Successful marketing: Paying attention to the little things

Inspired by a chat with my niece, this blog looks at the importance of the ‘little things’ in making your marketing successful.

On a visit from her home in Spain my niece sat across the desk from me while I was working on an earlier blog. As I explained what I was writing about and why, she started to talk about the advice she’d been giving her dad, my brother, about how important it is to get the little things right.  Let me explain. My brother runs a business in Spain providing pool finishing services. Most of his communication with customers has always been by telephone but now he’s having to use the internet, email and texts to keep in touch as well as sell his products.  Here are just a few of the words of advice from my niece with my thoughts added along the way.

Use the right language

As a builder by profession my brother has been used to an informal style, which is fine when you are face to face with a customer but doesn’t always translate when you try and write your website.

For each piece of marketing material think about the audience you are communicating with. Teenagers may be comfortable with text speak, even in emails, but for most clients and customers of your services this will be seen as lazy or simply bizarre. An article in the Independent (Email kisses are big office bugbear) noted how off-putting and unprofessional people found the use of abbreviations like OMG and over familiarity in business emails.

If you are selling across country borders obviously consider language in its purest sense, but in my view, don’t bother with French, Spanish or German pages on your website, unless you plan to service the client in that language once they enquire.

Use the appropriate language and turn of phrase for your audience, set the right tone and be friendly but try not to over-step the mark.

Check things through

Email has made us all quicker but probably less accurate. I must admit I sometimes read back an email I’ve already sent only to spot a typing error (I have a nasty habit of typing for as fro and, of course, spell check will miss it). Your clients, contacts and customers will generally forgive the odd slip but an initial communication with a new prospect, a proposal for a large piece of work or any item that’s designed to demonstrate how you pay attention to detail or pride yourself on the quality of your service should be checked very carefully.

Read it, leave it, reread it, and then have someone else read it. That’s the approach to try and take. Not only will you spot typographic errors but you’ll also find you can edit your content to improve the way you make your point, being more precise, more direct and more convincing.

There’s a great quote accredited to Blaise Pascal that makes this point well: “I apologise that this letter is so long – I lacked the time to make it short.” When you can, you should always spend the time to ‘make it shorter’.

Get the basics right

The basics for each business will be different – in my brother’s case my niece had to point out that by using upper case in his texts he was effectively shouting at his customers.

For your business, it might be about how visitors are greeted by your receptionist, how easy it is to find key information (like your phone number, opening hours or prices) on your website or whether you keep to your service promises.

If you don’t get the basics right, there’s a temptation for others to think you’ll fail on the important things.

Think about colour

How did you react to this abrupt change of colour? I expect it grabbed your attention, but did it also make you feel a little affronted? Did you think it was a mistake? Using red certainly grabs attention but is also the colour of danger. So, when you are considering the colours to use in your logo, on your website or in a brochure, choose carefully. Some colours are notoriously difficult to reproduce correctly without going to expensive four colour print processes. Some colours just clash, which might be your intention, but care must be used nonetheless.

Paying attention to these little things can potentially make a big difference to the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Unless the basics are in place you might be wasting money and worse, ruining your business reputation.

I’m glad to say my brother is not as guilty as my niece might have been suggesting and his business is going from strength to strength as he follows the other rules of marketing – having a clear understanding of the needs of his target market, being very precise and compelling in his sales messages and carefully measuring and monitoring all his marketing activity so that he can stop doing the things that don’t work and do more of the things that do.

Location: Stratford upon Avon