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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Setting up a delivery service - checklist

If you make deliveries, you must offer a reliable and secure service to customers. Your delivery service can also differentiate you from competitors. What do you need to think about when setting it up?

  • Match your courier to your business needs. Delivery companies range from large operators to local firms and may offer different services. Think about whether you will need extras such as 24-hour delivery, designated delivery time slots or international carriage.
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors. Do your rivals offer evening delivery or free delivery for second items? Think about what you can do to stand out and make your service more attractive.
  • Offer a range of convenient options. Your customers might expect to be able to choose how, where and when to receive their goods. Higher value products will probably require a signature, for example, and customers may expect heavy goods to be put in situ by the courier.
  • Consider your charging policy. You could offer free delivery as standard with a charge for a premium service, or a flat rate regardless of the number of items to encourage more sales.
  • Allow customers to track orders in progress, particularly with urgent or expensive items. The customer feels more in control of their purchase and any problems with deliveries are likely to be picked up quickly.
  • Pick a courier with a satisfactory doorstep policy. What does your courier do if they are unable to deliver? Do they try once, then leave the package at a warehouse for collection? Are they happy to deliver to an alternative address? Communicate this doorstep policy to customers.
  • Set up a clear, customer-friendly returns procedure. While some businesses do charge fees for returning items, offering a free return service will inspire confidence and perhaps even boost your sales.
  • Advertise your delivery service prominently on sales collateral and your website. Being clear about pricing and returns will also help to avoid post-transaction misunderstandings.
  • Think about packaging. It is important to protect goods during transit and ensure they arrive in good condition. Don't overwrap, though - your customer must be able to get at the goods without damaging them by struggling with packaging.
  • Consider introducing a green element to your packing policy. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental effects of using unnecessary or bulky packaging. Aim to use recyclable packaging and reduce waste - and therefore your costs - as much as possible.

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