Business is as much about what you know, as who you know. At McQueenie Mulholland we know the value of building and maintaining relationships with our clients, and Being Human is at the heart of everything we do.
Read our top hints and tips on how to stay focussed and plan ahead during the quieter times of the year.
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.
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.
Social Media has become one of the main ways that businesses reach out to their customers online. But with so many different channels, it can seem like a daunting task to keep your eye on them all at the same time. To overcome this, many businesses use scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite to manage their various accounts. But whilst these tools can be very helpful when it comes to scheduling posts and managing your social channels, it is important not to rely on them completely.
Audiences have come to expect more from businesses on social media than a few posts per day; they want to be able to reach the business and talk to them in real time. This is where some businesses fall short of expectations; they schedule all their posts beforehand and then put social media to the back of their minds, not responding to comments or questions as they happen.
This has led to a push for businesses to ‘humanise’ their social media. When customers (existing or potential) engage with you they don’t want to feel like they are being ignored, or talking to a robot, so it is important to show people that there are real people behind the account.
Here are our top tips for making your social media, social!
1. Use everyday language – people don’t want to see posts filled with business jargon. Use the language that you would if you were talking to them in person.
2. Post pictures – and not just professional ones! Share the everyday pictures with your followers. This will show your fun side and that you are real people, and not just a business.
3. Make sure your social and your business presence is aligned – if your business is known for being quirky and fun, then make sure that this persona comes across online as well. There should be a seamless transition from the physical location of your business to your virtual accounts.
4. Acknowledge mistakes – everybody makes mistakes, it’s life! So, if you make a faux pas then don’t just remove it and pretend it never happened, own up to it and acknowledge the mistake. Your followers will respond much more positively and forget the mistake a lot sooner.
5. Engage with your followers – ask questions and respond to comments with personalised answers. Your customers will love you for it.
6. Customise content on your different channels – some things that work well on one channel won’t work as well on another, and that’s ok! Don’t schedule all your posts to go out on all your social channels at the same time, it will quickly become boring for your followers if all your channels look the same. Spend time finding out what works best on each channel and personalise posts for each one so that they all have their own distinct style.
7. Mention people – If you’ve just had a business meeting with a client then mention them in a post, or if you have got a new supplier then broadcast that out on your social media with them tagged in it. Building relationships with people is what social media is all about, so take advantage.
Evergreen content is an important component of any content marketing strategy, but what exactly is it?
Put simply, it is content which hasn’t got an expiration date.
Writing content for your blog helps your website rank well in search engines. But, whilst some content will only be relevant for a certain period, evergreen content stays relevant and therefore should be targeted at your top keywords. This is because, content which is evergreen has the potential to rank your website higher in search engines than content that has a ‘shelf-life' e.g content that includes information that is time-sensitive.
Some great examples of evergreen content include:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages
Product reviews and testimonials
Some examples of content which has a ‘shelf-life’ are:
Content with statistics or data that is subject to change
Pop culture references
Product releases / service updates
We often advise clients to mix up their content marketing strategy so that there is a selection of blog posts which are evergreen and ones that are time-sensitive. This will help with the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site, which obviously could result in more visitors to your website.
With more people researching companies and products before they purchase, your content marketing strategy is more important than ever. And evergreen content can be the difference between your website being ranked highly in search engines or not.
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.
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.
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!
Years ago, when I started my career in marketing, digital was only just emerging as a promotional channel. That’s quite a generalist statement, but that’s because digital was kind of seen as one beast - although it wasn’t even referred to as digital, more like web or online.
Since those early, early days a lot has changed. Gradually, specific digital disciplines emerged - SEO, Paid, Email, Display, Social, Content all underpinned by analytics.
This expanding array of digital specialisms may seem to some businesses like too many to manage but, as we frequently point out, if you don’t utilise digital you could be disadvantaging your chances against those organisations that do.
For all intents and purposes digital marketing, like many other forms of marketing, is a sector by sector arms race.
Terrifying as this may sound it needn’t be.
Here are our top 6 suggestions for how you can begin to be more competitive in the digital arena:
Research: Observe which digital channels your competitors or the leading organisations of your sector are using, and how they use them.
Objectives: Go back to your objectives; the business's overall objectives and also your overall marketing objectives - if you don’t have these (at either level) we strongly recommend getting some before embarking on any digital activity purely from a measurement point of view (see why below).
Channels: With an eye on what you want to achieve (your objectives - above), pick the digital channels you believe will enable you to do so (SEO, Paid, Email, Display, Social, Content).
Creative: Now with an eye on both your objectives and your digital channels it’s time to decide what you want to say. As well as being creative with the message, think about how you want potential customers to respond and ensure that you have the mechanisms and resources in place to handle those responses.
Measure: Before you start, be clear as to what key performance indicators (KPI’s) you will be measuring on your digital strategy. For example; do you want to track your search engine ranking and the impact it has on the volume of visitor sessions, or do you want to measure the source of sessions and how these people engage with your website and content? Think how these metrics contribute to your overall business and marketing objectives, and be sure that they do.
Test: After starting your digital strategy set a date for when you will review activities and judge their success. Small strategies may suit shorter lead times between reviews than bigger ones. Please note, a strategy review is completely different to campaign monitoring, which needs to be done far more frequently, depending on the digital channel.
There’s so much more to write on this subject so if you would like further detail or help with establishing your entry into the digital marketing arms race, please contact McQueenie Mulholland.