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How Small Companies can Mix It with the Big Boys!

Welcome to our blog where I give hints and tips on how to successfully market your business.

Hopefully you have read my previous blogs and have decided on your USP’s, researched the competition and prepared your marketing plan.

Now you should develop your corporate identity. A lot of people think that their identity consists of their logo, company literature, website, vehicle livery etc. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The true meaning of corporate identity is the whole experience of working with a company, from the way the telephone is answered right through the whole process of dealing with the company right up to the way the final invoice is presented, including of course the promotional material – this is the real corporate identity of a company.

Now, the interesting thing is that when you design your logo, choose the colour palette and typefaces you can make a small company look just as big and professional as it’s biggest competitors – if that is what you want to do. Too many small companies don’t spend enough time developing an identity that will stand them out from the crowd. There’s an old saying “spoiling the ship for a h’path of tar” which means for a bit of extra effort and yes, it will probably mean hiring a good graphic designer to design a really stunning image.

As I keep saying in my blogs, research the competition and see what their identities are like – make sure yours is better. A really good corporate identity will give people the confidence to deal with your company.

The next important thing is to ensure that every piece of promotional material adheres to the same image. When we start to work for a new client we sometimes get them to lay out all the promotional material on a table and ask them what does it tell them. Normally the answer is it looks as if the material comes from several different companies – what a waste of marketing money!

A lot of big companies produce corporate identity guidelines that show how every piece of promotional material should look – so their corporate identity is carried through everything – that way people will easily recognise the company and what it stands for and it raises their awareness in the marketplace.

That’s all for now, if you would like to make a comment or have any questions, place email them to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call me on 01424 813412.



 


Writing a Marketing Plan

Welcome to our blog where I give hints and tips on how to successfully market your business.

In my previous blogs I have talked about: Why Companies Should Market Themselves, Developing a Great Set of USP’s and researching the Competition. I’d now like to talk about putting together a Marketing Plan.

You can put together a Marketing Strategy but that is a fairly big document if it is done properly and if you haven’t done one before you will probably need help from a marketing expert. However, there is an alternative, it is a Marketing Plan which is a much smaller document and a quick guide to putting one together is as follows:

Almost all companies will need the very basics: a good company logo and basic identity which would consist of stationery, signage and a website (Websites are a big topic which I will deal with in another blog).

You will need to identify your target market and find out where they go to find a supplier like yourself. Is it the internet, a directory, local press perhaps or exhibitions? It is probably a mixture of several sources. Because you have already researched the competition and found out where they do their advertising (bearing in mind that they may or may not be advertising in the right places) you should now have a pretty good idea of which mediums to use.

Next, using the information above, draw up a list of activity that you think will get your name in front of your prospects in the most effective way, this may be:

  • Optimising your websites for certain key phrases
  • Attending carefully selected network meetings
  • Constructing a database and sending out a compelling direct mail piece
  • Advertising in the most effective trade journals
  • Attending an exhibition where you know your prospects will attend
  • Sending out email campaigns (this needs to be done properly, I will be dealing with this very important subject in another blog)

Then draw up a plan of which activity of what is going to happen when (a marketing calendar). You should have planned outcomes for the activity because marketing must show a good return on investment otherwise it is not worth doing.

The next thing is stick to the plan. So many companies start off with all the best intentions but then get busy and stop marketing – this leads to the peaks and troughs scenario. All big companies are marketing themselves all the time, usually by utilising a marketing plan or strategy.

Lastly monitor and review the activity on a regular basis, see which is working the best and either ditch the ones that aren’t working or change them so they do start working.

This is such a big subject of which I have only scratched the surface but hopefully it has given you food for thought.

I hope you have found this blog helpful, if you would like more information, please click here to contact us or call us on 01424 813412.



 


Researching the Competition

Welcome to another of my regular blogs giving hints and tips on marketing that I have picked up over the last 30 years, carrying out marketing for large “blue chip” companies as well as numerous smaller companies across a wide range of industries.

When you start out on a new business venture, one of the most important things you can do (as well as ensuring that there is a market for your product!) is to research the competition.

When we pick up a new client I always check out the competition to make sure that what we say in the promotional material will be more appealing than the competition. It is also vitally important for the more established companies to keep tabs on what the opposition is doing.

When was the last time you had a concerted effort to have a look at what your competitors are doing? is their website better than yours? Are they running with a great set of promotional offers?

The majority of the big corporate companies employ mystery shoppers to keep a constant eye on the competition plus also check out their own business to ensure they keep one step ahead. There are some great mystery shopper companies that will do that for you or you can do it yourself but make sure you do it regularly.

We recently started working for a bathroom and kitchen retailer and one of the first things I did was find out who the main competition was and visit them as a potential customer. The results staggered me – if I was blindfolded I could have been in any of the shops, the offerings were so similar.

This was great news, it meant that it was very easy to make my client company very different, and better, than the competition. But I’m also pretty sure that the competition will catch up as soon as they see they are being outshone, so my client will have to keep on his toes to keep one step ahead – it’s what business is all about.

I hope you have found this particular subject interesting and can introduce it to your company (unless you’ve already done it!). Look out for my next blog but in the meantime please click here to contact us or call us on 01424 813412.



 

How to Successfully Market a Business - Part 3






 


How a set of USP's (Unique Selling Points) is important for your business

Welcome to another of my regular blogs giving hints and tips on marketing that I have picked up over the last 30 years, carrying out marketing for large “blue chip” companies as well as numerous smaller companies across a wide range of industries.

When we start working for a new client one of the first things we do is decide on their USP’s (Unique Selling Points) or Points of Difference. Every company or product needs a set of USP’s. It’s these that help us choose to buy that particular product or service.

A good example is when you choose a new car:

You have a set of requirements; these may be such things as an estate for carrying the dog, leather seats, good fuel consumption etc. Then you normally pick several showrooms to visit, bearing in mind that advertising or other promotions might have already persuaded you visit a certain showroom. The salesman will point out their company’s particular set of USP’s. These might be low cost finance, 3 years free servicing, a long guarantee etc. You then decide from this list of USP’s provided by each manufacturer which car to finally choose. The final choice is always based on which set of USP’s you think best suits your needs.

Then of course there’s the wants – most of us need a car but what we want is one with sat nav, heated seats etc, this is where the salesman’s skill comes into play with upselling. (I will be writing about upselling in a future blog)

Anyway, I digress, the point I am making is that ultimately, after all the research you’ve carried out it’s the USP’s that help you choose which car you finally buy.

Exactly the same formula applies to any product or service. Before most people make a choice they will do some internet research, ask their friends for recommendations, visit different companies, then make their choice, and, as with the car simile it’s the points of difference that will help them decide.

So, it’s really important that you develop a strong set of USP’s to make it as easy and persuasive as possible for the customer to choose you.

That neatly brings me onto my next subject, researching the competition – but that’s for next time.

I hope you have found this particular subject interesting and can introduce it to your company (unless you’ve already done it!). Look out for my next blog but in the meantime please click here to contact us or call us on 01424 813412.




 
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