All posts by Christopher Lamotte

Crisis Is Speeding Up Digital Disruption & Boosting eCommerce

Rainbow in Cairngorms_Real Marketing

The lockdown crisis is driving more of us online, boosting ecommerce and making us go virtual. So, it’s inevitable that more industries will be digitally disrupted during this tsunami of change. What will the ‘new normal’ look like in your sector?

‘Digital disruption’ can be defined as the transformation caused by adopting digital technologies and new business models.

Do you know what’s happening in your sector? Perhaps you’ve moved quickly and already invested in ecommerce, or adapted your own business model in other ways to embrace this new reality or are planning to?

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20 Ways to Continue Marketing With No Budget

Sunset in East Lothian - Real Marketing

You’ve been forced to close your shop, retail warehouse or restaurant, or stop delivering your services, and had to furlough or layoff many of your employees. It’s a very challenging and unsettling time. We’re all trying to adjust to the Coronavirus Crisis as quickly as we can.

You may have already reviewed all your marketing activity and switched off unnecessary marketing spend to reduce the cash drain. This could involve stopping planned advertising in print publications, halting Google Ads campaigns, cancelling events and shows, and turning off other communications channels across the board.

But, some businesses may react too quickly. They stop doing most of their marketing and that can be a serious mistake; analysis from previous crises and severe downturns in 1992, 2002 and 2008 shows that companies who continue to market during a serious recession are more likely to survive, build their brands and grow their profits much faster when the economy recovers and more likely to survive.

When life has settled down a bit and you have the space to think clearly, there’s a surprising amount that you can continue to do to market your business without spending much marketing budget at all. You need to have a plan for your marketing and it will involve some pivoting, perhaps some significant changes to your current strategy. You have to shift to the new normal or your business may not survive.

Remember, the aim of marketing is to buy life-time customers that provide repeat business, recurring revenues. A lot of your profits come from repeat business.

If you own an East Lothian small business (SME), you may well qualify for up to 3 days of Free Expert Help Marketing Support delivered by me through Real Marketing. See the positive feedback from 18 companies that have already benefited from the programme and apply. All businesses taking part have said that ‘they would definitely recommend this marketing support.

Please use the headings below as a checklist to help you create your own practical Zero Budget Marketing Plan with concrete actions that could help your business survive and thrive. [Please note that this blog has been split into 2 parts of 10 sections each because of its length – if you’re seriously interested, please request the full article].

1. Product Strategy

Your products are one of the key ‘Ps’* in the marketing mix that influence demand from your customers. Assess which of your products and services are worth promoting in the short term: some may have a long lead time which means that the product or service can be delivered post-lockdown; and some may be more in demand. You may even be able to create and launch new products. Be flexible and open-minded. *[Price and Promotion are 2 more of the marketing Ps.]

For products with shorter lead times, you still need to fill your order book for after lockdown. So, pre-book as much business as you can, even if customer appointments or delivery needs to be re-confirmed nearer the time.

Providing excellent customer service is more important than ever. Do the ‘critical non-essentials’, the little touches that will be remembered. Create special offers for your advocates and raving fans so that they can help you through these challenging times.

2. Selling Messages, USP & Brands

Review your unique selling proposition (USP) and selling messages, and adjust them for the current stressed environment. Your messages probably have to evolve. Be empathetic, sympathetic, supportive, kind, compassionate, positive and optimistic.

Taking the right steps will also have a positive impact on your brand: according to recent studies in Asia, brands that ‘deliver purpose in an ethical way’ during the crisis will grow twice as much as average brands.

What problems are you fixing for your customers? What are the benefits that they buy from you (not just the features)? Who are your ideal customers? What are their profiles (personas) and where are they concentrated?

As well as repeat customers with high lifetime values, you need customers that refer you. Customers who refer you are better at selling your products than you are! So, how can you encourage referrals?

I recommend… finding ways to adapt your message to help those in crisis. Avoid any messaging that would make it appear that you’re exploiting the crisis rather than providing value. …At some point, people will become tired of talking about the crisis, and you’ll be able to go back to business as usual. (AJ Wilcox, host of The LinkedIn Ads Show)

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Would Your East Lothian Business Benefit from Free, Professional Marketing Consultancy?

Rainbow in East Lothian - Real Marketing Consultants

Free Marketing Consultancy for East Lothian Small Businesses

Real Marketing Specialists are delighted to have been appointed by East Lothian Business Gateway to deliver Free Expert Help Marketing Consultancy for local small businesses (SMEs). The programme is part funded by East Lothian Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Do you have a business based in East Lothian that would benefit from some practical free support with marketing strategy and planning (including your social media and website) to grow your business?

This fully funded consultancy for East Lothian SMEs provides between 1 and 3 days of practical marketing help. At the end of it you will have spent several hours getting face-to-face advice from the marketing consultant, Christopher Lamotte, and have a working marketing strategy in a plan, as well as a clear, practical list of marketing activities to implement. Your marketing will have more clarity and focus, and you’ll have more confidence about where you should invest in marketing.

About 20 marketing consultancy projects have already been completed and feedback suggests that all the SMEs taking part have found it really worthwhile.

Is it still running during this Crisis? Yes, this practical marketing consultancy has already been delivered remotely using Zoom to 2 clients. So, I’d suggest, that now, when planning is urgently needed, is a good time to consider getting some help to fix your marketing. After a comprehensive review of all your marketing, you’ll have a plan for the next 90 days and for the longer term.

“The Zoom meetings worked very well indeed. Initially, I was quite sceptical of the idea but it was probably as effective as any face to face meeting could have been! Christopher gave us a huge amount of help, advice and pointers. It forced me to think very clearly about what we were and weren’t doing! Christopher is a very knowledgeable Marketeer.” (Phil O’Brien, Forth Blinds)

The clients were asked ‘what were the most valuable elements of the marketing support’, and they said…:

“Laying it out clearly – giving us a plan. Not using too much marketing jargon…” (Jacquie, Boardside Cafe at Foxlake)

“Putting together a planned strategy with target deadlines… Analysing our website and comparing with competitors’.” (Louise & Peter McNaught, Hurly Burly Brewery)

“The review of our current situation… The plan for the next 12 months.” (Jason Baker, Jason Baker Design)

“Thinking about my service as a product and packaging it as such.”

“Suggestions of higher pricing. Using customer reviews on our website…”

“1. defining my product 2.competitor observations 3.price review and focus.” (Michelle, Indigo Pursuit)

“1. Marketing strategy and summary. 2. Distilling a customer value proposition. 3. Marketing calendar.” (Claire Mackenzie, Venturing Out)

To apply for this free marketing support, please contact me, Christopher Lamotte, at Real Marketing on 07957 870071 or c.lamotte@real-m.com, or East Lothian Business Gateway (your business adviser if you have one). You need to complete a simple application form. Please note that this support is only available to companies based in East Lothian.

Here’s some more feedback on the overall value of the marketing consultancy:

“Really great service that was completely tailored to my business and own personal needs. Prior to these sessions I had very little knowledge of marketing and how best to utilise it for my business. I now feel much more confident and educated around marketing and the next steps for my business.”

“Christopher really flagged areas that I could improve on that I’d not been very aware of. This was so incredibly useful and gives me another way to really improve on my marketing and ultimately my sales. Hugely beneficial resource for small businesses.”  (Elspeth Fawcett, Yummikeys)

“We felt that Christopher listened to us and took account of our understanding and capabilities when it comes to marketing… We learnt about elements of marketing which we’d previously not considered such as building a YouTube channel for videos. There was also very detailed evaluation of our website which included aspects we had never before considered… It is very valuable to see the calendar with very clear targets…” (Louise & Peter McNaught, Hurly Burly Brewery)

“It was so useful to have a fresh pair of expert eyes look at our marketing. We got loads of great ideas from it and a clear action plan to carry them out.” (Mona Hashem, The Premium Bakery)

“Christopher was very helpful and thorough and listened to us the customer.” (Jacquie, Boardside Cafe at Foxlake)

“Christopher was clear, observant, knowledgeable, patient and a very good listener.” (Michelle, Indigo Pursuit)

“It has really helped us to focus our thinking and also with how we structure our year in terms of marketing.” (Claire Mackenzie, Venturing Out)

It’s really good to hear that 100% of the businesses providing feedback have said that they would definitely recommend this Expert Help Marketing Consultancy programme to other small businesses.

If you answer ‘no’ to some of these marketing questions, you may find this marketing strategy and planning support very useful:

  • Do you have a clear marketing strategy?
  • Do you have a clear unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • Are your services packaged up so that they’re easy to market?
  • Do you know whether you are spending your marketing budget in the right areas?
  • Are your website, SEO and social media really achieving your marketing objectives?
  • Are you generating and converting enough quality leads?
  • Are you making good progress in building your brand?
  • Are you making enough time for your marketing?

To apply for this free marketing support, please contact me, Christopher Lamotte at Real Marketing, on 07957 870071 or c.lamotte@real-m.com, or East Lothian Business Gateway (your business adviser, if you have one). You need to complete a simple application form. Please note that this support is only available to companies based in East Lothian.

You may also like my blog on ‘20 Ways to Continue Marketing with No Budget‘.

Free Expert Help consultancy is also available for HR, Branding, Product Packaging, SALSA, IT Security…

*The photo shows a rainbow, our symbol of hope, in the East Lothian countryside.

How to Beat the Online Trust Crisis

Online Reviews - Warning Deep Water

90% of consumers read online reviews

Being trusted by prospective customers is essential but there’s a consumer trust crisis. We all know that the internet is awash with frauds, fake news, scams and poor content.

Consumers are more cynical and savvy about marketing than they’ve ever been.

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business (BrightLocal). Similarly, 90% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which means that having good, recent reviews is essential for effective marketing.

Successful businesses need to be trusted; you need to build ‘trust capital’. This is a valuable strategic resource. If your business has high trust capital it reduces the’ trust gap’.

You can achieve this by having a secure website (with an SSL certificate), easy navigation, up-to-date content, a strong team section (because it’s one of the top 5 most visited pages on many websites), an authentic sustainable approach to the environment, offering online chat, a privacy statement, engaging social media presences and good search engine rankings.

Do you have a customer review strategy?

And, of course, you should also have very good customer testimonials and reviews.

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The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Feet and book on desk - The E-Myth Revisited Review by Real Marketing near Edinburgh

This blog is based on “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”
(by Michael E. Gerber)

I read this classic book, “The E-Myth Revisited”, and these are just some of the valuable strategic themes I’ve picked out of it.

The reason many small businesses stay very small and don’t fulfil their potential is that they are set up and run by a “Technician”. The Technician knows how to do the technical work but gives little thought to the equally important roles of the “Entrepreneur” and the “Manager”. These can be different people in your team or elements of our personalities. To successfully run a small business, all three roles must be present.

“You were a bookkeeper or a poodle clipper; a drafts-person or a hairdresser; a barber or a computer programmer; a doctor or a technical writer; a graphic artist or an accountant; an interior designer or a plumber or a salesperson. But whatever you were, you were doing technical work.” (Michael Gerber)

The blend of the Entrepreneur’s vision and The Manager’s pragmatism, together with the Technician’s technical skills are needed to build a successful small business.
Michael Gerber says that the Entrepreneurial Myth, which he calls the E-Myth, is that most founders of businesses may think of themselves as entrepreneurs but very often they are merely technicians.

“A mature company operates on a broad perspective, an entrepreneurial perspective, a more intelligent point of view, so that it works not because of you but without you. A business has to be able to survive and grow without you,” says the author.

The Entrepreneurial Model suggests that a new business must start with a focus on the customer, not with a picture of the business to be created: ”It understands that without a clear picture of that customer, no business can succeed.” This is what marketing is all about, placing the customer at the centre of everything.

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How to Win More Customers from Your Website: Improve Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimisation CRO Drives Profits on Websites Graph

“There are only two ways to get more customers and increase the return from your website – by increasing your website traffic, or by improving conversion rate optimisation (CRO),” says Christopher Lamotte from Real Marketing.

“Too many marketers and businesses focus on attracting more traffic to their websites but don’t pay enough attention to what really matters – converting more of the traffic that they already have into paying customers.

“Increasing conversion rates is less expensive than increasing traffic, especially if you already have a good level of website traffic.”

We can probably agree that the primary job of good web design is to get customers to convert. And to have a successful business, improving conversion rates is a good starting point.

As one conversion rate guru, Jeff Eisenberg, said:

“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.”

This article shares some suggestions on using customer psychology as well as tests to increase the conversion rates on your website.

Every aspect of your digital marketing, your website, presentation on portals, email campaigns, blog, and social media platforms, must be designed with your customers’ psychology built in so that conversion rates are optimised.

Your goal should be to get the potential customer all the way through your sales funnel, one step at a time. That means that each page should be optimized to nudge the customer to proceed to the next step.

Conversion rate optimisation is a science

One of the keys to CRO is testing. It’s essential to carry out analysis to determine what’s working and what isn’t. When you conduct tests and make changes based on the results, you increase your sales without increasing the amount of money you spend on marketing communications.

You should run tests to test only one aspect of your website at a time (but you must run the test for a long enough period of time).

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Why All Ambitious Small Businesses Should Build a Brand

Edinburgh Fireworks - building brands and branding

“A brand should be at the core of every ambitious small and medium sized enterprise (SME). If it isn’t, you are missing out on the value and advantages of building a brand and should review your marketing strategy,”  says Christopher Lamotte at Real Marketing.

“You don’t need to build a global brand like Google, Apple or Nike; you can build a local or niche brand, and be highly successful in your region or focused market.

“Most markets are very competitive and standing out can be hard, particularly with limited resources, but building a brand can make your business unique, helping you be distinctive.”

Many SMEs are missing out

Unfortunately, a lot of SMEs are not good at building brands. This can reflect a weak, short-term approach to marketing without enough thinking invested in developing that all-important long term marketing strategy.

The advantages of building a brand

The many advantages are that it can:

  • Differentiate your business, provide a source of competitive advantage.
  • Give a clear market position compared to competitors.
  • Give your company and products a distinct personality.
  • Give your business a clear focus.
  • Create positive attitudes and warm feelings from your target audience.
  • Appeal emotionally to your customers, which is critical when many buying decisions are more emotional than rational, in B2B not just B2C markets.
  • Reduce overall marketing costs and shorten customer journeys to buying your products by encouraging purchasers to make faster decisions.
  • Give customers a perception of superior quality, supporting higher margins.
  • Enjoy additional purchases and higher life time values as a result of brand loyalty.
  • Builds brand equity, increasing the sale value of your business for your eventual exit.

But there’s a lot of confusion about how to build a brand, so let’s start by explaining the important difference between your brand and your branding.

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Do Your Marketing Challenges Mean You’re Skating on Thin Ice?

Danger - No Skating - Marketing Challenges

Do your marketing challenges mean that you may be skating on thin ice? Are any aspects of your sales and marketing worrying you?

I’m researching the marketing issues faced by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  Are the marketing challenges and pain points that I come across, shared by your business?

To find out, please complete my 2 minute Real Marketing Challenges Quizz in confidence. Thank you very much!

Marketing today can be complex

Marketing has never been more challenging or, ironically, given us so many opportunities. The world of communications is multi-channel; there are a proliferation of new digital communication channels and tools, and they change relentlessly.

But, fortunately, the fundamental principles of marketing are still the same. You still have to focus on key groups of customers and have a clear marketing strategy, calendar of activities and budget, not to mention an excellent marketing team to execute your marketing; that drives inbound quality leads and puts your business on solid foundations for growth and real success.

Please contribute to my  2 minute Real Marketing Challenges Quizz.

At Real Marketing Specialists, I provide marketing consultancy work with ambitious small and medium sized companies on all aspects of their marketing, across all key channels, from strategy to detailed execution.

These are the marketing issues that I see, as confirmed by others in the industry.

Do you face any of these marketing issues?

  • No clear marketing strategy
  • Not managing to execute our marketing plan
  • Don’t have clear selling messages and USP
  • Wasting money on adverts
  • In our omni-channel world, don’t know which channels to focus on
  • Struggle with selling
  • Profile too low
  • Not enough time for marketing
  • Marketing budget isn’t big enough

Or, do you worry about any of these web and digital marketing issues?

  • Facing business model change and losing competitive advantage to disrupters
  • Inbound marketing isn’t working
  • Our website doesn’t achieve its objectives
  • Don’t have a digital marketing strategy

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Beat the Budget: Request a Free Marketing Budget Review

Poorboy number plate - marketing budgets

Have you spent more than £10,000 on marketing over the last year?

You’d be surprised by how many small and medium sized enterprises regularly spend over £10,000 each year but do not know what they spent it on because they don’t have a clear marketing budget.

The financial year is coming to an end for many businesses, so now is a good time to see how you can get your marketing budget to work much harder.

Ask me for a free Real Marketing Budget Review and increase the return from your marketing budget.

Too often marketing spend is ad hoc and unplanned. If that’s the case, there’s a real risk that you’re wasting valuable funds on the wrong communications channels and marketing techniques.

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Beat Your Competitors with a Clear Marketing Strategy

Thinking man statue - Real Marketing Specialists

Businesses are terrible at strategy! Executives don’t understand it. They think it is some type of witchcraft or mental endowment with which one proves one’s manhood or womanhood…

Dr Chuck Bamford (The Strategy Mindset) 3rd November 2016

Many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have a marketing strategy. This means that companies that do have a clear direction for their marketing, with a strategy and plan, can get far ahead of their competitors. It’s all about having an approach based on long term thinking.

Too often business owners and CEOs work in the business, not on the business; daily operational work consumes them so they don’t spend enough time standing back and ensuring that the business is following a clear long term direction.

You need to have a good understanding of your perfect customers, key competitors and what their competitive advantage (or USP – unique selling proposition) is.

As Dr Chuck Bamford says:

“…Strategy is … probably more like 35 percent science and 65 percent art, but there is a science. There is a process that works. If done with some rigor, applying the science of strategy will separate your company from all your competitors and allow you to earn extraordinary returns.”

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