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Blog posts in Marketing strategy

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Editor’s round-up: cakes, cash and a wordle

March 26, 2010 by Simon Wicks

It’s been a great week: fun, exciting and we’ve had the best traffic figures ever on the Marketing Donut. The most popular single item of the week was our case study of the online cupcake community, How we got together online to boost our cupcake business.This produced a fantastic response within the world of cupcake makers, who spent the whole week sharing the article and spreading the word about the Marketing Donut. I’d like one of these, thanks guys:

Cupcakes at Liana's Star Bakery

But probably our biggest draw overall this week was our extensive Budget coverage on Wednesday – and this is what made it such a busy and exciting week. I blogged live as the Chancellor read his speech, the team tweeted like crazy and we published a Budget round-up and the reaction from small businesses before the end of the day.

We were really pleased to be the only news organisation to spot the National Minimum Wage increase on Budget day itself. This wasn’t in the Chancellor’s speech, but buried deeply in the Budget Notes where it was spotted by one of our eagle-eyed editors. We called the Treasury, checked it out and slipped it into our coverage minutes before publication. Result.

The Budget also produced my favourite thing on the Marketing Donut this week – our James’s rapid response analysis of the Budget in words and pictures. Take a look; it made me smile.

Post-Budget, it was an early start on Thursday morning for a trip to our Bristol office where I delivered an editorial training and went to the Bristol Twestival in the evening. This fundraising networking event was kind of a who’s who on the Internet in Bristol, which is a real new media hub. It got a bit raucous and raised in the region of £4,000 for Concern Worldwide, who are no doubt very happy indeed. Good stuff.

Now it’s back to earth and the business of providing good marketing information to small businesses. We’ll be updating our favourite things with more books, videos and websites you should be reading, watching and visiting, Plus, we’ll have information on mobile phone apps, advice on closing a sale and tips for making your business stand out from the crowd.

The Budget: Picture this

March 24, 2010 by James Ainsworth Budget 24 March 2010

Another Budget, another wave of promises of ‘support’ and shiny initiatives. This year, as the Wordle shows, the Chancellor talked a lot about the state of the ‘economy’ and focused his initiatives on ‘business’ rather more than families or public services. This is a Budget about ‘people’, ‘jobs’, ‘recovery’, the ‘country’ at large.

Tax’ looms largest, though, but not because there’s a lot of it. Quite the opposite: the Chancellor was very keen to stress that he wouldn’t be raising taxes - at least not for those of us on low-to-middle incomes. If you’re a banker or a non-domicile, though, you’d better get ready to dip onto your pockets.

Does this mean this a ‘Robin Hood’ Budget?  If it were truly a ‘rob from the rich to fund the poor’ affair, then you might expect the ten per cent duty increase to be on grapes rather than apples. In case you didn’t pick up on it, cider is being ‘redefined’ so that it is subject to the same duty increases as all other alcoholic drinks.

For the small business, the clues are in the words ‘bank, ‘Bank’, banks’, ‘banking’ and ‘credit’. The Chancellor is making an extra £41 billion available as lending to small businesses via Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland. He has also promised a Small Business Credit Adjudicator whose role will be to decide whether small firms have been unfairly turned down for loans.

After all, it is small business in particular that will ‘fuel’ ‘growth’, ‘increase’ ‘jobs’ and ‘pay’ for the ‘future’. But, as the Wordle shows, they may need quite a lot of ‘help’ to do that.

Five tips for a successful product launch

March 08, 2010 by Ben Dyer

I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about product launches. My employer, SellerDeck, is a few weeks away from rolling out a major update to one of its ecommerce software products. While we have the advantage of an existing user base, many of the fundamentals for launching are the same whether it is an existing product or something completely new.

1. Understand the Unique Value Proposition

If your product is sat on the launch pad I would hope by this stage you know what it is that makes your offering different from the rest. The importance of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) cannot be understated; it’s the lifeblood of any product launch. Review, discuss and research until you are totally convinced you have got it right; you only get one launch window.

2. Talk to prospective customers

Get out there and talk to the very people you want to sell your product to. Discuss your plans for the product, both now and in the future. Get their feedback; it could be you missed something.

3. How are you going to sell and market?

Choosing where to market your product can be difficult. Make informed decisions based on research. It might even be a good idea to run several small pilot schemes to see where you get the most success. However prepare to be ruthless if you’re not seeing the results. It’s easier to make decisions before you have spent the entire budget on something that’s not working.

4. Make yourself heard

Find out who the influential people are in your space and hustle, annoy and pester them. That is until you get a chance to demonstrate why your product is the best. Nothing is better than a personal recommendation regardless of the product or service. Go to events, chat to people and network, network, network!

5.  Bring the whole team on the journey

A successful product launch requires commitment and understanding throughout your organisation.

When President Kennedy visited NASA in 1961 he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir”. Now that probably is the greatest launch of all time.

Ben Dyer of SellerDeck

Sticking your brand together

February 24, 2010 by John Hayward

Once set, you’ll need to ensure all of the things you can influence are glued together and working toward that unique brand positioning. If you're spending money on marketing materials with different straplines, changeable designs, copy that sounds different or doesn't match up to what you stand for, or products that don't match your brand promise then it's wasting the full potential of your marketing investment.  People won’t recognise you, or understand what your brand is about.

Good strong brands do this well and are more stable because of it. Lets take Apple. They tirelessly work on creating innovative new products that work, that people love because of the way they work and because they are at the forefront of the latest technology. They just love making great stuff! So what do they do to back this up and support the positioning? Everything!

Their advertising, website and product brochures all fit together - you know it's Apple as soon as you see it. The products all look cool, even the accessories. Functionally people love to show the product off - look, it can do this! The shops, well they're cool too. And the people in them know their stuff, they help and reflect the brand. They run workshops in the shops on how to get the most out of the products, as well as the usual online support and video tutorials. You can even book time one on one with a ‘Genius' in their shops if you just want some help face-to-face. Everyone loves to show off the product because it's so good. It's just relentless pursuit of their brand positioning.

Apple have got their brand positioning and direction totally clear, and then they execute everything to support it ruthlessly and consistently. Take one area of the business and fail to deliver, or do something a bit different and things start to unravel. Done well, even knitting the simplest marketing activity together like a website, van, you and a business card, and you’ll see dividends.

John Hayward of Brand Glue

Seven tips on how to choose the right design team

February 09, 2010 by Sara Drawwater

The benefits of quality design are often lost because it’s so easy to choose the wrong designers to work with. However, if you choose wisely and get your design and marketing team right your business will communicate professionally, consistently and dynamically. The result of such a winning formula is what we all want – increased business. Follow our seven top tips to choose the right designer.

  1. Go for a broad skill base. You need to partner with a designer who understands the many ingredients that come together to make successful communication tools – a designer who is creative AND understands marketing, communication and business principles. You should be looking for skills that include design, copywriting, marketing, ability to produce web and paper based communication tools and project management. For example, there’s no point in having the snazziest website design if the navigation is so poor people never get past the home page or if the word content of the site switches viewers off!
  2. Portfolio’s speak. Look for a range of design solutions for an assortment of clients. A broad portfolio shows a designer can do what they’re meant to do – successfully communicate different messages to varying target audiences.
  3. If a designer asks lots of questions that’s a good sign. To produce good results, a designer needs to fully understand your business. To find out everything they need to know they need to ask you the right questions. So don’t be put off when a designer asks to meet you, clarify things or even comes up with a design questionnaire!
  4. Go for price confidence. Designers that know they provide profitable solutions are price confident. They won’t shy away from a price discussion but neither will they throw a random price at you without assessing what you need. And they won’t offer massive price discounts as soon as they sense any hesitation from you, rather they will be able to explain what value they offer you.
  5. Be impressed with a detailed estimate. There’s nothing worse than a big black hole swallowing your money. Rather, a quality designer will understand that you want to know exactly what your investment is getting you. Before you invest make sure you know what is and isn’t included.
  6. A good designer will stay in touch. It’s difficult to know if a designer will do a good job of keeping you informed during a project if you’ve not worked with them before but you can often tell from the standard of communication during the early stages of the project discussion and proposal submission.
  7. Testimonials serve as a good guide. It shouldn’t come as a shock to a designer for you to ask them for some testimonials. If they’re any good they should have loads! In fact they should be readily available either on the designers website or submitted in their proposal.

Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to finding the right designer to partner with on a long term basis – a designer who will positively affect your profitability. If you’ve got this far then, well, we tick all of the above so you can always choose us!

This blog post by Sara Drawwater originally appeared at

Choose brand consistency for 2010

February 01, 2010 by Sara Brown

The best way to increase profitability through your investment in design and marketing is for you to be consistent. There’s nothing worse for your bottom line than your image chopping and changing. The trouble is the damage from inconsistency is so subtle that many business owners are blissfully unaware of the negative effects on their target audiences. Brand irregularity includes conscious and subconscious confusion, distrust and irritation and can result in customers going elsewhere.  

Here are our top five tips for achieving brand consistency:
  1. Firstly, invest in a quality well designed logo (and if your budget can accommodate it, some simple brand guidelines). This should then form the basis for every piece of marketing material that follows.
  2. Following on from here ensure your marketing material looks like it belongs to the same family! If there is no clear link between your business card, website and brochure for example, then your customers’ journey is disjointed and your message becomes unclear.
  3. The biggest and most obvious blunder is to randomly change colours from one piece of marketing communication to the next. Don’t do this! Decide on your brand colours which should be specifically chosen to communicate key messages and then stick to them.
  4. Select every aspect of your brand carefully. Understand that these brand characteristics all mean something and effect the people that experience your brand. These characteristics should include (but are not limited to) things like fonts, colours, logos, design elements and language style.
  5. The best way to achieve the above is to establish a long term working relationship with the right designer who can help build that unswerving, dependable and loved brand that will actually have a positive affect on your businesses profitability. 

This blog post by Sara Drawwater originally appeared at


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