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Introduction to Developing a Marketing Strategy

by Joanne Dolezal on 23rd December 2019

In order to develop a strategy, you need to step back from your business. You’re going to be asking a lot of questions and finding a lot of new answers. You may also find yourself going in a different direction to the one you thought.

In the previous article we established why you need a marketing strategy, so now let’s cover an introduction to developing that marketing strategy.

You need to take a cool, dispassionate look at your business: how big are you? How many people do you employ? What skills and resources do you have (including money, software, equipment etc.)? Then look outside to what’s happening in the marketplace, and beyond to what’s coming next, which could bite you on the bum or provide a golden opportunity.

If there’s a big change you want to make in your business, a strategy is a much better idea than just developing a short-term plan. You may be looking to launch new products and services, or move into a new marketplace, or to grow the business and take it to the next level.

There are a few rules you need to understand

The “macro environment” is the term we use to describe what’s going on outside, in the wider world.

I often find that the people I work with are in business because they’re really good at what they do, but they don’t have a marketing or business background, so this is a new world for them. They’re keen to learn and apply these aspects to their company.

The macro environment is what sits beyond our market and competitors, but can have a massive impact on our business. Two areas where we might find rules are in the legal and political sectors.

You may discover there is a piece of policy or legislation that’s come into being, whether in the UK, the EU or elsewhere in the world, and there is nothing you can do about it. Health and safety, pensions, healthcare, national insurance and taxation are all things that go on all the time, but we can’t influence them at all.

The only way anyone could influence these rules would be a large multinational, such as an oil company, where they have the ear of someone in government, or can pay money to lobby politicians or congress to make a change.

We may learn that there’s a piece of legislation coming which will affect us. Sometimes this is good news, but sometimes it can be a deal-breaker. I’ve worked with a number of clients who were coaches and trainers looking to monetise what they did by creating online courses to serve the European market. But the EU changed its rules on VAT/sales tax, and with one fell swoop it means that a UK company has to file a VAT return for every single EU country it trades in.

If you’re selling a product worth £20 or £30, it’s not practical to fill in a tax return, so these people end up not doing business within the EU. Macro factors such as this can affect even tiny organisations.

Geopolitical shifts can be a good thing

Changes in trading relationships with different countries can have a huge impact. For instance, a company specialising in geo-science with expert knowledge of Iran found that the lifting of trading restrictions and the embargo against Iran meant that they could finally start to get return on investment on the work they’ve put in.

The further out you’re looking, the more time you’ve got to do something about it. If something is changing in six months or a year, you can prepare for that.

We’ll look further at the macro environment next time.


Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?

If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.

Don’t leave without checking to see if your marketing is roadworthy

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalIntroduction to Developing a Marketing Strategy

Why You Need a Marketing Strategy

by Joanne Dolezal on 16th December 2019

When we start talking about marketing and strategy, people start to look worried. It’s unsurprising, because the terminology used to describe strategy comes from warfare, going back to at least the 1800s, so it’s unfamiliar to us today.

It’s still worth bearing in mind, though, as many people get confused between a strategy and plan, especially when it comes to marketing.

In this series, The Practical, Unscary Guide to Marketing Strategy, we’ll cover everything from developing a marketing strategy to choosing your marketing tactics. First, it’s time to uncover the difference between a strategy and a plan as well as why you need a marketing strategy.

When is it a Strategy and When is it a Plan?

The first question is – when is a strategy not a strategy? It’s when you have a plan. I come across this all the time with clients, who have put a lot of work in and really care about their business, but have created for themselves a to-do list or tick list – a set of marketing actions that they need to carry out at some stage.

This is not a strategy! A strategy takes several steps back, to look at the bigger picture and also looks to the horizon to see what’s coming next. These could provide your business with an opportunity, or it may present a threat. A strategy takes you into the unknown and on a journey of discovery to open up infinite possibilities.

Often, the place clients think is the start is much further down the line, because there are other things they haven’t considered. A strategy is a great way to make change happen. To go back to the war analogy, a plan was designed to help you win a battle in the next few days, and in terms of your business it may take you through the next six months.

A strategy helps you to win the war, so it focuses on the next three to five years, allowing you to think far ahead and make some decisions about where you want to take your business.

Smart Businesses Have a Strategy

The smallest business I ever created a strategy for was a sole trader operating a catering company. The owner had big ambitions for herself, and didn’t want to be stuck in a kitchen on an industrial estate forever – she wanted to take her business out into the world and to export. She also wanted to create a niche for herself and to build a company which would grow with her.

We can see that a marketing strategy fits a business of any size. I’ve worked with large, national charities wanting to concentrate on one aspect of the organisation, to have a fresh pair of eyes bring a new perspective and develop a clear direction for where they’ll take that department.

Having a strategy makes it easier for you to say no. Something may look good on paper, but you know that it’ll take up a lot of your time and resources and be a distraction. It gives you a real sense of mission once you get clear on what you’re doing and helps you focus on who you want to work with, where the business is going, what you don’t want to do and what the best marketing and business tactics are to get you there.

In the next post, we’ll go into detail on how to start developing your strategy.


Are you worried your marketing isn’t working right now?

If leads and enquiries are drying up, you’re not attracting the right customers or you’re not making enough profit – it’s time to investigate.

Don’t leave without checking to see if your marketing is roadworthy

Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

read more
Joanne DolezalWhy You Need a Marketing Strategy

How to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

by Joanne Dolezal on 17th June 2019

It’s so tempting to take shortcuts to building your database of contacts, like buying lists, scraping contact data (off the internet) or ‘borrowing’ contact data from other businesses.

When data collection is done properly, though, it makes a huge difference to the quality of your email lists, your marketing budget and the success of your email campaigns.

The money’s in the list.

Or is it. We are told that the bigger the list, the greater the success, because you have a larger number of people you can convert to take action. But think about the quality of the personal (contact) data you have retained. Your mailing list may only have 300 people on it, but you may know them all: they’ve bought from you in the past and were happy with the experience. Every time you go back to them they will buy again. Those 300 personal contacts are worth 10,000 email addresses you obtained from other, more questionable sources.

Of course you can still buy customer data even now, but it will convert at the same low rate it always did (<1%). You can ‘borrow’ or scrape data from other sources, but the media have done a great job of raising consumer awareness of GDPR and the rights of the individual – so expect to get ‘spam’ reports and possible complaints. These could even lead to fines if you’re unlucky.

Alternatively, if you develop a longer term strategy you can build your mailing lists ethically and legally. In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing a variety of online and offline tactics you can use to build (or rebuild) your contact data and mailing lists.

Now for some good news

There is no restriction on emailing or texting “corporate bodies”, just the named individuals who work there. These are the so-called ‘Data Subjects’ and the law is just as strict for B2B as it is for B2C, sadly.

There is no restriction on postal mail (brochures, invitations, nifty branded campaigns) to “corporate bodies”. However, individuals need to be offered an easy way to opt out.

Ways to obtain consent to communications

It’s important to get the foundations right so you will no doubt already have gone through the following actions to bring your data gathering and usage in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Just to recap though:

  • make the request prominent, concise and in plain English
  • Separate it from your Ts & Cs
  • Name your business and any third party recipients
  • Tell Data Subjects (whose personal contact data you have) what you want to do with their personal data and why you want it
  • Emphasise the ability to withdraw consent at any time
  • Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or default settings
  • Keep records – who consented, how and what were they told
  • Review consents regularly and refresh them when there’s any change in use

The ICO – Information Commissioners Office – is overseeing the implementation (and policing) of GDPR in the UK and they have a range of excellent guides on how GDPR should be interpreted and implemented.

If you are a new business or in the early stages of marketing, take some time to get your data management processes set up. There are many sources or free advice and freeware (free software) to help you. Alternatively you might want to work with a marketing consultant or agency to advise you.

If you are a more mature business, GDPR may well be a good opportunity to refresh databases generally and comply with other existing regulations, like the Data Protection Act 2018.

Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

1. Get the opt-in wording right and run it past a legal adviser if you’re unsure (or you are gathering sensitive data through forms on your website).

2. Make the language clear and unambiguous

3. Review the areas on your website that allow sign ups, subscriptions and enquiries – add an invitation to join your mailing list and a link to your privacy policy

4. Check and review your cookie and privacy policies – are they easy to find?

GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). Any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at – no need to recycle their guidelines.

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.


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Joanne DolezalHow to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

GDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

by Joanne Dolezal on 10th June 2019

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is certainly on everyone’s mind at the moment whether you have anything to do with marketing, collection or storing personal data or not.

GDPR impacts more than just your email marketing – it will apply to our ‘business to business’ activity in the same way as ‘business to consumer’ communications – if you are gathering, using and storing personal (or sensitive) data you have some new responsibilities.

GDPR comes into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) and any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

They are going to be very busy.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at so I’m not planning to recycle their guidelines.

“GDPR has been called the Data Protection Act with ‘teeth’.”

You are now expected to abide by the law and there are a couple of new changes that may affect the way you use email marketing in the future.

Permission now needs to be explicit, not implicit

Email marketing is known as permission-based marketing, (like mobile marketing). You need to have permission to email somebody, and they need to have shared their contact details with you willingly and consciously, either through a single or a double opt-in.

When you sign up for someone’s mailing list, an email is often sent to you to confirm you want to be added to that list. It’s a good way to check the email address exists and that there are no typos or keystroke errors.

If you’ve ever had to cleanse a database, you’ll know what a total pain keystroke errors are.

You only have permission to communicate about the transaction in hand

If you are providing a service or selling products, you are free to email and write to the customer in order to deliver or the transaction. You are not meant to just quietly add them to your mailing list and hope they don’t notice…

You need to make it easy to opt in and opt out

This applies to every single campaign that you send – permission-based marketing – so hiding or disabling the unsubscribe link is not a great idea.

We need to be aware of SPAM, because it’s a bad thing, particularly if you’re using email marketing software. If there’s even a whiff of spam, your account can be suspended and your wrists slapped.

Uh-Oh, Unsolicited Email Alert

An email could even be a one-to-one communication, but if the recipient has never heard of you and doesn’t your company name, then they didn’t give you permission. Some examples include first contact, sales or job enquiries.

Bulk Email? Tsk, tsk, tsk

Bulk email is normal email but can include subscriber newsletters, customer communications and so on, where an identical message is being sent to one or more people at one time. Even if you send it to just two people if they feel it’s SPAM and unsolicited then in the eyes of the law, it is.

So what is SPAM*?

a) Pink and nasty processed pork that reminds us of school dinners?

b) Bulk email that is also unsolicited?

c) The number one reason for your email software to be shut down?

SPAM is email that is also unsolicited – people didn’t want to hear from you, didn’t sign up to your list and don’t understand why you’re emailing them. Often the content of the email is inappropriate or irrelevant and you should avoid doing this at all costs.

“Let’s face it, if GDPR can remove or even reduce the huge volumes of SPAM emails we get each day, it will be a welcome change.”

Why are you still buying contact data?

SPAM (unsolicited and junk messages) can get you into hot water if you have bought data or someone else has shared their mailing list with you. You may not have permission to contact them and the data can be really old, or contain lots of keystroke errors in the database. If you upload it into email marketing software and people on the list complain that they’ve been spammed, your account can be suspended pending an investigation. It’s not worth the risk, so be careful and avoid it. 

Also, as every frustrated marketer knows, bought data has a tiny conversion rate – if you’re lucky. And it can get you into real trouble with your email service provider, as well as the ICO.

The game-changer for all users of personal data, post-GDPR

All the guidelines above have been covered by the Data Protection Act and followed by the majority of marketers and data managers for years.

The really scary bit, especially for small businesses who don’t have a dedicated IT manager, is the legal responsibility to store personal data securely (yes, that includes your b2b customers as well).

“We live in an age when hacking, malware and ransomware are an everyday occurrence and no organisation it too big to be targeted.”

The fines if you fail to inform the ICO and all people affected within 72 hours are eye-wateringly huge.

This is why Sony wasn’t fined when they were hacked, but Yahoo was. They didn’t admit it until long afterwards.

If you have any concerns about the security of your software, hardware, cloud-based systems then I sincerely recommend working your way through the UK government’s own Cyber Essentials guidelines and beefing up your cybersecurity.

* Answer: it is a, c. Are you old enough to remember spam fritters for school dinners?

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

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Joanne DolezalGDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

Why Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd June 2019

In this new series, we’ll be looking at the common reasons that businesses get their email marketing wrong, and how you can avoid the making the same mistakes.

One of the biggest problems that businesses have with their email marketing is that they start in the wrong place. We’ve all done it – you’ve got so much you want to say, and your focus is on the email you’re sending out – but you need to start at the beginning.

You need to look at how you’re going to gather good quality contact data and that you’re allowed to use it, and then how are you going to build insights and an understanding of those people so that your email campaigns are things that they really want to receive. They shouldn’t just be you and what you’ve been doing.

GDPR will revolutionise the way that email marketing is done – and the way you build your lists and manage permissions.

So why is email marketing important?

If I told you that for every pound you spend on it you get a return of £40 or more – that might explain it. A recent report from Wolfgang Jaegel on the ROI of Email Marketing was produced from a deep piece of research in 2014 on how email is used worldwide. There were some staggering results, including how many people have email accounts and what they use them for.

95% of online consumers use email, and many of us regularly buy from email campaigns or are encouraged to visit a store as a direct result. UK brand marketers say that email marketing is of most benefit for customer retention. 91% of consumers check their emails once a day, so you’ve got a good chance of catching someone’s attention.

What do You Need to Get Started?

Email marketing is one of the best conversion tools around, but you need a valid email address for the person you want to contact, and ideally a first and last name. It’s difficult to get started without these.

You need a first name if you want to address them by name – if you want to embed any kind of personalisation into your campaigns you’ll need that. It also helps you to manage your data, particularly if you have people who have one or more names in common. You need information (insights) about them too so that you can make your campaigns relevant to them.

An email marketing campaign can be carried out just as easily from Outlook, Mail or the email software you have on your computer, although most of us would use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, as these allow you to send bulk messages to a group of people.

See email marketing as an opportunity to get into somebody’s inbox and get their attention at that particular time and day. Unfortunately, it has been badly abused, characterised by a lot of spam email. Over the last five to eight years there have been considerable changes, seeing greater sophistication in how we apply marketing. The uptake of content marketing has also had a positive impact, especially to the customer.

You want to get as close as you can to what the customer is asking for, answering their questions and considering their needs and desires.

Email marketing can support other online and offline marketing campaigns and is the perfect ‘call to action’.

 What we will look at in this series:

·     why successful email marketing starts with quality data

·     the best ways to build your email lists ethically & legally

·    strategies for collecting contact data online in line with GDPR

·     best ways to collect data offline to build customer insight

·     why your segmentation strategy needs a reboot

·     the power of personalisation to increase your conversion rates


In the next article, we’ll explore the many ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

read more
Joanne DolezalWhy Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It