Success or failure: why it really matters that marketing is NOT just about promotion

When many people say the word “marketing” or even sell “marketing” services, what they actually mean is “promotion” – using tools like advertising, websites or glossy brochures.

“No amount of promotion is likely to have any impact if you’re doing the wrong things, the wrong way, for the wrong people”

Marketing has become synonymous with promotion, to the point where the word marketing has seemingly lost its true meaning and value.

People claim to want to “market” their business and others will happily sell “digital marketing”, “content marketing”, “email marketing” and alike – when by and large what they’re selling are promotional tools or services.

It’s not just a matter of being overly pedantic about words – as no amount of promotion is likely to have any impact if you’re doing the wrong things, the wrong way, for the wrong people – it’s a matter of business success or failure.

This fact is even taught in secondary schools – my own GCSE course in Business Studies identified that at the heart of marketing were the four Ps of the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. In order for a business to be successful, it must get all these elements in order, with promotion being the last thing to think about!

The Chartered Institute of Marketing has further developed the Ps of the marketing mix, now claiming there to be 7: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence. Furthermore, their preferred definition of marketing is:

“ The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

You don’t identify, anticipate or satisfy customer requirements through promotion. So if promotion is the limit of your marketing consideration, you’re at great risk of coming up with a product or service idea that you think people will want, then gambling a whole load of money on promotional activities in the hope that they’ll buy it.

It really is little more than gambling. That may be fine if you’re a lone entrepreneur with money to lose, but when your staff are relying on you to pay their mortgages and feed their families, the risks of this folly become somewhat harder to ignore.

If you want your business to be a success, without that success being a massive gamble, it’s vital to step away from promotion unless the other elements of the marketing mix are in place.

Marketing considered and performed properly will help you offer the right products, the right way, to the right people, at the right time, place and price. Plus, it will help to ensure that when you do consider promotion, you’re targeting the right people and reaching them via the most efficient means available to you.

Knowing the difference between marketing and mere promotion really can be the difference between success or failure.

New Year Resolution Ideas For Business Owners: Set Objectives, Plan, Do, Delegate

1. Set objectives

As the song from South Pacific goes: “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?

Without objectives, you can end up drifting. Does another year of plodding along just getting by, or getting nowhere in particular really sound all that appealing?

So set some objectives and give yourself something to aim for. It helps if those objectives are realistic and measurable, so you can track your progress and see where you might need to change course to reach them.

What level of sales would help you develop your business as you’ve always dreamt? How many customers might you need to attract to achieve those sales? You’ve got yourself a measurable objective.

2. Plan to achieve your objectives

You won’t need me to tell you that if you set objectives and then just set them aside and do exactly as you were doing before, achieving those objectives may be more down to luck than judgement.

Also, if your objectives are particularly adventurous, they can initially seem too large to ever get too.

So you need a plan, one that breaks your objectives down into steps or stages, with a list of tasks to help you clamber the ladder of your objectives bit by bit.

3. Actually do it

You’ve set some realistic and measurable objectives, you’ve developed a plan to achieve them, now it’s vital to actually follow that plan.

Sound obvious? Well it is, until the phone rings with a customer enquiry, or there’s a problem with a supplier…..and you’re soon just plodding along again.

If there’s a risk of that happening, invest in a notice or whiteboard and write up in big letters your objectives and your performance to date. When they’re highly visible, they’re less easily forgotten about than the plans gathering dust in a drawer.

If you’re going to reach for the “I just didn’t have time” excuse, it’s time for resolution #4.

4. Delegate

Hijacking the theme song of the Record Breakers tv programme of the 1980s: “If you wanna be the best and you wanna beat the rest, ooh ooh DELEGATION’s what you need”.

If you don’t have the time to set objectives, let alone develop a plan or follow it, then you must be spinning so many plates that you’ll do yourself a mischief. It’s no joke seeing folk who’ve literally been working themselves into the ground.

Big businesses didn’t get that way by having their founders do everything from the first sale to the first £billion.

If you don’t want the “expense” of letting other people do some of your tasks, consider that your time is money too. Is your time better spent doing what you do best, or managing all the accounts, the IT, etc, too? Could you not earn more by focusing on what you do best than the cost of having others do the other jobs for you?

There are people who see delegation as a sign of weakness and doing everything themselves as a source of great pride. Well, compared to leaders of bigger more £successful businesses, your lack of delegation is actually a major weakness. And might sitting atop of a bigger more successful business be something more to be proud of?

Happy New Year!

Inspiring desire to visit a shop and buy things – my favourite Christmas TV ad was Asda’s!

The Christmas television advertisements that grab all the headlines actually leave me a little cold. Although they’re clearly successful at inspiring news headlines and public chatter, I’m left wondering where’s the reason to actually shop with those people.

My favourite ad this Christmas inspired chatter, store visits and actual purhcases – Asda’s “Best. Christmas. Ever” ad. (EDIT: Asda has unfortunately now removed the ad from Youtube!)

Whilst I may have long since passed my 8th birthday, Asda’s ad put the idea of a chocolate igloo in my head. Forget all the expensive gifts I could have written to Father Christmas for, I now wanted a chocolate igloo.

So having shared my enthusiasm for this advert and product to anyone who happened to ask what I’d like for Christmas, my mum decided to break away from only ever shopping at Sainsburys and Aldi to venture into Asda to get me one. Whilst she was there, she found gifts for other people too.

It wasn’t just my mum by all accounts. On her first visit to Asda they had sold out of igloos, so she put her name on a list to be contacted when stocks returned. Alas they never did call her back, but by chance she went to check another day and found one.

Perhaps it was just regular Asda shoppers buying all the igloos. Or just maybe they struck gold and attracted new people into their stores?!

They certainly inspired a few new purchases – and a newfound place for my mum to meet her friends for coffee.

It’ll be interesting to see what if any impact the ad has had on Asda’s Christmas sales – whilst we await the results, feast your eyes on the magnificence of a chocolate smash igloo!

Update 17/01/18: Maybe those ads really did work… Asda claims victory in ‘Big Four’ sales battle

Update 20/02/18: Asda sales rise on strong Christmas

Update: 09/11/18: M&S to air low-key Christmas ad in attempt to drive sales “Last year the struggling retailer’s ads featured Paddington, but while the ad attracted nearly 7m views on YouTube alone, its Christmas sales were a washout.”

The book all business owners should read: A Christmas Carol

It seems that there are so many businesses that do little other than exist to extract as much money as possible for their owners/shareholders. They hire the cheapest possible labour, selling on their wares at huge mark-ups as if they’re the coolest thing in the world – via obscure company structures to avoid paying as much tax as possible.

It’s not only limited to the big names, there are no doubt some smaller business owners who are only to happy to make a quick buck with scant regard for anything but their bank account.

It’s for that reason I think all business owners and leaders should read A Christmas Carol.

If you focus on nothing other than extracting every last possible penny for yourself, then you are doomed, doomed for all time – and you might not benefit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to show you the error of your ways.

If you’ve got a good business plan, you can still make yourself a tidy living – and help all those who work for you and otherwise rely on you to do so too.

News Release: Wolverhampton IT firm quadruples capacity as demand soars

The growing trend for businesses to outsource their Information Technology infrastructure has seen Wolverhampton-based VeloxServ Communications Ltd open a major new data centre in the city. The facility has quadrupled their capacity, creating five jobs and will provide services for businesses of every size and type.

Data centres house the equipment used to power a wide range of Information Technology applications, from websites and database systems, to smartphone apps and online games. Businesses are increasingly accessing these facilities from external service providers, instead of building their own data centres.

The Managing Director of VeloxServ Communications Ltd, Craig Messer, explains: “Our services enable businesses to access vital computer and networking systems without the capital investment required to build and maintain their own secure and reliable infrastructure. Clients can either house their own equipment in the data centre, or utilise our systems on-demand.”

VeloxServ’s new Wolverhampton data centre has been created by converting a former industrial building into a dedicated hub for Information Technology services. Over £200,000 has been invested in digital and physical security measures, as well as equipment to ensure uninterrupted power and network connectivity supplies.

The investment represents a major milestone for the business, which was founded eight years ago by Wolverhampton-born Craig Messer. It has grown from a sole-trader venture into a business operating data centres in Wolverhampton and London, supporting clients ranging from small website design agencies to national retailers.

Craig Messer says: “By investing in Wolverhampton, we can provide clients across the region with facilities that are within easy reach of their businesses, 24 hours a day, throughout the year.”

The MP for Wolverhampton North, Emma Reynolds, was instrumental in campaigning for the local telecommunications infrastructure works required to facilitate high tech businesses such as VeloxServ. Ms Reynolds says: “This new centre will create jobs for local people and provide greater capacity to support local businesses with IT solutions. I strongly welcome and encourage local companies like VeloxServ Communications investing in our City to help it further realise its potential.”

Businesses interested in finding out how VeloxServ’s services can support their Information Technology needs can do so by visiting or calling 0800 084 3521.


Photograph available:
File: VeloxServ.jpg
Caption: “VeloxServ’s Managing Director, Craig Messer (left) with Adam Ryan, Datacenter Operations Engineer (right) in the new Wolverhampton data centre.”

For further information please contact:
Craig Messer – Managing Director
VeloxServ Communications Ltd
Tel: 0800 084 3521

Andrew Hemmings – Marketing Co-ordinator
Tel: 0121 285 3399

News Release: Kingshurst Parade to host tropical fun day

Residents in and around Kingshurst are invited to sample tropical-themed music, dance, food, arts and crafts at The Parade in Kingshurst, on Saturday 16th August between 11am and 3pm. The Kingshurst by the Tropical Sea event will feature a packed programme of entertainment for all ages.

Event manager, Alison Saint, explains: “There’ll be opportunities to try Rumba and Salsa dancing, taste delicious Caribbean food, join craft workshops and experience all the fun of the beach with our sandy play area. Entertainment will also be provided by a steel band, magician, DJ, donkeys and children’s rides. The Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Kate Wild, will be attending and we hope many others will join us too.”

Members of Kingshurst Arts Space’s Stitch ‘n’ Knit group and the Kingshurst Girls’ Brigade have spent several weeks creating props and decorations to turn The Parade into a tropical paradise.

The event has been organised by Kingshurst Arts Space, in partnership with Kingshurst Library, the Seeds of Hope community hub, the Parade’s traders, Kingshurst Parish Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, Councillor Joe Tildesley said: “It’s great to see residents, traders and community groups come together for what promises to be a fantastic day. ”

Further event details are available at or by visiting Kingshurst Arts Space, 39 The Parade, Kingshurst, B37 6BD.


Editor’s Notes:
Established in 2011, Kingshurst Arts Space is an arts outreach project funded by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to improve lives and communities through creative activities and experiences. Located in a shop unit on Kingshurst Parade, it is a hub for a wide range of arts groups, events and activities for all ages.

For further information please contact:
Alison Saint – Creative Project Manager
Kingshurst Arts Space, 39 The Parade, Kingshurst, B37 6BD
Tel: 07770 262 245

Andrew Hemmings
Andrew Marketing & Communications
Tel: 0121 288 5224

When promoting yourself or your business, self-praise is no recommendation

If as a child I happened to get a little carried away in proclaiming my achievements as being the greatest in the world, I could be sure to soon hear the phrase “self praise is no recommendation”.

At first I didn’t quite understand how my papier mache hot air balloon or chocolate rice krispie cake making skills could possibly be anything other than world class, but it turned out to be a very valuable lesson.

How easy is it to tell the world that you’re great? Very easy.

How easy is it to actually be great? Not so easy.

Do most people realise this? Yes, of course.

Even if people perceive your claims as more confidence than egotism, there’s the unfortunate matter of whether or not you’re telling the truth. So self-praise really isn’t any recommendation at all, ever.

Sadly, you won’t have to look far in the world of advertising, websites, company literature or even Twitter profiles to see self-praise at play.

“We’re the best”

“We’re number one”

“I’m an expert”

“The greatest doer of something somewhere”

I’ve even seen a few Twitter users proclaiming themselves to be a “great human being”, which takes self-praise to nauseous heights.

If it helps you have the confidence to do what you do by getting up in the morning and saying to yourself that you’re the best, then so be it – but the rest of us need a little more than your word to go on. This is particularly vital since people’s trust in what businesses say isn’t all that high.

According to a recent article in Marketing Week (1): “The Reputation Institute found that just 15.4 per cent of UK consumers believe what companies say in their advertising, with the rest neutral, disbelieving or unsure.”

So any trust in what you’re saying has to be earned – you have to show why you’re great, not just say so. The good news is that if you’re really so great, you’ll have plenty of evidence to prove it. Plus, there’ll no doubt be quite a few people who think very highly of you too.

What other people say about you is so much more influential than anything you might say about yourself.

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages survey (2) indicates that: “Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential, as 84 percent of global respondents across 58 countries to the Nielsen online survey said this source was the most trustworthy.”

All those years ago, it was a glowing endorsement from my class teacher that was rewarded with a Matchbox car of my choice – not my chocolate rice krispie cake boasts.

It’s also very likely that it’ll be the glowing endorsement from your customers, not you, that’s rewarded with greater sales success.


1. Marketing Week: ‘Majority of UK consumers don’t trust brands’ advertising’

2. Nielsen: Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages

News Release: Kenilworth winner drives away with Smart Car prize

Kenilworth resident Ruth Vaughan scooped the top prize in the Win A Smart Car competition organised by Birmingham-based Finesse Windows. The winning entry was drawn at a special fundraising gala for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The Smart Fortwo Pulse car was presented to Mrs Vaughan by the Managing Director of Finesse Windows, Russell Bridge. Mrs Vaughan lived in south Birmingham before moving to Kenilworth, so returned to a familiar name when looking for home improvements.

Commenting on her win, Ruth Vaughan says: “I was shocked and thrilled to received the news that I’d won. I entered when I visited the Finesse showroom with my daughter, but you never expect to actually win!”

Russell Bridge says: “We hope that Mrs Vaughan enjoys many happy miles of safe motoring in her new Smart car. The competition generated so much interest, that we were keen to use the prize draw to divert some of that attention to the Motor Neurone Disease Association – a cause very close to our hearts.”

Motor Neurone Disease is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting. It can affect any adult at any age and there is currently no cure.

Russell Bridge explains: “Held in honour of my father, David Bridge, the co-founder of our family business, our fundraising gala raised over £2000 to fund vital research and support for people affected by the disease. We’d like to thank everyone who donated their time and money.”

Kenilworth residents are invited to enter the latest Finesse Windows competition, to win one of the company’s range of ultra-secure Palladio doors. Entries can by made by visiting or by calling Finesse Windows on 0121 433 3027.


Photograph available:
File: FinesseSmart1.jpg
Caption: “Smart Car winner Ruth Vaughan is presented with the keys to her Smart ForTwo by Russell Bridge, Managing Director of Finesse Windows”

For further information please contact:

Russell Bridge – Finesse Windows Ltd
Kings Norton Business Centre, Kings Norton, Birmingham, West Midlands, B30 3HP
Tel: 0121 433 3027

Andrew Hemmings
Andrew Marketing & Communications
Tel: 0121 288 5224

Media Coverage

News Release: Stourbridge mum’s bookkeeping business is a Dragon’s favourite

Dragons’ Den star, Theo Paphitis, has chosen Stourbridge-based Bookkeeping Boutique as one of his favourite small businesses. Bookkeeping Boutique’s owner, Sarah Lewis, was selected as a winner of Theo’s Small Business Sunday review on the popular social networking site Twitter.

Although famed for his role as an investor on the BBC show, Dragons’ Den, as well as the revival of retailers including La Senza and Ryman, Theo Paphitis is also a keen supporter of small businesses. Each Sunday Theo provides an invaluable publicity boost to his six favourite small businesses, by promoting their details to his 172,000 followers on Twitter.

Commenting on her win, Sarah Lewis says: “I was shocked to be selected as it was the first week I’d entered Theo’s review. It’s great to receive his support, as bookkeeping doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves as a means to boost business performance.”

Having spent 15 years in industry-based accounting roles, Sarah established Bookkeeping Boutique following the birth of her second child. Sarah explains: “Setting up my own home-based business has enabled me to find a better balance between work and the needs of my young family. I really enjoy working with some fabulous local businesses and it’s been a real bonus to be recognised by a famous entrepreneur like Theo.”

Anyone interested in finding out how Bookkeeping Boutique can help their business are invited to visit


Editor’s Notes:
Sarah Lewis was announced as a Small Business Sunday winner on 25th September 2011 – Theo’s ‘tweets’ can be found on Twitter at

Photograph available:
File: SarahLewis.jpg
Caption: “Bookkeeping Boutique owner, Sarah Lewis, with daughters Ava (l) and Lily (r)”

For further information please contact:
Sarah Lewis – Bookkeeing Boutique
4 Ashdene Gardens, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 5JQ
Tel: 01384 404318

Andrew Hemmings
Andrew Marketing & Communications
Tel: 0121 288 5224

Promote your business more effectively – don’t just talk about you

Have you ever met Mr or Mrs “me me me”? They attend dinner parties, family functions and business events, cornering people and talking entirely about themselves. Their house, their children, their car, their business, their views on the world.

You nod politely, but can’t seem to get a word in – and when you do, they look beyond you, clearly just waiting for the next opportunity to talk about themselves. It’s time to spill something down yourself in a desperate bid to escape.

Now think of the people that you actually enjoy talking with. Not only is the conversation flowing in both directions, but they actually listen to you and take an interest in you.

So how does this basic observation of human interaction help your marketing? Well, look at your website, leaflets, brochures, adverts, etc. Are they just talking about you?

“We’re this, we’re that, we’ve been in business x years, we’re the best, we can do this, we can do that.”

What’s so wrong with that? You’re promoting yourself, you’re bound to talk about yourself? To some degree, yes, but there’s still a very big danger of you appearing to be like Mr or Mrs “me me me”.

Promoting your business isn’t just a matter of telling people about you. The world is full of businesses talking about themselves, it becomes a noise that nobody is really listening to – just like you switched off when stuck with the “me me me” people. It could be the very reason more people aren’t taking notice of you.

As with the more engaging and enjoyable conversations you have with people, you need to pay your audience some attention and take an interest in their interests and objectives. Why would they buy into what you’re selling? What objective are they trying to achieve with your product or service?

Look at my business as an example. How many people wake up in the morning with a burning desire to hire a marketing person? Exactly! But how many more have a business in need of more customers and sales? So that’s what you see on this homepage – the objectives people actually want to achieve.

Some may encourage you to to spend more to “shout louder” in order to be “heard”, but that is unlikely to make much difference if you’re not saying the things that your target audience are actually interested in. A little thought about your audience can therefore spare you the expense of waffling about yourself, to yourself, like Mr and Mrs “me me me”.