The toll of the bland, brand, band wagon!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageBrands are really knocking themselves out recently to be our heroes as well as saviours of our sanity and our purchasing conscience, or so it seems.

 

With carefully crafted imagery and messaging to appeal to our beliefs and allay our worries and fears, i.e. diet, wellbeing, environment, inequality, culture, mental health, hacking/cyber-security, privacy, fairness etc., it’s become commonplace to see a brand bragging about a plethora of benefits. 50% less sugar or salt, no artificial additives, 100% natural, ethically sourced, locally produced, consciously made, or the fact that it’s constructed from recycled materials, completely secure or produced in the UK.

 

The disease to please

Now as a consumer this is obviously relevant. But really if I’m being honest, I am finding it all a little smug, hollow, contrived, hypocritical and self-righteous. With life currently conspiring on every front to be challenging, coupled with an overwhelming choice of everything, what I really want from a brand is something entirely different.

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Typically, marketing campaigns nowadays feel like a cross between scaremongering and the actions of an over-enthusiastic puppy! So to avoid being lost in the marketing sea of sameness, please can you think about making some changes!

 

Mystery and suprise

I want a brand to be brave, creative, innovative and appealing. I want something that will make me sit up and take notice, not have me nodding my head in agreement at their “right on” values. I need a brand to be authentic, but I also want a dash of mystery and perhaps a surprise. Essentially, what I am asking for is a return to the nineties, when branding and marketing was fun!

 

Find your own rhythm!

Currently, I find myself getting weary of businesses whose scruples have been pricked by world events and feel the need to trot out unoriginal promises, guarantee and meaningless waffle to ensnare us.  Of course I can see why they are doing it – I am a marketer after all – but just for one day, how refreshing would it be to see some big names refusing to ride on the bandwagon of sameness and instead being bold enough to stand out from the crowd and beat out their own rhythm!?

 

Bring back some fun!

Brands – take note. We are not sheep; we like to be treated as individuals. I can’t save the planet, my health, my sanity and everyone else single-handedly and neither can you!

 

So, I ask you to cut me and yourself some slack. Think of the reasons why we buy anything – desire or fear - and then reimagine your proposition, before being a little bit cheeky and adding in a huge dollop of brilliance and enjoyment!

30th September 2019

 

Sharing values builds strong relationships

Fuel Marketing - blog imageAt a recent networking event, we were asked to discuss how we thought we could get the most from prospect meetings. Whilst the usual points about research, listening, understanding and follow up were raised, I decided to input my own thoughts by saying that having shared values was the most important thing to me when meeting a prospect. Some people in the group looked a little confused, so let me explain what is key about shared values in business relationships.

 

To ensure that you get what I mean, I’m not talking about shared interests. So whilst I agree that it’s lovely to work with someone who enjoys the same hobbies and activities as you, if your fundamental beliefs and value systems are similar, your relationship has a greater propensity for success.

 

What are core values?

Our core values affect all the decisions and choices that we make in life, including religion, political believes, career choices, lifestyle, attitudes etc. Essentially we all make decisions based on what feels ‘right’ to us. It’s an inner feeling, sometimes termed a gut feeling, so when you go along with something that doesn’t fit with your core values, you will feel uncomfortable and unhappy. 

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Our core values can change over time, as we grow and learn more about what’s important to us as individuals,  but it’s unlikely that anyone will be happy in a relationship (business or otherwise) with someone whose core values conflict with their own. Occasionally you may decide that for a certain person it’s worth changing, but unless you can find a way to make it suit your own values then it’s unlikely that you will feel authentic within the relationship – you will feel compromised.

 

What are your values?

Many people aren’t very clear about what their values are. They don’t know that they feel strongly about something until it’s threatened. It’s important to spend some time getting to know yourself and what’s important to you if you are going to find a client with similar values and beliefs to your own. But don’t forget that over time and according to what life stage you are at, your values will change. And whilst having a lot in common is fine, you might find yourself unhappy about a prospect’s negative view on something that you are passionate about. When this happens, do not fight it, withdraw gracefully and find someone else whose beliefs/values more closely match your own.

 

Value matching example

To bring this home I want to share a prospect meeting story with you. This happened to me many years ago. I was arranging a meeting with a prospective client in a local town to me. They were not from the area but having talked to them on the phone, I had found out as much as I could about them, including some information about their business/personal values. To this end, I confirmed that we would meet at an accessible local hotel, where I knew that all hot drinks were free (and you could help yourself to as many as you wanted), there were also comfy sofas, private areas of the lounge to talk, friendly and non-intrusive staff and plenty of free parking. The meeting duly went ahead and a proposal from me to them followed by email. A week later I was offered the work. On asking why they had chosen me as opposed to the other marketing companies they met on the same day, they confessed that they liked the fact that I took them to a venue which had everything they liked and offered free refreshments, as this matched their careful and considered attitude to spending money.  And it will probably come as no surprise to learn, that they are still my client.

 

Essentially successful working relationships are the ones with people who connect at a deeper level. And despite changes along the way, they are still in tune with each other as they are joined by their shared values/beliefs. If you need help to establish and communicate effectively your values and beliefs and those of your brand, then get in touch.

 

20th August 2019

 

What's your brand message?

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 it 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!

7th August 2019

 

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.

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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 an online weekly 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.

 

One size does not suit all!

 

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 a minimum of seven 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 multi-faceted strategy that will raise brand awareness, create trust and loyalty and promote engagement An average campaign tends to involve direct mail, email, telemarketing, advertising, PR, website social media and networking all delivered in a timely and targeted manner with strong calls to action.

 

Putting customers at the heart of everything you do!

 

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.

 

Don't rush

 

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.

 

23rd July 2019

 

How agile is your business?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageThe key to business success lies in the ability to respond quickly to changes in the business environment, whilst remaining cost efficient and embracing innovation and technology. In today’s highly competitive market place, it is critical for all business owners to remain flexible, so they can move and adapt, as well as actively encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking.

 

Agility over perfection

 

We all know that the early bird catches the worm, but now more than ever before, we are seeing a scenario where agility is winning over perfection. Whilst browsing on the internet I read the following quote from movie maker John Lasseter at Pixar, which made me think.

 

“We don't actually finish our films, we release them."

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What Lasseter is saying is that your company, product or service will never be finished and will never be what you would consider to be "perfect." So instead of beating yourself up, increasing numbers of companies are simply launching their offering as it is (90% perfect rather than 100% perfect) and are often able to gain a major advantage. They are doing this because they understand that there is no way to know every flaw, bug or feature request until they actually get their product/service in the hands of their intended customers.

 

Good enough?!

 

Whilst some of us might balk at the idea of launching something that is not 100% perfect, it’s worth remembering that there are some advantages. And whilst there are certain services that I wouldn’t want to compromise perfection on – MOT, heart surgery etc., there are without doubt some interesting reasons why being agile in business may present some interesting opportunities.

 

  1. Clear advantage over your competitors – when you launch something new quickly, you have an immediate advantage over your competitors who may still be at the testing or trialling stage. And whilst they are trying to achieve imaginary perfection, your company is achieving real sales and real market share.
  2. Time vs. perfection – if it took you 19 months to release the perfect product, you need to remember that a lot can change in that time, including customer demands and competitor behaviour. By being agile, you can set smaller, short-term deadlines that reduce the chances that your market will shift too sharply on you.
  3. What’s perfection anyway? – You will never know if your product or service is perfect until you get it into the hands of your customers, and even then some of the features that you spent months agonising over may never actually be used.
  4. It boosts your employees – Being an agile company means that your employees get the chance to work on different projects and have the invaluable experience of launching new features. It reduces the rates of burnout that can come from months of working on the same project with nothing to show for it.
  5. It energises your customers - Customers get excited about new features, new versions and new product development. It gives them something to talk about and keeps your company at the forefront of their mind.

 

So next time you are wondering whether your latest product or service is good enough, why don’t you do what the big brands are doing and launch it anyway?

8th July 2019

 

Good communications start from the inside!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageIt’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.

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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.

24th June 2019

 

How good is your marketing choreography?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageGood marketing is not made up of any one single activity, but a series of well thought out, complimentary and connected tasks.

 

Perfect marketing should resemble a well-choreographed musical number where planning, consistency, people, content, enthusiasm, communication and timing all come into play. And despite some people’s rather vocal thoughts, marketing really isn’t just advertising or social media, it’s so much more including:

 

- Direct Mail

- Telemarketing

- Digital (website/emarketing/SEO/PPC)

- PR

- Content (blogs/articles/editorials)

- Events

- Campaigns

- Networking

- Referrals

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So when marketing goes wrong, and it does, there are often quite clear reasons why it has happened.

 

Below are the 15 main reasons why I think that marketing can fail.

 

  1. No strategy or plan in place
  2. Insufficient or unrealistic budgeting
  3. Lack of clarity about target audience
  4. Brand inconsistency
  5. Overcomplicating the message and the content
  6. Doing what you’ve done before without evidence of success
  7. Using one or too few channels so marketing is not fully integrated
  8. Too much focus on features and not enough on benefits
  9. Overpromising and under-delivering
  10. Getting swayed by new opportunities, channels and tactics so forget what actually works
  11. Undervaluing the importance of current customers
  12. Lack of business agility to respond to change
  13. Delivering on price rather than value
  14. Lack of accurate monitoring and measurement
  15. Expecting instant results

 

If you want marketing success, you need to make sure that you do your homework and put as much effort and resource behind marketing, as you would behind any sales or business generating activity. Because when marketing is done well, it can make all the difference to you, your staff and your business.

11th June 2019

 

Manners cost nothing!

Fuel Marketing - Blog Image“No matter who you are and what you do, your manners will have a direct impact on your professional and social success.” - Anonymous

 

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” – Emily Post

 

As a child of the 1970’s, and with strict parents, manners and common courtesies were drilled into me from an early age. Respect your elders; never tell lies; help people when you can; do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it; don’t let people down; always apologise when something is your fault and finally remember to say please and thank you when appropriate. And like all of these things, once you know how to behave, you think that everyone else will follow suit.

 

Well two incidents in recent weeks have made me wonder exactly what’s happening with the rest of the world and whether I am an exception rather than the rule.

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You don’t call, you don’t write

Take the first example. I refer my client to use the services of a company that I have met and networked with for years. The client buys from them and thanks me for the referral, whilst the company who got the work have not even had the good grace to call or drop me an email saying thank you.

 

Do as I say, not as I do

The second example refers to a proposal I recently submitted for some work. When following up with the prospect they said that they needed another quote for comparison purposes but were going to make a quick decision so would be in touch in the next two weeks. Well it’s week four and still nothing from them, despite a friendly chaser.

 

Now some people amongst you might say that’s forgetfulness rather than rudeness but to me this two incidences say more to me about them and their businesses. In fact in light of these behaviours, I will change the way I do business. I won’t referrer any business to the company in the first example and if/when the organisation in the second example makes a decision, I will turn it down if I win the work - particularly as they were keen to point out to me the importance of keeping their clients informed every step of the way.

 

Relationships and trust

Making promises you have no intention of keeping and/or forgetting to say thank you are not exactly the worst things people could do, but in my line of work where it’s all about relationships and developing trust, manners really do matter and let’s face it they are free!

 

But I think what is more frightening is the fact that when I told a few people about these lapses in manners and general business etiquette, the people I told came right back at me with their own stories which in some cases were far, far worse than my own.

 

Treating people how you wish to be treated has always been my mantra. So next time you come across a display of bad manners ask yourself if this is something that you are willing to put up with or not?! Remember we are all consumers and there are individuals and organisations out there that are a sheer pleasure to do business with.

 

For marketing with manners, get in touch and let's see if we can help each other's businesses to grow.

28th May 2019

 

Don’t let your marketing compete against itself!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageIf you are not integrating your marketing communications across all of your channels, then it’s like your marketing is competing against itself. And to be honest if this is the case, in the long run it might be cheaper and easier just to do no marketing at all.

 

So how can you tell if your marketing is integrated?

 

Use the following criteria and rate whether your focused activities across different channels - website, brochure, social media, direct mail letter, emails, flyers, adverts, editorials etc. actually stack up?

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  • When you look at your marketing efforts is it instantly recognisable that they come from the same business?
  • Do they communicate your value, culture, positioning and brand image consistently across different media?
  • Are they focused on achieving the same goals, and working together like a well-oiled machine?

 

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’re probably dealing with a fragmented strategy or poor and inconsistent execution. So it might be time to get integrated and reap the benefits.

 

Consistency is key

It’s no secret in today’s busy and competitive world, that businesses who communicate a cohesive and consistent message across all channels have a better chance of breaking through the noise. And whilst some businesses may have different departments or marketing campaigns, all with separate goals, you need to ensure that your marketing messages are clear, not fragmented, as this lessens the impact of your individual marketing efforts, which in turn increases their respective costs.

 

The objective really is to link everything up and give your customers an easily understandable picture of the value and benefits that your business offers, no matter which channel they have used to access your brand. Because let’s face it, we are all a little sceptical of advertising claims, but the more often we encounter a consistent and positive message, the better we feel about a business. 

 

Build trust

For example if your marketing activities consist of a single advert in a specialist automotive magazine on a quarterly basis, then you won’t have the opportunity to build much trust. Now image your potential customers also get to read about your company in the local paper, receive an email newsletter and a follow up call, both awareness and trust in your company will start to increase and there will be a much greater likelihood that they’ll consider doing business with you.

 

So to conclude, there are two main benefits of integrated marketing, make sure that you are reaping the rewards:

 

1.    Increased marketing effectiveness

Your marketing is more powerful when every advertisement, every email and every marketing piece communicates consistently. Each time a customer or prospect sees your message, it’s reinforced in their minds, building greater awareness and trust over time. So when they’re ready to buy, your message is at the forefront of their mind.

 

2.    Increased marketing efficiencies

Integrated marketing is more efficient. An integrated plan also results in more efficient use of your marketing resources. Integrating different channels lets you exploit their individual strengths, maximising their impact and the return on your marketing spend. And because they’re working from the same strategy, they’ll share internal assets and resources, too.

 

For help to ensure that your marketing is integrated and is working harder for you and your wallet, get in touch.

10th May 2019

 

Is your website compelling enough?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageAs a marketer, am I frequently asked by clients, prospects, friends and colleagues to look at their websites, read through their copy and tell them honestly what I think?

 

Now those people that know me appreciate exactly how honest I am in my feedback, but sometimes even I am at a loss for what to say as some people’s business websites are just awful and end up being an unpleasant and often confusing chore to read.

 

If a website’s main purpose is to provoke a reaction and make people buy from you, then you need to make sure that at its very core it is communicating your main message, USP’s and benefits whilst at the same time providing an easy way for people to contact you. If you are unsure whether this is the case, then here are my tips to help you.

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Get a friend or colleague to look at your website, ask them to put themselves in the shoes of your potential customers and make sure that your website copy does the following:

  • Makes sense
  • Gets to the point quickly without the need for waffle
  • Is easy to understand what you do, what you offer and what benefits there are to choosing you
  • Is written in a conversational and friendly tone
  • Avoids being too technical and the use of jargon
  • Is relevant, and concise
  • Accurately conveys your brand attributes and what makes you different
  • Answers any queries or requests for additional information either via downloadable files or FAQ’s
  • Takes you through the website in a logical fashion making sensible use of headings, sub headings bullet points links and easy to follow tabs to improve flow and navigation
  • Uses compelling and sales focused words and phrases, which are guaranteed to provoke a positive reaction
  • Answers the question – so what and what’s in it for me?
  • Tells website visitors what they need to do next

Finally and most importantly – proof read what you have written. No one likes to read an unprofessional website with typos and mistakes.

 

If you think that your website isn’t doing what you want to do, and want some help to ensure that it’s working hard for you and your business then get in touch, we are professional copywriters and have years of experience in writing easy to read and engaging copy for websites.

29th April 2019

 

Top marketing tips for business success

Fuel Marketing - Blog ImageI've been doing strategic marketing for nearly 26 years and over this time I've picked up some top tips for how to acheive the best outcomes for your business.

 

Of course it's a given that to be successful marketing needs to be planned, consistent, regularly delivered and constantly reviewed and updated to ensure relevance and engagement, but there are other things that you should do to make an impact, stand out from the crowd and of course get the results that you deserve.

 

Check out my top 10 tips below, get them implented and operational and then reap the rewards of your efforts. Simple?!

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  1. Know your audience. Successful campaigns get that way because you really know your audience. You should 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.

12th April 2019

 

Getting the right balance between traditional and digital marketing

Fuel Marketing - blog imageMany people think digital marketing has taken over and that traditional marking is dead. But this is simply not true thanks to the continued use of magazines, newspapers and television as marketing channels. However, as either business owners or marketers you need to be fully aware of aware of the marketing strategies and possible results of both before adopting a marketing plan.

 

Whilst both traditional and digital share similar goals – attracting qualified customers and building brand awareness in your market, getting the right mix of both is better than the sum of its parts. Some businesses think of digital and traditional marketing as being at odds with each other, but in fact they can complement each other to meet goals and get the best possible results.

 

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing

Because of its longevity, people are accustomed to traditional marketing. Finding ads in magazines and newspapers, or reading billboards are still familiar activities and people still do them all the time. Most of the time, traditional marketing is reaching only a local audience even though it is not limited to one. One of the primary disadvantages of traditional marketing is that the results are not easily measured, and in many cases cannot be measured at all. In most cases, traditional marketing is also more costly than digital marketing. And perhaps the biggest disadvantage today is that traditional marketing is static which means there is no way to interact with the audience. It’s more like you are throwing information in front of people and hoping that they decide to take action.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Marketing

One benefit to using digital marketing is that the results are much easier to measure; and another is that a digital campaign can reach an infinite audience. It is also possible to tailor a digital campaign to reach a local audience but it can also be used on the web and reach the entire globe when appropriate. Digital marketing is also a very interactive means of reaching an audience since it makes use of social outlets. There can be plenty of direct contact between the audience and the business which means that the business can get some very valuable consumer feedback. One of the disadvantages to using digital media marketing strategies is that it can take some time to realise measurable success due to a delay in successful relationship building.

 

Getting a Realistic Balance

The world has transitioned into a very digital environment. Not only are magazines and television going digital, but thanks to online banking and e-readers, some of our daily tasks are now undertaken online too. So it kind of makes sense to invest in digital if that’s where your target audience is. But remember that some people still like the tangibility of print and flicking through something paper based and then filing it somewhere for future use - so never underestimate the power of traditional marketing either.

 

But, instead of thinking the decision is an “either-or” situation, you should look to capitalize on the strengths of both online and traditional marketing. It is important to note that, although the communication channels and monitoring methods may differ, marketing is marketing regardless of whether it happens online or not. And as marketers we still need to think up great ways to market our client’s products and services, and invest time and effort into turning those ideas into workable plans. So with the lines between digital and traditional marketing becoming more blurred as TV and radio continue to evolve to meet the demands of their users, you must learn to adapt your marketing practices to this new era.

1st April 2019

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

 

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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?”

 

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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

 

 

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