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Is marketing a cost or an investment?
If you are running a business of any size, you need to control and assess your costs. And you also need to work out those costs that are actually an investment in the business, one that will drive your sales.
The cost of a new coffee machine for your office, for example, is quite simple to calculate because it is obviously a cost that will not directly affect how your business performs (although it might help with your performance!).
An investment can be simple too. If you buy washing machines in at £150 and sell them on at £200 they are an investment and not a cost, and it is quite easy to calculate the return on investment, or ROI to give it its trendy acronym.
But with marketing, the concept of ROI is far more nebulous. Many businesses make the understandable mistake of reducing marketing spend when times are tight, when in fact it represents the oxygen to make a sale. If you don’t reach your customers you are not going to keep the business alive. So what is the watchword for successful marketing?
Firstly, you need to make a marketing plan. This can be as large or small as your budget allows, but don't make the mistake of thinking that the more you save the better your ROI. Think of it as as money in the bank - if you invest £5000 you get a better return than if you invest £2500. Plus money spent on marketing is an investment in future sales and profits, whereas money spent on static items like our coffee machine or direct expenses are far less likely to affect future sales.
In truth the secret is targeting your marketing correctly and then measuring the outcomes. If you do this, then you can quite quickly see where your marketing is most effective and tailor your promotions (and your business) accordingly. If you have made a robust plan that allows for flexibility then you are reaching potential customers and investing in future sales.
There are obviously mistakes that can be made along the way and that is why it makes sense to use the right marketing agency that can bring their experience to the table, guiding you through writing your plan to understanding and analysing the results of your joint efforts. In that way, an investment of £5000 that brings in £10,000 worth of sales is suddenly looking like a very necessary investment.
And the experience and know-how a decent agency brings cannot be dismissed. If you have a quality product to sell, then your margins will be higher. Likewise, if you have a recognisable and trusted brand allied to clever, intuitive marketing, your returns and sales are going to rise.
At Sambecketts, we recognise that each business needs its own identity and its own plan. We make sure that any plan we jointly agree is thoroughly and rigorously tested and analysed for maximum benefit.
Call it an investment.
The Value of Good Graphic Design
The value of good design is often under-estimated. Why? Well maybe because it’s not rated in the same way as other business considerations.
For example, would you scrimp on legal costs if your business depended on it? Probably not. What about accountancy? Thought so! So why not design? After all, the way your product or service is presented to the outside work will very likely influence the potential customer into a sale . . . or not.
As we go about our daily lives we are bombarded by great graphic design on a minute-by-minute basis, from advertising to magazines and, of course, online. Recognisable brands are everywhere, and they play a big part in our decision-making. Do we like them? Do we trust them? Do they suggest quality?
So your business has a limited time to attract those eyeballs! The average time a person gives a newly-viewed website before deciding whether to stay, is 20 seconds!
Good design isn’t the simple process you might imagine. It takes experience to produce a quality design concept that will possibly serve your company for years to come.
At the core of good graphic design is simplicity. Too often, cluttered design repels the viewer or confuses them. Clean lines combined with striking imagery and clear, understandable visuals will catch the eye.
The trick is to pick a good designer. A good experienced designer will have worked with many clients over time, working hard on achieving their vision, employing classic graphic design skills to enhance their brand, making it stand out from the competition. They will work with you to turn your company’s strengths into a coherent brand.
Here at Sambecketts we are proud to have worked with a full portfolio of clients, all of whom have benefitted from the value of good graphic design. Why not find out for yourself?
Marketing in Dorset
Marketing is essential for any business or organisation these days, whether we like it or not! And if you are based in a rural area like Dorset it’s probably more so, given the fact that there may be fewer opportunities for visibility.
The good news is that, with the growth of online opportunities, the playing field between local businesses and the multinationals is leveling out. Admittedly, you may run up against the issue of broadband coverage when promoting locally, but this is being addressed by government – and it is just the same for the multinationals as it is for your business.
The truth is that lots of potential customers live and work in the county and want to keep their custom local too. For those people, a bit of targeted marketing on your part can bring rewards from, literally, around the corner from customers or clients you, literally, didn’t know existed!
Of course, you may be marketing a product or service that is useful in a much wider space than just Dorset, and this may just be your base. Still, the truism of ‘supply creates its own demand’ holds, er, true, and marketing yourselves in a targeted and properly measured manner is absolutely essential. And, of course, the beauty of the internet is that your shop window is open to billions of potential consumers.
What you need to do is to use the experience gained from a nationally recognised marketing company who can help with brand positioning, social media integration, web design, search engine optimisation and all the other building blocks to gaining a dominant web presence in your chosen market, to rapidly increase your market share.
What if there was one, literally, round the corner, able to meet with you personally? One who knows how to get you to the top of a Google search? We can do just that so why not pick up the phone and give us a call on 01258 839118 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll come and see you for an informal chat.
We do also make an appearance on the Twitter conversation when we can - #dorsethour which takes place every Monday evening, so you can always talk to us there @sambecketts
Social media and the Third Sector
A lot of the fuss surrounding social media is centred on the sensational aspects of it: understandable in cases of bullying, vaguely irritating when aggrieved celebrities rush to publicise the blips in their otherwise pampered lifestyle.
Social media does sometimes, ironically, get a bad press. But under cover, social media is affecting our lives in good ways, and fundamentally.
Imagine for a moment that you are physically disabled and largely housebound. Where once you were dependent on others to get you out and about, or the enormous effort of doing it yourself, now proper human contact is available at the touch of a button, via Skype or its many competitors. Shopping is largely within your control via online ordering. New friendships can be formed on Facebook and Twitter, with distance no object. And 'following' organisations concerned with your illness can bring news and information, and allow you to contact them directly. All without leaving the house!
The third sector has been quick to realise the value of social media
, with organisations setting up their own Facebook pages and Twitter and Google+ accounts, designed to, at one leap, provide information to service users and visitors alike, whilst functioning as a resource and meeting place for those service users, whether on a local, national or international scale.
It's not just a the area of health that benefits. So-called 'hard to reach' groups and minority groups are also positively affected. Formerly, outreach work was expensive and so often neglected or underfunded. Whilst social media is not a panacea, it has greatly enhanced this work in a more cost-effective way. Some of these marginalised groups of people value the degree of anonymity afforded by this technology and so will present themselves, rather than having to be found.
From the supply side, organisations have now numerous ways to reach large audiences without having to go through the filter of traditional print media organisations. Where once, getting news out that would be of interest to people interested in the organisation or its subject matter would involve pitching it as a story several times over through press releases and contacts with journalists, a few well-placed tweets and posting on Facebook and Google+ will do the trick. Add on the ability of people to 'share' and 'retweet' your news and social media is doing the work for you.
And don't forget all media organisations are on Twitter and Facebook too.
Another area in which social media is helping the third sector is in providing statistics and raw data. Once an organisation's social media is properly tuned in to analytics programs, a wealth of information is available to it. Posts can be analysed and trends spotted. It will also tell you when something isn't going so well or needs to be pitched in a certain way.
By linking to your own specialist pages, documents or surveys, or online newsletters, you are marketing your own organisation to suit your own purposes and you are able to glean priceless information from your own supporters, which will further enhance and tailor your service.
These are just a few of the myriad ways social media is changing life for third sector organisations. I could go on, but I won't. I need to check what One Direction are up to . . .
Written by Tony at Sambecketts.
Does your third sector organisation or company need help with social media? if so give us a call for an infomal chat on 01258 839118.
Post-modern Googlism – or ‘why your business fascinates me’
Let me ask you a question:
What is the most interesting thing about your business?
Interesting is very different to best. The best thing about your business might be the service levels you achieve. It might be your competitive price. It might be the experience you have in your field.
But best isn’t as relevant as it was when companies market their business online these days.
What matters is what is interesting about your business and that throws up several challenges.
Identifying aspects of your business which people find interesting
Taking the issue of a company personality, seriously
Recognising that you are competing differently than before
Refining your understanding of post-modern Googlism
1. Identifying aspects of your business which people find interesting
Most people are interested in price. It is true – so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – but doesn’t everyone claim to have a value proposition? It is also true that people want quality and unique, faster, slower, more… these are all interesting up to a point. But look for other aspects to mention in your text. Perhaps you source materials or products from an interesting country. Perhaps you are the only people who use a particular technique. Perhaps you employ more sports enthusiasts than your competitors.
Most of us in Sambecketts enjoy projects which have a problem-solving element to them – but it isn’t about us. It is about you.
Always seek out what makes you different. Look closely at each aspect of your products or services – especially the smaller details you take for granted. It might be that those small details are the very thing which helps you stand out from the crowd and engage the buyer.
2. Taking the issue of a company personality, seriously
This used to be the domain of the big brands. In saturated markets with heavyweight competition big brands have understood for years the importance of having a big personality. The fun guys – the serious one – the cleverer one – the cheap and cheerful one – all these and many more character types have helped big brands maintain their loyal base. But smaller companies have focused, often solely, on product and price, promotion and packaging.
Personality is something every small and medium sized business should be exploring now. It might take a good creative team to help you discover what it is, or you might be able to do it yourselves. Either way, it needs to be done.
3. Recognising that you are competing differently than before
It sounds simple but it is worth a reminder. Communication is about engagement rather than broadcasting. If your competitors are engaging with customers better than you they will thrive and capture market share. Stop broadcasting – start engaging.
4. Refining your understanding of post-modern Googlism.
If modernism in the Google era established that search engines were ‘good guys’ providing a useful service – the leader of which, Google further defined the quasi ethical notion with its motto ‘Do no evil’. This has prevailed for long enough – but now this has been deconstructed and a new post-modernism has arrived – the era of reward - genuine rewards for genuine relevance.
In plain speak, Google wants to reward ‘good behaviour’ and in its latest refinements this means awarding higher page rankings for companies which provide useful, relevant, interesting and original content.
The opportunity for you as a business is to reflect on what you can bring to the table – rejoice in the fact that bigger companies can’t just buy their way above you as easily as before – and start engaging with the world with your own, unique voice.
5. Being open
This seems a bit vague but it is critical. Engagement means listening as well as talking. It means learning rather than teaching. It means staying flexible to allow for change to happen without being frightened of it. It doesn’t mean you abdicate responsibility for your own direction or strategy but it does mean being open to the possibility that change – often rapid change – is inevitable in a globally connected marketplace. It means being awake to trends, even when those trends seem to be in opposition to your own ideas.
It might mean starting a trend yourselves.
But you can only do that if you are engaging with people. Is that a part of your marketing strategy?
Blog by Jimmy Clark
Head of Fuzzy Logic
The Evolution of Social Media
I am not now – nor will I ever be - an expert in Social Media.
There – I have said it. It may not seem the most reassuring start to a blog by a digital marketing agency. But within those 15 words is buried one small strand of digital DNA, which we believe is shaping this technological evolution we are all experiencing.
It isn’t a revolution – No matter how chaotic the start, revolutions end up with a strategic leadership, which emerges to orchestrate the coup and recovery. Evolution is different – its manifesto consists of one key principle: Survival.
If that last assertion is correct (and please bear in mind I am no expert) then businesses looking to survive in the digital environment will need to consider relevance much more closely. Relevance is closely associated with evolution. To a Giraffe, for example, it is relevant to have a long neck. Living in close proximity to Thorny Acacia trees is also relevant because Giraffes enjoy near exclusive access to its nutrients. Shall I lead you now in a clumsy way to how this relates to Social Media or should I let you work that out for yourself?
Sorting it out for ourselves is how evolution works. There isn’t one golden rule to effectively market your business to your customers anymore, because your customers are also evolving in this media. There’s a lot of ‘suck-it-and-see’ going on. As we evolve there is the inevitable struggle between yearning for a higher power and hard science. Successful brands are putting their faith back into the species which is evolving with them. They have recognised the importance of influence and authority, but how do you make sure that your business is influential, relevant and authoritative in conversations with customers?
The simple answer might be to ’stop ‘marketing yourself’. But that seems highly counter-intuitive doesn’t it?
According to the European Journal of Social Psychology a key element for successful Social Media Marketing is in the building of ‘Social Authority’. Broadly this means engaging in the conversation and listening as well as informing. It means establishing your credentials as ‘an expert’ in your given field. But this might be changing. People or companies who declare themselves as experts leave themselves at the mercy of an evolving customer base which can disseminate fresh information amongst themselves faster than the ‘experts’ can keep up….
(look …look, more Thorny Acacia trees over there…over there!)
If you need further evidence of the trend towards self-determination, the Edelman Trust Barometer Report noted (in 2008) that 58% of respondents trusted product or company information coming from ‘people like me’ – by 2010 that had risen to 64% and no doubt is growing still. So ‘experts’ are people like me.
I would like to amend my previous statement:
I am, after all ‘an expert in Social Media’
Influence has become a science. Companies such as Peerindex, Klout and Kred have started to measure Social Influence. Businesses which are not only surviving but also flourishing in today’s rapidly changing environment are learning to speak to the influential people in more honest terms about what they are doing, producing or selling and listening closely to the feedback. They have learned to re-engage with passion. This doesn’t mean that science isn’t keeping up. In many ways Digital Darwinists still lead the way because detailed analysis of behaviour is an obvious signpost for where to place your message and how to phrase it to increase sales or engagement. But the yearning for something true, with values, integrity and passion is back at the heart of the marketing industry and simply saying it isn’t enough. It has to shine through the values of your brand at every level and that is where a creative digital agency comes in.
When the late Steve Jobs was still at Apple he said: ‘This is a very noisy world, so we have to be very clear about what we want them to know about us’. We believe this is still the case. In terms of Sambecketts – we believe that creative passion built into the science of online marketing
can lead to more effective marketing. We work with clients to do just that.
A few thoughts about Social Media trends
We can’t discuss almost any trends today without mentioning Facebook - so let’s start there.
It’s interesting. Average time spent on Facebook per month has risen to 7.5 hours. Two years ago it was 4.5. Timeline has arrived and isn’t going away, despite the usual chorus of complaints. Timeline is geared towards significantly increasing the amount we share online – after all, with over 800 million users already, the pool for new people (Facebook’s assets) is diminishing and as with any maturing product the obvious next step is to start ‘sweating your assets’. So increasing the sharing activity amongst users is a trend which will continue throughout 2012. This, in turn will have an impact on ad spend.
Metrics for influence
New metrics to measure social participation and the value of ‘influence’ will develop this year. In purely marketing terms this means that forensic targeting of influential early adopters will become more scientific, more costly and more important. Sites such as these three ‘influence’ sites will gain more prominence from the embryonic stage they have been in thus far:
New Social Media players
Of course we shouldn’t ignore Google+
The investment made at Google is too big a gamble for the gurus to let fall by the wayside without a serious fight. So we can expect Google+ to have a say - one way or another - during the coming months.
At Sambecketts we think these 3 new Social sites will gain significant growth during 2012:
Geo location will develop, putting consumers and retailers together through social channels at the right time and the right place. This will offer the online marketers ever more platforms to get the right message out in realtime with the added sophistication of knowing where the customers are right now.
If you think about it, knowing whether your customers are at home browsing your products or in the High Street shopping right now has a different dynamic which sophisticated marketing will develop to address.