What can SMEs learn from big business – video

video-roundedThis month, we introduce the last instalment of our blog ‘What SMEs can learn from big businesses’. Part 3 focuses on viral marketing and how organisations are adopting video as a key element within their marketing mix for increased brand exposure.The high costs historically associated with video and TV has prevented many brands from adopting this form of media. However, with the rise of YouTube and mobile technology, more businesses have been given the opportunity to produce and distribute video content to the masses.

Over the past few years, video content has evolved and is now much shorter, concise and impactful. When creating videos, it’s important to focus specifically on the content your clients and target market are looking for. That means your videos should be oriented towards serving their needs and interests. A 5 minute video highlighting reasons why they should use your business is unlikely to pull on the heart strings, but an innovative campaign that showcases your humour, emotions or personality may in fact be YouTube gold.

For some inspiration, take a look at some of the top viral campaigns of 2013.

Dove, the global cosmetics brand, conducted a social experiment with the intent to teach all women “You are more beautiful than you think”. Dove used an FBI-trained forensic artist to blindly translate two different descriptions of participant’s facial features.  One in which the woman describes her own features and another in which she gets described. It’s no surprise that the self portrait the participant described of herself is less complimentary compared to the other portrait that is relayed by the other person. Dove’s message became apparent “Women are their own worst beauty critics”. As a result, the video generated over 163 million views worldwide.

They say you can’t manufacture viral videos, but to a certain extent you can. GoPro, the maker of the HD personal camera range, did exactly this by taking someone else’s viral video, in which their product played a key role. The footage entitled ‘Be a hero’ shows a fire-fighter pulling an unconscious kitten from a fire and bringing it back to life with an oxygen tank. The video was reportedly captured on a helmet-mounted camera and follows the brand’s previous viral success that featured supposedly amateur footage of a seagull’s flight, filmed when the bird picked up a GoPro camera. The ‘Be a hero’ video is just shy of its 20th million hit.

Finally, Evian’s “Baby & Me” campaign was the most popular video ad of 2013 in the UK, with more than 67 million hits. The video features men and women of various ages dancing in front of a mirror, with their reflections showing them as babies. After this successful campaign, Evian experienced viral reactivation. Viral reactivation occurs when a newly released video like “Baby & Me”, drives viewers back to older campaigns like “Live Young.” All of Evian’s previous campaigns experienced reactivation, for example, the brand’s 2011 campaign, “Baby Inside”, grew by 1.1 million views after its release.

Interestingly, none of the viral campaigns above mention why you should be drinking their water or purchasing their camera. Rather than producing a sales pitch, the innovative, thought-provoking videos speak to their target audience in a unique way. 

With YouTube now the second largest search engine after Google, it is hard to ignore the huge potential video marketing will have on an organisation’s position in the market.

Why not refresh your marketing in 2014 by integrating video into your marketing mix.


Growth Vouchers – up to £2000 match funding!

Growth Vouchers were first announced by the Chancellor in the 2013 budget. The drive behind them is designed to help SMEs access the advice they need to help them grow. The businesses that participate will be allocated a voucher up to the value of £2,000, matched with their own funds, to spend on advice and guidance from industry experts. The advice areas include ‘Marketing, attracting and keeping customers’.

If you think you could benefit from strategic marketing advice to grow your business, you may be eligible for match funding of up to £2,000.

If you meet the criteria you will be taken through a diagnostic that assesses your business needs. If you are successful, you will receive a voucher. Once you have your voucher, you are free to choose your supplier; all suppliers are members of Founding Trade & Professional Bodies, to ensure the advice you receive is coming from experienced professionals.

TLC Business are delighted to have been accredited as Growth Advisors for this £30million government funded scheme, in the field of marketing.

We have already started working with businesses awarded Growth Vouchers to help get their marketing on track in 2014. With the extension of the scheme until March 2015, there is still time for your business to apply for a Growth Voucher and benefit from the funding to put towards expanding your business.

To find out if you are eligible for a voucher click here or give us a call for any additional information, on 01962 600 147.


#MarketingTitbits – domains, data laws, Budget 2015

domains-data-budget-smaller1. Eight genuinely useful tools for domain name generation
When creating a website, the hardest part can often be thinking of and securing a name. One of the biggest problems today is that there are over 900 million registered website domains, but only 25% are actually in use. If you’re struggling to find a domain for your website, a list of the best name generator tools has been compiled by Econsultancy; here are just a few.

Name Mesh, Panabee and Domainr are sites that will allow you to search for a number of alternatives to your ideal domain name/s, which could include shortening or finding alternate TLDs (top level domains). Another problem is then replicating your chosen name across social networks, but with the help on NameChk, you can browse through 157 communities to find out which ones are available.

To see the other tools, you can click here.

2. What new data laws mean for marketers

The EU has been working on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for some time now. The net result of which, brands and businesses will be required to be completely transparent with consumers about what they can expect their data to be used for. The Guardian is one brand that has followed this, through their creation of a £5000 video titled ‘Why your data matters to us’.

With the GDPR due to be released in 2017, the legislation that will be introduced could include the ‘right to be forgotten’, which allows for any out-of-date or incomplete information to be removed from search engine results. The GDPR could also offer brands the option to process pseudonymous data, where personal identifiers are replaced to protect consumer rights.

For more on the GDPR, click here.

3. What the Budget means for your business

When the Budget was announced last week, George Osborne promised that the annual tax return would be scrapped, with digital accounts as replacements. But, what hasn’t been made clear is exactly how this will happen.

One potentially beneficial possibility is that by 2020, small businesses may be able to link their accounting software to government systems, which will share their financial information. As efficient as this might sound, businesses might not respond so positively to the initiative. 100% tax relief on the cost of new equipment is due to fall from £500,000 to £25,000, although George Osborne has suggested this will be reviewed.

These are just a few of the measures that might affect you and your business. You can find out more on what the Budget announcement means for your business by clicking here.

#MarketingTitbits – consumer high streets, Pinterest pages, Snapchat stories

highstreets-pinterest-snapchat-smaller1. Big brands left out of consumers’ ideal high streetAccording to new research by insight and innovation consultancy FreshMinds, almost half of consumers believe that big brands are ruining the high street and a further 63% believe that high streets have lost their appeal.

In the survey of 2,000 consumers, most envisioned a high street with big brands being replaced by pop-up shops, independent restaurants and 24-hour social spaces. Director of FreshMinds, Natasha Wallace, stated that retail stores need to create an in-store experience than cannot be replicated online. But what does the high street of 2025 look like?

Click here to read more on the latest report.

2. Five small businesses with brilliant Pinterest pages

Since its launch back in 2010, Pinterest has grown to become one of the biggest social media platforms for both consumers and businesses. And now,Econsultancy has gathered a list of some of the best pages from smaller ecommerce brands to give you or your business a little inspiration.

The brands that are succeeding on Pinterest are those that have fun and create the most attractive boards. From local produce delivery firm, Farmdrop; or seller of weird and wonderful things, Firebox, this is simple. Their boards are filled with a range of interesting pins from both their own content and external sources.

Take a look at the boards yourself by clicking here.

3. Currys PC World: Snapchat allows us to do more than just add noise to a newsfeed

Currys PC World has recently partnered with Microsoft to launch its first Snapchat campaign, in a bid to target and inspire millennials. The #BestofBoth campaign tells the story of Microsoft’s laptop and tablet hybrid product and how it can enhance the daily lives of students.

Their introduction of Snapchat follows Wimbledon and the other brands that are joining in with the app’s new geofilter ads. Currys PC World’s social media manager believes that the platform allows them to connect with students through story-based marketing, rather than “adding to the noise in their newsfeeds”.

To read more on their newest campaign, click here.


Tap Into Mobile Marketing

Marketing strategies for SME’s are becoming diverse.  An increasing number of small businesses are adopting “Mobile Marketing”, which is proving to be a highly effective method of improving business. So why does mobile marketing represent just 2-3 percent of current marketing budgets?
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has found that mobile marketing has continued to expand during the recession, with a 99.2% increase. Mobile advertising in the UK was valued at 28.6m last year. Driven by the huge increase in recent smartphone sales, marketers have identified mobile as an extremely important tool for generating revenue. The SME’s that successfully incorporate mobile marketing into their campaigns will maximise communication potential with customers, and have a real competitive advantage.

Let your fingers do the talking

 Ultimately, the plethora of new mobiles and technology has redefined the way we connect with businesses. The mobile marketing sector is defined by interaction – consumers are able to share, connect, comment and create. It also provides a highly personalised consumer experience – one size does not fit all. Campaigns which strongly reflect the particular brand they represent are successful, as each business has its own target audience. Nike fans were recently encouraged to design their own trainers. The sportswear company encouraged customers to take pictures with their camera phones of colourful subjects they liked, such as graffiti or clothing. By sending this multimedia message to Nike, their new shoes are customized to the dominant colours in their image.



SME’s can also accurately measure their customer’s real time responses.  They can therefore shape the content they offer to be relevant and timely.  Similarly, “Geo targeting” offers services based on the exact location of customers, using GPS technology.  All of these aspects of mobile marketing allow businesses to analyse and measure their customer’s consumption habits and adapt accordingly. UK firm Sendster has launched a low cost mobile marketing system for SME’s.  The tool was designed specifically for UK businesses who employ 10 people or less, allowing them to notify customers of last minute offers, events and other marketing opportunities. This tool allows small businesses to capitalize on every opportunity to generate income. Sendster says that there are many user scenarios for the service. For example, a local restaurateur could send out a two-for-one text offer to people who they know are genuinely interested in their business.

Google has also announced the launch of a mobile campaign. The new features for mobile apps and ads allow businesses to advertise in apps that allow the user to search for information.  “Custom Search Ads” will also help app developers earn more money to fund their apps and grow their businesses on mobile” says Surojit Chatterjee, Google’s senior product manager. It also ensures users will reach relevant answers to their search.  In addition, for users who share their device location, the businesses with a physical location close to the consumer may perform better in AdWords.

Successful examples of mobile marketing campaigns aim for maximum reach, build a sustained interaction with the customer and always link back to the brand, and its values. So why wouldn’t SME’s want to join this growing trend? With millions of consumers just a click away, mobile marketing is becoming essential for businesses, however big or small. It’s in your hands!

What can SMEs learn from HMV?

Major record labels, including Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony, have agreed to reduce the prices of CDs and DVDs, in a strategic attempt to rescue HMV.The high street retailer has looked vulnerable for some time, particularly since announcing a 10.2% decline in sales at the end of last year.

This decline in sales is representative of a shift occurring in how the public consumes media. With the rise of tablets, smartphones and live streaming, is the end nigh for CDs and DVDs?

We suspect yes, but what remains puzzling is why HMV executives were so slow to respond to a changing consumer trend that the average person on the street has seen coming for some time.

The lesson that all businesses, let along SMEs, can learn from HMV is that you have to keep monitoring your customer’s purchasing habits and be alive to changing behaviour and needs.

Having identified a change is occurring, it is crucial that you alter your offering to respond to these changing needs and demands. HMV executives seem to have been content relying on the strength of their brand, rather than the relevance of their offering.

It is difficult to predict whether HMV will recover long-term or whether this late rally from the labels merely provides a brief reprieve from the inevitable.

Either way, the demises of HMV, Jessops, Blockbuster and more are not just down to a difficult economy, all represent text book examples of businesses failing to respond to changing consumer behaviour and demands.

Make sure your business is alive to these types of changes in your sector!


What your SME can learn from social media

Last month, we introduced the first instalment of our three part blog, ‘What SMEs can learn from big businesses’. Part 1 highlighted ‘Guerrilla marketing’ and how larger organisations are adopting innovative campaigns in order to raise brand awareness and create that vital social buzz.  This month, part 2 focuses on social media and how more and more companies are including the likes of Facebook and Twitter into their marketing mix to help grow their business and attract potential customers.

Out of the total 7 billion people living on the planet, 1.5 billion use social media. From Twitter and Facebook to Google+ and Pinterest, social media has now become ingrained into our contemporary lifestyles, making it easier to engage and share content with individuals online, no matter what the social and geographical boundaries. But social media is no longer just influencing our personal lives; one in three businesses now use social media, with 58% of consumers ‘liking’ at least one brand on Facebook.

Companies are now harnessing the power of social media to build their brands within the landscape of status updates, pins and tweets. To create successful social media campaigns, an investment of time is essential. However, this alone is not enough. A note of caution – it is easy to rush into tweeting and posting pictures, without really understanding why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve. Like any marketing activity, researching, planning and implementing strategies are critical to turning a great idea into great results.

Here are some good and bad examples how some well known companies have used social media to engage with their audience.

1. In October 2012, Cisco, the multinational networking equipment giant, wanted to make sure that they were listening to their customers and responding to questions and queries in ways that were relevant and accurate. With this in mind, Cisco launched their Social Media Listening Centre. On a daily basis, the centre monitors around 5,000 social mentions across 70 company-related platforms, from Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and YouTube, to company blogs and forums. According to a recent independent evaluation of these listening activities, Cisco achieved a 281% return on their investment over a 5-month period, amounting to an annual cost benefit of over just over £991 million. This was calculated by comparing what Cisco spent on implementing and training staff to use social marketing tool with the benefits received, the avoidance of marketing and customer service costs to achieve the same results, along with indirect benefits, such as increased staff productivity. The results indicated that the new centre helped Cisco employees deal with more enquiries at a faster rate.

2. To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Oreo posted 100 adverts on their Facebook page over 100 days. During the campaign, Oreo’s Facebook friends went up from 26million to 27million and its Facebook interactions increased by 195%. The posts included relevant topics, quotes about Oreos, humorous cartoons and even Oreo themed recipes. The time invested in developing their Facebook campaign paid off as Oreo won the top Studio Award prize from Facebook.








3. However, interacting closely with consumers online can backfire if you have not planned your campaign successfully.  Earlier this year, Tesco posted on their Facebook page “Click LIKE if you love getting your groceries delivered.” Alongside people liking the post, there were numerous comments from customers explaining their bad experiences with Tesco’s home delivery service. Tesco did not ignore or delete the comments, instead they responded to every single user, asking for details so they could look into each case and try and solve the problem.

4. Unfortunately, Waitrose’s attempt at #hashtags wasn’t exactly what they had planned either. In 2012, Waitrose invited customers to complete the sentence ‘I shop at Waitrose because… #WaitroseReasons’.  What Waitrose thought was a great way to showcase the affordability of the brand backfired, with Twitter users mocking the brands position within the market and their target audience. For example, ‘I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being around poor people #WaitroseReasons. ‘I shop at Waitrose because I was once in the Holloway Rd branch and heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando!’

For a company embarking on using social media as part of their marketing, the seemingly endless choice and possibilities can see daunting. However, adopting the right platforms to represent your brand is important.  Twitter and Facebook are good for creating conversations with customers and responding to queries, complaints or praise. For the brands that are more visual, sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide an array of creative opportunities. The key to successful social media isn’t just about how many fans, followers or mentions you have, instead the secret to building your brand is the interaction between your business and your online community. For your campaigns to run smoothly, creating a social media strategy is essential. It will help your brand stay in the right direction, generate a return on investment, as well as increase your visibility online.

#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.

Paul the psychic Octopus and Marketing for SMEs
We’re sure you’ve all heard of the remarkable tale of Paul the clairvoyant octopus, who correctly predicted the winner in all 8 of the matches he was prompted to, at this year’s World Cup.

Whilst his feat is certainly unlikely and many seem convinced of his psychic abilities, the cynic in us here, feels fairly confident that it was merely coincidence.

But what has psychic Paul the octopus got to do with marketing, I hear you ask?

All too often, SMEs leave their marketing success to chance. They might as well let psychic Paul loose with their marketing budget and see what happens. Would you feel confident in putting your marketing fate into the ‘tentacles’ of a clairvoyant Octopus, regardless of his past success at predicting the future?

If the answer is yes, then good luck to you. If it works, you’ll have a great press release on your hands! However, for those of us that would like a more stable foundation on which to make our marketing decisions, there is no substitute for proper marketing planning and preparation.

We keep shouting about it and that is because we believe that investing time, energy and money (sometimes) in this area will reap significant rewards down the marketing road. SMEs are notoriously keen to shun planning and preparation, in favour of pursuing ad hoc business interests. This attitude is a major factor in why many businesses are finding their marketing does not deliver the return on investment they expect and their business needs.

So what can you do about it?

3 crucial areas that you need to know about before you embark on any marketing campaign are:

  1.  What is your market? Not what you think it is, but actually research who your service / products appeal to? You may be surprised at some of the market segments that are interested in what you do.
  2. What are your customers / potential customers’ needs? Why are they buying / would they buy your products or services? What needs are you satisfying?
  3. Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Again, not just those you are immediately aware of. You need to research a bit further, consider your indirect competitors too.

Only once you have this information as minimum, should you consider formulating a marketing plan.

It has been proven that there is a direct link between the long-run profitability of a business and its ability to get a clear understanding of its customers’ needs. It makes sense really, if you know what someone wants and why they want it, it should be fairly straightforward to offer a service or product that meets that need.

The crucial next step is giving them a reason to get it from you. Here’s where knowing what your competitors are up to becomes vital. Armed with this information, you are in an ideal situation to position your company’s offering in a unique and competitive way that creates a compelling case for why your customers / prospects should use you.

As the old adage goes, fail to plan and plan to fail. This can certainly apply to marketing. A bit of planning and preparation will significantly push the odds of marketing success in your favour, giving you facts and figures on which to make your marketing decisions rather than the whim of a psychic octopus called Paul in a German aquarium.

Free Marketing MOT for Hampshire Businesses
As part of our quest to get SMEs planning their marketing more, TLC Business allocate a limited number of free marketing MOTs to businesses based in Hampshire that want to improve their marketing’s performance. Many businesses have benefitted from one already so don’t delay and book your MOT today. Visit our marketing MOT page for more information.

Guerilla Marketing for SMEs

The concept of Guerilla Marketing has captured our attention this month. It inspired us to create our ‘Gorilla Marketing’ concept and remains a strong influence on our marketing philosophy. We thought it would be interesting to explore the concept closer and outline how the ‘guerrilla’ ethos could be employed in your business’ marketing, whilst staying the right side of the law!
Guerilla Marketing – a definition

The term ‘Guerilla Marketing’ was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in 1984 to define a form of marketing that took its inspiration from ‘Guerilla’ fighters in combat.

Mr. Levinson states that the ‘soul and essence of guerrilla marketing’ is in:

“Achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.”

Inherent within the term are the obvious connotations of a ‘David versus Goliath scenario’, with the smaller, more agile entity, competing against it larger and wealthier competitor/s, utilising unconventional and less costly methods of marketing to engage with their target audience.

Equally relevant, is the relationship between the guerrilla marketer and the landscape in which they operate. ‘Guerilla’ fighters traditionally utilise their superior knowledge of the land to gain an advantage over their less knowledgeable counterparts. They live, breath and sleep the land and therefore have a deeper understanding of it and can use this to their benefit in combat.

Guerilla marketing – the implications for SMEs
Extending the analogy of guerrilla warfare into the sphere of marketing and business has great potential for SMEs.

Typically, SMEs have far fewer resources available to them than their larger corporate competitors. In the battle to engage with their target audience, SMEs can’t compete by pouring money into elaborate and expensive marketing campaigns. Instead they need to invoke the ethos of the guerrilla fighter and think differently, unconventionally and leverage their greatest assets, their size and closeness to the land, in this case the marketplace in which they operate.

SMEs often command a far greater understanding of their immediate marketplace. They can enjoy close relationships with all their clients. Management are never far from the customer and can listen to and interpret their needs and respond quickly to demand, without the need to navigate through the extended chain of command that exists within their larger competitors. Perhaps the SMEs greatest weakness, its size, can also become its greatest strength. Lower overheads, the ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and the entrepreneurial spirit inherent within the SME can give the organisation an edge over the larger players in their marketplace.

Guerilla Marketing – how it works
Guerilla marketing involves investing energy and imagination, rather than money into your marketing. It is about capitalising on the landscape in which you operate to its maximum potential and employing human psychology to promote greater awareness of your business, products and services.

Guerilla Marketing was invented for SMEs and entrepreneurs. It is incredibly effective in local or regional markets.

The objective is to create a buzz about your product or service, to make it remarkable, unusual, noteworthy, standout and imaginative. The essence of guerrilla marketing is to get your target audience talking about you and generate word-of-mouth referrals from there.

As with most marketing, the smaller the group you target the more effective the marketing.

Whilst being unconventional is crucial, it is important you stay the right side of the law. Graffiti and street stunts are commonplace in the guerrilla sphere but could see you gain press for the wrong reasons, as you fall foul of the law.

Perhaps most importantly, a sense of humour is vital in Guerrilla Marketing.

It is easy to take oneself too seriously, so make sure you have some fun with it.

To give you some ideas, here’s a few examples we like.

Taxi sign – Guerilla marketing by mediafun