Time for a coffee?

You may have noticed that this blog has been a little quiet recently…. my apologies! Between a full time job, a toddler, a new baby and life in general, there hasn’t been the time to post as often as I’d like.

With that in mind, I will be uploading a series of short posts over the coming weeks – designed to help you make improvements or changes to your marketing in the time it takes to drink a coffee!

So whether you prefer instant, from a machine, or handmade by your local barista, I hope you’ll be able to use these to make quick and effective changes to your marketing practices. First post coming up later today….

 

Advertisements

Marketing in the time of Brexit

No one really knows what the next few weeks and months are going to be like, since the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum. It is likely that there will be some economic instability, and so many small businesses are likely to be nervous about spending money.

Unfortunately, most business owners think that cutting their marketing spend is the best thing to do when being careful about their outgoings. However, this is the wrong move – without your marketing, where will your customers come from to continue bringing in profit? The correct course of action is to make your marketing smarter, and therefore more cost effective.

Here are 5 tips to help improve your marketing activity in leaner times:

  1. Do a marketing audit.

What activities are you doing now, and what is working? Focus on those activities giving you the best returns and cut those which are performing poorly. Ignore those who lean on you to take particular risks and get rid of activities which you might always have done out of loyalty or repetition, but that aren’t bringing you new work or customers.

  1. Develop a digital strategy.

Other than your time, using social media is free and can bring great returns when used correctly. Maximise use of the platforms your customers are using, put out great content and interact with users to get the best results.

  1. Make the most of your existing customer relationships.

Ever heard of the rule that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers? Identify who your strongest customers are, talk to them, find out how you can help them and deliver beyond expectation. Not only will you keep their business, they’ll recommend you to others.

  1. Work with others.

You don’t have to go it alone – if you’re looking to host an event, seminar or conference, speak to similar businesses (obviously, not direct competitors) and see if they’d like to join you. Half the cost, double the target audience.

  1. Make use of the media.

Speak to your local newspaper and other publications (such as community or parish magazines, for example) and see if you can contribute press releases and/or editorial. Write about stories relevant to your business or news items surrounding your business and its place in the community. Something lighthearted yet topical would help to deflect from current post-referendum doom and gloom!

So before you cut your budget, see if these steps can help you to instead make your marketing more effective.

Taking the fearless approach to your marketing

Recently, I keep reading about ‘fearless marketing’, where individuals and brands take more risks and try out ideas which are less ordinary. The story of Peter Bronsman is well worth a read in this area, and there are various brands claiming to be taking fear-free approaches to their promotional campaigns.

 

However, when your marketing budget is small and needs to return definite results, how can you try something deemed risky? You either take the plunge and try it out anyway, or stick to the safer path and chance not being seen above the crowd.

To take the fearless approach, there are three things to consider:

  1. The first is whether the idea you have will connect with customers. Do you know who your customers are and what they want? If your idea links in with their needs, then you reduce the risk, whilst giving them something new to engage with – again, cutting above your competitors.
  1. Is it likely that customers will find your idea too ‘off the wall’, offensive or irrelevant? If your idea falls under any of these headings, it stops being innovative and instead becomes a sure fire way of turning your customers off… and you may not get them back.
  1. Remember that you don’t need to go huge. Whilst jumping out of a plane with your company logo tattooed on your chest might seem like a good idea at the time, it is fleeting, and fearless marketing could be as simple as looking at different ways of reaching your existing audience – where do they go, what do they do? You don’t even need to spend a lot of money, just put yourself in their shoes and consider what might make you take notice if you were them. You might surprise yourself.

Taking some time out to really consider your audience is a good bet in any small business owners’ book, and doing it regularly will help you to take a fearless path through knowing your audience and how to engage with them.

Five Tips To Make 2016 ‘Your Year’

How has growth been for your business in 2015? Even if you’ve done well, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is always room for improvement, and that you’re hoping for further growth in the coming months.

hands-night-festival-new-year-s-eve web

If this is the case, here are five quick tips to help gain new clients and continue expanding your business in 2016:

  1. Work to a plan

If you’ve never used a Marketing Plan before to help direct your business’ marketing activity, 2016 is the year to start. Look at the factors affecting you from external sources (such as your competitors, local and national trends, etc), your business’ strengths and weaknesses, and the marketing actions which have been successful (or unsuccessful) for you this year, and turn them into a plan to help you to achieve your goals.

  1. Try something new

Maybe you’ve always promoted your business via networking. Or having a stand at business exhibitions. Or by advertising in the local newspaper. If these bring in new customers to your business, great – but add to it, and try something new. Sponsor a local junior sports team, take some customers out to dinner, or invite a target out to coffee. Take a chance and see if taking a different approach pays off.

  1. Get Online

You don’t have to be away from your desk to effectively promote yourself. Whilst putting a name to a face and maintaining relations is important, you can raise profile initially using social media. You don’t have to be on every social media channel – choose the one or two most relevant to your business. If you produce products which are very visual (such as cakes, art, clothing, etc), then Instagram and Facebook will probably be most effective. For professional services or less ‘pretty’ products, try Twitter or LinkedIn. Have a love of live streaming? Get on Periscope. And so on… there’s a channel for every audience.

  1. Offer a ‘mini’ version of your product or service

Your potential customers may not be ready to part with their hard-earned cash to buy your product or service, whatever it may be. So try offering them a smaller or stripped down version – and see if it helps to tempt them into future investment with you.

  1. Be consistent

Marketing your business isn’t straightforward – and as a small business, it is easy to feel that as you have so much to do, the easiest thing to drop is your marketing. It pays off to be consistent – it is no good waiting until you have no new work coming in to start trying to find it, and dropping your marketing again when busy. You can manage your marketing much easier if it comes in steady waves than in huge peaks and troughs. A consistent approach to promoting your business will help you to raise profile in the long term, and it is likely that you’ll end up spending more if you make grand gestures on irregular occasions.

The basics of digital marketing

I read an article today on digital marketing, and loved the start of it. The rest of the article is also good with detailed information on audience targeting and search data, but it was the first couple of paragraphs which really caught my eye.

At its core, however, online marketing serves the same purpose as its traditional counterpart: to persuade people that a service or product fulfills specific needs or wants.”

So many people think that digital marketing is a shiny new toy which has changed the face of marketing – whilst it is a relatively new channel for marketing messages and one that has been truly revolutionary in that it has given everyone a marketing voice, the fundamentals of it haven’t changed the marketing premise – to be successful in marketing a product or service, you still need to focus on one thing…. people.

For small businesses, this means considering your intended audiences and meeting their needs via your marketing. Who are you marketing your business to? Whether your chosen marketing channel is on or offline makes little difference – if you don’t know who you are marketing to, how can you effectively attract them?

A simple tip to get your marketing kickstarted for 2015

Happy New Year! We’re now a couple of days into 2015 and you may now be thinking of returning to work (if you haven’t already done so). On your return, alongside catching up on things missed over the festive period, you might also want to think about what your marketing plan will be for the coming year.

image

If you haven’t planned your marketing before, don’t worry. The following simple tip will stand you in good stead for getting your marketing in order and ultimately make your life easier as you will know what to expect and when to have marketing activities ready for.

1. Get a calendar. A large, year-to-view wall calendar preferably.

2. Mark all of the dates of events and holidays you know the day(s) of and that you know you require marketing for. For example, you may wish to include big holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. You might also need to include events such as sports matches or tournaments, or other such dates which are important to your business. Doing this allows you to recognise when you need to have your marketing in place for each event, so that nothing can be missed or take you by surprise.

3. Include any other significant date(s) which could affect your marketing. These might include birthdays of customers which you need to acknowledge or holidays of business partners or for yourself. Again, if they’re on the calendar, they cannot be forgotten.

4. Put the calendar on the wall or within arm’s reach, and refer to it on a regular basis to help to keep you on track with dates and activities throughout the year to help promote your business.

I complete this simple activity each year and have always found it to be invaluable in ensuring that marketing activities are ready for events and holidays in good time.

Once your calendar is done, you can use it to work on a more detailed marketing plan with a marketing consultant or by yourself in order to give your business a kickstart for the New Year.

Making the most of the holidays

Taking some time off over Christmas and New Year? Good for you, you deserve it.

But as small business owners, we never really get time off, do we? There’s always an email to be responded to or paperwork to be completed, regardless of the date.

So with a few days still to go until the big day, what can you do to make the most of your precious time off?

– Set up a tweet, Facebook status or email in advance to wish your followers and customers a happy Christmas on the 25th using software such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck or MailChimp (or others!).

– If you haven’t already, plan your January marketing now. Tease your customers with sales or special offers and get everything in place to try and avoid the expected January slump.

– No matter how busy you are, make sure you take at least a couple of days off and recharge your batteries. It will help you to get back on track and feel energised to move onwards and upwards in 2015.

image

Merry Christmas from O’Loughlin Marketing!