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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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The businesses who missed the point

MarketingI know we're well into 2015 now but I'm going to say it anyway. New year - same problems.

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I am prone to a rant or two, so won't be surprised to hear that I've been banging my head against a brick wall already in 2015. I would pull my hair out if I had any. I'm told that my smooth cranium is a genetic trait rather than a result of too frequent frustrations but, well, I don't know...

"What is it this time?" I hear you say. "What is the cause of this frustration and banging of head?" Well sadly it's nothing new.

Today, dear reader, a tale of two businesses that missed the point.

As usual, no names no pack drill and, as they say at the start of all the best movies, any similarity between this tale and real life businesses should be considered coincidental (despite the fact that they are real and if you think you know who it is please keep it to yourself).

So the first business is a start-up in the entertainment sector - in the broade [read on...]

Achieving goals takes practice

Practice hitting the target

Where did January go? I’m already staring the middle of February in the face but it feels like Christmas was 5 minutes ago!

For many of us, by the time we get to February the New Year resolutions are history – broken and scattered on the floor. I admit I'm struggling to meet the aspirations I had as 2015 set sail, but this year I am focused on the goals and determined to be kinder to myself if I don’t succeed immediately.

That’s the thing with goals – they are there to inspire us to achieve, but have to be challenging. Only minor goals (such as the January Dryathalon – which I didn’t even attempt by the way) would have been achieved by February.

I need to be prepared to put in the practice if I want to hit the bullseye!

To achieve a goal you need to have a plan

Maybe, like us, you did take stock of your strategies and plans in January. Looked at what you had achieved in 2014. What went well, what didn’t go to plan and, mo [read on...]

The 12 Marketing Days Of Christmas

Merry ChristmasAs a thank you for reading our blogs and newsletters this year we want you to keep on reading as we bring you the marketing version of the 12 Days of Christmas!  

It seems only days ago that we were welcoming in 2014 and here we are on the brink of ushering it quietly out of the tradesman's entrance whilst we roll out the red carpet at the front door for 2015.

We'll no doubt have some time over the holiday period, in between searching for creative things to do with left-over turkey and searching through the Quality Street tin for the overlooked green triangle hidden amongst the spurned toffees and fudge, to look forward to the coming year. Look out for a slightly portly and over-indulged blog soon.

But first, we'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and profitable New Year as you have a nip or two of your favourite Christmas tipple and sing along - you know the tune. 

 

The Twelve Marketing Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas [read on...]

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...]