Tag Archives: marketing strategy

5 ways to monetise your big idea

monetise ideas

Most of us have had a great idea hit us at one time or another. That light bulb moment where you’re filled with adrenaline and excitement about the possibilities. Sometimes the way to make money from that idea is obvious, but often it’s not and you experience that sudden jolt back to reality, as you’re hit with the realisation that you need to pay bills and provide your family with food and sustenance. That idea soon falls by the way side as quickly as it came. What a travesty! If you can relate then this post is for you.

Firstly I’d like to say I do believe that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ and if you think long and hard enough I’m sure you’ll find a ways to make money from your idea, persistence pays. However, if you’re experiencing a ‘brain block’ (as we all do at some point) that last statement really isn’t any help to you. So I thought I’d be a little more helpful and provide you with 5 concrete ways you can monetise your ideas.

1. Attach a paid service 

If your idea is to provide a free service e.g. a membership offering, the provision of information or perhaps an online tool, then there is the option to add paid services that are related to your free service  to your portfolio. Often times people think why not just charge for the main service, however charging can be a bad idea. For example your business may be dependent on attracting a high number of users (e.g. a social platform of some sort) charging for your service would hinder your ability to attract the volume you need. Another reason may be that competitors don’t charge for the service, so if you did, you would immediately put you business at a huge disadvantage.

This is why the freemium business model has become so popular. This is when a business provides a version of their offering  for free and then charges for a more complete version with premium features. Here are 7 types of freemium strategies.

2. White label and license

A white-label product or service is a product or service produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand to make it appear as if they made it.

White labelling is done a lot in the food industry with famous brands such as Heinz, creating ‘own brand’ versions of their products for supermarkets. It also occurs often  in the  finance industry where department stores for example, offer store cards that are provided by banks as a white labelled services and then the stores brand and market it as there own. If you have an idea for a product that you think you’d have a hard time selling, but more established businesses could sell it with ease, then you could offer it to these businesses as a white-labelled product for them to sell.

3. Set-up an affiliate program

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

Essentially you pay other businesses and/or individuals a commission for selling your product. They simply place banners for your product or service on their website and you then pay the affiliates a commission from every sale they make. Companies like Affilinet and Comission Junction make it very easy to start an affiliate marketing program, here’s a guide to creating an affiliate marketing strategy for your business.

4. Attract a sponsor

Perhaps your idea is to set-up an event or an information based website for example, one way to finance this and generate revenue is to  attract a key sponsor.

A sponsor will provide money to a business  (typically in sports, arts, entertainment or causes) in return for access to a specific target audience and access to the commercial opportunities that association with a business provides. This may involve the sponsor having their logo on your website right through to speaking at your events and marketing to your customers or members. Here’s some sound advice on how to attract a corporate sponsor

5. Sell advertising

One of the most popular ideas for monetising an idea is to sell advertising a lot of bloggers do this and it simply involves allowing businesses that offer services that are relevant to your customers/members/users to advertise on your website for a fee.

If you’ve been struggling to come up with ways to commercialise your idea then I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.

If you’ve thought of other creative ideas to monetise your ideas I’d love to hear about them so please feel free to comment below,

Speak soon,

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Competition – The Art of Marketing Warfare Part 9


I often think we give competitors more attention than they warrant. Yes it’s wise to have their activity in your peripheral vision, their behaviour can alert you to trends and market insights that you may have overlooked. But to focus on them as a guide to your behaviour is not so wise, the energy is better spent carving out your own path. So here are 5 tips for dealing with the competition.

1.       Don’t move just because the competition has

Don’t follow a competitor into new territory unless the move is right for you and you are equipped for it. Never go just because a competitor has gone, for example if a competitor decides to offer 24 x 7 support it may seem right for you to do the same, it may even be good for your customers. The question is do you have the resources to make the move? And if you do, would the same move be an optimal use of your resources?

2.       Stay where you’re strong

Capitalise on your strengths until you gain strength in new areas. For example Primark has thrived offline in a market where all its competitors are online, the company has played to its strengths and become one of the most successful retailers in Europe.

3.      Put as much of ‘you’ into your brand as possible

You are the only thing your competitors will never be able to imitate. There are great examples of this in the market, think Apple and Steve Jobs, Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. There is something about these founders that are engrained in the brands they have created and in my opinion this is what has given them their edge and helped them stand out in the market.

4.      Engaging in a price war is rarely a good idea

It is tempting to slash prices in response to a competitor or to win quick sales, but price wars are very rarely a good idea. They erode profit margins for all companies involved, they can reduce the perceived value of a product or service in the eyes of consumers and attract those that are only interested in a bargain as opposed to being attracted to ‘value’.

5.    Make friends with the competition   

I truly believe there is enough room in any market for all the companies that exist, we live in an economy where customer needs and wants are increasingly specialised and fragmented and as such there can never be too many suppliers. So make friends with your competitors don’t give away your best ideas but do share knowledge in order to progress your market, industry forums and committees are great places for this.

I think it’s important to effect positive change in your industry for me personally that means being involved with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, conversing with fellow marketers on Twitter and getting involved with initiatives like the Modern Marketing Manifesto and I have been known to recommend the competition on occasions when I felt their offering was better suited to a customers’ needs.

So in a nutshell think differently about your competition learn from them but don’t necessarily follow them.

That being said I’m going to end my The Art of Marketing Warfare series here, my aim was to provide you with what I consider to be a comprehensive overview of marketing fundamentals and I hope you’ve found it useful.

If you have any questions about some of the questions raised please feel free to contact me.

PS: I’m starting a new marketing series this week which I’m quite excited about so pop back in a couple of days for more info.

Speak soon,

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The Importance of Varying your Marketing Tactics – The Art of Marketing Warfare part 8

vary msrketing tactics

So it’s been a while since I updated this series but as I promised in my New Year, New Goals post,  it shall be completed! At this point I think it’s worth reminding you of what we’ve discussed so far:

Part 1: The importance of having a plan and where to start
Part 2: Waging war’ start marketing
Part 3: An introduction to marketing strategy
Part 4: An introduction to tactical marketing
Part 5: Creating a marketing map
Part 6: Create your own marketing path
Part 7: Organise and lead your way to marketing success

So, in this post I’m going to talk to you about varying your tactics, and by tactics I mean the actions you take to execute your marketing strategy. In warfare it’s prudent to vary your tactics, in order to avoid swift defeat.  In business it’s prudent to do the same with your marketing tactics in order to maintain a competitive edge. I touched on this in part 5 when I spoke about using a mix of direct and indirect tactics as part of your marketing map. In this post I want to take that idea a little further with 4 top tips for switching it up a bit and getting creative with your marketing actions.

1.      Markets change and your marketing needs to stay in sync

The fact of the matter is that rapid advancement in both technology and knowledge across many sectors means that markets change regularly. In turn, marketing tactics also need to change to remain relevant.

Example: The web hosting industry

Just a few years ago the main people interested in web hosting were web developers and designers, back then advertising in print titles like Web Designer and .NET was sufficient to reach this target group. However, since then the market has fragmented drastically, now many people want to host their own websites; from student to photographers, mummy bloggers to, one-man-bands. This means that print advertising alone is no longer an effective marketing strategy. Many web hosting companies still advertise in print but their marketing mix also includes, social media, content marketing, display advertising and so much more.

Tip: Vary your marketing in line with market trends

2.       Your business will change and evolve your marketing should too

The marketing tactics that got you to your present may not be sufficient to get you to your future. For example when launching a business or product many companies use above the line channels such as TV, print, radio etc. to attract new customers. After launch the focus often moves to retaining and nurturing customers through tactics such as email newsletters, regular social media updates and special customer offers.

Example: Starbucks

Starbucks social media success has been well documented and continues to be central to it’s marketing strategy. Gaining such a huge social media following has allowed the company to add to it’s marketing mix with initiatives such as My Starbucks Idea. A crowdsourcing initiative which is used to facilitate customer engagement, social media activity and market research.

Tip1: Vary your marketing tactics to match your changing business needs
Tip2: Add new tactics to complement and build on the success of old tactics

3.      Sometimes it’s not the marketing channel that becomes redundant it’s the method

Sometimes it’s not that the channel isn’t working it’s the way it’s being used that isn’t working.  Sometimes simply varying the way you use a channel is enough of a change.


Tip: Try a variety of tactics using the same channel

4.     Be courageous ‘cowardice leads to capture’

Don’t be afraid to try something new, benchmarks are cool but don’t be afraid to create your own path. However a note of caution, don’t be reckless, start by testing and in addition don’t be provoked by your competitors into change.

Tip: The range of marketing tactics is broader than ever, experiment and have fun

As the saying goes ‘variety is the spice of life’ and it’s often a good thing to switch things up a bit, here are some great marketing examples that might inspire you.

Speak soon

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Marketing definitions – commonly misunderstood terms

In my Marketing Warfare series of posts I’ve frequently referred to terms such as ‘marketing strategy’, ‘marketing tactics’, ‘objectives’ and the like, and it occurred to me that these terms are commonly misunderstand even by marketers. So I figured I’d define them in this post so at least when you see them referred to on this blog you know exactly what I mean.

Marketing Strategy:

An overview of how you intend to market your products and services to customers and reach business goals. It’s essentially high level rules that direct your marketing activity. Some key elements of strategy:

  • It’s long-term
  • It’s based on optimal use of limited resource
  • Takes advantage of the best opportunities available to you

Strategic marketing plan:

Detailed plan involving marketing research and developing an optimal marketing mix to satisfy company goals, in line with your marketing strategy.

Marketing tactic:

An action you take to execute your marketing strategy. Your strategic marketing plan should include a range of marketing tactics.

E.g. TV advertising, magazine ads, social media, website etc.


A desired end result that a course of action is aimed at achieving. They are typically long-term and not measurable.

E.g. Sell more cupcakes than any of my competitors and be the most well known cupcake bakery in Windsor.


Precise and concrete end result that a course of action is aimed at achieving.They are typically short-term and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).

E.g. I want to sell 5000 cupcakes a month within the county of Bedfordshire, achieving a turnover of £20,000 per month.

As always feel free to contact me with your comments and questions :)

Speak soon,

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Create Your Own Marketing Path – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 6

This post is about capitalising on your strengths and minimising your weaknesses to create your own marketing path.

Marketing path

War is a chess game in which the value of the pieces and the nature of their possible moves vary both with the training of the pieces and the skill of the individual player – it is a matter of skills and training and a commitment to continuous learning.  My focus here is on practical wisdom that comes from practical experience, and learning from your market and the movements in your industry to create your own, unique marketing path.

Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field is fresh for the battle there is such a thing as first mover advantage, but even if you’re not first in the market (a rarity these days) you can be first in terms of creating  your own marketing path. An example of this that I mentioned ‘in attack by strategy’ is Amazon they were way behind the curve in terms of entering the book retailing market, in fact when they emerged in the late1990’s many thought they didn’t stand a chance but because of their focus on adaptive innovation and consequently being the first to employ the strategy they did in terms of online marketing and retailing, they proved all the naysayers wrong and squashed the competition in the process.

As Sun Tzu said the clever combatant, imposes his will on the enemy but doesn’t allow his will to be imposed on him. A lot of people follow the leader the one that is first in the field, be free from this and clear your own marketing path, learn from the best but don’t necessary follow them.  your business has its own identity; one mark of a great general  is that he fights on his own terms or he doesn’t fight at all.

So here’s five tips:

1. Go for places that are undefended – look for keywords with low competition  but are very relevant to your business, optimise your website content for these keywords.


2. Create customer personas that largely dictate your marketing path. Let your customers lead you. It is true that customers sometimes don’t know what they want until they see it, after all few people thought they needed a tablet until Apple presented the iPad. But more often than not your customers are best placed to tell you what they want and set you on the right path.


3. Think creatively about new ways to reach your target market don’t be limited by what has or hasn’t been done, take notes from other industries. What might by an old idea in one industry can often be new in another. Take stock of your own strengths and weaknesses and use your strengths to your advantage. Think about what advantage can be gained from your location, your unique skills, experiences and relationships.


4. Check out the new generic top-level domains (gTLD’s) you may or may not know but in early 2014  the next stage in the Internet’s revolution will begin: new top-level domains (the part after the dot in a web address) such as .app, .blog, .hotel, .london and many, many more will be released. If you’ve ever tried to secure a domain name (web address) you’ll know that it’s almost impossible to secure the exact .com and increasingly .co.uk domain you want. The right web address can give you a huge competitive advantage when it comes to being found on Google. These new domains will give you a new opportunity to help your business make its mark, so my advice is to check them out and pre-order the new domains that will work for you, before someone else does.


5. Never stop learning. My pastor recently said in a sermon that a degree is just that, a degree of knowledge, and it’s so true. Don’t be content with a degree of knowledge.  In order to know how to create your own marketing path, you will have to study your market and your customers, it will also help to stay on top of what’s new in the field of marketing as the industry is changing constantly.

If you need further assistance creating your own marketing path, feel free to contact me and as always feel free to comment below, it’s always great to hear from you.

PS: Why not read The Art of War for yourself, definitely a worthy addition to any bookshelf.

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Marketing Maps to Maintain Momentum – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 5

In the art of warfare Sun Tzu simply calls the 5th chapter ‘energy’ and he says;

‘Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger’

Focused marketing


Effective marketing is the result of consistent, strategically planned marketing activity, you might call this the bending of the cross bow. The cumulative impact of releasing the trigger on each of your marketing activities is what will enable you to hit your target, whether it’s sales, website visits, members etc.

There is no silver bullet in marketing it’s all about consistent effort over time, this requires energy. My advice to you is to utilise the high energy you have at the beginning of a project to create at least one marketing map, your marketing map will help you stay on track during those periods when your energy and motivation is low.

My definition of a marketing map is a visual overview of what marketing activity you need to do and when in order to get to your goal.

marketing mapIn my last post in this series I advised you to decide on your marketing actions and suggested a few that are applicable to any business.  Now it’s time to map them so that you know exactly what to do and when to achieve your business goals.

One of the best ways to tackle large tasks is to chunk them into manageable actions, marketing maps help you do this. I usually create 3 marketing maps to organise the marketing activity for a project, I find that the process itself helps me to order my thoughts and conduct marketing in an efficient and organised way:

  1. Get with your A-team (see Tactical Marketing) and create a mind-map of all your marketing ideas
  2. Chunk the activity you want to pursue into blocks of time which will give you a rough marketing roadmap
  3. Take the main tasks from the plan and list all the actions you can think of associated with each task
  4. Create a gannt chart with detailed actions, timings and individual responsible

A few top tips to consider when constructing your map:

  • Don’t be passive,  activities bring the victory
    Ensure you are conducting some marketing activity at all times either doing activity, or planning activity. Activity not passivity brings victory
  • Include direct and indirect marketing tactics
    indirect marketing is any thing that doesn’t try and sell something directly to consumers, but allows you to build relationships with your target customers. Examples of indirect marketing include social media, blogging, and PR. By comparison, direct marketing involves sending targeted materials to particular people e.g. targeted personalised email campaigns and telemarketing.
  • In order to secure victory abnormal manoeuvers are required
    Take your competitors by surprise they should not be able to detect your next move, be creative, attack in unexpected places. The art of marketing is about noticing the details that others miss and choosing your timing wisely.
  • Timing and self-restraint, Sun Tzu says; reserve fire until the point that it will be most effective. There are natural waves in the market that your business can ride and benefit from. Watch out for patterns of behaviour in your market, schedule certain activities to coincide with them. For example, a lot of companies launch large campaigns in September because people are ready to re-focus after the summer holiday and take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Institute marketing processes (like marketing mapping) early  on in your business so that you can manage growth when it comes

Remember great results can be achieved with small efforts applied consistently – Small steps lead to vital victories!

If you need a hand creating a marketing map of your own get in touch

PS: www.creately.com is a great tool for creating mind-maps, gannt charts and diagrams of any kind


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Tactical Marketing – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 4

So what is tactical marketing?

it’s effectively a specific set of marketing actions that should be directly related to your marketing strategy. Up until now I’ve given you guidelines on the general direction your marketing should go. In this introduction to tactical marketing I will outline concrete marketing tactics that can be used to progress any strategy.

The  array of tactics is vast and varied, the list could literary be infinite so I’m going to save you the trauma of me trying to share them all, cut to the chase and list a mere 5 that will be most beneficial and relevant  to you in the early stages of your business. These tactics are affordable on any budget, instantly actionable, and can be mixed in numerous ways to suit your strategy.

There are not more than 5 musical notes but the combination of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than 5 primary colours yet in combination produce more hues than can ever be seen.

There are not more than 5 cardinal tastes yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.
                                                        - Sun Tzu The Art of War

1. Establish your A-team

No man is an island and you will need support even if it’s just someone to bounce ideas off or send you a word of encouragement when the going gets tough.

Enlist a small team of advocates that believe in you, your brand and your vision. Keep this team small 2-4 people, these can be family, friends or colleagues. If a core team is committed it won’t require many of you to be effective.

You’re A-team will need to have 3 key attributes:

  1. Passion
    Passion is like petrol it energises, sustains and motivates at times when you would otherwise quit. These people need to be in it primarily for love not money – dare I say it, willing to work for free at times for the good of the business (but do reward them richly when your business grows).
  2. Skills
    You’re A-team will need to have skills that can help bring your vision to fruition for obvious reasons, but also because involvement will fuel commitment.
  3. Commitment
    You’ll need people that are reliable and do what they say when they say they’re going to do it.

 This may not sound like a marketing tactic but trust me, you’re A-team will be your most effective business promoters, business ambassadors and lead generators.

2. Nurture and build business relationships personally

As fabulous as the Internet is there is no replacement for building personal relationships. Scour your personal contacts and business connections to identify potential opportunities among them, arrange face-to-face meetings to share your business with them. It’s easier to sell to or gain support from people who know you.

3. Establish your online web presence

Whether it be a Facebook page, website or blog you need a web presence of some kind. Facebook pages are free, most blogs are free to set up besides the cost of web hosting, a good website builder that allows you to build a professional website yourself like 1&1 MyWebsite is also affordable.  With all these options available commissioning a costly web developer or designer is an unnecessary  expense, at least in the initial stages of your business.

4. Expand your online network

Social media is a must in this day and age and it should be an integral part of your marketing strategy; it gives you access to thousands of potential customers that would otherwise be out of your reach – so it will pay to accelerate your activity. This practical guide to social media for small businesses will show you how.

5. Email marketing – an oldie but goodie!

Email marketing is low cost, effective and a great way to build and nurture relationships with customers, contacts and prospects over time. It also integrates well with most other marketing channels. Start by building a list of business contacts that visit your website or blog, connect with you via social media or personal interactions. If you choose a WordPress blog creating a contact form to capture visitor email addresses is very easy to do. Communicate with your contacts to inform, teach and of course introduce products, services and sales offers. Whatever you do, do not bombard your contacts and burn your list.
3 tips:

  1. Target your emails with relevant information to the relevant contact
  2. Effective emails don’t require bells and whistles, text is often fine it’s the content that counts. The best example of email marketing genius that I can give you is Chris Brogan I actually love receiving his emails on a Sunday morning, sign up to his weekly newsletter to see what I mean.
  3. Communicate in a tone that’s natural and authentically you

Last but not least, here’s two resources that I highly recommend full of practical and easy to follow advice to really get your marketing off the ground:

  1. Read this book and follow the advice it will pay great dividends: DUCT TAPE MARKETING, the most practical marketing guide for small businesses by John Jantsch.
  2.  Sandi Krakowski’s 30-Day Challenge for building a successful blog. Sandi offers a wealth of great marketing advice on her blogwww.arealchange.com

Tactical marketing is a huge topic to cover so I will be drilling down into the details of specific tactics in many future posts, however, if you would like personal advice and customised recommendations on what you could be doing to boost your marketing please contact me, my blog visitors do get preferential treatment :)

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Attack by marketing strategy – the art of marketing warfare pt 3

marketing strategy

So today I’m writing this post on marketing strategy from a town in Southwest Germany called Karlsruhe. Rumour has it that it’s the little known city that Washington DC was modelled on. Interestingly, both cities have a centre from which the streets radiate outward.

Anyway, enough about my current location, on to more important matters.

So what is marketing strategy?

Marketing strategy is about conducting marketing activities that are in line with your goals and SHAPE.

In my previous post I mentioned the notion of strategic planning, that post was aimed at helping you determine your ‘strategic direction’,  this post is aimed at helping you conduct ‘strategic action’.

By now hopefully you’re moving forward with your plans and as you do so you’ll notice that details about the market will begin to unfold.  As you move your market will give you signals, marketing strategy is about maximising the opportunities that they provide.

These signals might include; unexpected customer preferences that you notice, a new trend that is relevant to your business or the increasing clout of a new competitor. My advise is to keep your ears to the ground and take heed of what you hear -  a few  tips:

  • Listen to your customers,  act on the common and recurring trends in behaviour and assess the following :
    • purchase behaviour
    • Feedback and complaints
    • The questions customers are asking
    • The promotions they respond to
  • Listen to the market
    •  Journals
    • Blogs
    • Commentators
    • News
  • Listen to the competition

Now here’s the thing, if your business is built on your SHAPE and you have adopted a unique position in the market, competition is of little consequence. This is why my advise to most new businesses is to carve out a niche and go for the long-tail.

Although I rarely advise acting based purely on competition, I always advise that you know the other army(s) and take heed of the competitive forces at work in your industry. This assessment should not be the basis of decision making but it should have an influence.  This will help you prepare in advance for any eventuality.

So many companies like AOL, Blockbusters and HMV have been caught off guard and lost their position in the market, simply because they weren’t paying attention to the competition or the market trends.

Marketing strategy is also about adopting a bird’s eye view, don’t be so engrossed in the internal workings of your business that you forget to look outside it.

In times past competition was seen as the most important factor in determining the profitability of an industry, today competition is a much weaker force when it comes to eroding the benefits gained by those who adopt a unique position in the market.

Sun Tzu puts it this way:

“…to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”

The key to breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting is adaptive innovation:

Adaptive innovation is about making decisions based on what you’ve learnt, innovation does not occur by looking for best practice, adaptive innovators thrive by developing new opportunities.

Marketing strategy is not about big, radical and revolutionary innovations but incremental, adaptive movements that edge you forward in the market.

Amazon has a highly effective marketing strategy and is a great example of adaptive innovation in action. Here is the company’s vision statement for the Kindle:

We envision wireless electronic reading devices that embrace a traditional book’s
simplicity, utility, and the ability to disappear as we read, but offer consumers capabilities that are only possible through digital technology and wireless connectivity. Starting with Kindle, which enables consumers to think of a book, newspaper or blog and be reading it in less than a minute, we will build tightly integrated products that bring together great devices, powerful software, Amazon services, and unmatched content selection.

Do you see what I mean? The Kindle wasn’t a radical innovation for Amazon it was more of a natural progression.  People were reading ebooks long before it came along, but, as a product innovation it leveraged Amazon’s shape. Amazon considered market trends, as well as where the competition might go in the future, and adapted its offering accordingly.

So, now that we’ve got marketing strategy sorted, in the next post where going to talk tactics, your weapons of warfare!

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Waging war – the art of marketing warfare pt2

Marketing warfare

 So what do I mean by waging war?

Simply start marketing; seize opportunities, attack the market, execute decisive marketing efforts and initiate strong campaigns that get you closer to your business goals with every action.

Hopefully you’ve laid plans, know the direction you’re heading in and what key strengths you’re going to leverage,

now it’s time to start marketing:

 Start at home

Who do you know within your current network that may require your product or service, have access to marketing channels or relevant personal contacts they could connect you with? Pick up the phone and tell them about your business, don’t sell just tell.

 Go local

Target your local market, the web gives us easy access to a global markets yes, but you are likely to have a better understanding of your local customer base and are therefore able to serve them better and more cost effectively than those further afield. Increasingly people prefer to support and buy from local businesses, you therefore have an advantage in your local market that non-local competitors don’t, it’as an easy way to start marketing so leverage your local advantage.

Then follow-up on any leads you get with a call, letter or email and whatever leads you can’t close, nurture – lead nurturing is about building relationships and trust with your prospects in a way that is both consistent and relevant. Start building your database and communicating with contacts in your own unique way on a consistent basis, perhaps by a monthly newsletter, connecting on LinkedIn, conversing via Twitter etc.

Don’t forget your personal touch and tone of voice in all communications, avoid corporate jargon and marketing clichés and whatever you do, don’t bombard your prospects with emails and unsolicited marketing communications. Always consider what’s in it for them? If the answer is nothing or you would not want to receive it yourself, forget it and don’t send it.

 Let one win drive the next

Consistency is key, use one marketing action as a stepping stone to the next, with one win driving another, build momentum and accelerate your efforts over time e.g. perhaps you’ve been interviewed on a radio station, you might want to follow-up with a twitter discussion, then use a key point form the discussion as the basis for a webinar,then promote the webinar via email and social media, do the webinar live and capture leads via a web-sign-up, then record the webinar and upload it to your website, use all of this as content on your website to drive SEO. This is just one example but the possibilities are endless and the benefits of integrated campaigns are numerous.

 Once you start marketing and begins to gain traction clone your best customers. You may have heard of Pareto’s 80/20 rule, the basic premise is that 20% of the input generates 80% of the output, therefore approximately 20% of your customers will be responsible for 80% of your sales. These are your most valuable customers both in terms of direct revenue and social capital (they are the ones most likely to recommend you to friends, talk about you on social media, engage with your brand etc.). Study their behaviour, characteristics, and demographics and exert your marketing efforts finding more customers like these. Don’t neglect the other 80% of your customers by any means, excel in service across the board. However, when it comes to spending money, focusing on the top 20% will get you the fastest and highest return on your investment.

In this post I’ve given you an overview on how to begin the campaign, later in the series I’ll go into greater detail on Specific tactics and the use of particular marketing channels, but before then we need to talk strategy, so look out for my next post entitled ‘attack by strategy’.


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Laying plans – the art of marketing warfare pt 1

Marketing Planning

Well we’ve all heard the phrase; if you fail to plan you plan to fail, 100%. If you don’t plan to get somewhere on purpose the chances are, you won’t get there by accident, you’ll most likely end up somewhere you never intended to be.

It’s true that things very rarely go to plan but a marketing plan acts as an anchor to your marketing goals, that keeps you focused on the goals even when the plan goes awry.

A plan is essential in life and business, however, in life it’s normally sufficient to just plan (to map a series of steps to your desired destination) in business it rarely is. Business requires ‘strategic planning’, marketing planning that considers the external environment and likely challenges that will be faced. A plan shows you the way, a strategic plan prepares you for the unexpected along the way.

Sun Tzu put it this way;

The general who wins a battle makes many calculations, the general who loses a battle makes few calculations beforehand, thus do many calculations lead to victory and few calculations to defeat, how much more no calculations at all?

So here’s a few tips to guide your marketing planning:
  1.  Decide where you want to go – no purpose, no plan, so what’s    the goal?
  2. Consider the moral law (not just the legal law)

Plan to take care of your customers and your people. The new economy demands this more than ever before. The rise of the ethical and social consumer means that people pay a premium for brands they respect, trust and look up to. Books like the The Thank You Economy and Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust have highlighted this in recent times, but it’s an age old truth. The Bible puts it this way ‘trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live safely in the land and prosper’ (Psalms 37:3). The most profitable way to do business is to consider people before profits. Put the customer at the heart of your marketing planning.

3.   Know your shape, find your voice

‘Keep it real’ and ‘do you’ as they say. Capitalise on your natural strengths and what you’re good at, then promote your business in your own unique way – Some of the best modern marketers are not trained marketers and if they are they don’t conform to text book marketing models, they are authentic, they spread the word naturally.  Examples include Seth Godin, Sandi Krakowski, Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk.  I’m a huge fan of these folks, I and many, many others actually take the time to listen to what they have to say and invest in what they have to offer. I look forward to receiving Chris Brogan’s weekly email on a Sunday morning, how many businesses can say that their customers look forward to receiving their emails, on a Sunday at that! Such is the art of effective marketing.

4.   Consider the climate

What external circumstances exist that could help or hinder you? Look at market trends, the economic climate, recent events etc. leverage these opportunities and guard against the threats. Ask questions like;

  • Can you spot an under served niche market?
  • What does the economic climate mean for your business?
  • Is there increased competition?
  • What are current and future market trends that might affect you?

5.  Know the other army (notice I did not say enemy)

    • Where are they stronger than you?
    • What are their unique skills and specialisms?
    • What are your comparative weaknesses and strengths?

The answer to these questions will determine whether your marketing strategy should be offensive or defensive. A defensive strategy may be to focus on a niche market, leverage your expertise and focus on key target customers (e.g. niche retailers like modcloth.com). An offensive strategy could be to go head to head with a key competitor offering the same or similar products (e.g. Supermarkets).

6. Harness Humility

Let the other side boast. Spend your energy focusing on performance and continuous improvement - let your light shine naturally. Formerly it was those with the biggest budgets and brightest advertising campaigns that won, now it’s the brands that are most in touch with the needs of their customers, engage with their customers and offer the best service. If you find your target customers and serve them well, you’ll see how easy marketing becomes, in fact your customers will end up doing most of the marketing for you.

7.    Be disciplined and methodical

Proceed with your marketing planning in an orderly and consistent way, take small steps on a regular basis, don’t try to launch the world’s most amazing marketing campaign in one day. Build your marketing activity over time, plan each step, take the time to learn along the way – prepare, act, review – and again – prepare, act, review.

As always feel free to ask questions or comment below.

Look out for the next instalment early next week entitled ‘Waging War’.

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