Is your business summer ready?

Marketing strategy and planning

We may not be jetting off overseas this July and August but you may be planning a staycation or just a week or two off from work.

So how can you make sure business remains as on track as it can do over the summer period? Some of this will be out of your hands with the current situation we are in, but equally there will be things that you can do you your business to help transition to the new normal and to improve your marketing and future successes.

Here are some top level ideas on how you could spend time on and in your business this summer to set you up for the months ahead:

Get a Marketing plan to help you set some goals, plan how to achieve these goals and create processes and partnerships to streamline and manage your marketing whether you are here or abroad? A goal without a plan is just a wish as they say. So what does a plan include? What are the steps? Why bother with a plan? Find more more

Set up a Newsletter and send monthly (you can even pre-schedule these for when you are away) to keep customers up to date and keep you in their minds. GDPR rules apply so ensure you have consent to email your contact list. Many of us don’t know what to include in newsletters. Try not to make it all about you if you can. Include industry or market news. Include tips and stories. Images are also good to brighten up and break up text. Use this content also to form blogs too?

Create a Social Media content plan, then write and pre-schedule your Social media posts to ensure customers carry on buying and receiving your messages. Use the content from your newsletter and your themes from your plan and plan out your content. Make sure it is two way as well. Ask your readers to respond and comment and get them involved. Engage with them.

Could you free up some time to work on your business by outsourcing?  If you are also planning some time off over the summer, outsourcing to a trusted pair of hands on a short term basis could be an option. For example, a marketer to help with your social media and newsletter or a VA for your phone answering, email monitoring and admin. Or a bookkeeper for your invoicing and payment chasing. Or a copy writer to write some blogs.  

Find out more about our packages, and market your way through the summer.

Have a good summer!

When Iife gives you lemons, make mangos?

Marketing strategy

No I haven’t pivoted Pinpoint Marketing into a catering business, but I want to tell you a food related/shopping story instead. I was in my local shop (shopping safely and at a distance of course) looking for mango chutney to accompany a dish I was making for us back at home. The shop I am talking about has been so convenient with its location, its range of stock and the friendly staff. They literally sell all things and never seem to run out of stock. I hope they continue to do so well once this pandemic is over. Anyway, I couldn’t see the chutney so I checked at the counter when I was paying for my other items. The young man kindly told me no they didn’t have any and they didn’t stock it either in general. Plus he told me I was one of a few that has asked recently. I was tempted to suggest they did start stocking it as they were clearly missing out on sales and service and value. I thought that might be seen as rude or pushy, so I didn’t.

Have customers or potential customers asked you for something that you don’t offer? I know have been asked. How do you respond?

Marketing is a wide ranging subject with many meanings and perceptions, so I often get asked about building websites or designing a brand or copy writing on a technical matter.

How do I respond? I don’t change to be a jack of all trades and loss my authenticity. And I don’t overpromise and undersell.

So, how do I help? I have built up a network of associates so I am able to say “I don’t offer that service no” but I can refer you to someone who does! This way, I don’t stress about taking on work I can’t or don’t want to do, the client doesn’t get let down with no solution and someone I know and respect gets some new business. Everyone wins!

So next time you are asked for mangos, lemons won’t do, but don’t say a flat no. Think how you can say yes, directly or indirectly and offer a solution that doesn’t compromise but one that adds value and what is actually needed!

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and go on a journey …

user experience

Empathy is a word that is very much relevant in today’s world, both personally and business wise. Therefore, the phrase putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is also very much relevant. As business owners it can be easy to sometimes think and feel and act in a way that only we have considered eg what suits us or our budget or our timelines and goals. More than often this way is the right way, but sometimes this way or our actions haven’t taken into account our customers. Customers as you all know are key as without them, we do not have a business, let alone a thriving business.

So what do I mean by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and with empathy? I am not saying don’t do what feels rights or put yourself/your business at the bottom of the list. I am saying and suggesting that perhaps you use this time or set aside another time in the future to review your customer journey or otherwise known as the user journey.

What is a user journey?

According to my dictionary, user means “easy to familiarise oneself with, understand, and use”.  And journey means “act or process of travelling from one place to another”.  So essentially a user journey is about taking someone who uses/may be intending to use your product or service from the place they are in, to the place they/you want them to be eg the place where they can make a purchase.

Why would you look at or review your user’s journey?

What experience does you user or customer have? Is the journey or the process easy for them or tricky? Are there lots of steps or unnecessary points of contact? Is the interaction complicated or too involved? Do they get the information they need to decide quickly and efficiently or is manual intervention needed from the business that slows things down? Is it easy for them to make a payment or book a slot/get a delivery or make an appointment?

How is it for you from the owner’s point of view? Is it clunky or automated and streamlined? Is it easy for you to miss steps or forget to do something?

How can you map out your journey?

There is no right or wrong way for your user journey to flow, but it is worth considering and reviewing if improvements can be made easily, that make a real difference to the customer. This mapping looks at the journey itself. The steps or the touch points.  For example, for a customer looking to buy a skincare product from a small business, may follow this route:

Step 1 – hearing of the product – social media, website or via a networking event or word of mouth referral

Step 2 – sample – can they request one by email or phone or a form online? Or, in the past and hopefully again, can they order one via an event or from a shop?

Step 3 – to buy – can they buy online if ecommerce is set up on your site or via links on your social media profiles? (a lot of people do expect online purchasing as an option these days) or do they come to the supplier and buy face to face? Or can they buy via an email or phone order? Or are all of the above options available?

Step 4 – payment and delivery – if face to face purchasing hasn’t happened, is there the option to pay safely online and arrange/book in a delivery?

Step 5 – after sales – do you follow up and check they received the item? And importantly, have you asked if they are happy/satisfied with the product?

It’s all about thinking things through eg making the process as simple as possible and involving as few steps as possible and automating as much as you can. It is also about minimising their frustrations or opportunities for them not to make the transaction. And a good and easy user journey is also about good customer service.

What next?

Test out your user’s journey. Get a big sheet of paper and some pens and mind map it out. Write out the steps and draw lines connecting them up. Once you write it out then it is easy to see the number of steps involved as well as how it flows or doesn’t. Or ask someone to test this journey out for you and feedback with their experiences, good or not so good.

Once you have done this, ask yourself how do the shoes fit now?

How to get your pricing right and set your Marketing Budget!

How to set a marketing budget

This blog looks at:

  • Why have a marketing budget?
  • How to help your cash flow
  • Methods to budget setting and price setting
  • Pricing today

Why have a budget?

Setting your pricing and your marketing budget should be part of your marketing plan which in turn should be part of your overall business plan.  Strategic planning and budgeting go hand in hand. To make plans though, you need to have resource and money to back up these plans.

Once you have set your budget, stick to it and review it regularly. Review your budget and maybe do a new forecast, if necessary. Not easy at this time especially, but try not to go over your budget each month. It may be tempting to try and do anything and everything in terms of marketing, but hold fire before acting and only do what is going to be cost effective and only what will give you a return on your investment. Always remember ROI.  Return on Investment. If something doesn’t produce a return, don’t continue with it.

How to help your cash flow

  • Look at your costs and outgoings and economise where you can.
  • Buy in bulk if you can, to save in the long term.
  • Review memberships and subscriptions
  • Shop around amongst your suppliers.
  • Shorten your payment terms if you can to bring in cash quicker.
  • Lengthen your supplier’s payment terms if you can to help your cash flow.
  • Seek advice from your bookkeeper or accountant.

The Methods to budget setting/setting pricing

As with everything in marketing, there are many ways to do the same thing. Each method has its own pros and cons and can sometimes be purely down to personal preference and experience. Here are some of the options

  • Historical – looking at previous budgets and previous costs
  • Zero based – looking at your activities and trading off depending on financial constraints
  • Activity related – looking at your activities and the costs and the resulting ROI
  • Fixed  – looking at a figure and sticking with it
  • Sales vs Spend – looking at Sales vs Spend or in other words, income vs expenditure

Always seek advice from a financial professional before taking action.

Pricing today

Your pricing should ensure your cover your costs/break even and then make some profit too. If you use a tool like Quickbooks then you can get easy to understand graphs and stats to show you the financial health of your business when it comes to expenses and sales. Always seek advice from a financial professional before taking action!

Depending on your industry, company circumstances and so on, now may or may not be the time to review your pricing. For most of us, a price increase would not be well received so I would avoid this. Customers will remember how you act now. But equally that isn’t saying you cannot charge either nor can you make a profit.

I have had questions asked to me whether companies should discount products and services at this time. There are pros and cons. Without sounding heartless then most of our businesses need to make money so we can keep afloat and pay our personal bills or staff, therefore I don’t see a need to offer everything for free or discounted just because of the current situation. If you wish to offer a free call or free advice or free products, this is optional and a kind gesture and only do so if it won’t harm your business short or long term, But you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so. Such as offer would be well received I’m sure though by your customers and prospects. One way round this ethical/financial dilemma, might be to discount or add offers, but only for set periods of time to its clear when it ends and therefore its easy to manage and to measure.

Now isn’t also a normal trading time for many businesses, so profits and sales are not truly representative currently either. Note that too when it comes to reviewing prices and your marketing.

I hope that is useful. I am certainly not a financial expert and would always recommend you seek advice from such experts before making decisions.

For more marketing related tips and small business advice, read our other blogs or sign up to the Pinpoint Marketing newsletter