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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 0121 222 5743 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 0121 222 5743 , 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 0121 222 5743.

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 0121 222 5743

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 0121 222 5743

Or to learn more about successful selling watch the video below

One step at a time…

One step at a time…

All industries have different problems facing them, and understanding this is key to successful marketing. How you market your engineering company will be different to how you market your creative business. However the tools and techniques that we use will all have a common basis.

In the Midlands there are many engineering firms, and often you will find SME supplying big businesses such as Jaguar LandRover. As the items required by the big firm are often very technical it can be necessary to spend quite some time working with the big business to show them what you are offering, For example you may have to start with a technical drawing followed by a prototype. Sometimes the company will then want to test the item for a prolonged period of time. All of which is fine if you are going to get the contract, but is not so good for your cash flow.

Small businesses often struggle with cash flow, especially in their infancy. Viable, good, profitable businesses are bought down more often by cash flow problems than anything else. Ensuring that your cash flow is resilient enough to withstand such an extended negotiating period is vital to the health and well-being of your company.

You may find that you have to work your way up to be able to put yourself in this position. Taking smaller steps over a few years towards your final goal may be more sensible than trying to launch yourself straight up to your desired end point. Steadily working up through the industry, and ensuring that you have good cash reserves before marketing yourself to the larger companies can be prudent.

Your marketing will need to adapt through the different steps that you take. Marketing yourself to the customers that you need to acquire now, as supposed to the customers you would like to have in three years time is important. With our marketing services we can develop a plan to help you to progress through your industry. Making sure that your marketing is targeting the correct people, in the right way.

If you would like to learn more about successful selling watch the video below.

If you are struggling to create an effective marketing message, why not contact us at Aardvark Marketing Consultants today? We have experience across a wide range of different businesses and industries. Call us now to arrange your face to face meeting on 0121 222 5743

Perfect pitch

Perfect pitch

Getting in front of prospective new clients can be a tricky business. Both in actually getting there, and what to do once you are there. Some businesses routinely ask for three competitive pitches for services, for example three web designers, three SEO companies, three creatives. So being one of the three gives you the chance to sell yourself to the new client.

However there-in lies the problems. You don’t know the client, you probably won’t have had the chance to sit down and talk to them, ask the questions that you need to know the answers to, to do a really good job. So, to a certain extent you are pitching “blind.” You have to use considered guesses to try and accurately assess what the client wants.

The problem with competitive pitching as a creative, is that you are asked to come up with ideas which you aren’t necessarily going to be paid for. You can feel torn. On the one hand you want to win the contract, so you want to offer up your best, but on the other hand, you can be worried that you are giving away your ideas.

Ensuring that you have well-presented examples of previous projects will help to be able to provide clients with ideas of what you can achieve, and time spent collating these resources is well spent. Carefully written case studies, client testimonials, examples of projects from initial briefs through to project competition will show your prospective client how you work, and your results.

Selling processes can be tricky, but ensuring that you have good well put together resources will help to optimise your time, and reduce some of the stress involved with the selling process. If you are struggling with your selling process, why not arrange a face to face meeting with us to discuss your sales process, call us now on 0121 222 5743 to arrange your meeting.

Or to learn more about successful selling watch the video below.

The Devil’s in the Detail

The Devil’s in the Detail

In general detail is good. Bold brush stroke plans are vital for forward thinking, and strategy, but without the detail there is no way of moving towards your goal. However, sometimes too much detail can be your downfall, and this can be true when talking about prospecting.

If you fill your proposal with detail, you can end up in the situation where your prospective client regards it as a shopping list, and starts taking out items in order to drive down their costs. Suddenly your neat, detailed plan, which you know will work for them and deliver the results that they need, is full of holes. This “leaky” version you know won’t deliver such good results, and will be more complicated to deliver, as you won’t have control over elements of the plan.

In these cases it might have been better to deliver a less detailed proposal, so that you don’t allow the “shopping list” tendency to manifest in your prospective client. A project where you retain full control will enable you to deliver a fantastic result, which will be better for everyone concerned.

If you are struggling with converting your prospects into customers, why not book a meeting with us? At Aardvark Marketing we have worked across different industries and sectors, and use tried and tested processes to help you close more sales. Call us today to arrange your meeting on 0121 222 5743

Or to learn more about successful selling why not watch our video below…