The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Sales versus Marketing

By Andrew Chemney, Managing Director of Ignition CBS Ltd

Here’s the truth. Ultimately every business that sees itself as primarily ‘sales driven’ will fail. 

Why you ask? Because sales based businesses inevitably focus on the needs of the seller and on how they can get buyers to exchange their hard earned cash for their products or services.

That’s a self-centered approach and a race to the bottom. Sales focused businesses end up preoccupied with being the cheapest – and there is always someone out there who will beat them.

The real winners (always have been, always will be) are those businesses that see themselves as ‘marketing driven’.

That’s because marketing driven businesses focus on the needs of buyers, and on how to deliver what those buyers want and need right now. 

They concentrate on designing, innovating or delivering products and services for their customers, NOT on finding customers to fit their products and services.

Every business or venture should begin with thorough research and a well-thought out marketing strategy. 

Understand your market, know who your customers and competitors are, and monitor the demand for what you offer.

Asking yourself these six marketing questions will help your business stay on track:

1. What motivates customers to use your product or service?
How can these motivators be harnessed to increase sales?

2. What are the most effective things that your competitors are doing that you should be doing or countering? 

3. Why have customers recently switched to your product? 
Why did they reject the competition? Why did they almost reject your product in favour of which competitor? What are the problematic parts of your marketing that almost caused them not to buy?

4. What are the things that you can do to put your seemingly similar product into a class by itself? 
How can you disqualify the competition, reset the rules, redefine the standards, reorder priorities, change the decision criteria and transform the game?

5. What turns customers and prospects on? 
What are the hot buttons, the claims, language, concepts, promises, images, pictures, challenges, that really get their juices flowing? What excites them about the most mundane products, what arouses their emotions?

6. What are the missed opportunities that your marketing materials don’t address, but that your customers want to hear about?
Do your adverts, brochures and sales presentations give the correct impression of your business? Is it clear what differentiates your product or service from the competition? 

I’ll be expanding on some of these issues in my next free marketing seminar on Thursday 31st October. Please feel free to contact us on 01706 222456 or visit for more information or to book your place. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Is Your Marketing Joined-Up?

By David Wright, Chartered Marketer at BSA Marketing 

Answer five questions & find out!

• 3D Marketing
• Holistic Marketing
• Joined-Up Marketing

Whatever you call it, to be effective, your marketing needs to be consistent across your marketing mix.

How joined up is your marketing?

These five simple questions will help you find out:

1. Do you have a strategy?

One of the biggest barriers to joined-up marketing is the lack of a strategy. Without a clear strategy as to what you want to achieve and how you are going to market your business to achieve your goals, it is very difficult to deliver consistent, sustained and joined up marketing communications. Without a clear strategy, marketing usually becomes a series of disjointed activities driven by the Next Big Marketing Thing (Adwords, SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing etc.)

2. Is your branding consistent?

Even the smallest business has a brand and that brand has an image. To be joined-up, your brand image should be consistent across all your marketing media:

• Website
• Printed materials
• Offline Comms
• E-mail
• Social Media etc

3. Do you have a communication plan?

Do you know what you are trying to communicate to your market? Do you measure your marketing content against this? When you put out a message through any media, you should be clear if and how that fits in with the brand that you are trying to build within your marketplace. Furthermore your communications plan should look ahead to tell you:

1. What you are going to say.
2. When you are going to say it.
3. What tools/media you are going to use.
4. Who you are targeting.
5. Why you are sending this message to these targets.

To be joined up the plan should look at least 6 months ahead. 12 months is better.

4. Do you stick at it?

When you commit to pro-active marketing communications (e.g. E-mail, Twitter, Social Media, Offline (don't forget mailshot, telemarketing etc) do you then consistently feed this with great content? It's not so much about how often you communicate as being sustained in consistently putting out great content that reinforces your position as an expert delivering real benefit to your marketplace.

5. Do you review and refine your activity?

A strategy and its associated communications plan are no good if they are written and then put on a shelf. They should be living, working documents. Are you doing what you said you'd do? Is this getting you where you want to go? Your marketing activity should be continually reviewed as a core element of your management process and refined and  tuned as you get feedback from the marketplace on your activities.

Answer YES to all five of these questions and your marketing is truly JOINED-UP - Congratulations!

If you think your marketing could benefit from being more joined-up, give us a call on 01457 851111.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Chamber Blog: A Tale of Two Cities

By Chris Fletcher, Policy and Communications Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Anyone with an interest in how cities “re-invent” themselves invariably turn to Manchester as a great example of how a city that was at the forefront of industry went through a steep decline, and then not only managed to return to previous levels of economic prowess, but actually surpassed what went before.

As compelling as our story is in this part of the world, and it really is, there are other examples from around the world, some even more dramatic than Manchester’s story.

Later this month we’ll be hosting a delegation from Pittsburgh as a pre-curser to a much stronger relationship with a City Region that has a great tale to tell of over-reliance on one sector, that faced a sharp decline, record unemployment rates and its re-engineering to put it at the forefront of new industries.

We’ve put a briefing paper on Pittsburgh on our website here: It’s been written by Philip Cynar from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and sets the scene of what was one of the major industrial cities and its journey to one of America’s economic and intellectual powerhouses.

When you have your head down it’s very easy to become a bit insular and become very inward facing. Reading the story of Pittsburgh I was struck by the similarities between the two cities both in what they have experienced but the attitude of local business and local authorities to put things right. Never an easy task or a comfortable journey but a necessary one if you want to succeed.

I’m really looking forward to meeting the delegation from Pittsburgh and we have two events organised so that we can really spread the word about looking further afield for new business opportunities.

We have a reception on the evening of 24th September and a round table event on the following morning – further details can be found for the reception at and for the business breakfast at .

We are working in conjunction with colleagues at UKTI because whilst there’s a great story to tell there’s also some great business to be done too.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Three Steps To Improve Facebook Marketing For Business

By Hakeem Adebiyi, Director of Hands Associates

There is a great buzz about Facebook for keeping in touch with friends, but most local businesses have a healthy level of scepticism when it comes to using it as a marketing tool. I say healthy because lots of local businesses try and fail to make any money with Facebook. Don't worry though, it's too early to panic just yet. This article will help you understand how to use a Facebook campaign to attract customers to your business. Firstly I want to dispel a few myths about Facebook which hold people back from using it to market their business

Facebook is just for kids

According to the research, the average Facebook user is a 25 year-old woman, living in a big city, with a college degree and a household income of more than $75k a year. There has been a huge increase in 30+ and 55+ year old people joining and participating. According to another survey conducted by Pingdom, 61% of FB users are over 35 years old so make sure that you communicate with your target the right way. Whatever research you look at it's obvious that it's not just for kids

No one makes any money from Facebook - here's a couple of examples which blow that myth right out of the water

a) The English Cheesecake company - 30% of new customers come through Facebook
b) Tough Mudder - 24x increase in sales in just two years, with Facebook being the primary advertising and engagement channel

Facebook isn't as flexible as a website

You can actually replicate a website in Facebook if you want that individual feel and the number of apps/tabs etc can really give you that competitive advantage if you know what you are doing.
I could go on but I think you can see that most of the naysayers don't like Facebook because they don't understand it. So that you don't become one of them, let me give you 3 simple tips which will make your page explode with activity and hence opportunities for you to sell your products or services.

1. Interact regularly

You need to post 3 -5 times a day so that you are in touch with your fans. You should be taking note when people make posts on your Facebook page. The public can offer many great ideas. Your fans are the reason you are successful.

2. Vary up your posts

E.g. contests, quizzes, coupons, information. Make sure the post is engaging and use lots of pictures with calls to actions, pictures get shares and go viral much quicker than long paragraphs of text

3. Increase your edge rank 

Edge Rank is an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed - and how high - on the news feed. In plain English, this effectively means how many people are going to see your post. Since social media is all about exposure if you have a low edge rank then you are going to struggle to get your marketing message out there. Hence it is key to focus on edge rank. How? I hear you ask. This is one of those good news/bad news points
Bad news - there is too much detail to go into in this article
Good news - if you do 1 & 2 you will be well on your way to improving your edge rank.

In short if you know what you are doing with Facebook then you can make a significant ROI. For a local business that may not have a huge marketing budget, Facebook was effectively invented for you.

·         No set up costs
·         No recurring fees
·         You know where the customers are
·         If you build a decent fan base you have an ever attentive customer base

Get your Facebook up to date with the tips you've just read. Getting started immediately means that you will get results quickly. Begin now!