ABM... A Sales Solution?

Account-based marketing (ABM) has always been considered to be a marketing tactic, but in recent years we are uncovering how it can be used as a sales solution too.

As marketers, we’ve understood the value in collaborating with sales to achieve the best ABM results, and now that sales have got a taste of the potential of ABM, it seems as if sales are starting to use ABM to achieve their own goals.

Where is the boundary between marketing and sales?

There have been some clear lines between sales and marketing in the past, after Hubspot introduced their infamous ‘smarketing’ the lines became a little blurred. One thing to get straight is that we are all working towards the same end goal, to get more customers. If we can combine our insight, that’s what business success looks like.

Let’s review some definitions to understand the difference between sales and marketing alignment, and sales enablement, because you’re not alone in thinking… what exactly are they and what’s the difference?

  • Sales & Marketing Alignment: The structural and philosophical positioning of sales and marketing to define and facilitate mutual success, driven from the top of the funnel down to the bottom.
  • Sales Enablement: The activity of providing the materials, insights, guidance, or any other material that is needed support the prospects experience. This might include content, training, customer insight, apps etc.

The reason why many people are struggling to grasp what they mean is because they’re concepts and mean different things to a lot of people. Essentially, sales and marketing alignment is when they come together for mutual success such as qualified leads, and sales enablement is all about improving the experience of the prospect through providing valuable information.

So why are sales teams turning to ABM?

Since COVID there’s been a huge uptake in ABM from sales teams as they are no longer on the road travelling and meeting potential customers. This is the direct sales solution for not being able to get out and meet prospects.

Another reason why sales are turning to ABM is due to how targeted it is, tools such as LinkedIn allow you to focus on specific job titles within target companies and serve those prospects with tailored content that engages. Sales are using ABM to warm up the leads with relevant content before picking up the phone, kind of sounds like sales enablement… right? Maybe the outcome of COVID is that sales are investing their time that would have been spent at trade shows/events connecting with potential customers on sales enablement activities.

What about late adopters…? How to convince sales on ABM as a sales solution

When you ask a sales rep what they want they will typically say they want

  • Customers to know they are credible
  • The optics of how the deal looks to the rest of the business and understanding of how to make their solution look like the right decision
  • Large reach of important stakeholders
  • Business perception from the prospect
  • Unity of bringing people together and promoting success stories

Sales and marketing are often saying the same things, just using different words. Credibility and perception instead of brand. Reach and optics instead of awareness. If marketers can switch their language, it can really help to successfully engage sales.

What makes ABM a good fit for sales?

What I love about ABM is that it’s constantly evolving, I also talk about how ABM likes to shift shape and take different forms in my blog ABM – Where are we now?. ABM is evolving into a strategy that sales teams are wanting to adopt, I’ve had many client calls where we deal directly with sales teams on how we can support them with ABM.

Commonly, sales teams want to get the contact details of target accounts/prospects they haven’t been able to secure in the past. Sales teams are more interested in getting the contact details of the people that matter in an organisation and being able to personally follow up with them, whereas marketing teams are more interested in getting leads in the database for nurturing.

I’ve noticed that when you get sales onboard and they see the opportunity with ABM, they really want to use it to its full potential. For sales, this means putting more focus on the big wins and maybe going for one to four companies at a time while tailoring ABM campaign messaging to each pain point you know they are experiencing. In marketing terms, we’d call this a hyper targeted approach.

Maybe this is the era of marketing and sales truly working closely together to produce effective ABM campaigns.

ABM – Where Are We Now?

It’s safe to say that Account-Based-Marketing (ABM) is now an embedded strategy in the B2B space and that it isn’t going anywhere. ABM likes to shift shape, taking many forms including account-based-marketing, account-based-everything, and account-based-sales. Whatever name you choose to call it, they are essentially the same thing and is something you should be looking into it if you’re not already utilising it.

I recently attended an ABM conference in which the strategy was referred to as flipping the marketing funnel upside down, and that’s because ABM fundamentally flips the funnel on its head and allows you to focus marketing budget and resources on high-value accounts.

ABM is taking B2B strategy to a whole new level, some professionals are even saying that the future of B2B marketing will only be account-based… I’ll let that sink in. As a marketing agency, we are seeing a growing number of clients run more ABM campaigns and organisations hiring dedicated Account-Based-Marketing Managers and Executives, which means we are already seeing the repercussions of this movement. Now is the time to start preparing your organisational structure for the future with internal ABM teams and agencies that have been successful in ABM.

This movement to ABM as an embedded B2B strategy has good reason too, ABM increases customer lifetime value by educating the product benefits earlier on in the buying cycle, decreasing the amount of time it takes to close a deal. ABM helps to lay good foundations in the customer journey for sales to speak directly with the customers and close the deal quicker.

On the point of sales and our good old-fashioned favourite… ‘smarketing’, we are noticing the roles of marketing and sales shapeshift over time. This is exactly why ABM isn’t just a marketer’s game. Especially with this year’s change of events with COVID, there’s been a huge uptake for ABM from sales, as ABM offers a direct sales solution for not being able to get out and meet prospects; providing the best opportunity that sales and marketing have had to work together for mutual benefits.

Don’t panic if you’re not as far ahead as some of the other companies that have started ABM. If you haven’t already now is the time to jump on the bandwagon, because remember you’re not alone and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, there is currently a massive knowledge gap in ABM campaigns, the current skillset for ABM varies greatly from company to company and there is a lack of understanding to effectively measure ABM return on investment; which means marketers haven’t progressed very far in terms of ABM strategy since it all started. But remember there are experts out there ready to give you a hand.

One of the most common challenges that marketing managers are facing today is dealing with pushback from management. It’s still relatively new which would explain why managers are still a little hesitant of approving the budget for ABM, the reality is that if you have the right measures in place it’s one of the most trackable strategies you can find.

Stay tuned for more content in Napier’s ABM stream and please reach out to the Napier digital team by dropping me an email if you have any questions!

Still not convinced on ABM? Check out our blog on 5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers are Talking about ABM

Email Data and Trends from a COVID-19 World

In a world that is rapidly changing, one thing that has remained consistent through this pandemic is the need for digital marketing. Digital has been vital for maintaining communication, and from team catch-ups in your PJs to technical difficulties, and of course a special shoutout to our teammates who can’t work out where the unmute button is; we’ve sure had our fair share of stories since working from home.

Email marketing has been a tactic that has not halted, in fact, email activity has thrived as more companies move away from traditional marketing techniques. This blog explores Litmus’ State of Email Report and what marketers should be doing with email in a COVID-19 world.

Email marketing today… and your predictions for tomorrow

The data for the report was collected from 2,000 marketing professionals, including email specialists, team leads, managers, directors, VPs and C-level executives.

  1. Personalisation is now a major focus if you want to get traction – We’re not just talking about ‘Hi [First Name]’ we’ve moved beyond this, it’s time to ramp up the personalisation further.
  2. Put your money where your measures are – There are far too many companies opting to send emails to their entire CRM and hoping for the best. Outrun your competition by fixing your email ROI.
  3. Don’t expect it to happen overnight – The higher the focus is on email, the more people within your organisation are going to want to make it successful and get involved. Approval processes are growing as there are more touchpoints.
  4. More emails and more messages – Companies are investing more money in email marketing which creates a greater demand for more unique messaging to differentiate between each communication.

Understanding the Predictions

Personalisation for better traction

We've all become tired of hearing that personalisation is key, but Litmus has given us the stats we need to get our act together:

  • Almost three-quarters of marketers say personalisation in email increases engagement
  • Personalised emails generate a median ROI of 122%
  • Birthday emails generate 3.42x more revenue per message than a standard promotional email
  • Emails with personalized subjects are 50% more likely to be opened

These are impressive stats, but where exactly are these companies using personalisation in the email itself? Litmus’s table below outlines the percentage of respondents who personalise different sections of an email.

Personalisation 2019 2020
Name, company name 83% 72%
Customer status (e.g. prospect/customer, seasonal shopper/year-round shopper) 44% 49%
Past interactions with your products, services etc. 27% 40%
Past interactions with your emails 32% 39%
Past purchases 31% 38%
Expressed preferences via preference centre, profile, account etc. 25% 32%
Geolocations 36% 31%
Past interactions with your website 25% 30%

As we move from 2019 to 2020 we are noticing a larger focus on personalising based on customer status, past interactions and purchases, and from companies letting recipients choose what their preferences are. While personalisation of the name and company was nice to have, we are seeing more and more companies shift to deeper personalisation methods; and focusing personalisation on recipient actions is a much more effective way to serve the contact the content that is relevant to them.

Put your money where your measures are

The survey found that a whopping 45% of email marketers believed their measurement was poor, very poor, or non-existent! One of the barriers that email marketers face is not having an accurate ROI calculation, without this, there is no way to calculate the effectiveness of emails in terms of income.

ROI can be calculated by subtracting the email marketing cost from the total sales growth and then dividing that number by the email marketing cost. As shown below:

Sales growth from email marketing – Email marketing cost = ROI
Email marketing cost

Another issue that clients face is the inability to accurately work out the cost of email marketing. There are many factors to think about including fees for email marketing platforms, agency cost for email creation, and in-house resources. It’s not always a straight forward calculation.

Lack of resources is perhaps one of the biggest causes of not measuring correctly, companies know they should be sending emails out so they do what they can in the time they have, without prioritising measurement.

The top six email measures that respondents should be tracking include open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, click-to-open rate, bounce rate and conversion rate. These are all relevant vanity metrics that tell you how your email is performing, but tracking the cost to revenue will give the clearest picture on how your emails are impacting the business.

Don’t expect it to happen overnight – Creations and Approvals

Only a few will be surprised to hear that 30% of email marketers say that the approval process is too burdensome, especially within larger companies where the email teams are bigger and growing. Emails are just as important as ever but we are noticing more companies put a bigger focus on getting the messaging right, which of course means more people are involved in the approval process.

So what issues exactly are email teams dealing with?

Ad-hoc approval methods are one way that messages can get lost in translation, collating dozens of different pieces of feedback on a range of platforms is only going to increase the time spent implementing that feedback.

Last-minute changes, everyone’s favourite…! These are never ideal but often can’t be avoided. The daunting question of whether you send round for one last final round of approvals and risk another set of last-minute changes is probably a question that a few of us are all too familiar with. Setting specific approval timelines with set days that certain people need to send feedback by can ensure that feedback is sent earlier which will give you more time to implement the changes.

Even with a tight approval process, it’s still important to understand the cause of changes. Changes to emails can be caused by a lack of briefing or an unclear brief. Minimise the chances of last-minute changes with a tighter briefing process. Specifics on tone, target audience, and top messages that you want to communicate to the recipients can reduce the need for changes later on in the process.

More emails more messages!

According to HubSpot’s How Many Touchpoints Are Necessary? blog, businesses need around eight touchpoints to have success with a prospect. Increasing the number of valuable emails you send that prospect is one way that you can build up those touchpoints.

With an increase in email messages, there is more pressure to get each message right. One way that email teams plan to do this is through A/B testing, with a massive 90% of respondents already running A/B testing on their emails. If you’re not running these tests yourself, then it’s highly likely that your competition is, and all the time they are doing this, they’re getting more insights into their database than you are. To the 10% that aren’t A/B testing, jump on the A/B testing bandwagon before it’s too late!

When ramping up your email activities, it’s important to consider whether you have done all the right checks to ensure your email will reach your recipients. The goal isn’t just to make an incredible email that ends up in the spam box. Don’t let your emails get caught up in spam filters, and regularly spam test your emails to ensure you’re not making vital mistakes that are driving your emails to the junk folder. Check out the full Litmus report for drivers of emails landing in the spam box and how to fix them.


There you have it, email data and trends from a COVID world. I hope this blog has been useful at giving insight into what email teams can expect for 2021 and how you can get ahead of the game. If you have any questions on email marketing and how to get ready for next year, get in touch with the Napier team today, and to read the full report yourself, please click here.



Bot or Being?

Are your email metrics suffering from surges in email clicks from bots?

Email security bots are known as a marketer's worst enemy. These pesky bots like to click on our emails and confuse email marketing teams left right and centre. While many email marketing platforms try to filter out bot clicks from your reporting, it's difficult to remove all of these clicks from reports.

The problem isn't new. WttW flagged the issue of phantom clicks back in 2013, and Demandlab posted a detailed analysis of the different approaches to filtering out these clicks in 2018, in response to it becoming a growing problem. Read on to learn how you can quickly identify and remove bot data from your reporting.

How do you know it’s happening to you?

You might be looking at your data and thinking to yourself, wow, look at these leads who are engaging with every single piece of content we send them. When you drill down into the data beyond the click you may find that these super engaged contacts are clicking within the same minute of every single email delivered to them, while this all sounds great and could be feasible, you might well be dealing with email security bots.

Tell-tale signs you might be dealing with bot clickers:

  • There are high numbers of clicks seconds after email is delivered
  • You are noticing email clicks before email opens
  • You notice particular contacts clicking on every link in the email (including home pages, social media platforms and everything in between)
  • It is happening to the same few contacts or accounts

Why do they do it?

These bots might not be a marketer's best friend, but we must remember that they are just doing their job. A security bot’s role is to protect their domain by preventing harmful links reaching the recipient and flagging anything that could be harmful such as viruses and other spam. It's not possible to just look at the links in the email, as links often redirect. In fact your marketing automation system uses these redirections to count the clicks for each of the links in your email. So, to find out if the links in your email are harmful they must follow all links, which triggers your marketing automation system to count a click as the link is redirected to the final URL. Because the filtering occurs before the email reaches the inbox, these bot clicks will occur before the prospect has opened the email.

It’s important to remember that bots are not trying to work against you, even though you might think they are! In fact, they are removing the spam from the recipients' inboxes, making it a little more likely that your email will be read.

How can you solve this?

Your solution will depend on what you want to achieve, whether this is the visibility of how many bots are regularly clicking on your emails, or if you are looking to remove the contacts from reporting altogether. You'll also find that your marketing automation system is probably not counting clicks from IP addresses known to be security scanners, as Pardot highlighted a year or so ago.

One tell-tale sign that I mentioned earlier is that you can identify a bot as they will click on every single link in the email, they do this to check that all links are safe. Whereas, human clickers won’t tend to click on every link, every time. So you can filter out anyone who clicked on all the links. Demandlab's suggestion of ensuring that a visit to a web page was registered, as well as the link, is another approach, but with the increasing sophistication of IT security, some bots might check Javascript on your landing page. Ultimately there is no perfect way of knowing precisely how many humans clicked on your links: any of these approaches, or simply having a list of recipients you know have security that causes this problem and sending to them separately all give pretty accurate statistics.

Don’t get caught out – Napier’s top tip

There is one thing that you really must do: avoid using one-click unsubscribe links. If a bot clicks on these links, it will accidentally unsubscribe your contacts from your database. Using a two-step unsubscribe process will ensure that any unsubscribe has been made by a real person.


Still have questions on how you can quickly identify and remove bot activity from your campaigns? Reach out to the Napier team and we can work with you to prevent bot data clouding your email reporting.

Our Top Four Takeaways from Rand Fishkin’s ‘What Google Says vs What SEOs Believe’ Webinar

Here at Napier, we are always looking for new ways to stay up to date with the latest trends and information within the marketing industry. Which is why our interest peaked when we heard Rand Fishkin (the ultimate SEO guru), and Eric Enge (General Manager at Perficient digital) were hosting a webinar to discuss the results of the recent SparkToro survey on professional opinions of ranking factors.

For those of you who don’t know Rand Fishkin; he was originally the founder of Moz, before setting up SparkToro in 2017. Recently the company completed a survey asking more than 1,500 SEO professional’s to take part, with the aim to reveal a wide range of opinions and views on Google ranking factors.  Survey recipients were asked to rate the importance of each ranking factor in how it impacts organic search results.

The question they were asked was: “For each of the following factors, enter your opinion of how much weight it receives in Google’s organic ranking systems”

Recipients were given a 0-10 scale to rank each factor and the following labels were used:

  • 0 – Note used
  • 5 – Moderately used
  • 10 – Very heavily used

The webinar was a fast-paced and informative hour, so we’ve narrowed down the results to our top four takeaways…

The Truth About Amount of Content on Page

“I don’t think Google gives two poops about how much content is on the page” – Rand Fishkin

And you know what...? I think I might have to agree with Rand on this one, why should it matter how much content is on a page? We should be going for quality text rather than the quantity of it.

Surprisingly, many SEO professionals weighted this much higher than you might have thought. The ‘total amount of on-page content’ averaged at 5.69. Which, if we look back at the scale, suggests that this factor is moderately used by Google algorithms. I think it’s safe to say this is not an important ranking factor, however, it was shocking to see that so many people placed this highly.

With the overall belief of the more in-depth your text, the better you will rank for SEO. Rand explained that although there is an element of truth to this, content which solves the customers problem is actually what Google cares about, rather than blogs or pages that are 850 words compared to 200. This doesn’t mean blogs or pages should be only bare minimum, but marketers can relax knowing that that not every piece of content needs to be super-long in length.

Good Old Anchor Text

The classic ranking factor that is used to improve page quality by linking to a specific keyword. This factor has always previously been a secure tactic for ensuring relevance, however, we are now seeing much more divided opinions.

Rand mentioned that if we look back to 2005 through to 2017, this would have been number one, number two or three of the top-ranking contributors. The real truth is that while it’s still important, Google now have better algorithms for identifying irrelevant pages and this is no longer number one.

External Linking – Networking for Websites!

External links are very important as they tell Google that you’re a great participant in the overall web ecosystem, like networking or building relationships for websites! I had hoped that in the eyes of others this was also a highly weighted factor that Google actively ranks on.

Maybe I had my hopes a little too high, this is only a small ranking factor in terms of organic results; In terms of building relationships with significant industry figures (outside of SEO), it is still a very beneficial tactic for your business.

The Importance of Web Page Load Speed

Within the survey, respondents were asked ”How much weight does web page load speed receive in Google’s organic ranking systems?”

Averaging at 6.8 we can see that load speed is believed to be a significant factor for ranking. Yet the big question left on Eric’s mind was, if people know it is important, then why do people do so little about it?

Rand went on to answer this perfectly, suggesting that there are a lot of slow-loading sites that rank well, setting the perception that actually this factor doesn’t affect ranking, and Google’s statements haven’t shown the significance of this feature.

Google's Porky Pies

The recipients of the survey were asked how truthful they thought the following statement by Google was: “We don’t have anything like a website authority score.”

Well… why don’t I just pack my bags and leave because everything I know is wrong. This statement was officially made by Gary Illyes at Google, and it’s safe to say from the results below that the large majority of people thought this was also a porky pie, with 36% of professional rating this statement as ‘provably false’.

For more information on the rankings, you can watch the full webinar here. 

All the CIM Lecture Notes - A Mini Marketing Course

Throughout my Chartered Institue of Marketing (CIM) qualification in Professional Marketing, I've been writing up lecture notes to give a little taster on what to expect if you're considering taking the course yourself; or if you're just looking for marketing advice on tools, models and strategies. It's a really valuable course if you are interested in marketing. I found it particularly worthwhile completing the course while alongside work, as it provided opportunities to learn new tactics from both a theory and client-facing point of view.

My CIM lecture notes are in the three following sections:


Marketing Module

A marketers role is important in driving success to the business, and delivering results. This module takes you through the foundations of marketing, and I would strongly recommend this as a stand-alone module for anyone looking for a career in marketing, if you don't want to take the full course. It outlines an understanding of how external environmental influences affect planning, and how information enables decision making. The marketing mix was a key element of this unit, and how you can apply the marketing mix to address market and customer needs. Please see below for my CIM lecture notes on the marketing module:


Week 1 - Marketing’s position within a business

Marketing defined! Exploring the definition of marketing, its functions and roles it plays within a business. This blog also includes a great description of key terms and useful definitions!


Week 2 - Planning and buying behaviour

This blog explores the marketing planning process, why it’s an important part of marketing, and how buying behaviour affects the purchase decision. These lecture notes also explore how influencers have an impact on the business, or customer/ consumer such as environmental, social and political.


Week 3 - Factors and trends in the marketing environment

Trends are important for marketers as they help us identify what direction marketing is taking ahead of time. Knowing trends before they happen allow us to understand what is and isn’t working, and then implement that change before your competition does.


Week 4 - Marketing information and research

Marketing information/data and research, why we need insight as marketers, and how we can use it to make better judgments and more effective campaigns. Understanding that data + information = INSIGHT.


Week 5 - Presenting your data and information to form insights

How to present and gather insights from raw data. Once we have these insights into the current situation, we can then use them in forecasting; this blog discusses the benefits of forecasting in marketing.


Week 6 - Outlining the marketing mix

It must be the MOST fundamental of all marketing concepts, behold… the marketing mix! Here's everything you need to know about the famous 4 Ps of marketing.


Week 7 - Putting the marketing mix into context

How we can adapt the marketing mix to the following organisation types, business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), and not for profit/third sector, and small to medium-sized enterprise (SME). Markets are dynamic, and constantly changing, this blog explains how we can shift our marketing activities in order to meet different objectives.



Digital Marketing Module

This module appreciates the importance of the ever-changing digital landscape and how to improve digital marketing effectiveness from using the tools required; While also providing awareness to the challenges and opportunities marketers face within the digital environment. I will applaud CIM as they ensure they update their syllabus each year, meaning that they are teaching students what is happening NOW. In the digital landscape, we need to be aware of was is happening right now in order to give us a competitive edge. Please see below for my CIM lecture notes on the digital marketing module:


Week 1 - Digital disruption and The Scope of Digital Marketing

Digital disruption and more importantly how they can make an impact on your business model. We also looked at the scope of digital marketing, with specific attention to the Internet of things, Big Data, and Marketing Automation.


Week 2 - Integration of Online and Offline Marketing

Assessing the impact and influence of the dynamic digital environment and how customer behaviour has changed as a result. Today we looked into ways to integrate online and offline marketing concepts to increase impact.


Week 3 - Digital tools in the marketing mix

How digital tools can support and enhance marketing efforts, and the role of digital marketing within the marketing and extended marketing mix.


Week 4 - Digital tools strengths and weaknesses

Here's a great overview of the digital tools available and how they can support and enhance your marketing strategy with their strengths and weaknesses. This blog also covers the ways in which digital hardware can fit into marketing.


Week 5 - Describing the process and stages involved for digital adoption

The process and stages involved in digital adoption, common misuses and evaluating platforms for different contexts.


Week 6 - Digital marketing plan models (Your planning tool kit!)

A COMPLETE guide to planning models and how to use them! This blog covers the customer journey, Multi-channel campaigns, Marketing Funnel, RACE model, and SOSTAC.



Integrated Communications

Understanding the importance of effective internal and external communications in building sustainable relationships, and delivering customer value. It dives deep into explaining how the concept of product and brand management can enable brands to deliver customer value. This module also looks at how we can apply the marketing mix in terms of producing consistent brand messaging throughout the business. Please see below for my CIM lecture notes on the Integrated Communications module:


Week 1 - Integrated Communications

The value and importance of good internal and external communications. How effective internal communication is key to building sustainable relationships and delivering customer value.


Week 2 - Benefits of Having Internal Relationships

The benefits of internal relationships in the workplace and what they mean to the company and employees, and the different methods available for communication.


Week 3 - Allocating internal resources

Each organisation needs efficient resources to maintain a successful business, this blog outlines why these resources need to be effectively managed and allocated.


Week 4 – Brand and Product Management

Successful brand building is at the root of a profitable business and one of the biggest hurdles that a marketing team will face. Marketing’s role serves to generate brand awareness and to strengthen brand image as a strong brand will generate profits.


Week 5 – Brand Building Models

This week we explored how we use different models for brand building and the different types of brand attributes. A blog covering the following brand building methods, Brand Identity Prism, Perceptual Map, AIDA and Customer Value Proposition (CVP).


Week 6 – Integrated Communications Planning

Identifying appropriate SMART communication objectives and how to recommend integrated marketing communication (IMC) plans. As well as the 3 Ps - Push Pull and Profile Strategies.


Week 7 - Media Implementation Cycle

How the media implementation cycle fits into marketing communication planning, and how we might measure effectiveness across multiple channels.


If this blog has sparked interest, and you are looking for information regarding the Chartered Institute of Marketing, visit CIM.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 7 - Media Implementation Cycle

This week’s lecture notes will look at how the media implementation cycle fits into marketing communication planning, and how we might measure effectiveness across multiple channels.


Media implementation cycle

Before diving into the media implementation cycle, we must first look at the different types of media available. Using media will support communication planning, as it allows you to consistently promote company messaging through channels that your prospects are using daily.

The three key media categories are:

  • Bought media: Adverts, Sponsorship, Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Owned media: Websites, LinkedIn articles, Blogging
  • Earned media: Press Coverage, Viral and Social media

Media implementation strategy needs to be planned systematically. Pickton & Broderick (2005) developed the media implementation cycle to be used as a planning framework for media activities. The media implementation cycle features coherent activities including media strategy planning, scheduling, target audience, and media selection, right through to media evaluation at the end.



How do we use the media implementation cycle?

  • Marketing communications objectives and strategy: This is the first step in the framework, and it means that your objectives and strategy need to be set ahead of planning media implementation. For definitions on objectives and strategy please see my last blog.
  • Target audience: Your target audience/ audiences are the people that you intend to reach with your media marketing communication messages.
  • Media objectives: In this section, you should outline what you plan to achieve in terms of media reach, the frequency of activities, and the impact of messages.
  • Media budget: The budget of the media plan will vary depending on company size, but any budgets should be relative to the objectives you plan to achieve and segmented by each platform to give better analysis of financial resources for each activity.
  • Media selection: These are the range of media channels you plan to use to communicate company messaging to your target audience.
  • Media scheduling: The process of planning the frequency of advertising, and when you plan to place your ads.
  • Media buying: Speaking with publications to seek the best advertising rates or the process of purchasing other media promotion methods.
  • Media evaluation: The assessment of how well your media advertising performed, you may wish to evaluate advertising based on click-through rates or uplift in sales.

Many of these steps within this media planning framework concern the reach, frequency, and impact of messages communicated to the audience.


How do we measure the effectiveness of different communications?

Using a variety of channels really brings a bundle of benefits. However, measuring all these channels alongside each other can prove difficult as each channel will have a slightly different way of analysing metrics. For example, when reviewing advertising stats, you could be looking at click-through rates and impressions. When reviewing a contributed article that you have earned, there’s simply no metrics you can pull out from it except the number of people the magazine was sent to. Even when taking the circulation figure, that doesn’t really tell you the actual number of people that read or even acted (such as visited the company website to find out more information) from reading the article. The challenge is real.

Seeing an uplift in sales is one of the most used methods for measuring the success of campaigns. It doesn’t provide granular detail on what assets were performing best but it does provide you with real stats that indicate how well your overall marketing is doing. Another key indicator is the number of direct responses your company is receiving from new prospects such as incoming calls, redeemed vouchers, and higher email open rates. It is important to factor in that the results for some of your marketing communication plans will be long term, such as brand building. While some of the media advertisement may bring direct short-term business such as sales.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 6 – Integrated Communications Planning

With our Integrated Communication plan hand-in just around the corner, we decided to look at identifying appropriate SMART communication objectives and how to recommend integrated marketing communication (IMC) plans.

In this blog, we’ll explore the strategies in an integrated communications plan and how it helps raise company profile and brand image.


What are Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)?

It has been around for a while and it’s still very valuable, as it ensures that all your messaging is aligned to support the desired brand image. The key point to remember is all internal and external messages should be consistent and aligned to support the brand identity; Brand identity can be developed by using brand building models.

“Integrated marketing communications is an approach to promoting a message through multiple strategies that work together and reinforce one another." the balance small business

For more information on IMC please check out my blog on Integrated Communications.


Aims, Goals, Objectives, Strategy and Tactics …

So, you will need all of them for the plan, but what tells them apart? Before you start any plan, knowing this is crucial.

Aim – This is the business's purpose or desired outcome, they tend to be more general than goals or objectives because they are focused on a bigger long-term result

e.g. Achieve a marketing share of 20% within three years of the product launch

Goals – A goal is usually a target that won’t contain the steps needed to get there, but will be more specific than an aim

e.g.  Increase profits by 25% within one year

Objectives – These are measurable and there are usually multiple objectives within a marketing plan. Objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Time-bound). We have a SMART Objective Generator you can try out.

e.g. To increase the monthly website views, coming from organic search, social media, email marketing, and direct traffic, by 10% within the next 12 months

Strategy – This is the ‘What’ that builds out a plan, within the strategy you should answer ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’.

e.g. You might consider writing about the competitive landscape and what you are going to do to achieve a competitive edge or gain more market share

Tactics – These are ‘How’ you will achieve the goals you have set, they are the specific activities that need to be carried out.

e.g. Using social media channels to promote and share relevant content to followers


Push Pull and Profile Strategies – The 3P’s

When it comes to marketing communication planning, there are three different methods you can base your strategy on, and these are the 3P’s of marketing communication. A push strategy forces the product down into the distribution channel by putting emphasis on product promotion. A pull strategy is used to satisfy corporate promotional goals and involves communication between customer/ consumer to attract them to purchase from retailers and distributors; Businesses use a profile strategy to develop corporate promotional goals.


Push Strategy: What

The push strategy aims to get the product to market without spending a massive amount on advertising, this is where direct and personal selling is used to acquire customers. Businesses tend to use trade shows for this strategy as a chance to use personal selling against industry figures attending.

Push strategies work best when the purchase decision is low-level and usually unplanned or described as an impulse buy. Also use this strategy if there are a low brand loyalty and there is good substitutes/ alternative products available to the consumer. This is a good strategy for consumers who are familiar with the product.

Push Strategy: How

  • Shop displays
  • Packaging design work
  • Arranging stock agreements with retailers/ distributors
  • Direct face-to-face marketing
  • Attending industry trade shows


Pull Strategy: What

Unlike the push strategy, pull strategies are softer, promotion heavy and directed towards the end user. Lots of promotional offers are needed to support the campaign. The additional advertising used in this method means the total cost is considered as high.

If product demand is high, then it signifies that a pull strategy would be relevant. Also, if you have clear product differentiators that are based on emotional or real features. For consumers that tend to make brand choice decisions before they go to the shop, and if they have a high brand loyalty then this method is also suitable.

Pull Strategy: How

  • Promotional sale offers
  • Product competitions
  • Sponsorship
  • Free samples
  • Public Relations

Profile Strategy: What

Developing a profile strategy is a little different from the other two methods. It aims to build brand awareness and perception, which is done through positioning and brand identity development. The strategy is about sustaining communication with stakeholders and keeping them in the loop with company updates, often done through monthly newsletters.

Profile Strategy: How

  • Corporate advertising
  • Maintaining a social media presence
  • Sponsorship
  • Company newsletters

Winning with Conversion Rate Optimisation – from Marketing Week Live 2019

Marketing Week Live (MWL), well it’s probably one of the most hyped marketing events in the UK. As you can imagine it got very busy, so don’t make the mistake of wearing heels.

The time I spent at MWL this year was valuable, as I spent the day attending sessions, and connecting with existing and potential suppliers that Napier could work with. As a word of advice, if you are considering attending next year, then remember its beneficial to get to the talks at least 15 minutes early. Or you risk the chance of sitting on the floor or standing at the back peering over everyone.


Winning with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

During my time at MWL, I attended an interesting talk from Deepak Lamba, CRO Consultant at VWO. The talk highlighted the key pillars of a successful conversion optimisation rate (CRO) program, and also brought to our attention how different the customer journey is now, compared to how it used to be. Once upon a time, there was a simple customer journey that went in a linear click-based pattern, it looked something like this:



Now it’s a little different, people now shop in more ways than they ever have before. On average, there are about 10 touch points before a contact becomes a qualified lead. So, when we begin to imagine what this looks like, we see this:


The reason for this is simple, people now shop across many different platforms at the time they wish. People are now more likely to pop back and continue shopping from a different platform to before; making it incredibly hard to track customers from start to finish. We have moved on from measuring petty clicks and into a new exciting era of measuring impact. Now it is all about tying marketing revenue with deep insights into customer journey and touch points. Touchpoints that lead to sales. Many companies are still not taking a structured approach for testing, for reasons such as no optimisation roadmap/ framework, lack of understanding of A/B testing, and lack of buy-in from leadership teams.

Now to reveal the key pillars of a successful CRO program (Research, Hypothesis, Prioritise, Test, Measure/ Learn):


This lovely simplistic method for testing may take you back to your school science lessons and testing. It really gives a good framework for planning out your program from start to finish. To begin your research, you must understand your trail. For eCommerce organisations the map of your audience trail might look like this:


What methods would we use to measure the effectiveness of a conversion rate optimisation program?

  • Heatmaps: The simple answer, they visually show which parts on page people are mostly looking at/ using, this identifies which pages are selling.
  • Scroll maps: They tell you how long people are scrolling down the page; And which pages are keeping customers engaged the longest.
  • Session replays: A very easy feature to use, they enable businesses to record, save and replay interactions their visitors have on the site. They will help you understand why a customer may have left the website without doing anything.
  • Surveys: For insight into the effect of word of mouth on your direct traffic.
  • Form analytics: To help you build an understanding of how visitors interact with every form field.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 5 – Brand Building Models

After last week’s lesson, on the importance of brand and product management. This week we explored how we use models for brand building. We also explored the different types of brand attributes.


Intrinsic and Extrinsic

Brand characteristics can come in two varieties, these are intrinsic and extrinsic. It’s important to remember that the decision to purchase a product or service will be based off one of these types of attributes, both attributes play a part in what makes the customer buy.

Intrinsic attributes of a product refer to its basic functional characteristics such as performance and shape. If an intrinsic characteristic of the product were to change then this would impact the product directly and not necessarily the brand.

The other characteristics that a product can have are Extrinsic, which are not directly linked to the product itself. Extrinsic attributes derive from the brand name, marketing communications and messages, packaging, and price to name a few. These are all features that affect the perception of the product and often help customers to distinguish one brand from the next.


Brand Building Models

Companies use brand models to predict the behaviour of your customers and prospects. More specifically they help drill down into key brand messaging for achieving business growth. Outlined below are the main benefits of using a brand model:

  1. Consumer mindset – Using the right brand model you can identify the consumer’s mindset, as well as attitudes and behaviours towards your brand.
  2. Predict the future – Brand models will ask the ‘what if…’ questions to predict likely outcomes. With the future outcomes in mind, you can then start to consider future actions you might take.
  3. Providing information – Provides information that leads to insights that will help you achieve business goals.
  4. Quintessential framework – A brand model gives you the full overview of what your brand does, and why they do it, that’s why we say it’s the quintessential framework for evaluating and decision making.


Here are 3 Core Branding Building Models:


Brand Identity Prism

Kapferer’s Brand Prism (2004) is one method used in brand building, “Jean-Noel Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism, which holds that brand identity occurs in a nexus between corporate image and consumer perception” (Anderson, 2010). Anderson points out an important part of the prism - that it incorporates the connection of a brand’s outward/ external expression on the left and the internal expression of the brand on the right. This model is used to determine the brand personality, and once it has been identified, it can then be built and consistently communicated.


The diagram below provides an overview of what the brand prism model might look like for Napier. Providing deeper insight into understanding our brand and how we can build upon it:.



Perceptual Map

The perceptual map model is used to visually analyse where competitors stand and benchmark according to the set values. The core outcome from a perceptual map is to see where you benchmark against your competitors. I’ve included a diagram below to demonstrate what this might look like for a selection of competing cake brands:



This clever acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The ADIA model is used when creating a brand’s messaging, and applies a simple structure that covers all the points to include when writing content, for example, the text for an advertisement. This model will usually look like the below diagram:


Customer Value Proposition (CVP)

The customer value proposition is a marketing statement, that is designed to persuade. The CVP perswades prospects on the benefits of a specific product/ service. It’s more of an external message for customers and prospects rather than an approach for internal use amongst employees.

In simple terms:

CVP = What the customer gets for what the customer pays


The customer value proposition can be put into three categories, there is benefits, points of difference, and resonating focus. The main challenge for marketers is how exactly we communicate the CVP to prospects.

CIM Lecture Notes - Week 4 - Brand and Product Management

This week we learnt how, as a company we build a successful brand and communicate this with our customers. Organisations can sell their products or services, but it all comes down to the fact that customers buy because they believe in your brand and not just your products and services.

Successful brand building is at the root of a profitable business and one of the biggest hurdles that a marketing team will face. Marketing’s role serves to generate brand awareness and to strengthen brand image as a strong brand will generate profits.


What is product management?

Product management involves being responsible for understanding customer requirements and implementing changes to product ranges. Funnily enough, products are managed by product managers, and this means that they are responsible for adding particular products to ranges or discontinuing old products when they reach the decline phase of their product lifecycle.

I have touched on the product lifecycle, also called the Diffusion of innovation model before in CIM, it’s the breakdown of the phases that a product will go through, starting with its introduction, through to decline phase and is demonstrated in the diagram below.



Benefits of branding

Organisations have assets in which they can add brand value. These assets include:

  • Brand name awareness
  • Brand loyalty
  • Perceived quality
  • Brand associates


Companies need to build on their brand in order to improve their assets, here are some of the benefits that brand building can bring:

  • Improved perceptions of value - customers will see a greater added value when they buy your products
  • Trust - customers trust brands that have a clear messaging and structure
  • Less vulnerability to competition - a clearly defined brand will differentiate you from other businesses as customers can easily identify you from the rest
  • Less vulnerability to crisis - strong brands can leverage the brand name to survive a public crisis
  • Larger margins - customers buy for the added value that your brand brings when they make a purchase, meaning that there will be more sales to well established brands
  • Platform for brand extensions - using an existing well-established brand on new products to increase profits

CIM Lecture notes - Week 3 - Allocating internal resources

Each organisation needs efficient resources to maintain successful business, and these resources need to be effectively managed and allocated. Last week we talked about the benefits of internal communication, which leads into why some organisations will employ an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Manager. This manager will specifically handle the responsibility of communications management and internal marketing. A good IMC manager will ensure that there is a constant flow of communication, both internal and external.


Types of Resources

We can look into four different areas of organisational resources, these are the following:

  • Physical Resources - They vary depending on the organisation but for some this will include physical manufacturing capacity, retail outlets and office buildings.
  • Human Resources - Is a key resource for every organisation, they include members of staff such as managerial, admin, and specialists. It’s important to remember that when employees are motivated and engaged the performance of the company will be better.
  • Financial Resources - This area is usually managed by a financial specialist, and budgets are put in place. A company’s financial resources will include net worth, capital, credit reputation, cash flow and share price.
  • Intangible Resources - Is a bit harder to put onto paper, but it a company’s overall image, branding, market reputation and goodwill attitude.


How do we allocate these resources?

Fred Reichheld created a model called the Service Profit Cycle (SPC) in 1996 to demonstrate the links between how the company operates internally and the service performance it offers externally.



The way it works is simple, each linkage on the chain affects the next stage in the cycle:

  • Respectable amounts of employee retention and profitability means that they can afford to produce good quality external services to their clients.
  • If there is a production of good quality of external services, then we will have happy and satisfied clients.
  • If we have satisfied clients then they are likely to be loyal to the brand, become our promoters, are likely to purchase more/ often and recommend services to family or friends.
  • If our clients stay loyal, promote the brand, or purchase more from their satisfaction of the service, then we will see a rise in profits. As it’s cheaper to retain customers rather than to invest in new business, this will contribute to the growth of profits.
  • If there’s a rise in company profits, this money can be invested into internal growth such as employee recruitment, training, development, recognition, rewards and tools to aid our work and help us do a better job.
  • If internal service quality is high, this in turn increases employee satisfaction.
  • Employee satisfaction leads to higher employee retention rates.

It is possible that the SPC can also work in reverse, so don’t get caught up in the cycle of going in a singular direction. For example, where there might be a reduction in company profits it will mean that the company must make cuts elsewhere. At every point in the chain there is chance for positive or negative effect e.g. the level of customer satisfaction will affect the level of customer loyalty, if customer satisfaction is high, it will increase customer loyalty; Likewise, if customer loyalty decreased, then profits are also likely to decrease.

New Online Editor for Huthig

Congratulations to Gunnar Knuepffer who has joined the Huthig electronics team as the new online editor. Formed of AUTOMOBIL-ELEKTRONIK, elektronik industrie, elektronik journal, emobility tec and www.all-electronics.de, Gunnar joins the team after previously working as the editor for Produktion.

Gunnar replaces Therese Meitinger who has left the company to find a new role outside of the electronics industry. We wish her all the best in her new role.


Gunnar Knuepffer, Online Editor at Huethig


CIM Lecture notes - Week 2 - Benefits of Having Internal Relationships


In this lesson we learnt the benefits of internal relationships in the workplace and what they mean to the company and employees, and the different methods available for communication.


Benefits of internal relationships

Below I outline some of the key benefits of making sure that there is a good internal relationship structure in place and people follow it:

  • Internal relationships introduce a decentralised approach. This means that key decisions are not made at the centre of a business (senior management), meaning that the decisions are delegated further down the chain, a decentralised approach.
  • Internal relationships prevent silo mentality, which is an attitude that some organisations might have. Silo mentality occurs when members of organisations do not wish to share information or withhold information from others within that organisation.
  • Motivated employees who more loyal, because we are all more motivated to perform well on a task if we know what we are trying to achieve.
  • Cohesive team working, a cohesive team are able to comfortably converse with one another to communicate strengths and weaknesses, commit to decisions and are not afraid to engage in conflict around ideas. Cohesive team work steams from having a good internal communication structure in place.
  • Which nicely moves onto the next point of preventing conflict, poor communication is one of the biggest causes of conflict within a company. It leads to misunderstanding and can occur if a manager asks an employee to relay an important message to another employee, but the employee fails to relay the intended message.
  • It encourages innovation, because interdepartmental communication encourages people to share ideas about their work outside their usual team and as the ‘pool of ideas’ is larger and sparks innovation for knowledge-based ideas. For example, a sales team will see more success if they speak with marketing who might have more insight into what prospects are reacting well to in terms of marketing content.
  • More satisfied customers are a result of an organisation having a customer focus throughout all areas of the company. Departments that talk with one another have much more insight, and better idea of the bigger picture. Once this communication between teams develop, information is easily shared and used to the customers advantage.
  • And lastly staff that feel empowered to influence a policy that affects them, creating a vision and sharing it with the team will urge people to help achieve it. Transparency in communication is how you deliver the message to everyone.


Internal communication methods

The methods and tools available today are endless, businesses will use a collection of different tools for different purposes. Here some of the main communication tools that we are using:

  • Face to face meetings
  • Email
  • Text
  • Notice boards
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Newsletters
  • Video conferencing
  • Company intranet


Electronic Product Design & Test Confirms Mark Gradwell as New Editor

Congratulations to Mark Gradwell, who has been confirmed as the new Editor at Electronic Product Design & Test (EPDT).

After joining his role as a Consultant Editor in May 2017, Mark will step up to move into his new role as Editor from January 2019. Mark will manage full responsibility of EPDT content across print, digital, website, newsletters, social channels and live events.

It’s safe to say that everyone is thrilled with Mark’s new position. Richard Woodruff, Business Development manager at EPDT has said “I’m excited Mark is stepping up to assume full editorial responsibility across EPDT. He has already added a great deal of value during his first year and a half, helping develop EPDT’s editorial voice and product in print with his extensive industry network, solid technical understanding and strong writing skills.”

EPDT is a big player in the electronics market providing news on the whole electronics product development and manufacturing cycle. We are sure that the success will continue with the appointment of Mark Gradwell as Editor. EPDT ensures us that there are already many exciting plans in the pipeline!


Mark Gradwell Editor, EPDT

Landing pages - What are they? And why do you need one?

Landing pages are a vital part of any B2B inbound strategy. Once you have your content, you can use landing pages to inform potential customers why they need it, and what they will gain from it. Promoting your content also gives you the unique opportunity to collect useful insights about your customers by including a form they must fill out in exchange for the content.


What are landing pages?

A landing page is a standalone webpage promotes an offer, usually a piece of content, with the aim of getting them to part with their contact details by completing a form.

After filling out a form the visitor is directed to a thank-you page; you guessed it... it’s a page that says thank you for filling out the form. The visitor will either be able to download the content from this page, or it can also be sent to them via email.

There is a common misconception that landing pages are time consuming and not worth the hassle, however with the marketing automation platforms that are available today, they can be easily created using templates and drag and drop features while still looking professional.


What makes a good landing page?

A successful landing page will be focused on achieving one goal, this could be for a visitor to fill out a form, complete a survey, access a free trial, or download a free content offer. Landing pages that tend to have the highest conversion rates, will be aimed at a specific target audience segment. This means that the content you are offering is relevant to the person it is aimed at and it should be something that the person will see value in.

Another tactic to consider when developing a form for a landing page is progressive profiling. This is a useful technique for gathering information about the people you are targeting.  An example of this would be a person who is returning to your website having  previously filled out a form on another landing page.  You could ask that visitor a question they haven’t been asked before, for example what their biggest marketing challenge is.

Lastly, the value of the content that you are offering should be reflected in how much personal information you are asking for. If you are offering a marketing checklist for example, then you shouldn’t request much more information than a name and an email address. On the other hand, if you are offering an informative eBook then people might be more willing to give you a bit more information in the form fill. At the end of the day you are looking for conversions, so you need to present an offer that’s worth filling out the form for.


How to optimise B2B landing pages to increase conversions


- Have an interesting heading that showcases the value and tells prospects exactly what you are offering. The headline is the most critical component, remember that readers will scan landing pages, and therefore your headline shouldn’t be too long.

Limited navigation

- This means removing your usual navigation that sits at the top of your page such as the about us page/ contact us page. The goal is to get people to fill out the form and you don’t want to risk directing them somewhere else.


- Landing pages should always have a compelling picture, as this gives visitors a better idea of what they will receive and make the page more visually appealing. Just make sure it’s relevant to your offer.

Social sharing links

- These links will enable visitors to share your landing page on social networks. This will grow the reach of your landing page to fans and followers.

A thank-you page

- As I mentioned earlier a landing page should be followed with a thank-you page which thanks and provides prospects of details for the next steps of receiving the offer. Thank you pages can also be used to promote additional related content, frequently in exchange for further information from the visitor.



CIM Lecture notes - Week 1 - Integrated Communications

What is Integrated Communications?

This module is about understanding the value and importance of good internal and external communications. Effective internal communication is key to building sustainable relationships and delivering customer value.

It’s about delivering consistent, and transparent messaging throughout the organisation. Making sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.


Why do we need it?

For a business to be successful it needs motivated individuals. Communication management responsibilities help both allocation of resources to different areas of the business and motivate individuals by understanding their needs and working with them.

Communication strategy is now an essential method for improving business effectiveness. It’s more than just notifying staff about company announcements, it’s about putting a structure in place that binds the team together.

There are basic needs that employees want from a business, these include:

  • Income security
  • Increases in income
  • A safe and comfortable working environment
  • Sense of community
  • Interesting work
  • Recognition of effort
  • Gaining skills and career development
  • Sense of identity

A communications strategy helps employers guarantee that they are meeting these needs.


The assignment

For this module we will be writing an integrated communications plan for our chosen organisation, before we start this plan it’s good to think back to the different stages of planning. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How will you get there?

In the diagram below I’ve mapped out how the integrated communication plan will fit into these stages:


Internal marketing and cross functional relationships

Internal marketing is crucial - but what is it exactly? It is when a company treats their members of staff as internal customers/ stakeholders. The idea of this, is to create a positive work atmosphere where employees form cross-functional relationships with one another and work towards a common goal.

In other words, it’s the promotion of an organisations objectives, products/ services internally within the company. Companies do this to motivate employees to work towards the organisations goals and foster brand advocacy.

A common goal for businesses would be to have a cross-functional team of workers, this is group of people with different functional expertise that work towards achieving the same goal.


Who are the stakeholders?

Internal stakeholders: Employees, managers

Connected (micro): Customers, shareholders, suppliers, distributors, financers, retailers.

External (macro): Government, press/ media, pressure groups, local communities, professional bodies, society.


Organisational culture

This is made up of the values, behaviours, as well as social and physiological environment of a company. It’s almost like the company’s own personality, and it affects how people perceive what it’s like to work at that company.

Here’s a list of elements that affect organisational culture:

  • Power structures
  • Routines
  • Symbols
  • Control systems
  • Organisational structure
  • Storytelling

The Napier approach - Our 4-step process for delivering great service


The Napier approach was designed to help ensure we deliver the best service possible to our clients. A 4-step process tailored for the B2B technology market, ensures that we are applying the right processes and methodologies. Especially when planning, but also in our daily marketing activities. This approach is a great way to stop focusing on the individual activities and start thinking more creatively about new ideas for campaigns.




It’s so easy, particularly with modern marketing technology to launch a campaign with minimal planning and strategy. Achieving the best results depends upon having a process that defines things like the objective and audience and considers the best messages and tactics to achieve the results. Following the Napier 4-step process gives us the confidence that what we are producing high quality work, consistently.




Step 1: Determine

What: This stage is about understanding the current situation and how we can outsmart the competition.

The best campaigns are built on understanding clients and their strengths. By identifying and prioritising the things that really matter, the client’s strengths are isolated, helping us to achieve business goals that make a difference.

In this stage we look at the client, their products, technologies, the market and their competitors. We use a combination of analysis tools, research, and our existing experience to identify marketing and business goals.

Activities/ Tools:

  • Talking to the clients about their customers - This includes discussion around marketing goals, personal goals, and interviewing the client’s sales and marketing teams
  • Communications audit -We use the Meltwater tool to analyse online media coverage
  • Advertising audit - Print advertising audits require a lot of manual research an can be expensive, however, digital tools such as Spyfu provide us with good profiles of the SEM campaigns running
  • Ambition star – This is a model derived from Porter’s five forces. We have adjusted the elements to make it more focused for technology clients, but here’s an example of how it’s used:



  • Research - Surveys or qualitive interviews
  • Situation analysis - SWOT. Here’s some useful questions that could help you answer your SWOT:


Here is a completed SWOT for said ‘Cakes R Us’ company:



  • Product/ Customer involvement - B2B clients will know the distinction between high involvement and low involvement products. We use our product/ customer analysis tool to look at the relationship between the involvement of the customer and the level of involvement the supplier thinks the product demands. Here’s the Product/ Customer involvement in action:


  • Other tools that aren’t specifically aimed at technology clients but still may be used are: PEST, and Porter’s five forces, and the Boston matrix


Step 2: Focus

What: It’s where we identify the messages, channels and tactics that will drive prospects through the sales funnel more quickly.

Identifying the people that matter allows us to classify key elements such as the personas, and buyer journey. This stage demonstrates the tools needed to increase the pace, that prospects move through the funnel. We recognise the channels that buyers are using, and use these channels to help bring them closer to reaching a decision.

By building messages that will resonate with your prospects and customer; means that you are getting through to them and they will be more likely to make the decision to purchase from you.

Activities/ Tools:

  • Social media listening - Provides insight into attitudes and opinions of various stakeholders
  • Audience targeting - Defining the right audience
  • Stakeholder analysis - This involves building out a map of all your stakeholders, as not all stake holders will be affected by every business decision, this is a map that informs us who will be potential stakeholders and therefore educate our decision-making process
  • Personas - Developing personas for the target audience is the main way we clarify segmentation. We use the persona tool within HubSpot for this
  • Research and surveys - I’m sure this doesn’t require much explanation, we use this step to understand an individual’s perceptions
  • Perceptual maps - This is what we gather from our research, here’s what they look like:


  • Message development - Companies messaging chances too often as companies are acquired or new products are launched, we work with the client to develop their messaging (this includes their values, vision, competitor performance, to name a few)
  • Messaging house - Because it’s too important to get the branding and storytelling right. This is document that is produced from the step above, your message development
  • Buyer’s journey and Sales funnel - You’ve all heard of the sales funnel, and we lovingly support that methodology here as it can be applied to any sales process and it’s optimised for inbound marketing
  • Customer journey map - This is an alternative way to. describe all customer experiences. It begins with the customer first impression of the company and then finishes after sale of the product, this map incorporates any friction in the process of buying
  • Setting objectives (and SMART objectives) - Objectives must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound)
  • Valid metrics matrix - Built around the funnel and outputs, this model incorporates each stage in the funnel and the effect of these on you target audience, and intermediaries. Here’s the tool below:


  • Briefing sheets 


Step 3: Deliver

What: It’s where we deliver on campaign planning and strategy, to generate opportunities. In this stage we focus on achieving maximum impact on our tactics, from completing and delivering the work.

Activities/ Tools:

  • Payment by results - We actively encourage PBR to ensure that our pay is tied to the success of campaigns
  • Idea generation - Brainstorming and benchmarking are some of the ways that we generate ideas to be used for content and campaigns
  • Project/ activity tracking - By using tools as simple as protect dashboards, we make sure that we can keep track of all campaign activities that are taking place and report back to the clients on our progress
  • Dashboards including:
    • Press releases schedules
    • Article schedules
    • Content planning
  • Management tools schedules - Such as work-back schedules
  • And of course, how we deliver on our services:
    • Content planning and creation
    • Managing written content
    • Creation and editing of visual graphics
    • Video production
    • Website development
    • PR and media relations
    • Advertising and planning
    • Publication analysis
    • SEO services
    • SEM
    • Lead generation
    • Email marketing (including database management)
    • Email design and development
    • Landing pages
    • Marketing Automation
    • Social media marketing


Step 4: Enhance

What: It’s essential that we not only understand which campaigns have been successful, but also understand what techniques got us there. Communicating success to the client is just as important as recognising a successful campaign. The tools and techniques that we use to measure campaigns can be found in this section.

It’s where we refine what we do to deliver a better return on investment. The other steps within the 4-step process involve continuous adjustments, to improve the campaign. Whereas ENHANCE takes a step back to look over the approach as a whole. In this stage we identify if the approach we are using is as effective as it can be, or we may decide to radically change the process for success. Enhance isn’t about ‘tuning our engine’ it’s more about ‘building a better engine’ (if need be).


  • Evaluation strategy - Good objectives and KPI’s will determine how you evaluate. This will have been set out in the planning stage of the campaign
  • Media clips - We collect these in-house and share with clients
  • Meltwater - Our tool of choice when it comes to collecting online cuttings, it allows us to eliminate specific searches such as press from news wires and crawlers. This allows us to send off only the highest-value of cuttings to clients, and exclude ‘spammy’ copies of content
  • Coverage analysis spreadsheet - We believe this is standard format is the best way to present and analyse client coverage on a monthly basis, however, for specific campaigns we also do offer bespoke reports when required
  • Online activity and advertising - This goes beyond simply calculating basic metrics of cost per click, when we have access website data we can dive into looking at channel specific traffic, conversions, customer value to name a few metrics
  • Publisher stats - we use these as a last resort as you can never guarantee which publishers remove ‘spammy’ clicks and which include these within your data, never the less, they are still valuable when analysing campaigns
  • Google analytics and client statistics - This is a better tool to understand the real value, we can easily remove clicks from users that have bounced as this signals that they were not interested in the content and therefore filters out any bots, or ‘spammy’ clicks as we say
  • Marketing automation platforms - These platforms are highly important for tracking campaigns across all stages of a campaign, it gives insight into whether the interest from potential customers kicked off by a social media interaction, and followed that link through to the website where they decided to sign-up to a newsletter/ or even buy!
  • Social media analysis - These are some of our chosen tools for social:
  • KPI performance ­- Measurement matters! Marketing technology advances have made it easier to and more affordable to connect activities with outcomes, KPI’s (key performance indicators) are our tool for measuring the success



We use the Napier 4-step process to ensure we deliver the best possible campaigns for our clients, and also for Napier. The process not only generates great results, it also improves communication, both within the agency and without clients as we think about how to optimise the campaign.

Stuck for tools...? Why not visit our tool box?!



Interested in finding out how we can help you achieve your goals? Get in touch via the form below, and a member of the team will be in touch to arrange a meeting.

HubSpot's State of Inbound Report 2018

State of Inbound Report 2018

The state of Inbound 2018 report is finally here! Read on for some great stats and insights of the current state of the marketing landscape.

The Main Marketing Challenges and Priorities for Marketers

Top priorities:

  • 69% of marketers said that their biggest priority was converting leads to customers
  • 61% said that their marketing priority was to grow SEO and organic presence. Blog content creation followed second with 55% saying that is their priority. Surprisingly only 50% of people said that marketing automation was their priority, but I would expect this is because most companies already have this in place.

Top challenges:

  • 61% said their biggest challenge was generating traffic and leads
  • 39% said ‘proving the ROI of our marketing activities’. This is a big challenge as 53% of marketers said that ‘Inbound marketing gives us higher ROI’. While 18% of people could not or do not bother calculating ROI.

The Growing Importance of Video Marketing

In the 2017 report we saw a big shift with marketers focusing more on video marketing. The 2018 report shows that YouTube is the channel most invested in with 45% of marketers saying that this is one of the channels they will be investing in over the next 12 months.

But who started the video hype? Well, you may have thought this is a trend of the younger generation, but the State of inbound 2018 shows that it’s actually the senior marketing leaders who are making a stand and putting video at the forefront.

Business Preferences

Are you becoming a little anti-social? I think so... 83% of people within a business for internal communication prefer to communicate over email; with only 59% of people who would rather speak face-to-face. Looking at the other end of the scale only 32% of people want to communicate using messenger apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook messenger. It appears to be the C-Level executive’s that prefer using the messenger apps than VP’s, Managers and Individual contributors.

Overrated Marketing Techniques

HubSpot asked marketers what they think the most overrated form of marketing tactics, and by far, paid advertising was voted the most overrated. Maybe the death of paid advertising is near, there’s a few reasons this could be such as banner ads becoming too popular, or people aren’t seeing enough return on investment from them, we’ll have to wait and find out.


Surprisingly, 75% of sales teams have said that instead of improving the efficiency of the sales funnel that they are more focused on closing more deals in the year to come.

Now a sales team should be spending all their time on prospecting and selling, right? In fact, many reps are spending a lot of time on data entry. The report showed us that only 25% spend less than 30 mins on data entry per day, everyone else is spending between 30-120 minutes per day on data entry and other manual tasks.

On top of this, the majority of senior leaders are predicting that their sales teams are spending less than 30 minutes a day on data entry and manual tasks.

To download and read the report in full, please click here.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 7 - Putting the marketing mix into context


What did we cover?

Following on from our session last week, where we explored the marketing mix and the factors we should consider when choosing your own marketing mix. This week, we talked about how we can adapt the marketing mix to the following organisation types, business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), and not for profit/ third sector, and small to medium sized enterprise (SME).

Markets are dynamic, and constantly changing,. This blog in particular explains how we can shift our marketing activities in order to meet objectives that differ across organisations.


Business to Consumer Marketing

B2C marketing is usually the easiest of marketing techniques as, after all, we are all consumers. This gives us lots of previous buying experience to reflect on when deciding how you cater for your audience. For this business you need to ask all the questions that will be going through a consumer’s head before making the decision to purchase your product. The simplest way to do this is to imagine you are in their shoes, what do they want to know before buying?

After really diving into what they want to know and what takes a consumer to buy, you will need to tailor your marketing mix to their preferences. B2C’s use their product research and development to ensure that they are meeting their consumer’s needs and do continue to. This might include the after-sale care, such as a warranty for a phone, or added value such as ‘bundles of benefits’ which could be extra data free for a month with the purchase of a phone.


Business to consumer marketing needs to ensure that their products differentiate from their competitors. This is because consumers have a shorter decision process, than say, a team of influencers within a business making a B2B buying decision. Consumers won’t see the value in your product. Your product must cater to the individual’s needs; survey’s and focus groups are a good way to conduct this research.


Pricing strategies will vary depending on how well the brand is established; consumers might pay more for the brand itself even if a competitor is offering a similar cheaper product. The price needs to match the quality of the item.


There are many ways that the product can be distributed to the consumer, this includes less direct options such as manufacturers, agents, distributors, retailers; and more direct options such as your company website or an in-store purchase.


Techniques will vary dependant on your target audience, with online and offline techniques that you can get your business message across to your audience. The most important thing to think about is reaching your audience on the channels that they are already on, such as Facebook, or messaging on billboards in a particular area.


Business to Business Marketing

The main difference when marketing to a business and not to a consumer is that you will be marketing to a team of decision makers, rather than a singular consumer. B2B marketing can be categorised by the type of purchase, these main purchase categories are new-task purchase, modified re-buy, and straight re-buy.

For each purchase type the marketing mix will vary, this is because as the nature of purchases differ so will the marketing mix.

New tasks - These tend to have a complex decision-making process, mainly because it’s a new product that the company might not have much experience with and its likely to be a major process. Unless, it’s something like buying your stationary from a new supplier, which will probably be low risk.

Modified re-buys - Provided that the previous product met the expectations, then this style of purchase will be fairly straightforward as the customer knows what they want, whether this is the same as before, or a similar product with a newer modification. In this case, personal selling with personalised negotiations works really well.

Straight re-buys - When a business is buying a straight forward product, for example a standard product that is used in the manufacturing of their own product.


B2B companies need to make sure that their products have an advantage against their competitors, but the type of products that they are likely to be selling tend to be more complex. They might be more service based or mixed. As with more complex products, there will be an extra service such as technical advice and after sale training.


In B2B you will find that there is more leeway and negotiation when talking about price of the product/ service.


A lot of companies will buy directly from the supplier, this means that the distribution channel is much shorter than B2C. Key areas to think about here are transport arrangements, the storage of products, and inventory control.


The ‘buying unit’ within the customer organisation is often complex and B2B organisations will usually have a sales team that build a relationship with the key decisions makers and influencers, while catering the product to meet the customer’s needs. As the products/ services of a B2B company are more complicated, the advertising and promotion will also include a lot of educational content to teach the prospect about that particular area. Advertising is most likely going to be constricted by trade publications, the messaging of these ads normally takes a more logical approach rather than incorporating emotional messaging.



Small/ medium enterprise marketing

SME’s usually have less resources than larger companies, and with this, they might be limited in growth opportunities financially. Less resources will mean that they will take on a more hands on marketing approach and therefore have a more personal relationship with their customers. The decision-making chain is much shorter than what you would see in B2B, meaning better flexibility to cater for their customers specific needs. The distribution strategy will be simple, and promotion as it’s costly will be on an ‘all you can afford’ methodology.


SME’s key to success is about finding a niche in which they can differentiate themselves from larger competitors in the market. SME’s will take a flexible approach to new business when beginning to cater the product for customers.


A new SME might struggle to increase their pricing strategy as customers could question the reliability, or financial stability of a newly emerged product. A clear price structure that is based on the average price in the current market is how SME’s should begin.


Smaller enterprises tend to deal directly with the customer, it’s more personal but after a while new channels will develop and the selling with be less direct. SME’s need to consider the cost of different channels and how this cost might affect the overall price of the product.


Budget is often limited for SME’s promotion, and the approach is often what area of the business needs the most resources put in. You will see that SME’s will look for cheaper forms of promotion such as social media advertising, and steering clear of TV or radio ads. Digital media allow SME’s to reach a large audience geographically at a low cost, this is a better tactical approach for small businesses.



Not for profit/ third sector

Previously, marketing for not-for-profit companies was frowned upon, but today we see it in a different light.  The single biggest difference between commercial marketing and third sector marketing is their objective. Businesses are looking to satisfy stakeholders, and not-for-profit organisations are looking to serve a different type of stakeholders.


There might be a physical product that third sector organisations create in order to raise funds, such as a small memento, in this case there could be marketing around this product. Usually not for profit organisations is marketing a particular campaign as a service.


Prices will remain the same, they might not even cover the actual cost that the organisation is paying but this will be part of the package, that say, the council is giving back to the community.


This is usually high street shops such as a charity shops. However, there is an online presence for these organisations where people can donate and sign-up via a website that might have been shared through a link in an email.


Not for profit organisations are very limited by their resources. As the decision makers within these charities and other not for profits will want to give the majority of their money to ‘the cause’. These organisations need to ensure that they give out the right message, and a lot of time will be spent to make sure that the message is appropriate.


CIM Lecture notes - Week 6 - Outlining the marketing mix

What did we cover?

It must be the MOST fundamental of all marketing concepts, behold... the marketing mix! I have touched on this in a previous blog, however this was centred around the digital tools within the marketing mix. This blog outlines the key considerations when outlining your organisation’s marketing mix.


The marketing mix

It’s made up of the famous 4P’s which consist of product, price, promotion and place. The marketing mix was put into place to assist marketers with the how, where, and what, they should be selling their product or services for. These 4P’s are the tactics that us marketers use to meet the needs of stakeholders. Each P can be broken down into its own mix of activities:



This mix is about understanding how decision making takes place for new product development, what products a company should keep and of course, which products should get the sack (discontinued). Another important part of this mix is deciding what can be done to maintain your product. Modifications of existing products mean you can keep up with the pace of changing customer needs and the external environment.

  • Products will fall into categories, whether they are consumer or business to business marketing. These categories consist of convenience goods, shopping goods, speciality goods, raw goods, components, supplies, accessories, and installations. Here’s a good blog on the product classes if you wish to find out more.
  • There are different levels to a product or service when talking about its value, the ‘bundle of benefits or ‘total product benefit CIM like to say. It starts with the core product; which will benefit the consumer, for example with the use of a mobile phone, the core product would be communication. The next level of value is described as actual product, this is the value of the features and capabilities of the product/ service as well as any branding, packaging or design. For a mobile phone this could be the quality of the camera. The last added value of purchase is called the augmented product, this is all about the sales ‘after care’ if you wish, such as value through a product warranty, guarantee, customer service and support.
  • This was a model that was introduced by marketers to help better understand exactly how a buyer adopts and engages with a new product or technology. I’ve previously written a blog about the diffusion model, and you can have a look here if you haven’t already.



No shock here, this is where the pricing policy is discussed, as well as the methods and tactics for pricing. The desired positioning of a product is often reflected by the price. In this section we have the consumer in mind when considering what the pricing strategy will be for the product. The quality of the product must be reflected in its price for consumers to feel like they are getting a fair deal. For example, a corner shop with hand written neon stars as pricing labels wouldn’t be very successful with a Waitrose pricing strategy...

  • Company and marketing objectives should be reviewed when looking at the pricing strategy. This is because an organisation looking to grow their market share might need to initially reduce costs to get them where they want to be. Likewise, a company wanting to increase profits, will need to increase pricing.
  • There are a few pricing methods to choose from, and what works best will vary depending on the industry and organisation you are in. Pricing tactics include product line pricing, which is where products are ‘stepped’ (increased) dependant on their production cost, benefits and features. The next pricing tactic is optional product pricing, this means adding the option of extras to a single item, for a car the extra option might mean paying more in return for heated seats. Product bundle pricing, is for when products are sold together at a reduced price such as a multi pack bag of crisps.
  • Pricing strategies for a product or a portfolio of products include cost-plus pricing. This is a simple way of calculating the cost it took to produce the product and adding a fixed percentage for profit; this method does incorporate the marketing costs or efforts that went in to aiding the sale. Demand-based pricing is probably the consumers worst friend, this means marketers will set the price at what their research tells them that people are willing to pay. For cars, if the price goes up then people are likely to look elsewhere, but if your bus fare went up in price then for that unfortunate consumer they don’t really have another option and are more likely to pay the extra cost. Competitor pricing is when an organisation with match their competitors pricing. This includes when a company ‘matches’ the cost but at a slighter lower price for a competitive advantage. Psychological pricing, which I’m sure you will have seen everywhere, this is when you see a price at £99 - the trick is to make you think you are paying less.



Here is where we think about where we place our product for the best sales, how we might get the product to the consumer, and how much distribution costs will be. Selling directly to consumers, will be cheaper for the company per item sold. We also have to think about when intermediaries are involved, how this will affect how much we sell each product for, as it will need to include logistics such as storage and transport.

Sometimes the P’s will crossover, that is why price also comes into this element when we’re talking about distribution.

  • Developing a distribution network will save you effort and time, while increasing opportunity when selling in bulk, however, it will mean you don’t make as much profit per sale. These are some of the channels you might choose. Agents, this includes manufacture’s agents, brokers, fundraising agents, and selling agents, they don’t tend to take title or ownership of the product but will receive a commission for being the intermediary. Distributors do usually take ownership of the good you’re selling, and this comes with a ‘handling fee’. However, not all distributors will directly deal with the consumer, in some cases you will be responsible for customer support. Wholesalers will support the sale with a wide range of functions such as promotions, storage, customer feedback, and credit control to name a few. Retailers are anything from corner shops to, high street shops and supermarkets, and will only deal with the end-consumer. Direct routes involve the manufacture directly dealing with either the business buying their product, or the end-consumer; rather than an intermediary.



This leads onto what promotion mix will be used to promote your product or service. Here we will decide the appropriate marketing mix for our specific target audience, the right messaging to use, and consistently using this message across all tools, while also selecting what media choice will be the most effective.

  • There are far too many aspects of the promotion mix to dive into for this blog, but I wanted to highlight some if the key points that this section of the P’s cover. Advertising covers media such as radio, television, internet advertising, these media messages follow the DRIP methodology (differentiate, Remind, inform, and persuade - the consumer to buy). Public relations which is what companies do to get a message to a large reach of people; will help organisations to develop relationships with the key influencers in the media as well as stakeholders, it’s also used to counteract negative coverage. Direct marketing is one of the most personal form of marketing that the consumer will experience, and it includes SMS, email, TV selling, or any other channel where you directly meet your target audience. Sales promotion is designed to increase sales, it might include a discounted flight ticket for a holiday, the idea it to convince people to purchase when presented with an offer, it could also be about loyalty vouchers.


There it is, the marketing mix. All the tactics you need to reach and meet the needs of important stakeholders.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 5 - Presenting your data and information to form insights

What did we cover?

In last week’s data collection orientated lesson, we learned how to present and gather insights from raw data. Once we have these insights into the current situation, we can then use them in forecasting; this blog discusses the benefits of forecasting in marketing.


Managing and presenting data/ insights

You could go to the effort to create the best research project in the world, but if you don’t know how to present this data properly then it really has no value. Your marketing research should lead to results and recommendations.

Instantaneous data is becoming more apparent as we look at data that is drawn in from online sources such as surveys. In this case the person who set up the report might choose to have instant alerts meaning that once a recipient has completed the survey a direct email is sent to the creator.


Benefits of forecasting

Forecasting is what we are able to complete after we have collected the data and research. But why exactly is it so important to marketers?

Forecasting gives us the upper hand as it can identify opportunities and potential threats. The sooner we identify these, the sooner we can begin to create tactics that can be implemented to achieve better results. Looking at forecasted events will allow us to explore trends in the market, and how we can use them in what we do.

Previous forecasting of say, future costs and trend predictions allow us to refer back and think about how accurate we were. We can compare our current situation to how we forecasted it to be. Analysing how accurate we were can help us improve how we forecast in the future.

If we do our research at the right time and begin acting on it then we’ll keep a competitive advantage over our competition. This way forward thinking will help us to maintain a good public image, be on top of our game, serve the right product in the right place and at the right time; and also bring more money to the table.


The marketing information system (MKIS or MIS)

The MIS is a ‘system in which marketing is formally shared, stored, analysed, and distributed to managers in accordance with their informational needs, on a regular basis.’ Jobber, 2007. Maybe you haven’t heard of this before and it might be because your company doesn’t haven one in place, don’t worry because most companies don’t! The idea is that companies input the information in the diagram below into a collaborative dashboard that people can easily view and gain insights from.

What makes data valuable?

The value of the information can be demonstrated by the following characteristics:

  1. Completeness
  2. Accuracy
  3. Relevance
  4. Clarity
  5. Timeliness

These few checks on your information can distinguish whether it’s going to add value to your decision making or not, the key is not to rely on your information unless you believe it’s ticked all the boxed above.

CIM Lecture notes - Week 4 - Marketing information and research

What did we cover?

This lesson was focused on marketing information/ data and research, why we need insight as marketers, and how we can use it to make better judgements and more effective campaigns.

Another aspect of reviewing marketing information is the form it comes in and how we collect it, read on to learn about what we did in week 4!


Marketing information - What’s the need?


The first thing to understand is that data + information = INSIGHT


To know what your customers are thinking is one reason why we need marketing information. Once you know this you can begin to imagine the steps they take before they make a purchase. From looking at the customer journey we can identify barriers and eliminate these, for a smoother transaction.

As a marker, we need stats. Why? Because a hunch just isn’t enough these days! Marketing research provides you will all the information you need to be able to back up campaign ideas; if there’s a trend then we need to be able to justify and back up with stats provided by data. Trends are what allow us stay ahead of competition, if we can identify these before they do then we have a competitive edge.

Measuring how well we did can only be done if we can compare how well we did on our previous campaign, and how do we do that...? With stats of course! I must sound like a crazy stat lady, but you get what I am saying here - we do need them.

Brand perception is gauged by marketing information, we use it to understand what the overall perception of the company is from an outsider’s view. I’ll move onto what we collect, and where we get later in the blog, but without marketing information we’d struggle to understand where we are as a company, and with that, we wouldn’t know how to improve.


“to manage the future is to manage informationHarper, 1961


How do we get insight?

There are two main types of information and research that we can use to get insight from, these are:

  • Marketing research - this would be used upon starting a campaign, it involves analysis and collection of information to assist in decision making for marketing projects.
  • Market research - this is used for when you are looking at a given market place. It will analyse the bigger picture and look into the demographics of the end user of the company’s product.


Forms of data

Companies will often carry out the task of collecting data before many events. This can include a launch of a new campaign or product, or a move into a new market. The forms of data vary, but you will usually need to explore all forms of data below to get a well-rounded perspective:

  • Descriptive - what products are being bought and where
  • Comparative - benchmarking
  • Diagnostic - why the customer is doing something
  • Predictive - how will the customer/ market react?


Sources of information

The data you collect will either be secondary or primary.


Secondary data

This data should be collected first, confusing - I know. It’s the kind of data you can collect from sitting at your work computer with access to internet and previous marketing campaign data/ results, any existing data that has been collected for another purpose. It’s great because it’s free and ready to hand, but the important thing to bear in mind is that it has been collected for another purpose, it wasn’t created to answer the questions you’re asking. Secondary research can either be internally or externally sourced.

Internal sources

External sources

- Sales figures

- Directories

- Number of employees

- Government statistics

- Operational data e.g. stock levels

- Published marketing reports

- Customer feedback and complaints

- News and media sources

- Advertising spend

- Trade and industry stories

- Previous campaign data

- Competitor data (what’s available)

- Previous marketing reports

- Online information sources (desktop research)

- Personnel

- User generated media (social media feeds and forums)

- External database


Primary data

To follow on from your secondary data research, comes primary data. Primary data is created specifically to achieve one objective and is sourced usually after you’ve exhausted all your secondary resources. This type of data has been created for the purpose of answering your question, making it highly relevant but also expensive as it could involve some of the following techniques.

- Surveys

- Interviews

- Focus/ Discussion groups

- Panels

- The Delphi technique

- Observational and participating

- Experimental


CIM Lecture notes - Week 3 - Factors and trends in the marketing environment

What did we cover?

Trends are important for marketers as they help us identify what direction marketing taking ahead of time. Knowing trends before they happen allow us to understand what is and isn’t working, and then implement that change before your competition does; helping you achieve goals more effectively and giving you an advantage. The macro and micro environment can affect us in the planning stage of marketing, and this week we went over the factors and trends in the marketing environment, and how they affect it.

Micro and Macro environment

What is micro and macro, I hear you ask...? Well, maybe you didn’t quite get that excited, but here’s what they are. Micro factors, are the factors that can directly influence your marketing, some of which are controllable by your company. Macro factors are factors that indirectly influence marketing, these are typically the factors you would see in a PEST analysis and cannot be controlled by your organisation.

Example micro factors: the company, suppliers, marketing intermediaries, customers, competitors, and the public

Example macro factors: demographic forces, economic forces, natural forces, technological forces, political forces, cultural forces, environmental and ecological forces, legal forces, and ethical forces

Once you understand how to identify the relevant factors that influence your business, the next step is to outline and evaluate these in a marketing audit. The marketing audit is a vital stage of marketing planning as it establishes a benchmark or starting point on which to grow from. The marketing audit is made up of three elements, there are an external audit of the macro environment, external audit of the micro environment, and an internal audit. I talked more about influencers can have an impact on the business, or customer/ consumer in one of my other CIM blogs, you can read that here.


PESTLE Analysis

The PESTLE tool is a way of working through every factor that we should be considering, we use it in similar way to a check list. PESTLE stands for:

[P] Political - First consider the external political environment, and any changes you can forecast over the next 3-5 years. What policies may a new government enforce, and how will that affect your company.

[E] Economic - Here you are looking to spot any trends in consumption, such as taxation inflation or unemployment, and changes to exchange rates would be evaluated here.

[S] Social - Changes to society, demographics, a useful resource might be the census or regular government reports to look over regional and social movements.

[T] Technology - This is where you begin to identify new technologies in the market that provide an opportunity, IoT is one area that is massively growing and will shape today’s industry. Try to evaluate how your company will move with change.

[L] Legal - New laws are often introduced, such as the more recent GDPR regulations put into place, how will this affect your company?

[E] Ethical - Consider your ethical corporate responsibility to be ‘green’ as well as take an ethical approach, companies should understand what are growing concerns of the public and the expectations that lie with you as a business to improve situations such as global warming, can you introduce a ‘paper less workplace’ for example?


Check out some of the other models and tools you can use in my marketing tool kit blog!




CIM Lecture notes - Week 2 - Planning and buying behaviour

What did we learn?

In the second week of our digital module we discussed the marketing planning process and why it’s an important part of marketing. In this lesson we also covered buying behaviour which varies with every customer.

We also took a look at how influencers can have an impact on the business, or customer/ consumer such as environmental, social and political.


The planning process

There are different approaches when it comes to marketing planning, and more than one model that you can use; but why exactly is planning so important? Planning is the fundamental element for identifying organisational direction, providing direction, ensuring that you can track and report on your objectives, ensuring that you cover all areas and finally, planning provides organisational focus.

Planning helps businesses get past day-to-day firefighting, and educates the whole team on company goals, as well as exactly where their role fits into.

The planning process should incorporate all of the below:</span

  • Objectives - where we want to get to
  • Analysis - internal and external factors that could affect your business
  • Strategy - how are we going to get there
  • Action plan/ tactics - what we need to do to be able to get there
  • Timing - time scales of goals and objectives
  • Resources - the resources we need to achieve your goals, including budget

Some marketing planning will be carried out in stages, such as the action planning. Another approach to planning is cyclical, the cycle time will vary depending on the task, an example of cyclical planning is the SOSTAC model</span.


Planning model: APIC

APIC is a model that takes a cyclical approach, it varies slightly from the SOSTAC model. It’s four stages stand for:

  • Audit and analysis - identifying strengths and weaknesses, incorporating both external and external (macro and micro) influences. This section is also used to examine the businesses strengths and weaknesses, a SWOT tool can be used for this.
  • Planning - this stage sets out the target results that you will later audit on, these should relate to corporate goals. While also including your tactics, schedules, budgets, and specific marketing activities.
  • Implementation - this is where you deliver on the plan and discuss marketing and promotional mix. The success of this stage is dependent on a good ‘audit and analysis’, and success is measured in the last ‘control’ stage.
  • Control (Evaluation) - the very stage involves measuring the overall success of meeting goals and objectives.




Customer and consumer buying power

A key part of marketing is spent evaluating your customers and prospects. Marketers are really trying to understand their customers buying behaviour - here’s why you should be paying attention too:

Deliver more appropriate and relevantly: Understanding your customers wants, needs, and what influences them is key. You can then begin to develop an understanding of what platforms they are using and meet your customer where they already are. If you know your customers, it means that time isn’t wasted on content that isn’t going to move your target audience closer to the end of the funnel.

Higher customer satisfaction: Marketing campaigns that deliver relevant content, will mean that prospects will have a higher interest in what their reading. From this, it will make it a better experience for the customers, but also improve the effectiveness of the campaign.

Better customer/ business relationship: A customer who feels that a business understands what they really want, will hold a better relationship and encourage returning customers. Knowing your target audience also means knowing how they prefer to communicate. Whether customers prefer to make a purchase decision based on reviews or based on ad that popped up at the right time, this is something that you may need to consider.


Customer Influences

There are many variables that are not controlled by marketers but can have an influence on their purchase decision, such as their age, or lifestyle differences. Below are some of the biggest influences to be aware of:

Psychological influences

  • Attitudes and beliefs
  • Perception
  • Motivation
  • Learning

Social and cultural influences

  • Groups
  • Culture

Personal factors

  • Demographics (e.g. age, job, location)
  • Personality
  • Propensity towards risk (how likely are they to take a financial, performance, physical, social, ego, or time risk when making the decision to purchase a new product?)
  • Behavioural economics


Business influences

Similar to customers, businesses also have influences that play an important role within the spectrum of buying behaviour. These influences are:

Environmental factors

  • Economic climate
  • Technological
  • Political
  • Cultural
  • Social factors - especially for global companies dealing with lots customers from different backgrounds


  • Policies
  • Performance evaluation
  • Internal hierarchy/ status

Group or interpersonal factors

  • Group dynamics within a team, teams are often not static and therefore will affect how they influence each other ion joint decision making

Individual factors

  • Personal factors including age, and an individual’s opinions will affect the direction the company goes in, at the end of the someone will make the final call

When a decision has an outcome that affects a large amount of people, there’s no surprise in the number of factors we are seeing here! The more complex decisions become, the more people are involved, and the more data is analysed.