marketing and advertising tips how to write a strategic marketing plan or business strategy, marketing and advertising tips, internet and website marketing tips marketing index A simple guide to marketing, strategic business planning, advertising and promotion and sales lead generation, for small UK businesses especially. With tips and techniques for advertising and PR, for non-marketing managers, and for marketing and advertising professionals too; this is marketing and advertising made simple. Also some easy tips on website design, internet advertising and marketing.
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While much of this marketing theory page was written a while ago generally the principles apply just the same, if fact many of these basic pointers are good reminders of some of the simple things that are easy to overlook in these modern distracting times. Incidentally, where references are made to the UK there will commonly be equivalent methods and processes and suppliers that are applicable in other countries. N. B. Spelling: mainly for search reasons, UK-English and US-English spellings of organisation/organization are used on this page. Aside from this, the preferred UK-English spellings are generally used.
Change the spellings for your own situation if using these materials in teaching and training notes. a fundamental aspect of modern marketing First, here’s something that is fast becoming the most fundamental aspects of marketing to get right, especially if you want to build a truly sustainable high quality organisation (of any size) in the modern age: Ensure the ethics and philosophy of your organisation are good and sound. This might seem a bit tangential to marketing and business, and rather difficult to measure, nevertheless… Price is no longer the king, if it ever was.
Value no longer rules, if ever it did. Quality of service and product is not the deciding factor. Today what truly matters is ethical and philosophical quality – from the bottom to the top – in every respect – across every dimension of the organisation. Modern consumers, business buyers, staff and suppliers too, are today more interested than ever before in corporate integrity, which is defined by the organisation’s ethics and philosophy. Good sound ethics and philosophy enable and encourage people to make ‘right and good’ decisions, and to do right and good things.
It’s about humanity and morality; care and compassion; being good and fair. Profit is okay, but not greed; reward is fine, but not avarice; trade is obviously essential, but exploitation is not. People naturally identify and align with these philosophical values. The best staff, suppliers, and customers naturally gravitate towards organisations with strong philosophical qualities. Putting a good clear ethical philosophy in place, and communicating it wide and far lets people know that your organisation always strives to do the right thing. It’s powerful because it appeals to people’s deepest feelings.
Corporate integrity, based on right and good ethical philosophy, transcends all else. And so, strong ethics and good philosophy are the fundamentals on which all good organisations and businesses are now built. People might not ask or talk about this much: the terminology is after all not fashionable ‘marketing-speak’, nor does it correlate obviously to financial performance, but be assured; everyone is becoming more aware of the deeper responsibilities of corporations and businesses in relation to humanity, and morality, the natural world, the weak and the poor, and the future of the planet.
Witness the antagonism growing towards certain multi-nationals. People don’t rail against successful corporations – they rail against corporations which put profit ahead of people; growth ahead of of society and communities; technology and production ahead of the natural world; market domination ahead of compassion for humankind. None of this is right and good, and these organisations are on borrowed time. People increasingly prefer to buy from, deal with, and work for, ethical, right-minded organisations.
And whether an organisation is ethical and right-minded is becoming increasingly transparent for all to see. So be one. Aside from which – when you get your philosophy right, everything else naturally anchors to it. Strategies, processes, attitudes, relationships, trading arrangements, all sorts of difficult decisions – even directors salaries and share options dare we suggest. And it need not be complicated. The ultimate corporate reference point is: “Is it right and good?… How does this (idea, initiative, decision, etc) stack up against our ethical philosophy? Organisations are complex things, and they become more and more complicated every day. A good ethical philosophy provides everyone with a natural, reliable reference point, for the tiniest detail up to the biggest strategic decision. So as you start to write your marketing plan, be it for a new start-up, a huge corporation, or a little department within one, make sure you put a ‘right and good’ ethical philosophy in place before you do anything else, and watch everything grow from there. marketing index arketing planning process – how marketing fits into overall business planning. marketing is more than selling and advertising – other issues to consider branding, advertising and promotion – simple and important guidelines types of advertising media – different methods and their uses. direct marketing, advertising, and the law – notably the UK Data Protection Act and Preference Services for telemarketing, fax, mail, etc. tricks of the trade – secrets of effective printed advertising and maximum response.
PR – make the most of public relations – use press releases for free advertising and publicity. newsletters – for staff and customers. website and internet marketing tips – simple tips for internet websites and online marketing. surveys and questionnaires – process for designing and organizing employee surveys and customer surveys training/information event new business/enquiry generation method – a proven effective process for gaining new business See also (on other pages): usiness planning – includes free strategic planning templates, samples and examples sales and selling – methods, processes, theory, techniques – help for developing selling propositions and sales strategies business networking – how to – tips, methods, ideas marketing and business planning – and fundamental organisational philosophy, purpose, values, and ethics a modern planning framework for a business or organisation First it’s helpful to revisit, check or define the foundations of your business or organisation. What are your fundamental aims and values?
What is your ultimate purpose? Is your underpinning philosophy congruent (consistent) with your planned business activities, operations and aims? (See the leadership page for explanation of how underpinning purpose and philosophy are so important for leadership, as well as for strategy and marketing. ) Below is a simple template for checking that you have the foundations and building blocks in place. If not, then decide (as far as you can, because it’s generally the CEO’s call) what they should be, because all good marketing plans need to have solid foundations first.
As regards the fundamental philosophical aspects see the section on ethical organisations and corporate responsibility. This is deeper than tools and processes and mission statements – having a sound philosophy and ethical position determines and protects the spirit and integrity of your organisation. When it comes to defining more detailed aspects of mission and strategy, of course there’s degree of ‘chicken and egg’ here: How can you know your Mission until you validate it with your potential customers? How can you establish objectives and goals without consulting and involving your staff?
These later stages obviously need to be put in place and refined when you are in position to do so without guessing or assuming, as the planning develops; even so, use the framework as a firm reminder to make sure you fill in the boxes when you are able – don’t leave these issues floating undecided, or defaulting back to X-Theory autocracy (which they generally do where a vacuum exists). If in doubt, always err on the side of what is good and right and proper, which is another good reason for having a sound ethical position: it always provides a reliable reference point.
In the absence of everything else – tools, processes, clarity of responsibility (who does what), etc – having a sound and well understood philosophy and ethical position will always help people to make good decisions. Build from the bottom upwards. Consult and involve people affected and involved wherever relevant. You will see many different versions and interpretations of this framework. The principles are similar although the words might change. A business or an organisation is built on values and philosophy.
Increasingly in the modern age, customers and staff are not prepared to sustain commitment to organisations whose philosophy and values are misaligned with their own personal ideals. Ten years ago organisational planning paid very little regard to values and philosophy. Customers were satisfied with quality at the right price. Staff were satisfied with a decent wage and working conditions. Today things are different. Organisations of all sorts must now cater for a more enlightened workforce and market-place. When considering these planning stages start from the bottom upwards.
This will help to reinforce the point that planning is about building from the foundations upwards, and that the stronger the foundations, then the stronger the organisation will be. Start at the foundations (point 1 below) and work upwards. 8. Our Performance IndicatorsHow do our Targets and Objectives translate into the essential measurable aspects of performance and activity? Are these expectations, standards, ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPI’s), ‘Service Level Agreements’ (SLA’s), etc. , agreed with the recipients and people responsible for delivery? 7.
Our Targets and ObjectivesHow are our strategies comprised? How are these responsibilities and activities allocated cross our functions and departments and teams? Who does what, where, when, how, for what cost and with what required effect and result? What are the timescales and measures for all the actions within our strategies, and who owns those responsibilities? 6. Our StrategiesHow will we achieve our goal(s)? What needs to happen in order to achieve the things we plan? What are the effects on us and from where? Like planning a game of chess, what moves do we plan to make, why, and with what effects?
How will we measure and monitor and communicate our performance? What are the criteria for measuring our performance and execution of our strategies? 5. Our Goal (or several goals in large or divisionalised businesses)What is our principal goal? When do we plan to achieve it? How will we measure that we have achieved it? At what point will we have succeeded in what we set out to do? Goals can change of course, and new ones necessarily are developed as old ones are achieved – but at any time we need to know what our organisation’s main goal is, when we aim to achieve it, and how its achievement will be measured.
And again all this needs to be agreed with our people – including our customers if we are very good indeed. 4. Our Mission (or Missions if there are separate businesses within the whole)How do we describe what we aim to do and be and achieve? What is special about what we are and do compared to any other organisation or business unit? Do our people understand and agree with this? Do our customers agree that it’s what they want? 3. Our Vision – dependent on values and philosophy. Where are we going? What difference will we make? How do we want to be remembered? In hat ways will we change things for the better? Is this vision relevant and good and desired by the customers and staff and stakeholders? Is it realistic and achievable? Have we involved staff and customers in defining our vision? Is it written down and published and understood? The Vision is the stage of planning when the organisation states its relationship with its market-place, customers, or users. The Vision can also include references to staff, suppliers, ‘stakeholders’ and all others affected by the organisation. 2. Our Values – enabled by and dependent on philosophy and leadership.
Ethics, integrity, care and compassion, quality, standards of behaviour – whatever the values are – are they stated and understood and agreed by the staff? Do the values resonate with the customers and owners or stakeholders? Are they right and good, and things that we feel proud to be associated with? See the section on ethical organisations for help with this fundamental area of planning. 1. Our Philosophy – fundamentally defined by the leadership. When things go wrong in an organisation people commonly point to causes, problems or mistakes closer to the point of delivery – or typically in operational management.
Generally however, major operational or strategic failings can always be traced back to a questionable philosophy, or a philosophical purpose which is not fitting for the activities of the organisation. How does the organisation relate to the world? This is deeper than values. What is the organisation’s purpose? If it is exclusively to make money for the shareholders, or to make a few million for the management buyout team when the business is floated, perhaps have a little re-think. Customers and staff are not daft.
They will not be comfortable buying into an organisation whose deepest foundation is greed and profit. Profit’s fine to an extent, but where does it fit in the wider scheme of things? Is it more important than taking care of our people and our customers and the world we live in? Does the organisation have a stated philosophy that might inspire people at a deeper level? Dare we aspire to build organisations of truly great worth and value to the world? The stronger our philosophy, the easier it is to build and run a great organisation.
See the section on ethical organisations for help with this fundamental area of planning. If you are an entrepreneur or leader, or anyone contributing to the planning process, think about what you want to leave behind you; what you’d want to be remembered for. This helps focus on philosophical issues, before attending to processes and profit. Whatever your philosophy, ensure it is consistent with and appropriate for your organisational activities and aims. Your philosophical foundations must fit with what is built onto them, and vice-versa.
When you’ve satisfied yourself that the fundamental organisational framework is in place – and that you have gone as far as you can in creating a strong foundation – then you can begin your marketing planning. marketing planning Carry out your market research, including competitor activity. Market information should include anything you need to know in order to formulate strategy and make business decisions. Information is available in the form of statistical economic and demographic data from libraries, research companies and professional associations (the Institute of Directors is excellent if you are a member).
This is called secondary research and will require some interpretation or manipulation for your own purposes. Additionally you can carry out your own research through customer feed-back, surveys, questionnaires and focus groups (obtaining indicators to wider views through discussion among a few representative people in a controlled situation). This is called primary research, and is tailored to your precise needs. It requires less manipulation, but all types of research need careful analysis. Be careful when extrapolating or projecting. If the starting point is inaccurate the resulting analysis will not be reliable.
The main elements you typically need to understand and quantify are: •customer profile and mix •product mix •demographic issues and trends •future regulatory and legal effects •prices and values, and customer perceptions in these areas •competitor activities •competitor strengths and weaknesses •customer service perceptions, priorities and needs Primary research is recommended for local and niche services. Keep the subjects simple and the range narrow. Formulate questions that give clear yes or no indicators (ie avoid three and five options in multi-choices) always understand how you will analyse and measure the data produced.
Try to convert data to numerical format and manipulate on a spreadsheet. Use focus groups for more detailed work. Be wary of using market research organisations as this can become extremely expensive. If you do the most important thing to do is get the brief right. Establish your corporate aims. Business strategy is partly dictated by what makes good business sense, and partly by the subjective, personal wishes of the owners. There is no point in developing and implementing a magnificent business growth plan if the owners wish the business to maintain its current scale. State your business objectives – short, medium and long term.
Mindful of the trading environment (external factors) and the corporate aims (internal factors), there should be stated the business’s objectives. What is the business aiming to do over the next one, three and five years? These objectives must be quantified and prioritised wherever possible. Define your ‘Mission Statement’. All the best businesses have a ‘mission statement’. It announces clearly and succinctly to your staff, shareholders and customers what you are in business to do. Your mission statement may build upon a general ‘service charter’ relevant to your industry.
The act of producing and announcing the Mission Statement is an excellent process for focusing attention on the business’s priorities, and particularly the emphasis on customer service. If your business is modern and good you will be able also to reference your organisational ‘Philosophy’ and set of organisational ‘Values’, both of which are really helpful in providing fundamental referencing or ‘anchoring’ points, by which to clarify aspects of what the organisation or business unit aims to do, what its purpose is, and how the organisation behaves and conducts itself.
Define your ‘Product/Service Offer(s)’. You must define clearly what you are providing to your customers in terms of individual products, or more appropriately, services. You should have one for each main area of business activity, or sector that you serve. Under normal circumstances competitive advantage is increased the more you can offer things your competitors cannot. Develop your service offer to emphasise your strengths, which should normally relate to your business objectives, in turn being influenced by corporate aims and market research.
The tricky bit is translating your view of these services into an offer that means something to your customer. The definition of your service offer must make sense to your customer in terms that are advantageous and beneficial to the customer, not what is technically good, or scientifically sound. Think about what your service, and the manner by which you deliver it, means to your customer. In the selling profession, this perspective is referred to as translating features into benefits. The easiest way to translate a feature into a benefit is to add the prompt ‘which means that… . For example, if a strong feature of a business is that it has 24-hour opening , this feature would translate into something like: “We’re open 24 hours (feature) which means that you can get what you need when you need it – day or night. ” Clearly this offers a significant benefit over competitors who only open 9 – 5. Your service-offer should be an encapsulation of what you do best, that you want to do more of to meet your business objectives, stated in terms that will make your customers think ‘yes, that means something to me, and my life will be better if I have it. Write business plan – include costs, resources and ‘sales’ targets. Your business plan, which deals with all aspects of the resource and management of the business, will include many decisions and factors fed in from the marketing process. It will state sales and profitability targets by activity. There may also be references to image and reputation, and to public relations. All of these issues require some investment and effort if they are to result in a desired effect, particularly any relating to increasing numbers of customers and revenue growth.
You would normally describe and provide financial justification for the means of achieving these things, together with customer satisfaction improvement, in a marketing plan. Quantify what you need from the market. Before attending to the detail of how to achieve your marketing aims you need to quantify clearly what they are. How many new customers? Limit of customer losses? Sales values from each sector? Profit margins per service, product, sector? Percentage increase in total sales revenues? Market share required? Improvement in customer satisfaction?
Reduction in customer complaints? Response times? Communication times? Write your marketing plan. Your marketing plan is actually a statement, supported by relevant financial data, of how you are going to develop your business. “What you are going to sell to whom, when and how you are going to sell it, and how much you will sell it for. ” In most types of businesses it is also essential that you include measurable aims concerning customer service and satisfaction. The marketing plan will have costs that relate to a marketing budget in the business plan.
The marketing plan will also have revenue and gross margin/profitability targets that relate to the turnover and profitability in the business plan. The marketing plan will also detail quite specifically those activities, suppliers and staff issues critical to achieving the marketing aims. Being able to refer to aspects of organisational Philosophy and Values is very helpful in formulating the detail of a marketing plan. Back to marketing index. marketing is more than selling and advertising Marketing provides the means by which the organisation or business projects itself to its audience, and also how it behaves and interacts in its market.
It is essential therefore that the organisation’s philosophy and values are referenced and reinforced by every aspect of marketing. In practical terms here are some of the areas and implications: There are staffing and training implications especially in selling and marketing, because people are such a crucial aspect. Your people are unlikely to have all the skills they need to help you implement a marketing plan. You may not have all the people that you need so you have to consider justifying and obtaining extra.
Customer service is acutely sensitive to staffing and training. Are all your people aware of what your aims are? Do they know what their responsibilities are? How will you measure their performance? Many of these issues feed back into the business plan under human resources and training, where budgets need to be available to support the investment in these areas. People are the most important part of your organisation, and the success of your marketing activity will stand or fall dependent on how committed and capable your people are in performing their responsibilities.
Invest in your people’s development, and ensure that they understand and agree with where the organisation is aiming to go. If they do not, then you might want to reconsider where you are going. Create a Customer Service Charter. You should formulate a detailed Customer Service Charter, extending both your mission statement and your service offer, so as to inform staff and customers what your standards are. These standards can cover quite detailed aspects of your service, such as how many times the telephone will be permitted to ring until the caller is gets an answer.
Other issues might include for example: How many days between receipt and response for written correspondence. These expectations must also be developed into agreed standards of performance for certain customers or customer groups – often called Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). Increasingly, customers are interested to know more about the organisations’ values and philosophy, which until recent times never featured in customer service charters or customer decision-making criteria. They do now. Establish a complaints procedure and timescales for each stage.
This charter sets customer expectations, so be sure you can meet them. Customers get disappointed particularly when their expectations are not met, and when so many standards can be set at arbitrary levels, think of each one as a promise that you should keep. Remember an important rule about customer service: It’s not so much the failure to meet standards that causes major dissatisfaction among customers – everyone can make a mistake – the most upset is due to not being told in advance, not receiving any apology, not getting any explanation why, and not hearing what’s going to be done to put things right.
Establish systems to measure customer service and staff performance. These standards need to be absolutely measurable. You must keep measuring your performance against them, and preferably publishing the results, internally and externally. Customer complaints handling is a key element. Measuring customer complaints is crucial because they are a service provider’s barometer. You need to have a scheme which encourages, not discourages, customers to complain. Some surveys have found that nine out of ten people do not complain to the provider when they feel dissatisfied.
But every one of them will tell at least a couple of their friends or relations. It is imperative that you capture these complaints in order to: •Put at ease and give explanation or reassurance to the person complaining. •Reduce the chances of them complaining to someone else. •Monitor exactly how many dissatisfied customers you have and what the causes are, and that’s even more important if you’re failing to deliver your mission statement or service offer! •Take appropriate corrective action to prevent a recurrence.
Most organisations now have complaints ‘escalation’ procedures, whereby very dissatisfied customers can be handled by more senior staff. This principle needs extending as far as possible, especially to ensure that strategic intelligent complaints and constructive feedback (all immensely useful) are handled by someone in the organisation who has suitable strategic appreciation and authority to recognise and act appropriately. Many organisations waste their most useful complaints and feedback by killing it dead at the initial customer service outer wall.
Complaints and feedback are gold-dust. Encourage it and use it wisely. There are implications for ICT, premises, and reporting systems. Also relating to your business plan are the issues of Information and Communications Technology – are your computers and communications systems capable of giving you the information and analysis you need? What type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is most appropriate for your needs? Premises – Have you got too little or too much space? Is it all being used to its best effect?
Is the reception area designed well? What do your customers and personal callers think of the decor and the layout? If car-parking is difficult do you make any effort to warn people coming for the first time? Who needs to be based in an office and who is best based at home? These are complex issues which need addressing – don’t just assume that things are okay as they are. Reporting systems – It is said that if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it, and where finance and business performance is concerned that’s certainly true.
If there’s an aspect of your service or performance that is important can you measure it? How do you report on it and interpret the results? Who needs to know? Who needs to capture the data? When you get a new customer (for an ongoing transaction) do you ask how they heard of you and why they chose to give you a try? Communications and ongoing customer feedback are essential. Having an open dialogue with your customers is vital. There’s a double benefit to your business in ensuring this happens: •You nip problems in the bud and stay aware of how you’re performing. Your customers feel better about the service you provide as a result of the communications, or from the fact that the channel is open even if they don’t use it – it’s human nature. Try to devise a standard feedback form. It can double as a promotional tool as well if it’s made available on a wider scale. The form can carry details of your mission statement, service offer and your customer service charter. Back to marketing index. branding, advertising and promotion Here are some guidelines on branding, and for planning and managing advertising and promotion activities for small businesses.
The principles transfer to very large businesses. In fact many very large organisations forget or ignore these basic rules, as you will see from the featured case-study example. branding Branding refers to naming a business or product or service. A brand will typically also have a logo or design, or several, associated with it. Businessballs is a brand. So is Cadbury (a company brand, although now a division of a bigger one), and so is Milky Way (a Cadbury product brand). So is Google (so big a brand and a part of life it’s become a verb, ‘to google’). So is Manchester United (upon which a vast merchandise business has been built).
And so increasingly is your local school, hospital, and council. Brands are everywhere. If your name is John Smith and you start a landscape gardening business called John Smith Landscape Gardening, then John Smith Landscape Gardening is a brand too. Branding is potentially a complex subject because it extends to intellectual property and copyright, trademarks, etc. , for which, if you are embarking on any significant business activity, you should seek qualified legal advice. When doing so contain your ambitions and considerations (and your legal fee exposure) so hat they are appropriate for your situation. There is much though that you can decide for yourself, and certainly a lot you can do to protect and grow your brand so that it becomes a real asset to you, rather than just a name. General guidance about business and product names, your rights to use them, and ways of protecting them, are provided (for the UK) via the UK Intellectual Property Office website. Many of these principles apply internationally, although you should check your local laws for regions beyond the UK and especially beyond Europe.
Aside from the legal technicalities certain basic points should be considered concerning branding: •Brand names must be meaningful and memorable in a positive relevant sense. Ideally your customers should associate your brand(s) with your business, your quality, and perhaps some other aspects of your trading philosophy and style. •Choose your brand names carefully. Product and business brand names carry meanings. Meanings can be different among different types of people. If possible test possible brand names with target customers to see what the market thinks, rather than relying only on your gut instinct on your friends’ opinions. If your business is serious, and certainly if it is international – you must seek advice about the international meaning of branding words and the rights and protections implications of those words. •As a general rule, but not a consistent point of law, you are usually much safer in terms of avoiding risk of breaching someone else’s rights to a brand name if you use a generic (properly descriptive) word or phrase to brand your business or product, than if you use a made-up name, or any word which does not properly describe your business or product. For example – if you open a pet shop in Newtown and you call it (give it the brand name of) ‘Newtown Pet Shop’ then probably this will not breach any existing protected rights belonging to someone else in the pet business. If instead you want to call (brand) your pet shop ‘Petz’ or ‘Furry Friends’ then there is a strong likelihood that someone else might already have protected such a brand name, which could give problems for you in the future, especially if your business becomes big and successful, or you wish to sell it one day, or if the rights-owner happens to be particularly aggressive in protecting their rights. It takes many years to build trust and reputation in branded names (of businesses, services, and products) so making frequent changes to business names and brand names is not a good idea, and in some cases even making a single change can produce surprisingly powerful problems. See the case-study example of ineffective branding and organization name changing below. •If you must change a brand name, and there are times when this is necessary, you should plan (unless there are strong reasons for ceasing the previous brand) a transition which customers and the wider market-place understand.
An obvious solution is to phase the change by merging the old and new brand names. The UK Nationwide Building Society is a good example of this when it joined with the Anglia Building Society. For several years the new company was then branded the Nationwide Anglia, only dropping the Anglia when the market fully recognised the change. Commonly executives and agency folk managing a new brand name project tend to overlook the sensitivities of customers who know and trust the old brand, and this is especially risky to customer loyalty and business continuity wherever a brand with a strong reputation is replaced. Beware of creative agencies giving you advice that’s more in their interests than yours and your customers. Brands and advertising are primarily communications with customers, they are not works of art or the personal statement of a designer. The creative aspect of a brand (particularly design or logo) must be of good quality, but the creative element is not an end in itself. Often the best solution is the simplest one, because customers understand it. Always ask youself – “Will people understand this (brand or brand image/communication)?
Will it be meaningful to my target audience, and does it truly fit with what I’m trying to do in my business? ” branding and name-change – case-study example – how not to do it For very many years the UK government department responsible for business was called the DTI – Department for Trade and Industry. The DTI was formed in 1970. It was a merger of the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Technology. The name DTI was effectively a brand. It was a government department, but in all other respects it was a massive branded organization, offering various services to businesses, and to regions and countries also.
The DTI had a logo, a website. It had staff, a massive target audience (of billions globally), customers (effectively, tens of millions), a huge marketing and advertising spend, including national TV campaigns, posters, informations brochures, and every other aspect of branding which normally operates in the corporate world. The organization name ‘the DTI’, was an obvious and recognised abbreviation of ‘Trade’ and ‘Industry’, and this described very clearly what the department was responsible for.
Not surprisingly, the DTI name developed extremely strong brand recognition and reputation, accumulated over 27 years, surviving at least two short-lived attempted name changes during that period (each reverting to DTI due to user critical reaction) – until the name (brand) was finally killed off in 2007. For more than a generation, millions and millions of people recognised the DTI name and knew it was the British government’s department for business. Many people also knew the website – if not exact the exact website address, they knew it was ‘www. dti…. (something or other)’.
Simply, tens of millions of people in the UK, and also around the world recognised the DTI as Britain’s government department for business. For people in business, this is a very substantial advantage for any organization to have. In a corporations, this sort of brand ‘equity’ is added into balance sheets, and can be valued at many ? millions. Then in 2007 the government finally forced through a name change, and the DTI was replaced, with, wait for it… The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform – BERR. Twenty-seven years of brand equity and reputation gone, just like that.
BERR became instantly the most forgettable, least logical, and most stupid departmental brand in the entire history of government department naming and branding cock-ups. No-one knew what it stood for, no-one could remember what it was called, and no-one could understand what it was supposed to be doing even when it was explained. Even the term ‘business enterprise’ was a nonsense in itself. What is business if it’s not enterprise? What is enterprise if it’s not business? And what is ‘regulatory reform’ in the context of business and enterprise? Hardly central to international trade.
It was a bit like renaming Manchester United Football Club the Trafford Borough Playing Fields, Caterers and Toilets. Not surprisingly BERR didn’t last long, and duly in 2009 the government changed the name again to BIS – (the department for) Business, Innovation and Skills. Let’s see how long this name lasts. I’ll give it a year or two at most. It’s only taxpayers’ money, so the enormous costs and wastage caused by this recklessness and poorly executed strategy are not scrutinised like they would be in a big company. You can perhaps begin to imagine the costs, losses and other fallout caused by changing such a well-established rganizational name and presence, twice in two years. The case-study does however provide a wonderful example of re-naming/re-branding gone wrong on a very grand scale. available mix of advertising methods Advertising is a complex business and an ever-changing science. New ideas and media uses are being devised all the time, and as the advertising industry switches emphasis from media to media, and as new technologies and lifestyle trends develop, so new advertising and promotional methods need assessing and comparing with traditional available methods as to which is more or less cost-effective for your given purposes.
For example through the 1980s and 1990s there was a huge trend towards direct mail (junk mail), which seems to show no signs of abating – many very large consumer brands switched significant advertising spending into direct mail, often switching away from TV. TV on the other hand is increasingly attractive to small local businesses. Loyalty schemes demonstrated significant success rates through the 1990s through to present times. Internet advertising is arguably now more popular than radio advertising – the importance of websites and internet listings are very significant now for small local businesses just as much as larger corporations. Viral marketing’ (exploiting electronic communications and the ‘word of mouth’ instinct) is an example of a new method of advertising that simply never existed until about the mid-1990s. Advertising methods change with lifestyle and technology developments – learn what’s available to you – learn what your competitors are doing. Read about advertising methods and developments and trends. Historically (1980s-90s) advertising agencies were commonly ‘multi-services’ agencies, and split their operations to handle the creative, production and media-buying processes.
Nowadays however, multi-services agencies are far less common – the range of advertising methods is so vast that advertising agencies are now most commonly specialised in one or a small number of advertising services (types of advertising), because there’s so much to consider and to use. Whether you work with an advertising agency or not, learn about the methods that are available to you – keep up with developments so you can make informed decisions about where to put your advertising emphasis, and what ‘mix’ of methods to use. choose methods according to cost, targeting and response
Any campaign can be broken down in terms of cost per thousand, and if you are seeking a direct response, it should be monitored according to cost per response and also cost per conversion. Advertising cost per thousand includes cost of origination (design), production (printing if relevant) and media (such as local radio, display advert, list procurement and postal fulfillment). Generally you will pay a higher cost per thousand for better targeted methods, but in return you should expect a higher response rate, so the cost per response can be lower than cheaper methods. Choose advertising and publicity methods that suit your targeting.
Organisations selling advertising are able to provide a lot of information about their readership/audience, and you can look at other advertisers that repeatedly using various media to gauge how effectively it’s working for them, which will provide some clues as to how well it might work for you. Are they targeting the same audience as you? If so you it’s an idea to call them and ask if the particular advertising method is one they’s recommend or not. Getting and building evidence of advertising effectiveness is a vital part of decision-making, and managing your advertising and marketing mix.
Why guess if you can base decisions on experience and previous statistics and data? Sophisticated advertisers only commit to major programmes after accumulating response data from pilots and previous campaigns. They avoid guesswork, and so should you. Any large scale activity must first be tested and the response measured for quantity and profile. design, production and the role of external agencies Your advertising material helps to form your image, so make sure you are happy with the design, however modest the style and usage.
Use typefaces and logos in a consistent way, and if you can get the help of a good designer early this will set the tone and rules for usage later, which will save time and money in the long term. You may already have a perfectly satisfactory ‘corporate identity’. If so, don’t feel pressurised to change for the sake of it. Brand loyalty and the names and identities associated with it takes years – generations in fact – to build. Don’t throw away perfectly good branding just because some idiot from an agency persuades you that a change is necessary. When making any change consider your real purpose and implications.
Consider and be warned by examples in recent times of large-scale corporate identity cock-ups, such as BT (trumpeting figure), the Post Office (calling itself Consignia), and British Airways (multi-national aircraft tail-fin designs) – all of these cost tens of millions of pounds, yet they all (according to most commentators) failed disastrously and resulted in expensive rebranding or reversion to the original identities. The role of design and advertising agencies is however most commonly concerned with planning and implementing advertising or promotional ‘campaigns’ on a client’s behalf.
This advertising process starts with a ‘brief’ comprising: the purpose of the advertising, how much you will pay, and what you expect to get, including how you will measure whether it is successful or not. A written brief is critically important if you are using an outside agency. Advertising is notoriously subjective; creative agencies are often difficult to manage; so misunderstandings can easily creep in if your control is not tight enough. See also the tips for working with product designers because many of the principles are transferable to working with advertising agencies.
Here are some general rules for working with advertising and design agencies: •Try to appoint people who come recommended and who have experience in your sector. •Agree written briefs for all work, and certainly in the early phase of a relationship. •Maintain a balance between what you want to say and how they want to say it. •Don’t allow the message to get over-complicated. Agencies charge like wounded bulls for correcting copy (text) once they’ve started the final artwork, so try to get all the details correct and as you want them before going to the reprographic stage (that’s when the designer or typesetter produces the artwork).
If you are a small business try to use an agency with the services you need under one roof (apart from printing which is traditionally separate), as they can tend to mark-up bought-in services quite heavily, eg. , graphic design, photography. You’ll also find it easier to establish accountability if your agency is responsible for the whole job, rather than just a part of it. Until you are satisfied with the agency’s print prices it’s a good idea to ask for an alternative print quotation, and check what mark-up the agency adds on. In the case of list rocurement (for mailings and telemarketing campaigns, etc), display advertising, or leaflet distribution through inserts or ‘Door-to-door’ delivery, check whether the agency is adding a mark-up (it’s likely), and if so that you are happy with this mark-up. Ask the same question in the case of any other procured services or products, eg. , promotional merchandise, exhibition space, etc. advertise to build awareness and to generate response Within the advertising purpose you should define whether you seek to create awareness or to generate a direct response.
Effective marketing generally demands that each is employed, but on a limited budget you may be restricted to concentrating on one or the other, so think carefully about what will help most. Different media and methods are better suited to one or the other. Direct Mail is very good at generating a direct response, as are magazine and newspaper adverts, and inserts. Posters, TV, radio and press editorial are all much better at creating awareness and building credibility. use language that your customers understand In all of your advertising material take care to see things and hear things form your customers’ viewpoint.
As a knowledgeable supplier there is always a tendency to write copy and present information from a technical and ‘product/service’ standpoint. Remember that your customers are people without good technical or detailed understanding of your products and services. You need to help them understand things in terms that really mean something to the reader – as it relates to their needs and priorities and challenges. Focus on what your propositions do for them, not what your propositions are in technical detail. You should spell things out, using clear simple language.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that complicated language will help build an image of professionalism and intelligence – people will just turn off. The mark of truly effective advertising and marketing is the ability to convey complex issues to the audience in a manner that is interesting, relevant, meaningful, and easy to digest very quickly. Thomas Jefferson suggested that “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do” and this is a good maxim for writing good advertising material.
If you or the ‘copy-writer’ at your advertising agency cannot achieve this in your advertising and marketing communications then find someone who can, or you will be wasting a lot of your advertising effort and investment. translate your product/service offer into meaningful customer benefits Having decided through the processes described above to focus your message on a few key strengths of your business (your ‘service offer’ or ‘proposition’) you must now express these in terms of benefits to your customers. What does it all mean to them?
Give them something to relate to, so that you explain more than simply what you do or provide – explain what your proposition means to your customers. How will it make their business more profitable, more streamlined, more ethical and sustainable, more socially responsible; how your proposition will improve the quality of their service to their own customers; how it will make their employees lives’ easier, better, less stressful – whatever you believe to be the strongest most relevant and meaningful customer outcomes. dvertising must be costed and linked to measurable response Because advertising is such a complex science the only real way to be sure that something will work before you try it is to refer to previous indicators, and if you’ve no previous statistics or reliable data then run ‘pilot’ or trial first. Start measuring the effectiveness of your advertising from the very beginning. Keep detailed records of what you did, when, to whom, for how much, and what resulted.
Admittedly the results of certain advertising can be quite difficult to measure, particularly where no direct response is sought, (where follow-up sample surveys might be the only way to gauge effects), but measure everything in whatever way you can. Starting a business and a completely new advertising campaign inevitably involves a bit of calculated guesswork, however, if you start measuring and recording results from the beginning then you’ll make your task much easier next time around.
Key indicators to be gauged are cost per thousand, cost per response, and percentage response. A very basic method of measuring and recording advertising effectiveness and results is to ensure that every enquiry is greeted at some stage with the question, “How did you hear about us? ” or “How did you find us? ” Even very large ‘professional’ organisations commonly fail to instill this basic principle within their customer service processes, and yet it is so utterly important.
These days there is every opportunity to properly record and measure enquiries and advertising responses: Computer-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems nowadays offer relatively easy and cost-effective ways of managing customer and enquiries information. Make sure you use one. Then you won’t need to guess as to what forms of advertising work best for you. Remember also that advertising forms a part of your business plan, which is aimed at being profitable.
If your advertising does not produce a gross profit in excess of its cost you need to know why. As a minimum, you certainly need to know whether it does or it doesn’t. Back to marketing index. types of advertising media and marketing methods Prior to considering methods of advertising and marketing it is important to ensure that you understand and adhere to local country laws relating to data protection and customer rights concerning privacy and opt-out of various marketing methods.
This especially relates to maintaining and using lists and people’s personal details, to the use of telemarketing, direct mail, fax-marketing, and email. Generally private consumers enjoy more protection than business-to-business customers. See the notes about laws relating to direct marketing and advertising. Small local businesses who target their local community often overlook some very simple easy and cost effective ways of advertising.
These low-cost methods are not generally so suitable for big corporations with big budgets, but these ideas can be very effective (and very inexpensive) for small businesses and self-employed people targeting the local area with small advertising budgets. Here is a quick list of these local advertising ideas, which with a little imagination and selective effort can be developed into a very effective local advertising campaign, providing a continuous pipeline of new business: •Posters in windows and on notice boards, and in staff rooms of local businesses. A promotional stall at a local car-boot market or county show. •A stall or leafleting presence at a local relevant gathering or event. •Using leaflets or business cards in dispensers where local people sit and wait or queue or gather, for example: doctors, dentists, vets, church rooms, tourist information office, outpatients departments, library, nurseries, mini-cab offices, forces and services sites (e. g. , police, ambulance, etc), launderettes, post offices, newsagents, hairdressers, takeaways, cafes and bars, hotels, pubs and restaurants, golf clubs clinics, leisure centres, tc. •Reciprocal referral arrangements with other good local suppliers, especially those who serve your target audience with different products and services (which enables you to be more helpful to your own customers when they ask you to recommend other services). •Regularly giving news and interesting pictures about your work to your local newspaper (see PR below), or perhaps even writing a regular column relating to your specialism in the local free newspaper or parish magazine. Offering existing customers an incentive (gift of some sort, or money off your next supply) for introducing a friend as a new customer for you. •Door-to-door leaflet distribution through the postal service or other suitable service. •Speaking at local networking/business events. •Speaking or facilitating at the local school or college – for example with business education and preparing youngsters for the world of work (which gives you publicity and builds your reputation). Local trade directories – typically monthly publications distributed to the local community. •Targeting special offers at local big employers, through their PR and/or HR/social activities. While most of these methods are for small companies and local campaigns, a few can certainly be adapted and used effectively by big organizations with surprisingly good and cost-effective results. Here are more advertising methods, generally for larger corporations, campaigns and target markets, in more detail: ebsites, the internet, email, cd-rom’s, dvd’s, etc Online and electronic media are fast becoming the most flexible and dynamic advertising methods of all. As people’s use of the internet increases, so does the internet’s potency as a vehicle for advertising and marketing too. Electronic and online advertising media can be expensive and challenging to originate and implement initially, but unit costs tend to be low thereafter, and can be extremely cost-effective if sensibly researched and implemented.
As the internet extends progressively to mobile phones and hand-held devices (PDA’s – Personal Digital Assistants), the opportunity and necessity to make use of online and web-related marketing methods becomes increasingly irresistible. The internet and email provide unprecedented opportunity for radically new methods of promotion and advertising, such as viral marketing, and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) of educational or informative articles, newsgroups, forums, affiliation and partnering arrangements, email newsletters and campaigns, and many other new ideas which appear more quickly than most of us can absorb.
Modern and emerging digital and web-related advertising marketing methods offer audience ‘reach’, precision of targeting, level of fine-tuning and control, measurement and analysis, and cost-effectiveness that conventional advertising media simply cannot match. Aside from the more complex functionality of modern digital marketing methods, at a basic level, websites, CD ROM’s and DVD’s share much of the same origination and set-up, so it’s now very feasible and sensible to produce all sales literature and brochures, plus lots more besides, in user-friendly, inter-active digital format.
Conventional printed sales and marketing materials of all types (from newspapers and magazines, to brochures and business cards) are becoming obsolete as customers look to the internet (via phones, pc’s, laptops, PDA’s and in the future TV too) for quick, up-to-the-minute information about products, services and suppliers of all sorts.
And as more agencies, technology companies and digital media organisations develop their offerings and technology, so the costs and time of set-up, origination, production and implementation will reduce to levels that will move customers – in time almost completely – away from traditional (printed and other non-digital) media to modern electronic media, digital information, and online ‘engagement’ with suppliers of all sorts.
Internet listings, internet directories advertising, and ‘pay-per-click’ advertising offered by the major search engines, are now viable and relevant for very small ‘local’ businesses, and are all examples of this fundamental shift in marketing. Take time to learn about and understand which of the new digital methods will work for you and how. Most, if not all of the information you need is freely available on the internet – take time to look for it and learn – and ensure that your business explores and implements the many very cost-effective advertising methods available to you via internet media and the modern digital revolution. ress and public relations (PR) The press release is the most under-rated form of advertising. Why? Because it’s free, and moreover press editorial is perceived by the audience to be true, whereas advertising of all almost all other types is seen as ‘oh no another advert’ and therefore implies uncertainty or scepticism. Getting your editorial printed for free is easier than you may think, and guidelines for using PR follow in more detail below. TV and radio news publicity works in much the same way, although more difficult to secure and control.
Surveys and questionnaires provide perhaps the best opportunity for achieving valuable and effective publicity. See the guidelines about surveys and questionnaires below. seminars Creating an informative seminar and inviting your target audience is an excellent way to educate the market and promote your company and proposition. This method works especially well in the business-to-business market, and where educating customers is appropriate, for instance if marketing a new technology or service to architects and specifiers.
It is possible to have certain types of seminars accredited for CPD (Continuous Professional Development) by professional institutes, which provides an extra incentive for prospective customers to attend. telemarketing Using telemarketing staff or a telemarketing agency is a proven method of marketing. If well-managed, telemarketing can be an extremely good and cost-effective method for generating sales enquiries, selling products and services and making appointments for sales staff.
It is important to identify a good telemarketing agency, and to that ensure your aims, outline script, and communications process for enquiry generation follow-up, are all clearly established and understood, by the agency and your own staff. A good CRM computer system to manage lists, data, follow-up and outcomes, is normally essential for telemarketing is to be successful on any reasonable scale, and good telemarketing agencies will already be using such systems which hopefully will interface with your own systems.
Considerable care needs to be taken when defining and agreeing the telemarketing ‘brief’ with the telemarketing staff, department or agency. Good experienced telemarketing staff and managers understand what works and what doesn’t for given markets, types of propositions and products and services. Listen to their advice. Generally telemarketing ‘scripts’ are not a good idea for high quality propositions, nor for professional business-to-business campaigns. A good telemarketing agency will work best by developing their own approach to eet the broad requirements of a project ‘brief’ and an outline of what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it. Rigid scripts have the effect of limiting the natural style and capabilities of telemarketing staff, moreover customers generally find scripts, which quickly become robotic and characterless, very impersonal and insulting. Refer to the legal implications (Data Protection Act and Preference Services) in the direct mail section. Consumers and businesses are protected by certain rights relating to direct marketing techniques such as telemarketing, and you must ensure that your activities adhere to these rules. irect mail Some of the principles and rules referenced here also apply to other types of direct marketing, including ‘door-to-door’ distribution and telemarketing methods. Direct mail is the process of sending your material (by itself or in a shared mailing with other items) direct to the address of the potential customer by post. The elements which make up the direct mail process are basically: 1. a mailing list of names and addresses (from your own data-base or names sourced elsewhere) 2. the item(s) to be mailed, and envelopes or packaging, if applicable 3. esource or facility to ‘stuff’ and address or label the envelopes/packaging (assuming you are putting the item in an envelope or packaging, which of course is not always the case) 4. and postal charges, which depend (in the UK) now on the size and shape as well as the weight of the item being mailed. The last two stages are often called ‘fulfilment’. Direct Mail is generally used to generate a direct response from the recipient and will commonly incorporate a reply or response section within the mailed item.
Aside from the strength of your proposition, response rates vary according primarily to the quality of the list, notably: •the reliability of the list data (new clean lists obviously perform better than old out-of-date lists) •and how well ‘targeted’ the list is in terms of your offer (how relevant it is to the recipient). Direct mail is not a precise science. See the direct mail story for example. There are many things that can go wrong, and even more things that are unknown and unimagined by the campaign manager.
Like the rest of advertising, whether a direct mail campaign works well or poorly it’s often very difficult to discover what elements need to be changed and how: the proposition, the mailing list, the reliability of the fulfilment, the day and time of delivery, the response mechanism, something else? For large ongoing campaigns it is appropriate and cost-effective to conduct follow-up surveys of respondents and non-responders, but for smaller initiatives it’s rarely cost-effective to attempt detailed analysis other than to look for obvious indications of success or failure.
A direct mail campaign which produces more than a 2% response is normally considered very successful. Lower than 1% response is more usual. You then need to take into account the conversion rate (the conversion of responses into sales), assuming the campaign is designed to produce responses or enquiries and not sales directly. Aside from the quality of the responses, which is determined by the campaign, conversion rates also vary according to factors outside of and after the direct mail activities themselves, such as response handling, IT systems, sales follow-up, etc.
It is therefore important to judge a direct mail campaign first on percentage and quality of response, and then separately to assess the overall results of the campaign including conversion statistics and sales values. Inexperienced marketeers (and many experienced ones too) tend to over-estimate forecasted response rates for direct mail, so a planning tip is to be pessimistic (prudent, as accountants say), especially when calculating advertising viability and return on investment.
When you first state your estimated response rate as part of the financial justification for the direct mail campaign, next reduce it by a factor of 10 (i. e. , re-assess the campaign viability using on one-tenth of your initial response forecast). If the figures still show a positive return on investment then your campaign might well be successful. If not, then it’s sensible to re-think the whole thing. Your own database of existing and past customers will typically produce a significantly higher response than that of a list sourced elsewhere.
List prices vary enormously, from a few pounds up to several hundreds of pounds per 1,000 names and addresses, depending on volume, how specific the list is, and how selective your profiling criteria are. You can also choose whether to have the list on labels, or on a disk in a common spreadsheet or database format, the latter being most common now, and easy to import, if appropriate, into a CRM (customer relationship management) system. Mailing list prices also vary according to the terms of se,