Monthly Archives: December 2009

Principles of marketing 14: How to be a good client

As a marketer, there will be times when you’ll need to engage suppliers. Don’t sully your personal or company reputation by being a bad client.

As Seth Godin wrote on his blog on 2 December, a client’s job is to foster innovation but not actually be innovative.

There is indeed a big difference between the two. Here’s my take on how to be a good client from fifteen years experience of working with good, bad and indifferent ones:

1. Write down what you want. Agency partners will go the extra mile for clients that are fair and know what they want. Don’t expect your agency to fathom what you want from a sketchy brief. This results in unclear ground, unchecked expectations and problems in your relationship.

2. Review and dumb down what you want, so what you get is categorically what you want. Nobody wants to spend time working on the wrong thing.

3. Make yourself available. Don’t assume you’ve done your bit in briefing. Good partners will have a ton of questions regardless of how thorough you think your brief is – and you should encourage it and answer them all.

4. Hire someone with a track record. If you can’t settle on one, select two but do the decent thing and give them both a paying gig so they have something to invest in. You’ll get better end deliverable. Agencies rightly despise pitches as a necessary evil giving time/resource and creative ideas away for free with no guarantee and no protection of their intellectual property.

5. Be prepared to pay the going rate, or a rate relative to the service, resource and value on offer.

6. Don’t make unreasonable ‘creatively stifling’ demands on your agency partner. Remember why you are outsourcing this specialist requirement in the first place.

7. Celebrate milestones throughout the course of the project and don’t just wait for the end result. Doing this brings the team closer together and encourages everyone to work harder and smarter.

8. Manage the internal communication of what you are doing externally. This ensures everyone from your sales teams right the way to the guys who answer the phones and make deliveries understand who you are, what you stand for and what you are trying to communicate. Too many companies fall at this critical hurdle.

9. Support your agency with recommendations, testimonials and referrals if they have done an excellent job for your brand, and personally for you. All good agencies work on the maxim of only being as good as their last job so this is very important to them.

10. Above all, be positive and enjoy what you’re creating.


Principles of marketing 13: Evaluation

Though evaluation typically comes at the end of a period of activity, the process involves benchmarking against preset key performance indicators which are set in relation to objectives at the beginning. If you haven’t followed a robust planning approach, your evaluation will unfortunately be sketchy at best.

Encouragingly, the digital revolution has extended the ability to evaluate activity such that weblogs, analytics programs and other automated controls can be used to immediately and powerfully inform marketers as to the success or failure of an activity and help to pinpoint where corrective remedy needs to be focused.

You can track enquiries, registrations, sign ups and log ins on your websites and from emails and other marketing. (Use of targeted campaign specific landing pages helps to track all advertising, direct marketing, social media and PR traffic).

You can more specifically track and calculate return based on visitor numbers (unique and return over time), enquiries, conversions and terminations. Monitoring terminations and what lies un-purchased in online baskets allows you to contact them or refine your online ordering to make it easier.

It goes without saying the main KPI is to evaluate against revenues i.e. same or more from existing customers, new customers or new products and services to both existing and new customers.

Duration of time spent instore/on your website are good ‘soft’ barometers of interest, as are the running of recommend/send to a friend features which encourage word of mouth – again all tracked back to a specific landing page / log in.

I make no apology for keeping it simple – it’s what this blog is built on. Companies and global brands spend millions tracking brand mentions on the web, tracking their brand position, brand share, brand equity and lots of other stuff. Good luck to them.

Ultimately, the name of the game of evaluation is to keep doing the right things right and to stay profitably in business. With the pressure of new business in the current economic environment so stark,  maybe ensuring you have the same customers next year that you had this year is the best place to start?

Principles of marketing 12: Control

If you were to look at the time most marketing functions spent on pulling together a marketing plan, they might spend 10% on planning, 80% on implementation, and 10% on control and evaluation.

But what is the point in bothering if you don’t really monitor and analyse what is working and what is not. This split needs to be more like 25%-50%-25% on the part of the plan owner and here’s why.

Control is all about keeping things on track against objectives, removing and adding elements, reapportioning spend and resource as needed, and informing plans for the following year.

Control means keeping an eye on men (resource) money (budget) and minutes (time).  The expected and the unexpected can all have a major impact. And technology now exists to track performance against objectives and KPIs on an ongoing basis.

Electronic timesheet and project management systems like DataValley, Rebus or Filemaker can provide detailed reporting on costs, tasks/timelines, job status and invoicing.

Automating your website keeps staff overheads to a minimum, focusing resource to the right departments for example taking campaign specific calls, packing and despatch.

Programmes like Google Analytics and WordPress blogging provide incredible traffic statistics to allow you to immediately see what is working and what is not. Customer traffic flow, buying patterns, drop off and satisfaction rates can all monitored and modifications made instantly.

Database and CRM packages like Dotmailer, Salesforce, MailAgent, Constant Contact can all be used to keep your opt-in databases up to date and in the know.

And good old Microsoft Excel, together with an increasing number of compatible free open-source programs, can help you keep on top of your budget.

Plans are often built on a forecast for future trading conditions. But what happens if the recession deepens, the pubic purse contracts and greater pressure is placed on cost in your sector? Only a fool would continue on doggedly with a plan conceived 8 months previously.

The only KPI that matters?

Unless you work for a charity, there is only really one Key Performance Indicator that matters in your marketing.

Sure if you want to review your advertising your might measure reader enquiries or track responses to a campaign landing page. For your PR you might compare column inches as advertising equivalent value and opportunties to see.

For emarketing and online advertising you have open and clickthrough rates. For exhibitions you have booth visitors. You can monitor ‘social’ media by keeping an eye on fans, follows, friends, connections and links.

And can monitor traffic flow on your website by considering entry and exit data, hot and cold spots, time spent, pages viewed, number of return visits, sign ups and registrations, downloads, comments and forum postings.

All these will help refine your marketing but at the end of the day, you are a commercial business.

If you don’t convert them, you won’t be in business for very long. All your efforts should be focused to that single KPI of selling, selling more, selling frequently and repeat selling. Whether you do it hard, soft or both is another discussion.

All other KPIs are nice to have’s for large enterprises with big teams to keep busy and agencies to keep in check. Most of the readers of the this blog should however avoid the nice to have, time saping fluff.

But can anyone find you? Some quick digital fixes

Its a good time of year to double check you have the basics right.

Integrate these four steps into your online marketing and you’ll become significantly more visible overnight!

1. Add your website /blog to search engine directories. That means visiting and doing the same on MSN and Yahoo. It can take anything up to seven days for you to start to feature.

2. Add a site map – search engine spiders that index and rank sites love site maps as they give them an idea of how many pages your site has and where the dynamic content like news pages are.

3. Add incoming links – make sure you have incoming links from customer, supplier, partner and association sites into your site. Search engines don’t really care if you link out to hundreds of other sites as it says nothing about your credibility.

4. Add Google Maps – people search using all sorts of sub features whether its the main search, maps, images or news. Give yourself every opportunity of being found. Google Maps is the most overlooked.

Principles of marketing 11: Tactics

Tactical marketing is all about getting somebody (your target) to do something.

Whether you’re into customer acquistion, customer retention or customer engagement, your website, advertising, emarketing, mailshots, brochures, exhibition stands, viral videos, blog posts, whatever you spend your time and money on, NEED TO EFFECT AN ACTION.

There’s an old model they teach you in business school called AIDA. Like many of the concepts cited in this Principles of Marketing series, it has stood the test of time for some very good reasons. It’s simple, easy to understand and when applied, works.

First off, build Awareness. Get people to notice you. Be controversial, be safe, be inspiring, aboveall be something. Then be Interesting. Not mildly interesting or thought provoking, but sufficiently interesting that you create a Desire in them to learn more, to click to your site, to sign up for a newsletter, to register for a trial, to make a phone call, to download a brochure or voucher. Once there, that turns into an Action and that’s when you can start a meaningful dialogue.

People get hung up on tactics and tactical planning. But if you know who your audience is and where they are, shouldn’t your effort go into truthfully convincing them to listen to you and then consider switching to you, and over time to stay with you?

Makes you think again about the impact of your brochures, adverts, newsletters and website doesn’t it?