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.

Retailers, please stop bluntly asking for my email address at the till

The other day I placed a roll of sticky tape on the check-out desk of Office Outlet and prepared to hover my debit card over the contactless payment machine.

“Can I have your email address?” asked the member of staff.

“No, thank you.” I said as politely as possible, when it sounds impolite. I wonder how many people submit to this trick, dishing out an email address – perhaps not a real one – instead of risking possible impoliteness or awkwardness?

It’s no longer safe to buy even simple things like sticky tape, birthday cards, socks or gloves without being asked, often bluntly, for an email address.

Some have a slightly different tactic: “Can I have your email address to send your receipt?”. Because I might lose the printed receipt, but won’t lose the email one in a sea of promotional emails?

The reason these retailers want an email address is quite obvious – it’s a direct link to try and persuade us to part with more money, with the potential to enable them to profile us and target things at us accordingly. All great for them, but the reason to actually let them have it is less clear, particularly when they don’t even give a reason, they just ask for it.

I dare say that if I asked “why”, I’d probably be told “so we can send you special offers”. But that’s just not reason enough for me.

Is it really useful for me to have every retailer I’ve ever bought something from sending me emails? Do I really want to have to wade through all these offers in amongst the emails I really do want to read? Will any amount of offers make me return to buy more sticky tape before this roll has run out?

Clearly, there are going to be times when some people will value such emails. But this blanket and often blunt approach seems lazy and actually unhelpful to both parties. What’s the point of a load of fake email addresses or unread emails for the retailer – and what’s the point of an inbox load of sales spam for many people?

It’s also a worry now we’re so close to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Near obliging people (saying “no” feels awkward) to hand over an email address at the till without any reason why doesn’t appear to conform to the regulation’s rule on consent:

“The conditions for consent have been strengthened, and companies will no longer be able to use long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese, as the request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent. Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.​”

“What’s your email address?” is hardly a reason for having it, so you can’t consent to whatever they might do with it. And those wanting to email a receipt shouldn’t actually do anything else with your email address – you only consented to receiving a receipt.

Being more selective over who these companies want in their databases and being compliantly up front about why is going to take a bit more effort than asking everyone for an email address – but surely it’s going to be better for everyone?

Pareto’s 80/20 rule has been hijacked by marketing writers to move from economics to sales, implying that 80% of sales volume comes from 20% of customers. Frankly it’s a bit too arbitrary for my liking when applied like that, but there is often some truth in the general principle. In many of the businesses I’ve worked with, there’s a core of customers who contribute more sales than many others combined.

Yes, by all means, these are great people to be in touch with – and they’re potentially more likely to value you being in touch too.

In the case of Office Outlet, if I was an office or purchasing manager for a business requiring lots of office stationery type products, then maybe yes, I’d value some offers coming my way. When I just buy a roll of sticky tape once in a while, then, no, I’m just not suddenly going to buy a laptop or a box of folders because you’ve sent me an email with a small discount.

So retailers, please stop bluntly asking me for my email address whenever I buy something from you. Perhaps decide if I’m really useful to you first – and give me a very good reason to sign up if you really want my details.

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.

New Website for Chaddesley Corbett Racecourse

I’ve been managing the Chaddesley Corbett Racecourse website from the start of the 2015/16 season and have just completed its 2017/18 revamp.

The website’s main aim is to attract race-goers and provide them with vital race news and information. The initial version was designed to provide equitable promotion for each of the five annual fixtures – which are organised by five separate organising committees.

More than 50% of the website’s traffic is from people using mobile phone or tablet computer devices – the majority of those being Apple iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads.

The website was built using the freely available WordPress content management system, so when a refresh of the visuals was requested, we just had to repaint the house, as opposed to knocking the house down and rebuilding it. The refresh therefore only cost 40% of its allocated budget.

What’s new for 2017/18?

See for yourself at

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: Mountain Warehouse to sponsor the Anglo Irish Challenge

Leading outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, Mountain Warehouse, will be the title sponsor of the international point-to-point meeting at Chaddesley Corbett on Monday 25th May 2015. The Mountain Warehouse Anglo Irish Challenge will see teams from Great Britain and Ireland competing head-to-head for the third year.

Having been hosted in Ireland for the past two years, this year’s competition moves to Worcestershire as part of the Albrighton and Woodland Hunt South’s annual Bank Holiday point-to-point meeting. In a historic first, Irish riders will compete in Britain using riders’ certificates gained in Ireland.

Mrs Diana Williams, Chairman of the Albrighton and Woodland Hunt South Point-to-Point Committee, said: “We’re delighted to have Mountain Warehouse on board as we welcome competitors and guests from Ireland to Chaddesley Corbett. It promises to be one of the highlights of the season.”

The founder and Chief Executive of Mountain Warehouse, Mr Mark Neale said: “With stores in Britain and Ireland selling the very best outdoor wear for all the family, this is a great opportunity for us to reach and support the communities we serve. We’re really looking forward to a great day’s racing.”

The event will also feature the final fixture of the AGA All Comers Championship and an AGA sponsored challenge race, thanks to support from the AGA Rangemaster Group. Tattersalls Ireland will return as a feature race sponsor, having supported the event in Ireland for the previous two seasons.

Other sponsors include David Dennis Racing, Bissell Wood Equestrian, Henry Oliver Racing, The Jockey Club, The Four Counties Point-to-Point Pitch Committee, Nicol & Co, Simon Wall and Paul Nicholls.

Mrs Diana Williams said: “The Committee is extremely grateful and proud to benefit from the support of such prestigious sponsors. They join our highly valued group of supporters and volunteers who help us to maintain the success of our events for competitors and racegoers.”

Further event details are available by visiting or by contacting Mrs Judith Healey on 07703 126 123.


Editor’s Notes:
About Mountain Warehouse: With 180 stores nationwide and strong online sales both in the UK and internationally, Mountain Warehouse has been offering quality outdoor clothing and equipment at the lowest prices since 1997.

About Chaddesley Corbett Racecourse: Located on the A448 between Kidderminster and Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, Chaddesley Corbett has been used as a point-to-point racecourse since 1925. It is the home of point-to-point racing in the West Midlands and one of the premier point-to-point courses in the UK.

For further information please contact:
Judith Healey – Joint Secretary
Albrighton & Woodland Hunt (South)
Tel: 01562 852642
Fax: 0872 331 6285
Mobile: 07703 126 123

Chaddesley Corbett Racecourse, Kidderminster Rd (A448), Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, DY10 4QT

  • Point-to-Point Racing Company – “Mountain Warehouse to sponsor the Anglo Irish Challenge”
  • Irish Point-to-Point – “Mountain Warehouse to sponsor the Anglo Irish Challenge”
  • Pointing West Midlands – “Mountain Warehouse sponsor the Anglo Irish Challenge”
  • Pointing Plus (Racing Plus Newspaper) – Page 19 – 7th March 2015
  • Go Pointing – Page 7 – 10th March 2015 – “Mountain Warehouse to sponsor the Anglo Irish Challenge”

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