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!

Make hay while the sun shines

If you are one of these people in business who worries about being too busy or where the next piece of work will come from then you are not alone! Many businesses (especially the smaller ones) will go through huge peaks and troughs when it comes to workloads and these are likely to bring with them emotional swings too so partners (domestic and/or professional!) beware.

These peaks and troughs can be as a result of seasonal fluctuations, industry trends or even as a result of the state of the economy in general. In my experience, workloads are not always steady, linear processes so the key thing is to prepare for inconsistencies. In busy times stress levels are likely to increase, but slow times also can result in stress levels increasing. As I saw in a recent article on a recruitment job board, “Examine what important tasks will be coming along in the future and ask yourself is there anything you can prepare for now.”

One area I do think will work when experiencing downtime is to use this time productively and this is where planning and evaluating your marketing activity can help. By this I mean, what about using this time to visit existing clients? For too long email can actually over take a relationship so why not organise a face to face with your clients? These types of meetings can strengthen a relationship and may even result in additional business especially if you use these meetings to update a client on changes in their market and/or changes you have made to your products and services.

Similarly, what about using the time to go on training courses? There are lots of courses run locally on anything from Social Media to IT so maybe enhance your skills in certain areas or learn how to adapt your business to other marketing platforms. Maybe use this time to evaluate your marketing strategy; what havent you tried? What is working….maybe even schedule in an appointment with a top level marketing consultant for them to review what you’ve been doing?!

In some creative industries, studio downtime is often a chance to ‘pitch’ for new business or generate new ideas. However, in any organisation, it can be a chance to explore and investigate new opportunities or a new way of doing things.

What does Bath Marketing Consultancy do if I]there is a quiet day or so? Well, I try and write blog articles, update my website, do market research and generally keep myself busy and be productive. I do see existing relationships and being strategic in how you market your business as key areas to concentrate on in a quiet time…..my problem is that I dont get a huge amount of quiet time to do this!!

In sum, dont panic if your workload changes! We all know it is all hands to the pump when it is busy, but make the best use of your time, and other people’s time if you get any quiet time…..and try not to stress too much!

Keep in touch and cross sell

Following a recent discussion on Live Radio Bath Marketing Consultancy participated in, one worrying statistic that came out was that, at any one time 40% of your client base are being targeted by your competitors. This statistic is not only worrying, but it emphasises the need to KIT with them (Keep In Touch).

However, having regular contact with the people who have bought from you not only will help keep them loyal to you, but it also opens up opportunities! So….what type of contact with clients would be of value to them and what initiatives would open up these “opportunities?”

A report on some original research –  What client can resist this type of thing?! Free information is hard to turn down, but what you present MUST be new and relevant. The client undoubtedly knows a great deal about his/her market so make sure that the information you present is of interest and is original.

An in depth analysis of their market – Again, hard to turn down for a client! However, the information you discuss must be insightful and reveal your “intellectual capacity” and understanding of their market!

An invitation to participate in research – The subject matter is critical here, but if it is relevant to the client and if the fellow participants are peers in their sector, the likelihood of them participating is quite high. People like to be flattered so making them feel that their input is valuable is possibly the way to do this!

A critique of current activities – Be careful here, but you are the professional so, in the case of marketing, offering to review certain initiatives might be a good way of drumming up business for yourself as well as demonstrating your knowledge. A good time to offer this might be after a change of personnel at the client’s organisation. Be constructive rather than critical.

You are the expert – If you can substantiate this claim then your client should be listening to you. It is not necessarily about being the biggest in your sector, but maybe offer your services and the offer of a meeting can be hard to resist!

These are just a few pointers to help you keep in contact with your clients close and them away from prying competitors and, by doing some of these initiatives, you might just add to your revenue!

 

More sales please or do I mean marketing?

The word “marketing” has had numerous definitions and interpretations over the years, but, in layman’s terms Bath Marketing Consultancy sees marketing as a process that identifies and fulfills a customer need and this is not to be confused with the word “sales!!”
Yes, selling plays a part in marketing, but making a sale does not fall under the heading of out and out marketing. Similarly, marketing is also not just getting a brochure done or a website designed and built. I see marketing therefore, as much more than just a singular initiative or selling; it is a never ending process that should sit at the heart of every business.

The process of marketing should involve all of the following:

  1. Understanding your market
  2. Building your brand
  3. Planning the business strategy
  4. Managing existing clients
  5. Internal marketing/communication
  6. Winning new business

…….and these elements combined in a well thought out and fully costed marketing (or business) plan will facilitate “sales.” One other important aspect of marketing is that it is not just a quick fix when times are slow. It is a long-term effort that, if committed to, will yield results for your business.

Why “do” marketing??
Recently I met a prospect who told me that their business had got on well enough without dedicated marketing and why did they need to look at marketing now? My answer was that, in my experience, no company can sustain growth without a dedicated marketing strategy and the correct marketing platforms. Yes, businesses and brand can be built on reputation and referrals, but these things are unlikely to go on forever. In addition, every market is full of competition in some shape or form and I would assume that competitors are targeting new clients as well as your own so even a direct mail piece included in an invoice that encourages a repeat purchase could be a very effective piece of marketing.

In sum, my definition of marketing at the start of this post maybe brief, but it must encompass initiatives like winning new business. One area I always advocate to my clients is that of discipline i.e. to facilitate successful marketing may require a change in discipline, but if a business remains focused on what it wants to achieve and employing the correct routes to get there, the rewards are there. For example, how much of a market share do you think your business has? Probably quite a small percentage right? Well, flip the coin over – how much is left for you to get??! How much difference would be made if your share increased by 1 or 2%? Well, marketing and the selling it will facilitate will get you there!

How much marketing consultancy do I need?

This is another question I have been asked recently – “how much of your time do you think I need?”
The answer is, of course, a little like the question “how long is a piece of string??” as, from simply talking to someone over the phone (or via a DM from Twitter!), it is pretty much impossible to determine how much marketing consultancy “time” a company would need.

But……………what if you could bring in someone to go through your business from a marketing perspective to get your company back on the right track or to check that what you have done is correct? What if this person was totally impartial, independent and had nearly 2 decades of marketing experience? What if you could hire Bath Marketing Consultancy for a week’s worth of marketing consultancy for a heavily reduced set fee that included travel, expenses etc?

No need to clock watch!

Well, what I am seriously looking at is exactly this – a week’s worth of marketing consultancy where Paul Tagent would spend up to a week at a time with a single organisation at their offices doing a full marketing and brand audit and basically going through everything marketing related so that an actual, strategic, marketing plan could be constructed at the end of the week.

But that is not just it!

As Bath Marketing Consultancy is a full service marketing consultancy, we could also implement the plan for you (or parts of it if if you wish) for a reduced rate using your initial weeks consultancy payment to off set some of the actual marketing initiatives costs.
For example, if, as part of the weeks marketing consultancy, how the business markets itself online needs re considering to include social media etc, BMC could configure the social media accounts and then train you how to use them.

What do you think? Is this something you would consider? If so, please email me for prices or use the “share” button below.

It’s noisy out there!

To be blunt, it is noisy out there in the market you operate in. If you are in charge of a business or its marketing, collect what you receive in the post or via email in a month and see how much stuff you receive. Some of the larger companies I have worked with conducted this little test and one person presented me with a crate of stuff! Literature had come in all shapes and sizes; from postcards to full glossy brochures, from free samples to letters almost begging for business! Plus there was the trade/professional magazines that had landed on her desk complete with their own advertising, tips, inserts, CDs etc. 

Make some noise!

When it comes to marketing, how are you going to make an impact in an environment that is so busy??! In my opinion, too often marketing plans seem to be put together in a dark room without any real attention being paid to the noisy environment in which they will have to function. Do not take it for granted that the prospect you are trying to get hold of is just sitting at their desk waiting for you to get in touch with them and once you have, they will give you all the time you need to close the deal! 

You must shout to get heard; you must fight for their attention and aim to be remembered. A possible plan should be put together to cope with all the surrounding noise from others. Queue jump if need be to get ahead of others. Sometimes being too polite and hanging back will allow someone else to jump in and get that meeting.

Make your marketing simple, clear and easy to differentiate from the noise. 

Need help? Get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy and we can do a marketing audit for you for a fixed fee.

Why outsource?

When you stop and think about just how much is involved with marketing, you may stop and ask yourself how can you possibly do it all yourself. The answer is that you can’t. Not on your own and especially if you want to cover all your other responsibilities. This is where outsourcing comes in. While you might think this is just a way of paying someone else to do something you might be able to do, don’t. Outsourcing is the best way to bring in an expert to do the jobs that you are either not very good at or simply don’t have time to do.

One of the many reasons why it makes sense to outsource is that it will let you take advantage of the principle that 80 per cent of your value comes from 20 per cent of what you do. If you can put more effort into that 20 per cent, you’ll be able to bring in someone else to do the other tasks you are shedding. As a small business, the temptation to do everything yourself is great especially as outsourcing will normally mean a cost, but don’t forget specialists will actually save you time and money in the long run. In addition, in areas like marketing, a specialist will be able to open doors for you that will bring in business actually helping your business grow and actually make you money.

Outsourcing is all about bringing in the right person or people to do a job that you don’t have the skills to do effectively yourself. In my opinion, outsourcing is a positive step in business as it means that you have identified a possible weakness in your business plan and brought in someone who can turn it into a strength; adding value to the process.

What can be outsourced:

Accounting services
IT support
Marketing
Phone answering
Logo design + other graphic design projects
Website design
Search engine optimization
Copy writing
Producing audio or video
Surveys
PR + promotion

Whatever you outsource, you must find someone who is right for you and your business who cannot only do the job you need, but can do it at the right price. To start the ball rolling, right down exactly what you want and do some research. Maybe ask other people who they use, or use search engines to find what you want. For example, if you want “marketing advice Bath“, put that phrase into Google and see who comes up top – Bath Marketing Consultancy!