Normally this site is focused on business marketing, with a specific focus on digital. Current affairs are not really our purview. However the recent triggering of Brexit by the UK government has in its turn triggered me to pen this post.
One of the big impacts of Brexit will be to limit movement of EU citizens in the UK after 2019. I have many colleagues in this industry and many of them are EU citizens resident in the UK or travelling there on a regular basis. I know many of them are now worrying about their future. Stories such as this and this are not reassuring.
The process for obtaining permanent residency in the UK is almost comically difficult. It includes an 87-page form and the provision of every date on which exited or entered the country over a decade along with a UKBA Property Inspection Report and more.
The process of exiting the eu has now begun and it looks like it will not be reversed. Whether Scotland leaves as well or remains in the EU as an independent country is something that remains to be seen. But I felt the need to pen this post to wish my colleagues and friends who are affected the best as they deal with what I think will prove to have been a terrible mistake. I hope we can continue to work together for a long time to come.
Ok, sorry for the interruption, normal service will return soon!
It seems that there are 81,000 business employing 85,000 people in the Psychic business. And these generate a total of $2 BILLION in revenue every year.
These are huge headline figures and as an industry it’s huge overall. But those 85,000 people make an average of just $23,000 each per year. That’s a figure that is less impressive.
Lets’ a take a closer look.
The Psychic industry includes establishments that offer psychic and fortune-telling services. including Palmistry, Cartomancy, Mediumship, Aura reading, Astrology and Numerology. In essence these are one-person businesses and as you’ve no doubt seen yourself they often carry out their trade in small booths or shopfronts. It is the real ultimate “small industry”.
The operators often face somewhat bizarre restriction by the way. For instance fortune-telling is illegal in New York since 1967 The law specifically prohibits not only “pretend” fortune tellers but also those with real powers, which seems a bit bizarre. But they are allowed “for entertainment purposes only” which seems to defeat the purpose of the law in the first place.
But enough about weird New York laws.
This blog is most interested on what changes the internet has brought to business. Is it possible to provide psychic readings over the internet? And if so why is it still such a splintered business?
My first feeling is that this should be a perfect business for the internet. After all telephone psychics have been around for some time. And the internet should allow one or two people to come to the fore.
Take one example; Gary Markwick is a UK-based Palm reader. He says he is the 3rd generation and he gives regular readings in London. But he also reads palm online Now I’m not commenting on the skill, talent or accuracy of his readings and I’ve not had my palm read by him. But he came up when I Google online palm readers. In fact he was the only personal page.
Assuming Gary does have talent then, before the internet, his services would have been available only to those in his immediate neighbourhood. Now that he is able to provide those same palm readings online would he not begin to dominate the market as pent-up demand is released? The internet should help spread the word but does it require a marketing effort that was previously not needed for a local service?
Why Scalability Matters In The Internet Age
Of course by now many of you will have spotted the big issue here: scalability. Mostly this is as we have seen a person to person industry and there are only so many clients a single palmist can service. No matter how large the demand there are still only a fixed number of hours in the day. The individual palmist benefits from demand for their own service by raising their prices but they cannot read more palms.
Does this mean the industry is always going to be fragmented? To some extent. There is space for a company to come in and provide expertise to help market the individual psychic. But because we are now working on a global scale there is a limit to that as well, after all there is only one “best” palm reader. The opportunity for a brand is therefore limited. They can market and they can reassure clients of the quality of each psychic, but they cannot create two “best” palm readers.
And so the psychic industry is liable to remain multi-billion dollar industry that just abut provides a living to most of its business owners,
Would you knowingly throw your business down the toilet?
Everyone know that brands can be the most valuable resource a business has. Apple, Google, Coca-Cola are all worth billions in their own right. Relatively speaking a brand can be even more valuable to a small local business. But how much do you think about your brand, and more importantly how much care do you take of it?
Of course we also know that the big brands control their brands closely. And maybe you do the same with yours. But how much thought do you give it?
Where brand control meets promotion does brand control lose?
Of course you want your business to be seen and widespread attention can result in increased sales but can doing so result in damage to your brand?
These thoughts came to my mind on reading an article about Uber and how it it is now getting public subsidies in one Florida town. While it’s an interesting read on many counts, the quote that resonated for me was the one about how strictly Uber controls its brand and how it forbid use of its logo
“anywhere that could degrade our brand,” including on doormats or anywhere else where it could be trodden on; on things like napkins or paper plates that would be quickly thrown away; on dartboards or urinals; on food, which, the document explains, will be sliced, broken, eaten, and is associated with the feces it will later become”
I think most of us can see the need for the restriction on placing the logo on urinals. But I think most companies and businesses would happily place their logo on doormats, dartboards and food. I know I personally have seen logos on these products and also on napkins and more.
So what is the best approach? The truth is I don’t know the answer. In fact I suspect that, like most things in life and in business, there is no single answer. If there was then I’m sure there would not be a large market for such branded goods. And other major companies would not be placing their brand on such goods. There would probably be no Frozen chocolates and breakfast cereals either.
But it’s a topic worth thinking about. Where are the lines to be drawn for your business?
Of course you know what Pokemon Go is. But just how popular is it? And how can you turn it to your advantage? First lets look at searches for Pokemon. The chart below shows the number of searches on Google for “Pokemon”
Pretty dramatic isn’t it? And this is not just one country. In fact it spreads the world where the game has been released.
So there is plenty of interest but did you realise just how fanatical people are and how out of their way they will go to catch a Pokemon? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9LZZugYUmg All very interesting but how can it benefit your business?
Lures Work For More Than Just Pokemon
Within Pokemon Go you can purchase a Lure. These can be dropped and at that place you will see increased Pokemon activity. And what does increased Pokemon activity mean? Yes, increased visitors. Here’s how it works 1 Download the app and create an account. 2. Purchase a Lure for just $2
Choose your times wisely and let people know before hand, then take pictures and post them to your social media. Time will tell if Pokemon Go is a fad, But while it’s popular it can be one of the cheapest advertising methods in your arsenal.
We have been looking at the different forms of Advertising and Marketing in our recent posts. As we have seen, there are a number of different tyes of advertising. But perhaps the most valuable is free advertising. This can be word-of-mouth or different types.
We’ll look at some of those different types over time but today I want to consider a special form; the business you can get from the front page of Google As you no doubt know being on the front page of Google means being seen by a lot of people. And not just any people, these are people who are looking for the product or service you sell. Being seen by them translates into sales.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of deliberately trying to get to that front page. This is a process that can be achieved for specific searches and you can hire a company to do it for you. There are a number of agencies around the world that focus on SEO.
One I have dealt with is based in Cork, IrelandAsterion SEO is an SEO services company that deals with clients around the world. They focus on what they describe as “moving your store from the Sahara to Times Square.” Implied in this is the fact that you can choose strategies that will get you to the location you want to be. How is this possible? Well that’s a complex strategy that is outside the scope of this post. But lets assume it is possible to decide this and get to that front page. What will that do for your business?
I think we can agree that it will make a big difference. The comparison to the move from the Sahara to Times Square is very descriptive. Getting that passing traffic (but in Googles case it’s not just passing traffic but traffic that’s looking for your product) is powerful. Suddenly you see sales – and it’s sales that you don’t have to keep advertising for; there was just an initial cost for the move.
Every sale is now achieved without any spend on advertising. And if it’s any good then the sales generated from Google also add word-of-mouth promotion.
Brian O’Connell who founded Asterion SEO says that getting to the front page is achieveable – but takes time and, depending on the searches you want to get found for, can take some money. But doesn’t have to be. He says that you should consider it a long-term investment
Personally I find this to be the best and most pwoerful form of advertising. Many people claim that free traffic is not good because you don’t control the volume and can’t scale it. But that’s not the point. All businesses require a core income stream that acts as a base. Once you have that then you can decide to take paid ads later. But having that core is essential as a floor from which to grow and scale.
Like all other free traffic sources SEO is a powerful tool and one that should be considered by all. We’ll take a look at the other free sources soon.
For many small businesses the difference between Marketing and Advertising is vague at best and they are interchangeable at worst. Does this matter?
First lets see what the differences actually are and then we can consider our main question of today; do you need to know the difference at all?
Marketing has been described by The American Marketing Association as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Advertising is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “the promotion of goods or services for sale through impersonal media, such as radio or television.”
As we can see from these definitions the difference is that Marketign is a process and set of tools that include advertising. Advertising is thus a subset of Marketing. Marketign in fact includes all the ways to communicate with a customer such as Public Relations, Advertising and even simply conversing. It is the system of communication.
Advertising is the direct message but only when presented in an impersonal media. Talking to your customer when they come into the shop is marketing but not advertising.
Large companies tend to have both marketing and advertising budgets. But this is not the case for small businesses. Does it matter?
I think the answer in most cases is no. For a small business the expense is in the advertising; press, flyers, signage etc. However it is important that you consider your advertising in the context of your overall marketing. Think of the image and values you are trying to convey; are you focused on fresh food? In that case just having newspaper adverts that scream about low price is not the message you want. Sure you can use this occasionally for a sale or to generate a spike in interest but it is not the continual message you want to advertise. And where you advertise will also play a role; Rolex do not advertise in your community paper – they choose high-end fashion and business magazines.
Before you begin to advertise then you need to have fixed your marketing message. And then each advert needs to be considered with this in place. After that you can just go about your business with periodic reviews of what advertising media fit into your marketing plans; press, tv or radio? paid online adverts or SEO?
But apart from that there is little point in a small business worrying about definitions.
Marketing has changed significantly in recent years. Now it is possible for a small business in a small town to reach customers across the world. And to do so for pennies.
It’s not that long since global reach was the preserve of multi-national companies. In this blog we intend to look at what the changes mean and how to take advantage of it.
In this first entry I want to outline what it means…
If you run a small business your potential was always limited. Sure some could become big companies but a shoe store was limited to its local catchment. Now their market is the world. The current population of Earth is nearly 8 Billion About 5 Billion of those are on the internet.
All of those are your catchment.
Now that doesn’t mean all are your potential customers. Only a small portion will want your style of shoe and some will be loyal to competitors. There are many reasosn they won’t all want your shoes. But consider this;
In a town of 10,000 you might expect that 40% are your potential customers; That’s 4,000 people. But in a global market of 5 Billion then if only 0.1% are your potential customers you have 5 million people to sell to.
All you have to do is let them now you exist.
What is Internet Marketing?
Internet Marketing is simply reaching your potential audience on the internet. We’ll go into details in later posts but for now simply think that it takes two forms; Brand and Direct.
Brand Advertising is building a relationship with your potential customers when they are not necessarily looking to buy something. Instead you’re just letting them know you’re there and what you stand for. Then hopefully when they do go to buy they are both aware of you and have a good opinion of you.
Direct Marketing is reaching a potential customer at the time they are looking to buy. At the point they are researching the product you appear in front of them, tell them about yourself, and persuade them to select you.
Both types of advertising are legitimate and both are powerful. And both have found a place in the internet.
At the risk of simplifying things it can be said that Brand Advertising is dominated by Facebook while Direct is the province of Google Now of course both companies have the ability to offer you both options. But the broad split is valid.
Both types of advertising can also be split into Paid or Free. And both Facebook and Google can provide you with both. Again we will discuss this in the future but consider it simply from two examples; Business build pages on Facebook, collect followers and post updates. These can appear to the followers for free. The problem is that Facebook limits the number of followers who can actually see the post (it’s currently about 4% of followers who see a post). In Google’s case they try to put the most valid and relevant results in front of you when you search. If you cna be the most relevant result to a search then Google will put you at the top of the results without you having to pay them. This can bring a lot of customers.
This has been a brief post. We will discuss this further in other posts.