Tag Archives: Aardvark Marketing

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | It's easy to confuse our 'rational' brains

It’s easy to confuse our ‘rational’ brains

It’s easy to confuse our ‘rational’ brains

I spent a few hours today testing a virtual reality (VR) experience that has been built for one of our clients for a major trade show this summer by a specialist company in Birmingham. The project is highly confidential at the moment, but if you would like to know more, please contact me.

Prior to this project, I was aware of VR, but had never had the opportunity to try it.  The experience has been a complete revelation to me.  I think I’m quite a rational person, but when the VR goggles and headphones go on, it’s amazing how fast my brain ‘forgot’ the reality that I was stood in an open plan office and completely accepted the VR environment that had been created by the technical wizards.  Even the ‘computer game’ graphics didn’t confuse my brain.  Within seconds, it felt really real.  If you haven’t ever tried VR, do give it a go.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Virtual reality - if you haven't tried it, give it a go






Perhaps inevitably, it got me thinking again about how marketing communication works.  How many times have you heard someone say (or maybe said yourself) “I’m not influenced by advertising”?  Most of us like to think of ourselves as rational beings impervious to flashy advertising campaigns and sales promotions and yet the evidence suggests otherwise.

Don’t believe me?  OK, here’s a challenge.  Open your food cupboards, your garage, your loft or garden shed and look at all the things you have bought but not eaten or used.  Evolution moves slowly and we are still ‘hard-wired’ to consume in times of plenty, ready for the periods of shortage that lie ahead.

Emotional marketing messages trigger that ‘want’ overriding the rational assessment of ‘need’, planting the seed of desire in our brains.  Often we then try to rationalise our desire initially to ourselves and then if necessary others. From the person who bought a big powerful 4×4 car because of the “excellent driving position” to the grocery shopper who came home with 3 packets of chocolate biscuits because “they were on ‘3 for 2’ and I won’t eat them any faster” we are all doing it, often subconsciously.

I you’re in business, have a look at your own marketing messages – are they tapping into the emotional appeal of your products and services or are they full of rational features?  If it’s the latter, you’re probably missing out. If that looks too difficult to do alone, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 for a free and confidential chat?

Happy marketing,


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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Join us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo

Say hello to us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo on 8th February 2019

Say hello to us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo on 8th February 2019

Venue: Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG

Time:  10.30 – 3pm

Say hello to Aardvark Marketing at the STEM Expo, for businesses who are focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Maths related areas.

This forms part of a series of events aimed to expand and improve the capacity of STEM businesses in the Greater Birmingham region.

It’s a unique opportunity to get your name out there – both within the business community and the wider public – to grow your network, attract new talent and expand your business.

If you’re new to Chamber events, the Team will be on hand to introduce you to delegates and make you feel welcome. Just come and see us on the day and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

About Aardvark Marketing

Unlike most marketing agencies, Aardvark work as outsourced marketing specialists, so you have access to skilled sales and marketing expertise, as and when you need it.

This results in more customersmore sales and most importantly, more profit, without the need to employ a full-time member of staff.

In 2018 we were voted Best UK company for Excellence in Marketing Management Services and the Best UK Social Media & Content Marketing Specialists.

Over 200 organisations have benefited from Aardvark’s advice, they range from start-up ventures to international companies with multi-million pound turnovers.





Expo visitor offer – Visit our stand and get one-month free  marketing support. 

If you would like more details, please email events@birmingham-chamber.com

It’s free to attend as a delegate, book your place here.


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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Gill Hutchinson is a Worcestershire Talking Head for Headturner Search

Gill Hutchinson is a “Worcestershire Talking Head” for Headturner Search

Gill Hutchinson is a “Worcestershire Talking Head” for Headturner Search

I was asked recently  by Aimee Farley-Higgs at Headturner Search to take part in their Worcestershire Talking Heads. They ask people in the local business community to share some of their background, achievements and motivator /demotivators.

Here’s mine:

  • How did you get into this industry?

Definitely not by design! I have a science degree, so initially thought I would go on to a masters in genetics and cell biology, only to find this probably meant moving to the US when I was engaged to be married. I worked for 2 years as a chartered accountant to learn more about business and enjoyed the practical, management accounts side but later realised that stocks and share options bored me to tears. So I was lucky to get a position at Black & Decker in their European headquarters, initially doing market research and pan-European marketing activity (remember all those multi-lingual instruction leaflets, anyone?) and then moving into other brand marketing positions in jewellery and in health and beauty.

It’s a great feeling to walk into a prestigious store like Harrods, Selfridges or your local supermarket and see your own advertising or promotions at work! I learned a lot about good marketing practices – being responsible for sales and profits and getting other people in agencies or in your own company to do things under your direction when they don’t report to you. Not many women in their twenties can spend such large budgets and be held accountable for them.

  • What do you enjoy most about being in the business?

I love the variety that comes from advising many different business owners and the freedom to choose who you want to work with. Recent work with the Worcestershire Business Accelerator as a core advisor and with the Changing Futures Fund for Worcestershire charities meant meeting many more local organisations and delivering changes in a brief period. It’s challenging but very rewarding. The best days are those when you can celebrate a successful outcome for a customer, perhaps when they gain a new key customer or do well at a trade fair or get a PR article placed in an influential publication.

  • What top 3 words/ phrases describe you best?

Independent, confident, integrity

  • What would you say would be your biggest achievement to date?

Being recognised for our contribution to our industry. Aardvark Marketing have won 4 Technology Innovator awards in the 3 last years for Best SME Marketing company, Best Marketing Automation, Excellence in Marketing Management Services and the Social Media & Content Marketing Specialists. These awards from the international Technology Innovators CV Magazine show that it’s possible for a small business to make an impact.

  • What is your weakness?

I find it very difficult to say ‘no’ and give more free coaching sessions to charities and start-up business owners than is good for my own business! Right now, I’m mentoring in the Birmingham Accelerator Hub, I’m on the Policy committee at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the Reducing the Cost of Doing Business committee at the Hereford & Worcestershire Chamber.

  • What motivates you?

At work, the thanks of my customers and learning new skills. Tom Stanhope at VideoTrack is helping me add vlogging to my regular blogs (you can see my efforts on LinkedIn or on our YouTube channel). Otherwise I’m a home loving girl who enjoys a good laugh at a family meal or a quiet afternoon with a book, a glass of wine and some sunshine in the garden.

  • What de-motivates?

That’s easy – IT!  There are always new advances in technology in the marketing world and I’m bombarded by companies trying to sell me their own new software. It’s easy for a business owner to buy a new system, much harder for them to realise the benefits when they have several systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other, making it hard to work out what the return on investment is. I spend hours trying to get hold of technical support people and understand how I can fix problems on behalf of my customers. Oh, and please don’t mention the words’ ‘GDPR’ or ‘Making Tax Digital’ to me unless you’re feeling brave!

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m not much good at crystal ball gazing but I hope I’ll still be enjoying working for Aardvark Marketing and managing a larger team.

  • What is the best USP about your current business?

We are outsourced sales and marketing specialists who work as an integral part of each senior management team. Unlike most marketing agencies, who concentrate their expertise on one aspect of marketing, we’re like an independent financial advisor – able to recommend strategies and activities that will deliver the best return for our customers regardless of whether this is digital wizardry, digital advertising or good quality PR, direct mail or trade fairs.

  • What is your favourite local restaurant and shop?

For a coffee and cake in town, Mac and Jacs deli on Friar Street, for Friday night fish & chips, the Crispy Cod in Barbourne and for a family meal, Wildwood in the Crowngate where you can enjoy some people watching as you eat. Favourite shops are always bookshops!


You can read all the other Worcestershire’s Talking Heads here https://www.headturnersearch.co.uk/blog/

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Do what you say

Do what you say

Do what you say

My last blog started with a discussion of IT malfunctions and it might have made me sound like a cross between a technophobe and a grumpy old man, but I hope I’m neither.  I like innovation and I think I’m relatively quick to adopt new technology.  What I don’t like is broken promises and unfortunately IT, both hardware and software seem to be an area where they are far too plentiful.

Marketing is all about promises.  Virtually all marketing communication makes promises to the person receiving it, whether it’s a promotional offer, a new product announcement, advertising, exhibition stands or even a business card.  Sometimes the offer is very explicit for example product performance or service claims. In other instances, it’s more subtle, or just implied.  But if you subscribe to the view (which I do) that all marketing should be aiming to change what someone thinks or what they do, then there must be a promise in there somewhere – the ‘quid pro quo’.

Outside of the world of work and specifically marketing, I have always believed that promises are sacrosanct.  If I promise to do something, I will do everything I possibly can to keep that promise.  To me, it’s an issue of trust.  Promises kept will earn more trust in the future, a promise broken may be the last chance we get with that person.  How many promises do you expect a politician to keep?

In business and marketing, I think it’s the same.  When we make a promise, a customer trusts us to deliver and we need to respect that trust and do everything possible to deliver on our promise.  When someone puts their trust in you, they are taking a risk and you have the power to look after them and reward them or let them down and expose them to the consequences.

Have a look at your own business, and your marketing communications – what promises do you make to existing and new customers?  Are you confident you can deliver on them all, or are one or two stretching your capabilities?  Maybe it’s something you would like to be able to do, but it’s not very easy to make it happen every time.  Perhaps you make a promise so you look better (or at least as good) as the competition?  You could even ask some of your customers how they think you deliver on your promises.

If there is a gap between what you promise and what you can guarantee to deliver, something needs to change – capability improvement or watering down the promise.  In the end, customers will find you out and, when they get the chance, move their business elsewhere.

If you’d like a confidential discussion about your business promises, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 or email us here.


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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | free business support for Worcestershire businesses

Could your business benefit?

Could your business benefit?

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd has been providing businesses throughout the county with one to one business advice through the Worcestershire Business Accelerator programme. She and the other BizSmart core advisors are looking for more businesses to take part in this free programme in 2018.
“The purpose of the Accelerator programme is to support growing businesses as they scale-up.” says Gill. “Typically, the business will have been trading a couple of years and already have achieved a successful launch but often then get stuck at this stage of growth”. Some of the challenges they encounter will be to increase their sales pipeline, manage cashflow, recruit and train staff and having to design and implement more robust business systems and processes.
That’s where the BizSmart team come in. Unlike many other business coaches or advisors, they are all experienced in starting up and running their own small business, so they bring a practical approach and relevant experience to the business owners they support. There is no ‘one size fits all’ programme, each advisor and business owner have the freedom to prioritise critical issues that are barriers to growth and spend more time on these issues in the 12 hours of one to one sessions. The advisors have different areas of specialism including sales and marketing, exporting, finance and engineering so the programme is tailored around how to best suit their individual needs.
To supplement the 12 hours individual support there is an organised system of peer to peer mentoring which all the participating businesses are encouraged to attend. This grows into a ‘support network’ of like-minded business owners who can share ideas with each other, helping solve problems as they arise in the future. Other free resources include weekly ‘lunch and learn’ webinars on various topics and specialist support from a wider team of associates.
Breda Hadley of Citrus Computing found the help and advice invaluable. She and her team are long-standing SAGE accredited business partners. Their company provide extensive ‘behind the scenes’ work for their customers particularly in making sure data back-up is done daily and running virus checks to keep that data secure. Sharing this information with her contract customers enabled Citrus to increase their pricing (and profitability) without losing a single customer for the 2018 year. Citrus customers valued the quality of support and peace of mind about business continuity should a viral attack happen to them.
Perrigo Consultants, a 5-year-old tax and accountancy business had a challenge with recruiting the right staff to support their growth ambitions. The business had outgrown their original business plan and was starting to recruit people. The business now has seven staff, including Dave Perrigo and his wife, and this gives them a lot more scope to spend time on business development activities. Clients benefit from a streamlined back office where everything is taken care of efficiently. Dave commented “Working with BizSmart makes you accountable and gives you guidance in problem areas. The quarterly goal setting keeps you on track – it’s amazing how fast three months go. I’d say it’s like having a coach for sports and fitness. It can be a lonely place, running a business, and having a strategic vision helps with motivation. It stops you being too busy to look at the business.”
Evesham-based Areca Design have benefited from 2 programmes and from receiving grant funding, enabling MD Mick Hurst to diversify the business into more profitable products including the use of innovative technology and mobile apps. His 8 1/2 year old business has successfully grown from a one-man start-up and now employs ten members of staff.

To get your business onto the programme or to find out more, please contact gill@aardvarkmarketing or visit the BizSmart website www.biz-smart.co.uk

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Driverless Marketing

Driverless marketing?

Driverless marketing?

“Driverless cars” seems to have been a news story almost every day for the last few months and no sign of it slowing up.  Personally, I’m not keen on the idea – I can’t think of a single piece of IT that I have owned or used that hasn’t gone wrong at some point, so the prospect of trusting software, satellites etc. to drive me at seventy miles an hour doesn’t have great appeal.  Perhaps I’m just being a bit of a grumpy old man – time will tell.

Actually, the other problem I have with “driverless cars” is the terminology.  I don’t think it’s really true.  When I think about my driving or that of other people when I’m a passenger, it seems to me that one of the key functions of a driver is to respond to real-time situations, making quick decisions and implementing them effectively.  From the traffic light that changes to amber as we approach, to the child who looks like they might step out into the road, as drivers we are processing huge amounts of information and using our skills and experience to make decisions on what to do.

In a driverless car, the same information has to be gathered, but instead of a human being sat behind the wheel, there will presumably be a high-powered piece of computing that makes and implements those decisions.  It will have to be programmed to reach its decisions, and that will have been done by a human in an office or factory somewhere.  So, to my mind, this car isn’t driverless, it’s just that the driver isn’t in the car with you.  I don’t think that makes me feel any better!

I’m concerned at the moment that marketing is heading the same way.  The explosion of software, systems, apps, outsourced services and other tools might make it feel like we don’t need the marketing professional any more.  It can certainly be valuable, saving time, automating the routine tasks and processing mountains of data.  But in the same way as with the car, a skilled and experienced marketer is still needed to direct those resources and make great decisions.

I have long felt that one of the most important attributes for someone to be successful in marketing is empathy.  The ability to stand in the shoes of the customer or prospect and perceive the world the way they do helps us improve every one of the marketing ‘Ps’.  Algorithms can’t do that for us – only real people can empathise with another human being.

My advice is to think about where in your marketing you can safely go ‘driverless’, delivering greater results from fewer resources, and where you really do need your own skilled and experienced marketing driver.

If you don’t have marketing experience in your team, why not talk to us about our outsourced  Marketing Directors or Marketing Managers?


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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to imporve your digital marketing with Google analytics

How to improve your digital marketing with Google Analytics – Webinar

How to improve your digital marketing with Google Analytics – Webinar

Are you making the most of Google Analytics? How do you know whether your marketing is working if you don’t track?

Gill Hutchinson explains how to devise your own website ‘Dashboard’ of key performance indicators using analytics. This will allow you to check that your digital marketing is working well and to refine and improve your performance over time.

When we’re working with our clients on digital marketing, we always track their progress in Google Analytics. It’s the simplest, easiest and most widely used free tool for website monitoring.

Make sure whoever builds your website sets up the analytics tracking code onto each page so it can be activated. You can then log into your data anytime. If you had your website built a while ago then don’t worry, it’s easy to get your developer to add the code into your website.

We set up Excel spreadsheets for all of our clients turning their analytics data into graphs. This also enables us to track the client’s return on investment and means that as we try new things we can see what impact they’re having.

It’s important to have a plan, to measure what happens and to monitor it. Then you can review what you’ve achieved and create your next plan with those previous results in mind.

The Business Accelerator and other grant funding can be used to work in improving your marketing strategy, planning, implementation and measurement systems. So if this is something you need to do, then it’s worth talking to the Business Accelerator team.

What can Google Analytics do?

Google Analytics gives you data that can be used to track visitors and also show you how they behave when they’re on your website pages. Do they move around, spending time on lots of different pages, or do they visit one or two pages before leaving?

It’s important to look at trends as well as the absolute data. You should review trends over time. Check at least once a month at first and then once you know the ‘steady state’ situation, this can become a quarterly exercise.There is one exception to this – if you’re using Pay per Click advertising then this should usually be monitored daily.

What should be on your dashboard? You should track the same things we track for our clients, so that’s:

  • Quantity – how many visitors?
  • Quality – are they ‘good quality’ visits?
  • Content – what are your visitors looking at?

Useful things to look at include whether people are looking at your website on a phone or a computer, as this is vital to know when you’re planning your website.

All websites should be mobile friendly now, but if you know that a large proportion of your visitors are on their mobile, then this will encourage you to make your website mobile friendly sooner rather than later.

Use the Audience Overview screen and track for the last month. You’ll be able to see the number of users (people who’ve visited your website), the number of pages they viewed and also see average time on your website per visitor, the bounce rate and how many were new visitors or returning visitors.

It’s vital to track this, as you can’t possibly know whether your digital marketing is having an impact unless you monitor it.

To understand this topic in more detail and hear more about the strategies Gill uses  Click here to listen to her webinar

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to join the dots between sales and marketing

How to join the dots between Sales and Marketing – webinar

How to join the dots between Sales and Marketing – webinar

 The processes of sales and marketing can often overlap and it’s not always clear where different parts of the sales and marketing process fall. Who is responsible for each part of the  process?

It helps to define exactly what marketing is and how it relates to “suspects” , “prospects” and customers.

In this webinar  Gill Hutchinson from Aardvark Marketing  looks at the difference between the two disciplines and where one part of the process ends and the other begins. We also look at the systems that need to be put in place at each stage.

Listen to the webinar by clicking here


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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Frustrated with poor marketing results?

“Marketing doesn’t work”

“Marketing doesn’t work”

We’re used to hearing from frustrated business owners about marketing. They may say “it’s just a waste of money”, “I’m not sure what works and what doesn’t” or ” I keep being sold ‘silver bullets’ that don’t deliver”. If your marketing activity isn’t generating enough quality leads to drive your business in the direction you want, or at the speed that you want to get there, help is at hand from the experts at Aardvark Marketing.

It’s not just the lack of tangible marketing results that annoys business owners. Most are too busy to find the time to implement decent quality marketing on a regular, consistent basis. This means marketing is ‘fitted in’ around the other needs of the business, typically delivering products or services, selling, finances, IT or people issues. Because marketing is never as urgent as these issues, it tends to get done on the infrequent occasions when there is an unexpected lull in other business activity.  Aardvark believe marketing success comes when you stick to the 2 C’s in Success – consistent and continuous marketing.

There are usually 2 routes a business owner will take to fix their marketing frustration. Option 1 is  to hire a junior and option 2 is to pay an agency. Let’s look at both choices in more detail.

Option 1.

Hire a junior marketing executive who may understand more about digital marketing and social media but who struggles to set the marketing direction because they’ve not had enough (if any) experience of marketing and business strategy. This option means that more gets done and the company looks ’busier’. The website pages get a review, a new brochure is produced and the number of connections and posts on social platforms increase. However, often this doesn’t result in the tangible increase in sales that the business owner expected for the increased payroll costs incurred. There is never any shortage of activities to spend marketing time and money on – picking the right ones is the tricky bit!

Option 2.

Option 2 is to pay a marketing agency to take away the day to day hassle of running your marketing activity and hope that fixes the problem. Again, new campaigns will be implemented but there is often a lack of accountability and sales revenues do not always improve as fast as the marketing spend.  At Aardvark we’re advocates of avoiding splashing the cash.

So is there an option 3?

Here at Aardvark we’ve had years of experience working with small business owners and managers and understand the need to get more bang for your marketing buck. We’ve come up with a third solution – our outsourced Marketing Manager. Here’s our commitment to customers:

  • Unlike a marketing agency, we’re ‘on your side’ and an integral part of your team
  • We’ll work with you to set the right marketing strategy
  • We’ll implement it effectively (on time and on budget)
  • We’ll measure and monitor results and explain these to you at our regular report meetings
  • We’ll agree exactly what we will do and what results you will get for the next 3 months
  • We do all the project management to reduce your workload
  • We ask only for a 3 month commitment with no nasty long term contracts
  • We’re flexible, affordable (packages start at £300 per month) and we’ll improve your marketing to generate more, better quality sales leads.

With the Aardvark Marketing Manager option, you’ll see real change – more leads, sales and positive ROI within 6 months.For a confidential chat about addressing your marketing challenges, please contact Gill Hutchinson at Aardvark Marketing on 0121 222 5743 or email gill@aaardvarkmarketing.co.uk.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Enterprise Advisor helps develop future talent

Aardvark Enterprise Advisor helps develop future talent

Aardvark Enterprise Advisor helps develop future talent

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd has taken on a new role providing support for Woodrush High School in developing more effective links with local businesses as their designated Enterprise Advisor. Gill is joining a successful team of 40 local business leaders in Worcestershire as the LEP are the first in the country to have every school engaged in the programme.

The Enterprise Advisors are part of local networks deigned to build stronger links between schools, colleges and local business. In Worcestershire, the scheme is being delivered by the local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Worcestershire County Council. Their aim is to bring local businesses together to support schools as they develop their whole school careers strategy and, ultimately, support the development of Worcestershire’s future workforce.

For Woodrush school, there is an existing programme of careers advice and events, where students are encouraged to find out more about the world of work and different options after leaving school. These include many new apprenticeship schemes or further education at University. By inviting closer links with businesses, the students can increase their knowledge about the many opportunities available to them and business people can get involved with activities such as career talks and offering practice or mock job interviews.

Gill Hutchinson says “This new partnership programme provides a structure and better resources for all the county schools to deliver careers education. As a former teacher, I know how much students appreciate visitors and how they can benefit from learning from people with diverse backgrounds and experience. Doing a practice interview is a very valuable experience for many students who find the process of job application daunting, and they gain confidence as a result.” Woodrush High School make the process of doing an interview easy and even provide prompt list of questions to get you started.

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