Use Twitter to listen.
Here's Twitter Advanced Search https://twitter.com/search-advanced?lang=en
If your company is big enough, search for your company. Are people talking about you. In a good way?
Watch your competitors. What are people saying? If you don't know who your competitors are http://www.twittergrowbot.com will tell you.
Watch your market. What bad experiences do people have? (When you make an offer, it can be good to make a negative promise, eg. "We can do x in y days without z", where z is the key industry bad thing everyone else does except you. Here's one way to find out what that bad thing is.)
Make a diary entry to check your searches every now and then .. daily if you're Starbucks, quarterly if you're just you.
You could set up searches in TweetDeck or Hootsuite and then all you've got to do is look (rather than also remember how to do it).
Jo Bell (her again), just posted this:
"Organisers of festivals, poetry events and so forth: on Twitter, we've been having a good chat about being asked to work for free. It emerges very clearly that one thing in particular pisses writers off, and I'm sure it applies to other artists. So:
If you are offering a fee then SAY SO UP FRONT, in your first approach to us. We are so often asked to work for free, that if you don't mention it we will naturally assume you are doing the same. Don't make us ask you, so that we feel vulgar broaching the subject of whether you will pay us for our work. If you aren't sure what fee you can offer, then say 'There will be a fee, but we want to ask what you would expect?' And if we do ask, don't get offended. Four out of five people approaching me expect me to work for free. If you want me to know that you're not doing that, you have to tell me so."
I guess most of you are not running festivals, so let's just expand that a little.
In Design For the Real World http://amzn.to/2pv1700 Papanek says design can only be done within the constraints of a limited set of resources, the most obvious of which is a budget. That's because the design solution is different depending on what you have available.
And I can't remember who, said "if you pay for an hour of an expert's time, you get their best stuff". (I'm not entirely sure that's true, because until the expert knows the problem well, much of what they say may be general 'truths'.)
Anyway, the point is if you want more sales, and you've a budget of £50, I can offer you an hour's worth of email/phone/live chat conversation. That's a designed solution that meets your criteria.
If the budget is nil, I might be willing to work for commission. Marketers sometimes do 'affiliate marketing' where the company provides an affiliate marketing scheme and freelance marketers market the product and get paid, normally something in the region of 40% of an information product such as a course where the costs are all in development and the sale price is pure gross profit. The company keeps the 60% but has no marketing headaches.
For £500 I could work on the points of highest leverage and try to make back £1,000 profit for you so we get another £500 to spend, and build that way.
If your budget is £800 per month, your need is medium term & you've a team willing to pitch in, I can offer to work with you on developing a content marketing system. Short term & people too busy? That's PPC.
If your budget is £2,000 pcm, I can probably just run your marketing for you and deliver a steady stream of prospects or buyers.
The budget and resources determine the solution.
So if you are outsourcing work, do think of a figure and propose it.
However, there's a trap here. Some companies habitually propose a load of work for a limited fee, thinking they are going to get efficiency (it's often just how business thinks, sometimes how an inexperienced businessperson thinks business thinks). If the goal is to squeeze out as much juice as possible, what they'll get is cheapness and cut corners; nonsense articles written in half an hour based on nothing and saying nothing that in the end Google spots as nonsense and delivers you no credit for. The reason people are freelancers is because their work has value.
At the same time, I've seen pitches from web developers that take the budget the client offered, say £10k, and their proposal basically says "we'll build you a website and that will cost, say, £10k" without justifying their costs. That's annoying.
So I think definitely propose a fee. If it's fixed, it's fixed, but at least be flexible about what you want for that. Otherwise try "I've got in mind about £500pcm but let's talk about it", and work together.
My favourite policy is complete openness. I think Anita Roddick talked about how absolute openness with her distribution company allowed both companies to optimise what they did. That can only come with trust and a genuine desire for everyone involved to succeed, rather than a competitive, deal-driven, drive-down-the-costs approach. I'm not saying driving down costs isn't important. Of course, it's fundamental. I'm saying co-operatively working on that, together, is the best way to achieve optimisation. I guess that's a fundamental division in life. The political right and their strict father model, God tells us what to do, and I'm going to dictate the terms versus the political left and their nurturing family model, God is everywhere, let's talk and work out/design what's best for everyone. Safe to say I'm in the latter camp.
I have, given all the facts, been known to argue a fee down for the good of the client, and I will never charge for hours I've not worked. For something ongoing, I often argue the fee down to something the client can definitely sustain in the long term. We can always revise it up once profits start to flow.
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Hi, I'm John Allsopp and I founded A Million Tweaks in 2009 to do just what it says, continually improve marketing systems.
Nowadays I'm still just as hungry to learn the latest and most effective marketing techniques in what is an incredibly fast moving world. Basically I buy all the training courses so you don't have to.
Actually that's not an insignificant thing. Back in the day I got a first in my degree (Internet Computing) because I did the work, obviously, but also because I studied well and that means taking information from different sources and mixing things up to find the truth in the middle, and I still do that today. I remember waking up one Sunday, switching on the wooden, push button TV we had next to the bed and Tony Buzan came on with his mind maps .. it's still how I study now.
There used to be a very popular service that read all the business books and summarised them for busy executives. I'm not sure if that's still going, but this service is like a modern equivalent, except we'll actually do the work for you too if you like.
In marketing, however, there is an absolute truth: the result. It's often more effort to talk about marketing improvements than to enact them. Don't talk: test. If it works it works. So A Million Tweaks is about making small, low risk changes every day and iterating our way to your fame and fortune.
Anyway, I was supposed to be introducing myself in this box. I live in Scarborough with my partner (who has ME/CFS). I'm 6'6" tall which I think makes me an observer. I drum in a ska band (come see us it's a great night) :-)
If you want to get in touch there's 07762 941921 but best for me is email firstname.lastname@example.org or hook up with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Even better, fill out the form on this page and let's get talking about how we can apply some of these marketing improvements to your business, it's no good left stuck in my head now, is it?