The Truth About Marketing: Back to Basics

What is marketing

I’m going to be writing a series of blogs called The Truth About Marketing. I’ll be sharing my experience on the good, the bad and the ugly as well as myth-busting and sharing some top tips along the way. The first in this series is all about the basics. What is marketing really about? And what is it not? Read on to find out.

Defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products and services, including market research and advertising”, the word marketing originates from the Latin for ‘buy’. In today’s world, that process is a little more convoluted than it once was, because we no longer go to market to buy, instead we use a multitude of channels to find out what’s on offer, we know all about the competition, we want a bargain and, most importantly, we want to know who’s behind the product or service we are interested in.

The Four P’s – Product, price, place and promotion

When you study marketing, you’re taught about the four P’s. This is a great grounding as everything we do still addresses one of these areas. However, because of the way we do business, and because of the sheer number of different businesses in existence today, there isn’t really a set formula for marketing.

The marketing truth? Do what works for you and your business.

Supply and Demand – marketing isn’t a tick box exercise

There’s the art of persuasion for a start. Because a lot of what we sell today is a luxury or an optional service, a ‘nice-to-have’, we first need to convince our audience that they need what we sell. As my son was answered when I asked him what I do, he said “you convince people to buy stuff”.

We all understand the concept of supply and demand. This is the simple economic rule that if people want something, they will pay a price for it. It’s also about how readily available that product or service is: if something has limited availability, and people want more of it, the price may rise. Known as a seller’s market. We often need to go out and create the demand for our product or service. Our lives are continually changing, and innovative businesses are coming up with more and more ways to make it easier, more fun, better for us and so on. Launching a new idea means letting people know what you’re selling, what it does and why they need it.

The marketing truth? We need to convince our audience that we have what they need.

Routes to Market – these marketing options are many and varied

That’s why we need a plan these days. Doing things blindly, investing here and there in scattergun marketing activity, is very unlikely to yield a return on our investment. Because of the convincing I mentioned above, we need to tell a story. Our story will hook the right audience and lead them to the conclusion that they cannot live without whatever it is we are offering. We need to create ideal client avatars; understand where and how they are buying; tell them about our reason for being; and do the convincing to get them to buy.

The marketing truth? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Marketing is for the long term and you are in it for the long haul

The bottom line is, for small businesses, marketing can feel like a minefield. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially because many business owners don’t start with the basics. They post a few bits on social media, maybe run an advert somewhere and hope that they’ll get an order or enquiry.

The marketing truth? This might work, but it’s unlikely to be sustainable.

To build a successful business, you need to start with a plan. This will identify the right approach for your product or service. It will help you prioritise activities, so you don’t become overwhelmed and you still have time to actually deliver your business.

Why not subscribe to our monthly, non salesy but informative newsletter, to find out more about marketing, why do it and how to do it. Sign up via here

3 ways to make your marketing work for you

At Pinpoint, we often find that people are a little scared of marketing. Although it’s not rocket science, it’s also not an exact science, which means people feel nervous of taking even the initial simple steps. Indeed, this nervousness often equates no action at all.

Today’s blog will share 3 ways you can make your marketing work for you. That means 3 things you can do, right now, to start marketing. It also means you can make it work ‘for you’ – specifically for your business, because not all marketing has to follow the same style or approach. There isn’t a one size fits all solution.

  1. Stop thinking of it as a ‘tick box’ exercise

You might not feel confident about marketing but there’s no point in dreading it. In fact, if you can spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of it, you might even start enjoying it. Just by understanding the ‘why’ of your marketing will help you to see the point, rather than having marketing as an item somewhere on your to-do list.

To achieve this, why not think about getting an accountability partner? It could be another small business owner or someone you network with, but it’s best if they want to achieve the same thing. You can then brainstorm your ‘why’, work out a simple plan of activities and keep each other accountable for making progress.

  • Measure the outcome

Another thing that always amazes us here at Pinpoint is that people will spend money on marketing but not check what they got in return. You wouldn’t go to a shop, pay for your goods and then walk out without them so the same should be true of marketing.

I don’t think anyone should be a slave to the numbers, and it is always important to prioritise quality over quantity, but it is worth having a few measurements that you check regularly to see whether what you are doing is working. For example, number of leads or enquiries, the source of these leads and what marketing method brings in the most results, as well as looking at likes, reach and engagement. Which you choose will depend on what you were aiming for. You might be trying to get more followers on social media. So keep a track of the numbers but perhaps also look at who your new followers are. Great news if they fit the profile of your ideal client. Not so great if it’s your mum!

  • Hit the right target at the right time

Talking of ideal customers, have you ever heard of an ‘avatar’? This is a made up person  and creating one is really valuable for your business. You imagine your ideal client (you can have as many avatars as you want) and develop them by thinking about what makes them tick, what their issues or struggles are, where they hang out, what they read/watch/do, when they are likely to buy or browse and then you give them a name and identity. Suddenly, you’ll find you start seeing them everywhere and it becomes much easier to target your messages. And, your messages are a big part of your marketing.

Although it feels like you might be missing out, it is really important to be specific when you put out marketing messages. The more you can hit the nail on the head when you talk about a problem you can solve or a product you supply, the more likely you are to get more business.

So, there you have my 3 ways to make your marketing work for you. Pretty simple wouldn’t you say? As I said before, it’s not rocket science so hopefully this can be a list you feel you can take action on. Let me know how you get on …

How to brief a graphic designer – guest blog

Alison Joshi JWJ Design

Over the years of running my own business the briefs I have received have come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, ranging from a few lines on an email through to a 10 page in depth business analysis on what the client is looking for. If the brief I receive is only a few short lines I have to go back to the client with lots of questions as every job or request is different and there are so many variable factors. I want to give the client a design estimate for the work that is as close as possible to what the final outcome will be so they don’t have any cost surprises at the end. To do that I need as much information as possible from them about their business. But how do you brief a graphic designer, how can you ensure you are giving them the right information so that they can help you effectively and what sort of information is important to them?

How to start:

Hopefully prior to contacting a graphic designer you have spoken and discussed your business objectives with a marketing consultant like Nicole and have got a clear idea of what you need to do to move your business forward. Whether this is a re-brand, a re-fresh, guidance on typefaces, colours and graphic shapes or some marketing collateral designs. A marketing consultant can help guide you on what you need to do to push your business to the next level.

Things to consider:

To start the graphic designer will need some basic information;

  1. What is your business name?
  2. Do you have a logo and brand assets that include typefaces, colours and possibly graphic shapes?
  3. Do you have any imagery or do you need the designer to source this for you?
  4. If you do need some imagery, do you have a budget for stock images?
  5. Who are your targeting with this item of design? – It’s a really good idea to work out who your target client is and their avatars, for example, where do they shop, what social media channels they use etc.
  6. What is it you are looking for the designer to quote on, for example, a leaflet, business card design, exhibition banner etc?
  7. What is the call to action from this piece of design… eg. Book a consultation, call, email?
  8. When do you need it by? – Be realistic here, the more time you give someone the better the job. If it is rushed there are more likely to be mistakes.

What is your budget?

This can be a tricky one as most people don’t really know how much professional graphic design can cost. If we do a search online you can get a logo designed for as cheap as £5 but perhaps think about what you are possibly getting for that price. With design you do often get what you pay for. If cost is important to you and is a deciding factor on choosing the right designer then do have a ballpark figure in mind. A good designer won’t rip you off and if they want to work with you they will try and work within your budget, if it is feasible.

Additional information

As well as all of the above information I also like to get my clients to think about the following questions and answers:

  1. What are the core values of your business?
  2. What do you want to be known for?
  3. How do you want your clients to think and feel from this piece of design? – eg intrigued, excited, relaxed, confident?
  4. Who are your main competitors?
  5. Is there a type of client you are not attracting at the moment that you would like to?

Never be afraid of bombarding the designer with lots of information. The more knowledge they have at their disposal the more successful the piece of design will be. If you have a marketing consultant on board then connect the designer and consultant, collaboration is key to communication working and it will also mean you won’t have to repeat yourself to all the parties involved in the project.

This is a guest blog – bio of the author:

Alison Joshi is Founder and Creative Director of JWJ Design, a graphic design agency that specialises in brand and print design for SME’s.

JWJ Design was set up in 2011, Alison was working in Central London for a top 100 marketing agency and wanted to get back to the grass roots of design and really connect with her clients. “The greatest feeling is seeing your client have the confidence to push their business ‘out there’ once they have a strong and consistent brand image.”


The what and how of communication?

This current time of change has got me thinking about communication. In particular, I have been reading and hearing comments in the media about how we are all communicating and how we are being communicated to, with good and bad examples. Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” But it seems not everyone has such attention to detail when it comes to accurate communication.

It comes back to the old adage of what you say and how you say it. The way we speak, the words, grammar and imagery can really make a message clear or it can make it totally confusing. Clarity not confusion is required when getting your message across, whether from the media to its readers or us marketers to our target audience. Using negative words vs positive ones can also impact the take home message that the reader or viewer comes away with. Attention grabbing headlines can be written intentionally to scaremonger and to alarm people into reading. Using emotion in marketing is ok but it must be done responsibly and only with good intentions. The aim of any communication in marketing terms is AIDA. Attention (grab it)

Interest (create it)

Desire (develop it)

Action (encourage it)

The art of communication is key across all walks of life. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Saying too much can cause confusion and overload whereas saying too little can lead to assumptions and misunderstanding. Saying nothing, though, will leave people to dangerously make their own decisions which may go against what you are trying to achieve. Summarising at the end of a talk or a post or article is also a good idea when delivering a message.

If I am promoting my marketing services to a potential prospect, I may say do you understand marketing, business and planning? But what if I didn’t add commas, it would come out as do you understand marketing business planning? Does that even make sense or is it a list of words? Or if a restaurant is offering tables for dining in, they should say tables reserved for customers eating only. If they wrote it without consider grammar and punctuation, they may say tables reserved for eating customers. A totally different meaning and message!

When it comes to how and what we say, we also need to consider how we publish or put across this messaging and communication. It is all about the right marketing or media channels. For example, a complex message may be easier to put over as a video rather than a lengthy article. Or if your message includes lots of instructions then bullet points or an infographic may be a good idea. This is where imagery and design comes in. Choosing the right image can make or break the clarity and understanding of a message. Font size, colours and layout can also have a real impact.

In my business as a marketing consultant, I am lucky to work with some communication experts in the world of words (copy writing) and in branding and imagery (graphic design).  Check out what these experts do and how they help with communicating a business’s message:

Emma Rundle, Melting Pot Communications  “In my corporate days, I was responsible for keeping the information flowing to an audience of thousands. We always worked on the basis that “in the absence of information, people make things up.”

Alison Joshi – JWJ Design  “Establishing a brand that reflects your business and your values is crucial for your business to stand out and talk to your desired target market.”

So next time you put pen to paper or start typing or press record, be clear on what you are going to say, to whom and what you want the recipient to then do with this information. Have a clear goal and a clear call to action. If you feel writing and creating isn’t your area of expertise, ask for help. A second pair of eyes and ears who isn’t in your business nor are they an expert in your industry, can help iron out typos, misunderstandings, confusion, and errors.

How you communicate will impact, good and bad, on your brand as well as on yourself as a potential market expert. Keep it simple and keep it clear.


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!