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With the Conservative Party conference over, thoughts turn to the government spending review and how it will affect business and the economy. Whatever the outcome in the long term, in the short term there is little doubt that businesses will continue to approach both expenditure and debt with caution. So what is the likely impact on marketing?
The first casualty is likely to be external expenditure. Marketing consultancies will find it hard to win business, and increasing pressure will fall on in-house staff as they are expected to make up the difference. Knowledge of new technologies will be at a premium as more companies look to develop and maintain expertise internally. Only last month, the BBC revealed how in-house SEO had helped it to slash its marketing budget. Marketing staff of small companies will be expected to be jacks of all trades, to reduce reliance on expensive external resource.
Expect large, costly projects such as re-branding to be postponed. There will be an emphasis on cutting out unnecessary expenditure. Companies will recycle existing advertising campaigns rather than splash out on new ones. It will never have been more important to know which half of your advertising budget is wasted! Spend will continue moving towards online advertising, simply because results can be tracked accurately and unnecessary costs eliminated.
A word of warning, though. Companies that cut back too far on marketing will lose out long-term, yielding ground to more ambitious competitors who continue to invest and seize the opportunity to gain market share. It was ever thus. Marketing theorists cite the example of Cadbury’s, who continued advertising throughout World War II – even when they didn’t actually have any chocolate to sell – and gained dramatically as a result.
Marketers must accept that it’s a season to cut out the dead wood, and probably some green shoots that haven’t yet been fruitful. But it’s also a season of opportunity. Where one company cuts back, there is the chance for another to step in. In advertising it will be a buyer’s market, with bargains available to the shrewd negotiator. Technologies like social media and mobile are still developing rapidly, with whole new territories opening up for businesses willing to invest early.
Pressures there might be, but possibilities there certainly are too, for companies willing to take the risk and step forward into the breach.
Being disruptive pays. Following the pack does not. At least not for most people.
Starbucks was a disruptor as it changed the habits of a generation (as did FaceBook, Google and so on). But what is new today becomes old tomorrow. Today’s revolutionaries are tomorrow’s Old Guard.
A great disruptor doesn’t just do more than interrupt; it can change the face of the landscape. This is particular true of the customer experience.
Starbucks changed how and where we socialise, Amazon changed how we shopped…. So while we can quote the big disruptors I think that we can all disrupt, if only on a smaller stage.
You can zig when they zag. Go against the traffic. Challenge the notion of “that’s how we do it around here”.
Depending on your marketplace, think what would happen if you:
I am sure you get where I am coming from.
Robert Craven is the author of business best-sellers Kick-Start Your Business and Bright Marketing. He runs The Directors' Centre and is described by the Financial Times as "the entrepreneurship guru". Read more here.
Being a Business Celebrity is all about using YOU as the point of difference in your business. Instead of thinking up a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) I’m saying you use what you already have — a PSP (Personality Selling Proposition).
A successful business needs personality and visibility. Having a clear business personality means you will always stand out in a crowd.
The world is changing – people are buying from people and social media has blurred the boundaries of business and personal.
You need to tell and share your story. You need to BE your story. You are your business, and if your business is big enough you need to bring out ALL the personalities in your business and use them.
Once you understand and accept that you are what makes your business, you’re able to be bolder, less afraid to stand out in a crowd and you can create loyal fans.
I’ve set out six steps to being a business celebrity. You can follow these in order (and repeat four and five over and over!) and you’ll have a personality-led marketing plan.
If you want to know more about how to use the six steps to being a business celebrity – get the free download with more detail, examples and actions to take for each step here.
Lucy Whittington is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut.
I learned what irritates business people most a few weeks ago. It's jargon. In fact a few years ago I read that over 25 per cent of business executives admitted to using jargon they didn't understand in meetings.
No wonder, then, that when it comes to selling technological things, so many messages dissolve into a sort of linguistic swamp.
Here's a good example from an e-mail someone sent me:
At Blah-co we have just developed an email stationery online software package that allows one in house member of staff to deploy all email users with a professionally designed Email stationery template, designed by one of our team of designers to all users and to include their unique contact details, meaning not only will the presentation of their emails improve but equally as important all be consistent throughout your organisation. (whew!)
Because of the way the templates are constructed our solutions avoid all types filtering ensuring your mail always arrives.
Well, I think I understand the beginning and the end and recognise all the words but I'm damned if I know what they mean when put together.
Here's another series of examples extracted from mailings sent by another firm.
"Are you one of those lucky few who have bedded down IT operations?"
"Would you realise a significant increase in business agility, accelerated decision making, employees pursuing a common agenda and a heightened awareness of your strategy?"
"Miss or ignore priority system availability or leadership messages"
"Adopting a new change driver that communicates change and strategy in a high impact and engaging way"
"Intranets suffer the limitations of pull technology"
"A controlled feedback channel enables you to capture a snapshot of employee morale in real time"
"Cascade this down to your people"
They actually have something great to sell, so we tried to translate their stuff into English.
Every day, you send tens, hundreds, maybe thousands of e-mails to people who want or need to hear from you.
Maybe they're your colleagues, your customers, your employees or your prospects: many may actually have asked to hear from you.
Then what happens?
Your "wanted" messages get lost in a sea of Spam. So the poor recipients go through the infuriating task of fishing out what really interests them from all that rubbish.
A **** sends your messages on a different route. One that avoids the traffic jams. It's a desktop alert that jumps onto your screen no matter what you're doing. You can't ignore it; it appears whether you're onscreen or off.
And that's why firms as varied as Sky, Arsenal Football Club. Kelloggs and Warner Brothers use them.
Winston Churchill said, "Use simple words everyone knows, then everyone will understand."
This is important especially if you're selling a financial or technical product or service. Use a bit of jargon to reassure the anoraks, but put the rest in plain English.
Confucius said that if language is used incorrectly, what is said is not what is meant, everything goes to pot and "the people stand about in helpless confusion".
If you wish for a few text-book cases, consider the National Health Service or the police force.
On the other hand, if you actually relish a little chaos, you need the economy bullshit generator. Click here and give it a go. It will add a welcome touch of drivel to your meetings.
Before you launch your new website make sure you get these ten fundamental tips right. This checklist will ensure you are maximising your web presence by having a strong search engine ranking position for targeted keywords in your industry.
1. Cross browser checks
Make sure you have done a thorough check on all popular browsers before your website goes live. The ones to check are IE 7 and 8, Firefox 3, Safari 3, Chrome and Opera.
2. Check that all your links works
Although it may seem like an obvious tip, use a free tool like Xenu Link Sleuth to check for dead links on your website.
3. Create a custom 404 Page
Design a custom 404 page to ensure users aren’t clicking off your site if they come across a dead link. Use this page to give users popular links and a search facility for them to continue to find the right page.
4. Choose the right keywords
Keyword research is highly important when constructing content for your website. Pick two or three word terms as these are easier to work with and are known to have a higher conversion rate than single word terms.
For instant traffic to your website, use Google Adwords Sponsored Links. These ads are typically displayed across the top in a beige colour and down the right hand side of the search results. However, be aware that your campaign may cost you a lot of money if incorrectly set up and monitored.
Add a blog to your website but don’t use your blog to only talk about your products, instead discuss non-commercial topics which will help to drive traffic to your website i.e. a guide to buying the right widgets.
5. Make sure your title tag includes keywords
Make sure each page of your website has a unique <title> tag and that this tag starts with the keyword targeted to this page. For instance:
<title>Metal Widgets | Buy Aluminium, Brass and Steel Widgets for sale at Bobs Engineering</title>
In this example, the title tag has additional information such as different types of metal and selling messages like “for sale”. Also notice the company name is at the end.
6. Consider your meta description for high CTR
To attract a high number of visitors via Google, consider your meta description tags. Use this tag to display your unique selling point such as:
“Free next day delivery on our award-winning Leather Sofa – guaranteed to be the lowest price sofas for sale online”
7. Proofread and check your site
Get your family and friends to check all details on your website before it goes live – this includes phone numbers, email addresses, addresses and names. Ensure all your place-holer text has been removed!
Make sure each page of your website contains at least 50 words of exclusive content. Pay particular attention to product details and category descriptions and ensure you include the target keyword for that page.
Don’t be tempted to copy text from other people’s website or catalogues as this will incur a duplicate content penalty from Google. You can test how unique your content is for free at http://www.copyscape.com/.
8. Use a sitemap and submit to Google Webmaster tools
Generate an XML Sitemap and submit it to the Webmaster tools of Google, Bing and Yahoo. Using GWT, you’re able to diagnose any crawl issues with your website and get statistics on which pages on your site are broken and how many pages on Google have been indexed when the site is launched.
9. Use Google Analytics
To analyse and monitor the success of your website, set up a Google Analytics account. This way you can measure the traffic to your website and keep an eye on visitor retention. It is also a useful tool for checking the success of your keywords and highlights what people are searching for.
10. Contact authority sites for valuable links
Once your website is launched, the next stage to improving your ranking for a particular keyword is to have a significant number of links to your website using your target term as the clickable text link. This can take a lot of time and effort so it can be beneficial to get a professional SEO team to help you with this.
These tips were brought to you by Leeds SEO Company Blueclaw.
Part of the marketing communications food chain that we don’t hear so much about is the discipline of message definition. But for me, it’s the essential preparation that needs to happen before you really get stuck into communicating with the outside world. I do a lot of work for corporates in helping them define, distil and articulate key messages to their clients and target audiences, and although the process demands a certain amount of rigour, it’s not just for the big boys.
Every business, no matter what the size, needs to be absolutely clear about their messages from the outset. At any moment in time, you need to be able to clearly articulate what your business stands for, what you believe in, what marks you out as different and what kind of value you provide to your customers. This is more than an elevator pitch – this is describing the very soul of your company.
So think about it now. How would you answer the following questions?
Set aside time and space to think about these questions and really refine your answers. Write it down. Talk about it with colleagues, clients, and – best of all – those who are completely unrelated to your business. Do they understand what you have to say?
I advise clients to undertake this exercise every six months at least. Because as the world changes around us, it’s important to revisit who you are, how you do what you do and what is critical to you and those you serve.
Once you’ve established your messages, you’ll not only look at your business differently, but you’ll find that your communications will flow so much more fluently, through all the channels you choose to employ.