Traditional marketing
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Sometimes Traditional Marketing Is The Right Approach

Traditional marketing can still be relevant to your business.

I had a good example of this just last week.

My household insurance had to be renewed and for once actually looked through the small print.

I was concerned with the bit that said that burglary claims would only be covered if the right kind of locks were in place.

So I got Nigel, my insurance broker, to come round and give me some advice.

The upshot was that I need new 5 lever mortice locks on my front and back doors.

I then talked to him about his business and how he generates new clients.

He’s in the happy situation where as long as he provides a competitive quote each year, his client retention is over 90%.

It turned out that his is the kind of business where traditional marketing is much more relevant than digital.

Now normally I recommend small businesses like his to put a simple digital marketing strategy in place – revolving predominantly around a high quality website and a traffic strategy to drive visitors to the site.

However in this case this wouldn’t be the right approach because:

  1. His direct competitors are the national insurance companies such as Direct Line, Go Compare, Co-op insurance etc.
    These companies have very deep pockets and a small business is not going to be able to compete both in organic SEO or Google Ads.
  2. For matters like insurance many people talk to their friends for guidance and referrals instead of just doing a Google search.

So what approach should a business like this take?

  1. Professional introducers

Referrals are a great source of new business.

Nigel should therefore develop relationships with trusted professionals such as accountants and lawyers.

When your accountant makes a recommendation on a financial issue, most of us would trust them and take up the referral.

  • Networking

If you can develop a powerful proposition networking is a very good source of business.

Nigel stands up and commits to being able to provide a cheaper quote or better cover for the same money as the major players.

If someone makes an offer like that, why wouldn’t you ask for a quote – you’ve got nothing to lose.

  • Cross selling to existing customers

Nigel’s existing customers should always be his best source of new business.

If he maintains close relationships with his customers and knows any changes to their personal and professional situation, he can proactively offer them new products and services to cover their changed circumstances.

The secret here is only to offer products that are genuinely beneficial to the customer as this will position you as a valued supplier.

Get it wrong and you’ll be just another supplier trying to flog unwanted and irrelevant stuff.

So if you’ve got customers who think like Nigel’s it may be that a traditional marketing approach is right for you.

If you need any more help get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or call me on 01483 200387.

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The Importance Of Marketing

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of marketing.

I had a meeting last week with a guy who installs commercial kitchens in schools.

He’d been going three years and is turning over £900k.

He wants to break the million barrier and as he does no marketing at all currently, he understands firstly the importance of marketing and secondly that with a bit of activity he could hit his target quite easily.

So we worked out a basic plan and put a date in the diary for when we’d start working.

The day before our first meeting he phoned to say that he was too busy to have the meeting as he had seven jobs about to start.

Now his issue is that schools make changes and upgrades to their kitchens during the school holidays and so July and August are his peak times.

I fully understand that now is not the best time for his focus to be drawn away from actually doing the work.

But his problem, as I pointed out to him, is that come September he’s likely to be sitting twiddling his thumbs with very little work to do.

Not surprisingly he was completely aware of that and claimed to be “one million percent” committed to the plan we’d created.

We left it that when he’s got a moment that he’ll get back in touch.

To be honest I’m not holding my breath.

This guy’s a classic example of business owners who claim to understand the importance of marketing but when it comes down to it, they don’t prioritise it.

I see this so often

Business owners have to realise that if they’re going to take the business forward they need to stop working exclusively “in” the business and start working “on” it.

But they’ve always worked that way, they comfortable doing it that way, they often believe that they’re the only people who can do it right.

The fact is that working like this you will reach a ceiling beyond which it’s impossible to go.

This is absolutely fine if that’s what you’re happy with.

However if you do have aspirations for a bigger business, to earn more money and to create something that you can potentially sell, you must take that step.

Of course it involves letting go a bit,  it involves planning it bit more, it involves moving on from having a job to running a business and that may not be for everyone.

But if you genuinely want to create something bigger and potentially give yourself more time to enjoy what you’ve created, it is a step you have to take sooner or later.

What will I do now with the lead?

I’ll add him to my database so that I keep in contact with him weekly, I’ll pick up the phone every so often, I’ll keep myself in his consciousness as a regular reminder of this “million percent commitment” and we’ll see what happens.

If you understand the importance of marketing and know that it’s time you got some help with it, give me a shout on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk , call me on 01483 200387.

Proactive marketing
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The Importance Of Proactive Marketing

I can’t stress enough the importance of proactive marketing

Too many businesses are reactive – they have no plan of how they’re going to generate customers,

They don’t take responsibility for their marketing and therefore for their success.

Two businesses have already closed down this year on a little parade quite close to where I live.

One’s a small café and the other is a nail bar.

Both of them score zero out of ten for proactive marketing – they’ll blame everyone but themselves for their demise.

But the truth is they’re in denial.

There ought to be some kind of law against people like that setting up in business.

Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t need to take out radio ads or pay for billboards.

If the owner of that nail bar had gone on Facebook and run a simple ad to local women  they could have reached thousands of potential customers and generated loads of new customers.

If the cafe owner was doing the same, just running simple, effective Facebook ads to the local area, they would have had a lot more business.

Instead they both just opened their doors and seemingly hoped for the best.

And why do people do this?

You can sum it up with the sentiment in the Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams” which had the strap line, “If you build it, they will come”.

Of course this is complete rubbish.

But it’s that sort of thinking that pervades so many local businesses today.

So what’s the alternative?

Business owners need to have the mindset – “When I build it, I will bloody well make sure that the world knows about it…”

And they have to follow up the mindset with proactive marketing.

Your marketing budget needs a much bigger investment of time and creativity than it does of cash.

However if you’re not one for proactive marketing and you don’t feel that you know where to start, drop me an email on mikejennings@bda.me.uk or call me on 01483 200387.

Attention to detail
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Your Attention To Detail

Your attention to detail will make a massive difference to both your marketing and to your business.

My wife and I were away last week in the West Country.

We stayed mainly in B&Bs which were generally really nice.

To get traffic to their websites, they have to be on the major portals – Booking.com and Hotels.com.

They live and die by the customer ratings they receive and a couple of owners told me how one poor review can have a massive impact on their score.

The equivalent for your business is testimonials.

They provide the social proof that potential customers are looking for.

So remember to chase your customers for a testimonial as you can never have too many positive comments from happy customers.

However my wife and I were discussing what it takes to get those really good reviews – the 10/10 scores.

These days we take the basics for granted:

  • A comfortable bed
  • A good breakfast
  • Spotlessly clean room
  • A decent sized TV

Once the basics are in place it’s the little touches, the attention to detail, that makes the difference:

  • Nice quality toiletries
  • Soft fluffy towels
  • A carafe of drinking water
  • Some nice biscuits
  • Being offered a cup of tea when you arrive
  • Warm and friendly hosts

None of these things are very expensive but they make a real difference.

It all comes down to the care, attention and love that you bring to your business and as one of our hosts said “providing a service that they would want to experience themselves”.

So what should you do to ensure your business is delivering the right level of service at every stage of the customer journey?

Break your business down into chunks representing each stage of the process a customer will go through when dealing with your business.

Then look and see if there is something extra that you can add in that will make the experience more professional, more impressive, more valuable and more memorable.

If you’re struggling to identify what you need to do, go back to my B&B owner and ask yourself what would you like to experience at every stage of the transaction.

I’m sure the main elements (the comfy bed) are already in place and you probably just need to add a few little touches.

It’s this attention to detail that your customers will remember and will ensure they give you the 10/10 mark.

If you need help with any aspect of the process, give me a shout on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or call me on 01483 200387.

Product sampling
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Product Sampling

Product sampling, allowing your prospects to sample your product or service is a vital part of the marketing process.

This was graphically demonstrated to me just last weekend.

My eldest daughter is getting married next May.

Incredibly you have to sort everything out about a year in advance otherwise everything’s booked up.

So last Sunday a catering company came round so we could sample their food.

What a great afternoon.

Sitting in your own garden having delicious food cooked for you by someone else.

However the company were pretty savvy both in their marketing and general commercial management.

So we found them through Google in the normal way and got a ball park quote.

The next thing was product sampling – tasting the food to check we actually liked it.

All their food is cooked over wood fires so they turned up in their monogrammed polo shirts, bringing everything with them that they needed – gazebos, fire bowls, grills, crockery etc.

The theatre of the cooking is one of their key selling points and they made sure that ran perfectly.

The food itself was great and was beautifully presented.

Whether on the day itself when they’re catering for significantly more than four people, the food will be as good is another question.

The guys themselves couldn’t have been nicer.

So basically they got their sales pitch absolutely right.

This is an area where lots of small businesses let themselves down.

When you get the chance to demonstrate your wares, have you thought through every element in the process to make sure you’re presenting the best version of you that you can.

Of course the key element in all this was the actual product sampling – in this case the food.

Obviously with food it’s easy but you should find some way in which prospects can test drive whatever you sell so that they can be confident that it provides what they’re looking for.

Now the other element that was interesting was the charging.

The tasting itself cost about £90 per head so with 4 of us it was an expensive lunch.

But if you go with them, then the cost of the tasting is deducted from the final bill.

So in effect, the tasting becomes free.

Which is quite a clever and powerful incentive to choose them.

If we hadn’t decided to use them, they would still have been well paid for the few hours they spent with us.

So it really was a bit of a win/win for them.

Is there any way you could take this idea and apply it to your own business?

Luckily we loved them so this great lunch will turn out to be free.

Which calls into question the idea that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

If you need any help thinking of and executing clever marketing ideas, get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk  or call me on 01483 2003897.

Marketing your business
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Marketing Your Business

Marketing your business is just the same as politicians selling themselves to their electorate.

This is very relevant right now in the wake of Theresa May’s resignation.

Now starts a mad rush by innumerable Conservative nobodies for the top job.

God knows why anyone would want it.

To get elected each one will have to persuade firstly Tory MPs and then the membership of the Tory party that they’re the best option.

Basically they’ve got to market themselves to these separate audiences to demonstrate that they’re the right man or woman for the job and that they will be able to win a general election.

The process is just like you marketing your business.

Both have got to show:

  1. What they stand for

The values they will uphold and the reasons they should be trusted.

  • The problems in people’s lives that they will solve.

This is the biggie both for a politician and for a small business owner.

While a politician has got to show how they’ll deal with Brexit, the economy, foreign policy etc  you have to be able to demonstrate how you can be the answer to your customers’ problems.

  • The benefits they will deliver.

This is a key issue.

Politicians and  business owners have to be able to articulate very clearly how their electorate/customers  will benefit from their services.

  • Why them

These wannabe Tory leaders have at least 10 opponents.

Each one has to make their case about why they should be the one chosen, the reasons that make them the obvious choice.

Again it’s the same with you marketing your business.

We all have loads of competitors and unless we can make a compelling case for why us then it’s unlikely that we will get the nod from our discerning customers.

  • The overall vision.

In my opinion the reason the Tories did so badly in the last election was because they failed to give the electorate a vision of how their lives were going to improve.

That requires a leader with imagination and vision and that does not describe our mate Theresa.

Again it’s the same with your business.

Give your customers an overall vision of where you’re going to take them that they can buy into and you’re on your way to success.

So I hope your business looks more encouraging than the Tory runners and riders otherwise God help you.

Failing help from on high, I’ll give you more terrestrial based support marketing your business, just email me on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or call on 01483 200387.

Marketing machine
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Your Marketing Machine

You want your marketing to work like a well oiled marketing machine.

You set it up and your marketing happens automatically.

I compare your marketing to a machine such as a bike.

I took my bike in for a tune up recently.

In the shop they will have looked at all the key issues – the gears, the brakes, the chain etc to ensure not only that each element is working as it should but that they are all working smoothly together.

Just like you want your marketing to do.

Now I don’t know how many different marketing elements and channels you’re using.

The advice is always to have several – six or seven at least.

This is so that if one starts to malfunction, the impact won’t be disastrous, as the other channels will still continue to perform.

Whereas if you’re only using one or two channels and one starts to underperform, then you could be heading for a whole heap of trouble.

So let’s for sake of argument say that you’re utilising the following:

  • Website
  • Google Ads
  • Google My Business
  • Facebook Ads
  • Remarketing
  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail

While each of these are stand alone activities, it’s vital that they work synergistically together – like a machine.

A marketing machine.

There should be a consistency of execution between all the activities so that the brand message is repeated and re-enforced in each different channel.

The website is of course the key element within this.

No one is going to do business without checking you out on line first.

On your website visitors must find the answers they’re looking for and be confident that you can solve their problems.

Your task then is to get traffic to the site which is where Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Google My Business and remarketing come in.

Once these are set up, rather like my bike, they will need servicing – monitoring and tweaking but they should mainly run themselves like a marketing machine.

If you also add in a lead magnet and an auto responder sequence onto your site, your marketing should happen automatically, like the aforesaid marketing machine.

What you do need to do however, rather like the bike mechanic, is to be regularly looking at each element and seeing if you can improve and refine it.

Having done that you also need to measure and track your results so that you always know what’s happening and are confident that you’re getting a positive ROI.

Armed with this knowledge you can then confidently increase your spend, so increasing your results and so continuously increasing your business.

While it sounds easy, if you need help with your marketing machine just give me a shout on mikejennings@bda.me.uk or call me on 01483 200387.

Marketing process
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The Marketing Process

The marketing process can be broken down into a few clearly defined steps.

At this time of year when Spring is springing, you can see how the marketing process is similar to the process of nature especially of growing vegetables.

You see there are four stages to growing veg:

  1. Preparing the ground and getting ready
  2. Sowing the seeds and germinating the plants
  3. Nurturing the young plants and looking after them to maturity
  4. Harvesting the produce and enjoying the benefits of your work

The marketing process can be divided up in a similar fashion.

  1. You’ve got to do the preparatory work – get the ground ready.
  • Be clear on your objectives
  • Precisely identify your target audience.
  • Decide what marketing channels you’re going to use
  • Identify powerful messages which will resonate with your audience
  • Decide on your budget
  • Prepare your collateral – this will include getting your website right, writing any emails, producing leaflets, flyers etc and putting your digital marketing in place.

2. So you’ve now got to sow those seeds – which means getting your messages out there.

Whether this means PPC advertising on Google and Facebook, getting active on LinkedIn, executing an email campaign, exhibiting at relevant exhibitions, sending out some direct mail, attending networking groups, whichever channels you’ve decided on.

If you’ve selected your target audience correctly and devised compelling messages, the ground you’re sowing your seeds into should be fertile and receptive.

3. By this stage you there should be the green shoots of response showing through.

Some may have contacted you already, others will be interested but not identified themselves.

Now you’ve got to nurture and care for these tender shoots – keep them well watered and weed free.

This will involve keeping in contact, continuing to give them persuasive messages, showing them how you can solve their problems, giving them examples of how you’ve solved similar problems for other people.

This stage is about building trust and confidence among your prospects so their interest develops into something fruitful so they get in touch.

4. It’s now all about harvesting.

Your prospects are ripe and ready for picking.

You just have to close the deal and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

But remember you don’t just want one picking.

Look after the plants well and they will go on bearing fruit for years to come.

So if you’re green fingers don’t extend to your marketing process, give me a shout on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk , or call me on 01483 200387.

Free information
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Free Information

Giving away free information is something many people aren’t sure about.

My contention is that giving should start at work in your business.

So what am I talking about?

I’m talking about one of the most counter intuitive but in fact best business strategies that you should be using and that is giving away your best information and knowledge.

Now I know that lots of people will disagree with me.

They think that if you give away your best free information no one will actually need your services.

If people can get your stuff for free, why on earth should they buy from you?

The truth is that even if you walk people step by step through what you do, giving them detailed instructions, the picture is seldom complete and people will still want your help and expertise.

Every week I send out useful and relevant marketing information.

What in effect I’m doing is:

  • building a relationship with my audience
  • establishing my expertise
  • demonstrating that I know a thing or two about this marketing lark.
  • developing trust

All of these are vital if your prospects are going to do business with you.

So what’s the result of sharing all this free information?

I know for a fact that people refer back to what I’ve said and use it to help improve their marketing.

But the key thing is that people regularly make contact for help with their marketing.

The other issue is not only am I developing the relationship and establishing my credentials but the regularity and consistency with which I send out this information means that I remain in people’s consciousness and am on hand when they are ready to buy.

I don’t know when that time may be so by turning up consistently I’m ensuring I’m around when the time is right.

So think about what free information your prospects would value and that you can give away.

The best way to start a relationship is by giving away something of value.

If you need some help with the process, get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk  or give me a call on 01483 200387.

Marketing principles
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Two Important Marketing Principles

Two important marketing principles occurred to me as I watched the London Marathon last weekend.

When fun runners start their training, my guess is that they’re quite apprehensive and not convinced that competing is really such a good idea.

Isn’t that the way lots of small business owners feel about their marketing.

But the runners have a goal they want to achieve so they start training.

To start with they probably struggle but slowly they get fitter and the whole thing gets easier.

Same with marketing.

Initially you’ll make mistakes but you learn as you go along and your results improve and suddenly you find yourself outstripping your competitors and leading the field.

Another of the marketing principles can be seen in small businesses’ need to become known.

If other local businesses were aware of you and what you do, you’d do loads more business wouldn’t you?

But becoming known is not easy.

You can’t just communicate once or twice and leave it at that.

To become well known you need to talk to your audience regularly over an extended period of time – it’s like a ………………………marathon.

Your prospects have to go through the “know, like, trust” process.

Think about it.

Would you do business with an organisation you don’t know anything about?

You need to be interested in what they sell.

You want to know that their values are the same as yours.

You need to feel positive towards them.

And crucially, you have to trust them.

You must have confidence in what they’re saying.

Unless you can tick all these boxes, you’re unlikely to do business with them.

So as a marketer you’re going to have to communicate with your prospects on an on-going basis.

Here comes another of the marketing principles. None of this happens overnight – you have to commit to the long haul.

But if you stick at it, you will get the results you’re looking for.

Which is why I send out emails out every week.

So if you feel you don’t understand enough about basic marketing principles, get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or call me on 01483 200387.