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TLC climbed Mount Snowdon!

Last Friday, the TLC team visited Snowdonia National Park for a challenging climb up Mount Snowdon. The team had a very early start leaving from the office at 5am Friday morning and arrived at the starting point of the ascent for the PYG track at approximately 11am. Lots of sun cream and water was needed to keep us hydrated and protected from the very hot and sunny weather, which made the climb extra challenging at times. After approximately 3.5miles of ascent, the team made it to the summit at approximately 2pm where we took a break to enjoy some lunch and admire the views. We then set off for the descent at approximately 3pm via the Miners Track and made it back to our coach at 5pm to return back to the office! Here are some pictures from the day!

5 unique advertising methods

Trying to get heard amongst all the competing advertising noise out there is not easy. Estimates suggest we are exposed to over 10,000 brand / company messages each day. Clearly, advertising is highly competitive. Millions of different companies and brands are fighting for the attention of their target audiences each day. Online, in print, on TV, radio, billboards, mobile and more, advertisers are in danger of drowning each other out.  With this in mind, companies are always on the lookout for unique and innovative ways to get their message across.

This week, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the more unusual advertising techniques. Here are some of our favourites.

 

1. Wi-Fi network names

In March 2016, Audi attended the New York auto show with a unique and clever advertising hack. The German car company set up a number of free Wi-Fi networks and gave each network a name that doubled up as an advertisement for the back-then brand new Audi A4. Each network was named with one reason to choose the A4 and also bashed their rival BMW 328i at the same time, including statements such as “#:1 A4 more horsepower than 328i” and “#4: A4 has CarPlay”. It’s not the first time a company has used Wi-Fi networks to double up as advertising, but we can see how it could be an effective and amusing marketing technique to get your brand or product stand out, particularly for an event where free Wi-Fi is just about the first thing mobile users look for.

 

2. On our food
Using a laser etching technique, brands have even found a way to safely advertise on our food! This advertising technique is most commonly found in Butcher’s markets to advertise sellers produce, or in the health and fitness industry for advertising the likes of gym memberships or nutritional advice. Laser etching or printing on foods has typically been used in the food industry to mark produce with dates and numbers to identify their location or factory source. Taking inspiration, some brands have now hijacked this technique, adding messaging to their food. Alongside meat, the technique has been seen on egg shells and even the skins of fruit and vegetables, including avocados, melons and potatoes.

 

3. Human Body

Have you ever heard of forehead advertising? No, us neither! But some people are willing to do bizarre things to make money, one of which is getting yourself tattooed with a logo or company’s website address. The tattoos can be temporary or permanent and are not just limited to the forehead; people have sold areas of their arms, neck, chest and legs to make some serious buck! Similarly, a Japanese advertising firm recently sold advertising space on commuters armpits to a beauty treatment clinic. The advertisements measure nearly 2” x 4”, are placed in the armpit and cost approximately £68 for one hour of exposure on a commuter train or bus. We’re not sure if this advertising technique will take off in the UK but keep an eye out.

 

4. Captchas

We’re all familiar with captchas, those annoying boxes that appear on websites. They often appear when entering personal credentials to purchase something online or to access an account. A captcha will usually ask you to type a series of letters or a phrase into a box to prove that we’re not spam robots. They display text in a distorted font, a range of upper case and lower case letters or with a line straight through, supposedly making it too difficult for anything non-human to decipher. Sometimes they may even show a series of images to click on or a short video with a message at the end which you need to copy into the box. The aim is to ensure that a response is not generated by a computer, but copied by a human behind a screen and they are deemed necessary for protection against spam. While banner ads can often be overlooked and ignored, captchas require a user’s undivided attention and advertisers caught onto this. Captcha’s use of words and pictures are more often random and have no significance, but some companies have purchased captcha space to use them to advertise their names, slogans and brand. They can also include clickable links to their website and run on a PPC model or cost per impression basis. They might be irritating, but they cannot be ignored.

 

5. Hi-Jack other advertisements
Advertisements can be costly and coming up with an ad that is creative and unique can be hard work, costly and time consuming. So why not save the money and effort of designing an ad and instead deface another advertisement by placing your own label right on top of it? In Germany, Hubba Bubba adopted a questionable-at-best guerrilla advertising campaign which involved using other brands’ advertisements to display their iconic bubble gum. They hijacked billboards advertisements containing people, including a model advertising a lingerie brand, and added pink balloons with the label Hubba Bubba over their mouths to replicate a bubble gum bubble. Hubba Bubba is iconic for their creative and unusual advertisements and this type of guerrilla marketing definitely caught people’s attention.

What are some unique or clever advertising techniques you’ve come across? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Email us at info@tlc-business.co.uk.

What you need to know about LinkedIn Advertising for B2B marketing

The social platform LinkedIn, has over 500 million members, of which 260 million are logging in each month and 40% of active monthly users are using it daily. As a professional platform, the typical LinkedIn user looks for valuable content to read and uses it to make connections with businesses and other professionals. This is in marked contrast to your typical consumer behaviour on social media platforms, like Instagram or Facebook, which involves scrolling through a feed of your friends’ wedding photos, your cousin’s holiday videos and a selection of Buzzfeed quizzes. If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re looking to engage with professionals, you could be reaching millions of them every day through advertising and sharing content on LinkedIn – and the best part is, they’re far more likely to read what you have to offer.

According to recent research, LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs and 92% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as part of their digital marketing mix. What’s more, out of all B2B leads derived from social media, LinkedIn is responsible for 80%, compared to only 13% coming from Twitter and just 7% from Facebook.

With LinkedIn advertising, you’re targeting a quality audience of professionals, including the 73 million users who are senior-level influencers and 45 million decision makers.

 

How to set up self-service LinkedIn advertising
There are three main LinkedIn advertising options available through LinkedIn’s self-service advertising platform, Campaign Manager. These are Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail and Text Ads. To create an ad you will need to have a personal LinkedIn page. You simply sign in to your personal LinkedIn account, click on ‘Work’ in the menu, select ‘Advertise’ and then select ‘Create ad’. This will take you to Campaign Manager, in which you will need to create an account if you do not already have one. Campaign Manager is where you manage your adverts and access dynamic and visual reports of your ads’ performances.

 

How much does it cost?
You can control the costs of a self-service ad (Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, Text Ad) by setting up start and end dates and allocating maximum budgets. Much like Google Ads (as it is now called), you define the costs of these adverts in two ways. First, by setting a maximum daily budget, then by setting a maximum amount you want to pay for each click (CPC) or for every 1,000 impressions (CPM) your ad receives. If you choose the bidding option, Campaign Manager will suggest a bid range based on the current competing bids by other advertisers targeting the same audience. The costs of CPCs and CPMs on LinkedIn are typically more expensive than other social media platforms; however, you would expect the engagement and conversion rates to be higher.

 

Sponsored Content
Sponsored Content is a form of native advertising that appears directly in the LinkedIn feeds of the professionals you wish to target and works on both desktop and mobile. It is the preferred option for sharing rich content that you want to stand out in the news feeds of your targets and often includes either a link to an interesting article, your company website, a video or an audio clip. The natural placement of this style of advertising typically gets more engagement compared to other LinkedIn advertising methods and enables you to use more text and larger images. In order to create Sponsored Content, you must have a company LinkedIn page, as you will use content that have created or shared via your company page to turn into a sponsored post. You can choose to run your Sponsored Content ads on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM) basis.

 

Sponsored InMail
Sponsored InMail is a unique form of advertising that allows you to reach users when they’re most engaged. Through LinkedIn Messenger the Sponsored InMail will send personalised messages to targeted individuals which are only sent when they are active on LinkedIn to help the messages get noticed. It’s an effective form of advertising for sending messages with more text, including personalised invitations to webinars and other events or to promote content such as downloadable e-books and white papers. The ads work on all devices and consist of a custom greeting, call-to-action button, body text and the ability to add links in the text. Sponsored InMail ads run on a “cost per send” basis, meaning that you pay per unit for each message you send.

 

Text Ads
Alternatively, you can create Text Ads which are small, straight to the point and usually appear at the top of the LinkedIn homepage. However, they only show on desktop devices and therefore typically have a lower CPM compared to other LinkedIn ad formats. They consist of a maximum 50 x 50 pixel image, which is usually an image of a product, person or the company logo and sits alongside a maximum 75 character limit copy and 25 character limit headline, therefore the call to action must be short and concise. They are suitable for driving prospects to your company LinkedIn page or to a specific landing page on your website.

 

Dynamic Ads
LinkedIn Dynamic Ads are available to purchase through a LinkedIn Marketing Solutions representative. They only appear on desktop devices, on the right-hand side of your home page and use the LinkedIn profile image of the individual you are targeting to attract their attention. Dynamic Ads have a catchy call-to-action such as an invitation to follow a page, join a group or visit a website and there is a small space for a company logo so the prospect can identify who the ad has come from. They are effective for building engagement and followers on your company page by targeting the right prospects based on audience profiling.

 

Display Ads
LinkedIn Display Ads are only visible on desktop and can be purchased through your programmatic buying provider, through either an open auction or LinkedIn private auction. There are two options for targeting audiences with Display Ads, the first is ‘intent-based targeting’; which is used to retarget website visitors, CRM contacts, similar audiences or using your own first or third party cookie data. Alternatively, ‘professional identity targeting’ uses LinkedIn’s audience segments to reach professional audiences based on their company size, seniority, career type, education and more. Display Ads are suitable for creating engaging and eye-catching content and reaching audiences on high-traffic LinkedIn pages.

 

Why B2B marketers should think about using LinkedIn advertising
• Advertising through LinkedIn enables you to target audiences based on their company, job title, seniority, qualifications, age, gender and more. From the perspective of a B2B marketer, it has the potential to generate more focused, high-quality leads and conversions. There is a maximum of 100 selections per targeting option and you can also enable ‘audience expansion’ to increase the reach of your campaigns by showing your ads to audiences with a similar profiling to your selected target audience. Unlike Facebook Ads, LinkedIn allows you to drill down to reach more specific and targeted users based on their professional background.
• You can also test your ad methods by using A/B testing methods or by rotating ad variations to test your ads’ performances over time. You can vary your ads by changing the image, headline, text or destination to see which ad performs best.
• You can measure the success of your ads using the Campaign Manager to track the performance of clicks, impressions, costs and other metrics. The reports also provide a detailed view of the demographic categories of the LinkedIn members who saw and engaged with your ads.
• You are in control. You define what you will pay for each click or 1000 impressions and you won’t pay more than the budget you’ve set.
• Furthermore, a study by HubSpot revealed that LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rates (2.74%), compared to Twitter ( 0.69%) and Facebook (0.77%), making it the number one social network for lead generation.

 

Without a doubt, LinkedIn is the top performing lead generating social platform for B2B marketers. The advertising costs may be a little more expensive than other networks, but with LinkedIn advertising, the stats all show you are likely to get a higher quality and greater volume of leads compared to the likes of Facebook or Twitter. If you are not already utilising LinkedIn advertising, we hope we’ve given you something to think about…

GDPR – What now?

Nearly a month has now passed since the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect on May 25th and ensuring compliance is crucial going forward to avoid any costly fines. There are still many discussions and blurry lines between what you can and cannot do when it comes to controlling and processing data. Like most of us, you probably received a string of emails leading up to May 25th asking for your consent to opt-in to further communications or to update your preferences, but you may have also noticed that some businesses did not send you an ‘opt-in’ email, but instead something along the lines of ‘We have updated our Privacy Policy’. Here are two possible explanations why they did not send you an email requesting your ‘opt-in’:

either

1. they have already got record that you have previously and actively given your consent

or

2. they are processing your data under the basis of legitimate interest.

 

What is a legitimate interest?

The legitimate interest is a clause under the GDPR which allows for the processing of data without gaining consent, providing there is a balance of interests from both the data processor and the individual. Examples of this include working in the same or similar industry where there may be a balanced interest in the services or products, the individual is an existing client or customer, or when the processing of data is absolutely necessary for legal obligation. Providing the data is not processed in a way that is unrelated to that relationship, you may continue to send communications based on legitimate interest unless the individual opts-out.

In light of GDPR, businesses should have an updated Privacy and Cookie Policy to explain how they collect, manage and use your data, which will also explain the emails you may have received notifying you of their updated policies. A business should explain in their Privacy Policy the legal basis of processing your data, whether that be legitimate interest, consent or both.

For B2B marketers and email marketing in particular, there are some particularly crucial boundaries regarding the email addresses you can and cannot send to under the basis of legitimate interest. You can continue to send to email addresses providing they are a Limited company, a Limited Liability Partnership, or a partnership in Scotland or a Government department, and you are sending an email to a business email address. However, if the person you are emailing is a sole trader or works in a partnership, even if you are sending the email to their work email address and there is legitimate interest, you will require an initial opt-in from them to do so.

 

Completing a Legitimate Interests Assessment

The processing of data based on legitimate interest is a credible alternative where gaining consent is not an option; however, we advise that data controllers undertake a Legitimate Interests Assessment (LIA). This process consists of a series of questions that help you to determine whether the processing of data under Legitimate Interests is viable and if it is, demonstrates that there is a balance of interests between the two parties. You should go through the LIA process each time you plan to newly process personal data under Legitimate Interests.

If you have any questions about regarding GDPR and how affects your marketing, contact us on 01962 600 147 or email info@tlc-business.co.uk.

What SMEs need to know for effective marketing in 2016 – seminar summary

Last week, TLC Business held our annual marketing seminar at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, but with a slight twist. We teamed up with Simon Harmer and his company Blown Away to deliver an inspirational session for businesses looking to get their marketing up and running.

This year, the focus was to ‘Get Your Marketing in Order for 2016’, and this blog will outline the main themes explored on the day, just in case you missed it!

Social media

With social media now firmly embedded into all our lives, it is clearly of big importance to us marketers. To help you succeed in your social media exploits, here are some top tips:

  1. Make sure your timing’s are on point. Many businesses fail to engage with their social media audience because they are posting at the wrong times. There are now a variety of scheduling platforms such as Buffer that suggests the best times to post updates for your business – so take advantage!
  2. Get your business on the right platforms. If you’re looking to build meaningful B2B connections and the ability to forge lasting business relationships, then LinkedIn consistently comes out on top as your best bet. In contrast, if you’re a B2C organisation and are looking to drive audience engagement and ultimately sales, then Facebook tops the list.
  3. Ensure that your posts have that ‘visual’ appeal. Posts that contain an image are 94% more likely to be shared than ones that don’t. Many marketers miss out on this simple trick that can increase social media engagement and reach dramatically!
  4. Posting the same content to all channels can become a bit tedious for your audience if they are present on each platform. Take advantage of the respective strengths of each social media platform and post content accordingly.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is still perceived by many as a bit of a dark art. Despite constant algorithm updates, there are still opportunities to play the SEO game effectively and win.

Google is increasingly positioning itself as an ‘answers engine’. The advent of mobile has also put the cats amongst the pigeons (excuse the pun for those SEO geeks out there!) meaning there are even more opportunities to make your local business standout from the crowd.

Tips:

  1. Ensure that Google Analytics and Webmaster tools are installed and active on your website. Combined they will give you all the information you need (and more!) to get your website to be the best it can be. Google Webmaster tools will tell you what terms your site is being found for in Google, as well as identify any aspects of your site that are holding it back.
  2. Take full advantage of Google’s Keyword Planner to help inform the decision making process behind the keywords you choose to optimise your website pages for. And remember, keywords don’t have to be one word; they can effectively be phrases too.
  3. If you only do a few things SEO related on your website, make sure two of them are creating unique meta titles and descriptions optimised for the keyword-focus for each particular page.
  4. Get involved with Google Developer for page speed insights and how accessible on desktop or mobile your website is. Google gives marketers an insight into the loading speeds of their website, and will also give tips on how to increase load speed times. Alongside this, Google Developer provides a mobile-friendly test that will give marketers the tips and improvement suggestions they need to make their site better for mobile users.

PPC

96% of Google’s revenue comes from PPC ads, so clearly PPC is an important tool for them. We are sure you must be aware of the ads that populate Google’s search results pages! Statistics show that the top 3 ads on each search page receive 46% of traffic. PPC click-through rates are also shown to be 10 times higher than organic search clicks.

So what influences a good PPC ad? Each ad on every search page is ranked by Google. One’s ad rank is based on their cost-per-click and quality score. Your ads quality score has the ability to make or break your campaigns success. The quality score is made up of your ads click through rate, alongside your ads relevance to the keyword and your landing page’s relevance to the targeted keyword. The more relevant the better!

Tips:

  1. Make your ad text as relevant as possible to the keyword and ensure your landing page is targeted at that keyword too! Try getting your landing page’s URL to include the keyword in too.
  2. Get retargeting. Retargeting has given us marketers another tool to boost our marketing with. With retargeted visitors 70% more likely to convert, it doesn’t come as a surprise that retargeting is another highly effective marketing technique. To put it in its most simple form, retargeting is the practice of serving display ads to people who have previously engaged with your brand. It is vital for marketers looking to increase marketing results in 2016, helping to drive sales and increase brand awareness.  The numbers are compelling. Statistics have shown that retargeted ads receive a 0.70% click-through rate, compared to just 0.07% for regular display ads. Following this, brand search exposure can increase by over 1000%, just from retargeting. With this in mind, retargeting is a must for 2016!

E-marketing

With 2.6 billion email users worldwide, it doesn’t come as a surprise that e-marketing is still a massive hit with marketers. It is reported that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25, providing yet more reason for you to start thinking about promotion through email if you haven’t done so already.

The popularity of email marketing is continuing to grow, and more email scheduling platforms are being introduced. Platforms such as Campaign Monitor, ReplyApp and MailChimp are great tools for creating, scheduling and managing marketing email campaigns.

Tips:

  1. Use email marketing platforms such as Campaign Monitor to split test each email campaign. This will allow you to identify what content and approach is most effective at meeting your objectives and enables you to continually refine and improve on what works best.
  2. Personalisation is key! Send emails that are personalised to the recipient. Include their name in the subject line, reference topics and include content that they have expressed in interest in. This will not only help build better relationships between your business and consumer, but it will be demonstrable through better engagement and open rates.
  3. Make the email content mobile-friendly, that way the emails can be accessed by a wider audience.

Content Marketing

Creating and sharing content that engages your audience (Content Marketing in a nutshell!) is now a vital component of the marketing mix for marketers. New and fresh content should be published regularly. What regularly looks like depends on your audience. For B2B marketers, 26% post news and updates multiple times a week.

92% of businesses that use social media, use it as a tool to present content. Email is another vital content distribution tool.  LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube make up the top 3 for effectiveness when sharing content, but all have different advantages and disadvantages; therefore it’s important to make sure your content is tailored to your different channels.

Top Tools

With 2016 approaching, what are the top tools for more effective marketing? We have identified Datananas as a potentially effective tool for those looking to build their professional database, with its ability to export LinkedIn users and their contact information from LinkedIn without the need to be connected to them.

Other platforms like Buffer have also popped up on the radar, with its unique imaging software – Pablo! Brands are now able to upload an image of their choice and add text to it, making each social media post unique and eye-catching for their audience.

SumoMe is another top marketing tool for 2016, incorporating a series of apps all designed to get your website and content working. The toolbox includes on page analytics, free traffic for your site, image sharer and a smart bar that will increase your number of email subscribers – amazing!

What else is there to add to the marketing tool list? Google’s Webmaster Tools crops up again! As mentioned before, Google’s Webmaster Tools is a vitally important tool for anyone with a website. With the ability to understand your site’s organic search performance, as well as providing tips and tricks on how to get more traffic, the tool is a must.

One New Year’s resolution for you – download these marketing tools!

So, what matters for SMEs?

We think the top 5 themes that SMEs should consider in 2016 are:

  1. Content is king – still!
  2. Analytics
  3. Personalisation
  4. Online ads
  5. Video

We hope you find this useful and would like to thank everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

UK businesses are going social in 2011

FacebookResearch indicates that a third of UK companies have now signed up to online networks. We all know about the big B2C companies such as Starbucks, Pringles and Adidas, who offer their audiences a strong presence on social media sites.  So what makes them so successful? Their use of Facebook fan page features to promote complimentary social media and advertising campaigns demonstrates a commitment to engage with their target audiences through proactive online interaction on popular social media channels.
Most recently, Adidas ran an exclusive Facebook contest where a fan could win an all-expenses-paid house party. What made this campaign so successful was that Adidas chose to work alongside MTV, a partner that echoed the Facebook user demographic, forming a perfect partnership. Adidas also promoted the contest on their fan page before and after the campaign. Once they had chosen the lucky winner, they used their page to share the fan’s blog posts, photos and videos from the party. This resulted in further fan engagement and interest.  Adidas and MTV used the power of social media after the event as a follow up tool, which offered added value to fans. Followers could see how the campaign played out, start to finish.

Fan pages such as these are actively engaging with companies’ target demographic. These pages have creative content, two-way communication, active discussion boards, images and videos. Facebook pages present an exciting platform for brands to directly engage with their existing and past customers and generate new ones. Case studies indicate that the more time you invest in your brand’s Facebook page, the better response you’ll get.

So you may be thinking, how does a Facebook page relate to my business? Every day we are asked the question, ‘Isn’t Facebook for friends and big consumer brands, how can I use social media in a B2B environment?’ Every organisation, no matter what sector is selling an idea. It might be associated with a product or less tangible like: ‘you should invest in our company’, ‘we need your donations’, ‘we’re a great place to work or volunteer’, or ‘we promise to take care of the planet and be good corporate citizens’. These are ideas that require social interaction and social media seems the perfect platform to facilitate it.

Deloitte, one of the big 4 consultancies, are a well known B2B player on Facebook. Deloitte annually recruit over 1000 new people. They know that in their industry recruitment is key, as human resources are their main asset, and they use Social Media to recruit as well as retain employees. Through a heavy presence on Facebook they are able to connect their employees together, and identify students from the best universities.

Deloitte produced another great example of a powerful Facebook campaign. To get their staff to reflect on Deloitte’s business culture and values, Deloitte launched a Deloitte Film Festival competition in which workers in their US offices were invited to submit short videos answering the question: “What’s your Deloitte?”. The campaign was a huge success with the videos posted on YouTube receiving 400,000 views.

As a business focused on working with SMEs, we know it is often difficult to find the time to focus your efforts on building your social media presence, as well as generating ideas for interesting content. Here are a few tips to help you get started in producing a successful social media channel for your business.

1. Use your own unique brand image on your profile. Use images and content that reflects the values of your business. It is common knowledge that the ‘about us’ and ‘meet the team’ pages  are often the most viewed pages of a website. Your Facebook page is an excellent platform to introduce your team.

2. Post relevant and industry related content.  Interesting content is required to keep people engaged. Use links to blogs, articles and videos that are relevant to your industry to supplement your own original content.

3. Start a conversation using social media. Facebook and Twitter are supposed to be interactive, participate in discussions on relevant topics or comment on someone else’s postings. Find every opportunity to start a discussion.

How to protect your business from social media

The media can be very powerful tool to promote your business. But over the last few years this important communication channel has changed dramatically. The advent and rise of social media,  the live indexing of search engines and the growing prominence of smart phones, has accelerated the speed with which ‘news’ is communicated . Millions can be reached in a matter of seconds.Social media may have brought businesses great opportunities to communicate with their markets, but the pace with which it develops, necessitates organisations consider how they will use the likes of Twitter and Facebook, without landing themselves in compromising situations. There are no guidelines, no rules, few precedents on how best to use it. They are being written as we speak.

The connection between social media and business has solidified over the last few years and it is not just the big consumer brands that are getting involved. More and more SMEs are creating Facebook business pages and setting up Twitter accounts.  As a marketing company ourselves, we highly recommend considering including social media within your marketing strategy, however, steps have to be taken to ensure that what is being said about your brand online is monitored and controlled.

Customers are increasingly using social media to air their opinions of a company or service. To get recommendations, fact find and discuss infinite topics. Businesses cannot control what is said, but unlike traditional face to face conversations, we are afforded the valuable opportunity to listen in and learn.

Trying to maintain brand reputation online, combined with higher levels of connectivity, may sound daunting for a business owner. Whilst large corporations can spend vast sums employing teams to monitor the ever expanding list of social media platforms, what can SMEs do without these big budgets? The opportunities that social media  affords small businesses mean it cannot be ignored. Indeed it should be embraced. The key is taking the necessary steps to ensure you minimise the risks when getting involved.

1. Put in place a social media policy

Effective social media polices set the guidelines, not only for what employees cannot do, but also set out best practices and activities that members of the team can do to help market the business online safely and professionally. The policy addresses the terms of usage, both during the employment relationship and after the employment relationship has ended. Social media policies prohibits the disclosure of confidential and proprietary information in postings and non-company communications. Staff members may not comment on any aspect of the business as representative s or imply representation without prior authorisation. Staff members should not to compromise the privacy of customers, colleagues, or any other affiliated party.

2. Google Alerts

It’s hard to track the reputation of your business and monitor what is being said about you on the net. One of the ways it can be done is through social media monitoring tools, a great free one is Google Alerts . Once set up, it will alert you to any mentions of keywords you have specified, such as company name, made online. It is an effective tool for gathering  both positive and negative feedback that can be responded to accordingly.

3. Make sure you commit to it

A reliable line of communication enables customers to easily feed back their questions and comments about your services or products. A simple email and mail address displayed prominently on your website and other marketing material once sufficed. However, social media has given consumers and businesses alike a platform to communicate directly in real time. Don’t ignore the opportunity to utilise this medium. Ask your audience how they want to communicate and set up the channels they use. Not every platform is necessary or appropriate. Don’t waste time and money trying to use them all. But make sure that if you do get involved you take the time and make the commitment necessary to do so effectively.

Above all else, be genuine and truthful. Over the last week or so, we have all  seen how quickly and effective social media can be at outing the truth.

 

The Rise in Digital Media – Continued

The nights are drawing in and winter is on its way, so what better time for companies looking to boost their marketing by getting online and involved in social media on the dark and dreary afternoons that we have been experiencing lately. Following on from Joshua Spencer’s presentation on digital marketing in July, we examine some more benefits to digital media and what it can do for your business.
Digital marketing is hugely effective for connecting with consumers in an interactive and engaging way. An increasing number of people are interacting and communicating within the social media sphere, and therefore investing in an online presence for your business is very important. Effective use of social media is no longer an option for companies, it‘s now a requirement.

Last week the luxury fashion brand Burberry told the Financial Times that they were investing more of their marketing budget into the digital arena, a total of 60%, more than three times the average.  In the past, Burberry relied heavily on traditional methods of marketing, such as print advertising; however they now feel that they need to be totally connected with whomever touches their brand and engaging with their audience via social media is a means of achieving this. The shift to digital marketing highlights how quickly industries are moving away from traditional methods of marketing in order to interact with consumers globally. Reaching out to consumers on multiple channels makes it more important than ever for a business to make sense of this new ‘marketing mix’

Create a two way conversation

As we have mentioned in the past, digital media can be a valuable asset not just for larger B2C organisations but also for your everyday SME. Twitter is currently dominating the marketing landscape, used by 82% of the B2B social mix. When it comes to expanding a business, “tweeting” has real value, enabling a two way conversation with customers, as well as promotion for any organisation. It is used by small businesses, as well as global companies, facilitating customer feedback, free marketing, improved brand recognition and a stronger connection with customers. Starbucks use of social media is a brilliant example of this.  The coffeehouse giant posts new offers and participates in interactive discussions with their customers about the offers on twitter daily. Computer company ComCast also offers a friendly Twitter customer support, including a photograph of the member of staff you are talking to.

Audience participation

Video is another personal yet dynamic way to engage with consumers, allowing them to participate and interact with a brand in order to obtain more information. Google recently reported that 35% of B2B marketers already using online video will increase their video budgets in the future.   A tool which is mainstream and accessible to all, video enables businesses to accumulate larger audiences quickly and effectively. The value of video is reflected in HSBC’s recent campaign. The bank held a competition for a £15,000 student bursary last year, and the decision to keep the media interactive was integral to the success of campaign. Students uploaded a 90 second video to Facebook stating why the money would help them change the world. Response to the campaign was outstanding: there were 50,000 interactions in one month and more than 2 million impressions. Check out Sprites Zero Skate ‘n’ Splash video below and HSBC’S winning entry.

This interactive YouTube video lets you instantly skip from one segment to the next, deciding exactly what you’ll see and when you’ll see it. Using keyboard keys 4 to 9, you can replay the skateboard tricks, skip others, and create your own rhythmic masterpieces.The promotional YouTube video, dreamed up by Coca-Cola Germany for Sprite Zero, minimizes branding because it’s creators “wanted the focus to be on the content and the interactivity.” They added, “This sort of video is quite different from what we at Coca-Cola usually do, in terms of ‘edginess’ and branding.”

 ‘Likes’ are not the be all and end all

Facebook is used by 67% of B2B marketers and 200 million people access Facebook via a mobile device each day.  It is guaranteed to expand your business presence on the web. However, it is also important to be careful with the type of interaction your social media attracts.  A recent study has shown that the more “likes” a brand has on Facebook, the less participation there was to a page by consumers.  A study by L2, an organisation for digital innovation, has found that the quality and not the quantity of consumers is extremely important.  Therefore, in the fast changing social media landscape, it is important for businesses to keep their pages up to date and interactive.

Another huge advantage of social media is that it is a free or low cost marketing strategy.  It brings a new dimension to an organisation’s communication – forecasts indicate traditional marketing will represent only 30% of SMB marketing budgets by 2015.  The objective of social media marketing is to draw the customer closer to your brand. Once engaged, maintaining an effective dialogue must be a priority. It is no good collecting likes, connections and followers. The real power of social media is only realised through regular communication and relationship building. Only then can your start turning followers into customers.

A Digital Christmas

We know Christmas is upon us when the Monday morning office discussion is based around Mariah Carey vs. The Pogues or Buble vs. Bieber, like it or not, Christmas is a matter of days away.  Whilst many B2B businesses look at the lead up to Christmas as an opportunity to get their house in order, for many B2Cs this is the most important time of year. With shoppers keeping tighter hold of their purse strings this Christmas, it is important for marketers, whether in the B2B or B2C sectors, to think creatively about how to use the wealth of marketing channels out there.  Here is how some more well known brands have been using social media and mobile marketing to engage with consumers this Christmas.
Mobile marketing – Santa’s little helper

Christmas is just around the corner and recent surveys have predicted a significant growth in the use of mobile this Christmas. With almost half of the UK population now owning a Smartphone, more people are turning to their mobiles for shopping research and purchasing decisions. Consumerchoices.co.uk has found that the UK alone is to spend as much on Christmas via mobile phone as the rest of Europe. The growth of mobile commerce continues to show that consumers are becoming more confident in using their mobile phones for shopping and purchasing items on the go.

The NSPCC are a great example for those thinking about mobile marketing in the lead up to Christmas. The NSPCC is once again running a seasonal campaign that will send the child (or big kid!) a ‘Letter from Santa’. The latest campaign from the NSPCC will be promoted and delivered via mobile marketing, with the charity looking to capitalise on the growth of the mobile internet in order to raise more funds in this festive period.  This year, the NCPCC have taken their traditional letter campaign a step further, a special microsite has been established, where parents will be able to order a letter from Santa for their children simply via their smartphones.

Mobile is becoming a key component in marketing and mobile advertising spend is expected to ramp up this Christmas as advertisers focus their efforts on reaching a growing, and increasingly engaged, mobile audience.

Social media this Christmas – Spread a little festive cheer

 Companies are finding new ways to talk to their consumers this Christmas. Stephen Haines, UK commercial director, Facebook, said: “Retailers are seeing more and more value from joining conversations on Facebook as a great way to hear directly from fans about what they want and what’s interesting.

“This Christmas, we’re seeing a lot of brands taking advantage of those conversations to reach not only fans but also their friends in fun, creative ways – including wish lists, gifting apps, exclusive deals and special Facebook offers. “

Facebook gives companies the forum to interact directly with their customers and for a real conversation to take place about the brand. This year Nivea launched a new Facebook campaign for Christmas, the Facebook page is designed to fit in with the skincare brand’s ‘Feel Closer’ positioning. Consumers can use the app to buy and send a friend a Nivea gift set, which will be wrapped in personalised wrapping paper featuring photos they have both been tagged in on Facebook. 

It hopes to target women aged 30-54 by encouraging the use of Facebook to share “moments of closeness” by uploading photos and liking, sharing and commenting on other people’s pictures.

Mobile service provider O2 has launched its festive social media marketing campaign, which will provide customers with a personal message from Santa. Using the social media platform, Twitter, consumers can send their messages to the O2 Santa.  O2 will then create a personal video message for the sender, which can be shared amongst friends.

This Christmas campaign has been designed to spread a little festive joy. Consumers can participate by tweeting the official O2 Twitter account, @O2 with the hashtag #O2santa. All of the video messages created will be hosted on YouTube, enabling customers to watch them again and again.

Head of social media at O2, Alex Pearmain, commented on this latest social media marketing initiative.

“Our social channels seemed the ideal platform to cheer customers up and we hope this campaign will help to cut through some of the current consumer gloom and spread some festive cheer.”

For any business owner, developing a strategy to encourage new business or shoppers back into stores for the crucial Christmas period is increasingly difficult; however, Christmas is a great time to get creative and build customer interaction, ready for the New Year. Last year, we reflected on the increase in online shopping. This year, online marketing has gone social.  So what will next year bring? Will Santa be teleporting his gifts down the chimney? We are looking forward to finding out!

Marketing Trends 2012

2012 has arrived and we are very excited! It is time to look at the challenges and opportunities ahead and start planning your marketing strategy for 2012, if you haven’t done so already.
Relationships are key

According to numerous marketing sources and we’d agree, the future of marketing lies in customer relationships. This is supported by the rise of social media, where consumers can engage with your brand at anytime. Gone are the days when companies could control external communications concerning their organisation. The power now resides with the consumer or client. Listening and responding to their needs is vital.

Traditional advertising is over

Your customer’s ability to identify whether what’s being promoted is something useful to them or just “advertising” has become infinitely more acute. According to Andrew Baird at Amazing Business, ignoring ads is at an all time high, so successful marketing relies on being shared online. Customers can then “like”, recommend and share their opinions through this medium.

Word of mouth marketing

Now more than ever, a consistent online presence is crucial to business success. Through conducting regular client surveys on behalf of our clients, TLC Business has persistently found that referrals, whether on or offline, are still a vital tool for sourcing a new service. The rise in social media activity has made it much easier for consumers to recommend or advise against a service and have their message shared far beyond their own social circles. This is further verified by the Buyersphere 2011 report on changing B2B buyer behavior, which identifies referrals as one of the most influential channels when appointing and sourcing a supplier.

Integrated on and offline

Alongside active consumer engagement, TLC Business emphasises the importance of  on and offline marketing convergence.  With all the noise about digital marketing, it is easy to forget that more traditional marketing methods can still be incredibly effective. Using both mediums together can result in greater returns on your marketing investment. Integral to successfully implementing this strategy is ensuring all your marketing efforts support each other, working in unison, rather than each independently in its own bubble. For successful integration, make sure online and offline business campaigns are consistent, coherent and in sync with each other.

QR codes

TLC Business’ Director, Josh Spencer, believes that 2012 will be the year QR codes finally realise their potential and become more widely used. For those that haven’t heard, QR is short for Quick Response. These barcodes are used to take a piece of information from an advertisement or product and transfer it to a mobile device. For small businesses, this code can be added to a wide variety of marketing material, including: stationery, adverts, promotional items, posters, stands etc. and direct users to a specific landing page. Using this tool means that information about your business can be accessed instantaneously and at any time. Crucially, it also gives businesses a fantastic way of measuring the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tools that previously would have proved difficult.

Don’t get lazy

Don’t rest on your laurels. What has worked in the past will not necessarily prove effective today. Make sure you adopt strategies that are up-to-date with today’s “switched on” consumers and exploit the latest improvements in marketing tools and technology. For businesses looking to grow their client base and improve customer relations, developing a well rounded and relevant marketing plan is essential. In today’s fast moving society, marketing strategies should be constantly evolving and changing; tools that were successful in 2011, may not be as effective in 2012.

Do your homework

The beginning of a new year also allows business owners the opportunity to diversify their marketing. Research shows that 57% of entrepreneurs interviewed said that marketing was their top priority this year. SMEs that want to continue to build their reputation in the marketplace in 2012 must be aware of consumer needs. Experimenting with different channels will enhance your opportunities, so what better time to try new approaches. Determine those channels that are most profitable and those that aren’t. The New Year marks a time for change, and small businesses are no exception. By refreshing your marketing strategy, you can breathe new life into your business and make 2012 a great your for your business.

We are looking forward to joining you on your journey!