Thursday, 31 January 2013

What Can Marketing Companies Do For My Business?

Running or starting up a business in the current financial climate is not for the faint hearted. With any business venture there is always so much to think about and never enough hours in the day to get through the longest ever to-do list in history!

That's why it's good to know that help is out there for existing and new companies who are struggling to get themselves noticed in the busy and competitive world of commerce. Whatever product or service you sell, no matter how good it is or how much you believe in it, if nobody knows about it, you will have problems.

This is where marketing companies can help. A good marketing company is one that helps you to grow your business successfully, using a blend of technical expertise, business know-how and experience. Using tried and tested methods,  marketing companies can successfully formulate strategies that will project forward to where you envisage the business in the future.  Marketing professionals are familiar with advertising methods, public relations and how the influence of media and digital marketing is growing in business – with the help of those in the know, your business can be elevated to the top position it deserves.

By employing the services of a marketing company, you are actively helping your business to succeed. An objective and experienced marketing team will immediately identify areas in your company where improvements can be made. Sometimes being so close to the action, you are unable to see where things are  not working as well as they could. A skilful marketing pro will make an initial assessment of how your business is performing and offer suggestions as to how things can be changed to achieve positive results.

Of course the one positive result all businesses crave is more sales, higher turnover and customer growth.   Many angles are covered by marketing companies in their role to improve your trading position. From troubleshooting to mentoring, formulating digital strategies to elevating your company's name into the top search rankings,  there is plenty of fire-power in the marketer's arsenal. They can also analyse the corporate image and customer service levels of your company,  and offer suggestions where improvements could be made.

More business is done over the internet these days than face to face, and the importance of having a strong  online presence can not be over-stated. Don't allow your business to fall behind simply because you don't  possess the technological know-how. Internet marketing specialists can increase your visibility with the right target audience by using tried and tested methods –  following a thorough digital marketing re-vamp it is often the case that business queries via the internet quickly overtake those of more traditional means.

But surely all this expertise can't come cheap - how much does it cost to employ the services of marketing companies? The short answer is, whatever you invest on marketing services, you almost always make it back in increased revenue. It is wise to look at the long game and to have some kind of marketing plan. Whether you sign a long term contract with a firm of marketers who have a lengthy and detailed strategy mapped out for your business, or an outfit who offer short-term, quick-fix solutions, both are equally valid and have their place.

When To Call The Business Consultant

Running a business can sometimes be lonely. When the buck stops with you and all the responsibility for success or failure is laid at your door, it can be tough. Sometimes, when things aren't going too well, when the phone is quiet and enquiries are few and far between, it can make a lot of sense to take advice from an objective expert. Securing the services of a Business Consultant can frequently make the difference between  staying afloat and going under, and in these turbulent economic times the demand for such advisers is increasing.

When you are really close to a problem, it can be impossible to see the way out of it. When a business is struggling and everything you try to improve the situation seems to flounder, you need fresh ideas and insights from an experienced adviser. A good adviser will assess your business model, analyse your working methods and review your marketing strategy. Having examined how the business is functioning, they will report back with their opinions and ideas for how things could be improved.

Think of a Business Consultant a little like a personal trainer for your business. They will assess how fit your company is, where it can be leaner and performance enhanced. Soon they will have things running smoother, faster and more efficiently than ever and your company will have a far healthier outlook. They will have the know-how and experience to identify what makes your business special and how its unique qualities can be best marketed. Ongoing support and help with implementing changes and planning is often part of the service and frequently clients are left wondering how they ever coped without such expert assistance.

A business can be a twenty-four hour commitment and there is never enough time to think about the bigger picture. Areas such as strategy can fall by the wayside as you fight to meet the the company's demands on a daily basis. They can work to understand the way a company functions and make suggestions on how certain processes or procedures can be improved.

A Business Consultant should be used as a trusted sounding board for your hopes and dreams for the company. Don't be afraid to share your ambitions for the business. Often things you considered either too expensive, impractical or just impossible can be achieved with less effort than predicted.
Increasingly, with so much business being conducted online, to guarantee success, a heavy web presence is frequently recommended. By formulating a digital marketing strategy that meets the needs of your trading model, and can turn around the fortunes of your company quicker than you imagine.  Utilising digital marketing tools such as social media and delivering elevated search engine rankings can have a really positive effect on your company's visibility and online presence. This in turn frequently translates to business growth – which is after all, the shared goal of both client and consultant.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Is Your Business Easy To Find?

No matter how high the standard of your services and products, if your business is difficult to find, new custom will be hard to come by. The internet has made it easier than ever to find business details; from contact details to product prices, customer testimonials to company history. If your business information is not easy to find, access to your competitor’s material is just one click away.
When you want to improve your organisations visibility, hiring a marketing consultant is one option.

However, there are simple steps you can take yourself to make it easier for your customers to find you online and off:

Improve your website – In the year 2013, there’s little chance you haven’t got a website for your business, but a website is pretty useless if customers have a hard time navigating to find the information they require. Ensure that your website has an easy-to-use and professional design with clear menus and legible font faces. Incorporate sharing functionality so users can easily send page links to other web users via email or social media networks.

Get started with social media  - Not every business has the budget for an in-house social media marketing consultant, but establishing Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles for your business has become more important than ever. When a customer wants to keep up-to-date with company news and offers, social media is one of the first places they will turn. Facebook is a brilliant tool for displaying opening hours, product images and testimonials to your customers, old and new.

Utilise business directories – You may consider the Yellow Pages a thing of the past, but with deliveries made to homes across the UK each year, it still remains an essential directory for any business. YP advertising can be costly but today there are thousands of free-to-use business directories online. Both for local and nationwide marketing.

Encourage reviews – Much like business directories, review sites offer a brilliant (and often free) space to detail your company information, as well as encourage positive reviews from your existing clients. For the hospitality sector, TripAdvisor is a must use. Small businesses can maximise on local review websites as well as Google+ business pages.

Signage – Make your business easy to find in the physical world. Consider clear signage or striking shop faces for your small businesses. Add concise directions and an accurate map to your website too. Google Maps have made it easy to provide a detailed map on your website, whilst listing your postcode makes it straightforward for SatNav users.

Improve your SEO – Search engine optimisation is a complex process; with ever changing search engine algorithms it can be hard for a novice internet marketer to keep on-top of what really works. However, SEO is an essential element in making your business easy to find online. When used effectively key phrases in your business content can help your company to appear in online search listing for queries relating to the services and products that you offer.

How To Increase Your Online Sales

One sure fire way to increase your business profitability is to increase your sales, but effective marketing will be wasted if you can’t convert those who visit your website into paying customers. Before hiring the services of a business consultant, for in-depth strategies relating to your organisation, try the following steps to increase sales online:

Make your services clear – One of the biggest barriers between you and your online sales is your website home page. It’s a common mistake to try to be witty or poetic on your landing page, but clear headers that detail exactly what you offer can make a huge difference in securing custom.

Improve your CTA (Calls-to-action) – Effective calls-to-action are essential in triggering your customer to do something, whether that is: adding their name to your mailing list, browsing your products or placing an order. CTA’s should be ‘above the fold’ of your website, meaning there’s no need for viewers to scroll down.
Use concise headlines and phrases that direct action like ‘Sign-Up’, ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Contact Us’ along with colours and images that stand out in a simple and professional manner.

Emphasize the benefits for your customers – Put yourself in the mind-set of your buyers, how do your products and services really benefit them? List these benefits within your content and product descriptions. Use percentiles and statistics were possible; by how much can your software increase productivity? How fast will your new diet plan help people lose weight?

Customise your offers – For some small businesses a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not the most successful. Even when you think your audience is a homogenous group, look closer and make sure you have segmented your potential customers properly. Your actual products/services need not change, but the way you market them can.

Make sure you’re easy to do business with – Secret shop your own company. This could mean heading in store and browsing physical products or sitting back and using your business website to place an order. Is it as easy as possible to do business with your organisation? A quick review of the purchasing process can help eliminate inadvertently pushing clients away.

Display testimonials and reviews – Online business is based on trust. When we can’t see and touch products in advance, we rely on reviews, particularly if we’re making a hefty investment. The same applies to online service providers. Testimonials help build a trustworthy reputation when clients won’t have the chance to meet you face-to-face.

Make the most of social media – Today, business consultants will tell you the growing importance of social media for increasing business sales online. The amount of time and money you invest in online marketing will have a direct impact on the results you can achieve but even casual use of social networks for business can see an increase in traffic and lead generation. Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ have become staples in any organisations online presence.

Ensure a sense of urgency – If you want to make quick sales, you need to convince your browsers they need to buy now. Irresistible offers which have a limited time period are a great way to instil a sense of urgency for the buyer.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Five Flaws Of Management and Business Consultancy To Avoid

Management consultants are used by businesses of all sizes and in all areas of industry and commerce. It is true that a good business consultant can be worth his or her weight in gold; developing implementable business strategies, streamlining processes and essentially steering a company towards a more profitable future.

There are, however, certain pitfalls that are essential to avoid if your company is to truly benefit from the services of  business consultants.

1. Pre-Packaged Solutions
Too many businesses settle for ‘one size fits all’ consultancy. Your firm is unique; it has its own unique problems and therefore requires unique solutions. Any consultancy firm that fails to recognise this is ultimately going to provide a substandard level of consultancy and fail to reach the best results for your firm.

Of course, any good consultancy firm will have a set of tried and tested techniques it uses but this is very different to proposing bland, non-bespoke strategies and plans for its clients.

2. Inexperience in Your Field
Small business consultancy firms typically begin targeting a niche area of industry. As they grow, however, they may begin to diversify into other areas that perhaps their consultants do not fully appreciate or understand.

For any consultancy firm to produce real, deliverable results for your company it is essential their consultants are experts in your field. Always ask for evidence of their experience before signing any consultancy contract.

3. Lack Of Sustainability
A common complaint from businesses that have hired consultants in the past is that once the contract has come to an end or a project has finished, the results that they were enjoying suddenly disappear.
Always check a business consultancy firm has a sustainability plan. The best will offer a period of audit following a consultancy project to ensure their work is sustainable.

4. Report Only Based Consultancy
Some consultancy firms offer purely only report based consultancy. This means the consultants spend a period working in a company, auditing their books and processes, before writing an extensive report on what the firm could do better. This is the end of their involvement.

For a company to get the most out of a consultancy project the consultants need to be hands on and work alongside the firm to ensure their plans and proposals are implemented. It is very rare the implementation of a proposal will go exactly to plan and the best consultants will be dynamic and able to adapt to problems as they arise.

5. Non-Relevant Consultancy
Finally, there are so many different types of consultant it is important for a company to enlist the services of one relevant to their needs.

For example, an IT consultant may well be fantastic at setting up technology infrastructure but completely out of his or her depth in terms of website development. Both tasks fall under the category of IT but require very different skill sets and it is important the company fully understands what they require from the consultant.

What Your Business Can Learn From Apple’s Marketing

Ready . . . Fire . . . Aim . . . hey, we just launched a new product!

And so it was with the very first Apple Computer.

Yes, you did read that first bit right. ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.’ – rather than ‘Ready. Aim. Fire. ‘

Which is what the majority of businesses would do.

Many business owners have grand plans for their businesses – but (and it’s a big but) – they never take action on them. Or maybe they take action in small increments, but they don’t take the MASSIVE ACTION that will achieve their goals. In fact, some business owners will spend months poring over every word, every comma of an ad, without ever putting it ‘out there’ to be judged by its public.

That’s mainly because they are waiting for conditions to be exactly right before they do whatever it is they dream of doing. But the key thing is, it’s never going to happen. If you wait for conditions to be ‘exactly right’, you will never get your business to the place you want it to be.

Now I’m not advocating that you throw a bundle of cash at marketing your latest product or service without due diligence, but what I am suggesting is that you get your offering to market in any way you can and then assess customer feedback, modify as necessary and relaunch. There are a number of specialist marketing companies that could help you accelerate your success in this arena.

Here’s the Apple process again:
  • Ready (we know it’s not yet perfect)
  • Fire (we’re launching it anyway)
  • Aim (we’ll get customer feedback, modify our product and relaunch it)
Many software and technology firms do this to great effect. How often do you see Sensational Software V1.0 – and that’s it? No, you’ll get infinite upgrade options every now and again with many modifications and add-ons. (And hopefully, any bugs fixed!)

Procrastination for procrastination’s sake is the enemy of innovation. It can halt your company’s progress – it could even mean you get beaten to market by a main competitor.

So unless you are waiting on a patent application, or are bound by some other legal restriction where disclosing your product design too soon could be a problem, taking massive action could see your business move forward in leaps and bounds.

Why not discover how online marketing consultants can help you get your business to where you want it to be?

Ready . . . Fire . . . Aim . .  . right?

Do Your Customers Like You?

It’s no secret that we as consumers choose to buy from people (businesses and brands) we like and trust. So if I asked you what your customers think of you – do they like you? Do they love your products and services? Do they trust you? Do you know?

If you’re a fan of ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ or ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ and the like, you will know that when Mary Portas or Gordon Ramsay attempt to turn around the fortunes of an ailing retail store or restaurant, one of the first things they will do is to ask customers of that business what they think about it. What they like about it – and mainly what they don’t. Yes, it makes for compelling TV viewing, but there’s a sound resonance behind this approach also.

Namely that once you know what your customers like or don’t like about your business, you can create a strategy to address these things.

Many businesses fail because they create a product or service for which there is insufficient demand. Another reason for failure is due to poor marketing strategy. If there is a proven demand for your product or service, but your marketing messages are either not reaching the right people at the right time, or your messages are not being understood, then you will need to take steps to address this.

Customer complaints can be good for business

The most successful businesses thrive on customer feedback – not only do they encourage it – but they actively seek it.

“How was your shopping experience today? Tell us at and you could win a £25 voucher to spend on your next visit.”

And did you realise that your customers who complain could turn out to be your biggest allies? That’s right, if you acknowledge the validity of their complaints quickly and put them right, research shows that these customers are likely to become your brand ambassadors – possibly for life.

As a business owner it may be more palatable to bury your head in the sand and blindly carry on as you are. That’s perfectly natural. As human beings we all want to be liked and most of us like to think we are good at what we do, but unless you seek feedback from your customers regularly, you may never know the truth of why people buy from you and why they don’t.

You may wish to engage a marketing consultant to set you off on the right track with your customer feedback campaign. Or if you are on a tight budget there’s a really simple ‘two-minute customer satisfaction survey’ you can download from the ‘Marketing Donut’ website – just insert your business details and logo and you’re good to go. You can of course customise the feedback form as you wish.

And once you know what your customers really think about you, you will be able to drive your business forward with confidence.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Nike To Push Women’s Running Products And Digital Fitness

When it comes to sportswear, the sale of women’s clothing in the UK may well be going to outstrip that of men’s sportswear. The example of outstanding women’s sportsmanship at the London 2012 Olympics will no doubt have played its part here. Fitness and sporting achievement are things many people are all starting to take more and more seriously.

Nike, the world’s biggest sportswear brand, is looking to take advantage of this by heavily targeting women in its running category for 2013. Nike saw a 7 per cent rise in group revenue in the three months leading up to November. This has been attributed in part to the double-digit growth from its running division which it believes has been what it calls a ‘growth accelerator’ for its womens’ products.

Charlie Denson is president of the Nike brand, and has said that the running category will be growing organically through marketing and ramping up investment in product innovation throughout 2013: “If you look at the combined strength of women’s running, training and sportswear year-to-date, it is outgrowing our men’s business. Better still, our women’s business will be bringing a lot of new energy into the retail space this spring and on into the summer.

“I continue to see a lot of opportunities for (the running) category. Participation rates are growing around the world, our performance innovation is stronger than ever and apparel continues to bring new energy to the consumer.”

Basically, Nike’s strategy for the next year will all revolve around making its running, training and sportswear categories more appealing to women. Alongside this, it will be growing its range in the increasingly competitive digital fitness category. In the sector it already offers its FuelBand sports performance monitor, and in 2013 it is set to launch an accelerator scheme for start-ups to develop their own digital fitness products. All the major players in sporting goods and apparel are stepping up their activities in this area so it is certainly a key focus for future development.

According to Mark Parker, president and chief executive of Nike: “We are just beginning to tap into the potential of digital technology, but we believe the opportunity to drive growth long-term is incredible, and we will be investing accordingly to capture that potential in product, in brand and e-commerce.”