The Eternal Truths of Marketing

When I started my marketing career it was with a mail order company in Manchester, JD Williams, with a large department filled with women (and the occasional chap) who had learned their trade from the bottom up.

I was fast initiated into the science of direct marketing, where every penny spent was measurable against sales made.  Back then, before the dawn of the internet (yes, I’m that old) it was all about leaflets in magazines and direct mail.  Hours were spent in media planning and list buying, creative testing was carefully planned and daily updates on results a given.

It was here I learned the fundamentals of marketing that have carried through my time as a marketing specialist and still hold true today.  Some things never change:

Understand the metrics: Whereas once I measured Cost Per Response now I also measure Cost Per Click.  Where once it was all about conversion rates from catalogue request to making a sale, now it’s all about…hmm, the same thing: Cost Per Customer.  Where a catalogue was requested and no order placed, we’d send a follow-up mailing – and measure the response.  Now I manage mail-chimp campaigns for the same purpose.  Media costs, creative costs, time costs – you need to know it all, and keep on top of it all.

Test and Roll Out: creative executions cannot remain static.  Whether it’s online or offline, a website or a catalogue, you have to test your creative and MEASURE THE RESULTS!

Social Media: You think this is new?  Not so much. Competitions, testimonials…interactivity with customers not based around sales has always been key.  We may not have had the platforms to maximise our reach, but we knew that social validation through testimonials and sharing winner’s stories was immensely valuable to our success.

Content: While the demands of Google mean that a copywriter’s job has changed somewhat, content was always key to a campaign’s success.  Answer that key question – ‘What’s in it for me?’ – and you’re halfway to making the sale.

The Four P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion.  Online or off, these are an immutable truth.

The point of this post? Marketing is a science.  Marketing is a profession.  It’s something that when done properly can create business growth, increased profitability and customer loyalty.  So why do small businesses insist on doing it for themselves?  Use a skilled, experienced and proven marketer in the same way you would use a skilled, experienced and proven accountant and you WILL see the difference. Trust me, I’m a marketer.

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When Is The Best Time To Post on Facebook?

When Is The Best Time To Post On Facebook?A client asked me yesterday when the optimum time was for posting on Facebook.

Common (or marketer’s) sense tells me that this will vary according to your message and your market. A fun message to a young target market will pretty much get their attention at whatever time of day (research in the US by Socialbakers found that a Facebook post achieves 50% of its end reach within 30 minutes)

But if your target market is older, working and keen on sleeping at bedtime, think again!

It’s possible, if you have a decent sized number of ‘Likes’ on your page, to establish the demographics of your followers.  Using this information, you can then start to think about when to post news, product information or something lighter and designed to deepen the brand relationship.

Realising that I’m not the first marketer to have been asked this question, I did some research online (I’m not one to ignore a magnificent resource!) and found this post on Social Media Today.

It’s driven by practical, common sense and I couldn’t put it better myself – so I won’t! Have a read and have a think.  BUT, don’t forget – it really isn’t just about WHEN you post, it’s so important to consider WHAT you post, and that’s where a considered strategic plan comes into its own.


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Make Time For Marketing!

no time for marketing Small businesses are often run by a single individual with a dream. It is through their sheer hard work and determination to succeed that the business grows from the first client onwards, but then they often experience a plateau, or, heartbreakingly, a dip, in their growth.

Why? Because the individual with a dream is rarely a marketer by trade or inclination, and all their time is spent dealing with the nuts and bolts of the business itself – stock control, costing jobs, managing staff, doing the accounts, dealing with customers, etc, etc, ad infinitum.  Yet, without marketing, there are very few businesses that grow, develop and ultimately provide more than just a way to spend every waking hour.

Unfortunately, many business owners see marketing as nothing more than an expense, or something for which they have no time. But by saying this, you’re in effect denying that recruiting and retaining customers is your top priority.

Without proactively seeking new clients, and proactively deepening the relationship with existing customers, no business can expect to maintain an upward curve at the right angle.

There’s a reason that the big, successful, taking-over-the-world businesses do so well – they invest in marketing. Entire marketing departments filled with energetic, creative, thoughtful people with a single objective – to grow the business.

You may not be in the position to hire a full time marketer, or indeed have any desire to take over the world, but if you want a successful, growing business you need to keep marketing right at the top of your to-do list.

Make time for your marketing – and if you can’t, find someone who can!

Brand | website content | SEO | social media | new customer acquisition | PR | customer loyalty.

Let Blackcurrant be your marketing team.

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Should You Be On Google+?

Google+Ask any social media expert and you’ll get a resounding “Yes!”  Ask any content marketing specialist and you’ll get a “What? You mean you haven’t already?”

The clue to both these responses is in the name – Google+.  With more than 80% of online searches going through Google now, it makes sense on every level to take advantage of their very own networking tool.

For me, it always boils down to being found by the Google-bots.  All the content you put up on Google+ counts toward your overall SEO ranking, because Google indexes Google+ content in the same way it does web pages.  This means that when you post to Google+, your content is searchable, it ends up higher in search results, and it appears in search results for a longer period of time than if you posted that same content to another social platform, like Facebook or Twitter.

Google+ may be taking off at a shallower angle than say Facebook or Twitter, but with every new enhancement Google brings it’s going to get bigger, better and more important in the world of SEO and online searches.

Establish yourself there now, it’s the wise decision.


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Are You In Danger of Becoming A Phubber?

Stay Social...but don't Phub!I’ve read some very entertaining accounts of the latest technology driven social phenonemon recently – phubbing. Defined as ‘the act of snubbing someone by looking at your phone instead of paying attention’, on the highly amusing Stop Phubbing site, it’s a growing occurence we’ve all seen…and, hopefully, tutted about.

Most readers will have experienced being phubbed; perhaps a friend has regularly checked their phone while having a drink with you, maybe a dinner companion has chosen to pop their phone next to their side plate and regularly scans the screen to see what’s happening elsewhere. A business contact phone chirrups and they immediately grab it to check what’s happening. It’s certainly happened to me, and, to be honest – it doesn’t feel good.

In short – the person you are with is saying that whatever is happening elsewhere is more interesting and important than what is happening right here and now, with you. Rude!

It's Business!So – are you a Phubber? And why? Do you blame it on your business? Are you being drawn away from the here and now to the virtual world of your business’s social networking?

Nobody could argue that the social media you use to support your business’s communications objectives isn’t important. But it can be stated that there is a time and a place…and anything posted on a social media network can wait! The clue is in the word – social. Social events fit around you and your time – NOT the other way around. This applies to social media too; nothing urgent is ever posted on social media if an immediate response is required.

If your social media is taking over your life, whether it’s business or pleasure, it’s time to take a step back and assess your priorities.  There are many, many skilled freelancers around who can set up and manage your social media, giving you the time to focus on your business (surely what you’re best at!) and your down-time. Find someone you trust to do it for you, and relax.

Look up. Listen. Learn. Live.

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Social Media Overload?

Social Media OverloadOr should I say ‘Overlord’?!

It can sometimes feel like we spend all our time updating our social media sites, and not enough on actually doing the work we earn an income from.

So, how do we take back control from the overlord of social media? Put a strategy in place! Here’s a very brief guide to what you should be considering when addressing social media:

1. Why am I doing this? If your answer is: ‘To enable two way conversations with customers and prospects, and encourage reference marketing’, then hurrah, you’ve got it. If your answer is: “Because everybody does”, then we need to chat!

2. What social media sites will be the best to spread the word and effectively deliver my message to my target audience? There are so many options it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Start with the basics; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are easy to establish and a doddle to manage. Then have a look at what your competitors are up to as well; they may have hit on something useful!

3. How do I know what to say on each one? Each site should support and reflect a common basic message, but each can also lend its own tone of voice to your posts. Facebook for example is friendly, fun and very easy to use for two-way communications. Their ad facility is also a great way to build a fan base. In terms of customer reference marketing, Facebook and LinkedIn are your best bet. On LinkedIn you can collect Recommendations from clients that carry significant weight. Be proactive – ask clients to use the facility! Twitter is less useful for this – you can Tweet 20 times a day and not have one seen by your followers. It’s great for developing a ‘personality’ however; use it wisely though. Remember, it’s not YOU talking, it’s your business. Google+ is perfect for enhancing rankings; over 50% of Google searches are location driven now, get yourself on there and keep it fresh with regular posts and you’ll pop up in local searches.

4. How much time should I commit? When you first start you’ll need to give it some effort – setting up, posting, uploading images, it all takes time. You need to invest in building your contacts too. After this, then really it’s entirely up to you…but don’t let it drift, or you’ve wasted all that start up time. And don’t get hooked – or you’ll lose your life to it!

5. What if I’m still concerned? Ask for help. There are many independent, freelance specialists out there who can get you started and even run your social media marketing for you. Simply decide what it would cost you in your own time and work out if it’s cheaper to use an expert. You call in a plumber for a leaky boiler, so why not a social media expert for this all important element of your communications strategy (and the latter doesn’t charge a call out fee!)

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Refresh Your Content

idoitHow often do you post on your blog? How often do you refresh the content on your website?

Google’s spiderbots seek out new content and information when weaving their way around the acres of type online, so refreshing your content on a regular basis is a wise way to ensure maintaining organic SEO.

Blogging is the perfect way to add new content to your website without having to reinvent your copy wheel every week.  The challenge comes in creating new, informative and interesting posts that people will actually appreciate reading, rather than blatant advertisements that switch people off and, as importantly, switch Google off.

Bloggers who do best are those who create news and comment that entertains, informs and even educates. Your website has been designed to explain what you do and get that vital click through; use your blog to drive new traffic, build relationships and to set yourself apart from your competitors.

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