McQueenie Mulholland

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Sarah Thom

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

StrategySarah ThomComment

Having a successful communications strategy is vital for any organisation, especially small, local charities. Read more about our top tips for developing a successful strategy today.

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

StrategySarah ThomComment

Christmas is the season of goodwill and can be a successful time of the year for charity fundraising. But how do small, local charities make the most out of Christmas? 

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

MarketingSarah ThomComment

Print marketing can sometimes be overlooked. Here are 5 reasons why it shouldn't be, and why you should start using print marketing today. 

Top 10 tips when writing a blog

DigitalSarah ThomComment

Want to start a blog on your business website but unsure how to get started? Here are our top 10 tips for creating a successful and professional blog.

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?

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.

Are Influencers a Worthwhile Marketing Strategy for Small, Local Businesses?

StrategySarah Thom

There’s a new face in the marketing world, the Influencer.

Influencers are quickly becoming the ‘go-to’ for companies to reach those consumers who are turned off by traditional marketing and advertising strategies.

But, what impact can Influencers have on small, local businesses?

If you are a local business, and trying (yet failing) to reach a certain demographic or audience, then local Influencers are a great marketing resource to turn to. In doing so, they can promote your brand to their own unique audience and raise awareness of you to the very people who trust their opinions.

The rise of the Influencer is linked to the increased use of social media; the two have risen concurrently as millennials have turned to social media to follow their favourite celebrities, and look to them for the latest trends, attitudes and products. In turn, new personalities have risen to the fore around subjects, cultures, campaigns and geographies to become Influencers in their own right (due to the size of the digital following they enjoy).

It is this position of trust which makes Influencers so powerful. They influence their followers’ decisions through subtle, and more natural endorsement of a company or product, which can be much more positively received than more obvious traditional marketing methods.

So, you’ve decided that you would like to work with an Influencer, but where do you start?

It all comes down to selecting the right influencers. In doing so, as a local business, you will need to know:

-       Who are the people you want to reach?

-       Who do they follow on social media?

The answers to these two questions are the foundation of making the right choice about the Influencer to use. If you don’t pinpoint these details before you begin then you’ll spend time and money on a campaign which has limited impact and, therefore, may not give you a reasonable return on investment. But done correctly, Influencer marketing can have a huge impact on your business.

If you’re thinking about using Influencer marketing for your business then contact McQueenie Mulholland today.

Newsjacking: What is it and why do businesses do it?

MarketingSarah Thom

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.

How to get the most out of Christmas as a small, local business

Marketing, StrategySarah Thom

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. 

How Social Media Changed Marketing

Digital, MarketingSarah Thom

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.

Charity Legacy Programmes

StrategySarah Thom

If you’re a small charity, then legacy fundraising can seem like a daunting prospect. How are you going to approach the people who support you and talk to them about leaving a gift in their will? Death is a tricky subject to broach, especially with people who help your charity to continue to make a difference in the community. But legacy fundraising doesn’t need to be daunting, there are a number of ways in which you can approach the subject in a relaxed and comfortable manner.  

We can help you to set up your legacy fundraising programme, and even run it for you if you do not have the time to do it yourself. We will work closely with you to ensure that the bespoke programme we design for you is exactly what you want and will achieve all your legacy fundraising goals.  

There are two main ways in which you can approach legacy fundraising; you can talk directly with the people who support you about leaving a legacy in their will, or you can raise awareness for your programme through indirect ways such as newsletters and social media. By raising awareness you are not directly asking people to leave you a legacy in their will, but instead informing them about your programme and giving them a bit of information about it.  

An important thing to know about legacy fundraising is that there are two distinct types; pecuniary and residual. Pecuniary legacies are when a person specifies a certain amount of money that they want to donate to your charity in their will, whilst residual legacies are when a person does not specify an amount but instead leaves whatever is left over after all their pecuniary bequests are given, to your charity. It is important to know this as with residual legacies you do not know exactly the amount of money which is going to be left to your charity in the donor’s will – making forecasting more tricky.  

If you would like more information about how we can help you establish and manage your legacy fundraising programme then contact us today, where we will be happy to discuss your options and help you decide the best way to approach legacy fundraising for your charity. 

How could data analysis help your business?

Marketing, StrategySarah Thom

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.   

Local Digital Marketing For Local Businesses

Digital, MarketingSarah Thom

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 Matters

Marketing, DigitalSarah Thom

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. 

Search Engine Optimisation: Simplified

DigitalSarah Thom

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process by which a website is made more visible on search engines, like Google. The process is really important if you want your website to gain prominence online and increase the amount of customers which visit your site.

There are several layers to SEO, firstly it is important to index your site properly. This is done to essentially tell search engines that your website exists and that it needs listing in rankings (otherwise people searching online would not be able to find you). By indexing your site, you’re at least giving it a fighting chance of being found when people search for a product or service which your business provides.

Secondly, it is important to research what it is that customers search for online when they are looking for a business like yours. For example, if your business is a florist in Exeter (where we’re based), then people would probably be searching for ‘local florist’, ‘florist in Exeter’ or ‘flowers’. Research into this reveals how much given terms are searched for and where opportunities lie. It is important to know this information as you can utilise these keywords on your website to ensure that when people do search for these terms, your site ranks highly on search engines as a suggestion. It is not helpful if you use the wrong keywords on your site as this can result in people coming across your site who are not actually interested in your business.

Finally, we have content generation. This can take a number of forms, from blogs and visuals to webinars and articles. The kind of content which you use on your website is dependent on your business, for example webinars would not be suitable for every type of business. Content generation is important as it invites people to visit your website and engage with your business, which can ultimately lead to enquiries and sales. It also shows your customers that you are an authority in your field that they can trust. And trust is valuable when encouraging people to link to your site, buy from your site or even review your products/services.

As more and more business is conducted online, it really is becoming even more important to ensure that you are giving your business every chance of being found in search engine rankings.

The Importance of the Creative Brief

MarketingSarah Thom

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!