Getting help to market your business

selectionq

There are so many different marketing services out there. How do I choose which is right for me?

Marketing should be about effective engagement with your customers and markets in a way that works for you, yet often particular marketing services are pitched as THE way to market your business. There is no such thing. Different approaches will (or won’t) suit different companies in different ways. My advice is to take a step back and consider some marketing realities:

  • New marketing is always speculative – things might not turn out as you hope
  • Beware anyone who offers certainty – they can’t
  • If it looks too good to be true – it probably is
  • There is always a cost – in time, money or both
  • Good marketing is planned, considered and joined up in your business

So how do I choose?

When I’m looking at a new marketing approach, I ask myself 4 questions:

  1. Does the approach being offered makes sense to me? Forget the hyperbole. Does it look logical and practical – based on my own experience of my business and market?
  2. Can I see a joined-up path to achieving what I want to achieve? If I’m being offered a new website, I can expect to get a website but then what? How am I going to use it to get closer to my market and build opportunities?
  3. Am I comfortable with the commitment/cost?
  4. Marketing is a speculative investment. I should balance risk with reward. Am I prepared to live with the results, good or bad?

If I can answer Yes to all 4, then the decision is easy. If my answer is NO to any one. maybe I should think again?

Never forget, it’s your business

Sometimes marketing services are pitched in a way where it seems the supplier takes the responsibility and you don’t have to do much. While this can have an appeal, I would be cautious. You know more about your business than anyone else and this knowledge is critical if you want your marketing to be effective. It is the combination of your knowledge of your business and the technical marketing knowledge and experience of your supplier, working in a close relationship, that creates a platform to deliver solid, sustainable success. If you would like a free, no obligation consultation on marketing your business, give us a call on 01457 851111 

BSA Marketing's mission is to make your marketing work for you.

The Problem with Google Analytics

I recently read a post about Google Analytics that made me consider what it means to call yourself a marketer, and what good marketing looks like?: You can read the full article here:

How Google Analytics ruined marketing

I spend a lot of my time advising clients what good marketing looks like and that, to be effective, marketing should be planned and joined up. Clients also regularly ask for advice regarding a ‘marketing’ service that someone is trying to sell to them. Normally, the sales pitch for these services revolves around google analytics, getting high search rankings and driving specific metrics. The real issue is not Google Analytics per-se, it is how people are encouraged to use it.

No-one is an expert in everything

Tools like search and SEO are too often sold as stand alone marketing solutions the success of which is measured using Google Analytics. They are presented as magic wands which can solve any marketing problem. If success was all about driving metrics in Google Analytics, that would be fine, but in reality success with analytics will not necessarily lead to business success. The article also suggests that it’s all about proper marketing qualifications. Whilst qualifications are important in demonstrating commitment & professionalism,  the real issue is that service providers need to accept that they are not experts in everything, and that the service they offer is not a magic wand. In reality the best results come when experts in individual disciplines focus on what they do best and come together with other experts to create great marketing programmes. In my experience, the worst offenders in the “we can do everything” department are not SEO & social media experts, but web designers. Sure, there are some great designers out there that can create a fantastic website layout and code developers who can turn designs into efficient, effective websites, but look at their websites and these people will invariably position themselves as Marketers, offering a full range of services from web development to SEO, Social Media and Email marketing. In reality, their interest lies in creating the website rather than using it as a marketing tool once it is complete. Whilst they may be experts in design and  web coding, they are not marketing experts. Once the web project is complete they want to be on to the next project. Conversely, BSA Marketing are at their core, experts in niche Business to Business Marketing. We understand the values, strengths and weaknesses of the variety of marketing tools on offer and there relevance to a particular business and objective.

Our mission is to make your marketing work for you.

To achieve this we use our in-house marketing expertise and then call on specialists in specific disciplines to create marketing programmes that really work.

Back to Google Analytics

Coming back to Google Analytics; has it has ruined marketing? In itself, I think not. Google Analytics has brought visibility to the cause and effect of marketing. In the time before Google Analytics, identifying whether or not your marketing was going in the right direction usually involved expensive market research to assess the short term impact of your efforts. This process was beyond the budget of most SME businesses. Google Analytics has changed the playing field and allows any business to see if marketing activities are having the desired short term impact. However, the ease with which this can now be done has encouraged people to focus on measuring the short term effect (eg is my social media campaign driving people to my website), and forget about the real long term objectives:

Engaging with my target market to communicate my offering through the use of website and social media, building awareness, growing confidence and delivering increased sales.

The issue is not “Has Google Analytics ruined marketing”  but  “Has Google Analytics made marketers blinkered to what they are really trying to achieve, and susceptible to the magic wand salesman”. Whilst the answer to the first question may be NO, there is far too much truth in the second!

5 Steps to Effective Marketing

5 Steps to effective marketingThe Summer holiday season is well and truly here and often a time when business owners take stock and review things. Almost inevitably, as part of this process, thoughts turn to effective marketing and business development. These days, there are so many different ideas and opportunities to market your business it can get confusing as to what is right for you. I thought this is a good time to go back to fundamentals and look at 5 key areas of marketing your business and give a practical idea for approaching each one.

1. Understand the value you deliver

Why do your customers do business with you? The answer to this question may not be as obvious as you think. It is likely that you are in completion with other businesses who, on the face of it, offer the same product or service as you so why do your customers do business with you? Come to that, why do other people do business with your competitors? Take some time to think about what is the benefit you give to your customers. This understanding is especially relevant to effective marketing IDEA:  Since you want to know what your customers think, ask them why they do business with you? You might be surprised by some of the answers!

2. Have a clear, consistent message

Once you have an understanding of the value you deliver, make sure that you communicate with your market in a clear and consistent way. Different messages can be confusing and will make it more difficult for customers to understand what you offer – and so more difficult for them to buy from you! IDEAPull together copies/printouts of all your marketing materials. Website, Brochures, Email, Social Media, Stationery, Adverts Do they all work together to deliver the right message consistently?

3. Know your target customers.

Even if you think you can sell your products or services to anyone (and maybe you can!), there are still going to be some businesses or people where there is a better ‘fit’ with your offer. Focus on customers who can get most value from doing business with you and then extend the reach of your marketing as you grow. IDEA:  As a starting point, ask yourself: ‘Am I making the most of people I already know?’ Build a database of existing customers/contacts and make sure you market to these regularly. It is much easier to get business (and referrals!) from people you already know.

4. Have a marketing plan?

One of the biggest issues with SME marketing is that it is done piecemeal. You start marketing when you are quiet then let it drift when you get busy. Marketing should be done all the time. It is OK to have times when you run a big campaign and other times when your marketing is more low-key. This should be a planned process IDEAUse all the elements I talk about above to set out a spreadsheet looking 6 months ahead and showing, over these 6 months:

  1. What message you want to communicate.
  2. When you are going to say it.
  3. What tools/media you are going to use to target your audience.

NOTE: A written plan gives more commitment and makes it a bit harder to find yourself getting distracted onto other things!

…and finally….

5. Stick at it?

When you commit to proactive marketing communications, it’s not so much about how often you communicate as being sustained in consistently putting out great content. This reinforces your capability to deliver real benefit to your customers. Plans are no good if they are written and then put on a shelf. They should be living, working documents. Are you doing what you said you’d do and is this getting you where you want to go? Your marketing activity should be continually reviewed as a core element of your management process and refined as you get feedback on your activities. IDEA:  Set aside 30 minutes every week to review your plan and make updates/adjustments to keep things on track. If your plan starts at 6 months and then each month you plan another month, it will stay ahead of your activity and give ongoing focus to your marketing. I hope you find this useful and if you are addressing all of these areas, congratulations, you are marketing! If, on the other hand, you think your marketing could benefit from a bit more focus, give us a call on 01457 851111 or email me: davidw@bsamarketing.com