Archive for category PR & Marketing

Understanding Marketing Costs against Customer Wins

SME’s say marketing is critical to growth, but measuring return on investment (ROI) holds them back.  Has it held you back?

This was the question posed to members at our recent Business Exposure Group meeting.

If ROI is difficult to measure for a marketing activity, then don’t do it, was the view of one member.  Others felt that they did unplanned marketing activities with no certainty of ROI and not included in the marketing budget.  Research shows that businesses that develop and use a marketing plan go on to outperform those that don’t, by an average of 30% and every £1 spent on advertising benefits an SME eight times as much as it would benefit a larger company (Deloitte).

Marketing is important to SME’s but, lack of budget, lack of expertise and time are barriers.  Some of our members see marketing as a cost, not an investment in the future, and only 20% of SME’s believe that increased marketing spend will be their path to growth.

However, those businesses which seem to be flying are marketing led.  They have the marketing budget at the top of their business agenda – if you are not spending you are not gaining customers!

Tracking where the enquiries are coming from is crucial.  It is easier to track ROI from a digital campaign rather than a traditional one.  Always ask an enquirer where and how they found out about your business.  Is your record keeping system good enough to make sense of where to spend your money?  Understanding, ROI is important, but some felt that measuring ROI was futile because most marketing is about creating long term brand recognition.

68% of SME’s say it is difficult to get customers to take action as a result of marketing, questioning how much should be invested.

Consider a ROI formula? ­­­­___ROI ___­­­_  x 100 as a percentage, so you can work out



whether one medium generates 15% and another 50%, then clearly you know where to invest your money.  When you spend £1 on marketing how much should you expect in return?  A good return thought by the members was in the region of 5/1.

If a marketing activity can’t be measured perfectly, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, but don’t throw money across the whole marketing mix without deciding quickly what works and what doesn’t.

All the members concluded that they needed to spend more time on the question of ROI when glibly doing ‘appropriate’ marketing.


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Can our Tweets help get business out of Twitter?

Twitter – What can anyone really say in 140 characters?

Aside from being snide about whatever happens to be on TV or divulging pockets of minutia about your everyday life, Twitter can be a remarkably useful business tool. The 140 characters and 2.7 seconds to get attention have freed us all to be really focused on a succinct message.

However Twitter only works for your business if you work to use Twitter properly. But how do you do this? Let’s take a look at some do’s, don’ts and handy tips for the business use of Twitter.

Firstly, the use of Twitter should be seen as part of branding, and act as a seed for your business name. It’s for this reason that the Twitter user within the company must be someone who is knowledgeable about the issues you are raising; otherwise the tweeting itself can seem rather aimless.

There may be a lot of talk on Twitter but it may sometimes seem like it’s not actually going anywhere, so is it just someone filling up the day?

It’s imperative the content of tweets are relevant, while not being too uptight. Focus on these key points:

  • Many businesses struggle to find topics. They take their knowledge for granted – disseminate it.
  • With effort you can figure out topics that spark real interest. Brainstorm 5-7 conversation topics and then a list of 10 more things within each category – this will give you a supply of tweets.
  • The best twitter topics for business are messages that provide practical solutions to problems your potential customers face every day.
  • Link to information that aligns you with the industry you represent
  • Promote your blogs, video and email marketing, as well as key people in your network
  • Retweet information that shows you support allies and gets you noticed
  • Use # to highlight specific target topics, people and conversations
  • Use Twitter to show your fun side and personality and to create immediacy and urgency
  • Above all, define your purpose and goal – if the only reason you are on Twitter is to drive traffic to your website then you need to rethink your strategy. It can do so much more than that.

Generally, the right way to promote your business on Twitter is to participate – talk about new happenings at your business, mention clients and people you are collaborating with, and pay attention to your followers and engage in conversation.

The wrong way is to always talk about your business. Twitter is not about selling, it’s about engaging first, and a sale may come from it.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact

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Content Marketing – Do’s, Don’ts and Considerations

contentdiagramWarren Buffett once said, “To succeed in business, build a strong relationship with the media.” It has also been posited that today, if you are in business, you are a media organisation.

Three quarters of B2B and B2C customers say they prefer informational articles to adverts, while 80% and 74% of a business sample say the most effective ways of marketing are via social media and articles respectively.

A lot of this is executed via inbound marketing, the art of earning customers attention by producing content they find valuable. According to The Whole Brain Group, it has five-stages:

  1. Create compelling content for all stages of the buying cycle, such as blog posts, eBooks, and videos
  2. Get found by people who need your products and services using advanced search marketing techniques and social media
  3. Convert visitors into leads using landings pages with clear calls to action, and then nurture the relationships using social media and email marketing
  4. Convert qualified leads into customers by focusing on customers at the bottom of the sales funnel (those ready to buy)
  5. Analyze and adjust your marketing tactics to determine the best ways to reach and convert potential customers

Since then inbound marketing has evolved into content marketing, but the core principles remain the same. Over half of a sample group of business owners report content marketing is the most impactful tool for generating leads, ahead of brand awareness and sales.

Therefore, executing content marketing is key, as customers are no longer fishing in the old pond- now they are fishing in Google, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. If you aren’t on page one of Google, to a consumer you don’t exist.

Your marketing department should be producing content all the time– remarkable content is like a magnet. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to come from your marketing department.

Perhaps one of your employees has worked with a customer who has had an interesting experience regarding your businesses field of expertise, and that employee’s gained knowledge from those events could be turned into useful content in the eyes of your customers.

Another key area is the headline. Over three-quarters of the people who visit the page with your content will either skim read or click off it, so it’s important to grab them with the headline. Stick to a set of rules:

  • Know your post inside out so you can work on a headline that gets to the heart of the subject matter
  • Always use how, what, why and when
  • Make an audacious promise to the reader
  • Use interesting adjectives

With regards to the content itself, create genuinely useful content for many niches of your target audiences, not to overtly promote your business, but to build rapport. Also create on advice documents that your costumers would want, and then give it away for free, but make sure they have to contact you for the content, thus creating a lead. With video marketing, publish the transcript of the video and add it to your sales literature.

All of this will educate your customer about new ideas that will nudge them towards your funnel. It doesn’t attempt to convert people immediately, instead sewing seeds to be harvested later.

So how does this fit with landing page optimisation, which aims to convert people immediately? Well, content marketing is about romancing prospects, where is landing pages are more like honing pick-up lines.

So how do you get conversion with content marketing?

Put simply, testing in moderation. If you are not testing you are squandering traffic- 60% create new content, 40% test and refine.

Here are some general considerations regarding the process of content marketing:

  • Get into database marketing – your database has value
  • Marketing is not a part-time job
  • Don’t spend all you money on developing a product and say you have no money left for marketing
  • Forget ego marketing and focus on benefit marketing
  • Focus on quality and build what customers need, not what you think they need.

Finally, perhaps the most important thing to remember about your content:

Content is only king if it resonates with your audience.

This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact

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How do you value corporate entertaining in 2012?

Most companies are still motivated to entertain their existing and new customers as a way of nurturing relationships and ultimately boosting profit but many find themselves restricted by budget, time and resources, especially during times of recession. The dilemma facing any business owner wishing to improve their connections in today’s economy is to work out which events or functions are going to bring financial returns to the business and which will be fruitless.

So how do you make corporate entertainment worth the time and expenditure and how do you measure the value it has created?

Entrepreneurs should not automatically dismiss all corporate entertainment experiences as worth it just because they are ‘building’ relationships with either their customers or their employees. A return on investment is essential. For every £1k spent on corporate entertainment, the business should be looking for a return of at least £5k over and above what is already coming in.

Organising corporate functions or events is a good way of cementing relationships, enticing new ones and raising brand awareness but don’t do it on the cheap – it needs to be memorable.

It’s important to set a budget for entertaining and stick to it. Look at individual customers and assess the net profit they contribute to the business and how this can be increased. When it comes to the invitations, get the right balance of new and current customers.
Existing, happy customers can boost the confidence of prospective clients and are likely to say the right things at the event to improve your profile but pick your guests carefully. It’s also important to fill empty spaces with the right people not friends to ensure you maximise your investment so it’s always worth sending out the invites well in advance of an event.

When it comes to holding or attending corporate events don’t just send the sales team – the owner should be present to promote strong, genuine relationships.

Spectator sports are among the most popular corporate events as well as golf days, races, concerts and awards dinners. As with all entertaining, it’s essential to be clear about the objectives which should be strongly linked to long-term corporate goals as this will have an impact on the outcome.  But clearly a memorable event will increase your access to a customer over the following months, and then it is up to you to make the most of it.

This article was taken from a discussion at a Business Exposure Group event.

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Elements of a successful business website

As more and more customers use the internet to access products and services, building a good website has never been more important. Businesses should never underestimate the value of good website design and user-friendly navigation when it comes to building their reputation.

Gone are the days when customers solely relied upon recommendations via word of mouth. In today’s marketplace, many of your customers may never have heard of you until they enter search terms for the service they require into the internet and are led to your website.
As a result, your website is often now the first contact they will make with your company and it needs to be as helpful, striking and informative as possible.

As a business, your website must act as a sales funnel if it is to bring you increased custom and profit. A successful website is a gold mine of information containing powerful, relevant and useful facts which are of benefit to your customers.
It should offer more than a visitor can absorb in one visit and act as a continuing source of advice and guidance. You need great free content – which can spread virally.

Good content attracts larger audiences and creates credibility. This the new marketing expense. Do you know why customers would be interested in your site? Identify the unique benefits you offer and base your written content around these core issues.

Many businesses fall into the trap of using their website as a free promotional tool, advertising themselves and their services to potential customers. The best websites, however, deliver what the visitor wants to read and provides free, genuine advice which makes their lives easier.

A good business website will keep visitors signed in. Many websites have links that take visitors away.

Visibility is key to developing a successful website. Businesses should register with lots of search engines to maximise the chances of being ‘seen’ and fully utilise social media.

How important is SEO in the creation of a website?  

While there are still people who search for a tradesman in local directories, most customers nowadays turn to a search engine to provide them with a list of options. Businesses which want to maximise opportunities and attract more customers should aim to enhance their position in a Google search using keywords.

Once you have identified the keywords which are applicable to your industry, use them liberally on your site and preferably in headings. Competition can be very strong when it comes to keywords, especially if your business offers a common product or service, so it is better to find something more specific to your business which will give you a better shot at reaching higher rankings.

Web design – Simplicity is the key

Web design works best when pictures and text state the obvious. Remember, websites are used by your customers and should be constructed in a way that makes their life easier. So that it gives them a good visitor experience.

Good website design provides web-users with instant information. Web users are notoriously impatient and will lose interest with too much text and busy pages.

Businesses should respond to queries quickly and utilise the unique information available for future marketing purposes by gathering visitor data and feedback. This can be sourced through online surveys or newsletter subscriptions.

Using a website optimiser will enable you to ascertain which content on your site users respond to best, to improve your conversion rates. Businesses also have the option of testing different landing pages via pay per click campaigns for the same purpose but in different styles, to see which message works best.

At the end of the day. Stop simply advertising yourself and deliver what your visitors want to read.

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PR – does it work and is it useful for businesses?

PR is about managing relationships and normally delivers the message not addressed by conventional advertising. It’s when a company puts a stake in the ground and wants to tell the world at large what they are doing.

PR often goes wrong because the owner of the business fails to communicate their vision and message to a third party agency making the activity effectively pointless. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are you building business relationships using social media?

It’s a myth among web professionals that every organisation is capitalising on the benefits of social media. In fact, 94% of small business owners say they do not use it because their customers do not use it.

The advantages of using social media in business are well-documented but it needs to be done properly if it’s to have a positive effect as half-hearted attempts will achieve little.

To make social media work for your business you need to have a plan. If you do not have a strategy and time to manage social media, it’s a pointless exercise.

As a good starting point, it’s advisable to simply ‘lurk’ and monitor what other people are doing on the social media networks before trying to work out how it can help you.  Spend some time on either Linkedin, Twitter or facebook and get to understand how others are behaving.

This gives you specific marketing intelligence and allows you to understand how to play the different media.

You cannot set up a social media strategy and think customers will just arrive on your doorstep. You need to establish a two-way communication and ask your followers/customers for feedback, as well as respond to their questions.

Businesses need to be personable and build relationships with customers through social media. We need to be perceived as industry experts and when we do comment we need to provide relevant information.

Too many people have just jumped on the social media bandwagon because people are talking about it. It requires considerable work related to engagement and understanding about what you’re trying to achieve and how to send an appropriate message into the market.

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Do you understand the new rules of marketing?

The world of marketing is changing rapidly and a ‘one size fits all’ policy has no place in today’s business environment.

Following the current recession, businesses need to appeal more to the nervous buyer and provide reassurance of their value and credibility. Testimonials, reviews and news of the awards we have won can all help to portray reliability and establish trust which will ensure those people in the mood for buying feel comfortable with you.

It’s much more cost-effective to market your business to the people you already know and your current client base can be the key to future referrals, which is currently big business.

Direct marketing techniques are increasing as a result of the economic climate, possibly for pricing tactics. Businesses are reducing the thresholds for discounts and pricing smaller packs more aggressively.

The current M&S ‘dine in for £10’ deal is a great example of clever marketing, which reflects the economic hardships most families find themselves in.

It’s not so much that £10 is cheap for a meal for two it’s the fact that it’s good value in comparison to a meal out. It’s all about putting the right message across and how to get that message to your customers.

Customers look to brands to reassure them when times are tough.

Gimmicks have no place in a recession. It’s all about reliability, durability and safety.

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How to take the risk out of outsourcing

A growing number of businesses are looking externally to carry out aspects of their operation. Is this trend the result of the recent recession?

Businesses always encounter periods in which they need to draw upon the expertise of someone else to carry out a function that will improve their business or to cut costs where staffing is concerned. But the question we’re left with is if the economic climate wasn’t so challenging would they still be so keen?

New businesses usually tend to take on every aspect of their operation themselves but as they start to grow, the idea of outsourcing
becomes very appealing and many see it as a way of cutting costs and buying expertise without the hassle of employment issues. Like a wave effect, eventually that same business will bring everything back in-house again to re-establish control when they become even bigger.

There are a number of benefits of course to outsourcing, most notably the fact it allows you to concentrate on what you’re good at. It provides the perfect opportunity of acquiring the skills of external experts who can help give you a competitive edge and can reduce staffing costs.

However, there are as many pitfalls as there are advantages. You don’t have direct control, service delivery can be hit and miss and you can occasionally encounter problems with confidentiality.

There’s also the issue of training. If you’re outsourcing call centre work, they have to be able to deal with every eventuality facing them and how long is this training going to take and cost?

Obviously if you’re outsourcing overseas there are also big cultural differences. And when people already have staff and say they’re going to outsource does that create issues with the current workforce?

It is for these reasons why 50% of outsourcing fails.

But lessons have been learnt and there are factors which give outsourcing a better chance of working.

If you want to outsource, use it for secondary functions only such as IT, Lead generation, HR, and PR & Marketing.

There’s also a greater chance of success if time is spent building a relationship with the outsourcing agent and the expectation needs to be very realistic. Business people need to research the provider’s track record, take bank references, check out how stable they are and create a ‘ways of working’ document between the two parties.

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