It’s time to cry over some spilt milk!

I am sorry, there is some use in crying over spilt milk. Time, effort and money has been wasted. I am writing this at 5:30am, so I am slightly grumpy.

Imagine this, you are a business owner and one of your employee’s make a mistake and costs the business £1,000. You’re upset right? Being a reasonable human being, you can accept sometimes things happen and expect a lesson has been learned.

Two months later, the same employee makes the same mistake, the cost is £1,000 to the business. This time, you are a little more than upset but you bite your tongue and try to see if there is some help or reason it happened again.

Another two months go by and it happens again. Same cost, same mistake. There are probably not enough expletives to describe your feelings on the matter. You’re upset that the lesson hasn’t been learned. You’re upset that mistakes are costing the business money. You are frustrated that the same thing keeps happening.

Here is my twist, but this type of event happens everyday in businesses across the world, not always obvious mistakes, but often very simple ones.

  • How do you know which advertising works for you? Do you measure it? What is it’s ROI? Or do you just do what you have always done?
  • Are you leveraging and building your brand to create a more dominant position in your market? Or are you compensating for a weak brand with heavy advertising?
  • Are you keeping up with your competitors through innovation and creative marketing?

If these questions are not on your radar, you could be deploying your hard earned cash into inefficient marketing. You could be the employee making the mistake over and over again. Let me show you how…

A lot of SME’s feel that brand is not important to them because “we are not Pepsi or Tesco, we are small local company”. They don’t focus on brand building, sometimes because they don’t have time and honestly, sometimes because “they have a logo already”. If I hear someone refer to a brand and just being a logo one more time….

It is true to say, the bigger the business, the more priority brand building must take but, having a dominant brand in a regional or local market is still a good business investment. A strong regional or local brand can deliver long term value for the business. A strong brand can increase ROI and remove barriers for potential customers to come on board.

A great brand draws crowds, delivers value and makes you memorable.

So what the hell is a brand?

Well, a brand is more than a logo, it’s an idea, its a flavour, it’s method – it’s everything.

Every business Guru out there will tell you “don’t sell on price”. You can sell on your brand; it’s values, it’s position, it’s quality. When you go into any Supermarket, if your looking for some baked beans, there will probably be three choices. There are the ‘brands’, the ‘own brands’ and the ‘no frills’. In many cases products for the three different ‘brand levels’ are made in the same factory by the same people. In some cases the product quality is exactly the same. But you’ll notice the price across the three varies massively. The main brands being the most expensive. From a product point of view, the cost of manufacture is probably the same across all three.

In order for people to make a decision to buy a more expensive brand, they have to BELIEVE there is something about the product. Customers have to BELIEVE there is different from the cheaper competition. That belief is created by building a brand, capturing the essence of you and fitting into the customers beliefs and values.

The main brand products have consolidated a reputation for quality and flavour into their brand. That’s why Heinz, Pepsi and all the others focus all their advertising on the brand product. A good brand position makes the sales and marketing process much simpler. In some sectors a strong brand then sells itself.

When you establish your brand and position in the market, the ‘Brand God’s’ do your bidding and suddenly, people remember you, you gain a reputation for being a leader in your industry or sector, you become memorable. You become the first port of call.

I believe, as do many marketing experts, that a solid brand accelerates growth. A powerful brand has a multiplier effect on any advertising you do. This multiplier goes far beyond the impact a leaflet drop or radio advert can deliver.

Here is the problem for many business owners. Investing in building a business brand is a long term project. It can take weeks, months and years. Too often sales and marketing is done on impulse or as that thing you struggle to find time for. They make the mistake of advertising without building their brand.


Move with change or get run over by it!

At the weekend I was discussing with our neighbors about the way we consume media and how the growth of on demand has created a whole ‘binge viewing’ culture and the change of viewing habits, such as  catch-up TV. I don’t know about you, but the majority of my TV viewing is now on-demand or through catch-up. There is no doubt the big screen in our living room’s is here to stay but the big question is, who will provide what we watch on it?

I am sure on a professional network such as Linkedin, a few will have succumbed to ‘binge’ viewing.  I’ve found a ‘binge’ viewing session can be quite therapeutic. I am sure I am not alone and there will be many who have had 3 hour marathon watching House of Cards, 24, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad.

The question all media producers are trying to answer is how will we receive media for consumption in the future. Just look at the recent news of Amazon relaunching the famous BBC series, Top Gear. 10 years ago Amazon delivering media content would have been a bit of a joke given our habits where very different back then. Diversity of viewing now presents a real problem. How do you know which one is future proof?  I don’t believe anybody honestly knows how we will consume media in the future.

Just like all those big media companies, going through the process of change can be quite a painful experience. Being creatures of comfort we like things to stay the same, we like certainty. Change brings uncertainty and forces us to improve ourselves and adapt to a world which is constantly changing. Change brings pain.

What’s happening in TV is happening everyday. Today there will be numerous inventors and entrepreneurs working and thinking of ways to bring innovation to the way we live our lives. Think about it, 30 years ago, mobile phones where available to a select group, the internet was non-existent and in the UK you could watch 4 TV channels. For all those who were the wrong side of innovation, change was lethal.

Change is never easy, for the instigators or the recipients. Instigators have to battle against the status-quo and the recipients of change are forced to adapt which is not always convenient. It can be brutally uncomfortable, but what is certain, is that if you try to resist change, you tend to get run over by it. Those that do well, embrace change and adapt to the new world it creates.

Some of the casualties of change such as MySpace, Nokia, HD-DVD and Woolworth’s all had great USP’s but as times changed their offering didn’t seem to matter anymore. The same thing that killed those famous brands is a massive threat on the horizon for Apple, Google and Amazon.

The warning to us all is that, just like MySpace, if we are not keep up in our fields, we can quickly fall behind the changing environment in which we live and work.

Why use a marketing consultant?

Many people are skeptical about the role of a consultant. Consultants can be expensive and if they are not delivering value they can waste a lot of time and money. There are however great benefits to having a consultant.

Before we get into the benefits, it’s always important to define the purpose for hiring a consultant. It is really easy once you’ve appointed your consultant to throw them more work or projects. Whilst every consultant values more work, ‘mission creep’ as I call it can dilute the effectiveness and muddy objectives and goals. It starts so easy with ‘can you just do this for us too’. I have been in a position where I have had mission creep and it isn’t a great place. Business owners at first feel happier knowing they can pass projects over and leave them with someone else. The problem comes when objectives and lines start to blur. From experience it is always better to have clearly defined projects and timescales.

When mission creep happens, it starts well but six months down the line when goals have slipped, it is easy to forget the additional work that has been added and blame the consultant. Always keep clear goals and objectives, it will get you the best results and avoid confusion.

So here are some of the main benefits for hiring a consultant…

1) Clear thinking.

It is really easy to develop ‘group think’ or ‘industry think’ as company. A consultant can bring a different perspective not hindered by the day-to-day running of your business. The clarity a consultant can bring also is removed from internal politics. Politics happen in every organisation and they are a power and self preservation mechanism. Clarity of thought from a consultant can help you see your options and next steps without the lens of politics or day-to-day management challenges.

2) Experience

The primary reason for bringing a consultant on board is so that you can gain access to expertise which you do not have internally. In marketing trends, methods and processes change. As a consultant, you have to be ahead of the game and be on top of the latest developments in technology so that you can share those developments with clients.

Many consultants focus on specific areas, so engaging their field of expertise is a low cost option compared to hiring a permanent staff member for that work. In some companies they do not have a big marketing team, perhaps just a marketing coordinator. In these circumstances companies can gain high-level experience as and when they need it.

3) Focus

In many organisations it can be easy to get distracted. The amount of times I have heard business owners say “we really need to work on our marketing”. Marketing is a top priority for winning customers, but it is really easy to get consumed in the day-to-day that you never get around to actually ‘doing’ the marketing.

A consultant or marketing company can help take responsibility for delivery. Having a consultant on board can help keep the focus on delivering the work or project. When your business is stretched for resource a consultant can keep things moving forward.

4) Defining Customers

A good marketing consultant can help you define your customer. Understanding your customer, their buying patterns and importantly their persona. This is another vital element of your marketing strategy which can help you win more business and customers. Poorly defined customer profiles can lead to wasting time and money using the wrong tools, to the wrong people at the wrong time. Defining your customer can help you deploy the right tools to the right people at the right time.

5 ways to make your marketing budget work harder.

In a follow up to the previous post, why most marketing campaigns don’t work we thought it would be good to share some of the ways money can be used to make your marketing budget go further.

1) Get a good understanding of your prospective customer.

You’d be surprised how many marketeers don’t understand their prospective customers. Without a good understanding of the customers needs, marketing efforts will be built on ‘gut-instinct’ or supposition. Sometimes shooting from the hip can be a real asset as you can easily over-analyse but it is far better for gut instinct to be confirmed by some research. A poor understanding of your customer or prospective could cause you to market to the wrong audience and distort the results of your campaign, creating interest from the wrong people and increase the overall cost of acquiring a sale / customer.

2) Making the buying process apart of your marketing strategy.

There are many different buying processes, all marketing should fit into this process or have a process to service enquiries and convert them into a sale. In some cases this is done as wholly online process, whereas others have mixed strategy. What plan is in place to handle new orders and enquiries? Can these be handled in a professional and timely fashion?

If you’re embarking upon a new customer acquisition campaign, it is likely they will want more detail than a returning customer. Is this information easily accessible? Does the prospective customer find it easy to obtain this information? These are all critical questions to securing your sales. A lack of accessible information can deter people from making an enquiry or placing an order.

3) Creativity with purpose.

Yes, sometimes creativity can be a waste of money. An agency (who shall remain nameless for legal reasons) once made a proposal to a client of ours for a new marketing campaign. It was slick, professional and well planned. However, there was some fundamental flaws in the proposal. They were too creative.

The concept a mouse sat on an elephant’s trunk. It was intended to symobilise new possibilities and making the impossible a reality. Sounds great, doesn’t it? The concept art was truly amazing. Our client, as a manufacturing business was confused, “are we the mouse or the elephant?” Having some reluctance the concept art was shown to some of their trusted customers. The feedback? None of them caught the symbolism, they either didn’t understand the relevance or thought it was a statement about their capability and their competitors.

Sometimes being too creative is an indulgence, creativity should be a tool for capturing attention to your offering, it should not take the stage itself (unless your a talented designer looking to get an award).

4) Getting to the point.

There is nothing worse than copy which does not get to the point. In times past solicitors and copywriters were paid by the word, so it was in their own interests to make documents as long as possible. Today, we are all pressured for time and ultimately want to know:

  • What are you offering?
  • What can it do for me?
  • How much is it?
  • When can I have it?

A little bit of sales pitch and boasting about your innovative approach or excellent customer service is good, but when there is more management jargon than substance it can be really annoying.

When someone lands on your website, watches your TV advert or receives any communication from you, it should be easy to understand exactly what you can offer. You have seconds to capture someones attention. Those view seconds are critical to gaining an enquiry, quote request or order. So please get to the point.

Here is an example…

“We offer bespoke and tailored solutions to help you drive sales and profitability”.

Question: – What do you do? How can you benefit me? Are you relevant? – “I’ll read it later”

This example could apply to a financial institution, card processing company, online shopping site or a marketing company.The jargon and waffle has created confusion and the wrong kind of questions.

Our strap line: “We help you grow your business through marketing”

Immediately people know what iMARVEL! does and who we do it for.

5) Monitor return on investment.

How many sales are you getting today from your marketing budget? Many would not know the answer, to be fair, sometimes the answer is hard to calculate as marketing done well can repay itself over long periods of time. As an example direct mail has been known to generate orders and leads 3 and 6 months after posting, where as online generally has a much shorter response cycle. The important thing is to have a system in place to record and track performance of campaigns.

ROI is a good way to bring accountability to your marketing costs and will inform you of what is effective.

If you are looking for new customers, we can help you develop a strategy and campaign to generate new enquiries and most importantly sales!

Complete the form below and a member of the team will contact you to talk more about how we can help.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Why most marketing campaigns don’t work.

It’s our view here at iMARVEL! that marketing is a necessary element of building long term sales and winning new customers. However, many SMEs say that they would hire a sales person over a marketing person. This by no means a scientific explanation but  we suspect that decision makers feel that a sales person can deliver quicker results.


We try to break down the difference between marketing and sales like this;

  • Marketing Activity goes to people and creates interest and customers. It’s pull.
  • Sales Activity finds people who are interested and makes sales. It’s push.


So here is the problem. Many marketing campaigns don’t work because the are actually a sales campaign disguised as a marketing campaign.


Both sales and marketing have the same goals, create customers and sell your products and services.Sales is concerned with converting prospects into customers. Marketing on the other hand creates, leads, enquiries and prospects.


Sometimes, marketing campaigns don’t work but not for the reasons you may suspect.


All too often marketing is generated from a knee jerk reaction. We see this a lot in small businesses. A bad result on the management accounts can trigger direct mail, e-blasts and a massive marketing initiative. If this is you, stop doing it. A good campaign needs preparation, solid messaging and a strong strategy. All those elements need time. You are wasting money. Marketing campaigns very rarely can be executed to grow sales and acquire new customers on a short term basis, particularly in B2B.


Many campaigns have been written off as a failure without giving them sufficient time to get rolling and when they do get rolling, particularly with digital campaigns you need to tweak and adapt them as you go.


Marketing campaign also fail when the messaging and audience are not fully considered. You fail to target when your questions are too broad. How can we get more sales? is broad. How can we get more sales from veterinary surgeries? is a targeted question. Targeting forces you to think about the needs of the customer, what will interest the customer and how they would prefer to buy (which then feeds into your sales process).


There are thousands of businesses have amazing marketing which generates huge numbers of enquiries but their sales process and marketing is disconnected. They lose leads to competitors because they can’t buy online, you can only buy online, the product information is confusing or the ordering process is bureaucratic. Those businesses have fantastic marketing but poor sales process.


If you could double your sales through marketing would you do it?
It’s said that half of all marketing works, the question is, which half. This comes from a throw and stick approach. Throw money at lots of different marketing activities and hopefully some of it will stick. The throw and stick approach works, it’s just awfully expensive! You spend money you don’t need to and lose out on new customers because you didn’t connect with them. If the 50:50 rule is 100% true then it’s not just that your spending money you don’t need to, your losing 50% of your sales.


Targeting allows you to decide your ideal prospective customer and tailor messages to them. Instead of mailing 10,000  brochures at £1.25 per unit and getting a 2% response rate, through targeting you could send 2000 tailored mail packs at £3.00 per unit and get a 20% response rate.

Why do most marketing campaigns fail? They are rushed, bland and not connected to the sales process.