What SMEs need to know to market effectively in 2014 – seminar summary

Image3-2Last week, TLC Business hosted our annual marketing seminar at Southampton Science Centre. This year we focused on ‘Marketing for SMEs in 2014’. The guests were treated to a working lunch, tackling a range of hot topics on marketing for SMEs. As promised, we have created a blog outlining some of the main themes we explored on the day, so you don’t miss out!
Digital vs. traditional marketing

15 years ago the term ‘digital marketing’ did not even exist showing just how fast technology is moving and how important it is for marketers to keep up. The debate of which type of marketing is more important has been around for just as long and every marketing professional will have their own opinion.

The statistics around digital marketing channels are compelling. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t. So if you’re not already blogging, perhaps you should be thinking about it. Regarding social media, 52% of marketers said they have found a customer on Facebook and 43% on LinkedIn.  In terms of influence, surveys have found 63% of readers are more likely to be influenced by blogs over magazines. These are just 3 examples from a plethora of impressive statistics as to the effectiveness of ‘digital marketing’.

However, despite all the focus on digital marketing, in 2013 digital budgets are forecast to account for just 20% of overall marketing spends and TV, press and outdoor advertising was up 3.4% in the third quarter of 2013.

So what did we conclude? Two main points:

1. If you’re not at least planning on how to use ‘digital marketing’ in your business you should be, because your competitors are likely to already be reaping the rewards.

2. We would argue that the term ‘digital marketing’ has become extinct in any case. So intrinsic are digital channels in one’s overall marketing mix that to imply it is somehow distinct from ‘marketing’ in general is outdated. Digital is so important that it cannot be left out!

The rules of SEO

Over the last few years Google have released a number of different algorithms that enable you or I to find what we are searching for on Google. Famously coy about what companies need to do to enhance their search engine rankings, Google has worked hard with its algorithm updates to eradicate the contrived methods of SEO practitioners to artificially inflate a website’s search engine rankings.

First came Panda. Panda dealt with dubious content pages and demoted websites that attempted to dupe Google about the relevance of pages. Next came Penguin. Penguin came down hard on iffy link building, resulting in a number of big names plummeting down the rankings . And now to Hummingbird. Released towards the end of the summer this year, Hummingbird (birds famed for being precise and quick) moved the goal posts (albeit slightly) once again. Hummingbird has responded to the change in the way that Google’s users now search. It seems we are asking questions more rather than searching for terms that might link to information they want to find. Put simply, Hummingbird ‘thinks’ and ‘acts’ more like a human and recognises the intent (semantic meaning) behind the search phrase.

The best way we have heard the subtle shift in intent from Google described is the following; currently we have ‘search’ engines – Google wants to become an ‘Answer ‘engine.

It is helpful to keep this in mind when creating your content. Consider creating tutorials, ‘how-to’ guides, explanations and general content that provides solutions to challenges in your industry or that your target audience might be experiencing.

How to make your marketing work more effectively

The first rule for making your marketing work more effectively is to know your market. Do you know what competitors are out there and what they are doing.

What about your target audience? Have you established they actually want and value what your business provides? Have you reviewed the demographics; where are they located, what segments exist, what type of marketing is most influential to them. For instance, a 20 year old might find social media marketing a lot more influential than a 70 year old.

The future is never clear and forecasts, even from experts, might never come true. Despite this, it is still important to look to the future when thinking about your marketing. What changes are taking place in the marketplace? How are consumer purchasing habits changing? What technology is becoming available to utilise in your business or your marketing? A lot of the time the information you are looking for is already out there, it is just a question of finding it!

Moving with the times

The pace of change in the marketing sector can feel daunting at times, leaving some to cling to old familiar channels and ignore potentially effective ones in the process. Making an effort to ensure you move with the times is very important. It might not always be appropriate for your sector or audience but the very nature of establishing that is a useful process in itself to better understand your audience.

The annual B2B Buyersphere Report was reviewed and illustrated the different types of social media that are being used by B2B buyers currently. Somewhat surprisingly, Google + came out on top, indicating that perhaps Google’s social media offering is beginning to gain traction.

The presentation looked at the rise of ‘Moment Marketing’, where marketers respond to real life events, in real time. Nestle, Nandos and Paddy Power demonstrated great examples of mastering this. Most importantly, SMEs, through leveraging their social media networks, can compete on an equal footing with corporate giants in the ‘Moment Marketing’ arena.

Mobile marketing was a hot topic; with staggering statistics about the adoption of smartphone – by the end of 2013 there will be more smartphones on the planet than people.

The significance of this for marketers is that more and more interactions between companies and their target audience are taking place on mobiles.

The knock on effect of this is that it is imperative that businesses design their website and content (such as emails) to be mobile friendly.

Equally significant is the rise of ‘People Power’. Mirroring the rise of social media, the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter now give the average Joe in the street a platform to reach a global audience. Marketers need to accept and embrace this rather than fear it. Businesses might not be able to exert the same control that they are used to in more traditional marketing channels but they are able to reach a far wider audience and engage in ways previously unheard of. Social media represents a massive opportunity for businesses and can no longer be ignored.

Top tips all SMEs should know

The event was rounded off with a few key tips that all marketers or those running a business should take away with them. These encompassed:

1. Knowing your audience and the market research tools you can use to do this

2. If you read two books, we recommend ‘The Psychology of Persuasion’ and ‘The E Myth Revisited’

3. Embrace email – the stats all show it works

4. Make sure your content is up to scratch

5. Get yourself on social media – whether you’re there or not we guarantee your competitors and customers will or soon will be

6. Go mobile


#MarketingTitbits – Small Biz Saturday, Cow Waterbeds, Stats

SBS-Waterbeds-stats-small1. Small Business Saturday comes to the UK
Small Business Saturday is already a $5.5 billion phenomenon in the United Sates, which began in 2010. Despite this, it has only just made its way over to the UK. It’s UK debut was last Saturday (7thDecember) and it hopes to raise the profile of local UK business, encouraging shoppers to consider local businesses when purchasing.

The idea was launched by American Express who helped to introduce it to the UK. They worked hard with digital marketing alongside local authorities to promote it throughout the UK. James Caan and David Cameron are backing Small Business Saturday and we think it is a great concept! To read more, click here.

2. What you can learn from a cow waterbed company

Dean Throndsen is an American dairy farmer who has dedicated his life to the comfort of cows. Dairy cows lie down for up to 14 hours a day and in the past it has been difficult to find a way to protect them from the weather as well as giving them the ability to lie down, without getting sores on their legs.

Dean then came up with the ingenious idea of cow waterbeds. They are long lasting, practical, comfortable for the cows and hygienic. Now, we’re obviously not suggesting that you start up your own cow waterbed business, although it might not be a bad idea. We found a great article from Entrepreneur about the things that you can learn from DCC Waterbeds, to read more click here.

3. 20 impressive social media statistics

Last week we found a great article from Econsultancy, which highlighted 20 mind blowing social media statistics from 2010 compared to 2013. Did you know in 2010 Twitter had only 75 million users, it now has 883 million. To read the other 19 statistics, click here.

#MarketingTitbits – Snapchat, Christmas, trends

snapchat-xmas-trends-smaller1. The brands that are rocking Snapchat
Over the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of video and photo sharing apps and social networking sites. You are probably already familiar with the likes of Instagram and Pinterest but apps such as Vine and Snapchat are being widely used by people all over the world and if you’re not already using them, you should consider it. We found a great article from Mashable to give you some inspiration that showcases 8 brands that are doing Snapchat really well. To have a look, click here.

2. Christmas Marketing: the best of 2013

Each year, for many people, the beginning of the run up to Christmas is marked by the first time they see the Coca-Cola ‘Holidays are coming’ advert on the television. More recently, the release of the John Lewis Christmas Advert seems to have become an integral part of the festive traditions. Whether you love it or hate it, Christmas inspires some creative and inspirational marketing campaigns. Have a look at some of the best Christmas marketing of 2013.

3. The biggest trends of 2013 – as announced by Facebook

Every year Facebook reveal the biggest trends of that year by gathering data, which is measured by the number of posts that mention a topic, including related hashtags. The worldwide top 10 for this year is as follows:

10. Nelson Mandela

9. Tour de France

8. Boston Marathon

7. Miley Cyrus

6. Flood

5. Harlem Shake

4. Typhoon

3. Royal Baby

2. Election

1. Pope Francis

This looks very different to the top trends of 2013 for the UK. In the number one spot came Andy Murray, with the computer game Grand Theft Auto 5 coming in at number 10.

#MarketingTitbits – Pizza Hut, shopping, Twitter

pizza-shopping-twitter-smaller1. Pizza Hut’s new Xbox 360 app
 In April 2013 Pizza Hut released a new app for the Xbox 360. The app allowed Xbox 360 users to order and pay for pizzas and sides to be delivered to their home, without even having to move from the sofa. In the first 4 months of app’s release Pizza Hut sold $1million worth of pizza, but have still not stated whether they will bring the app to other consoles.

To read more, click here.


2. 17 things shops do to make you spend more money

 Have you ever been shopping and returned home with much more than you intended? Despite you not planning on the impulse buys, the shop you bought them from probably did. Whether it was a supermarket or clothing shop, there are many things that shops do to encourage you to spend more money.

Supermarkets tend to place essential items such as milk and eggs near the back of the shop, this is so that you have to walk past all the other items before you reach them, making you more likely to pick something up you don’t really want or need. Not only do shops use sales to entice you, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency when making a purchase.

To have a look at the other 15, click here.


3. Top 10 UK Twitter trends of 2013

 At this time each year, not only are the biggest trends of the previous year discussed and brought to light, there is also much speculation about what the coming year’s top trends will be.

On Twitter last year, in Britain, 8 out of the 10 most talked about topics were discussions about sporting events. In number one spot on 5th March was Real Madrid beating Manchester United 2-1, knocking them out of the Champions League. Unsurprisingly it was another footballing event in at number 10 on 15th October; England beat Poland 2-0 to qualify for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

To have a look at numbers 2-9, click here.

#MarketingTitbits – media mentions, coding, Twitter

media-coding-twitter-smaller1. The companies with the most media mentions in 2013
 Each year, Dow Jones publish their Global Dow Index which includes a list of the companies with the most media mentions for that year. Unsurprisingly US tech giants topped the list with Google being number one, Apple coming in a close second and Microsoft coming in a close third.

To have a look at the rest of the list from Mashable, click here.


2. Become a coding expert and a better marketer

 Learning to code is rapidly becoming an indispensible skill; it can open up a whole world of new opportunities, and can make you stand out a mile when looking for a new job. There are many online courses that offer to teach you everything you need to know to become an expert coder, some free and some paid. We think Codecademy is one of the best free websites that can teach you about all different types of coding and how to use them.

To read more about why and how you should learn to code,click here.


3. How the top 100 brands use twitter

If your business isn’t already using Twitter then it’s about time you thought about it. It has been one of the fastest growing social networking sites since its launch in 2006. If you don’t yet use Twitter to connect with your customers or if you’re simply in need of some fresh inspiration, have a look at this article which highlights how the top 100 brands use Twitter.

To read more, click here.