Tag Archives: SMEs

A brand proposition is a good place to start.

brand quality

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Really good brands provide a sense of belonging.

The very first thing that we in OC&K try to establish with our new customers is whether or not they are clear and specific about who the brand is meant to serve, how it does it and why do existing customers find it relevant, to them.

Allow me to put this in a checklist; we try to determine if the client,

  •  really knows who the brand is and why it exists
  •  is clear what the brand represents
  •  is structured to serve customers (communication / operations)
  •  is clear as to how they want to be perceived (vs how they are perceived)

Answers to the above questions help us to determine whether the brand is living up to its promise and whether it is being used to facilitate decision making. We get a feel for whether public perception is really a reflection of what the brand is and if it is a fair statement about the brand’s beliefs.

Operations vs marketing.

We have found that many business owners aren’t comfortable in this area. They usually spend approximately 70/80% of their time ‘running’ the business and “don’t have time for marketing stuff”. At the very least, we try to enforce the notion that a critical aspect of their brand development is that of their brand proposition. There are many different names for this out there, so let’s just say a brand proposition should cover a) who is the audience, being offered value, b) what is that value and c) why their brand is unique. Why this brand proposition is so important is that many SMEs have very similar goals and business objectives, the only differentiator being the industry.

If a business is established for a while, it probably is doing a lot of things right but if it wants to, not just survive but differentiate itself and become a great brand, it must have a solid brand proposition. Who wants to be a great brand? I wrote in my last blog that 70% of customers buy from brands because of the way they are made to feel – well, the thing is, great brands provide a sense of belonging, and even meaning, to people’s lives. And guess what? Such brands don’t just appear – they are built from the ground up being focused, offering solutions and being different, in the eyes of the public. So if you have already had a stab at brand positioning or are going to try it for this year’s planning, we at OC&K can help you – if you need it.

Tips and Timesavers.

On a related topic, more and more of late, clients have being asking us how they can start to build their brand online. Such a topic should be the content of a blog post in itself, but I will outline a few pointers below that may be helpful. Whether you do one or all of them it’ll still be much better than just jumping on Facebook or Twitter, because someone told you to do so. We are delighted when SMEs ask about this because it is a sign that they are taking their brand proposition seriously.

  1. If you don’t have time to write a blog, read others and comment on them.
  2. Find out where your online audience is. (there are many tools for this)
  3. Find influencers (and competitors) for your area of expertise and follow them.
  4. Share content that reinforces your area of expertise.
  5. If you have a website or blog – provide customers/prospects reasons to subscribe.

To finish, I hope you’ve gained some insights from the above. The fact is that a brand is a way for people to remember how you made them feel and why they will tell others about you. The proposition is all about you – the owner. It’s your vision after all so think about the big picture of your values and your goals. Constantly think about your customers – what are they looking for? What are their goals? Once you have a brand proposition you will have a roadmap of where you want to go with your customers, and that needs to be crystal clear. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K


Are you using digital marketing, or still renting eyeballs and ears?

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Build your own audience based on relationships.

In recent days I’ve been hearing and reading that the Irish economy is bottoming out of its economic downturn. Whilst the retail sector is still struggling, many of us SMEs are starting to think about long term plans.

One of the areas we should closely examine is digital marketing because online spending is the one sector of the economy that is actually growing year on year. It does appear however that investment in this area by Irish brands have not kept pace with the extraordinary growth due in the main, I suppose, to lack of positive sentiment and the usual cutting of marketing spend by businesses in a recession. This needs to be addressed ASAP because online spending is due to grow to 7% of all expenditure in the next three years. We all need to be ready to capitalise on this growth.

Renting eyeballs and ears is so last century.

In fairness though, some SMEs have at least started the online journey. Either through their own sources or from outsourced advice, it is slowly dawning on them that instead of borrowing audiences from traditional channels, being online is enabling them to go directly to customers and prospects. The changing marketing environment means that there is not a need to just rent eyeballs and ears with TV, radio, print and promotions. Now they can work on building their own audience online (and offline), based more on direct relationships. The online element is an opportunity to expose the real  brand  story by posting timely, useful, and sharable content for their customers and prospects.

A Valeria Maltoni blog here  (from an Economist Unit report#) has some interesting trends in this regard. The chart below “shows how most companies (57%) are still relying on their website as their main communication tool, followed by e-mail (37%). Only 27% are using social media, with just 13% using mobile apps. That mix will change over the next three years. Companies in the survey say social media will become their number-one channel (43%) and their use of apps will leap fourfold.”


In general, I think that we are moving in the right direction but the reluctance to fully embrace digital marketing here in Ireland seems to be that SMEs are not sure which horse (channel) to back from the plethora of options open to them. In addition, quite a lot of, self appointed, online gurus with no marketing background, sometimes are advising which technologies to use based on personal preference rather than what’s best for the SME. Choose your marketing partners carefully.

Tips and Timesavers.

Obviously, everyone with a smart phone and an internet presence effectively becomes a content creator, these days; however for all of us it is imperative that we adhere to the basic tenets of marketing.  – *know yourself, *know your customer, *know what they want and *know what your competitors aren’t doing – . Thereafter your brand story or marketing content should be filtered through your business objectives. That’s where a digital content strategy comes in.

Do you recognise some or all of these challenges?

  • You are engrossed in the operational side of the business not marketing.
  • Managing external agencies together with internal colleagues is not always easy.
  • Traditional mass marketing was easier – now relationship building needs different skills.
  • There is so much information available; it seems hard to know where to start.
  • Some online gurus are focused on the tools rather than the business objectives.

To conclude – I think the good news is that there are opportunities to grow your business using digital marketing. Also, it is starting to emerge that companies who embrace short and focused online campaigns as an integral part of their overall marketing activity will reap the rewards. Those that continue with big, mass market campaigns will be left behind by their own customers, who have completely changed their expectations.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Is your communication full of new tools and old tricks?


“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Do you believe that if you build it – they will come

I don’t think the above sentiment is true, but observing how communication tools are being abused of late, I wonder if some people do actually believe it. I mean, has anybody noticed recently the number of small businesses who have set up a social media account (smart), that are increasingly ‘advertising their wares’ on their timelines (not smart).  How have I noticed this?  Take twitter for instance, other than the timeline being full with ‘non-engaging’ tweets, more and more of late, when we follow back on @oconnorandkelly, we then get an auto DM to ‘like’ on Facebook, an ad or a suggestion to download something from a website. Has this happened to you?

Of course many SMEs are just dipping their toes in social media networks but wouldn’t it be better to get it right first time? Unfortunately, some have been advised (sic), that a social media presence is a great new opportunity for customer acquisition and non-paid advertising. Accordingly, SMEs sign up for a Twitter or Facebook account and, as recommended by the gurus, commence posting opening hours, product features, special offers etc. Both Aidan and I (OC&K), have been in the communication business for over 30 years and in our opinion, these so called gurus, goddesses, mavens and pros are just about turning networks into the old fashioned, intrusive, marketing channels of old. And how do you spot these advisors? Easy – their timelines are full of similar type advertising.

Nurture the relationship.

The problem isn’t unsurmountable per se, because all a recipient has to do is un-follow, unlike, unsubscribe, block or ignore. However, the way I see it is that many start-ups and SMEs could be much smarter about how they use this excellent opportunity to build trust by communicating with customers and prospects properly, rather than advertising to them. Let’s face it, when somebody ‘likes’ your post they are not saying yes, please sell to me. No, they’re probably saying, OK, that’s interesting let me see what you’re like over a period of time. So what do we have to do? – nurture the relationship. Unfortunately, the business, who is led to believe that someone is listening to their ‘spam’, is in fact losing the opportunity for leads, never mind actual sales. In addition to that, when the opinions of just a few hundred people can impact the success of your business, knowing how to use social media marketing is critical.

Tips and Timesavers.

So, if you’re getting advice on social media planning here are some things to remember:

  • You do not have to be present on a specific or all networks
  • Email is not extinct
  • Social media has not replaced SEO completely
  • All your updates should not be automated
  • You should not auto DM your followers
  • Your prospects ARE online /using social media

I know there is no ‘right’ way to do social media, but there are definitely wrong ways to do it. Keep it social and have real interaction with prospects – then, they will come.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K