There can be little doubt that the coronavirus is having a huge impact on businesses and individuals and causing great disruption and uncertainty. Unfortunately for many SMEs, the formulation, content, and implementation of their business plans for 2020 and beyond may...
That you cannot run a business without making decisions is a fundamental fact. The problem is that strategic errors caused by making the wrong decision can be disastrous. Obviously, that is not always the case as minor errors can be seen quickly and easily rectified...
How Netflix uses data to make shows you want to watch – before you even know you want to watch them.
We are all familiar with places like YouTube and Netflix recommending videos based on our viewing history. If you watched The Silence of the Lambs all the way through, there is a good chance you will enjoy Red Dragon, and so Netflix may well add it to your recommended...
The optimist vs the realist. Two types of people, with personalities regarded as opposites of one another, just like left and right, or up and down. Totally incompatible points of view. And yet, in the face of overwhelming odds, this seemingly impossible mindset is...
For many of us, it is hard to imagine a time when superhero movies did not dominate the popular culture. Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, Marvel movies and the cinematic universe have become an entertainment juggernaut and their movies rank highly amongst the...
Bob Ross – the softly spoken marketing genius. For many of us, when we hear the name Bob Ross, we think of two things. Fluffy little clouds, and big hair. The American painter, who for years charmed the world with his series “The Joy of Painting,” is synonymous with a...
As with so many things, how businesses have managed to cope with the effects of the pandemic appears to rely on the random luck of the sector they are in or whether they have been in a position to pivot enough to keep going. There is no question that 2020 has taken...
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses, so what opportunities and trends might emerge in 2021? Remote working has become the norm for many and workers have become skilled in using apps that were hitherto unheard of. As we emerge from...
If they love you, they will buy from you, if they lust after your product, they will buy more, they’ll buy it sooner and they’ll tell their friends. With social media, you have the opportunity to give and receive the instant feedback and connections with your...
Most people think of promotion or advertising when they think of marketing - they forget the price, place and product itself. Firstly, you have to get your product (either goods or services) right. This means doing extensive research on its lifecycle which includes...
Certainly, use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, but never rely on them because the rules can change, so don’t build your business on them - especially not in the long term. Use them to drive traffic and to generate leads but make sure that your own platform is...
If this is the case, then one possibility is that we are like a version of The Sims, and everything, including us, is virtual. But this would seemingly require the actual creation of a conscious mind within a machine, something which, from a technological perspective,...
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This is a very interesting example of low cost, artisanal, low-branded marketing.
You have to watch this a couple of times to realise it is in fact sponsored by a brand, and is a piece of clever advertising. For a budget of $1,500 it has gained huge attention - over 130,000,000 views - and national TV coverage in America.
It's an example of a marketing movement for the artisanal and the low branded which plays on an increased distrust of large brands. It resulted in a 1,400% increase in sales and a 15,000% increase in website traffic for the brand in question.
If you are in Crewe or Chester, it's worth checking out Hickory's Smoke House.
If you want to experience somewhere that as taken its own brand very serously, then it's worth going to the new Hickory's in Crewe (or the one down by the river in Chester). They have a popcorn machine brought in from America, a smoker that smokes the brisket for hours and a mini cinema for kids to watch Frozen on while you eat. They import tonnes of hickory wood every month to get that authentic flavour. Their ribs have been developed to be as authentic as you can get and they have developed their own range of sauces, even the hottest of which tastes great.
Now, I only got to try a piece of the brisket, but to be honest the food is secondary to their brand (for me, not for them obviously). The attention to their brand, and what they stand for, and therefore what they do, is fascinating and it's well worth a visit just to see. How they touch the customer at every point, the thought into the outside area, the first thing you see and how they manage and tailor the customer experience is worth noting.
And, this is a great book on word-of-mouth marketing, which if you haven't read is well worth the time - 'Talk Triggers' by Jay Baer. It seems to me that the team at Hickory's have read it, absorbed it and taken it to heart.
Hustle and Float.
An interesting idea about productivity, it apparently comes from a white water rafting term where to have the perfect ride you need a bit of hustle, and a bit of float. Times when you are paddling like mad, making decisions and responding quickly, and times when you need to let the river carry you along.
We've been sold the idea that we have to hustle all of the time, we have to be paddling hard and in control all the time. The idea here is that in order to be productive we need time for reflection - time to let things happen. It's interesting to consider when was the last time you took time to float, when your company reflected on what it had acheived, and spent time thinking and planning - floating not hustling.
This guy is a bit extreme in some ways, but well worth a listen.
Mitch Joel says, 'Douglas is back with one of his most compelling pieces of work. It’s not (really) about the media… it’s about us. It’s about our need to “find the others” and figure out how we – as a team – are going to work in this ever-technological world. Humans feel more isolated and repressed than ever before, and it’s going to take teamwork to pull this all together if we don’t want to lose out to automation, robotics and algorithms.'
The thing that stuck the most with us was when he said that social media makes us think of other people as adversaries, rather than adversaries as other people . Anyone who has been on our training courses will know I am relatively cynical about most social media, so this comment really stuck in my head.
Marketing’s ‘faux-feminism’ problem on International Women’s Day
There is much hypocrisy in the marketing world. Some examples are the ad campaigns that some companies run for occasions such as this week’s upcoming International Women’s Day.
51 Questions to Optimise Every Element of Your Online Copy.
Optimising your own copy is a bit like scaling Mount Everest without a Sherpa. It doesn’t matter if you’re in shape: if you go it alone, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up a crumpled human popsicle.
If you are in Chester, it's worth checking out CHIP'D - a good example of a company that seems to be capitalising on 'talk triggers'.
Having had a very disappointing experience at 'Five Guys' with their complete failure to live up to their 'word of mouth marketing' mantra and only giving me a pathetic portion of mediocre chips, I found this company up Northgate Street in Chester (through a post they had got on Cheshire Live). They are great example of doing one thing well, over and over again - they just do chips. From a pure marketing perspective their product quality is enough to generate word of mouth in itself, but its worth popping in and seeing what they do, from having a chip cutting hand press in the window, to the tossing of the chips and salt in a large stainless steel bowl in front of you, they have put a high level of attention to everything.
So, not only is buying chips from them supporting a local business, there are things we can pick up from them about the customer experience. Their packaging is great too, so you carry an advert down the street - not for long in my case - but still I got as far as the cathedral.
From their site: 'We love chips, you love chips, everyone loves chips! That perfect chip is a real treat but can be so hard to find with so many bland, watery, frozen, tasteless chips around. We use a variety of potato which is recognised as the best in the Netherlands, we use the Dutch twice fried method, we cook them on a Dutch built range and we top our chips with amazing tasty Dutch sauces.'
Eleven Questions you can answer on social media.
After reading a number of recent books on social media, and reviewing how we plan and deliver our services, we have developed a list of eleven guiding questions, or points, which we can use to direct the content on social media.
• What is going on in my business?
• What do I want to sell you?
• What is it like working here?
• What is genuinely useful to you?
• What else will you be interested in?
• What will you want to see?
• Who else buys our products?
• What about me?
• What do we stand for?
• What will our products do for you?
• What are other people saying about us?
The mix will vary from business to business, and where you share it will depend on the media (we may do more 'what is going on in my business' on LinkedIn for example), but its not a bad start to see in an average month how many we cover.
Fyre may have been a complete rip-off, and an example of the power of social media to make and break a brand, but the branding is amazing.
The high point to me is the social post of a deconstructed cheese sandwich.
But the branding, the logo and the video are all worth seeing: they are compelling stylish and convincing.
Lots of people are still 'ignoring' GDPR - or at least, think they are compliant and so don't need to do anything else.
We have been doing quite a lot of training with small businesses recently and have been talking to a lot of companies who think they are compliant and those who to be honest, don't really want to become compliant. A few people say they have done what they need but if you look at their websites, their privacy policies haven't changed. We have heard that the ICO is currently swamped with 'data breach reports' and so can't really get out of the office, but for most companies it's still worth the day's work it would take for you to become compliant. Anyway, we think it's worth occasionally looking at the ICO site to see what fines they have been giving out.
While for most people a visit from the ICO is very unlikely, a fine of £1,000 or even £500 would be a very bad day .
New Facebook Group Management Tools on Social Media Examiner.
Facebook Introduces New Formatting and Management Tools for Groups: at the Facebook Communities Summit, Facebook announced a number of new tools and improvements that will make it easier for admins to maintain, manage, and engage with their communities.
Focus on Better Design, Not Better Marketing
IKEA’s former head of design argues that too many companies hope that clever marketing will save them from poor design. It’s a backwards approach that good businesses should rethink, Marcus Engman told attendees on Wednesday at the Fortune and Wallpaper* Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore.
Consumers would not care if 77% of brands disappeared.
The majority of big brands are irrelevant in consumers’ minds, says new research from Havas Media. The agency’s ‘Meaningful Brands’ study – which is based on 1,800 brands and 350,000 global respondents – has revealed that consumers would not care if 77% of brands disappeared.
22 Brutally Honest Landing Page Critiques.
At least none of my work is featured here, but it's sobering to see some of the things we do/have done appearing in his critiques.
Here are some really good examples of welcome emails, which might give you some ideas.
21 Best Welcome Email Examples to Engage Customers - if you scroll down the page on the site there are 21 interesting email examples, ranging from AirBNB to Starbucks. The designs are clean, simple and in most cases easy to do in any of the usual email marketing platforms. A welcome email is a good start to an ongoing customer relationship.
What is ‘Answer the Public’, and how can we use it?
Answer the Public is a tool that allows you to visualise search queries, helping you to see exactly what your target audience is looking for – basically it performs an automated autocomplete. It fetches and maps the keyword suggestions/predictions that you see when you perform a Google search. So, when you type in a search term, Answer the Public shows the most common questions that have been searched in relation to that term.
How to Create Copy that Sells.
I’ve just listened to a really interesting podcast hosted by Michael Stelzner and Ray Edwards on Social Media Examiner, and while I don’t necessarily agree with it all, there’s loads of stuff to think about that we could find genuinely useful when it comes to writing copy.
We know that basically, copy is persuasive communication however we do it (blogs, email, press releases, ads, etc.) and the point of it is, and always has been, to get people to engage with your words which then get them to act in some way.