Friday, 19 December 2014

Corporate Videos Made Easy - in 7 Steps

Corporate videos have grown in popularity in the last 12 months. Faster broadband, improved mobile devices and more wifi connections, have all helped to deliver media-rich content to customers and clients, whether they are in the office or on the road.

A video can also convey more about your brand than static images or animated gifs. Your clients can meet the team, see your offices, have a full guide to your products and services all from the comfort of the coffee shop or, less comfortable, desk.
So here are a few pointers to help you produce a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a costly flop. 

Camera, lights, action:

1. It starts with a script. Write, edit, refine and rewrite. Time is of the essence so be quick to tell the viewers what you can do for them better than your competitors. About 1minute is the ideal length to have your customers glued to the screen, not their second screen, as people have ever-shorter attention spans these days.
2.  It’s all in the image. Be clear on the creative treatment. Is it mainly live video, photos or animation? Or a mix of all three? Make sure you have, or commission, good quality photos if you use a slideshow approach.  
3. What’s the story? Prepare a storyboard so you know the sequences of voice over, photos, live video, and on screen text. It’s quite easy to plan them out and will save you time later and mean fewer amends.
4. What does your brand sound like? If you’re using one, then choose a suitable voice over that represents your brand. Think about accent, age profile, male or female and delivery style. If one or more of your staff are doing the talking, then ensure their voices are suitable.
5. Who will you cast in the lead role? If shooting live video is the best way to explain your business, ensure the people in front of camera represent your brand – whether your own staff or professional presenters. Have a clear, quiet environment and good lighting; wear clothes that you would normally wear to see your clients; speak clearly and naturally.
6. The sound of music. Make sure there is good sound quality and the right balance of background music or sound effects (office or street sounds) so that you can hear the key messages clearly.
7. Call to action. End with a strong reason your customers or clients should get in touch and put contact details in the end credits. The VO at the end should also say what you want the viewer to do and how it will benefit them. It’s probably not a good idea to leave your customers with a cliffhanger, unless of course you are producing a sequel or a series of videos.

That’s all folks!

Not, quite. Don’t forget to show your staff the video so they too feel part of your brand and company journey (better still, involve them in the process).  Create a buzz about your new release. Publish your video on a Youtube or Vimeo channel. If you haven’t got one, then it’s easy to set one up. Use all of your usual marketing techniques to promote your masterpiece so people can click to view it – email marketing and your social media channels. As well as these, you can also show your video on large screens at show and exhibitions.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

6 Business Twitter Tips for Humans

Twitter can help businesses build brand profile in their market and help drive their corporate communications. However, so many tweets I read seem like they are written by machines, which kind of defeats the object of engaging with people (your clients, your business associates, your prospects).

By embracing the ‘social’ aspect of twitter, you’ll find your business communications sounding more like a human than a robot. To do this, keep your tweets conversational with an engaging tone of voice (oops, there’s another tip!). After all, people still buy people and your twitter feed should reflect your business’ personality and that the twitter account is being run by knowledgeable humans.

It’s also a great way to build or be part of business communities (with other human businesses) in your sector and to keep up to speed with industry issues and people news.
So, here are a few more tips for B2B twitter accounts so they become more human, less robotic:

  1. Post what would be of interest to you if you were a customer or business partner.
  2. Be spontaneous - tweet about things that are happening in your business right now.
  3. Add a photo - we are all quite nosey, so most of us will click to see a good picture of an event you’re at, a PR shoot, an award you've won etc.
  4. Keep it short - you needn't always use the 140 characters - brevity is good policy.
  5. Research hashtags relevant to your business sector and include them regularly as they will  help you get noticed by potential customers/clients.
  6. Use a management tool for your tweets to help you track your account(s) and to provide  results of retweets, favourites, followers etc.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Why you should invest in your brand – in 500 words!

In this post I will aim to shed some light on the subject of branding; what it is, how it works and how you can use it to help the perception of your product or service and improve business’s performance.

The word ‘branding’ is chucked around liberally by all sorts of people and they’ll all have a different definition in mind. So, let’s start by getting a definition sorted.

“A brand is a set of associations that a person makes with a company based on their product, service and experiences or perceptions.”

These associations and perceptions may be actively promoted by the company via marketing, advertising and social media. Or they may be out of the company’s control due to poor reviews and negative press stories. The brand, therefore, is perceived by non-customers via what they see and read in the media and what they take from your advertising, and by customers through the performance of the products and dealings with the company.

Branding, therefore, aims to generate, influence and harness the positive perceptions and experiences to help the business strengthen its position in the market it is operating in. After all, every company wants to create a brand that presents the company as trusted, exciting and reliable – as improved results should follow.

Planned and thoughtful use of design, advertising and marketing can help to provide the desired outcome for a business. But also, don’t forget about your own corporate culture, staff training and your company core values that staff work by. They all play a part too. Integrate your brand strategies throughout your company at every point of customer contact, because your staff, as well as your customers, should be clear what the company stands for and the journey it is on.

There a number of well established brand techniques to put this theory into practice and they include:
  • ·Deliver your brand message clearly – use good propositions and snappy straplines
  • · Confirm your credibility – backup your marketing with statistics, performance and    good news stories
  • · Connect to your target audience emotionally – let them see how your product can  help them and that you understand their needs – you are one of them
  • ·Differentiate your brand from others – tell your company story, why your product  stands apart from anyone else’s and is right for your audience
  • · Existing or new brand? – you may need to redefine an existing brand or launch a new  one to sell a new product or service. If the latter, check domain names and twitter  handles are available
  • · Use an appropriate brand name and logo – a good brand name itself can help you  stand out in a crowded marketplace and set a positive tone and personality. Your logo  needs to be distinctive and identifiable in many different situations, whether online, on  social media or on stationery.
All these points should help motivate a prospect to buy or try, and cement your relationship with your existing customers. A strong brand is invaluable in the battle for customers. It's worth investing in.

Friday, 15 August 2014

5 Key Benefits of Using a Marketing Consultancy

Recently I’ve been asked a number of times why a company should hire my consultancy to improve their marketing, PR, social media or website.
Obviously I’ve got my Powerpoint slide with me at all times which I can whip out in a flash and my ‘elevator pitch’ trips of my tongue in well-rehearsed fashion. I can go in to a little more detail here and that may help explain a few more reasons for considering outsourcing as an effective, and cost-effective, route.

Fresh Perspective – to generate a new approach
If things in your company stay the same, nothing changes, and your competitors edge forward. Same people? Same media? Same messages? Sound familiar? To re-energise your marketing, PR and social media, fresh eyes reviewing your business sector can open up new opportunities, as well as point your communications in a new, creative direction. It keeps you ahead and a player in your field.

Specialist Knowledge – to get you there faster
The value of specialist knowledge shouldn’t be underestimated.  This might be specialisation in a particular area of PR or marketing, a specific industry or marketing discipline and tactics. Your directors and marketing team (if you have one) may have some of this knowledge, but a consultancy will have the expertise to turn insights in to valuable propositions and get those messages out in the right way to expand your reach to your clients and your industry media.

Extensive Network – for you to tap in to
It’s important that the agency has excellent contacts within the market sector you operate in. But even if you know some of the same people, the relationship the agency has with will be different and could benefit your company when it comes to liaising with journalists and suppliers. Also, the consultancy will work with a range of suppliers to get further new ideas that you can then use in your marketing. Their liaison with journalists will also open opportunities for further promoting your company as a leader in your industry and getting your directors to contribute to opinion pieces and industry commentaries.

Creativity – new ideas are better by design
It’s all about bringing new solutions to your campaigns and injecting a new lease of life to your brand. Taking things by the scruff of the neck so you say, “Why haven’t we thought of that?” Well, because an agency has a different outlook which is a lot more conducive to coming up with those creative ideas you always wanted. They won’t lose sight of the original objectives and so deliver solutions that are right on target. After all, creative thinking leads to better design and improved results.

Financial – how much? Is that all?
We all want the things we need at the right price. You pay for what you get and when you add it all up a marketing consultancy can provide excellent value at an agreed price. We can cut our cloth to fit your budget. One off fee, monthly retainer or a fixed price project. Compare that to the price of and FTE and you’ll be surprised at how much you can save, and how much you can gain in knowledge and expertise.

Conclusion – let the experts lend a hand
The key is to find a marketing consultancy that matches your values, listens to your goals and collaborates with you creatively. A partnership between a consultancy and client is one of the keys to successful marketing and PR. Outsourcing could be one of the best decisions you will ever make. You can keep your costs low and allow specialists to take the burden off your shoulders. Why not let a skilled agency use their knowledge to promote your brand?

Friday, 13 June 2014

How to write the perfect case study

Case studies are a great way to showcase your services and products in a realistic way that helps the reader understand what makes your company tick. You can explain how you helped a customer achieve their goals and how your company pulled out all the stops using slick processes, industry contacts and the expertise of your staff. Sound easy, eh?

But I read many ‘case studies’ that turn in to a mundane detail-fest or are so vague that I’m not sure what the point of the case was! Striking a balance is crucial.

Set the right tone of voice. So start with the headline – focus on results and achievement. After all this is telling the reader what you did for others in their position and shows your company as being results focused.

There’s nothing wrong with using jargon specific to your sector – indeed if you use it and explain it, this could be quite educational to the reader. This could be in a panel or box at the side, or include web links to a glossary.

Also, think of the format of how you display the case. For example, you could do it in a diary format, day by day, step by step or as a Q&A. It depends what will work best for your audience or prospective clients.

Here are 5 easy pointers to remember:
- Pick a case that is typical, but also has an element of going the extra mile, or a problem that    cropped up that needed solving for the case to conclude
- Tell the whole story from start to finish – don’t skip key parts of the process
- Include real numbers – such as amounts of money, size of transactions, number of web visits  etc
- Use genuine quotes from your staff and customers to add authenticity
- Conclude by explaining how what you did was of benefit to the customer and the overall results of the case for both parties. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

3 Billion Internet Users - the ‘Have-Net’ and ‘Have-Not’ Split

New figures released by the United Nations recently show that the world will have three billion internet users by the end of the year, that’s 44% of the world’s population.

But there are still a ‘Have-net’ and ‘Have-not’ split. Close to one-third (31 per cent) of households in developing countries will be connected to the Internet, compared with 78 per cent in developed countries.

The UN report shows that household Internet access is approaching saturation levels in developed countries. Europe has the highest internet penetration rate of 75 per cent, while the Asia-Pacific region has the largest population of Internet users. 

In Africa, about one-fifth of the population will have access to the Internet while in the Americas, nearly two-thirds of the population will be online by the year end.

Mobile subscriptions will reach seven billion – one per person, but obviously not everyone will have a mobile, many people in developed countries now have multiple devices.  
Of the 7 billion mobile users, 3.6 billion of these will be in the Asia-Pacific region.

The increase is mostly due to growth in the developing world where mobile subscriptions will account for 78 per cent of the world's total. 

As far as mobile-broadband penetration goes, the number of subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally and 55 per cent of them are expected to be in the developing world.

Mobile-broadband remains the fastest growing market segment, with continuous double-digit growth rates in 2014.

Clearly we just can’t get enough of staying connected while we’re on the move with our mobiles – as long as we can find a free wifi connection that is!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Buy to Let Pension Boost on its Way!

Soon, a whole new wave of pensioners will be inspired to join the buy to let boom in April. This is when older landlords ‘Grandlords’ can use their maturing pension pots to help boost their longer term pension income into retirement. According to a recent Mori poll, some 200,000 plan to cash in all of their pension pot, despite some severe taxation if they do, as only the first 25% is tax free.

However, with paltry rates on savings deposit accounts and low annuity returns, yields from having one or more rental properties look appealing.

There has been some glib posturing by politicians saying some pensioners will blow their life savings too quickly. But those that have saved carefully for their retirement will invest wisely as they realise they may have 20 or 30 years retirement to fund.

Buying a property at auction is a real option for those looking to acquire a buy to let in a particular time frame and at a highly competitive price. If they’re not paying cash, then bridging finance can be arranged quickly to cover the initial purchase while longer term finance is arranged.

If they opt to hold on to some of their pension pot and get a mortgage for the property they will often need a large deposit (often 20 -25%) which may come from their pension. The newby Grandlords will have to finance landlord insurance, hold money back for times when the property is not let as well as a contingency fund for repairs.

After all that’s been said though, they will still have a bricks and mortar asset which they can then sell in their retirement to raise a cash lump sum, providing the property has gained in value, which based on current trends seems highly likely.

This linked to the rental boom, means that we are seeing a generation of people who may never own their own home – a generation of renters is growing. So for a good property in a good location, the rental outlook continues to be positive for the foreseeable future.                

This is a much welcomed ray of sunshine on an otherwise dull long term investment market and the rise in Grandlords is set to reach new highs from April. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Repurpose content for cross-media impact

Copywriters are starting to get to grips with the demands of the digital age. Readers are viewing content on a greater number of devices and in more remote locations (other than work or home). But there is still work to do to make your copy more effective across multiple platforms.
Now a 1,000 word article can be repurposed so that the original piece can be turned in to a blog, loads of tweets and a rather interesting newsletter!
But it’s not just important to consider how the content can be rewritten in different styles for a variety of media.  The real value in repurposing content is to consider how your audience will read and digest the information – what device will they be reading it on and what mind-set will they be in?

Make your content match the device
A recent report said that we now consume information on about seven different screens a day; from a smartphone to a TV, tablet to a laptop, e-reader to a smart watch! What’s interesting here is that the reader will approach these mediums with a pre-determined mind-set and a varied set of expectations.  The same content won’t work in the same way on multiple devices, not just in terms of the technical formatting or screen resolution and scale, but in terms of what the reader ‘expects’ to get out of the content on the device they’re using.

Where will your article be read?
Another consideration for the copywriter is to think about the environment the reader will be in when they consume the content. Will they be at home, at work or commuting? Will they be looking to use the information for themselves, their department or company? And are they looking for professional advice, fun learning or personal interest?
So although the access to key information has been made easier in recent years, the modern copywriter needs to think a lot harder about where and how their audience will be engaging with their work. But this opens up a host of new possibilities for a good core idea – it can be disseminated in various guises to fit the device, the place and the expectations of the reader when they are reading it, so it can reach more audiences than traditional media ever could.
Here’s a few tips on repurposing:

1. Have a good idea in the first place and write your initial piece in full, before you start to adapt it for various uses.
2. Think what device(s) the content will most likely be read on and tailor and edit the format accordingly.
3. Consider the mind-set of the reader and what they will expect when they read the piece on that particular device or site.
4. Change the tone of voice for the type of article, if it’s a blog version then you could adopt a more personal approach for your core idea, if it’s an educational approach then a more professional tone could applied to the piece.  
5. Where will the reader be when they read your content? Knowing this will help you format the article to increase impact.  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Your marketing statistics have real value

Very few marketing people jump out of bed in a morning and say, “I’m feeling good, let’s analyse some statistics!” 

But, with more and more commerce, lead generation and advertising happening online, more marketers should take notice of the figures at their fingertips.

In today’s world, new marketing techniques provide statistics that, when analysed and interpreted correctly, can yield invaluable information about what is happening with your email marketing, website and social media interactions. Auditing the marketing numbers can show where improvements can be made, new customers targeted and processes improved.

Making the key numbers accessible and useful to your business can help connect the dots and put the insights into action. A review of website content and sales processes will help ensure a return on your digital investment. After all, data is only useful if it drives results, boosts the bottom line and improves your brand position. It really is all in the stats!

There are many ways to connect, but only certain ones will be right for your business. By finding a route through the fog of figures we can make it work for you so that your business gets tangible returns from its online marketing and communications.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Delivering dynamic internal communications

An often overlooked part of a brand is the internal communications to your own staff. Your employees ultimately are your brand, and it’s important to keep them informed, engaged and to play a participative role in your new product launches and campaigns.

Internal comms covers more than you might think, everything from presentation slides, speeches, emails to staff and newsletters as well as corporate events and fun competitions. They should all work together so your staff do too. And if everyone has the same outlook and vision for the future, your teams will also share the common aim of working together to the agreed business goals and have a fun doing it!

You should also look at the tone of voice for your communications as this may change depending on whether you’re giving, say company performance information or promoting a fun charity day.

What’s important here is that there is a common design approach to emails, posters, booklets and presentations. A visual look and feel that tells the staff this is an official piece of collateral. After all your staff should feel part of the company brand but feel special because they have their own brand  of comms, just for them.

Controlling who can issue information is important too. There should be a small group of people who are responsible for preparing the staff comms, planning when they need to be issued and responsible for issuing the comms at the right time. By doing this, staff know that what they are getting is the official voice of the company.

Internal communications is a whole area of expertise in itself, so please get in touch to discuss new and creative ways to excite your employees about new company initiatives.

6 Quick Twitter Tips

Social media can help businesses build brand profile in their market sector and help drive their business communications. Twitter also helps businesses communicate like humans, so keep your tweets conversational, instantaneous and engaging (oops, there’s another tip!). 

It’s also a great way to build or be part of business communities for your market and to keep up to speed with industry issues and news.

So, here are a few more tips for B2B twitter accounts:

1. Post what would be of interest to you if you were a customer or business partner.
2. Be spontaneous - tweet about things that are happening right now.
3. Add a photo - we are all quite nosey, so most clients will click to see a good picture of an event, PR shoot, an award you've won etc.
4. Keep it short - you needn't always use the 140 characters - brevity is good policy.
5. Research hashtags relevant to your business sector and include them regularly as they will help you get noticed by potential customers/clients. 
6. Use a scheduling tool for your tweets to help you manage your account(s) and to provide results of retweets, favourites, followers etc.