Archives for category: marketing

Creating a powerful brand that customers relate to is about building the strongest positive perception you can in the minds of your customers. It is here, in the minds and the hearts of customers, that your brand lives.

That’s why companies who not only focus on how their brand is selling, but  also on the perception of their brand, prosper. Understanding brand perception is vital for everything from product/service development to positioning, market segmentation and driving the marketing mix.

Perception is formed as a result of our experiences of the company, product or service and generally falls into two main areas. The actual experience of the product such as quality, reliability and speed. And from emotion – how it makes the customer feel.

Developed over time from a variety of interactions and experiences a person has with the brand perception is a true gauge of how that person connects with the brand. Every single interaction with a brand goes to forming the perception we hold. Every phone call, every package received, every checkout interaction, every piece of collateral received all reinforce the perception.

Measuring brand perception is relevant for companies of all sizes, ages, and stages of the brand lifecycle.

For  mature companies understanding the brand perception with customers old, new and future will help  maintain the strength of the brand or indicate that it is time for a refresh. Newer businesses use results to differentiate their brand and formulate a strong market positioning. Companies extending product ranges must be clear on whether customers will accept a new product or service before they introduce it.

Here are 6 tips you should consider when you are measuring brand perception:

1. Use existing customers, lapsed customers and prospects

2. Measure awareness and preference

3. Include both behavioural and attitudinal measures

4. Include competitive comparisons

5. Determine what the brand communicates immediately, its value and loyalty

6. Measure the brand’s individuality

The information from brand perception studies help form powerful marketing strategies that can inform and empower marketers and business owners alike. When companies are clear about how customers and prospects perceive their brand, it can help drive marketing success. So, take some time now to consider

1.  Where your brand is in the lifecycle

2.  How positive/negative, strong/weak your brand is

3.  How you can conduct regular perception studies – we live in a fast paced world

4.  How understanding your brand perception will guide your marketing strategy

Successfully measuring brand perception and awareness helps companies tailor their marketing in the most cost-effective way. It also helps guide strategy in the longer term.

Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

First to win gold at the London 2012 Olympics, Heather Stanning and Helen Glover are two very happy ladies. It’s a momentous achievement given that Glover only started rowing 4 years ago. Incredible. There’s no doubting they have a huge amount of talent, that they had focus and that they had dreamed of this moment for many years. But wasn’t that the same for the other competitors at Eton Dorney? The conditions were the same, the boats are were all the same? What made them different? What made them the winners of London 2012 Olympic gold?

Whilst they may feel like the luckiest ladies alive, one thing we can be sure of is that in no way was this achievement down to luck. I would suggest that their success comes from planning. A serious amount of planning.

Rowing to gold was the culmination of years of planning. And what we witnessed this week was wonderful in the extreme. But, what we haven’t seen is everything that has gone on behind the scenes. The early morning rises, the diets, the training schedules, the honing of skills, the gym sessions, a steady building of the plan, knowing what was happening when, and identifying key milestones on their carefully planned path.

It’s the same with marketing; whilst the finish line is different and the things we do along the way will vary enormously, one thing that underpins it all is planning. Yet planning is often the bit that is ignored in our haste to actually do something. It’s a British trait after all – we just want to crack on. Get things done.

So limber up, dust down your kit and prepare to win medals, here’s 3 tips ….

Bronze: Make the Plan; It may sound obvious, however the number of companies of all sizes without a marketing plan is staggering. OK so we may not have to change our diet or learn how to wield an oar or perform an Arabian roll but we can fix our goal and build activity around it. Know your customers, attract your prospects, understand behaviours, watch your competitors, bolster your conversions, change people’s perceptions. Know what you will do, and when you will do it. Whatever your playing field, a well thought out plan will help you master it more quickly.

Silver: Be prepared. There will be obstacles;The road to Olympic or marketing glory isn’t paved with, well, ‘gold’. Along the way there will be low times, tough times, and a good dose of potholes. When Mr Competitor pops up at the finishing line with a product just like yours, when a social media faux pas alienates customers, and when sales go through the roof, knowing your plan inside and out will prevent the heartache.

Gold: Measure; I’m no swimmer, but I bet in the Olympic pool the swimmer doing backstroke knows just how many strokes they need to complete each length. When the nation’s newest hero Wiggo (aka Bradley Wiggins) won gold he knew exactly how he was performing – receiving regular information from the road that is his ‘market place’ and producing an awesome performance as a result. Knowing your numbers will guide you and help you make decisions. Know your return on investment, your retention numbers, your acquisition hits, your conversion ratios. Know them, measure them, idolise them.

Just like every athlete, the way you prepare to achieve your plans will be different. But you do need a plan.

In the spirit of London 2012 make your marketing plans your personal best. Step onto the podium proud of your golden performance. Let’s do it for the nation.

So … if planning were an Olympic sport, how would you reach gold? Answers on a postcard please … oh and here’s some stamps …Alternatively leave your message below …












Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

As Euro 2012 reaches the climax of the group stages it is fair to say that the tournament has certainly delivered so far in terms of entertainment and drama.

Even for seasoned football watchers, often dreading these kinds of competitions, the action and fascinating tactical battles have gripped us.  As a bonus, in an age of wall-to-wall TV coverage of leagues around the world, there have even been some surprise players to get acquainted with.

Debate has raged for years on just what it takes to win such a tournament.  Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away by the quality of players in a team like Spain or Germany, however football is first and foremost a team game, and it’s the team that can become the greatest sum of its parts that wins the day.  You only have to look back to Euro 2004 when Greece won it, or Euro 1992 when the Danes came off the beach to win it, to see that a set of great individuals do not always triumph against a well drilled team all performing to their best.

It’s the same way for marketing, it isn’t always necessarily the biggest budgets or the flashiest developments that win out.  Marketing that outperforms expectations and is part of a well balanced, well constructed strategy will win out over a collection of underperforming expensive campaigns any year (the Netherlands I’m looking at you v Denmark).

So how do you get the blend right?  Ok, Roy Hodgson’s England may not be everyone’s idea of the champions in the making, indeed they haven’t even got out of the group just yet.  But, Roy’s England have shown signs of having more of a team structure than they have had at any major tournament for years.

In the same way, constructing a solid, well performing marketing strategy starts with building from the back.

The Back Five – Your Core

Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole – some could say England’s great strength is their defence.  In football becoming defensively strong is the best starting point.  Getting organised and being hard to beat takes time, dedication and a clear strategy and structure.  Hours are spent on the training field drilling everyone in their roles.

In strategic marketing terms this can be applied to your existing customer marketing, your retention strategy.  A strategy made up of all those core things that ensure you keep the customers you’ve worked so hard to win.  It is so important to spend time working on these, reviewing them and drilling them.  Organisation is the most important thing.  You can achieve this with superb use of data, understanding not just what you think is happening, but really understanding the reality of it.

Retention marketing doesn’t mean boring marketing, just like your defensive back 5 you can have world class elements.  Ashley Cole is capable of turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye, whilst Joleon Lescott has shown that sometimes your dependable, defensive ‘players’ can get you key goals.

The Midfield Mix – Box to Box

Milner, Gerrard, Parker, The Ox/Young – the pivotal role within the England side.  Whatever the tactical permutations of the midfield the basic rules never change.  Your midfield are there to win you the ball back and get it into the attackers.  Within the England side you have Gerrard and Parker very much in the disciplined central roles.  These two are there to protect the defensive heart of the side, whilst also being the starting point for many attacks, mainly through spreading the ball quickly out to the wings (or into Rooney when he is back).  Meanwhile the wingers Oxlade-Chamberlain (The OX), Ashley Young and stunningly Theo Walcott are given the task of providing that bit of pace, power and trickery to beat the opposition and deliver crosses, passes and goals.  James Milner too has this role, but is perhaps more tactically disciplined than the others, also protecting his full-back (who likes to attack).

Marketing –wise it is your midfield where you find your more quirky marketing outlets.  There will be a blend of retention and acquisition tools that are sitting outside of your regular/core tools.  By creating a strong defensive core, your midfield area allows you to deal with those requests and situations that crop up without warning.  Opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t know where they fit can be dealt with effectively.  Similarly, those kinds of requests that can throw your entire strategy out of the window if you aren’t organised.  Your midfield can deal with these as they are disciplined enough to not stray from the important tasks of retention, but ‘off the cuff’ enough to adapt to new tools and disciplines.  Again, sometimes they can prove to be the most effective part of your strategic approach by cropping up with important goals of their own.

The Attacking Glory – Striking

Welbeck, Carroll/Rooney – the finishers; the players that are there to finish your attacks off.  The reason the strikers get paid the big money is that they are there to score the goals.  Welbeck in particular is capable of playing a lone role up front supported by deeper lying players.  The return of Rooney to the side should see England even more potent in attack, as he provides a superb link between the midfield and the attack whilst being capable of world class strikes.  All three have shown that they are capable of providing a threat in different ways, which always gives the opposition a different problem to solve.

In the same way the attack in your marketing strategy should revolve around acquisition and focus on growing your position (ie. increasing your score!).  Of the whole strategy it is the acquisition elements that are attracting new customers, winning new business and through innovation and constantly moving they are difficult for your opposition to stay in touch with.  It is the part of your strategy where it is a good idea to take care over researching your opposition and finding the gaps in their defence, whilst also playing to your strengths by understanding where you are stronger than them.  A marketing Strategy Canvass is a fantastic way of priming your acquisition strategy.

Bringing it together

Like any good team, the current England side has a strong ‘spine’ running from Joe Hart in goal through the central defence and Gerrard in midfield to Rooney up front.  Any pundit worth their salt will tell you how important such a spine is.

The same goes for your marketing strategy.  Creating a strong spine to your strategy is key, and this can be achieved through your brand.  By which I mean ensuring you have a strong brand that you are living by and does what it says – delivers your promise.  Such a strong brand will have the added benefit of pulling your activities together, knitting them into a winning strategy.

Of course, developing a strong, well organised and committed marketing team is just as important in implementing your strategy, but starting with a, sometimes, simple strategic aim, and building a side capable of delivering that, just as Uncle Roy (as he is known in our house) has done, can bring huge rewards.

Ok, you may not win Euro 2012, but on the plus side at least you won’t be made into a piece of veg on the front page of The Sun.

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to or @Happy_Creative

I spend a lot of my working day educating business owners about the importance of marketing and why it should never take a back seat in any business. What I come across a lot is the perception of what marketing is. So I thought I would dispel a few myths and get us all singing from the same hymn sheet!

  1. Marketing is just advertising and sales: Although advertising and sales are integral to any marketing plan, they don’t stand alone. In reality, marketing is educating your target market about your products and services and why they should choose you over your competition. Obviously the aim for any business is to achieve a sale, but there’s a lot that goes on within the buying process to get to that point. In my opinion marketing is everything you do as a business which affects the customer.
  2. Great marketing works instantly: Although marketing can shorten a sales cycle and some tactics can produce instant results, great marketing is about repetition – being there when your customer is ready to buy. Just because you are ready to sell doesn’t mean your customer is ready to purchase! Marketing is an investment and like all good investments it takes time.
  3. Lower prices encourage more people to buy: I meet many business owners, especially start-ups, who automatically drop their price to enter the market. Lower prices work as part of a short-term campaign i.e. trialling of a new product/service, but ultimately competing on cost is very difficult to sustain. Look at the value you are offering to your customer and price accordingly. This is where knowing your customers really well comes into play!
  4. Offering a broad range of products & services leads to more sales: This is where you can fall foul of being a ‘jack of all trades’. Too many options can confuse buyers. There is nothing wrong is targeting a niche market and being a specialist in your field. So take a look at how you can segment your market and which segments can provide a sustainable income, then focus on these.
  5. Email marketing is no longer effective due to spam: I still use email marketing a lot as part of my activity.  Identify what you want to achieve and why email marketing is the right tool to use then ensure you write your email to generate maximum impact. Afterall, people want information and email is a great way to get your message out there – just make sure your recipients have opted-in!
  6. Online marketing is all you need: I come across this a lot. Many small businesses owners have run with online because of its cost-effectiveness, but offline activity still has an important part to play in any marketing strategy. Integrating both on and offline marketing is what generates the best results for most businesses. So keep hold of your business card, branded pen and leaflet and support this with your website, email and video campaigns.
  7. Messages need to change often to keep things fresh:I’m sorry, but consistency and repetition is a marketer’s best friend. You may be bored of your message, but your audience won’t be. It’s around now that your message is starting to sink in, so stick with it and only change it if there is a valid business reason.
  8. Advertising sells products: Continuous advertising builds brand awareness and can generates leads, but it very rarely leads to a conversion without involving another form of marketing. You need to attract prospects then educate them all via regular contact with your business. This then develops the trust required to convert the lead into a sale.
  9. Partnerships & alliances are for larger companies: I recommend these types of partnerships to start-ups and SMEs, because these are the businesses which in reality can’t do it all. Having partners you can trust to offer a service or product you can’t, helps your customer get what they need whilst increasing your resources, exposure and client base. Package this up and you can offer your clients more value for their money.
  10. Marketing is expensive: Whether you agree with me or not, good effective marketing should not cost you a fortune. The reason many of you will believe marketing is expensive is, because you a) don’t have a marketing plan in place so are unable to determine if what you are doing is the right thing b) don’t have any measures in place to evaluate your activity c) just doing little bits of marketing without knowing why, d) putting all your money into advertising. I always start with a budget of zero and take it from there…and so can you.

Jean Atkinson of Eden Marketing is a Chartered Marketer with over 16 years’ experience in marketing. Eden Marketing provides marketing workshops and marketing support to businesses of all sizes.

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