29 Mar

Spending time thinking about growth

One thing that is different between large corporate/Government organisations and small and medium enterprise is the way they plan. One probably spends too much time on it, the other too little. Here are a few ideas that may help in getting more direction.Firstly, you have to understand why you want to plan. In a large organisation this is often more aimed at satisfying internal needs than it is to achieve specific results; big generalisation, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark. It is because the boss expects it; it is about corporate governance, accountability, demonstrating that the MBA really did have value.

In small organisations, it is something that tends to be done when things are not going well, or when there is a need for documentation for finance purposes. With typically limited resources, planning is seen as taking too much time, and on top of that, people may not want to admit that they don’t know how to create a plan.

On the other hand, almost everyone agrees that planning is something they should really do more of.
In my experience any planning is better than none. If there is only time to just get together and write down specific goals, and some high level ideas about how to get there, it’s better than nothing.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect; the planning process is what will give you the benefit, not the actual piece of paper you end up with. Having said that, when you write it down it does become a commitment, and it does become measurable.

How does your business deal with this?

26 Mar

The great confusion about “digital media”

I’m currently talking to someone whom I believe can offer a very complementary service to ours, and the discussions around getting this off the ground reveal how big a gap there is between the leaders in online marketing and the rest.
This fellow has been working for one of the leading publishers in Australia in the “digital media” area.He has put together a consulting offer with the aim to help SME’s get some idea about how they can take advantage without getting ripped off by one of the many cowboys that typically surround an emerging growth market.

When I started thinking about how I was going to explain this service to my customers, I realised that if “marketing” as a concept was poorly understood (some people see it as just promotion and advertising, some see it as sales, etc…), how much hope would we have in demonstrating the value of “digital” marketing?

What I realised is that unless you can paint a picture, create a reference point for people who have a very limited knowledge of a new concept, you’re dead. So we have to paint pictures, demonstrating not only what these new channels are, but how they relate to an SME’s world. How they work together with what they are currently doing.

22 Mar

Digital, online, internet, “new” marketing. It’s picking up pace

I read this on the MarketingProfs website: Marketing in Accelerated Culture: “The Economist recently reported that Google ‘is now equal to the combined worth of Walt Disney, News Corp., and Viacom,’ ”
On the surface this may not seem to be very relevant to small and medium business marketing, (unless you have Google shares of course) but it is.

It means that anyone who does not believe that internet marketing is relevant to their business should think again. Google has made its money essentially from matching ads with what you are looking for on the internet. You may argue that your customers don’t look for you on the internet; they come through referrals.

Well, that may be true, but what if on top of your referrals you started to get enquiries from people who are looking for your services on the internet?

It’s not the only channel, and it will never be as long as we are living, walking, breathing, talking individuals that make purchasing decisions. But then effective marketing is always a mix, not one-solution, isn’t it.

18 Mar

Murder communication with a thousand buzzwords

I read an article on a site called Marketingtoday.com which caught my eye; it was about the use of meaningless buzz words and management speak in communications. I love this stuff, and it will only get worse I’m sure.

We (and our customers) are comstantly bombarded with communications through an increasing number of channels; email, print, blogs, your mobile phone. So what is the impact of using meaningless words, and why do people use them?

* They use them because it is easy; words like “solutions” and “synergies” are so generic and meaningless that you can stick them in a text willy-nilly and it won’t make any difference.Now thinking about what you actually mean takes a lot more effort.
* They believe that using these words make them sound professional, as if they know what they are doing. Wrong. It makes you sound like everyone else.

Buzzwords, management speak, marketing speak essentially do two things: they make you sound like everyone else and they make your readers switch off in boredom. And that is the exact opposite of what a marketer wants to achieve; i.e. stand out and excite.

Have a look at this page on the BBC website and scroll down to find contributions from readers…it’s a worry…

“Marketing departments tend be real experts in this area – if anyone can put a pig in a dress and call it grandma, they can! For example, Private Eye magazine runs a series called “Solutions” containing gems like “inter-paper fastening solutions” (staplers).”

I think you get the picture.

14 Mar

One picture telling a thousand words

Understanding how you can use new technologies in your marketing efforts is really hard, especially if marketing is just one of many responsibilities.

From my experience, most SME’s are still miles away from even using web technology that has been around for years to its potential. (Even better than that, there are still a whole lot of business people who will tell you they don’t need a website, because their clients wouldn’t look for them online.)

So let’s get to the point: Steve Rubel from micropersuasion.com (a respected writer on this subject)posted this really good map outlining not only what these new technologies are, but more importantly to what effect they are used.

Handy reference.

10 Mar

Marketing Information management made easy

I love any tool that turns data into information, that makes it easy to understand what the data is telling you. I had a look at excelsius and it looks very exciting; essentially it allows you to use the Excel spreadsheets you use for your campaign tracking, modeling or sales results and turn them into visual, dynamic presentation tools.

I downloaded the trial version and had some fun with it. Have a look at this sample model. It is interactive, so have a play with the slides to see the impact on increased cost etc.

I really like this sort of stuff; tracking and modeling is essential to good marketing and this looks like a nice step towards making it easier to communicate.

Oh, and as a side issue: I actually found this through an email offer that was sent to me.

Not sure about you, but I delete 80% of email offers I get sent, and those are the ones that pass the spam filter. So that still leaves 20% that I look at; the ones that are to the point, relevant to my interests and allow me to take action right there and then.

07 Mar

Sometimes people deserve a rave

Sometimes you come across websites that just hit the mark. I have been reading John Jantsch’s post on his Ducttape marketing weblog for small business marketing for a few months and I really enjoy it. The ideas are fresh, it’s easy to read and even if you get one idea out of every five that you can apply to your business it is worthwhile. Credit where credit is due.

04 Mar

Where you spend your time and money

It always happens. You get excited about new stuff in marketing and you want to get right into it. Over the past few months I have been completely absorbed in the brave new world of blogging, RSS, “tagging”, “Word of Mouth”, search engine marketing and anything else that is online and vaguely marketing related.

I love the potential these technologies, ideas and strategies offer for small and medium business to add real value to their customer relationships and improve the ROI on their advertising dollar.

There are stacks of opportunities right there, and in the long term they will become a standard part of marketing mix.

But in the short term? I don’t think so. Not for the vast majority of companies who tend to struggle to get marketing initiatives of the ground using known channels and tools.

It’s not because these ideas, tools, strategies etc wouldn’t work, but because of the same reason SME’s struggle with marketing now; a lack of internal skills and resources to develop the marketing strategy, the combination of activities that should be undertaken and the project management to make sure it happens.

What tends to happen is that search marketing, blogging, email marketing, viral becomes the latest “latest silver bullet” solution sold to them with a promise to fix all marketing woes…and so we go around and around.

What is the greatest weakness in small business marketing? I think lack of focus and project management are up there, but I’d like some comments.