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Off the Edge

Off the Edge is a marketing blog  written by Sharon Wilding and Jim Hunt of THE PURPLE EDGE and occasional featured guest authors. It aims to provide thought-provoking and useful content on marketing and business issues. Please feel free to comment on our musings, and if there are subjects you want to discuss further then please get in touch.

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Social media for B2B SMEs - Don't waste your time

Social media for B2B SMEsWe all know about social media these days.

We're all at it. It's unavoidable.

We all know that it can be a great way to develop relationships and get and keep our brand out there.

We all know we need to be engaged on behalf of our companies.

We simply got to be on social media.

Haven't we?

Most of the businesses I come into contact with are B2B - business to business, they sell products or services to other businesses. Not all of them, but definitely the majority. They are all interested in social media and how it can help them. The problem is, though, that finding examples of successful campaigns run by B2B companies is hard. Finding examples of successful B2B social media campaigns run by SMEs is even harder. I know, I've tried!

Check it out for yourself - try a Google search and see what you can find.

Even when examples are quoted the measure of success is not one I would be happy with. Basically the success is in terms of likes/shares/website visits. Now don't get me wro [read on...]

If you mean no say no - not yes!

Yes, no or maybe?Recent experiences have prompted me to search through the archives for a blog I wrote a couple of years ago about saying no. I'm so frustrated with having to chase suppliers who I think should be chasing me, the customer! My plea - if you don't want the business please stop wasting my time and yours and say NO!

Why can't people say no?

I don't believe people deliberately aim to waste my time - but that they prevaricate through some misguided sense that they are being nicer or kinder, or maybe they are really kidding themselves that they will fit the work in somewhere?

An old boss of mine used to refer all the sales calls he received to me: "You need to speak to Sharon. She makes those decisions. Here's her number." When they contacted me I knew that my most likely response would be, "Thanks but no thanks". I was open to their approach, would listen and give it fair consideration, but if there was no real opportunity or likelihood that we would give them any business then I wou [read on...]

Should you use marketing lists?

Bought lists - yes or no?I read an article today entitled "Why purchasing Email lists is always a bad idea". It was created by Hubspot who are a company I have a lot of time for. They use content marketing extensively and usually it's good quality.

The arguments they used for not using purchased lists briefly are:

  1. Most reputable email marketing platforms don't let you used paid for lists
  2. There is no such thing as an email list that's for sale - people with good lists don't sell them
  3. People on a list you've purchased don't know you/have a relationship with you/want to hear from you.
  4. Deliverability and your reputation will suffer

The approach they recommend is that you build your list gradually over time through personal contact, search marketing, content marketing and other such "legitimate" methods. It's what is termed 'permission based marketing' - the recipient has given you permission to communicate with them.

The argument for sticking to permission based methods is based on two main thing [read on...]

Could you use a nudge?

Need a nudge?This summer, when I wasn´t immersed in the court of King Henry VIII (courtesy of Hilary Mantel), I was reading the book Nudge, by Thaler and Sunstein

Having been published in 2007 I realise that I´ve come late to this party, but it´s a concept that I´ve long been aware of and, now finally having read the full book, I can see evidence of all around me. The presentation on the new pension rules that I attended recently now makes much more sense (although it fails the test of simplicity that they strongly advocate)!

It´s a book I would strongly recommend to all marketers, as it marries product innovation and message creation with human behaviour. Humans, as most of us are well aware, are often not the rational, clear thinkers that we would like to present ourselves as. And this knowledge has implications if you are creating new or improved products or planning campaigns. 

The Nudge authors advocate what they term ´Libertari [read on...]

The Top 8 Ways To make More Time For Marketing

make time for marketingOne of the most common reasons given for not getting to grips with their marketing is that business leaders can't find the time. Despite good intentions, real life gets in the way. We all know that we should spend more time working ON our businesses than working IN our businesses, but life isn't always that simple.

Here at The Purple Edge we're not immune either. We recently decided that a project we conceived several months ago just wasn't going to progress unless we could devote a lot more time to it so we started researching ways to create more time. What we found were mostly things which we sort of knew already but we just forgot about when up to our ears in "real work". 

We thought others might benefit from a refresher too, and maybe we'd uncovered a few things which might be new to some people, so we thought we'd share them. We've done the research so you don't have to!

So here goes with our top 8 ways to make more time for marketing (or other important things you wa [read on...]

The 5 Golden Rules of Website Design

5 Golden rules of website designWe've been spending a lot of time recently working on websites. Some sites we've built for client some we've been trying to improve.

It's no surprise that websites take up a lot of our time. Every business has a website these days. Google is the main place buyers research their purchases. If you don't have a website that appears reasonably high up in Google for the thing you do then you are missing out on the opportunity to tell your story to a large community of potential buyers.

The thing about websites though is that although every business has one many of them are not very good. Now I need to be clear here. When I say they are not good I don't mean they look bad, or that they don't have lots of clever functionality. I mean that they don't pull their weight. They don't effectively help the businesses grow.

There are many reasons why this might be the case and I can't address them all in this blog but there are many, many sites that fail in some pretty fundamental areas. Is yo [read on...]

Is outsourced marketing for you?

Yes, no, maybe to outsourced marketingOutsourced marketing is our core business. We promise to take the hassle out of planning and implementing marketing activities, for those businesses who don’t want/need fulltime, in-house expert resource.

Experience of providing this service for the last 7 years has taught me, however, that outsourcing is not for everyone. Here are some of the client issues that we come across regularly and that can make it hard to make outsourcing work:

1. Not staying engaged

By far the biggest problem is a client who, breathing a huge sigh of relief that someone will take away the burden of marketing from them, slowly disengages from the whole process.

Marketing is a critical business function, on which the success of the business depends. If, as the boss/leaders of a business, you abdicate responsibility completely such that any marketing activity that can take place is not linked to the rest of the business plan, then it will fail.

As marketing experts we can only give our best advi [read on...]

5 Essential Rules of Marketing

We’ve just completed another round of training and have had the pleasure to meet and chat about marketing with a wide range of small businesses.

People commonly face the same problems – not enough time and not enough money! They also commonly adopt some of the same habits and misconceptions about marketing. I’ve boiled these down into 5 Essential Rules of Marketing.

When you’re overwhelmed and unsure what to do, take a deep breath and focus on the following:

1.       Always start with the customer

That should be start with, and end with, the customer. The customer that is specific to you, the one that has the problems that you can solve, and will appreciate the value of what you are providing.

Segmentation (splitting the market into smaller groups with common characteristics) means that you can target more effectively and efficiently. You need to be able to describe your ideal customer groups by size, geography, gender, ag [read on...]

Are newsletters a waste of time?

News I spend quite a lot of time on email newsletters - planning, writing, creating, even reading. Email newsletter sending has grown a lot because it is seen as a very cost-effective way to get a message out there. But I started to wonder recently whether they really had a place in the days of mass, bite-sized, real-time communications.

I'll come clean and say I don't have the definitive answer to this question as I don't have the resources to carry out statistically significant research - but I'm happy to share with you where my thinking has got me, and would love to hear what you think too!

First, my observations

Open rates declining

Or not improving. Does that mean the newsletter is a bad idea? Not necessarily - it could be that the content is becoming tired and predictable, particularly if you have a very stable audience/mailing list. In which case it is time to reinvent your newsletter before you abandon it completely. In Mailchimp's own tests (Mailchimp being a very popul [read on...]

Setting and measuring marketing objectives - are you doing it right?

Marketing ObjectivesWe've had a busy few weeks, working on our clients and in meetings, putting together proposals for new clients and creating a marketing seminar which we ran today. 

Now, with a bit of breathing space, I just wanted to share with you a theme that pulls a lot of this activity together.

The seminar we ran today was aimed at explaining why many businesses don't get results from marketing, describing critical factors for success, and outlining a marketing system that is very successful at building more business. It was a half day session which we ran twice. The feedback was fantastic and I'm sure people went away with something they can use in their own businesses tomorrow!

Anyway, in the morning session we had quite a debate about measuring marketing effectiveness. There were a couple of people on the seminar who, while not cynical about marketing, were suspicious about the value because it is difficult to measure marketing effectiveness.

To be fair they have a point. Marketi [read on...]