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Snapshot news

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January 2017

Steve Bedford – Marketing Game Changer

Conical MD Steve Bedford has been recognised as a marketing Game Changer in the 2017 Finance Monthly Awards. Finance Monthly has a verified ABC circulation of 195,000 + readers. Commenting on the award Steve said:

“It is always pleasing to be recognised for your work, especially in a sector in which we specialise.”

Details can be found here:  http://gamechangersawards.finance-monthly.com/winners-edition/#16

GameChangersLogo-winner

February 2016

Partners & Directors Sleepwalking into Trouble

We work a great deal with professional services firms. Those we do not end up working with often share a weakness. Even some we work with show this trait. The thing is, and this is incredibly frustrating, the problems this weakness brings can be avoided. So what is this weakness?

It is a weakness that is based on an assumption. The assumption is this. That all work is won by the network of contacts of the senior people within the business. As such it does not matter too much that the web site does not display well on an mobile device, social media is a waste of time populated by weirdos, and anything supporting building the profile of a business is frankly too expensive to contemplate. It can go further. The younger guys never win any work from networking events and if they come up with something to attend and it does not produce anything in a short space of time then best keep them in doors 'fee earning'.

Now let us be in no doubt that most new work in professional firms is still won though a heady cocktail of reputation and referral, some of which can be intensely personal. However, relationships and reputations wane unless they are reinvigorated by new. The very Partners who dismiss digital activity are perhaps the same people watching their kids extending their communications through a wide range of digital outlets…. these kids of course are now becoming important buyers and influencers and new ways of communicating and doing business are now well established.

It is of course more than a digital or 'marketing' problem it is about skill transfer. Succession planning needs to be continuous. Mentoring, planning for future skill needs and assisting with leadership are all critically important.

Sadly some practices will decline, fade and possibly cease to exist. The promised payout or consultancy earning from later life will evaporate and no doubt these Partners & Directors will feel that the business has let them down after all their hard work!

February 2016

Conical Wins Two Major Marketing Awards – for Design and Branding and Care Sector Marketing

Corporate Vision has recently announced that Conical has won 'Best Design & Branding Marketing Consultancy UK' and an 'Award for Excellence in Care Sector Outsourced Marketing'.

The awards were in the Corporate Vision 2016 Marketing, PR and Communications Awards.

Jazmin Collins, Awards Coordinator, expressed her pride in all of her award winners: “This awards programme turns the spotlight on the very best that the marketing, PR and communications sectors have to offer, and it is truly an honour to be able to turn the spotlight on the work of my winners. I would like to wish each and every one of them the very best of luck for the future.”

The awards follow on from sustained design and branding support for Conical clients across many industry sectors. Conical's role in providing retained support in the Care sector was seen as being excellent.

Commenting on the awards Conical MD Steve Bedford said: “It is rewarding for the team to be identified as 'the very best' in our industry. It follows on from a recent award as Marketing Consultancy of the Year 2016 from Finance Monthly and a period of sustained development within the business.”

February 2016

marketing strategy – the only constant is change

I for one dislike cheesy management 'guru' statements. My least favourite is 'don't work in your business work on it.' So concise, so easy to say, so wise but how to do it? No matter, 'change' the eternal challenge to the marketing profession, is very much on the agenda. Why? Well there are some pretty lumpy trends bouncing around that need to be considered when building a marketing strategy. It seems what used to be 'blue collar' workers are kicking the establishment at least across western economies. The unspoken drift towards 'one world' and multi-culturalism is being challenged by both left and right and the fall out poses problems for global brands who may now have to think more parochially – maybe we are in for a bout of 'multi -localism?' (I think I made that phrase up but apologies if I stole it by accident.)

The tactical toolkit for marketers is also under scrutiny. We have people like Professor Ritson (see https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/04/01/mark-ritson/ ) challenging the perceived importance of things like social media and 'content based marketing', whilst advertising options diversify with alarming frequency. The line between TV, radio and web is blurring and e-mail looks pretty overheated with smart phone viewing resulting in tiny dwell times. SEO used to be relatively easy to understand, a bit of geek time and Google could be fooled into thinking your site was worthy, not so much now.

In times of accelerated change it is good to go back to the basics. Things like defining our product or service in the context of a known customer base and then articulating brand values that will resonate with that group (or that single consumer) still makes great sense. This should help sharpen focus. In terms of tactical delivery this is the really tricky bit. Budgets look like they may be tightened at a time when routes to customers are diversifying and results by channel are changing.

The implications could be that we need a much more fluid approach to marketing planing. It needs to be done but we need to be able to change tack quickly, not so much with messaging but in the marketing mix in its most broad of senses. We should also not assume that cultural values are static.

So culturally we are on the move and possibly diversifying, tactically we have a moving landscape and some how we need to take a precise aim. Tricky.

 

Steve Bedford

Conical Steve Bedford Specialist in Marketing Strategy

 

February 2016

The Super Seven Professional Services Marketing Tips

Ok this is a bit of fun. But what are the 'Super Seven' factors of good professional services marketing ? How about these.

1. Define your market, identify niches and stick to them.

2. Be willing to say no. Don't try and serve everyone.

3. Thought leadership. This is a knowledge driven sector after all.

4. Relationship marketing and selling. Shake the contacts tree and make more. People often buy people in this sector – unless you are big don't hide behind the concept of a brand.

5. Marketing needs leadership. Committees are great for idea sharing but remember a meeting is not an action in itself and if not well managed can achieve very little.

6. Creativity. Not just in design but in all things. CSR to Social Media through to events. Marketing needs some 'magic dust' and be prepared to fail sometimes.

7. Now the big one – client care. Reputation and referral of both an organisation and an individual are key when it comes to new business generation and are fueled by satisfied clients.

February 2016

3 Things Google's Digital Garage Get Wrong.

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I must confess that I have been meaning to write about this for a while now, but I have had a dilemma. I would never want to put anyone off from learning new skills or gaining knowledge. But it's worthwhile considering these three points before getting in to the 89 lessons that Google's Digital Garage provide.

Google launched the Digital Garage as a free initiative to help small businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of digital marketing. At first this appears to be an altruistic move by google, but scratch the surface and their intentions become clear.

1: It’s all gone digital.

It is no secret that Google want to maintain their dominance of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and one way to do this is to get an ever increasing number of people buying into their products. This is exactly what Google are aiming to do with the Digital Garage. The study materials start by claiming that “The world has gone digital”, a sentence that fills me with dread. While it may be true that digital has become an important part of the marketing landscape, digital isn’t everything. The Chartered Institute of Marketing have recognised the importance of an integrated approach to marketing for a long time now. Yes, part of this will include digital. But digital isn’t everything and I fear that many small businesses will lose out on opportunities they are better equipped to handle because the digital garage is trying to convince them to invest their marketing budget solely in digital. Which leads me on to my second point…

2: Google aren’t the only digital option.

While helping small businesses take advantage of digital products may appear to be a noble cause, there is a revealing undertone running throughout the lessons. Google will give you a certification upon completion of all 89 lessons and assessments, giving this course the feeling of authority. While the lessons are useful to get an overview of Google products, the assessments aren’t. I do not need to sit through hours of videos and read thousands of words to answer questions about why Google are so good or why I need to use the internet to market my business. This is not a learning experience of value. It is a sales pitch. Plain and simple.

3: Why take an exam that you can’t fail?

Now, it could be said that this enhances the learning experience. But if you are providing an assessment, you should provide an opportunity to fail. At least if you fail the Google Analytics and AdWords certifications you have to wait 7 days before taking the assessments again. With the Digital Garage, it will show you what question you got wrong and give you the chance to change your answer. This reduces the award at the end to a certificate of participation.

Now, it may seem that I am completely against Google’s Digital Garage. But in principle I like the idea. It would be foolish to not recognise that Google play an important role in the digital marketing landscape and as marketers we need to be familiar with their products. The Digital Garage is perfect for the novice who wants to get more information and can be a rewarding experience. However, it should only be part of the learning experience, not the entire thing.