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.”

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 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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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?

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  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

 

Being likeable can help you to achieve business success!

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageIt 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.

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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:

 

1.    Smile

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

 

It’s my opinion and you can’t change it!

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageHaving 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.

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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

  • 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)

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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

5th March 2018

 

Do you have a messaging strategy?

Fuel Marketing - Blog Image“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.

 

 

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What’s messaging?

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:

 

1.       Targeted

2.       Simple and brief

3.       Compelling, bold

4.       Credible

5.       Memorable

6.       Highlights what's important

7.       Ubiquitous

8.       Communicates your advantage

9.        Honest

10.    Consistent

 

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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

 

16th February 2018

 

Do you know what marketing is working?

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageHaving 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. 

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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 vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

6th February 2018

 

What's your motivating factor?

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageWe’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.

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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.”

 

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, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

23rd January 2018

 

Remember who you’re connected to!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageCommunication is a good thing and thanks to the plethora of online communication channels, we really can stay in touch with everyone 24/7.  But whilst I don’t want to put a dampener on your freedom, I would like to advise some caution and urge you to engage your brain and perhaps use some common sense before aimlessly publishing every last detail of your life including your daily plans online. And here’s why…!

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I saw a colleague recently, who was to put it mildly, upset and annoyed in equal measure. She explained that she had been engaged by a new client and had set aside a morning of paid work for them earlier that week. Despite the fact that the date had been agreed weeks ago and was in both of their diaries, on the morning in question she received an email (not a call) asking if they could postpone their meeting because he had to deal with a client emergency. My colleague was a little bit miffed, as she had turned down other work in order to meet with this client, but as she all too clearly understood that these things happen, she agreed and asked him to come back to her soon with another date. He agreed and that could have been the end of the story.

 

Managing social relationships

However, there is a part two. Later that morning she saw an update on Facebook from him and was surprised to learn that he was at the airport waiting to catch a flight abroad for a long weekend away! To say she was angry would be an understatement, but there is a lesson for us all to learn here and it’s quite simple. Firstly, always be honest and secondly remember who you are connected with/to on social media channels.

 

This is not a one off incident. I have had something similar happen to me both on a business and a personal front and I found myself disappointed with both my friend and my client. And for those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised to know that my duplicitous client is no longer my client and it won’t take a genius to know who it was who made the decision to part company! And as for my friend, well they have had a reprieve but they know that I’m still monitoring things.

 

Honesty, integrity and common sense

To conclude, consistent and regular targeted communications are key for marketing your business and for staying in touch with clients, prospects, business referrers, colleagues, friends and family. But you need to remember to treat all of those people that you communicate with as you would like to be treated yourself. Honesty, integrity and common sense are critical for managing relationships whether they are in person, on the telephone, by direct mail or online. It is up to you to oversee these relationships carefully and know that you are firstly being true to them and secondly you are being true to yourself.

 

For help in ensuring that you are successfully managing important business relationships and marketing yourself, your services and your business correctly using the right message, frequency and channels, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

18th December 2017

 

Less marketing, more branding!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageTo operate a successful business, you need a good brand. A good brand is one that is memorable and whose message resonates with us whether for good or bad reasons. And whatever size your business is, you need to establish a strong and consistent brand that will appeal to your customers and prospective customers in order to achieve continued success.

 

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However in recent years traditional branding and brand building has been harder, this is largely down to the popularity of social media and of course a more competitive market place with more discerning potential customers.

 

And to put this in context, from when we wake up to the time we go to bed, we’re exposed to between 5,000 and 10,000 marketing messages, from labels and adverts to commercials and pop-up banners. If it sounds like a lot, and it probably does, that’s the point. We’ve trained our brains to ignore most, if not all, of them. If not, we’d probably go insane. But to build a brand, you need people to stop and take notice.

 

But taking the amount of work you need to do out of the equation, building a good brand and creating tangible impact comes down to the following 10 things:

  1. Be authentic
  2. Develop a good reputation
  3. Think big stay small
  4. Put the customer first
  5. Innovate and be bold
  6. Tell a story
  7. Add a personal touch
  8. Be responsive
  9. Don’t broadcast - interact
  10. Maintain availability

The days of just stamping your logo on everything and saying that’s it for our branding activities, are very much over. The future of branding is fluid and engaging. You must respect your customers' intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.

 

For help in building and establishing a great brand or for any other marketing help and support contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

4th December 2017

 

Bring back some marketing mystery!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageMarketing today takes no prisoners. Its 24 hour, multi-channel, instantaneous and frequent assault on our eyes, ears and other senses is sometimes exhausting. And don’t forget that marketing now cannot mislead customers or be seen to be discriminatory or offensive in any way.

 

To compensate for this, marketing campaigns are now full of detail, tell a story, which can often be shocking and outrageous in nature, but still completely lacking in that most elusive of qualities - mystery.

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Ok so I admit that some marketing nowadays is clever. Too clever perhaps, as often you are left scratching your head trying to understand its true meaning. But whilst clever and creative is most definitely in, holding something back and asking customers to actually think for themselves, just doesn’t seem to be the order of the day.

 

Who can forget those marketing campaigns years ago when brands alluded to something wonderful and intriguing, but refrained from actually spelling it out? Adverts for Guinness, Milk Tray, Diet Coke, Nescafe, Oxo, Honda, Renault, Andrex, Dulux, Gold Blend, Cadbury’s Flake (plus Caramel & Dairy Milk) and Levi 501’s in the 1980’s and 1990’s were synonymous with mystery and surprise. We were left intrigued, perpetually wondering and filling in the gaps about the product or service in question, which just added to their allure.

 

Mystery generates interest and curiosity

Mystery is a key element to all great storytelling, and people love to tell great stories. Without this element of mystery, our curiosity wanes. Most businesses don’t understand the power of mystery and instead present every feature and benefit of their brand to their customers. But we customers want some depth; we want to discover what lies beneath the surface of a brand on our own.

 

Mystery helps provide meaning to your brand; it allows people to learn something about your brand they didn’t know before. If we learn something new about a company that no one else knows, we are more likely to talk. However, if everyone already knows about a particular benefit, there’s no reason to talk about it. We talk and gossip about products, services, and brands because it benefits us; we gain status by providing new information. This basic, biologically-rooted drive helps explain why people naturally talk about that which is mysterious and unknown.

 

Here are three key ways to add mystery to your brand:

  1. Don’t say every benefit about your business in every business communication. If everyone already knows everything about you, they won’t have anything to tell their friends that their friends don’t already know, aside from how you may not have fully met their expectations
  2. Break a standard rule in your industry and don’t be afraid to be different
  3. Listen in to what your customers are suggesting and surprise them by actually doing it.

So if you want your customers to talk about you, surprise them. Delight them. Let them discover you on a totally new level. In essence, give your customers a reason to talk about you.  For dedicated marketing expertise and support that will add that much welcome subtle mystery to your business communications, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

22nd November 2017

 

How to handle a referral

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageThe not so secret secret to getting new business is referrals. You cannot receive a better lead than one that has been sent your way with a strong referral. You cannot have a more motivated prospect to your business than someone sent there by a supportive and happy fan.

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A lot of very successful businesses are built upon referrals from existing clients. You do a good job for somebody, or show exceptional customer service, and they remember it. The next time that person is asked for a recommendation for somebody in your industry, they’ll happily pass on your details.  If you’re lucky, they’ll make the introduction for you to the prospective client – saying positive things about you to the prospective client whilst you’re there to hear it.

 

Never underestimate the power of referrals

Worth their weight in gold, I never underestimate a referral’s power ‘nor their value. I am a keen giver of referrals and recommendations to fellow businesses that I really rate because I know they do a great job and can make a difference to the growth and development of a client’s business.

 

But when you give a referral, what do you expect the recipient to do? Well for politeness’s’ sake you trust that they will thank you and then keep you updated on how it goes. And of course the ideal solution is for the client in question to let you know how things go too and generally be delighted with how they have been treated.

 

But sometimes, it’s as if people don’t understand referrals and their behaviour becomes questionable to say the least. I recently referred one of my loyal clients to another business – let’s call it ABC Ltd. I emailed them both to do the basic introductions and then sat back and waited. My client thanked me but I heard nothing from ABC Ltd, not even an email acknowledgement.

 

Keep everyone informed

A whole month later I met with my client who was disappointed in how the communications had fared with ABC Ltd. After my introductory email they had spoken and ABC Ltd had carefully explained the options to my client. My client then asked for some final prices based on her preferred choice for moving forwards. ABC Ltd said then would email something through and then nothing. Yes that’s right, nothing for a month, until I had to nudge them into action and they finally did email the client. But by then my client was annoyed, not at me I hasten to add, but had decided to use another supplier instead, one who would appreciate the value of their business and not fail to communicate the right information at the right time.

 

It’s not difficult to me. Someone does something for you; you thank them and then keep them up to date with the process. Needless to say I will not ever be referring anyone to ABC Ltd again. So in the end they will have lost out by simply not following simple business etiquette. And because the way you handle a referral will reflect on your reputation and that of ABC Ltd, my mind is made up.

 

Goodwill is key

The next time you receive a referral – think about how you’re going to express thanks to the person who made that referral to you. You’ve done the hard work by generating such goodwill that they’ve become a fan of yours, so why would you let yourself down by not dealing with the referral in a way that continues to build that goodwill? After all, you’d soon miss those referrals if they stopped coming in.

 

So for me, it’s as easy as 1, 2, and 3!

 

1.       Thank the person giving you the referral (it doesn’t have to be a gift just a thank you is fine)

2.       Make contact in a timely manner with the business they have referred you to.

3.       Keep everyone updated with what is happening and when

 

For help with referrals, recommendations so that you can tap into this invaluable business stream, contact Vicky at Fuel Marketing on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

 

14th November 2017

 

How many times is enough?

Fuel Marketing blog imagePrompted by a recent networking discussion, I wanted to discuss the importance of follow up when it comes to new business leads. According to a recent survey many business owners never manage to capitalise on all their hard work whilst attending all those networking meetings, events, and exhibitions because they simply don’t follow up on new business leads in an effective and timely manner.

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According to a recent survey, 79% of companies don’t follow-up new business leads which equals wasted time, opportunity, money, low morale and a damaged reputation. So ask yourself honestly, are you guilty of not following up, or of following up once and what do you think is the right number of times to keep reminding someone of your business’s existence?

 

As a marketer, I know that for a cold lead to even notice you exist it can take up to 12 points of contact, these could be an advert, an email, a direct mail letter, a telephone call and/or a meeting. And if you want them to do more than just notice you, then there are even more stages for you to undertake in order to move them from cold to warm. It’s not surprising that most of us give up after a couple of stages and that’s really sad as good follow up is all about timing, consistency, perseverance, flexibility and of course regularity and/or repetition.

 

But when a business has just started or is beginning to grow, many owners simply don’t have the time, people or resources to follow up each and every new business lead. This is in addition to managing any news that may result, as well as everything else they need to do with dealing with their current client work load and meeting their expectations.

 

So for successful follow up in your business, you need four things: 

  1. Time - Set aside some time every week for following up new business leads. Remember it doesn’t always have to be by phone, emailing and direct mail can work just as well and it’s not a one off contact, it needs to be done many times in order to increase your chances of success.
  2. Relevant information - It’s worth remembering to have someone you can send them that you think they would enjoy, so make time to build up a library of information including articles, books, white papers, blogs, podcasts, videos etc that you can share with them
  3. People - If you hate following up, give it to someone who doesn’t mind it and can do it on a regular and organised basis. Whilst not an advocate of scripts, sometimes it can help to have a few notes jotted down to keep the conversation moving along and to make sure that you cover all the bases.
  4. Systems - You need a system to help you with your follow up. A CRM system will record status, history and handle multiple channel campaigns, whilst effectively synching data with Outlook and other software packages and producing management reports to help you monitor and evaluate activity.

Remember when it comes to following up leads – faster is better and when it comes to leads whose purchase needs are slightly longer term, you need to be persistent and commit to staying in touch with them until they are sales ready. It is important to nurture them with consistent communications that describe how you can help solve their business challenges. So when they are ready to buy, they will think of you.

 

For help and support in new business lead follow up and other ways that good marketing practices can help you to increase your profitability contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

7th November 2017

 

Trust - your marketing toolkit winner!

Fuel Marketing blog imageTo establish your business, build strong customer relationships and develop a positive reputation, you need trust. It’s as simple as that. And some significant international research has identified that profit depends to a surprisingly large extent upon it. In other words, if you want to make a quantifiable impact on your bottom line, look deeper than the surface analysis that's often employed; trust is a significant key to building long term relationships, and long term repeat business.

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But what some businesses forget is that customer trust is earned not won and to be thought of as trustworthy you need to have integrity, loyalty and be:

  • Reliable
  • Open and honest
  • Competent
  • Sure that your behaviour matches your values
  • Listening to your clients and target market and finding out their needs 24/7
  • Able to build rapport and understand what is important to your clients
  • Looking at things from your clients perspective
  • Learning from you clients and applying that knowledge to improving your business
  • Deliver quality and dependability as standard
  • Customer focused/customer-centric
  • Communicating in a regular, targeted and professional manner
  • Able to fix problems quickly and efficiently
  • Proactive rather than reactive
  • Offering customers a choice based on your knowledge of them
  • Able to go that extra mile when needed
  • Capable of under promising and over delivering, not the other way round

For a free marketing audit on your business in order to establish whether your businesses is a trustworthy as it can be, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

 

31st October 2017

 

Surround yourself with your kind of people!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageWhy is when you go out with a group of work colleagues, friends or family to the pub, a restaurant, the cinema or even a party or celebration, there are some people that you just don’t take to. You can’t explain what it is, but you know that they are not your kind of people. So what do you do – you choose not to spend time with them, instead you find people who you do like and talk/socialise with them instead.

 

This is self-selection at its most basic. You choose who you want to be with. The same is true in a business arena.

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We’ve all being to networking meetings or corporate events where we have avoided people for reasons best known to ourselves. And we’ve all walked away from prospective clients when something just didn’t add up or feel right. So bearing all of this in mind, you need to remember that more than 50% of the people you meet won’t like you – and let’s face it you can’t control what they think about you. So if this is true, why do we waste time trying to please everyone and feel disappointed when we lose out on some new business or a new client?

 

We shouldn’t beat ourselves up, because if we can self-select, then you can bet  your bottom dollar that the person you are talking to, pitching to or working with is doing exactly the same thing. So instead of wasting time on something we cannot change, it's time you accepted it and just moved on! This way you will be able to avoid the negativity but best of all you will get to spend lots of time with people you like, whose energy synchronises with your own and who appreciate your true worth.

 

So my advice to you all is five-fold:

  • Be yourself
  • Trust your intuition (gut)
  • Surround yourself with people who make you happy or bring out the best in you
  • Ditch negativity, bitchiness and back stabbing and stay away from the mood hoovers
  • Align yourself with people that you can learn from

For help with your marketing, delivered with a huge dollop of honesty, so that you always know where you stand and what business focus you need to talk, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

24th October 2017

 

Could you just?!

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageIf I had a £1 for every time a client said “could you just” followed by an urgent request for obscure marketing assistance or an order to do something now, I would probably be fairly wealthy. So why do clients, where there is a marketing strategy and plan already agreed and in place, insist on adding in novel and often confusing extras that were never part of our joint original thinking?

 

I have my own theories of course, and not all of them are conspiratorial, but essential I think that it comes down to control, or rather a lack of it. The marketing strategy and plan have been devised with their input but when it comes to implementation, they are often out of the loop. So in a small bid to leverage some authority on the whole relationship and prove that they really do know their stuff, the “could you just” plea tends to come into its own.

 

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I appreciate the fact that outsourcing (subcontracting) marketing can be scary and in the early stages of the relationship you are still unsure of how it will work and of course whether it will work. But my advice to business owners, who are thinking of taking the plunge, is to bear in mind the following five points to ensure that your transition to outsourcing is as painless and productive as it can possibly be.

  1. Be a part of the process – define the roles, establish realistic expectations and communicate clearly and frequently
  2. Clearly define the goals for the work and the standards to which it must adhere. Let the subcontractor know what is most important to you
  3. Be accessible so that response times are timely and decisions can be taken quickly
  4. Select your subcontractor carefully. They should share your vision and be able to quickly immerse themselves in your culture, so there is a shared marketing voice.
  5. Agree regular update times so you can stay apprised of the work and have an opportunity to input your opinions/thoughts

And finally – make sure that you give them the space and support to get on with their work without feeling the need to constantly interfere or interrupt the smooth running of the marketing operations

 

So if you want your subcontractors to work well for your business, you need to make sure that you keep your intrusions to a minimum. Remember they are following an agreed plan and have set up regular check in times for you to comment. Asking “can you just” will only delay proceedings and cause the subcontractor to wonder if you have a problem with them or their work, this can be disastrous for building long-term loyal and trusted partnerships.

 

My advice is that after say 3 or 6 months into a contract, you should get together for a meeting and raise any issues or concerns that you have with each other in a professional manner. That way both of you will know where you stand and have the right of reply in a controlled environment. Endless email or voicemail requests can niggle after a while and I find that just picking up the phone and vocalising any problems can solve most things.

 

For help with your marketing implementation so that it is seamless and inclusive and means that you benefit from an outside perspective, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

17th October 2017

 

Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageRecently I was invited to a seminar entitled “How to market your business without spending money” and as a marketer that intrigued me enough to sign up. In over 25 years as a marketing professional I have never seen any marketing that was completely free. Plus there’s that nagging voice in my head that keeps chirping in with “does free have a value?”

 

Free marketing sounds fine and dandy in principal and whilst I do agree that no money is changing hands, business owners need to be aware that in order to do any marketing (free or otherwise) successfully you will need to commit plenty of time to planning it, doing it and following up on it too! And let’s face it when you are a business time really is money, so be carefully how much time you give to each of these activities and of course monitor and measure the results for a return on investment. Remember, every claim on your time needs to earn its place!

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So what is this free marketing that people are speaking of, well here are my thoughts on cost, but not time free, activities that you can get involved in:

 

1.    Word-of-mouth (referrals and recommendations)

Remember consumers listen most to other consumers' opinions, not to marketing messages. And whether you want it to happen or not customers will talk about your business, so you need to focus at least some effort on exceeding expectations and achieving quality – this applies to the service/product in question, your price and any discounts, how it’s delivered, your customer service, areas for adding value and of course your communications too.

 

2.    Networking

The more people you tell about your business, the greater chance you have of them trying it out. So putting yourself out there at events, seminars, exhibitions, business expos/shows, meetings (online or offline) etc. is a great way to increase your marketing reach. Whilst some networking activities involve a charge, there are plenty that are free, Remember to take your business cards and practice your elevator speech and always remember that everyone is a potential customer or a route to other customers.

 

3.    Social media

Sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn can provide a plethora of opportunities for free marketing if used well, and if your target audience use them too. Online forums and discussion groups can also work well. Just remember that frequency is important so don’t start something that you have no intending of doing a minimum of once a week, more is obviously preferential.

 

4.    Email newsletters

An email newsletter is a simple way of keeping your business fresh in your customers' minds and, if you offer exclusive deals through a newsletter, readers will often send it on to friends - meaning you reach even more potential customers. However Mail Chimp and other software can make the whole thing easier for you when it comes to design and distribution. Just remember to send it regularly, make sure that the brand is consistent, the content is fresh, easy to understand and act upon, check that the title is appealing and of course include plenty of calls to action and links to your website. Don’t forget to follow strict data collection/protection laws as most people still don’t.

 

5.    Blogging

Blogging is a great way of increasing traffic to your website as well as demonstrating your expertise, showing your relevancy and comments on topical issues and of course opening up a little about the real you to help more people connect with you and your business. Plus if you find businesses with some synergy and an overlapping customer base, talk to them and see if you can blog for each other. It’s great fun and of course means that if you blog weekly you may only have to write one or two blogs yourself every month instead of four!

 

6.    PR

 Write your own press releases and then build a network of relevant media contacts so that you can disseminate the information to them. Having media friends make the whole thing a lot easier but as a starting point, I would do your research as to which journalists are the ones who can help you and then try to find out their contact details using social media channels, websites and of course attending specific events, where a few journalists are often in evidence.

 

For help with free or paid marketing, call in the experts, then you can devote your time to running your business, whilst your marketing consultant does the rest. For expert marketing advice and help with implementation, contact Vicky on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

10th October 2017

 

Tell me what you want, what you really really want!

Fuel Marketing blog imageWhen I was a toddler, I can clearly remember my mum asking me to tell her precisely what I wanted simply and clearly. Obviously as a child telling people what you wanted was easy but as an adult, I am often mystified why we seem unable to communicate effectively and state our needs succinctly and without a fuss!

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When you are running your own business, it’s important to be able to vocalise your needs, both for yourself and your clients, as well as for possible business partners and referrers.  Having clients is like having a really good strong and healthy relationship. And for it to be successful, you need to follow three simple steps:

  1. Firstly, you need to remember that the other person is not psychic or a mind reader so does not magically know what you do, need or want. So you need to know what your business needs are.
  2. If you’re not sure what your business needs are, then please take the time to think carefully about them before you start telling people the wrong things or worse still nothing at all.
  3. Thirdly, you need to state your needs, don’t ask what works for the other person. You clearly say… “This is what I need. How can we make this work?”

Below is a list of things that you should know the answer to before you head out there and try to sell yourself and what you do:

  • What areas of business you will specialise in and what types you won’t
  • What types of work you will do and what types your won’t
  • What types of client you will work with and what types you won’t
  • What your fees/prices are and what areas will you be able to add value
  • What your responsibilities are and what are those of your clients
  • What timescales you work to and what you expect your clients to work to
  • What your client can expect of your business relationship
  • What expectations you have of your client
  • What you will do and what the results will mean for your client
  • Explain how you work and what you are hoping to achieve
  • What you will do if things go wrong
  • What you want your business to be known for
  • Where you want to be in 1, 5 and even 10 years’ time

So in the words of that legendary girl power group The Spice Girls, next time you are touting for business you need to “tell me what you want, what you really really want.”  Because by stating your needs, you are 75% more likely to attract the kind of business that you want than the kind of business that you don’t want.

 

For help in making sure that you know, understand and can confidently communicate your business needs, contact Vicky at Fuel on 07766 566690 or email vicky@fuelmarketing.co.uk

3rd October 2017

 

 

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