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 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...]
Outsourced 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...]
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...]