Archives for posts with tag: marketing strategy

I recently took part in a social media training workshop, not because I’m unfamiliar with some of the platforms and how to utilise them but because I really wanted to find out more about the benefits.

I’m also inquisitive and I like to know how things work.

It was hugely informative, helpful and actually….fun. I didn’t think…”Oh, I’m too old to learn this stuff” or “why do I need to learn this?” I’m just not that type of person.

I also see on a daily basis how using social media as an extension of your marketing activity can be beneficial and fruitful.
That’s not to say I wasn’t a little apprehensive about my capabilities. My normal approach would be to read a “How to….” set of instructions first before actually getting down to practice. This for several reasons:

A) I am probably using delaying/avoidance tactics
B) I am actually a little nervous about whether I can get the hang of it and need to read and then read some more
C) Fear of the unknown

A discussion with some friends following this (both male and female, similar in age range) about the subject, offered some interesting insights with some admitting that they thought that social media “is for kids”. Yes, they use Twitter and Facebook on a personal level to connect with friends and to follow interesting people but when it comes to utilising social media as a marketing strategy, they just “couldn’t be see the benefits” or “didn’t see the need at their age” or the familiar…”I just haven’t got time”. Does this resonate with you?

Come on, be honest. Does using social media as a marketing tool scare you?

If you own a business, the way you market that business has changed. There are new tools to help you gain additional marketing exposure. You may be a little apprehensive but essentially it’s about people and marketing to them, and applying those new tools.

Social media is designed to be fairly simple to use, it just takes time and willingness to learn. Learning and growing is a fundamental part of life. Social media is no different.

And let’s face it, we live in extraordinary times of technological advancement. Technology helps us progress and it’s not going to disappear. You either have to embrace it or wait until you notice the impact on your business from burying your head in the sand. If you don’t have a presence you can be sure your competitors do and they are the ones potentially engaging with your clients.

Some of the benefits of engaging social media:

  • Promote your Brand, your philosophy and values
  • Engage with clients and potential clients
  • Provide brilliant customer service
  • Create social signals that will also help your website climb the search engine rankings
  • Make sure you have a presence
  • Give your brand a voice
  • Stay competitive

But it’s also a great opportunity to connect with interesting new people and gain new experiences.

Social media isn’t just for young people. Social media is for everybody.

So if you are just a little bit scared……..well, feel the fear and do it anyway! And if you need a little hand holding, we completely understand.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Imagine you have a big watermelon. Now imagine you’ll try and get the whole watermelon into your blender to make a nice watermelon juice. It seems like a good idea.  Ermm, not so much, unless you have a very small watermelon and a very big blender.

Now imagine you also have a knife, with which you can slice the watermelon, so it’s divided into manageable chunks. With some of it, you’ll make some juice, with the rest, you’ll make a dessert and with the peel you will feed your backyard animals. That’s good usage of your product and enables you to serve different ‘markets’.

Market segmentation is just like that.

You may think you have a big market, but you can’t be everything to everyone. You have to slice it into chunks that you can handle, that you can understand and that you can work with to concentrate fully on squeezing the juice out of each individual piece. Segmenting your market is the key to your success as a business. ‘No one can please everyone all the time’, someone once said, and nothing could ring more true when it comes to targeting marketing.

By going after segments instead of the whole market, there is a much better chance to deliver value to the consumer and, consequently, increase your profit margins. By segmenting the market, you will be separating groups of buyers with distinct needs, characteristics and behaviours, who might require different products and a different marketing mix to match their requirements.

To segment your market you have a very sharp tool in the draw: market research.

You need to ask, you need to observe, you need to read between the lines, you need to interpret it. And once this research is done and you have a few segments that look appealing to your business, how do you know which one to target?

Here is a test you can perform, 5 simple but extremely important questions that you have to ask about that segment, so you can decide if you should invest in it. Here you go:

1. Is the segment substantial?
The market needs to be large enough to be profitable.

2. Is the segment measurable?
We should be able to measure the size and characteristics of the segment through different data sources.

3. Is the segment differentiated?
We should be able to distinguish between this segment and other segments in terms of the way they respond to the marketing mix elements.

4. Is the segment accessible?
We should be able to reach the segment in terms of communication, media and distribution.

5. Is the segment actionable?
We should be able to develop ways to attract and service the segment.

Ok, so now you have 5 ‘yesses’ and you have decided that you have a brand new target market for your product/service.

Well done, great stuff. But, how do you position your offering to this brand new market?

Here’s how to start: go back to your research. Remind yourself about how this market wants to be communicated to. Analyse their answers. Again, read between the lines.

Positioning involves placing your brand and everything that is unique about it in customer minds. A product or service’s position in the market is a complex set of perceptions, impressions and feelings that consumers have towards what you are offering them. It’s how they see it and how they see it fitting into their lives.

To position successfully you must have thorough knowledge of the key benefits sought by the market, so the more time and effort you invest on the market research, the more equipped you will be to come to the USP, which will be the pillar of your communication.

The unique selling proposition is about what makes the product special and different to the competition and it’s what makes people buy and buy again.

Invest in it, communicate it and promote it through your marketing mix. But overall, if you do one thing and one thing only, make sure you have taken the time to segment your market and got to truly know every pip.

Without that, all your efforts might just follow the watermelon juice down the drain or splashed across the kitchen walls. And that is one big cleaning up job.

Marilia Spindler is an Account Manager at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Well, it finally happened. Fergie time is at an end (several minutes after the final whistle of course 😉 )

The long-serving football management guru has called time on his prestigious career. As Sir Alex Ferguson bids farewell to football management he will leave much change in his wake, as well as a few heartbroken fans. But life goes on and change happens.

Change is all around us; the way we live life, the products that help change our life, the businesses in which we operate. There’s no getting away from it, no hiding place, and as with most things in life; it’s better tackled head on. After all the only constant in life is change.

In the world of marketing it is no different. Staying ahead of the game, and keeping up with change is a constant challenge for any marketer or business owner. It’s something we wrestle with everyday, or at least perhaps we should do.

How does your company cope with change? How well is your company planning for the future?

Take the Change Challenge ….

Read the four sections below and mark yourself out of 10 for each section. There’s tips on scoring at the end of each section.

1.  “Ooooh, I didn’t realise you did that.”

This phrase is often uttered (sometimes sheepishly) between client and their supply partner. It’s sometimes hard to understand. You’re moving with the times, evolving products or service; there’s more bells, more whistles, you’ve let your customers know and still there’s a segment of your audience who revert to their original perception of you and what you can offer.

The “I didn’t realise” sentence can be one of the most frustrating to hear. A perception that is not in aligned with who you actually are needs to be changed. This is common. It can take a while for perception to be changed. Consider how useful high impact communication can be here. Communication that helps the recipient see things differently, to take another look, something they are not expecting. And from then build momentum, simple ways are often the most effective. Use multiple channels to communicate your message regularly. Keep chipping away to help change the perception.

So how many of your customers know what you actually do?

(When scoring yourself consider if there could be a perception gap? Do you have market research to back up perceptions? How well are you cross selling? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “they don’t know at all” and 10 being “I told them absolutely everything we do about 5 mins ago”.)
2.  Land ahoy!

How can what you offer help your customers? Or turn that on its head and ask “what issues do your customers have and how can you help solve them?” Understanding what’s going on in the world of the customer will help you identify their land; and help them get towards it quickly and effectively. How can what you offer make their life easier, help them be more successful, bring them joy. Sometimes it’s practical, sometimes it’s emotional. Talking regularly to customers will help you understand just what issues they are facing (even if they don’t know what issues there are it’s always good to talk). What’s coming up on the horizon for them? Help them scan the horizon and understand how what’s there is going to affect your customers. How can you partner with your customers to help them.

So how much do you know about your customers issues and challenges?

(When scoring yourself consider what is it that will make their lives (personal or business) much better? Can you provide multiple examples of detailed discussions you have had with your customers to help them with their future planning? How much time are you spending working on the future? On spying land? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “Nothing” and 10 being “Absolutely Everything” .)

3.  Knowledge is power.

Make the most of new technology; of the change that is around us. CRM (customer relationship management) systems and marketing software are becoming ever more sophisticated. The right software can help you know just the right time to contact a customer whilst understanding their behaviours and buying/browsing patterns, their likes and dislikes so you can target them with the right message at the right time for the right results. The most successful businesses focus on B2M (business to me) highly personalised communication on their clients’ terms. What would you like to know about your customers; and how can you use the power of marketing software to aid loyalty, to improve conversions, to increase market penetration?

So how would you rate yourselves in the knowledge you have of your customers; and how often do you use this information?

(When scoring yourself consider Are you using B2M tactics? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “I know nothing useful” and 10 being “A stalker doesn’t know half as much as I do”)
4.  It’s a rapidly changing landscape.

How are you keeping up? Market research will help you understand what’s happening in customer’s minds. Keep an eye on what’s happening in your customers industry. Recognise how your customers and prospects viewing, learning and forming opinions on your company. Just because your customers have bought from you in a certain way; doesn’t mean that they always will. This affects businesses of all sizes; from high value face to face deals to simple ecommerce exchanges. By understanding what is happening, and why, you can formulate accurate plans. Perform the market research regularly and you’ll be in the top echelons of the changing business world.

So when was the last time you did research with your customers?

(When scoring yourself consider what evidence do you have to support that what you are doing is the right thing for what your customers need? What do your customers say about the future? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “I once did a customer service survey”, and 10 being “Is everyday too much, because I don’t think so”)

One often overlooked outcome of the Fergie news this week is that fact that even a company as huge as Manchester United PLC had a succession plan in place for such a key person. They were ready and embraced the change. So much so, it’s obvious that they have spent many years researching and creating structures ready to embrace change.

You may agree or disagree with the appointment of David Moyes, but you cannot argue that Manchester United and Sir Alex have done all they can to prepare for the change. Maybe you too can embrace the exciting possibilities that change can bring to your business or marketing campaigns.

So, how did you do?

35+ – You are truly ahead of the game. Well done! You’ve got your eye on the future, as well as a well-established foot. The smallest minority of companies reside in this category. You are a change champion.

25-34 – You are doing very well. Identify the areas for fine tuning and tighten these up. You are in an elite group.

15-24 – Most companies find themselves in this category. Tighten up some of the lower scoring areas. Put some immediate focus on what can improve in these areas so that you can plan for the future.

Below 15 – It’s not the best place to be in. But not to worry. You’ve taken the first step. You know where you are, you have a benchmark from which to build. Look at what can be done in all four areas, concentrating on your weakest areas; and change your marketing processes to help you move forwards.

Karen Lambert is the founder and Managing Director and strategic marketing expert at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

I am one of the most used words in the marketing (and business) language. In the right hands I have clout; I add value to the bottom line and I am an asset to a business. I am in all businesses, big and small, public or private, local or global. Some choose to ignore or neglect me. Those that nurture me, reap the rewards.

I have 5 letters. I can be strong or weak, positive or negative. The best kind of me is both strong and positive. Because when I am in this state my word and value spreads naturally, with ease, with warmth, with meaning.

Sadly, I am often misunderstood. Some people refer to me as my visual cousin. My visual cousin and I are good friends, we work in harmony. It’s not their fault if they disregard me over my visual cousin, they have yet to learn about my power. People who really understand me will know that it’s ‘how’ I make people feel. That’s the essential bit. It’s all about the emotion with me, that’s what makes me powerful.

If I were to sit on a couch with Graham Norton or Jonathan Ross (I would be happy to be interviewed by either – I would not feel exposed or a need to be protected from their line of questioning). I would be consistent in my answers. Consistency is important to me. Don’t get me wrong consistent doesn’t mean boring. I just find being consistent helps people to ‘get me’ – they know what to expect. My personality is expressed in many ways and one thing that remains consistent is that my personality is always a true reflection of the real me.

I behave in line with who I am. I also have the power to influence people’s behaviour. Now that’s where it gets interesting. I can launch products, create a buzz on social media, lend my good name to sister products, change people’s perceptions, make people smile, turn people into advocates. I have a lot in my locker.

I have allies in all that deliver me. It’s a fact that companies who align their team behind me have more success. Companies who invest in making me unique are also successful. And companies who understand my real value will always be successful.

On the other hand, companies who don’t understand the concept of me can meander or lose their way. They can find it hard to differentiate, or gain repeat business. They may also lose business to their competitors more easily, whilst spending too much on advertising and marketing. If only they understood me more, their world would be much different.

So what makes ‘me’ me?

I am visible – I don’t want to blend in or be the same as everyone else. I am different, unique.

I am real – People connect with me because they put their trust me, they believe me.

I am relevant – I am most powerful when I make a connection with people’s lives, with their needs and desires.

I am captivating, fascinating, enthralling – I am a true reflection of what I represent, and I do all I can to ensure that people are drawn to me.

Who am I? Send your answer to hello@happy-creative.co.uk, post if on our Facebook page (Happy Creative) or on Twitter (@Happy_Creative).

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 www.happy-creative.co.uk

When Marty McFly skateboarded onto the silver screen in 1985 to the echoes of ‘The Power of Love’ he set the bar when it came to time travel, skateboarding and Johnny B Goode.

The ability to travel back and forth in time has always excited scientists from the very early scientific thinkers to the modern day.
As business people and marketers we are dealing with a struggle everyday of how to change our future.  How we can win that new piece of business, or keep the customers we’ve worked so hard to get?

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (wrong film reference I know) marketers would have turned straight to their trusty leaflets and got printing and delivering.  This utopia has long since hit the manure truck, and with good reason.

Four major factors have impacted directly on this form of marketing within the last 5 years.  The first is the obviously and seemingly unstoppable rise in the prices of mail.  Last years rise in the basic price of 1st and 2nd class prices, allied to the redevelopment of the mail weight and dimensions has undoubtedly had an effect.

Second, and linked directly to the first factor is the large squeeze on marketing budgets across the board.  As the credit crunch has hit businesses, the marketing budget has taken the brunt of the cost cutting.  Return on Investment has (finally) become the buzz word from the boardroom across the country.  Expensive large mailings are out unless you can prove where every penny has benefited the business.

Third is the large backlash against ‘direct mail’ that saw huge public campaigns backed by programmes like Watchdog very vocally turning ‘direct mail’ into public enemy number one.

Now those of us within the marketing industry, and particularly those of us who class ourselves as direct marketing specialists all know that the direct mail referred to in these campaigns was really not that.  The direct mail that caused so much outrage (quite rightly) is the unsolicited mass marketing machine gun approach based on simple numbers.  With mass mailings like those, the more you sent, the bigger the number of new customers/orders/sign ups.  This was purely down to using one measure…conversion %.  Not a bad measure, but when this is the only factor you are considering you will always come back to the conclusion that the more you send the bigger your return.  For us direct mail aficionados though, unsolicited mass mailings will always remain the preserve of lazy thinkers or huge marketing budgets.

The fourth and final factor has been the rise of digital marketing, particularly the (relatively) new kids on the block email marketing and social media.  These have undoubtedly changed the landscape and if used correctly can dramatically enhance any marketing mix.  As a huge advocate of these I could go on, but what these new kids have done is create a marketing DeLorean.
The real star of the Back to the Future franchise, the DeLorean, was the vehicle that paved the way for Marty McFly to travel across the fabric of time.  In the same way, the massive leap in digital marketing over such a short period of time has allowed direct marketing to re-define its place as an exciting hoverboard of marketing opportunity.

Let me explain.  For many people, digital and email marketing in particular has replaced many of the functions that some of the larger direct mailings used to do, with added brilliance.  Through correctly executed email marketing campaigns you can see return rates, click rates, create a ‘warm’ sales database, cleanse a huge list of contact emails.

An unfortunate consequence of the rise and rise of email/digital has been to create a certain amount of ‘white noise’.  Remember when your post box was full of direct mail, some of it unsolicited and it all used to get filed…in the ‘special’ draw (ie. bin) without being read.  It is already the same for many emails/tweets/updates.  White noise filed away in the recycle bin without even being opened.

It is these factors that have opened up the 88 miles an hour required for the direct mail DeLorean to come screeching back into the future.

Well crafted, developed direct mail has always played an important role in acquisition or retention strategies, and thanks to digital marketing, its part is now becoming ever more crucial.  Well developed direct mail can have a disruptive effect, essentially breaking the ‘white noise’ created by all manner of other techniques.  After all some marketing lessons remain constant whatever the techniques employed, getting your message seen being THE most crucial step.

Getting through the gatekeeper is the big challenge for many businesses, and it is increasingly a niche that direct mail can fill.  After all, when did you last receive and email?  Minutes ago, seconds ago?  Do you remember what it was?  When was the last time you received a hand-written letter?  Or even a package?  If you’d sent that last sales email in a box in the post (with a nicely developed message) do you think it would at least have been read (rather than auto filed into the recycle bin)?  Probably!!
Obviously once you’ve got your message seen, you need to be able to create all those other psychological factors associated with any great selling tool, as well as representing your brand in the best way.  And it is these factors that distinguish great disruptive direct mail from the average leaflet.

Some ‘flashy’ talkers will talk about distruptive marketing, acquisition and retention strategies being driven by a direct mail piece.  But any direct mail piece must be crafted from a position of understanding, about what you are trying to achieve and where its place is within your branding and overall strategic plan.

Allied to the digital media that are now available to direct marketers, it turns as direct mail piece into a central pillar in any acquisition or retention campaign.  Measurement, click-throughs and most importantly ROI (return on investment) become even easier to track through the use of emails, microsites and links.  Instant sales returns are no longer dependant on timing your follow up sales calls correctly.  The new kid on the block has turned the 1985 hero into a legend in 2013, and it is why the call to go Back to the Future are rising.

But, the most thrilling thing is that according to the Back to the Future franchise we are now only 2 years away from hoverboards.  Now that is exciting!!!

back_to_the_future_cover

 

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or @Happy_Creative

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