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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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...]
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...]
We'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...]
Last week I attended a day-long seminar on digital marketing. As always, a day out of the office away from the task-list was a great chance to focus the brain more effectively on different matters. I learned nothing I didn't know already - but it was powerfully wrapped up in a single storyline, and I had the time to think about all the concepts more deeply.
Being about digital marketing there was a lot of talk about websites and a bit about Google rankings - but not as much as you might think.
It's a commonly held belief that to have a successful website (i.e. one that delivers its objectives) you need to be at the top of Google. And of course that makes sense - you need to be found and if everyone's using Google then how else would they find you?
But it's less commonly understood how you get there, although there are plenty of companies to advise you on exactly that - including us of course. The mantra is SEO (search engine optimisation). Trying to learn what factors about yo [read on...]
Have you ever said anything that you thought was really funny but no one laughed?
It happened to me last week. I know you'll think that odd 'cause you know I'm a funny guy, right, but it's true.
Here's what happened. We were at a friends house for Sunday lunch. We had an excellent meal and a glass or two of wine and the conversation ranged far and wide. At one point our hostess talked about an ex-boyfriend who was a nice chap but completely off the wall. He was very creative but easily bored and as a result had quite a chequered career history. When our hostess met him he was a magician but he had previously sold insurance and been a postman and a fireman.
At this point I said (prepare yourself because this is funny - parrot sketch funny), "Blimey, a magician, a fireman and a postman. What was his name, Mr Benn?"
Now I'm sure that those of you of a similar vintage to myself will find this hysterical. The assembled throng however were not impressed. Rather than the gales [read on...]
I gave a presentation at a Channel Chamber event a couple of weeks ago which went down very well. A number of people came up to me afterwards and said how useful it had been. As is often the case with these sort of things, I don't suppose what I was saying was completely new to people. I wasn't deafened by the sounds of scales falling from eyes. Sometimes we fall into bad habits and it's just good to get a reminder of what we should be doing.
Anyway, I offered to document what I'd talked about and send it to them. It occurred to me that others might find it useful and so here it is a blog about ......
See what I did there?
Businesses need A.I.R.
The first thing I want to get across is that just like human beings businesses need AIR.
The messages we give about our businesses firstly have to grab the attention of our target market - make them sit up and take notice. Next they have to create interest in what we can do for them and finally they ha [read on...]
Since I first wrote about the Government’s Growth Voucher scheme I have seen the sum total of ZERO publicity about it (except in the emails to the registered advisors). I can’t believe they will successfully get rid of the £30m budget they have for the programme at this rate!
On the plus side, however, we have our first client with a voucher to spend, which has helped us understand a lot more about the process.
To recap, Growth Vouchers are part of a research programme aiming to find out if small businesses grow faster when they take strategic advice in key business areas: HR, IT, Leadership, Finance and, of course, Marketing. You have to be in England, been trading for at least one year, have 49 employees or less and have not sought strategic advice in the last 3 years.
You apply online and, if you meet the qualifying criteria, you are randomly assigned to an online questionnaire or a face-to-face interview to identify which business area you would benefit fr [read on...]
Regular readers of these blogs will know that lately I've been quite calm and measured. I haven't let my hair down and had a good moan about anything for ages.
Well that's about to change.
let me tell you about yesterday.
My partner had booked on to a a 90 minute teleconference run by a marketing guru but had been made a better offer so she suggested I listen in. It sounded like it should be interesting and useful so I agreed. It's always good to keep up-to-date and to hear other people's ideas and interpretations. I'm a firm believer in continuous professional development.
Then I discovered that it was being hosted from San Francisco so it started 8.00 p.m. UK time. "Oh well" I thought. "If I learn one useful thing it will be worth missing the UEFA cup for."
Next I discovered that it was dial-in only - no webcast. "Blimey!" I thought. "How much will a 90 minute call to the US cost?" But still it sounded like it would be worthwhile so I updated my Skype credit, got myself [read on...]
Sure, there are other important things you have to do to run a business - manage your finances and people for example. But without marketing you have no customers which means no business!
We've had the following argument (sorry discussion) with many businesses over many years:
- I don't do any marketing
- Yes you do
- No, I don't need to, I get all the business I need from xxx - OR well, I tried it once, it didn't work so I gave up
What these conversations reveal is deep-seated confusion about what marketing is - and that (since everyone that has a business with customers is doing marketing) there is a lot of unconscious effort going into it. Which is fine if you are getting the results you want and hitting your goals.
If not it's time to get more conscious!
Marketing is everything you do to create satisfied customers profitably - that is people who pay for your good/services and who are prepared to keep coming back for more! Of course, there are variations on t [read on...]
Have you ever thought that getting in the paper would be good publicity for you? Have you had great successes - or struggled? Although it has the attraction of promising to be free, public relations, and more particularly press releases, can be a rollercoaster emotionally to get right!
Public Relations (PR) specialism of marketing. This is the discipline that endeavours to position your brand positively in the mind of the public and particularly important stakeholder groups. There are a number of ways of achieving this but the use of the press and broadcast media communicating positive stories is probably the most common and well understood one for SMEs.
The great thing about news stories is that they can get you coverage without you having to pay for advertising. It's not all good news though. Since you are not paying for the publicity you can't control the message. Many a business has found that its carefully crafted press release has been taken and a completely different a [read on...]