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Need To Know

Marketing Your Business

With almost half of UK businesses opting to manage their marketing out-of-house, Carys Evans outlines ways to efficiently market business and run successful social media channels in-house

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According to Vendasta, almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business

Make some noise

Research released by marketing agency, Marketing Signals, recently revealed that many companies are choosing to outsource its marketing activities to external agencies or freelancers rather than mange it in-house.

The survey, which spoke to 1,021 UK workers found that 42% of UK businesses don’t market their businesses themselves and 35% of those asked said that this was down to a lack of resources. Despite the lack of resources, one in four said that outsourcing their marketing activity offers them cost savings in the longer term.

When broken down, the marketing category least likely to be handled in-house was digital marketing (63%), with social media marketing in second place at 59%.

O Factoid: A survey which spoke to 1,021 UK workers found that 42% of UK businesses don’t market their businesses themselves.O

Commenting on the findings, Gareth Hoyle, managing director at Marketing Signals says: “The research shows how business leaders are relying on other means, be it a freelancer or an agency, to handle their marketing activity, rather than opting to handle this activity in-house, this appears to mostly be happening within the subcategory of the digital marketing sector.

“This is understandable however, as industry practices are regularly updating and it can be hard for businesses to keep up to date with the latest developments in digital marketing. Therefore, having a dedicated external team that are experts in the field and have access to all the latest tool packages will help to co ordinate and streamline the process.

“That said, business leaders need to ensure they are fully engaged and in regular dialogue with their outsourced team to ensure the activity is successfully achieving the business’ goals.”

Know what you want

Martyn Lenthall is the founder and search engine optimiser (SEO) director of Bamsh Digital Marketing. Lenthall has seven years’ experience in SEO having launched his first SEO company in 2012. Since then he has expanded his client base of small businesses and Bamsh was born.

Martin Lenthall, founder and SEO director of Bamsh Digital Marketing

Having written 17 books on website optimisation and lead generation for business websites, Lenthall is experienced in the field of marketing.

“For many traditional companies, with either a retail space or an office, the online world of marketing is either where the low-cost competitors or the “big boys” are based. However, there is room for the small to medium size business to get their fair share of the business. In an area where there is a heavy competition, the first to use online or digital marketing in the area will likely take more than their fair share.”

When deciding which marketing agency to choose for your business, Lenthall advices preparing a few key questions to ask. These include asking how the company plans to report work carried out and results achieved; what involvement is expected from you; and what do you do when things just aren’t working. This way you have set out some ground rules so that both you and the agency know what is expected and realistic.

“Although the best results take a time to achieve, avoid SEO agencies that try and tie you into a long contract.

This is an early indication that they either have little faith in the results they will achieve, or their working practices take longer than the norm. The best SEO agencies will have a contract length that holds the business partnership together for a period that will start to see results, allowing you to make a commercial decision after that based on return on investment. This would normally be a six-month contract.”

Despite almost half of all UK businesses choosing not to manage their marketing in-house, Lenthall says with a bit of research and a small budget, running a successful marketing strategy is completely achievable. “Online or digital marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Most new clients with Bamsh Digital Marketing start with a small budget and increase this as new sales are achieved.

“In fact, budget is rarely a factor. If a marketing company said that they expect to return double the money invested in advertising as profit, i.e. £2 of profit for every £1 invested – what would you set your budget at? Return on investment and capacity within the business to fulfil orders in a timely manner actually determines
the budget that should be invested.”

A strong website is key

According to Lenthall, heading to Google and investing time into optimising your website to appear in searches is a sure-fire way to get noticed. Lenthall says: “When it comes to being found online there is only one place to concentrate and that is Google search results. Many businesses shy away from trying to get the most from Google as it can seem daunting or costly. It does require a degree of expertise to get the right enquiries from Google, however that expertise can be bought relatively cheaply and deliver a great return on investment.”

Marketing doesn’t have to be just for the big companies, Lenthall explains that in fact, Google prefers to support smaller businesses. “It is thought, and our Bamsh digital marketing experience shows, that Google prefers small businesses in its results. Google wants to give users of their search engine their preference, which is a reliable and authoritative local company. Increasing your online presence can greatly promote and grow your business,” Lenthall says.

Google prefers and promotes in its rankings websites that regularly provide new content

Google also prefers a website with fresh, regularly updated content. Lenthall explains: “A long article (2000 words) or a couple of short articles (600 words each) each month on a subject related to the print industry will give your website a huge boost in rankings. Google prefers and promotes in its rankings websites that regularly provide new content.”

Is your website such that within 15 seconds a visitor can tell if your business is high-end or offering a low-cost solution?

According to Lenthall, when someone lands on a website, they will, on average, decide if your company, products and services are what they are looking for in 15 seconds. “At this point they will leave and look at a competitor’s website or will stay and read your information,” explains Lenthall. “Is your website such that within 15 seconds a visitor can tell if your business is high-end or offering a low-cost solution?

“Can they see images of all types of services or products you offer? Is there an immediate sales message to grab attention? If the answer to any of those are no then you need to review your current website.”

Having clear and correct contact details on every page of your website is a simple way to ensure clients will be able to easily contact you and won’t get frustrated and try elsewhere. As Lenthall puts it, “potential customers will not spend time hunting around for a way to contact you”.

Ensure your website is mobile friendly and fully responsive to appear in Google searches

Ensuring your website is mobile friendly and fully responsive is another simple way to ensure you are keeping up with the rest of the industry’s marketing strategies. Lenthall explains why having a mobile friendly website is crucial: “It is widely unknown that Google has two search engine results. One for laptop and desktop users and one for tablets and mobile phone users. If your website is not fully responsive, then it is quite likely that your website will not be shown in these results – meaning that over 50% of your potential customers will not be able to see your website.”

Marketing your skills

Rather than investing money and time on training staff and hiring external marketing experts for digital marketing strategies, Cheshire-based print firm, Print On, utilises its own skills and services to create bespoke physical marketing products in-house which it sends out to strategically chosen clients based on current market trends.

Established in 1995 by the Oldfield family as ‘The Copyshop’, Print On began as a local photocopying service, and with advancement in technology has since grown into new markets such as large-format printing and finishing. Following further expansion, the firm moved to larger purpose-built premises filled with state-of-the-art equipment in 2016 and most recently invested in an 8ft x 4ft DYSS X7 digital flatbed cutting system in order to deliver high quality point of sale products to its customers.

Print On sends personalised packages to selected clients as part of its marketing strategy

With clients such as the NHS, the BBC, Coca-Cola, and Adidas, the firm has grown to become a well-established family-run print business.

Alex Oldfield, managing director of Print On, explains how the firm operates an innovative marketing strategy to promote and grow business. He says: “In order to promote business, we target specific clients and sectors which we believe can help to increase awareness and add revenues and we contact them and send out personalised packs.”

The personalised packs are bespoke boxes which the company makes in-house using its own equipment, showcasing the skills and services it offers. Once created, literature is placed inside the boxes which is personalised to each individual client. Whilst the firm does not utilise social media much in its marketing strategy, it instead utilises its own equipment and skills of its staff to create bespoke personalised marketing content in a different way, stating the only real challenge or difficulty it faces within its marketing agenda is operating within budgets.

Matthews the Printers offers a range of cross-media services to enable clients to communicate effectively across the web, email and social media, as well as traditional print-based channels. Although the print firm uses an external company to mange its PR, it has its own in-house marketing strategy which it reviews regularly.

Gemma Matthews, business development director at Matthews the Printers says that whilst marketing helps the firm to promote business and raise awareness, maintaining its social media channels successfully is the biggest challenge.

Matthews says: “Marketing helps us support our sales team in their calls, networking and meetings, by providing a strong suite of materials as well as ensuring we have consistent messages across all of our marketing and selling channels. It helps to raise awareness of our company and the services that we offer so that when the sales team get in touch with prospects, it is not a completely cold call.

Our marketing also helps us to promote our range of services to our clients who may not always be aware of the full breadth of work we do. We utilise social media to help support our marketing materials and to promote our services but in a more conversational way, focusing on the topic matter as opposed to Matthews.”

Matthews explains that the firm uses a variety of techniques through social media and tweaks the posts to the audience. However, Matthews the Printer has found promoting print challenging. “Although people like looking at and picking up printed materials, they don’t particularly want to hear about the services that you offer through social media.

“I would say our biggest challenge has been getting our voice right on the social media platforms. Finding the right creative and promotional piece that will get your prospects and clients interacting with and engaging with you is also quite challenging and can take a couple of attempts until you find the right course of action,” Matthews concludes.

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