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.
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!
Marketing is multifaceted. The suite of marketing tools available these days means there are a wide range on offer for you to place what you do in from of clients and prospects. To me, these “tools” can be categorised into 6 key areas which are –
Cold calling (canvassing) – Appointment making rather than selling
PR – This can be press releases and/or public relations
Advertising – Online and offline, both fall under the heading of paid for publicity
Direct Marketing – Not just direct mail but selling direct to customers rather than through a 3rd party
Print – Company brochures and literature
Conferences, seminars, exhibitions – Placing your skills and services in front of an audience
None of the above should be used as a singular entity or a solus route to a successful marketing campaign. In my opinion, all of the above could and should be used when developing a holistic marketing strategy. Each initiative must be used for the right purpose, with the right objective, at the right time, for the right target group.
I appreciate that the 6 above could be added to, but I didn’t include telesales as this is more about making a direct sale over the phone than the Cold Canvassing indicated in my list. There are cross overs between the skills required to sell a meeting and to make a physical sale, but the intrusion factor is quite different!
Similarly, there are other marketing related initiatives such as offering free samples or special introductory price offers and I haven’t included the wonders of client entertainment, but I don’t really feel I have much to offer here. Obviously taking a client or prospect out and plying them with alcohol or food at a sporting event can play a very lubricating role in your sales and marketing process, but it is really a form of bribery!
Think about what your marketing objectives are. These objectives have to be business related. Aiming for a date to retire or an annual turnover figure are more personal objectives really. Once you set your objectives, allocate a budget and a timescale. Plan what you want to do and more importantly why. Not everything you do will be a success so prepare to test activities and remember, you are unlikely to be an expert. There are good companies out there who can help!
The more you look around, the more it becomes evident that most service professionals are alike in relation to winning new business. You may be not be a marketing person or working within marketing services. You may be an accountant, an architect or a solicitor, but whatever the title and sector, we all have tangibles services to offer. Too often these services remain hidden secrets.
This must change!
We must make our services known. We must make our audience aware of our knowledge base and
experience so that our new business suspects could become business prospects and business clients. In every sector competition is fierce and everyone is clambering for attention. Most prospects will find it hard to differentiate between us and find it tricky to understand what the offers are so they need to be marketed to.
Prospects deserve to be spoken to in a professional, informative and considered way. Advertising is everywhere these days. On petrol pumps, on a screen in the post office, on the back of toilet doors, on buildings or even in the air so how do we decipher who is who and what is what?
People play a vital part when deciphering who is who. How may times do you meet the person before the company and say that he/she was so and so from somewhere? Similarly, how a company presents itself, the messaging it uses and the language it employs are also contributory factors. This is called……………the company “Brand.”
I think “brand” is one of those words that is widely used but never 100% understood. What does “brand” mean, and how has the word’s application changed over time? The first definition of “brand” is the name given to a product or service from a specific source. Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark.”
However, a brand is not just a logo or an icon. It is what the company stands for. It is the name. How it acts. How it makes people feel. Getting this right and marketing it correctly will ultimately influence whether a business succeeds or fails.
Yes, I am a marketing person and marketing people always go on about the importance of marketing, but take your time before rushing out and buying a cheap website, having a logo designed from an online store for $10, setting up Facebook and then hitting the networking groups. There are companies out there that can help you get it right first time. Yes, they charge, but that is what they do. They are called marketing companies. They are not called advertising agencies, website design agencies or social media agencies. These are likely to be companies “specialising” in 1 or possibly 2 areas of marketing and not the whole suite of marketing techniques.
We receive a lot of enquiries from people who have set out of the traps with their marketing only to regret it 12-18 months later. Cheap can be very expensive so do your research. How do the marketing companies you talk to present themselves? What is their “brand.” Do they speak your language and ultimately, are they nice people who you’re going to get on with?
We are here if you need us and are happy to meet people at our offices for a free initial conversation.
Well, January is out of the way. Phew………and………breathe!
How did it go? Were there any changes in your market? Are there any new players in town? What did you decide to do?
One area that will constantly need addressing, updating and auditing is your marketing. Nothing stays still for long in the world of getting your name out there. Whether Google decides to unveil any more challenges or whether there are other platforms to use, marketing is a constantly evolving process. It’s not a singular event or a boxed ticked. Similarly, it shouldn’t have an end; just a start and a middle.
Maybe in December when you had 5 minutes, you may have constructed a list of initiatives to implement and maybe even planned ahead, but will this plan still be applicable? What if there is someone new operating in your space? What if you’ve taken someone new on who might have some ideas?
The list of ways you can get your message out is a long and sometimes complicated one, but our advice is don’t panic! What we very much advocate is evaluating what you’ve done and testing new methods. For example, just because you advertising in a certain media in 2014, does this mean you repeat for 2015? No. Consumers like to be tested and challenged. They like to see something new and exciting. They don’t want to see an old typeface in a quarter page advertisement containing a stock shot. Originality + keeping your message modern are 2 key elements.
We are not saying that each year should come with a re brand. What we are saying is that it might be a good idea to look at your logo or your website or even your sales material to really gauge whether it is time to update any of it.
Marketing companies also need to stay on top of uncertainties in technology as well as invest in their skills and/or personnel. Maybe, if you’re using one, 2015 could be the time take a look at what else and who else is on the market?
I’d like to say that marketing is the be all and end all when it comes to building a successful business, but one of the most important part of a business is its people. Focusing on figuring out what your customers need and giving it to them in a cheerful, helpful manner goes a long way in business.
Think about why you do business. Think about the type of person you want to do business with and where you want to do it. For example, do you eat at a particular restaurant because the hostess remembers you or you have a favourite waitress who provides great service? Do you shop at a clothing outlet even though you suspect they’re more expensive that other outlets? People tend to buy from people they know and like and are sometime prepared to pay more when the overall “experience” is pleasurable.
When it comes to marketing and expanding your business, being consistently good at providing what is most important to your customers (i.e what it is they actually buy from you) and being someone your customers truly like will go a long way. It will also most likely facilitate referrals by them thus helping you grow. In fact that there is nothing as successful in marketing as a good reputation traveling fast!
I have lost count of the number of times I have felt frustrated by people selling to my company without investing time to ask questions or to research what we do and our clients. A lot of sales people automatically assume that making a sale is dependent on price. It isn’t. The experience of working with someone and the extra mile they go can make all the difference.
Even if you do business entirely online, that is no reason to ignore valuable offline marketing methods. Order signs or bumper stickers and put them on your vehicles. Consider advertising in free and inexpensive classifieds such as local directories.
Use business cards, fliers, promotional materials, thank you notes and other printed items. Consider going to meet-ups or live events. If you do, give people you meet something interesting to remember you by.
Promotional products that have a useful purpose can keep your business name in front of your clients a long time.
- 85% say they do business with the advertiser
- 88% remember the name on their products
- 91% have promotional products in their kitchen
- 74% keep products in their work areas
- 83% say they want to receive promotional products
- 53% use their promotional products weekly
- 47% keep them for more than a year
Might be a good time to speak to Bath Marketing Consultancy?!
As the struggle to get your business noticed continues, have you thought about local listings?
Basically, if your business has a physical presence, you must get it listed in all the major local directories. Quality directories are still important. Google just changed the name AGAIN. The new name is “Google My Business”. (Old names were Google Places, Google Plus Local, Google Local.) Google has the lion’s share of searches so this is your priority.
|Listings in Google|
Make sure you use exactly the same name, address, and phone number on every local listing. You can also upgrade your listings with images, videos, mentions of cities and counties you serve, categories that apply, coupons and deals.
Beyond Google there are many more local listing opportunities like Thompson local, Free Index . These are valuable links you can easily get that will help your business site or blog rank better. Even if you are an online only business, if you have a physical location to use do not pass up these listings!
When dealing with prospects, there is often an overwhelming temptation to talk about what interests you, i.e the features of what you are “selling” or the mechanics, rather than the benefits that should accrue to the prospect as a result of working with you. As a professional, features will interest you. As a potential buyer, the prospect may share your interests, but equally may well be solely interested in the end result. It is your job therefore, to make sure that your message outlines those benefits in a clear and concise way….a sort of “and this is what you can get” rather than a “and this is what it will do.”
For a number of clients, going into detail about the actual mechanics of what you do could work against you so I suggest you keep them in a black box only to be opened if requested. If you follow this type of approach, it will allow you to adopt a sort of “laddering” approach with your marketing; moving from feature to benefit with transitions such as:
“..and this provides you with….”
“….which means you’ll be able to ….”
“….allowing your company to….”
My suggestion is that you try this out; practice it when running marketing initiatives and always remember to use the word “you” or “your company” which are words for that personal focus. Your marketing should be about reassurance and keeping things simple!
If you need any help, get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy…..