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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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Christmas - a boost for charities?

Raleigh InternationalDecember each year brings the debate about whether to send paper Christmas cards or just e-cards or, my preferred option, a combination of both!

This year, as my son is fundraising for his volunteer trip to Tanzania, I have been wondering if charities really do benefit as much as is promised by the rash of e-cards all proclaiming that "instead of sending cards this year we are giving to charity".

I've Googled it, of course, but couldn't find any specific information on whether charities have benefited from the switch from paper to data. What I did find was a lot of articles on how little money ends up with charities from the packets of cards sold in the high street in the name of charity, so it is possible that any additional donations from sending e-cards will have helped!

Indeed, if you do want to send paper cards the advice was very definitely buy cheaper cards and give to the charity direct, or buy your cards direct from the charity to be certain that your donation is real [read on...]

How irrational pricing can work for you

Heart price tagIt's peak shopping time and, for some businesses, peak sales time. But there are some interesting findings coming out of recent behavioural studies experiments (mainly US based just because they have so many more consumers!) that it is worth knowing about when you set your prices.

We tend to believe we make rational decisions most of the time. That we are pretty good at weighing up the evidence and making a smart choice. But are we really? Here are just a few of the interesting responses to being presented with different priced choices that you might find of use in your business:

  1. There are, apparently, 3 different attitude-groups that describe customer spending behaviour: 24% will be tightwads, 61% unconflicted (average) and 15% spendthrifts. A small change to the language you use in your pricing can make the tightwads more likely to spend. A trial of the cost of overnight shipping on a DVD compared payment of "a $5 fee" with "a small $5 fee". The second option sold 20% more [read on...]

Overcoming inertia

Overcoming inertiainertia
noun
a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged

Inertia is - by definition - a passive state, often with negative connotations. Human beings have evolved with a bias towards preferring the status quo and change can involve a lot of effort. It can be a lot easier just to stick with what you know!

Reading an article about brand loyalty this week, brought it home to me how important it is for marketers to understand the power of inertia to work for them as well as against them.

Inertia means loyal customers

So, it's important to recognise that there are times when inertia can work in your favour, so inertia is not necessarily a negative thing. Maybe you can rely on your customer's inertia to keep them buying from you? In which case why would you want to overcome it?

When it comes to existing customers you do want to encourage that natural tendency towards inertia - not by putting in negative barriers to leaving or switching (such as long contracts with punitiv [read on...]

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...]