Marketing is defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
As you can see it is a pretty wide ranging definition and this is hardly surprising given the plethora of different marketing techniques and media. Marketing and business go hand-in-hand. You may design and manufacture the best products or provide the best possible service, but if no one knows about it, you won’t get many enquiries, let alone orders. Marketing is how you alert potential customers to your offering and that marketing can take the traditional form or be more cutting edge in its execution, such as in the case of guerilla marketing. Likewise, if there is no business, there’s no need to market or promote it, so the two areas are inextricably linked.
Where once marketing would have consisting principally of an advert placed in the local or national press or perhaps a radio or television slot, now marketing has taken on a whole new range of ideas. Traditional advertising still has its place of course but even then there is the distinction to be drawn between brand awareness advertising, such as you might see from giant conglomerates such as Coca Cola, McDonalds or Ford and direct response advertising which is more the preserve of smaller organisations and firms whose marketing budget and output is designed specifically to provoke a response or a specific action.
And then there are the new forms of marketing, those associated with the internet. Internet marketing is a whole dedicated discipline in itself and again spans many different concepts from the familiar adsense and adwords or pay per click marketing we see every day when we browse the net, to affiliate marketing, (particularly prominent in the loans industry, as you can see from companies like Alphaloans & Omniloans) article marketing, reputation management and, of course, search engine optimisation (SEO) the implementation of a series of tools and practices designed to make your website more visible in the search engines.
And that is really what our site is all about. In the weeks and months to come we will delve into the world of marketing promotion and business to examine different ideas, assess best practices and see what is new and exciting. We hope you will find things informative and entertaining. If you would like to get in touch please do not hesitate to contact us – we’d love to hear from you.
Creating an effective strategic marketing plan for your business can be a tricky and time consuming, yet it is a necessary process. In order for your plan to stand a chance at producing the desired results, you will need to carry out a lot of research and planning. An effective strategic marketing plan outlines the goals of a business and what a business needs to do in order to reach their goals. In this article we will share our top tips on how to put together an effective strategic marketing plan.
Before you can come up with a new strategic marketing plan, you and your team will need to assess the current situation of your business.
Assess your current situation
Before you can begin putting together an effective marketing plan, you need to have a good understanding of where your business is currently at in relation to where you want it to be. You need to look at what marketing materials you are currently using and whether they are working or not. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing materials, you need to measure the effort you put into creating the materials against the results you generated from using the materials. Carrying out this assessment will give you a better idea of what to include in your plan and what to leave out.
Identify your target audience
A key part of your plan will involve choosing the marketing materials which will be the best received by your target audience. In order to be able to do this, you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience for your product or service is. Find out as much information on your target audience as possible.
Facts, figures and feedback can help you create a good strategic marketing strategy. Performing research will prevent you from having to guess the next step for your business. The research you carry out should always relate back to your target audience and the best way to reach them. Make use of various resources such as focus groups, surveys and case studies.
Set your goals
Your goals should outline what you want your company to achieve through its strategic marketing plan. The goals you choose must relate to your overall objectives. They should also be realistic and measurable.
Determine your strategy
Your strategic marketing plan will outline the logic process in which you must follow in order to achieve your goals. It should tell you how you can use specific marketing materials in order to achieve the desired results. For example, if you are looking to increase sales through your mobile website, your strategic marketing plan should outline how you will encourage customers to use your mobile site. This may be through SMS advertising or QR codes.
If determining your strategic marketing plan is something you find particularly difficult, you may want to get in touch with a professional marketing consultant, who will be able to provide you with personalised advice.
Review your results
The objectives you set for your business in your strategic marketing plan must be measurable or how will you know if they can be improved upon? It is essential that you evaluate your marketing activity as you need to know if your plan is working and whether you are spending your budget in the most effective way possible. Regularly reviewing your plan will ensure that you are not making costly marketing mistakes.
In order to know whether your strategic plan is working effectively, you will need to re-evaluate it at regular intervals.
A strategic marketing plan will provide you with a long-term view of your organisation. It will show you how you can make the best use of your research and provide an efficient way of meeting your goals. A good strategic marketing plan will focus on your strengths and help you to avoid making the same marketing mistake twice.
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Many people put money into a pension as a way to keep them financially secure when they retire. Although it is important to know how much money you are investing into your pension, it is also important to review how the money is being invested. As you near your retirement age, it is a good idea to change your strategy to ensure that risks are minimised. In this article we will explain some of the various different investment strategies individuals use to keep them secure in their retirement.
Cash investments are considered to be relatively safe, though inflation costs must be considered.
Cash investments are usually considered to be low risk, however there is a need to to factor in the cost of rising levels of inflation year on year. Cash investments include savings and current account balances, bonds and premium bonds, Cash ISAS and any cash that you store at home.
Some individuals may choose to hold shares directly. The alternative option is to acquire them through an investment fund. Investing in shares can be risky, especially if you invest in a single company. If however you invest in a fund (with an Open-Ended Investment Company where your money is grouped together with other people’s money) you can spread the risk through diversification. The level of risk is dependent on the type of shares you hold.
Fixed interest securities
Fixed interest securities are things like gilts, overseas bonds, local authority bonds and corporate bonds. By investing in fixed interest securities you are likely to have predictable returns, though they tend to be relatively low. Like all investments, fixed interest securities can be volatile, so there is no guarantee of limited risk.
Some people choose to invest money into residential or commercial property in the form of buy-to-lets. Others choose to invest in property companies or funds. It is important to keep in mind that prices can vary, due to the fact that the property market is so volatile. By investing in property you could potentially receive high returns, however there is also the potential for extreme losses.
Property investments have the potential to offer high returns.
Alternative investments usually refer to things like gold, art, collectibles and antiques. Basically it is anything that does not fall into the categories mentioned above. When it comes to investing in alternatives, the risk is very unpredictable and really depends on how each niche market is performing at the time. The quality of the assets you invest will also play a significant role in the return you get for them, along with the timing of sale.
When it comes to creating investment strategies for your retirement, you should never put all of your eggs in one basket. It is recommended that you diversify your investment strategies by making some risky investments and some more conservative investments. Spreading the risk will stand you in a better position for gaining the financial security you require during your retirement period.
Even if you decide to invest in a single fund, there are still opportunities for diversification. Take shares for example. With shares you can diversify your investment by putting money into both UK and overseas markets, different industry sectors and a variety of different sized companies.
Other things to keep in mind
When creating your investment strategies for your retirement period, always think about the long-term plan, retirementsecured.com/ is an example of a site which can help. Whilst you are young it is a good to invest in more risky investments like shares as they offer a greater return on investment. However as you near retirement age it is a good idea to swap your investments to cash and bonds as they are considered to be less risky. It is also important to factor fund charges into your decisions. Always check how much different funds charge and only invest in funds with competitive charges.
Our final piece of advice is to make sure that you review your investment strategies annually. Whilst checking that they are performing well, you need to ask yourself whether you are still comfortable with the level of risk and whether the charges are still competitive.
Image credits: kenteegardin & Images_of_Money
When it comes to renting office space, you really have 2 options: managed (serviced) offices, or simply renting an empty space. There are advantages to both of these options, but many would argue that the benefits of the managed office far outweigh the benefits of the empty office space.
As a business, you are always looking for the best deals and the options that will most benefit your business while still saving you money. Managed office space fulfils both of these criteria and much more. Here are just seven of the benefits using a managed office service brings.
1) Furnished space
When renting a managed office space you have the option of renting it fully furnished or not. One of the biggest overheads for businesses moving into new offices can be the amount of money they have to spend on desks, chairs, telephones, etc. for the staff, but with managed office space this isn’t the case.
Of course, if you’re moving into the office from somewhere else and you already have furniture, you may choose to rent half furnished or completely unfurnished and simply move your stuff in, but you don’t need to.
The furniture provided is likely to be stylish yet practical and could save you a lot of money as a business.
2) Hit the road running…
As managed office space is usually rented fully furnished, this means that you can hit the road running. As soon as you begin renting, you can immediately move your staff into the building and quickly and easily set up your new business base.
You may not even need an entire day to move in; you could be moving in at 9am and receiving calls and running your business from lunch time. Of course this is dependent on whether you have a lot of files etc., but there’s no doubt that renting managed offices allows you to start work more quickly than other types of office space.
3) You don’t have to pay for any maintenance issues
As well as being fully furnished, managed office space is also usually fully serviced. This means that, should you incur any maintenance issues, you won’t have to sort it yourself. This includes any plumbing, electrical or other problems; each will be fixed without you having to spend a penny!
This is another great way that your business can save money and can operate hassle-free. Maintenance staff employed by the company whom you are renting from will ensure everything runs smoothly and safely.
4) You don’t have to pay for cleaners
Having all the maintenance sorted for you is great, but what’s even better is that your office space will be cleaned as well! The frequency that your office space will be cleaned depends on the building’s schedule, but it is usually every night or every morning.
This can be particularly beneficial for your business as, not only does it save you money on employing cleaners, but it also ensures that your space is always presentable, so if you ever need to have client meetings, you don’t have to worry that the office won’t look good.
You won’t need to pay for any of these anymore.
5) Refreshment facilities
Many managed office services also include refreshment facilities. This usually means there will be hot drinks such as tea and coffee, as well as biscuits and water. This allows your staff a great area to relax in on breaks and in their lunch hour and it’s perfect for offering clients refreshments if they visit.
This is yet another way that managed office services can cut your costs and save you money as a business. You don’t have to worry about the wellbeing of your staff when refreshments are provided for them.
6) Staffed reception area
When using a managed office space, this often includes a fully staffed reception area. The receptionists are highly trained individuals who are professional and ready to serve your business by providing a top class service.
They can answer and forward phone calls, as well as directing visitors to your specific office area within the larger building, plus they can ensure any mail reaches the correct members of staff as well. Your business can save money on employing a receptionist whilst still benefitting from the fantastic service that a receptionist offers.
Empty office spaces are usually long leases that are very difficult to get out of. In a constantly expanding and growing business, it’s hard to know exactly where you’ll be in a few years; if your business expands, then you’ll need more space.
Using managed office space makes everything easier.
Managed office services (such as those from “The Workstation”) allow a lot more flexibility for expanding or decreasing, depending on the way your business develops over time. These rented offices are shorter rent contracts, and thus allow a lot more flexibility and fit around your business.
Managed office spaces are very beneficial for businesses and definitely a great way of saving money whilst still ensuring a top quality working environment for your staff.
Image credits: garryknight and ell brown
It may sometimes seem that all marketing takes place online these days. And whilst online marketing has much to recommend it in terms of reach and targeting of potential new business, there are still plenty of worthwhile offline marketing strategies worth using. These days many businesses employ a dual approach to marketing, using online promotion as well as direct offline marketing using tried and tested methods.
Assuming your business is already firing on all marketing cylinders in cyberspace, with web sites, blogs, twitter feeds, Facebook and more all constantly working to keep you visible in the marketplace, let’s look at some strategies for offline marketing that can also pay dividends:
Seal a sponsorship deal
This works especially well for smaller businesses wanting to establish their name in a certain area. Sponsoring a local football, hockey or rugby team, having your logo and business name splashed across their team strips gives your company excellent profile right in the heart of your key market area. If backing a sports team is too costly, one off sponsorship of local events gives a valuable boost to a company’s local presence and identity.
Trade fairs and exhibitions
There is nothing better for your business brand than meeting people face to face to explain to them clearly why your service or product is better than all the rest. Trade fairs and exhibitions are where many businesses win new clients and network with potential customers for the future. With an eye catching and highly professional display stand or sign holder, plenty of back up promotional material and buckets of charm and enthusiasm, trade shows can really deliver amazing results converting targeted interested queries into solid sales.
Radio is a great way of getting marketing.
Get creative with promotional freebies
Spread the message about your business with interesting freebie giveaways. For example, if you offer car valeting services, why not print your name and details onto a sponge or chamois? Advertising crèche facilities could work well on a fun children’s face mask or a colouring book. Although the traditional give-aways of pens and mugs are still relevant, they are less likely to cause a stir.
Don’t neglect local media
When launching any new services you want the local community to know about, get in touch with local newspapers and radio to help spread the word. Either through advertising or simply a few lines in the body of the newspaper, you will be connecting with potential customers very close to home.
Be a benefactor
Keep your business name on the lips of the locals by offering prizes for competitions and raffles in the area. Whether its village fêtes, country shows, awards for scout or Girl Guide groups, artistic or creative competitions, school support or local charities, by being generous you are helping out local causes, but in turn you will be receiving positive press – it works both ways.
Networking is a posh term for simply talking to people. Remember, wherever you go, whoever you meet, tell them about your business and what you do – direct communication like this is one of the most powerful ways of growing a business. The contacts you make as you go about your work every day, will remember your infectious enthusiasm and pride you take in what you do- and they will tell others. Attending local functions, making speeches, giving radio interviews about the benefits your business brings to the local community – all these personal approaches can be very successful marketing tools.
Exhibitions are a good way of marketing.
Old fashioned methods still work
Despite what you may hear about the internet being the only place to do business, there is still room for old fashioned promotional materials when it comes to marketing. Everybody appreciates getting free goodies such as calendars and other promotional stationary, and it keeps your name permanently visible to customers throughout the year.
Keep customers close
Speak directly to customers by sending them newsletters keeping them informed and updated on your latest services. Show clients you appreciate them by sending them Christmas cards, you may even want to throw a Christmas party to meet up with loyal customers on an annual basis. By nurturing the relationship you have with your customers, letting them know in person that they are valued and important, you are cementing your business relationship in a unique way.
Online marketing is a powerful promotional tool and one which is here to stay. Combined cleverly with its offline counterparts, the chances of business success are greatly enhanced – so don’t be tempted to choose one over the other, use them both!
Image credits: Ross Murray and Aika Felt Works
Marketing consultants are experts who are brought in as independent contractors to grow a business by increasing its visibility and reputation both on- and offline. Many businesses, particularly small ones, will not be able to maintain a full-time marketing team so they rely on these consultants to do the work for them. Finding one should be viewed as a solid investment in the future of your business, and as such you should take your time to select the right one. Be warned that there are plenty of charlatans out there who will overcharge, make rash promises then fail to deliver.
What do you need from a Marketing Consultant?
The first thing to do before you starting checking out potential consultants is to work out exactly what your aims are. This is because different consultants may specialise in certain areas so you want to be sure that the person you hire can do what you need them to. For example, are you looking to increase your social media presence online? Or are you perhaps looking to break into an entirely new field and don’t know how to approach your new target audience? Perhaps you are launching a new product and want to get maximum exposure. Whatever your reason for hiring an expert, the right person will be out there if you know what your goals are.
Doing your homework
The next thing you need to do is work out how much money you will have to spend on your marketing consultant. Once you’ve set your budget you should try not to veer from it too much, which will help you when it comes to narrowing down potential candidates. With regard to finding these potential consultants, it’s a good idea to choose somebody based locally so you can meet up with them face to face whenever you need to. You can ask for personal referrals from other business owners or acquaintances, or if you don’t know anybody who has hired an expert you can simply do an online search to compile a list of names.
Visit shortlisted candidates websites
Once you’ve got your list you should look at all their websites to see which areas they specialize in and gradually whittle them down to a list of about 10. You should then take the time to meet each of these 10 consultants in person and prepare a list of questions to ask them beforehand. For one thing, you must always ask to see examples of successful working relationships with previous clients. You can discuss your specific needs and ask what value they can bring to your company. You need to find someone who really listens to what you want rather than just spouting a lot of marketing terms at you. This is why it’s important to meet face-to-face.
A Marketing Consultant at work
Get a proposal
Following these meetings, you should also each potential candidate to come up with a proposal for you. This should include a detailed explanation of the strategy they would employ to help your business succeed, how long it will take to put this into practice and what they will charge for their services. Once you’ve gone through each of these you should be in a position to make your decision.
Summary: A good marketing consultant can do wonders for your business – increasing your turnover and visibility and enhancing your prestige. But it takes time to find the right one and you certainly don’t want to waste valuable money on a bad consultant, as this article discusses.
Chris Jenkinson is a UK marketing consultant providing marketing services to business owners and directors looking to increase sales and profits.
Image Credits: David Erickson and Pamlau