Integrated marketing – are you channel-centric or customer-centric?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageOften in client meetings I am asked the dreaded loaded question. “In your opinion, which marketing channel will work best for us?” Now I always try to be careful with my answer because sometimes people have been told that one channel marketing, usually involving online stuff with plenty of social media input, is the answer, whereas in my experience I know that no one channel has all the answers.

 

Every marketing channel has merit in its own right and no channel is better than another. What makes this world interesting is that you cannot find two people alike, meaning that no two people respond to different channels in the exact same manner. The key to attaining optimal results is to promote your brand, product, or service across a host of different channels that work together cohesively to get your message across.

Read More

 

That’s called integrated marketing and you will find that success comes into play when you use one channel to optimise another in an effort to create a marketing campaign that works together to generate a positive brand image. For example, I write a fortnightly blog – the one you are reading right now. I put this blog on my website but strangely enough no one knows it’s there. So I use Twitter, LinkedIn and email marketing to let people know what it is and where it is. I also ask my lovely and obliging business partners to put it on their websites too.  As you can see here, I am using other channels to publicise my blog.

 

7 + points of contact 

Obviously some channels work better for certain products, services and industries, and essentially what we are all looking for is the one which brings in the most leads, orders, customers as well as having the highest return on investment. But if you accept that it takes 7 + points of contact (touch points with your brand) for prospects to be aware of you, let alone want to buy from you, and that people respond to different triggers via different channels, then you can see the importance of covering all the bases.

 

When I put together marketing campaigns for clients, I study their industry, undertake comprehensive client, market and competitor research, leverage their budget and then design a 7 point of contact strategy that will raise brand awareness, create trust and loyalty. An average campaign tends to involve direct mail, email, telemarketing, advertising, PR, social media and networking all delivered in a timely and targeted manner with strong calls to action.

 

When it comes to marketing your customers are the only people who matter!

However, as business owners you need to know that things are once again on the change and now I am finding that being channel-centric is not the answer – the only way to be in order to achieve success is to be customer-centric. Being customer-centric is by definition cross-channel and increasingly channel-agnostic. Obviously, we still need to understand the specifics of various marketing tactics and channels but its increasingly obvious that it’s now longer a good use of time or resources to put all of our marketing into appropriately labelled silos.

 

When it boils down to optimising conversion rates regardless of the channels, there is one thing that matters: consistency and relevance across all touch points. To achieve that and maintain value we must look at every interaction a (prospective) customer has with our brand both online and offline. It is only by looking at each single touch point, direct and indirect, that we can succeed in offering great experiences and, doing so, achieving best conversion possible.

 

Relevance is in the eye of the beholder

What we all need to understand is the following. We don’t matter. Our messages don’t matter. Our channels don’t matter. Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. And we’re not the beholder. But remember it takes time to achieve the perfect customer-centric brand– so take your time and use the channels wisely. Always monitor and measure what you do and once you have some useful statistics and feedback, you can revise what you do, spend less money, be more targeted and of course get better results.

14th March 2019

 

Time to hone your customer service skills?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageMany organisations assume that their main marketing goal is to woo new customers to their business. But keeping your existing customers is just as important as acquiring new customers, as well as being cheaper and easier of course.

 

A recent survey found that 82% of customers said that they stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. Whilst 15% say they left because their need for a product or service had changed. Whatever the reason for customers not being satisfied, as business owners we have an obligation to listen, understand and try to improve things going forwards.

Read More

 

What is good service?

When you think about good service you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about what makes you happy. Essentially as customers we want to know that we exist and are important. We also want to receive a timely and quality service, where we feel we have been listened to, and finally know that our expectations have been met and in some cases even exceeded.

 

I few years ago I attended an FSB conference in Birmingham and was fascinated by the words of former European and World Champion athlete Kriss Akabusi who said. “Remember: no-one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This to me sums up how our commitment to delivering good service lets our customers know how good we are, and that they enables them in turn to trust us more.

 

So whether you are the sole face of your business or whether you have lots of staff, everyone has to be on the same page when dealing with customers or prospective customers, in order to send consistent messages that can be quickly and easily understood.

 

Feelings and solutions

It’s worth remembering that customers don't buy products or services, they buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. So by identifying and anticipating these needs, you are more likely to give your customers exactly what they are after.

 

Bearing all this in mind, one of the most effective things you can do is to re-structure your customer service and customer-facing team responsibilities and priorities so that you are solely focusing on improving the customer journey. By doing this you will be able to take the time, effort, and energy to provide the best customer service experience possible.

 

This might sound logical but really it does come down to establishing or re-establishing the customer care basics. And by basics I mean making sure that everyone knows how to:

 

- speak politely to customers

- listen and understand the issue or problem

- avoid negative or offending words and phrases

- respond in an agreed time to questions or calls

 

Top tips for avoiding customer service disasters

But if all else fails, here are my top 10 tips for delivering a first class customer experience that will have people talking about your business for all the right reasons:

 

1.    Communicate clearly and effectively

2.    Measure service quality and feedback

3.    Keep up-to-date about your products or services

4.    Use processes and systems that are customer friendly

5.    Always go the extra mile

6.    Under promise and over deliver (never the other way round)

7.    Set time limits for responses

8.    Treat people fairly

9.    Apologise when it’s your fault

10. Monitor what your competition are doing

 

Good customer service makes us smile. It makes us happy and encourages us to share our positive experiences with others. So if you want loyal clients who make referrals and recommendations and of course give you great testimonials too, then all you need to do is to treat your customers how you yourself would like to be treated.

4th March 2019

 

The perils of employing friends!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageWe love our friends. They help, support and guide us through life’s challenges and opportunities and are always there for us, no matter what.

 

In fact I am not sure what we would do without them, unless of course we invite them to become involved in defining the strategic direction of our business. Because as we know friends may be many things, but impartial they are not!

 

When you own a business, you're the boss. And how you run your business is really down to you. So if you want to bring in an outside consultant to help you manage areas of the business then that’s ok. And if you don’t agree with them or are not happy with how the relationship is progressing, then it’s perfectly acceptable for you to sit down and a conversation with them and the relationship can either improve or end as a result. But if you have engaged the services of a friend and they offer unwanted advice or aren’t pulling their weight, it’s more difficult to deal with, without the fear of offending them and jeopardising things in the future.

 

Read More

 

Involving people who are close to you and whose talents you trust can seem like an ideal scenario if you’re starting a company or looking to develop and drive forward an established business of any size. As long as the person is a great fit, has the right skills and experience and the price is right, they will be able to make a positive contribution to your business.

 

Striking the right balance

But sometimes it’s not easy to be objective about our friends and we need to be if we are going to trust them with our business success. In this instance it’s important to be honest about their failings as it is about their attributes. And because you might need to talk tough at various times, you need to know that they will take it in the spirit of which it is meant. But I think that single most difficult thing with working with someone who knows you so well is to strike the right balance between your relationship both inside and outside of the workplace.

 

Risky business

Of course there is not right or wrong answer, but it’s important to realise that hiring friends can be a great way to bolster your company’s resources and help make you more competitive, but it can also be a major mistake that takes time, effort and emotional energy to undo and move beyond. But with any decisions that you take as a business owner, you owe it to yourself and your friend to anticipate the worse-case scenario and consider the reasoning, benefits and alternatives. Only then can you decide if it's a risk worth taking, and if you can live with the possible consequences. But I think the best advice I can give is the following.

 

“Remember, even when there are no strings attached, there are always strings attached.”

 

Whatever you decide, keep your eyes open and your wits about you. And if something doesn't feel right, then that's usually because something isn't right!

18th February 2019

 

Importance of a marketing review!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageYour 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: 

  • What have you tried?
  • What did you expect to happen?
  • What was the actual outcome?
  • How much did it cost you?
  • How much time did you spend on it?
  • Who’s been doing what?
  • What you enjoyed doing and what you hated?
  • What have you learned?
     

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!

4th February 2019

 

It’s what you say and the way you say it!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageGoogle 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.

 

 

Read More

 

Top Content Marketing Tips 

  1. Know your audience. If you know who they are, what they need, what concerns/problems they have and what makes their lives easier, you will find it easy to create content that resonates with your target audience.
  2. Research your competition. Find out what your direct competition are saying about their products/services and look for a gap or a different and more engaging way of saying it so that you can stand out from the crowd.
  3. Create a cracking headline. On average five times as many people read the headline as they do the body copy, so ensure that your headline is powerful and cannot be ignored by your target audience.
  4. Give something away for free. People like something for nothing, so give away free top tips, downloadable articles, weekly blogs, videos, whitepapers, webinars etc. and watch your connection levels with your target audience increase.
  5. Make it consistent and regular. People like to see something new on a regular basis and they also want everything that you do to look like it comes from the stable, so be consistent and it will improve your credibility.
  6. Keep it conversational. No-one likes to read formal content and it can make your target audience feel excluded, by adopting an inclusive and conversational tone, you will find that your response levels will increase.
  7. Ask for comments and feedback. People like to feel like they have been consulted and that their thoughts and opinions matter to you. So think about asking for comments and feedback on your products and services using a survey and of course ask people to share your content.
  8. Be a thought leader. Your target audience like to feel that you know what you are talking about and that you are an expert in your particular field. So remember to communicate from a position of authority and use quotes from other experts in your field to add further gravitas to your content.
  9. Pack in plenty of emotion. Communicate with your target audience using emotional words and triggers that they can recognise, understand and relate to.
  10. Tell a story. We all love stories, it helps us to remember things and it also helps us to establish whether a business and their products and services are authentic and whether what they are selling to us is relevant.
  11. Use different channels. We all engage in different ways, so make sure that your content is across different channels in order to appeal to the widest audience possible, videos, website, webinars, whitepapers, articles, top tips, newsletters etc.

21st January 2019

 

What's happened to loyalty?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageIn 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?

 

Read More

 

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

 

Why you need a regular marketing review!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageYour 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: 

  • What have you tried?
  • What did you expect to happen?
  • What was the actual outcome?
  • How much did it cost you?
  • How much time did you spend on it?
  • Who’s been doing what?
  • What you enjoyed doing and what you hated?
  • What have you learned? 

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

 

Not another pesky customer satisfaction survey!

Blog Image - Fuel MarketingIt 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.

 

 

Read More

 

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:

  • Response rates have dropped over the past 20 years, from an impressive 20% to a paltry 2% today
  • Surveys annoy customers and in most cases you don’t  get the answers you want
  • When offering incentives i.e. free things or prize draw entries, data quality decreases and engagement levels fall
  • 66% of customers prefer to give feedback by actively reaching out
  • 72% of consumers said surveys interfere with their overall buying experience
  • 80% of customers have abandoned a survey halfway through
  • 52% of customers would not spend more than 3 minutes filling out a feedback form

 

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

 

Less is always more!

Blog image - Fuel MarketingWhilst 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?”

 

 

Read More

 

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:

 

  1. So what? – does it tell the reader something interesting and/or is essential to them making a decision?
  2. Research – you need to know who you are writing for before you begin writing. Do your research on the target audience and then write accordingly.
  3. Relevance – the whole point of writing something is to provoke a reaction in the reader – if it’s not relevant to them and in a language they understand, don’t include it.
  4. One not ten – don’t waffle; use the least amount of words to say what you mean. In other words be succinct.
  5. Me, me me – the reverse is always true in writing. You need to include more you and less I or we.
  6. Count – double check the number of words in a sentence (not more than 25) and sentences in a paragraph (not more than 3). If you use more, you will lose people’s attention as they continue to read on.
  7. Who cares? – if on second reading you find that what you have written doesn’t make you excited, you probably need to re-write it in a more accessible and engaging style.

 

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

 

Good communications start from the inside

Fuel Marketing - Blog pictureIt’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. 

 

Read More

 

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

 

Marketing is not always the solution!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageI 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.

 

Read More

 

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

 

What you know still counts!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageWe 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!

 

Read More

 

Young pretenders

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

 

What's your motivating factor?

Blog image - Fuel MarketingWe’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.

  1.  Have a meeting and see how much they listen and how much they talk. If they talk about knowing what you need and start to suggest solutions before they have understood what it is that you actually want, then walk away.
  2. Ask them if you can contact one of their previous clients to find out more about how you worked with them and the results they got from using you. And make sure you choose who to contact and when, otherwise they could be a primed friend rather than a genuine customer!
  3. Make sure you have a written proposal from them with tight parameters and regular (weekly/monthly) update calls or emails where they provide you with feedback, suggestions and results on the project/campaign etc. that they are working on. This way you can monitor their work from the word go and if you are not happy, you have something tangible to mark them against.

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

 

Who are you getting over familiar with?

Fuel Marketing blog imageOne 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.

 

Read More

 

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

 

It's my opinion - you can't change it!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageHaving 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.

 

 

Read More

 

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:

  • The rise of selfies  
  • Useless rubbish (photos of what people will eat, are eating or have eaten)
  • Bragging and showing off (updates on exotic holiday destinations with plethora of pictures)
  • Self-pitying posts (with accompanying sad face emoji’s or ambiguous status updates)
  • Objectionable status (disagreeing only because people want to be controversial)
  • Information oversharing (mostly relationship rants)
  • Political tirades (people who encourage conversations to devolve into personal attacks and negative judgments of each other’s characters
  • Hiding behind anonymity (the people who like everything but never comment)
  • All talk and no action (the people who encourage others to do things but never get involved themselves)
  • Amplified ignorance (the people who take one inaccurate ideal and shamelessly shares it)

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

 

Marketing - it's all about me!

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageYou 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?

 

Read More

 

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:

  • Choice
  • Instant engagement
  • Unique and individual appeal
  • Mass customisation
  • Added extras (value)

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

 

Radio silence - what would you do?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageI 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?

 

Read More

 

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.

 

Spotty leopards

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

 

Is marketing aligned with your business strategy?

Fuel Marketing - Blog imageI 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.

 

Read More

 

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.

  1. Understand how other departments within the business works and take the time to get to know their goals. Learn to communicate and collaborate with them for the benefit of the entire business.
  2. Become more engaged with the activities of the sales team in order to better understand processes, systems, channels, goals and pressures. And then plan projects/campaigns around the commercial expectations of the business.
  3. Work with the finance department to ensure that marketing is aligned with corporate goals as well as budgeting and reporting.
  4. Understand that marketing needs to deliver a measurable return on investment and then go ahead and do it. This will help to dispel the myth that marketing is an expense rather than an investment.
  5. Ensure that your marketing message does not become lost in translation because of problems with IT and technology. Keep IT in the loop at all times, so that they understand the need for free and easy access to the businesses’ digital marketing channels.
  6. Embrace leadership roles within the company so you can promote the brand internally as well as externally. Partnering with the HR team for internal communications such as e-newsletter, campaign updates, briefings and Q&A session will help to boost the brand message.
  7. Be a marketing expert as well as a business leader. If you are engaged properly in the business and have strong connections within the business then you will operate far more effectively as a marketing department.
  8. Ensure that you completely clear and transparent about marketing’s objectives and KPIs, as this can help to generate support from the different departments within the organisation.

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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

9th July 2018

 

Diversification - a step too far?

Fuel Marketing blog imageI 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.

 

 

 

Read More

 

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:

  • Demonstrate how your new product/service is different. Firstly, different from what you currently offer and secondly different from what your competition are offering
  • Do your homework and only invest in a new product or service range that will contribute to a sizeable increase in sales
  • Assess the risks (financial and profile wise) and decide whether it’s worth it as a long term strategy
  • Decide whether you should integrate the diversified business into one company or ring fence the new operation as a business in its own right
  • Decide whether your business is strong enough to be an umbrella brand where your core values will be able to resonate across the new activities
  • Have the right people with the right skills in place to help you
  • Focus on your new venture without neglecting your core business
  • Correctly position your new product/service with simple and easy to understand messaging
  • Get your timing right – test it first before doing the big launch

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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

25th June 2018

 

How emotional is your marketing?

Fuel marketing - blog imageWe 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.

 

Read More

 

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.

  • Self-improvement
  • Pride / Status
  • Security
  • Achievement
  • Power
  • Love

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

 

Who are you partnering with?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageNo 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:

  • Flexible access to specialist resources
  • Increased capacity
  • Cost saving – don’t have to employ full time staff or contract additional resources
  • Ability to strengthen long-term relationships through collaboration on short-term projects
  • Help to grow your business faster, increase productivity and generate greater profits
  • Potential for referrals coming the other way
  • Access to new markets

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 info@fuelmarketing.co.uk

25th May 2018

 

A guide to successful networking

Fuel marketing blog imageYou 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.

  • Figure out what your specific goal is for the networking event you are attending, this will help you focus on networking with the right people i.e. if you sell websites, then you will need to look for people who are looking to have a brand new website or make changes made to their existing site. By doing this you will get the most out of your networking session.
  • Try to be a good source of information. People always want to know people who know things or people who can do things. So by answering queries easily and/or coming up with good ideas and suggestions you will be able to stay in the forefront of people’s minds.
  • Make sure that you have short, effective pre-prepared answers and/or captivating information to the most commonly asked questions ‘so what do you do’, ‘so how can that help my business’ and if needed your 40 or 60 second elevator pitch. You need to wow the person with genuine answers/information that rolls off your tongue as though it was second nature, thus giving the impression that you know your stuff.
  • Ask lots of open questions and try to keep control, even answering a question with a question works. Examples of good questions that will help you going forwards are shown below:
  1. How did you come to be in your line of work? Often people fall into their job through a chance encounter or a stroke of luck - these stories are often interesting, and recounting them will bring your new contact alive in a way that a straightforward discussion about current business never does.
  2. Describe to me your dream customer. You will learn much about their motivation and goals by listening carefully to this.
  3. What changes are happening, or can you predict happening, within your industry? Tap into a source of inside information here - it may well have implications for the product/service you can provide them with. What do you regard as your greatest achievement in business to date? Another great way of breaking the ice and getting to know someone better.
  4. What do you love about your work? Someone else's business will come alive for you if you listen to them describing their favourite activities.
  5. Are there things you wish you could change? A natural follow-on from the above.
  6. How would you like people to describe your contribution to your industry? This gets away from day-to-day business and allows them to discuss their deeper aspirations if they wish.
  • Let them talk about themselves and listen. Find out what’s important to them right now and what interests them (social etc) as a social reason might be the reason you can meet up again.
  • Stay clear of self-promotion and sales pitches, people will be less than impressed if they feel that you are selling to them. Focus instead on discussing generic business topics, issues, solutions etc. and try to find commonalities or shared interests.
  • Make mental notes on everything that they say so that you can follow up with them at a later date.
  • If you find that you want to do business with them, ask for their business card. Whilst doing this, ask them for the best time to reach them and the best method to reach them (email or phone). Don’t forget to offer your business card as well, so there is an even exchange of information.
  • If you feel that they are a good person to pursue at a later date, remember to say that you enjoyed meeting them and that you hope you can both keep in touch.
  • Alternatively when you have nothing more to say and/or want to excuse yourself “Excuse me a second, I’ve just seen somebody I need to say hello to, would you excuse me?”
  • Always follow up networking leads within agreed timescales.
  • Invite them to join you on your social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. and follow them where appropriate.
  • Add them to your prospect and/or contact database with their permssion and keep them informed about you and your business by sending them relevant and timely communications.

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

 

Why is marketing still misunderstood?

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageAfter 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.

 

Read More

 

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:

  1. Increased brand visibility, awareness and recognition
  2. Ability to develop lasting relationships with your target audience
  3. Improved levels of loyalty and trust amongst clients and prospects
  4. Development of authority and credibility by positioning yourself as an expert
  5. Increased sales and profitability

Here are my tips to ensure that marketing is recognised and rewarded for its efforts:

  • Educate everyone involved about what marketing is and what it can do and ensure you have business owners and/or management buy-in
  • Set clear goals and objectives
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience
  • Have a plan and implement it
  • Undertake marketing activities regularly for minimum 9-12 months
  • Be consistent with branding and messaging
  • Use stories and emotions to increase engagement levels
  • Don’t stop and start activities needlessly, unless they are not working
  • Measure and monitor ROI
  • Review and change in line with results

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

 

Top 10 tips for marketing success

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageFor 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

 

  1. Know your audience. Successful campaigns get that way because marketers know their audience. They fully understand their needs, how to help meet those needs and how to create demand. Knowing and understanding your audience through proper market segmentation means a well targeted campaign that generates a profitable return.
  2. Focus on the offer. A marketing offer is the driving force of marketing promotions that drive results. In fact, market testing has proven that the offer is the most significant criterion for conversion. Focus on your offer if you want to be successful.
  3. Split test. Never ever run a campaign without testing something. One of the most common is a split test which allows you to simultaneously test two versions of something. It can be a web page, postcard, or email. Split testing is essential for improving performance.
  4. Never work alone. The most creative ideas come from working with other creative people. Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers or great ideas. You may start with an idea, but an open dialog with creative individuals will make it better.
  5. Don’t sell on price. I’ve seen so many marketers fail because they sell on price alone. This leads to a discounting war, lower profitability, and often bankruptcy. Rather, focus on creating so much value that the perception of price becomes insignificant.
  6. Consistent messaging. Consider the entire user experience before you launch a campaign. From email to website to offer, is the prospect having a consistent user experience? If they are, your campaigns stand above 98% of others.
  7. Create value after the sale. As marketers, it’s our job to understand our market segment and build relationships, not dump people off at the front door of our store and walk away. Focus as much of your energy on building relationships with customers as you do prospects.
  8. Test. Test. Test. In addition to split testing, you should consider multiple forms of testing in each marketing discipline. For direct mail, test headlines, offers, copy, time of direct mail drop, etc. Consider testing a lifelong mission.
  9. Integrated marketing works best. You can’t rely on one form of marketing to carry you to success. It’s okay to generate most of your leads or sales through one channel for example networking, but what happens when that dries out? Use multiple media sources to meet your goals.
  10. Measure and monitor everything you do. Ensure that you are making informed decision based on actual results achieved rather than sheer guesswork. Don’t be afraid to ditch activities that are not generating the right responses and equally if something is working, then it makes sense to further invest in that activity.

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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

 

3rd April 2018

 

 

LINKS