Darryl, the man behind dotmailer’s Custom Technical Solutions team

Why did you decide to come to dotmailer?

I first got to know dotmailer when the company was just a bunch of young enthusiastic web developers called Ellipsis Media back in 1999. I was introduced by one of my suppliers and we decided to bring them on board to build a recruitment website for one of our clients. That client was Amnesty International and the job role was Secretary General. Not bad for a Croydon company whose biggest client before that was Scobles the plumber’s merchants. So, I was probably dotmailer’s first ever corporate client! After that, I used dotmailer at each company I worked for and then one day they approached a colleague and me and asked us if we wanted to work for them. That was 2013.  We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us a bit about your role

I’m the Global Head of Technical Solutions which actually gives me responsibility for 2 teams. First, Custom Technical Solutions (CTS), who build bespoke applications and tools for customers that allow them to integrate more closely with dotmailer and make life easier. Second, Technical Pre-sales, which spans our 3 territories (EMEA, US and APAC) and works with prospective and existing clients to figure out the best solution and fit within dotmailer.

What accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?

I would say so far it has to be helping to turn the CTS team from just 2 people into a group of 7 highly skilled and dedicated men and women who have become an intrinsic and valued part of the dotmailer organization. Also I really enjoy being part of the Senior Technical Management team. Here we have the ability to influence the direction and structure of the platform on a daily basis.

Meet Darryl Clark – the cheese and peanut butter sandwich lover

Can you speak a bit about your background and that of your team? What experience and expertise is required to join this team?

My background is quite diverse from a stint in the Army, through design college, web development, business analysis to heading up my current teams. I would say the most valuable skill that I have is being highly analytical. I love nothing more than listening to a client’s requirements and digging deep to work out how we can answer these if not exceed them.

As a team, we love nothing more than brainstorming our ideas. Every member has a valid input and we listen. Everyone has the opportunity to influence what we do and our motto is “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

To work in my teams you have to be analytical but open minded to the fact that other people may have a better answer than you. Embrace other people’s input and use it to give our clients the best possible solution. We are hugely detail conscious, but have to be acutely aware that we need to tailor what we say to our audience so being able to talk to anyone at any level is hugely valuable.

How much of the dotmailer platform is easily customizable and when does it cross over into something that requires your team’s expertise? How much time is spent on these custom solutions one-time or ongoing?

I’ll let you in on a little secret here. We don’t actually do anything that our customers can’t do with dotmailer given the right knowledge and resources. This is because we build all of our solutions using the dotmailer public API. The API has hundreds of methods in both SOAP and REST versions, which allows you to do a huge amount with the dotmailer platform. We do have a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the team so we may well be able to build a solution quicker than our customers. We are more than happy to help them and their development teams build a solution using us on a consultancy basis to lessen the steepness of the learning curve.

Our aim when building a solution for a customer is that it runs silently in the background and does what it should without any fuss.

What are your plans for the Custom Tech Solutions team going forward?

The great thing about Custom Technical Solutions is you never know what is around the corner as our customers have very diverse needs. What we are concentrating on at the moment is refining our processes to ensure that they are as streamlined as possible and allow us to give as much information to the customer as we can. We are also always looking at the technology and coding approaches that we use to make sure that we build the most innovative and robust solutions.

We are also looking at our external marketing and sharing our knowledge through blogs so keep an eye on the website for our insights.

What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?

Most questions seem to revolve around reassurance such as “Have you done this before?”, “How safe is my data?”, “What about security?”, “Can you talk to my developers?”, “Do I need to do anything?”.  In most instances, we are the ones asking the questions as we need to find out information as soon as possible so that we can analyse it to ensure that we have the right detail to provide the right solution.

Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?

We talk a lot about working with best of breed so for example a customer can use our Channel Extensions in automation programs to fire out an SMS to a contact using their existing provider. We don’t force customers down one route, we like to let them decide for themselves.

Also, I really like to emphasize the fact that there is always more than one way to do something within the dotmailer platform. This means we can usually find a way to do something that works for a client within the platform. If not, then we call in CTS to work out if there is a way that we can build something that will — whether this is automating uploads for a small client or mass sending from thousands of child accounts for an enterprise level one.

What do you see as the future of marketing automation technology?  Will one size ever fit all? Or more customization going forward?

The 64 million dollar question. One size will never fit all. Companies and their systems are too organic for that. There isn’t one car that suits every driver or one racquet that suits every sport. Working with a top drawer partner network and building our system to be as open as possible from an integration perspective means that our customers can make dotmailer mold to their business and not the other way round…and adding to that the fact that we are building lots of features in the platform that will blow your socks off.

Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?

I’m a dyed in the wool Gooner (aka Arsenal Football Club fan) thanks to my Grandfather leading me down the right path as a child. If you are still reading this after that bombshell, then food-wise I pretty much like everything apart from coriander which as far as I’m concerned is the Devils own spawn. I don’t really have a favorite band, but am partial to a bit of Level 42 and Kings of Leon and you will also find me listening to 90s drum and bass and proper old school hip hop. My favorite holiday destination is any decent villa that I can relax in and spend time with my family and I went to Paris recently and loved that. Guilty pleasure – well that probably has to be confessing to liking Coldplay or the fact that my favorite sandwich is peanut butter, cheese and salad cream. Go on try it, you’ll love it.

Want to meet more of the dotmailer team? Say hi to Darren Hockley, Global Head of Support, and Dan Morris, EVP for North America.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

From Editorial Calendars to SEO: Setting Yourself Up to Create Fabulous Content

Posted by Isla_McKetta

Quick note: This article is meant to apply to teams of all sizes, from the sole proprietor who spends all night writing their copy (because they’re doing business during the day) to the copy team who occupies an entire floor and produces thousands of pieces of content per week. So if you run into a section that you feel requires more resources than you can devote just now, that’s okay. Bookmark it and revisit when you can, or scale the step down to a more appropriate size for your team. We believe all the information here is important, but that does not mean you have to do everything right now.

If you thought ideation was fun, get ready for content creation. Sure, we’ve all written some things before, but the creation phase of content marketing is where you get to watch that beloved idea start to take shape.

Before you start creating, though, you want to get (at least a little) organized, and an editorial calendar is the perfect first step.

Editorial calendars

Creativity and organization are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can feed each other. A solid schedule gives you and your writers the time and space to be wild and creative. If you’re just starting out, this document may be sparse, but it’s no less important. Starting early with your editorial calendar also saves you from creating content willy-nilly and then finding out months later that no one ever finished that pesky (but crucial) “About” page.

There’s no wrong way to set up your editorial calendar, as long as it’s meeting your needs. Remember that an editorial calendar is a living document, and it will need to change as a hot topic comes up or an author drops out.

There are a lot of different types of documents that pass for editorial calendars. You get to pick the one that’s right for your team. The simplest version is a straight-up calendar with post titles written out on each day. You could even use a wall calendar and a Sharpie.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Title
The Five Colors of Oscar Fashion 12 Fabrics We’re Watching for Fall Is Charmeuse the New Corduroy? Hot Right Now: Matching Your Handbag to Your Hatpin Tea-length and Other Fab Vocab You Need to Know
Author Ellie James Marta Laila Alex

Teams who are balancing content for different brands at agencies or other more complex content environments will want to add categories, author information, content type, social promo, and more to their calendars.

Truly complex editorial calendars are more like hybrid content creation/editorial calendars, where each of the steps to create and publish the content are indicated and someone has planned for how long all of that takes. These can be very helpful if the content you’re responsible for crosses a lot of teams and can take a long time to complete. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Excel or a Google Doc, as long as the people who need the calendar can easily access it. Gantt charts can be excellent for this. Here’s a favorite template for creating a Gantt chart in Google Docs (and they only get more sophisticated).

Complex calendars can encompass everything from ideation through writing, legal review, and publishing. You might even add content localization if your empire spans more than one continent to make sure you have the currency, date formatting, and even slang right.

Content governance

Governance outlines who is taking responsibility for your content. Who evaluates your content performance? What about freshness? Who decides to update (or kill) an older post? Who designs and optimizes workflows for your team or chooses and manages your CMS?

All these individual concerns fall into two overarching components to governance: daily maintenance and overall strategy. In the long run it helps if one person has oversight of the whole process, but the smaller steps can easily be split among many team members. Read this to take your governance to the next level.

Finding authors

The scale of your writing enterprise doesn’t have to be limited to the number of authors you have on your team. It’s also important to consider the possibility of working with freelancers and guest authors. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of outsourced versus in-house talent.

In-house authors

Guest authors and freelancers

Responsible to

You

Themselves

Paid by

You (as part of their salary)

You (on a per-piece basis)

Subject matter expertise

Broad but shallow

Deep but narrow

Capacity for extra work

As you wish

Show me the Benjamins

Turnaround time

On a dime

Varies

Communication investment

Less

More

Devoted audience

Smaller

Potentially huge

From that table, it might look like in-house authors have a lot more advantages. That’s somewhat true, but do not underestimate the value of occasionally working with a true industry expert who has name recognition and a huge following. Whichever route you take (and there are plenty of hybrid options), it’s always okay to ask that the writers you are working with be professional about communication, payment, and deadlines. In some industries, guest writers will write for links. Consider yourself lucky if that’s true. Remember, though, that the final paycheck can be great leverage for getting a writer to do exactly what you need them to (such as making their deadlines).

Tools to help with content creation

So those are some things you need to have in place before you create content. Now’s the fun part: getting started. One of the beautiful things about the Internet is that new and exciting tools crop up every day to help make our jobs easier and more efficient. Here are a few of our favorites.

Calendars

You can always use Excel or a Google Doc to set up your editorial calendar, but we really like Trello for the ability to gather a lot of information in one card and then drag and drop it into place. Once there are actual dates attached to your content, you might be happier with something like a Google Calendar.

Ideation and research

If you need a quick fix for ideation, turn your keywords into wacky ideas with Portent’s Title Maker. You probably won’t want to write to the exact title you’re given (although “True Facts about Justin Bieber’s Love of Pickles” does sound pretty fascinating…), but it’s a good way to get loose and look at your topic from a new angle.

Once you’ve got that idea solidified, find out what your audience thinks about it by gathering information with Survey Monkey or your favorite survey tool. Or, use Storify to listen to what people are saying about your topic across a wide variety of platforms. You can also use Storify to save those references and turn them into a piece of content or an illustration for one. Don’t forget that a simple social ask can also do wonders.

Format

Content doesn’t have to be all about the words. Screencasts, Google+ Hangouts, and presentations are all interesting ways to approach content. Remember that not everyone’s a reader. Some of your audience will be more interested in visual or interactive content. Make something for everyone.

Illustration

Don’t forget to make your content pretty. It’s not that hard to find free stock images online (just make sure you aren’t violating someone’s copyright). We like Morgue File, Free Images, and Flickr’s Creative Commons. If you aren’t into stock images and don’t have access to in-house graphic design, it’s still relatively easy to add images to your content. Pull a screenshot with Skitch or dress up an existing image with Pixlr. You can also use something like Canva to create custom graphics.

Don’t stop with static graphics, though. There are so many tools out there to help you create gifs, quizzes and polls, maps, and even interactive timelines. Dream it, then search for it. Chances are whatever you’re thinking of is doable.

Quality, not quantity

Mediocre content will hurt your cause

Less is more. That’s not an excuse to pare your blog down to one post per month (check out our publishing cadence experiment), but it is an important reminder that if you’re writing “How to Properly Install a Toilet Seat” two days after publishing “Toilet Seat Installation for Dummies,” you might want to rethink your strategy.

The thing is, and I’m going to use another cliché here to drive home the point, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Potential customers are roving the Internet right now looking for exactly what you’re selling. And if what they find is an only somewhat informative article stuffed with keywords and awful spelling and grammar mistakes… well, you don’t want that. Oh, and search engines think it’s spammy too…

A word about copyright

We’re not copyright lawyers, so we can’t give you the ins and outs on all the technicalities. What we can tell you (and you already know this) is that it’s not okay to steal someone else’s work. You wouldn’t want them to do it to you. This includes images. So whenever you can, make your own images or find images that you can either purchase the rights to (stock imagery) or license under Creative Commons.

It’s usually okay to quote short portions of text, as long as you attribute the original source (and a link is nice). In general, titles and ideas can’t be copyrighted (though they might be trademarked or patented). When in doubt, asking for permission is smart.

That said, part of the fun of the Internet is the remixing culture which includes using things like memes and gifs. Just know that if you go that route, there is a certain amount of risk involved.

Editing

Your content needs to go through at least one editing cycle by someone other than the original author. There are two types of editing, developmental (which looks at the underlying structure of a piece that happens earlier in the writing cycle) and copy editing (which makes sure all the words are there and spelled right in the final draft).

If you have a very small team or are in a rush (and are working with writers that have some skill), you can often skip the developmental editing phase. But know that an investment in that close read of an early draft is often beneficial to the piece and to the writer’s overall growth.

Many content teams peer-edit work, which can be great. Other organizations prefer to run their work by a dedicated editor. There’s no wrong answer, as long as the work gets edited.

Ensuring proper basic SEO

The good news is that search engines are doing their best to get closer and closer to understanding and processing natural language. So good writing (including the natural use of synonyms rather than repeating those keywords over and over and…) will take you a long way towards SEO mastery.

For that reason (and because it’s easy to get trapped in keyword thinking and veer into keyword stuffing), it’s often nice to think of your SEO check as a further edit of the post rather than something you should think about as you’re writing.

But there are still a few things you can do to help cover those SEO bets. Once you have that draft, do a pass for SEO to make sure you’ve covered the following:

  • Use your keyword in your title
  • Use your keyword (or long-tail keyword phrase) in an H2
  • Make sure the keyword appears at least once (though not more than four times, especially if it’s a phrase) in the body of the post
  • Use image alt text (including the keyword when appropriate)

Finding time to write when you don’t have any

Writing (assuming you’re the one doing the writing) can require a lot of energy—especially if you want to do it well. The best way to find time to write is to break each project down into little tasks. For example, writing a blog post actually breaks down into these steps (though not always in this order):

  • Research
  • Outline
  • Fill in outline
  • Rewrite and finish post
  • Write headline
  • SEO check
  • Final edit
  • Select hero image (optional)

So if you only have random chunks of time, set aside 15-30 minutes one day (when your research is complete) to write a really great outline. Then find an hour the next to fill that outline in. After an additional hour the following day, (unless you’re dealing with a research-heavy post) you should have a solid draft by the end of day three.

The magic of working this way is that you engage your brain and then give it time to work in the background while you accomplish other tasks. Hemingway used to stop mid-sentence at the end of his writing days for the same reason.

Once you have that draft nailed, the rest of the steps are relatively easy (even the headline, which often takes longer to write than any other sentence, is easier after you’ve immersed yourself in the post over a few days).

Working with design/development

Every designer and developer is a little different, so we can’t give you any blanket cure-alls for inter-departmental workarounds (aka “smashing silos”). But here are some suggestions to help you convey your vision while capitalizing on the expertise of your coworkers to make your content truly excellent.

Ask for feedback

From the initial brainstorm to general questions about how to work together, asking your team members what they think and prefer can go a long way. Communicate all the details you have (especially the unspoken expectations) and then listen.

If your designer tells you up front that your color scheme is years out of date, you’re saving time. And if your developer tells you that the interactive version of that timeline will require four times the resources, you have the info you need to fight for more budget (or reassess the project).

Check in

Things change in the design and development process. If you have interim check-ins already set up with everyone who’s working on the project, you’ll avoid the potential for nasty surprises at the end. Like finding out that no one has experience working with that hot new coding language you just read about and they’re trying to do a workaround that isn’t working.

Proofread

Your job isn’t done when you hand over the copy to your designer or developer. Not only might they need help rewriting some of your text so that it fits in certain areas, they will also need you to proofread the final version. Accidents happen in the copy-and-paste process and there’s nothing sadder than a really beautiful (and expensive) piece of content that wraps up with a typo:

Know when to fight for an idea

Conflict isn’t fun, but sometimes it’s necessary. The more people involved in your content, the more watered down the original idea can get and the more roadblocks and conflicting ideas you’ll run into. Some of that is very useful. But sometimes you’ll get pulled off track. Always remember who owns the final product (this may not be you) and be ready to stand up for the idea if it’s starting to get off track.

We’re confident this list will set you on the right path to creating some really awesome content, but is there more you’d like to know? Ask us your questions in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it

How to Avoid the Unrealistic Expectations SEOs Often Create – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

With all the changes we’ve seen in the field of SEO in recent years, we need to think differently about how we pitch our work to others. If we don’t, we run the risk of creating unreal expectations and disappointing our clients and companies. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains how to set expectations that will lead to excitement without the subsequent let-down.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat a little bit about the expectations that SEOs create and sometimes falsely create. It’s not always our fault, but it is always our responsibility to fix the expectations that we create with our teams, our managers, our executives, and, if we’re consultants, with our clients.

So here’s the problem. This is a conversation that I see happen a lot of the time. Here’s our friendly SEO guy over here, and he’s telling his client, “Hey, if we can rank on page 1 for even 10% of all these terms that I’ve selected, we’re going to drive a 500% increase in leads.”

Here’s the client over here, and she’s thinking to herself, “That sounds amazing. 500% increase in leads, that’s going to do wonderful things for my business. So let’s invest in SEO. This is going to be great. We only have to get 10% of these keywords on there. I don’t know anything about SEO, but that sounds totally possible.” Six months later, after all sort of stymieing and challenging problems, here she is going, “You told me we’d increase our leads by 500%!”

There’s the SEO saying, “Well yeah, but we have to get the rankings first, and we haven’t done that yet. I said we’d get the leads once we got the rankings.”

This kind of expectation and many others like it are a huge challenge. It is the case that modern SEO takes a lot of time to show results. Modern content marketing works the same way. You’re not going to start producing blog posts or interactive content or big content pieces and 3 months from now go, “Well, we made 50 new content pieces, and thus our traffic has tripled.”

That’s not how it works. The problem here is that SEO just doesn’t look like this anymore. It did, kind of, at one point. It really did.

We used to engage in an SEO contract. We’d make some changes to the existing pages, do some keyword targeting, some optimization, maybe fix things up that weren’t SEO friendly on the site, get our link structure in order. Great. Do a little bit of link building to the right kinds of pages that we need on our site from the right kind of places. We’d get those rankings. Now we can easily prove the value of the search traffic that’s coming through by looking at the keyword referrals in our analytics report, because keyword traffic is showing.

This process has been broken over the last five, six, seven years. But expectations have not caught up to where we are today. Modern SEO nowadays is really like this. You engage in that SEO contract, and then the SEO’s job is to be much more than an SEO, because there are so many factors that influence modern search rankings and modern search algorithms that really a great SEO, in order to have impact, has to go, “All right, now we’re going to start the audit.”

The audit isn’t going to look at which pages do you have on the site and what keywords do you want to match up and which ones do we need to fix, or just link structure or even things like schema. Well, let’s look at the content and the user experience and the branding and the PR, and we’ll check out your accessibility and speed and keyword targeting. We’ll do some competitive analysis, etc. Dozens of things that we’re going to potentially look at because all of them can impact SEO.

Yikes! Then, we’re not done. We’re going to determine which investments that we could possibly make into all of these things, almost all of which probably need some form of fixing. Some are more broken than others. Some we have an actual team that could go and fix them. Some of those teams have bandwidth and don’t. Some of those projects have executives who will approve them or not. We’re going to figure out which ones are possible, which ones are most likely to be done and actually drive ROI. Then we’re going to work across teams and executives and people to get all those different things done, because one human being can’t handle all of them unless we’re talking about a very, very tiny site.

Then we’re going to need to bolster a wide range of offsite signals, all of the things that we’ve talked about historically on Whiteboard Friday, everything from actual links to things around engagement to social media signals that correlate with those to PR and branding and voice and coverage.

Now, after months of waiting, if we’ve improved the right things, we’ll start to see creeping up our rankings, and we’ll be able to measure that from the traffic that pages receive. But we won’t be able to say, “Well, specifically this page now ranks higher for this keyword, and that keyword now sends us this amount of traffic,” because keyword not provided is taking away that data, making it very, very hard to see the value of visitors directly from search. That’s very frustrating

This is the new SEO process. You might be asking yourself, “Given these immense challenges, who in the world is even going to invest in SEO anymore?” The answer is, well, people who for the last decade have made a fortune or made a living on SEO, people who are aware of the power that SEO can drive, people who are aware of the fact that search continues to grow massively, that the channel is still hugely valuable, that it drives direct revenue and value in far greater quantity than social media by itself or content marketing by itself without SEO as a channel. The people who are going to invest successfully, though, are those whose expectations are properly set.

Everybody else is going to get somewhere in here, and they’re going to give up. They’re going to fire their SEO. You know what one of the things that really nags at me is? Ruth Burr mentioned this on Twitter the other day. Ruth said, “When your plumber fails to fix your pipes, you don’t assume that plumbing is a dead industry that no one should ever invest in. But when your SEO fails to get you rankings or traffic that you can measure, you assume all SEO is dead and all SEO is bad.”

That sucks. That’s a hard reality to live in, but it’s the one that we do live in.

I do have a solution though, and the solution isn’t just showing how this process works versus how old-school SEO works. It’s to craft a timeline, an expectation timeline.

When you’re signing a contract or when you’re pitching a project, or when you’re talking about, “Hey, this is what were going to do for SEO,” try showing a timeline of the expectations. Instead of saying, “If we can rank on page one,” say, “If we can complete our audit and fix the things we determine that need to be fixed and prioritize those fixes in the order we think they are, then we can make the right kinds of content investments, and then we can get the amplification and offsite signals that we need starting to appear and grow our engagement. Then we can expect great SEO results.” Each one of these is contingent on the last one.

So six months later, your boss, your manger, or your client is going to say, “Hey, how did those content investments go?” You can say, “Well look, here’s the content we’ve created, and this is how it’s performing, and this is what we’re going to do to change those performances.” The expectation won’t be, “Hey, you promised me great SEO.” The promise was we’re going to make these fixes, which we did, and we’re going to complete that audit, which we did. Now we’re working on these content investments, and here’s how that’s going. Then we’re going to work on this, and then we’re going to work on that.

This is a great way to show expectations and to create the right kind of mindset in people who are going to be investing in SEO. It’s also a great way not to get yourself into hot water when you don’t get that 500% increase 3 months or 6 months after you said we’re going to start the SEO process.

All right everyone, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Look forward to chatting it up and having a discussion about modern SEO and old-school SEO and expectations that clients and managers have got.

We will see you again, next week, for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 years ago from moz.com

Marketing Strategies for Small to Medium Businesses

Marketing is the process of creating or directing an organisation to be successful in selling a product/service that people not only desire, but are willing to purchase and this article on Marketing Strategies for Small to Medium Businesses explores the major points you need to consider.

Therefore, good marketing must create a “proposition” or set of benefits for the end customer that delivers value through the products or services.

Marketing Strategies are processes that allow an organisation to concentrate its limited resources on increasing sales and achieving a sustainable and measurable competitive advantage. While tactics are single actions used to achieve a specific strategy.

From a marketing perspective it is important to ensure you understand the importance of getting the four P’s in your marketing plan.

Product – Refers to General policies for product deletions, modifications, additions, design, branding, positioning, packaging etc.

Price – Refers to General pricing policies to be followed for product groups in market segments.

Place – Refers to General policies for channels and customer service levels.

Promotion – Refers to General policies for communicating with customers under relevant headings such as advertising, sales force, sales promotion, public relations, exhibitions, direct mail the internet etc.

So where do you start.

This is a list of the basic points that should be included in any marketing plan. It’s not a complete list, it is simply a list you need to consider when developing a basic marketing plan.

Spend Time Working on Your Business.

Business owners and managers certainly spend a large amount of time working in their business but few spend time working on their business. If you learn one thing from this article then let it be this.  You need to invest a minimum of 2 hours each week or one day each month working on your business.

If you don’t have a marketing plan then you need to think about developing one and ensuring it covers the following points.

Mission Statements need to be short but highly focused. One I read recently was “Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.”

Review your Corporate Objectives ensuring they cover points like, desired level of profitability, what product will be sold to what markets, details on operational facilities & distribution methods, the size and character of your labour force, funding, social responsibility, corporate responsibility and your employer image.

Marketing Audit is a fundamental part of the marketing planning process. It is conducted not only at the beginning of the process, but also at a series of points during the implementation of the plan. The marketing audit considers both internal and external influences on marketing planning, as well as a review of the plan itself.

SWAT Analysis assesses an organisations strengths “what an organization can do” weaknesses “what an organization cannot do” in addition to opportunities “potential favourable conditions for an organisation” and threats “potential unfavourable conditions for an organisation”.

Assumptions use data from the Marketing Audit and SWOT Analysis develop your assumptions on the future conditions for each product and market segment.

Marketing Objectives and Strategy formulation involves estimating the expected results from each strategy with consideration for alternative ways forward and required variation in the marketing mix.

Estimate the Financial Outcomes associated with your marketing plan.

Create a Marketing Budget determining how much you can afford to spend in order to achieve your forecast sales.

Develop your USP by comparing your product/service to those of your competitors identify what makes YOU unique. Spend time on this point ensuring you get it right as it needs to be filtered through all of your Marketing, Branding, Communication and Sales Strategies.

Guerrilla Marketing is the newest and perhaps most talked about marketing development of recent times. It consists of over 200 marketing strategies aimed at increasing profits. These strategies suit the SME market more than the large corporate and focus on MEASURING results.

Expanding programs that works and stopping those that don’t

Its about PASSION

Meme – It is a new word in our dictionary. It is the simplest possible way to communicate an idea.

Theme Line – You have all heard, seen and read them before. Australia Post “We Deliver”

Branding – Brands are not created overnight it take a lot of time and money to create brand awareness. Most of the people who read this article will own a registered a domain name. But how many of you have registered your domain name with all of the extension like “.com.au, .com, .net.au, .net, .biz, .info. or mobi. So let me ask you this. Is protecting your domain brand name worth $200 a year?

Positioning – No matter what you do, your business will stand for something in your prospective customers mind. Whatever that is it is your niche or your positioning.

Quality –  Quality is not what you put into your product, it’s what the consumer gets out of it. Quality ranks second behind confidence in your business as the primary reason someone will purchase one of your product.

Location – The three main secrets to Guerrilla Marketing. They are Internet Internet and Internet.

Referral Program – If you don’t have a referral program running then you are missing out on one of the most amazing opportunities.

Testimonials – Don’t just ask for referrals make sure that when a client agrees to provide you with one that you have a guide to help them say what you want them to say.

Credibility – The road to success is paved with credibility.

Reputation – Reputation can take a lifetime to build and just minutes to lose. So whatever you do protect it at all costs.

Partial Payment Plans – No matter what it is that you’re selling, it’s likely you will sell a lot more if you take you full price and divide it into regular small payments.

Spying – You just have to do this. If you don’t know what your competition is doing then you are competing blindly in the market.

A Cause to Support – Cause related marketing is one of the fastest growing concepts in recent years.

Passion – If you are passionate about your companies’ product or service it will translate to extra sales.

Generosity – It is not about giving things away for free. That is unless it happens to be your time, interest in your client and their business. Free advice can often be a deal winner.

Speed – The speed with which we respond to a prospective customer will have a direct impact of the prospects decision to purchase.

Neatness – Keeping your premises neat and tidy will have a significant impact on a prospective customer decision to purchase.

Telephone Demeanor – Remember this one simple point. Spend money to ensure your key people are trained and make sure they all answer the phone the same way.

Value – Value is more important than price and perceived value is far more critical than value.

Be Easy to do Business with – You just cant stop working on this point, if you do you will lose the advantage very quickly.

Flexibility – It is all about going that extra yard offering the customer what they want.

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Reblogged 4 years ago from onthemark.com.au