Too cheap

We are in the midst of a price revolution.  The drive of all major manufacturers is to do everything cheaper and cheaper – driven by us, the consumers wanting lower and lower prices.  This drive has been the cause of great innovations but there comes a point when the constant drive to cut costs starts to detract from the integrity of the product. My recent experience is with 3 timer switches bought in succession that each lasted for about 6 months before completely failing to do the simple task required of them – to turn a light on and off at set times.  Another timer switch has been in our house for probably 20+ years and continues to work just fine. So last time I went shopping I bought a more expensive, old-style one.  I’ve had the same experience with several simple electronic goods recently – just too cheap to be fit for purpose. What we all want is good value.  Expensive is good if you get good value with it.  Cheap is not cheap when it doesn’t work – it’s a waste of time and...
Marketing for Thought Leadership

Marketing for Thought Leadership

Whatever your business you’re bound to be specialising in something.  Something that others know little or nothing about.  And if you’re selling stuff – be it goods or services – you have some knowledge that others don’t have because you have created yourself a place in the market. Well then – best go out there and tell others about it – hadn’t you?! That is the principle behind thought leadership as part of an inbound marketing campaign. In the past the prevailing wisdom was to keep your commercial secrets close to your chest.  That doesn’t work anymore in the internet age.  If you’re keeping quiet about what you do there is someone else out there talking about it and they will be seen as the expert. So, write about it and communicate it with the world through as many types of media as you can. Use this content to develop yourself as a thought leader in your field.  Then, as if by magic, when people out there need your services they will come to you for...
Co-ordination is key

Co-ordination is key

When you start to establish a marketing thread in your business you quickly find the number of different activities stacking up. You decide to write a blog twice a month, post comments on LinkedIn once a week, send out a newsletter once every 6 weeks and organise a drinks evening twice a year and probably a few more things too. Then you have a problem: you are pulled every which way by conflicting demands and most of it never gets done. The trick with marketing is to get the various activities working in a coordinated fashion, so that it is more than just a jumble of separate activities and the plan forms into a cohesive force that achieves synergy, i.e. more than just the sum of its parts. So start by setting your overall goals for the year. This is where the marketing plan has to be closely integrated with your overall business plan because it must align with the business’s goals. Then define the key activities that will lead you there – perhaps two main showcase events that show your business off to great effect. Then work down the food chain of activities until the detail falls out at the bottom. Without that top level planning and direction the marketing will lack the lustre that makes it...

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an area of big interest to small businesses. Many small business owners see it as an apparent nirvana where a lot can be done to get a message out cheaply and with technology that is accessible to all. But it does still take time, energy, the will to do it, and also some technical aptitude. To do the job well it needs quite a bit of coordination and planning and a lot of commitment to sticking to the plan. None of this is easy, and often after trying for a while people really find it is all too much. So the answer is that an effective digital marketing campaign is not something that can happen in between other jobs. It takes planning and coordinated effort. It also needs to be someone’s main priority to make sure that stuff gets done on time. If it is left to the MD of a small company it is certainly never going to happen because it is never going to be the most urgent activity on their to do list. Marketing in the B2B environment is a long term way of communicating with your target audience such that when they need your services they think of you. In the modern digital environment it is all about giving: giving ideas, knowledge, nuggets of truth so that others feel enhanced by your...

Blog writing – just give your opinion

My opinion is as valuable in the world as anyone else’s. Well there’s an obvious statement. In these egalitarian times there would be few who would dispute that, but for those moving into the blogosphere for the first time it can be a bit of a revelation. Hovering over that first blog post, the blank sheet of paper staring back at you, it is easy to feel that what everyone else writes is somehow part of their destiny and authorised by some higher power, whereas your own thoughts and ideas are uninformed and uninteresting. Interestingly as you go through the process of writing a blog and publishing it all of a sudden you start to feel differently. Looking at your own words in print and on a website – it looks different, somehow more important. It supports your confidence and helps you look for new opportunities to express an opinion into the world. Blog writing is therapeutic. You may or may not turn out to be the next Seth Godin but there are lots of good reasons to...

Living the marketing dream

A guest blog from Jonathan Richards Many small business owners don’t do marketing, never have done and probably never will.  Their view of marketing is either big bucks advertising campaigns or showy product launches.  They may think of social media as marketing but dismiss it as a waste of time or irrelevant to their business.  The closest they get to marketing is telesales (or should that be telemarketing?) All this is a big shame as marketing has changed – changed its name and changed it’s direction. Marketing has gone Inbound.  The very best marketers understand that to be successful they need to attract customers rather than drag them to their businesses. This opens the way for many small businesses as inbound marketing is more about how clever you are rather than how big your budget is. There is a catch though, to “do” inbound marketing you need content, lots of it. Not just any old content though, it needs to be coordinated around themes, across platforms and over time. An example might be: you spot a topical subject and join the conversation on social media. Then follow that up with a blog post that gives the subject your own twist. The post is publicised to your followers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.   A week later you run a lead generation offer based on the subject and that gets shared in the same way. Et viola, in flow the leads! Sounds too easy doesn’t it but this approach does work and we use it to good effect at breatheHR . Our triple digit growth over the last two years has...

New website – just get it published!

How many people do you talk to who say “I’m in the process of re-writing the website”? How many of us have a website half completed but not published yet. Well I hear it a lot and it is pretty common. Having just written my own website I have some personal experience of what the process feels like. You start by thinking it will all be pretty simple and then as it goes on you notice more and more things that are not quite right and should be corrected. Oh and then you get worrying about the text – is it good enough? A quick re-draft here and there – and after a while you realise every page you look at needs revising (at least in your head). Now the alternative view is the get it “good enough”. “Good enough” means that you set a deadline for go-live and take a tough approach to the content. Everything has to be only just good enough – NOT PERFECT. Obviously a website should not have inaccuracies about a company’s products or services, but if the wording more or less gets across the point then it is good enough. If the images are OK then that is good enough. In all cases it is important to remember that the pursuit of perfection will delay the completion of the project. Any website worth it’s salt these days can be adjusted easily later on so take the shortest route to go-live possible and then aim for perfection later and at your leisure. Nicky Forsyth January...
Marketing Services – the planning process

Marketing Services – the planning process

Doing marketing well is so important for small businesses. If you don’t have a huge corporate marketing budget it is easy to believe that you can’t do anything, but in fact there is loads you can do to market a small business in the online space, but it does take time and some technical knowledge. The other mistake small businesses make is getting paralysed with marketing – feeling like they should be able to do their own marketing but not having the time or the inclination and so nothing happens. The way round this is to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to pass on the marketing tasks to someone who specialises in it. The main thing about marketing in a small company is that it is never urgent (that is until the company is running out of sales and then it is too late). Unless it is someone’s primary task there is always something that is more urgent than marketing. So you have to make it someone’s primary task, then you have to plan it with them and set a schedule of activities that you can check have been carried out. I have always used a spreadsheet to plan activities weekly over a 3-6 month period. It always needs adjustment along the way but the point is that you know what is going to happen when. Doing that planning means that you can make sure that emails publicising an event don’t clash with other sales emails etc etc. You can also look at the overall workload and check that you are being realistic in what can...