May 2012 Top 5 Marketing Tips


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

1. Turn yourself “Outside In” –  What I mean by this is that the vast majority of businesses look at things “Inside-Out” – they look first at what works best for them as a business and then look at how they can shape it to work for the customer.

This is all wrong.  The most successful businesses first look at what works best for the customer and then works out how they can achieve this to the mutual benefit of the business.  This could be across a range of different parameters such as convenience, price, process, or even the actual product itself.

The “Inside-Out” model is often heightened when there is a middle-man involved in the process – such as a retailer or reseller.  You need to make sure that you are making that middle-man’s life as easy as possible.  So next time you identify an issue that is affecting the customer experience or the middle-man, don’t just look at what is in the best interests operationally or financially to your business.

Address the issue and then solve the problem of how your business can work around a solution.  Apple have built their whole business around the “Outside In” philosophy – identifying the customer’s need and wants and then working out how they can create the solution!

2. Identify your “Fall-Out” – Are you converting all of your enquiries into paying customers?  Of course you aren’t, which means that somewhere in your sales process – from initial enquiry to the point of purchase, your prospective customers are “falling out” the pipeline.

The first thing you need to do to radically improve sales within your business is to identify that “fall-out” point and understand why. If there is a clear pattern in terms of where prospects are leaving the process then there is clearly an issue to address.

View like Google Analytics on your website.  If your stats are telling you that 75% of visitors are not browsing past your homepage – then there is something obviously wrong with your homepage.  If 60% of those people who add products to the basket then leave the site when they payment details are asked for, perhaps they do not trust your site for some reason?

Moving offline again and talking about any sales process, the solution could be very simple – you may be leaving too long between follow-ups, you may be too aggressive in your follow-ups, you may not be providing enough compelling information for them to make the decision to buy?

Whatever it is, take the time to analyse it and identify where it is happening so you can work out how to address it.  A simple resolution could have a massive impact on your conversion rates!

3. Don’t save pennies at the expense of pounds – I hate Vistaprint.  There, I have said it.  When someone gives me a Vistaprint business card I feel a bit sad, empty and cold.

I can’t really explain why but the papery flimsiness of the card, the less than vibrant print quality, the lack of effort.  It turns me off of a business immediately.  Does this mean I am a bit shallow?  I don’t know – maybe I am a business card snob?

But if I am, there will also be lots of other people out there who are as well, who could be your potential customers.  I know you can get 250 cards for about £1 from Vistaprint but how much business are they going to cost you?  Imagine there are two start-ups offering exactly the same product. Start-Up ABC gets 250 Vistaprint cards at a cost of £1 and Start-Up XYZ gets 250 quality cards printed by a reputable quality local printer for £65.

Initially company ABC thinks they are “ahead of the game” as he has his business cards and has only laid out £1.  Both companies go networking to the same events and both of them distribute all of their cards.  Mr Vistaprint generates 1 client as a result of his networking – and guess what?

His client is the cheapskate who wants to pay under the asking price for Company ABC’s Service and spends around £350 with them (because he looked cheap).

Meanwhile company XYZ generates 5 new clients who each spend £500 with him.  The net result….Company ABC generates £349 profit (not accounting for the networking costs), Company XYZ generates £2435 profit.  The thing is that this sort of behaviour can be applied to many areas of marketing your business – a £50 logo from India, a badly photocopied Microsoft Word generated leaflet campaign, a £100 website from your neighbour’s son’s best friend.  It goes on all of the time and it is a false economy.

Don’t view these things as a cost….they are an investment into your business!

4. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics – Most business are cyclical and the lifecycles of businesses tend to be quite similar – albeit over varying timescales.

When a business starts up, the business owner puts all of their effort into perfecting their proposition.  Once perfected, they launch and, if they have done a reasonable job with their marketing plan, they will win a few clients.  If they have a quality proposition then they will then start to grow the business through repeat business and word of mouth.

The business owner will then start to identify different revenue generating opportunities and their eyes light up.  Before you know it the company has doubled or trebled in size and so has its product range.  A few years pass and the company starts to falter and move backwards a little.

Sales have dried up and it is finding it difficult, for the first time, to win new clients.  This is the point when you need to pause and take an “outsiders” perspective on your business.

What is your offering?  Is it clear?  Or has it been lost in the all noise of the other products and services you bolted on to your core offering (which was what your business was built on)?

You see 9 times out of 10 that original core offering will still be the same core of the business – however it is no longer being effectively communicated.

Don’t be afraid to strip back the “added value” noise from your communications and go back to basics.  You can still offer these other products and services – you just don’t lead with them.

Imagine that each product or service is a brightly coloured ball of plasticine.  On their own they are eye-catching, mix them all together and they turn…….brown! Some of the biggest companies in the world have fallen foul of this….and I can think of a few currently who are making the same mistakes.

5. Prepare for the press? – Most companies love to be in the public eye – they love to get column inches in the local press or appear on the radio.

All publicity is good publicity, right? Wrong.  Good publicity is good publicity.  Bad publicity is bad publicity.  If you have identified that PR is an area that is a crucial part of your marketing strategy then please invest in the services of a good PR company.

As with Tip 3, don’t just try and do it yourself.  The reason being is that media is a huge animal and unless you are correctly prepared in how to deal with them and speak to them, it could all go horribly wrong!  I remember in my first job, freshly graduated, as a marketing executive of a printing company, I was doing the PR in-house and trying to raise the profile of the business.

During this period our parent company decided to merge another division with us and the printing press got wind of the move and rang me (as opposed to the parent company) to find out what the strategy behind the move was – only they had found about it before even the staff knew somehow.

So when I innocently said “I don’t know” an article got published that made out the new division’s future (and staff) was in doubt.  What I should have said is that “I will find the correct answer out for you and ring you back” or “I will get a director of the group to call you back”.

You have to be prepared for questions in a certain way otherwise the press can turn a positive story on its head.  A good PR company will either train you fully on how to deal with the media or in some cases they will become the voice of the company! Either way it is a better option than becoming the next Gerald Ratner!

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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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