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Marketing strategy

Marketing confidence

By Marketing strategy, Nigel Temple, Psychology, Success, Training No Comments

Nigel TempleI have noticed that the word ‘confidence’ has come up in numerous conversations recently. For example, during one of my marketing workshops, a delegate told me that they wanted to be confident when it comes to using software, communicating with their marketplace and updating colleagues.

Where does confidence come from? The simple answer is ‘knowledge’. The challenge is the exponential rise in complexity of marketing arising from the digital age. In the last century, part of my training involved visiting the firm of printers that the marketing agency I was working for used regularly. I spent a day talking to professional printers who had spent years learning their craft. I did not want to become a printer, I wanted to gain a conceptual understanding of the process so that I could liaise between the client and the printer.

Today, many enterprises do most of their marketing themselves. They probably outsource the development of their website and some other tasks. However, once it is up and running, adding new content to their website such as images and routine tasks such as blogging are usually down to them. This means that they have to become adept at using a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress and image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop. What is more, they have to become professional copywriters and get to grips with syntax, idiom, punctuation, grammar and the intricacies of webcopy layout and flow. This is before we contemplate the art and science of SEO.

No wonder that, at times, the person or persons responsible for marketing communications can feel a little daunted. The challenge does not exist in a vacuum. Our lives have become more complex in general terms. A digitised life and economy means that many people are constantly connected to the internet. Software applications, platforms,  communities and tools keep changing, don’t they? New ones arrive on a daily basis.

The Apple iPhone was launched in 2007 and smartphone and tablet usage has skyrocketed in recent years. As I travel into London, for example, it is normal for everyone around me to be glued to a screen of some type. According to Wikipedia, amongst a UK population of 65,511,000 some 68.6% or 44,953,000 people now have a smartphone.  Here is a Wikipedia list of smartphone penetration by country. Apparently, half the UK population now spends half an hour a day on Facebook. The stats roll on and on.

So what are the options for the hard pressed, busy marketer / business owner? They can attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts and read marketing blogs. Alternatively, they can join a community such as The Marketing Compass or hire a marketing coach or marketing consultant if they would prefer 1-2-1 feedback.

Above all, no matter what is happening in our lives, we must keep learning.

Who are your customers?

By Customer care, Customers, Marketing strategy No Comments

The Marketing Compass logoEvery business has a quick answer to this question. When I ask my seminar audiences, they are happy to describe their customers to me. However, I wonder how deep their knowledge goes?

In post industrial fast moving economies, the lines have become blurred, when it comes to trying to pin people down in terms of job title or demographics. In the last century, the paper that I read, my postcode, job title and age would give you a reasonably clear idea of buying preferences. This has become much more of challenge in recent years.

Business to Business: The usual attributes include: organisation type, job title and where they are based.

Consumer marketing: Typical attributes include: gender, age, socio-economic group and where they live (i.e. postcode).

Additional information (B2B and B2C) would include who influences them, and what media do they read, listen to and watch?

Think in terms of a timeline: dormant, current and prospective customers. What are the differences between these different groups?

Questions to ask yourself include: who influences the buying decision? Does your promotional mix reach them? Who makes the decision to buy? Why would they buy from you again?

Many buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. This far outweighs the direct influence of social media on buyers. How can you reach the people that influence the sale is a key question to ask yourself.

An email marketing list can be really helpful – particularly if subscribers reveal information about themselves via a sign-up form. This can be cross referenced to the customer lists within your CRM. Your CRM should have a considerable amount of information about your customers (taking into account the data protection legal requirements).

Surveys can help, however, it can be difficult to get people to help with this. Haing said this, I am amazed by the small percentage of companies that bother to ask for customer feedback. The easiest way to get feedback is via a smartphone, by the way.

Above all, you need to continually talk to customers and meet with them in person. No machine or software program can replace the nuanced information that happens when two people talk to each other.

Finally, try and see your brand, products and services from your customers’ perspective. If you were one of your customers – what would you think of your marketing, service and performance?

Marketing strategy review – 17 questions

By Marketing strategy No Comments

The Marketing Compass logoWhen was the last time you reviewed your marketing strategy? Here are 17 questions to ask yourself:

1.  Do you have an up-to-date marketing strategy and plan?

2.  Do you have clear objectives?

3.  How do you stand out from the crowd?

4.  Are you segmenting your customers?

5.  What are your competitors doing? How should you react?

6.  Does your market positioning need to change?

7.  Do you have new products / services in development?

8.  Are you pricing correctly?

9.  What is your geographical footprint?

10. How do you communicate with customers throughout the buying cycle?

11. How could you get more customers to come to you?

12. Do you have an integrated digital marketing strategy?

13. Are you taking advantage of the revolution in smartphone usage?

14. Does your marketing budget need reviewing?

15. Is your website working for you?

16. What are you measuring, with regards to sales and marketing?

17. Are your marketing results improving?

Nigel Temple offers a strategic marketing review service.

10 new product questions to ask yourselves

By Marketing strategy, Products No Comments

Do you have new products or services planned or ready to go? If not, you may be able to hear a warning klaxon going off in the background.

Products and services go through a natural life cycle. They are thought of, created and launched. Some of them succeed and go onto maturity, before eventually declining and being removed from the marketplace.

If you have a number of successful products / services on your hands, it is all too easy to forget about the future. After all, the cash is rolling in, customers are happy and you have a successful business, don’t you?

The challenge is that technology keeps changing, new competitors are eyeing your success with great interest and new threats are materialising, either around the corner or around the globe.

At least once a quarter, take some time out to think about new product ideas. Incidentally, I believe that services should be ‘productised’, so we will use the term products to include services.

10 new product questions

1.  Current products: could they be made smaller or larger?
2.  Could you combine two of your products together?
3.  Could you adapt one of your products in a new way?
4.  Could you substitute a component or service element?
5.  Could the product be put to another use?
6.  Could you rearrange the product in a different way?
7.  How would the product be used in a different country?
8.  What if we doubled the price?
9.  How could we add value this product?
10.  What could be removed from it?

When I run a new product workshop or a product marketing in-house training session, I ask the delegates these questions. We use Post It notes and Mind Maps to create a flurry of ideas. Typically, 1 in 10 of the ideas are interesting enough to be taken forward. Some famous name products have been created as a result of these workshops.

Creative thinking for marketers

Does your team understand your marketing strategy?

By Business, Marketing strategy, Startups No Comments

Have you ever wondered whether your team understands your marketing strategy? By ‘team’ I mean everyone in your enterprise.

Does it matter if they are kept informed? Surely marketing should be left to the professionals?

1. If you do a lot of marketing,  your colleagues are going to get asked about it, aren’t they? Can they articulate your key messages and why your enterprise, products and services stand out from the crowd? Who knows who they are talking to and who they are connected with, via social media?

2. Some great ideas come from people who don’t do marketing. If you work within an established company, the list could include engineers, IT people, sales professionals and back office staff who have served the company for many years. If you work alone or in a small enterprise, ask your mentor, a family member or a supplier. Let them know what you are doing and ask for ideas and feedback. Not everyone will participate, but some of the ideas may well surprise you.

3. If you work in a larger enterprise, at least once a quarter provide a marketing update session. Within startups and SMEs this should be at least monthly, as marketing, brand recognition and new sales enquiries need to be top of the agenda.

Keep people up to speed with your marketing campaigns, social media posts, advertisements, direct mail shots, email campaigns and PR coverage. An easy way to do this is within a monthly e-newsletter, in that you can link to relevant pages and posts within your website. Within MailChimp for example, it is easy to include a PDF within a campaign.

When you need your colleagues’ help, i.e for case studies, company videos, ideas for blog posts or some written content, they will be much more likely to help you.

If your team understands what your objectives are, if they can see that you have a structured approach to marketing, if you let them know about media coverage, website visits, email open and click through rates, advertising coverage and the number of sales leads that you are generating, they are more likely to be supportive and on your side, during the ups and downs of the marketing journey.

Are you trying to grow your business?

By Marketing strategy, Startups, Success No Comments

I realise that this may strike you as an odd question. Surely most commercial enterprises are trying to grow, aren’t they?

For various reasons, this may not be the case.

For example: “We are running as fast as we can just to stay still.”
Or:
“We don’t really do any marketing. Customers find us via word of mouth.”
“We spent a lot of money on advertising and it didn’t work. We are not doing that again.”
“I don’t have time to do all that marketing stuff. All of my time is spent solving problems, trying to keep customers and staff happy, dealing with suppliers and doing the accounts.”

If you wish to grow your business, what are your marketing numbers? These include:

1.  Target turnover figures for the next three years.
2.  The number of customers that you will have in each of these years.
3.  Marketing spend as expressed as a percentage of gross sales, per year.

Do you meet with your team (or a mentor) at least once a month and talk about company growth and the issues that surround it?

Do you keep track of your website stats, email open and click through rates, in-bound calls and other relevant marketing metrics? Do you know how many sales enquiries you receive per day / per week / per month?

If you have clear objectives and measure your progress towards your goal, you are much more likely to get there.

You must feel motivated to grow your business. It must be something that excites you – otherwise you won’t do all of the thousands of actions that are required over the long term to make it happen.

Remember that: “Whatever gets measured, gets done.” ~ Peter Drucker

Strategic marketing thinking

By Marketing strategy No Comments

It is all too easy to spend your time fighting the day to day battle, isn’t it? If you are running a business or a marketing department, finding the time to think can be a challenge. From time to time, it is a good idea to take a step back and think about your marketing strategy.

Do you have a written marketing plan? This should be separate from your business plan. Key topics include your marketing objectives, customer segments, key messages and points of differentiation. Going through the process of writing a marketing plan makes you think about the time, money and effort that you are spending on marketing and how you could improve results in this area.

Strategic marketing thinking is not urgent. Which is why it can slip to the bottom of your todo list. Gradually, the business environment changes around you; new competitors emerge; prices change; and new technology is launched. What is your response to these changes? A marketing plan can help you to think it all through.

My services include a Marketing plan training course during which I provide feedback on marketing strategy, digital marketing and the big picture.

Marketing Software Map

By CRM, Internet marketing, MailChimp, Marketing strategy, Technology, WordPress No Comments

Here is a Marketing Software Map:

Marketing Software Map by Nigel Temple

The central red circle is your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system). There are thousands of CRM systems available to you. Key issues to consider include: 1). Is the CRM easy to use? 2) Will your customer facing team actually use it? 3) Does it integrate with your newsletter system, i.e. MailChimp?

To what extent does information flow between your website, your CRM and your email marketing campaigns? Within the above diagram, the dark arrows represent software connections where information flows automatically, without the need for re-keying.

The objective is to have a single, integrated system that helps you to increase brand awareness, attract new customers and learn about them and their preferences. The software within the Marketing Software Map is either free or inexpensive. The tricky bit is making it all sing in tune and appealing to customers.

The skills required to build your Map include a knowledge of marketing strategy, software, copywriting and creative thinking.

I help enterprises of all sizes to build their own Marketing Software Map.

If you would like to find out more, email me or ask via The Marketing Compass.

I train and give talks on The Marketing Software Map. Email Joanna if you are interested in this.

Differentiation: How to stand out from the crowd

By Creative thinking, Marketing strategy, Success No Comments

As a human being – you are unique. You are one of a kind amongst billions of human beings.

Think of your business in this way. What is special about it? What makes it truly different from your competitors? The business guru and author, Michael Porter, says that there are only two fundamental business strategies: Low Cost and Differentiation.

For example, there are many retailers out there who promote low prices. This is fine – as long as they can sustain low costs. However, many new retailers focus on low low prices and go out of business fast fast fast.

The other fundamental strategy, is ‘differentiation’.  Another way of saying this is: ‘Standing out from the crowd’.

The first question to ask is – what is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

This was a term coined by Rosser Reeves, the copywriter who eventually ran the Ted Bates advertising agency in New York. Once you know your real USP, there are many things which you can do to make your enterprise stand out from the crowd.

Here is one way in which you and can figure out your USP. Set aside half a day to do this exercise. Gather together a team of people to help you.

You will need lots of large sheets of paper. Start by writing down the answer to the following question:

Why do our customers buy our products / services?

If your team is familiar with Mind Mapping, this would be a great way of capturing their answers.

As the session progresses – your job as facilitator is to use the Socratic method of probing deeper and deeper to find out the real reasons why people buy from you. Socrates would never accept the first answer which people gave him. He kept on saying, “Yes – but why is this the case?” If you do this in a consistent, non-confrontational way, you will be amazed at what your team comes up with.

You need to deepen the enquiry to cover all of your products and services in all of the vertical, geographic and other markets which you sell to.

The second half of the session asks the question:

Why do companies buy from other sources?

Step three is to cancel out the ideas / answers which are the same for your company and the competition.

At the end of the session – the answers which remain for your enterprise will reveal your true USP. If you don’t have one – this is the time to start thinking about creating one.

Once you have decided what your USP is, distil the answers into one single corporate USP. Your mission is to then tell your prospects and clients about it.

Keep educating them about why you are so special.  Once you’ve told them – tell them again.

Written by Nigel Temple, marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author.

Market what you deliver, not just what you do

By Marketing strategy, Psychology, Success No Comments

Bananas - photograph by Nigel TempleThink about what your enterprises does. “We sell these products,” or “We provide these services” you might answer.

Now think about what your enterprise delivers. The answer to a problem or problems? The best service available? Convenience? Confidence? Trust? The best price? The best quality? Added value? Relevant, useful information? Something else?

Imagine that you sold bananas to supermarkets. On the one hand, you are selling an edible fruit with a (usually) yellow rind. On the other hand, if you are good at what you do, you are providing bananas of a consistently high quality which arrive on time. If there are any problems, your customer knows that you will do your best to sort them out (which engenders trust). In other words, you do a lot more than just selling fruit.

Any product or service can be differentiated. This can be done by telling stories. For example, did you know that bananas are grown in 135 countries? Pick a country and you will soon have stories to tell about the farmers and the supply chain.

Within ultra competitive marketplaces it takes a creative mind to find the stories and tell them in imaginative, engaging and compelling ways. Much of digital marketing, for example, comprises words (i.e. this blog). The challenge is that if you are running a business, when do you have time to “be creative?” Sorting out day to day problems, dealing with people and keeping the cash flowing can occupy every waking moment.

Here is an idea for you. Why not join The Marketing Compass …and I will show you how to make your business stand out from the crowd. “All the marketing advice you can handle for £10 +VAT per month.” Now that’s truly bananas, isn’t it?