January 2012 Top 5 Marketing Tips


Below are this month’s top 5 marketing tips for January 2012 – simple tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

1. Go Viral – What better way to spread your message across your target market than by letting them naturally spread the word amongst themselves?

You see, nobody like to be sold to, but people like to be told to!  If someone you know, like and trust has recommended a company or brand to you – you will attach much greater weight to that than an advertising message from the company itself.  Viral marketing works upon the same basis.

It is getting a message, advert, offer or brand in front of a target audience through creating content that people will want to share.  The boom in digital communications over the last 20 years has made viral communications much easier to spread virally across the planet in days, hours and even minutes.

Platforms such as social media channels, file sharing sites, mobile messaging and email has meant that viral marketing has become a valuable and cost effective tool in reaching a wide audience.

You need to spend money on creating the concept, but the actual media itself is free as people circulate the content.  A great example is this You Tube campaign by Tippex.  It is funny and engaging content which works virally as it is clever and unusual, but more importantly it makes sure that the product is well positioned in the campaign and will be remembered.

This is critical – if the product/brand is not an integral part of the campaign – it is pointless!  Have a think how your company could be circulated virally!  It doesn’t always need to be as clever or as expensive as this – it could be a very simple, yet addictive game, a funny video or a simple digital calendar for an event such as the Olympics or the Euro Championships.

If the content is good then they will be openly shared and can spread like wildfire.

2. Data Holds the Key – When I go in and conduct a marketing health check for a business, one of the first things I do is ascertain what sort of data the company holds.

The reason I do this is because data holds the key to unlock many problems that the company generally faces.  On a very basic level a customer database is key.

Ideally you will utilise a system which tracks all purchasing history as well.  Historic trends with regards to products, seasonality, spend and profitability often lead the way to the most profitable future strategies.  One good tip (which most companies do not do) is to track the customer type within their customer database.

What I mean by this is that if you have a few different products and services and deal with a variety of businesses or customer types then segment them – by industry, demographic, business type…whatever is the logical classification for your business.  The more detail in the data, the more powerful it can be!

The next step up from this is to get all of your prospect data within a system as well and track all enquiries that come into the business. If you have read my blogs before you will know the importance that I place on testing and measuring all marketing activity.

In order to test and measure effectively you need to start tracking everything.  Once you do this you can suddenly start to see how profitable (or unprofitable) specific marketing campaigns are.  In order to maximise the most out of your data a CRM system is required.

However tread with care, unless all of your staff are on board with the why and are behind the system, it could result in a spectacular expensive failure.  Databases and CRM’s are no different to the old saying about computers….if you put rubbish in, you will get rubbish out!

3. Forecast Performance – This seems quite an obvious tip but it always amazes me how many companies are plodding along on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis with no targets or forecasts for their business…they are merely just existing.

Unless you set clear targets and then forecast sales accordingly, how do you know if you are on target with where you want to get to (assuming you want to get somewhere)?

By analysing actual performance against forecasts you can quickly see where there is going to be potential areas of concern – whether this is cashflow, sales pipeline, capacity, stock etc.  On a basic level, create a spreadsheet and create a sales forecast for the year.

From the top-line sales figures you will then drill back into different areas which will have their own necessary forecast in order to contribute to that top-line figure.  One of the key areas that will feed into this is marketing, as your sales figures are a direct result of your marketing activity.

If, for example, your first quarter does not hit its forecast and you need your second quarter performance to increase by 25% on your initial forecast – then guess what? You are going to need your marketing activity to work harder to generate enough additional revenue to make up for the deficit.

You, therefore, will either need to generate more enquiries into the business, improve your conversion rate or get your average customer spend up.  Alternatively you can blindly hope that you get lucky and a big order drops.

4. Keep abreast of technology  – When I think back to when I started out as a marketing manager 16 years ago, the world we live in now has radically changed.

Back then the internet was a new phenomenon and no-one really knew how big it was going to become nor how to utilise it from a marketing perspective.

Would people really pay for things online? We have also seen an explosion in the penetration of mobile phones – it is rare to come across anyone under the age of 50 who does not own one today.

And where it was originally viewed as a phone, now it is a mobile communication portal with SMS, internet access, apps and social media channels all in one handset.

Who would have thought you could have your entire music or book collection on a pocket sized device?  Social media wasn’t even on the marketing manager’s radar 6 years ago and now it is the buzzword of the moment and everyone wants a piece of the action.

More recently we have cloud technology, QR codes, augmented reality and proximity marketing.  If you don’t know what all of these things are, then that is my point really.

They won’t all be relevant to marketing your business, but you need to at least be aware of them so that you can knowingly discount their value.

The danger is when one of these technological breakthroughs is the perfect platform for your business, but you are completely ignorant to the fact (whilst your competitor gets a first mover advantage). Believe it or not there are people even currently working on a “Smellovision” TV set – I know it seems a step too far but imagine an advert for Cadburys where a scent of chocolate fills the room.  Or even worse imagine you are watching an advert for Pampers.

5. Plug the bucket! – We all know that a leaky bucket is inefficient!  You have to fill it up with water a lot more times and you need to work much harder to achieve the same result.

If you just stopped for 5 minutes and plugged the hole then you would be able to work much more effectively.  It is a similar analogy to the two woodcutters who are having a competition.

The woodcutter who lost couldn’t believe it because he could hear the other woodcutter keep taking breaks as the chopping fell silent.  Afterwards he asked how he did it and the winning woodcutter informed him that he wasn’t taking breaks, he was sharpening his axe.

In marketing terms too many companies focus all their attentions on winning new customers…….usually at the detriment to their existing customers.  What is happening, like the leaky bucket, is that they are just continually replacing the customers that they have lost due to poor service, lack of attention, no communication etc.

Before you go on a big marketing push take a look at your customer churn.  How many customers on average do you lose per year?  Ask yourself why?  If you can identify the reason why and plug the hole, then the new customers that you add are going to overflow your bucket…….and you are going to need a bigger bucket!

Existing customers are also around 7 times less expensive to get the same value of business from than a brand new customer.  Remember that marketing doesn’t stop with the sale….that is only the start of a long relationship.


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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.
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