Do you target your PR? If not, you could be missing the mark. Read more about why targeting your PR is important.
Read our top hints and tips on how to stay focussed and plan ahead during the quieter times of the year.
It has never been easier to communicate with your customers online, but with the proliferation of social media and blogs has come a number of bad copywriting habits. Do you fall into any of these common copywriting traps?
With everyone calling themselves an 'expert' in their field, how do you truly know who the experts are? At McQueenie Mulholland we start with the facts and work together with our clients to develop a successful communications strategy. Find out more and contact us today.
Want to break into new markets? Focusing on the customer, and not your business is a grest place to start. Read more to find out why.
Print marketing can sometimes be overlooked. Here are 5 reasons why it shouldn't be, and why you should start using print marketing today.
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.
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?
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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. 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.
At the core of any marketing campaign is the desire to persuade consumers to buy your product or service. However, to be able to persuade somebody to do something, you must be in a position of influence.
Getting yourself into an influential position to the consumer is no easy feat. But, these 6 persuasive techniques have been found to positively influence consumers decisions and are used in many marketing strategies.
1. Reciprocation: When we receive something, we feel obligated to buy more from the person who gave it to us. This technique is everywhere, from free tasters of products, to freebies given to us if we purchase a product.
2. Authority: Being an authority in your business sector is important when it comes to influence. Consumers buy from people they trust, and who do people trust more than authority figures? Think about the things that make you an authority in your field, and shout about them to your customers.
3. Commitment: If you get someone to agree to do something, they feel more committed to other things you ask them to do. Many business websites use this principle; when people sign up to their newsletter they will ask them something else immediately afterwards. It is used in shops too; many shops will now ask customers to sign up to their loyalty scheme, or purchase an additional product when they are at the checkout.
4. Social proofing: This takes the form of testimonies from previous customers. If you use these on your website, research suggests visitors are more likely to make a purchase. This is because your business has been socially verified by other people. Research also shows that more people are now looking at product and business reviews before committing to them. So now is a great time to get your customer testimonials on your website.
5. Likeability: This is perhaps the most basic rule of the world of business, good customer service is essential. One key aspect of good customer service is a quick response to consumer messages. Another aspect is your persona. If you respond to comments in a positive and polite manner then consumers will have a positive impression of your business. There are loads of examples online of where customer service has gone wrong, which has had devastating consequences for the business in question.
6. Scarcity: It’s human nature that if we believe there’s only a limited supply of a product, then we’ll want it even more. To see this in action, you need look no further than an Apple store when they release a new phone. Whether there is actually a short supply or not of a product is always questionable, what matters is perceived shortage. People don’t want to miss out on anything, which is why this principle works so well.
The idea of newsjacking is simple; take a current event or news story and relate it to your business. But why do businesses do it, and what are the consequences if it goes wrong?
The term ‘newsjacking’ was popularised in 2011 by David Meerman Scott, in his book ‘Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into A Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage’. And to see it in action, Twitter and other social media is the place to go.
Social media has had a huge impact on marketing: it has never been so easy to keep up to date with current events and breaking news stories from around the world. Newsjacking relies on this and uses stories and events to promote and build awareness of brands.
There are two main ways that businesses can newsjack breaking stories; through social media and blog posts.
Social media is the more instantaneous way to get involved with the story; though don’t be too hasty – always get your posts checked by others to ensure that they have the correct message that you want to send. Images relating to news stories or current events, with witty captions and hashtags have been used successfully to gain interest on social media.
Blog posts are another great way to get exposure from breaking news; if there is a huge development in your field or something related to what your business does, then writing a post about it and putting it on your website can really pay off. Being one of the first people to write about a topic will help raise the awareness of your brand and you will be seen to be at the top of your game and an authority.
Newsjacking may be a great way to capitalise on breaking news stories; but you should approach with caution. Not all news stories are suitable for newsjacking, and if you’re not careful, you could end up causing irreparable damage to your brand. To ensure that you don’t fall into this trap there are things that you should consider before you proceed.
Is the story positive?
Would it cause offence to anyone?
Is it relevant to your brand?
Does your brand audience care about this topic?
Being critical about the news story you want to comment on is vital, to ensure that you don’t damage your brand or alienate your audience. Does the story have a connection to your business? If it doesn’t then it is best to leave it alone, else the result seems forced and won’t inspire consumers to your brand.
Likewise, if your target audience does not care about the story then newsjacking it will fall short of your expectations, and you will look like you are just piggybacking on any big news story, whether it is relevant to your business, or not.
Newsjacking attempts which go wrong can have serious repercussions for businesses. It can damage your reputation, create negative brand awareness and it may be hard for your brand to bounce back and regain the trust which it had before. If you try to newsjack an item which has negatively affected people, then you could be viewed as insensitive and trying to capitalise on the suffering of others (both of which are not good for business!).
Have a look at the examples of bad newsjacking in this article to see how it shouldn’t be done.
However, if it is done right then it can have enormous benefits. Brands have seen their tweets reposted thousands of times through brilliantly executed newsjacking, which leads to increased brand awareness and potentially, more sales. This article by The Content Marketing Institute has some great examples of successful newsjacking.
Aside from brand awareness and sales, you could also gain SEO benefits. If you write about a news topic which is relevant to your brand, before the story peaks, then your blog post could be referenced by people writing about the topic later. This has great benefits for your SEO.
The impact of social media on marketing shows no sign of fading; therefore, as a business it is important that you are using it to its full potential. Newsjacking relevant news stories and events could reap enormous benefits for your business, but always be mindful and make sure the message you put out there is the right one!
If you would like advice on using social media for your business, then contact us today and we will arrange an informal chat with you.
Christmas is big business in the UK. Although the holiday sales season may only last 5-6 weeks, it is worth a staggering £70 billion to the UK economy. So, thinking about how we can help local, independent businesses get a piece of this and make the most out of the season; here are our top 5 recommendations for the holiday period:
1. Rewards: Christmas is a great time to reward your loyal customers and make them feel valued. A lovely way to do this is to give them exclusive deals or discounts during the Christmas period. You could send vouchers or discount codes to their addresses, or through email. It has been found that people who receive vouchers are likely to spend more than the voucher is worth, meaning that there could be a lot to gain.
2. Acknowledgment: Another way to thank your customers and make them feel valued is to send them Christmas cards. This has two functions; it makes them feel valued by your company and also serves as a gentle reminder that you are there. This combination means that they will be more likely to return to you for your services. You could even send out ‘Thank You’ emails that are Christmas themed, thanking them for their custom through the year and wishing them a Merry Christmas.
3. Contests: This is a great way to get your customers to engage with your business. Use social media and your website to promote the contest and ask people to submit their entries for a prize. This is a fantastic way to promote your business and engage people in a fun way.
4. Collaborations: Work with other local businesses to provide giveaways that will get people talking. Both businesses will benefit from the extra exposure during the Christmas period and it may even lead to further collaborations in the future, as well as reaching out to both customer bases.
5. Giveaways: Another way to promote your business this season is to have a giveaway. This entails giving each customer a small token gift with their purchase. These are fantastic as your customers will talk about your giveaway to other people, both promoting your business and also potentially leading to more sales from new customers.
These are just 5 of the great ways that you can increase customer interaction and promote your business this Christmas season. Get in touch with us today if you would like to discuss how your business can benefit from the season and what we can do to help.
The world of marketing has undergone a sea change in recent years. Gone are the days of traditional marketing efforts; as people spend more and more of their time online, the age of digital marketing is in full swing.
Social media has played a large part in the transition from traditional to digital marketing; it offers businesses and consumers alike new ways to communicate. Companies can tailor their marketing efforts to certain demographics with more accuracy and efficiency and build personal relationships with their customers through such platforms as Twitter and Facebook.
But with great power comes even greater responsibility; social media, as well as being a powerful tool for communicating with customers and building lasting relationships, can also be used as a platform for consumers to air their grievances against a company publicly, which can create a disastrous PR problem if not handled correctly.
Countless stories abound of companies who have handled grievances on social media with grace and even humour in some cases.
Take, for example, the guy who recently used Twitter to inform Sky Scanner about a mishap on their website, which suggested a 47 year layover in Bangkok. Sky Scanner’s response to the mishap has been praised as they took it all in their stride and approached it with some humour as well as getting the problem solved and sending the guy some free goodies for his trouble.
Social media is a 24/7 platform; therefore, it is essential that all issues which arise through it are dealt with in a timely manner, the longer that comments are left unacknowledged then the worse the situation can get for the company in question.
The easiest way to ensure that comments to not fall through the net, is to set up an alert for whenever your company or brand is mentioned online, this ensures that you can deal with any impending issues directly and avoid negative PR. Mention and SumAll are great tools which allow you to do this.
The importance of social media within the marketing world is only set to increase, so make sure that you are taking advantage of all it has to offer by setting up a social media strategy for your company or brand.
If you would like to talk to us about how to implement a social media plan or your digital marketing strategy, then contact us today and we will be happy to help you with any queries that you may have.
In a world which is as fast-paced as ours, it is easy for businesses (especially small businesses) to forget or even not understand their target customer base. This is where data analysis comes in. By analysing your customer data, you could gain valuable behavioural insights into your target demographic, ensuring that you gain maximum returns on your marketing strategies in the future.
Whatever your sector, it is really important to know who your target audience/customer is; you could be targeting the wrong demographic for your product or service and missing out on a lot of potential sales which could be possible if you analysed who it was that was actually buying your product.
We have had years of experience, analysing data sets from different companies and identifying insights which have helped them to increase their sales through the information retrieved from customers. Knowing who your customer base is essential in marketing your product or service; if you don’t know who this is then how do you know who to target your marketing strategy at?
We are here to help you understand your customer base through detailed analysis of your data, and we will also give you important insights into how to maximise your marketing strategies so that you will see the biggest return on your investment.
When it comes to digital marketing there are so many different agencies that do it; but which ones are the best for local businesses?
Let’s be clear, the best marketing (whether it’s digital or traditional) comes from knowing your audience. That’s why, for clients who are focused on a local markets, we strongly believe local knowledge is essential.
We live, work and breathe our community; keeping an eye on what is going on; the good, the bad and the unusual. We see having our finger on the pulse of Exeter, Devon and the South West as a huge benefit for locally-focused clients as it means we know what’s going on and this can be used to promote their business. This has never been so important in the digital arena, where we build communities around client business.
In this way, we use our connections around the South West to add relevance and weight to your digital strategy and get brands noticed. Whether it’s SEO, social media, content development and distribution, our local knowledge and connections are applied so that your business reaches to the most relevant people.
National and even international agencies simply can’t employ this level of local understanding. Arguably without this knowledge they can’t hone in on target demographics, and know what they want or are interested in. We can hone in and ensure your digital strategy has the desired impact.
Locally focus digital marketing requires locally minded know. If you’d like to discuss how we do this, please come in and see us.
Content marketing has grown to be one of the most formidable forces within marketing today.
Consumers have grown accustomed and blind to the more traditional marketing methods of print and TV commercials. Therefore we, as marketing agencies, have had to find new innovative ways to cut through and attract the attention of customers. This is where content marketing comes in.
The Content Marketing Institute, which is an online resource with leagues of information about content marketing, states that:
‘Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action’
The idea of content marketing is to give customers interesting information about your particular sector, and thereby gaining their belief and trust as a company which knows what they are doing. It employs indirect sales-pitching techniques, discussing things other than the products or services which the company provides, but has a proven record of generating sales as consumers return to the companies that have successfully won their trust.
There are a number of different types of content marketing, some examples are; infographics, podcasts, videos (sometimes ‘vlogs’) and blogs. Whatever the format, the key to this type of marketing is to inform the consumer, not try to sell them your products.
For example, if your organisation is a charity, then infographics can be used to concisely show viewers how you impact the need you address and where the money that you raise goes. With attention spans now lasting an average of 8 seconds, the quicker that information can be portrayed to the reader the better, and infographics are a great tool for this.
Podcasts and videos have also seen a huge increase recently, just look at YouTube. More people than ever are consuming audio/visual content and it is a great resource which can be utilised for content marketing. The amount of people who listen to podcasts has reportedly risen to 75 million from 25 million in just 5 years. One of the best things about using podcasts is if you use an application such as iTunes to upload your podcasts, then whenever you upload a new one to your website they are automatically downloaded to iTunes and then can be accessed by millions of people without them visiting your website. Podcasts have also been shown to influence listeners behaviour; a survey conducted showed that 63% of people had bought a product promoted through a podcast.
Blogs are also a useful way of incorporating content marketing into a business. Writing blogs about your sector or issues which are important to your sector on your website and promoting them can be a very effective way of increasing your standing to consumers. Being viewed as an authority on a topic or sector has positive implications for your business and how you a viewed and spoken about by the public.
With consumers becoming more savvy about spending their money and less influenced by traditional marketing channels it is more important than ever to utilise different techniques to attract new customers and convince them that your product is worth buying. Content marketing is the perfect way to do this.
People are more informed than ever before, and this thirst for knowledge about different subjects is likely to increase rather than decrease over the next few years. Businesses who employ content marketing are therefore more likely to see the benefits and have a competitive advantage over those who do not use these marketing techniques.
There are many questions to consider when starting marketing or PR campaigns – what’s our objective, what’s our budget, do we have the time or the right skills to pull off the work? But don't forget to think about who you know.
We talk to a lot of businesses about their marketing and I would say easily more than 95% of them are purely focused on acquisition (finding brand new customers) when it comes to their marketing. Now I’m not about to rubbish marketing acquisition strategies, they clearly have their place in the mix of activities, but to be solely focused on this is a big mistake, and here’s why:
About Retention Marketing
Indicative of the word, “retention” focuses on retaining the customers you already have rather than those you don’t. In focusing on these important customers you’re giving yourself a huge advantage. They know your business and they’ve bought from you before; you don’t have to do the hard work of getting them over the threshold – rather you now have to do the hard work of keeping them loyal! In this respect, communications to this audience can be highly targeted – based on buying history or personal attributes sometimes collected at the point of sale. For example, if you sum up the value of some of your best customers it may be wise to acknowledge and reward this loyalty with giveaways, previews or discounts. All of these activities can also feature within upgrade strategies too (see below).
About Upgrade Marketing
Also indicative, upgrade marketing focuses on trying to “up” the value of existing customers. This may be done through trying to get customers to convert to more profitable products (bigger margins) or simply more expensive products (bigger prices). Again, using customer data as a base to gain insights from, you can target the most suitable and relevant products at the right people – not every more-expensive product at every customer. Be intelligent in your approach.
Many channels, including the majority of digital marketing and PR (two areas we’re particularly strong in), are configured to focus on mainly acquisition marketing strategies. However, we strongly recommend clients always look at their existing customers before embarking on these more expensive and riskier activities.
The creative brief, sometimes written by clients, sometimes written internally by the agency, is a fundamental element of any marketing communications campaign. The main objective of this important document is to minimise confusion and clearly define the parameters of the project for both the agency and client; ensuring that the project is completed to the correct specifications (in terms of design, purpose, budget and time limits). This further guarantees that time and money are used efficiently and not wasted.
These briefs transmit the information which has been put forward by the client, regarding the project, to the agency in a clear and concise way which means that everybody is clear on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, but importantly they act as a spark of insight to get the creative process going.
There are several different areas that a brief needs to address; it should clearly define what the project is, for example, a monthly newsletter, who the target audience is and the objectives which the client wants to be met by the project. At McQueenie Mulholland we see objectives as vital as they determine what success looks like to the client and act as a guideline to accurately measure the results of a given campaign.
Another important aspect of the brief is the budget; the project budget of the client is essential as it determines the scope of the campaign, how much time is spent on it by the agency and how long the campaign will last. The activity’s schedule and deadlines should also be indicated in briefs to ensure that everyone is aware of the time restrictions that are in place allowing the agency to plan accordingly. The most important component of a brief could be argued to be the proposition. We recommend that propositions are short, concise sentences, which through its brevity gets to the point in outlining exactly what the client wants the campaign to achieve. Propositions help keep the agency’s team focused.
Further information to include is: what information about the campaign do we, as the agency, know already? And the flip-side from that what information do we need to know to complete the work.
A brief can go through a variety of processes before being finally approved. At McQueenie Mulholland we first write an initial brief which is then internally circulated to our planning strategist and then our creative lead for approval. After this it is then sent to the client who has final sign off. It’s only when both the client and the agency have agreed and approved the brief that the project can begin.
Our top tips for writing creative briefs:
- Keep the brief simple and to the point- excess information can take away from the objectives of the project and blur what is important
- Invest time into it – although briefs are meant to be short and concise this does not mean that they’re not worth spending significant time on them to complete; the more work put into a brief at the beginning the more easily good work will follow
- Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions when writing the brief: if you are confused about an aspect of the project, don’t be afraid to ask the client or other people in your agency for the answers. It will benefit both you and the brief if you have a clear understanding of what is required
- And finally, be creative: briefs are more than just informative, they are meant to be motivational too. So don’t be afraid to mix things up a little bit and think outside the box!