All Posts by Mell Millgate

Creating content strategically

Creating your content strategically

Are you creating your content strategically?

Last week we talked about three ways great content can help you grow your business. However, the trick is you need to have a strategy behind creating that great content!

Your content strategy is different to your content plan. Your content plan is more along the lines of what content you’re going to deliver and when.

In a nutshell, your content strategy focuses on the goals you’re trying to achieve through delivering great content.

Ideally, you build your content strategy in place before starting on your content plan.

Now your strategy can be quite complex, but, if you’re familiar with us here at Starfish Marketing, complex is not our thing. We like to keep things simple for you.

So, how do you build your content strategy?

Building a basic content strategy

Well, It’s all about the W’s. Five of them, Why, What, Who, Where, hoW!

Ask yourself the following questions and document your answers as you work through.

Why

Start with Why. Why do you need content marketing for your business and as part of your marketing strategy? Does content marketing align to your overarching business strategy?

What

Follow with a What.

What do you want to achieve with your content marketing? In other words, what are your goals?

Who

Then, channel your inner owl and think about Who.

Who is your market? Who are you trying to attract to your business with your great content? Or who are your existing clients/customers?

Where

Where will your reach your Who?

Think about the channels or platforms where your market hangs out. Where will you speak to them with your content?

Are they online? (If they're not online it's going to be pretty hard to reach them with a content strategy). Which social media platform are they using? Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, etc.

How

Yes, it starts with an H, but there’s a W in there.

How much do you have in your budget to spend on developing and sharing your great content?

And how will you measure your success? Hint - map this back to your goals.

What’s next?

Your answers to the W questions make up your basic content strategy. Document them. 

Here's a free basic content strategy template to help. 

Once you've built your basic content strategy you can start on your content plan (the what and when). You may notice we've included a simple plan in the basic content strategy template. 

Building your content plan is something we will go into next week. A sneak peak though - the key when you’re building your content plan is to head back to your strategy and make sure your plan is going to help achieve your goals.


If you need help building your content strategy feel free to book a catch up to see if we can help you. 

It's a no-obligation chat about what you are finding difficult and we'll see if we can provide a solution that suits you. 


Content is King

Content is King

Have you heard the expression “Content is King”?

It’s often used when referring to marketing activities – particularly in the digital marketing world.

(If you’re interested in an explanation of where the phrase came from check out this article from Textbroker.)

So, why is content king?

To put it simply, great content can help you grow your business.

And here are three ways content does just that.

1. It makes your email marketing even more valuable

You've got mail with envelope, heart and smiley face.

We talked about the importance of email marketing a couple of weeks ago. Email marketing helps you build an ongoing relationship with your market. And the more people know, like and trust you, the more likely they are to purchase from you (and purchase from you more often).

Therefore, the content of your email marketing needs to be something useful, interesting or inspiring to share. 

We all complain about the number of emails we get, but the reality is if we are getting emails that provide value we read them. If we don’t think they are of value, we simply unsubscribe.

Make your email marketing even more valuable by considering your markets needs and wants when creating and sharing your content.

Create content that your market actually looks forward to receiving and watch your sales grow.

2. It drives traffic to your website

If you read the article by Textbroker, “Unique, high-quality and current content is essential for good ranking in search engines…”

Basically, the better the content on your website the better the search engines, like Google, rate you. And that results in better search results (otherwise known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO).

At the end of the day for people to click through and visit your website, you need to on page one, (if not at number one). If you want to know why these ratings are so important, Smart Insights share data on the click through rate based on position of search listings.

Basically, if you're not in the top three listings the chances of someone visiting your website are very, very slim. So, making sure your content is relevant for your market is key. 

Remember though, it’s not a case of writing some great content, setting and forgetting. Fresh content on your website is important - even Google acknowledge this.

If you want some tips on improving your search ranking, read this blog from back in 2017, five things I did to get on page one and four of them are free.  It's still relevant for today (note, number five was Update Your Content Regularly).

3. It will make your social media more engaging

When it comes to social media, engagement is what gets the big thumbs up from the different social media platforms. If you're getting great engagement (comments, sharing, etc) it then increases the reach of your posts.

Social media engagement comes from providing content of value.

That means it’s essential to post content that is entertaining, helpful, inspiring, educating, or that creates a community connection.

This can be delivered through videos, podcasts, images, stories, and the like. The key is to make your content so interesting that people do more than just like your post. They comment, they share it to their page or even better, they share via messenger directly to someone.

You can make your posts more engaging by creating a two way conversation. Ask questions, respond to comments, ask opinions, post funny things, share personal stories. The list goes on.

If you can create engaging content, chances are the social media platform will reward you, and your post will appear in front of more people, creating increased awareness of you and your business.

At the end of the day, if you are creating content that is valuable and that is tailored to your market (your ideal clients) then it will help you:

  • build a stronger and ongoing relationship with your marketing
  • increase traffic to your website
  • make your social media more engaging and improve your reach

The flow on from that is increased visibility and credibility, and increased sales.

And that is why content is king.

Are you finding it challenging to create fresh, valuable and engaging content on a regular basis?

Let's catch up and see if we can help you. 

Book your free discovery session. We'll have a chat about what you find most challenging and see if we can provide a solution that suits you. 


questions to help you start your marketing

4 questions to help you start your marketing

4 questions to help you start your marketing

When it comes to marketing, one of the most common things we hear from small businesses is “I don’t know where to start”.

Yes, marketing can seem overwhelming, or hard, or scary. Particularly when there are sooooooo many options out there, or you are not a marketer.

And, it’s often said that taking the first step is the hardest, no matter what it is that you’re setting out to do.

That first step can be hard or scary or overwhelming.

BUT - it’s also the most important step.

The thing is, if you can make that start, make that first step to starting your marketing then the rest really doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

Especially if your first step is to put together a marketing plan.

Yep – start with a plan. Or is that start with planning your marketing plan?

Either way, if you don’t know where to start with your marketing, we always say

“start with a plan”.

Even if it’s a really, really, simple plan.

Getting started

If you’re wondering where to start, with building your marketing plan, here are four questions to ask yourself:

1. Where do I want to go? Or, what do I want to achieve? 

In other words, what are your goals?

Link this to your overarching business strategy. Do you want more people to:

  • be aware of your business name
  • know what you do or sell
  • increase the amount of money they spend with you (other wise known as average $ sale or share of wallet)
  • walk through your shop door or visit you online

Once you’ve identified your goals then ask yourself:

2. How do I get there? Or what do I need to do to achieve those goals?

This is where you work out all the marketing options available to you that can help you achieve your goals. The list can be long – just remember that you don’t have to do all of them – at this stage you are just listing all the possibilities.  Oh, and look into how much each of the things on your list will be, ie the dollars $$.

For example, you could say "I need to...

  • have a website
  • connect with my database
  • build a digital/social presence
  • advertise - digital or traditional
  • network more
  • hold events
  • update the signage of my store/office"
3.  What is my budget?

Set your total budget for the year. Work out what you can afford to spend. Break it down to monthly, so you know what your marketing commitments will be each month.

This makes it easier to answer question 4.

4. What can I do with my budget?

Choose your preferred marketing actions from the list you created from question 2.

If you can’t fit everything you want to do in your budget, then drop it off the list (for the time being).

Ideally, you’re choosing the actions that should give you the best bang for buck, ie the ones that will give you the most valuable results in achieving your marketing goals.

For example, if you are wanting to increase your database, a Facebook advertising campaign with a "sign up and get something for free" call to action can be a low investment, high return option. Just make sure you target the campaign in front of people who will see value in your product/service and not unsubscribe after they get their free thing. 

Building a really really simple marketing plan

Once you’ve answered those four questions, put the details into a one page spreadsheet.

Here’s an example. It doesn’t look too scary does it?

What next?

If you have a team, work out who will be responsible for what. And, as you can see in the plan, you can identify when will they action your plan.

If it’s just you, then you don’t need to put that part into the plan unless you want to.

Make sure you then book time in your calendar to:

a) ACTION YOUR PLAN. In fact you may simply want to build your plan directly into your work calendar (blocking out time on appropriate days) so you don't forget when you need to do what. 

B) check your plan progress – at least monthly. Look at the results you are achieving compared to your original goals. Track how you're going.

The important thing to remember when checking your progress is that there is no magic silver bullet.

Marketing takes time.

The impact of starting your marketing will not happen overnight, but it will happen… eventually.

Be patient and allow your marketing an absolute minimum of three months, preferably six before you expect to see results.

Finally, a really good reason to start with a plan is because, according to Coschedule, you are 313% more likely to report success if your strategy is documented.

So there you go, four questions to help you start your marketing. Sally forth, take that first step to starting your marketing. And good luck.

If you're still not sure where to start, let's catch up and find out how we can work together to get your marketing happening.  


Top two tips to stay competitive

Top two tips to stay competitive

Are you finding it challenging to stay competitive?

Have you noticed that over the last few years the digital world has become very crowded?

There is so much information, so many apps, an enormous number of platforms out there, its hard to get your head around and to know what to focus on to stay competitive.

So, to help you, here are our top two tips to help you stay competitive in a crowded marketplace.

Tip 1. Focus on your client and customer experience

The way you treat your clients and customers is crucial to any business’ ongoing success. You know what they used to say about a happy customer will tell one person, an unhappy customer will tell ten people.

Well, in today’s world that has absolutely been amplified. We all have access to an audience, not of hundreds, but of thousands upon thousands. So making sure that your clients and customers have a wonderful experience with you at every single touchpoint is crucial.

And that experience starts from the very first moment of their interaction with your business. This could be the moment that they find you online, when they land on your website or your social channels, when they walk past your shop, or when the meet you or an employee at a social function.

How wonderful is the experience your first-time customers have? If it’s not wonderful then there is a chance that person is going to jump online and say some not so wonderful stuff about your business. And then it’s not ten people they’ve told – it’s hundreds and thousands (and not the type you have on fairy bread).

So making sure the first experience people have with your business is wonderful is crucial. Big hint – make their experience personal. Focus on what is important to them and deliver (you should know what is important if you’ve identified your ideal client).

And, then you need to make sure their ongoing experience is just as wonderful and personal. Think about their experience when they subscribe to your emails, and especially your customer service.

At the end of the day, you want your clients and customers to be so happy with you, your products, your service, their whole ongoing experience with you, that they will not only keep buying from you, but they will also refer others to you

And we all know word of mouth is the cheapest and best form of advertising.  

Tip 2. Focus on your brand

As mentioned in Tip 1, the web is becoming more competitive. People will make decisions on whether to engage with your business based on their first impressions of your brand.

So, make sure you understand your brand. And then implement it across all aspects of your business.

Thank about your brand values, your unique selling position, why you are different. You don't need to be better/newer/cheaper, you just need to be different.

And own your difference. Be clear on how you are different and understand why that is important to your clients and customers.

Then sing from the rooftops and tell your brand story – over and over and over and over. Consistency is key when it comes to your brand.

Oh, and your brand should be present in your every step of customer experience too.

The starfish crew - figuratively singing from the rooftops

There you go:

  • get your client/customer experience right - from the start
  • understand your brand and own your difference
  • make sure your brand is consistent and aligned with your customer experience

Go forth and deliver wonderful things for your clients and customers and stay competitive. 

If you need help working out how to make sure your customer experience and brand are aligned and delivering wonderful things for your clients, book in a
your free discovery session with us. 

We'll have a chat to see how we can work together to achieve great marketing things for you. 


Three reasons to use email marketing

Three reasons to use email marketing

Email marketing is dead! You hear it all the time, but in reality, it’s not the case.

When done right, email is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with your existing and potential clients and customers.

According to Campaign Monitor, “Email marketing is the king of the marketing kingdom with a 4400% ROI and $44 for every $1 spent.” How cool is that!!!

So, email marketing is well and truly alive. If you aren’t using email marketing in your business, here are three reason to start.

1. It’s low cost

If you’re on a budget (and let’s face it, as small businesses, most of us are), email marketing is very affordable.

Most email software platforms charge according to your email list size. So if your list isn’t big you shouldn’t have to pay much for it. And dependent on the size of your database, it could even be “free” (excluding your time of course).

If you’re delivering relevant and effective content, your sales and profits should grow alongside your email list.

Although, remember – there is no magic silver marketing bullet.

You still need to track and measure your results to make sure you’re hitting the mark with your emails and getting a return on investment (ROI).

The industry you’re in will also have an impact on how soon you might see an ROI.

2. It helps you build long-term relationships and trust

Contacting your email list often (but not too often) with high-quality content and engaging stories will help you build a long-term relationship with your audience. Essentially, having a regular emailing program adds another touchpoint.

The more touchpoints you have with your clients and/or market, the more the come to trust and connect with you. And the more trust they have in you. The more they feel a connection, then the more likely they are to purchase from you. Read more about touchpoints here.


3. It's easy to use

Writing an email is a really easy way to communicate with your market. We all write emails and most of us are doing it every day.

While an email with pretty graphics and/or videos may take more time, you don’t always have to have the bells and whistles in your email marketing. Especially if your content is of value.

You can set up a template in your email platform so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

When setting up your template, remember to keep it simple. Use the language and tone that is consistent with your brand, and make it easy for your email list to read. We suggest using the following questions to guide you in writing your content:

  • What is email about?
  • What is in it for your client/customer/potential customer?
  • How can we help?

So, there you go. Three reasons to start using email marketing. Go forth and email.


Need help with your email marketing?

Email marketing can be daunting at first. Even identifying what you want to communicate to your market can seem overwhelming, let alone writing the content. 

We're here to help - as little or as much as you want.

If you want to do it yourself we can coach you on what to do. Or we can do the lot for you (writing, setting you up on the right email platform, building your templates, managing your email database and more). ​

It's your choice.

Book your free catch up to see how you can start your email marketing.


Three people, three years, three lessons learnt

Three people, three years, three lessons learnt

As I come up to our two-year anniversary of starfish marketing making the leap from just over 12 months of side-hustle to “going solo”, I’m reflecting on three lessons learnt.

We have grown from one person to three people in three years. Something that I didn’t project happening as quickly as it has. So why have we grown this quickly (apart from having the best clients who we love working with)?

I put it down to continually learning.

Marketing is a continually changing environment and we love seeing what is evolving in the business and marketing world.

Plus, it’s important for us to stay on top of the marketing world, especially in the digital environment, so we can make sure our clients are getting the best marketing advice and outcomes.

So, here are three things we have learned over the past three years.

Note: part of why we know #wehavethebestclients is because they do all these three things.

Three lessons learnt

1. Connect with your clients

Connecting with your clients and customers is more than simply being friendly, smiling and saying “have a nice day”.

It’s about having a genuine interest in your clients and customers. Get to know them. Build a relationship. Connect.

Remember that while a smile goes a long way, going that extra mile and really getting to know your clients and customers will wow them and create a genuine and real connection.

And that means you will understand their needs better, and be able to deliver the services and/or products they really want and need. And that’s a great outcome for everyone.  

2. Speak the right language

Sometimes we are so focused on our own business that we don't think about how to communicate with our market.

Knowing your clients and customers and your potential market is crucial to being able to communicate and connect with them in a manner they understand and can relate to.

We work with a range of clients to deliver newsletters, create website content, social media and more. And we tailor the style, tone and language of their varying communications to suit their clients, customers and target market.

And the results? 

Great open rates on newsletters.

Longer time spent on the websites.

Awesome engagement on social media.

All this means people are reading the content (and acting on it) because they are connecting with it.

3. Know your value

By knowing your value, own your worth and asking to be paid accordingly for it, means everyone wins. Your client, your business and you – you all win.

Why?

If you value yourself and your work, and price accordingly, it’s likely that you’re going to be able to focus on delivering the best quality work, product or services for your clients.

If you under value yourself, you will most likely be stressed. And that means you won’t be focused on the best outcomes for your clients and customers. And that means the quality of your work will go down.  It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

By knowing your value, you can create raving fan clients, while following your vision and mission with integrity.Enter your text here...

So, there you go, three things learnt over three years. We hope they help you.   

Need help with your marketing?

If you need help with your marketing, book your free discovery session to find out how starfish marketing can help.


We'll shout you a coffee (or tea) and spend time getting to know you and your business. 


It's obligation free too.


Nine free things

Nine free things to help you with your marketing

Nine free things to help with your marketing

Recently I met with Jade, a local business owner, comedian, student (studying her MBA) and wearer of many hats.

Like a lot of us, Jade likes to do things herself. However she was feeling frustrated with her marketing. We had a catch up to see how starfish marketing might help, and we (both of us) discovered that Jade is not ready to outsource her marketing. (We don't call it a discovery session for nothing.)

That doesn't mean we couldn't help - Jade left our meeting with some tips and tools she could use - free marketing donuts (so to speak).  

As business owners we all know that marketing is important. Yet it always falls to the bottom of the very important to do list, and often falls off that list entirely.

Often its time restraints that means marketing doesn’t get done. Or its financial restrictions, whether that being fear of not getting a return on your investment (more on that in an upcoming blog), or cashflow issues.

At starfish marketing we know we deliver value for our clients. We know that what we are doing for our clients makes a difference for them and their business. After all, making a difference is one of the key drivers behind why we do what we do.

We also know that there are a lot of business owners out there who either want to do their own marketing or they are happy to outsource but are not currently in a position to do so.

So, in the interest of making a difference and helping more business owners with your marketing, here are your marketing donuts (nine free marketing tools) for you to use. 

Note: we have linked to each of the marketing tool websites where possible. 

1. Google My Business

If you do nothing else, get yourself set up on Google My Business.

This is a free Google service that helps you manage how your business information appears across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps. See the image to the right for an example. 

Read more about it here or sign up for it here.

2 . Google Analytics

If you’ve got a website then Google Analytics is a must. There’s a pretty good article here on 10 good reasons why you should use Google Analytics.

If you don’t have a website, then you need to get one. There are a number of reasons you need a website and not just a Facebook page (a topic for a future blog – stay tuned).  As a minimum you can set up your Google My Business account website – it’s fairly basic but its better than nothing.

3. MailChimp

Staying in touch with your clients, stakeholders, target market etc on a regular basis is a great way to stay front of mind so people remember you when they need your product or service.

MailChimp is free email marketing platform (up to a point). If you have less than 2000 contacts then you can use MailChimp for free.

marketing platforms

4. Social Media

Being on social media is important.

“Social Media users in Australia are some of the most active in the world, with a total of around 60% of the country’s population an active user on Facebook, and 50% of the country logging onto Facebook at least once a day.”
Social Media News, January 2019.

Most social media platforms are free or, at least, have a free option. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn are three examples.

The important thing with social media is to choose and focus on the platform where your market is active. You can read more about that here.

5. Canva

Canva is an online graphic design platform. It’s got stacks and stacks of templates and images you can use and adjust. You can access a paid account, but the free version is pretty good and it’s easy to use. The tip here is to be consistent with the look and feel of the designs you create for your business so that you are strengthening and/or building your brand consistently.

6. Youtube

If you don’t know how to do something, like set up a Facebook advertising campaign, head on over to Youtube and do a search on what you need instruction on. There are instructional videos on almost everything there. Even on how to make a paper mache starfish!

7. Lumen5

Video is currently the marketing king. If you google “reasons to use video marketing” a plethora of articles come up, ranging from five to 25 reasons you should use video in your marketing. So using video in your marketing is becoming more and more important.

Lumen5 is free if you don’t mind having their branding at the end of your video. You can easily create videos from still images. And bonus points – you can even access free images within Lumen5. Or you can load up your own images.


You can pay to have some additional features and remove the Lumen5 branding.

8. Free stock images

Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, Negative Space

These four sites all provide a wide range of free stock images. There are probably more sites out there. You can also use Canva for access to free stock images too.

9. Us (starfish marketing)

At the end of the day, we believe that marketing can make a difference for your business. And we know the more successful businesses out there, the better it is for our community.

So, while we would love to help you with your marketing, we also understand that this is not always an option. So, we share a stack of templates and marketing information here on our website. Feel free to access them.

Basically, there are a stack of tools, templates and information out there to help you with your marketing. And a lot of them are free (dollars – not your time).

However, and you know this is coming if you read my blogs regularly, having a strategy behind your marketing is absolutely vital. Your marketing success depends on you knowing what you want to achieve and how you're going to get there - your marketing strategy

Finally, here's what Jade had to say after our catch up. (Shared with Jade's permission.)

I saw Mell the next day and now a week on I've got a neat little campaign happening, some videos, more templates, more spread sheets, more stuff to do and more confidence with promoting my brand. Meeting with Mell was like a having a psych session for my marketing strategy. Excellent stuff.

We hope these delicious free marketing donuts help you too.

Bonus freebie # 10

If you have a wordpress website, there's a plugin called Yoast. It is the best thing ever to help you with your SEO. The free version is great and there's an upgraded paid version. I can't tell you much about the paid version because we only use the free one. Gotta love free stuff! 

Let's catch up

If you decide you would prefer to outsource your marketing, then give us a call.


Let's catch up and find out how we can work together to get your marketing happening.  


planning and thinking differently concept using lemons and a pink grapefruit

Planning & thinking differently

Planning and thinking differently

Tomorrow the starfish marketing team will come together in our Albury office for a planning and thinking differently day.

This will be the first time the three of us will be in the same location at the same time.

(For those unaware we have three locations, Albury, Canberra and Rutherglen.)

All three of us are excited about the day ahead. 

It's going to be a planning day.

That means we will be looking at how we all work together and figuring out what is going to work best to deliver the best results for our clients (because #wehavethebestclients and we want to do what's best for them).

A big aspect of that will be thinking differently. What can we do differently that will be more efficient for our clients and deliver better results for them?

Personally, I'm so excited to see and hear the contributions Kaitlyn and Justine bring.

While we all think differently, yet we all live and breathe the starfish story. And that means we are all incredibly focused on making a positive difference for our clients. 

That is a big part of what I'm excited about - working out different ways to make a difference. 

Thinking differently

The benefit of working with people who have the same core values yet look at things from a different angle or approach things differently cannot be underestimated.

As an example, I’m a mindmap person not a checklist person (Kaitlyn identified this when I was trying to describe my concept of how the day will work). However, being a mindmap can make it more challenging for Kaitlyn and Justine to follow where my brain is going, and then be clear on their roles and how well they can look after our clients.

So, when I was describing how I thought the day might work, Justine suggested she put together an Agenda so we could stay on track and make sure we get through everything we needed to.

The benefits of planning

The agenda takes into account everything I was describing but means our planning day will be more focused, allowing us to all participate and be clearly focused on making a difference for our clients.

So while I’m a mindmap, I know that an agenda means our precious time together will be more efficient than that back-and-forth and all over the place that can occur when I don’t work to an agenda (otherwise known as “ooh shiny thing, let’s go down that path for a bit. Five to ten to twenty minutes later – Oh, where were we”).

And an agenda means we will get through everything we need to for the day, which will then mean we are delivering the best service and outcomes we can for our clients.

light bulb moment - planning and thinking differently

Plus, an agenda makes me think differently.

Thinking differently can be a challenge. But I find it is always rewarding and often delivers lightbulb moments. 

Often those lightbulb moments light the way for the future – the future for our clients and the future for the starfish team.

Having fun

And, I also know that having an agenda does not mean we won’t have fun. I anticipate having sore stomach muscles by the end of the day, because having fun is part of us, and a significant aspect of starfish marketing.

So, bring on the agenda, the thinking differently, the getting to know each other a bit more, the sharing a deeper understanding of our clients and ways we can better help them, and the having fun.


Think differently about your marketing. Let's catch up.

If you need help with your marketing, book your free discovery session to find out how you can think differently about your marketing.

We'll shout you a coffee (or tea) and spend some time getting to know you and your business. Then we'll see how starfish marketing can help you.

Bonus points - it's obligation free too.


marketing platforms

Finding your right marketing platforms

Finding your right marketing platforms

If you’re hearing that you must be doing all the socials, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc and you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a break.

Why?

Because you really only need to focus on where your market is. And your market (your ideal customer) isn’t going to everywhere. Most likely they’re going to be MAINLY hanging out in a couple marketing platforms.

So, the best thing you can do is focus your time and energy on those platforms because they will give you a much better return than a scattergun approach of trying all platforms.

If you're unsure about who your ideal customer is and why you shouldn't be targeting everyone, this article will help

Testing

How do you know where your market is?

If you don’t know where your market is, try testing and measuring on one platform at a time.

For example, if you wanted to know if your potential customers were on Instagram you could:

  • Identify what you want to achieve, eg increased followers, bookings or product sales
  • Develop an Instagram content plan for one month (curate your feed) and get creating
  • Actively post on Instagram, create engaging stories, use the search function to find businesses/people who are your ideal customer or client and comment on their posts (genuinely and not trying to sell your product or service).

It’s important to remember that when you post, don’t try and sell stuff all the time.

Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you share should be focused on things your customers might value; 20% might directly promote your product or service.  

marketing platforms

Measuring

After a month, look at the results.

  • Are you achieving the goals you set?
  • Is your focused activity making a difference in increasing your brand’s presence? 
  • Are you getting more engagement from people you might turn into great customers or ambassadors?
  • Is your following increasing and if so, who are the people following you (are they the right people)?

If this focused month doesn’t make a difference, or you are attracting followers, but they are the wrong market (not your ideal customers) then chances are Instagram is not the marketing platform for you.

So then head on over to another marketing platform, like Facebook or LinkedIn, and follow a similar process.

If this focused month does make a difference and you are achieving or actively moving towards the goals you set, then this is where your market is. Keep doing what you are doing. 

Letting go

Here at starfish marketing we trialled Instagram as a marketing platform a while back. And we found that the people who started following us were other marketers from all over the globe.

So, while this was nice for the ego, rather than spending our time on a market that isn't our ideal client, we stopped. And then we trialled other platforms and found out what works for us. And that's where we focus our time (when we're not working on our client socials). 

What I’m saying here is that it’s okay to let a marketing platform go if it’s not working for you.

When it’s right

Once you find a marketing platform where your market is, really focus on that platform and get it right.

And then bring another marketing platform in and get it right.

Before you know it, you’ll have your marketing platforms really connecting with your customers, delivering value to them and achieving your marketing goals.

How to schedule Facebook posts

How to schedule Facebook posts

Are you spending too much time manually posting on Facebook?

Scheduling your Facebook posts can save you a stack of time. And time is money.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to schedule your Facebook posts.

Step 1 - Create your posts

  • Go to your business page
  • Click on the Publishing Tools tab at the top of the page
  • Go to the Drafts section on your left
  • Then click the Create button
  • Work your magic
  • Create your post and save it as a draft
  • Then create all your posts for the week and save them as drafts

Step 2 - Schedule your posts

  • Still in your Drafts section choose the post you wish to schedule
  • Choose 'Schedule' from the dropdown 'Edit' button
  • Then choose the date and time you want your post to publish
  • And click on the Schedule button
  • Repeat the process with all your draft posts

We recommend spending an hour per week on creating and scheduling your Facebook posts.

And when your scheduling is done, you can go and relax :). 

Shameless self-plug!

If you need help with your social media then give us a yell.


We'd love to help you. 

Touchpoints

I was recently asked to present to a group of business leaders about marketing and the importance of touchpoints.

The combined knowledge in the room, from a leadership and business perspective, was pretty impressive. However, they were facing a common challenge with their marketing. And that was that their marketing wasn’t really focused on supporting sales conversion.

Enter Touchpoints

Touchpoints – they exist in every business, which makes them an important aspect of developing your Brand, and in particular your Sales Funnel. And by the way, I hate the term sales funnel (and sales conversion). I think we should call them the Road to Helping Clients and Successfully Helping More Clients – but that is for another time.

Back to Touchpoints and your Brand, and the Road.

What are touchpoints and why are they important?

Basically, a touchpoint is any interaction your clients or market has with your brand and business. It could be:

  • An advertisement they see and/or hear
  • Your client newsletter
  • Your website
  • Meeting someone and talking about your business
  • Seeing your shop or office front
  • The list goes on… and on… and on

Why are touchpoints important?

Well, who has heard a business owner complain that they put an ad in the paper and didn’t get anything out of it. Or, someone say networking is a waste of time, because they have never got any business out of handing their cards out or going to events. (FYI – that is not networking, and again we’ll discuss that another time).

It’s simple really.

The more touchpoints you have with your clients and/or market, the more the come to trust and connect with you. And the more trust they have in you. The more they feel a connection, then the more likely they are to purchase from you.

Let’s use Adam and Jane as an example.

The big difference between the two approaches is that Adam asks for the sale before he has established a relationship; before trust and a connection has been created.

Jane takes the time to really understand her market and to demonstrate how she can help. And while it takes a longer time, the end result is a positive. It reminds me of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins the race. In the case of Janes approach – slow and steady gets the right outcome for you – her target market – and for her. Jane has travelled the Road to Helping Clients and was Successful in Helping More Clients.

How many times to you connect with your target market before you ask for the sale?

 Or… How long do you take to travel the Road to Helping Clients before you are able to Successfully Help More Clients?

Magical Marketing Fairies

Magical Marketing Fairies

What a year it has been.

There were some big changes with starfish marketing as we grew; set up an office in Dean St, Albury; and welcomed Kaitlyn to the team. And we updated our branding!

To our fabulous fabulous clients thank you for having us as your Marketing and Social Fairies this year. We love seeing you succeed in your business and are proud to play a little part in that success. You are all fabulous and the best clients!

We look forward to creating more marketing magic with you in 2019.

Have a fun and fabulous Festive Season and we hope you enjoy a magic marketing fairy Christmas!

Our office will be closed from Friday 21 December 2018, reopening Wednesday 2 January 2019. We will still be online if you need any urgent magical marketing support. Email hello@starfishm.com.au

Your brand is more than your logo

Your brand is more than your logo

Many people, when they think about brand, go straight to their logo. However, your brand is more than a logo. A logo is simply a visual representation of your brand – one aspect of it.

Your brand infiltrates every aspect of your business, so it’s important to get it right.

However, this can be hard when you are starting out.

When you start a business there's usually a fair amount of bootstrapping involved. starfish marketing was no exception. 

I launched the business with a clear understanding of my WHY – to make a difference for small businesses and our community. As well as being very clear about what the starfish marketing brand was (and stood for). 

The value of bringing in the experts

I believe in bringing in the experts and collaborate with a number of other marketing organisations when I don’t have the specialist skillset.

starfish marketing

 However, for the last three years, the starfish marketing logo has been 'self-designed' – and I am not a graphic designer.

This is simply because, at the time of launching starfish marketing , I was bootstrapping and not in a position to invest in having the visual representation of the brand professionally designed.

While the starfish marketing brand is strong and consistent in terms of communication and the emotion the starfish story, the visual aspect of the brand, our logo, was… well let's just say it was amateur (at its best).

Now for someone who delivers workshops on getting your branding right across every aspect of your business, this has not been a great position to be in.

I talk about your brand being more than a logo. And it is so much more than a logo, because you can create a strong brand non-visually. Starfish marketing is an example of this.

Over three years we have built consistent verbal and written branding; used some fabulous photography and images with our communications and achieved strong recognition of the business name and our WHY.

Everything was aligned except the visual brandmark, the logo (above). The logo just did not embody the starfish brand. And it didn’t align with all the aspects of our brand.

What our logo wasn't!

Our logo wasn’t friendly and fun. It didn’t:

  • portray that our focus is always on making a difference for our clients and our local community
  • say that, if you work with us, we keep it simple for you. (Why make something harder than it has to be, right?)
  • show that we are a little bit quirky (but not too much)
  • demonstrate that we are reliable, approachable and relatable
  • and it didn't say that we are great at marketing stuff

It didn’t do any of what starfish marketing is all about!

And that, my friends is not a good logo and it is not good for your brand consistency.

I could talk and write about our brand and bring its personality to life. But visually the brandmark, our logo, just wasn’t aligned!

So, we brought in the experts..

And just look at the results!!!

starfish marketing logo
starfish marketing logo

It is with great excitement, and joy (oh so much joy) that we finally bit that bullet and had our logo, a key aspect of our visual brand, designed by the fabulous design company, Kindred Design.

Kindred have done an amazing job in turning my verbal description of starfish marketing into a beautiful, simple brandmark that tells our starfish story.

We couldn't be happier with the results. And now our branding is (well, it will be when we update everything) complete and consistent across all aspects of our business. 

And that makes us happy little marketers. 

starfish marketing business cards


Here is the new starfish marketing brand applied to our business cards. Designed by Kindred and printed by D&D Letterpress.

The cards are beautifully tactile as well and being gorgeous visually.

We just love them.

What do you think?

The lesson learnt

While you may be able to build a brand without expert graphic design involvement, it will never be as strong or consistent as its potential.

So, bring in the experts as soon as you can. It may look like a considerable financial investment, but it will be oh so worth it. And it will make your brand stronger and better. 

If I had my time again, I would sacrifice something else to invest in getting my brand absolutely nailed from the start. 

 

Friday 13th

Friday 13th and Marketing

Friday 13th and Marketing

From a marketing perspective, Friday 13th being unlucky is quite interesting as it's a fairly global phenomenon. So how did it start?

Well, apparently no-one really knows where the superstition all started. But, one of the most popular stories stems from Friday 13 October 1307, when hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested and burnt across France. As unlucky goes that ranks up there.

So if this story is the beginning of the Friday 13th superstition, it would originally have been spread by word of mouth (still, in my opinion, the strongest form of advertising).

And it has continued over the centuries.

How?

Well the promotion of it has changed with the times.

Essentially the story has been promoted using the various marketing mediums and platforms available at the time. For example the timeline might look like:

  • Word of Mouth
  • Print
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Websites
  • Social Media
  • What next???

711 years - that's a pretty strong marketing strategy!

And, it's certainly a strong case for regularly reviewing and your marketing promotion strategy!

How often do you review your promotional strategy?

GDPR

GDPR

Have you heard about the GDPR?

Or the General Data Protection Regulation?

The GDPR, while essentially an EU law has the potential to impact all businesses globally. So, if you haven’t paid much attention to it yet, please read on. This information is really important and it will help you protect your business.

Disclaimer: Please note that I’m not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. The information I’m sharing with you has been sourced from other channels. It’s aim is to help you with your email marketing activities. I encourage you to search for more information online or seek legal advise on how it applies to your business.

What is the GDPR?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. It is a privacy law from the European Union (EU). This law will come into effect on 25 May 2018.

What is the aim of the GDPR?

The GDPR is designed to provide greater protection to your personal information, including how it’s collected, stored, and used.

There are strict requirements placed on companies that possess the personal data of people located in the EU.

Who does it apply to?

It applies to anyone or any business who collects data from residents of the European Union. This includes your email list and website data.

The GDPR will come into effect from 25 May 2018.

It is important to note that the GDPR applies retroactively. This means that it applies to anyone from the EU who joined your email list in the past and are still on your list.

My business isn't in the EU, why does it apply to me?

Firstly - it doesn’t matter that your business isn’t in the EU. 

If you have European residents as email subscribers or customers, or if you have the possibility of having them signing up to your email list, the GDPR applies to you.

Failing to comply by 25 May 2018 could cost your business a lot of money. There are fines of up to €20 million or up to 4% of your annual global turnover depending on the severity of the breach.

How does it apply to my email marketing activities?

In a nutshell, you cannot email any European resident if they didn't specifically sign up for your emails. And this applies even if they signed up to receive a freebie.

This means that if people signed up to download an opt-in gift from you, that's the only thing you can send to them. You cannot send any other information, newsletters or promotions without further permission and explicit consent.

What do I need to do?

Basically, you need to email all your European subscribers or any subscriber from an unknown location. And you need to ask them if they give you their permission to continue sending emails to them.

You need their confirmation before 25 May 2018.

If you don’t receive confirmation then you need to DELETE them from your list.

What else should I do?

Update your email sign-up process to make sure any European resident who subscribes consents to receiving your newsletters and promotional emails too.

Make sure separate consent is obtained for each purpose. Your subscribers have to clearly request to join your email list and receive emails from you.

Don’t ask for more information than you actually need. This means if you’re building an email list, you only need the first name and email address.

Make it easy for subscribers to change or delete their information at any time. And make sure you have a clear and working “Unsubscribe” and “Edit your preferences” options in your newsletters and promotional emails.

If someone unsubscribes from your list, then you must delete them and never email them again. The exception is only if they subscribe to you again.

Keep records of people’s consent.

Make sure the email marketing software you are using is GDPR compliant and that they have a compliant data processing agreement in place.

Ensure your website is https secure. And have a GDPR compliant Privacy Policy on your website that is accessible from every page.

Finally...

If you’re using email marketing, don’t be discouraged. If you keep building a good relationship and providing content of value, then your readers will want to stick around.

email marketing

If they don’t want to hear from you, that's okay. You, I’m sure, will have heard me say “quality over quantity” before!

Although this can all sound a bit challenging, this regulation should protect us all. And in the long run, the people who give you their details are the ones who really want to hear from you. They are the people who value what you do and what you have to say.

I hope you found this helpful. You can read more about the GDPR and how it applies to Australian businesses on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website

If you have any questions feel free to reach out and I'll be happy to help

LinkedIn

Funk up your LinkedIn Profile

Funk up your LinkedIn profile

We all know social media is an important business marketing tool, and playing where your market plays is a key aspect of choosing which social media platform to "play on".

If your market is the business world then having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is more important than ever.

LinkedIn icon

Why is having a LinkedIn profile important?

There are lots of reasons to have a LinkedIn profile. Here are three key reasons. 

1. It is where people research you

LinkedIn has become the go-to place for people to do their research on you. Once upon a time your bio on your business' website was where people went to "check you out". Now, it's LinkedIn. 

2. Google

If you (or that person above who's researching you) googles your name, its likely that your LinkedIn profile lands at the top. Try it see - I know when I google Mell Millgate, LinkedIn comes up number one, BEFORE starfish marketing.

So if you're out there meeting people and trying to engage and communicate with your market (whether it's on-line or in person), you need to have a LinkedIn profile so they can easily find you. 

3. It gives you credibility

You are able to demonstrate your skills, your expertise, and how you (and your business) can help your market.

Linked in has over 225 million members, making it the worlds largest professional network. Having a LinkedIn profile gives an impression of credibility, especially if you share articles, videos etc that demonstrate your expertise.

If you haven't updated your LinkedIn profile (or heaven forbid don't even have one), it's time to take action!

5 ways to funk up your LinkedIn profile

1 Make your headline stand out

Your LinkedIn headline defaults to your most current experience (role/company). However, it's more than a headline, it's a powerful tool to add colour to your profile. Make it standout by making it more descriptive.

Example

Traditional headline “Owner/Operator at starfish marketing”

Funked-up headline  “Great at marketing stuff. Living the starfish story. Making a difference by turning your marketing strategy into action.”

2 Summarise your projects and achievements

In this space include one or two paragraphs that sum up your professional capability.

Tips

  • Write in the First Person
  • Light up your profile with your voice, use active construction, specific adjectives and verbs
  • Make it personable and evocative
  • Act natural - picture yourself at a meeting; how would you introduce yourself?

3 Update your skills and experience

Describe your role in the context of what you were responsible for achieving, the value you provided, not what you did on a day to day basis.

4 Make sure you have a professional photo

Having a photo for your profile is A MUST.

It is essential to make sure it’s a professional photo and only of you. 

If you have a professional photograph simply upload to your profile.  Note: you may need to resize your profile photo

5 Add some examples of your awesomeness

Now is not the time to be humble!

Provide examples of what how you help your clients.

  • What key problem do you solve for your clients and how?
  • What's the coolest project you have worked on and why?

And if you really want get funky download the template below. You can type in your content, get it right (funked up) and then copy paste into your LinkedIn profile.

In Summary:

  • 1
    Boogie up your headline - make it stand out
  • 2
    Dance up on in everyone's face - summarise your projects
  • 3
    Show off your feature dance moves - update your skills and experience
  • 4
    Shimmy on up to the camera - make sure your photo sings
  • 5
    Bust a groove - personalise your LinkedIn profile URL
Promotion

Promotion – Your number three P

Promotion - Your number three P

Promotion is your number three in the seven P’s of marketing and is most commonly, what people think of when they think of marketing. And they usually equate Promotion with Advertising, but it is so much more than that. Disclaimer: I have no research or facts to back this assumption up apart from my many discussions with people.

Basically, Promotion is the aspect of marketing where you advertise and promote yourself, your business, your product or your service.  (Now to keep this simple, because we all know I’m a KISS fan, the rest of this article will refer to “YOU” in referencing yourself, your business, your product or your service.)

In its simplest form, Promotion is how you let your market and customers know what you are selling and why they should buy from you.

So how do you promote you?

Promote

The key with successful Promotion of YOU is to make sure you are connecting with your market. And to do this, you need to understand what is important to them, and then “talk” about that.

And that is usually your Why.

You may be aware I’m a huge Simon Sinek fan, and am always talking about starting with Why.

Why?

Because it is vital when you are promoting YOU to connect with your market, your community, your tribe (to use a modern marketing terminology trend).

As Simon Sinek says, ‘When you think, act and communicate starting with Why, you can inspire others.”.

And, when it comes to Promotion, you are trying to inspire your market to buy YOU.

You also need to understand where your market is so that you promote or communicate with them there. It’s no good advertising on free-to-air television if your market is active on social media.

Basically, you need to develop strategies that connect with your market, and you need to ‘play where your market plays’. 

What strategies can you use to promote YOU and connect with your market?

When you understand your market, and where they play, then you can use a number of different strategies to promote YOU to them.

These include:

Promotional Strategy
  • Social media
  • Online marketing
  • Personal selling
  • PR
  • Sales promotions
  • Traditional advertising (television, radio, print)
  • Event marketing
  • Networking (social and traditional)
  • Word of mouth  - still the best form of promotion in marketing

Having a plan!

Promotional Plan

It’s important once you have identified your promotional why, who you will promote to and where they play, to put a Promotional Plan in place.

Having a plan helps you identify your promotional goals, what you will be promoting, where, when, who will be responsible, how much you will spend, and what your KPIs will be so you can measure the success.

A plan also helps keep you on track if a promotional opportunity suddenly appears because you can ask yourself the following three questions.

Ask Yourself

If your answer is yes

If your answer is no

Q1. Does this opportunity align with my promotional marketing strategy?

Ask yourself question 2

Don’t take up the offer

Q2. Will this opportunity deliver better outcomes than some of the promotional activities in my promotional plan?

Ask yourself question 3

Don’t take up the offer

Q3. My marketing budget is set. What activity am I prepared to sacrifice to take up this opportunity?

Make your decision as to which activity you choose to go ahead with. To paraphrase Highlander “there can be only one”.

If you can’t decide an existing activity to sacrifice then don’t take up the offer

Building a Promotional Strategy and Plan takes about eight steps. You can read them here

Download a Promotional Plan Template

At the end of the day, Promotion is about communicating the right message to the right people (your market) in the right way. If you get that right then you will connect

Price Number Two P

Price - Your number two P

While price, is your number two P in your marketing mix (Product being #1), it could conceivably be the most important factor of your marketing mix.

Why?

Basically because it’s the element of the marketing mix that generates revenue and without revenue, we don’t really have a business.

Pricing can be challenging because the key success factor comes down to what your market (your customer) is willing to pay for your product/service, and this is usually based on the value/benefits they perceive your product/service will provide them.

Some will argue that the cost of the goods is a significant influence on your price, and yes it is…but, if your market isn’t willing to pay a price that will cover your costs and deliver a profit then you won’t have any revenue.

How do you set your price?

Well, in the marketing theory world there are a number of different types of pricing strategies.

Ideally you should choose the option that best aligns with your business objectives and overall marketing strategy.

  • 1
    Penetration Pricing – a low price to capture market share
  • 2
    Skimming Pricing – starts high and slowing lowers pricing
  • 3
    Competition Pricing – set in comparison to your competitors
  • 4
    Product Line Pricing – different products within the same range at different price points
  • 5
    Bundle Pricing – bundling a group of products together at a reduced price
  • 6
    Premium Pricing – set high to give the impression of exclusivity
  • 7
    Psychological Pricing – based on the marketplace and psychology of price
  • 8
    Optional Pricing – offering optional extras at an additional price
  • 9
    Cost Plus Pricing – based on production costs plus a profit margin
  • 10
    Cost Based Pricing – based on production costs plus a profit margin taking into account market conditions
  • 11
    Value Based Pricing – how much customers are willing to pay for the benefits offered

So much choice… no wonder people tend to go with Cost Plus Pricing – it’s probably considered the simplest strategy.

Cost Plus Pricing

Cost Plus Pricing is where you base the price of your product on its production costs, plus a certain amount based on how much profit you want to make. For example, if your production cost is $100.00 (all inclusive) and your business seeks to make a 50% profit then you would price your product at $150.00.

The challenge with Cost Plus Pricing is that it doesn’t take into account your customer demand or customer value.

If your customer (in the above example) is only willing to pay $75.00 for your product, then you’re in a bit of trouble.

Or, your customer might be see the value of your product/service as higher and perceive a lower price as lesser quality. EG, in the above example if your customer expects to pay $300.00 for your type of product/service and you’re only charging $150.00 you may lose a sale as it diminishes their perception of the quality/exclusivity you are offering. In other words, they may think there's something wrong with your product because it's so cheap (in their eyes), and that can damage your brand as well as cost you a sale.

Your pricing strategy

At the end of the day, your pricing strategy should align with both your business objectives and marketing strategy, and that should be significantly influenced by understanding your customer.

pricing strategy

Why?

Because when you understand your customers, you can develop and price your product/service to meet their specific needs. And whe you do this you are creating a connection with your customers, creating your own community so to speak. 

And this means your customers, your community become loyal to you and your brand/business. They will turn into referrers because they feel connected to you. And we all know that word of mouth (whether direct or online these days) is still the most effective of marketing.

Plus, understanding your customers means you don't need to appeal to everyone. While it can be scary reducing the number of potential customers you are targeting, if you are specific about who your market is, your customers are more likely to spend more with you, more often. For an example of how fewer customers can deliver a better financial return, click here.

product - marketing mix

Product – Your number one P

Product - Your number one P

For your product - your number one P in your marketing mix, to be successful there are two key things it needs to deliver:

  1. Satisfy a specific need of your customer, and
  2. It has to deliver on it’s (your) promise

I have discussed this many times – to meet the key factor of satisfying a specific need you need to understand who your customer is - so we won’t go into that again. You can read more here if you are interested.

Product definition

So, lets look at what a product is – ie the definition.

marketing budget - shoes

Your product can be a good or a service. If it’s a good, that’s something tangible, like shoes (beautiful, wonderful, fabulous shoes). If your product is a service, then that’s something intangible, like marketing advice, or an insurance policy.

Either way, your product costs something to produce, so you need to sell it to your customers at a price that they see value in purchasing from you and that also provides you with a profit. We’ll cover this in more detail when we look at Price (number two P in your marketing mix).

Whatever your product is, it's important to understand the benefits your product delivers to your customers.

Keeping it simple

To keep it simple, I suggest focusing on one key benefit – that being main benefit your product delivers. Focus on your customers why – why will they buy from you. What is important to them that your product is delivering?

For example, starfish marketing makes a difference by saving our client's time. They don’t have to worry about finding time for their marketing activities, or that their marketing will fall to the bottom of a long to-do list that business owners, wearing many hats, usually have.

When you are clear about the benefits your product will offer you can then decide on some other factors of your product, such as:

  • Quality – are your customers willing to pay more for high quality or are they price sensitive and are prepared to accept lower quality
  • Features – what are the features of your product
  • Branding – is your product reflective of your brand position, because you don't want to confuse people

Developing your product

Whether you are developing a new product, or revising an existing product, there is a process to follow.

  1. Strategy development
  2. Generation of ideas
  3. Screening and evaluation
  4. Business analysis
  5. Product development
  6. Market testing
  7. Commercialisation

When you put it into the above seven steps it can appear quite simple. In reality, however, product development is usually much more complicated, with many businesses going back and forth between the different steps.

Focus on your customers

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to focus on your customer needs as your key driver.

If you know:

  1. who your customer is
  2. what is important to them (and why), and
  3. you develop (and update) your product to meet and successfully deliver those needs

then your product, whether it is a good or a service, should be a hit.  

marketing mix 7Ps

Do you understand your marketing mix?

Do you understand your marketing mix?

Do you understand your marketing mix?

Last week I talked about the importance of having  a marketing strategy. And I touched on the marketing mix, otherwise known as the 7 Ps of marketing.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at each of those Ps in a bit more depth. But first a simple explanation of what the marketing mix is.

According to Kotler et al, Marketing, the marketing mix is “The set of controllable marketing variables that the company blends to produce the response it wants in the target market”.  Another definition that is popular is “the marketing mix is about putting the right product in the right place, at the right time at the right price”.

So, trying not to get too technical (because really, that’s just not my thing), basically, your marketing mix is those things that you can do to influence demand for your product or service.

Those “things” are broken up into seven categories.

  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Promotion
  4. Place
  5. People
  6. Process
  7. Physical evidence
7Ps marketing mix

While these are pretty self-explanatory,  I will delve into each one in more detail in the coming weeks.

From a marketing perspective, it’s generally agreed that you need to get the above right to be able to market your product effectively. Get something wrong and there is a pretty good chance you are missing out on the opportunity to maximise your marketing activities, which in turn reduces your chances or progress in achieving your business goals.

While the marketing mix is important, there is one key thing that drives the success of your marketing mix.  And that is…

After all, if you don’t know your target market, you don’t know:

  • who they are
  • what their behaviour is
  • what drives them
  • where they are
  • what they like and want etc

And if you don't know this vital information, then you won’t be able to work out the most effective marketing mix.

For example, how can you know how to price your product to get the most sales (that will still deliver a profit), if you don’t know what your target market is prepared to pay for it. And if your market isn’t prepared to pay the price you need to cover your costs and make a profit, then you’re not going to make any sales. ☹

So, understanding your target market before jumping into developing your marketing mix is absolutely key to your success.

Next week, we’ll delve into Product.

video on mobile phone

Five reasons to use video in your marketing

five reasons to use video in your marketing

If you google “reasons to use video marketing” a plethora of articles come up, ranging from five to 25 reasons you should use video in your marketing.

And, you may have noticed that at starfish marketing, we are now including video’s in our blog and social media.

Perhaps you’re wondering why - if you haven’t already read one or many of the articles above.

Well, there are a number of reasons. Really, our reasons align with lots of the reasons shared on the internet already – so we’ll keep it short and sweet.

1. It's what people want

Demand for video content is growing at a fantastically rapid rate. According to this Forbes article, a third of all the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos. And that number is growing.

2. It's an easy way to share information 

We live in a fast paced world, and video marketing is one form of online marketing that is quick and easy for people to consume. This means video marketing provides value, relevance and the flexibility that people are looking for in their on-the-go lifestyle. 

3. It's easy to use

With the advancements in technology, and an increasing number of applications available, it is much easier, quicker, and cheaper to create videos.

While online videos are no longer the domain of videographers if you want something done beautifully and properly – bring the experts in. I recommend talking to Hannah and Rachael at Rooftop Media.

4. You can mix it up

Video content can be used in marketing in a lot of different ways. For example:

  • To explain a product or service
  • To tell a story, for example  the starfish story 
  • To summarise a blog (or tell a blog via video, ie vlogging)
  • To conduct a webinar

The list goes on...

5. It improves your SEO

According to video explainers, adding a video to your website can increase the chance of a front page Google result by 53 times. Of course, that’s when you do it right, and have a strategy behind it. If you're not sure how to start improving your SEO, check out the five things I did to move from page five to page one (and four of them are free). 

There are many other reasons to include video in your marketing. If you want to know more of them, feel free to give me a yell, or ask Google.

In short, video can and should play a key role in your marketing.

However, and you know this is coming if you read my blogs regularly, having a strategy behind your video marketing is vital. Your video marketing success depends on combining compelling content with appealing imagery and understanding what you want it to achieve

Feel free to connect with me if you would like to discuss introducing video into your marketing strategy.

SEO strategies

Do you know what SEO is?

Five things I did to get on page one and four of them are free

Do you know what SEO is? If you do know what it is, then go you! You are ahead of the crowd (well, a lot of the crowd I talk to anyway).

Many people I speak with have heard of SEO, but they don’t know what it stands for, let along what it is. I have gotten into the habit, when talking all things Google and digital marketing, of saying ‘SEO, that’s Search Engine Optimisation’.

The simple explanation is that it’s where you come up in Google searches (or Bing or other search engines).

Having great SEO results helps you be the big fish.

I’ve been on a sharp learning curve recently, learning how to maximise SEO for myself and my clients without spending huge amounts of dollars.

Here are five of the things I’ve implemented that have helped me move starfish marketing from page five of Google searches to page one, in one month*. 

1. Google My Business

If you haven’t set this up, go and do it now.

This is a free Google service that helps you manage how your business information appears across Google. It includes Google Search and Google Maps. And did I mention IT’S FREE?

It allows people to review your business and the more reviews you have, the better your SEO results. If you’re comfortable you can ask your favourite customers to complete a Google review for you.

You can share information, your opening hours, your location etc etc – making it easy for people to find and contact you.

And you get insights!!! How cool is that! You will see how your customers searched for your business and where they are coming from. Plus, much more.

Go sign up now!!

2. Keywords

Having the right keywords on your website is one of the best ways to increase your SEO, and make sure that your website comes as high up in the search rankings as

The more niche your keywords the more likely you will be able to reach your target audience. Put yourself in your potential customers shoes and ask yourself “what would I be searching for?”. For example, for starfish marketing, I use the keywords “marketing”, “marketing consultant”, “marketing help”, “marketing support”

And then there’s long-tail keywords. What are long-tail keywords I hear you ask.

It’s a fancy-smancy name for longer and more specific keyword phrases. For instance, for starfish marketing, I might use “small to medium business marketing help” or “online or digital marketing support”

Using long-tail keywords gives you an opportunity to be more precise with targeting your pages.

If you’re not sure about what keywords to use – try googling them and seeing what comes up. 

Place your keywords throughout the content on your website. This comes with an additional tip - don’t sacrifice your branding or tone of your messaging and overpopulate with keywords. Make sure you’re still clear on your brand position and the key messages  and brand essence you want to communicate. 

Keywords are something that you will need to look at throughout the life of your website. Times will change and the keywords that relate to your site and service will change too. So make sure that you pay attention to your keywords and you will be repaid with a well-ranked website.

3. Titles and meta tags

So, when you update your content on your webpage with your keywords, it isn’t just the content on the page that is important. The titles, meta tags and descriptions are too - in a different way though.

Titles, meta tags and descriptions should be included in the back-end of your website. If you have a WordPress site, try installing Yoast– it’s an awesome plugin that will help you set up your titles, meta tags and descriptions to maximise your SEO – and it’s so easy to use!

If you don't have a WordPress site, I suggest seeking assistance from your web provider - ask them where your titles, meta tags and descriptions are and how to update them. (I use WordPress, so have limited knowledge on how other sites work.)

What are titles, meta tags and descriptions?

Basically, they tell Google (and other search engines) and users about your site. They describe the content on each page of your website. And they can act as a “hook” for your advertising in the search engine results.

4. SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

You know when you Google something and the top (and bottom) three or four results have a little "Ad" box on the left side of the text - that’s SEM.

SEM is like SEO except you pay for it. It is otherwise known as pay-per-click and will appear at the top or the bottom of your search page.

SEO is free, and your SEO results will be in the middle of your search page.

The example below shows starfish marketing  SEM and SEO results for the search "marketing support albury wodonga". 

example of starfish marketing SEM results

Apparently, SEM does have an impact on your SEO results (I asked this question at a Digital Marketing Bootcamp recently and was told it does).

So yes, you can spend some money on SEM, however I don’t believe it has to be enormous amounts of money.  I spend less than $10.00 per month. Now this means I'm not getting a lot of click throughs on my ad (because you only pay per click), but this is okay for me and the strategy I have behind my SEM. How much you spend as a business will depend on your strategy behind your SEM. Checking your results regularly and adjusting your SEM to meet your strategy objectives will influence the amount you spend.

The way SEM works does not necessarily mean those who spend the most money end up at the top of the page. Google also looks at the content of your “ad” and that influences the placement too.

So, the trick is to get your SEM ad with the right parameters set up, spend a little bit, look at your results and potentially tweak your ad (yes, you can change the content of your ad mid campaign).

Oh, and SEM gives you access to things like Google Keyword Planner, which helps you find the keywords (refer point 1) that are most relevant to your business – no more guessing what you think your potential customers are searching for, Google will tell you.

5. Update your content regularly

Apparently, Google likes it when there’s new stuff on your website (and your Google My Business page). So, sharing or updating your content regularly will help with your SEO.

Having a blog is a great way to keep adding new stuff to your website. You don’t need to write war and peace – it could just be adding a simple tip each week or so.

If blogging isn’t your thing and you prefer to play on social media, then consider including links from the social media platform back to your website. This also helps with SEO and can drive traffic to your site through social media.

So, there you go, there’s five things that I’ve found have helped improve the SEO for my clients and myself – four of which are “free”.

There are other things that can influence your SEO, but I think these are a good starting point. Go forth and land on page one.

Bonus tip - set your business up on all the free directories such as Yellow Pages, White Pages, True Local, Local Search, Yelp etc. 

Bonus Bonus tip - make sure your website is mobile friendly

Disclaimer - moving to page one in one month is not a guaranteed result - it can take anywhere from one to six months (and sometimes longer) to see a difference in your SEO results, and can depend on various aspects of your business and online prescence. As with everything marketing, having the right strategy behind your approach is key, and there is no silver bullet!

How to name your business

Naming your business

Six steps to naming your business

Whether you’re starting a new business or rebranding your business, having the right name is essential.

The right name can help get your business known quickly and in a positive light – it can even attract customers. The wrong name can doom your business, creating the wrong impression and driving potential customers away.

So, getting your business name right is absolutely vital.

Funnily enough, getting your business name right is not just about pulling a name out of thin air. As with everything marketing there should be a strategic approach to it. And if you’re an existing business that’s looking at rebranding or renaming – first consider do you really need to?

If you are not sure how to “come up” with that new name, Here are six steps to help you name your business.

Step 1 - what do you want to say

Think about the relevancy, uniqueness and credibility you want the name to elicit. What do you want it to communicate?

Usually, people prefer words they can understand and/or relate to. This means, the more your business’ name communicates to your market, the less effort you need to go into to explain it.

Think about your brand essence.

Step 2 - make a list

Make a list of key words that convey, communicate and reinforce the key elements of your brand.

Feel free to get creative. Look at the meaning of some words and potentially combine the two. For example "Italiatour". Now Italiatour is not a word, but you immediately understand what the business is offering (package tours to Italy). Plus, it also evokes an emotional response (who doesn’t get excited about travel???), linking into the brand essence of the business.  So, the name is meaningful and people can easily recognise what's being offered.

Step 3 - choose your preferred three to five options

When choosing your preferred options, think about the names that are:

  • unique and unforgettable
  • easy to spell
  • easy to pronounce and remember
  • going to appeal to your target market
  • connect on an emotional level
  • don’t have an embarrassing obscure meaning (potentially in another language)
  • available online (or have an alternate domain name option)

Step 4 - research

Do some market research. Once you have chosen your preferred options (Step 3), find out what your target market thinks.

Ask questions like:

  • What is your first reaction to the name?
  • Which of the names to they prefer most?
  • Why did they choose the name they preferred most?
  • What emotions do the names evoke?
  • What do they like/don’t they like?
  • Will the name influence their decision to do business with you or buy from you?

And check that your business name is available – not only as a domain name, but as a business name. You can do this via the ASIC website.

Step 5 - choose your name

Choose your name based on the above results.

Which name best fits your brand essence? Which name most accurately describes the business you have in mind? Which name resonates with your market?

Step 6 - tell your brand story

Articulate your brand story.

Pretend someone has asked you “why did you choose that name?”. Can you easily talk to your brand essence, your story, your why?

If you struggle, consider if the name chosen is the right one. If it’s not, go back to step 1 and start again.

Tell them your story

Once you have made your decision, register it via ASIC and start building your company identity, one that lasts as long as you're in business.

Brand

What is your brand essence?

What is your brand essence?

Do you know what your brand represents? What your brand essence is?

Many people, when they think about brand, go straight to their logo. However, your brand is more than a logo. A logo is simply a visual representation of your brand – one aspect of it.

By nature your brand is a combination of image, functional and emotional benefits and credibility. It is a driver behind why your customers buy from you. 

People do not only buy brands because of a logo, or for just the basic functional benefits a brand may offer. They will also purchase based on emotions a brand creates for them. 

Based on the research of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, we know that we, as humans, make a decision based on emotion and justify that decision with logic afterwards.

So your brand is more than your logo.

Your brand is what people think of you, your business, your product or service, when they hear your business name, use your product or service, and see your visual representation of your brand.

How do you identify your brand?

brand pyramid

There are five key aspects to your brand.

1.            Personality
2.            Values of User
3.            Emotional Rewards
4.            Functional Benefits
5.            Attributes

Let’s look at each of these.

Use our brand worksheet to help you identify your five aspects of your brand.

Personality

Imagine your brand as a person. How would you describe that person? Are they fun, dynamic, conservative, sincere? Extroverted or responsible? Self-assured or optimistic?  Strong brands have distinct personalities.

Values of user

These are defined in the Oxford dictionary as being ‘one’s principles or standards, one’s judgement of what is valuable or important in life’. Different consumers have different values. So, when understanding or defining your brand consider what your customer values are. Developing a customer persona will help you understand your customer values. Here are five questions to help you identify your ideal customer - your customer persona.

Emotional rewards

The emotional rewards recognise how you want your customers to feel as a result of dealing with you and your business. To build brand loyalty, your customers and target market need to have an emotional connection to your brand.  Do they feel proud; smart; valued; confident? What is the outcome you hope every customer feels?

Functional benefits

These are the benefits your customers receive from your product or service. What are the functional benefits that your brand delivers? For example, a benefit of starfish marketing could be the ability for business owners to spend more time working on their core business rather than on operational marketing activities.

Attributes

Brands must possess relevant and distinctive features.  These are the tangible aspects of your brand that you can see or touch. This can be challenging for service based businesses to identify – try to bring it back to the service you are delivering, for example the attributes of starfish marketing are expert marketing advice tailored to individual business requirements. For product based businesses it is easier. For example a well-known biscuit brand could be something like; distinctive caramel chocolate, multi-layered chocolate biscuit that is sweet and crunchy with a chocolate filling.

Use our brand worksheet to help you identify your five aspects of your brand.

Brand essence

brand essence

Once you have identified these five aspects of your brand, you can summarise what your brand is.

What do those five aspects say? What they say is your brand essence, and your brand essence (your brand) should drive the communication of your brand image, benefits and values. Everything about your business, product or service should articulate your brand’s attributes, benefits, emotional rewards, personality and values.

Creating consistency across your brand is key. Have a look at everything across your business and make sure it is reflective of what you want your brand to be.

If you aren’t clear on what your brand is, try using the brand worksheet below to help you identify your brand.

And if you think your brand doesn't represent you and are considering rebranding, ask yourself these six questions first.

Rebranding

To rebrand or not rebrand, that is the question

Six questions to ask before rebranding

To rebrand or not rebrand, that is the question?

And why address this question? 

Well… I had a conversation with a friend today, a friend who is thinking about re-branding her business. She wanted to know what I thought.

My first question was Why? Why do you think you should rebrand?

Her response was “because we had a business consultant in and it’s on their template list of things they said to consider”.

Facepalm

Really??? I mean really??? Because it's on a template list - I nearly fell of the couch!

Now almost every business goes through a rebrand at some point or another. Choosing to rebrand is a big decision, a HUGE decision and it should be made for the right reasons. It being on a "template list of things to consider" is not the right reason. 

So if you are thinking about rebranding, here are:

six questions to ask before you rebrand

  1. Why do you need to rebrand?
  2. Who are you rebranding for(a new market or your existing market)?
    If you are targeting a new market what is it about your current brand that doesn’t meet their needs.
    If you are rebranding for your existing market, does your existing market still connect with your current brand? If so, why do you need to change it? If not, what is it that is not connecting? Are there alternatives to re-branding that can reposition your brand?
  3. What will rebranding achieve?
  4. What do you want your new brand to say?
  5. Have you done any research? (on your competitors, your market, your target market, technology, basically any and everything that may affect your business)
  6. Do you really need to rebrand?

Rebranding can breathe new life into your business, but it should be done with a strategy behind it and a clearly understood process. Most of all it should be done for the right reason/s.

So what are the right reason/s?

If you Google reasons to rebrand, there are usually seven recurring answers that consistently appear.

  1. A change in company strategy
  2. To differentiate from your competitors
  3. Technological advances
  4. Your business has changed
  5. Your market has changed
  6. A bad reputation
  7. A merger or takeover

For small businesses, I suggest that there is one key reason to consider rebranding

Your business has evolved and your current brand no longer reflects your position, who you are and how you want to be/are viewed by your market

Now some of the seven Google reasons may play a part in your business' evolution, but at the end of the day this is the key reason rebranding would be relevant.

So, if your current brand:

  • reflects your business’ position in the market
  • says what you want to the market place
  • is relevant to your market

then why would you want to go through the time consuming and potentially expensive exercise of rebranding?

And if you’re asking yourself what your brand is, your brand is what consumers think of when they hear your business’ name. A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

So it's important to know who your target market is. If you don't, here are 5 questions to help you identify your ideal target market.

Your business and your brand should always be aligned, and if they are, then why would you rebrand?

marketing campaign aspects

Eight steps to build a marketing campaign

Eight steps to build a marketing campaign

If the thought of a building a marketing campaign give you the heebie-jeebies, don’t worry; here’s eight steps to build a marketing campaign.

image of woman with heebie jeebies

Do you feel like you will just be throwing money down the drain? Or does that famous marketing quote by John Wanamaker come to mind? “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

Never fear! Marketing campaigns can be fabulous things if done right – and you can know if it is successful (or not).

Done well, a great marketing campaign can reinforce your positioning and brand, communicate a message and generate sales and new customers.

But like everything that delivers the best rewards and outcomes, it does take some work. Well actually, it takes eight steps.

These eight steps will guide you in building a marketing campaign to help you meet your business goals.

Step 1 –  goals, goals, goals

Every campaign should have a goal, and that goal (or goals) should be aligned with your business goals.

Actually, everything you do with your marketing should be aligned with your business goals. So therefore, you should know your business goals. If you don’t know your business goals then please stop reading and go and check your business plan.

Know your business goals and develop your campaign to meet them. Think about what you need to accomplish and identify your campaign goals. Do you want to build your brand awareness, generate referrals; generate new leads; nurture existing leads, increase the spend of your existing customers? The list goes on…

You can have a single goal for your campaign or multiple goals. The important thing is that they are aligned to your business goals.

Step 2 – campaign concept

Once you have identified your campaign goals, it’s time to develop your campaign concept. Your campaign concept isn’t the detail or the content of your campaign. It’s more an overview of the type/s of campaign/s you want to use.

To start, do a bit of research and think about:

  • What campaigns have you run in the past?
  • Which ones worked well?
  • Can you modify them?
  • Can you use a similar theme?
  • What campaigns have your competitors run that you liked and saw were effective?
  • Think about other industries – complimentary industries, what campaigns have they used that were effective?
  • Consider making emotional connections with your audience instead of focusing on products/services, information, features or benefits

From your research choose the concepts that will resonate with your market to deliver the best return on investment.

From here you can start developing your marketing campaign action plan. Your marketing campaign action plan includes Who, What, Where, When, How, Budget, KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and ROI (Return on Investment).

As a KISS fan, I prefer the plan on a page approach, and use this simple action plan template.  As you work your way through each step, add to your action plan.

Step 3 – who are you targeting?

As with every aspect of marketing, it is key to understand who your market is. To do this, refer to your customer persona. Your customer persona describes your ideal customer.

If you don’t know who your ideal customer, then going through the five steps of identifying them will help you develop your customer persona.

We have discussed identifying your ideal customer in our Big the Big Fish blog (here).

Step 4 – select your campaign media

You’re half way there!

Understanding your target market then allows you to choose the most appropriate media. These days there are a wide range of options to choose from.

From the various forms of online marketing to email and direct mail, to events, trade shows, PR and traditional forms – choosing the right media for your campaign is a key aspect of its success.

Step 5 – timing, timing, timing

Consider the length of time your campaign should run for.

Is your offer over a certain time frame? How much will your budget allow? Are there specific periods during the year where there is higher interest in your industry? Will the length of the campaign vary dependent upon the different media being used?

Once you have identified when you want your campaign to run, add the time frames to your marketing campaign action plan

Step 6 – what is your message and offer

You have already developed your concept, and you understand your target market. Now it’s time to determine your key messages and offer. These should align with your goals. The detail may vary slightly for each media, but your key messages should be similar.

This is where you can get those creative juices flowing. Think about the five points below and let those light bulb moments commence.

  • What is your offer?
  • How valuable is it for your target market?  
  • What action do you want people to take after seeing your campaign?
  • What content do you need to include in your campaign?
  •  What space is required for that content?

And, again, plug this information into your marketing campaign action plan.

Step 7 – identify your return on investment

As with all things marketing, it’s important to measure your return on investment. There are different ways you can do this, and below are a couple of examples.

Example 1 – create estimates for the response rate from your campaign, the ultimate conversion ratio from responses to customers, and total revenue generated from the campaign. Estimate your response rate – the percentage of people that respond to your offer.

Create a campaign funnel, eg an example funnel could look like this:

Projected campaign reach 4000
Click link to land on website 5% 200
Fill out information request form 15% (of the above 5%) 30
Attend open day 25% (of the above 15%) 8
Negotiate purchase 50% (of above 75%) 4
Become a customer

Example 2 – calculate your financial return on investment.

From a financial perspective you can estimate your return by identifying your net profit from the campaign. To do this, identify the total gross profit from the campaign, (subtract the total cost of goods/services from your new customers from the total campaign revenue). Then, subtract your campaign budget from the gross profit to calculate your net profit (your return on investment).

For example, if your total cost of goods is $1,000 and your total campaign revenue is $5,000, your gross profit is $4,000. If your campaign budget is $1,500, then your net profit is $2,500 ($4,000-$1,500).

Note: I haven’t mentioned establishing your budget, as this should be part of your overarching marketing strategy. ie, your marketing budget would include an amount dedicated to marketing campaigns. The financial investment required for your campaign should fit within your established marketing budget.

Step 8 – make things happen

Finally, to make sure you make the most of your campaign it is vital that you have follow up processes in place.

This directly affects your conversion rate, so it is a key action to have your follow up processes and actions outlined your requirements for your team.

There’s nothing worse that achieving the responses your campaign sought and then not living up to customer or market expectations.

Identify how your market will respond to your campaign, outline what actions need to occur and put processes in place to make things happen and meet your market’s expectations.

At the end of the day, marketing campaigns can achieve great things.

These eight steps will help you choose the right media and concepts for your campaign to help you meet your business goals and not come down with a case of the heebie-jeebies.

social media

seven steps to maximise your social media

Seven steps to maximise your social media

Social Media – we all know we should be on it but how do you stand out from the ​crowd?

To help you maximise your social media, here are seven steps to help you connect and engage with your audience (your target market) and build a social media following that delivers more than just likes.

Here’s the video summary or read on for more detail.

Ste​​​​p 1 – appreciate why social media is important

As always – start with Why.

Ask yourself “why does my business need to be on social media?”

To help you answer that – it’s probably because your market is playing there.

According to Social Media News, the top five platforms being used in Australia are:

  1.  Facebook – 17,000,000 monthly active Australian users
  2. YouTube – 15,600,000
  3. WordPress.com – 5,600,000
  4. Instagram – 5,000,000 monthly active Australian users
  5. WhatsApp – 4,800,000 active Australian users

So, when you look at the numbers, chances are your customers are using social media somewhere. And you should be playing where your customers are playing (more on that here).

Step 2 – understand where your audience plays

So how do you find out where your market is playing?

social media map

When building your social media marketing strategy, understanding who your target market (your target audience) is an important aspect. It’s really about finding out what your audience’s preferences are.

To do this you could try:

  1. looking at where your competitors are active on social media. If they are on Instagram rather than Facebook, chances are that is because your target audience is more active on Instagram.
  2. most social media platforms, these days, offer polling options. You could conduct a poll on each of the different platforms asking people about their social media preferences for connecting with your business or industry. Take into account the results may be skewed to the platform that the participants complete the poll on – however if you get a higher number of responses on your Facebook poll than on your Instagram poll, that’s an indication more of your target audience is on Facebook.
  3. Similar to using the polling option – you could ask people for their opinions on the different social media platforms you are thinking of focusing on. And you could ask them how they use that platform.

Understanding where your audience plays will help you build your social media strategy (Step 5).

Step 3 – choose your platform/s

While you can play on all the social media platforms, you actually don’t need to be active on all of them.

Everyone is time poor (even those with amazing time management skills). This alone is one reason why playing where your audience plays is important. You aren’t wasting time creating content for people who are not going to engage with it.

Another and probably more important reason is that you want to get the best return on your investment from your social media marketing strategy.

If you think you’ll get more results from Facebook and Instagram than from LinkedIn and Twitter then you should focus your campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. And really, if you have done your research (Step 2) you should be confident about choosing the right platform – or platforms.

Step 4 – know your customer/s

Once you understand where your audience plays and have decided the social media platforms you are going to focus on, then you can create, what we marketers call, customer personas. A customer persona includes your ideal customer’s demographics and psychographics.

Creating your customer persona will help you have a detailed understanding of your target audience. This, in turn, means you can build your marketing strategy to meet their expectations and preferences. And that means they are more likely to connect and engage with your business and you have a higher chance of building a loyal customer base.

Step 5 – strategy strategy strategy

Now that you know who your audience is and where they are playing, it’s really important to know what you want to achieve with your social media marketing campaign. Social media is so much more than gaining likes!

social media tree

This means building a social media marketing strategy. It’s not too scary. It’s really just thinking about your objectives or goals. Do you want to:

  • build brand awareness
  • share content and position yourself as the expert, the go-to solution
  • create leads that generate inquiries for your services
  • sell your products
  • create a community
  • achieve something else

Be clear about what is who your market is, what is important to them, why you are using social media as part of your strategy and what you want to achieve.

Set clear goals that you can measure so you know you’re whether you’re kicking your social media goals.

Step 6 – create your content

So you know why you need to be on social media, you know who your audience is, where they play and you have your social media marketing strategy.

Now what?

Now you need to plan and create your content. The easiest way to plan your content is to use a social media calendar.

This can be as simple as using a calendar spreadsheet and populating your planned post – topic, theme, platform etc.

When planning your content, think about:

  • the different types of posts you will share each week
  • will you vary your posts for different platforms
  • what time of day/night will you schedule your posts
  • how often will you post
  • how all your posts will flow

And ALWAYS

  • how does this post align to my social media marketing strategy

Creating your content can be more challenging. You need to make sure your tone, imagery etc aligns to your brand position. It can be time-consuming.

If you are not comfortable creating your own content, there are plenty of marketers who do this every day of the week as a paid service (shameless self-plug – me for instance). Think about the time it takes you to create content. Would you be better spending your time on the core aspect of your business – perhaps you might be better off outsourcing your social media content creation.

Step 7 – get the tape measure out

The great thing about social media is that you can easily measure your results. Most of them have built-in analytics, so you have instant access to how your social media is performing.

In its simplest format, you can see whether the number of followers of your page is increasing and at what rate. You can measure the level of engagement of your audience – are they really interested in what you are sharing. You can measure referrals, click-throughs and shares. You can see where your engaged audience is located and at what time they are most active. The list goes on.

There are so many metrics available, the important thing is to focus on the measurements that align with your marketing strategy goals. If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then they are the metrics that you should be looking at rather than how many likes you may get.

There are lots of great social media marketing management and analytics tools available out there. These can help you schedule your posts, tools to track engagement and (importantly) measure your return on investment (ROI).  Some examples are Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Clout, MeetEdgar, Sprout Social, to name a few. Research them (a lot have a free option) and find out what works best for you.

social media rubiks cube

Social media marketing offers vast potential for almost all businesses! ​

Get out there, understand your market, build your strategy, jump onto your chosen platform/s, post, post, post and measure, measure, measure!

And enjoy all the new connections, engagement and business that social media can bring.

spending spending spending

spending, spending, spending with not a ROI in sight

Are you spending, spending, spending with not a ROI in site?

Do you know how much you spend on your marketing activities each day/week/month/year?

Do you have a limit on what you spend on your marketing?

I see a lot of marketing plans that look like they have a lot of thought and research behind them. They

  • have an overarching strategy
  • identify the target market
  • have clear objectives and measurements in place

BUT...

They are missing one thing – a marketing budget.

And the risk of not having a marketing budget is that you can spend too much of your revenue on your marketing and on the wrong marketing activities (yes, this from a marketer).

By putting a marketing budget in place, you will know exactly how much you are spending (or planning to spend) on your marketing activities. And this helps you to resist the temptation to spend your hard-earned dollars on haphazard activities that are not aligned with your strategy.

Having a marketing budget in place also helps you measure the success of your marketing and understand your return on investment (ROI) in financial terms.

Your marketing budget and your marketing plan

In your marketing plan, you may have strategies that are going to be more expensive than others. Or you may have more marketing activities included than what you can budget for.

Chances are your marketing plan has a multi-layered approach (and you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket).

By allocating a budget for each strategy/action you can see your total marketing budget for the year. And then you can calculate the percentage of your total revenue that you are spending on marketing.

Now there are lots of articles out there in Google world that will give advice on what your marketing budget should be. As a general rule of thumb it is:

  • 12% to 20% of gross revenue for businesses in their first five years
  • 6% to 12% of gross revenue for established businesses

So, what happens if you develop your marketing plan and your marketing budget exceeds what you “should” be spending?

There is good news

If the total of your marketing expenses exceeds your marketing budget you can prioritise your marketing activities.

That means not actioning all the marketing activities in your marketing plan.

Simply prioritise the activities that are going to give you the best ROI first.

And if those activities generate more revenue than expected, then you can carry out some of your other marketing strategies.

And, as always, continue to focus on those strategies that will give you the best ROI!

Happy marketing budgeting peoples.

have you met ROI?

Haaaaave you met ROI?

Haaaaave you met ROI?

Yes, really haaaaave you met ROI?

If you're a How I Met Your Mother fan you may be familiar with this saying (substitute ROI for Ted).

Just as Ted is Barney's best friend in How I Met Your Mother, ROI is your best friend in marketing. ROI is your Return On Investment.

If you don't have ROI involved in every aspect of your marketing then you are simply throwing your precious dollars and/or time away.

ROI doesn't have to always be immediately financial. Your ROI can also provide an indirect financial return. For example, ROI may be an increase in brand awareness, a stronger relationship with your clients, better engagement with your community, better SEO ratings online. All of which will lead to a better financial outcome for your business.

Or ROI may be a direct financial return through marketing activities that provide an immediate revenue boost. For example, promoting a sale such as a Spring into Spring sale - clearing everything from Winter is an example of a marketing activity that may provide an immediate and direct financial return. 

A cautionary tale about holding a sale

Caution - sale
Caution - sale
Caution - sale

If you do hold a sale it is important to understand if you do reduce the price of your products or services, how much more do you need to sell to make the same profit margin (let alone increase it).

For example, if your gross margin (pre-sale) is 50{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} and you decide to have a 20{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} off sale, you need to sell 67{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} more of your product to make exactly the same profit. Actually, if you have additional expenses in promoting your sale then your probably need to sell more again!!

While, there are other considerations to take into account, like how long you have had the stock on hand, it is certainly a worthwhile exercise to crunch your numbers before having a sale - and make sure you have ROI involved.

If you have promote a sale but end up making less money, that is not meeting ROI (it's his evil twin brother LOI - loss on investment). 

The flip side

Then there's the flip side of increasing your pricing. Many people are scared of increasing their pricing, fearing they will lose customers - a valid fear. However if you use the same principles applied to discounting (reversed) you can actually achieve a better ROI with less customers. 

Using the same example, if your gross margin is currently 50{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} and you increase your price by 20{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} your sales volume can reduce by 29{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} and you still make the same amount of profit. Note: I'm not suggesting increasing your pricing by 20{84c574be8ac0dd5c27bd8e7a2d01a7d12eae6e43ff9382875d4c011f1ac6f31b} in one hit (that's a pretty large increase). 

To help you with understanding ROI when it comes to pricing, here is a handy table that shows the increase in sales volume to make the same margin, if you discount. It also includes how much you can decrease your sales volume by and make the same margin if you increase your prices. 

Make friends with ROI

Invite him along to all your marketing strategies and activities. And if you can't measure what ROI will deliver, then question whether that strategy is actually worthwhile pursuing.

So... haaaaave you met ROI?


Disclaimer: This post includes general examples.  As with anything financial, it is important you seek advice from a qualified expert who understands your personal circumstances.

Where are you playing

Where are you playing?

where does your market play?

Are you playing where your market plays?

This is different to where they do their research, which I touched on last week. 

Where your market plays is where they are connecting - whether it be with friends and family, with businesses, with their aspirations and dreams... the list goes on.

Chances are your marketing is playing somewhere on social media. Understanding where they are hanging out (which platform your market is active in) is key.

If your market is playing on Instagram, then that's where you should be hanging out too. If they are on Facebook, then you should be playing over there. Or if they are on LinkedIn then make sure you are active there.

Play where your market plays. Hang out there regularly, have a strategy behind how you will play and engage with your audience.

helping hand tuesday - where does your market play

And if your market isn't on social media (unlikely, but possible) then what are you doing playing there?

Where could they be if not on social media? They could be heading to conferences, they could be attending your local Chamber of Commerce or other business networking events. They could be searching for friends (you) on Google.  

The important thing is to find out where your market is, head on over and make friends to play with. 

#helpinghandtuesday #inspiration #startwithwhy #marketingisfun #starfishmarketing #starfishstory #marketingtips

Helping hand Tuesday

Helping hand Tuesday

Helping hand Tuesday - where do customers research?

Each Tuesday, over on Instagram, I post a question aimed at simplifying marketing activities, and helping business owners think about what they should be considering.

Sometimes I write a bit about it too. This week was one of those times.

Knowing  where your customers do their research means you can make sure you are prominent in that space.

Google is the obvious answer for initial research. That means you need to be prominent in the search rankings. Yes, even if you don't have an online store or website you can still rank well.

And in this day and age, online reviews are providing greater insights for people on how businesses operate. Once upon a time reviews were restricted to restaurants and accommodation houses. Today, you can provide a review on pretty much any type of business.

Making sure your online presence is visible and up to date is one simple way of connecting with your market.

Bonus question: What are you doing to increase your online presence?

#helpinghandtuesday #inspiration #startwithwhy #marketingisfun #starfishmarketing #starfishstory #marketingtips

Is your inbox dictating your life?

Is your inbox dictating your life?

It's not necessarily marketing related, but I was asked today, "is your inbox dictating your life?".  And it used to, but not any more. 

Do you schedule a time to tackle your inbox or are you constantly checking it throughout the day? 

Do you see an email arrive and drop everything to read it and reply or action - even if its not urgent? 

It's so easy to let your inbox dictate your day and then your productivity ends up going straight out the window. 

There are heaps of tips and tools to help you manage your inbox out there (simply google 'managing my inbox' and a plethora of sites come up with a gazillion different suggestions, tips and tools).

I like to keep it simple.

1. only check your inbox twice a day (three times at the most)

One way to help manage your inbox and your workflow is to only look at your inbox at certain times during the day.

Some people hyperventilate when I suggest this - and yes, it can be quite scary to commit to this. But, boy does it make your day so much more productive.  For me it's usually around 9:30am and 3:00pm. I figure if there is something really urgent to action then the person emailing will follow up with a phone call if I haven't responded immediately. 

"But my clients expect me to respond straight away" is a common response when I suggest this tip. A simple solution is to set the expectation by utilising your Out Of Office to respond to emails letting you know that when you access emails. 

For example, my OOO says:

Hello there!

Thank you for getting in touch - I hope you're having an awesome day. 

This automated message is to let you know that your email has landed. I check my emails at specific times during the day and will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Otherwise, feel free to give me call on 0409 329801. I would love to hear from you. 

Stay awesome, sassy or fabulous... or all three!

2. set up email categories and automatic filing

The other thing I do is have emails categorised and automatically segmented as they arrive.

Having these categories set up leaves my Primary inbox with emails that I need to action - and gives me the time to only check emails twice daily. And that leaves the majority of my time available to focus on working helping clients with their marketing and making a difference for their business. Which is, after all, the whole purpose, the why, of starfish marketing.

Setting up email categories allows you to schedule days like I'm having today. Days that are dedicated to going through those inboxes and taking the time to read, learn new things etc.

I call these 'on my business' days and I try to have at least two a month. Most days I'm working with clients to help them with their marketing, however its important to also take the time to work on my business, check in, make sure I'm staying true to my why. If you can schedule in these days it can help keep you focused on the true purpose of your business.

Your mission from here

Do four simple things to help you stop your inbox dictating your working life

  1. set up your Out Of Office to set expectations of response times
  2. set up categories and rules for your emails to auto-segement
  3. commit to only checking your emails at those specific times (and reward yourself when you do)
  4. schedule in "on my business" email days into your calendar

What tips do you have for managing your inbox?

Have you joined the party on Instagram?

Have you joined the party on Instagram?

You’ve heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well if there’s one social media platform out there that lives by this saying, it’s Instagram.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms being used by business*, and there are a lot of people who will tell you that you should be at the party, drinking champagne and dancing on the table.

I mean, when you think about it, what better way to connect with your customers through a single image that reflects a thousand words? That’s one way to cut through all the content clutter that’s out there… right?

Have you joined the Instagram party?

However...is Instagram right for you?

Let’s look at why it might be:

  • it is a simple platform to use
  • it has great potential to help you connect with your market on a more personal level
  • you can share your stories with simple images
  • you can use it to drive traffic to your website
  • 81% of consumers are increasingly accessing social media on their smartphone*
  • Instagram is one of the most smartphone friendly platforms available
  • Instagram is the second most popular platform used in Australia* - chances are your customers are 'playing' there
  • and the list goes on...

So, there’s lots of reasons to be on Instagram. But...

...before joining the Instagram party ask yourself these three important questions:

  1. why do I want to be on Instagram (or why should my business be on Instagram)?
  2. are my customers, clients and market 'playing' there?
  3. what stories can I share visually that will resonate with my market?

If you can’t answer these three questions then perhaps you should question whether Instagram is the best option for you.

If you can answer them, then go forth, join the party on Instagram, drink champagne and dance on the table!

We recently joined the Instagram party… and we asked ourselves those exact three questions first. Our answers helped us understand how we would party on Instagram, and who with.

  1. we want to connect with a community of likeminded people, who we can help and inspire
  2. yes they are, and we love what they are sharing
  3. marketing tips, inspirational quotes, personal insights, fun and silliness, shared experiences...

If you would like to join the starfish party and connect with us on Instagram, you can find us here

* Sensis Social Media Report 2017

goldfish

Be the big fish! 5 questions to help you identify your ideal target market

Are you a little fish in a big pond?

Does your marketing monster keep telling you that you need to swim in the ocean, rather than a pond, to attract the fishes? In other words that you should promote your business everywhere and market to everyone?

Of course, it's very tempting to listen to him. I mean who doesn’t want all the business you can get?

However, when you think about it, do you really want to swim with all the fishes in the ocean – some of them can be pretty nasty creatures and not compatible with swimming together? Wouldn’t it be better to be the big fish in a small pond? It’s certainly much easier to get noticed that way, and small ponds are usually friendlier too.

What does being the big fish in a small pond mean?

As a big fish in a small pond, you will stand out. This is a much better (and safer) option than being a little fish in an ocean competing against squillions of fish of all sizes, all saying the same thing, or worse – attacking each other.

As the big fish in a small pond, the wonderful creatures you swim with (your market) will notice you and even seek you out to help them.

Why?

By being specific about who you are swimming with in the pond, you will attract people who are happy to pay for your products or services because they see the value in what you are providing.

It can be scary reducing the number of potential customers you are targeting, however, if you are specific about who your market is, your customers are more likely to spend more with you, more often.

For example, Annie owns a women’s fashion store. Let's look at her revenue per customer from targeted marketing vs trying to market to everyone perspective.

ScenarioAverage spend per sale# of sales per annumAverage revenue per customer# customersRevenue per annum
1. targeted marketing$500.0012$6,000.001000$6,000,000.00
2. generic marketing$300.001$300.002000$600,000.00

Even though Annie has half the number of customers with targeted marketing, she is making ten times the revenue. Annie does not listen to her marketing monster!

Targeted marketing works because...

...your customers see the value in the services or products you are providing them. You are solving a specific problem for them - you are helping them. It could it be the product you make, makes them feel better about themselves, or it fixes something that is broken. Your service might be saving them time, or providing peace of mind. (We will discuss really understanding what problem you are solving for your customers at a later date.)

In helping solve a specific problem, you are creating a connection with your customers, creating your own community so to speak. And this means they will become loyal to you and your brand/business, they will turn into referrer’s because they feel connected to you and part of your community in your pond. And we all know that word of mouth is still the best form of marketing (more of that at a later date).

At the end of the day, being a big fish in a small pond helps you to save money and get a better return on your marketing investment.

So, we’ve covered why you should be the big fish in the small pond. But how do you go about understanding who is in your pond?

Understanding who your market is can be challenging, which is why a lot of people listen to their marketing monster and try and attract everyone.

However, we are here to help simplify your marketing challenges, and tame that marketing monster. So here are five questions to help you identify your ideal target market:

Start with the basics. Look at your existing customers and ask:

  1. Who are your most profitable customers?
  2. What are the characteristics of those customers?
  3. What problem are you solving for them?
  4. What are the goals and values of your customers?
  5. Where do your customers do their research on who can help solve their problems?

Answering these will give you an understanding of who is swimming in your pond, what is important to them, and how you can help them. And that helps you know who you should be targeting your marketing towards.

So swim forth, be the big fish and create your community in your own pond.

I got told no and I’m excited

This week I got my first “thanks, but no thanks”, and I’m excited!

Why? Well a bit of background.

I was referred to a new business to potentially help them with their marketing. Adam* and I met and had a great chat about what he wanted to achieve, where his priorities were and how I might be able to help.

I then put together a proposal and sent it off. Standard procedure, right??

Except you know when you haven’t quite nailed it, and you feel like you’re not necessarily the right fit… well that was me. And so, when making the follow up call to Adam to see what he thought of my offer, inside I knew Adam wasn’t going to choose starfish marketing.

I know I could have helped Adam with his marketing. Could I have done the work that delivered the absolute best outcome for Adam? No.

The result - Adam (wisely) chose a marketing agency who are much better suited to meeting his needs.

Let’s call that marketing agency Awesome Dudes. Awesome Dudes deserve Adam’ business – they are great at what they do. They have a number of marketing specialists for the various services they offer, which includes the services that Adam needs. To me, they feel like a much better fit for Adam and his business.

So, when Adam told me he had decided to go with Awesome Dudes, and why, I knew it was the right decision for him, and I told him that too.

And that’s when the lightbulb moment occurred and why I’m excited.

The lightbulb moment!!

I really should have recommended Awesome Dudes to Adam in the first place because, in reality, Awesome Dudes are better suited meeting to Adam’ needs. Plus, I know they will do great work for Adam and really help him build his brand and grow his business.

Why am I excited?

Because this experience has reinforced my why.

I believe marketing can make a real difference for businesses, and I want to help businesses with their marketing to make that difference. To do that I need to make sure I understand their needs and priorities, and make sure I can deliver the absolute best outcomes for them. That’s my why.

And sometimes staying true to your why means realising you are not the best person for the job and referring that potential client to someone else. Why because they are better suited, have different skill sets, are a better cultural fit etc, and, in the end, they will deliver the best outcome for that client.

So, thank you Adam for the lesson in staying true to my why… and best wishes with your marketing, you are in great hands with Awesome Dudes.

* The real names of those involved have been altered for confidentiality reasons, Adam asked that his name, that of his business, and the agency he chose not be disclosed. I am happy to honour that request.

please stop shouting

Please don’t shout

I was searching for an image to use for a ‘marketing concept’ and this came up.

what marketing should not be

Now, I’m actually going to shout (apologies).

I HATE THIS!!!

I hate everything it portrays about marketing. This is not what marketing should be.

Marketing should not be:

  • shouting at people about yourself, your business or your services/products
  • trying to attract people who are not interested in, or do not need your service or product
  • telling people how awesome your service/product is
  • manipulating people into buying your services or product

There are so many things that marketing should not be. So, what should marketing be?

One of my favourite inspirational people is Seth Godin​.

He, among other things, is a marketer extraordinaire, and he says “Marketing doesn’t have to suck… marketing that’s consensual, useful and effective, is possible… ”

I totally agree, and to paraphrase Seth; marketing should be both consensual and useful to be effective for everyone.

Marketing should:

  • start with understanding why people want your services/products and why you want to provide those services/products to them
  • then connect with those people who need your service or product in a way that they want (consensual)
  • to provide valuable information that people want (useful)

Then, and only then, will marketing deliver positive outcomes for everyone (effective).

And when all this comes together marketing is fun and it doesn't suck!

Do you have any examples of marketing that sucks? Or better still, examples of marketing that is fun and that doesn't suck? I'd love to hear them.

And, if you need help making sure your marketing isn't shouting at everyone, feel free to reach out - I'd love to help you. 

Continue reading
marketing budget - shoes

monster shopping spree’s

It is suspected that marketing monsters are closely related to shopaholics. They love spending money and often don’t have a budget.

By putting a marketing budget in place you will know exactly how much you are spending (or plan to spend) on your marketing activities.

This in turn may help you focus on those marketing strategies that deliver you the best return on your investment, and get rid of the one's that aren't!

After putting your marketing budget into place you may be surprised at how often you can buy a new pair of shoes.

Oops....

I meant to say- you may be surprised at how quiet your marketing monster becomes and at many marketing activities you can afford!

Stay tuned for future monster tips, where we cover living on the edge; getting out the ruler; marketing goggles and more.

Until then, if you have any questions about managing your marketing monster feel free to reach out.

monsters and mad hatter tea parties

Many business owners wear a number of hats: front of house, book-keeper, sales, HR, marketing..... the list goes on.

This is great if you're a milliner, or a fan of hosting mad hatter tea parties, however for many, having to be responsible for all these areas of business can be overwhelming.

And this usually means marketing ends up at the bottom of a long list of priorties. And then what happens? No tea parties and the marketing monster appears!

What is the marketing monster?

Typically it is a perception that marketing is a big scary monster that hides in your office cupboard; jumping out every now and then to scream at you… "YOU NEED TO DO SOME MARKETING….NOW!!!!" in order to frighten you into some form of panic marketing.

Panic marketing – when you think you have to do something and jump on the nearest “opportunity” that happens to show up at the time the marketing monster appears.

Then you end up disappointed because it didn't work, and think the marketing is a waste of money and shouldn't be invited to your mad hatter tea party.

Well the good news is, you can tame and train your marketing monster and turn him into a fabulous tea party host - and that means you get to wear your favourite hat for longer.

So how do you tame your marketing monster ?

Did you know the marketing monster hates processes, thriving in an environment of randomness, intermittent thought bubbles and non-planningness (yes that's a made up word)?

The simple solution then is to introduce an environment of planning and processes.

Ta dah! Introducing marketing monster tips.

Marketing monster tips aim to help you, as a business owner, manage your marketing monster so he works with you on your business (and not against it). And that means you can then kick some marketing goals (not monsters, because kicking monsters is pretty mean).

Over the coming months, I look forward helping you turn your marketing monster into an calm and practical, yet enticing tea party host, with marketing monster tips.

Do you have a marketing monster in your cupboard?
What's the scariest thing your marketing monster does?
give your monster a kiss

give your monster a kiss

Did you know that marketing monsters are impulsive?

They never plan and live life on the edge – hence the random jumping out to frighten you. This can cause you high levels of stress.

Fortunately, the marketing monster can be calmed down by giving your monster a KISS marketing plan.

The marketing monster often convinces people that building a marketing plan is really, really hard and time consuming, BUT it does not have to be.

To keep your monster at bay and build your marketing plan, follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Simple).

A KISS marketing plan covers four simple things.

give your monster a kiss
  1. Your marketing budget
  2. Your key objectives
  3. Your actions
  4. Measuring your success

And your plan does not have to be war and peace. A KISS marketing plan can be as simple as a table with a column answering each of the following questions:

  • What is your objective
  • What actions will you take to make it happen?
  • Who is responsible for making it happen?
  • ​When do you want it completed by?
  • ​What does success look like (how will you measure it)?
  • ​What is your budget for that action?
  • Was your objective achieved?

So what are you waiting for – go give your marketing monster a KISS.

As always, if you have any questions about managing your marketing monster feel free to reach out - hello@starfishm.com.au