“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
Professional Marketing can eliminate bad habits and denials.
You may not have noticed that Aidan and myself have recently re-designed our website. Click here to have a quick look. Anyway, why did we change? Initially, we focused our work on SMEs that were looking for a professional marketing approach to their business. Our site was informational and aimed at the challenges facing them. As a result, it was quite heavy on content / text.
As we progressed through our first year in business, we noticed that we were receiving repeated requests in relation to specific areas of our expertise. The requests related to the not-for-profit sector ( fundraising and dealing with corporates), commercial sponsorship proposals and the development of engaging communication campaigns. All are areas in which we have extensive knowledge and experience.
If you’ve had a quick look at our new site, you’ll notice that we’ve put these three areas up front to show ‘what we can do together’. We do provide many other services, but we’ve learnt that when an organisation makes the decision to hire a professional marketing company and go searching, they want to see your strengths, quickly, clearly and up front.
What we’ve noticed of late, when meeting potential customers, is that without the help of a professional, many had built up some bad marketing habits.
I’m going to talk about some of these bad habits first. Then I will mention some of the more common defences that organisations put forward, when deciding upon whether to hire a professional or not. I’ll finish by giving you a few pointers to keep in mind if you do decide to hire an external resource to help you develop your brand.
Bad Marketing Habits.
The most common bad marketing habit that organisations fall into is reproducing the same marketing plan, year after year. There may be a few ‘tweeks’ but rarely do they take the time to completely re-evaluate their activity.
Here is our free business guide that we have used with some clients, which might be useful for you to audit your marketing strategy.
A further bad habit is a focus on sales with no marketing effort at all. As a result, they spend a lot of time and energy on attracting new customers (which could well be non-buyers). We would suggest that they should be engaging with existing ones and enticing new customers that show similar characteristics. The next habit is quite common also – businesses base their marketing on old data and perhaps some research that they have done in the past. As a result, any marketing plans will not be well founded.
Here’s another one for you – have you ever used old brochures with labels over the outdated content? There is nothing so unprofessional looking in my eyes. Again this occurs when the finance people (or the owner) decide to ‘save’ on costs, which usually leads to a bit of DIY marketing. For instance, I’ll bet that you know at least one person who has a) talked a friend into building a website, b) had a sibling take photos or a company video or c) allowed a young marketing intern to write the content of your brochures and / or buy ads in local media. None of these are good ideas from a professional image, point of view.
How about over- marketing? We have engaged with businesses who flood their customers with direct mail, special offers, unprofessional in-store radio ads, daily emails etc. This is one of the worst habits as it could drive customers away from your business. Finally, this habit is a more modern one – not understanding how to use social media channels for business. There is a fine balance between over and under posting. And if you decide to have a presence online (which you must), not listening to your customers is the greatest time suck of all.
Are you in denial?
Even if an organisation has no bad habits, sometimes when we meet business owners, or their marketing person, they slip into denial about their need for professional marketing. Quite a lot of the SMEs we talk to have a misconception about marketing. Their first response is “we’re too small to have a formal marketing plan”. As a consequence, they think that marketing is just about running ads in local media rather than as part of an integrated campaign, aligned to business objectives.
It does take a while but eventually they acknowledge that a marketing plan can be a roadmap for their business. In fact, on occasions we have saved them money by suggesting smarter ways to approach their existing marketing activity.
When we talk about their target market, the reaction sometimes is that they ‘know their customers very well’, so they only need to market to potential customers. I’ve referred to this ‘bad habit’ above so I’ll just mention one point in this regard – societies are changing, the business landscape is changing and your customers are definitely changing.
Another common reaction is “we don’t have the budget for more marketing”. Usually, this is because they are comparing themselves to large businesses or competitors. They don’t realise that by dropping some existing activity and having a more targeted approach, they can achieve more lucrative results. A relatively inexpensive way of marketing these days is to manage an online presence. So a lot of our recommendations include a content marketing plan. This plan includes social media tools for listening and content distribution.
To finish this section off, I would emphasise that reducing your marketing budget may provide a short term gain, but will prove to be expensive in the long run. Also, if your business is not online, at an appropriate level, you are going to be left behind. There are many competitors out there champing at the bit to engage with your customers – don’t let them. If you aren’t the marketing ‘type’, hire a professional to help you.
Tips and Timesavers.
So, if you do decide to hire a marketing professional, I always say to people, ‘hire somebody you’re comfortable with’. Professionals do have to charge for their work and efforts, but I say again, find a person that suits your style and budget.
In deciding to get outside help, do a little research yourself before meeting them. It is useful for you to know your immediate competitors and have an opinion on their brand. At least you will have a better idea what to discuss when you have a meeting.
When you do meet, think about how they make you feel. Are they listening to you? Do they make you feel at ease with a topic that may be outside your comfort zone? Let’s presume that they have the experience, but even so you should still determine if they have built up trust in their own industry? Do they know your industry? Don’t be afraid to ask them anything at all. In fact, ask them to produce a presentation for you outlining their modus operandi and their own sources of data.
One thing I will say is that if you have done your research and have met and agreed to use a professional, you must allow them to do their work. After all they are professionals and you have to trust them to do their job. Some business owners have their own creative ideas about what the solution should be and get involved too much. I admit that I have been guilty of this, in my previous life, on the corporate client side.
When you decide to take the leap into professional marketing, just remember that it is for the long haul. Marketing attends to how you engage your customers. It is up to you to ensure that what you do as a brand owner lives up to your customer’s expectations.
You are knowledgeable about all aspects of your business but if you subscribe to being the best, you should be professional about your marketing, and hire one.
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K