Future of sales and marketing

Jez Curwin (left)

Jez Curwin (left)

BLM brought together business owners and professionals from across the South West to discuss the future of sales & marketing.

Here is first part of the debate. 

Can you elaborate on what marketing you currently carry out?

Yvonne Flannery (Marketing Director at Thatchers Cider): “Despite being a long-running family business we are actually fairly new to marketing.

“Our first TV commercial aired six years ago in UK but as part of our international strategy in the United States and Australia we are not carrying out TV advertising but running a more tactical campaign focused around PR and social media, which is very big in the USA.

“We are using these channels to ensure we promote our messages of family values and heritage.”

Dan Harris (Director Savills): “We still use lots of traditional marketing techniques and platforms such as Bristol Property Live.

“We also advertise heavily on right move as it’s easy for people to go online and easy to manage.

“For us it’s about a mixture of media and mediums; and what works best is a combination of everything, rather than one thing.”

Jez Curwin (Marketing Director at Somerset County Cricket Club): “At Somerset County Cricket Club we focus on two areas, one of which is partnership marketing. Budgets are tight for everyone so this is a workable way of achieving goals; and is an approach that can work for both parties.

“The second area is about growing our existing customer base and using the 80/20 rule. You can generate 80 per cent of your business from 20 per cent of your customers.”

Dominic Wells (Managing Director at Stride Treglown): “At Stride Treglown we are fortunate that we receive a lot of repeat business but we do rely heavily on our website because as an architectural practice image is everything and we keep it very fresh and updated.

“We also do lots of blogging and social media to demonstrate that we are cutting edge; but again it’s about a mix of mediums, so we go to lots of conferences and events.”

Oliver Harrison (Marketing Director at Moon Consulting): “One of the challenges we face is that in executive recruitment a lot of work we do is confidential, so we can’t always promote it.

“Also what we do is a high value low turnover proposition so a lot of our marketing is based around raising awareness.

“We also engage in lots of partnership work; and work with clients that are a lot bigger than us to help us punch above our weight.”

Navina Bartlett

Navina Bartlett

Navina Bartlett (founder Coconut Chilli): “I work in the food and drink sector and find teaser campaigns work really well to get people engaged, and ensure they then go to my website and sign up to our mailing list.

“Another big focus is also sampling, so they come down to the various markets we are trading at and they can taste the food. And then people go on Facebook and tell their friends.

“On a broader perspective it is about engaging with bloggers and key influencers around social media, so they can generate the interest that engages retail buyers.”

On the agency side, what marketing works best for your clients?

Andrew Scott (founder of Ascot Group): “It’s really about understanding your client and your target audience, as one set of marketing strategies will work for one client and one set will work for another.

“In our agency we span digital and traditional; but we’ve seen a swing back to traditional, as more and more people move online. “It’s also about events, conferences and face to face, as well as digital.

“Some of our most successful recent campaigns have been outbound and direct mail campaigns.

“Post had died a death as the world has gone online, so companies that are doing direct mail that is really targeted and personalised are seeing great results.

“For us we operate on touch points. Where is that person in the morning, where are they in the afternoon, where are they in the evening? And what medium is likely to engage them?”

In a climate where we are receiving thousands of messages a day, how important is brand?

Graham White (Director Venture Insurance: “Our client base is very different from others around the room, and because we started this business from scratch, we go out of our way to pick the right target.

“We don’t rely on digital marketing and have a website that is purely a reference point, as we will have really had to convince people before they go to it. Very few people ring us up and say they’re interested in insurance.”

Jez Curwin: “Just picking up on Graham’s point – I’ve never worked in insurance but it is something that everybody has to have and surely your brand, in whatever capacity, whether that is price, service or delivery, is fundamentally important.”

Graham White: “I would be delighted if I thought I could email out and land a client. I promise you I can send out one thousand emails and I wouldn’t expect a single person to come back to me. I would have to follow it up.”

Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott

Lizzie Heffer (Marketing Director at Thrings LLP): “Yes, of course you would have to follow it up and that is where you would use the analytics to engage with them.

“And that is why you also need a website that is more than just a reference point, as the people that are being driven to your website need to have a really good customer experience.

“And this all flows from your brand.”

Could Venture do with a PR stunt Rich?

Rich Leigh (Founder of Rich Leigh & Co): “No not necessarily because you may not have the budget for it and it’s not always the case that a PR stunt can help your company.

“It’s about judging whether your company is right for each marketing channel. I once saw a ridiculous Facebook page for a cardboard manufacturer and they had two likes on their page.

“I use it as an example because a PR stunt wouldn’t work for them and I don’t think it would work for Venture.”

Jez Curwin: “I am going to pick up on the point you made Rich about the cardboard company, as I feel they have a massive opportunity to dissociate themselves from their core company and have lots of fun around the things you could do with cardboard.

“They could just go viral with this and you never know who is going to see it.”

Rich Leigh: “Yes but you could take such a chance on this because you would be throwing thousands of pounds on something you’re not sure will work.”

Jez Curwin: “But it’s about building a brand. We’re a small business and spend pounds rather than hundreds and you can still do fun things.”

Rich Leigh: “OK but this cardboard company could do this and get thousands of likes on Facebook, but so what? How much business is that generating for them?

“They’re not selling to me and that’s the mistake far too many brands make with social.

“You need to choose the channel appropriately and stop trying to do things you can’t do. If you’re a cardboard box company focus on your core business.

“Don’t try to make the audience love you if there is no return, as some poor person is going to end up losing their job when the financial director says this isn’t making us any money.”