Tag Archives: marketing plan

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Ready for the economic bounce back?

Ready for the economic bounce back?

Ready for the economic bounce back?

The UK economy is set to bounce back into growth, with an average of independent forecasts for the UK Government at 4.3% for 2021 and 5.8% for 2022.1 Whether we experience a fast or medium paced recovery, the message is clear, business activity is now set to recovery and growth in the next 2 years.

For many SME’s, this means they could be working at or near capacity in the near future, as areas of the economy that have been under COVID restrictions are allowed to open and the predicted consumer spending boom begins as people who have accumulated savings in liquid bank deposits during lockdown spend once more.2

During the ups and downs of the last year, the majority of Aardvark Marketing clients have continued their marketing even when times were tough. These businesses have either grown or are ready and waiting to take advantage of the easing of restrictions. If your business stopped marketing activity or reduced it drastically to survive the pandemic, now is the time to put plans in place or risk getting left behind your nimbler, better prepared competitors.

If you are planning to expand rapidly in the spring or summer this year, now is the best time to get activity plans in place. Aardvark Marketing can help with planning and implementing great marketing activity to get your business into a stronger competitive position in 2021. Whether you need someone you can trust to help you design the strategy and plan activities or you’d like us to do all your marketing activity as your outsourced marketing department, now is a good time to take the first step. Pick up the phone and talk to Gill or Chris on 01905 885 285 or email info@aardvarkmarketing to arrange a convenient time for a meeting.

Gill and Chris Hutchinson at Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Ready for the economic bounce back?






  1. HM Treasury Forecast for the UK Economy: a comparison of independent forecasts. ISBN: 978-1-911680-44-4 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/
  2. Bank of England Monetary Policy Report February 2021
Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list

Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list

Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list

All MD’s know that an effective digital marketing funnel will generate more leads and more sales. Companies that invest in marketing funnels do better than those that don’t. If it was quick and easy to create, every company would have one. Why don’t they?  Here’s 6 reasons why accomplishing something so simple is difficult in practice.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list - skills shortages






Skill shortages

Many businesses don’t have any marketing expertise in their team. Staying up to date with the latest marketing trends isn’t easy as the landscape is constantly changing. This means companies either have to hire new staff who have got the relevant expertise ( and, if  the directors  don’t understand these skills themselves, how do they know who is a good hire?) or get training  for their existing team from a qualified, external expert.

Aardvark Marketing | Strategy versus tactics







Lack of clear strategy

Directors often confuse a sales funnel or process with a marketing funnel. A sales funnel starts when a salesperson first makes contact with a prospect, so by exchanging emails, talking on the phone or in person. It’s a process that has an identified point of contact with a prospect and works by developing mutual trust in an ever-closer relationship. The relationship usually has a series of easily identified milestones (KPI’s and stats) by which a sales director can monitor their team. A marketing funnel is softer, providing information to a prospect ‘doing their research’ and making a shortlist of suppliers with whom they will engage further. Marketers refer to ‘nurturing’ prospects through their online research as they move through a digital marketing funnel.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list - direction





Poor or non-existent planning

In order to create an effective digital marketing funnel, you need first to understand marketing channels, content and customers. Channels are the places a prospect will look to find out information about your company, products or services, and they can include non-digital places as well as online resources. Typical digital channels include your website, social media activity, external industry websites, financial information and so on. The content a prospect will read or view will depend upon their own, personal preferences, so this may include recordings/podcasts and video as well as the more traditional website pages and blogs. Finally, you need an in depth understanding of why your good customers return to use your products and services, so that the messages they receive from the content will resonate with them. This will mean you can provide them with all the necessary information they seek to shortlist your company.







No process for creating quality content

Many businesses don’t have creative people in their teams, such as graphic designers, copywriters or website developers. If an eternal marketing agency is hired, there is often a poor brief given which means that the agency don’t produce the right content for your prospects to engage with. Quality content hasn’t only got to look pretty by being well branded, it has to engage your relevant audience.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list - PID





Poor implementation & project management

Managing all those messages, channels and creating good content so that you have a coherent, consistent and continuous marketing presence is a skill in itself. If your team get overwhelmed by the many different tasks, often the wrong priorities are followed because people tend to stick to their skillsets and stay within their comfort zones It takes experience and skill to understand where limited resources should be deployed first to deliver the biggest bang for your buck.






Lack of measurement and data management

Just as a sales process will have key milestones that can be measured, so a good marketing funnel will have some points that can be monitored and measured. For digital marketing, Google Analytics is a good place to start. If you have a digital CRM with web tracking such as HubSpot you can access the data in your system as well. Monthly reporting of marketing KPI’s should be added to your management meeting  agenda, just as you would monitor management accounts for financial data.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list






Buyers and customers are increasingly fickle and shopping around for the best price is often  actively encouraged. Providing the right information through a good digital marketing funnel is increasingly important for the survival of a business. If you are finding any of the above challenges difficult, consider working with Aardvark Marketing. We can provide the expertise you need on an outsourced, affordable basis. Why not make a start by contacting us  or call 01905 885 285 for a confidential discussion today?

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Why Digital Marketing never gets off the MD’s To Do list - award winning experts

What is a touch?

What is a touch?

In our last blog we discussed the magic number of touches that you need in your marketing campaign. The magic number is twelve touches. But, what is a touch?

A touch is any piece of marketing communication that you send to your prospect. It can be a variety of things; a LinkedIn connection, an email, a piece of direct mail, a call. Each touch provides an opportunity for you to share information, educate, or simply remind your prospect of your presence.

Data gathered via extensive research into sales show that the majority of sales happen between the 4th and 12th contact. So a salesman who has made three calls and received 3 “nos” maybe only one touch away from a sale. The problem with the traditional method of sales, cold calling, is that often the potential customer says “no” when in reality what they mean is “not now” or “not yet”.

We forget sometimes that people do not buy when we want them to buy, they buy when they want to buy. The purpose of marketing is to ensure that when they are ready to buy, you are the person they come to.

You can see that if you have a multi-touch campaign which continues over a longer period of time, statistically you are more likely to be in the right place at the right time, than if you only make a few calls over a shorter period of time.

Implementing multi-touch campaigns can seem daunting, so we offer our marketing manager package which provides outsourced marketing so that your campaign is designed, delivered, monitored and measured for you. If you would like to discuss how the marketing manager package could help your business, call us today to arrange your meeting on 01905 885 285

If you would like to learn more about the multi-touch program please watch the video below.

Why your marketing (probably) isn’t working

Why your marketing (probably) isn’t working

Many business owners think that marketing doesn’t work. “But we have tried this,” they say, “and that, and that. and it didn’t work.” Often this problem arises when we try and spread ourselves too thinly across a vast array of marketing outlets, and fail to record and monitor our results and ROI.

Without creating a consistent marketing plan, that is implemented thoughtfully across a carefully selected variety of outlets, and correctly monitored and recorded – marketing may not work.

It is vital to track what is happening with your marketing, so that you can begin to concentrate your efforts on the areas where you are successful. Then you begin to apply your marketing where it has a real impact on your business. Spreading your marketing too thinly can causes problems.

Marketing can feel like a burden. Let us help you. Outsource your marketing to us, and let our marketing manager program create, plan and implement your marketing campaign. Our marketing manager package has been designed to provide affordable marketing tailored to your business. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good return on investment, but you do have to spend wisely.

Interested? Do you want to learn more about how to improve your sales, gain more customers, and more profit? Click below to watch the video.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Have you got a marketing camel?

Have you got a Marketing Camel ?

Have you got a Marketing Camel ?

There is an old saying that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”.  Lots of features which individually make good sense, offering additional benefits, but when you put it all together, it just doesn’t look great!

When I meet a new small or medium sized business, and start to examine their marketing I often find myself thinking about this saying.  Typically, what I find is a collection of marketing activities all or most of which made perfect sense as individual decisions when they were made, but don’t work together to deliver the number of high quality, warm leads that the sales team need to hit their revenue and profit targets.  A good marketing programme consists of activities which work together and deliver big results and a positive bottom-line return on the time and money invested in them.

The reason the camel-style marketing doesn’t work is that customers spot the inconsistencies, consciously or sub-consciously and instinctively react.  When the individual pieces don’t really fit together well it causes doubts in our mind.  We might not be able to explain our reaction, but deep down it just doesn’t feel right and we’re inclined to look for a better option, whether that’s visiting a different stand at the trade show or hitting the ‘back’ button on the browser.  In a crowded and competitive market, our ‘camel’ is losing us good prospects all the time.

What’s the solution?  Almost always it’s about creating a robust marketing strategy, specific to your business.  This will be built on a clear understanding of who your target customers are, who your competitors are and what your products and services offer.  The strategy will define the direction marketing needs to take to deliver the results (marketing objectives) that will help the business achieve its growth targets.  You can read more about this in my recent blogs “What’s your ‘more’?” and “Getting to your ‘more’”

If you think you might have a marketing camel and would like to get an independent, no-obligation point of view, please give us a call on 01905 885 285 or complete the enquiry form on our website.


Aardvark Marketing Consultancy | Getting to you "more"

Getting to your “more”

Getting to your “more”

In my most recent blog, I covered the subject of marketing objectives, suggesting that very often they begin with or heavily feature the word “more” and challenging you to define your “more”(s). Hopefully you now have these defined, even if you aren’t 100% happy with them, so we can now move on to considering how to get there. Far too often I see businesses that choose their marketing programme based on a whim (what’s fashionable), what they have done before (even if they don’t know if it actually worked), or what the competition do. Clearly, none of these approaches is ideal, so let’s see if we can find a better way to get you to your goals.
This is what is often called your marketing strategy and plan – we’re setting the broad direction you want to take, some key milestones and defining in a reasonable level of detail the specific actions you are going to take for at least the early part of the journey.
But before we do that, I want to pause for a moment to consider what constitutes marketing activity. There can be a lot of debate about what is or isn’t in the marketing plan, and even more often what should be paid for from the marketing budget or managed by the marketing team. I have a simple check that I always use to see if something ‘qualifies’ as marketing or not and it can be summed up in a single short sentence:
“All marketing activity should change either what people think, or what they do.”
It really isn’t any more complicated than that, we want to change beliefs and behaviours. In fact, it’s often even simpler, because the effect that really matters is behaviour – changing what people do (this is where the “more” happens). Where the complexity comes in is in defining some of the elements of that statement:
Which people?
What change in their thinking?
What change in their behaviour?
Over what time period?
How will we measure it?
So, returning to your “more”; the first question is “what belief and behaviour changes” do we need to achieve to make your “more” happen? Do we need to grow awareness, improve credibility, build a fan base or encourage recommendations? Do we need to get more people to try the product or service, build repeat purchase rates, retain more customers, increase transaction size or get purchasers of one of our products to try another one? These are some of the common belief and behaviour changes, but there are plenty more.
A good way to identify these changes is to think about where you want to be (your “more”) and what is stopping that now – what isn’t happening that you need to happen? Although behaviour change is probably the priority, we may need a belief change to unlock the shift in behaviour. For example, prospects may buy a competitor product rather than ours because they believe it to be better, or they have always used it and don’t want to risk trying something new.
In my experience, once the desired belief and behaviour changes are defined, selecting the marketing direction (strategy) and specific activities (plan) becomes a much simpler task. Sometimes it will be obvious what to do, but even if not, you can use your belief and behaviour targets as a checklist against which to test potential marketing actions. For example, advertising, PR, social media and email newsletters will generally be more likely to influence what people think about your brand, while promotional offers are more likely to change what, when and how much they buy.
As the strategy and action plan take shape it can also help to construct a matrix, listing the desired belief and behaviour changes on one side and the proposed marketing activities on the other to check that the total plan gives a thorough and balanced coverage against the results we need to achieve.
For a confidential, no-obligation conversation about this or any aspect of marketing, please give us a call, or send us an email. If your marketing isn’t getting the results you need, our non-‘fluffy’ approach can probably help.

2016: What a Year

2016: What a Year

As 2016 draws to a close, reviews of the calendar year are everywhere, and rarely can there have been such a wealth of stories to draw from.  Whether it’s the sad deaths of many famous people, wars, or politics it seems to have been a 12 months packed with big news.  I was one of 13,000 delighted sports fans who attended the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event on Sunday evening in Birmingham and again there were so many notable team and individual performances, it was hard to cram it all in.
From a marketing perspective, I have picked two stories from 2016 which stood out for me.
If you don’t follow the marketing press and/or aren’t working for a leading FMCG brand owner, you may have missed the emergence of zero-based budgeting or ZBB as it is becoming known in those circles.  Businesses such as Diageo, Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are amongst those who have adopted this approach to their marketing planning.
I don’t want to appear smug, but it’s a philosophy which we have been recommending to clients since Aardvark began back in 2005 – every marketing expense should be justified for the next financial year on the basis of the expected return.  The marketing plan shouldn’t start with “what we did last year” and then adjust up or down, it should start with zeros in the budget, a set of objectives and a strategy.  Of course, what we learned in previous years (assuming we are measuring our marketing) will help select and refine the activities we choose to invest in, but for me, it’s important to challenge the easy assumption that we’ll do roughly the same as we did last year.  It fits very well with the old saying “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got (at best).”
The other story relates to the voting shocks of 2016 – Brexit, Trump, Ed Balls and of course Boaty McBoatface.  Is this a wave of anti-establishment rebellion, or could it just be that the establishment didn’t really understand its customers?  As marketers, we should never be surprised by the decisions our customers make – if we are then we have a gap in our understanding and that will make it harder for us to succeed.  Whether we’re trying to get people to vote for us or buy our goods and services, if we keep failing to understand what makes them tick we’ll probably get an unintended and disappointing result.
So as you look forward to 2017, my advice is to keep working to understand your customers and prospects and challenge everything in your marketing plan – does it really deserve to be there?
I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | The 2 C's in Success

The Two C’s in Success

The Two C’s in Success

I had a new experience this week.  I was visiting a professional services company who have been a client for nearly five years, and on entering their offices, one of the team told me they had a complaint about our work.
Whilst we don’t get many complaints, we have inevitably had a few over 11 years of business.  So I steeled myself for the bad news, with my brain desperately trying to work out what I might have done to offend our client.  “OK” I said, “what’s the problem?”
“Will you please slow down the number of new enquiries we are getting?  We are struggling to cope with the demand.”  With a few members of staff on holiday, and no major new business marketing campaigns running, the team were looking forward to a relatively relaxed summer, but our marketing work was making them as busy as ever!
Why were they getting so many enquiries when we weren’t running major campaigns?  It’s basically a reward for consistency and continuity of effort.  Five years of working to a clear marketing strategy, sticking to the plan and measuring results has allowed us to steadily improve the effectiveness of their marketing activity and build an upward momentum in their market.
We’ve seen the same effect with numerous clients.  Once the direction is set, two of the most important words are “Consistent” and “Continuous”.  I refer to them as the two c’s in success.
Maintaining a consistent message builds a clear impression of the business and what it offers; Continuous presence maximises the chances of being remembered when a prospect is in the market for your product or service.  Carefully building a plan that enables busy people to maintain regular marketing activity is an important step for small and mid-sized businesses who want to break out of the ‘Feast and Famine’ cycle.

AArdvark Marketing Consultants | Delegate but don't abdicate

Delegate, but don’t abdicate

Delegate, but don’t abdicate

For those, like me who are suffering EU Referendum fatigue, please don’t panic, while the theme of this week’s blog is about taking control, I’m talking about your business and specifically your marketing, nothing to do with the 23rd June!
In a desire to follow one of the most quoted pieces of advice from the e-myth book “Work on your business, not in your business”, we generally try to delegate some of our “in the business” workload. Sometimes this will be to employees, other work may be outsourced. I regularly see both in the way small and medium-sized businesses go about their marketing and I’m very happy with either approach.
In my experience, few business owners have a marketing background and whilst accepting the potential that good marketing could deliver, most don’t want to spend much of their time on it. Again, I don’t have a problem with this, much of the marketing workload can be effectively dealt with by other people in the business or external marketing experts.
Where I do have concerns is when delegation and/or outsourcing becomes abdication. It’s OK to delegate the work, but defining what we want marketing to deliver, agreeing the direction, investment strategy and tracking implementation and results is critical to the success of the business and that can’t be delegated.
Too often I meet businesses who have “someone looking after our marketing for us”, but when I dig beneath the surface, this is less about finding the best way to run an effective marketing programme and more about getting rid of a problem. A member of staff who has displayed a bit of enthusiasm for marketing or an agency with a slick sales patter promising transformational results can be a convenient opportunity for the business owner to convince him or herself that “we’ve got marketing sorted now” and turn their focus elsewhere.
Very often this ‘abdication’ ends in disappointment for all parties; the agencies get frustrated with the lack of direction and interest from the top of the business, the in-house marketer feels unsupported, lacks mentoring and development and the business owner doesn’t get the return (i.e. enough quality sales leads) on their marketing spend that they need. The focus of marketing activity generally spirals downward to switching tactics, trying to find a magic formula with an inconsistent level of investment.
For most SMEs, with the right choice of in-house and external resources, as little as 2 structured hours a month of the business owner’s time can make the difference between ineffective marketing that wastes your money and a programme that delivers a high return on investment and the long term business goals.
If taking back control of your marketing to get better results sounds interesting, give us a call today.