Ask yourself Why first

Marketing strategy

Who remembers playing pin the tail on the donkey at children’s parties? I don’t recall whether I was particularly good at this game or not, but I enjoyed it nevertheless and I remember it being very popular back in the day. So why am I telling you this?

When I am working with a new client or a potential new client, the word “why” will always come up in the initial conversation. This could be why do you do what you do? Or why do you think you need my help? Or why are you doing this or why are you doing it this way? In my mind, marketing isn’t a tick box exercise and any marketing or promoting of you or your business shouldn’t be done without reasons or goals in mind. This is all about knowing your why. Us small business owners do not have an abundance of time or money to burn, so we need to spend our time and money wisely.

So how do I work for you?

I will ask a new client or prospect lots of questions, either via them completing a form (available at or we chat in person (when it is safe to do so), or via the phone or email. These questions include:

What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

What does the business do?

What is your USP?

Who are your competitors?

What marketing do you do already?

What are your goals

And so on ….

Why do I ask these questions?

The answers help me paint a picture of where the client is and where they want to be. Then I can use their responses and my experience to point the business in the right direction to get from their now to their ideal end place.

Why do I do it this way?

By asking questions, its means I don’t assume. I don’t bring in any pre-conceived ideas. Plus the client has a chance to speak, tell me how they feel and also an opportunity to gather their thoughts and share these before making any decisions.

By me asking all these types of questions in the way that I do, I ensure that the tail goes on the donkey in the right place at the right time through informed decisions and choices not guesswork. And as a result, the client wins. One client who had a session with me to run through the form and questions said, “A session with Nicole on marketing for my career coaching business was definitely time well spent. I now have much more clarity about what I should be focusing on. Before the session it felt like there were so many options that it was difficult to know where to start. I also received a great report from Nicole with lots of extra tips and advice. Many thanks Nicole; it was all so helpful.” Read more like this

So before you embark on your next marketing campaign or marketing decision, ask yourself “why” first.

Marketing business tips

How and why use email marketing?

Email Marketing

Regardless of which of the cloud based email marketing sites or CRM integrations you will be using, it is important to know why you are sending emails, what to include and what to be mindful of.

Email marketing sometimes has a bad press when it comes to SPAM and those who ignore the GDPR.  But if you have ticked the consent or legitimate interest boxes then emails can work well for you, especially now with more people having more time to read emails. Emails are also a good way of keeping in contact and building relationships and building up your reputation.  But how can you make sure your emails have a chance of getting read:

  • Good and interesting subject line
  • Include tips and information, don’t make your newsletter all about you
  • Include links, images and videos
  • Include content that is relevant, especially at this time. Be mindful of how people feel and that they may not be open to sell or buy etc
  • Offer them exclusives and build your community
  • Personalise eg Dear Nicole
  • Always test and preview your campaign before sending out to your list
  • Don’t make them too long!


If you are using Mailchimp (which is my tool of choice but I appreciate there are other options out there so this is your choice), the main areas to work on once you have your account set up (note free accounts and paid accounts and what is/isn’t included in each type) are:

  • Audience/s (list/s) – make sure your fields are all populated so you can personalise eg Dear Nicole.
    • You can create sign up forms per audience so people can easily sign up and you can keep a written record of this for GDPR purposes
    • You can have one list or if you think you will want to send different messages and emails to different groups of contacts, then split these over multiple lists (whilst sticking to the rules based on your account type)
  • Templates (your email itself – fonts, images, links, headers, footers, layout)
    • Don’t forget to include your social media links and refer to your brand guidelines to use the right colours (RGB), pantones, fonts and logos
  • Campaigns (the process of sending your email/template) *
  • Note when sending you can send split test eg send one half of your audience one email with a subject line and then the other half the same email but a different subject line

Don’t forget to integrate your social media accounts as well (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) so your campaign gets posted to these accounts as a post.

* Once you have sent your campaign, do not forget to measure and track it after a few weeks. Why? Find out who opened it, what they clicked on, what data bounced etc. Use the opens and clicks to follow up with as potential leads or connect with on social media and use the bounced data to clean your database.

Of course, do not forget to adhere to GDPR rules. Find out more here and here via the ICO.


Find out more about our training (online and face to face when we can), email marketing template design service and more on our website.

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



Guest blog – Why do we have the GDPR?


So the GDPR has been with us nearly two years.  In the beginning there was a flurry of emails demanding consent and people panicking that they would no longer be able to contact their customers. Yet the actual purpose of the new legislation was often overlooked or unclear.  Data, according to The Economist recently, is more valuable than gold.  The GDPR is designed to protect people’s rights.  Imagine it’s your children’s personal data and the importance becomes clearer.

What data is it trying to protect?  Its personal data – things that identify a natural living person.  So, if you aren’t a company and not dead – it will apply to you.  This could be contact details, NI number or a passport number.  It could also be special category data such as health details, nationality or religious beliefs.

What the ICO are looking for is for individual’s data to be treated well.  To have a specific reason for having it, a lawful reason to process it and to only have it for as long as you need it.

Consider a normal company selling, let’s say, watches.  There will be clients, suppliers and possibly employees.  The client data will be needed for repeat orders, batteries and warranty issues.  You can’t keep your client data forever but you could keep it for the warranty period plus a couple of years possibly for any outstanding issues.  Again you can’t keep supplier and employee data forever either and you should have a data retention period in place that can deal with all of the personal data that you need to have in order to run your business.  The ICO isn’t saying that you can’t have the data but to only use it and keep it for as long as you need to do so.

The legal basis for processing the data is also important. This could be a number of reasons but in most businesses, it is legitimate interest, contractual obligation and consent.  The others are vital interest, public interest and legal obligation.  Legitimate interest could be providing a quotation and contractual obligation could be paying for a product received.

With GDPR there are other things to consider too, data subjects (those we have information about) have rights about the data that we hold about them.  We also need to be able to deal with data breaches when they occur.  There are also marketing considerations and legitimate interest assessments are very useful here.  Along with data protection impact assessments for processing certain types of data need to be completed to ensure you are reducing risk.

Data flows are a very good idea as they look at the ways data flows around your world.  From where you store your data, to your third parties where you pass on your client data to.  It all helps identify risks and duplication of transfers which might not be necessary.  It may also show where access to information instead of transferring it would be a safer option.

It may seem like a minefield but there is lots of useful information on the ICO websiteGDPR doesn’t have to be complicated – that I promise!


About the author:

Louise Hickman is an experienced GDPR Practitioner and Commercial Manager with a background in law and quality management.  She helps numerous sole traders and small to medium business to simplify their data, introduce data protection by design into their planning and avoid fines.  If you want a free GDPR health check please do get in touch: or go to