Free Marketing Course


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I am offering a free short marketing course. The course will cover the basics of marketing and help you to understand the key marketing ideas in a really simple way.

If you are studying for a marketing exam it will help you to revise and check your understanding of the marketing environment and how the economic factors can affect a business. It will show you how to plan for the future and understand the key parts of a marketing plan. It is in easy to follow and will help you to understand the marketing template more easily.

If you are working in marketing and trying to find that little extra insight to help your organisation to compete and deal with the challenges facing business today. It will show you the key models and the way in which your business can develop and focus on building value for the customer. The better the customer needs are met the greater the chance that the business will be successful.

The course will be delivered to you by email over a a few weeks.

Social Media Marketing meets Politics

The results are in Nick Smith was elected as MP in Blaenau Gwent for Labour. As you will have seen in the media this was against the tide of Labour loses. The previous election saw a loss by 2,500 votes and this time a majority of 10,516 votes.  The swing to Labour was 29.2%, a success by any standards.

So how was it done?

The key point in any communication and political campaigns is who get the message over in the simplest way possible. The art of cutting through the noise from other parties, masses of media coverage and voters who maybe switched off, is a huge challenge.

The starting point is the message, simple and give the voter a reason to vote, sounds easy but in reality very difficult to do. There are lots of ways of achieving this and as many commentators have said the role of social media is important.

Nationally, there were acres of newsprint, hours of TV, masses of radio and yet millions of people who had not made up their mind until the day of the election.  In Blaenau Gwent the campaign used lots of traditional tactics, leaflets and connecting with small groups in meetings, in public events, by walking the streets and door knocking.  Visibility of campaign material such as traditional posters and garden stakes as a reminder was important. It also created momentum but the number of posters was much lower than the final vote.

Social media connected via Facebook with 744 friends. That is creates a ripple effect as their friends will see the updates and comments. That increases the coverage and multiplies the effect. These friends then share the links, the stories, the photos and videos. 

Given that there are a defined number of voters. Every friend that votes takes their vote from the opposition. This doubles the impact of that vote.  So of the friends, 700 voted, that is a 1,400 swing and that in political marketing is huge.

The key here is to engage with the friends. That is critical as it increases the turnout of the vote. In political marketing the threat is from the other candidates but also from the sofa, just not bothering to turn out to vote

The connections into Twitter and Utube really worked well. It integrated the campaign and gave it life. This enabled short, quick updates and showed current activities. It involves people so they can feel part of what is going on even if they are not there. It is the social interest that increases engagement.

Using Social Media in Politics

This is a quick post to update you all on my latest consultancy project.  It is  using social media for the 2010 UK Election. The first major use of social media in politics was the highly successful campaign to elect  Obama. The same principle are now being used in the UK Election.

The consistituency is Blaenau Gwent in South Wales. It is is a seat with deep historical and political significance for the Labour Party. For those of you with an interest in politics it was the seat of Aneurin Bevan, who set up the NHS and  then came Michael Foot, with massive Labour majorities. It was lost to an  Independent candidate and has been controversial since 2001. Labour have been fighting hard to win it back for the first time since 2001 and it is not an easy task.

The campaign has a very limited budget. My role has been to run and manage the social media and the results so far have been amazing. The starting point was a Facebook group which has grown hugely with a regular following. This is really important as these people are engaged with the group. That is a major difference as it is two way communication, so much more powerful than one way communications.

This is linked to a blog. This has a different function. It offers more of an in depth analysis of the issues and attracts new readers, who are directed back to FB.  Twitter plays a role and is connected to the blog and also to a FB page. The political candidate already had a page so Twitter was linked into this. The blog tracks back to FB and then of course there is Utube. That has also been a huge boost to the campaign. Simple enough to upload a video to Utube and then link in to the site.

 One of the big advantages of social media in the campaign is immediate feedback and measurable outcomes. In best marketing practice that is key. For those of you in business it is something to focus on. For marketing students sitting marketing exams it is an interesting case study to show you understand what is happening in marketing at the moment.

Within hours you can see the results of a post, the hits on the website, the sources of traffic. This permits immediate response and the ability to change and adapt quickly.

Check it out here and watch the results of the Election to see if it is successful.

http://www.nicksmithblog.wordpress.com/

twitter.com/nicksmith4bg

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=122196429916&ref=ts

Marketing Practice-Competitive Strategy and Brand Position

Good marketing practice tells us that the foundation for a marketing strategy  is to position clearly in the market. This is something that determines the whole of the marketing tools. If your business is positioned at the top end of the market, consumers expect more. The market size maybe smaller,  more value must be added. This will determine the price and that requires careful calculation to ensure that the costs of adding the value are not higher than price the consumer is prepared to pay.

The market dynamics are  also  ever changing. Using  Starbucks, as an example. They orginally occupied the top end of the market. Then moved into the mass market with lattes on every street corner. That market looked attractive and along come the likes of MacDonald who repositioned to compete by offering lattes and healthier options.

So how does Starbucks respond? They are now testing the top end of the market and offering more value adds. Interesting to see how that is received and how the competitors respond. Best marketing practice suggests that clarity and being able to differentiate is key to success.

Consider how your marketing practice in your business can use this idea. Think about the way in which the current assets are used. You might want to offer a streamlined version e.g express, or essentials.  Marks and Spencer, Waitrose are examples of businesses that have offered a simpler version of their main business as an example of good marketing practice.

Another example is Only Men Aloud, the popular Welsh Choir who won a television competition and have gone onto enjoy successful concerts and record sales. They are now offering a slimmed down version for special parties and events. Not everyone has the space for a full choir so Only 4 Aloud. Clever use of the brand and being able to tailor the assets of the business, in this case the choir to the needs of the customer. A really good example of marketing practice at its best

If you are sitting a marketing exam this is a really good example of competitive strategy, positioning and branding. It shows how marketing practice builds the profitability of the business 

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6330NJ20100404

Revitalising an iconic brand

Building a brand is no easy task, many have tried and failed. So iconic brands stand out. There are new pretenders who attempt to knock the old guard off their spot. Namely the likes of Google, Amazon etc. These companies are seen as examples of best marketing practice at the moment.

The challenge for the icons is to stay at the top. Brands will die if they fail to move with the times. If a brand had clear values it can also be seen as a double edged sword. For classic read dull, for established read boring.

Levi’s and the jean we all recal is the 501 is working to revitalise its brand

http://uk.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=65275896

Google Cool Tools

The structure of a blog is something that we take for granted. However if you think about reading a newspaper or magazine there are specific places on the page that are more expensive to advertise on. The right hand column is usually prime space. This has been determined by watching eye patterns on a page.

In a similar way best marketing practice suggests that some places in the front page of a blog attract the eye more naturally than others. For blog/website designers designing the front page is usually reliant on a theme. Lots of themes have the traditional two or three column format. Yet research shows that the centre of a page is the hot spot on a blog or website.

Check out this link and think carefully about your front page.  Let me know what you think

http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/internet/google-heatmap-2.htm

If you see the wordcloud below it looks cool. You can now build your own and it can be used to show the values of your brand or company. Good fun and so effective.

http://www.wordle.net/

Will consumers pay?

For many years the Times on line service has been offered  free content. From June there will be a charge. This is a new approach and the risk is that consumers will switch to other free services such as the Telegraph. Or less direct such as television news. 

The Times is acknowledged to offer a wide ranging source of up to the minute news, articles and commentary. The BBC could compete as a free service and also dominate that space. This would mean that the Times will need to do more to persuade the consumer to pay. If this costs more than the revenue generated it will be a problem for the business.

If the Times need to generate cash it seems that there are other ways of achieving that objective.  E.g if someone registers and then accesses tailored content. It follows that advertising very carefully tailored to this consumer with links to selected products,  will generate revenue for the Times.

Time will tell if charging is a viable business model of if a customised service using tailored content and  advertised product is a stronger model

How to write a Marketing Plan- Free Report

It is good marketing practice to be able to develop a direction for your business. This will form the basis of the marketing plan. 

There are 4 key stages in a marketing plan.

Firstly – analysis of the current situation. This will include an assessment of the key external issues. This can include the economy to changing customers to new competitors. It needs to decide how to respond and build for the future.

Best marketing practice will illustrate the challenges but also the options facing the business. It will need to decide who to compete with and on what basis. Is it better service, providing a solution or offering a low cost deal?

Whatever the issues the stages of the plan remain constant.

Opt in to the email list and get immediate access to see the rest of the plan and receive the Free Report- How to Write a Marketing Plan. It will help you to develop best marketing practice and take your business forward

Exam Advice

The exam help comes in many forms. If you are about to sit exams try to build up a portfolio of case studies. The Opportunity to use real life examples in the marketing exam is crucial to gaining the higher marks.

Start early and look for case studies now that are  in the press. At the moment Toyata is dominating the headlines and as such it is a good source of information for marketing communications and crisis management. Look to the past for examples of businesses that suffered poor PR and how they were able to recover. This will offer ideas to help Toyota and show your understanding of the way in which marketing practice can be used to help the business recover

5 Tips for Innovative Marketing Practice

The world is changing now perhaps faster than ever. Marketers need to be able to move quickly and be able to innovate and build best marketing practice. Here are my top 5 tips for 2010

  1. Create networks, work with customers, suppliers, employees and yes competitors. Companies such as Procter and Gamble have used this approach successfully to develop new products.
  2. Innovate. Don’t just think product and look at how you communicate and develop the range of marketing tools. See the earlier post about the new Fiesta
  3. Be clear about your position in the market. That means you need to chose who your customer is and who you are competing with. Are you offering total, expensive solutions or streamlined and stripped down. You can make a business from either but be clear if you are the luxury chocolate maker or a volume business like Primark
  4. Brand is key and think that everything your business does, builds that brand. Brands are not just the communications, logo etc it is the quality of the experience, the staff are a key part of building that brand. Make really good use of the best assets of the business. John Lewis is a good example of the partners delivering the service
  5. Co-creation, where consumers build the product is a key trend.  U Tube is a good example but means that the business has to let the control move to the consumer and that can be risky.

Hope these insights into marketing practice offer a few ideas for your business. Let me know if you can add any more.