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.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Why brand awareness is is commonly overlooked by UK SMEs?

Constraint is the word that comes to mind every time an employee or a business has an excuse. Why is a project not completed? The deadline was not realistic. Why is a website not ranking in search engines? The cost involved is too great. The questions and excuses are never ending, but that doesn’t solve the issue that is on the table today.

It is the constraints that business owners connect with brand awareness that mean many SMEs throughout the UK are not necessarily avoiding brand awareness, but overlooking it completely. They assume that time and money invested in brand awareness can not be measured in terms of return on investment (ROI). Of course, when developing a cost-benefit analysis, ROI is important, so without a measurement, an analysis can not be developed.

Brand awareness is slightly different to a marketing campaign that is designed to promote or sell a product. Brand awareness is creating awareness within a demographic about a brand and its products. This helps potential consumers to assign a certain value to these products. Ideally, the brand and the products on offer are the first things that this potential consumer is going to think of when they are need of a product, without seeing a direct advertisement.

Effective brand awareness takes time, money and strategy, but is it really worth it? For those that are looking for a few sales on eBay, no. That being said, for those people that have a vision of creating a leading brand in their industry, brand awareness engagement is something that should be considered part of their every day business activities.

In fact, starting to create a brand image might not be as complex, expensive, or time consuming as many people might imagine. Even well designed banners, located in the right places can start to implant a seedling into the brain of a consumer that can grow into something of high value. The more diverse brand awareness strategies become, the more a customer will relate to that product. Look at the likes of Coca-Cola and Red Bull, both brands that are well known by people across the globe; thanks to brand awareness.

Let’s assume a brand is a manufacturer of extreme sports casual wear. By visiting extreme sports events and consistently placing banners at these events, they will start to create awareness for their brand. They might not be able to instantly and effectively measure the ROI of their efforts, but the end result is that next time a potential consumer walks into a retailer, that stocks their products, they are likely to look twice, knowing that they have “seen that brand before”.

The impact of that initial sighting of the brand is not really measurable. The potential consumer gets in the spirit, at an event relating to their passion, they see the advertisement and assign this with their passion. From here they see the product in a store, buy it and who knows how many like minded people buy the same product as a result of a positive review?

Would You Like To Make Your Business More Successful, Risk-Free?

As a business owner how would you like to:

Do more of what works and eliminate what doesn’t?

Create and implement a successful marketing strategy?

Establish a positive and productive working environment?

Deliver a consistently higher Return On Investment?

A professional business consultant can help you achieve all these things and much more.

Every successful business needs a workable marketing strategy at its core. The problem is, some companies waste endless time and money creating random strategies and projects that never go anywhere. Even assuming they do get off the ground eventually, they will not provide a return on investment worthy of the resources spent on them.

This is where the services of a qualified professional can really pay dividends: Someone who can demonstrate many years experience, who boasts a portfolio of successful projects to show you, and a network of readily available contacts who can use their know-how to drive your business forward quickly.

More than likely your advisor (or an associate) will already have gained considerable knowledge of your industry and will be able to set you on the right track from Day 1.

Whether you need help with creating a business plan, writing a bid or grant application, planning an exhibition, internet marketing – or perhaps you’re not exactly sure what you need help with – only that you do. Either way, a specialist advisor can help steer your business in the right direction using proven strategies, without wasting precious time on ‘maybes’.

Don’t leave the future of your business to chance. Any direction could be the wrong one if you don’t know where you are aiming at. A top-notch business consultant will look at your business with a fresh perspective and a keen insight. He or she will identify problems which could halt your growth, while unearthing opportunities to exploit new and existing markets.

How does that sound? Exciting? A tad overwhelming?

You will naturally be concerned about getting value for money, as you would be when hiring any professional advisor or service. So if you are worried that budgeting for business advisory services could be a problem, seek out the kind of business consultant you only pay for upon ‘agreed results successfully delivered’.

If you’re thinking this kind of consultant doesn’t exist, let me assure you he does – though it’s somewhat rare.
This is the kind of proven confidence you will want to inject into your business and marketing strategies from now on.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Drive More Customers To Your Website With Google AdWords

The world’s most popular and powerful search engine is currently Google. When business owners talk about getting their website onto Page 1, they generally mean Google.
So what kinds of businesses could benefit from a Google AdWords campaign?

Basically, any business that has a website. And these days, if you are in business, frankly you need a website.

The really great thing about using AdWords to bring more visitors to your site is ‘relevance’.  You will know that the people who come to your site having clicked on your ad are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. That’s because they entered your keyword or phrase in the search box – and your ad matched! And of course, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad, not each time it appears in the listings. The clue being in the name: Pay Per Click, or PPC.

Once your account has been set up and your strategy determined, your first ad(s) can be up and running within the hour. Assuming your campaign has been research properly it should quickly pay for itself in terms of additional enquiries and sales.

The first thing you will need to do is to identify the main keywords and phrases people might typically use to find your business online. Who is your ideal customer? Where do they live? Are they mainly local to your business? Or might they be national, or international? What is their age group? Does what you do or sell have a gender bias? What sort of websites, blogs or forums does your ideal customer frequent? How do they access the internet primarily? Is it via a PC, or is it more likely to be via a tablet or mobile phone?

Once you have built up a mental image of your ideal customer, it’s time to decide how much funding you will allocate to your ad campaign per month and how much you are prepared to bid for a particular keyword or phrase. Google’s keyword tool and keyword question tool can help you identify the sort of keywords and phrases your target audience is most likely to use to find a business like yours. This can be an ideal starting point.

To those in the know, Pay Per Click can be an extremely cost-effective way to run an advertising campaign, regardless of your budget. However it can prove expensive to dabble in if you aren’t sure what you are doing. Outsourcing your ad campaign to an AdWords professional will inevitably save you time and prevent costly errors that could blight your success.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

How To Use Keywords In SEO

SEO is the process of increasing the online visibility of a website by improving its search engine rankings. This incorporates a number of elements, but as any internet marketing company will tell you, using the right keywords effectively is the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. Once you have identified the right keywords to suit your company you are on your way to boosting your online presence.

So how do you go about choosing these all-important keywords? The first step is to do some keyword research within your target market. Find out the kinds of terms potential clients are most likely to type into search engines, and then whittle these down to which are most suited to your own company.
Also, consider whether you are going to use broad or targeted keywords, or a combination of the two. Broad keywords will tend to describe what your company does as a whole so they are likely to net you in more visitor overall. However, targeted keywords may get you higher percentages of conversion rates (when a visitor is ‘converted’ into a paying customer) because they are relating to more specific products and services. A customer has to actually be searching for a certain product to find your website so they are more likely to buy it.

Once you’re worked out which keywords are likely to work best for you, think about where you will need to place them. The most obvious place is in the keyword Meta Tag which can be found in your website’s html head section. Your keywords should be placed here in the order of importance, from largest to smallest.

Keywords should also be distributed throughout your web copy. Bear in mind that search engines tend to pay the most attention to the first 200 words on a page, so make sure the words are used here.  They can also be used within headings and anchor text (link text) to help boost search engine rankings.

There are certain ‘don’ts’ when it comes to keywords as well. For one thing, you should always use a keyword density checker to make sure you are within the appropriate boundaries. ‘Keyword stuffing’, as the over-use of keywords within a website is known, is frowned upon by search engines and you can be penalised for it. Also, if you decide to place your words in anchor text, such as an image link, do make sure it is relevant and appropriate to the context.

Learning to use keywords effectively can be difficult at first. If you need help getting started, it could be worth using the temporary services of an internet marketing consultant. You will be able to find plenty of these in online business directories, but just make sure you check their credentials thoroughly and get recommendations before you hire them.

How To Find An SEO Company

If you have been trying to manage SEO for your business for some time and just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, it could be time to hire an SEO company. Boosting your search engine rankings can be time-consuming at the best of times, but if your approach is less than successful it can be demoralising as well. Frankly, your time might well be better spent running the areas of your business you know well, whilst you leave the online marketing to the experts.

But once you’ve made up your mind once and for all to invest in internet marketing expert SEO advice, how on earth do you go about finding a company that is worthwhile hiring? It is true to say that the rise of the online marketing expert since the Internet became an everyday fact of life has been paralleled by the rise of their less salubrious cousins – the marketing companies which purport to be ‘experts’  but in fact simply want to make a quick killing and move on to the next victim.

To avoid the latter and find the former, the first piece of advice we would give you is to seek a recommendation from a friend or business acquaintance. If somebody you know and trust has used an SEO company and their search engine rankings have significantly improved as a consequence, this is a company you can safely consider hiring. If you don’t know anyone who has used this kind of service, take to a reputable online webmaster forum to get advice from other users.

Even so, you should still visit each potential company to speak to the person who will be managing your SEO strategy. At this time, there are several questions you should be asking them. For example, ask to see examples of sites they have optimised along with the proof that their rankings have indeed been improved. Be wary if they promise you a number one ranking – no SEO expert, no matter how talented, can ever guarantee this. Just think of all the competition out there, all working to optimise their online rankings. To say they can ‘guarantee’ you will come out ahead of all these every time is just plain ridiculous and reeks of charlatanism.

Check out their website too: are they ranked highly? Ask what their keywords are and see whether their site appears when you type these in. If they can’t even optimise their own site well enough to get high rankings they are not worth wasting your time and money on. Ask lots of questions about the methods they use, and ensure they don’t use any ‘black hat’ tricks. (It’s worth researching what these are so you can ask questions with a little more confidence).

Above all, don’t hire anybody unless they are really prepared to listen to what you have to say. They should be interested in your company and want to find a strategy that is tailored to your own needs. Don’t go for anyone who wants to fob you off with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. You should also compare their prices, but don’t automatically go for the cheapest one.

Before you sign anything, it’s very important to get all costs agreed up-front so they don’t try to add in any hidden extras further down the line when it’s too late.  Lastly, bear in mind that your SEO may need maintenance as trends change, so it’s perhaps worth finding a company that offers ‘post-optimisation’ services in the mix as well.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Is e-commerce the safest place to be?

Electronic commerce or ‘E-commerce’ has largely monopolised the consumer market over recent times. Using the growth of the internet and online networks, companies have been able to extend and reach out to a much wider market place. The likes of Amazon and EBay are prime examples of businesses solely reliant on e-commerce. However, the recession has provided added difficulty and competitiveness in an already driven consumer industry.

On the whole, the consumer market has taken a massive hit since the start of the recession. With nearly 500,000 businesses ceasing to exist in 2009, the majority of these small or medium businesses, the outlook has always looked bleak for the high street companies. The targets of maintaining rather than growth are seen as far more realistic and sensible objectives under the current climate.

Marketing consultants have outlined the need to retain your current customer and supplier base as they are arguably the most important assets when experiencing tougher times such as these. Nevertheless, there are signs that the consumer market is still a place where success is a genuine goal that can be accomplished.

As a result of all the negative press currently associated with the closing of businesses and loss of profits, it may come as a surprise that at the end of 2009, e-commerce experienced a rise in sales of 14%; this occurring at the peak of the recession. The desire for savings and ease of use has seen the consumer swap, or so it seems, to the online market place.

Many an E-commerce market consultant believe the ability to get free shipping and clear promotions can lead to online success. People are now looking for bargains and savings they once would not have; a task much more easily achievable in the comfort of your own home than walking up and down a high street. This changing focus of the customer is already being exploited by some companies and will without doubt be looked at by many more as they look for a solution to their current problems.

Furthermore, the evidence for new and growing e-commerce companies is there for all to see. Amazon is now a worldwide brand after its journey began when it was founded in 1994. With net income for the last quarter in excess of $130million, share prices rocketed up by nearly 15%. Nonetheless, it must be stated that everyone should not try and form a direct copy of The necessity to appeal to your own customer and be in some way unique is just as important if not more. It is crucial to function in a way that will add the most value to your consumer.

Simple Steps to a Successful Business Website

Internet marketing is fast becoming, if not already become, one of the most powerful tools to businesses around the globe. Some companies are now the largest in the world and rely solely on the internet as its source of business.

The marketing of companies over the internet is now part of our everyday life, spanning from banner adverts to emails filling our inboxes on a daily basis. Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) are common phrases that are now regularly considered when setting up a website or beginning an online marketing campaign. Getting onto the first page of a Google search is a giant step to getting the attention desired. It is this visual status that will see a business grow and a vast rate of knots. How often have you looked beyond the first page of results produced by a search engine? Rarely, is often the case.

The problem most people have is where to start. We find ourselves in a continuously changing technology based world with new expertise needed all the time. However, there are some easy solutions to making internet marketing simple.

Make them find you.
Search engines will direct people to your website. The easier you make it for them the more likely they will find you. This is quite simply done through the use of specific titles, and arguably more importantly using keywords. Labels for images and descriptions are best off kept simple and specific and hence easier to find. SEO techniques are often complex and involve the help of trained professionals but if you keep your website regularly updated and linked to other high reputable websites it can make noteworthy progress in rankings on search engines.

E-mail – more than just electronic mail.
Although no exact figures are known, well over 1 billion people in the world today are the owner of an email account. Companies who already have a client base of some form have hundreds of emails at their disposal which they can use, if permission is given, to send newsletters with updates on offers, discounts and news.  Just be sure that they have selected or acknowledged in some form that they desire to be part of this marketing technique, or risk upsetting them and losing their business.

Social Media is a powerful ally.
As long as used correctly the likes of Facebook and Twitter are significant tools in taking your business forward.  Just be sure to keep advertising related to business matters as the risk of alienating a client base through sharing your opinions or beliefs on subject matter are substantial. Facebook has recently surpassed over 1 billion subscribers making it clear to see why so many small and large companies are endearing to its use.

Friday, 19 October 2012

How To Increase Online Sales

If your company’s online business is slow and nothing you are doing seems to be increasing your sales, it may be time to look at making a few changes. Whether it’s re-designing your website, tweaking your product range or maybe even getting in some expert help in the form of an online business consultant, this article looks at some steps you can take to get you through the low patch.

For example:

Products: It may be time to consider altering the range of products you offer on your website. Sometimes companies will try to cram too much in, in the hope of boosting sales through sheer volume. This can actually have the effect of confusing visitors and putting them off. Why not do the opposite and narrow your product range? If you offer just one or two specialised products with detailed descriptions and beautiful pictures, you will be able to target specific customer groups much more easily.

Good Copy: We can’t stress enough the importance of getting your website copy right. Think about what’s important to your target market: what you write should hone in on this. Be clear and succinct when it comes to product descriptions. The look of the text is important too: if there is something you want visitors to pay particular attention to, style the text in bold or italics. Finally, don’t use too much text because people tend to ‘scan’ when they’re reading things online.

Keep Contact: Once you’ve won a new customer, you need to maintain contact with them. Make sure you get their contact details so you can send them emails with details of new products or promotions. Just don’t bombard them with these as it will tend to put them off rather than encourage them to buy more.

Hire An Expert:
Sometimes, if all the tactics you’re tried just aren’t working, it may be worth investing in some expert advice. Hiring a business consultant can do wonders for your sales – partly because you have the benefit of a fresh, unbiased perspective. They can identify where you might be going wrong and suggest some new approaches. For example, they may advise you to improve your SEO efforts or recommend a SEO Consultant or perhaps promote your business offline as well.

Website Design: Perhaps you sales slump is owing to customers being put off by the look of your website. If it is over-complicated, many visitors won’t bother sticking around to search for products. You have to remember that a lot of customers will be browsing during lunch breaks etc. Rather than lots of fussy images and lots of different categories, what they want is clear text and images, simple navigation and an easy-to-find search function.

The Importance Of Local Marketing

You might think that the increasing use of the Internet to find products and services would mean that there is more onus on companies to extend their influence further afield. In fact, the opposite can be true. With the huge amount of competition out there, companies need to reach out to clients on a local level to build trust and differentiate themselves. Even the large global companies are hiring local marketing companies to boost their regional appeal.

It is not enough, however, to rely on word of mouth any more to promote a business on a local level. To rival their competitors, companies need to adopt a kind of multi-pronged approach, using a range of media and technologies.

For example:

Online: There are a number of online strategies you can use to improve your company’s visibility on a local level. When it comes to SEO you can, for example, include locations in your keywords to place in Meta tags or anchor text on links to images. All this will help if potential clients are dong online searches for local businesses. You should also get listed in online business directories and make use of local social networks.

Range Of Media: When it comes to creating awareness of your brand, marketing companies will tell you that it’s best to attack on as many fronts as possible. With that in mind, try and use as many forms of local media as you can. Send press releases to or advertise in local newspapers. Organise innovative promotional events and try to get interview slots about these on your regional radio or TV station. Whatever you can do to get your name well-known in the area, don’t be afraid to try it.

Use Traditional Methods: It’s important to keep up-to-date by promoting your company online or through the television – but don’t neglect more traditional forms of advertising. Sometimes a simple, eye-catching banner outside a shop can be far more effective at reaching out to local customers. The beauty of signs and banners is their immediacy and the effect they have on passing individuals. This is part of what generating local business is about.

Local Partnership: Another good way to establish a regional presence is to combine forces. Why not consider a partnership with another company in a complementary field? This way you can promote and recommend each other. You could also try doing work for non-profit organisations and charities in the area. This will present your company in a positive light, as one that cares for the local community, and also offers a great advertising opportunity.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Is Your Print Advertising Campaign Working For You?

Around 70 per cent of business owners who use ‘traditional’ print advertising methods such as newspapers, magazines, trade publications and directories to promote their businesses, do not know whether their advertising is working for them – or not.

Perhaps because of the high-pressure sales techniques of the telesales personnel concerned they feel compelled to keep on doing it month after month. Or maybe it isn’t so much to do with the persuasiveness of the salespeople, but simply because they can’t think of a better alternative. They know only too well that advertising is the lifeblood of every successful business . . . but here’s the thing . . .

If you are not 100 per cent certain that your print advertising is working for you, then please stop. Or at least consider some valid alternatives.

The main hurdle with print advertising is this:-

Because people tend to buy from people they like and trust, it can take a while to win over your readership. It has been suggested that businesses will need to run their ad between 7-10 times, before they begin to see any return on their ‘investment’.
This is why many print publications offer new advertisers a ‘write-up’ as a sweetener – an article about the company which sits alongside their ‘paid-for’ advertisement. The reader knows (or at least they should do), that these ‘advertorials’ are not written by unbiased journalists, but rather that they are part of the advertising package.

The fact is, press advertising is expensive these days and there will almost certainly be a more cost-effective option available to you.

For example, have you considered any of the following?:

Search Engine Optimisation 
Pay per Click Advertising                                                                                                                                                                                      
Direct Mail
Leaflet Drops/ Flyer Handouts                                                                                                       Telephone Marketing
Social Media & E-commerce
Online PR
Offline PR
Direct Sales
Shows, Exhibitions, Events    
Joint Ventures

These are just a few of the very many marketing opportunities available to you – both online and offline – depending on the kind of business you run and what your goals are.
Something you may wish to consider is starting an email list if you haven’t already done so. Done properly, this can be a useful way of locating buyers who are interested in what you have to sell. This can be achieved by adding a simple sign-up form to your website, or by creating a dedicated ‘squeeze page’ to capture your prospects email addresses – a proven way to extend your marketing reach. Particularly if you can provide an incentive for doing so.
For example, if you are a service business you might say: ‘sign up today for a free 45-minute consultation.’ If you sell products: ‘sign up now for 15 per cent off your first order’. A small ‘bribe’ can work wonders in building your first list!
That’s not to say you should give up press advertising altogether if it’s a medium which genuinely works for you. The point is to know exactly how much each of your advertising forms costs you. And what that medium delivers in terms of sales leads and revenue.
Would that be money well spent? Or could you do better elsewhere?
A marketing or business consultant could help you with monitoring and gaining more from your advertising and marketing budgets.

Cadbury And Oreo: The Benefits Of Combining Strengths

Sometimes, when long-established brands are failing to command the sales, a wise marketing strategy is to use the time-honoured philosophy of ‘strength in numbers’. Mondelez International, the snacks company spun out of Kraft Foods which owns the much-loved British brand Cadbury, is one of the latest examples of this method in action. It has created a new chocolate bar combining Cadbury Dairy Milk and the US brand Oreo.

The new bar, called ‘Dairy Milk with Oreo’, is now available and yours for just £1.42 per 120g. It consists of a milk chocolate bar containing a creamy filling with Oreo cookie pieces – thus combining the elements for which each brand is most famous. It is expected that there will be a significant marketing investment in this new product over the coming months.

This kind of combination approach works because the holding company is already one step ahead in terms of marketing. In this case, the holding company Kraft does not have to establish an entirely new concept but is instead trading on the existing popularity and renowned quality of Cadbury and Oreo. But the combination is a clever twist as it allows consumers to look at each of these brands in a new way. In one stroke, the manufacturer has managed to rejuvenate the images of both brands and get a new product launch off to a flying start.

Kraft has already seen some success with this strategy, when in March this year it launched a new product to rival the global giant Nutella – a combination of its Philadelphia cream cheese spread and Cadbury’s chocolate. It has even customised this product to suit individual market tastes. In Germany, for example, the cream cheese is mixed with the highly popular Milka chocolate brand.

It could be said that confectionery producers in general need to find new ways to generate interest in their brands right now. Annual sales of chocolate bars fell by over six per cent over the past year. This may perhaps be down to increased awareness of the need for healthy eating, or perhaps to growing costs of ingredients such as sugar, corn and cocoa.

Added to this, it is well known that the Kraft takeover of Cadbury was not without its controversy and this caused the food giant to post a fourth quarter drop in profits of 24% in 2011. Clearly something fresh was needed, and this fusion with Oreo may well give the brand the boost it needs.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Five Ways To Spot A Bad Online Marketing Consultant

More and more people today are turning to the Internet to buy products, find local services or get information. Sadly, the number of people looking to exploit this fact has also grown. With this in mind, beware that if you are looking for an internet marketing consultant there will be a lot of dishonest people amongst the genuine professionals. The bad consultants will have very little real knowledge of the world of online marketing and will very likely charge you a lot of money but give you few results in return.

To help ensure you find the best service, here are five tips for avoiding the bad consultants:

Vague About Services: If a consultant uses vague terms to describe what they can do for you, be very wary indeed. Using ‘technical’-sounding language to talk about their services without actually telling the potential client in clear terms what they can do for them is a classic tactic of the charlatan. Another way to spot a chancer is that they will be reluctant to set concrete goals so it is hard to quantify what they have actually achieved for you. It’s a good idea, before you talk to them, to read up a little about internet marketing first so you can be ready for them if they try to blind you with impressive-sounded terms.
Wild Promises: If an internet marketing consultant tells you they can guarantee you number one search engine rankings, never hire them. It is extremely difficult, particularly in highly competitive markets, to achieve this position and it is never certain that you will be able to do so. True, it is easier in some niches where there is very little competition, but even in these cases it would be foolish and unprofessional of a consultant to make any such promises.
Cagey About Their Past: Be on your guard if the consulting company you are talking to is reluctant to give you any information about past clients. A good firm should be happy to provide you with references and also to show you examples of their previous work and where it has succeeded. If they can’t offer you this, how do you know if they have ever had any successes at all?
They Are Always Right: A good consultant will be keen to sit down and listen to what you want to achieve from using their services. Rather than tell you what you need without first finding out what your company does, they will want to adapt a marketing strategy to suit you. If they are reluctant to discuss any concerns you have, or make changes if you want them to, they are not providing you with the service you deserve.
They Won’t Talk Prices: This is so important: always, always agree on a fixed price for services before you sign any contracts. If, during early talks, a consultant keeps avoiding the issue of what their services will actually cost, run a mile! You can be pretty sure they are trying to avoid the issue and get you hooked so they can charge you over the odds and add plenty of hidden clauses to the contract so you end up paying far more than you should be.

How Does SEO Help Businesses?

We’ve all heard how SEO can help businesses boost their online profiles by improving their search engine rankings. There’s no doubt it works, if done right, but there are many different strategies and technologies involved these days so getting it right as a novice can be complicated. Hiring a specialist SEO company to do the job for you can considerably increase your sales and your standing amongst clients or key stakeholders.

The first point to remember is that SEO does not work over-night, so persevere with it. Whether you are hiring an expert is this area or attempting to do it yourself, there are a lot of different facets involved. Firstly, keywords: Ideally, when somebody types your keywords into a search engine you want your website to appear on the first page of results. To do this, you have to carry out some keyword research. Identify your target audience and find out what kinds of terms they are most likely to use. It is easier to improve your search engine rankings with keywords if you work in a niche market where there is slightly less competition.

Once you’ve found your keywords, you need to get the density right. Keyword density is the percentage of times your keyword appears on the web page compared to the total number of words on the page. If you get this right you will achieve higher search engine positions, but if your density is too high you may be flagged for what is called ‘keyword spamming’.

Links are also used  as part of an SEO strategy. These can be internal links between pages of your own website to increase the visibility of important sections. Another method is to create reciprocal links with another website to ensure mutual traffic, but this is less widely used today. Website owners also often submit their sites to website directories which will then include a back-link. Basically, the more genuine back-links to your site, the better your rankings will be.

Social media links are gaining popularity as more and more businesses turn to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build business contacts and improve their visibility. Use Twitter as an example: of course you shouldn’t include a link to your website every time you tweet, but if you are posting a particularly useful bit of information or promoting an event, it is perfectly ok to give a link back to the info on your website.

Keywords and link building are just two examples of the wealth of SEO tactics at your disposal. Other areas, such as metadata, can be more complicated. We would recommend hiring an SEO Agency, at least initially, to help you understand how strategies can be successfully implemented. In time, if you are patient, you should begin to see the results as your search engine rankings climb and your website traffic increases.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Local Exhibitions Are Perfect For Remote Worker Networking

Finding a consistent stream of new clients can be a challenging prospect, particularly if you work from home. It’s all too easy to slip into your own daily routine and become overly-reliant on your website to pull in new leads, when what you should really be doing more of is getting out there and mingling with people who might need your services.

It’s no good waiting until your client list dries up completely before seeking out new prospects. It’s vital to build networking into your marketing armoury sooner rather than later.
Pop up display banners make great exhibition and networking tools as they are easy to transport and erect whenever you want to put your business on display. And when you think about it, exhibitions are all about creating awareness of your brand rather than hard selling.

The majority of conversions will be secured after the show anyway and successful business exhibitors report that it can take anything up to a year to turn those contacts into clients, dependant on what type of business you run and how far along the ‘buying cycle’ prospects are when you are introduced to them.

If you are an artist, inventor or entrepreneur who has discovered that the right kind of exhibition is not exactly on your doorstep, you could choose to set up your own one-day event at a local cafĂ©, hotel or wine bar. The DIY option has the advantage that you will be able to custom design the event exactly to your liking – plus there will be no competition in your midst! The downside is that it can be difficult to attract the right kind of people to this type of event and that if you get it wrong there will be nowhere to hide.

Another option you have is to team up with several non-competing local businesses. If for example you run a copywriting business, you could choose to team up with a graphic designer, a web developer and a PR expert and hold a get together for local businesses who might need advertising and marketing services. This can be a very successful way of gaining new clients.

Neil and Laura Westwood, owners of the company Magic Whiteboard, who secured funding from Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, view exhibitions as an essential part of their ongoing marketing strategy. The couple recognise the importance of being able to demonstrate their products’ ‘wow!’ factor in front of an audience as the secret to making more sales.

Pop up display banners make it easy to promote your business ‘on the go.’ And the really smart thing about taking your business to a trade show or exhibition is that it is something you can profit from for years to come.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Could Facebook’s ‘Business Boost’ Initiative Benefit Your Small Business?

How does £80 worth of FREE Facebook advertising sound to you?

In May 2012 Facebook launched ‘Business Boost’ with the aim of helping UK small businesses make the most of its advertising platform. In fact, the programme is being rolled out in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, beginning with the UK and will enable 50,000 small businesses (in total) to claim their free advertising kits.

The more cynical amongst us may be saying: ‘Ha! They just want to get more businesses using Facebook – they’re tempting us with a sweetener.’ And of course there may an element of truth in this. But for those business owners currently contemplating setting up a Facebook Page anyway, it’s a win-win situation – and after all, Facebook is a proven advertising medium for businesses of all sizes.
You’ll be able to use Facebook’s free advertising alongside your regular marketing activities such as e-commerce, social media, direct mail, PR, and banners.

So how can you claim your goodies?

Well for starters you will need to have attracted a minimum of 50 fans to your FB Page to get £20 of free advertising credits. In addition, Facebook is offering an extra £60 worth of free ad credits to companies and businesses which add a further 100 fans to their Page over the course of the scheme. Kindly note, your business must be UK-based to qualify.

The Facebook Business Boost programme has attracted the support of the British Chambers of Commerce, who are running business breakfasts in six major UK cities this summer: Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Sunderland, to offer free practical advice to business owners face-to-face.

A word of caution though: When you set up your Facebook Page it must be done through the ‘Local Business or Place’ channel. Use any of the other five possible categories to set up your Page and you will not qualify for this promotion. Unfortunately, if your FB Page is already established under one of the other categories you will not be able to change it. This presumably is a reasonable precaution to stop businesses changing their status simply to get their hands on the freebies!

Successful entrepreneurs these days are recognising the need to use a combination of online and offline media such as blogging, banners, PPC, social media and PR in order to drive their businesses forward, rather than remain reliant on one or two marketing activities.

If you want to participate in the Facebook Business Boost promotion you can sign up over at the Facebook Marketing Page. Facebook is also offering a range of live webinars to help you develop your marketing skills and maximise your business or brand’s potential.