Are Marketing Issues Keeping You Awake at Night?

Cyclists hill climbing - hard work dealing with marketing issues

Having a full order book ensures a good night’s sleep. Waking up at 3am worrying where the next customers and new business is coming from is stressful.

Are any aspects of your 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. To say ‘thank you’, I’ll contribute £5 to Social Bite to buy a meal for a homeless person for every completed quizz.

Each £5 donation by Real Marketing Specialists will pay for a filling sandwich, hot bowl of soup or a coffee. See ‘suspended coffee and food’ on the Social Bite website, where you’ll also find out more about their great support for the homeless through their ‘sandwich shops with a difference’. (Limited to 50 donations).

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
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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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10 Essential Email Marketing Tips

Love It or Hate It, Email Marketing Is Powerful

Email newsletters, flyers and alerts used well with a high quality, opt-in list can be very powerful.

Email marketing is one of the most measurable ways of retaining and keeping in touch with your customers. Done well as part of a content marketing strategy, email marketing can be cost effective and deliver high returns (ROI).

But, as you know, email done badly is spam and can easily annoy your customers. You must follow the rules and best practice.

Here are 10 Essential Email Marketing Tips

1. Build high quality lists

The quality of your list is really important. Build your own email marketing list of customers and prospects. Use a double opt-in process, ideally, or, at least, a single opt in process.
I’m not a fan of bought lists, particularly big, untargeted lists. Using these could result in you being black-listed.

Be fully aware of the laws affecting email marketing, and comply. Recipients must be able to opt out easily from any email. This is a legal requirement.

Review your list to see who hasn’t opened or clicked on a link for the last six months. Provide them with a compelling offer to re-engage.

Speak to Christopher Lamotte for advice about your email marketing. I can create and send out your email newsletters from as little as £199 per month.

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How to Execute your Marketing Plan for Maximum ROI

Key to successful marketing plan is execution

Strategic planning is essential but rigorous, creative execution of marketing plans is fundamental for real success.

Unfortunately, many good plans and campaigns are spoilt by poor execution. Lots of small businesses:

  • Don’t spend enough time executing their plans, and miss deadlines because marketing is not given sufficient importance.
  • Execute their plan in a hurry and only in part.
  • Implement plans without consistent creativity and without attention to detail or discipline.

Your marketing plan must include a working action plan – a calendar of activities – with agreed owners and deadlines for each activity. It should also have a defined marketing budget and KPIs in place to measure progress.

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Is Your Business Built on Solid Foundations? If Not, Put the Strategy Back into Your Marketing

Cockenzie Power Station Being Blown Up

We need to put long term thinking back into marketing to ensure our businesses are built on solid foundations. If not, it could all blow up and come crashing down.

‘Strategy’ is all about knowing where you’re driving your business and having a clear, cohesive sense of direction; knowing where you are going means that your resources are focused and not spread too thinly.

Marketing has become too short term, tactical and dumbed down, particularly amongst small and medium sized businesses. Research shows, for example, that many small business leaders are so busy working ‘in the business’ that they spend less than an hour each month on strategy.

According to Smart Insights, 46% of businesses are doing digital marketing but do not have a defined strategy for their online marketing. A further 32% only have a maximum of annual plans, and only 12% plan more than 2 years ahead.

As managers, we often prefer action to thinking, with time pressures making us tick off the to-do list without knowing whether we are doing the right things that take the business in one direction.

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All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

Sun Tzu 1st October 2015

Marketing experts say that we can blame some of this damaging lack of strategic thinking on a potent mix of lack of time, reduced marketing budgets and the proliferation of new digital communication channels like social media. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are free to use and accessible to anyone, but can encourage short term, tactical thinking. (They are also time consuming so not really ‘free’).

Marketing strategy defined

The CIM defines marketing strategy as: “A written plan that identifies the organisation’s marketing goals and explains how they can be achieved within a stated timeframe.”

I agree and encourage my clients to capture their strategy in a short, flexible, working plan, but it is even more important to ‘think strategically’ in your decisions and actions.

Developing a marketing strategy is about deciding how best to allocate your marketing budget, your people and other finite resources to achieve the marketing objectives.

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Too Many SMEs Choosing Amateur Approach To Growing Their Business, Says Research

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The lack of experience, training and qualifications in marketing means many business owners are taking a chance on amateur marketing, rather than professional effective marketing.

CIM Survey 1st September 2015

A recent Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey found that only a quarter of small and medium businesses (SMEs) have staff with a formal marketing qualification. And, only 13% have marketing specialists on board.

The key points emerging from this research on the state of marketing amongst SMEs are:

  • 41% of companies lack general marketing skills.
  • 30% have no specific marketing experience.
  • Only 24% hold formal marketing qualifications.

This strikes a chord with my experience. The recession, marketing cutbacks and low cost or free marketing channels like social media have dumbed down marketing. I’m amazed how many people in marketing positions have little understanding of marketing, and, at best, only know about a small number of marketing communications channels. They certainly don’t understand marketing strategy.

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Creativity and Innovation for Success: Don’t be a Cow in the Rain!

Inspiring Sunset - Creativity & Innovation
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The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.

Tim Ferriss 22nd August 2015

Too many of us follow the crowd. We stick to the rules. We conform.

Yet, we know that creativity makes the difference between a mediocre business and a great one. The difference between success and failure.

A culture of creativity at home and work encourages better problem solving, more innovation, greater happiness and competitive advantage.

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Creativity is the crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value.

John Kao (Harvard Business School) 22nd August 2015

Our global marketplaces has encouraged too much focus on price competion. The less developed world is catching up and it’s taking our jobs. We have to innovate to keep ahead and charge more for superior products based on brands.

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A Summary of The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss

Microlite taking off from beach

An extraordinary book about ‘life style design’, time management, personal productivity, learning, outsourcing, travelling, enjoying life, taking mini-retirements and making the most of our time on earth. It also has lots of links to interesting, practical resources.

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I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear.

Tim Ferriss 15th August 2015

After college, Ferriss took a soul-destroying sales job at a tech firm. He left to start an even more soul-destroying business of his own. He went from working 40 hours a week for somebody else to working 80 hours a week for himself, and hated it. He was earning a lot of money, but the business left him drained.

After learning about the Pareto Principle (the 80-20 Principle), Ferriss had a revelation: he streamlined his business, eliminating distractions and automating systems until it was not only more profitable, but also took much less of his time. He took a “mini-retirement”, and then decided to write a book about “lifestyle design”, about creating a life that balances work and play, maximizing the positives of both.

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‘Content Marketing’ and Why It’s Critical to Online Success

View East Lothian - Content Marketing
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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth Godin 6th August 2015

Commit to Content Marketing

To make your website and digital marketing work for you, you must commit to publishing content. ‘Content marketing’ must be an integral component of your overall marketing strategy and is critical to online success.

“However, creating good content takes time, and not everyone likes writing or is good at it,” says Christopher Lamotte from Real Marketing. “I find a surprising number of people struggle with writing blogs and articles, due to lack of time or a (perceived) lack of writing skills. So, here are some content marketing tips and suggestions.”

Firstly, what is ‘content marketing’? It means creating content that would be of genuine value to your customers – stories, news items, email newsletter articles, social media posts and videos – to answer their questions through blogs, email, social media and video channels.

Content marketing promotes your business subtly and teaches at the same time. It is two-way and delivers trust. Today, this is essential for generating online enquiries and sales.

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The art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent or perhaps entertaining them to build an emotional connection.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of The Content Marketing Institute 5th September 2015

The content you create should not be salesy, about your products or how good your service is. Your content should be about achieving two key objectives with your target customers:

  • educating them &
  • building trust

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