Tag Archives: small business marketing

Are you one of the 50% of SME’s without a website?

no website

Yes you read right! According to Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2014:

“Only 50% have a website and on the whole, those that do are only providing basic functionality.”

If you are are one of the 50% without a website then this post is for you. I won’t bore you with all the reasons why you should be online, suffice to say that the UK is the most active eCommerce market in Europe and there are 1.2 billion potential customers online, including your competitors.

Despite this  29% of SMEs and charities still believe being online isn’t relevant to their business. In actual fact the internet is the number one global resource for finding information and sourcing suppliers. Believe it or not people are searching for your very business online, the only thing is you’re not there! So in this post I wanted to tell you about 3 easy and cost effective ways to get online fast.

1.  Social Media Page

Facebook page example

If you’re not ready for you’re own website yet then dip your toe in the water with a Facebook page these are easy and free to set-up. Here’s 5 top tips for creating an effective page:

    1. Customise your page e.g. take advantage of the vanity url, use apps and custom tabs
    2. Keep your page current with news, company info, offers etc.
    3. Engage, engage and engage some more - people buy from people so share your personality and update your page often
    4. Use multi-media – posts that include images and video receive a lot more engagement than those without
    5. Advertise – your own posts and updates will only get you so far, it’s work running some cost-effective ad campaigns, to boost traffic, especially if your page is new

 2.  Website Builder

website builder

A website builder is essentially an easy to use control panel that allows you to build a professional website yourself, prices start from free to about £30 per month. The 1&1 website builder for example is currently available for £0.99/month and offers:

    • Quick creation – drag and drop functionality to change layout,  pictures and add apps
    • Industry specific text and images, plus functionality based on your industry
    • Advanced functionality with 140 drag and drop web apps such as slideshare, shopping apps, contact forms, eCommerce apps and more

3.  Host a WordPress site (like this one)

Wordpress

You can purchase web hosting (the service providing space on the Internet for websites) and then build a WordPress site yourself in a few easy steps.

WordPress is the number one content management system in the world with more than 73 million websites globally. WordPress usage is growing fast. Approximately 20% of existing websites are built with WordPress

I’m a big fan, this blog is a WordPress site which I created myself within a couple of hours with no previous experience or knowledge of website design.

There is no need to go without a website, all three options mentioned above can be created yourself, for a  few pounds a month within a few hours. It’s literally that easy to get online and join the millions of businesses on the web benefiting from online success.

I spoke on this topic in more depth at The Business Show last month take a look at the video below for more tips and insights.

If you need help with any of the options mentioned above give me a shout and I’ll be happy to assist.

Speak soon,
Katrina

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Street Smarts for Small Businesses

steps to success

The smart person learns from his or her mistakes, a wise person learns from other peoples mistakes

I believe the best way to learn how to be great at something is to seek the advice from those that have successfully gone before you, not to imitate them, but to follow the principles that have made them successful. This is why mentors and also books can provide invaluable help and resources on our journey to achieving our vision and goals. One such book I recently came across is Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham.

The reason I found the book so useful was because it is based on practice not theory. Brodsky himself is a veteran entrepreneur, has been a mentor to a number of successful entrepreneurs, and in addition to co-authoring Street Smarts is a columnist and senior contributing editor for Inc.com.

There are so many gems in this book it was difficult to select just a few so the best advice I can give you is to get the book! But until then here are three things that really resonated with me:

My three favourite principles

1.       Spend your time going after high margin customers let the low margin customers come to you and then negotiate the price up.

This typically means focusing on customers that spend more, but probably buy less. i.e. the customer that buys from you whether your product is on sale or not. These customers are probably more valuable to your business than the serial bargain hunter who only buys during the sale. It is better to spend your time building relationships with the former and letting the latter come to you.

Why? Well, as Brodsky and Burlingham explain, gross profit (the net sales minus the cost of goods and services sold) is the most important figure for a small business; all expenses are paid out of gross profit. To illustrate, if your product costs you £20 to make and you sell it for £35 you are obviously making a decent profit margin, if you sell the same product at £21 even if you sell more, the picture isn’t so rosie. The lower price will undoubtedly attract more customers but this may not actually be of benefit to your business, because not only are you making significantly less profit on each sale (which may not be enough to cover expenses), but you are also having to service significantly more customers which may erode the minimal profit you received from the sale. Yet many small businesses make the mistake of going after lots of low margin sales, these sales look good initially but could actually be costing your business. Better to have few high margin customers than many low margin customers. This is why I’m not a fan of competing on price, as it erodes value for your business and your market. I personally will always compete on value.

2.       There is ONE opportunity you should be thinking about at the beginning of any business

Emotion causes you to want to jump on every new opportunity that arises, but as Brodsky and Burlingham state “the numbers (as discussed above) will help you balance your emotion”.

Most entrepreneurs are ideas people so they tend to struggle with focusing on one idea at a time, perhaps you can relate :) however, When you have limited time and limited money as is the case for most small businesses, focus is a must.

Focus and discipline are more important than chasing opportunities when building a business– a plan helps you do this. As Brodsky and Burlingham state; “eventually your business will grow so strong that it won’t need you, and then you can chase opportunities to your hearts content”.

3.       First mover advantage is overrated

You often hear that to be successful you need a unique product or service or you should choose a business with as little competition as possible. Brodsky advices the opposite, because there is nothing more expensive than educating a market. This one’s definitely food for thought :)

These three principles barely scrape the surface of what the book has to offer, so if you’ve recently started a business or are planning to do so in the near future then I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

If you do decide to read it, please come back and let me know what you think and what your favourite principles are.

Speak soon,
Katrina

PS:here’s Norm Brodsky’s Twitter handle @NormBrodsky if you wish to follow him.

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To sell is definitely human

For a lot of us the notion of sales seems far from human

Think sales and images of pushy, sometimes unethical and often arrogant men in suits, trying to ram things that you don’t need down your throat emerge. But this is indeed a stereotype and times have changed.

We’ve moved into the realm of what Dan Pink calls ‘non sales selling’ in his book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others he highlights that most of us spend a lot of our time convincing, influencing or persuading others and he’s absolutely right. We’ve all become a bunch of sales people and we didn’t even realise! Here are a few examples of non-sales selling from my own life:

  • Putting forward new ideas or businesses cases to colleagues
  • Teaching my children that working hard at school really is for the best
  • Convincing my husband that we should watch Downtown Abbey instead     of the football

Aside from my personal and business life I see this trend manifesting within industries such as marketing too. Here are some examples, we’ve moved…

From print advertising to advertorials – instead of straight sales messages, the sales offering is wrapped within non-sales content about a related subject.

From banner ads to native advertising – instead of an ad looking like an ad it’s embedded within the context of a human interest story.

From the corporate brand to the personal brand -

Dan Schawbel author of Me 2.0 says it like this The rise of personal branding From the corporate brand (BMW), to the product brand (BMW M3 Coupe) and down to the personal brand (car salesman), branding is a critical component to a customer’s purchasing decision.

So seen as most of us are selling whether we realise it or not, we may as well get good at it

If I had to choose my five favourites takeaways regarding successful selling in today’s market it would be the following:

1.    The New ABC’s of selling

It’s no longer ‘always be closing’ but:

  • Attunement – exiting your own perspective to taken on anothers
  • Buoyancy – the ability to bounce back from rejection and keep moving
  • Clarity – helping others to see their situations in a new light

2.       The ability to chameleon (Attunement)

Essentially this is the ability to adjust what you do and how you do it to others. In a nutshell to me this means positioning your proposition around people not product.

3.       Be a problem finder not a problem solver (Clarity)

Dan Pink says; Today both sales and non-sales selling depend more on the creative heuristic problem finding skills of artists then the more reductive algorithmic problem solving skills of technicians.

This ties into the fact that people don’t want off-the shelf solutions to standard problems they want bespoke solutions that meet their specific needs and cut to the heart of their problems. They want suppliers that are astute enough to detect problems that they themselves have overlooked.

4.       One word equity

Attention spans are so short that according to Saatchi; in order to be heard we need to push brevity to its breaking point. In this model companies compete for one word in the public mind. Examples:

Search = Google
Priceless = Mastercard

5.       Improvisation

Forget the sales scripts and the prewritten proposal and just listen, take in anything and everything someone says as an offer you can do something with.

The points in this post are just my favourites Dan Pink reveal’s a wealth of in depth research and nuggets of wisdom beyond what I’ve included here so I encourage you to buy To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others.

If you’re not comfortable with selling now is most definitely the time to get comfortable!

Speak soon,
Katrina

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Competition – The Art of Marketing Warfare Part 9

competition

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,
Katrina

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Get to Know Your Customers

know your customers

Your customers are your business, without them you have no business. So your first port of call is to stop thinking about what you want and start thinking about what your customers want. In reality most companies do the reverse, they decide on their branding and website design, advertising and marketing activities and then think about how they can make their customers like it – wrong.

There are millions of people waiting to be served products and services they’ll happily buy, marketing is simply about showing the right people the right product – do this and the sale becomes child’s play. The thing is, you can’t know what your customers want until you know them, so here’s 3 tips for getting to know your customers:

1. If your business is new think about who your customers are and write down everything about them that you can possibly think of, even if it seems totally unrelated to your product: Age, gender, income, profession, taste in fashion, style of home, marital status, number of children, car they drive, problems they may have, personality traits, the phone and technological devices they use, how internet savvy they are  – absolutely everything.

2. If you’re an existing business simply consolidate this information about your most profitable customers and ask them directly, how they found you, why they buy from you and what keeps them coming back.

3. Take the time to create  customer personas based on the above information. Personas are fictional characters that embody all the characteristics of your customers; their problems and behaviours, likes and dislikes. The purpose of creating them is so that you can design your product, service and marketing around them. By doing this you ensure that everything you do is designed to meet the needs of your customer.

This can be time consuming and laborious but I assure you it will pay great dividends. Here’s a couple of examples that illustrate why: if you know ‘Joe’ (your persona) lives and works typically in London you’re not going to waste your time and money marketing in Manchester, if you know that Joe, hates reading magazines and gets his daily dose of info online every day, you’re not going to waste money on print advertising, if you know that Joe doesn’t have the faintest interest in social media you’re not going to waste your time and money on Twitter updates and Facebook ads.

the point is, you will never know what marketing initiatives will work for you until you know your customer. So if you want to know where to begin with marketing, begin with your customer.

If you need further support regarding the topics covered in this post or any aspect of your marketing.

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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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