Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

How to get results and value from your marketing spend (and everything else)

Last year we conducted a survey of professional services firms, to find out about their experiences of effective, and ineffective, marketing.  Marketing has long been an area where businesses struggle to understand the real impact of their activities, and spend.  We wanted to know what makes a difference to that.  As a result we have developed a whitepaper that we offer at our website at no charge to help professional firms get the best value from their marketing spend.

The survey explored a range of areas including planning, targeting, use of expertise, types of activity and opinions of effectiveness.  The results were interesting – predictable in some areas and not in others.  It was no surprise to find that overall, respondents considered paid media (newspapers, radio, television) advertising to be least effective.  Perhaps more surprising was that the number was twice that of the next ‘least effective’ category – being tradeshows. 

On the other hand, the overwhelmingly most effective method of advertising was considered to be ‘word-of-mouth’.  

The survey explored marketing as a whole though, and not just the advertising aspect.  We explored whether respondents had a strategic plan that directed their marketing effort, and whether or not they used marketing expertise.  In most cases those with a plan also used marketing expertise, although the data was not able to tell us whether they had a plan because of a marketing presence in the firm, or whether the developing of the plan had resulted in recognition and acquisition of marketing skills.

Nonetheless, there were three key differences in those firms that had a strategic plan in place.  They were:

  1. Twice as many respondents who had a strategic plan reported that inviting prospective clients to events, lunch etc was cost-effective, as compared to the respondents overall.
  2. Three times as many respondents from firms with a strategic plan reported that  providing informative copy, press releases or articles for mainstream media was cost-effective compared to the respondents overall.
  3. Those with a strategic plan had a larger quantity of effective methods than those without.

Most activities are more likely to be effective where they are well-targeted, whether that’s marketing, investment, human resources or production.  Logically, it must be easier to achieve with a clear plan.

As a result of this survey we have produced a white paper titled ‘Find More Clients With Less Effort, and Get Better Value from Your Marketing Budget’.  This whitepaper is available at no cost from our website –  It sets out how to target your marketing activity with a clear strategy, so that your firm can be sure you are gaining new clients from your marketing spend.  The whitepaper is available now for a limited time.

Categories: Business and Strategy

Don’t be discrete

That’s discrete, not discreet.  Of course you should be discreet, when the situation requires.  But I regularly see business owners and professionals being discrete, and therefore failing to think strategically or creatively.

What do I mean by that?  I mean absorbing a piece of information as a discrete issue, and not seeing linkages, risks and opportunities for themselves, their clients (communities, etc etc) that might be related to it.  For instance, one of my clients belonged to a national professional association that changed its name to a more modern version of the old one.  My client had close competitors in their city, and upon discovering this name change, we organized for them to register the same name but with their city name in front.  One of their competitors had the largest market share, and some months later announced to its customers that it was changing its name to the name my client had registered.  Of course, they were unable to do that, and when they were ready, my client began using the new name, gaining the prestige of the national linkage and building market share.  

We did not see the information about the national name change as a discrete issue.  We predicted the likely trend from that information, understood it was an opportunity and acted, stealing the march on the dominant industry player. Had we seen the information discretely, we would have simply voiced our view of how the new name sounded and left it at that, until we noticed others around the country changing their names as well. Like my client’s competitor, that may have been too late.

Whenever I am absorbing information – whether it is news or other’s opinions, whether from print media, tv or online – I am asking myself how this might link to or impact on my business, or those of my clients.  Sometimes it doesn’t, in any significant way.  Often it might do, and then I explore those ideas further.

Strategic and creative thinkers see opportunities everywhere.  Anyone can learn to do that, simply by asking a few questions of yourself about where, when and how that information might impact on your business or industry.  Don’t be discrete in your thinking.  Find the connection!


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Categories: Business and Strategy

Cluster with competitors or be somewhere different?

There’s a new Wendy’s opened not too far from where I live.  I suppose eventually we’ll check it out.  What made me think of it was that last night we drove past and there weren’t that many people in there.  Hardly surprising, given the huge number of fast food outlets in the area.  Which brings me to my point in writing this – is it such a good strategy, all the fast food outlets congregating in the same area of a city?

There’s an obvious benefit to doing so.  Customers get to know where to head to find food.  Once there, they pick from the selection.  If the other outlets are in one area, and your outlet is not there, you won’t be selected.  A bit like Lotto – you can’t win if you don’t have a ticket, but it’s a game of chance.  Maybe the customer will pick you today, and maybe they won’t.

On the other hand, if your fast food outlet is in a different area, and the only one there, the majority of customers in that vicinity are probably going to pick you, rather than travel further.  As long as they know you are there.  And if they are anything like my family, everyone wants something different, so going to a ‘cluster’ works well for take out, even if we have to travel a bit further.

Using a unique location seems to work well for ‘destination’ businesses, where customers seek out the unique products or services – examples include children’s specialty stores,  wedding outlets, ‘hobby’ related stores eg art supplies, dance/music stores,specific sports specialty stores and so on.  If your customers or clients are specifically seeking you out, then you might be based anywhere reasonably accessible, and in some cases, issues like free parking can be more important than location.

Locating close to competitors seems to work well where customers are likely to see you as similar to others, and choose the specifics once they get to the location, or are likely to choose while at a location eg shopping malls.  This is likely to apply to food outlets including fast food, cafes etc, general clothing stores, stationery store, and so on.

Professional services firms tend to ‘cluster’ around a CBD area in cities and towns.  This gives them a physical presence with signage in the area where many other businesses are located.  There is also an aura of prestige and success associated with inhabiting expensive inner city real estate!  Would you be any worse off locating your professional services in the suburbs?  That might depend on the segment of the market you are targeting, where they are located, and how far some would have to travel.  Some boutique firms do locate in the suburbs and they can provide at-the-door free parking for clients and staff, and reduce overheads through cheaper rents.

So what about your on-line presence?  In essence, the same principle is likely to apply.  If your customers are likely to choose between you and your competitors by comparing benefits, you probably need to be where they are.  Take hotels for instance, that list on sites like Hotel Club, Trip Advisor, Expedia and so on.  Professional services firms often list under their categories on Green Frog, Yellow Pages and other on-line directories.  It’s again like Lotto, you can’t get picked if you are not there.  However, some boutique hotels do very well without listing on such sites. Some professional services firms rely on promotion that is targeted to their client base rather than general directories.  These firms aim to be known within their market segment, and promote in other places that their more specific customer base are likely to see.  So where you serve a niche market or specific market segment, it might be more effective to target that segment differently to most of your competitors.

Jenni specialises in strategy selection and implementation in the professional services sector.  She encourages you to connect at LinkedIn, Twitter or via her Facebook page to find out more.

Categories: Business and Strategy

How will this affect you?

If you could produce items you currently use on site, right when you needed them, how would that improve your efficiency and customer service?  And if your clients could do the same, how would that affect the services you provide to them?  This is the looming reality of 3D printers.

How will you prepare for 3D Printers asks Jenni Murphy-Scanlon?

If you haven’t yet got your head around 3D printers, it’s time you did.  While they are not affordable for most businesses, yet, it’s only a matter of time.  And once the market for them picks up, there will be a raft of adaptations and improvements that widen their use.  So while some might ‘print’ (but manufacture is perhaps a more accurate term) in plastic, others might do so in metal, and yet others in polystyrene and so forth.  The idea is that when, for instance, you go to get your car serviced, rather than wait overnight for the relevant part, your mechanic will ‘print’ it to order on site.  Apply this to any scenario where you need a reasonably common item.   Logically then, businesses, and the relevant people within them, who currently serve a purpose in the process of manufacture, ordering and transporting – are required much less (the end user will still need material supplies for the printer).  It’s the ultimate ‘just-in-time’ process!

And while this sounds amazingly efficient and customer-centric, the bad news for SMEs is that this may be yet another investment many are forced to make to compete.  And the cost of maintenance and replacement is likely to sit with the end-user business, where at present, manufacturing businesses spread that cost across a larger number of items and customers.

Like other impacts that your business has little control over, the advent of 3D printers is not so much a question of ‘if’, but rather of ‘how are preparing for that?’

Jenni works in the services and professional sectors helping clients develop unique and workable strategies that ensure they are ‘famous and future-fit’ in their chosen markets.  You can access free resources at her website 

Categories: Business and Strategy

How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

My subscribers receive their 4th gift today, a very visual guide on how to avoid communication problems.  Tomorrow they will receive a very special gift of inspiration for work and life.  You’re welcome to join them and get the remaining of the 12 gifts.  These are not available anywhere else, and are absolutely without charge or obligation.  Click now to benefit in your work and business life, with my compliments.

Categories: Uncategorized

From the “I wish I’d thought of that” file –


Most of my business mail is, frankly, quite boring.  Same old brochures. Same old advertising.  But now and again someone comes up with something really different, creative and intriguing.  Something I want to read, and due to it’s novelty value, I am highly likely to remember.  Today I received some mail like that from the progressive team at Zeald.

When I opened their envelope, the card inside, made from light brown paper, featured the words ‘Plant the Seed.  Harvest the Result.’  It wasn’t the accompanying picture of the plant that was so clever it was what was inside – a small pot shaped paper embedded with basil seeds.  The instructions told me to plant under a thin layer of soil, water and soon the seedlings will emerge.  The card was a thank you to all the clients of Zeald for the referrals they’ve received during the year, with instructions on how to make future referrals and receive a 5% commission on any resulting sales.

I have to congratulate the team at Zeald.  It’s a novel idea and definitely goes in my “I wish I’d thought of that” file.  Not only have I read all the messages but there’s a high chance I will remember them too.  So there’s a high chance I will talk about it (and here I am doing just that) and actually make referrals.



Categories: Uncategorized

Your 12 Gifts for Christmas Here

It’s now less than a month to Christmas and I have decided that I have so much fantastic content in e-books, presentations and articles that help professionals and business people with strategic thinking, strategy and leadership – that I’ll give some of it away.  You get all 12 gifts.

The gifts you’ll receive  include:

  • How to have an awesome strategy
  • What to do if you think your organization’s strategy is wrong
  • Special book of quotes to inspire work and life
  • The 3 strategic thinking attitudes
  • How to lead by example
  • The problems with being strategic
  • Plus much more!

Reply by 8th December to ensure you receive all 12 gifts!  Go now to

(And if you like that I am giving away this content, please like my blog, or my facebook page, or my linkedin company page!)

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