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Friday, 29 March 2013

8 Questions To Shape Your Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is the term used to cover all the tools and tactics you might employ to attract and retain customers.  The most obvious being direct mail, social media, events, website, collateral, PR and merchandising.

Everywhere you look marketers are talking about the importance of content and the marketing mix. I predominately work with SMEs and for them the marketing mix is generally more of a marketing 'one size fits all, fingers crossed' event.  If that sounds familiar, read on .....

Before you rush into anything, make sure that you know the answers to the following

1. Who is your target audience?
2. Have they already heard of your brand?
3. Do they know what you do?
4. What are your audience looking for/trying to achieve/hoping to solve etc?
5. Why do they need your product/services?
6. What alternatives are available to them?
7. Where do they currently look for product/service info?
8. Do you deliver on your marketing promises - are you as good as you claim?

Knowing the answers to these questions, means you're likely to produce content which delivers value and helps generate business.  You'll also be better placed to decide which channels to use, when taking your messages to market and therefore more likely to achieve a marketing mix.

If this all sounds easier said than done, I'd be delighted to help ; ).

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Fit your own life jacket first - for all my freelance friends

It's a lightbulb moment.

Make your brand your most important client.

Write your blog post before tweaking the 3 others you're ghostwriting.

Populate your twitter stream before logging in under your clients ID to make them a star.

Start that discussion on your Facebook page, change your profile picture and engage with your community before writing that killer social media strategy for anyone else.

Repeat until you stop feeling guilty (of course that could just be me).

Monday, 18 March 2013

How Marvellous Is Your Marketing?


We're nearly a quarter of the way through 2013. How successful have your marketing efforts been so far?

It's time to dust down those excel spreadsheets, (I can hear you groaning) and see what hindsight, insight and foresight can be gleaned.  So, what should you do to start measuring?

1. Prioritise data collection against the most important metrics for your business
Your company might work to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which are generally linked to business objectives and nearly always focus on a mix of customer retention, customer acquisition and/or customer growth targets. Make sure you know what yours are and have the facts to speak to them. Alternatively, show how customer retention and acquisition link to social media engagement, your outbound/inbound strategy etc.

2. Who needs to know your metrics - deliver your findings in their language
The CFO wants to see all the numbers, the sales guys want to know how marketing has contributed to them making their numbers.  Everyone who needs a marketing metric has their own agenda.  Make sure to provide them with the evidence they need, to show marketing doing a great job.

3. Remember the intangibles
What impact has a project or campaign had on your customers, your brand and your colleagues? Maybe you can attribute new opportunities, targets or ideas to your current marketing efforts. Also look for new relationships formed with vendors, bloggers, event partners etc. This will give a more rounded picture than metrics alone.

If the thought of the above fills you with dread, then try to focus on the benefits to you and your marketing team, beyond securing next years budget.

1. Great results = Visibility + Credibility
Now that you've shown what can be achieved, what more could you do with additional resources/time/funds* (*insert your greatest marketing wishes here).

2. Identified success leads to opportunities
Now that you know what's working, can you replicate this across different products, geographies or industries?  Oh look, marketing just became business development.

3. Great results build trust 
Trust means being included in early level decision making that shapes your future business. Facts and figures take marketing from a 'nice to have' to a 'must have'.

Even if your results are less than worthy of a gold star, taking stock and reacting now, means resources can be rechanneled rather than squandered and your business will thank you for keeping them on track.  Promise.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Is Your Marketing Worth Your Budget?

image credit

In the good old days your marketing success was measured in cheers and clapping, as the sales team made their numbers and occasionally remembered to attribute a small thank you, to the marketing team who designed the campaigns, produced the brochure, ran the tradeshow, sent the emails and managed the website (but I'm not bitter).  Only the foolish tried to quantify their contribution.  Marketing was a cost centre forever.

Evaluating marketing success is no longer optional, but what you choose to measure and why you choose to measure it, can make all the difference.

Dust off your marketing plan

Remember that document you sweated blood over at the end of last year? Go back to your marketing plan and pinpoint what your organisation defines as success.  What is the marketing team tasked with this year e.g. increasing leads, improving retention, grabbing market share etc.  Add numbers if they are missing so that 'increasing leads' becomes '20 new prospect leads per month from the UK top priority list according to sales'.  If you aim at nothing, you're bound to hit it.  Aiming for a number gives you a definite proof point.

You probably have some key targets in your marketing strategy, but measuring as you go along will help you to make any changes necessary, to stay relevant and take advantage of new opportunities as they develop.

Who cares what marketing does?

If you're the marketing budget holder, who do you need to influence to secure next years funds?  Over delivering, under budget is the marketing dream team of every CFO.  Make sure you know what information is needed across your organisation to demonstrate your success.  If you can convey the facts in their language i.e. actual leads generated against forecast for the sales and financial people, they're more likely to listen.

Also think about the format of your facts and figures in terms of what works best for your peers/boss/other departments and how often they need updating on marketing progress. Email and direct marketing campaigns are relatively easy to measure, as are web statistics and now as each new social media trend emerges, so does a tool to help you evaluate your success.  Use these to set expectations at the outset and refer to them often to check you're on track.

Get started

Once you know what you're trying to measure, why you those numbers are important and who cares about the results, it's time to get started.  Some of my favourite (and free) little helpers are
Now go forth and quantify!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Is Your Marketing On Track? The 4 Point Check

We're two months into the new year now and your marketing plan is in full flow. Yes?/No?

Like the rest of us, good intentions are often derailed by new opportunities, fresh ideas and all manner of life getting in the way. If this sounds familiar then the good news is, it's relatively easy to get back on track by considering a few basic questions.

1. What are your marketing objectives?

Look at your marketing plan and remind yourself of the agreed definition of marketing success e.g. increase revenue by X%, drive business growth by Y, produce Z number of new leads per month etc. Keep this on your desk, stick it to your pinboard and refer to it often. Once you start to implement, marketing resources can quickly find themselves stretched. Keeping your agreed objectives visible, helps the business understand where and when you can be flexible.

2. Are your communications working?

Think about what you have to tell the world and make sure you know who cares enough to listen.
  • Look at the months ahead as an ongoing conversation with your target audience(s). Your outreach ideally needs to take them from strangers to your product/service to advocates of it and that doesn’t happen overnight or with one email blast 
  • Make your messaging clear, concise and consistent. Stay away from business speak and make it conversational if possible. Your customers are just as smart as you are, so don’t send communications that you wouldn’t be delighted to receive yourself 
  • Talk benefits rather than features. The only person really interested in your product/service is you. For everyone else you have to create a need, solve a problem or generate enough excitement that they decide to buy 
  • Quality of your content should be the driving force. Before you send anything, think – so what? Never send an email to your installed base telling them you have updated your website, unless there’s an actual benefit to them knowing that (i.e. downloads, discounts etc.). Otherwise you’ve just interrupted their day for nothing and that’s a wasted opportunity 
  • Think about your ‘call to action’ on each communication and prioritize next steps in your outreach based on how your customers respond to the last one, rather than pigeon holing them too early. Make sure to work with your sales team on this one 

3. Keep monitoring which tool(s) are most likely to help you meet your objectives

I’m constantly amazed when companies launch into social media campaigns without knowing why they’re doing them or indeed if the people they’re trying to reach are even on Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Think combination campaigns, which use multiple channels to reach your audience e.g. if you’re staging an event, you could send an email, set up a micro site, link to this from your blog entry, tweet, post details on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You’ll also want to produce a printed document for the sales team to leave behind and if you use great imagery you might even get picked up on Pinterest! 
  • Go where your audience are. If your target group read a particular publication then you’d obviously want to advertise there. In the same way, influential bloggers can make or break an idea or campaign. You don’t have to be everywhere - just where your customers are. 
  • Look at how your various customer groups have engaged with you in the past. You’ve probably got multiple data stores, (even if its just excel spreadsheets on each sales persons laptop). Revisiting this information can really help you personalise your outreach 
  • Before selecting, draw up a pros and cons list for each tool which might do the job e.g. Twitter is great for immediate, small amounts of information and interaction, but the immediacy means information is quickly out of date or lost and 140 characters might not do your message justice 

4. Check that your marketing is building the future you hope for - test and measure

Used properly your marketing tactics should not only achieve your immediate goals but also enhance the overall customer experience.
  • Make sure that all outreach adds value to your brand. In this wonderful world of information sharing, you can never really predict where your messaging might go, so craft each piece to reflect your brand values and what your company stands for and you’ll always be proud 
  • Make it clear how customers can contact you, not just to take up the offer, but to provide feedback, ask questions and engage. Remember long-term relationships are built on trust and hiding behind an ‘info@’ email address doesn’t inspire confidence, unless you respond to it within an hour or less (which would then be a definite ‘wow’ factor)

Above all, make sure your marketing delivers on the promises made to your customers. Future years marketing budgets and ultimately customer loyalty, are won or lost on this fact.