BSA Marketing https://www.bsamarketing.com Marketing by experts, for experts Fri, 05 Jun 2020 11:14:02 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://www.bsamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-favicon-2-32x32.png BSA Marketing https://www.bsamarketing.com 32 32 120695122 The best technology is effectively invisible https://www.bsamarketing.com/the-best-technology-is-effectively-invisible/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/the-best-technology-is-effectively-invisible/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2020 11:14:02 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14599 Technology is everywhere! During the past few weeks, it has been the main way that we have been able to stay in contact with one another, yet I’d like to think that actually, the best technology is effectively invisible. This isn’t to say that we can’t see it, more that we don’t notice it. It […]

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Technology is everywhere! During the past few weeks, it has been the main way that we have been able to stay in contact with one another, yet I’d like to think that actually, the best technology is effectively invisible.

This isn’t to say that we can’t see it, more that we don’t notice it. It is effective. It just works.

Even so, people do normally ‘notice’ technology in the first instance. Top technology companies have turned ‘unboxing’ into an art form. The look and touch of the latest iPhone are carefully designed to make us feel good! This is all very well but ultimately it is what you can do with the phone that matters. A handset is just a tool that allows you to communicate, surf, photograph, or whatever?  The look and feel may be important to start with but, at the end of the day, you just want it to work. It is what you do that matters.

The same is true when it comes to the technology you use in marketing your business. It may be nice to have all the bells and whistles but what really matters is that your customers and prospects, who engage with you, are fully focussed on your marketing message rather than the technology you use to deliver it. You want the technology to be so good that people don’t notice it!

UX is the key – but stay focussed on your goals

User eXperience (UX) is a significant and growing field in the world of marketing. However, like so many aspects of technology in marketing, it is being sold as a design solution rather than a practical solution. Talk of the psychology of colours and the positioning of key elements on forms and web-pages can lead to an expensive bill but (IMHO) is of limited practical value for the majority of SME businesses and websites.

Use your own experience of your business, customers and markets. You know what you want to offer and what people are looking for. Make sure you deliver in a straightforward way. This sentiment applies equally to your marketing.

For most of us, we should be focussing on a clear message with well laid out, straightforward navigation to our web content – and no dead ends! You can test this yourself, or ask friends & colleagues to take a look.  There will always be someone who can offer another tweak or refinement but ask yourself if these make any significant improvement. Incremental/marginal gains in UX can be expensively unnecessary.  Don’t try to make your marketing technology perfect. It never will be! What is important is that it works seamlessly.

Website Speed – Fast enough is fast enough

Some people are fixated by website speed tests. Whatever speed-score their website delivers, they want it to be faster. It becomes irrelevant whether the real-world performance of the website delivers a good and positive experience for their site visitors. It becomes all about making the numbers better – even if this delivers no real value or benefit. Are marginal gains in site speed really worth it if?

If I had to pick, I would say that speed isn’t everything – fixation on speed tests isn’t as important as UX – fast enough is fast enough. A slightly slower, well flowing site is better than a fast site with poor logic/navigation that frustrates visitors or leads them to dead ends.

Focus on effective functionality

If users can find a way to break your website, they will!  Better that you break it first. If you have tried to break your new web system, and failed, you can be confident that it is OK to launch on your market.

Even if you have failed to find the flaws in functionality and flow of your website, those flaws will still be there – and the chances are someone will find them, even if they are extremes!

Unless you are anticipating very high traffic on your site from the start (in which case it should be worth investing in some careful and comprehensive testing and a phased roll-out of a new site), I recommend that you make sure that you are ready to handle the process failures and bugs manually in the first instance.

This process has benefit for most businesses:

    1. It is more cost-effective
    2. No need to second guess every single possibility (and programme in solutions from the start that will rarely, if ever, be used)
    3. If you have a good, flexible system, you can always add functionality

Accepting that you will need to keep a close eye on your new system for a while and be ready to jump in and sort any problems that visitors experience, quickly.

I reckon that good system that is live and working for you and your business is more use than waiting until you have perfection before launch. Even if some visitors do experience the odd glitch, helping them quickly with backup and support can send a strong and positive message about your business

…and finally

My tips for effective marketing technology for your business…

  1. Never forget that marketing technology and websites are the means, not the end to achieving your marketing and business objectives.
  2. Start the process then evolve with experience. With development platforms such as WordPress, it is easy to add functionality based on real-world experience.
  3. You can start with a simple system and, over time, evolve it into a sophisticated, yet practical, web-application to help drive your business.
  4. The best technology for your business is invisible to your customers. It just works. It is your business that they see and remember.
  5. Get support from someone who understands both business process and technology. Someone who can support you in achieving your business goals, not just someone who does what you tell them.

Get in touch if you would like to chat.

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Are Webcasts a good marketing tool? https://www.bsamarketing.com/are-webcasts-a-good-marketing-tool/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/are-webcasts-a-good-marketing-tool/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2020 10:09:26 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14592 During the Lockdown, web meetings, and webinars have definitely come of age, and the number of people selling them as the next big marketing thing has also increased! Talk to any of these people and they will tell you that they are a must have in your marketing kit bag. But are they? The simple […]

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During the Lockdown, web meetings, and webinars have definitely come of age, and the number of people selling them as the next big marketing thing has also increased!

Talk to any of these people and they will tell you that they are a must have in your marketing kit bag. But are they?

The simple answer is, as with any marketing tool, “It Depends”. It depends on whether your marketing message would be enhanced by the webinar format and whether your market is likely to engage with the webinars.

Content is King

First lets look at content. The question here is do you have expertise, or access to expertise that people in your market would value. If you do then providing access to this expertise could be a great marketing tool, or in some cases a potential revenue earner via paid webcasts.

Most of the marketing strategies that we use with clients assume that they are experts in their fields, and the marketing is largely about communicating this expertise to the marketplace. So in our world, and in that of many businesses working in niche markets, this means that you can deliver value through your marketing messages. As such webinars may be relevant.

For many niche businesses, this “Expert in your Field” concept should be appropriate, and as such the the webcast as a marketing tool could well have merit. For other businesses, its about asking the question “what value would a webcast add to my marketing?”

What about your audience

So you have material that suits the webcast format. The next question is “What about your market? will they engage with a webcast?” I think that in most cases, if the content is interesting and relevant, then yes they will. The real question is will they believe you when you tell them you have something valuable to say!

I was speaking to a client last week, and this topic came up. He recounted a story about a webinar (yes this was a webinar) which on the face of it seemed valuable, but in fact it turned out simply to be a sales pitch for a paid course. The experience has led him to be wary of the marketing hype surrounding the format. The reality is that this is an issue. The use of webinars as a sales tool in this way has devalued them in many peoples eyes. One reason we talk about “webcasts” rather than “webinars” as this puts the focus on the content. Delivering great content, and getting a reputation for doing so has to be part of your strategy in this area.

Protect your Brand

The final thing I would like to cover is how the use of webcasts sits with your brand image & values.

There are many aspect to delivering a webcast:

  • The webcast itself, including technology, branding, and the quality/production values for the feed delivered
  • The sign up process, and how you manage access to the webcast
  • The interaction with attendees during the Webcast including how you handle things like Q&A and Chat
  • The lists goes on

All of these things will impact how the webcast reflects your brand, and all need to be considered. It might be a very easy solution to simply use a tool like Zoom for the whole process, but is that right for your brand?

To give an example; In a recent project for a client, we chose not to use Zoom to deliver the webcast as it was felt that the reported security issues for the system might reflect badly on them, and prevent some people from being able to take part. Whilst security may, in reality, not be much of an issue anymore for Zoom, the perception is there. This coupled with other factors around branding and the signup process led to us not using Zoom. As a result we used a number of technologies & platforms to deliver the webcast rather than a single platform end to end. Whilst more complex, the result was totally in line with their high quality brand. Something that could not necessarily be said of Zoom.

I am not saying that you should never use an out of the box solution. (In some cases it would be highly appropriate). What I am saying is that when selecting how to deliver your webcast, making sure it accurately reflects your brand should be a key factor.

So Are Webcasts a good marketing tool?

Consider all the factors above. If on balance they add value to your marketing, and can be done cost effectively in a way that fits your brand, then yes they are a good tool.

If on the other hand, the conclusion in that they don’t add significant value, or are not a cost effective part of the mix, then maybe they should be avoided. But at least you will have an answer for those trying to sell the concept!

 

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Marketing comms: A process, not event https://www.bsamarketing.com/marketing-comms-a-process-not-event/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/marketing-comms-a-process-not-event/#respond Fri, 22 May 2020 09:27:23 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14546 Over recent weeks we have been talking about Business Philosophy,  a potentially esoteric subject yet, as with most things in business, philosophy only takes us so far. Clearly defining your Business Philosophy can be useful to help clarify what a business stands for and what you are trying to achieve but it stops short of […]

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Over recent weeks we have been talking about Business Philosophy,  a potentially esoteric subject yet, as with most things in business, philosophy only takes us so far. Clearly defining your Business Philosophy can be useful to help clarify what a business stands for and what you are trying to achieve but it stops short of setting out the practical steps of how you plan to achieve your goal.

Driving your Business Philosophy needs action. Navel-gazing isn’t enough!

Marketing communications is key to letting your prospects and markets know about your business. It is not something you do once, it is ongoing.

Getting your consistent marketing message out as widely as possible is a process, not an event,

The problem with a process is that someone needs to set it up and getting running in the first place. If you run your own business, that person is most likely you!

However, as is evident in the current pandemic situation, the default position for most people is to look for direction from others.

It is easy to sit back and pick holes in the decisions of others and explain, after the event, how they could have done it differently. Yet the simple fact is that, as a starting point, somebody has to decide to do something – and then make it happen!

If it is your business, and your marketing, you have to start the process.

There should be time for subsequent review and refinement. This is the process. But you must start somewhere!

In summary, developing any process has 5 steps:

  1. Know what you are trying to achieve
  2. Know where you are starting from
  3. Understand factors that can influence your process
  4. Plan and implement your process
  5. Stick at it!

Let’s take this summary and apply it to marcomms….

The Marketing Communications Process

    1. Know what you are trying to achieve – What do you want to communicate, to whom and what outcome are you hoping for?

      • Take time to clearly define and understand your business proposition – As we have discussed before, it is easy to skirt around this and launch straight into ‘doing something‘.
      • Action without a plan puts focus on being busy rather than focusing on achieving results – a risky approach.
      • If you truly understand your business proposition, it makes planning easier as you have a framework to apply.
      • Who do you want to communicate with?
    2. Know where you are starting from – What do you have to work with?

      • What resources (typically time and/or money) do you have available to invest in your process – be realistic!
      • Do you have knowledge/experience of previous marketing activity that you can learn from?
      • What do you want to say?
    3. Understand factors that can influence your process

      • Your Business Philosophy is a key element here. Your philosophy will constrain the options you have available. You should only do what is right for you and your business.
      • How does your target audience communicate?  Knowing your market will help define the most suitable communication channels.
      • Will your message engage, inform and resonate with your target audience?
      • Will people be motivated to act on your message to help you achieve your goal?
    4. Plan and implement your process

      • Select your communication channels and set out a plan for relevant messages over time – Build a content calendar
      • I recommend using your website as your core message platform then use 2 or 3 channels (email/social media etc.) to spread the word.
      • Don’t forget offline. In this digital world, mail, telephone and face to face can all be powerful options
      • Build messages that reflect your philosophy and goals that are designed to resonate with your target audience
      • Do it and stick at it
    5. Stick at it!

      • Objectively review and analyse progress, and refine the process as you proceed.
      • Be realistic.
      • Avoid knee-jerk reactions
      • Be ready to give your process time.

Finally, in a single sentence…

The right message through the right channels to the right audience, consistently = success!

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Protect your Reputation https://www.bsamarketing.com/protect-your-reputation/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/protect-your-reputation/#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 17:05:11 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14542 In this weeks podcast one of the things we talked about was the importance of reputation when sending emails. In this post I want to explore this a little more deeply. Looking at ways to maintain your reputation, and hence maximise the chances of your emails being delivered. Why reputation matters Whether or not your […]

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In this weeks podcast one of the things we talked about was the importance of reputation when sending emails. In this post I want to explore this a little more deeply. Looking at ways to maintain your reputation, and hence maximise the chances of your emails being delivered.

Why reputation matters

Whether or not your email ends up in the recipients in box is controlled by filters in the sending infrastructure. These use many technical and content factors to determine the likelihood that the email might be spam. One key  factor today is sender reputation. An assessment as to whether the server sending the email is likely to be sending spam or not, and more importantly whether the sender is genuinely who they say they are.  This assessment builds up a picture of the reputation of that sender, and the better the reputation, the more likely it is that your emails will be delivered.

Here I want to look at 3 factors that impact this reputation:

  1. IP Address
  2. SPF/DKIM Records
  3. Your reputation as a content creator

IP address reputation

Let’s take the easy one first. Sending server throughput – The question here is “Is it unusual to be getting high volume emails from this server?” If the answer is yes, it flags up the possibility that the server has been compromised, and is unknowingly sending spam or malicious emails. It is in fact this second group where rather than simply selling something, the purpose of the email is to either deliver a malicious payload, or trick the recipient into revealing personal data & passwords (Phishing emails). Stopping his latter type of mail is the main focus of filters these days, and thus knowing the email is from a legitimate source rather than a hacked computer is important. This is the number one reason that using a dedicated email marketing system like Mailchimp, or mailing manager (The system used by BSA) is important. These systems will regularly be sending not high volumes of emails, and thus filtering algorithms will not see this activity as suspicious, or evidence of a compromised computer.

OK, so you are using a proper server to send your marketing email, but not all mass marketing mail servers are the same. After all, a phisher or spammer could simply set up a server and regularly send large volumes, so that activity in itself is not suspicious.  For this reasons, filters will also look at the identity of the server via its IP address. And in our experience this is one of the key deliverability factors.

List Quality

For this reason, professional email marketing providers will continually monitor the activity from their servers, to protect their reputation, and will block anyone from sending if they believe them to be acting irresponsibly. One of the key metrics in this analysis is list quality. Their preferred list development process is through double opt in where people add themselves to the list and then confirm the address by clicking a link. There is no doubt that this is the best way to build a list, and in consumer markets should be the core of your strategy. However it is not realistic to expect all lists to be generated this way, especially in many B2B markets where many contacts will be sources through offline mechanisms like networking and exhibitions. In these circumstances where you are adding  contacts manually to an email database, accuracy is essential, as is ensuring that any invalid addresses are removed before importing. For this reason we would recommend screening lists before adding them to an emailing system . Something we routinely do using the kickbox.io tool.

SPF Testing

This one is a little more technical, but I include it for you geeks out there who like to get technical! SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a system that uses a DNS record to authenticate mail servers to send mail for a given domain. An SPF pass tells the receiving email that the domain authorises the sending server to deliver mail mail on its behalf and thus is less likely to be spam. Increasingly big mail handlers like gmail, exchange and Office 365 use this test to help confirm whether an email is legitimate. Testing the SPF is fairly straight forward, but you will need 2 pieces of information (The address you are sending the mail from, and the IP address of the sending server). Once you have these, head along to an SPF testing tool and plug them in. If you get an SPF fail, you will need to speak to your email marketing provider to get this issue addressed, but doing so is usually pretty straight forward. If you would like to discuss how to improve the deliverability of your email campaigns please feel free to contact us, we are always happy to talk.

DKIM testing

Again, this is a technical tool for authenticating the validity of a message. When using DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), a digital signature is attached to each email, that can be checked against a public key held as a DNS record. Checking this key will allow email system to confirm that the parts of the email (including attachments) have not been modified since the signature was affixed.

Thus SPF ensures that the sender is who they say they are. DKIM validates the message has not been changed. Passing both these tests, whilst not guaranteeing deliverability, it will make it less likely that the message will be blocked by spam filters en route.

Whilst I am not going technical detail here, setting both SPF and DKIM is fairly straight forward through addition of a couple of DNS records.

Your Reputation

The final factor I want to cover here is the human factor. One element that most spam filters include in their algorithms is human feedback. Most email clients now will allow users to manually flag mail spam or not spam as appropriate. When users take this action, it is fed back to mail providers like Microsoft and Google. This feedback is then fed into their decisions as to what is or isn’t spam. For this reason, ensuring that your recipients welcome your mail is key. Ensure that you deliver high quality, well targeted content to recipients who want to receive it, and you are on the right track.

Of all the elements covered in this post, this is the one that should be given most consideration. The SPF and DKIM are fit and forget. Once implemented they are there and you don’t need to worry about them too much. Making sure your emails are well targeted, relevant and interesting, should be at the heart of your marketing communications strategy. Doing this is the key to maintaining a good reputation. Thus minimising the likelihood that your mail will be blocked by filters.

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Do Don’t Say https://www.bsamarketing.com/do-dont-say/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/do-dont-say/#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 14:00:26 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14491 To run a sustainable business requires motivation. The best way to motivate yourself is to create a close connection between your life philosophy (what gets you up in the morning), and what you are trying to achieve from a business perspective. A topic that David explores in more depth this week. In some cases, this […]

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To run a sustainable business requires motivation. The best way to motivate yourself is to create a close connection between your life philosophy (what gets you up in the morning), and what you are trying to achieve from a business perspective. A topic that David explores in more depth this week.

In some cases, this is difficult to do directly, in which case your business motivation may be a “means to an end”.  Success in your business dealings allows you to further your wider life objectives. But the ideal is to ensure that your life objectives and your business objectives are aligned. It is this scenario that I would like to explore in this post.

The idea of marrying your philosophy for life with your business objectives is something we explored recently when we looked at Simon Sinek’sThe power of why“. Here he explores the idea that using the reason you do what you do as part of your marketing message can be very powerful.

Now, I want to dig deeper into this approach. How to build your philosophical ideas into your marketing, without preaching. The key is to use actions rather than just words to deliver your message.

The truth is…..?

It is said that the words “The truth is” are often followed by a statement that probably isn’t the whole truth.

In the same way, telling customers that your offering is:

  • Great Value
  • High Quality
  • The Best…

May not ring true. Clients should be able to see it for themselves in the product/service and their dealings with your organisation.

Your philosophy should be communicated by what you do, not what you say. In other words, you should be telling people how you can add value for them. Let them make up their own mind if you offer good value, quality etc.

When looking at brands in the past, I have always highlighted the importance of demonstrating your brand values in everything that you do, and in every interaction you have with clients, not just in your marketing communication.

This is just as true when considering your philosophy. Demonstrating your thinking and what drives you in everything you do and in every interaction you have with your market is a far more powerful way of communicating your values than trying to talk people into agreement. If you have to give chapter and verse, then that’s preaching and people will switch off. To be effective, your philosophy should be clear from your actions.

If your product is high quality, then everything you do, and all interactions with your market should be equally high quality. If your philosophy is to go the extra mile, to make sure you deliver for your clients, then this thinking should be central to all you do and say.

Nothing is new

This idea is not new. Back in the 12th century, Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying “Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words”. In fact, this is a paraphrase. His actual words were

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

A sound approach when looking to communicate your philosophy and your brand. It is one that certainly worked for St Francis!

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Your business philosophy? Does it drive your business? https://www.bsamarketing.com/what-is-your-business-philosophy-does-it-drive-your-business/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/what-is-your-business-philosophy-does-it-drive-your-business/#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 12:53:48 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14490 Building and running a business is challenging and can be hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. We all do things for a reason. Running a business is no different. Here are 3 questions: Why do you run your business? What is your business philosophy? Does your business philosophy connect with your customers? […]

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Building and running a business is challenging and can be hard work, but it can also be very rewarding.

We all do things for a reason. Running a business is no different. Here are 3 questions:

  1. Why do you run your business?
  2. What is your business philosophy?
  3. Does your business philosophy connect with your customers?

Of course, a business philosophy should aim for personal success and fulfilment, and providing for you and your family. However, it is important to balance your own wishes with a desire to deliver real value to your customers and clients. Furthermore, getting this balance right can be the key to long-term success where everyone wins. Too much focus on either your own needs or those of your customers upsets the balance and the business risks failure.

An honest and well-balanced business philosophy can also be a great marketing asset.

What is your business philosophy?  Do you tell people?

My BSA philosophy

To explore this idea further, I think it is only fair to look at my own philosophy for BSA in terms of the 3 questions I pose above

1. Why do I run BSA?

To be honest, running BSA was unexpectedly thrust upon me back in 1986 following the sudden death of my father. I never took the decision to start a business. I literally woke up one day to find myself in charge!

The following few years were stressful I didn’t have a plan. I had a team to motivate and expenses to cover – not to mention a mortgage! In the end, I did the only thing I felt I could, I put my head down and got on with it! Although I was only too aware of the bills and wages that needed paying, my philosophy from the very start was that the best way to meet my own needs and obligations was to deliver the very best we could for our customers.

2. What is my business philosophy?

34 years later, we are still here so I guess we have been doing something right!

At its heart, my business philosophy is all about partnership.  In my experience, simply supplying a service to a client at arm’s length works well as a one-off but is less effective when we are trying to build a longer-term relationship. Our aim is to engage with our clients to deliver real benefit – to improve your business. We can only do this if we properly understand a client’s own philosophy and objectives.

I am proud that we have been working with most of our clients for many years. A client relationship can be based on no more than proactively and intelligently hosting a website. With other clients, we are actively developing and implementing ongoing marketing communication programmes, including exploring, developing and advising on new ideas and opportunities.

We bring together our own experience and skillset to work in partnership with the knowledge and capabilities of our client.  Getting the partnership right means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. My business philosophy is focussed on getting the partnership right.

We want to really help our clients, both in planning AND implementation. It is important that we help to make things happen, all as part of a bigger picture to drive and improve your business.

It is not about turnover. If a partnership is right, it is right, however modest or great it may be.

3. Does the BSA business philosophy connect with our customers?

In short, I hope so!

We recently did some customer research and, while the results highlighted some novel and valuable opinions, the core response does fit with my philosophy. Our clients see BSA as experts who effectively integrate this knowledge with the expertise of our clients to work together to deliver a better outcome for us both.

However, this led to another consideration: do we tell our prospective customers about our philosophy? I’m afraid to say that when we took a critical eye to our core marketing message on our website – we came up short. We had fallen into the classic marketing trap of discussing features rather than benefits!

I am a fan of the saying that ‘Every Day is a Schoolday’. No matter how much you know, there is always the opportunity to learn

Needless to say, we took the opportunity to make some changes.

Hopefully, our philosophy is becoming more apparent.

So what is your business philosophy?

So, what is your business philosophy? Does it effectively drive your business?

Might a partnership with BSA bring something to your party?

Let’s chat and see…

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Content – The elephant in the social media room (still) https://www.bsamarketing.com/content-the-elephant-in-the-social-media-room/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/content-the-elephant-in-the-social-media-room/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2020 07:48:09 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14480 Although the essence of marketing is communicating with your target markets, so many SME businesses focus on HOW they want to communicate rather than WHAT they want to communicate. Back in 2016, I wrote this article. While we all embrace the lockdown(!) as an opportunity to work on our business rather than just in our […]

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Although the essence of marketing is communicating with your target markets, so many SME businesses focus on HOW they want to communicate rather than WHAT they want to communicate. Back in 2016, I wrote this article. While we all embrace the lockdown(!) as an opportunity to work on our business rather than just in our business, I felt now is a good time to revisit the content elephant.

Actually, if you truly know what message/content you wish to communicate to effectively promote your products/services, then deciding HOW to communicate it is relatively straightforward. Undoubtedly you will be constrained by the resources you can afford to commit to marketing. TV advertising is not for everyone!. However, there is an ever-expanding range of online tools (including Websites, Social Media,  Click Advertising, Banner Advertising etc.) that can be accessed and effectively used at low cost, or even for free in some cases if you are prepared to put a bit of effort into learning what to do from the plethora of online tutorials and advice. The challenge is not so much HOW you communicate as WHAT you communicate.

Some people (often the truly successful entrepreneurs) have an innate skill for content.
They are lucky. They have a natural talent and can just do it.

Content creation in the real world

The problem for the rest of us is that when you turn to consider what it is that you want to say, coming up with relevant content can be challenging for many businesses. I think the issue is that deciding on content is a creative risk. There is no-one can tell you what you want to say. You have to think for yourself and there is a strong desire to try to get it right  – there is a focus on trying to be perfect when you can’t! I would go further, I believe that there is no perfect.

Consequently, instead of biting the bullet and diving into content creation, accepting that it won’t be perfect, it is enticing to avoid the issue and get sidetracked into the HOW.

Let’s learn all about LinkedIn/Twitter/Google Ads etc. – because if we learn this we will be better at producing perfect content.

Tapping into this sentiment, many businesses have grown up offering training and focusing on the HOW. OK, some of these businesses (the better ones!) will include tools and ideas to help with content creation but when it comes down to ‘defining the magic words and pictures’ for your own business, it is down to you.

I believe that most people who take up the training fail to benefit significantly because once they have learnt the skills HOW to communicate, they realise they still need to commit to deciding WHAT they want to say.

What about creative agencies and graphic designers?

Of course, there are also many creative agencies who have skills working in both words and pictures who can help with content creation but they often present a number of challenges:

  • They don’t know your business (at least to start with)
  • You have to give them a brief – so you are still having to set out your own core message
  • They can’t read your mind. What they come up with might not fit with your own thinking
  • Creative development can take time
  • Agencies are selling time so they (particularly the good ones!) can get expensive

Building a relationship with a good creative who understands your business can be valuable but this process normally requires significant investment in time and money.

Focusing on Content – a solution

If you aren’t in a position to invest (considerable) budgets on content creation, it is back to you, I’m afraid, even if you believe you don’t have a natural talent for content.

The answer is simple, even if not particularly appealing. Just do it! Don’t get sidetracked to the HOW. Accept that you need to focus on the WHAT.

OK, you need to focus on your message, but actually, your message does not need to be perfect. Remember that different people receive messages differently so even if you think your content is perfect, others may not agree! What’s important is that you are honest and truly believe what you are saying about the benefit and value you deliver to your customers.

An honest, relevant message with less than perfect delivery can still be powerful and effective.

If you are proud of your message and really believe it then if your delivery isn’t perfect it probably doesn’t really matter.

Like it on not, luck plays a part in marketing

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the key to guaranteed marketing success is to be really skilful at using marketing tools. This is not true.

There are countless examples (possibly most commercial social media!) where people with significant technical expertise communicate messages with the aim of going viral. However, the content withers and dies never to see the light of day because it doesn’t engage.

Equally, Social Media is awash with examples of stories that inadvertently went viral because they happened to really connect with their audience. These stories can start as no more than communication between a few people or posts on a local forum, but they end up with a life of their own and become unstoppable – often with unanticipated consequences – but that is another story.

4 Tips for effective content

Finally, here are 5 tips to get you started addressing the ‘Content elephant’

  1. Take time to ask yourself what it is that you do? Not the mechanics but the benefit you deliver to you customers and clients – maybe you could ask them?
  2. Focus on generating content you truly believe in. Content that truly reflects your business proposition
  3. Test your content. Get critiques from people you trust. Listen to them and be ready to adapt.
  4. Don’t try to be perfect. Perfect does not exist!
  5. Don’t ignore the content elephant. Get your content in place then look at your delivery – NOT the other way around.

If you would like to chat, please get in touch

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3 ways marketing is like buying premium bonds https://www.bsamarketing.com/3-ways-social-media-marketing-is-like-buying-premium-bonds/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/3-ways-social-media-marketing-is-like-buying-premium-bonds/#respond Thu, 23 Apr 2020 12:52:47 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14470 Recently Captain Tom’s 100 lap challenge has got me thinking about the whole question of marketing and social media marketing in particular. It made me realise, there are a lot of parallels between marketing and buying premium bonds. To illustrate this, and in tribute to Captain Tom’s efforts, I would like to take you through […]

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Recently Captain Tom’s 100 lap challenge has got me thinking about the whole question of marketing and social media marketing in particular. It made me realise, there are a lot of parallels between marketing and buying premium bonds. To illustrate this, and in tribute to Captain Tom’s efforts, I would like to take you through my 3 ways in which Social Media Marketing is like investing in the premium bonds

1. You have to be in it to win

Firstly, you have to be in it to win and how much you invest does matter. With premium bonds, investing £100 is a bit of a waste of time. On average, premium bonds deliver a return of around 1.4%. But the minimum prize is £25, so with a £100 investment, odds you will win nothing. In fact, only 1 in 20 people with a £100 investment will win anything. To be in with a better chance of getting your return, you need to make a minimum investment. Exactly what that is is not really relevant for this analogy, but if you want to know more, you might find this interesting – Premium Bonds – Are they worth it?.

Similarly, unless you are willing to invest time in social media marketing, you are unlikely to get significant returns. Social media is all about ongoing & continued engagement with your marketplace, and this needs continued investment in time and energy to deliver. Unless you are willing to commit this, you are probably wasting your time.

2. It’s not all about the big prize

Yes, if you invest in premium bonds, then you might win the jackpot, but you probably won’t. There is currently a 1 in 1 in 43,215,118,377 chance of any premium bond winning big. So even if you invest enough to stand a good chance of getting your 1.4% return, you probably won’t win a million, but that is not why most people buy them. The 1.4% that you are likely to get makes them a worthwhile investment. The fact that you might hit the jackpot is just a bonus!

It’s the same with social media. You probably won’t hit the jackpot like Captain Tom (Global coverage of his story, a number 1 single – and £28,310,754 pledged-at the last count). But I am sure that is not why he did it. He originally wanted to raise £1000 and would have been very happy if he had hit that target. The fact that it went viral, spread globally and raised such a large sum is a bonus. The fact is that even if your own post does not go viral, you can still get consistent, good returns from social media marketing.

What’s more, where social media is concerned, going viral has consequences other than marketing returns. For Captain Tom, it was having to deal with 40,000 birthday cards from wellwishers – but that’s another post!

3. You can always move your investment

With premium bonds, whilst you are invested, your capital is tied up. The only return you will get is from that investment. But if at any time a better opportunity comes along, you can move your investment – withdrawing your funds and using them elsewhere. At that point, any benefits you were getting from your premium bonds investment will stop, but hopefully, you will get new benefits elsewhere.

It’s the same with social media. Whilst you are investing your time and other resources in social media, you can not use them elsewhere. But if at any time a new, better opportunity comes along, you are free to switch your resource to the new activity. At this point you the benefit you get from investing it in social media will diminish, but new opportunities will arise from your new activity.

That’s why part of your process should always be monitoring and reviewing the returns on your activity. Keeping your eye out for new/better opportunities for marketing your business. Just because you are doing something now, does not necessarily mean you should keep doing it or that it’s the only thing you should be doing.

It’s actually not just social media!

As I mentioned at the top of the post. My premium bonds analogy is not just about social media marketing. It actually holds true for marketing as a whole.

  1. Good marketing is about managed, sustainable results, based on a planned investment of resources
  2. If you get the big win, that can be great, but also can give its own challenges, but in fact, you do marketing for the managed, sustainable results rather than just hoping for the big win
  3. Monitoring and analysis of your activities should be central to your planning. You should always be asking – Could I be doing other things to better market my business?

Finally, remember that like investments, marketing is about having a balanced portfolio. It’s not just about one activity, it is about having a balanced marketing mix that develops your brand and effectively tells your marketing story.

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Reflections on Lockdown https://www.bsamarketing.com/reflections-on-lockdown/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/reflections-on-lockdown/#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2020 18:04:59 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14438 It has been an interesting 3 weeks. On 17th March I was sitting in a hotel in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil. I had been out of contact on an amazing trip to Galapagos since the beginning of March and now, I was trying to get home as the normal world started to unfold around me. […]

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It has been an interesting 3 weeks. On 17th March I was sitting in a hotel in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil. I had been out of contact on an amazing trip to Galapagos since the beginning of March and now, I was trying to get home as the normal world started to unfold around me. I didn’t appreciate the full impact of what was to come. As it transpired, I caught the last scheduled international flight out of Ecuador before everything closed and the tragedy of coronavirus in Ecuador started to hit the news the following day.

I was lucky. I made it back to the UK relatively easily. There are still thousands of travellers trying to get home and I wish them well.

Lockdown Realty

Once home it was back to the office and a return to work – or so I thought! The following day, all restaurants, pubs, clubs, and indoor sport and leisure facilities across the UK were ordered to close, and then on 23 March, the lockdown was imposed.

It'll be OK. I can work from home. It wouldn't be the first time.

When I have worked from home in the past, it has never been for any length of time; the odd half-day or day here and there. We are fortunate that we have good internet connections and VPNs allowing full access to our work systems and data. With our growing use of cloud-based technologies (I talked about our move to Xero accounts a while ago) and our switch to a VOIP telephone system in January, BSA is technically well placed for remote working. It is the emotional and mental challenges in this surreal environment that are having a significant impact.

Am I on holiday?

Having just returned from an actual holiday, my first feeling was that I was still on holiday!  I always find it a challenge to get back into the work routine after being away. Now there was no routine to return to! No office to visit, no working day at the office. Am I still on holiday?

Yet there is work to do! Marketing and staying engaged with your customers and contacts is important, particularly in these strange times. We have clients who are very busy, actively involved in the fight against the pandemic and other clients who are seeing their e-commerce sites which, to date had been a minor supplement to bricks and mortar retail businesses, suddenly becoming the heart of plans to sustain business during the lockdown.

There was clearly no time for holidays! BSA’s experience and practical support are in demand.

Let’s Zoom

Two years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to make more use of remote meetings technology – I really don’t like driving to meetings if I can avoid it! 3 months later, after numerous unsuccessful trials with Skype, I gave up. The technology wasn’t up to the job. I don’t know whether it was the software, the bandwidth, the internet connections, or what, but it got in the way of the meeting. Remote meetings were on the back burner.

Although I had heard of Zoom, up to 3 weeks ago I had never used it. I was still disenchanted about the whole remote meeting thing. But with the lockdown, travelling became virtually impossible and so if I was going to meet with people, it would have to be on-line. Remote meetings were back on the agenda. I tried 4 or 5 different tools and by some margin, the best is Zoom. What a revelation, it just works. I have been involved in meeting with up to a dozen people for up to 2 hours. OK, there has been the odd occasion when the line quality wasn’t brilliant but overall, it looks like remote meeting has come of age – and just in the nick of time!

I am sure that even when the coronavirus lockdown of 2020 slips into history, online meetings are here to stay as a feature of the modern business world.

The new normal

While lockdown persists, I am seeing a sense of common purpose, a new normal. Sure, we are all still in business and it is vital that the economy is not allowed to stall. It remains appropriate to charge for products and services but this is a time for support, not profiteering. Some businesses are booming while others are struggling. A bit of flexibility, support and give & take can hopefully level things out for everyone while we try and make sense of our circumstances.

In fact, perhaps this the basis for good, sustainable business at any time?

Personally, one of the biggest challenges I am finding is to know what day it is! I have always tried to work Monday to Friday then have the weekend off. But do we still have weekends? I am starting to wonder! Does this matter? don’t get me wrong, having time off from work is essential (IMHO!) but does it need to be a working week followed by a weekend?

Working from home makes it easier to be flexible. I am trying to take time every day to get out and explore my local footpaths. this is time I would previously be stuck at my desk but it feels good to swap this for an hour or 2 work on a Saturday or Sunday, if necessary. I am seeing a new flexibility – I can work by hours not days.

This approach may be more challenging for employees – though flexitime has been a ‘thing’ – particularly in larger companies – for many years. Maybe our lockdown experience is showing the way for more flexibility in smaller businesses too.

I am sure that none of the things I am talking about here are new. People work in many different ways but alongside the challenges of lockdown, I am seeing some real positives and opportunities to do things different – and better. I am looking forward to exploring the new future.

I’d be interested to hear your experiences of the lockdown. Feel free to drop me a line – or why not join me on zoom for a chat.

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Adapting to the Lockdown https://www.bsamarketing.com/adapting-to-the-lockdown/ https://www.bsamarketing.com/adapting-to-the-lockdown/#respond Thu, 09 Apr 2020 15:36:46 +0000 https://www.bsamarketing.com/?p=14442 We are now three weeks into the new world that is lockdown. A lockdown that will likely continue at least for the next 3 to 4 weeks. I, therefore, thought it a good time to look at how businesses are adapting to this “New Normal”. Whilst some businesses can continue pretty much as normal, for […]

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We are now three weeks into the new world that is lockdown. A lockdown that will likely continue at least for the next 3 to 4 weeks. I, therefore, thought it a good time to look at how businesses are adapting to this “New Normal”.

Whilst some businesses can continue pretty much as normal, for those that can’t, there seem to be two ways to approach the situation:

  • Keep your head down, cut costs and see you on the other side
  • Adapt your business model to the “New Normal”

But as this situation develops and the time in lockdown extends, it will take increasingly deep pockets to adopt the”see you on the other side” approach. Increasingly business will need to adapt, in the short term at least. With this in mind, I thought it would be worth looking at some ways we have seen this happening.

Focus on the online model

Retail

Many retailers have been forced to close their bricks and mortar operations. And those who have not, have had to change the way they operate. In many of these cases, online ordering for click and collect or delivery is the new order of the day. Whilst in food and beverage this has been central in the news, there is actually nothing to stop any retail business shifting its operations online. Especially if, as is likely for a bricks and mortar retail operation, they are servicing a local market.

Locally, I have seen a number of businesses do this. In some cases their new operations becoming a lifeline to the local community.  But I am not suggesting this is an easy route. To succeed, it will need some different thinking to address new business issues that it throws up. Ramping up and managing delivery capacity. Switching process from serving over the counter to a pick pack and ship model. Taking and managing online payments – to name a few. It does however, allow businesses to maintain at least some revenue streams and in the long term. It can also enhance the businesses profile and standing within its market, delivering potential benefits into the future as well.

Restaurants

Another sector where I have seen this happening is restaurants. Here, the lockdown has most definitely cut off normal on-site revenue streams. But by switching to a delivery model, businesses can again create new revenues to help them through.

Whilst this will present similar challenges to the retail offering discussed above, many of the core competencies that make a successful restaurant under normal circumstances (Access to great produce, skilled cheffing (I think that’s a word!) and food prep) are still very relevant.  So assuming the demand is still there, and in many cases it is, safely generating revenue should still be possible.

I have seen a number of local restaurants follow this route over the last couple of weeks and Judging by how difficult it is to get a delivery slot, the demand is there. Whilst serving this demand may be less profitable than normal, it can deliver valuable revenue in the short term. It will also raise the businesses profile and offer marketing opportunities once things start to go back to normal.

Training/Therapy/Events

Other sectors we have seen moving online are the likes of Consultancy, Training, Therapy and Events. Whilst delivering these online may not be a direct substitution for face to face,  developing a remote offering can help maintain your presence in the market, and your relationship with clients. Furthermore, as the current situation extends, these on-line models too will become increasingly vital tools in maintaining and developing businesses.

We have seen a number of organisations successfully open up on-line capabilities, and the “Virtual gig” has become a mainstay for musicians worldwide.

Shift from Wholesale to Retail

Another shift I have seen is in businesses that were set up to service the retail leisure markets like pubs and resteraunts. A great example of this is one of our local breweries, who saw their normal order book dry up overnight as these businesses were forced to close.

However, they quickly discovered that the demand for their product was still there! People who would normally head to the pub for a beer were now wanting a supply at home. By shifting their business from supplying 50l barrels to pubs and restaurants, to supplying smaller quantities (Bottles & 5/10/20l barrels) direct to consumers, they have been able to maintain a revenue stream and again enhance their standing in the local area.

Like the retail examples above this shift will create its own issues, but it will also allow the business to enjoy retail rather than wholesale prices, thus mitigating some of the potential drop in capacity and increased costs, through higher margins.

What about the longer term?

I am sure that all of these businesses will be happy to come through the other side of this situation and return to their normal way of operating. But in many cases I suspect that the new skills and processes that they have developed during the lockdown will enhance their businesses once things start to return to normal.

Furthermore, as the lockdown extends, it will allow businesses to continue to operate without needing solely to rely on limited cash reserves.

Someone asked me this week “Are you surviving or thriving in the lockdown?“. Whilst it may be a big ask to expect most businesses to thrive, by adapting to the new environment, rather than simply keeping your head down, will allow a business to do more than survive. And some may even thrive!

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