Category Archives: marketing

7 Ways to Avoid Business Apathy

Over time, when you are involved in the same field of business day in and day out, it is easy to slip into apathy.  This is not a criticism, it is normal.  However, what this does do is eradicate many opportunities that lay before you.  To you, you have spent years building up your knowledge and expertise, so you take for granted what you know.  Going back to basics and remembering that every day it will be new to someone else will help you win new business.  So how do you avoid this curse?

Inform – Remember many moons ago – you didn’t know what you know now.  There will always be someone out there fascinated by what you can teach them.

Educate – see yourself as an educator, your customers will enjoy seeing your products and services from a different perspective, don’t be afraid to explain the history of your product, your service or your business, it adds personality.

Basics aren’t bad – it is easy to sniff at the fundamentals in life, the basic skills, facts and knowledge, but you have to start somewhere.  If you are selling musical instruments, fishing gear, swim wear, don’t assume your customers are all musicians, seasoned anglers or Olympic swimmers!

Challenge yourself – endeavour to learn one new fact about your product or service each day and then pass it on.

Start a blog – if you have a content marketing strategy – you have to keep fresh and up to date.

Revise your website – if you do not refresh your web content regularly, or give it a make over at least once per year, it will look stale.

Go shopping – engage the services of your competitors, you may find allies and it revitalises your perspective of your market.

Do you have any tips on how not to take your business for granted?  What has worked for you?

Please follow me on twitter @kingfishermktg, Facebook – Kingfisher Marketing

Caroline

How to Commission an E-commerce Website

Commissioning an E Commerce Website

Setting up an e commerce website is a significant commitment in terms of time and money.  If you are just starting out, proxy services such as Ebay and Shopify offer great test trading platforms.  Once your business has grown and you need to start keeping costs down and require your own dedicated site, this is the time to perhaps look to invest.

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The topic of commissioning websites is one of the most frequently asked questions from new businesses or established concerns looking for a refresh.  Or another common scenario is a service based business that start to diversify and wants to set up an online retail store to increase revenue.

Finding the right web developer for your business can be a bit daunting.  Firstly, look at other e commerce sites, or ask around locally to try and identify which sites have the look and functionality of what you envisage.  This could then lead you to a few potential companies.

Also attending networking events is advisable, most groups have a web developer in attendance and having the chance to speak with them and ask a couple of key questions may be all that is needed to get you on the right track

It is normal to feel apprehensive about making that call because you will be unsure of what is involved, what budget to set and what questions to ask.  Here is a rough guide

Basic generic considerations

Content management system – do you want autonomy over your own content?  Or do you want the developer to amend when changes are required?  Having a content management system has a larger up front cost, but as you are able to update it yourself, there generally are no ongoing fees for managing content.

The features that you may want to talk about:

  • Blog facility integral to main site – only if you intend to blog, but it is great for your optimisation
  • Mobile friendly interface – 40% of online traffic is from a mobile device and the trend is growing
  • Domain registration and hosting – do you want your developer to provide this, or will you source your own?
  • Are your business needs likely to change quickly in the first couple of years?  If so the site needs to be built in such a way that it can be added to with minimum outlay

Possible questions you can ask your developer

  • Do you support all major web browsers – i.e. are your designs compatible with Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer?
  • What SEO services do you offer?
  • Do you provide after sales support?
  • What other services do you offer i.e. email, social media

With regards to the possible functions you may want to include on an e-commerce site, here is a general list.

  1. Upload of own product images with option to enter descriptions
  2. Easy functionality to add new lines
  3. Plenty of space with host provider so that website loads quickly
  4. Integral search function
  5. Facility for customers to ask questions and to be able to capture emails
  6. Trustworthy merchant services
  7. Shopping cart that break down costings including VAT and shipping
  8. Customer personalisation such as favourite products, or recommendations
  9. Being able to return to shopping page from basket
  10. Inventory management
  11. Customer / order tracking or tracking customer behaviour
  12. Invoice function
  13. Capacity for as many products as you need and room for growth
  14. Creating customer accounts
  15. Filters e.g. best seller or cheapest first
  16. Service that backs up data regularly
  17. An unsubscribe option
  18. Copyright and privacy policies
  19. Terms and conditions

Please subscribe today to receive downloadable guides and to keep up to date with marketing news

Caroline

Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

How social media fits in with your overall marketing strategy

Kingfisher Marketing

Social Media and Marketing Strategy

Social media is still very much misunderstood.

Large organisations are still failing to capture the essence of what social media can achieve, so if you are a small business struggling to get to grips with it, then hopefully that fact offers some consolation

Previously I published a blog on an Introduction to Social Media, which gives an overview of how to get started.  This blog, however, addresses the principles of introducing a marketing strategy that includes social media.

I can offer training on how to set up the various accounts, but I felt it was more important to provide the context for which these platforms are relevant to your business.

Social media CANNOT be used in isolation. However, it has the potential to:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Educate your audience
  • Provide Information
  • Position your product or service
  • Build trust and break down barriers
  • Drive traffic to…

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Marketing Basics – Being Understood

Marketing Basics – Being Understood

Promotion is a constant challenge for many businesses .  The most fundamental part of marketing is getting the message across so that readers can understand.

Marketing is perceived as glossy brochures, fancy websites and expensive newspaper ads.  It is much more basic than that.  It is essentially the way in which you communicate with your client base.  It is the language that you use, the tone of voice and how you package your product or service so that it is relevant to your target market.

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The type of vocabulary used is crucial as it needs to resonate with your audiences so that they will pay attention to what you have to offer.  It is a translation between what you see your business as and what your clients perceive you are offering and this is where the miscommunication can start.

Be clear and concise about what you have to sell, where you sell it from, how you sell it, when you sell it and why you sell it.  Your business should be offering them something that they can’t do without.  Will it save them time, save them money, make them look or feel good?  Will it help them make money, feel more secure or help them be legally compliant?  After all, these are the main reasons we are consumers.  If you can’t fit your message around one or more of these motivators, then there really is nothing in it for the customer and therefore you have no market.  Or you may be offering any of these but not communicating it, with countless sales being lost.

With regards to the language that you use, are you a very technical or niche business?  Then the chances are jargon creeps in or even dominates your content.  Straight away you have lost your audience, unless you are a business to business service and they also understand your language.

Are you a tradesperson, a holistic therapist, legal or financial service or IT support? The reason I ask this is because in my experience, these industries are selling to the general consumer market, yet still speak in jargon.  If people feel baffled after reading your website then it is highly unlikely that they will pick up the phone and ask for a wider explanation.  They simply won’t bother, or assume that your services will be expensive.

Another common factor in certain sectors is to default into common phrases and clichés, using the same language that your competitors also use, making you look and sound the same, hardly giving you chance to shine or stand out.

I heard a great analogy once, if you opt to be another zebra in a field of zebras then you will mingle into the background, however if you choose to be a lion in a field of zebras you will stand out.

Using generic terms can’t always be avoided, particularly in business names, even I use marketing as part of my name. It doesn’t pay to go too far the other way and become so abstract that it is a complete mystery as to what you do.

When you are writing any new literature either offline or online, pay attention to the language that you use, test it out, ask someone unconnected to your industry to read it, is it clear?  Does it make sense?  Is it obvious what the business offers?

I have witnessed businesses that have wondered why they are struggling to get enquiries blaming the economy, when I have heard comments such as ‘I am not sure what they do’ or ‘I don’t understand what they are talking about’.  Sometimes we have to go back to basics and simply ask the question – is it obvious what we sell?

When I deliver my workshops, one of the first activities that we carry out is around this very issue.  Every session without fail, it goes down a storm and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.  I force people to come out of their comfort zones and see their business from another perspective.  It changes their mind-set instantly and I see light bulb moments around the room.

So next time you launch a promotional campaign, remember to pay attention to the words that you use

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The Story of Marketing

Your pitch, your prices, your advertising, how you generate income, where you find your customers, how you communicate with customers, what you sell, how you sell, how you record and use data, how you treat your customers, where you interact with your customers, how you share your knowledge and the relationships you build around you

is marketing

This brief paragraph is actually a synopsis of a much greater story, the story of marketing.  I will be blogging about this over the next few weeks, as part of a series that will eventually become a book.  I will give you a step by step guide to understanding your market well and improving communications.  This information is based on the workshop that I have written and delivered over the last few years and how it has changed the perceptions and mind-sets of business owners, which has enabled them to approach their marketing with much more insight and confidence.

So subscribe today to make sure you receive all the latest blogs.  I would love your thoughts and feedback too, so if there are topics I have not covered that you would like to know more about, then please let me know

Happy marketing

Caroline

Networking – how do you feel?

Kingfisher Marketing

Networking

A very emotive word

For many there will be very specific reactions – positive and negative

For me – I have experienced both

But its power cannot be denied.  Here is a list of my feelings of why networking is fun (yes, you read it correctly, I did say FUN)

  • (cliche alert) Life is what you make it – so is networking – if you make it dull it is, if you make it fun, it is
  • Taking time to find 2 or 3 groups that suit your business and personality is important.  Don’t just go to one and then make a judgement  – they are all very different
  • When you have found the best groups for you, you will naturally receive support and encouragement from other members, this will grow your confidence quickly
  • They are a great way to canvass opinion and carry out market research, ask a question you…

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Market Research – An Important Foundation for Success

Market Research – An important foundation for success

Most people, when starting or running a business, are so enamoured with their idea, product or service that they believe that naturally everyone will feel the same. This is a common mind-set, which to some extent is needed, to fuel the passion and determination that is critical to running a successful enterprise.

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However, the drawback of this, is that in the excitement of wanting to start-up quickly, the most ignored aspect of planning for business, is carrying out market research.  Quite often the mere phrase strikes terror in the hearts of many, as images of shivering in the local town centre with a clip board are conjured up.  This is understandable, as the idea of speaking to complete strangers is daunting enough, yet alone canvassing opinions about a business idea!  Be reassured that market research can be a completely natural process and even quite enjoyable – honest!

What is market research?

Market research is the act of collecting data through both primary and secondary means, to determine if there is sufficient demand, in your area, for the product or service you wish to sell.  Primary research involves speaking directly with individuals or companies that you have identified as potential customers.  Secondary research is information that has already been compiled by larger agencies and is on a larger scale, more about this later.

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The term market research is very commonly misinterpreted.  I can honestly say that 99% of the time, when I ask a client what market research they have carried out, they reel off a list of other businesses that are already operating in their chosen field, in other words, competitors.  This is in fact competitor analysis, which I will discuss in another blog post.

Why is market research so important?

Why is research important?  Because the success of any enterprise depends on several factors:

Is there a demand for your product or service?  If so, where – is it locally, more regionally or somewhere else altogether?  Are your potential customers already accessing similar services from competitors, if so what are there feelings, are they happy or ready for a change?  What is the average spend, what are the most popular products or services and how often are they likely to return for repeat purchases?

This is a brief overview, I will shortly be compiling sample market research questionnaires for you to download and adapt, with further support offered if required.

Market research can also help you determine what market share you will need in order for your business to remain viable and to earn a realistic income.

Myth – market research is just for start-ups

Market research is not just ‘homework for start-ups’.  It is a fundamental exercise that is the lifeblood of any business.  Yes, it is more prudent to get to know your market when you are in the early stages of setting up a business.  Yes, through being in business for any length of time you do get to know your customers better – BUT – do you actually listen, take time to reflect and adapt your business on a regular basis?  If the answer is no, then maybe it is time to go back to basics and use a more formal feedback exercise to make sure your business is still relevant and not in danger of slipping into a rut.  It can happen to anyone, think Woolworths, HMV!  Big companies that failed to respond to rapidly changing customer needs and when they did, it was too late, competitors had already jumped in and stolen the show.  I will compile a guide shortly for those who have been in business for a while and want to carry out formal feedback

What are the pitfalls of not carrying out market research?

Taking time to talk with people and getting valuable feedback on your business idea is a huge opportunity to save yourself time, money and heartache.  This is because it is important that when you start-up that you fully understand your customers, their needs and expectations and behaviours.  Without these insights, you do not know who you are talking to, what language to use, how much to charge, where to advertise or how to persuade them they can’t live without your product or service.  You may as well stand at the top of a mountain and shout into the wind!

This is why research is crucial.

How do I carry out market research?

I believe that there are three main reasons why people avoide carrying out primary market research:

  • Lack of confidence in approaching strangers
  • Fear of the likely response
  • Simply not understanding how to go about it

Once the mystery surrounding the above is removed, it all suddenly makes sense and many embrace the process and are inspired and motivated by what they learn.  I will compile a guide for this shortly that will be available for download to make your research clearer.

Secondary data

As I mentioned earlier, there is also information in the public domain around certain industries, sectors and consumer behaviour, which can provide great insights into the wider arena that you may be hoping to operate within.  Here are some examples:

Internet forums – particularly for niche businesses centred around a specific interest or past time, start discussions or read past posts.

Ebay completed listings offers great data on how well certain products are selling

Government statistics for the whole of the UK (www.statistics.gov.uk).  The Office for National statistics ONS provides Census data, population demographics, income levels and social and regional trends (www.sns.gov.uk)

To obtain more detailed data you may have to pay, particularly for information on particular market sectors.  Two common sources are: Mintel (www.mintel.com) and Datamonitor (www.datamonitor.co.uk).

Trade Journals and Magazines can also offer industry specific information.  Also is there an overarching institute or regulatory body for your sector?  For example, counsellors can join the BACP, which demonstrates that they voluntarily subscribe to ethical standards and in return they will receive resources, information and training to keep their knowledge up to date.  They would also be a great source of marketing information.

Finally, a word of caution

Try and avoid friends and family giving you feedback as potential customers, they may be either too positive or too negative!

Please subscribe to this blog for more postings on how to carry out market research and to receive downloadable guides.

You can also contact me via Facebook  or Twitter @kingfishermktg

I would love to hear from you, particularly if you wish to discuss any issues this post has raised for you

Caroline