What is benchmarking
‘Continuous process of comparing a firm's practices and performance measures with that of its most successful competitor(s)’.
Why do it?
You have to know how you rate compared with your peers, to know where you need to improve relative to them. If you want to be "best-in-breed" in marketing, or just to "do better" you need a baseline to review the marketing effectiveness of competitors.
Online, potential customers will often directly compare what a competing brand or website has to offer. Benchmarking "puts you in the customers shoes" and gives you insight on where you need to improve. It can also give you inspiration to try new approaches whether they're related to content, design or the brand communications used.
So when should I benchmark?
Ideally you should be benchmarking at least every 6 months or so as it will allow you to keep up to speed with what your competitors are doing and how your competitors' marketing changes. It's also an essential part of developing a marketing strategy where you need to look at all aspects of your marketing communications especially SEO, content and social media.
5 great free online marketing tools
We know you will already be reviewing competitor sites, but at times we see there are some key issues that are often missed and you may also be missing some of the great free tools available to help you.
5 main pitfalls to avoid when benchmarking
Warning and recommendation
Be careful not to get too worried about your competition, of course it's important, yet not all of your answers will lie within your competitors - we think that looking outside of your market can be just as beneficial for driving ideas and innovation - a source of inspiration for asking new questions.
We can help
Please get in touch with us if you would like advice on how to start your competitor benchmarking.
'Focus on energy. Not time', a quote made famous by Tony Schwartz who himself became famous when he wrote 'The Art of the Deal' 30 years ago with Donald Trump. Don’t worry, he is a good guy and is now CEO of The Energy Project. He is passionate about transforming the way the world works and creating a more wholly human world.
So how can we become more productive at work when there are only so many hours in the day?
Here are 4 key ideas from a Harvard Business Review article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy.
1. Physical Energy
2. Emotional Energy
3. Mental Energy
4. Spiritual Energy
We like the idea that your health comes first when thinking about your working life. Simple but true. Emotional energy is often forgotten about at work so it is heartening to see it validated and how it contributes to personal and business success, in that order. Productivity is only increased when mental energy is increased. Taking yourself away from distractions and having a routine which bolsters your mental energy is enlightening. Spiritual energy, although last on the list, is still critical when thinking about personal satisfaction.
How well is your brand?
A brand can be viewed in much the same way as a person. It is a three dimensional living, breathing being. It has a personality, a point of view, an image and, if all is well, it socialises. Arguably a brand is not a brand until it has a strong emotional bond with its customer. So do you have a brand and, if so, how healthy is it?
What do I check to see if my brand is healthy?
There are five key elements that need to be looked at.
1. Brand values
These are the vital ingredients of the brand, which are valued by the customer. If you want to grow your business it is vital to ensure that you know what your brand’s values are and that they are healthy. If they are not healthy here are some of the symptoms you will notice:
2. Brand Positioning
This is where your brand sits in the marketplace relative to the competition. It is critical that you know where your brand is positioned. If this has not been undertaken here are some of the symptoms:
3. Brand Promise
Arguably the most important element. The customer experience must match the brand promise. If the promise falls short customers simply move away or worse they can react negatively. With many social media platforms available it is vital to make sure that the customer experience lives up to the brand promise.
4. Brand Essence
This is an intangible feeling - the emotional bond connecting your customer to your brand. Building a strong essence will help with brand differentiation i.e. making your brand different from the competition. A healthy essence should be consistent across all ‘touch points’, (where the customer comes into contact with your brand). The essence should be simple and clear. Ideally just one or two words e.g. Nike – inspirational.
5. Brand Identity
Your brand identity is what your brand looks and sounds like. It is a blend of values, essence and positioning. It communicates through the written and spoken word, through photography, imagery, packaging etc. As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room."
We hope you are finding our Trumpet Academy lessons insightful and practical. If you would like Trumpet to undertake a brand review please just get in touch.
In the meantime we will leave you with a nice Guinness brand illustration.
I came across this book recently called Great Traits by Tobias Harwood which uncovers the key traits that make successful people tick. It is a great, easy to read yet insightful book and in the spirit of giving I wanted to share the best bits with you. It has identified the five main character traits that drive normal people to exceptional achievements. So what do you think these traits are?
The five key traits are passion, grit, competitiveness, boldness and constructive consciousness. These were all evident in the high achieving individuals interviewed for the book. They all shared these traits in different proportions; some showed remarkable grit while for others it was their boldness that drove them to their success.
To sum up these character traits, it became evident that motivation and passion were at the centre of any remarkable achievement and once this was ignited then an intense level of grit and determination was required to see it through.
Along the path to the great achievement there was fierce competitiveness not just with others but often with themselves. Set backs were common but they were overcome with boldness in ideas and actions.
Finally, the last trait, constructive consciousness was seen as the most important and all interviewees displayed it in a big way. This is all about how to interpret events and then selecting the right mindset in response. Many of the interviewees experienced life changing injuries or events that would have felled any normal human being. It was their response that set them apart. Their constructive consciousness. Without exception they made the most of their situation. They chose to take a certain path and were not afraid to fail.
I found this book very inspiring and enlightening as not only do I have a high achieving aunt who is the first ever Scottish woman to have climbed the seven highest peaks in the world including Everest. John Neill, CEO of Unipart Group, one of the business leaders interviewed for the book, had a significant influence on my early marketing career at Unipart. He was and still is a remarkable man. I hope you pick up a copy of the book and find it as inspiring as I did. You will not be disappointed.
Book Title - Great Traits
Author – Tobias Harwood
In the last Trumpet Marketing blog we talked about the importance of researching your customer, getting to know them as individuals. We shared with you ways of finding this information. Bringing this customer to life or creating a buyer persona, to use marketing speak, is the next step. This is important because by developing very specific buyer personas you can dramatically improve your business results.
So what exactly is a buyer persona?
These are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers and prospective customers better and how your product/service will fit into their lives. The strongest buyer personas are based on good market research, insights you have gathered from your actual customer base, through surveys, interviews and so on. Check out our first Trumpet Marketing Academy lesson about the methods used to get to know your customer better.
Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. You can use them to inform everything from marketing and sales activities, to writing more effective copy and even developing better products.
So tell me why I should use a buyer persona?
They will allow you to target your marketing and selling efforts in a far more focussed way. Your business will benefit, as you will know your target customer group in a different and far more relevant and revealing way. The persona should ideally be at the heart of all your business decisions. You will become a customer led company, which is arguably the only position to take in this competitive business environment.
What exactly are the business benefits?
Here are just a few of them…..
1. Allows you to personalise your sales and marketing activities
Personas allow you to personalise or target your marketing and sales efforts at different segments of your audience. For example, if you have a customer database, instead of sending the same email to everyone, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
2. Enables you to do a lot with a little
If resources are limited you can focus on the main customer persona as a start rather than trying to be all things to all people. Once you know the characteristics, likes and dislikes of your core customer group, then you can start to develop a three dimensional, real persona to have a relationship with.
3. Takes away the guesswork
Having a persona allows you to confidently produce content, visuals, tone of voice, packaging, make retail outlet choices, set your price position, influence your product design etc. - knowing all the time who you are speaking with.
4. Reduce costs and mistakes
Your sales and marketing activities will be highly focussed as you will have a clear picture and representation of exactly who you are targeting. This reduces the risk of mistakes and rectification costs.
5. Streamlining your activities
Takes away the need to ‘cover all the bases’. You now will know what will work and so you can build on that.
Yes I get it now. Sounds great. So how do I create a buyer persona?
We have developed a Trumpet buyer persona template as a guide but first just a quick overview to help you fill in the template.
Step 1 - The Who
Here you'll fill out your persona's background, demographics and identifiers like personality, demeanour and communication preferences.
What is relevant in their life to your business? Information such as are they married, single, have a family, career, part time job, stay at home mum.
Male, female, age, where they live, disposable income, car/s, house type
What do they like to read? Where and how do they consume information? Twitter, newspapers, digital news etc.? Imagine what their daily life is like and write about it. Hobbies will be important to consider.
Step 2 - The What
Next, you'll fill in your persona's goals and challenges, followed by what your business can do to help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.
Step 3 - The Why
Here's where you can input real quotes from customers and potential customers from the surveys and interviews you conducted for persona research. You can also input common objections i.e. reasons why your ideal buyers have said they wouldn't want to buy your product or service.
Step 4 - The How
Finally, you can fill in the marketing messaging you want to use for your buyer persona. Think about how you should describe your offering to this persona? What's your elevator pitch?
Here are two files that you are welcome to download
1. Buyer persona template - an example
2. Your own buyer persona template to fill in and use
If you need any help or assistance please get in contact with us and we will be delighted to help you develop your buyer personas or any other design or marketing requirements.
With all the horrible news, fake news, alternative facts, Trump, Brexit, February... We could go on and on... Are you finding it difficult to stay positive? Firm believers in the glass being half full rather than half empty and also being of a proactive disposition we have decided to take matters into our own hands and find out just how to stay positive in the current climate. While our tips are not earth shattering they are good little reminders of how to respond, act and think when our positive attitude is under threat.
Here are our Top 5 ‘Stay Positive’ tips.
Hope this helps. We believe that it is important to treat everyone as human beings and individuals. This can sometimes get lost in the business world.
In the spirit of it’s better to give than receive, each month we will offer current thinking, best practice and insight into our own specialist areas of marketing and design. We love what we do and have spent many years honing our skills and gaining loads of experience so now it is time to share or give back the best bits.
Ok so let’s start with the topic of marketing and the most important person in your marketing life…. your customer.
For any marketing work worth its salt, the customer needs to be at the centre of your stage basking in the spotlight and enjoying all the attention. The question is just how do you get your customer onto the stage and what do you do with them when they are there? Here’s how......
Getting them on the stage
There will be a significant number of your customers who share common traits and habits. They are called your target market and they will deliver the bulk of your business if nurtured in the right way. It is vital that you know and understand this customer group well.
What to do with your customers now that you know who they are?
Get to know them better! Here is our guide to the types of questions to know the answers to when it comes to getting to know your customer better.
Top 10 ‘getting to know you better’ questions:
1. Who is currently buying your product or service?
3. What do they dislike?
4. What social media do they use?
5. What is going on in their busy lives? It is important to get the full picture
6. Why do they purchase your product or service?
7. Why are people of a similar profile not buying your product or service?
8. What customer need is being met?
9. What do they think of your brand/company or service?
10. How well does your customer know you?
Having the answers to the above questions will allow you to build up a profile or a customer persona, which will be really helpful for marketing purposes. We will cover how to develop customer personas in the next blog.
So what happens if you don’t have all or some of the answers to the questions?
1. Do nothing and carry on as before or
2. Do something about it as you know it is very important to your business success.
There are a number of ways to find out more about your customer:
Digital statistics - free and easily accessible e.g. Facebook insights, Etsy insights, website stats. This will give you information such as age, location and gender. This is a great source of information to get you started.
Market research – gained from your own research or professional focus group work which will provide in depth real life information such as your customer's lifestyle, their thoughts about your product, the category, their purchase motivation, understanding how your product or service is consumed/used, really good and useful information that really puts your customer in the centre of all your marketing activity.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to 'get to know your customer better' then please just get in contact with us.
We like the saying 'Start as you mean to continue’ and it is certainly apt at this time of year. The saying originated in the 19th century and is attributed to Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92). He said 'Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began’. It is not always the easiest route but we are firm believers in not taking the easy path if the harder route can yield better results.
So thinking along these lines here are a few tips from us to start this year as you mean to continue:
Wishing you a very happy and successful 2017. We are here if you need us!
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism
With busy lives we can often find ourselves reacting to situations which may not be the best approach, where a considered response would have been far more productive and helpful. It’s not easy though and takes a bit of practice but it’s well worth the effort. Typical reactions can be:
Responding, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect but has to be learnt first. Typical responses can be:
Interested to know how to respond?
Simple steps, it’s free and the benefits are huge. Try it and see for yourself.
It is an important part of our own business approach and for many other businesses, but why have face to face meetings in this digital age?
Here are 4 good reasons why….
Of course, the key skill is knowing when it is the right approach to arrange the face to face meeting but that is for another blog…….
The jury is still out on To Do Lists. They do work for some people. We like them, however they do have a fundamental flaw. Many tasks on a To Do List don’t seem to get done. The non essential tasks are often pushed further down the list and never achieved. Strike a chord? So what should you do? Start with deleting your To Do List and instead schedule your tasks.
If you allocate time for these tasks this will allow you to be far more productive than having a never ending long list of ’things to do’. There are many scheduling apps out there that help you with this, such as Todoist or you can simply use your icalendar to set realistic times for each task.
Here are five good reasons to start scheduling now:
If you can stick to it you will see that allocating time for tasks rather than having a long To Do List really does work. These small things can make all the difference. Try it and see.
If you are doing this, then great, hats off to you, as it is a great skill to have. If however, you would like to know a little more about why you should listen twice as much as you speak, read on….
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
Epictetus the Greek Sage and Stoic philosopher
Speaking and listening in a balanced way are so important in our world. The noise of useless words that many of us are throwing away in an attempt to get a grip on someone else’s attention, creates a thick fog that makes it really difficult to actually understand each other. Ironically, the more we talk, the less we’re able to communicate.
Read on about the benefits of speaking less and listening more and improve the way you communicate with the world.
Five benefits of listening more:
If you are finding yourself talking more than you are listening, take Epictetus’ advice and do less talking and listen twice as much. It may very well be the best bit of advice you have received in quite some time.
• 28% of each working day spent on distractions
• 27% of office workers feeling disorganised
• 13 hours on average per week checking emails
So how can we improve our productivity levels in this difficult environment and be able leave work at the end of the day and utter the immortal words’, ‘well, that was a highly productive day, got loads done’. Here’s how…
Schedule email breaks - yes they are important but in your own time. Don’t feel the need to check your emails first thing or if that is too difficult set times for checking your emails in one go. Resist the temptation to check each and every email as it lands in your mailbox. Difficult yes, good for productivity levels most definitely.
Only schedule meetings that really matter – according to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Yes of course there are important necessary meetings but if you are calling a meeting then double check that an email to the attendees would not work just as well, if not better. Everyone will be grateful. Just think about how useful 31 extra hours in a month could be.
Create a ‘Top 3’ list – write down the top three tasks you must accomplish that day. Don’t stop until all three initiatives have been completed. Surprisingly you will feel so much better having achieved 3 ‘big things’ and you won’t worry so much about the small tasks still to do. Magic, no. Clever, yes.
Take a break – ideally get active. Studies show that even if you take a 20 minute stretch of the legs that’s sufficient to release those all important mood lifting endorphins. So get out there and breath in the fresh air. It will help…
Achieve a healthy work life balance - yes we know, easy to say and hard to do but it is a proven fact that if you actively engage in a hobby or pastime outside of work it will be beneficial to your productivity levels at work. How so? It is to do with happiness, happy employees are the best employees.
Many people are uncomfortable promoting their own achievements as they don’t want to be perceived as bragging kind of beings. But there’s nothing wrong with blowing your own trumpet every once in a while. In fact, drawing attention to how you as an individual contribute to the overall success of your company will have plenty of benefits for all involved. So there. Go on, blow your own trumpet!
There's plenty of rules that apply for creating a great logo design. Here's the 5 that we find most important.
A logo has to work on all different formats as well as in black and white. You do not HAVE TO show an icon to illustrate what your business is all about, but we do find that it can be helpful. Sometimes.
Would love to hear what YOU think about these principles!