Monday, 1 December 2008


I haven't been to any networking events recently for one reason or another, but this week I'll be going to two and James will be attending another two. It must be the time of year.

I was amused at an event during the spring when a veteran networker stood up and announced, while firmly looking in my direction, that his business does no marketing and relies 100% on referrals. Having given his spiel he worked the room handing out lots of business cards. His morning included a networking presentation, business cards given, business cards taken and all useful contacts were probably followed up by email and logged in a database. That was probably more marketing done in a morning than many businesses do in a year.

This man is an interesting case study: he has considered his target market of local businesses; educated his network (us) about his business; positioned his business as successful and popular (so much so, remember, that it does no marketing but gets plenty of business from referrals); and found a low cost form of marketing that brings in sufficient enquiries to meet his one-man-band capacity. He works very hard at his marketing (I mean networking) and I imagine this commitment pays off.

It would be rare for us to recommend to a client that they put all their marketing eggs in one basket in that way. We prefer clients to undertake a number of different marketing activities, backed up by suitable information (online and offline), and evaluate the results. If, however, your business is restricted by lack of available time or budget for a broad range of marketing activities, and you have made a decision to concentrate on one form of marketing, it is essential to commit to it and do it well.

There are numerous guides to using networking in your marketing and they all recommend preparation. My extra word of advice is first to review the basics: your business offering; your target market; your key messages. Then consider who will be in the room with you, and how much all this will make sense to them. After you've presented who you are, what you do, and who you do it for remember to be clear what it is you'd like the assembled networkers to do for you - buy from you themselves or refer suitable customers to you?

I hoped I had been doing all this for Henmore and thebestof sites we manage in Derbyshire, but I've realised I've been makimg a hash of it. Chatting to someone who knows me quite well, I was asked a simple question the answer to which I address every month in my networking presentation. This is disheartening feedback, but I'll endeavour to take it positively and review my presentations for my networking week ahead.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Put your footer down

Emails - we all dash out loads everyday. Here, we have lots of Henmore Marketing email accounts and various accounts for each of our local areas of Most businesses have similar arrangements. I know for a fact that we do not make the most of our emails to update clients on other things that we are doing. So here is my 'blinding flash of the obvious' (as ActionCoach pal Neale Lewis would say) shared here today.

Footers on your emails. When was the last time that you updated yours?

I was reminded of this BFO twice today. Once when I was looking for someone's telephone number and thought it would be quickest simpy to open one of her emails to me. I opened them all, and not even a basic footer with contact details to be found on any of them. Let alone all the business about registered company details etc. The other time I was discussing with another client a forthcoming industry event they are exhibiting at and ways to maximise an award they have just received. This business has 120 people, all sending dozens of emails every day. Simple and cheap marketing - a footer with exhibition dates and the award logo is going out to all staff with instructions to update their email footer.

My personal BFO is to apply all this good marketing sense to my own emails - how many accounts did I say I'll have to amend . . . ?

Friday, 10 October 2008

pdf downloads

We have spent the week reviewing and revising most of the pdf download materials for one of our clients. It was quite a fiddly job, with close collaboration between client, copy writer and graphic designer (our web designer has yet to do his bit and upload them all to the client's site).

Many of the pdfs had been in circulation for a while and needed the content editing to reflect new sales messages. To complete the set we researched and wrote new copy for both fact sheets and case studies. Meanwhile on the design side, the client's corporate image has evolved over the years and the pdf fact sheets and case studies now looked dated. It was time for a new template style to be designed and implemented across the whole set. They are now all proofed and with the client for approval or amendment.

Whilst working on this project we received a call from one of our printers wondering if there were any printing projects on the way. I confessed that these pdfs are unlikely to be printed because our client makes them available from their web site and uses them to email to potential clients. Posting printed material is a bit last century.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Categorisation of online directories

A thought on websites and marketing. Most companies have their own websites. Many companies strive to increase visitors to their websites using search engine optimisation techniques, search engine adwords and online adverts. There are, amazingly, still a few businesses that are under the misapprehension that having a website and putting the address on their business cards will be enough to bring them sales enquiries.

Sensible use of directory sites can be a useful technique to drive traffic to your website and generate sales enquiries for your business. Some directories will achieve this and some will not. A good directorty will achieve much more, by positioning your business and adding to your credibility and enhancing your brand, but be warned, some directories will do the reverse - they might damage your reputation.

We have made some generalisations below that attempt to categorise online directories. We would be interested in your thoughts on this subject.

1. National sites with free/cheap listings whose main objective is to drive web traffic to banner adverts rather than actually provide the info you searched. They can be frustrating when you are looking for information because they frequently seem to offer false promises and dead ends. When composing this article we searched cafes in Belper and one of these sites offered us 1 -10 of 1635 coffee shops in Belper. How many? We clicked and were offered coffee shops as far afield as Sheffield.  We say, don't pay to advertise on this type of site.

2. National, recognised brands that used to be primarily paper-based do at least provide the type of contact details they promised in the search results; useful if all you need is an address or telephone number. If you are doing online window-shopping looking for a reputable local supplier the results of this search don’t actually provide sufficient information to make an informed choice. This is a pity because being listed on such a site takes a large chunk of a company’s advertising budget. We say, there are other ways of using this budget to attract traffic and give them the information and the motivation to make an informed choice.

3. Local sites set up by well-meaning individuals. They can sound great in concept because they are often really cheap. Trouble is they rarely have sufficient budget or technical back up to actually drive meaningful web traffic to your business. Some of these sites will imply you'll be front page of Google -  they rarely explain that will be via Adwords for approximate 5 mins at 6am!  Don't be fooled, they probably don't mean you'll be top of Google in the organic listings.

4. Official directories for your industry sector or established ones in your niche market. These industry sector directories, particularly those offered by professional bodies, are really useful to prove your credentials or support your ethos. Similarly there are often a number of sites aimed at each niche, such as eco-tourism sites, parenting sites etc. In many cases we would recommend that businesses prepare suitable entries on these specific directory sites.

To maximise the effectiveness of your directory entry, cross reference your listings to other aspects of your marketing, e.g using the logo of the professional body on your stationery or the link to your eco-tourism directory entry in your email signatures.

Now ask yourself this question.  Do you have any niggling doubts about the quality of your web site? The thing is, interested people are being sent to your web site by most directory sites, and if this traffic bounces (leaves again without contacting you) it may be time to review your site. Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference, but that is another subject for another day.

Please contact us if you would like additional support with any aspect of your online marketing.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Staffordshire Moorlands Business Networking Evening

Henmore took the initiative in school fundraising by running a local networking event in Staffordshire Moorlands.

Catherine Doel, MD of Henmore Marketing and Chair of the local Pre-school Playgroup, broke out of the mould of the usual school fundraising by arranging a business-focussed event.

"The challenge with school fundraising is to find ways of getting people from outside the immediate parent group to part with their cash to help meet running costs. So we organised an event and invited businesses and entrepreneurs from across Staffordshire and Derbyshire to meet and make business connections. Paying £5 per head plus £5 for trade space represents a great return on investment from a company's marketing budget; that £10 then has a huge impact at the school because it pays for another hour or so of top quality care and education for local pre-school children."

Energetic fellow parent Nicki Mosley was involved with the organisation and Louise Cliff, another businesswoman parent, who owns Whiston Hall Golf Club and Mansion Hotel, kindly donated the venue.

Some 40 people came along to experience this relaxed and informal business networking event where people doing business in the Staffordshire Moorlands took the opportunity to mingle and chat to fellow business people. Most also made a brief presentation about their businesses to fellow guests. Some also put up a trade stand or made a table display to present products and services on the night.

The event raised just short of £200 for the organisers' chosen local charities (Ipstones Pres-school Playgroup and St Leonards School). We are very grateful to Whiston Hall for generously providing the venue and facilities

If you would like to receive an email invitation to the autumn event please use the Newsletter Sign up box on the right and select the list for Staffordshire Moorlands Networking Events.