April 2012 Top 5 Marketing Tips

Below are this month’s top 5 marketing tips – simple tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

1. Content is King –  For those of us who rely on their online presence to drive enquiries for their business, a major paradigm shift is currently happening in the way Google is ranking websites.

Firstly, don’t panic.  It is a good thing – and will improve Google as a search engine.  Secondly it is good news for the smaller businesses with smaller budgets as it will provide a much more level playing field – meaning that throwing thousands of pounds at search engine optimisation won’t particularly help you.

Google is placing much less emphasis on links into your site and placing much more emphasis on content.  Content is truly going to be king, as it always should have been.  What this means, as website owners, is that we just need to ensure that we focus our efforts and attentions on building lots of relevant content in line with the search phrases we want to be found for.

What’s more,  it needs to be unique – there is little point in just plagiarising someone else’s copy.  Unique and relevant content (and plenty of it) is going to be the way to get to the top of Google.  Blogs and social media platforms are going to play a greater role in SEO.

Basically those businesses who can display that they actually know what they are talking about and provide useful information to their website visitors are the ones who will prosper.

Those companies who have created monster sites with pages and pages of rubbish and duplicated content and thousands of links will soon be feeling the wrath of Google.

2. Avoid Overkill – Are there companies that annoy you?  I mean really annoy you?  Have you ever ordered, opened an account, or even just shared your data with a company that then sees this as an opportunity to pester you to death with emails and phone calls?

Who likes being sold to? They are generally a few weirdo’s who do enjoy it but the majority of us don’t (unless the timing is perfect).  Unfortunately because email marketing is a relatively cheap way of communicating with your database – this medium gets abused.

Your contact database does not want to hear from you twice a week – particularly if the content is not very useful or engaging!  If you are just putting sales messages in front of your database – just ease off before you risk overkill.  Not only will your database start getting smaller and smaller,  as people opt out and unsubscribe, but you are also in danger of building up a negative reputation for your brand – the exact opposite of what you are trying to do.  Take a step back and evaluate the situation.

What are you selling?  How often is it acceptable to speak to you target audience?  If you were a customer what would you like to receive and how often?  Don’t annoy your prospect and customer database – you should treat them like royalty, not a marketing number!

3. Don’t Tweet for the Sake of it – Twitter has become a social media phenomenon over the last 3 years.  Initially viewed as a platform for the sad and lonely who wanted  to know what type of jam their celebrity idols were spreading on their toast, the medium has grown to become a useful tool for many businesses.

For larger organisations it can play a key role in monitoring and responding to customer comments about their brand.  For smaller companies it provides a platform through which you demonstrate your expertise in a particular field.  In addition, for very small businesses, where the business owner is directly linked to the brand – it enables followers to get an insight into your personality and values.

However, like with the majority of marketing channels, some people are using Twitter just for the sake of being on Twitter.  There is little strategy behind their activity and all that is happening is that their tweets are consuming hours of their time and delivering little return.

Before you start devoting time to Twitter, make sure there is a valid reason to do so.  Step back and evaluate how you can use the medium – if indeed you can.  Twitter is not an essential part of the marketing communications mix for everyone.  If you can’t decide if and how you should use it – get an outside experts opinion.

4. Educate to Sell (Don’t Sell to Sell) – The world is changing fast and the marketing channels available to you to communicate your message are increasing every day.

Go back in time 25 years and your marketing channels involved 4 TV channels, direct mail, in-store, local radio, door to door selling, telesales, exhibitions, poster sites and press advertising.  There was no “online”, no social media, no demographically targeted TV stations, no SMS and no Apps.

What we face now is almost unlimited information available to us within minutes.  We, as consumers, can quickly find out what we need, which brand is best and where to buy it to get the best deal.  This has turned marketing on its head.  We are now responding and interacting with educated consumers who are actively in the market for our products and services.

25 years ago we were mass marketing – and so our messages and communications were all very sales based as we were talking to everyone and we were “fishing” to sell what we were offering.  Today we need to shift our emphasis away from selling and into educating.

Through many of the modern day channels our prospects have already identified themselves to us – we merely need to educate them as to why we are the type of business they should be using – communicating what makes us different and the client benefit of what we offer.

If we can continually provide our prospective client base with information that they value and which helps them in some way – then we are positioning ourselves as a brand/company/individual they will trust.  Remember, no-one likes being sold to – in fact overt sales messages can cause mistrust and do more harm than good.

5. Understand Why? – One of the key questions to answer that will help you in your marketing strategy is to understand why your customers buy from you.

If marketing is something you have done little of to date and you have relied purely on word of mouth recommendations and the natural momentum a new business generates, then this question is key if you want to start proactively generating more business.

Many businesses do not have a clue why their customers choose to buy from them.  If this sounds like you – then just ask them!  Conduct some client research and find out why your customers selected you over the competition in the marketplace.  It could be a host of different things: product quality, service excellence, convenience, reliability, price, eco credentials, branding, location etc.

Once you find out what the most common purchasing drivers are, then you can start to work these into your external communications.  If you are lucky you may even discover that you have a completely unique proposition in the marketplace (from a customer’s perspective).

However, please note, it is important that you don’t try and second guess the reasons.  This can often lead to a complete mismatch between perception and reality – which can lead to disaster!

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.