McQueenie Mulholland

Define > Design > Deliver >

How to Develop a Successful Communications Strategy for Small, Local Charities

StrategySarah ThomComment
woman-typing-writing-windows.jpg

 

At McQueenie Mulholland we specialise in marketing and communications for charities, from local to national organisations.

As a small, local charity it is just as vital that you have a successful communications strategy as bigger organisations.

Communicating effectively with your donors helps create strong, lasting relationships and enables conversions from first-time donors into regular givers. But before you start your communications strategy there are some key factors which need to be identified:

  • Target audience – segment into groups to diversify communication needs and wants – think stakeholders, regular donors, new donors…

  • What you want to achieve – do you want to increase the number of monthly donors? Increase the average donation amount?

  • Key communication methods – how do you want to communicate with people? And how often do you want to communicate through each channel?

  • Key messages - Identify the key messages for each audience group that you have identified – different audience groups will want to find out about different things – what key messages are you going to communicate to each?

  • What does success look like? -  It’s important to set out right from the start what success looks like to your organisation.

At McQueenie Mulholland we understand how important a successful communications strategy is and we work closely with our clients to identify exactly what they want to accomplish and develop a plan to help them achieve it. Contact us today to discuss how a communications strategy could benefit your charity.

Why should I target my PR?

PR, MarketingSue McQueenieComment
man-hands-reading-boy edited.jpg

 

At McQueenie Mulholland we work with a variety of clients, large and small, from many different industries and sectors. Some clients need to target an audience on their doorstep and others need to reach further afield.

How do we use PR to find those potential customers? When we work with clients we, first of all, identify who they want to talk to. We aim to get under the skin of their business, and we use data to inform all our PR and marketing activity.

Whether you run a shop, a service, a hotel or another kind of business, you’ll have data about your customers. We’ll help you unpick this data, it might show us who is coming to you now and it should give us plenty of insights into your company. Here are some of the areas we might focus on to help us go on to draw up a PR and digital marketing strategy for you:

  • Where your customers come from

  • How they initially found you

  • How old they are

  • The recency and frequency of their interactions with you

  • Their average spend with you.

We’ll then use this information (and more) to draw up your ideal customers and devise ways to help you reach them in a targeted fashion.

And we could just throw lots of stories, advertising and digital posts about you out there, across lots of different channels and hope that something ‘sticks’.

But we advocate a much more efficient and effective way to market your business or service, by identifying how your customers (or potential customers) consume their information. For example, if you were selling a product designed specifically for old aged pensioners there would be little point posting the information on LinkedIn. However, if you were to identify a publication that was read by an older demographic, and target that with PR or advertising you would be able to reach your target audience.

Whatever you’re doing with your PR and marketing, remember to use the data, identify your audience and target the correct channels to reach them!

Setting objectives for your charity’s communications and fundraising strategy

StrategyRob MulhollandComment
pexels-photo-316466.jpeg

 

Many charities fail to make the distinction between their communication and fundraising strategies and, by default, also blur the line between the objectives of each too.

This is a huge mistake as communication and fundraising serve very different organisational needs.

Worst still, some organisations in the charity sector believe they need a marketing strategy, when in fact many do not have a product or service to ‘market’ in a traditional sense – but for today, we’ll save that issue for another article.

Looking at communications and fundraising separately gives you clarity on what it is you want to achieve from each. Below I go into more detail on each.

Communications

As well as driving income, charities also need to understand the stakeholders they need or want to engage with and for what purpose.

For example, some charities may be struggling to service the volume of clients that come through their doors, so may want to focus the message of their campaigns on prevention and, the objective of this work, on reducing footfall.

The need to define the right message in order to achieve the desired effect also leads you to select the most appropriate channels to communicate with your audience through – for example, press (editorial and advertorial), radio, digital, direct mail, events, face-to-face.

What’s important though, regardless of the message and the channels selected, is that specific objectives are set next to each planned communications activity and how hitting these objectives moves your charity closer to its overall mission.

Fundraising

Trusts and grants, community, corporate, commissions, events – there’s a whole spectrum of possibilities when it comes to fundraising in the charity sector. Where the challenge lies for charities is understanding which of these types of fundraising has the most potential to support their particular brand of work.

For example, a charity working in animal welfare is likely to gain more community (public) support than it is local authority funding. Alternatively, a charity working to provide housing and benefits advice is less likely to receive public donations but more likely to receive local authority funding.

Answering the question of where there is most potential for fundraising support to come from first, dictates the audience and, therefore, the channels and proposition too.

For both communications and fundraising strategies, we would advise breaking your objectives for each out separately. This will enable you to answer questions about audiences, channels, propositions and set specific targets next to each – your communications and fundraising strategies.

Sometimes using a visionary statement to spell out what your communications strategy and your fundraising strategy intend to achieve independently then allows you to break these up into smaller, specific objectives that then become more achievable.

If you’re struggling with know where to start on setting the objectives for your communications and/or fundraising strategies, contact me (Rob Mulholland) for a chat about how we can help you develop this.

Top tips to help you stay focussed and plan ahead

Strategy, MarketingEleanor YeoComment
menu-restaurant-vintage-table.jpg

 

At McQueenie Mulholland, one of our areas of expertise is in the tourism, hospitality and food sectors.  It’s an area that members of our team have a lot of experience in, and our clients include hotels, campsites, restaurants, farm shops and wedding venues.

Traditionally, the summer months is when work in these areas really ramp up, and we know from talking to our clients that when they’re really busy, understandably, they just don’t have time to focus on marketing and communications planning.

So we thought we’d put together a few of our top tips and reminders, to help keep us all focussed during (perhaps!) a quieter time so that you’re raring to go and all set up for the busier times.

What’s your website doing?

Ok, so you may be having a bit of a quieter time at the moment, but don’t forget that your online presence is working just as hard as it does at all other times. What are people finding when they do a search for your product/service? If all of your competitors are appearing on search engines before you, it’s time to think about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

What about some planning?

Now is the time to be writing your communications plan for next year. When are the times that people are most likely to be wanting to book? Is there a campaign that you could be running to coincide with this time? Perhaps you’re a restaurant and you think people will want to come on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day? Or maybe you’re a hotel and you want to get people booking up for the spring bank holidays? Have a think about when those times are likely to be, and work backwards. Maybe you want to incentivise people so that they book earlier than usual? Get planning!

Photographs

Pictures paint a thousand words! Do you have a great selection of images to use on your website, social media and in your marketing material? Now could be the time to have a photoshoot. Try to think about the things that set you apart from your competitors. Focus on what makes your customer’s experience really special? Do you offer log fires? Take a picture of somebody drinking a cup of coffee in front of one. Do you pride yourself on your great accommodation? Get a photograph taken that shows off what you think makes it stand out.

Research

Do you know your customers? Why do people book with you and not your competitors? Do you know why they like you? Are there any aspects of your service that they don’t like? One of the things that we always recommend our clients focus on, is research and data. With decent data, you can send individual targetted communication to each customer group meaning that they’re only receiving a genuinely relevant newsletter and emails from you. This is something that so many companies forget or don’t make time for, but it can make such a huge difference, and enables companies to really get to know their customers.

Social media

This might be something that you don’t have a lot of time for during the busiest times of the year, so now is a great time to make sure that your profile page is up to date, and showcases your business to the best of your ability. Why not set up some scheduled posts so that you can still keep in touch with your followers? Keep changing photographs and showcasing what makes your business stand out. And use this time to get more followers, so that when you are busy, you’re able to interact with a larger number of potential customers.

There are lots of ways that McQueenie Mulholland can help. If you’d like to talk to us about any of the above elements, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Give us a call on 01392 423060 or drop me an email on eleanor@mcmu.co.uk.

Lazy language – the cardinal sin of copywriting

MarketingEmma CottleComment
pexels-photo-278888.jpeg

 

Marketing as a profession has its foundations in language and communication, and marketers pride themselves on their ability to create a strong and creative line of communication between businesses and their customers. However, with the high churn of content that we see on social media, we have noticed an increasing volume of bad habits creeping in – which means that customers will be spotting it too.

A large proportion of my time as an Account Manager is spent copy writing, or creating written content for my clients. Having an eagle eye for grammar and well-crafted language means that we are able to quickly spot lazy copy – and we find it infuriating that there seems to be so much of it about.

Don’t fall into these 5 common traps of lazy language:

Grammar and punctuation

This may seem obvious, but mistakes happen. Proof reading is an essential part of the copy writing process, and you shouldn’t be precious about asking others to check work. As a team, we get each piece of copy checked by a minimum of two other pairs of eyes on average. This dramatically reduces the odds of a piece of copy going live with a silly mistake on it – and the resulting embarrassment. Don’t be that company that ‘prides itself on its attention to detail’ but has a website full of errors.

Predictability

Don’t miss opportunities to make an impression. For content such as terms and conditions or error messages on your website, it is easy to fall back on generic content, but this is another opportunity to put your own stamp on what you are putting out in front of your audience. Explore the nooks and crannies of your brand’s content to reinvent it in your own voice.

Assuming knowledge

When you are writing content for an outside party, remember that they do not know what you know. This is a common mistake, particularly in highly technical companies. Identify your target audience and introduce them to your product or service in layman’s terms, and clearly outline the benefits that you offer.

Superfluous content

Essentially – cut the waffle. We all lead busy lives and our time is limited, so just because you may have a wide vocabulary does not mean that you need to use it all at once. Choose your words wisely and use them concisely to hit the mark. If you can say what you need to in 50 words, don’t use 100.

Telling not showing

This is a pet hate of ours, and something that we are seeing much more of. For example, you might be promoting an interview with a person of note. You should trust the audience to deduce for themselves that the item is interesting, so leave out words like ‘fascinating’ or ‘inspirational’ in the description. Using too many adjectives devalues whatever it is the piece is attempting to promote. Overuse of superlatives will never convince anyone that what you’re saying is true. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Brand Wagon Agency captured our feelings perfectly – ‘If someone came up to you at a party and began telling you a story about their new car and then said, “we are really classy people” you would promptly walk away and roll your eyes. Why? Because no one likes a self-proclaimed classy person just like no one likes a self-proclaimed “greatest” brand of whatever category. Don’t tell your audience. Show them.’

We couldn’t agree more.

How can small, local charities get more out of Christmas?

StrategySarah ThomComment
pexels-photo-376698.jpg

 

Christmas is nearly here, and with it, the feelings of goodwill and generosity that mark the season.

People are more likely to donate money to charity in November and December, due in part to huge campaigns such as Children in Need, Movember and #GivingTuesday, but as a small, local charity how can you make the most of the season’s goodwill?  

One of our clients, Community Housing Aid, who also run Nightstop Devon, are making the most of this season’s cheer and have organised a special event on the 9th December.

They are going to be running a special theatrical and musical performance in Princesshay Shopping Centre (Exeter) from 2:00 – 3:30 pm on Saturday 9 December.

Running a public event is a great way to raise awareness of your charity, especially if you are small and locally focussed. It will get your name out in the local community and is also a great opportunity to promote any fundraising campaigns that you’re running at that time.

Events, supported by social media, can reach a wide audience and are also great for getting publicity in the local press.

If you would like to discuss how you can use an event to publicise your charity then contact McQueenie Mulholland today.

Communications - who’s the expert?

Strategy, MarketingEleanor YeoComment
eleanors blog.jpg

We’re constantly amazed by the number of people in our marketplace who call themselves ‘experts’.

Whether it’s marketing, social media, PR, web development, SEO, design … there are a plethora of people who claim to be the very best in their field, offering everything that your business could possibly need to achieve better sales, more customers, higher spend, wider reach …

Surely this is great? Surely it means that you, the customer, have a multitude of agencies and experts to choose from, who will all offer competitive services at great prices?! Well, yes and no.

Only recently, we came across a large organisation (not based in the south west) claiming expertise in no less than 12 different services, whose homepage was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. Not the best first impression, but perhaps a symptom of the fast paced culture of business in 2017?

We are very aware of the risk of over-promising and under-delivering. It’s always wise to be open and honest about what you can and can’t provide.

At McQueenie Mulholland, our approach in helping you find new customers is to start with the facts (data or, if lacking, market research) – what do you already know?

We then use the information and data that you already have about your clients, your market and your business, to truly understand where your business is, and, most importantly, who your customer is. After all, how can you try to reach new customers, if you don’t know who your existing ones are, and why they buy from you instead of your competitor’s?

Following this, we work with you to establish where there are opportunities, figure out your aims and objectives and build you a strategy based on techniques, channels and messages to help you engage with your target audience. However, we don’t just stop there though.

We’d set up regular times for reviewing the strategies results, catching up on developments you and we are observing, and so that you know your business is in safe hands. And we’re of course prepared to amend the strategy as your business changes, and as the marketplace develops.

We know that not every customer is going to be right for your business - we specialise in reaching the right consumers and not all consumers. But we firmly believe that by basing your marketing strategy on actual, cold hard facts (data or market research) and combining this together with a carefully thought out message and the most appropriate channels for your target customer, that will enable us to achieve the best results possible.

If you’d like to talk to a member of the team about your marketing or communication strategy, contact us today on 01392 423060.  

Data / research  →  Analysis / insight  →  strategy / plan  →  results / sales

Blogger….or blagger?

PR, DigitalSue McQueenieComment
edited blog image.jpg

 

We recently had a really interesting meeting with a client. We’d arranged for some bloggers, both local to Exeter and from out of the area, to visit their new glamping site as part of the launch publicity. When we said we’d like some bloggers to come along, have a free stay and review their site, she said, ‘bloggers, more like blaggers…’.

This led us to think, do people understand the true value of bloggers and how they can help you to build your business?

Over recent years the face of traditional PR has changed and now there’s a genre of bloggers, or influencers, with loyal online followings who listen to what they have to say about a particular service, product or event. Think of it as personal recommendations, but, in some cases, to the masses.

We still use our contacts and work to get coverage in the traditional media, whether that’s a feature in a regional glossy magazine or a radio interview. But we also embrace the brave new world of bloggers and influencers.

There’s a general myth that anyone can become a blogger, that all you need is a laptop, the ability to write and some decent ideas. You then need to build a following - a tribe of people who you influence – and now you start to have something of value, but all of these take skill and time and the number of influencers who are very successful is few.

As more and more of us consume our information through digital media, whether that’s following a particular person on Facebook or subscribing to some really useful blogs and newsletters, there’s a demographic out there who no longer picks up a newspaper or magazine. And crucially, depending on who you want to sell to, these are the people you need to reach.

Locally we use a handful of bloggers, and we choose them for their professionalism, reliability and their ‘sphere of influence’. We know we can rely on them, we know their followers are real and people are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

So, if you’re thinking of using the blogosphere as part of your marketing activity, what are the criteria for choosing your influencer? Here are our top tips:

  • Don’t just rely on the numbers. It’s easy to buy followers to your social platforms. Look closely at who is following your chosen blogger – these are the people who your story will be told to. Do they look genuine? Do they look like the type of person you want to reach? An influencer with an audience tailored to your demographic can bring much more value than one with hundreds of ‘bought’ followers.

  • How will your influencer deliver? Are they just in it for a free holiday? Ask your blogger to agree to a certain number of posts about the visit. Ask them to give you analytics so they can you show you how many people you have reached.

  • Remember this is a job for these guys. OK, it may look like they’re having a right old knees up, eating out at the best restaurants and staying at top-notch glamping sites. But this is how they earn their money and pay their mortgage… and the last time I checked, you couldn’t pay your mortgage with a meal for two or a family stay in a caravan.

  • Build relationships, give back, when your blogger says would you consider advertising on my site, say yes.

Take a look at Exploring Exeter or Tin Box Traveller to see examples of two people doing this really well, find a blogger working in your sector and make sure their audience is who you want to reach - here’s a couple of lists to help you on your way:

http://www.gypsysoul.co.uk/devon-based-parenting-blogs-2/

http://www.vuelio.com/uk/social-media-index/top-10-uk-travel-and-tourism-blogs/

https://www.tots100.co.uk/

Customer focus is the key to breaking into a new market

Marketing, StrategyJonathan AlderComment
Blog_CustomerFocusNewMarkets.jpg

 

If you want to launch your products into a new market you need outstanding customer focus. Take a lesson from KFC. In 1987 they launched the brand in China, with their famous ‘Finger lickin’ good’ tagline. At least, that’s what they wanted to say. But a poor translation turned it into ‘We’ll eat your fingers off’. Not an attractive proposition for their new audience.

You might not need to worry about translating your messages into Chinese, but it’s still important to communicate clearly. When you’re talking to a new audience who nothing about you, or your products, every word you say is important.

A new market can be a new geographic market (which could be a new part of the UK or a new country), or it could be a new sector. Whichever it is, your challenge is the same: You have to grab the attention of your new audience. Remember, they’re not looking for you or your product. You need to give them a reason to listen to you. You need them to give you enough time to explain why they need your product.

The easiest way to do this is to talk about your audience, not your product. Show them that you understand their business. Talk about their challenges and opportunities. Tell them how your product fits into their business. Tell them how it will add value to their business. You need to be customer focused, not focused on yourself.

You also need to pick the right time and place for that conversation. Is that at a trade show? Is it through social media? Is it a brochure through the post? Is it a telephone call? If you’re customer focused you’ll know which one (or which combination) is right.

If you’re considering a move into a new market, it pays to take the time to do some research and develop your customer focus. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
 

Photo: Flickr - Andy Enero   ©Creative Commons

Top 5 reasons to use print marketing as a small, local business

MarketingSarah ThomComment
Blog_printmarketing.jpg

 

Successfully promoting your small, local business can involve a lot of time, and money.

But what if we told you that there is a marketing media that can be utilised by small, local businesses and doesn’t have to break the bank?

We’re talking about trusty old print marketing.

You may be forgiven for thinking that print is so last century, being replaced by digitally-focused media. But print marketing shouldn’t be forgotten about; there are a lot of benefits to using more traditional marketing strategies.

Here are our top 5 reasons why small, local businesses should use print within their marketing strategy:

  1. Targeting: when paired with data print marketing can be carefully targeted to reach the exact demographics of the community that you’re aiming for.
  2. Attention grabbing: people are so used to seeing digital marketing when they’re online that when clever printed materials present themselves they really stand out.
  3. Cost: print is very affordable. There are a lot more options available now which means that print marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot but you still get great results.
  4. Control: print production is much more straightforward in terms of options and you can have complete control over the whole design.
  5. Reach: backed by a sophisticated placement strategy, print can have incredible reach especially at a local level.

If you’re thinking about print and how you can get the most out of this media, then contact McQueenie Mulholland today. We can help you find the concept to take your print marketing further afield.

The power of clear communication in business

Strategy, DesignJonathan AlderComment
Blog_clearcommunication.jpg

 

Clear communication can be the difference between success and failure in business. The ability to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time, is what sells products and changes behaviour.

It sounds simple - and obvious - but many organizations struggle to communicate clearly.

To create clear communication you need to do three things:

1/ Define your goal, your message and your audience

2/ Design the tools you need to communicate your message

3/ Deliver your message to your target audience

I’m going to be talking about this process, and how businesses can apply it to their communication activity in September. Spaces are limited, but if you would like to join us, just drop an email to jonathan@mcmu.co.uk.

The reasons for poor communication can vary. For businesses that offer a wide range of products or services, sharing so much information with customers can be challenging. In a competitive market it can be hard for a business to make what they offer sound different. Businesses offering a new way of doing things can struggle to explain what makes their approach better. Although the problems may be complex and diverse, the solution is simple.

Following this simple three step process – define, design, deliver – enables an organization to develop a framework for their communication, a framework which can be applied to any channel or media. Whether you’re planning your communication strategy for the next 12 months, or you’re preparing a presentation to a new potential client, this approach will help you to communicate more clearly and with greater impact.

If you’d like to know more about creating clear communication for your organization, come and join us on Wednesday 20th September. To secure your place just email me: jonathan@mcmu.co.uk


 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Don’t just see the income potential of customers, see the influencer potential too

StrategyRob MulhollandComment
Blog_Influencernotjustincome.jpg

 

Over recent years much has been written about influencer marketing. Particularly how it can enable organisations to reach fresh new audiences, which have the potential to convert into paying customers.

In this context, the discussion around influencer marketing has really centred on digital channels only. However, as a marketing agency that supports localism here in Exeter and in other places, we’ve begun to consider how influencer tactics can translate to channels beyond just digital.

On this, we’ve plenty of ideas. It really boils down to how you drive peer-to-peer recommendations but through very traditional marketing communication techniques – many of which are already second nature to most successful businesses (are the two connected I wonder?).

Really application of this tactic depends on the offer (product or service) of the business and how that’s consumed by customers – think point of sale, customer service, rewards, service customization etc. But the biggest barrier clients appear to have when implementing a more face-to-face influencer methodology, lies in knowing who their top influencers are.

We tell clients to segment their customer data based on value all the time. However effective this may be for maximising income it does very little to push acquisition of new customers.

If, as an alternative, you could identify socially desirable attributes (not just social media) in customers that feasibly meant they were more likely to project your message further, wouldn’t you do it as part of your marketing’s recruitment strategy?

Realising the potential of existing customers, not just in terms of income but in spreading the message of your business in the real-world too – this is something our marketing agency has developed for our clients.

Interested in learning more about how we could put this tactic to work for your business? Contact us for a casual chat.

Top 10 tips when writing a blog

DigitalSarah ThomComment

 

Having a blog on your website is a great way to help your business get attention online, not only does it help with Search Engine Optimisation but it also encourages people to visit your site and builds trust and authority in your sector.

However, starting and sustaining a blog can be a daunting task; there are a lot of things to think about to ensure that it is manageable and effective. To help you get started we’ve thought about what advice we would give our clients to help them when creating a new blog on their website:

  1. Blog posts of 300 words and above give your posts greater SEO traction – in this respect, ideal word counts are between 300 – 1000 words. This will help your blog rank on search engines; the more detail you provide, the easier it is for search engines to identify valuable subject-focused keywords that navigate people to your site when they search for these terms.

  2. Make a realistic plan – It is a lot easier to write a blog when you know what you’re going to be writing about. The best thing to do is to decide how many posts you want to do per month, what topics you are going to write about, and plan when you are going to write them. The plan should work for you, so if you can only write one post per month that’s fine, there are no rights and wrongs. It is better to have consistent posts, even if they are a month apart, than writing all your blogs at the beginning and then not posting for months.

  3. Be consistent with your tone of voice – if there are a few people writing for your blog then establish what tone of voice you are going to be writing in; it will be confusing for readers if one blog post is very informal and another is formal.

  4. Promote your posts on social media – the aim of every blog post is to get people to read them, so whenever you post a new blog on your website make sure you promote it on your social media channels using a backlink. Links make it easier for people to find and read your blog as they don’t have to search for it, and can instead just click on the link in your post – this makes it much more likely that they will read it!

  5. Mix it up when it comes to subject matter – people want to hear about what you’re up to so blog about what you do, but also mix it up and write posts about topics that are related to your sector.

  6. Proofread posts – one thing which is important to do is to get someone to proofread your blog before you post it. If you proofread your own posts then you may miss something, so always ask a colleague.

  7. Draw people in with the use of images – if possible include at least one image in your posts, this breaks up the text and makes the post more interesting to readers (and when you post them on social media, always try to use an image, posts with images get a lot more engagement than ones without).

  8. Think about who you’re writing for and get to know your audience – what do they want to hear about? What will interest them? Your posts should be written with them in mind.

  9. Tell people how often you will be posting so people will know when to expect it – if you are posting once a month then try and post at the same time each month, this consistency will ensure your readers know when to expect your next blog. If you grow a large enough audience, you then may want to consider data capture that enables you to email blog posts out consistently.

  10. Use a call to action – if there is a specific action that you want your reader to do, such as sign up for your newsletter or contact you for more information, then write this in the final paragraph of the blog post. You should make it stand out, so use links (to your newsletter sign up page for example) or even a different colour for the text, so that readers can see that it is important.

On that last point (cue call to action), for further assistance implementing the above tips or more general questions about your blogging strategy, please contact McQueenie Mulholland.

What does your logo stand for?

DesignJonathan AlderComment

 

What does your logo stand for? Logos – or marks, or brands – have been used to establish the origin of products for centuries. But they’re more than just a badge. They’re a statement about the quality of your goods. So, what does your logo stand for?

Simple visual symbols have been used since 2000BC to help customers identify the source of goods. Pressed into clay, carved into wood and burnt onto livestock, these symbols have been a badge of ownership. In North America in the 19th Century cattle ranches developed a sophisticated system of brands, to identify livestock when they were grazing on the open range.

But these brands were more than just crude badges of ownership. They were also a statement of quality. If cattle from a particular ranch developed a favourable reputation for the quality of their meat, than the brand they carried would be considered more valuable. Cattle with that brand would command a higher price.

In the 21st Century our technology maybe more sophisticated, but the role of the ‘brand’ remains the same. The logo that is stamped, printed, sewn, glued, screwed or etched on to a product is not only a badge of origin, it can also be a mark of quality.

Every sector has its market leader. Usually, the company that is considered the market leader has done something to earn that reputation. They’ve made their product stronger, safer, faster, longer-lasting, more attractive, easier to use… there are lots of possibilities. So the logo on those products is now seen by customers as a symbol of the qualities associated with the product – a kind of visual shorthand. Anything that carries that logo is assumed to share those qualities.

So what about your business? What about your products? What does your logo stand for? As a business you are in a position to influence how your customers see your products – the values they associate with them – but you need to be proactive. You need to take the initiative. You need to define what values are associated with your products and identify every opportunity you have to demonstrate those values. If you do that you’ll be able to confidently answer the question: ‘What does your logo stand for?’

Brand building: Where do you start?

StrategyJonathan Alder
Blog_brandbuilding.jpg

 

Your brand is a powerful tool. It will help you fulfil your dreams and aspirations. It will take your organisation from where you are now, to where you want to be – if you use it well. So, where do you start? The simple answer is, you start at the end: Where do you want to be? What’s your goal?

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but it needs to be something you can measure, so you can gauge whether you’re making progress, or not. (If you’re not making progress something isn’t working, so you need to change it). Your goal might be a financial one – a certain level of income or a specific profit margin. Or it could be something like market share, or the number of customers you have each month, both tangible figures that are easy to measure, but not financial.

To do that you need to take a look at your organisation and consider two things: the internal perspective and the external perspective.

Once you know where you’re going, you can begin to plan your journey. To complete your journey in the most efficient way, and make the best use of your resources, be sure to build the right brand for your business. To do that you need to take a look at your organisation and consider two things: the internal perspective and the external perspective.

The internal perspective will help you to identify the purpose and values at the heart of your organisation; what it is that drives you. The external perspective will give you insight into your customers and your competitors; the people who will help you to achieve your goal (your customers) and those organisations that could slow your progress (your competitors).

When you have taken your organisation through this process you are in a position to start brand building – to build a brand that captures the personality of your organisation. The more clearly you are able to communicate this, the easier you will find it to appeal to your target audience and stand out from your competitors. It’s this clarity of communication that will help you to reach your goal and turn your passion into success.

So what do you need to do next?

Why use direct mail in the 21st century?

Strategy, MarketingEmma Cottle

 

There has been a seismic shift towards digital in marketing communications over the last few years, and we often find ourselves telling dubious clients that direct mail is still a very good option to promote their business. 

This recent study by Proactive Marketing found that 70% of consumers feel like they receive too many emails – which, when we think about it, is something we can probably all empathise with. InfoTrends found that 66% of direct mail is opened – and 86% of direct mail is read for a minute or more, compared to an average 11.1 seconds for email.

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider Direct Mail:

1. It stands out and cuts through the clutter

In contrast to the daily deluge of emails into people’s inboxes, a carefully-targeted piece of direct mail can capture their attention. Once you have piqued the recipient’s interest with a visually pleasing and clearly branded letter, you are more likely to get your message across.

2. It’s more reliable and more likely to get a positive result

Direct mail response rates outperform digital channels by a long shot, as found in a recent study. Direct mail achieves a 3.7% response rate, whereas digital channels see a combined response rate of just 0.62%. It is a more expensive medium, but you can’t argue with those statistics.

3. It’s more personal

Email users are in a rush – they are checking their inboxes on their commute, whilst at lunch or before dinner. They don’t have time for emotions, and are only using a little of their headspace to absorb the content. Direct mail can provide readers with both space and time to absorb material in their own time. 84% of consumers reported that personalisation made them more likely to open a direct mail piece. 

4. You can integrate it

Using direct mail doesn’t mean that you have to use this medium in isolation – far from it. Research suggests that using more than one method increases effectiveness by 24% on average over using individual methods on their own.

Have we convinced you? If you’d like help creating compelling direct mail for your campaign, let us help you communicate your message. Call us today on 01392 423060.

Your social media following: A value not volume game

Strategy, DigitalRob Mulholland

 

I was recently asked by someone, “How big is your social media following on Twitter?

“About a thousand”, I replied, which in their opinion was somewhat underwhelming for a communications agency that had been in business for nearly three years.

Whether this is or isn’t the case is debateable, but what’s obvious is that the focus of the person I was talking to was on the volume size of our following and not how valuable our 1000 or so followers are to us.

In most cases, this is a common misinterpretation (particularly Twitter and Instagram) as to what growing a social following is about. Many hold the belief that exposure is exposure and the more of this you get, the more business you’ll surely get. Wrong.

Social media is not a basic popularity competition, size doesn’t always matter with followings.

...think about the objectives of business and how your social media following will bring you closer to achieving this.

McQueenie Mulholland’s philosophy towards developing a following is to build an audience strategy that is not solely broad (in terms of volume) but solely deep in terms of the connections you make with others.  

However tempted you are, we never advocate buying followers to plump up your audience. Beware of this tactic from agencies that claim they can grow your audience exponentially each month – as well as paying dearly for the privilege of recruiting dud followers, you’ll also get little-to-no engagement through your social media channels.

Advice we’d give on this subject, as with all marketing or communications activities, is to think about the objectives of business and how your social media following will bring you closer to achieving this.

For example, if you have a business with ambitions that are purely local then prioritise local followers over those that are half-way around the world. Equally, if your market has common demographic characteristics, then prioritise these people over those that don’t. Both will require you to read biography information, but this is exactly what we’d recommend you do anyway.

Need more? Then contact McQueenie Mulholland to discuss how to build a social media audience strategy on 01392 423 060.  

Building Relationships with Your Customers Through Storytelling

MarketingSarah Thom

 

Storytelling has always been an integral part of our lives; from listening to the stories your parents read to you as a child, to when you’re telling stories to your friends. It’s a powerful psychological tool, used to evoke feelings and emotions within people and build relationships – something that has not escaped the attention of companies and brands in marketing themselves.

Consumers no longer want to just buy the “best” products, but want to buy from businesses that share their beliefs and values. It’s because of this, that storytelling has become an important tool in the tactical marketing toolbox.

Marketing through storytelling is the indirect sell, it positions your business to the consumer, rather than explicitly sells the product itself. And it can be used by businesses big or small.

So how do you do it?

The cornerstone of any successful storytelling campaign is understanding your businesses own characteristics and values, and how these resolve the pain points of customers who buy from you.

By pinpointing the answers to these questions, you’re not only on your way to being a storytelling success but also understanding the strengths of your brand.

Below we give you some handy pointers on how you can build up engaging storytelling in your campaigns:

 

 

● Don’t just share statistics – people remember stories much more than they remember facts and figures.

● Use real stories, or at least ones based on real stories – you will receive a negative response if consumers perceive you to be false.

● Use your employees, they are a great resource – ask them what they like about your company and why they chose to work there. Then use these stories in your campaign.

● Use descriptive language – the aim of storytelling is to evoke feelings and emotions, so make sure that you use language which will do these things. Imagine a time when you picked up a book to read, or found a blog post, but when you started to read it you found that you felt nothing – did you carry on reading it? Or did you discard it and forget it altogether?

● Write about WHY you do what you do, not WHAT you do. Your unique story and ethos behind your company is what will draw people in and keep them interested much longer than your latest product.

 

 

Storytelling is a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers. So, why not get started on your story today?

Third-party email lists – beware of the pitfalls

DigitalEleanor Yeo

 

Being able to communicate directly with your customers is vital to any business. One of the ways that's become more and more popular with businesses, when keeping in touch with their customers, is email communication.

Whether it is through a monthly newsletter, or just a quick email to remind them that you are there, email marketing campaigns can be very successful in getting people to return to your company again and again.

But building up your email contact list takes time and tactics. Getting people to give you their information is getting increasingly harder, as people are more reluctant to give out information which they fear may result in a deluge of emails or letters.

For this reason, some businesses resort to buying lists from websites and other companies. The theory is that because these people have already signed and given consent for their information to be used by one company and third parties, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t given it to you directly. But things are not always what they seem... such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

We recently came across an example of where a business had purchased a list of thousands of new email addresses to send their newsletter to – meaning they had more than doubled their contact database overnight. The company that they bought the list from, assured them that the respondents had genuinely signed up to receive emails from companies such as theirs, so they thought that they had nothing to lose. Sounds simple enough.

However, what they hadn’t realised is that buying email lists can have a negative effect on your business particularly if recipients have never heard of you. On this basis, such recipients are highly likely to perceive your email as ‘spam’ and label it as such.

Email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp, are very strict when it comes to the people who use their service. If you send out a ‘spam’ email, then they can impose harsher restrictions on adding new and genuine subscribers, shut down your account or even fine you. Even if you may not have intentionally sent out a ‘spam’ email, if too many of the recipients label it as such, then providers will act against you.

Buying third-party lists can also create a negative perception of your business among the people purchased. If people see your brand associated with ‘spam’ emails, which they did not sign up to receive, then negativity will grow and potentially spread.

So, what do we recommend to increase your email contact database?

Grow your list yourself and do it organically. Increasing awareness of its existence and possibly spending money on incentivising people to sign up is far better than spending money to buy the contact details of people who are not warm to your organisation.

Don’t fall at the first hurdle, keep PR newsworthy

PRSue McQueenie

 

When I worked in regional newspapers there were some pretty tough characters running the newsdesks.

They would get calls from PR companies about a whole variety of subjects. The conversations would pretty much go like this:

 

 

[The PR would phone up - and it was usually the office junior who ended up with this most-dreaded of jobs.]

PR: ‘Hi there, it’s Felicity from the Fantastic PR Company, I’m just calling to see if you got our news release.’

News editor (grumpily): ‘Did you send it?’

Felicity: ‘Yes.’

News Editor: ‘We got it then’. [Phone slammed down.]

 

 

Every day I heard dozens of these interactions and so I decided I would be kind to the Felicity's of this world and tell them nicely that, yes, I had received their news release and that there was absolutely no chance it would be used. But ALWAYS nicely.

I think there must be some sort of karma at work here, because now I am the person calling the newsdesks, pitching stories and feature ideas on behalf of our clients.

But the difference is, because I have lived that world, I know what stories will work and where they’ll work. We manage our clients’ PR expectations. If something is just downright commercial we won’t promise to try and get it published, or spam up the newsdesks’ inboxes with stories they don’t want. It doesn’t reflect well on us, and one of the main reasons we have built such good relationships with the media, locally and nationally, is they know we understand them and we’re not going to waste their time.

So there may be the occasional times we have to say to clients, ‘you know what this won’t work for editorial’. But then we explore all the other options (traditional and digital)  they have for getting the message out there.

We look at the message and the target audience and work with our clients to choose the most appropriate channels or platform to deliver their message.

And by the way, sorry to all those PR girls who got short shrift when they called the newsdesks I worked on. Just remember, I was the nice one!