Category Archives: Marketing

Just general thoughts about marketing

Marketing Messages – Getting to the Point

Regardless of the type of business that you run, your customers will have one thing in common. As a result of technology, they are bombarded by marketing messages. Customers are more time-poor than ever before so if you want your marketing communications to stand out, you should consider cutting down the length of your messages and getting to the point.

 

Identify the message that matters most and make sure it’s memorable. Marketers have known for decades that there’s value in identifying and driving home the most important point or benefit. It goes all the way back to when the best businesses began to identify their unique selling proposition (USP) for every client.

 

The difference today is the way that viewers and readers consume media. Today’s reader or viewer is overwhelmed with an astounding number of media choices and channels. In fact, consumers are exposed to so many messages that they notice fewer of them. Here are a few tips to help you get your point across.

 

Focus on what is most relevant to your customers – Focus on what your target audience see first and outline what is most important and relevant to them. Avoid the temptation to use that first impression to deliver what you or the management team finds most interesting, unless you’re also the target audience.

 

Write active rather than passive sentences – Active sentences are more vigorous and put more life into the message. Here’s an example: “We deliver shipping services to clients nationally.” This is much punchier than saying “Shipping services are delivered by us to clients nationally.”

 

Avoid jargon – Try to avoid formal, overly corporate language. Where possible avoid using big words with several syllables. The business world is now very much a global market and English may not be your customer’s first language.

 

Make it about them – Use the words “you” and “your” much more than “I” and “we.” If you catch yourself saying “I” and “we” a lot, then you’re talking about yourself too much. Get back to being focused on your reader and their needs and concerns.

 

Be concise – If you can say something in 10 words don’t use 120 words instead. Cut out the fluff and keep your message concise. Remember, your potential customer is time-poor so you need to keep the message relevant.

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MAKE AN ‘ABOUT US’ VIDEO

Most websites have an “About Us” page to provide visitors with information about the business such as who the Directors are, where the company was founded, its values and its mission.

Incorporating some video content can really bring the business to life and make it more real to website visitors.

A good ‘About Us’ video is a powerful and valuable tool that can be used in many ways, from marketing and branding to recruiting and educating. The ‘About Us’ video can send a strong message about the company, its values and what it does for customers and staff of the firm.

Search Engine Rankings

Google and other popular search engines like video content. Adding video content to your site which is relevant to your firm’s area of expertise will help your firm to rank higher for related search terms. By adding new video content and updating videos regularly you will continue to influence your firm’s ranking positively, thereby making it easier for customers to find you.

Marketing
Your brand is much more than your logo or corporate colours. Your brand is what your customers say about you and your business. Along with the homepage, the ‘About Us’ page is often one of the most visited pages on a website. Visitors want to know about the people behind a product or service and obtain a deeper understanding of the people they will be dealing with if they choose to engage with the company.

Recruitment
When people hear about a company’s job vacancies, they will visit its website and check out the ‘About Us’ page. Having a video that prospective applicants can watch is a great idea, as they can get a feel for the company including its values and mission. An ‘About Us’ video can also be used to communicate the achievements of the firm’s staff, the business’s approach to corporate responsibility, community engagement, diversity, etc. These are the things that create the culture of your firm which is very often what makes people want to work there.

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REMEMBER YOUR CLIENTS – OR THEY WILL FORGET ABOUT YOU

Just because you’re good at what you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll get referrals for new business. Many business owners know that the best source of referrals is from satisfied clients. They go about doing great work and making their customers happy, then wait for the referrals to come in.

To a degree this works, depending on your business and its reputation in the market. However, this alone does not generate enough new referral work. The problem is that receiving referrals is more important to you than giving referrals is to your past clients. Clients may love working with you, but may be too busy to pass your name along.

Asking for referrals is a good place to start. You might mention it in a phone call or email as a natural part of the work you do together. You can have a form on your website or in paper form that clients fill out when they start work with you. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you have integrated it into your business system.

If you don’t remember past clients, they certainly won’t remember you. When you stop working with a client, they don’t have a reason to think about you anymore. If you want them to remember who you are, keep in touch with them. This is easy to do with ongoing clients. If you work with them every month, they will naturally remember you.

Stay in touch with former clients with regular email marketing, an invitation to an annual client event or perhaps a message through social media. You could consider following them on Twitter as they may follow you back.

The key is to keep in touch with previous clients through scheduled email / marketing. Quarterly or twice yearly contact is often enough, and don’t forget to ask for a referral. Make sure you get the message right rather than being too pushy. Something along the lines of, “Business is going well. We are always looking for more. If you would like to refer a friend or contact to us we will look after them as well as we looked after you…”.

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MEASURING PR

Public relations (PR) is hard to define and sometimes even harder to measure. The most succinct definition is that it is a management function that executes a specific plan of action that deals with an individuals or organisations impact on public interest through its procedures and policies. PR also evaluates public attitudes.

The ways to do this could be as simple as writing and releasing a press release or something more complex like direct media relations. PR involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work as well as public activity such as community relations, crisis communications and public press conferences.

It can sometimes prove challenging to try to evaluate the effectiveness of a strategy. Over the years, the steps to analysing the effectiveness of a PR strategy have changed and become more refined.

PR can be measured on 3 levels:

1. Outputs
This is the contact and response level. Measurement often involves determining the impact of a press release on media channels. Frequency, visits, prominence, reader contact, journalist inquiries and message impact are all considerations of outputs. The best way to measure outputs is to assign a scoring system. Base it on your target audience’s tone and reach, as well as how well the message was delivered and if it included an endorsement or recommendation.

2. Outcomes
This term describes perception and behavioural levels, dealing primarily with knowledge, opinions and attitudes. When evaluating outcomes, the impact on target groups is measured through recognition, awareness, recollection, recommendations and purchasing intentions. The best way to measure outcomes is to use already existing material. You can use free online tools such as Survey Monkey to survey your target audience. Simply add a couple of carefully thought out questions to the survey to help determine if any of your PR activity is affecting awareness of your firm, encouraging purchase decisions etc.

3. Business results
Business results refer to the added value of a PR campaign. This includes impact on sales levels, revenue, reputation, brand value and market share. Most businesses measure these levels, etc. through their finance department. The data can be analysed to determine if a PR campaign has had a positive impact or not.

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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) AS A PROFILE RAISING TOOL

Whether establishing a business-charity partnership or organising for a group of staff to volunteer in the local community, CSR is part of being in business. CSR is a great way to engage your staff, build teams and fulfil your business’s role as a responsible part of the wider community. Large businesses often run substantial CSR programmes but small firms can contribute by engaging with local charity events. Charity isn’t an obvious profile raising tool for businesses but it can be a great way of increasing your profile in the market while conveying a positive image as a good corporate citizen.

Think Local
If you are a local business, your customers will want to see you supporting the local area. Charitable organisations are often funded purely through donations. What’s more, they often need help with more than just finance. A nice way to support such charities is to allow your staff to volunteer some time (say 1 or 2 days per year) during work to help out with the charity’s activities. Alternatively, if some of your team are sporty, they could run a marathon to raise money. They could write about their experience in the local newspaper or a relevant business journal, giving give the business and the charity some good PR off the back of the event.

Stick with what you are good at
If you want to build the profile of your business in a particular sector, you could try to support a relevant charity which you would like your business to be associated with. For example, if you offer accounting and taxation services to the social housing sector, then you could help out a social housing charity as part of your CSR programme. This would help to raise the profile of your firm in this market, while at the same time giving your business and your people the opportunity to engage in CSR.

Go with what you believe in
You may think that there is nothing you can do to help, but if there is a particular charity that you believe in then contact them. If you are passionate and enthusiastic about the chosen charity your firm supports, this will come across when you talk about it. It will make good reading in the local newspaper while generating some PR for your firm at the same time.

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HUNGER MARKETING

A hunger marketing strategy is simple to operate. The business brings products to market with an attractive price to lure potential customers then restricts the supply, resulting in an imaginary shortage that can raise prices and therefore generate higher profits.

“Branding” is a factor that runs through the whole hunger marketing operation and the strategy must rely on a strong brand appeal. The ultimate effect of hunger marketing is not just to raise prices, but also to create higher added value for the brand, in order to establish a high-value brand image.

The best example of a “hunger marketing” strategy in action is probably Apple. When they launched new versions of iPhones and iPads, the devices offered innovation, great design and the latest technology to a trendy, fashion-conscious audience. Apple “was not able” to provide enough supply for the market which made customers want their latest devices even more.

Creating Resonance
Good products need the recognition and acceptance of consumers. The campaign must tap into the emotional side of the customer relationship. Returning to the Apple example, consumers enjoy the perceived benefit of increased social status if they have the latest device.

Creating the Right Campaign
Hunger marketing campaigns are designed to tap into customer’s desires. Depending on the size of your brand and your marketing budget, your campaign should illustrate benefits that your customers aspire to possess. This is where knowing your customer comes in. You need to understand your customer before you can create a campaign that will appeal to them. Market research is key – ask customers what they want from products / services like yours and what brands they aspire to purchase and create your campaign accordingly.

Consider the Market
The activity of competitors in the market can affect the impact of your campaign. As such, it is important to monitor your competitors’ marketing strategies in order to ensure that you can distance your brand from the competition. Focus on delivering services or products with unique selling points (USPs) and then focus on those USPs in your marketing campaigns. Remember to sell the benefits of the product or service rather than selling the product or service itself.

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GOOGLE WALLET – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

With a full launch of the Google Wallet app due in the UK soon, many businesses are starting to consider how they might use the technology to attract new customers and make life more convenient for existing ones.

So what is it and how does it work? The technology essentially allows your smartphone to take the place not only of your credit card and/or debit card, but also selected loyalty cards, gift cards, coupons, and more. It has the potential to bring to an end pockets of overflowing loyalty cards that require lots of stamps that eventually allow you to have (for example) a free coffee.

Google Wallet has also been designed to allow users to buy things simply by tapping an NFC-equipped phone on a pay-station. However, with a limited number of manufacturers and shops offering this technology (and the fact that the iPhone doesn’t have NFC), it seems that most people aren’t familiar enough with its operation to make it attractive or worthwhile.

Online shopping is where Google Wallet is potentially going to take off. Using the new “Buy with Google” button, users can make purchases online without having to fill in card details and address information; it really is possible to place an order with a single click. Amazon pioneered this method with the appropriately named ‘1 Click’ and this concept is similar.

Google Wallet is therefore perfectly placed for busy customers targeted for impulse buys and repeat purchases. However few online retailers are using the required button, making it a relatively niche feature. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design and implementation of Google Wallet. However, the success or failure of the service will be determined by the ability of Google to build relationships with online retailers, as well as getting more NFC pay points into large retail stores. Google certainly has the financial and technical capability to make this happen and if it does, businesses who adopt the technology should benefit.

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