx ” is likely to have limited if not any effect at all. After all, how many of us have actually called back someone who is obviously selling something?

But how about giving this a go…………when the answerphone beep sounds, you deliver your script in a clear and steady voice, spelling your name etc, but, emphasizing that, if you do not hear from this person by a specific date, you will call again. This is not meant as some sort of threat!
As you cannot “close” in this situation, you have to give specific details of when you will call back so that you can try and achieve your goal of making an appointment. When you call again…..as I am sure you will have to……you open by referring to the previous message. If need be, repeat the process and make a joke of it!

If this situation continues, make each message more lighthearted and emphasize the importance of the chat you are looking to have. Maybe even drop in the odd benefit the call will bring to the person. In my experience, this procedure should result in actually speaking to the required person within about 4 or 5 calls and it is actually possible to develop a sort of “virtual” relationship.

This is not pesteting. This process is about you overcoming hurdles/obsticles that are in your way. But, be warned, if the prospects does actually call you back, make sure you are fully prepared and know who he or she is. This might sound obvious, but I know from bitter experience that, not recognising a persons name when they call back and treating it like a sales call can actually undo all the good work you have put in!


Bath Marketing’s next post could be on the answers you can give to questions like “who are you” and/or how to fill your diary. What do you think?

Talk about the benefits NOT the technique or features!

The Laddering” approach

Bath Marketing Consultancy received a call recently from a lovely lady I have met at Networking asking my advice about a new venture she is looking to launch. One of the questions she posed was about “cold calling” or “tele marketing.”

I have written an article previously on my top tips when making a cold call, but I think it is worth re emphasizing the importance of stressing what benefits your product or service will bring to the organisation you have called.

As a professional, features interest you. As a potential buyer, the prospect may share your interests – but equally they may be solely interested in the end result. It is YOUR job to make that benefit clear and unambiguous – “and this is what you get” rather than “and this is what it does.”

For many clients what you actually do (or offer) may be of no interest (to be honest, I have a client in the legal sector who goes to sleep when I explain HTML or Social Media!), so the results and what is in it for them are the top of the list.

My suggestion is to adopt the “laddering” approach; moving from feature to benefit with transitions. For example – 

“…..and this provides you with…..”
“…..which means you’ll be able to….”
“…..allowing you and your company to….”

Why not give it a try? Oh, one more thing, remember to use the “you” or “your company” words for that personal focus!

Good luck and if you feel like it, why not leave a comment re any results below.

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.

Working on holiday. Right or wrong?

After my first official break with my family in nearly 2 years (Devon Mon-Fri last week), I found myself in a panic when the cottage I had rented had no mobile phone signal and no wi fi. 

I have read numerous articles since going into business for myself about the importance of finding the balance right between working time and home/switch off time, but it really alarmed me at how naked and exposed I found myself. In addition, every time I entered an area where I did get a signal, there was inevitably numerous emails and voicemail messages on my phone that needed actioning. For example, on Tuesday morning last week, I went to Woodlands Park and my phone flashed up 14 emails and 3 voicemail messages by 10am.

That was the final straw.

My decision was to set aside time every evening to go to the local pub (it was the only place that had wi fi – honest!) and work from 6pm until 8/9pm on my laptop so that I could try and clear the decks. This meant that I said good night to my kids early and left my wife to put them to bed. It also meant that I could sleep properly at night and knew that I would be able to at least start each day without stress knowing that I had done what work was required.

Some of you might say that I should have warned clients that I was off last week – I did. Some of you might say that nothing was that urgent that it couldn’t be left until I got back – I am afraid there was some media advertising work that needed doing that was time sensitive. Others might say that I should’ve got cover – who do I get as I am my business??! 

What I am getting at here is that I think going into business for yourself means that this sort of thing is to be expected. I have worked with over 40 businesses since I started Bath Marketing Consultancy and a number of these clients I work with on a monthly basis so they have a right to have access to me. 

In addition, why does something like the iphone sell over 51million units if people didn’t want to be pestered on their holidays?!

What do you think?? Please leave me a comment as would be very interested in what you think.

Don’t be afraid of commitment!

Sometimes people see marketing as more of a quick fix process; a sort of knee jerk “distressed” purchase typically after experiencing a slow period in their business. However, marketing is very much a long term commitment that takes time to yield and I feel it is in every businesses interest to embrace marketing and get on board for the long haul. The high's and low's of being in business

How many initiatives can you name in one breath? SEO, advertising, e marketing, newsletters, direct mail, networking, article posting, Blogs, referral marketing………phew! Each one of these can be a very useful way of marketing your business. But, which one or which combination will be the most successful? The answer to this is to test each one and see what happens. If you are going to do this yourself, then dedicate time to do it properly. If not, buy someone in to help you. (After all, that is what marketing consultants are there for!)

As per a previous post, marketing is much more than sales, it is about forming a dedicated plan of action; researching all aspects of your market, defining your business and establishing what you have to offer.