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Friday, 31 May 2013

6 Good reasons to have a blog

My blog is relatively new. I'm still finding my way, much like the 100 million other bloggers who have created web log's in the last decade - but week by week I feel compelled to share whatever's going on in my world, regardless of readership.

There's a therapy to writing a blog, like filling a journal, but now it seems that blogs have become a rather influential part of the marketing mix, so not quite the self-less act they once were.

Technorati, recently published their 2013 Digital Influence report . It's free and well worth a download. It shows that blogs consistently rank higher than LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter, as trusted resources and additionally outstrip the most obvious social media, when it comes to sharing and influencing purchase decisions.

For those of you who haven't joined the party yet, (you know who you are), here are a few reasons why blogging is such a great resource.

1. It's practically free

Log onto wordpress or blogger or tumblr and have something up and running in your lunchtime. The only long-term cost is your time. Blogs need love and attention to keep them alive, so decide how much time you can regularly give to updating one at the outset.

2. Your blog is always on

Want to respond to a breaking news item? Need to update your audience on behind the scenes footage as an event unfolds? Your blog is just the place. While most marketing takes time to develop and implement, your blog gives you immediate access to readers eager to hear what you have to say and perhaps more importantly gives your audience a chance to reply, assuming you have a comments section. It's all about engagement.

3. Links online and offline marketing

Talk about your plans and products, invite feedback, test ideas, showcase results. Your blog is the perfect bridge between on and offline marketing activities, engaging with your audience and inviting feedback. Use your blog to explain how your firm came into being, outline product features and benefits, post case studies, discuss your vision. Blogging makes your business a person and everybody knows that people buy from people ........

4. Demonstrate knowledge

Your blog let's you drill down into a topic that is only partially covered on your website, likewise it can showcase your point of view and your understanding of the market. Since blogs are personal opinions, they're the ideal tool to demonstrate your knowledge and show some personality at the same time.

5. Builds brand visibility

People share blog posts. You only have to look at Twitter or Facebook for evidence. Creating valuable content on your blog builds brand visibility that far outweighs what can be achieved through a website. There's something about the accountability of a blog post that makes it far more believable than if the same message had come via your website.

6. Boosts SEO success

OK, this last one is only really true if you remember to include keywords in your posts, but nonetheless, search engine optimisation needs all the help it can get and blogging is a great way to create additional keyword rich text, which all contributes to getting you found online.

Since we all love sharing our stories, blogging seems here to stay.  Yet, for every ying there is a yang, so I thought I'd end with the flip side in the form of a catchy little number called "I hate your blog".  There's two sides to every story.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Marketing tips from unlikely sources - the cinema

With half term looming (school holidays for those of you without children), a constant niggling distraction is how to keep the cherubs entertained. Since we live in Scotland, where even the summer weather can't be guaranteed to be kind, a cinema visit is sure to feature, which got me thinking about this post (see, you knew there was a point to all this).

Cinemas are really just distribution chains. Routes to market, which let us consume a third party product (the film). Just as video was meant to kill the radio star, the dawn of the internet and the rapidity with which media streaming took off, should have rendered cinemas to the realms of history. Yet, there seem to be more than ever before. How did this happen?


In marketing terms differentiation is "what matters to the buyer". It's a way of positioning your product or service so that the experience your customer has, matches their world view. Over the years, cinemas have evolved from stand alone, single purpose destinations, to entertainment hubs. Cinemas have become experiences and customers happy with their experience tend to be repeat customers buying memberships that guarantee their stake in that community.

The last decade has seen cinemas get smart about attracting the right kind of customers for their venue, through differentiators - a wall of pick'n'mix or thai rice crackers, leather seats with footrests or slightly sticky standard, shown to your seat or left to stagger around in the dark - they all shape a customers choice of which venue to visit. These differentiators have become almost as important as the film itself, especially for those of us still grappling with the nuances of HD versus lazor IMAX, (I know which venue does the best popcorn though).


Cinemas have had to adapt to the brave new world, by meeting their potential audience online and before they've even started to consider a visit. My local cinema has a twitter account and a facebook page, a membership program and a Pinterest board.

You no longer just see a film. Cinemas are now engaging their customers ahead of their visit through trailers, behind the scenes footage, special offers and the like, delivered directly to your inbox or your social media feed. Post film you're encouraged to share your experience, put questions to the production team, take part in a competition to see the next release and all from the comfort of your mobile app. We're hooked.


Customer perception is reality, so while the film being screened is the same wherever you watch it, the factors supporting your decision to visit the cinema in the first place, really matter. When customers buy a cinema ticket, they are really testing the brand to see if it delivers on it's promises. Was the surround sound as good as the hype?, was the premium seat worth paying extra for? etc. Meeting expectations keeps customers coming back for more, safe in the knowledge that they know (and like) the experience that they get there. 

Of course you could just stay at home and watch on your laptop, tv, home cinema, ipad ..........

Friday, 17 May 2013

5 Ways To Use Video in Your Marketing Mix

This week has been all about video.

If a picture paints a thousand words, then video redecorates.  It's the content we all want to consume and share and every marketing report we read sends us scurrying for our camcorders, (with varying degrees of success).

Before spending next years budget on your big picture production, it's worth considering a few key questions, namely
- what do you have to show your customers?
- what sort of customers are you trying to reach?
- what do you want your viewer to do as result of watching?  (Be careful with this last one, calls to action in video form won't be your usual "buy now" pitch)

So, what kind of video is right for you?

A commencement address with a difference.  This video is all about choice and decision making and reminds us that we're human.  A real inspiration.

Community engaging
With the explosion of Vine usage, it was inevitable that brands would incorporate it into their marketing mix.  Asos have cleverly put content production into the hands of their audience, asking them to showcase their orders.  It's a social media gift.

ASOS Unbox campaign using customer generated Vine footage

Showing personality - Poking fun at your competition
Here Samsung draw on the Apple following, to show how their audience are really the smart ones.  In doing so, they add personality to their electronics brand and become instantly more persuasive.

Creating visibility
The travel industry has always been keen to sell us the dream in pictures.  There are now annual awards for the countries who make the biggest impression.  Video is a great way to tell your story by letting your viewers picture themselves using your product and experiencing your service.

Educate by entertaining
Promoting rail safety could have been dull, but the cartoon nature and catchy music made this a Youtube success - there are now over 80 variations on this theme.  Praise indeed.

For all those not quite ready to make the video leap, remember there's always slideshare. Jenny and the Chicken is every bit as engaging in my book .......

Friday, 10 May 2013

What's a brand?

This week it's been all about branding.  Finding product names, reviewing company websites and generally assessing the impact that brands make on the world.  It got me thinking about how often the term 'brand' is used and misused.

Let's talk definitions
A brand is that distinctive mark that sets your company or product apart from all others in the market.  Car brands are a good example.  Think Rolls Royce, Fiat and Prius and though they're all cars, the image, colours and logos that come to mind are completely different.  Often companies have a single brand name like Adobe and several branded products (or sub brands) that build from that recognizable entity e.g Adobe Acrobat.

Branding is the process of building a brand, that is, defining the physical traits, such as how a logo might look and feel and the emotions we want to conjure up in our customers (Are you a Mac or a PC?).

Companies decide on their brand(s) and branding, but ultimately it's your customers who decide what a brand stands for and whether it meets their expectations or not.  Customer perception sustains brands, keeping entire families buying the same product across generations.  This in turn, affects the brands effectiveness in the market and any subsequent valuations (aka brand equity).

Customers loyal to a brand, spend more
This doesn't just mean financially, though this is often the case.  Loyal customers have experienced your brand for themselves and decided that you deliver on the promises your brand makes.  They are now more likely to invest time and indeed their reputations on telling others about your greatness.  This loyalty is also referred to as brand commitment.

Who do you want your brand to be?
We all think of brands as people, after all, no-one ever wants to buy from a faceless corporation.  Often our relationship with a brand is formed through direct people interaction.  The sales assistant, the call centre operator, the tour guide etc.  They help us to decide how a brand 'feels' and whether it resonates with our own world views.  Often this is know as brand personality and it plays a large part in helping us choose one brand over another.

Everything your company does will reflect on your brand
Think of Tiffany and you immediately picture small blue boxes, diamonds and exclusivity.  This brand association didn't happen overnight (they founded in 1837).  It took time to craft the story and imagery so synonymous with them today.  They thought carefully about the people who promoted their products, the locations for their stores, the experience that they wanted their customers to have and the result is an enduring brand which resonates world-wide.

Contrast this with Pret A Manger. or Pret as they're now known.  This brand is based around ethics.  All sandwiches are freshly made on the premises, using locally sourced produce and any unsold food is given to the homeless at the end of each day.  Their packaging is recyclable, their staff are always happy to see you.  Customers have endless lunch possibilities, but choose Pret because it makes them feel like they're also contributing to a better society.

Take time to build and nurture your brand and it should be one of your greatest assets. What's your favourite brand?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Why Do You Need A Company Facebook Page? (Top 5 Reasons)

According to a recent social media report by Technorati, over 90% of brands have a presence on Facebook - pretty astonishing for a tool designed not for selling, but for keeping in touch with friends and family.

So, what is all the fuss about and why should companies have a Facebook page?

This is the no brainer.  Having a company Facebook page is a positive step towards building your brand and community.  It's a way of showing your brand has personality and inviting your customers to interact on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

24/7 Customer Service
Perception, (which is 99% reality in customer minds), sees a company Facebook page as an instant access, free from elevator music, connection with a brand.  Thrilled by those sunglasses you just bought?  Look for the company Facebook page and share the love.  Discover you've paid more than you needed to?  Find that Facebook page and have a rant.  Like it or not, Facebook gives a very clear view of how well your products or services are doing, in realtime.  Be warned though, your customer expects a response, just as they would had they called your help-line, so make sure there is a dedicated resource monitoring and replying to each comment.

Daily Research and Development Opportunities
With the rapidly evolving new feature set, you can reach out to your audience for feedback on a regular basis.  Ask them questions.  Invite them to rate photos of yet to be released product.  Poll for suggestions. Offer free samples or behind the scenes sneak peaks, to gauge reaction to and interest in, your future plans.  The possibilities are endless.

We all know that an engaged audience is a revenue generating audience.  While Facebook is not primarily a sales tool, fans are well used to receiving offers and even getting access to exclusive content from the brands they support.  Lead generation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when setting up your Facebook page, but ask yourself how many spending decisions you've taken, based on something a friend shared on social media.

Facebook insights is a great way to measure the success of your Facebook page.  At the click of a button (or two) you'll have the numbers needed to show how engaged your audience is, how your fan base is growing, how people found your page and most importantly reach (how far your content can be shared through friends of your fans). Facebook insight stats are complimentary to those provided on your website by Google Analytics and together they give a picture of how well your marketing is performing.

Still not convinced?  Here are some great examples of company Facebook pages.

Sigmar Recruitment
The Honest Company
Godiva Boutique