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Communications - who’s the expert?

Strategy, MarketingEleanor YeoComment
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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!

The Best Times To Post On Social Media

Digital, MarketingEmma Cottle

You’ve created some exciting, relevant and audience-focussed content for your social media channels. Now, the big question – when should you schedule the posts for maximum impact?

We’ve read some of the latest studies into consumer behaviour to provide you with a recommended outline below – however, the best times to post on social media will vary depending on your target audience, platform and content. Our advice to clients is always test, test and test again. Also, if you’re as addicted to social media as we are, be conscious of the times that you are using each channel and this can also give you a guide on the best times to schedule posts – particularly if you fit within your target demographic.

LinkedIn
This B2B social network channel is targeted at professionals, so the best time to catch people on this channel is during the work week, when this target audience is most likely to be browsing LinkedIn. Studies have found that the morning commute, lunchtimes and the journey home from work are good times for posts, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Evenings and weekends are largely a no-go. So, ensure that your social media activity on LinkedIn reflects this.

Twitter
Twitter is hugely popular amongst mobile users, with people using it as a welcome distraction on breaks and on their commute. The optimum time for social media activity on Twitter is during the working week from 12 – 3pm and again from 5 when the working day is over. However, as Twitter is so popular and accessible, this is changeable and will depend on your target audience – so testing and variation of times is required for this platform, to find what works best for your organisation, audience and end goals.

Facebook
Facebook is a great channel for reaching the consumer audience, and it is also becoming increasingly popular as a B2B platform, recently surprisingly outranking LinkedIn and Twitter among B2B decision-makers. Advice varies, but generally the highest rates for engagement are on weekdays from 1 – 4pm, the best days being Wednesday and Thursday. Weekends are also a great time to post content, but an ideal time is harder to pinpoint. Another case for more testing here. Facebook is perhaps the most personable platform, allowing for emotional reactions and offering higher character allowances – so keep the content fun and engaging.

Tip: Use Facebook analytics to track your data and see when your audience is online.

Instagram
Fortune 500 companies overwhelmingly post photos on Instagram during business hours, with posts spiking between 3pm – 4pm. It is recommended that posts are scheduled during the working week, from 12pm to catch users checking their phones on their lunchbreaks, and then later in the day as they wind down and commute home.

Pinterest
Pinterest users are most active in the evening during weekends, and activity spikes on Saturdays from 8 – 11pm. The worst time for Pinterest is during working hours. Also, be aware that a staggering 80% of Pinterest users are female, and 90% of all posts are created/shared by women.

Happy posting!

What is Corporate Social Responsibility and how can it benefit your business?

StrategyEmma Cottle

More than ever, organisations are becoming aware of the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and growing more confident in vocalising their own commitments that they have made to society – whether that is in the form of charity donations, changes they are making to help the environment or offering services free of charge. This has come after a shift in marketing which has evolved from product-based to consumer-based to value-based marketing.

First of all, what exactly is Corporate Social Responsibility?

It aims to ensure that companies conduct their business in a way that is ethical. This means taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact, and consideration of human rights. There has been increased pressure from employees, customers and government bodies for businesses to be more transparent about their activities and maintain acceptable standards in their business practice.

Communicating your CSR commitments improves brand trust and loyalty both internally and externally, as discovered by this study by Nielsen in 2014 – who found that 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries would be willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

There have been a couple of excellent examples of this recently. Dell have outlined their Legacy of Good Plan, which details 21 ambitious CSR goals that they intend to achieve by 2020. These include designing out waste and creating a more sustainable supply chain. By highlighting their strategy, Dell are evidencing their long term commitment to society and the environment at large – giving them an advantage over their competitors in a market that is increasingly aware of ethical credentials.

Another example of a great CSR strategy comes from L’Oreal Paris, who have partnered with Prince’s Trust to improve confidence among young people. L’Oreal Paris have evolved from their ‘Because I’m Worth It’ strapline, to ‘All Worth It’, echoing their commitment to boosting young people’s self worth. L’Oréal Paris will run confidence courses quarterly at each of the 18 Prince’s Trust centres, addressing issues such as body language, communication and employability.

These are examples from large organisations, but any commitment – however small – is valuable. Emailing receipts to cut down on paper use and raising funds for a nominated charity are a couple of easy examples of making a commitment to CSR. At McQueenie Mulholland, we have made a commitment to offer marketing support to charities and local organisations and participate in fundraising events.

If you’re struggling for inspiration on what you could do to make a difference to society, we can help. Give us a call today on 01392 423 060.

What content should you post on each social media channel?

Strategy, DigitalEmma Cottle

Social media acts as the voice for your brand, and is increasingly becoming the first port of call for potential customers doing their research into the product or service that you offer. After all, social media is free, instant and accessible to an engaged audience of potential customers.

You may have read our recent article on the best times to post on different social media channels. But what is the best way to communicate with these audiences? The answer is that it depends on which channel you are using. Although it may be tempting to duplicate content across all of your accounts, and upload identical posts in bulk – spending time curating your content for each platform will pay dividends – we promise.

However, there is one overriding rule – make it engaging. Think about the most engaging people you know. They are most likely 1) interesting, 2) attractive 3) the most engaged themselves. This also applies for your content.

Here are some tips for successful content on each platform:

 

Facebook

  • Your posts will perform better with photos – Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images

  • Organic Facebook engagement is highest on posts with videos (13.9%) and photos (13.7%)

  • B2C marketers place greater importance on visual content than B2B marketers – making Facebook the perfect platform for more visual content

  • Using emoticons will get your post more likes

  • Question posts have twice the engagement of non-question posts

Twitter

  • Tweets including images and hashtags can double engagement

  • Tweets with image links get 2x the engagement rate of those without

  • As with Facebook, photos are more engaging for Twitter users

  • Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% more engagement – but tweets with links perform the best with 120-130 characters

Instagram

  • Invest the time to create interesting images to increase engagement

  • Use hashtags and don’t be afraid to use a lot! Spend some time curating a list of relevant hashtags

  • Use images that support your brand’s voice and ethos

Pinterest

  • Try adding text to images to give each product some context

  • Write keyword-rich descriptions and boards

  • Always add a link to your pin descriptions

  • Don’t just show your product – show what you can do with your product

  • Share tips and inside knowledge

  • Tell your company’s story in pictures

LinkedIn

  • Each post should focus on a specific topic that highlights your unique expertise

  • Write interesting, attention grabbing headlines, which include industry keywords

  • Add pictures, videos and presentations to your post. As with other channels, visual posts will receive more engagement
 

Lego: How it became the world's most powerful brand

StrategyEleanor Yeo

At a recent McQueenie Mulholland away day, we were asked to think about one brand that we’d love to work with – a fantasy client. Answers from our team were really varied, from Ecover to Land Rover and a good mix in-between, but one answer that stood out was from Sue McQueenie who would love to work with…Lego.

Why would somebody want to work with a business that is so well known and established?

Well, as we’ve been finding out, this hasn’t always been the case.

We often work with companies who are going through, or are thinking about going through a re-brand, or are diversifying their product range in some way. We’d probably ask them a number of questions to ascertain how much they know about the market that they have, and the new market that they’re hoping to move in to.

And from now on, we’ll also be likely to refer them to The Guardian article, “How Lego clicked: the super brand that reinvented itself” as seen in the paper on 4 June.

The article discusses that as recently as 2003, Lego, the internationally renowned Danish toy manufacturer was reporting a 30% loss year on year and was £800m in debt. Fast forward to 2015, and the company overtook Ferrari to become the world’s most powerful brand. So what happened between those years to change the fortune of Lego?

Consultant Vig Knudstorp was bought in to turn things around. According to the Guardian article:

“He slashed the inventory, halving the number of individual pieces Lego produces from 13,000 to 6,500 … He also encouraged interaction with Lego’s fans, something previously considered verboten”

So, rather than adding to its product portfolio, Lego started by taking things away, by simplifying it. And they also talked to their customers. They used the time to find out what worked and what didn’t.

This resulted in a clearer focus – on making the things that they knew they were good at, and that set them apart from other toy manufacturers. But they expanded this existing product range, to include ranges for girls, and for adults, instead of just those primarily aimed at boys. Another key success was partnering up with those who are also very good at what they do – an example being the films and TV programmes that grace screens worldwide on a daily basis.

The result? Lego has just announced the highest revenues in its 85-year-history. We’ll certainly be using them as one of the best examples of a company turnaround that we’ve come across and we hope they continue to do well for many years to come.

5 Social Media Marketing Myths Debunked

StrategySarah Thom

Social media has created a whole new marketing opportunity for businesses. It’s a place where businesses can build brand awareness and a potentially larger customer base without spending thousands on traditional marketing activities. But there are a few misconceptions about social media marketing that need to be debunked:

 

 

1. You need to use every single social media platform

There are lots of social media platforms out there and there can be an urge to create business profiles on every single one. This can be a mistake; instead of having a presence on every platform, focus your social media marketing on the channels that your customers or potential customers are more likely to use.

2. Social media marketing gives instantaneous Return On Investment (ROI)

The misconception about social media being an instant marketing success is one that can only lead to disappointment. Actually, a lot of time and effort needs to go into your social media marketing before you reap the benefits, to reach new customers and raise your brand awareness you will need to produce quality content consistently and post regularly.

3. Social media is free

You may not need to pay to set up a social media profile, but you will need to put in a significant amount of time and effort to maintain and grow them. If you want to significantly increase the reach of your campaign you could consider paid advertising on your platforms alongside your normal social media posts – paid advertising is significantly faster at reaching new audiences and customers than organic leads alone.

4. Social media is time-consuming

You may need to put in significant time and effort into your social media strategies but this doesn’t mean that it needs to be time consuming. There are lots of scheduling tools out there to help you manage your social media effectively. Tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite are invaluable for cutting down on the time required to maintain a great social media strategy.

5. More followers = success

Many businesses think that getting more followers is the surest way to social media success; but infinitely more important is increasing the amount of engagement you get. Social media is about building relationships with your customers and raising brand awareness.  But as before, engagement doesn’t happen straight away, you will have to work hard to build up the relationship with your followers and engage them in conversation.

 

 

The most important thing to remember about social media marketing is that nothing happens overnight; a lot of time and effort has gone into accounts which have seemingly become overnight successes. If you’re thinking about how to take the next step with your social media strategy then call us today.

What you need to know about using social media for your business

Digital, MarketingEleanor Yeo

We recently came across a situation where one of our brilliant clients wanted to start up a social media strategy for the first time. They’d dipped their toe in the water of Facebook on a personal level, and had heard from another marketing agency that they absolutely had to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their business too.

Which begs the question we asked them, why?

Why do you need profiles on all three social media platforms? We weren’t saying that they didn’t, but we were asking them to think about what they felt they would get out of them. When they told us that they didn’t really know, it got us thinking about what advice we can give people when they’re unused to social media.

We are the first people to recommend that clients use a variety of channels and platforms to get their message across, both to customers, to suppliers, to the media and to the wider public. But we also recommend that this is done in a targeted, planned manner, and that a schedule is written as part of a wider marketing strategy. But what should be included in this?

A few things to think about here:

 
  • Do you know the differences (in terms of consumption and demography) between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat?
  • Do you know your local press and how best to interact with their readers?

  • Are you aware of who your current followers are on each channel? Depending on your product/service, it might be that it’s your suppliers who interact with you on Twitter, whilst it’s your customers who follow you on Instagram. Make sure that you’ve looked at the analytics of each channel – do your research!

  • If you have a newsletter, who is it that reads it?

  • Do your social media posts reflect the messages of your business / brand as a whole? Do they reflect the messages that you put out on your website? In your blog? In your newsletter? Consistency is key.

  • By all means, use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule some of your social media posts. But don’t rely on this for all your social activity, we recently wrote a blog about how to keep your social media, social (link to blog). You also need to be able to respond to comments, questions and opportunities as they crop up, and if you aren’t sure whether you are going to be able to manage this, it’s worth getting in some additional support to help you.

 

 

We love helping organisations interact with their customers, their suppliers, the media and their local community. We would always ensure that this is done with the support of a plan, so that messages are consistent, timely and aimed at the relevant audience.

If you need help with this or with any other marketing activity, please contact us today.