June 2012 Top 5 Marketing Tips


Marketing is not easy, to any stretch of the imagination. Here are 5 marketing tips to help you achieve more success with your business.

1. Ignore what YOU like – It is natural human behaviour to centre your thinking and actions around the things that you like.  You often mix with the sort of people who you are most like, you buy the things that help you move towards the sort of person you want to be and you are taught to treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.

However in marketing…this is completely wrong.  Unless you are specifically the same demographic profile as your target client then you need to ignore these natural biases and work out what you target market likes (and you may have 2 or 3 different target markets who need speaking to in different ways).

For example – what is you desired method of communication – email, phone, twitter, text, face to face?  The temptation is to always use YOUR preferred method of communication – however it may not be the recipients.  There is no point sending a message via email if your recipient never has the time to look at them properly.

Similarly, just because you like lots and lots of detail it doesn’t mean your audience does.  What sort of imagery do you lean towards – bright feminine colours?

But what if your target market is 40 year old sport loving males?  Always keep the recipient in mind and don’t let your personal objectivity get in the way of the right communication for your target market.  If you are not sure – ask a sample set of them so you have a clear picture of what resonates with them!

2. Target through past experience – Quite often when I talk to businesses and ask who their target market is, they often struggle to answer.

Usually we can look through the historical performance of the business to see where clients have come from and, more often than not, a clear pattern emerges as to who their core target market actually is.  However this is not always the case.

Sometimes their historical approach has been so scattergun that there are no stand out sectors – or there is simply not enough captured data in the business to analyse.  In this situation I always ask them the following questions:

– Which client did you most enjoy working with last year?  Why? What is their profile?

– Which client did you add most value to (have the best results with) last year?  Why? What was their profile?

– Which client was the most profitable to you last year? Why? What was their profile?

Quite simply, if you can identify the reasons why to the above questions and the specific profile of the client then this can really help you to describe what your ideal sort of client would look like.  Now you have a clear idea of who they are you can work out where to find them, what to say to them and how to convert them!

3. Focus on small improvements  – Sometimes the growth objectives of the business can seem so  daunting that they can just overwhelm you!  However, when broken down into facts and figures, it is amazing how achievable they become.

What’s more is that because you can then see they are actually achievable , guess what…….you achieve them.    Whenever I start working with a new client I will sit down with them to map out where they would like to get to in 5 years time.

I stress to them it is not where they think they will be….but where they would like to be.  Often it is a financial objective – such as grow profits by £1m.  On the face of it this usually seems like a big challenge.  We can then work back year on year as to what that then means in the next 12 months.

Once we have that figure we can work out what that means in terms of how many transactions need to take place and how many customers that would involve.

We can then identify how many new customers we need as opposed to existing repeat custom.  So, for examples sake, we may say that we need to attract 50 new customers this year, and based on our existing conversion rate of 20% we therefore need to generate 250 good enquiries into the business (approximately one every working day).  Now this may seem quite daunting – especially if you are only currently generating one enquiry every couple of weeks.

However, if we focus on improving our conversion rate by 5% then all of a sudden we only need 200 enquiries.  If we then increase the average transaction value by 5%, this number will drop further.

If we reduce the level of customer churn each year by 5%, this figure will drop further.  If we improve our margin by 5% as well, the number will drop even further.

You see, you do not have to make drastic improvements in any one area, but make slight tweaks in performance in many different  areas and it may mean only needing 100 new enquiries per year as opposed to 250.  Approach your business in bitesized chunks rather than wholesale changes and you will find the compound effect of all these things to be massive!

4. Use controlled measures first – Marketing your business is not an exact science.  No-one can tell you that 100% of what they advise you to do is going to work.

If they do….they are lying.  You can use the principles of marketing to seriously reduce the odds of what you do working, but you can never be absolutely sure.

For this reason I always advise business owner to test anything on a small sample first, before investing in a large and costly campaign.  For example, if you are going to run a direct mail campaign, you are going to incur costs in buying data, the creative process, the physical mailing and the follow up.

Before you spend £15K on a campaign being sent out to 25,000 recently moved homeowners under the age of 40, why not test a sample of say 5,000.  You can buy a smaller data set, you can test the creative (which may need tweaking), you have saved on the physical mailing cost and you have a much better understanding on the follow-up capacity you have as a business.

More importantly you get an idea of potential ROI.  If your sample set generated a response rate of 5% which generated a ROI of 500% then great – roll it out.  If the sample campaign only just covered its costs or worse still, ran at a loss – then you need to change something (data set, creative design, message, call to action, follow up process etc) and test again or ultimately ditch the idea.

Whatever happens, you have gone about it in a controlled manner and reduced the investment risk.   This can apply to any area of marketing communications – test and measure on a smaller scale before a major roll-out.  It is similar in the way that retailers test new store formats in a couple of city’s before rolling out nationwide, or a TV network runs a pilot episode of a programme before commissioning a whole series.

5. Give your event a message – I have attended, as a delegate, a couple of local Yorkshire exhibitions recently and been amazed at how many exhibitors pay to have space at these events and then fail to capitalise on the opportunity to communicate with their audience.

Exhibitions are not “brand building” exercises.  In fact your brand means nothing if there is no message with it.  Too many exhibitors stand in front of graphics which simply show the company logo and perhaps a descriptive line of what the company does.

This is a missed opportunity.  Your presence at an event should all be geared around a particular message – this is what people will remember, probably even before your company name, if the message has been cleverly conceived to resonate with target audience of the show.

The message or theme is the hook that will grab the attention and facilitate the start of dialogue about the business – and more importantly – what you can do for them (the benefits rather than features).  The best exhibitors are those who build a central theme around everything they do regarding the event, from pre-show communications, on stand activity, post-show communications and follow-ups.

Exhibitions are by no means cheap.  When you take into account all of the associated costs, often the stand space is only around 30% of the cost.

However they can be a perfect platform to promote your business if it is the correct audience demographics and you are communicating the correct message in a professional manner.

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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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