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Posts for August 2009

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Ten unwelcome guests at the marketing party

August 27, 2009 by

Guest post by Tom Albrighton

Modern marketing is a lot like a party. Work the room right and you’ll attract interest and new contacts. Fail to shine and you’ll be going home alone. Here are the ten marketing partygoers you never want to meet – or be.

1.    The counsellor is full of unwelcome ‘why don’t you’ advice for everyone she meets – she’s the answer to a question nobody asked. Marketing moral: expertise is becoming devalued; cultivating strong personal connections may work better than positioning yourself as an expert.

2.    The egotist holds forth interminably on his favourite topic: himself. Marketing moral: focus on the customer, not yourself. (See this post for more.)

3.    The wallflower stands shyly on the sidelines even though her best friend could be introducing her to plenty of guests if asked. Marketing moral: proactively cultivate and request referrals and testimonials.

4.    The geek batters you into submission with an enthusiastic but crashingly dull monologue about his phone, computer or other gadget. Marketing moral: don’t confuse technical features with customer benefits.

5.    The clown keeps the jokes coming even if they’re not appreciated, appropriate or even funny. Marketing moral: Humour doesn’t travel and should be used with care – can you guarantee the reaction you’re hoping for?

6.    The miser brings Liebfraumilch but drinks Moët. Marketing moral: In modern marketing, particularly social media, you have to give something (of yourself) before you receive.

7.    The butterfly is always looking around the room for someone more interesting to talk to. Marketing moral: don’t neglect here-and-now customer needs in the quest for new connections or business.

8.    The gatecrasher shouldn’t even be here at all but he never misses the chance to party, even if he doesn’t know anyone. Marketing moral: don’t waste time and money making a big splash when you really need focused exposure.

9.    The nervous hostess flits between conversations, asking everyone if they’re enjoying themselves (and the vol-au-vents). Marketing moral: don’t over-regulate the conversation about your brand or content; allowing criticism shows strength and confirms authenticity.

10. The chatterbox just won’t shut up! Marketing moral: We can’t talk and listen at the same time; make time for learning as well as pushing out content. 

Cockney rhyming slang cash machine highlights small business advertising opportunities

August 25, 2009 by James Ainsworth

You may have heard or read that a cash machine in the East end of London is to offer those making hole in the wall cash withdrawals the opportunity to select between the English language and Cockney English. This regional dialect cash machine has caused quite the stir in PR terms-the company who license the machine and service etc will stand to not only raise their own company profile, but see an increased use of the machine through the sheer novelty of being able to take out a 'Lady Godiva' from the 'Sausage & Mash' machine. But what more could it offer for small firms?

The added benefit of increased use of the cash machine could also be converted into serious revenue generation for companies who advertise on the back of the ATM receipts and advice slips which are issued. A simple idea which can be adopted by many small firms be they offering products or services. If it isn’t an affordable option for a solitary business, it could be useful for a small number of businesses to join together in a coordinated campaign within a town.

More recently, ATM tie-in campaigns have seen special offers appearing on advice slips close to payday - the thinking being that it is the time of the month when you are more likely to monitor finances at cash points and therefore there is an increased potential for exposure to customers who are examining their balances and printed mini-statements.

Do you think the three month trial of the London cash machine will prove a success or is it purely a gimmick that sustains slow news day column inches, pub chatter and the like? I think it highlights perfectly the local level creative ideas that can be adopted by small businesses. Advertising campaigns where your business name appears on the back of another local shop’s receipts or car park ‘Pay & Display’ tickets is a great way of bringing your message to the attention of potential customers.

Marketing your knowledge

August 24, 2009 by Ben Dyer

Working for SellerDeck, we have a pretty diverse set of customers selling some truly weird and wonderful products. However, regardless of the product or service being sold I always come up against the question of online marketing and best practice.

Looking back at the last few conversations I have had on the subject, most merchants I speak to use online marketing for one thing: sales. While this may be fairly obvious and there is certainly nothing wrong with it, I believe a lot of people are missing a great opportunity -- why not try communicating something other than cold hard sell? Let me explain a little further.

Most retailers sell things they have some type of connection with. I have a relative, Andy who has a very successful sportswear business; he’s a former tennis coach. In his bricks and mortar store people often come in just to chat about the latest advances in running shoes or tips to beat the boss at next week’s golf tournament. While this may sound like a waste of time, Andy values building a relationship with customers as the most essential thing to his business. Customers come in for his advice and may end up walking away with a new pair of Nikes, and how to get the most out of them.

But often this product knowledge fails to come across online.

With your next marketing campaign why not use your product and industry knowledge to help inform and educate your customers? If you want to keep it product-focused detail the interesting features and benefits instead of focusing just on that sale. Or why not try emails with some useful tips or a follow up to check to see how recent customers are getting on with their purchase?

No matter how diverse your products are I bet you’re the expert on them, helping to educate and inform is the best type of marketing there is.

Online Market Research: DIY or use an agency?

August 21, 2009 by Eric Brandenburg

For a business that needs to gain a general view from a large cross-section of the population, and in as short a time as possible, there is no doubt that online research offers a viable benefit. This affordable way to test one’s target market is ideal for existing firms and new business start-ups and can play a vital role in obtaining financial support for your company.

 

Do It Yourself or with an agency?

The DIY method will allow you to carry out quantitative online market research (surveys) for little cost. It is definitely a method to consider when it comes to researching one’s market but it is also important to know how it differs from agency solutions. Here are some differences:

  • The agency would provide you with access to a precise and qualitative panel, ensuring you of a sample of your target market. Unless you already have your own database, it will be hard to reach such a relevant and representative panel through forums, family and friends.

Moreover, with DIY surveys, the client puts the questions directly to the respondent so it compromises the objectivity of questioning and the impartiality of interpretation:

  • Using the DIY method, for example writing the questionnaire, marketing it to find your respondents and analysing the results to make your report, will eat up a lot of your valuable time whereas using an agency will result in everything being catered for, from A to Z.

In addition, the agency will give you its expert opinion on the order and the formulation of the questions:

  • The DIY method will provide you with a basic layout which is not always user-friendly and not always easy to use for the respondents. On the other side, the agency can customize the layout (using templates, videos, images and audio) for a more efficient, richer interrogative experience.
  • The agency service allows for a very rapid turnaround – research can be undertaken and results received within a few days whereas it can take far longer using the DIY method, especially if you’re having difficulties reaching and interesting people in your survey.
  • As previously stated in this article, the DIY method is not as expensive. However, for something so important to your business plan, doing online market research with an agency is cheaper than you think, with hundreds of responses costing less than a thousand pound.

 See the Marketing Donut resources on Market research

What Can We Learn From The Spammers?

August 19, 2009 by Avinash Patil

We have all had it haven’t we? We open our personal email inbox only to find our account has been targeted by some unscrupulous spammer to promote all manner of products and services from 'cheap viagra' to ‘red hot webcam action’.  They are a constant annoyance but is there anything that small businesses can learn from the tactics they employ for their online campaigns?

One thing spammers do well is they provide an absolutely relentless feed of communication to their target email lists. These lists can often contain literally thousands of addresses and are accumulated by means of clever programs known as  ‘spambots’ which automatically search for email addresses online. Simliar ‘botnet’ programs are used to distribute the emails to a massive list. In fact it was reported last year that most spam in the world comes from only six botnets!

While email providers such as Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail do their best to filter out such messages, it is a constant war with the botnets who will work to find another way round the system. From a business perspective such a botnet program is low cost to run but reaches literally thousands of email addresses with messages in a relatively short space of time. Little or no regard is paid to fact that most of the recipients find the message completely irrelevant, obscene and annoying.

Something else spammers are also good at is creating compelling subject lines that lead you to open the email. However, they can be very deceptive and are often made to look like emails from legitimate businesses, the bank or personal contacts. Recently,  I received an email from a ‘Milan Hofmeister’ with the subject line ‘Your Bank Details Have Been Compromised’. On opening the email I found that it was in fact promoting some sort of online shop where I could get two free bottles of wine.

This sort of deceptive mass email strategy is not advisable for businesses who would want to develop a good reputation online. A better approach would be an email campaign in the form of a targeted informative newsletter with a compelling yet relevant subject header. There should be an option for people to unsubscribe from the list at any point with immediate effect.  It is also important to note that campaigns should stay within due diligence to prevent being blacklisted as spam.

There are many hurdles that businesses face in creating a consistent online strategy but it is important to be aware of the many different and often volatile factors. While it may sound obvious the strategy needs to effectively target the right people who would be potentially interested in your product to get the best results.

Drink, drugs and copywriting

August 17, 2009 by Marketing Donut

Guest post by Tom Albrighton

The other day, a client facing a big marketing setback confided to me that he was going to go home, have a glass of wine and try to think it through.

I nodded sympathetically. Many’s the time I’ve combined work with leisure by doing some copywriting over a drink in the evening. A drop of something can often loosen up the flow of words, particularly when something expressive or colourful is required. (However, it can also cloud the judgement, so I always wait until the morning to send the results to the client.)

No-one who enjoyed Under Milk Wood, Sgt. Pepper or 'Kubla Khan' could deny that alcohol and drugs can enhance the creative process. Some of our greatest cultural works had their genesis in altered states. And they reached even those who never touched anything stronger than tea.

Yet I’m not sure how my clients would react if I revealed that their copywriting had been done under the influence. Even those who liked a drink themselves might be disquieted. And if I told a client I was going on a week-long acid binge to get ideas for their slogan, I’m pretty sure they’d be looking for another copywriter. (Not that I ever would, I hasten to add.)

The serious point I’m making is that although we know of many factors that boost creativity, we often deliberately exclude them from the workplace. We might grudgingly allow a few pictures over a desk, or a radio on in the background, but these are intrusions of leisure into the world of work, not deliberate attempts to stimulate our minds. Even something completely wholesome, like spending some time in a natural environment, is only allowed in the rigid structure of the corporate ‘away day’ (if at all).

Those in the creative industries often make more effort to stimulate creativity through the working environment (although one suspects that it’s also partly for show). In my view, all work is creative – not just marketing, but every other business function too. We all have innate creativity that we use in solving the problems of our day. Why don’t we do more to let it flourish in the workplace?

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