What is a good marketing plan?
In this interview on The Logros Show – in association with The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – Lee Dinsdale talks with Ian Nicklin from In Business Ninjas, Gillian Bardsley, MD of The Design Grove and Sue Ollerhead, lecturer at Oxford Professional Education Group about what is the main purpose of Linked In, the benefits of branding and why is SEO so important for organisations
Interview with Oxford Professional Education Group, In Business Ninjas and The Design Grove on Unity Radio, The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: Thank you very much for joining us today if you want to introduce yourself please.
Ian: Hi lee thanks for inviting me so my name is Ian Nicklin and I am the managing director of a company called In Business Ninjas and our ninjas fly into the shadows of your LinkedIn and help people get the most out of LinkedIn.
Lee: Great so we’re going to be finding out more about the purpose on benefits of LinkedIn for those who are new to LinkedIn and obviously for those who are using LinkedIn within the business finding out some more tips from Ian. Sue?
Sue: Hi thanks for inviting me too, it’s great to be here. I do work for the Oxford Professional Education Group and Oxford College of Marketing. We offer courses for students and employers in marketing procurement, sales, and project management. We also work alongside the Chartered Institute of Marketing and are accredited for offering apprenticeships so I’ll be talking today about SEO mainly and how you can optimize your website.
Lee: Okay great and the reason we invited you onto the show today for everybody who’s suddenly looking more at the website than understanding a search engine optimization what it is and some tips they’re very valuable. Gillian?
Gillian: Hi Lee. I’m Gillian Bardsley and I trade as The Design Grove. I’m a freelance marketer so I provide a freelance marketing resource for businesses that can’t afford to have it in house. My aim is to help them grow through branding by giving them a fresh approach to marketing and hopefully tying in all the different things that we’re going to be talking about today with how you can use branding to differentiate yourself. I try to help business owners give them one last thing to worry about by providing them with this service.
Lee: Great so again we’re going to be talking here about branding about the importance of branding and if you’re just starting out a business and thinking so what’s the first step in marketing then we’re going to be finding out why branding is important.
Today it’s all about marketing and before we actually get into some of the specifics of each guest’s individual topics I thought I would actually bring it down to basics like from what is marketing for those who are setting up and differentiating it from sales. So Ian over to you. Do you want to give us a just a quick explanation of your view of the world of what is marketing?
What is the best definition of marketing?
Ian: People can get confused with what’s marketing and what is sales – is it not all the same thing? well to me if you’re taking it to the absolute basics marketing is reaching out to people that are interested in your product or services and getting them engaged to do something. To me marketing is to generate a lead so that’s what you do with marketing.
Sales are when you have the lead and then you close them. So how do you get through and that we’ll talk through this in a bit – how do you get through to the biggest concentration of your target market, get them interested and excited or curious to do something and then all of a sudden you take them from a suspect in your target market to a prospect; now you can do something with them and to me that’s what marketing is.
Lee: So taking it from a suspect to a prospect getting them interested in and Gillian we were talking about why is it important for everybody listening who has a business – why is marketing important to actually consider?
Why is marketing important to an organisation?
Gillian: Well it’s that saying if you fail to plan you plan to fail and I think a good marketing strategy or a business plan it gives the company a road map, something to follow to help them stay on track. If you hit adversity and situations that you weren’t expecting you can go back to your business plan revisit it and try and pick up where you left off.
It helps you sort of jog your memory where you’re at. It helps you to communicate better with your audience so if you’ve got a good plan in place you know your target audience, you know what they’re about, and you know what sort of thing will come across well to them, so you can then generate some good communication that will tie into that.
It helps you to manage your product portfolio so if you’re running a product portfolio make sure that you’re focusing on the products that are still relevant and that are getting good traction. also it helps you to refocus your resources so if you’ve got a limited budget it’s possible that you can sell to everyone but to market to everyone would be very costly and a lot of time would be taken out so it helps you to really focus down into who you’re trying to target your market into.
Lee: So helping you focus down in terms of your resources as well if you’re starting up in business. I guess that’s a very valuable road map in making sure you’re making the best use of what you have. Sue in your view what makes a good marketing plan? What kind of things that people should consider and include’
What is a good marketing plan?
Sue: I think this picks up on some of the things that Ian and Gillian were saying. I think it’s really key that we embed some kind of process for environmental scanning. We’re on shifting sands all of the time our customers are a moving target. I’m not the same person as I was this time last year and I think covid and the pandemic has showed us that so we need to make sure that as Gillian said we’re constantly looking out for that.
Then making sure that there are some specific objectives and an actual strategy that contributes to where the business is trying to get to before we then look at our customers, translate that into tactics and then really importantly make sure that we’re measuring. Are we achieving those objectives and taking any kind of corrective action? So that we have this kind of concept of continuous improvement all of the time.
I think as marketers we’ve got a lot of data now to sift through and one of the stages that we miss is interpreting that data and putting it back into the top of the marketing plan in terms of how we can just keep on getting better as a process. So kind of echoing what Gillian said with regards to just having that road map in place.
Lee: So it’s a flexible roadmap as well isn’t it because of the environment that you’re kind of competing in is always changing as well.
Sue: Yes. The Chartered Institute of Marketing stressed this concept of needing to be agile quite a lot and I think agility is something that we do need at the moment.
Lee: Okay if you’re just joining us you are currently listening to the sounds of Sue Ollerhead who is a Tutor at Oxford Professional Education. We’re also joined here by Ian Nicklin who is the MD of In Business Ninjas and today’s show it’s all about giving some tips on marketing. This is the Logros Show Achieving Excellence. My name is Lee and it’s Tuesday and as usual each week we are broadcasting from a very secret location also known as my apartment in Ibiza!
We are broadcasting into the Landing and across Greater Manchester on 92.8 FM and www.unityradio.fm online and today’s show is all about marketing strategy. We’ve got some expert guests on panel with us and we’re going to talk about the importance of branding. So if you just set up a business or you want to reposition your marketing strategy then we’re going to give some advice of why branding is important so Gillian over to you.
What is branding?
Gillian: First of all I just want to explain what branding is. Simply put the branding is your logo, your colours, your fonts, any symbols – all that sort of stuff. Important to differentiate is that it’s an extract from your brand which is something a lot bigger than that. So your brand is your essence and the perception you want to create in the mind of your customer.
It’s all well and good having an all singing all dancing website with beautiful branding, logos and the lot but if your business is not run well, it’s not sort of in tune with your brand and the essence that you want to put out there, the customer experience is going to be impacted by that and if it’s a negative effect then basically that’s going to do damage to your overall brand. So it’s a much wider thing in general. Businesses and people platforms like LinkedIn to be instantly recognizable and make sure that people can get to know them better and it’s the same with business because people buy from people so what’s really important is that you are recognizable but you’re also recognizable as someone that is trustworthy.
What colors mean for branding’
Being authentic and talking about yourself, telling and sharing your stories really helps people to get to know you as you are and what your brand is all about and when you’re then going on to develop the look and the feel of your branding the colours and things like that – there’s a lot of work being done into the research of colour which I find really interesting. It’s no sort of accident that the NHS is blue; the branding is blue because it evokes the sense of trust. Red evokes a sense of passion or danger so it wouldn’t fit well with that sort of brand ethos. So when you’re thinking about branding it’s important to think about how the colours represent you as well as the words that you use and the logos that you use.
Lee: You mentioned the word authentic before and everybody’s chasing an authentic brand and from the work that you’re involved in, how can businesses establish an authentic brand? What steps do they have to take?
How do you build an authentic brand?
Gillian: I think the first the first thing you’ve got to think about as a new business owner or existing business owner is why you are doing what you’re doing. I always come back down to Simon Sinek and his start with why, but I think he’s totally right – if you can get people to buy into the reason why you do what you do and the greater purpose that you serve and they like you for it then the peripherals i.e. what you do and how you do it kind of come along and fall into place a lot easier.
Boiling it down to what your vision is, what your values are what makes you special and really extract that from yourself it’s really difficult for people to do that because essentially we’re sort of blowing our own trumpet and people find that really hard to do but if you can actually find what your features and benefits the sort of real things that are sort of unique to you and communicate them then I think that will that will help your audience to understand you better and what you’re about.
Lee: Okay and it may be plain and simple but what are the benefits of having you focusing on your branding because again when you’re setting up in business or you think shall I change the brand, there’s always other competing priorities that you can look at. What in your view and experience are the benefits of focusing on the brand?
What is the importance of branding?
Gillian: I think that one of the main benefits is recognisability. It lets people recognize you instantly. So if you’ve got the consistency, you’ve chosen the same, you do the same colours and you do the same fonts. You don’t see Coca-Cola having a double with different fonts or colours so they pick the same stuff each time so they’re instantly recognizable.
People start to see and are in tune with things in a subliminal way so I think that’s one of the main benefits. Another benefit is that it can make you actually look more well established if you’re a brand new business and you don’t have a brand or sort of consistency, it’ll be noticeable from the minute they come on to see your social profiles or whatever it is that you’re on and if it looks polished then people feel that maybe this company knows what they’re doing. It gives them that sort of level of trust which again is something that people look for when they’re making a choice about any sort of purchase decision.
Perhaps another one is for a business that employs people it gives them something to attach to so good branding and a good brand can enhance the employee experience and also give them that sense of pride and attachment to something.
Lee: If you’re just joining us we are listening to the sounds of Gillian Bardsley who is the managing director of the Design Grove and this is the Logros Show. Now we’re going to move on to once you’ve got your branding sorted out, and I’m going to assume you’ve got a website functional and Sue now we’re going to talk about search engine optimization? Firstly what actually is that for everybody listening so we understand?
What is SEO in marketing?
Sue: I think it’s really important to sort of strip it back and remember that when we are searching for any kind of products or services it starts with a problem. Increasingly as we’re using our mobile phones as we’ve got internet connection everywhere we go and specifically since the pandemic, we’re going to use the internet. Google wants to serve up results that are as close to solving that problem for whoever’s performing that search as possible so the flip side of that is as businesses we then need to be found.
We need to arrange our online provision and that splits down into our off-page factors and our on-page factors so the most important thing is if we sort of think about what Gillian was saying with regards to authenticity and also go back to what I said earlier with regards to making sure that its part of a plan. A lot of people will come to us for help and say quick how I get myself to the top of google whereas we need to consider a lot of wider factors and working continuously.
I always liken an SEO to be getting; fit some days you’ll feel like you’re having breakthroughs and other days you’ll feel like you’re getting nowhere but making sure that it is aligned with other objectives and making sure you are being authentic in your brand ,your messages and so on I think is really key.
Lee: Again the word authenticity. What would you say then is some of them mistakes that people may make when getting involved with SEO?
What are the common SEO mistakes?
Sue: I think going back to what was just said with regards to this sort of kind of blinkered wanting to be at the top of google sometimes is a bit of a mistake you need to think about. First think about your customer journey and what your customer is going to be looking for. For example if I’m doing marketing consultancy the chances are the majority of those leads won’t come from SEO. If you were selling ironing boards for example you do need to be at the top of SEO so it’s seeing the wider picture.
I guess another mistake is if we go back a number of years there were certain tricks involved and in terms of black hat SEO there was keyword stuff in, there was sort of repeating words throughout and so on there was the setup of bad links. Over time Google’s algorithms have obviously caught up with that so this need to be authentic comes from consistency and even making sure that everything is set up to show where you’re located.
People are using a lot more location based search and with regards to when you are then found on search engines a customer will be looking around for ways that they can reduce that risk and authenticity can be communicated through customer testimonials, customer reviews, logos of other customers that you’ve worked with, logos of organizations that you are aligned with, the address on your website, different payment options, about us pages; how long you’ve been established. There’s many ways that you can then kind of communicate that to the customer and also obviously having the social media presence outside and having that constant activity will also help your SEO ranking.
Lee: So that’s the feature, is it google business
Do Google search results depend on location?
Sue: Yes so all of your location-based sites, because Google wants to serve up the most close solution that it can it will look around and obviously as we’re using a lot of search we’re using a lot of apps, we use in voice activation, our location is already in there so they will try and serve up the closest to us. They know that we’re using our mobile phones and we rely on that to find where we’re going and find a restaurant and find a pizza or a new tyre- whatever it is you’re looking for at that time location plays a really good and useful part.
Lee: Okay thank you very much. If you are just joining us this Sue Ollerhead is ahead who is a lecturer at the Oxford Professional Education Centre. We’re going to hear now from Ian Nicklin around LinkedIn but Ian the first question that I’d like to ask for you to share is just basically what LinkedIn is for those who are not using it yet and potentially should be?
What is Linked in and how does it work?
Ian: It’s a massive platform almost like Facebook for business I think is way of describing it. It’s been around for 20 years and there are over 700 million people on there so as we talked earlier on about you’re solving a problem or you need to get in touch with people very specifically. I think when it was first set up it was more about recruitment so you popped your CV on there but more and more so it’s been now developed it’s still used to an extent for that but it’s now being used for people to connect with, really relevant people around problems that they’ve got or to get to get conversations going with people and it’s just like a huge online networking site.
Lee: Okay and what are some of the key things that you’re talking to clients about in terms of LinkedIn like why should someone actually if you don’t have a LinkedIn account why should someone set a LinkedIn account up?
What is Linked In used for?
Ian: We focus really I suppose on what the ladies have just said around three sorts of core elements. Your visibility. So getting a great profile, it’s about you looking as if you know what you’re talking about if I land on your profile. So follow your branding through. Make sure you’ve got some credibility on there so little bits of articles, bits of content; start chatting to people on there and then the other elements is very much focused on what we call the opportunity, we touched on what is marketing?
Well marketing is around really targeting the people that you need to talk to whether it’s just to connect with them generally, whether you’re looking for a job or you’re actually looking at setting up business. It’s so specific of how you can go and find, but I need to talk to these people in these industries with these job titles in this area and these are the keywords as what Sue sort of spoke about getting those keywords within LinkedIn you can go and find those people.
If you send them a message or ask them to connect it won’t get filtered through an email campaigner it won’t get filtered through a gatekeeper of a receptionist if you need to speak to that person and you know what guys I would even if you want to talk to the managing director of some big organizations go out there. Go and say I want to talk to you; I’d love to connect with you because I want to come and work with you or I admire what you’re doing in business. How about we have a chat? When can we have a coffee in the future or I’d love to learn from you. It’s a great tool to get in touch with people.
Lee: That’s a bit of a quick snapshot of for those who aren’t using LinkedIn. for those who are using LinkedIn and then they’d like some tips of how to use it even better obviously being an expert in LinkedIn can you share some tips there of how can you improve your engagement your reach or connecting with people?
Is it worth having a linked in account?
Ian: It’s about really targeting the people that you need to speak; to; old-fashioned marketing where you would throw enough of it up at the wall and see what sticks is a huge waste of time. So you can use the facilities within LinkedIn if you want to go on to sales, have a look at sales navigator it’s really advanced. Drill down to the people, go find the people and then like Sue was saying earlier on focus on the problem.
Start authentic conversations around you having the solution to their problem and even though it’s a social selling platform what you’re trying to do is just get your foot in the door. We used to call it tinder for LinkedIn or LinkedIn in dating. Your first date, second date meet the parents when your first date is go and find people that you’re not currently connected with give them a reason hi, I’d love to connect because I notice you in the radio connect with your first date your second date is then give them a solution to a problem or some help or can I assist you in any way and then once you as we call meet the parents you’re at stage three where you can then start to look about selling .
Lee: Great advice there in terms of tips and a good metaphor as well. What I’d like to also ask is about students. They’re not in the working environment yet you know, 16, 17, 18 or at university what would you say the benefits for students now putting the profile on LinkedIn.
Benefits of Linked in for Students?
Ian: It obviously doesn’t cost you anything; get your profile up there. This is all about you and we’ve used the word authentic before so don’t try and be too clever- set your profile up and share what you’re interested in. Share what you’re passionate about, put some images on there so in future if you’re looking to set up in business or you’re looking to get a job whatever, if you’ve got a profile, if you’re following key people there’s some great content out there from some fantastic people so you can learn a lot from them. Start to build up your connections build up it’s like your own little mini website your own little mini portfolio.
As we said right from the start people buy from people. Get your picture on there, share some stuff say right I’m here here’s me; here’s my brand here’s my personal brand what am I all about and just start to build it. Then people will start to connect other people will start to connect you and then you’ll be able to find all the people that you need to engage with.
Lee: This part of the show is coming to an end and it’s all about young people and we’re going to ask everybody for tips and advice for young people who are maybe in education in training or looking towards employment. Sue over to you – I know you do a lot of lecturing – what kind of tips, and with apprenticeships as well you must have some good information
Why are digital skills important?
Sue: I would just say not to underestimate the digital skills that are going to be needed in terms of the future, particularly in the last year we’ve seen that. Also not to underestimate the digital skills that they’ll already have so as digital natives they won’t be able to remember a time when those things weren’t part of their life. They have already got some really valuable skills there that they can use.
I think kind of link to what Ian was saying also is focus on your personal brand as well in terms of how you appear online. I think that’s really important when you start to seek jobs whatever profile that you have populated online, whatever social media channels you’re on just think carefully about how that may look and how you might be portrayed. You will find when you’re meeting people they’ll look at you on LinkedIn to just kind of validate who you say you are so I think that is something that’s going to increasingly be used in job interviews and so on.
Lee: So be aware of your online presence then.
How important is your online presence?
Sue: I would say so yes. Ian may have another thought on that I’m not sure.
Lee: Over to what Ian, would you say when you’re looking back to a similar age have you any tips and advice that you would share in terms of going into future employment employability skills.
Ian: Yes what everybody said I really just echo that but on a more personal basis I’d say setting your goals, if they’re not scaring the life out of you and exciting you then you’re probably underestimating your potential. Go out there and set those goals massive even reading. I was always told that learning and earning are very intrinsically linked so the more that you learn the more that you earn.
Just have a thirst for knowledge and autobiographies and read people’s books that you inspire. Richard Branson inspires me, so you read the books, you get the hints you get the tips and you just go for it. There is huge opportunity out there at the moment; absolutely massive and it will only be yourself that limit your own ability.
Learning and Earning
Lee: Absolutely and that is something I’m going to ask you about in a moment but the learning and earning I like that one that’s a good phrase how long hashtag learning and earning everybody listening and Gillian what about yourself because I know you’re free like you’re we are you freelancing now were you in a in a business that came out.
Gillian: I’ve been employed in 17 years of different businesses and when I left school, college I’d kind of been directed down a path of just picking a subject you like and going with it. I didn’t really do a great deal of research and standing into what business was. I had no idea of that as an actual thing, accountancy finance the marketing and so all- that kind of stuff kind of passed me by in school and college. It was only later on when I had an MD that put me in the direction of the marketing path and then ended up doing the Chartered Institute of Marketing that I actually found what I actually love to do.
So my thing would be to try and define what you’re good at and what actually you feel that you love to do because if you love what you’re doing, the drive to learn will be right there and you’ll want to push and find out more about it. If you don’t love what you’re doing it’s just going to leave you feeling really unfulfilled and life’s too short. Maybe ask family and relatives what they think about their jobs and what they like about them but really there’s loads of websites and the sort of job descriptions that are out there. You can do a lot of due diligence before you get even a remote thought of what you’re going to do for the future so put a bit of effort in in the beginning and hopefully you’ll find yourself into a in a career that .
Lee: Ian just back to you and you mentioned about limiting beliefs and often having a coach or a mentor can help you overcome those limits and beliefs. It’s always good to have someone encouraging you. How important these days do you think it is to have a coach or a mentor?
What is the purpose of coaching and mentoring?
Ian: it’s not important – it’s essential I would say. You read the most successful entrepreneurs in whatever industry don’t just have one but have several coaches. they’ll have a fitness coach, they’ll have a mental health coach, they’ll have a nutritionist, they’ll have a business coach. You cannot achieve your full potential unless you’ve got somebody there, you know if you’re going to the gym will you work harder with your personal trainer, yes you’ll work smarter, you’ll get better results. You’ll work faster so a coach is absolutely essential.
Lee: Well that is true isn’t it because there’s not many Olympic medal winners, no elite sports teams who’ve got anywhere without some form of coach or mentoring so it is a positive relationship to have? Sue what you would say makes a great coach or mentor for people to kind of be a word to look out for.
What skills make a good coach?
Sue: I think emotional intelligence and being a people person is really important and kind of echoing what Gillian was saying if you can find a coach or a mentor that understands your strengths, understands your weaknesses, can build upon those then you can’t really go far on with coaching and mentoring. Through some of the books that probably Ian has read you’ll find that some of those entrepreneurs look back and they had conversations that were pivotal. It is about really remembering and I remember this every day and make sure that I think about it, what the impact that your words and your actions can have in terms of when you’re at an impressionable stage and when you are still perhaps a student deciding what you want to do; trying to identify your strengths trying to grow in your confidence and so on. It’s a tough world out there particularly at the moment and having those coaches and having those mentors who are cheerleaders for you as Ian said I think is just essential.
Lee: Absolutely essential. and Gillian what would you say are some of the top benefits from having a mentor or a coach where that you either work with or you kind of have a chat with now and again.
What are the benefits of coaching and mentoring?
Gillian: I’ve used coaches and I’ve got different ones for different things and I’d say the number one benefit is clarity. Sometimes you’re in your own head and you’ve not really got the picture mapped out. Like I was saying about being able to blow your own trumpet sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees so I think a coach really helps you to get out what you need and really structure what you want to achieve in life in whatever capacity they’re coaching you on. They hold you accountable which personally I’m not great with that, my willpower is not the best and having someone else who can hold me accountable basically allows you to achieve what you’re setting out to achieve so the more success you have the knock-on benefit is that positivity keeps spilling over and over. So essentially accountability and clarity and focus for me.
Lee: That’s great and just on that accountability issue it’s interesting that people are prepared to let themselves down but they won’t let other people down aren’t they. They’re prepared to say oh I’ll do that tomorrow to themselves but to someone else there’s some form of embarrassment or judgment that people don’t want to do. From the conversations that we’ve had here on the Logros show certainly accountability is a good starting point for you to make sure that you’re moving forward. This is the Logros Show and it’s been another great panel discussion. A big thank you to Sue to Iain and to Gillian and we’re going to finish off the show just talking about Achieving Excellence. The strapline of the show is achieving excellence so Gillian over to you; what would you say in your opinion is Achieving Excellence whether in work or in personal life?
Gillian: I would say being able to find what drives you and being able to drive your passion in life whatever that is and not settle for second best. Always be learning.
Lee: Always be learning, and Ian?
Ian: As Gillian said find what your passion is and set those goals. Like I said earlier on but if the goals don’t scare you and they don’t excite you then they’re not strong enough. The last thing to that then you’ve got to commit to doing something about it. Many years ago a coach to me said a commitment is a non-negotiable agreement so set those non-negotiable agreements against those goals and you’ll achieve excellence.
Lee: okay and Sue?
Sue: Kind of similar really to what they’ve both said. I would say intentions are really important whether it’s intention for the day, whether it’s intention for your school year, university, what you want from your career long and short term. Have those intentions and never stop learning whether that’s in business or that’s as an individual. Keep an open mind and keep on improving.
Lee: Brilliant thank you, intentions. Sue just to round off can you j quickly recap – if someone listening is wanting to get involved in the courses that you’re involved with where would they go and what would they need to do?
Sue: We have got a variety of courses and obviously we are delivering them virtually at the moment. We’ve got part-time evening, we’ve got distance learning. We’ve got a digital skills boot camp which is funded at the moment for marketers so if they did want to take a look at that we’d be delighted to hear from them at Oxford Professional Education Group’s website and they’ll find us online.
Lee: Thank you and Ian, yourself because of LinkedIn business ninjas?
Ian: Just search and connect send us a connection request on LinkedIn. If you need any advice I think there’s only about half a dozen Ian Nicklins in the world look for the ninjas. If you are stuck on anything or you want some advice just send it over to us and one other team will get back to you and give you some practical advice.
Lee: Gillian finally in terms of branding?
Gillian: I actually do a brand workshop for business owners that want to gain that clarity over their own branding so if you do want to do that then again reach out to me on LinkedIn and my website is also the designgrove.com if anyone would like to look into that as well and but yes we are open for anyone who wants any support with branding.
Lee: Thank you very much everyone for joining us and I wish you every success for the rest of 2021. Thank you very much this is the Logros Show in association with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and it has been a great show.
GET IN TOUCH
Take your first steps to Achieving Excellence with Logros. Call or email us for more details.