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Name: Gemma Manning
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Welcome to Manning & Co's Marketing and Business blog. Manning & Co is an integrated marketing and PR consultancy with a boutique and highly personalised approach to service. We recognise that businesses of all sizes can be overwhelmed by the expensive fee structures of larger agencies yet still need professional marketing and PR support. That is where we can help. We provide senior marketing experience and support at price that businesses can afford. Our team is passionate about marketing and determined to keep our customers ahead in marketing excellence. Our blog is a reflection of our passion towards marketing and business. It will provide you some insight into our world and our thoughts, tips and advice on all things marketing and business. Enjoy!

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Monday, 14 December 2009

Can PR generate sales? Yes it can!

I wrote a blog post a little while a go about PR and sales. It is an area that I am quite passionate about. This is because often in my line of work we are educating our clients about the PR process, how it works and what to expect and how it can dove tail into a businesses sales strategy.

We often come up against the grand old debate about whether or not PR delivers tangible results and can it be linked to the bottom line?? It is often asked, is PR a valuable part of the marketing mix and can it deliver a ROI?

It is one of the biggest challenges that Marketers and PR professionals face with our line of work...illustrating the ROI of what we do - especially with PR.

Well, I am happy to report that recently one of our clients had some great sales success on the back of one of our media campaigns. At Manning & Co, we are very excited for the fashion label and the results that our campaign achieved.

The campaign involved targeting key music and fashion media at the beginning of the year when our client first launched their apparel label. For our key target media, we sent t-shirt samples presented as an old school vinyl with some really cool product cards. The campaign attracted media coverage at the time. However the campaign's biggest coo was a great piece that appeared in The Age, 9 months after we first executed the campaign.

Lessons learned? The main lesson that has come out of this campaign and its success is that using PR and the media as part of your marketing strategy to support branding, profiling and sales objectives is a long term process. Patience and consistency in your messaging and communication is really necessary to see the benefits of any PR efforts.

PR needs to be viewed as part of a long-term marketing strategy that uses a very targeted approach. Know your target media audience, build relationships with them, and provide them newsworthy material on a regular basis.

To view some recent media successes for our client Underdog Clothing, visit

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Monday, 22 June 2009

I have a marketing strategy in place, but why isn't it working?

I am reading a very interesting book at the moment, 'Execution - the discipline of getting things done' by Larry Bossidiy and Ram Charan.

I think the book is a great read for any business and some of the Add Imagecore themes explored are just as appropriate for the world of sales and marketing as they are for general business managment.

I often have businesses come to Manning & Co for a strategy/plan - whether it be for marketing, communications, PR or a general business one. I explain to these businesses from the outset that no matter the blood, sweat and tears that we will put into creating the most brilliant strategy for their business, unless it is implemented well, the strategy is not always going to be a success.

It is a common practice that when businesses fail to deliver on targets and goals, people are quick to jump to blaming the strategy and saying that the strategy is wrong. However as summed up in Larry and Ram's book,

"Strategies most often fail because they aren't executed well. Things that are supposed to happen - don't happen."

We have developed some wonderful strategies for businesses and know that post our work on these strategies, execution is often not followed through. We find this frustrating at times, because we are confident that businesses will get the results they desire if they were to focus on executing the strategy.

Some of our most successful client engagments are with those companies who we continue to partner with post strategy development where we work with them to execute the strategy. This is simply because we are executing the strategy and delivering tangible results. ROI on marketing investment is realised.

So, how do you execute?

There are four core elements at the heart of execution in a marketing context that includes:
  • Strategy
  • People
  • Operations
  • Sales
Marketing needs to be linked closely with each of these four elements (and the four elements also need to be linked).

I am developing a more detailed article on watch this space for part two of this post!

And in the mean time next time you think, "my marketing strategy is wrong because it is not business is not meeting its targets and sales objectives" ask yourself, "have I executed this strategy well".

There is no point having a business or marketing plan that just sits on a shelf in the office and isn't acted upon.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Target markets and market segmentation. Key for marketing success.

Taking the time to identify and segment your target market is an essential first step to creating an effective marketing plan. While it is not the most glamourous or creative part of marketing, it is one of the most important steps to having a marketing strategy that works. I have decided to dedicate this entry to the topic of 'target markets' and ' market segmentation' because it is an area that often comes up with my clients when devising appropriate and effective market strategies.

Taking the time to clearly identify and then segment your market using criteria that has meaning for your business is one of the best marketing investment decisions you can make. You will improve revenue when you take the time to do this part of a marketing plan properly.

Identifying your target market involves defining your customers - what group of businesses or individuals are most likely to purchase your services or products? Once you have your target market identified, you then need to segment your market.

Segmenting your market into groups with distinct needs, wants and behaviours allows businesses to generate targeted marketing campaigns that addresses specific customer needs. This helps to ensure the highest return for your marketing dollars. Segmenting your market allow your marketing/sales program to focus on prospects that are "most likely" to purchase your offering.

I am often asked, 'what kind of criteria should I use to segment my market'? The criteria that you can use to segment your market needs to having meaning for your business and support your business stategy and objectives.

Generally speaking a businesses market is often grouped using general criteria including:
  • industry sector (i.e. retail, manufacturing etc)
  • company data (i.e. revenue, employee numbers, business function etc).
  • geographic data (i.e. location of business)
  • demographical data

Say for example, your target market is Corporate Australia. Without segmenting 'Corporate Australia', your sales messages will be far too general and not specific enough to address the unique needs of your audience. In this example, depending on the business positioning and strategy, you may segment the market by industry sector, by revenue size, by company type - i.e. public vs private and/or by employee numbers.

Once you have selected a specific segment (s) to focus on, then you can consider more subtle influences on the purchase decision such history of the purchaser with your business, future potential purchasing value etc.

So, next time you review your marketing strategy, spend time reviewing your customers/ your target market and how you segment your market. It will do wonders for your sales and marketing programs.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

5 top marketing tips for businesses to survive the downturn

I watched 'Insight' on Tuesday night. The episode was all about confidence in the current economic climate. I think Jenny Brockie did a fantastic job of exploring this topic. What was discussed was incredibly thought provoking. Confidence does plays such an important role in turning the current economic downturn into a recovery. Confidence influences the willingness to invest - to commit money, time, reputation - or to withhold or hedge investment. SMEs will benefit if they themselves show confidence in the way they do business during this time. Confidence has a contagious, flow-on effect.

As a small business owner, I am often asked, "How are you coping?", " Do you wish you had not started your business when you did" etc. There is so much doom and gloom around but I am determined to ignore this rhetoric and seek the opportunities that exisit. Richard Branson in a recent media interview commented that the key to survive these times is to be creative, innovative and look outside the square at new opportunities that you may have not considered before.

Based on this, I have compiled some top essential marketing tips for SMEs to consider during these difficult times. Marketing doesn't need to cost the earth but is something that needs attention to at the same time. SMEs who are determined to get through this time and to remain positive and confident, need to avoid shying away from active marketing, promotion and the process of exploring new business opportunities.

Top 5 Tips

1. Revisiting the basics - review your marketing plan. Now is the time for businesses to review their marketing plans. Businesses need marketing plans and programs that take into consideration changing market trends and customer behaviour. Through the process of reviewing your plan, you may find that a previous unique selling proposition that you were using in your marketing activities no longer resonates with your customer base or is appropriate.

Businesses need to sharpen their pencils and get the creative juices flowing! Brain storm and really think about what is it about your business that is different, how can you bring or add value to your customers in the current environment and how are you going to get your message to them. A good marketing plan doesn't need to be complicated. It needs to be realistic, practical and can be implemented and measured.

2. Be creative and innovative - think outside the square. When you review your business or marketing plan, you really need to think outside the square. It can be hard for businesses to change the way they do things including review of their product/service mix, pricing and means of promotion. However it needs to be done. Sometimes having an external specialist come in to facilitate the process can make it easier and can get businesses across the line in terms of thinking about the business in a new, different way.

3. Be targeted in your approach. In times like these you want to make sure that you get the best bang for your marketing dollar. This means that you need to know and understand your customers, their needs, their purchasing behaviour and how to get to them. For example, rather than doing a blanket email campaign, segment your customers into groups (i.e. geography, industry sector, revenue size etc) and send targeted emails with specific messages that apply to that group of customers.

Do a basic customer value matrix to determine what group of customers that you should be investing in when it comes to marketing spend. This will have an impact on your marketing mix of activities and the way you go-to-market.

4. Look at the entire marketing mix. Research shows that customers often need to be touched 5 times by a brand before they make a purchase - whether it be a product or service. You need to ensure that you customers are touched by your brand in more ways than one. A PR campaign with a media mention on its own won't cut it or will a single advertisement. You need to look at all areas of the marketing mix - direct marketing, online marketing, partner marketing, media relations, referrals etc. When a customer reads about your business in the media, comes across you on the web and hears about your excellent service/product via word-of-mouth, your business is in a lot stronger selling position than if they were just to be touched once by your brand.

5. Commit to communicating your message regularly. Don't take for granted that your customers will automotically know what your latest products/services or specials are. Now is the time for you to push your message to your current and future customers regularly. There are a number of ways that you can do this that are cost effective. Email communication one part of the marketing mix to consider. Partner marketing - when having the right partners or alliances on board - is also a great way to tap into target markets. Social networking through sites like FaceBook and Linked In are other options also.

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Monday, 5 January 2009

Marketing in 2009

Over the last 12 months, there has been significant talk on the impact of the current financial crisis on the business community.

We are still in an economic period that is highly unpredictable so it is hard to say what 2009 will bring businesses. However it is clear that businesses need to remain positive, resilient and realistic for the year ahead.

Business costs including marketing expenditure have come under scrutiny and close review by organisations and business commentators. However, I note with interest that in BRW's 2008 Fast 100 analysis, 70% of the fastest 100 growth companies in Australia say that they will market more aggressively as a strategy for a further economic slowdown. Only 14% said that they would reduce staff numbers.

Like the savvy entrepreneurs running Australia's fast growing 100 companies, business owners and executives need to considered 'marketing' as a key strategy for survival and growth in 2009.

I think the challenge for marketers will be, 'how to get executives or business owners across the line to believe that an investment in marketing will deliver value and not be simply a cost burden?' For most of my career, I have faced this challenge - particularly in the corporate world. Marketing would often be considered simply as a 'back-office function' or 'a cost-burden' and was always an after-thought. This used to frustrate me as I have always been very passionate about what I do and the value that the marketing function brings an enterprise.

So marketers have a tough job on their hands in the months to come. Whether they are in-house or consultants working in an agency environment - marketing professionals need to become highly disciplined in the art of demonstrating a return on investment for thier marketing activities and efforts.

Measuring, tracking and recording marketing campaigns and communicating these results to senior executives and clients is more critical now than ever before. This has recently been made easier to do for the marketing professional with the recent release of AMI's (Australian Marketing Institute) standard marketing metrics that can be used by marketing professionals across Australia. These tools will be invaluable in the quest of gaining the support and commitment that the marketing function of any business deserves.

If you are a business owner or executive that is currently tossing up the value of marketing, remember that in the current economic period survival and success is underpinned by cutting through the clutter and getting your message out there to your customers. Your business needs to appear stronger and more robust than ever before and marketing and communications is key for this.

I hope to see savvy entrepreneurs continue the trend of investing in marketing to grow their businesses in the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Gemma Manning - Director; Principal

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