How to Outsource Your Marketing Department

How to Outsource Your Marketing Department

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As a small business owner, one of your most crucial investments will be the money that you allocate for marketing. You could have the best company, service, or product in the world but without proper marketing, you will go belly up in no time.

If your company is too small to sustain its own marketing department, outsourcing your marketing services can be cost-effective and an overall successful way to bolster your marketing efficiency. What you need, in a nutshell, is an outsourced Marketing Director.

 

How do I Outsource My Marketing Department?

The first step in outsourcing is to determine that it is the best option for you. Normally, this will be because you are busy, or your time is better spent, on other activities or because marketing is just not your ‘thing’.

If you have you’ve done a skills review or looked over your budget and decided that outsourcing your marketing is the best move for your small business, you can now begin to look for marketing agencies.

Many digital marketing companies offer a wide array of marketing services that you can pick and choose from as well as customize to ensure that you are getting the right marketing techniques for your company. In the rest of this article, we’ll help you consider the most important factors in moving your marketing to a specialist agency like Ketchup.

 

How Should I Choose an Outsourced Marketing Agency?

Cost comparisons are crucial when it comes to searching for a marketing agency. Remember though, as with so many services, you get what you pay for. Whilst there are agencies out there that are as cheap as chips, don’t expect them to grow your business rapidly or form a deep understanding of your brand.

What you should look for in a marketing agency is bang for buck, i.e. given the budget you have and the growth you want to see, which agency is the best fit for your brand?

Make sure to engage with a few companies before you settle for the one that you are going to trust your with your business. Ask for a menu option of services that the company offers, even if you don’t want them all to begin with, it is easier to grow with a trusted agency than to move when you get too big for them. Look for things like:

If it’s not a full service marketing agency (like Ketchup) and is missing any of these, they are likely not rounded enough for the needs of your modern growing business. Just because someone owns a laptop and can crank out Facebook posts doesn’t mean that they are a credible source of marketing.

What Outsourced Marketing Services Should I Ask for?

The services that you contract to an agency depends on what you can and cannot cover in-house. For instance, if you have somebody in the office that can cover all forms of relevant social media, then consider cutting that from your agency needs and requirements.

You have to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. There is nothing worse than marketing that is done inconsistently. If you feel that your current employees will not be able to handle the demands of one of your marketing services in addition to their daily activities, then it is wise to outsource. You get the guarantee that work will get done and ultimately the sanction of transferring your business if it is not.

If you’re not sure what you and your team can handle, be upfront about this when you start sounding out agencies. Take advantage of their free audits and consultation services and ask them to tell you what is worth outsourcing and what is not. A good agency, like ours, will be honest about where you need help and where you have it covered.

Get at least three of these done to cross-reference and get a better understanding of what will make your marketing successful.

 

Can I Outsource my Social Media Accounts?

Social media on its own can be a time consuming beast.

Any reputable marketing manager will know that social media cannot be outsourced and forgotten about. This is because the new Facebook algorithm favors organic content.

What does this mean exactly? Basically, photos and videos that you share that are organically engaged with my users will do better than branded or ad type posts. Because of this, someone in-house will need to work with your marketing agency to provide content for social pages. However, to make sure your content is engaging (which it needs to be, if it is to grow your audience) you, or someone in your team, will still need to provide content.

This is one of the reasons many companies attempt to run their own social platforms, however, there is a lot more to social media for your business than simply posting Facebook statuses. Finding someone to create engaging content for all of your platforms, manage your post schedules, network with clients and referring businesses and track your page growth is a full-time job in itself.

Because of the nature of this need, it is important to find an agency that is easy to communicate with and that you can build a personal relationship with. The better your agency knows you, the more your content will reflect your values, goal, and the mission of your business. Do not skip over social media, this is not something that should be taken lightly and will be the face of your marketing for many users.

How Should I Set Up my Outsourcing Contract?

The nature of the beast is that some marketing techniques will work wonders for your business, while others just won’t. You want to work with a small business marketing agency that you have confidence in. One that will bring you success whilst recognising that, at least in the early stages, there has to be an element of experimentation to see what works with your audience in your market.

While you are just starting out don’t be surprised if you’re plagued with a lot of uncertainty; it is the very reason why we provide you with a small army of outsourced marketing managers!

You won’t know how the agency will deliver and how your marketing presence will be affected. To bolster your confidence in the agency, you should at least get a monthly report outlining what work has been done on your account, for what reason (i.e. what outcome were they after for the work done?), the results they’ve had and their recommendations for the coming month.

You should also agree upfront with your agency the overriding targets of the contract. If you have not explicitly agreed these at the start of your relationship there will likely be problems down the line. As the client, you are in charge of setting these big strategic marketing objectives, which might include:

  • More website contact forms completed
  • Better costs per click
  • Higher customer spend per transaction
  • Increased audience satisfaction ratings
  • Greater social reach
  • Improved market share, etc

Make sure to attach actual numbers / percentages to whatever you choose, so there is a measurable target in place. Not only will this let you evaluate the results of each month and decide if their marketing services are worth the money, but will also help you set your initial budget. For example, you won’t be setting £10k per month aside for marketing if your target is to grow profits by £5k per month.

If you believe that another agency could grow your numbers and boost your engagement even further, cut off the contract at the end of the month and go elsewhere. The last thing that you want to do is tie yourself into a partnership that is simply not working or meeting your marketing needs. When you get to know your agency better and start seeing strong results, you will be able to adjust your contract and extend for longer periods at a time if need be.

Outsourcing Your Business Marketing – A Summary

As a professional marketing agency, we are here to help grow your business (as we have dozens of others over the past decade). Remember though, the nature of our business is marketing; we are trained professionals at selling our services.

For this reason, it’s important that you do your research before going to a meeting or consultation with us or any other other marketing agency. At the very least, have a clear picture of what you want to achieve for your budgeted spend.

This is why it is often a good idea to shop around and compare consultation recommendations and services. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the wonderful world of marketing, the more equipped you will be to choose the right services for your business and to pick an agency that is right for you.

Outsourcing your marketing efforts is a smart way to spread your reach digitally and to get your company the attention it deserves. If you are simply too small for your own marketing department, outsourcing is a cost-effective way to make sure that your marketing needs are still being met.

If you’d like to see how we can be your highly effective marketing department, click here to make contact.

Doesn’t every little girl dream of fairy-tale castles?

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Belvoir Castle has been in my sight for years. Literally. We can see its historic outline, rising proudly over the Vale of Belvoir, from our office. Mysterious in the mist, glorious in the sunshine, hugely impressive whatever the weather. It’s one of our best known local landmarks. So when the call came in that a local client wanted us to design a web page and copy to portray a luxury brand, I got a little bit excited. Could it be? Dare I hope?

When you’ve been trying to court a particular client for years and have finally cracked it, it does feel like a dream come true.

From the very beginning, this was no ordinary project for me as I’ve been going to Belvoir Castle since I was a child. That magic combination of towering turrets, hundreds of rooms, knights in armour and hide and seek gardens…

View from Belvoir Castle

Doesn’t that view just make your soul soar?

As you can imagine, it was no hardship to be summoned for a meeting with their very enthusiastic team, clearly focused on telling the next chapter in Belvoir Castle’s story.

With a head full of ideas, I couldn’t wait to share the good news about our involvement in the redevelopment of the Engine Yard – a cluster of historic Victorian buildings repurposed to create a rural retail village unlike anything else in the area – and to brief our Head of Design about colours, concepts and creativity. One of our copywriters became rather giddy at the prospect of writing something involving the words ‘shopping’ and ‘spa’ and immediately requested a site visit. As a team, we knew we needed something that reflected the legacy and heritage of this special development. For me, the chance to help bring an ambitious new initiative to fruition in a place where I walk my dogs (and drink in the local pub) made it extra personal.

I won’t give too much away. In any case, you can see the result for yourself at www.engineyardbelvoir.com, the eagerly awaited and recently launched website that sparked so much excitement at Ketchup HQ all those months ago.

There’s more about the work we did here – and by the time you read this, there could well be more to see. As the official launch draws closer, the original site is expanding. You may already have spotted our adverts in the regional press.

the Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle full page adWe are also proud to be working on the main Belvoir Castle website. Attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world, we’re thrilled to be helping them create a new site to meet demand and promote just how much there is to see, do, experience and enjoy on the beautiful Belvoir Estate.

 

Who said you should never work with children or animals

Who said you should never work with children or animals?

In the spirit of research, you understand, I spent a wonderful day there over Easter, exploring the Castle and grounds and stealing chocolate eggs from small children.

Me, looking a bit sheepish

Me, looking a bit sheepish

Luckily for us, we’ll be spending more time at the Castle in future, helping the team there shape their marketing strategy.

This little gem in the countryside is one of the jewels in Ketchup’s crown. And it’s made one little girl very happy indeed.

Preparing for GDPR – 7 key steps for employers 

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A Guest Blog by Sue West from West HR

sue westWith just over a week to go before GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) becomes law, here’s a useful guide to the initial actions employers need to take – helpfully broken down into 7 key steps by our HR partners at West HR

Businesses across the length and breadth of the UK are busy preparing for how GDPR affects their use and storage of customer data. But it’s crucial to remember that the definition of ‘personal data’ under GDPR also applies to all personal data held about your employees (and potential employees) in HR systems and files anywhere in your business.

It’s also important to understand that certain categories of ‘personal data’ are subject to even more strict rules regarding collection and processing. These ‘special’ categories include things like racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation and health/medical information.

Here are 7 key steps for the initial actions you should be taking as an employer, to make sure your processes for collecting, storing and using your employee personal data don’t fall foul of the new GDPR regulations:


gdpr Conduct a data auditStep 1: Data Audit

Conduct a full data audit of what staff data you hold, where you store it, why you hold it, who has access, and how long you keep it for. This may be quite a challenge if you store your personnel records in different locations, but it’s a crucial first step because it will inform all the other documents and records you will need to demonstrate your compliance with GDPR. West HR can provide a template to give you hints and tips on where to look and what to capture.


gdpf remove as much duplication as possibleStep 2: Duplication

Your data audit will identify areas where you store the same employee personal information in more than one place. While some duplication of data is unavoidable to ensure the smooth running of your business, it’s important to understand that the more duplication there is, the harder it is to keep it up to date and delete it when it is no longer required. Speak to operational teams and other data users within your organisation to find ways to hold employee data in a shared location, so the information is only ever stored in one place, with secure and appropriate access by different teams and functions when needed.


gdpr write your privacy statementsStep 3: Privacy Statements

For employee data, you’ll need to write two different privacy statements – one for job applicants, and one for employees. Your privacy statement is a clear explanation to your data subjects (employees and job applicants) of what data you hold, why you hold it, what you will use if for, and how long you will keep it.


gdpr review your documentsStep 4: Document Review

Your existing employee documentation will need to be reviewed to remove all but a few references to consent and the outgoing Data Protection Act (1998). You’ll also need to look at any confidentiality, discipline and social media policies, updating them where necessary to reflect the new GDPR standards.


gdpr train your workforceStep 5: Staff Training

As an employer in the new world of GDPR, you’re not only responsible for your company’s systems and procedures, but also for the actions of your staff. All your employees will need overall GDPR awareness training – and any staff members who work with personal data will need more detailed specific training on what they need to do to comply with the new regulations.


gdpr Procedural ReviewStep 6: Procedural Review

Check when and how you are communicating your privacy notices to employees and job applicants – make sure that anyone who provides you with personal information knows why you are collecting it, what you will do with it, and how long it will be kept for. You also need to implement robust procedures for dealing with requests for data changes/updates, Subject Access Requests, and data breaches so you can respond appropriately within the new timescales set out in GDPR.


gdpf remove as much duplication as possibleStep 7: Deletion Procedure

An important part of GDPR is not keeping personal data for longer than it is needed. Job applicant details are generally deleted after 6 months, and employee details are normally only retained for 6 years after their employment ends. Make sure you have a robust process for deleting personal data in line with the new regulations – and include a regular audit of personal files to ensure you aren’t storing any information you no longer have a use for.


west hrFor more information about GDPR and how it affects your business, check out these other useful resources:

For one-to-one guidance and support with preparing your HR records and employee personal data for GDPR, contact West HR.

is your website gdpr ready

Is your website GDPR-ready?

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You’ve no doubt heard lots about the new GDPR which is launching on 25 May.

As the main focus is on the way you source, store and share data, there are implications for your website so we’re here to make sure you’re fully prepared.

How GDPR affects your website

GDPR is all about consent. When you collect personal data on your site, you need to get permission to use it. People who use your website must understand how you plan to use their data, and give their consent.

So if you’ve got someone’s email address because they’ve placed an order with you, you can only market to them if they’ve actively agreed to this. Not just because they bought something from you once upon a time.

As this is all so new, the ramifications aren’t yet clear. Nobody has professed to be an expert at GDPR and there’s no one size fits all solution yet… believe us, we’ve checked!

5 key areas for GDPR compliance

To help you understand what it will mean for your website, we’ve put together a quick check list:

  1. Your documents are likely to need updating, starting with forms, privacy notices and cookies. All the small print. You’ll want to tell your visitors what sort of data you’re collecting and why. Take a look at our privacy notice to see how it’s changed.
  2. It’s also wise to make sure that any data submitted to your website is encrypted through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This not only secures your website’s connection and protects personal data by making it unreadable, it can also boost your Google rankings. If you don’t already have this, talk to John about it. He knows exactly what to do to put this in place so that you have peace of mind about every transaction.
  3. Consent is a big part of GDPR. You’ll need to make sure all consent forms are unchecked by default and that’s it’s absolutely clear about what your visitors need to do to ‘opt in’. Keep these forms separate from your regular terms and conditions for optimum transparency.
  4. Under the GDPR, you’ll need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you are a public authority, or if you carry out certain types of processing activities. This role can be an existing employee or someone external. Make sure that their contact information is clearly listed on your site so that people can easily get in touch. There’s more about what’s required at ico.org.uk
  5. Are you clear about the Right to be Forgotten? The GDPR states that “a data subject should have the two rights. The right to have his or her personal data erased. And no longer processed where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which they are collected or otherwise processed.”
    As a result, your visitors can request to have all the data held about them deleted, including back up systems. According to research by Solix, 82% of organisations don’t know where their most sensitive personal data is stored… and only 55% maintain audit trails for data consents, collections updates, and deletion. It’s a bit of a risk for non-compliance. Therefore, getting to grips with what you need to do in bite size chunks makes a lot of sense.

Still unsure about the GDPR and your website?

If you’re not clear how all this will affect your website, don’t worry. It’s not too late…

We can help you and your website get ready for 25 May. Just give us a call on 0330 088 9277 or email john@ketchup-marketing.co.uk.

Video Marketing

Video marketing: why it works

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Are you using video marketing in your campaigns? According to Wyzowl, 63% of business wouldn’t be without it as part of their wider strategy. With good reason… it’s one of the most powerful, versatile marketing tools you can use. Include it on a landing page, and conversions can increase by up to 80%.

Why? Because videos are the quickest and most efficient way to digest information.

Five ways that video marketing benefits your business

  • Video boosts engagement. Research shows that adding a video to your home page attracts attention. It encourages sharing to Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and other social media channels.
  • Video gives a good return. You can make a video to an acceptable standard using just your smartphone. Content matters more than a perfect edit, in any case.
  • Video builds trust. Giving people interesting and useful information in an accessible and visually stimulating way makes customer confidence soar. Promotional videos present your products or services in a conversational way – bringing it to life rather than just words on a page.
  • Google loves video. Including videos increases the time visitors spend on your site and tells search engines you have good content – fabulous for ranking.
  • Video appeals to mobile users. Nine out of 10 people watch video on their smartphone: it lends itself to life on the move. We’re all too busy to read a long product description – let’s see it in action.

Make video marketing work for you

So what do you need to keep in mind when it comes to using video marketing in your next campaign?

First of all, get a cracking team on board. Choose Ketchup, and we’ll use our expertise and analytical tools to get a real insight into your target audience. Next, we’ll devise a strategy to help you win new business. See how we can do this here

Together we’ll think about the questions your customers will want your videos to answer – it’s a great way to kick off relevant topics.

We’ll choose your keywords carefully to help searches and keep titles and opening credits short. You’ll tell your audience in the first five to 10 seconds what they’ll learn. And you’ll pick clean images that reflect the content and avoid clutter. You don’t need to overthink timing… your video can be as long or as short as you want, whatever is reasonable for your topic.

We’ll end with a call to action – to share your video, watch more, call your team or visit your website. You could even throw in a special offer or incentive.

Finally we will embed your video on your website or in a blog post. We’ll upload it to YouTube , Facebook… wherever your target audience hangs out.

But this should be just the start. Generating regular new video content in a similar style consistent with your branding keeps things fresh.

Time for lights, camera, action? Don’t press pause on your marketing campaigns. Get in touch to fix a free consultation.

data protection

Data protection: what’s all the fuss about?

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On 25 May 2018,  a new era in data protection will begin. This is when new rules around collecting, storing and handling personal data come into effect.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations will need to keep transparent records of how (and when) an individual gives consent to store and use personal data.

 

Built in, not bolted on

This isn’t just an evolution of the Data Protection Act – it has wider implications for the way that companies operate. It ensures that data is protected by design and default at a very intrinsic level.

Organisations will need to know exactly what personal data they hold and where it is located (on PCs, servers or in the Cloud). They must also have procedures in place to remove it permanently when an EU citizen requests this.

 

Why now?

We’ve moved on. The current Data Protection Act dates from the 1990s when only the largest companies had the means to collect and store significant amounts of data. Times have changed and the digital revolution is upon us. Thousands of SMEs now routinely access and store data about their customers.

As many of our clients are SMEs, we figured it would be useful to outline some key points about the new regulation. You have better things to do than read the official document’s 200+ pages.

 

What will the new data protection law mean for your business?

You will need to use simple language when asking for consent to collect data. You must explain clearly to customers what you do with their information. You’ll also need to have the functionality in place to respond to requests to delete data. In the future, all software will need to be capable of erasing data, rather than suppressing it. Quite a challenge.

 

So what’s changed?

The world has changed. Huge amounts of digital information are collected, exchanged and used every second around the globe. The GDPR will include,  for the first time, things such as genetic, mental, cultural, economic or social information that can be used to identify an individual.

It doesn’t matter where your business is based – after 25 May 2018, if you’re processing data about someone in the EU, you’ll need to follow the rules.

We’re all familiar with the small print on marketing materials. Things like the pre-ticked boxes that imply consent unless customers choose to opt out. Under the new rules, individuals have to actively give consent – and they can also withdraw this consent at any time. When this happens, their details must be permanently erased – not just deleted from mailing lists. It’s the right to be forgotten.

 

What happens in the event of proven non-compliance?

The penalty for breaching the regulation is eye-watering.

Serious violations will set you back up to £17 million or 4% of your annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Here in the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will enforce the GDPR. It’s worth following their updates here before 25 May 2018.

Their intention isn’t to make early examples of organisations for minor infringements or to threaten big fines. There are other sanctions that they’ll use in cases of non-compliance… reprimands, warnings, corrective orders. As a result, it’s your reputation rather than your bank account that’s more likely to suffer.

Final guidance was published in December 2017 which you can see here.

Let’s end on a positive. You’re very likely to already comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act, so you’re well on the way to being ready for GDPR. If your website stores information about your customers, it’s a good idea to get in touch for an audit so we can help you identify the changes – if any – you need to put in place.

the power of social media in marketing

The power of social media in marketing

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The way businesses interact with their customers is changing – it’s no longer enough just to have a website and send out the odd newsletter.

Social media helps you to get your content seen by a community of people interested in you and what you offer. Build a relationship with them, and they’ll view you as someone they trust – and people buy from those they trust.

The first recognisable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997 and combined personal profiles, instant messaging and friends. While they feel like they’ve been around forever, it wasn’t until 2006 that YouTube, Facebook and Twitter really took hold.

Social networks help you engage with your customers in real time. Simply put, they allow your brand, your business and your customer to interact freely and quickly.

So how can you harness the power of social media in your marketing?

Sign up to a social media platform that suits your style of business. Start a dialogue with your customers. Be authentic. Encourage them to leave reviews and feedback. Capture their interest. Step into their world. Make sure you reply to queries and respond to comments. Positive user-generated content is a powerful endorsement for your business.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular social media platforms.

 

Facebook

facebookA few years ago, people thought Facebook was just for keeping up to date with friends and family (let’s not mention tracking down old girlfriends…).

Now it’s one of the most effective tools for reaching new audiences and engaging with current customers, generating leads, profile raising and making some brand noise.

Not to mention being able to target specific audiences based on location and demographics to behaviour and interests… it’s cost-effective, it’s easy to do and it works.

Top tip! Use images abundantly as they tend to attract the most likes, shares and comments. According to Facebook, images account for 75% of content posted by brands.

Speak to our experienced team about how your business can get the most out of Facebook.

 

Instagram

instagramEvery month, 600 million active users tell us about their lives via Instagram.

Every day, one billion photos are liked. This is where quality beats quantity. According to Forrester Research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400 % higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

As with all social media sites, it’s about keeping your followers entertained and engaged, so you’ll need to post photos that will inspire your target audience to be part of the lifestyle that your business represents.

There are some fantastic tips available online to make the most of your business the Insta way – all you really need is your phone and a great picture – but if you’d prefer to talk to a human, ask our friendly team for a few pointers.

 

LinkedIn

linkedinLinkedIn is the network for professionals. Our top tip? Writing posts just for LinkedIn grows your brand and your connections. It’s also a great platform to build a relationship with influencers. Learn the rules. Follow them, share their content, engage and interact. Give people solutions to problems they don’t know they have. Like Zig Ziglar said:

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

There’s lots of info available about marketing at LinkedIn but we know you’re busy people and are short on time so give us a call if you’d appreciate our help.

Snapchat

snapchatRelatively speaking, Snapchat’s the new kid on the block. It can help you build an engaged following, increase loyalty and boost your brand visibility if your target market is teenagers to 25 year olds.

These fast delivering platforms don’t like contrived messages. It’s about being spontaneous rather than scripted, memorable rather than mass market. You have just seconds to create an impact…

For a snap shot about Snapchat and its capabilities, just give us a call.

 

Pinterest

pinterestPinterest is visually led by definition – in the word of its co-founder, it’s a dream catcher, helping you plan, turning thoughts into reality and keeping a close eye on the latest trends and influences in the marketplace. Perhaps even inspiring them.

We’d love to tell you more about the power of social media for your marketing campaigns so please get in touch …any way you choose!

Marketing Relevance

A-Z of Marketing: Relevance

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Marketing Relevance: who is your audience and why should they care?

Knowing your target market is key, and it is important you know your clients well; where do they shop, what are their hobbies, what kind of lifestyle do they lead? At Ketchup, we refer to this as knowing your ‘Janet and Johns’, and having this kind of information enables you to think about who your customers are and what kinds of products or services you can offer them specifically, which in turn allows you to create campaigns that appeal to this group of people.

What is your marketing message?

This is something we have discussed previously and is vital, as you need to not only target the right people, but also say something relevant to them and how they interact with your business. For example, you wouldn’t identify young professionals as your target audience then offering them a 20% discount on over 60’s health insurance. When planning campaigns, consider what is important to the person you are trying to reach.

When are you trying to tell them?

This is a key point for businesses with seasonal services or products, as Marketing these at the wrong time can lead to disappointing results. For example, a wedding shop owner will consider when wedding fayres are on and what months are most popular for events, scheduling a campaign for when brides are likely to be looking for dresses.

Where are they?

Understanding the geography in which clients live and work is essential and links back to understanding your target audience. If the majority of your customers live in one area, advertising in the local magazine is likely to be more effective than random location selection.

How are you telling them?

What kind of form your marketing takes can make a big difference to how well received your marketing message is. Some clients will prefer reading a glossy magazine to the local papers, others will engage more with Facebook advertising as opposed to a leaflet through their door.

As you will have noticed, all the above are linked. Gaining knowledge about your customers helps ensure Marketing campaigns remain relevant to them and so are more effective.

If you want relevant Marketing campaigns produced by experts, contact Ketchup on 0330 088 9277, or use or contact form here.

Marketing reach

A-Z of Marketing: Reach

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It’s no good putting in lots of time and effort thinking about and planning your Marketing strategy, or spending hours writing copy for your website, if no one sees it.  This is why reach is so important when thinking about Marketing.  Reach is a term often used in advertising, and refers to the potential number of people exposed to your message or see a particular campaign.  Without reach, any active Marketing you do is unlikely to be successful.

There are many different ways of ensuring your marketing message reaches the right people.  For ease, I have split these into physical and digital marketing:

                                       Physical                                           Digital
                                Print advertising                                           Website
                                       Leaflets                                          Blogging
                                 Direct Mailing                                       Social Media
            ‘Outdoor’ Marketing – e.g. A-boards                                 Emailing Marketing
                                   Networking                                              SMS

Battling the ‘Noise’: Frequency

However, it is not only the way in which you reach people, but how often you do it.  Associated with reach, frequency refers to the number of times an individual is touched by your marketing message. There is a lot of brand ‘noise’ in our everyday lives as we are bombarded with advertising.  With this in mind, your marketing message must reach people at least 3 times to avoid being part of the ‘noise’, as reach without frequency is likely to give a low ROI.

Marketing Message: Stay Focused

Equally vital is what you are saying and to whom.  As explained in our Marketing message blog, you need to make sure you know who your target audience is and that your campaign is tailored to them.  Business owners often want to tell everyone everything about their business, which confuses the marketing material you are putting out there.  Different campaigns should have different messages for different people.  Ultimately, if you reach the right people enough times, but the message is wrong, you won’t achieve the results you want to.

In a nutshell, reach is limited by both frequency and your marketing message, so it is imperative you get them spot on.

To discuss how we can help you reach the right people with the right message, call the Ketchup team on 0330 088 9277, or use our contact form here

ROI and Marketing

Return on Investment (ROI) and Marketing

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Return on Investment (ROI) which is most closely associated with the worlds of finance and investment.  In the case of marketing, ROI essentially appraises the relative gain – in terms of profit gleaned (or costs saved) – which is gained by undertaking a marketing campaign in comparison to the expenditure related to that campaign.

ROI and Marketing

The above is a basic explanation of the general concept of ROI but as is often the case, in reality things aren’t quite as simple. When it comes to the ROI delivered by marketing activities, it is crucial to first understand that there are many factors which must be considered on both the expenditure and return sides of the equation. Costs associated with marketing activities after all, come in a number of shapes and sizes:

  1. Creative costs – Expenditure devoted to generating marketing ideas, developing brand identities and deciding and implementing campaign strategy.
  2. Practical costs – Investment in the physical creation and dissemination of marketing materials, the salaries of those involved in such processes and other similar day-to-day expenditures related to marketing activities.
  3. Subsidiary costs – Unforeseen expenses and costs related to marketing exploits or changes to business practices as a result of specific campaigns or general marketing advice.

Whilst this is indeed important to understand, and may seem to suggest that achieving good ROI from marketing activities could be more difficult than it first appears, it is even more crucial to realise the diverse and numerous forms which returns from marketing can also take:

  1. Immediate profits – This is the most obvious and commonly considered type of return gleaned by marketing, and is made up of the physical increases in sales or contracts won as a direct result of any marketing campaign.
  2. Future business – An unquestionably important aspect of the benefits wrought by marketing campaigns, the potential for future business from customers attracted by marketing activities is often overlooked by many when considering ROI. In a similar vein, recommendations and referrals generated by those new customers also count amongst the returns generated by marketing campaigns.
  3. Altered perceptions – In many cases, marketing activities may not be explicitly aimed at generating immediate sales but instead at changing people’s perceptions of a company or brand. It is difficult to measure but the future choices made by prospective customers based on their altered perceptions of the company or product can also contribute to the returns delivered by marketing expenditure.

If you want to learn more about marketing that really delivers, the team at Ketchup can help. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277, or complete our online enquiry form.

r is for research

A – Z of Marketing: Research

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Marketing Research

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to your business and attracting customers. A large part of carrying out effective marketing involves carrying out research and gathering information on everything from new techniques to your competitors and customers.

We truly are spoiled today because getting access to useful data and information is easier than ever before. The internet and the willingness of companies to share valuable data and insights as part of their content marketing campaigns means that we have no excuse not to know our marketplace inside out.

So, as a business what kind of research should you be carrying out and where can you find this information? The team at Ketchup have put together their top tips.

  1. Competitor Research

If you don’t know everything that you can about your competitors then you are potentially missing out on vital opportunities. Knowing your competitors inside out not only allows you to stay one step ahead, but what your competitors are up to can give you access to the next big idea for your marketing. Focusing on what your competitors and the market leader are doing well and then improving on that is the best way to remain a key player in your marketplace.

How do I find out more about my competitors?

  • Websites – if your competitor has a good website then the likelihood is that it will be full of useful information about them as a company and the products and services that they offer
  • Social mediasocial media platforms are a fantastic way to find out more about what your competitors are saying and how the marketplace is responding, take time to monitor their most active accounts on a daily or weekly basis
  • News and alerts – setting up Google Alerts for your key competitors will show you how they are being talked about on other platforms, for example, are they guest blogging and getting positive results, are customers writing good or bad reviews about their products or services, are they receiving positive or negative press etc… 
  1. Customer Research

How can you provide your customers with the right products and services and craft the right marketing messages if you don’t know who your customers are and what they want. We can’t be everything to everyone no matter how hard we try, so identifying your ideal customers, finding out exactly what they need from your products and services and the most effective ways to communicate with them is the recipe for success. A key ingredient for that recipe is customer research.

How do I find out more about my customers?

  • Internet research – once you have identified who your ideal customers are, take the time to find out where they hang out online, what blogs do they read, websites do they visit, events do they go to etc… The internet can be a great way to build up a more complete picture of your target market.
  • Surveys – if you want to know more about what your customers want and need from you, ask. A short online survey is a fantastic way to get direct answers to your questions both from existing and potential customers. There are a wide range of free online survey tools out there to help too, it’s never been easier to get feedback.
  • Interaction online/building a community – businesses across all industries need to build a relationship with their customers and potential customers to be successful. Much of this comes from interaction and building a community, whether that’s a company’s online presence, offline, or a mixture of the two. Posting regular useful content across your social media channels is a great way to build and nurture this relationship, and our email marketing agency can help support this too. Regular contact and useful content are key. The better the relationship you build, the more you will find out about your customers.
  • Social media – honestly, social media platforms are information gold mines when it comes to finding out more about your customers. They can also spark marketing ideas based on exactly what your customers are saying that they want. Follow trending hashtags and topics that are appealing to your target market to find out more about what they are saying.

Taking the time to research your competitors and customers can pay dividends in terms of increasing sales and becoming a front runner in your marketplace.

If you would like some support in understanding your market, the team at Ketchup Marketing can help. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277, or complete our online enquiry form.

Quality

A-Z of Marketing: Quality

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Many businesses when they think about offering high quality think that this only applies to their products and services. However, when it comes to your brand identity and the marketing activity used to promote your business and its products and services, quality should be at the top of your agenda.

The quality of your communication, messages, content, design, website, presentations, etc… directly influence the overall viewpoint that your customers will have of your business. Many organisations make the same mistakes when it comes to the quality of the marketing activity that they put out into the world and they just don’t realise the negative impact that this is having on their brand.

Common mistakes when it comes to compromising on the quality of their marketing include;

  1. Do it yourself design

There are a wide range of affordable graphic design packages out there, however, great design isn’t just about the tools used. There is a science involved in ensuring that a message is communicated correctly and that the design catches your customer’s eye for the right reasons. This all has to carry your customers through to taking the required action, such as picking up the phone, completing your enquiry form, or pressing the Buy Now button.

  1. Poorly written content

Just like design, there is a science to writing content that sells. Badly written content will create a bad impression and even discourage customers from buying from you. Common mistakes in this area include not proofreading your content and publishing it with spelling and grammatical errors, not having a call to action, and leaving out vital information that could have encouraged your customer to contact you.

  1. The clip art logo

Your logo is the most tangible element of your brand, it’s a large part of distinguishing yourself from your competitors, and it’s often what your customers see first before they find out anything else about you. Investing in a high quality logo (ask us to help) is one of the best things that you can do for your business, it will be with you a long time and is probably more affordable than you think. Nothing drags down the quality of a website or other marketing materials than a badly designed logo.

  1. A badly developed website

These days a your website is the most powerful bit of online real estate you have. It’s also more than likely going to be the first thing that your potential customer will see of your brand. The design and usability of your company website is vitally important. We are impatient when it comes to getting access to the information that we want, if it isn’t easy to find or your website is slow to load then people will leave and many get what they want from one of your competitors.

A well designed and functional website can be a key tool in helping you to grow your business. It can encourage a steady flow of enquiries, showcase your products and services, and be used as a platform for promoting great content.

We may be biased when it comes to promoting the use of a marketing agency to ensure that your marketing communications and materials are of the highest quality. However, you really do get what you pay for and high quality marketing is most definitely worth the investment.

Marketing is always better with Ketchup added, contact us today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your requirements in more details. Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form

A-Z of Marketing: QR Codes

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When QR codes were first launched businesses went crazy, adding them to everything that they could. However, the excitement has now died down and people have moved on to the next big thing.

You still see QR codes around but actually, I think that we have gone to the other extreme and we under-use what can be a great additional feature to any printed piece of marketing collateral.

What are QR codes?

QR codes are a way to make your printed marketing collateral more interactive and they are a very handy tool for getting people to visit your website. Essentially QR codes are a little like the bar codes used in shops. They can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet, this then takes you to a web page of your choice, it could be a specific page designed into your website, or even a social media account.

Benefits of QR codes

As previously mentioned, QR codes are a great way to add some interactivity to printed materials, they also offer other benefits;

  • Encourage further action – printed materials are still a fantastic way to tell people more about your products and services, and they are still an effective marketing tool. However, the addition of a QR code offers an easy to follow call to action.
  • Allow you to point people in the direction of targeted information – the printed material that you give to your customers can still only tell them so much about the products and services that you offer. The addition of a QR code can encourage people to view further information, and even visit a page where they can purchase the product there and then.
  • Gets people onto your website – let’s face it, today we want to encourage as many people as we can to visit our website. This used to be achieved by adding the website address to you printed materials, which meant that the holder of your flyer or brochure had to actively type the website address into their browser. This may seem like a small thing but it meant effort on the part of your potential customer. Now they simply scan the code and end up on the exact page that you want them to view.
  • Save on printing costs – with QR codes, you can offer more in-depth information without having to increase the size of your printed collateral

Some ideas for using QR codes

If you would like to try using QR codes as part of your printed materials, here are some ideas to help you to get started;

  1. Business Cards – adding a QR code that points to your LinkedIn or professional online profile to your business card is a great way to offer people the opportunity to find out more about you.
  2. Brochures – people are often put off from reading thick company brochures. With QR codes you can reduce the amount of information offered to just enough to get the reader interested enough to scan the QR code and find out more information
  3. eGuide/Whitepapers – if you want to offer people access to further information about a topic, maybe even point them towards specific facts and figures, case studies etc…, the QR code is a perfect way to do this and avoids overwhelming your readers with too much information/a War and Peace size document
  4. Point your QR code to a specific offer, sign up, or purchasing page – the QR code makes it easier for the readers of your printed material to sign up to your mailing list, or take advantage of a special offer by purchasing online via a dedicated QR code

For more help with the design and production of your printed materials, contact the team of expert designers at Ketchup today on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online contact form.

 

What is PR

A – Z of Marketing: Public Relations

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Public Relations, or PR, activity can be extremely useful to all kinds of businesses, whether they are small, big, or multi-million corporations. When PR is used correctly it can be a fantastic tool to raise awareness of your organisation, and build your brand and reputation.

What is PR?

PR is often seen as something that a publicist does for celebrities, and while that is one arm of Public Relations, it’s not the only one. The objective of PR activity for organisations is to build a positive image and reputation, therefore, it fits in well as part of your overall marketing strategy. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ official definition of Public Relations is:

“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you.

Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

Here are some examples of how PR can benefit your business;

  1. Credibility – Your reputation is everything in business. It’s easy for businesses to plaster advertisements everywhere and maybe it will result in a few sales, but if you have spent time and effort on building your reputation, people will feel more comfortable buying from you.
  2. Securing bigger business – A good and well publicised reputation takes away some of the risk in buying from you, that means that larger organisations will be more likely to want to work with you and will be willing to pay a premium for your products and services.
  3. PR and the internet – Online advertising and other forms online marketing is a must but with PR you can get so much more out of it. By sharing press releases, news, broadcast clips and much more with news outlets online, you can boost validated links to your corporate website and therefore increase traffic and your rankings with search engines.
  4. Cost effective awareness building – Even with the use of the internet, advertising and marketing can be costly, and businesses have to budget, which can limit what is seen by customers. PR is much more cost effective if done right because one major link to your business via the media can result in more custom than months of minimal advertising.
  5. Stand out against your competitors – PR is an excellent way of positioning yourself ahead of your competitors by building a rock solid and well recognised reputation.

Public Relations can do a lot for a business if carried out correctly, having a great reputation in your marketplace can offer you so many benefits, from being able to charge higher prices for your products and services, to standing out against your competitors.

If you are looking for someone to handle your company’s Public Relations, including media publicity, you need to contact the Ketchup team today on 0330 088 9277 or by completing our online enquiry form.

A-Z of Marketing: Pinterest

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In the last few years, Pinterest grown more and more popular, to the point where it is predicted to overtake more traditional channels such as Facebook and Twitter. With over 10 million users, it is home to a bigger audience than traditional advertising could ever reach for any business. With Facebook being number one, Pinterest is the second highest social media site for referring traffic to business websites, so if you haven’t already got an account, you may want to head over and sign up ASAP. Now that you know how powerful Pinterest can be in establishing your business and loyal clientele take a look at these tips on how to get started in the right way.

  1. Set up your account properly – When you intend to use your account for business, make sure it is in the name of your business. This means that every time you pin something, your business name is seen. The Pinterest Business Centre is a great tool to use when you’re getting started because it will equip you with the basic knowledge you need for a business account.
  2. Share your pins – By now you probably have at least one account with a social media site, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other. Pinterest allows you to share what you’ve pinned on other social media accounts so you can easily get your existing followers to follow you on Pinterest and see the types of things you’re pinning.
  3. Carry out market research – Pinning is a great way of showing people all of your interests and ideas at once. By using Pinterest to narrow down the type of customer that your business will attract you can also research what that customer is pinning and keep their ideas in mind so you can apply them to your business marketing.
  4. Keep your own material – As a business owner, a lot of your pins will be original rather than taken from somewhere else and many will want to re-pin them. When you post content that is original, make sure you watermark it with your logo or website address so it cannot be stolen and when it is re-pinned, you get more advertisement.
  5. Get involved – The best way of getting the most out of Pinterest is to get involved. Pin across a variety of different boards, follow people that are like-minded, and make sure to interact by commenting on and liking pins. Like other social networks, you can also use @ to tag users and # to highlight keywords so people can see what you’re doing more clearly.
  6. Keep it interesting – Remember, the name is P(interest). Around 80% of all pins are re-pins so you must remember to pin things that you think others will want to re-pin. Find quality images, don’t over complicate things, be creative, and show the world what you and your business are capable of doing.

Pinterest is a fantastic way of communicating with the people that are admirers of what you do, potential customers, existing customers and life-long customers. It’s a network full of ideas and creativity that your business can benefit from daily.

If you are looking for a team of marketing experts that can get your business noticed online, contact the Ketchup team today on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online enquiry form.

special offers

A – Z of Marketing: Offers

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Everyone loves a bargain, that’s why most businesses will put on special offers and discounts for new and existing customers and the majority of the time, if done correctly, they are a huge success. It’s the perfect way to encourage people to try or repeat purchase your products and services.

However, many small businesses don’t know how to use special offers to their advantage. It’s easy to make common mistakes when it comes to producing and marketing offers, discounts, and freebies. If people don’t take up your offers, or you are constantly giving away your profits, at some point you may get so frustrated that you give up entirely. Here are some pointers for getting the best out of offers and special deals for your products and services.

  1. Make sure your customers aren’t waiting for offers – If you have offers and discounts on too often then you run the risk of customers holding off on their purchase until the next bargain. This means that you’ll potentially have long periods where people aren’t buying, or be left with very little profit and a customer base that isn’t loyal to you. If you’re going to give your customers special deals, calculate what you can actually afford to give away first and how often you should be marketing special offers. Be strategic, not desperate.
  2. Think outside of the box – Some companies tend to have sales or put on offers at the exact same time of year so it becomes easy for customers to predict when they will get the best deals. Why not do something a bit different, and at a different time to your competitors? It will get you noticed and attract new customers.
  3. Make profit, don’t lose it – If you are too generous when putting on special offers you can actually lose money, make sure that you are still benefiting as a business and that you are still taking a profit.
  4. Know your objectives – Make sure that you understand what you want to achieve when putting out your special offers. Do you want to entice new customers and encourage them to switch brands, attract early adopters to a new product or service, or encourage repeat purchase from existing customers? Identifying your objectives is the best way to ensure that the offers you are marketing are the right ones that attract the right people.
  5. The offers that will cost you very little can be just as effective – There’s no point in giving away your most expensive items every time business is a little slow when there are so many other options that work just as well. Try running a competition for an inexpensive item that’s well loved – it can get you tons of attention and usually results in new customers and sales. Other less costly offers include free delivery, loyalty cards, free trials, free workshops, and even giving cheaper items for free when more expensive items are purchased.

When offers are marketed and implemented in the right way, they can be extremely beneficial to business of all shapes and sizes. If you are looking for a dedicated marketing team who can get your special offers noticed, contact the Ketchup team today on 0330 088 9277, or complete our online form.

 

A-Z of Marketing: Networking (Business)

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Businesses do not operate well in isolation. A business will grow if you are willing to take the time to build relationships, learn from and teach others; networking with people and experts can help you to fulfil the vision that you have for your business. Networking can also help you develop and establish trust with your customers and potential customers.

Networking is not only a way of attaining new customers but keeping them interested too. There are so many benefits to business networking that a lot of people miss out on if they don’t try it. There’s always the fear that networking with other like-minded people will mean that your ideas are stolen but this very rarely happens and if it does, there’s a good chance that customers will be able to see that you know the product/service better. Take a look at some of these benefits of networking:

  • Referrals – When you start networking you’ll develop relationships with other business owners who will get to know you and your products. If they like what they see, it’s probable that they’ll tell their own customers and contacts about what you do and refer them to you when they need the products and services that you provide. You can also do the same for them and build long term relationships that will help your business to grow.
  • It’s who you know – As your connections from networking grow so do your opportunities. It’s likely that you’ll meet people that you never dreamed of meeting; people with power and influence that can help your business become bigger and better. You may also consider joining forces with other business owners so you both benefit from regular custom. The possibilities are endless.
  • Advice – There will be times in every business owner’s life where something difficult crops up and you aren’t too sure how to handle it. Business can be tough but if you have a network of people that you can rely upon for advice, it’s almost guaranteed that someone will have been in your shoes before and can offer you a solution. It’s not like taking advice from people who just enjoy giving it; it will be valuable advice from people who’ve been there and done that before.
  • Get noticedGetting noticed will not just be for your business but for you too. Of course, it’s great for people to know about what you do and what you can offer customers so you can increase your clientele list but it also means that you’ll be able to interact with people who can help you learn at every step. Positive influence and support is extremely important in business and without it, it’s easy to make the wrong decisions. You may also notice that your confidence is boosted and you won’t feel so disheartened when you make the mistakes that many others have a thousand times over.
  • Satisfaction – Along with being helped, you get to help others which can bring tremendous satisfaction. Many business owners face problems on a regular basis and you may have the answer for some of them. The majority of people that take the time to network regularly find that they make life-long friends with the people that they meet, so it’s definitely worth it.

If you are looking to build on the awareness that you have created through business networking, why not talk to the Ketchup team about your marketing requirements? Call us today on 0330 088 9277, or complete our online enquiry form.

marketing message

A-Z of Marketing: Marketing Message

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When you create a marketing campaign, you must decide upon a clear and concise message that calls your customers to action. The nature and structure of your marketing message can make or break your campaign.

When developing your message there are a few things that you need to consider before committing to it. The first and most important thing is knowing who you want the message to be seen by, the second is knowing what you want to say to those people, and the third is being confident that whatever you say will be remembered. If one of these areas fails you then your marketing campaign is likely to be less successful and you risk wasting a portion of your marketing budget, so carrying out the groundwork beforehand really is worth it.

Who is your audience?

Many start-up companies will wrongly define their audience when they send out their first marketing campaign. Whether it’s because the audience is too general, too broad, or the company is over-reaching, many find that they fail at the first hurdle. Looking at quality rather than quantity here is key.

Making your audience bigger by targeting people that won’t really be interested in what you have to say will not generate sales, making your audience as specific as possible will. In the same way, if you’re a company that targets other businesses, you must realise who is likely to open a message sent as part of your direct email marketing. You may be preparing your message for the CEO of that company, when in actual fact it’s the CEO’s secretary that everything has to get clearing from first. So, before developing a ‘one for all’ message it’s important to think about the people who will be on the other end of it.

What are you going to tell them?

The most important thing you need to tell your audience is what problem you’re offering to solve, how you are going to solve it, and why you are the best person to solve it. There’s no need to go into massive amounts of detail, but your audience needs to know what you can do for them and why they should buy your products and services and in a very short space of time. In many cases you only have seconds to capture your audience’s attention.

Finding the perfect way to say this and hook your audience with it can take time and discipline but it will be worth it, don’t be afraid to test and experiment with your marketing messages. Try to anticipate the questions that your customers may want to ask you and the objection points that they are most likely to throw at you, do your best to answer them precisely so there’s nothing left for them to wonder about or question.

Are you worth remembering?

There are so many things that have an impact on us when we see a promotional message (marketing message). Your marketing campaign should be attractive, present the right details, and capture the attention and imagination of your audience quickly. Most people will only remember three key features so keep the message to the point and easy to use. Remember that a marketing message is the start of a conversation with your customers and you want them to respond by visiting your website designed with your brand messages, clicking on links, and buying products and services. With that in mind, you have to give them something unforgettable.

For help developing the perfect marketing massage and campaigns for your products and services, contact the experts at Ketchup Marketing today. Call us on 0330 088 9277, or complete our online form.

Measurement of campaigns

A-Z of marketing – Measurement of campaigns

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Setting up and running a marketing campaign is often carried out with one or more of the following objectives in mind – increasing enquires and sales, receiving feedback and encouraging customer engagement, and/or getting your brand seen by a bigger audience. However, before your marketing campaign is released, you should have clear expectations of what you want it to achieve. How many enquiries do you expect to get from it? How many of those enquiries would you like to see convert into sales? There’s no point in creating and releasing a marketing campaign if you don’t know what you want from it and have no way of measuring and monitoring how successful it is.

Marketing analytics are so important to the success of businesses these days. Your marketing performance will seriously affect your ROI, whether positively or negatively, so you need to know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. By monitoring and measuring your results you can work out what your customer’s preferences are and offer your services accordingly. In addition, when you know how well different aspects of your marketing activities are doing, you can spend your marketing budget in the right way. This will save you and your business from spending money unnecessarily.

What can you learn from measuring the response to your marketing campaigns?

Aside from the basics of understanding the levels of ROI from a marketing campaign and identifying what your customers like and where you should spend your money, measuring and monitoring the results of your campaigns can give you specific details that will help you to beat your competitors. For example, it’s important to know what your customers want but it’s perhaps even more important to know the keywords that they use when looking for something that you can offer them. Knowing the most frequently used keywords can help you to position your products correctly, write compelling content, and speak your customer’s language.

How to start monitoring your campaigns

Unfortunately, nothing really comes for free and the best ways to monitor your marketing campaigns can cost, whether it’s in terms of time or money. There are various ways of measuring your campaigns depending on the channels used. For example, using tools like AdWords and Google Analytics, alongside your email marketing metrics and social media activity can give you a lot of useful information about campaign performance and customer behaviour. The results from these tools, if used correctly, can help you to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns, which in turn leads to more awareness of your products and services, as well as increased sales.

An online marketing campaign can potentially reach thousands, even millions of people thanks to our ability to instantly share with family and friends via social networking platforms, email, and other media. This means that getting it right is vital to existing and future business and measuring and monitoring individual and collective campaign performance is a huge part of finding out what works and what doesn’t. Take the time to analyse the information that your campaigns give you and there should be no reason for not seeing a great financial return.

If you are looking for help with your marketing audit, or a specific marketing campaign, whether it’s email, PPC, or online advertising, the experts at Ketchup are here to help. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our online enquiry form.

Marketing Mix

A-Z of Marketing: Marketing Mix

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When a business wants to market products and services it’s important to consider several different aspects that will help you to make it a success. These aspects include marketing the right product, in the right place, at the right price, and in the right way. Should your product be marketed online, offline or both? Does your price match or beat other competitors? Is your marketing campaign something that your customers will take notice of? These are all vital questions that should be asked before you can even begin to think about launching your first marketing campaign.

A great method of getting the answers to some of these questions is to take yourself through the Marketing Mix, as detailed below. This will help you to clarify information about various key aspects of your products and services.

Product

Your product needs to stand out. There’s no good in marketing the same product as a competing company in the exact same way. You need to know what makes your product better than the rest and why your customers should buy from you, make sure that you have identified your areas of differentiation. Anticipate their questions and have your answers ready and waiting so they can see that they’re buying from someone who knows their products and services inside out.

Price

If only a few people buy your product because they feel it’s unfairly priced, you aren’t going to make a profit. Your product will have to sell in bulk for you to see ROI so make sure the price is appealing without making you bankrupt. What do your customers value your product at? Before you price your product it’s a good idea to research what your consumers opinions are about pricing. In the same way, you need to know what your customers are willing to pay as well as what is fair. For example, someone in the desert is likely to pay more for water than someone in the UK.

Place

Considering where to sell your products and services is a big part of the marketing mix. Will you sell directly to customers or have a retailer do it for you? You need to go where your customers will be and sometimes that takes a fair bit of consideration. The most important thing to do is make your products and services available to the right people at the right time and when you know who and when that is, the where will follow.

Promotion

No matter how you choose to sell your products and services, you will always have to promote them. In order to promote them well, you need to know the audience that you’re promoting to. Using online and offline promotion will be important but both need to engage the audience in communication and encourage them to follow your call to action. Your promotion will tell your audience about the product, why they should buy it, and why it’s better than other similar products. Sending out messages should see a return on your investment and if you don’t, you may need to re-think your marketing mix.

The marketing mix is called just that for a reason. It takes the combination of different elements of marketing to make a business a success. From product to distribution, merchandising and promotion, it all matters. Don’t let one area slack in favour of others or you may find yourself losing out to the competition.

If you need help with marketing your products and services, from our UK business website designers, to content marketing and copywriting web content, we can help. Contact the team at Ketchup today on 0330 088 9277, or complete the online enquiry form.

LinkedIn Marketing for businesses

A-Z of Marketing: LinkedIn

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The social network LinkedIn has brought tremendous benefits for businesses. It’s natural for a business to want to create a Facebook or Twitter account but LinkedIn sometimes comes as an afterthought. For anyone trying to grow a business, this could be a huge mistake. The main reason for LinkedIn being such a major success with businesses and professionals is because it’s aimed at businesses and professionals, not just the general public. Everything on LinkedIn is business related.

With this in mind, businesses can get an awful lot out of a LinkedIn account. Some of the benefits include:

  • LinkedIn Groups – The groups are an ideal place to share links to some of your blog posts. You can track down groups that are about the same industry as your business and skills and therefore target like-minded people that will be interested in what you have to say. This will increase traffic to your online content.
  • Learn from others – LinkedIn is a social network that is full of people who have been there and done that. If you’re just starting out, or you’re branching out into different areas in your industry, LinkedIn is the best place to find advice from experts that have tried and tested it all before.
  • It’s much easier to connect with people who will be interested in what you do – LinkedIn has over 200 million users and it’s organised in a way that will help you connect with the right people. There’s no time wasting with LinkedIn and what business owner has time spend on PR and advertising?
  • Others will make connections for you – With LinkedIn, people you are connected to can introduce you to others that they think may be interested in your work. That way you aren’t just tied down to the people you are initially connected with and your network will continue to grow.

LinkedIn is all about building relationships with other professionals. It’s a place where you can be challenged on improving the way you work, staying innovative, and learning how to market your products and services in the right way. You can also build local links with other businesses that may end up referring clients to you in the future. LinkedIn is being recommended to university graduates as way of quickly getting on the career ladder and building a useful online network that they can maintain for life.

Many people that use LinkedIn find that they use it daily and build up valuable connections quickly. It’s important for a LinkedIn profile to be complete and include the vital details needed for others to want to connect with it. Once a profile is up and running there’s no end to the profits that can be gained from it. Every business needs good connections to survive and LinkedIn makes that possible in a quick and convenient way. In essence, LinkedIn is the Facebook of the business world and just as many individuals couldn’t do without Facebook these days, many businesses and professionals shouldn’t do without LinkedIn.

If you would like help building your business’ online presence it’s time to talk to the experts. Contact the Ketchup team today to discuss your requirements on 0330 088 9277, alternatively, complete our online enquiry form.

Our visit our LinkedIn page.

Lead Generation

A-Z of Marketing: Lead Generation

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Generating leads is so important to ensuring that your business is successfully, so much so that we have even discussed it in a previous blog post.

A lead is someone who is interested in your products and services and therefore is more likely to become a customer. They will have made contact with your organisation in some way, for example, through the completion of an enquiry form on your website, and have been classed as a viable prospect for purchasing your products and services. The quality of the leads that you are generating says a lot about the effectiveness of your marketing and sales activity. The higher the quality of leads you are generating, the more effective your targeting and messages are. To ensure that you are bringing in the right leads you need to focus on the lead generation activities that you are carrying out.

So, why are effective lead generation activities essential to businesses these days? As the world grows, becomes more technical, and more businesses establish themselves, the competition gets much tougher. It isn’t easy to draw people into a business and keep them loyal any longer. Once you have found these leads, you then have to convince them that your company is worth looking at. Plan a pathway from finding the lead to warming them to your products and services, and then eventually buying from you.

Finding leads

To find high quality leads for your business you must be targeting the right people in the right way. Where can you access your target market? Is it through online advertising, social media, your email marketing strategy, or by driving them to your website through SEO and PPC advertising?

It is important to know and understand who you are targeting. You also need to put in place a system that will encourage your target customers to add their details to your marketing list so that you are able to send them targeted and relevant messages.

Some elements that you need to put into place to generate high quality leads include:

  • A good landing page – A landing page may just seem like an entrance into your branded website but it’s actually the first page that many visitors will see. If it isn’t good enough, you may find that visitors don’t progress and never return. Think of your landing page as the page that needs to capture the imagination of potential customers.
  • Data capture forms – As mentioned above, you could ask for information in exchange for a voucher or other opt-in offer. Whether it’s just a name and email address or more than that, it all helps.
  • Strong calls to action – Encourage your target customers to take action on your website. Whether it’s to claim a free voucher or go further into the site to look at new and exciting products, they need that nudge to become customers.

Lead generation is the key to business survival and the better quality of leads you can generate the more likely you are to see increased revenue. To get the best out of your lead generation activity you must make sure that all areas of your business are of the highest standard possible.

For help with your lead generation activity why not speak to the experts at Ketchup. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277 of complete our online enquiry form.

Instagram can be used to reach your customers instantly

A-Z of Marketing: Instagram

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Instagram is just one of the many social media platforms available today and it can help boost businesses in many different ways. It focuses on image sharing, posting an image can reach millions and provide a visibility like no other. The Instagram community is growing daily so it’s a good idea to hop on board the Instagram train before your competitors do.

Instagram can be used to reach your customers instantly and give them an idea of how your business is run and what you stand for. Creating this kind of connection with your customers and potential customers is priceless. Take a look at some of the ways you can use Instagram to promote your business:

  • Display your products – The most important thing that you can use Instagram for is to show everyone your products. The benefit of shopping online is that customers can browse through products at their own leisure, and from their own home, and Instagram presents that same opportunity. Show people the variety and uniqueness in what you offer and you’ll gain some loyal subscribers. (We’ve got loads of experience creating new ecommerce sites, if you need a little help).
  • Give people a visual insight into your business – People always want a quality product but all too often they’re left to rely on recommendations. With Instagram, you can show your followers how your products are made. Take shots during the process of producing your products so that your customers can see the time and effort that goes into it and they can be sure it’s money well spent. Letting people see what goes on behind the scenes can really promote trust.
  • Before and after shots – Your customers will want to know what your products can do. It’s a great idea to take some before and after shots so everyone can see how well your products perform. For example, a shot of a dirty carpet before and shot of the same clean carpet after using a carpet cleaning product.
  • It’s all about exclusivity – Your followers should feel like they have special access to your business. Use Instagram to offer exclusive previews of new products or exclusive discounts and offers on existing products. There has to be a reason for them to want to follow you and your business.
  • Show people how much you love your job – It’s important to share the passion you have for your business with others. If people can see how much faith you have in your products, it will rub off and result in sales. If you are attending an event, or going to research stock, take your followers with you by taking shots of your day.
  • Get silly – If you bump into a celebrity on your travels or even find a funny animal, share it. Your followers will want to be included in everything and it shows them you are a human being, not just a corporate body behind a machine. Being a bit more personal can be great for your business.

Instagram is a great way of showing your followers who you really are and what your products are about. It’s a way of saying everything you need to say without saying a word and creatively keeping your followers entertained so that they eventually become loyal customers.

If you need help with your social media strategy, or your marketing strategy and activity in general, it’s time to talk to the Ketchup team. Contact us today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our online enquiry form.

Google+

A-Z of Marketing: Google+

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Google+ seems to have been a bit hit or miss in terms of popularity and utilisation by businesses but those that are not using it could be missing out. If you have never explored Google+, it is used in much the same way as Facebook and Twitter but has been designed with business use in mind, in a similar way to LinkedIn.

Google+ is a social network where your business can gain likes, or +1’s as they are called, and people can keep up to date with developments in your business or industry. You may not see that it’s necessary to use it if you already have Facebook or Twitter accounts, it’s just another social media channel to manage, but Google+ is one of the best tools to use when you’re promoting your business and its user base is continuing to grow daily.

Google+ and Google search results

As a business owner, one of your many goals must be to rank highly on Google searches. When you use Google+ as a way of advertising your business, the posts that you share are indexed in Google’s search engine. Therefore, when someone searches for your type of business in your particular area, it’s likely that your posts will show up if they’re relevant.

So, how do you use Google+ to make sure you rank above your competitors?

  • Don’t just think about it – It may sound obvious but the first and most vital part to using Google+ is to create a profile for yourself and a page for your business. Make sure you utilise all that Google+ can offer, rather than just adding it to the To Do list and then forgetting about it.
  • Generate buzz – Just as you would on a Facebook page, your Google+ page needs to be shared. This means asking your existing circle of friends and colleagues to share posts, encourage others to follow, and engage with what’s happening on the page.
  • Post interesting content – One of the key benefits of using Google+ is the fact that the content that you post will be indexed in Google’s search results and will link back to your company. Make sure that you post articles, blogs, and opinions to boost your online presence.
  • Google authorship – Google+ can really help you to position yourself and your employees as thought leaders. Linking any articles you write to your Google+ personal profile will get you in the search results and get the content that you’ve posted noticed.
  • Use what you’ve already built – If you already have Facebook or Twitter accounts, it’s a good idea to use those to tell people that you’re now present on Google+. You may find that some of the people following you use Google+ more often than other social networks.
  • Learn about your audience – Using a different platform can have all kinds of different advantages. The main one is that you can learn about customers and potential customers; what posts they like, what information they value, and what products they’ll buy.
  • Really stand out – When you’re up and running, try using Google+ Hangouts. These are a great way of starting up conversations with your audience and making a name for yourself within your local community.

The most important thing that Google+ can do for you is give you credibility. Without that, you won’t stand a chance of ranking on any kind of search engine, never mind the world’s most used one. It’s a way of showing people that you’re out there; reaching people you would never normally reach through traditional advertising. With 540 million active users, why would you want to miss out? This social network will only become bigger and better over the years, so start building your presence now.

If you would like to add social media channels such as Google+ to your marketing strategy but don’t know where to start, it might be time to speak to the experts. Contact the team at Ketchup Marketing today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our online enquiry form.

Facebook marketing

A – Z of Marketing: Facebook Marketing

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Do you have a Facebook business page? If not, you may need one! There are so many benefits to be had from setting up and using a Facebook page that businesses should consider adding Facebook marketing to their overall strategy.

Facebook pages are easy to set up and only cost something if you choose to use the various paid advertising options, and even these are highly customisable so that they can be utilised in a way that fits in with your budget. Gaining page likes and posting targeted information is an ideal way of increasing custom in your area, or further afield, and it’s much less time consuming than many forms of marketing, it’s fantastic for businesses large or small.

Here are some of the main advantages to having a Facebook business page:

  • Facebook has over one billion users! ONE BILLION! That means you have the potential to reach so many more people than you would with any other form of marketing, and you can target your efforts so that you only reach the people that you want to. It is a guarantee that you will find customers that are interested in what you’re offering.
  • It’s a great starting ground. Sure, Facebook will never be enough to keep a business going on its own, but it will mean that you have people watching what you’re doing and possibly telling others about it too, it’s a great way to encourage engagement and content sharing.
  • Facebook leads to email addresses. Make sure you create a mailing list from your Facebook contacts by encouraging them to opt in to receive your newsletters or emails – it’s a great way to start building a highly targeted mailing list of potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you are offering.
  • Facebook doesn’t cost anything. In comparison to other ways of advertising, Facebook is a dream for keeping costs to an absolute minimum, especially if you can design and manage the page yourself.
  • You can expand your reach through advertising. If you want to step up the level of activity and number of page likes, or you want to target as specific demographic with a key message, you can use adverts to get to your target audience. There’s no point in inviting everyone on Facebook to like your page. The aim of a Facebook business page should be to target people that will actually engage with your posts and be interested in your products or services. There are a number of advertising option available and you have a high level of control over what you spend, it is also easy to monitor results and tweak your adverts so that you gain the best results.
  • Facebook will give you valuable information. With a business page, you’ll get insights into how well your posts are doing, weekly page updates, and other statistics that could help you to create more sales by offering what your customers want most.
  • Increase brand recognition. When you create your Facebook page, make sure you have created a brand identity you want to stick to. People will come to know this brand through Facebook and therefore, they will be able to recognise it outside of Facebook.
  • Facebook will lead to other things. Use your business page to drive traffic to your website or blog.
  • Conquer the mobile world with Facebook. Many small businesses haven’t designed their company websites for mobile. If you have a Facebook page, this is a mobile friendly way for customers to browse through your business’ portfolio on their phones.

These are just some of the benefits of using Facebook Marketing and, as you can see, it can really make a difference to any business. It’s worth taking the time to experiment with the platform and see how it could potentially work for your business.

If you feel that you need additional help with Facebook, you can talk to our team of social media experts on 0330 088 9277, or get in touch by filling out our contact form.

A – Z of Marketing: Email

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It’s unlikely that any of your customers don’t use the internet in some form, whether it is via a computer, smart phone, or any other mobile device, and the majority of them will check their emails daily. Email has grown to be one of the key forms of business and personal communication and is still seen as one of the most effective marketing channels for businesses today.

So, what is email marketing and how can it help your business?

Email marketing is a way of communicating with your customers/clients electronically. It can be used in a number of ways to help you to reach your business objectives. For example:

  • Sending an email to strengthen the relationship between you and your customers.
  • Encouraging existing customers to remain loyal with loyalty schemes or thank you rewards.
  • Sending offers to potential customers to tempt them into looking at and buying your products.
  • The distribution of useful and informative content as part of a content marketing campaign.
  • You can even purchase advert space on other company’s newsletters or promotional emails so that your business is promoted to their customers.

Using email marketing has many different advantages. The best of these advantages is the ability to collect data that will allow you to personalise your offers to your customers. Using email, you can reach a significant amount of people in a short space of time and monitor which customers click on links, shop, and even abandon their online shopping carts so you can remind them of products they were looking at. The cost of email marketing is minimal and, compared to other forms of marketing, email is both cost effective and gets some of the best results. Because of this, you can also quickly learn what your customers like and dislike so you can offer the products and services that will actually make you money.

What can you do to ensure that your email marketing campaign is successful?

  • Make your emails creative. They must be designed in a way that will appeal to your audience. Make sure that the first sentence is powerful enough to encourage the recipient to continue reading.
  • Make sure you’re targeting the right people, your database is key to the success of your campaign. If your products don’t apply to the people you’re emailing, you are not going to get sales. Try to personalise your emails for a better response.
  • Make your subject lines interesting enough so that the people receiving the emails will want to open them. Stay away from the generic! Asking a question in the subject line can work wonders.
  • Why should your customers respond to the email? Make sure there’s something inside that will make them want to shop! Place multiple calls to action throughout the email, the easier you can make it for the reader to respond, the better.
  • Know your customers. It’s no good sending out an email at 3am knowing that your customers will be asleep. Do your research and find out what days and times are best for sending emails.
  • When you add links to your emails, make sure they are direct links to the products, services, or information that you’re promoting. If a customer is interested in seeing the product but lands straight on your homepage and has to find it for themselves, you risk the chance of them leaving instead.

If you don’t feel comfortable writing emails that sell, use our email copywriting services to get your message bang on point.

Email marketing shouldn’t be the only method of marketing used but it’s almost guaranteed to be one of the best for results. It’s essential to businesses that want to thrive now and in the future and there is so much you can learn from using it, so don’t miss out!

At Ketchup marketing we have supported a number of clients with their email campaigns and often achieve results over and above their expectations. Call us today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your email marketing campaign in more detail. Alternatively, complete our short contact form and one of our experts will be in touch.

Event Marketing

A – Z of Marketing: Events

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Promoting your business is vital to making it a success, after all, if no-one knows who you are and what you do, how will they know if they need your products or services. Business events are a great way of creating potential custom and networking with other businesses that could be valuable links in the future. There are lots of different ways for you to network with the people that are most important to your business. For example, business breakfasts, business exhibitions, or a number of different evening events. You can even connect with people and groups on websites, such as LinkedIn, or through hashtag events on Twitter.

Business events are a great way of spreading the word, whatever that word may be. Whether you’re introducing a new business, a new product, or you just want to see some fresh faces, a face to face or virtual event can get you the desired results. It’s the best way to kill two birds with one stone, connect with potential customers, and gather information from them so you can bring them products and offers that appeal to their wants and needs.

You may be wondering why it’s good to link with other businesses that are potential competition. It’s easy for businesses to become isolated and think that they’ll survive on their own ideas, however, this is often not the case. By linking with other businesses you get to see what your competition is up to, if your products and methods are out-dated, or if there is something that you are doing particularly well that you can use as a selling point. The best part about these events is that you never know who will walk through the doors; you could find yourself getting to know a future investor or someone with a large successful business that can create business for you via their clients.

Ketchup’s top tips for event success

  • Set objectives for your event – what are you looking to achieve from attending this particular event? Do you want to attract new customers, demonstrate product developments, build brand awareness, or meet with existing customers? Knowing what you want to get out of the event will enable you to focus the organisation and messages in the right way.
  • Understand the event’s attendees – many events will have a specific audience, for example, an industry specific event or an exhibition for small business owners. In most cases the event organisers will be more than happy to give you information about event attendees. This knowledge will allow you to target any marketing messages and event information accordingly.
  • Make sure that your business stands out – don’t just describe your business to people, make sure you take along products, portfolios, or use demonstrations. Your guests will want to see why they should spend their money with you.
  • Don’t give up! – If the first event doesn’t work, try and try again. Sometimes it takes attendance at a few events and exhibitions before you get your formula right and start achieving the results that you desire.
  • Give something to your guests – it’s no good hosting an event or investing in an exhibition stand, plus marketing and organisation costs, and having the attendees go home and say, ‘what was the name of that business again?’ Get your business cards in their pockets or send them home with a little pack of goodies!
  • Face your fears and be confident about what you are offering – it’s always likely that a competitor will turn up to see what you’re doing differently. Welcome them with open arms and discuss your ideas. It could be the start of something beautiful.

If you are looking to make sure that your attendance at an event doesn’t go unnoticed, why not speak to one of the experts at Ketchup. We can help with pre and post event marketing, stand design, event landing pages, and more. Get in touch today on 0330 088 9277 or complete our contact form.

 

 

 

 

marketing differentiation

A – Z of Marketing: Differentiation

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You can use all the marketing tricks in the book but if you don’t differentiate yourself from your competitors, you’ll be going nowhere fast. Why should your customers buy from you instead of your competitors? What makes you and your products and services so special? It’s important to find out what you have to offer before you start sending out adverts and email campaigns, or creating blogs.

What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? For example, two jewellery stores may be selling the same necklace, but one of those jewellery stores is offering free engraving when the necklace is purchased. Who do you think customers will buy from?

There are many different ways in which you could differentiate your business from your competitors.

  • Offer as many unique, high quality products and services as you possibly can. Take the time to find out what your USPs are, i.e. what’s unique about the products and services you are offering.
  • Make your product or service stand out by presenting it as the best deal within your area. For example, a dry cleaning service may charge by the garment but could attract more interest if they were to dry clean three garments for the price of two.
  • Find your niche in the market. If you have a business that’s offering unique products and services that are tailored to a specific audience, it’s more likely that you’ll attract them successfully and you can raise your prices because of the bespoke product/service you offer.
  • Make yourself known for something. If you have a special offer and people start talking about it, you could become known for it. It’s great if a leaflet comes through the door but if someone you know says, ‘Hey, ____ does a free valet on your car with every service’, you’re much more likely to go there, word of mouth is always best.
  • Have confidence in your products and services? It’s amazing how many businesses will boast about what they have on offer but never guarantee the results the customers are looking for. If you believe in what you’re selling, say so. Tell your customers that results are guaranteed or they’ll get their money back and their confidence in you will be immediately boosted.
  • Offer fantastic customer service. A happy customer is a customer that comes back, so you might try going out of your way to make them feel special; whether that’s with a discount, a gift or even a nice friendly chat. It will all make you stand out from the rest!

Differentiation is all about identifying and making your customers aware of what’s different about your business and why they should purchase what you’re offering. Taking the time to identify just what that is, and then capitalising on it will get your business noticed above your competitors which really is the overall objective.

If you want to make your customers aware of your USPs, or if you need help identifying them and think a third party could help, contact Michelle at Ketchup Marketing today on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

 

High quality data

A – Z of Marketing: Data

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High quality data is the foundation of effective marketing. Collecting, analysing, and using data is the best way to get to know your customers better, and the more you know about your customers, the better you can tailor your marketing to them.

Whilst you need to keep the Data Protection Act in mind when it comes to your customer’s personal data, there is actually a lot of information you can collect without going against data protection legislation. For example, the buying habits of your customers, what method of payment they frequently use, where they are based, if they use computers, and much more. Collecting this kind of data and keeping records of the communication you receive from every customer will go a long way towards your business being able to offer the things that your customers actually want to buy and in a way that appeals to them.

Do you understand your customers?

The data you collect from existing or potential customers should allow you to make informed choices on what kind of products you stock or services you provide. For example, if you are a women’s fashion outlet, you should know the type of garments that are popular for each season, the trending colours, and why certain items won’t sell in the area you’re based. Once you know what will sell, it’s time to advertise it, but if you don’t know where your customers are looking, the word won’t get out. You need to find out if they have email addresses, if they use social networks, and what marketing channels they pay attention to. This way, you’re targeting the people that will bring you revenue.

High Quality data is also what enables the majority of businesses to personalise any communication with their customers. Customising your marketing messages means that you are much more likely to get a positive response to a campaign, and therefore meet your objectives.

So, how do you collect data?

For fresh data that’s being collected for the first time, the most obvious way of getting it is to interview your customers, either by a questionnaire, or asking them to leave comments and feedback on your website. You can also use online data capture by offering the opportunity to register for exclusive offers across multiple channels.

Monitoring activity and response to existing marketing campaigns can also enable you to get an insight into your customer’s behaviour. For example what products, services, or messages are getting the most attention on your social media accounts?

When you want to collect more specific data there are many companies that sell data that has already been collected. Make sure that this has been collected legally, the list members should have opted in to receive communication or for their information to be used for research purposes. This is a great way of getting the information you actually need quickly to produce the best service for your customers.

Before collecting all of this information you may want to invest in developing a good CRM system so that information can be recorded and stored safely in a way that will benefit you. CRM systems are also great for analysing your customer data, helping you to gain useful insights into customer behaviour and expectations.

If you don’t know anything about your customers, it’s almost guaranteed that your competitor does, and a dead certainty that those customers will buy from the company that best targets them. Therefore, whether you’re a start-up or an established business, collecting marketing data is just part and parcel of what it takes to make sure that your marketing activity is successful.

Need help using your data to target your customers? Contact Ketchup Marketing on 0330 088 9277 to discuss.

CRM

A-Z of Marketing – CRM

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A-Z of Marketing – Customer Relationship Management

Developing a good relationship with your customers is vital to a successful and long-lasting business. There are a few tried and tested methods that can help you to create relationships that can stand the test of time, and therefore create a constant flow of income to your business. Putting a strong customer relationship management strategy in place will allow you to keep track of your relationships with individual customers, your suppliers, and your colleagues. If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your CRM practices, take a look at some of the advice from the Ketchup team:

  • Understanding your customers – In order to look after your customers properly, you need to know about them. A CRM strategy allows you to gather information, such as a customer’s order history, order status; previous issues, you can even gather together information about their likes and dislikes. From the moment a customer engages with your business you can and should gather and store relevant information about them. This way, you can tailor your correspondence to cover the products, services, and information that they will be interested in. This is far more likely to result in sales!
  • Improved customer service – If a customer walks into a store or calls your customer service team and asks for an update on an order but the staff has no information, it isn’t going to encourage them to come back. By having all the information to hand you will build a smoother, more efficient customer service process. This will keep you customers happy and encourage long lasting and profitable relationships.
  • Managing enquiries and relationships – Do you know what your customers are asking for? By quickly responding to enquiries and developing an excellent level of customer service you can learn more about your target audience and how they are evolving. Using CRM systems and processes means that all this information is gathered together in one place which makes it much easier to read, analyse, and use to your advantage.
  • Collecting data – Once you know who your customers are, what they’re buying, and what they’re likely to buy, you can also tailor your market research to them, and your potential customers, so the information that they are presented with is relevant. The same goes for marketing messages and contact such as newsletters and emails. A customer is much more likely to open and view an email that contains something of interest to them and has been personalised rather than a generic email sent to everyone.
  • Increase referrals – One of the most rewarding points to using CRM is the fact that customers are more likely to pass things on to their friends because they have common interests. Therefore, if a message is personalised and they like what they see, the business will gain additional custom. This can happen in many forms; for example, sharing a Facebook post with friends.

There are so many advantages to using CRM in a business, and as customers become more interested in personalised messages and marketplaces becomes more competitive, it’s important that your methods of collecting, storing, and using customer data, are as advanced as possible. CRM will change the way your business is run and it will always be for the better!

At Ketchup Marketing we can help with all aspects of your marketing activity, from design your website, to email marketing, and copywriting. We can help put all that lovely CRM data to great use, contact Michelle today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your requirements or use our contact form here.

Competitors

A – Z of Marketing: Competitors

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We continue our A-Z of Marketing blog series by looking at competitors. So often we get caught up in the day to day running of our businesses that we forget that we are not operating in isolation. Monitoring your competitors is key and luckily it’s never been easier, most of the time you can find all of the information that you need online, most of it is probably even on your competitors own websites.

At Ketchup we have a team of stealth experts who have helped many of our clients increase their understanding of their competition and what they are up against. More often than not, this understanding has led to greater success for their business.

So what information should you be looking out for when monitoring your competitors?

  1. New products/services or developments to existing offerings

If your competitors are launching new products and services, or making changes and developments to the products and services that they currently offer, you need to know. Any activity in this area will give you an idea of the direction the company is going in, and if they offer something you don’t and it’s proving popular, there’s no reason you can’t work on offering the same thing. This works particularly well if you can improve on what your competitor is offering, leaving you with the upper hand.

Set up an alert in Google alerts, monitor the news section on your competitor’s websites and, if relevant, keep up to date with local business news, and sign up to their newsletters.

  1. Details of new clients and case studies

Are your competitors getting a high number of new clients? This area of monitoring works particularly well for B2B organisations as they are more likely to announce a new client win or publish a case study about a particular project they have delivered. The number of new clients won will give you a good idea about the levels of success your competitor’s are seeing, any information in news stories or case studies will tell you more about their product/service offerings, implementation methods, USPs, etc…

For businesses with a B2C focus, keep a look out for statistics published online or in your competitor’s annual reports.

  1. Search engine rankings

Every business should have an understanding of the keywords and phrases their customers use to find the products and services they offer. Once you know which keywords and phrases work for your business you can use these to monitor how your competitors are performing, chances are that they are optimising the same keywords and phrases too. If they are above you in search engine results why? Are they using advertising such as AdWords and PPC to get to the top of the pile, is that something you should consider doing too?

You can tell a lot about your competitor’s approach by how they tackle SEO.

  1. Staff changes

Staff changes within companies can tell a much deeper story. Is staff turnover high? Are redundancies being made? Have they just brought on board a new CEO or senior managers? Have your competitors just bagged the latest talent?

Answers to all of these questions can give a real insight about what’s going on internally, whether it’s good or bad, and can help you to see the direction your competitors are heading in.

  1. Marketing campaigns and online activity

Monitoring the marketing activity carried out by your competitors can not only show you where the focus of their business lies, it can give you an idea of the size of their marketing budget. You may also pick up some inspiration for your own marketing campaigns.

The amount of money businesses allocate to marketing is a very telling sign. The marketing budget is often the first to be cut, so if one of your competitors used to spend thousands on marketing their products and services but has recently dropped off the radar or scaled back their marketing, this can be an indication about what’s happening within the business.

If you are not taking the time to monitor what your competitors are doing, not only are you missing out on potentially useful information, but you may fall behind in market share and industry developments. If you are the market leader you may fail to notice when your competitors are creeping up on you or using ideas and initiatives that you’ve previously executed to grow their own business. You might not be watching your competitors, but they will be watching you.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you to understand your competitors and how to monitor them effectively, call Michelle or Kate today on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

Marketing Budget

A – Z of Marketing: Budget

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Marketing Budget

When you are looking at how to market your business it is always advisable to look at setting a budget for the amount you want to spend specifically on marketing activity. This will allow you to focus your efforts and identify exactly how much return on investment you are getting from each marketing campaign you carry out. In fact setting a budget should be a key part of your overall marketing plan, one of the keys to successful marketing is strategic spending.

A common misconception, particularly among business start-ups and SMEs, is that to market your business effectively you need to invest a lot of money. The truth is that investing a certain amount in marketing activity is wise, but you should always stick to what you and the business can afford. You can always increase the amount over time.

We help a number of our clients manage their marketing budgets and we have identified some of the most effective options when setting a budget for your business:

  1. Percentage of turnover

This is one of the most common methods used by businesses to set a marketing budget. Depending on the industry you operate in, the average percentage of turnover spent on marketing activity ranges from 5 – 10%.

The benefits of this method are that the budget allocated will grow with your business and a specific amount of money is guaranteed for your marketing activity right from the off. However, should you have a slow year, with a lower level of turnover as a result, your marketing budget will be less. This is a mistake many organisations made throughout the economic downturn. At the time when they should have been demonstrating the value of their products and services to their customers, and differentiating themselves from competitors through effective marketing, many businesses scaled back their marketing budgets, causing sales to dip more than it would have had they ‘marketed through the crisis’.

It’s worth noting that even if you use this method, you should still set you objectives and plan your marketing activity for the year ahead. If you don’t you could overspend before the second quarter on any opportunity that comes your way.

  1. Per activity/campaign

For this budgeting method to be effective you need to plan your yearly activity in advance, research costs, set benchmarks, and identify ways to measure the success of your campaign all in one go. Planning your marketing activity is always preferable to winging it and you should have an idea of what marketing activity you will be carrying out and when, but if you max out your budget as part of your initial plan and then a fantastic opportunity comes up will you be in a position to take advantage of it?

Perhaps, if you feel that this method is the one that suits your business at the current time, you could plan the majority of your marketing activity but have a pot of money set aside for those unplanned opportunities that will inevitably come up throughout the year? Budgets are a fantastic part of the planning process but there should always be an element of flexibility, as there should be in your marketing plan as a whole.

  1. Last year’s budget plus a certain percentage/amount

This method takes into account the previous years’ performance and if the business is looking at growth over the coming year. If the next 12 months are looking positive then your will take last years’ budget and adds a bit more on top. For example, if you spent £20,000 on marketing last year, results were good and you want to build on last years’ success and increase your exposure, plus turnover projections are good for this year, you may add an extra £5,000 to make next years’ budget £25,000.

If the increase in turnover doesn’t happen then you could overspend. However if your marketing plan is flexible then you should be able to accommodate any changes as you go along.

  1. Per product or service

This budget setting technique can be especially useful if your business supplies a number of products and services, or trades in international markets. By treating each product or territory as a separate entity you are able to more accurately allocate costs – for example spending more on marketing to the US market than the UK market because that’s where the majority of your sales come from.

It also allows you to monitor results from your marketing activity in a number of ways which will probably match the methods you will use to analyse sales turnover. You can analyse ROI from marketing across the board, or break it down to focus on results by product or territory.

If you are looking for support for your marketing activity and would like to discuss what we can do with your marketing budget, call Michelle or Kate for an informal chat on 0330 088 9277 or us the contact form here.

Brand

A – Z of Marketing: Brand

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What is a brand?

We have already touched on the subject of this subject in our beginners guide to branding blog but it’s worth touching on again as part of our A-Z of marketing series. A brand can offer enormous benefits to your business and, despite what many people think, building a strong brand is not just something for companies like Virgin, Apple, or BMW…

A brand is more than just your logo, your logo is simply a visual representation of your brand. It should incorporate your business name, products, and services, culture, and values. Your branding needs to appeal to your key stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers, and investors. Your brand values need to be communicated to, and run through, your entire organisation.

Loyalty

We all have brands that we display a certain level of loyalty to, whether it’s a specific coffee, shampoo, or even a particular supermarket or clothes store. What the marketing teams have done with these brands is invaluable to any business. By investing in and building the brand, from the imagery to the values and emotions associated with it, they have created a loyal customer base. This means that their competitors would have to work extremely hard, and potentially have to invest quite a bit of money, to knock them off the top spot.

Having a pool of customers who are loyal to you, your brand, and your products and services means that you will have a steady stream of income. Your customers will also be ambassadors for your brand, it is very likely that they will be recommending you to others, and people are more likely to buy from someone if they have been recommended by their peers.

Brand loyalty doesn’t just apply to customers, your employees will be loyal too. If your brand represents an enjoyable, rewarding, and supportive working environment and company culture, not only will you attract the best talent but you’ll keep them too.

Added Value

Along with loyalty, a well-established and successful brand can also add value to your products and services in the minds of your customers. Taking the shampoo example again, if you are loyal to a specific brand it is likely that your will be willing to pay more for that product.

Adding value through your brand, whether it’s a consumer good or a business service, means that you can charge based on the overall value you offer.

Differentiation

Let’s face it, in some industries it’s extremely difficult to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors. Building a well-established and recognisable brand could be your key to getting noticed longer term. A brand that resonates with your target market can often be the difference between noticing a business and what it has to offer and walking right on by and not registering it at all.

Building a brand is essential for your business, no matter what size. We don’t all have to be British Airways, KPMGs, or Gillette’s, but we do have to make an effort to grow within our market, attract and keep customers and employees, and differentiate ourselves from our competitors – your brand is key to achieving this.

If you would like some help building a successful brand call Michelle on 0330 088 9277 for a no obligation discussion or contact us using this form.

Marketing Audit

A – Z of Marketing: Audit

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What is a marketing audit?

If you want your business to succeed and grow, you need to market your products and services effectively. At Ketchup, that’s what we do, we work with businesses to ensure that they have a product and services marketing strategy.

We’ve got a lot of marketing super brains in our team, even if we do say so ourselves, so we’ve decided to put together a series of blog posts covering the A-Z of marketing and how you can and should be using it within your business. This week we’ll be focusing on your starting point – the marketing audit.

Before you start to focus on your marketing and where you want it to take you and your business, it’s wise to get a feeling for where you actually are now. A marketing audit will essentially show you more about the environment you are operating in, what are your competitors up to for example, plus what you are doing well, and what areas can be improved upon in your current marketing activity.

Why should you complete a marketing audit?
The results from completing a marketing audit will show you your starting point. This will then enable you to identify the objectives for your marketing, enabling you to plan how marketing activity will be used to support your business going forward.

How do I complete a marketing audit?
The marketing audit will involve you taking a look at your organisation from the inside out and the outside in. The following steps should be taken when conducting your marketing audit:

1. Look at your company

As your company stands currently, how well known are you, what are sales levels like, how aware of you and your brand are your target market? What is the perception of your company and its’ products and services among your buyers?

Answering these questions with honesty and as much accuracy as you can will provide some very powerful insights. Maybe you are doing better than you thought or maybe there are some gaps between how you want to be perceived and how you actually are perceived.

2. Identify your objectives
What are your key objectives when it comes to your marketing and building your company? Do you feel that you need more visibility, are you hidden behind your competitors, do you need to increase sales leads and your market share? By getting your key goals down on paper you can then start to add some focus to future marketing efforts.

Separate your objectives based on long term – say the next 2 – 3 years – and short term, objectives you want to achieve over the next 6 – 12 months. Make sure you are realistic about this based on your team and the resources available to you.

3. Who buys from you now
Carry out a quick review of your customers. Where they are based, what jobs they do, what their income levels are, the typical lifestyle choices they make, what kind of companies they work for, etc… Obviously the questions you ask and the profile you build will depend on whether you are dealing with businesses or individuals.

What you want here is an overview of your ‘average’ customer.

4. Who would you like to buy from you in the future
Now that you have your customer overview you can make some decisions regarding your ‘ideal customer’. If you are already selling to your ideal customer then that’s great. Sometimes though you might want to look at people with higher levels of disposable income, bigger budgets, those who are more likely to repeat purchase etc…

Based on the information you already have, take a good look and identify how you can grow your business through the expansion or change of your current target market.

5. More about your product and service
What do you offer your current customers? What are the main features and benefits of your current products and services? Why do people buy from you? What do you offer that your competitors don’t and what do your competitors do better than you?

In the wider environment are there any factors affecting the use or adoption of your products and services? For example, new legislation, currency strength, or economic changes.

Has there been and increase or decrease in awareness and sales levels over time and what are the likely causes? Answers to these questions are designed to help you look at what you are offering in an objective way with the view to identifying strengths you can maximise and weaknesses you can work on to improve.

6. Your competitors
Who are your main competitors? If possible choose 5 or 6 of your closest competitors and really delve into what they offer and what their objectives and goals are (many organisations list this kind of information on their website these days). Take a good look at their products and services, what do they offer, to who, at what price. How are their products and services better than yours, be honest here! How are your products and services better than theirs?

This knowledge will help you to see the bigger picture when it comes to who and what you are competing with on a daily basis.

7. What’s currently working
As a business it is probably fairly obvious to you what’s worked and what hasn’t in terms of marketing activity over the years. The one thing that many business owners fail to do however is to sit down and look at why certain activity has been more successful and the way that they can improve on things even further.

Identify your most successful sales and marketing activity over the past 12 – 18 months and the reasons why it worked.

8. What’s the plan
Now it’s time to take the information you have and put it together into an outline marketing plan for the next 6 – 12 months. Take a look at your budget and revisit the objectives you want to achieve. Analyse the resources and knowledge you have in house, is it time to bring in extra resources or outsource some of your work to an agency? The information you have gathered during the previous steps should have gone a long way towards getting you clear on what needs to be done to take your business to the next level.

If you are looking for support with your marketing audit, planning, and activity going forward it might be time to speak to the experts. Call Ketchup Marketing  today on 0330 088 9277 or use our contact form here.

 

Your beginner’s guide to branding

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One of the most common misconceptions we come across as a marketing agency is that creating a brand is only for the big boys and is too complicated and expensive for SMEs. Nothing could be further from the truth; many businesses of all shapes and sizes have achieved great success from developing a well-known brand within their marketplace.

What is a brand?

Many people are under the impression that a brand is an expensive logo, but it’s so much more than that, your logo and the colours/designs that you use represent the kind of business you are, your culture, and values. The logo is simply an image, a brand encompasses everything.

The aim of your brand is to get people to associate it with the products and services you provide. It should help distinguish you from your competitors and help customers choose you over them. Not only that, it should create a positive emotional response within your customers and potential customers.

Examples of brands that have nailed this are:

Disney – the brand just makes you feel happy

BMW – quality, status, success

Amazon – reliability, variety, fast delivery, quality

Visual brand representation

Logos, colours, and fonts all represent the visual aspect of your brand. To make these effective for your business, and to begin to build a brand that is recognisable and linked to quality products and services, you need to make sure it is used correctly.

You can maximise the visual representation of your brand by adding it to everything you put out into the marketplace, from the design of your website and email signatures, to business cards, product manuals, and building signage. Download our branding signals document for more ideas about where to use your brand.

Emotional brand response

We touched on the emotional response of brands earlier but what is behind this response? The visual representation of your brand, i.e. your logo, is the vehicle for people recognising the company but it, in itself, will not create an emotional response.

The emotional response comes from a number of factors

  1. Your products and services – why do people buy what you offer, is it a symbol of success, does it make them feel good etc..?
  2. Your customer service – how do your customers feel when they are dealing with your company?
  3. Your staff – do your employees enhance your brand and the customer experience through the way that they act internally and externally?
  4. The messages you put out into the marketplace – what tone of voice do you use, what response are you trying to get from your audience, why should they buy your products and services?

The implications of not building a strong brand

The implications of not investing in and building a professional brand can be far reaching. Today business is more competitive than ever and with the ability to get your business online and out to the masses instantly, you need a strong brand to back up the messages about your products and services.

Some of the main implications of not having a strong brand include:

  1. You will get lost in the crowd – If you don’t build a strong brand you can lose out to your competitors and get lost in the crowd. People need to recognise and relate to your business, branding is one of the key ways to begin building recognition and relationships with your customers. A strong brand, which incorporates everything mentioned in this article, will enable you to stand out from your competitors, therefore increasing interest in your business and what it has to offer.
  2. Your products and services won’t seem as valuable to customers – one of the key benefits of a strong brand is that it actually adds value to your products and services. Why else would we pay so much more for branded items, such as coffee, when the supermarket’s own brand is half the price?
  3. Not having a brand, even if it’s a personal one, can impact on customer relationships – your customers will be filtering a lot of promotional information throughout the day, you need to have something up your sleeve that will make them sit up and take notice. A strong brand is a great start.
  4. Harder to establish loyalty from customers – in some marketplaces and for some products and services brand loyalty is everything, from going to a particular hair salon to only buying a specific brand of cola. Building brand loyalty increases repeat business and creates ambassadors for your company.

If you are looking for some expert help with your branding, call Michelle now on 0330 088 9277. Start building your brand today!

Lead generation – the lifeblood of any business

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They say that cash flow can make or break a business and this is very true, however, in order to get your cash flowing, you need to generate leads. Once you have those leads you then need to nurture and convert them into sales.

Lead generation is something that many companies struggle with. The Ketchup team have put their heads together to come up with a few tips on how to get your lead generation activity running smoothly; contributing to your cash flow, and the growth of your business.

  1. Make time for lead generation activities – whether you are a start-up or a well-established business with a mature client base, you need to carry out lead generation activities. Yes this takes time, but remember, you are doing this to ensure that your business survives. Make sure lead generation activities are happening in your business every day.
  2. Think about your lead generation strategy and put together a plan – when you are looking for and targeting prospects, you need to have a fair level of knowledge about:
    • Who is most likely to need and buy your product or service
    • How to contact them, who to contact, and through which channels
    • What problem you are going to solve for this prospect – for example, at Ketchup we get results for your business through great marketing
  3. Don’t give up – unless your prospect comes back with a resounding no, as in we will never be interested in what you are offering, then keep in contact. They may not need what you are offering now, but they may need you in the future. You want to be the business your prospect thinks of when they are looking for the products and services you provide.
  4. Quality over quantity – this comes as a result of carrying out tip number 2. If you have profiled your ideal prospect and stuck to that profile when adding to your prospecting list, the leads you get should be of high quality, with a high chance of conversion to a customer. If you are finding that the interest in your business isn’t from people you want, you should probably sit down and review your lead generation strategy and prospecting list.
  5. Log, monitor, and measure – You need to know that your lead generation activities are working for you, no matter what channels you are using. You also need to manage the leads you have generated so that they move through your sales pipeline to become customers. Look at:
    • The number of quality leads you are generating
    • Which channels your leads are coming from
    • The cost per lead generated
    • Cost per customer generated
    • The accuracy of your data
    • The conversion percentage – i.e. how many leads turn into paying customers
  6. Continually look at and improve your lead generation process – Based on the information gathered on the number of leads, the costs involved, etc… how you could improve things? Always question your lead generation activity and the results being generated. If they’re not good enough, tweak things until you are getting the results you need.
  7. Don’t stop once you get busy – This goes hand in hand with making time for lead generation. You will need to be continually generating leads so that your business always has customers, new and existing, and cash coming in.
  8. Don’t forget your current customers – This is something that can’t be stressed enough, repeat custom is a sign of a successful business. By keeping in contact with your customers, offering them a great service, and saying thank you, you will have a flow of repeat business and happy customers who will recommend you to others.
  9. Referrals are important – One of the best ways to generate new leads is to encourage referrals from existing clients. Be sure to say thank you though, we send flowers or a bottle of red wine to people for each referral they give us.

Your lead generation activity and management should run like a well-oiled machine, by following the tips in this blog and having a great marketing team behind your business, you should never be short of qualified, high value leads. If you feel that you need more support with your marketing and lead generation activity give Michelle a call on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

Are you thinking FAQ it?

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There has been a lot of debate over the years about the pros and cons of FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on websites. Typically, an FAQ page will list a selection of questions the owner of the website presumes the reader of the website might wish to ask, and provides them with an answer.

This philosophy or approach to the use of FAQ pages has been at the nub of the debate – if you’ve designed a website, but you think people may have questions about the content, surely you should find a way of addressing those questions within the content of the website rather than creating a whole separate area for users to check?

We have historically taken a fairly pragmatic approach to this dilemma. In our experience, clients have great success when they incorporate useful FAQ sections to their websites. So what makes an FAQ section useful? Well…

Number one, the questions featured must be real! They need to reflect the genuine queries your customers have. If you spot the same question rearing its head over and over, then this suggests you need to make this snippet of information very clear in the main messaging area of your website.

Secondly, by virtue of the fact that we are talking about typed questions and answers, we need to make sure that the FAQ page isn’t too text heavy, and includes plenty of air to break up all of those words! So clear typography, on a plain background is a must. And don’t forget about visuals – you can often explain a difficult concept far more easily in a picture than in a lengthy piece of copy – no matter how the well-written copy is crafted.

Lots of questions due to the technical nature of a website should be clearly categorised to help the user navigate the information. No-one likes their brain to feel saturated with information that they weren’t actually looking for, no Siree.

One thing that is a particularly handy by-product of FAQ pages (and this must be considered at marketing strategy level when you’re deciding whether or not to incorporate one into your website) is that they are really excellent for optimising your website for search engines – so do include key phrases and keywords to take advantage of the improvement in visibility of your website.

The debate over ‘to FAQ’ or ‘not to FAQ’ will undoubtedly continue – if you’re unsure and would like our professional opinion, then give Ketchup a call on 0330 088 9277.

Any questions?

The Role of PR for SMEs

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We don’t really do PR here at Ketchup. Or do we?

We do talk a great deal about embracing the whole marketing mix when it comes to promoting your brand – and in this current economic climate, small and medium-sized enterprises need to be aware of the many factors which will either strengthen or threaten their existence in the short, medium and long term. While SMEs need to be concerned with investing in their brand marketing strategy & shoring up their sales pipeline to ensure a secure and efficient revenue chain, a healthy PR campaign is a valuable addition to the mix.

Many traditional thinkers still believe that public relations deals only within the realm of damage limitation or engaging current clients and a very specific target audience; however with the advent of social media and with the subsequent increased leverage associated with such marketing communications, the correct targeting of a public relations campaign has never been more important. Forward thinking dictates that social media networking is fast becoming the preferred method of marketing for many global businesses.

The benefit that these have for SME’s is that there is usually little if any monetary investment while exposure can be phenomenal. It is therefore essential to gain a direct working knowledge of these sites; from such aspects as how to write a press release to how to actively engage the correct leads. The fundamental concept which needs to be recognised is that social networks are the marketplace of the future. In fact, if employed correctly, such word-of-mouth advertising can have the added benefit of generating more leads simply by increased social interest.

The principal benefit for small businesses is that this is still considered a niche market for many larger corporations. What presents itself here is a genuine opportunity to slide the proverbial “foot in the door” of what is proving to be a truly global marketplace. For guidance on your marketing strategy and how you can integrate social media into your marketing mix, call Michelle on 0330 088 9277

EU Cookie Law threatens 92% of UK companies

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Half-baked EU Cookie Law threatens 92% of UK companies

Following straight bananas and standard-sized apples, the EU has passed a law on cookies. Snack-lovers needn’t worry though, these are the cookies that live on websites, not in biscuit tins. British companies, on the other hand, should be worried.

Potential fines of up to £500,000

From the end of May 2012, the UK government been enforcing this European Union law – passed in May 2011 – and the penalties could be quite severe for those companies found not to be complying with it.

So the big questions for you are….does your company’s website contain cookies and are you contravening the law by not giving visitors the right information and options about computering cookies stored on their computers?

The big answers are ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’

For a technical explanation of exactly what cookies do, please see below or talk to John, our SEO Director. But basically a cookie is a small file that allows the site to remember data about that user.

So ‘yes’ your website almost certainly uses cookies – 92% of UK websites currently do use cookies in some capacity on their website.

But are you in contravention of the new law? ‘Maybe’. It’s really worth making sure you are compliant with the new rules – after all, figures like £500,000 fines are being talked about for deliberate and malicious misuse, so it’s best to be on the safe side. If your company / website is based in the UK/EU then you must comply, even if your website is hosted outside the EU and even if you are not using a “.uk” domain name.

The letter of the law

The law actually relates to the use of ‘non essential’ cookies. All websites in the EU are now required to make visitors aware of the use of cookies and give them the option to opting out of using them. For example, cookies which are deemed not “strictly necessary for a service requested by a user” such as visitor tracking codes, advertising and most Google Analytics tools may well be subjects for consumer opt out.

It’s not enough to simply rely on visitors changing their cookie settings in their browser to block websites from storing cookies on their machines. It’s also worth noting that it’s no longer advisable to merely have a privacy policy; you may choose to provide information on the cookies from within your privacy policy – a practice that is currently gaining ground with many companies.

Be safe – put Ketchup on your cookies!

We  can conduct an initial assessment of your needs, followed by a complete audit of your website and full integration work to ensure your site is fully compliant with the Cookie Law. We’ll help you make sure the information about the use of cookies on your website is transparent and easy to find, and that you give visitors to your website the choice of opting out of your use of cookies. We’ll advise which cookies are necessary for the working of the website (Eg: Cookies used to remember which items visitors have placed in their online basket and are permitted within the legislation. And – most importantly in terms of the law – which are not.

We’ll make sure it’s as fast, non-interruptive, economical and painless as possible. For our full cookie recipe, see below. Or talk to us on   0330 088 9277

 

Ketchup’s cookie service – the ingredients

A full, Ketchup audit of your website will list each cookie and detail how it is used. We can then provide you with a couple of solutions to ensure your website complies with the new legislation. Our service also includes:

  • Assessing how intrusive your use of each cookie is to the user’s privacy.
  • Establishing whether these cookies can be linked with personal data such as a username or email address.
  • Finding out whether they apply to the session or if they’re persistent cookies.
  • Checking that your Privacy Policy includes accurate information on each cookie being used.
  • Giving visitors a way to opt out of the use of cookies.

 

What is a ‘Cookie’?
Cookies are small files that websites put on your computer hard disk drive when you first visit.

Think of a cookie as an identification card that’s uniquely yours. Its job is to notify the site when you’ve returned. While it is possible to misuse a cookie in cases where there is personal data in it, cookies by themselves are not malicious.

Many websites, including Ketchup’s, use cookies. Cookies tell us how often you visit pages, which helps us improve our website for you and future visitors. In this way, we can concentrate more on the content you like and less of the content you don’t. If you’re using analytics software such Google Analytics then your site will be using cookies to track the page visits.

Some cookies are essential to the working of a website and can help you be more efficient. Have you ever put something in a virtual shopping basket on an online store and then returned a few days later to find that the item is still there? That’s an example of cookies at work.

Cookies let you store preferences and user names, register products and services, and personalize pages.

But if you never register or leave personal information at a site, then the server only knows that someone with your cookie has returned to the website. It doesn’t know anything else.

A Cookie is NOT a virus. Many cookies are used to make the experience of using a website better and disabling cookies may prevent a visitor from using certain aspects of a website’s functionality. If your website does any of the following, then you will be using cookies:

  • Uses Google Analytics or similar to track page visits
  • Uses a plug-in such as Twitter feeds, Facebook Like or Google +1 buttons
  • Embeds a YouTube Video
  • Has any kind of “remember me” button
  • Enables the user to “login” to their website 

 

Different Types of Cookies

Session Cookies
Session cookies are stored on your computer until you have finished browsing the website. Once you leave the site the cookie will be deleted. For example if you visit a website and you need to login every time you visit they are using a session cookie. The website will use this cookie to store your login details temporarily whilst you browse the website. Session cookies are less intrusive than persistent cookies.

Persistent Cookies
Persistent cookies are cookies which are downloaded onto your computer to help identify you when you return to a website. For example if you use Facebook and you tick the “Keep me logged in” when you login this will store a persistent cookie on your computer to remember you when you return so you do not need to keep logging in. All persistent cookies have an expiry date, this can normally be 30, 60 or 90 days and once reached the cookie will be deleted.

Secure Cookies
Secure cookies are only transmitted via a secure HTTPS connection. These types of cookies are generally used during the checkout process of an online ecommerce website. This cookie will ensure any data stored is encrypted as it passes information between the website and the browser.

Third Party Cookies
Third party cookies are ones which are downloaded onto your computer via external websites such as Google Analytics, AdSense, AdWords, Facebook likes, Statcounter etc. These cookies are set by a domain other than the one being visited by the user, but they are placed through the website being visited.

 

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