May Say

Helping ambitious SMEs to grow despite government cuts

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Last week, it was announced as part of the government’s Autumn Spending Review that the Business Growth Service will wind down with immediate effect. This came as a surprise to most entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of whom have had significant success with growing their businesses thanks to the scheme.

The Business Growth Service, which incorporated Growth Accelerator and the Manufactory Advisory Service, worked in part by offering match funding, but also by exposing businesses to experienced growth experts who can help business owners take a step back and refocus their growth strategy.

Here at May, we have two team members who were accredited Growth Accelerator coaches, and we saw first-hand the benefit of the scheme when it came to helping ambitious SMEs grow. Though the funding will no longer be available, we are carrying on as before. We are committed to helping businesses propel themselves forward by developing their brand and marketing strategies, ensuring they build and shape their future.

At May, we also love challenges and getting under the skin of any business in order to help its owners meet their individual business needs. We will always work with you, not just for you and we will partner with you as an extension of your marketing team. We’re passionate about making a difference, delivering first class work and driving change. If this sounds like something you and your business could benefit from, then get in touch.

To find out more about what we offer, email contact@wearemay.com or call us on 01858 414247

 

Why branding matters

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Many small business owners think of larger organisations when they think of branding, so they may not even see their business as a brand.

If you have a business, you have a brand. It’s certainly more than just a fancy logo.

A good way to identify your brand is to consider what kind of impression you give clients or customers. For instance, how do you talk, relate and position yourself to your customers?  Getting it right can help make your business whilst getting it wrong can break it.

How can a small business get it right without breaking the bank?  Step back from your daily demands and understand what your customers really want.  Deliver it consistently at every touch point – from your logo and website to answering the phone.

It’s about developing a brand personality that your customers can relate to, one that demonstrates you understand their needs. As a result, they’ll come back for more.

So if you’re starting up a business – or you want to grow – don’t rush off and spend valuable time and money developing marketing materials. First, think carefully about what impression you want to make and how you can present your business in its best light.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I stand out from my competitors?
  • How can I demonstrate that I understand my customers’ needs?
  • What gives my business credibility?

Use the answers to these questions to select words that define the personality of your brand.  Write a list of every touch point you have with customers. Then think about how to really make your brand personality come through at each point to maximise engagement.

For more on how your brand can make the right impression, contact the team at MAY on 01858 414247.

 

 

Marketing strategy: why you should make sure your business has one

Get ahead and ensure you have a competitive advantage with your marketing strategy.

Get ahead and ensure you have a competitive advantage with your marketing strategy.

Every business should have an up-to-date marketing strategy. But for many, large and small, this is often not the case.  The most common reasons for this are not having the time to step back from the day job and not knowing where to start.

Finding the time to take a step back and develop a marketing strategy helps save time and reaps rewards. A strategy will:

  • Force you to think, align and stay focused on what the business wants to achieve long term
  • Offer you a competitive advantage – by being focused you will achieve more
  • Maximise your marketing budget

Where do you start? 

Think about where your business is now and where you would like to be.  Review your goals from different angles including your product and services mix, brand positioning, customer base, the competitive landscape and external environment.  Use information such as sales data, customer insights, competitor analysis and lessons learnt, to identify opportunities and challenges.  Then map out where you need to focus your marketing efforts to achieve this.

What makes a great marketing strategy?

  • Your outlook should be longer term, ideally 3-5 years
  • Successful strategies have buy-in from across the business
  • The best results come from ambitious but realistic objectives
  • It is essential that your strategy is integrated across all channels
  • Make sure it is manageable within the budget and resource available
  • Following its launch, ensure you are consistently implementing plans

It is important to acknowledge that effectively implementing a marketing strategy takes time and patience.  If you do the right work up-front to make sure it’s robust and you consistently implement it, you will see the results.

If you need help with your marketing strategy email: hello@wearemay.com or call 01858 414247.

Want to grow your business? Help is at hand

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In our role as friendly, professional advisers to ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners, our mantra is: Build a clear strategy on a firm foundation and review, review, review.

In other words, do the groundwork, put your plan into action and then regularly step back to view the project from another angle to see how it’s going.

The trouble is, to step away from the day to day is not easy, for all sorts of reasons, but sight of the bigger picture is an absolute fundamental to achieving results. This applies both to individual projects and to your business itself.

You may think your strategy is working and you are progressing towards your goals, but how can you be sure?

We would always advise seeking the support of experts, because clearly they will help you to see the big picture from angles that may be out of your range – marketing, in the case of ourselves, of course, but also finance, personnel, legislation and so on.

It is not always appreciated that there is an abundance of government-backed schemes available to help you obtain this support, and two programmes in particular which we would recommend come with worthwhile cash sweeteners.

May Marketing can steer you through both programmes – Growth Voucher, and Growth Accelerator.

May is an approved supplier of marketing advice for your business through Growth Voucher, which offers a possible 50 per cent contribution towards the cost up to £2000.

And we also have an accredited coach (it’s me actually) for Growth Accelerator, which puts your business in touch with experts to help with a slightly different range of topics. With this scheme you can access £2000 worth of coaching plus £2000 worth of match funded training for each senior member of the team, plus there is additional European funding available for eligible businesses.

Both schemes are easy to work with and offer that reassuring feeling that even though it’s tough converting your fledgling business vision into reality, it’s a path walked by many who have been successful and they can help you find the right course.

So what is the difference between the two schemes? One way to look at it is to say that Growth Voucher is the younger partner, geared to new entrepreneurs ready to grow their businesses by managing cash flow, growing and recruiting staff, making the most of digital technology and, of course, attracting and keeping customers, which is where we come in.

Growth Accelerator will probably appeal to more mature enterprises, focusing on building that growth strategy, winning funding and investment, encouraging innovation and developing teams.

If you’re looking to do both it is best to apply for Growth Vouchers first as it can’t be used alongside any other forms of public funding.

We think these are great schemes, which work because they encourage you to stand back and observe the barriers to growing your business and then to take the steps to achieve the next phase of growth.

But don’t take our word for it … listen to a couple of businesses who have worked with us on the schemes.

Sandra Lovelock owns software company Icon, which has designed a unique web-based information management system for clients including John Lewis, Asda and Boots.

She says working with us using Growth Vouchers to develop a marketing strategy has brought tangible results.

“May reviewed our complex software product and helped us define the sectors, trade events to target, and the types of materials we should produce to deliver our marketing goals. They really understood what we were trying to achieve and their advice has been invaluable to us.”

And here’s a second endorsement. Rachel Helmn is Managing Director of Hum, which offers a range of programmes to help staff become more productive and motivated.

She has worked with us on both programmes, which illustrates that there can be a progression from Growth Voucher and Growth Accelerator.

She says: “May’s professional and creative approach to generating my brand positioning, marketing strategy and raising my profile was first class. Hum is already seeing the benefits. Thanks to May for developing such a strong marketing foundation for Hum.”

So Growth Voucher and Growth Accelerator could be the perfect way for your business to tap into the help and support available from May Marketing, and others.

Perhaps we can look forward to working with some more of you soon via these two imaginative opportunities.

To find out more call Nicola on 01858 414247

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WIN a Marketing Workshop worth £2800! – COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

To mark the launch of our new look we are offering one lucky business an opportunity to win a one day marketing ‘Mayke Over’ workshop worth £2800.

The workshop will be tailored to your exact needs and is suitable for both SME’s and Corporates. It could focus on creating a marketing strategy from scratch, updating and reviewing an existing strategy or tackling any key marketing challenges that you are experiencing.

We promise you 3 things….

– you will leave the workshop with a clear strategy to move your marketing forward
– you will pick-up new ideas and tools to deliver tangible results
– there will be absolutely no obligation and no sales calls to follow!

To enter please e-mail hello@wearemay.com with the following information…

 

Name

Email

Company

Position

 

We won’t be giving these away very often…so ENTER NOW!

All Entries must be in by 26th February 2014  A winner will be selected at random on the 28th February 2014.  If the winner would like the workshop to take place further than 50 miles from May’s Offices in Market Harborough there may be travel costs applied. The judge’s decision will be final. For a full set of T’s and C’s please e-mail hello@wearemay.com.

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Top 5 marketing must dos

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Make 2014 your year by implementing our Famous Five

If you’re like us, you’ve probably already broken some of your New Year resolutions. So while we’re not too good at staying away from the biscuits, we do have some great marketing discipline we can share to help you be more successful in business.

And if you’ve started to think about how you’ll grow your income and revenue, here are some more questions to ask yourself: How can I better market my business? How can I network my business more effectively? How can I streamline my marketing activity to make it more productive?

Put these top five marketing items on your to do list this year and you’ll go a long way in answering those questions. We call them our Famous Five. They’re some of our marketing fundamentals, and include some handy tips to ensure your strategy is fit for purpose.

1. Learn your lessons

Moving from one activity to another without taking the time to reflect on the various successes and necessary improvements can be a trap into which it is all too easy to fall. It’s important to look back at previous marketing activities. Go through both the highlights and the bloopers reels for gems of wisdom that, in the desire to move forward, may have been overlooked. With the gift of hindsight (a much underrated superpower possessed by us all) it is important to discern what is worth repeating and what is worth letting go. All of this will help to paint a more accurate picture of the type of marketing strategy that will work for you.

2. Develop your strategy

Marketing can sometimes feel like a black hole, into which you throw great ideas and innovative strategies, never to be seen again. It doesn’t have to be that way. Take time on a regular basis to pull everything back down to Earth and ensure that your marketing is aligned and pointed towards supporting both short-term business goals, as well as your wider business agenda. Think about Alvin Toffler’s wise words, “You’ve got to think about the ‘big things’ while you’re doing the small things, so all the small things go in the right direction.” This doesn’t need to be a monotonous or arduous task. Simply set aside a day to properly pin down what you are trying to achieve through your marketing strategy and which key areas require focus in order to deliver. This will not only help the ease with which you are able to communicate your aims to colleagues, employees and even stakeholders, but also prevent you from wasting time on activities which add no or little value.

3. Prioritise your ideas

Once you have the strategy in place, it can seem overwhelming to implement. Make it easy by taking it step by step, in order of priority. Firstly, check that all the activities you could undertake support the key areas of your strategy. Secondly, take the time to evaluate effort against reward and prioritise which activities you ought to. And which would be nice to do if budget and time permit. It may take time to do this. However, when set against the time you could save by not focussing on activities that do not add value, the choice becomes an easy one. Don’t be scared to stop doing things. Sometimes we can get caught up doing certain things because we feel we should be doing them. It’s important to take a step back. Ask yourself why you are engaging in each activity and whether it is supporting your strategy and delivering results. If not, either stop or find a better and more successful way of doing it.

4. Create a visual plan

It’s all well and good to have a plan of attack when it comes to your strategy, but the last thing you want is to have it end up in that black hole. Once you have constructed your plan, it is very useful to use a calendar, formal plan or even a highly expressive diagram to keep everyone focussed on what’s important–rather than succumbing to fire fighting and distractions. It is certainly worth working out the most productive way of completing each task, as well as who is the right person to complete the task and whether or not there is any scope for either automating or scheduling the task to lighten the workload. If left unchecked, we can easily become creatures of habit.

5. Measure your success

It is important to have a method of measurement in place from day one. Not every task will offer you quantifiable results. But with the right preparation and alignment from the start, you should be able to tell if they have been successful in supporting your overall goals. In short: if you can’t tell if your activities have been a success, what’s the point in doing them? Piloting ideas can be an invaluable tool in discerning what works and for shaping future plans without wasting money. This can be accomplished by testing the water with a gradual roll out or perhaps different versions of your collateral.

Interested in further guidance or advice?

Try our tailored workshops and we’ll help you to create clear marketing strategies with a prioritised action plan, so you’ll see real results.

Bright campaigns with big thinking.