“Always be marketing”
This is a mantra most of us are familiar with but do you know what kind of marketing and where to start? We asked Drive member Hayley Williams to answer questions from Drive members and give us some insights.
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With over 14 years professional marketing and project management experience, Hayley has run marketing campaigns at an international charity, within a national product marketing team, at a technology focused PR agency, and as Head of External Relations at a not for profit organisation.
She is now the owner and MD of Keystone Marketing the consultancy she started in 2011.
This is a compilation of the live Q&A in the Ask the Expert hour in the Drive Facebook Group.
How much should it cost?
Ann Hawkins Is there a rule of thumb for how much of their turnover a business should spend on marketing?
Hayley Williams We see so many examples of businesses have been bitten in thinking that spending the money guarantees the results, and unfortunately it doesn’t. We talk more about what a business wants to achieve with its business and focus on delivering marketing results that meet those objectives. Yes, budget is important but it’s a moving feast. We’ve worked with companies that have told us they are happy to spend huge amounts on getting just one client (ie: £50k!), because they know it gives them three year’s income on the back of it. The most important thing is that activity and results are qualified and trackable. Spending a certain percentage of money doesn’t guarantee results if the thinking hasn’t been done first.
Keith Shering When you say, “if the thinking hasn’t been done first” – what are the top three things (for example) you suggest that a small business should think about nowadays before starting their marketing? What mistakes should I try to avoid… 😃
Hayley Williams The approach we advise is ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’ not ‘Fire first and see what happens’. Being reactive and scattergun is not helpful. We always advise planned and considered activity that takes into account the target audience, the right messages and channels to engage with them and over a sustained period.
Andy Boothman Digital channels let you get away with a lot and that’s a BIG part of the problem, there’s too much content that is just put out there without any consideration for how and where this takes the customer.
Hayley Williams We’ve found that people can be scared of the term marketing campaign, thinking massive budgets and billboards but it’s really just creating an end to end plan that meets set objectives. It doesn’t have to be long term…but not matter what, it needs to be measurable.
Measuring the results
Ann Hawkins There’s a very old saying that 50% of marketing works but we don’t know which 50%. Is it easier or harder to track results these days?
Hayley Williams We are lucky now that we have facts and figures that we can present that show levels of engagement and interest in digital channels. When I first started in product marketing, we just used to do print ads and DM and ‘wait and see’ what interest came back. You can instantly see it now, and then cleverly tailor your future marketing depending on those results and those individual activity traits.
But, and it is a big but….it’s really important to look behind the numbers. Bigger isn’t always better, it’s about making sure the right people are engaging and responding with you. We ran a series of AdWords for a client as a trial – and they were pleased – their web visits went up, brilliant they thought. But no – actually, the people who were going through to the site weren’t then biting. We started taking them to a landing page to identify their buying preferences…and found they didn’t have any for the product on offer! Tailored, direct targeting worked much better for that company to build the sales needed.
Nicky Peters Is there one marketing activity you believe trumps all others or is it about variety. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs will have limited resources (not thinking just money here) so what would be your take on this be?
Hayley Williams Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand I’m afraid. The right approach is different for every business. I can’t emphasize enough the thinking side of things first – identify who your target audience is, split out and place into priority order and then look at the best way to engage them. Direct communication and relationship building tends to reap the greater rewards.
Defining your market
Keith Shering How far would you typically go in defining an audience for a small business campaign Hayley? Currently, I try to write a “pen portrait paragraph” for my buyers, what pain they face, what events might compel them to find a solution, what symptoms they see for the challenge my offering solves, and how they make their decision. Is there anything crucial I should add? How many parameters, how much of an avatar, etc. When should I stop…?
Hayley Williams Something that I would add to that is to see if you can find out when they may be at that crucial buying point. We find so much in marketing that you can do all the work to identify the right people…but if they don’t have the want/need/pain point right now, or in the immediate/short term future, the impact can be reduced. It does depend on business/sector of course though.
Andy Boothman It’s always worth speaking with your best customers Keith, find out how they found you and what makes them come back.
Hayley Williams The most important thing is having a very clear, specific target audience, building insights on the individuals and organisations and understanding what their ‘problems’ are that you can solve.
Ann Hawkins What is the main difference between PR and Marketing?
Hayley Williams I see PR as a form of marketing – whereas marketing is a bigger entity of which PR is a part. PR can be stories that we tell each other and stories that we read. Marketing is an experience, that we see, hear, touch and feel. The two things can work beautifully together or in isolation – one is often more important to a business than another. With the onset of bloggers, social media and reviews sites everyone can promote good or bad PR.
Where to start
In terms of a summary for today, when we think about marketing, business owners often don’t know where to start. They’ve started a business because they have a skill or a passion in a certain area – but often they aren’t marketers but are pressured to become one to clearly articulate their business, promote it and engage with audiences and all parts of the ‘customer journey’. When people think ‘marketing’, they immediately think of the channels and the visuals, but I think what we’ve demonstrated here today is that it is a key business framework that requires planning, consideration and consistency.
You’ve got to look at who you can trust to work with, strip away what they say and ask who they’ve helped with a problem just like yours then ask to speak to that person. Don’t believe the hype, draw a qualified conclusion. The age old saying that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ comes into play here so looking at building insights from others around you is hugely important…where DRIVE comes in of course! 🙂
I’m always happy to offer advice through the DRIVE network.
This is a huge topic and we’ll be covering specific topics on marketing in the coming weeks so feel free to join in the discussion and ask your questions in the Drive Facebook Group.