Archive for the ‘messages’ Category

Don’t gamble with marketing. In difficult economic times it can be the one thing that will keep your business going. If you can find a professional partner to work with you and develop meaningful marketing opportunities for your business it can pay huge dividends. Finding the right advertising and marketing services company is not an easy task. So here are our five top tips to help you avoid making a mistake:

1. Cast your net wide
Talk to as many marketing companies as you can. Ask around and try to get some recommendations from businesses (such as trade publications) that you know. You can also go on-line and research any number of suppliers. If they impress you with their website and web presence then at least they know how to get that right! Look for businesses that range in size and experience (as this may also give you a range of costs). Send an email enquiry and shortlist at least four that you want to meet.

2. Write a brief
Your prospective marketing supplier should be prepared to attend a preliminary meeting, free of charge. (If not you don’t want them on your list!) To make sure you make the most of this meeting – write a brief setting out your objectives. This becomes even more important if you adhere to step one and talk to a number of suppliers. Make your aims clear and ensure you communicate the same points to each marketing company you interview. This will make it easier to compare the reactions and replies from each and help you to decide which provides the best answers.

3. Discuss the budget
The budget is always a delicate matter but you are better off getting it out in the open from the start. You need to commit to how much money will be available and establish what the money will be spent on. If your potential marketing partner knows what they will be working with they will be able to do a far better job of planning the most cost effective marketing campaign.

4. Test them out
There is no reason why you can’t opt to test drive a marketing company. No one wants to be tied into a contract that neither party is happy with so it makes good sense for both parties. Give the potential supplier a trial period of between 3-6 months to see how the relationship works and what sort of results they can achieve. If things go well make it a more permanent arrangement (and if things don’t you can walk away).

5. Expect a return on investment
A good marketing company should analyse the results of any marketing campaigns that they create. This will help them to target future campaigns more accurately and give them a better understanding of niche markets. You will also find that this marketing analysis can help you to maximise your sales and it should give you statistical evidence of your ROI.

There may be a cost involved with marketing but the ROI can be significant! So remember choose your marketing partner carefully and you’ll reap the rewards.

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to Web 2.0 or not 2

… that is the question and, if you are in business,  the answer is – without a shadow of doubt – 2 Web 2.0. Building brand awareness through social media is becoming vitally important and Web 2.0 services are growing in popularity and traffic. Participation is expanding across the demographic spectrum with a surprising uptake amongst people over the age of 25. And the intense publicity that is generated by Web 2.0 activities such as Twitter means that just about everyone has heard of the latest services if they don’t use them (yet).

People are looking for up-to-the-minute information on the web and they want an interactive experience. They want to share information and news and hear what others are saying about topical subjects. “Sad bloke with a laptop,” was used by the critics of computing to indicate that anyone with a computer had no friends! But new services and hand held devices, along with the development of broadband and wireless networking have meant that portable computing is now mainstream. And anyone with a computer is probably checking their emails or chatting on MSN to a friend. Social-networking is making communication on-line fashionable and it is increasing human interaction via the computer.

Where will this new technology take us? Who knows. But one thing is certain! New services are being introduced and taken up at an astonishing speed. And if your customers have a computer the chances are you can use Web 2.0 in your marketing mix. Blogs and blogging, bookmarking and networking can be harnessed to build your brand. And in a recession when the market is becoming even more competitive social networking can be the ideal marketing tool to connect and maintain a relationship with your customer base.

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Since I wrote the first part of this article things have become even bleaker. The Bank of England has made an unprecedented cut in interest rates, which is good news. But if that was not a signal that things are expected to get worse the UK unemployment figures are. The economy is clearly in a bad way and this is making it very difficult for most businesses.

What can you do about it? Don’t be a victim; take action and start marketing on-line. In a recession, above all else, the most important thing to do is to maintain a relationship with your existing customers. They will be cutting back too, so sales may slump but when it is all over and they are spending again you want them to come back to you – not to go to your competitors. Keep your business ‘top-of-the-mind’ by developing the dialogue that you already have with them. You can do this on the telephone, through email broadcasts and by building interactivity into your blog. Using intensive marketing techniques such as social networking you can keep in touch and share your experiences.


The internet is by far the most effective way to stay in touch and it can be made to work very cost-effectively. Here’s an example. If you have PR material that has been generated for submission to the press you can re-purpose this, saving the cost of new content. It’s a sound marketing tactic at any time but if you are looking to save money and maximise your resources it makes perfect sense. Use your press releases as the content for articles in an html email newsletter and post the items onto a blog. Blogs can be a great way to put news and new product information on-line fast and can work alongside your existing website. Better still, your blog can be accessed on your main website through an RSS feed which will give you an on-going means to keep in touch with your audience.

There is a lot of evidence to show that social media sites are growing in popularity and traffic and participation is increasing month on month. People are looking for more information, but they also want an interactive experience not just one that is passive; increasingly website user want a dialogue. Social media can be harnessed as the ideal marketing tool to connect and establish a relationship with your target audience.

An individual social media activity may not be successful on its own and should be supported by intensive on-line marketing activity. Your presence on the web will need to be promoted to your prospects and it is essential to exploit as many services as possible if your campaign is to be a success. Share information on-line and become an authority and you will attract people with an interest in your area of expertise. You will increase your following and your ‘community’ will naturally grow. Even if this fails to result in immediate sales you will almost certainly see benefits as the market begins to recover.

Don’t forget to check out the Internet and you will find plenty of free marketing help. There are hundreds of networking organisations, on-line PR submission sites and free directories that are all there for you to take advantage of. So don’t wait and just hope your business will get through it – start marketing on-line today and take positive steps to give yourself the very best chance to survive the recession.

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