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!

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!

 

SEO is not just a box ticked

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.

Need marketing expertise, why not invest in yourself….and your business?

I have always found that winning new business is something that is actually quite complicated as  marketing-expertiseit 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.

Direct mail or do you mean direct marketing?!

Direct Marketing

Let’s just clear up one thing to start with…do not get confused between direct mail and direct marketing! Direct Marketing is NOT direct mail! Direct marketing is a marketing method and direct mail is just one of the media available. It traditionally formed a large part of direct marketing, but it has now been overtaken by press and TV advertising who display a response device like a dedicated Facebook webpage.

I feel direct marketing is a key element to business growth and the main objective of the activity a business undertakes should be entice the prospect to emerge from your “warm prospect” list and respond so that you can start a conversation which will lead to a meeting which will lead to a problem-solving conversation, a first job and eventually a business relationship.

But….do not forget existing clients. If you have got something new to say, or something new to offer,  then they should be the people who hear from you first. After all, existing clients should be the fertile ground for your marketing and should be the group that are most likely to respond to a cross sell or an additional product or service!

Remember when you are trying to generate a response that there is not “ideal” per cent response rate – just the profit per reply calculation. However, if your direct marketing does elicit a  response, you must react promptly to the requests that come in.

But…..before you can even think about response and profit, prospect or existing client, you must face the biggest challenge of direct marketing – your own database/mailing list. 

If you are considering direct marketing and need some help, get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy.

Create Content for SEO

Having quality content is a fundamental requirement for all websites if you want them to perform organically within search engines. There are probably 3 main considerations when looking at the wording you use that will influence SEO-driven content:

1) You must be as prolific as possible in your content creation.
2) You must balance the speed with which you create content with the highest possible quality of that content as possible.
3) You must also have an effective promotion strategy beyond onpage SEO + possibly some sort of link-building strategy for the content you produce.

Write original content.
In Bath Marketing Consultancy’s opinion, try to write content that is likely to attract links on its own and make sure that the content is written to a high level of literacy and is at least 300 words per page (more is often better). Also, if there are pages within your site where the content is written by someone else within your organisation, if possible, give them access to that page so that they can control the relevancy of that page.

By applying these initiatives, you will have the high quality content you wrote yourself and another part of the site that is kept fresh by other users.

Always try and make your content original and compelling and be warned, if you copy content from someone else, search engines will eventually detect that and will penalize you by removing your pages from the search engine rankings all together.
If you need help, engage a dedicated copywriter like The Copysmith in Bath….(or talk to a marketing company with a good track record in SEO about your online marketing requirements!)

Why hide things? Be transparent!

……..why hide things indeed and what exactly would I be hiding?!!

Be clear!

The reason for this post is to share some experiences which have helped cement client relationships for me in the hope that it will reassure you that there is nothing wrong with being transparent in the way you work.

For nearly 20 years I have been working in the advertising and marketing industry and in that time I would like to think I have learnt a great deal…….. I will also admit that I have made some mistakes, some bigger than others!

At a previous “agency” I was taught to say “yes” to every client request and then worry about how to deliver it. For example, “do you do xyz” or “can you help me with xyz” ? Basic questions, yes,  but the agency in question didn’t have strengths in areas like SEO and therefore it was outsourced……unbeknown to the client. We then took the credit for the work marking up the actual suppliers cost. This is actually quite common in my industry and it made me feel very uncomfortable.

When I set up Bath Marketing Consultancy, it was my aim to deliver the best marketing to each client and if that meant I couldn’t physically deliver a certain initiative, I would work with an associate who is better at it than me. Why hide this from the client and pretend that it is me doing everything? Surely no client would expect you to be the best at absolutely everything so tell them what you are doing and the benefits they will have from this situation….??!

In another “coming clean” scenario, I have previously put a proposal to a client based on an initial brief, done some more detailed research and market analysis and then discovered that I could actually do the job better and cheaper if I did it differently – sometimes meaning a cheaper re quote. I could have kept quiet, but I informed the client and the result was real appreciation and gratitude.
Both the above scenarios demonstrate that it never hurts to be clear in how you work and what resources you employ. In my opinion, people buy people and, like any relationship, transparency is key.

If you cant do what you want, find someone who can. After all maybe that particular door will swing both ways and, you can also tell the client that, because of your connections and relationships, you can bring in an expert to help you solve his problem saving him/her time and money. In addition, if you feel that you have to back track from a proposal, be honest about why and outline the benefits to the client. I am confident that this will lead to a long and lasting relationship.

Does any of this strike a chord? Do you have any similar experiences?

What is marketing all about?!

To me marketing is not just about making sales or having a glossy brochure as a leave behind, it is about following a number of initiatives that all work together producing clarity about your USP and facilitating business growth.
To clarify this, below are what I feel, the process of marketing should include:

1.Winning new businessWhat is marketing all about?!
I still feel that 5 or 6 initiatives should be running at one time and that each new initiatives needs testing. For example, do you use cold canvassing? It can be incredibly successful

2.Understanding your market
How well do you know your market? What sort of experience do you have from your contacts? Is there potential to do a real SWOT analysis?

3.Brand building
My personal favourite. Ensure you use a mix of corporate id, advertising, PR, sponsorship, SEO, corporate literature etc. All of these are great brand building elements so use them, maybe in connection with visibility at seminars, networking or conferences.

4.Plan your strategy
Make sure you know exactly what you are doing withyour business or marketing plan. Are you the sole driver in this or can you outsource?

5.Managing existing clients
Put in place manageable deliverables and some way of monitoring activity.

6.Internal marketing
This might not be something that you need if you are a small business, but internal communications and training are essential.

Some might say that marketing is a bit of an obsession for me, but how well do you know your market and your position within it? How much more turnover could you make if you increased your market share or were on more radars?

Too often marketing is a knee jerk reaction to falling sales rather than a planned process. In a crowded market place, you must shout to get heard. You mush shout to get noticed and to be remembered. Jump in and take control or someone else will. Make sure you have a simple, clear and differentiated offer.

After all, there is nothing worse than seeing some other business/organisation doing really well when you know your offer is better. Don’t let it happen!

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.

Social Media Optimization

Ranking high on major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing is not a paid endeavour, but rather a combination of factors, including:
• How long your Web site has existed.
• How much traffic your site has.
• How relevant your content is to the term being searched.
• How many relevant links you have, inbound or outbound.


To fully understand the wherewithal’s my suggestion is to firstly add analytics to your website. What is analytics? It is a code that your web developer can insert into the html template (before the ‘body’ tag) that allows you to actually monitor how traffic arrtives at your website. It also allows you to see what the browser did when on your site, what percentage of browsers pressed the dreaded ‘back’ button, what terms were used to get the there etc etc. Put simply, this free tool is essential in SEO and SEM.

More Traffic
Once the foundations have been laid (see a previous article), a well-crafted SEO campaign can really make a difference to driving the right sort of traffic, but more and more techniques are being developed every day. One of the emerging techniques is Social Media Optimization (SMO). SMO is a great way to amplify the strength of an SEO campaign. It uses social media to promote a site. And with a vast number of social media sites being developed, SMO is the future of SEO.

There are a number of sites that spring to mind when constructing SMO, but YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are the major players. These three sites are commonly used by browsers for search functions and there are already arguments that Facebook is fast becoming the number one source of referring traffic— even ahead of Google.There is already a foundation for social media, since almost everybody has social media profile or a YouTube account. The browsers are there, and it’s just a matter of turning them into clients.

If you need help in this key area of marketing, please get in touch with me by emailing paul@bathmarketingconsultancy.co.uk or by filling out the contact form on my website.