Friday, 14 December 2012

Marketing A Marketing Firm

One would hope that a firm specialising in the subtle art of marketing would be fully capable of carrying out their own marketing and advertising strategy. Whilst in the boom times this is usually the case, many marketing companies are currently failing to reach out to their potential client base in these tough economic times.

The trouble is many firms cut back on what they consider to be luxuries in times of economic downturn. Unfortunately for marketing companies, their services are often deemed so; particularly in smaller businesses across the UK.

It is therefore essential for marketing firms to not only offer affordable marketing plans to their clients but also address the fact that their services are indispensable and could even be the difference between profits or loss, particularly as our economy struggles to start moving once more.
How? It is not always that straight forward.

First of all, for a company to even consider extending their current contract with a marketing firm (let alone enter into a new one) it is going to require the budget. This could mean offering current clients a better deal or even reducing the agreement to meet their tighter financial constraints.
New potential clients are going to need to see a marketing package that they can afford, whilst of course a marketing firm has profit margins to maintain. Offering deals such as an ‘internet only’ package at a reduced price is one example of a reduced package that could attract companies with smaller budgets.

Whilst anyone in business should appreciate the need for a sound marketing strategy, not all companies believe that they require the services of a marketing firm to develop or implement one on their behalf. As mentioned, this mentality often leads to a drop in companies outsourcing their marketing requirements and hence a fall in the potential client base for marketing firms.
It is on the onus of such marketing firms to address this belief and ensure that their entire potential client base have full confidence in the firm’s ability to increase sales and revenue for their customers. This can be done in a number of ways.

Client testimonials and success stories are always a sure fire way to encourage confidence in potential clients. They allow companies to see first-hand the work a marketing company is carrying out and the success it is delivering to its clients.

Blogging is another method a marketing firm can employ to attract customers. Keeping a blog on the company website allows the firm to share details of any accolades it achieves, any notable success stories as well as discussions about the very latest marketing techniques it is employing. All of these inspire confidence in potential clients and increase their likelihood of approaching a specific marketing firm.

At the end of the day, there is little point preaching to the choir. The majority of marketing firms are very clued up on how to sell their own business. In such trying economic times, however, it is always wise to take a step back and question just how suitable one’s own products are for potential customers.

The questions to ask are ‘can our customers afford our services?’, ‘are we offering them great value for money?’ and ‘will we really add value to their business?’
If the answer to these questions is yes, you might just be on track.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Applying Six Sigma To Marketing

Terms such as ‘Six Sigma’, ‘process improvement’ and ‘DMAIC’ are not traditionally the jargon of a marketing consultant. Nevertheless, there is an increasing proportion of such experts using this technique, developed by Motorola back in the 1980s, to improve their marketing strategies and process.

So what is Six Sigma? What is it all about?
Essentially, Six Sigma is a methodology that aims to reduce the amounts of faults or mistakes in a process. If a process has achieved Six Sigma, statistically there will be just 34 mistakes in every 1 million opportunities.

That sounds great, but how does it apply to marketing?
Well, a marketing consultant may never reach Six Sigma although the methodology that comes with it can greatly increase his or her marketing success rate. Imagine coming even close to selling to 99.99966% of the potential clients that view an advert! Of course that seems ridiculous, but the methodology once developed in the manufacturing industry can actually help a marketing business.
In fact any organise with a goal orientated strategy or process can achieve results with Six Sigma methodology, as long as the strategy is well defined and organised.

What is this methodology?
The Six Sigma methodology is centred on one acronym, DMAIC.
Define – a company needs to define the problem and the goals it wishes to achieve. This could well be top level targets such as ‘increase sales’.
Measure – the firm should then measure its existing system, determine its capability and establish parameters in the current system that could be optimised to improve it.
Analyse – once the parameters to optimise have been established, the company should apply statistical tools to discover just how to do so. Look up ‘design of experiments’ and ‘Taguchi methods’ for an idea where to begin.
Improve – once the firm has established just what can be done cheaper, faster or safer it should do it. Being inventive is no bad thing; the statistical tools are there for guidance rather than constraint.
Control – the new process needs managed effectively to ensure it operates smoothly and efficiently.

How would a marketing firm go about implementing this?
In the manufacturing world, Six Sigma infrastructure is typically implemented as follows.
Black Belts – These are the people responsible solely for the implementation of the Six Sigma process. They should be knowledgeable about the process to be optimised and focus their entire time on implementing Six Sigma and DMAIC.
Green Belts – These are the staff who, whilst continuing with their day to day responsibility also lend a hand to the implementation of Six Sigma.
Process Owners – These are the line managers whose own operations are going to be the focus of the Six Sigma optimisation.

 Can it really work in marketing?
Whilst the Six Sigma approach was certainly developed for the manufacturing world, there is absolutely no reason it cannot be applied to other industries. It already has been widely adopted in the financial world as well as in health care and marketing is simply another industry that could certainly benefit from the approach.

From optimising administrative tasks to better identifying potential customers, Six Sigma is waiting for the marketing consultants and companies of the world to grasp it and utilise it to the very best of their ability.