Google loves new and fresh content and as business owners we are always wondering how we can create “awesome content”. Let’s be honest content marketing is hard. But most of us make it harder than it needs to be.
Often we seem to put our energy and resources into small gains, instead of focusing our attention on the simple changes that make a huge difference. So for help and guidance, check out some content marketing tips that I have picked up and want to share with you. If you put this lot into action, you will be able to create clever and compelling content that both Google and your target audience will love.
Top Content Marketing Tips
21st January 2019
In the last few years, I have noticed a worrying trend. Loyalty seems to have become less important as consumers have more power and greater expectations and are being presented with increased choice, competitive pricing and comparison websites.
In addition people in general are less bothered by upsetting brands or people as long as they feel they are getting a deal or there is something in it for them! So if the loyalty mind-set has shifted to value, savings or just financial rewards, where does that leave your marketing?
Not very many years ago when you had a client that knew, liked and trusted you, that used to mean they were locked into using your product/service or brand for a while. But now, that’s no longer the case and that seems to have left some businesses floundering and unsure what to do next.
Authenticity and meaningful experiences
To me, it’s all about being authentic. Real, honest and engaging are the words I would use to describe how brands today need to appeal to their buyers of tomorrow. In order to earn loyalty you have to create a meaningful experience with your customers. What do I mean by this?
We live in an experience-driven world. Consumers gravitate toward those experiences that provide them with the stimulation they are looking for. People have become sensitive about how they spend their time and what inspires them to do so. If a brand focuses more on trying to sell consumers their products/services rather than finding ways to creatively engage with them and solve a need, their brand will not survive.
Who do you trust?
So in a week where I heard a lady at a networking event refer someone to a business that does social media management (where she gets a referral fee) when her friend stood next to her and also offers social media management, it seems as if even those closest to us cannot be trusted to “big” up our businesses when there may be something more attractive (usually financially motivated) options making them behave differently!
Be true to your values
My advice is simple. You win some and you lose some and you have to make peace with the fact that not everyone you meet holds the same values as you do! Loyalty may have died, but if you are the type of business who puts their customers first, practices honesty and authenticity and who values interaction and encourages engagement, you will be fine, just as long as you follow my quick marketing 1, 2, 3.
1. Treat customers well
2. Be transparent
3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
7th January 2019
Your marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Done properly it will drive your business and also maintain it. It might sound obvious, but reviewing your marketing content and the activities that you are doing frequently is essential.
For example when was the last time you checked that your online details were correct? Whether your brochure copy accurately details what you do and if your membership directory listing is 100% right? If the answer to any of these questions is last week or last month then well done. But if the answer is several years ago or never, then you might want to think again. Spending just a few minutes on a regular basis checking and changing information about you and your business can lead to a raised profile, which in turn can bring in new leads and/or new customers.Read More
Marketing is organic
What you need to remember is that any marketing that you do is organic and that change is happening all the time. Whether it’s new competition entering your marketplace, a change in customer perceptions or market trends, improvements in customer service and/or timing implications, you need to be prepared to act quickly and adapt what you are doing.
What works for you one month, may not continue to yield the same rates of success. And by assessing and analysing the results and seeing whether you are against your marketing strategy/plan you should be able to enhance campaigns and activities to increase targeting and conversions.
Not an exact science
And although it pains me to say it, marketing isn’t an exact science. Just as instant results are great to have but should never be expected, marketing can behave differently from one organisation to another so in order to be able to take back control and be proactive, you need to think honestly about:
Whilst learning from the positives is good, it’s also essential to learn from the negatives so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. But don’t just try activities for a few weeks; focusing on an activity for between three-six months is long enough to see if it has had an impact.
Know what’s working and what’s not!
So to conclude, make sure you review your marketing plan during the year and assess how it’s performing. This should be at least once every six months and ideally once a quarter.
At the review, check whether the activities are working and the objectives are being met. If they are not, then by reviewing part way through the year it gives you time to do something about it. You can then reallocate scare resources (i.e. time and money) to those activities that are working and reduce the time and money spent on activities that are not working. By building in a regular review it ensures the plan is a ‘live’ document and does not just sit in the office gathering dust!
17th December 2018
It seems that you can’t go anywhere without someone asking you to complete an online, phone or text survey detailing your experiences of their product, service or company. Two recent examples make me shake my head with frustration.
Firstly, after a recent doctor’s appointment a text arrived asking me whether I would recommend my doctor's surgery and secondly, after a coffee in Costa, along with my receipt, came another piece of paper which advised me to go online and “take a moment” to fill out their survey. And the cashier assured me, after she had told me her name, that if I did do the survey I would be entered into a draw to win £500.
Needless to say, I didn’t do the survey. And my reasons were not churlish or centred around a lack of time. No my reasons for not wanting to take part were quite practical. I saw a doctor and ordered and all was as it should be. I didn't feel that either activity needed to be over analysed and rated. I had a need and it was met, that is basic market economics, not a cause for interrogation.
Welcome to the survey train
So why has everyone got onto the survey train? And are the benefits of customer surveys suffering because of the overuse of them for the most basic of transactions? I say yes, but I can’t help but feel I am in the minority. Because if everyone was as annoyed as me, then I’m sure that the pop-up windows, random texts or emails and pesky bits of paper would quickly disappear.
According to global survey company Survey Monkey, they help their clients to collect more than 2 million survey responses daily. That translates to billions of surveys per year. But it seems as if there is an awakening of consciences amongst some companies who feel that customer surveys might not be as helpful as initially thought and they could actually be damaging their brand and here’s why:
Recent research found that:
Is your survey marketer or customer centric?
Essentially, many surveys are executed poorly and are often not the right vehicle for establishing dialog and involving customers in positive brand building, plus most surveys are marketer-centric, and designed to satisfy business curiosities and justify marketing spend rather than illuminate the hearts and minds of customers. So with customers suffering from survey fatigue and wanting to see a clear connection between survey responses and subsequent business changes, what’s the solution?
In my opinion, it’s time for some serious changes and a different way to collect customer feedback and monitor satisfaction levels. For a start, you need to look to prioritise opt-in participation; dramatically reduce the number of questions asked; refocus on open-ended feedback and, most importantly, respond and prove that you are taking feedback seriously. Or you could do that old-fashioned thing of just asking people face-to- face or over the phone!
Online is not the answer!
And don’t think that because you are offering feedback opportunities via social media channels that you’ve got it sorted. Research indicates that customers would much rather share their opinion directly with a brand than on social media. Nearly 75% said that, following a bad experience, they would first tell the company itself using email, phone or feedback. Less than 3% would go directly to social media.
This indicates that people are more discreet than we often think, and that they don’t like to be seen as whining or complaining. They are willing to give brands a chance to make it right before they start to make their complaints public. In many ways, social media is a forum of last resort. It is a customer service channel designed to put out the most burning of fires, and doesn’t serve the same function as direct customer feedback. So next time you want to ask your customers what they think of your product, service or company, think about different ways to ask them directly and maybe you'll yet the responses you want!
10th December 2018
Whilst studying for my Diploma in Copywriting with the Institute of Copywriting many years ago, I was fortunate to have a brilliant and helpful tutor who remained a firm believer in the “ less is more” concept of writing.
I remember when he marked my first assignment I remained absolutely fascinated by his hieroglyphics at the side of the page, which included such classics as:
“so what?”, “research”, “relevance”, “one not ten”, “me, me, ,me”, “count” and “who cares?”
Initially I took these comments quite personally until I plucked up the courage to ask him what they actually meant. Below are the meanings and whilst they took me a while to get used to, they are now part of my bible of copywriting. Regardless of whether you are writing for websites, articles, adverts, brochures, radio, TV or direct mail letters, these comments are as true today as they were over 18 years ago!
Here are my 7 golden rules for great copy:
So next time you are writing something remember by 7 golden rules of copywriting and you won’t go far wrong. Alternatively if you would like someone to do all the clever thinking and writing for you, then hire a professional and qualified copywriter.
26th November 2018
It’s worth remembering that whilst your customers see and benefit from the results of your external communications, for complete business success you must not forget or forgo efficient and effective internal communications too.
Effective internal communication is essential for the smooth running of any business, both to convey your company culture and values and to stay on top of employee concerns. It is also one of the key intangible factors leading to high performance. Where communications work well within an organisation, you'll find that frontline staff are empowered to deal with issues as and when they arise giving the customer a quicker response time and a much better experience. It makes excellent financial, as well as business sense, to resolve any customer query at the earliest possible point.
To illustrate this point clearly, I recently had a meeting with a prospect. The prospect company had four offices and at the meeting was a representative from each office. As we worked our way down the agenda it became clear that each office were doing things slightly differently when it came to the handling and implementation of internal communications. The result, as I am sure you can appreciate, was very disorganised. Because as we all know, internal communications need to come from the top down, not the bottom up.
Open, honest and consistent dialogue
Internal communications can take many forms, via an intranet, emails, newsletters or message boards. But when it comes to important issues, it should always be two-way, preferably face-to-face. Monthly company-wide meetings can be a good way of keeping everyone up to date with what's going on in each department to ensure that all important consistency. Success comes from an open, honest, consistent dialogue throughout the organisation where opinions and ideas are listened to and valued.
Every internal communications programme will be different. It will reflect the unique set of circumstances faced by each business. For the successful implementation of an effective internal communications strategy, you need to follow the seven steps below:
1) Align your internal communications with your business objectives
2) Audit your current activity
3) Clearly define roles and responsibilities
4) Select the appropriate communication channels
5) Listen, listen and listen again
6) Develop honest and consistent communications
7) Invest in training
Is your business ready?
All organisations use different mechanisms to communicate internally. The challenge is to ensure that what you communicate is closely aligned to your business objectives and that how you communicate can be easily heard so that your staff are engaged, motivated and prepared for the changes, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Capturing and listening to feedback both formal and informal can have a hugely positive impact on culture and performance and can help take your organisation from good to great.
7th November 2018
I recently met with the owner of a large engineering company who was desperate for help with their marketing. Over the years their interaction and engagement with the outside world had dwindled and they were losing an increasing number of sizeable orders. Employee morale was quite low, there was confusion amongst management about the key priorities and finally the business seemed to have lost its way when it came to displaying any commerciality.
Now any marketing professional worth their salt knows that the main problem with this business is not one that can be easily fixed. They also appreciate that marketing may not be the best solution to get this company back in the game.
But when I spoke to the owner he was firmly of the opinion that upping their marketing spend and the number of activities they did was the only option he would consider as that’s what a business coach had told him the week before. At this point I had a choice. Go with it and encourage him to spend lots of money to blitz his market place with a plethora of messages or simply tell him the truth.
Can you handle the truth?
Being Yorkshire lass with oodles of integrity, I told him the truth. Who amongst you can remember that immortal line in A few Good Men shouted out by the brilliant Jack Nicholson – “You can’t handle the truth!” Well I think that this might have been an understatement in this situation as the business owner simply shut down in front of my very eyes. I know that no one likes to hear negative things about their business, but sometimes it can help. And in this case what I saw was a complete lack of business planning, totally ineffective internal communications, confused leadership and management styles, plus unsupportive processes and systems that were hindering rather than helping the business. Needless to say my services weren’t required!
Don't be strung a line!
Now I know that I’m known for my honesty when it comes to telling it like it is, but I would rather be talked about for my honesty, bluntness and integrity than being labelled as a money-grabber. I say this like there are only two options, but seemingly I may have stumbled upon a real problem in my profession. In the last few months alone I have met people who have effectively been strung a line when it comes to marketing consultancy, as they have been told “what you need to do is” or “you know what you need” and all without the marketing person taking the time to do some basic due diligence and ask the right questions.
Personally, I would rather walk away with my head held high, than be someone who takes money knowing that what they are doing will not fix the problem or is not the right solution for the business. And if that makes me seem weird or not very commercial then so be it. If it’s a choice I’ll stick with my integrity thanks, because that’s just who I am and what I want my brand to be known and respected for.
25th October 2018
We have all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters”, and in the past I probably would have agreed. But lately I have been seeing people with the “right” connections, setting up in in business without the knowledge part. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion. And whilst I cannot knock their creativity, enthusiasm or single-minded determinedness to succeed, I find myself wondering where this will lead.
Let’s face it, none of us wants to go to hospital for an operation and be treated by someone who has no medical training or education. And being political for a moment, career politicians are just as bad as they sit in their Whitehall offices advising businesses and big corporates on policies when they have never run or owned a business, or in most cases ever even worked in a business themselves!
In my eyes, reading a book or doing a weekend training course is no substitute for experience. And interestingly in some cases hard work, research and industry experience are being side-lined in the quest to make quick money and/or for people to make a name for themselves as an “expert” and “go-to person” in their industry.
Some people amongst you may think that my views are old-fashioned and that I should embrace modern thinking and you might be right. But in the marketing world, I come up against these “pretenders” all too often and it’s very disheartening to find yourself pitching against them for client work. Because unfortunately sometimes in the client’s eyes we may look similar as we claim to be their all-encompassing marketing solution. And when they make their final decision on who to work with, you can find yourself losing out because of their lowers costs and the bewildering nature of their industry spin, jargon and promises.
I have clocked up an impressive 17 years in corporate marketing, plus an additional 8 years of running my own business. And during this time I have come across and dealt with most marketing issues, situations, mistakes, challenges, as well as a multitude of difficult clients, weird demands and downright unrealistic expectations. So now when I pitch for the business, I am supremely confident that I have the right working knowledge and experience to help and guide them honestly through the marketing jungle, so that they can achieve the right results. But can the same be said for the “pretenders”?
Price is no indicator of quality
Six months ago I lost out on some business because the client choose a cheaper option from a full marketing services firm who were fresh from college and had been trading for less than 12 months. I was graceful in defeat, but couldn’t help but smile when the client called me last week to look at other marketing options, as it transpired that the appointed firm had not been able to deliver what they had promised because of a general lack of client understanding and marketing know-how.
And again at a networking event earlier this month, I met another marketing firm who talked a good story but when asked about their credentials they looked a little wrong-footed. So my advice is this, if you want to be taken seriously, then you need to pitch in some time effort and hard graft. Because whilst your fluffy proposition will have a certain appeal to some prospective customers looking for a quick fix at the right price, you must remember that in order to compete effectively in the long-term you and your business must actually stack up.
5th October 2018
We’ve all met those pushy people at networking events who use smoke and mirrors, tips and freebies, as well as offers and carefully crafted stories about “happy clients” or “wonderful business wins,” to tempt new prospects into parting with their hard-earned cash. And then months later the pushy person is no longer to be seen and the prospect who became their client is unhappy with what they received – value, service and results-wise.
So what makes these people tick and why are they dangerous?
Essentially we are talking about people who are motivated entirely by money. They want new customers for their fees, not to provide them with all the things that they have promised. And whilst they don’t set out to be dishonest, they are liberal with the truth and use phrases like “I know what you need” and “all your competitors are doing it, so you need to.”Read More
How can you spot them?
Years ago they would have been the ones handing out business cards and brochures and calling you the same day or the next day to hook up a meeting. But the “Pushy Prospect Pursuers” of today are a little more savvy. They surround themselves with people who like them and think they are doing something amazing and then use their often limited knowledge and significant amount of charisma to talk up what they do and how they can improve your business in several easy steps. In essence they are the people who talk and never listen, who have the perfect solution for you, but don’t take the time or show any interest in funding out if it’s your perfect solution too.
What’s the process?
But their focus is almost entirely on generating new business, as they don’t seem to care about customer service or having happy clients, which is just as well as they don’t usually have many. Essentially they take your money and do the least amount of work they can in order to deliver the bare minimum of what they promised. And if you question them or ask for more, they will look at you like you are from another planet and then blame the economy, the market, the industry, essentially anyone but themselves. That’s of course if you can get hold of them, or even see them again, as they have a habit of dropping out of networking groups and or other places where they might end up being questioned about their apparent failings. So in the end it is you who feels guilty for continually chasing them and you’ve given up on asking about your unmet expectations as the answers are not very forthcoming. So to stop yourself from feeling you have been knowingly used, you decide cease working with them and just move on.
Sound familiar? Well I have a solution for you. Before you engage someone to work with, I would suggest you do the following three things which will put your mind at rest.
For help with your marketing from someone with good listening skills, readiness to understand what you want and an ability to never tell you what you need, together with regular feedback, communications and genuine results, get in touch today.
17th September 2018
One of the main changes in marketing communications in the last 5-10 years has been the decline in formality. Nowadays we seem to be almost too familiar with everyone, customers, prospective customers, suppliers and business partners.
People call, email or write to you and before you’ve even thought about it, you’re on first name terms with someone you don’t know and in some cases are never likely to speak to again.
Now maybe I am old-fashioned and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but I don’t entirely feel comfortable being addressed as Vicky or worse still Vik by someone I have never met. In the old days, potential sellers were keen to find out your title first, before even thinking about launching into any first name nonsense. And there was also less frantic rush to sell you stuff.
Essentially, in the 1980’s and even the 1990’s there seemed to be some kind of unspoken conventions that people abided by that kept sales and marketing on the straight and narrow. However, thanks to rapid technology advances, the acceleration of social media and the breaking down of basic communication rules, we have by-passed all the niceties and often find ourselves going straight into the cut and thrust of business.
I agree that I need to get with the times, but sometimes I long for the Dear Mrs Boulton and the “Yours sincerely” sign off of old. So if it’s increasingly acceptable to use a more casual, conversational tone in marketing communications and more and more companies are writing the way they talk, how can we be sure that we are getting the right balance between a chatty neighbourly tone and one that conveys professionalism and competence?
Below are my 5 top tips for making sure that your communications don’t offend.
1. Do your research – be prepared for the people you are speaking to and tailor your communications to meet their needs.
2. Don’t assume everyone wants to be on first name terms – ask them what you should call them
3. Take your time (& ditch the aggression) - develop rapport and understanding first before you try to sell anything
4. Listen more than you talk – believe me you will always hear something useful
5. Thank people for their time, their order or for their information – everyone loves to be appreciated
So whether you are on a sales call or sending a direct mail letter, remember not everyone is the same and when you understand the importance of treating people differently, you will get better results from your marketing activities.
3rd September 2018
Having been working in marketing since the early 1990’s I’ve seen many things come and go and to be honest nothing that my industry does surprises me.
However as a user of social media, I have watched it grow and dominiate people's lives, giving some a feeling of misplaced power and authority when previously there was none. As a result, I have come to almost despise its very invention, and whilst I fully understand and appreciate the benefits, I know that for every success there is a wealth of failures and disappointments to report.
Shot down in flames
Take my experience of last week when I commented on something in the news on Twitter relating to my industry. I proffered my own opinion and was immediately shot down in flames by a follower, and others who jumped on the bandwagon, not because my opinion was wrong, but because my opinion was at odds with theirs! This made me cross on so many different levels. Firstly it’s my opinion and there’s not a damned thing anyone else can do about it, but secondly it illustrated to me how far we have fallen in our blind need to be accepted by our peers.
This is not the first time something like this has happened to me, but this occasion has made me rethink how we communicate and whether social media is helping us or hindering us. Originally designed to be a useful marketing channel, I am now questioning whether it’s possible to successfully convey your opinion, values, authenticity and personality using social media without causing offence, inciting others and/or just generally feeling guilty or inferior?
Have we become vacuous?
Of course I get the positives of social media, but in light of my recent experiences I have been studying the negatives. So whilst it’s great to connect and communicate with lots of people quickly both locally and globally and have a level playing field for business I wonder if it has also made us quite vacuous. But on the following points I think social media is a great big fail – so read, enjoy and remember you have been warned!
Bad things to come from social media:
So my advice is be careful, considered and cautious. Social media is just one channel of marketing, not the be all and end all. Used correctly, and as part of a coordinated strategy, it can help with your marketing efforts, but used badly and you run the risk of alienating or annoying people so that they feel justified (unfairly or not) to have a go!
20th August 2018
You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that we are all operating in a nation of narcissists? From attention-seeking celebrities to digital oversharing and the boom in cosmetic surgery, narcissistic behaviour is all around us and is a growing obsession that should not and cannot be ignored.
Nowadays, everybody wants to be a brand and every brand wants to be a person, so what’s marketing’s role in a culture of celebrity?
A Brand’s Role
Brands were once the cornerstones of our consumer culture. But with the growth of social media, customers are now both producers and consumers meaning that marketers have a new role to play in building and developing brands. In essence, thanks to an increasingly self-obsessed audience, marketing going forwards needs to be capable of delivering:
Indeed recently increasing numbers of retailers and manufacturers are providing their customers with opportunities to create individualised, unique products and in turn are seeing increased levels of engagement.
Individuality appeal, mass customisation
And here are three reasons why it pays to not ignore narcissists with your marketing:
1. Narcissists spend more money
According to a recent study, consumers will spend more money when they are in a narcissistic state. It seems thinking about ourselves and how we’re perceived makes us more likely to put our hands in our pockets. Indeed research published in the Journal of Retailing urges marketers to explore ways to allow consumers to customise the products and services they buy as the ability to personalise what we buy taps into our narcissistic tendencies and helps to justify the cost of added extras.
2. Narcissists like tailored content
By tweaking your messaging and making your content marketing all about your target customers, you can use narcissism to your advantage. Customers, who feel at the centre of your campaigns, will be more likely to buy.
3. Narcissists want celebrity associations
State of mind can play a big role in driving up conversions. For example, a study published last year revealed that just having seen a celebrity they like using or being vaguely associated with a product can make a consumer more likely to buy a product even if the celebrity is not actually endorsing the product.
For help in tailoring your marketing activities, including your messaging and content, so that it appeals to a growing market of narcissists, get in touch.
6th August 2018
I am still at a loss to understand why some prospective clients insist on leading you on a merry dance. When it comes to meetings, generating ideas and plans they are keen as mustard. But once they have all the information, they suddenly become distant or disappear altogether!
I appreciate the fact that I may be involved in the “just got to get three quotes” scenario, but what happens if it’s not that at all? How should you react and how many times should you chase them for an update?
A poor outcome
When it comes to time wasters in business, it’s a shame that it’s not tattooed on their foreheads. At least a few times a year, I find myself pitching for something that has no good outcome. You would have thought that I might have got wise to it by now, but no, some people are still very adept at saying all the right things and reeling you in.
Past behaviour can indicate future behaviour
Take a recent example to illustrate this point. There is a lady who I used to work with several years ago. The relationship had its problems, but we sorted through them and were able to forge something fairly decent out of it. Recently she has moved businesses and wanted my help again. OK so the rebirth of this relationship wasn’t off to a great start when she cancelled two meetings due to work commitments, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt, given our previous history.
So on the third occasion, when we finally met and I was appraised of the situation, I went off and put together a full proposal with costings. I sent this to her within the time lines agreed and then chased after a few days, but with no luck. In recent weeks I have continued to email and phone her and then two weeks she contacted me for my availability so she could call and talk things through. It will come as no surprise to you to learn that she didn’t get in touch on either of the specified dates and times.
Onwards and upwards
So what now? Well from my side it’s simple. I am officially done with this game. It’s a valuable lesson to learn really and one which I think we all have to keep revisiting to prove a point. Let’s face it, some people are just hopeless at following up and following through.
You can do everything possible to make a relationship happen but without a response or some basic two-way communication it is doomed to failure. And to be honest, if things had progressed, you can bet your bottom dollar that at some point in the future her true behaviours would have come to the fore. Leopards don’t change their spot after all. Better to cut your losses and walk away, than sign yourself up for something which will undoubtedly be hard work (on your part) and not very rewarding.
So if someone is disrespecting your time or your value, it’s time to walk away. You are worth more than being treated badly and perhaps it might be time for them to learn some basic business etiquette!
23rd July 2018
I have no idea why some business owners, and indeed some marketers, still see marketing as something that needs to be kept separate and treated in a different way to other business activities. Because let’s be honest, the most successful businesses that I know of, are where marketing is closely aligned with business strategy and goes beyond the ability to just create brand awareness.
It’s no secret that without a strong business, you cannot create a strong brand. And marketing’s role is not to any stand apart from the rest of the pack and deliver fluffy/creative work, but to work across all parts of the business and take the lead in shaping the strategic direction of the organisation.
So how can marketers ensure their activities are better aligned with wider business objectives? Here are my tips to ensure individual marketers, and the marketing team as a whole, can strengthen their ties across departments in order to achieve wider strategic goals.
Finally, don’t forget that brand and business are two sides of the same coin, and a business's strategy and its brand have to march in step. Marketing can't afford to be a separate entity, to be successful; marketing has to be part of the holistic brand.
For help to make marketing part of your business strategy or for any other marketing help and advice, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 5566690 or email email@example.com
9th July 2018
I have a lovely client whose specialises in manufacturing. They do a wonderful job and have plenty of appreciative and loyal clients.
However, there has been a change on the management board and recently they’ve brought in a new director who’s full of forward-thinking ideas and is a real go-getter. Trouble is, he loves PR, has no expertise in it, but thinks it would be a wonderful idea to diversify the business and launch a new service area – manufacturing PR.
Complimentary rather than random!
I’m not knocking diversification (or as us marketers call it - brand extension) in general, as it’s commendable and a wonderful way to grow your business and to survive during difficult times. But good diversification to me would have been into a complimentary area, i.e. parts and servicing, not into something that their clients’ might have trouble understanding. And whilst this scenario obviously has a slice of ego built in, it’s my job as their marketing consultant to point out the future problems that this decision might bring and of course try to mitigate them now.
Now I’m a marketer pure and simple, so if suddenly I decided to run a local taxi service in conjunction with my core business, people might wonder what the link is and whether I have the right experience to do that. And with any period of intense questioning, my clients might conclude that I have lost the plot and wonder if my usual marketing offering might be affected as a result of my new passion.
Common sense, research and planning
So next time that diversification comes to your table for discussion, remember that the adage “diversify or die” might be true, but good diversification is all about common sense, research and planning. And if you bear in mind that only 15-20% of new consumer products/services succeed, then it’s even more essential that you get it exactly right from the word go.
If you want to know about famous brand extension failures, who can remember McPizza, Virgin Brides, Zippo (the lighter) perfume, Harley Davidson cake decorating kit, EasyJet’s EasyCinema and Cosmopolitan (the magazine) yoghurt. And if the answer is what, how, why and when, then that’s precisely my point!
To be successful in the diversification stakes as a business owner you must be able to:
For help and advice on diversification/brand extension ideas so that it helps rather than hinders your businesses growth, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
25th June 2018
We all know that women are more emotional than men. So women marketers and business owners are you ready to receive some good news?
Latest research continues to highlight the fact that the vast majority of people on the vast majority of occasions make decisions emotionally and instinctively.
So whilst for many years we believed that logic, rational thought and functionality were reasons for buying products and services, this 180 degree turnaround means that we all need to start to get much more emotional about marketing.
Time to get some feeling into your content!
Good brand marketing is about getting the right emotional response from your target audience. You can get people to buy a product in many ways, but to get them to love it; you need to play to their emotions. Understanding emotions is not just about how people believe, but how consumers behave. Once we get to grips with this, we can start to benefit from a healthier bottom line.
And whilst I know that many businesses have embraced the powerful part that people and emotions play in our buying decisions, other businesses are have still not entered the arena. So check out what you say about you, your business and your products and services and if there aren't enough emotional words in there, it could be time to make some important changes.
Make your customers happy!
Below are some key emotions that we need as customers to be satisfied. Where possible, you need to try to relate the benefits of your products to meet these all important emotions.
If you want to know which big brands are good at emotional marketing – check out John Lewis, Apple, Nike, Honda, M&S, Proctor and Gamble and a whole host of charities and dare I say it some supermarkets too!
In conclusion, “emotion sells” and as consumers and business owners we shouldn’t forget it.
If your marketing is not as emotional as you would like it to be, then engage the services of a professional marketer and you will soon achieve your brand marketing goals. Contact Vicky at Fuel and watch your emotions flow.
11th June 2018
No one doubts that as sole traders we provide a fantastic and personable service to our clients, which is enhanced by expertise, knowledge and the development of strong, long-term business relationships. However, what I am seeing more and more, and indeed what I am doing more and more, is partnering or setting up strategic alliances, with other businesses who offer services which are complimentary to my own. This allows me to be able to promote a more comprehensive range of tailored solutions to my clients.Read More
At Fuel, I specialise in delivering high quality strategic marketing consultancy services. Clients use me because of my professional experience and relevant knowledge. But occasionally some of my clients require other marketing services, namely telemarketing, PR, design, print, social media, website design and branded promotional items. In order to satisfy their needs, and of course help them to think the best about me and my company, I recommend and them introduce them to some of my business partners whom I know can support what I do and deliver a successful extension to my service.
Whilst I hate the phrase “one stop shop” that is in effect what I aim to deliver to my clients and the benefits of partnering are clear to see:
So where do I find my partners – well networking has been the best way to date, together with some brilliant referrals. And I never recommend a partner until I have experienced a working knowledge of how they operate and can trust them implicitly. In addition, we spend time ensuring that the aims and objectives and their role is clearly defined. Plus, even when they start working for my client, I remain 100% involved to ensure that the consistency of the relationship is maintained, the project progresses in a mutually satisfactory way and that I am on hand to help if needed.
If you want to know how partnerships can benefit your business, contact fuel now – visit www.fuelmarketing.co.uk or email email@example.com
25th May 2018
You can never have enough friends and colleagues in business, so you need to ensure that you go to as many events, join as many groups and meet as many people as possible. Whatever line of business you are in and because people buy people, you need to make sure that you get out and about and network your socks off, because networking done well is the way to continued business success.
Networking is a means to build trust with other people or businesses, so that they can see how your product or service can genuinely benefit other people. Networking can be a low cost activity, with the main investment being your time, so try to make the most of each and every networking opportunity.Read More
Below are a few tips to help you get the best results.
Finally, remember that the more networking you do the better and more relaxed you will be at it. And pretty soon a jam-packed room full of people you don’t know, will be an exciting challenge that you can’t wait to start.
Good luck and happy networking.
13th May 2018
After 25 years in the industry, I am still saddened that marketing in some businesses is still not given the importance and status that I believe it's due. To some marketing is a quick fix which brings quick wins, rather than adopting a sustained and consistent approach over time. Whilst to others it's seen as a cost rather than an investment. And despite efforts across the industry to break down internal silos and encourage inter-departmental collaboration, it's still apparent that marketing is widely misunderstood.
I think that one thing that is universally misjudged is that many businesses take a short-sighted view, opting to focus on attracting new clients, rather than marketing their business and not losing existing clients.
So what can marketers like myself do to ensure that marketing is better understand and better utilised? Essentially like any other discipline, we need to educate clients and businesses alike and explain to them what it is and what benefits it can bring. Of course being able to measure it and report back on results will also help to increase levels of awareness and appreciation. But most of all it’s about making marketing easy to understand. So ditch the jargon and buzzwords and instead we need to focus on the commercial and business growth benefits that can be achieved. These can include:
Here are my tips to ensure that marketing is recognised and rewarded for its efforts:
For help with increasing your marketing understanding and delivering tangible results to help your business to develop and grow, contact Vicky at Fuel, vicky@fuel marketing.co.uk or 07766 566690.
23rd April 2018
For some businesses, marketing can be more hit than miss. To help you to ensure the best results every time, take a look at my top 10 tips. If you follow these, you will notice three key benefits. Over time you will be able to save time, maximise your marketing spend and increase your profitability. What's not to love about marketing now?Read More
Finally, remember marketing is organic. Be proactive and ready to change activities, channels and/or timings quickly if you need to. In order to remain competitive in business you need to be capable or amending and tweaking things along the way. For help and advice when it comes to all things marketing, please contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd April 2018
It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, how much time/money it can save or how sophisticated your marketing is, if your clients don’t like and in turn trust you, they simply won’t buy from you.Read More
We all know how good it feels to work with people you know, like and trust, well surprise, surprise that’s exactly how your clients feel about you and your business. So how do you get that all important relationship off to a great start? Well here’s something not to do; talk at them and try to sell from the word go. Sometimes at events, I see a poor prospect effectively cornered by an over enthusiastic person who is telling them about what they do and handing out armfuls of literature without appearing to either pause for, or ask the prospect what it is they actually need.
People talk - so protect your reputation
Now if that was you, what would you do? In my case I beat a hasty retreat and decided to avoid this bulldog like sales person in the future. I certainly wouldn’t ever buy from them and if the experience was particular unpleasant, I might also tell other people about it in person and via social media!
We buy from people/brands we like
Sometimes it helps to remember that we all buy products and services, so to sell our products and services effectively we need to think about how we like to be sold to. For me it’s about getting to really know somebody, asking them questions, listening to their answers and finding out what makes them tick. Plus, when you discover you have something in common and/or a similar business ethos, then you are really cooking on gas. Price and benefits are all very well, but if I know that I can’t work with someone or worse still find them self-opinionated or slightly irritating, I will look somewhere else to find that all important connection.
And if, as research tells us, we make a decision about whether we like someone in a mere 7 seconds, then you need to act fast. Here are my 15 top tips for ensuring that your initial contact with prospective clients goes well:
2. Be polite and professional
3. Be yourself
4. Never judge someone until you have spoken to them
5. Stay focused on what people are saying
6. Display enthusiasm and passion for what you do
7. Be interested in what others have to say
8. Be confident, but not overly confident, about your experience, knowledge and capabilities
9. Offer some help or tips for free
10. Find common ground
11. Listen more than you talk
12. Ask intelligent questions
13. Don’t make any promises that you can’t keep
14. Introduce people to others who might be able to help them
15. Be generous and share good fortune
So next time a prospect says no, think back and ask yourself whether you were likeable or not? And if you think you could do something different next time – challenge yourself to hone your person skills and improve the chances of people wanting to do business with you! For more help and advice as to how you can market yourself better, get in touch.
15th March 2018
Having been in marketing since the early 1990’s I’ve seen many things come and go and to be honest nothing that my industry does surprises me. However as a user of social media, I have come to almost despise its very invention, and whilst I fully understand and appreciate the benefits, I know that for every success there is a wealth of failures and disappointments to report.Read More
The right to be me!
Take my experience of last week when I commented on something in the news relating to my industry. I proffered my own opinion and was immediately shot down in flames by a follower, and others who jumped on the bandwagon, not because my opinion was wrong but because my opinion was at odds with theirs! This made me cross on so many different levels. Firstly it’s my opinion and there’s not a damned thing anyone else can do about it, but secondly it illustrated to me how far we have fallen in our blind need to be accepted by our peers.
This is not the first time something like this has happened to me, but this occasion has made me rethink how we communicate and whether social media is helping us or hindering us. Originally designed to be a useful marketing channel, I am now questioning whether it’s possible to successfully convey your opinion, values, authenticity and personality using social media, without causing offence, inciting others and/or just generally feeling guilty or inferior?
Fabulous or vacuous?
Of course I get the positives of social media, but in light of my recent experiences I have been studying the negatives. So whilst it’s great to connect and communicate with lots of people quickly both locally and globally and have a level playing field for business, I wonder if it has also made us quite vacuous. But on the following points I think social media is a great big fail – so read, enjoy and remember you have been warned!
Bad things to come from social media
For marketing help and support that aims to cut down on meaningless waffle, ambiguity and oversharing, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email email@example.com
5th March 2018
“What is it that you do?” is a question that I often ask prospects and new clients. And sometimes the answers are so confusing and long-winded (and often accompanied by doodles and diagrams) that I find myself wondering how the heck they ever find any customers for their business.
One way of getting to the nub of the issue is to ask the question a different way. So now when I see potential customers I always ask them to describe what they do (their business) in one sentence as if they were explaining it to a seven year old. Essentially what I am looking for is simple, non-jargon language that answers the “so what” question and is compelling enough to make me want to find out more.
Every brand needs a voice. Messaging provides the words that help your prospects and customers to understand your businesses’ value and what you believe in. Basically your message does three things:
1. Articulates your brand promise
2. Sums up your brand’s characteristics (benefits and features)
3. Stimulates desire in your brand
Messaging takes many forms - straplines, slogans, headlines, value statement, customer promises, campaigns etc. - but they all share similarities. Essentially your brand message, or proposition, needs to be brief (12 words or less) and communicate why your brand matters and what it stands for. A core brand message also communicates the values and key differentiators that define your brand. And above all else, it needs to make people sit up and take notice!
Keep is simple
Effective brand messages usually oversimplify something that in reality can be quite complex. This oversimplication is a good thing, because the goal of a brand is to be noticed, remembered and desired. And in an over-communicated world your message needs to be unique, believable, full of benefit claims, as well as having the ability to be easily adapted across different marketing channels. But in my opinion the real success of good messaging is down to repetition. The more times you can say the same thing, the more chance you have of it being remembered!
Below is a list of 10 things that your messaging needs to be:
2. Simple and brief
3. Compelling, bold
6. Highlights what's important
8. Communicates your advantage
Being succinct is harder than you think!
But be warned, I recently tried a messaging exercise with a new client and what they thought would be a simple job to explain their product in one sentence took them two weeks! Crafting a message that's short, memorable and relevant to your audience can be a lot tougher than you think. However, after you've gone through the process (an external marketing consultant can be a huge help), you'll be a lot better prepared to explain your brand. And once you've found your voice, you'll discover that people suddenly do a lot more listening and that the rest of your sales and marketing becomes a whole lot easier too!
For help in crafting your marketing message or assistance with explaining your business in less than 12 words contact Vicky Boulton at Fuel on 07766 56690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
16th February 2018
Having been a marketer for some 25 years plus, I know that looking at the results of your activities and campaigns and then making informed decision is critical to the success of any marketing strategy. So it saddened me recently to hear about a colleague of mine who had employed another marketing consultancy (I believe they do exist) to implement a marketing plan on their behalf. Some 5 months in, they had no idea what had worked and what had not and found themselves constantly on the back foot when it came to results and recommendations. And given the fact that they paid the consultant a monthly retainer, I took the time to explain to them why this was simply not good enough.Read More
What's your marketing ROI?
When it comes to marketing it’s as important to know what doesn’t work and why as it is to know what is successful. Knowing how everything is performing is key. So you need to ensure that you are monitoring, measuring and recording the results of everything you do and of course sharing it with clients and or your staff if you are doing the marketing yourself. This enables you to ditch activities that aren’t working, thus saving money, as well as giving you the opportunity refine and improve other elements to ensure greater levels of business success. And if you are a marketer it enables you to demonstrate a good return on investment and of course prove your value!
Are you flexible?
Marketing is organic and you need to be proactive and flexible enough to alter what you do should things change. However most business owners do not know what they want marketing to do for them and don’t actually set real, tangible and meaningful targets. Sometimes objectives and strategy can be blurred and occasionally I hear those dreaded words. “I think we’ll just do what we did last year!” So whilst I think that my colleague has been taken for a ride by his marketing partner, I actually don’t think they are to blame I think that my colleague is for not setting the right boundaries and parameters at the outset of their relationship.
So my advice is simply, if you’re not measuring your marketing then please make sure that you do. There are many tools available to help you to do this. Overall, I find that it’s simple and easy to set up and report on campaigns on a regular basis across multiple channels. And don’t forget to get your staff involved too – they speak to customers and prospective customers more than a marketing professional so their input and buy in is essential.
Marketing is about building relationships
And my final point is one about instant results. Marketing will bring you some quick wins, but essentially you need to do something regularly (minimum 9-12 months), consistently and as targeted as possible to get the best results in the medium to long term. Marketing is about building relationships over time using targeted communications and relevant channels.
For help with your marketing, with feedback and communications throughout the process so you can validate your return on your marketing investments, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email email@example.com
6th February 2018