Tag Archives: marketing

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Pricing strategy

You paid how much for that makeover?

You paid how much for that makeover?

How much does a roll of wallpaper cost? No, it’s not a trick question. With so much debate in the media about the cost of redecorating a certain flat in London, I found my thoughts wandering to the subject of pricing strategy again.

Here at Aardvark, we talk about pricing to almost every client we have ever worked with and very often we’re trying to persuade them to increase prices. Or at least consider the possibility of changing their pricing structure.  However, I think a great many marketing professionals don’t get involved in pricing and this strikes me as very strange.

Price is one of the four “P”s, and in my view just as important as the other three.  I know there are many more “P”s now, not to mention collections of other terms beginning with other letters (we even talk about the two “C”s in success), but 35 years’ experience has shown me that the original four “P”s remain a great foundation for successful marketing.

If pricing isn’t right, it will dilute the impact of all the rest of your other marketing activity. It could even completely undermine it.  Too high and you’ll lose potential sales (now or in the future) and allow competitors to steal your customers.  Too low and you will most obviously leave money behind that you could have taken, but can also turn off customers or attract the wrong kind of customers in the first place. As a business owner, would you rather be a busy fool, sending our numerous quotes or proposals that don’t actually lead to good business or send a smaller number to better targeted prospects and convert a higher percentage of these? We worked with a local builder who achieved a better work life balance through this approach. Better targeted marketing and new messages enabled him to stop working every weekday evening. He no longer needed to go out on a site visit, measure up and then produce a detailed quote to homeowners who only wanted the cheapest option. He was able to switch his attention to fewer, ‘on-profile’ customers who appreciated the high quality of their work.

So how is pricing set in your business.  Is it a “cost plus” approach with a target profit margin?  Is it based on competitor analysis, aiming to maintain an agreed relativity to what the competition offer customers?  Or is it based on the perceived value of your products or services?

The value-based option is almost always preferable. It will encompass competitor-based pricing and if it means your margins are thin or even non-existent, then the business needs to re-examine its cost base.  And of course, the people in the business who know most about customer perceptions of value are the marketing team.  It’s our job to understand and represent the customer within the business, and that includes knowing what people are prepared to pay for our products and services.

Are we out there, talking to customers about value and how we compare to alternatives?  By “alternatives” I don’t just mean products and services like ours, but all the things customers could do instead of buying from us.

Or are we checking our competitors’ prices on the internet, and letting sales tell us the reason (excuse) they can’t hit targets is that the competition are so much cheaper than us?  Are we giving away price because margins are good so we can “afford” to discount?

Have you implemented a price increase recently?

And a final thought; if your suppliers are putting up prices more often that you are, something is probably going wrong!  If you’d like to understand how pricing strategy can improve both your business and your quality of life, why not email or pick up the phone to Gill or Chris at Aardvark?

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Technology Innovator awards 2020- Best Outsourced Marketing

Aardvark outsourced marketing service win Technology Innovator award for 5th consecutive year

Aardvark outsourced marketing service win Technology Innovator award for 5th consecutive year

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Technology Innovator awards 2020- Best Outsourced MarketingThe team at Aardvark Marketing have again been recognised for their contribution to the UK marketing industry as outsourced marketing experts. The 2020 Technology Innovator Awards returns for its fifth year, allowing Corporate Vision magazine to reward those talented and dedicated individuals and firms working in this demanding sector for their innovation and excellence in their business practice, as well as their outstanding overall performance.

With all the current economic uncertainty, outsourcing your marketing can be a smart business move” says Gill Hutchinson, Director at Aardvark Marketing. “Our skilled marketers provide a highly effective service for a fraction of the hassle and cost of hiring employees and with maximum flexibility for your business. We have been able to support our customers through the ups and downs of their economic activity in this very difficult year, keeping their customers informed and making sure they are ready to take full advantage of opportunities that arise as we get closer to business as usual.”

According to TechTarget, companies choose outsourcing to lower costs, improve efficiencies and gain speed. Because the third-party provider focuses on that particular task, it is able to do it better, faster and cheaper than the hiring company could. This means they can focus their resources more specifically on their own core competencies, thereby helping them gain competitive advantages in the market. Three other reasons for outsourcing are because they’re unable to hire in-house employees with the specialised skills and experience needed or this allows them to shift regulatory requirements to the third-part provider or to enable them to innovate their systems and processes.

Laura Hunter, awards manager at Corporate Vision says “Our 2020 Technology Innovator Awards are based solely on merit, rather than the number of votes received. We reward businesses based on their excellence in their industry, the quality of their products and their dedication to service.”

If you’d like to know more about how outsourced marketing could provide your business with the competitive advantage it needs, please contact Gill Hutchinson at Aardvark Marketing on 01905 885 285 or email us here.

Aardvark Marekting Consultants | The road to recovery

The road to recovery

The road to recovery

How hackneyed the term ‘new normal’ sounds. Yet it is ill-defined.  The economic picture has never been so mixed. Some sectors in healthcare or food & drink are booming, our hospitality industry is in lockdown / survival mode and other business sectors are somewhere on the spectrum in between. Many do not yet have a confirmed date for re-opening, so the ‘new normal’ isn’t yet established. As we emerge from hibernation, most of us are unsure about the future.

If your business is getting started again, there will be many things to think about. Cashflow, grants or loans, staffing and furlough, risk assessments, signage etc may be top of the list. Successful marketing is the only activity that will bring in vital cash. Is it on your to do list?

Marketing was probably the first thing you cut when lockdown started. Those businesses that were able to retrench and reduce marketing activity to keep a presence in their marketplace, will now be better placed to take advantage of the opening process. If you gave up marketing activity altogether, you may well be behind those competitors that had the resources to keep going. Whatever your history, now is the time to review future marketing.

The challenge is balance. How to achieve balance between the need to bring in new business without breaking the bank in the process?  What environmental changes have happened over the lockdown period? Will the increased use of technology make a difference? Will there be legal challenges in terms of keeping everyone Covid-secure? Are your existing or new consumers going to be nervous about spending on your products or services at the same level as they did before?  Lack of business confidence and tight cashflow in your customers’ business could leave your order book looking thinner for several more months. Or it may be that demand is going to be exceptionally high and this may present challenges of shortages of stock or capacity.

Whatever your precise situation, good marketing and clear communication will help you make the most of any opportunities that present themselves. Measuring results quickly will be key to good decision-making. Priorities and the balance of activities may need to change but will only be effective if you’ve already got good communication channels in place. Whilst hoping for a smooth road to recovery, my guess is that there will be bumps ahead for many businesses.

The marketing specialists at Aardvark have a limited number of free hourly sessions when we can discuss your plans and ‘sense check’ them with you. If you would like to take advantage of one of these review sessions and get ahead of your competitors,  call Gill on 07790 341 239 to get your date in the diary.

Not opening just yet? Read our 5 marketing actions for business survival here

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 5 marketing actions for business survival

5 marketing actions for business survival

5 marketing actions for business survival

There are daily changes to the way UK business works right now. Naturally, our first actions are to ensure all employees are safe and everyone in a non-essential role is working from home. Tough times mean a review of finances and likely cashflow, perhaps with some modelling of different scenarios. The knee jerk reaction for most businesses, certainly smaller businesses, is to immediately cut everything that’s seen as ‘non-essential’ which includes marketing or staff training budgets.

Immediate  changes

What is happening now is changing the way we work, and there may be some activity that is novel now but will become the new ‘normal’ in the future. People in crisis will seriously consider new ideas because necessity really is the mother of invention.  Many of us will change our behaviour and use our new freedom to reach out to new suppliers and sources of help. That will mean new opportunities for many businesses if they can start having the right conversations and making the right connections.

Lasting changes?

12 weeks is a game changer! Conventional wisdom tells us it takes a month to change a habit for good, so it’s dangerous to assume that these new practices will be put aside at the end of the crisis period and we’ll all go back to ‘business as usual’.

What can you do during the crisis?

Aardvark Marketing would like to share our 5-point process for analysing the state of your current and future marketing. Every business is different, so not all of this will apply to you, however having a checklist of actions you can take will get you thinking and acting in the best way to future-proof your business.

1.

  1. Trim

Make lists of your current expenditure – invoiced costs are easiest but consider also the time and employees dedicated to deliver all your marketing activity.

Sort the list into things that can safely stop with little immediate impact, for example, activity promoting an upcoming trade fair or conference, things that could continue in-house and things that require external expertise, for example SEO work or new content on your website.

Some activities can probably be scaled back to a ‘hold’ level delivering savings without undermining your business.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 5 marketing actions for business survival - innovate

2. Innovate

This one requires some thought. How can we deliver the same benefits for  customers with a different method of delivery?  Most obvious here are making use of new virtual meetings to replace the face to face meeting. For some this just makes more use of working practices they were already doing, for others it may be a steep learning curve to get everybody familiar with a new IT system. For some hospitality businesses, such as pubs or cafes, they may be able to supply a home delivery service for vulnerable people unable to get out and about as before.

If you cannot see a way to build you an immediate income stream from the innovation, then consider building community or prospective customer goodwill. Could you offer something to a charity or to essential workers to make their life easier and save them time or effort? If you can, this makes a good PR story for your business, which will pay a dividend in the future.For some, going back to a ‘barter system’ and trading our expertise with someone in another business could be a way to innovate and support each other.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 5 marketing actions for business survival - strengthen

3. Strengthen

If you work in a non-essential business, what you have right now is the gift of time. Time is a precious and finite commodity for most of us and we never seem to have enough of it. Why not use this time to think, to review and implement change away from the usual hectic day to day challenges you dealt with previously?

For many family businesses, this already happens when the ‘board meeting’ is the Sunday lunch discussion topic or the review time directors take when they are away from the business during the Christmas holiday.

Dust off your business plan and ask yourself if your current competitive advantage will continue to work in the future. What are your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from your existing and new competitors? What is truly unique about your organisation and what do your existing customers truly value about your product or service? What will customers pay a premium for? Is your offering just a “me too” or is it better/different from others?

If there are real differences, does your marketing convey this to potential customers consistently and effectively?

This could be a great time to do some in-depth customer interviews to replace your day to day customer survey tick boxes.

Finally, in the strengthen section, we should consider our team. Can they use this time more productively by learning something new that will save us time or money in the future? A skills gap analysis could enable you to launch a new product or service or improve your existing systems and processes by building in-house expertise.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 5 marketing actions for business survival - prepare

4. Prepare

When the crisis eases and we try to get back to normal, how will you get your customers, sales and profits back to where they used to be (or even better)?  Now is the time to plan for different demand scenarios.  You may face floods of old customers wanting to purchase (have you got enough stock and capacity?).  Or you might be dealing with a shortage of money, lack of confidence and procrastination over key decisions which could leave your order book looking thin for many more months.

Think about these and any other possible scenarios, how you would quickly spot which one you are in and what you can do to turn around or make the most of the opportunities.  Good marketing will have a role to play, whatever your situation.  Most importantly, how will you know if it is working?

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 5 marketing actions for business survival - track

5. Review and learn

As we sit in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, what can we learn from the experience about ourselves and our businesses?  How resilient are we to external shocks, the stuff we can’t control but can turn our world upside down.

If you haven’t done this before, now is the time to try some ‘what if…? exercises. Think about your current customers; what would happen if they suddenly stopped your contract, paid you on less favourable terms, demanded bigger discounts? How resilient is the business to an interruption in your supply chain, i.e. do you have a few key suppliers or have you the ability to switch between several for a vital component or service? Or, you might have a scale-up challenge if you suddenly needed to service ten businesses for every one you had previously and your capacity to deliver this number became squeezed. Would you have the additional expertise in-house, would you be able to quickly hire expertise to deliver this or is new recruitment of skilled employees your only option?

If cashflow can sometimes create pressure, are you setting aside a war chest? When business is good, do you still look to keep costs under control, or do you forget to review this? Do you keep some cash in a savings account for a rainy day?

Do you have good communication channels with your supply chain and your customer base? Sometimes this can involve regular contact with key people, for example if you have key account managers in place, for others this may mean mass communication via a website, social media or regular emails. Have you checked which mode of communication works best for them or do you just use what is convenient for you? When information needs to be circulated quickly and accurately, how do you achieve this?

Consider time limited offers to keep the cashflow healthier, but bear in mind these will only be effective if you have already got good communication channels in place.

 

Right now we have customers who are receiving new enquiries because they continued their marketing even when things got tough (remember Brexit everyone?) and some who are struggling with cashflow but want to keep some marketing in place.  They are ready to recover as quickly as possible after the crisis abates. Are you?

If you’d like a free and confidential conversation about your business challenges, we’re still here to help. Call 01905 885 285 or email us and we’ll be in touch.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marketing 2020 style - keep it simple!

Marketing 2020 style – keep it simple!

Marketing 2020 style – keep it simple!

As we approach the beginning of a new decade, many people will be reflecting on the last 10 years and speculating what the 2020s will bring.  In terms of marketing, I think we can be fairly confident that there will be further advances in technology, and more fragmentation of media, making it yet more complicated to reach target audiences with the “right message at the right time”.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | 2020's will see more fragmentation of media channelsIn recent years, the growth in numbers and sophistication of CRM systems, Marketing Automation software, Social Media platforms, click funnels, re-marketing, etc. have provided a dazzling array of tools for marketers, but also increasing pressure to adopt the latest advances, with all the associated time and financial investment required to execute them properly.

My question to business owners is “do you need them yet?”.

Or are there more conventional (old fashioned) activities that can still deliver the results you need in a simpler way?

In the last quarter of 2019, we have created a programme of simple SMS promotions for one of our clients.  We identified that many of their customers while happy with the service purchased were not repeat purchasing, so we send a promotional offer to customers whose last purchase was between 2 and 12 months ago.  We could undoubtedly run more sophisticated offers, more tailored to their previous purchases, we could set up follow up communications based on responses and we could probably tie in at least 3 social media platforms.

Is it working?  In a word, yes!  We began with a small test and have then gradually increased the scale of the activity targeting a bigger pool of customers each time.  We have also tried different promotional offers.  Across all the promotions run so far we have seen an average return of £7 of gross profit for every £1 of spend and sales from the last promotion were worth 9% of total revenue during the promotional period.

Aardvark Marekting Consultants | SMS delivers £7 gross profit for every £1 spentTo return to the earlier point, we could have set out to do something more leading edge, with bigger potential returns.  But we were able to implement this activity quickly, test it on a small scale (the first promotion cost around £250) and if we want to go for something more complex we can do it while the current promotions are running and use the profits they are generating to pay for the IT, training and other upfront costs.

Alternatively, we might just keep going, keeping it simple.  They won’t win any marketing awards or get lots of great PR, but the bank balance looks great!

If you would like some simple, practical advice to improve the marketing of your business in 2020, give us a call on 01905 885 285 , email us  or send us an enquiry .

Happy Marketing,in 2020!

Chris

Delivering a great multi-touch campaign

Delivering a great multi-touch campaign

A multi-touch campaign requires thought. In reality everything requires thought, but sometimes when we are busy it is all too easy to simply think “that’ll do.” Going too far the other way doesn’t work either. Getting stuck in the “it has to be perfect” mentality can cause paralysis.

The advantage about working with us, is that we have a good process for ensuring that the touches are designed, created and implemented to a high standard in the required time frame. As we are not involved in the day-to-day operation of your business, we don’t get dragged into firefighting. This means that you can be confident that your marketing will continue regardless of what is happening internally.

A multi-touch program relies on a consistent delivery of the marketing message through a variety of channels at regular intervals. When we work with companies the content will be very different, as each business has it own relevant content that is specific for that industry and marketplace. But the process we follow will be the same, the format for delivering the marketing program will follow a system that we know works.

If you are finding it difficult to deliver regular marketing that conveys the correct message to the right people, why not talk to us? Outsourcing your marketing provides you with high quality marketing without the expense of having to run a marketing department in your business. You can pay for the amount of marketing that you need, rather than having to pay salaries, with all their associated costs.

If you are interested in outsourcing your marketing, why not take a look at our marketing manager service? Or simply book a no-obligation meeting to discuss your business with us.

To learn more about multi-touch marketing take a look at the video below?

Are you sending the right message?

Are you sending the right message?

If you are going to the effort of designing, producing and implementing a multi-touch program, it is vital that the content of the touches is good. There is no point producing a whole touch program that solely says how great we are! Good content is essential to ensure that not only are you communicating with people, but that you are communicating the right message.

Your communication with your prospects needs to be about them, their problems, their pain. They need to feel that you understand them, and good content can do just that. As a basic rule only 25% of your communication should be about you. This could be a piece of PR around an award, a flyer showing what you offer, but only 25%.

The rest of your content needs to be about your prospect. This can be 50% solely about them and their pain points, and 25% showing relevant industry items, so that they can see that you understand the complexities of their industry.

Good content will build around the pain points that your prospect faces, and will show empathy for their difficulties as well as solutions and benefits. Whenever we create content, we need to make sure that we have these points firmly in our mind. Relationships are built on trust, and part of the job of good content is to build trust between you and your prospect, so that they will become a client. We trust people who understand us and our problems, so make sure that your marketing invokes trust in people.

If you would like help with delivering the right message to your prospects, we can help. With our marketing manager system you can outsource your marketing to us, so that we can design, create and implement your marketing, leaving you free to manage your clients. To arrange a meeting call us today on 01905 885 285.

To learn more multi-touch marketing, watch the video below.

Welcome to Mark’s Mental Health Marathon and thanks for reading.

Welcome to Mark’s Mental Health Marathon and thanks for reading.

As many of you will already know, 2018 was a difficult year…a year in which I was told I might have three-years to live, followed by extensive diagnostic health checks, regular specialist consultant’s visits, cancelled operations, learning how to cope with insulin dependence and eventually a lung biopsy to confirmation a long-term inflammatory lung disease requiring ongoing steroids and, this year, powerful immuno-suppressants that are also used in chemotherapy treatments.  My mother’s untimely death hardly helped the year along!

This year I’ve been offered an opportunity of a lifetime – so, I’m undertaking a sponsored 80km trek to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to raise money for Mental Health UK, Lloyds Bank’s chosen charity. So, why would an insulin-dependent diabetic with only two thirds lung capacity want to take on such a physical challenge in oppressive heat of 35°c and saturating humidity of over 80%?

It’s all about saying ‘thank you’ to the community that supported me and kept me going through the ups and downs of 2018.  Of course, the support from friends and family is invaluable at times like these but I had more, much more. I experienced surprising and very welcome support from my networks of clients, colleagues, professional partners. People who would regularly pick up the phone or drop me an email and simply ask…‘I was just thinking of you, how are you doing?’…and still do!

So the challenge I’ve set myself is to pay-back to everyone who provided that invaluable support network. It’s my way of saying thank you to a fantastic business community.

I want to make a difference in 3 ways:-

  • I’d like the business community to be increasingly capable of supporting people experiencing mental health issues; by being more effective and efficient at spotting issues and hopefully preventing them from developing into something more serious.
  • I’d like everyone in my business community to be able to say ” Yes, I’ve got something out of this for myself, for my team and for my business”.
  • Raising £25,000 for a truly worthwhile and practical charity – Mental Health UK so that they can support many others going through difficult times with mental health issues.

So I invite you all to get involved with me. This might be by attending one of my fundraising events, being one of my corporate sponsors or by coming along to one of our mental health awareness seminars and hearing from expert speakers on mental health issues.

Look out for regular updates on these events as the year progresses, culminating in my trek to Cambodia as part of a team of 70 Lloyds bank staff during the rainy reason in October!

So, can I encourage you, please, to give generously to a cause that at some stage in our lives we all may need to rely on to support our family, friends, or even ourselves.

Whatever amount you might choose to donate, you have my heartfelt appreciation.  Donations can be made most easily through my Just Giving page or, if preferred, by cheque made payable to ‘LBG Charity of the Year’.

Please be kind enough to ‘like’ and ‘share’ my blog posts with your social media connections so we can spread the word. With your support, together, we can make a difference to our community.

With my personal thanks,

Mark

With thanks to Mark Smith our guest blogger this week. Aardvark Marketing Consultants are supporting Mark in his fundraising efforts.

Does your marketing strategy look like this?

Does your marketing strategy look like this?

Many B2B companies fall into the same problems as regards their marketing. Their marketing has often developed as the company has grown, and has not been planned out rationally, but has been added onto at various stages by different individuals. That is not say that each idea was not a good one in its own right, just that they have been collated with little or no strategy. Effective marketing will help to drive your company forward, so it is worth spending the time creating a good sound strategic plan, and then breaking that down into component parts which can then be given to different team members, so you could simply outsource.

The problems arise as follows:

Often they will have a loose assortment of activities – pick and mix marketing, not based on any coherent structure, but rather selected at random. This results in a lack of strategy and direction in your marketing.

Repeating the previous year’s activities. Though this is not necessarily a bad idea, it is if you are doing it simply because you don’t know what else to do.

Copying competitors, again this is not automatically bad. You and your competitors may have similar marketing strategies targeting the same areas of the market. If however you are just blindly copying your competitors it is unlikely to give you excellent results.

Spend increasing faster than return, if you are in this situation you need to stop and review what you are doing.

Little or no measurement, means that you have no way of understanding what is happening. If you simply try different things but never track them, you won’t be able to build up a picture of what works and what doesn’t. Not everything will work, but over time, with good measurement you will be able to work out what works well for you.

Hoping for leads and enquiries is all well and good, but if your only strategy is a hope strategy, then you are reliant upon people who stumble upon your company.

Creating a good marketing strategy will help you understand what works for your business. If you are struggling with your marketing call Aardvark Marketing Consultants on 01905 885 285

To learn more, watch the video below:

White knights and who is telling the truth?

White knights and who is telling the truth?

Often when you are selling to larger businesses, you can end up having to sell to committees. Committees can be problematical as one person may love your product or service, and then may be in the position of having to sell you to the other committee members. The best that you can do in this situation is to support your “white knight” in their efforts to sell you to the committee. This can be ensuring that they have answers to questions that may be raised, or just increasing their understanding of your product or service.

Another problem that we come across in the selling process is our perception of salesmen. We tend to think that a salesman is trying to get one over on us, or to trick us in some way. This is, by and large, not true. Salesmen are simply well-informed about their product and are trying to show it you in the best possible light. Unfortunately, because often buyers believe that salesmen are being untruthful, they then feel it is okay to also be untruthful.

If nobody is telling the truth it can be very hard to determine what anybody wants. As a salesman you need to know what somebody wants before you can help them. The sales assistant in the shop who asks, “can I help you?” is trying to do just that. If you have come into the shop to buy an item, saying “I’m just looking” is, in one sense, lying. Now the sales assistant can’t help, and you can’t be helped. Truthfulness is important to understand what people want.

If you are struggling with your sales process, and would like to review it, why not arrange a meeting with us? At Aardvark Marketing Consultants we have worked with hundreds of business across a range of industries and can help you to improve your sales processes. Call us today on 01905 885 285

Or to learn more about successful selling watch the video below