EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we look at marketing and promotion.
Question one: What different marketing and promotional activities have you used or seen used over the last few months? How effective have these been?
Response from Made in Britain member Hardy UK: We usually have international sales guys but the pandemic has grounded them for now, hence why we've focused more on online marketing such as email blasts and social media. We tried a giveaway which massively underperformed but it's all trial and error.
Made in Britain: Have the international salespeople been managing to do meetings remotely/virtually with overseas customers?
Hardy: It doesn't quite have the same effect as literally travelling countries for a particular customer but they understand the circumstances. We've even stopped travelling to non-restricted areas, it's not worth putting our staff at risk.
Made in Britain: Do you find that with less travel the salespeople have more time? and is this an added benefit?
Hardy: I'd say so yes, more time to prepare, more time to connect with the customer, and obviously less cost on our end which is always a bonus. As mentioned, some of our customers are in developing countries without access to computers so that's the biggest downside.
Response from Made in Britain member Addmaster: In the current climate social media has been key in supporting our clients promote their messaging. It’s also been interesting to see exhibitions/events companies adapting to online interactive exhibitions and webinars
Made in Britain: Have you attended any of the online events/exhibitions? If yes, how have you found these?
Addmaster: Yes we supported our clients. Really well-done online exhibition
Made in Britain: Do you think online exhibitions will remain after the pandemic or will there be a move back to "traditional"?
Addmaster: Although online work well in the present I still believe that face-to-face networking and negotiating works the best during these events.
Response: We've found LinkedIn to be our most effective over the last 6 months, and reminding our clients that we are still here and fully operational
Made in Britain: LinkedIn does seem to be an effective platform. Do you use a company page as well as individual users or is it all down to the individual accounts?
Response: I use the company page as the main for posts, then use the "notify employees" tab and ask them to share it for me too to get the maximum reach possible.
Response: We have increased the amount of news blogs and articles we post on our website to keep content fresh and engaging. This helps with SEO and also encourages more traffic to our site.
Made in Britain: Do you also use social media channels to make people aware of the content on the website?
Response: Yes, I share the direct links to all our channels. Looking at our social media referral traffic the majority comes from the Twitter platform.
Response: It's been far more online stuff. Not a bad thing, just different. Our industry is all about trust, so we have to find a way of building that without meeting.
Response from Made in Britain member Addison Precision: There's a huge acceptance by almost everyone now that you're meeting on a screen. Video calling is something we saw on sci-fi years ago and now it's daily life. In our group, project delivery HAS to be on the ground though so you need to be still available to do that!
Made in Britain: Have we got to the stage where suggesting a phone call is now unusual or outdated?
Addison Precision: Personally, yes, I always suggest online now (after f-t-f!), certainly for a first meeting. Then keep in touch by email and/or phone. Knowing what someone looks like is vital in case you ever get to meet them in person!
Addison Precision: The group has seen a shift away from word-of-mouth and face-to-face and very much gone online. We're using social media now, with videos, content and growing the online presence hugely. This was planned anyway before 2020. It's difficult to put a monetary value on it, however, we know that there's a much greater reach now for all the companies within the group. A new website is going live at the end of October as well and salespeople are using LinkedIn hugely and to good effect. There's no desire to even look at exhibitions, virtual or not.
Response: We re-started our weekly blog over the summer, focusing on how #plastics can provide solutions for all businesses (SMEs & OEMs). It’s really taken off!
Response: Blogs, direct mail and relevant content are one of the strongest tools you can have in your digital marketing kit.
Response: I have been mainly doing social media marketing on LI & Twitter, but am also looking at targeted email marketing campaigns. I don't think that it is always about the hard sell.
Response: Our portal was designed to bring companies and innovators together through the means of a digital hub. We planned to launch and promote through a series of face to face events, which obviously couldn't take place, so the entire business model has pivoted towards social media!
Response from Made in Britain member Be Modern: We have focused efforts on our online marketing - social media (Instagram and LinkedIn have been great for engagement) and we're utilising more email campaigns to keep our customers informed of product/promotions.
Response: Handwritten, personalized letters. Craft an email first as that's helpful in that we're all 'used to doing that' and then handwrite it onto recycled paper or a high-quality paper alternative (such as stone). Post it. Follow it up with a phone call, or email.
Question two: Do you think there will be a return to pre-COVID marketing/promotional activities after the pandemic or have certain things changed forever?
Response from Made in Britain member Addison Precision: Yes. We are missing the human contact elements of what we do and I know that every salesperson in the land feels the same. Exhibitions though were already on the wane and I think that things will be much more targeted, group networking etc.
Response: Hopefully those who invest in digital marketing as a direct result of #Covid_19 will continue to. But we hope to see events and exhibitions return in the future. Remote #networking has its place but so does a 'good old fashioned' meet and greet.
Addison Precision: I think a mix. Localised and/or sector networking is growing, NEPIC in the NE process sector for e.g. I think that you'll see this increasingly across the board.
Response: COVID has accelerated changes already taking place in the world of marketing. A greater reliance on online platforms has been emerging for years, but the pandemic forced businesses to adapt to this model more quickly.
Response from Made in Britain member Hardy: I think it will go back to normal eventually but the great thing is that a lot of companies now know about the positives of social media for business!
Response: I think a lot will remain. Suggesting a video call no longer gets the looks it used to.
Response: I have found that networking online through Twitter and LI and Zoom has helped to grow my reach. I have made new contacts in Hawaii, Ukraine, Canada, and the USA. Other than at conferences I would never have met them.
Response: We've seen an uptake in real conversation, maybe with less travel in between? Sure, there's always going to be a need for a face to face, but a live meeting from the shop floor goes a long way, customers are more likely to accept that type of contact now and it does feel genuine.
Response from Made in Britain member Rotech: I can't see things completely going back to how they were before. As others have mentioned, I think the pandemic has just made the inevitable happen quicker in terms of marketing.
Response: It’s going to take time, but I think the basic human instinct of being with other people, will ensure we go back to events and exhibitions. Alternatives have their place, but the trust and relationships you build by actually meeting people are not easily replicated on a screen.
Response: Yes, face to face is still a massive part of human nature, more will be done digitally where possible, and there will be a combination of the two, but face to face will never die out in our opinion.
Response: I think that some things will and some won't. We certainly need the big exhibitions back - they can be run successfully virtually, but there is nothing like being able to network at a real expo. Plus, I miss the goody bags!
Response: During 2020, millions have become more than competent with technology and the virtual business world as well as at online activity. Hitherto only possible with the resources of global consumer brands: ultra-personalized marketing should now be adopted by all.
Response: We’ve really missed showing off our products and services at the trade shows this year. We really loved engaging with new clients face to face.
Question three: How often should a business review its marketing activities and how should they do it?
Response from Made in Britain member Rotech: Normally I'd say annually but it depends a lot on external factors. For instance, we're reviewing things every few months at the moment.
Response: Very similar over here. Pre 2020 - quarterly. 2020 - weekly!
Response: We constantly review our marketing activity. The great thing about digital is that the answers are there in real-time so you can monitor your activity as you go along.
Response: Review it after each 'Marketing Activity'. Start by asking your existing customers ... it's never a surprise when I ask a client's customers "what do you think about XYZ's marketing" & they reply "we've not seen any".
Question four: How should businesses measure the return on investment from the use of social media? Do businesses even do that?
Addison Precision: Depends entirely on the market. If you're selling from an online shop, it's easy. For us, there's no obvious unless we ask the question, it's rare for a client in any of our businesses to pick up the phone without a prior relationship anyway so for us it's ALL about building a story.
Response: If one is working with influencers, that adds to the equation. There are also various third-party tools to use to get the ROI.
Response: We use Google Analytics to track data and with paid ads, it's quite easy but there's no conversion as such because we are selling a very specific service. We might make contact with a client and not hear from them for years until they have a design need.
Response: Very often, expectations of what's achievable thro social media use are too high. 'Sales' generated directly from SM are good in a B2C use. Much lower in a B2B setting. In B2B SM use shouldn't be expected to generate sales, but PR. It's mostly perception.
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