Good marketing starts with a good foundation – here’s our recipe

Whenever I meet with a prospective client, I always ask them what their goals are for their new marketing activities.

99% of the time I get the answer I’m expecting: I want a stack of new leads.

Next, they usually talk about all the channels they think they should be using to get the leads (or, the ones they have been using that aren’t working).

But really, we’re putting the final coat of paint on the house before the foundation’s even set. There’s one huge step that needs to be completed first.

I call it a brand story, and it’s made up of five key components – business values, USP, value proposition, brand voice and key marketing messages.

It’s basically a five-point ‘self-discovery’ plan for businesses who haven’t looked in the mirror for a while. It tells anyone reading it who you are, what you stand for, what’s different about you, how you should sound in communication and what your key marketing messages are.

Pretty important, right?

It’s fundamental.

The content we develop in partnership with our clients can’t exist without a solid brand story to inform it.

And you can’t pick a channel or assign a budget before going through this process – even if you think you know what your goals are.

At The Marketing Project, we stick by the research – planning – implementation mantra for developing the perfect marketing plan. The brand story is a huge part of the research and strategy phase. We take all new clients through this process step-by-step. It’s amazing what comes out – our clients always discover new things about their own businesses.

Let me take you through it.

Your brand story, step-by-step

1. Brand values

Any business leader should watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’. It’s a bit of a sacred text in the business world.

Simon’s idea is simple: people don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. 

Great leaders aren’t afraid to say what they think. To give a crap about changing the world (or at least their industry) for the better. Great brands are no different.

People buy from you because they like the journey you’re on and they want to ride shotgun. That’s why it’s so important to have your brand values nailed down.

 

2. Your USP

Finding your unique selling proposition can be a tricky one for some brands to identify. Not because they aren’t doing great, unique stuff, but because sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective.

Clients we work with are quick to cite aspects of the business that they think are unique, but often we find that it’s an aspect of the business that they hadn’t even given a second thought.

There are a million guides on Google to finding and articulating your USP. Some of them are good, and a lot of them aren’t (just like USPs). Or, you know, you could just talk to us.

 

3. Value proposition

So you’ve found your ‘why’ and your uniqueness – it’s all smooth sailing from here!

It’s time to do a value prop.

These can have a bad rap – often they’re the product of boardroom compromise, and say way too much without actually saying anything. Actually, this should be one of the most exciting parts.

Basically, this is ‘what’s in it for me?’ time for your audience.

Your value proposition should answer a few key things:

  • What you offer;
  • Who it’s for;
  • How you solve your customers’ problems;
  • What benefits you bring;
  • And why you’re different (which you should already know from #2).

The good news is that once you come up with this, it’s going to get plenty of airtime. Your value prop, perhaps with a little editing, should be the first thing that people see on your website. It should be on the business cards. Hey, it should even be on the wall of your office.

Here’s ours for reference, from our brand-new homepage:

Now try creating your own – let me know how you go!

 

4. Brand voice

Think of your brand voice as a character that does all your talking for you. If you were going to have a mascot – your own Michelin Man – how would they talk? What would they say?

As you start to answer these questions you can put together your own brand voice.

This can be as simple as three words, e.g. ‘creative, mature and charming’ – a couple of guidelines – e.g. ‘we talk straightforwardly and don’t use technical jargon’ – or a 20-page document, depending on what kind of business you are and how much content you think you’ll be creating.

From our point of view, the more you can flesh this out, the better (our copywriters love detail). Don’t worry, it’ll get used – this will be the voice you speak in on your website, on social media, in your advertising and in your content marketing.

 

5. Key marketing messages

It’s time to mix these all together, blend them up and create some beautiful marketing message soup.

Your key marketing messages are the statements that you take to the market, stand up proud and say ‘buy my stuff!’.

You should have several (we go for 3-5) per audience segment.

Here’s what makes for a good one:

  • Explain to people who you are, and why they should care;
  • Show how your product/service solves their problems;
  • Separate you from your competitors;
  • Demonstrate the value you bring;
  • And speak in your very own well-defined tone of voice.

These messages can form the basis for content you create, or work on their own in your marketing and advertising.

 

Now go and build your foundations!

Yes, the point of marketing is to get that stack of new leads. But to get there, we need to introduce some process. Working through these steps is the best way to get started.

A cohesive foundation like this is the jumping-off point for your content strategy.

Just remember these steps:

  • Define your values (why you exist)
  • Find your uniqueness (why you and not someone else)
  • Communicate your value (why now?)
  • Establish a tone of voice (how you speak)
  • And determine those super-important key marketing messages.

Want some help? Get in touch. We’ve taken lots of clients through this process and we’d love to help you too.

8 Questions to ask your potential marketing agency BEFORE you sign anything

If you’re looking for a marketing agency in Melbourne or Sydney, you’ve got a lot of choice.

There are the big multi-nationals, plenty of digital in-betweeners and a few plucky little agencies who serve their niches well (like us!).

So the question becomes not ‘who’s the best?’, but ‘who’s the best for me?’.

Let us help you make the right choice.

Here are a few questions you need to be asking any digital marketing or creative agency you think you might like to work with. They can dazzle you with a fancy office or a comped lunch, but there’s no hiding from these 8 grenades. Write them on your hand and don’t leave the room until you’ve had them all answered.

  1. Who will be my main point of contact day-to-day?

We’ve seen it plenty (and it’s happened to us in past lives) – the boss or creative director nails the pitch, then handballs you to a rookie and escapes up the tunnel.

It’s obviously unrealistic to deal with the business owner for every interaction – and having youth on your case can be a good thing – but you want to know there’ll be a senior marketer frequently looking at your account.

  1. What do your clients like about working with you?

A good agency should be proud of the feedback they get from their clients.

And if they’re a good agency, they’ll have had plenty of good feedback.

The trick is to read between the lines and decide whether that’s what you’re looking for. Just because a marketing agency is well reviewed, doesn’t mean you’ll like it.

  1. How do you manage projects?

Before you start a working relationship with an agency, you need to know what project management processes and systems they have in place. It’s really important that they gel with yours because it’s inevitable that you’ll end up using some of them.

It also needs to be scalable. If they’re a good agency they’ll be very busy, which puts the pressure on their workflow.

So – check how they do the following:

  • Project management (we use Monday.com because we find it really easy to keep on track and share stuff with clients)
  • File sharing/hosting (we use Dropbox)
  • Document editing (we use Google Drive as it doesn’t require any software download for clients)
  • Time tracking – do they know how long things take, or are they just guesstimating your quotes and invoices?
  1. How is your team structured?

There are many different ways to structure a creative agency. They all have their strong points, but one will suit your company best.

Most have full-time employees, plus a few contractors and maybe a partnership with other (specialised) marketing businesses. It’s important to know which aspects of your work will be handled in-house and which will be outsourced. Also, it’s good to know where your agency’s suppliers are located.

If their team is in different places, ask how can they’ll ensure your projects will be handled collaboratively and delivered on time.

  1. What do you do to keep your team’s skills current?

Marketing changes almost daily. You need to know that your people are going to keep up.

If you find an agency that regularly sends its employees to courses, great; if you find one that does its own experimenting, even better.

  1. Do you specialise in specific industries?

This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker – after all, you wouldn’t expect your agency to know more about your industry than you do. With some industries, though, it helps to have some experience – especially when dealing with regulation or peculiarities.

  1. Are you working with any businesses that compete with mine?

Again, not always a deal breaker, but a potential issue. Some agencies don’t work with competitors as a rule. Clients can (understandably) see it as conflict of interest, but it can also be a good thing to specialise (especially if you’re in one of those tricky industries from question six).

  1. Why do you want me as a client?

This is a cheeky question to test they’ve bothered to do their research.

Ideally, you’re looking for them to have a good base knowledge of what you do and why you do it, and an idea of the direction they see your digital marketing strategy taking.

Another point to consider…

When you’re picking an agency it’s important to differentiate between those that make you feel good and those that will do good for you.

Do they just nod their heads and do what you ask for, proclaiming you a genius of marketing? Or do they provide advice based on what they think is best for your business?

Yes, you want an agency that’s easy to deal with – but there’s little to be gained from a supplier that just follows your instructions. You want them to disagree with you (if needed) and come up with ideas and campaigns you haven’t requested to get the best result for your business and budget.

Like this? Want to know more? We’re The Marketing Project, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne. Get in touch here.

Four Ways to Use Customer Service as a Marketing Strategy

Providing ultimate satisfaction to your customers is one of the very best ways to sell your business: just look at big brands such as Amazon who use their incredible customer-centric service as a calling card that other businesses are now modelling themselves on.

Marketing and customer service go hand in hand, so it’s important to focus on ensuring that both arms of your outreach are exceptional. Why spend time, effort and money on increasing your brand awareness and lead generation marketing only to not retain those customers by offering a poor customer service experience?

It’s important that when you win new customers, your client service team can wow them with the products and services you offer. But the relationship between customer service and marketing shouldn’t end there. Great businesses continue to market to their customers at every stage of their journey, and even beyond the purchasing process. If you aren’t selling to your clients in this way, then you are missing a tremendous opportunity.

But achieving high levels of customer satisfaction isn’t always easy, particularly if you don’t have a huge Amazon-style customer service team behind you. So how can you use your existing customer service strategy as a marketing tool? And what are the benefits of choosing to do so?

Here are four strategies to help you harness the power of customer service and use it as a marketing strategy:

  1. Make Use of Social Media

Social media has revolutionised the way that brands of all sizes can engage with their customers and has blurred the line between marketing and customer service. Customer service and marketing teams should share the responsibility for engaging with customers and potential customers on social media, but for many businesses, it’s the marketing team responding to enquiries and complaints on social media. When your marketing team is involved in providing social media support, alongside experienced customer service team members who know how to engage and respond to your client base, your customers will receive the best possible engagement, and this experience will encourage them to come back again and again. Collaboration is critical here.

  1. Benefit from Online Reviews

User generated content (UGC) is one of the best forms of marketing, and one of the best ways of creating it is through positive online reviews. Great reviews are often generated because of excellent customer service and are one of the easiest and most obvious cross overs between the customer service and marketing teams.

  1. Handle Complaints with Ease

As your business grows and changes, so will the number of complaints you’re likely to need to handle: some customers will like the changes you make to your business and some simply won’t. How your client service team deals with this can result in good and bad PR for your business, so it’s important that you handle this well. By approaching this area of customer service engagement with a marketing head, you can turn even the most negative feedback into a marketing opportunity.

  1. Listen, Listen, Listen

Growing your business is hard work, and while this is exhilarating, it can also be very draining. When you’re busy building a business, it’s easy to become so focused on growth and dealing with any issues (and problem customers) that the clients who aren’t causing any issues get left behind.

However, it’s important to remember that these happy customers are the ones that you should focus on to help you progress your growth. Ask your satisfied customers questions and listen, listen, listen. Their feedback is essential to help you work out what you’re doing that’s working and what areas of your business are ripe for change. A good customer service team will be able to feed back this valuable information to your marketing team to help with future campaigns and progress your business growth. 

One of the best ways to boost sales and improve customer satisfaction is to get your customer service and marketing teams to work together, and then wait for the results to role in!

Need any advice on how you can use your customer service strategy to boost your business? Our own excellent customer service team are only a tweet, call or email away 🙂

Choosing the right marketing structure to scale up your business

A few years ago, you were probably sitting around the kitchen table wondering how you could get your business started. There was just you, and a cup of coffee. Before long, you’d hired a part time support person as the work started to come in; and today – you have a small team around you.

Sound familiar?

So what’s the next step? Scaling up. And how do you do that?

Obviously marketing is a part of this, but effective marketing needs a great backing team and if you want to know the best way to get the right support as your grow – keep reading.

There are a lot of options out there and it’s easy to get frazzled while you’re trying to assess them all, so we wanted to help by providing you a summary of three structures for a marketing team that can help you grow your business to the next level.

Structure One: External Team managed by an Internal Marketing Employee or You

Pros: Having an external marketing team working for you means you have a range of expertise, and it’s not just one person trying to do it all. If you have someone in the office managing the team and reporting to you; or if you have the time to manage it yourself, you can make use of existing resources. That means, you don’t have to pay someone to work 40 hours a week for you as you would if they were employed by you.

Cons: Managing a team of marketers can be time consuming, so you need to ensure you have someone available on your current payroll who has both the time, and the skills, to manage external suppliers. Or, if you’re planning on doing it yourself – do YOU have the time?

Structure Two: External Team with External Marketing Manager

Pros: By outsourcing 100%, you won’t have any added strain or stress on your existing team members. You’re getting the expertise of a range of external marketing suppliers and the expertise of a trained marketing manager. You can also rest assured knowing that these people are 100% focused on marketing and are not going to be distracted by other operational tasks that are involved in running your business.

Cons: It’s going to take some time to find the right team and manager. Where do you search? What do you look for? It could be a long process of trial and error (or you could find the perfect assistance straight away). You need to make sure you invest enough time to make informative decisions.

Structure Three: Internal Team with Internal Marketing Manager

Pros: If you’re working with a team that you already have on board (or you’re planning on hiring), you get full visibility of all team members and can control what they’re doing and when. And if anything isn’t running efficiently, you can address it immediately in-house.

Cons: If you’re using existing team members they may not have the skills to deliver all marketing activity effectively and efficiently – or they may need extra training. If you’re planning on hiring someone new specifically for the job, this can be a long and tiring process. It’s expensive, and as you’re no doubt aware, it can be hard finding the right person to fit seamlessly in with your company’s culture.

Marketing your business to scale up is not a decision to take lightly and it’s important that you weigh up the positive and negative aspects to decide what option fits better with your company’s marketing requirements. Hopefully we’ve helped make the decision a little easier for you.

And if you need any advice, we’re waiting to take your call.

How To Manage a Remote Marketing Team

It’s amazing how much technology has changed in the last 10 years and as far as I’m concerned (and as Randy Bachman once sang) – we ain’t seen nothing yet! Without a doubt, when you look at how much has changed, we can safely assume that the biggest changes when it comes to technology are yet to come.

Once upon a time, a time long ago before technology was raring (which, in actual fact, was not so long ago) when you left school, you’d start working, and you’d likely stay in the same job right up until when you retired. It was the thing to do and there was even a name for them – “Company Men” – and it wasn’t uncommon for these people to spend 30+ years in the same job. According to social research firm McCrindle though, in 2015 the average time spent in a job was just 3.5 years. That means, between the age of 18 and 75, the average Australian will have 17 jobs, dabbling in five different careers.

And today, it’s the freelancers, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and mumpreneurs who are making all the headlines. Not to mention 1 in 3 Gen Y’s and 1 in 4 Gen X’s today have a university degree, compared to 1 in 10 people over the age of 70. It’s an exciting an innovative world and it’s full of change.

When it comes to marketing, while the traditional marketing agency model still works, this change that we’ve come to expect can actually have a huge impact, particularly when it comes to those agencies that have a focus on small to medium size businesses as clients. And it’s not only for agencies.

Clients themselves have a lot more options available to them; not only for suppliers, but also for DIY tools. Agencies and marketing suppliers have learned fast that they need to adapt, become more agile and more responsive to their client’s needs. If you don’t, you’ll get left behind and essentially, your business won’t survive.

Don’t get me wrong here though. I’m not talking about going cheap. Anyone who is worth their knowledge won’t scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to price and no agency or professional wants to win the title of “lowest price”. I know I certainly don’t. What I’m talking about is being innovative in their approach to delivering projects.

Innovation leads the market

One way to remain competitive as an agency is to work with a remote marketing team. This can come in many formats, but the example I’m basing my advice on is the outsourced marketing department model: this where you’ll have one person (an employee or outsourced marketing manager) managing a team of suppliers from different marketing disciplines.

So, how do you go about it? I recommend you follow these five steps:

  1. Select (and support) your team as you would an employee. You want to aim for long term relationships – that way the suppliers get to know your brand, style and business in detail. Invest the time in meeting with them and interview them via Skype so you can actually get to know the person you’re working with. Check their references and testimonials. And once you’ve chosen a team member, schedule in regular Skype meetings so you can maintain the relationship.
  2. Don’t break the budget, but don’t expect something for nothing. There’s a guaranteed saying in business – you get what you pay for. And sure, you can get someone who is willing to charge you $5 per blog post or $5 for a logo or email campaign; but don’t expect more than $5 worth of value. That’s not to say you have to pay a fortune, outsourcing can certainly be cost effective if you choose carefully.
  3. Run a small trial project. I’m always looking for fantastic marketing suppliers that I can bring into my team, but I’m careful to never ‘test’ anyone’s skills on my client’s work. I always run a small trial project first and that helps me check the following:
    • Can they do what they claim to be able to do within their discipline
    • Do they communicate well and are the responsive
    • Do I like working with them
    • Do they like working with us
    • Can I put them in a client facing role if needed?

If someone ticks all the boxes, then I generally have no problems in them being a long term team member.

  1. Manage them as a team. You want to ensure everyone who is working for you knows each other, their roles in the business and ensure they can contact others on the team if necessary. Businesses that operate in silos don’t work – and it’s no different when it comes to managing an outsourced, virtual team. Set up an easy to collaborate tool (such as DaPulse) that enables conversations to happen around projects that involve multiple people. That way you keep all the information in one, easy to access, place. Set up systems and processes just as you would for employees, and schedule regular meetings. It not only helps to keep your team on track, but also helps you stay updated.
  2. Be flexible. This is imperative when it comes to outsourcing. The best person for the job might not even be in your time zone, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t suitable. Allow for this when you’re scoping projects. You also want to allow extra time for feedback and ensure employees are fine with calls and Skype chats outside normal office hours. A team that’s spread around the world are going to have different working styles, and this could be of major benefit to your business. If the end result is good, accept distance and put the right systems in place to ensure everyone feels integrated. That’s when the best results are achieved.

So the key is, take your time and select the right people for the right job. Don’t always go for the cheapest options, but choose the options that provide quality work (without breaking the bank). Trial them before you give them major jobs, otherwise you risk setting yourself up for failure. Manage them as a team, not individuals. And be flexible – don’t discount anyone because they are internationally based; they could end up being the star of the team.

And if you follow these five steps, you’re on your way to successfully managing a team – allowing you more time to focus on the aspects of the business that need you the most.

Email Automation Doesn’t Have To Make You Cringe

If you’re anything like me, you hear the term “email automation” and cringe. It sounds so icky and impersonal, doesn’t it? The thing is though, and this is something I’ve learnt over time, if it’s done the right way, it’s actually the exact opposite.

Email automation can actually provide your prospects and customers with a tailored experience; showing that you understand them and their needs.

I first realised the possibilities that email automation held for business owners when my mentor at the time, Susan Jones from Ready Set Start Up, suggested I trial Active Campaign. You’ve probably heard of it.

There are other great platforms out there too, including Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor, but I tried Active Campaign and liked it – so it’s been my tool of choice ever since. I love the user interface and how easy it is for ‘non-techies’ to understand. And simplicity is crucial for business owners because we’re so busy wearing multiple hats.

So what are the benefits you can see from email automation?

Firstly, you can show your customers that they’re important. You can do that by using separate automations with targeted content for different audience segments. This way, you’ll show your customers and prospects that you really do understand them, rather than just lumping them all in the same “monthly newsletter” bucket.

Through email automation, you can get clear data on who downloads your content so you can nurture your prospects with the information they want. If you’re someone that loves stats and figures, you’ll be able to report on who downloads what and who clicks on what links. Over time, this will enable you to create clearer customer profiles.

Email automation saves time in the long run. I’m not going to argue – it takes time and effort to get successful automations up and running. But the thing is, once they’re done, they’re nurturing your prospects and customers for you with little input needed.

It can shorten your sales and marketing cycle and help you make the most of the resources you have. Instead of a continued “just following up” email or call, your sales team (or you – if you’re a solopreneur) can instead focus on adding value to your prospects through the use of targeted and informative content.

You can sort the valuable leads from the not-so-valuable. By monitoring the interaction your contacts have with your email automation, over time you can provide contacts with a score as to how valuable a lead they are.

You’ll increase customer retention. We all know the saying “it’s cheaper to maintain an existing customer than win a new one”. Automated campaigns that are created using targeted and valuable content; can go a long way to demonstrating to your existing customers why they should stay with you.

When it comes down to it, as small business owners, we generally get a lot of emails every day. So the one thing you want to ensure your email automations do is to set you apart from other companies or contacts. Be creative, but also ensure you choose the right audience for the right topic. Email automation doesn’t have to make you cringe and it can, in fact, be extremely beneficial to both you – and your intended target. Go about it the right way, and you’re further on your path to marketing success.

Repurposing Content – a Guide for Busy B2B SMEs

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to bring success to your business, but having a marketing plan in place will certainly help. As I mentioned in our earlier post on what works and doesn’t for marketing, having a plan in place is the key to providing your business with the right online coverage.

And of course once you have that plan, you need to action it.

Over the years, I’ve noticed the one thing many business owners don’t realise is exactly how important your written content is for promoting the business. They think it’s all about the pictures and a great logo – and while yes, these do have a major effect on branding itself –it’s actually the content that is most likely to sell.

And with online marketing taking over, your content has become even more important.

Here’s what I mean. You might look at a photo of Angkor Wat on Facebook and it looks amazing; but what is it? Where is it? And how do you get to see it? Click the attached link to the blog page and voila! There’s an amazing story about a tour that will take you to see this amazing piece of Cambodian history. Sold!

And now we’ve also hit the nail on the head with this article’s heading – repurposing content.

Not only is the content itself important, but how you use that content can make all the difference with online marketing. Not sure what I mean?

Here it is in simple terms. If you write a blog about a trip to Cambodia and post it on your website; you’re targeting people on your website and that’s great – but they are already there anyway. So what you want to do is attract NEW people to the site and to do that, you need to post through other sources as well.

Right now you’re probably thinking two things:

“How much content do I need to produce then?”

And/ or “I don’t have time for that!”

Trust me when I tell you it’s not as hard as it might seem. In fact, it’s as easy as allocating the job to someone else! That way, all you have to do is approve what is being written and watch the magic work. If you’re a sole trader, don’t worry – you can still find an amazing freelance copywriter that will do it for you; and if you choose someone of varied writing experience, they may even do a better job!

Okay, so now you have your plan and you have your writer. Let’s talk about how you can repurpose that content to make the most out of all elements of online marketing. Here are 15 great tips to get you on your way:

  1. Turn your blogs into tweets

Twitter is so easy to use: all you need to do is write under 140 characters, include a link to your blog, and away you go. Grab some of the best lines or the key points from your blog; something that is going to grab people’s attention and make them want to read more. And then use a program like Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social to set them up and send out.

  1. Audio posts

These are great to include on your website. If you have longer blog posts and you’re thinking “no one is going to stick around to read all of this”, turn it into audio. Get someone with a great voice to read it (male or female) and give people something exciting to listen to when they’re stuck in all that peak hour traffic.

  1. Post to LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn is a great networking source for every business but particularly B2B ones. And it includes benefits like LinkedIn Pulse, where you can post your blogs for a different and targeted audience. The thing is, when you post a blog on your website, you know exactly the kind of person who will be reading it. When you post a blog on LinkedIn, you’re targeting a different audience – and the response you get might surprise you.

  1. LinkedIn Groups

If you’re a member of any particular groups on LinkedIn, choose part of your blog that is relevant to each group, start with that as your intro, then post it into the group to target a range of your target audience. Just remember to take the time to read and respond to anyone’s comments.

  1. Produce a Guide / Ebook

Ebooks – everyone is doing it these days! Why? Because they immediately turn us into experts in our field? Kinda. But they also work. If someone is reading your blog every day, it’s because they love what you write and they find something useful in your information. And if you have a range of topics that are similar, then why not offer it as a guide, or ebook, so people can download it as a full document, rather than switching from page to page on your website. Get yourself a designer who can put them all together into a nice looking PDF, add a cover page and credits, write an introduction and conclusion and start promoting it on your website, social media, online advertising. It’s a great way to get people to sign up to your newsletter as well – “sign up today and get a free ebook on…” Everyone wins.

  1. Create an Opt-In Product

This could be your ebook or guide like I’ve mentioned in point 5; or you can look at a particular post that has received a lot of engagement. Expand on that single post and turn it from 300 words into 3,000 words; then offer it to anyone who subscribes to your newsletter.

  1. Facebook Notes

You’re not alone if you have no idea what Facebook Notes is, but it allows businesses to post anything to their business Facebook page – and that includes your blog posts. I highly recommend you check it out and it’s easy and quick to use.

  1. eNewsletters

There’s nothing I hate more than getting e-newsletters that are the size of a book; but there’s nothing I love more than getting e-newsletters that offer great advice! So if you’re looking at sending an e-Newsletter and you’re stuck for content, get one of your blogs, cut it back so it’s around 200-300 words, add a fantastic image and send it away.

  1. Create a Graphic

Create a series of images that represent what you’re talking about so you can post them over social media. For example, if I was to do a graphic on this blog, I’d turn these 15 points into images. Get a designer in, or have a go yourself. You can do this in Canva if you don’t have access to Photoshop or InDesign.

  1. Infographics

These are a great way of distributing any statistics or numbers you might have used in your post. Share it on your blog and on your social media channels.

  1. Third Party Publications

This is a great idea for blogs, particularly if you’re writing HOW TO blogs or anything that will be helpful to a particular audience. Sites like eHow and Ezine take articles from writers around the world to be shared based on topics. You might also go offline and check out any local newspapers or magazines that could be interested in the information you have to share. Make sure you include a backlink to your website in anything that is printed online, or a short bio and web address if it’s a print publication.

  1. Guest Posts

Take a look online and see if you can find any blogs that follow a similar topic style to yours. You don’t want this to be your direct business competitors, but rather people who operate in a similar industry and target the same audience. Give them a call or send them an email and pitch an idea for a guest blog post for their site. Ask if they have a particular word length, tell them a bit about the topic and see if they’re interested. You could also join sites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Sourcebottle as an ‘expert source’. If they do accept what you have to offer, you could even become their “go-to” when they’re looking for experts on that particular topic.

  1. Post Generation from Customer Queries

Frequently asked questions are a great place to start when coming up with ideas for blog topics. Whether you’re a service provider or you’re selling products, someone has no doubt come to you, the sales team or your support desk with questions: use the most common ones and turn the answers into a blog post.

  1. Turn Your Posts into a Presentation

There are two types of people: those who look at the pictures and those who look at the words. Cater to both of these by creating a presentation that you can promote on your website, use for training purposes or share on Slideshare. It’s a great way to turn long posts into bullet points that everyone can read and understand.

  1. Live Streaming Videos

One of the latest and greatest ways to market on Facebook is by using Facebook Live, where you can send out live videos to your audience. Whether this means reading some of your blog or simply telling people about it live online, why not give it a try?

So, to recap I like to put it this way: Why use something once to target a hundred people, when you can use it 15 times to target a million? One piece of quality content can go a long way as a marketing tool, so don’t let them go to waste.

If you need some help getting your repurposing off the ground, give us a shout and we’ll guide you along the right path.

 

How to get the Best Value from your Marketing Suppliers

Marketing. Did the mere mention of the word give you a shiver down your spine and dollar signs in your eyes?

Unfortunately in the business world, marketing is traditionally a dreaded word many business owners cringe at. It doesn’t have to be that way.

It astounds me every day how fast the world of marketing can change and the things we’ve seen evolve in the past 30 years, 20 years … even 10 years, are amazing!  10 years ago, Facebook was only just starting to hit the social world. Crazy.

When I first started in the corporate world, our money was spent on newspapers, TVs, radio advertising, and sending out thousands of brochures to thousands of homes across local regions – possibly getting 1 hit per 100 brochures, if we were lucky. Now we can hit millions of people globally and it doesn’t have to cost much at all, as long as you have the right preparation; and a great team working with you to create engaging content.

Yes, I will agree marketing CAN cost a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean it has to. As a business owner, and particularly a small business owner or a start-up, finances are not always readily available and with the little funding you do have, you certainly don’t want to be wasting it.

So here’s a little secret I’d like to share with you… it doesn’t matter what your budget is as long as you are getting the best value from your suppliers.

Sounds simple right? It can be.

So, how can you do that? Follow these great tips:

  1. Prepare design guidelines.

It doesn’t have to be a textbook, but if you create a great PDF document that you can provide to any design contractors, you’re going to make marketing a lot less expensive for yourself, and a lot less time consuming and confusing for the designer. Simply send the guidelines across with your instructions on the job, and there will be fewer questions back and forth (which means less hours banked).

The guidelines should include:

  • Your logo, and any instructions on how it can and can’t be used
  • Your corporate fonts
  • Your corporate colour palette with Pantone or CMYK breakdown (ask your logo designer to give you this)
  • Your preferred style of image
  • Any other graphics that are part of your branding
  1. Prepare a brand pack

This is where you can keep all of the things I’ve mentioned in the first point. Dropbox or OneDrive are both great options for this – and both are free to a certain extent. In the folder you should put:

  • Colour and mono logo in high res jpg, eps, png and pdf formats
  • Brand icons if you have any
  • Images and illustrations that are particularly relevant to the business and marketing
  • Font files, if you use non-standard fonts
  1. Write a detailed brief

When you first make contact with your designer and/or copywriter, be very specific about what you want done. Don’t give them any waffle and get to the point. If you DON’T want something done a particular way, tell them. If you want a specific style of writing, tell them. They aren’t mind readers so don’t give them basic instructions and then get annoyed if they come back with the wrong design for you. Be very specific and give them plenty of information up-front. The more time they spend asking you questions, the more money you spend paying for their time.

  1. Give them deadlines

If the project is something quite major (such as website design or a series of brochures), create a timeline. Map out the timeframe so everyone knows what is involved, when it’s due and who is completing the task.

  1. Internal Feedback

If you work alone, you don’t need to worry about this, but if you’re in charge of a team of people, allocate one person to liaise with your suppliers. Don’t have emails going back and forth between 10 different people as this will not only confuse your supplier but will also waste their time and your money.

  1. Prepare a brand voice document

When you’re marketing your business it’s important you keep to the same style in order to establish your branding. And that includes in your writing. If you’re getting a contractor to do any copywriting for you, create a brand voice document that explains to them the guidelines for your brand. That includes:

  • The tone and style of your brand’s copy
  • Specific words and lexicon you use
  • How you write specific words (such as your business name and products) – for example, the Australia TradeCoast region of Brisbane is often shortened to TradeCoast, however according to brand standards, this is not acceptable. You need to make this clear to your suppliers.
  1. Samples

No doubt when you’ve been compiling your marketing plan you’ve seen some great ideas and some terrible ones, great content and terrible content. Print them off or save them into a file in the cloud. That way you can show your suppliers what you love vs hate so they know what to do and what not to do.

  1. Be open and honest

You need to be completely honest with your suppliers. If you don’t like what they have done in a first draft, give them a full explanation of what you do want in the second draft. Get into specifics. If they are good at their job, and if they value your business, they’ll work with you to achieve the best results for your brand and budget.

Just remember your suppliers aren’t mind readers, so you need to be clear and specific about what you want.

And if you need help getting on track with your marketing, contact us today.

We audited ourselves and this is what we found

If you own a business, there’s no doubt you know how important it is to keep your finances under control; particularly when there is always a risk of being audited. Those dreaded men and women in their suits coming in, looking through every single little detail, every single invoice you’ve ever sent, every single receipt… it’s a great way to know (or find out) how your business is really doing in the grand scheme of things.

And let me tell you, marketing is no different.

If you wake up on a Monday morning, head into the office, and you’re 100% confident the marketing you’re doing for your business is so spot on, it would pass any auditor’s test … then don’t bother reading the rest of this article.

But if you head in to work to start the week, and you’re not really sure what’s going to happen over the next few days (ie. Will you get customer’s coming through your door? Will you have enough sales every day to pay all the salaries?), then an “audit” could actually come in very helpful so you can see where you’re at, and where you can improve.

It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, or over-prepared, and when it comes to marketing your business. Essentially, you’re grabbing the bull by the horns – and you can either ride it through every hump and bump; or fall. But you have to be gloves-on, ready.

I was recently considering where marketing is at with The Marketing Project – honestly, even marketers get too busy for marketing (ourselves). And it’s helpful to at least know we’re practicing what we preach (or are we?); so I thought I’d do my own audit on where things stand.

Here are some of the things I looked at:

  1. The visual design of the website. Is it consistent? Does our brand stand out, and does it properly reflect what we want the business to portray?
  2. The content we’re sending out to clients and potential clients. Does it all adhere to our brand story?
  3. Marketing activity. Are we doing the right types of marketing to suit the objectives of our business and our marketing plan?
  4. Our plan. Are we sticking to our 3 month and 12 month goals?
  5. Could we be doing any better with particular aspects of our marketing?

Now, I have to be honest with you. There were many things I found that I really liked. BUT there were some I didn’t. Considering we spend all of our time helping other businesses succeed in their own marketing, and actually, as a result of this; we had some actions of our own that had slipped through the net. We’ve been so busy looking after everyone else, that we overlooked some of our own things and there were some marketing pieces we’d used ourselves that I wasn’t proud of.

So what did I do?

  1. I researched my target audience (again) to ensure we were still focusing on the right people.
  2. I put my marketing first. I prioritised it as though I was doing the work for a client.
  3. I went back and took a look at my branding and messaging to ensure there was consistency throughout.
  4. I opened up my Marketing Plan and made some reviews, updating the information to reflect my business and marketing goals, which had changed over time.
  5. I built a new website.

What I’m trying to say it that it’s never too late. I might be a marketing professional, but I’m no different to my clients when it comes to implementation. Life gets busy and we spend so much time working for others, we forget to take care of ourselves.

It is time consuming.

It can be frustrating.

But it’s also worth it!

Marketing you’re proud of doesn’t happen by accident; and if you want to see results, you need to make sure you’re on the right path. If you think your marketing might be falling to the wayside, take the time to carry out your own “audit”; and if you’ve done something amazing this week to help your business succeed, let me know. I’d love to see it.

How to Research Your B2B Audience

When it comes to your B2B audience, it’s important that you stay in sync with their needs and preferences. Unfortunately: you’re not psychic (or if you are, you are probably using your abilities for something greater)… the good news though, is that you don’t actually have to be.

You don’t need to pay a fortune (or tell someone’s fortune) to get to know your audience. In other words, you don’t need a massive marketing research department to do the research for you. It’s actually a LOT easier than you think and simply comes from utilising the people you already have.

So if you want the inside scoop on your B2B audience, try implementing some of the following actions:

  1. Send your existing customers an email survey. Better still, give them some sort of incentive to complete it. People don’t do much for free these days, but they LOVE to win stuff! Got a sample product you were sent from a supplier? Give it away as a prize – and everyone who sends a survey goes in the draw to win.
  2. Post a survey onto your social media channels and in LinkedIn groups and ask those who respond to share their comments directly in the post. It’s a great way to keep track of the responses.
  3. Give your customers a call! Sure, it might seem a little old fashioned picking up a phone and talking to someone (I can almost hear you gasp), but it actually works. Your customers are more likely to share invaluable information if they’re talking directly to you, so get some questions together and get talking.
  4. Use your sales team to gather information. Sales reps aren’t just there to make money, they are your front-line assets and using their abilities can be a highly positive experience. Get the sales team to ask customers a few simple questions whenever they liaise with them; and then have them write down the responses for you. Get them to make it part of the conversation rather than an actual interrogation.
  5. Read any inquiries you receive via email and phone and keep an eye out for common questions, complaints or information requests. Doing this will help you find out if there are gaps in your current service or product. If more than one person complains about a single aspect, you know it’s time to do something about it. For every 2 people who officially complain, there are 5 more out there thinking it. You’ll also be able to use this data to create new opportunities.
  6. Keep an eye on upcoming trends and changes in your customer’s preferences by joining industry associations. You’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest expert advice and articles. And considering some of this information is only available to members, signing up is a good idea to stay informed.
  7. Stalk your competitors… in a perfectly legal sense, of course. Check out their websites, social media, etc; and find out what they are talking and writing about. If they know what they’re doing, they’ll be doing it right – so with any luck, you’ll learn something new about your audience.
  8. Read books or academic journals. Head to your local library and check out some of the academic research that has been completed in your field. You might even find scholarly articles that include demographic information about your B2B audience.
  9. Use Google AdWords planner to research the general search terms your target audience are using.
  10. Get some of your actual customers together for a focus group. Set an agenda and have a list of discussion topics so you don’t head off track. These customers might be able to tell you some new wants or needs you weren’t aware of.

There’s no doubt that finding out who your B2B audience really are, is imperative to marketing success. Research doesn’t have to be an expensive process that breaks the budget; and as we’ve mentioned there are plenty of other ways you can leverage the resources you have already. Give them a try and let us know how you go. We’d love to hear if they did, or didn’t, work for you.