Category Archives: Social

e-commerce – it’s crowded out there …

shopping malls

In the world of e-commerce, it can be difficult to become known, seen or heard, particularly if you’re an SME without deep pockets to spend on the marketing machine.  There’s so much activity in the digital world that, as a customer, it’s a little like going down a high street with rows of shops that are thousands deep and thousands of storeys high, each offering different goods – and somehow you have to find what you want without a map.

This means that helping your customers find you has never been more important.  Whether it’s PR or celebrity endorsement, e-mail or TV, the need for publicity and marketing through multiple channels is an increasingly essential element for businesses in the world of e-commerce.

A friend of mine had seven siblings – and, as a child, getting the attention of one of her parents when they were all together at mealtimes could be tough.  Her tactics ranged from shouting to crying to getting up and quietly speaking directly into an ear.

Which is just like marketing.  Broadcast, social media, PR and advertising all offer an opportunity to be heard by your target market – if they’re listening.  But sometimes it can be helpful to deliver a personal or private message directly into the ear of the individual you are targeting.  That’s what direct marketing is about – whether it’s email, direct mail, telephone or social.  And it’s even more powerful if used in combination with an awareness-generating channel in the first place so that there’s recognition when the direct marketing message is received.

For me, that’s the challenge and fun of multi-channel marketing – using all the relevant resources available to get your message across, and making the message relevant to specific individuals.  And with the sheer volume and detail of data available now, there’s no real reason not to do an exceptional job of identifying, understanding, targeting and reaching your customers with appropriate messages and offers.

Even better, you can actually measure the results and see how wisely you’ve spent your budget – an essential part of planning your next campaign.

In our marketing and data consultancy, Tuffill Verner Associates, we have helped businesses generate awareness and sales both on and offline.  With over 30 years experience we provide results-driven, data-led, clear, tailored practical and creative advice to businesses who want to make the most out of their marketing activity.

If you’d like to chat about your business issues, please call Victoria on 01787 277742 or email victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

 

Social behaviour – tread softly…

Tread softly

I have spread my dreams under your feet                                Tread softly because you tread on my dreams                                         

W.B. Yeats

This is one of my favourite quotations, not only because it is excellent advice, but also because it is a pertinent reminder of just how fragile people are.

There seems to be an increasing acceptance of basic rudeness throughout our daily lives – in social media, online forums and discussions, at work and at play.  But it’s worth remembering that, regardless of how logical they may seem on the surface, people are basically driven by emotion. Which makes it just too easy to shatter dreams, whether those of a client, an employee or a colleague or a friend. 

This can be particularly destructive in the workplace where even a simple dream – perhaps a desire to learn, do well, be appreciated, contribute, be promoted, or just take pride in ones work – can be broken by a careless remark or, worse, ongoing inconsiderate behaviour.

And a worrying amount of dream-crushing is due to thoughtless behaviour, and is therefore both unnecessary and cruel.  Worse still, an insensitive act may, at heart, have nothing to do with the particular individual whose dream is being trampled. In too many cases, it can be the pressure of work or problems at home or inherent selfishness which cause inappropriate behaviour and slights to colleagues and direct reports.

Some of the signs of lack of consideration and respect include:

  • not listening
  • not saying please or thank you
  • talking over people in meetings or during presentations
  • being late for meetings or calls
  • an ill-considered put-down
  • insulting or rude behaviour
  • knowing better but not explaining why
  • always being right – even when wrong
  • ignoring others’ views and opinions
  • not bothering to communicate

This behaviour is impolite at best, unkind at worst, and, when ongoing, is extremely likely to lead to resentment and frustration.

People like to be well-thought of by people they admire.  So teaching, explaining, supporting and listening is far more likely to lead not only to enthusiasm and motivation, but also to genuine respect.

When dealing with people, it can often be helpful to flip things round 180 degrees before speaking or taking action.  Just a brief hop into the recipient’s shoes to consider their likely reaction helps with choosing the right message and even the words.  Of course it’s essential to understand what drives the individual in question so that the shoes actually fit…

This is particularly true when reviewing employees.  It’s quite feasible that a dream or ambition may need to be channelled or tempered  if it’s unrealistic in relation to an individual’s skill set.  This sort of issue obviously needs very careful handling with the ultimate aim of re-setting expectations.

But given that pride is such a key component of many human beings, this may not always be possible.  In which case, a botched attempt may be destructive both to the employee, the director or manager’s relationship with the employee, and, ultimately, the business.

It’s always worth remembering Dale Carnegie’s accurate observation:  When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Whether you agree or disagree, or if you have a story to tell, just reply below and let’s start a conversation…

Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Have a squint at  our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

Blogs … does size matter?

size doesn't matter cropped top and bottom

For bloggers, the answer lies in a question.  Why do we blog in the first place? 

There can be a myriad of reasons – from enjoyment of the process to a desire to share knowledge or help others.  But for many, blogging is a business tool, which can be used to generate awareness of the business or individual’s credibility, reputation, knowledge, approach and even personality.

Clearly, there are many ways of achieving increased readership and awareness, whether through social media and online opportunities; use of email and newsletters;   sharing, liking, following and making pertinent, relevant and interesting remarks on other people’s blogs;  guest blogging works well in both directions, especially if you can get interesting writers with credibility to contribute. These will actually increase your readership because they’ll tell all their mates and colleagues that they’ve written a guest blog – and where to find it.

“I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to write a short one”

But this particular blog is concerned with size, or length, which, combined with frequency, can be important in terms of readership.  Starting with frequency, and two aspects in particular:

  1. What do the search engines need to find you and increase your readership?
  2. What do your readers want once they’ve found you?

search engine dogSearch engines rate frequency quite highly – particularly when the blog is relatively new.  So when setting out, it’s useful to provide a blog post several times a week – aiming for quality, good headlines, good subheads, and not forgetting that search engines need key words and tags.   Getting people to comment and discuss is also extremely useful and will spread the word.

Readers, on the other hand, are less concerned with frequency – and more concerned with quality and content.  Especially if they have “followed” your blog and are receiving emails or feeds which have to stand out from all their other emails and feeds.  So, while it is helpful to write and post regularly, writing when you have nothing to say will lead to a dull blog, and readership will plummet (though surely there are enough new developments and topics every day across industries and technology to keep blogs interesting, original, relevant and useful).

As far as size or length is concerned,  the fact that the excellent quotation above has been attributed to so many individuals – from Mark Twain to Ghandi, Pascal to George Bernard Shaw and more – is evidence of its truth.

Seth Godin, in my view, has it absolutely right.  He blogs frequently, sometimes more than once a day.  But he doesn’t feel obliged to write reams every time.  He simply says something relevant, interesting and full of insight – and does so either in many or just a few lines.  As a result, I – and many others – always take the time to read his latest blog – even if only fleetingly.

That, for me as a reader, is the measure of a successful blog – relevant, insightful, and a good read.  And in those circumstances, size is only relevant in that it needs to get all the points across as neatly as possible.

Of course, you may disagree – in which case, just reply below and let’s start a debate…

Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Have a squint at  our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

Data … big data? Or back to the Dark Ages

Back in the 80s, there was this thing called “junk mail”.  And it was so called because it involved blanket mailing a mass market with little or no targeting. In other words, the message was irrelevant to a huge proportion of the recipients, so just got thrown in the bin.

Then we discovered targeting, analysis, insight and profiling.  And the direct mail messages become more appropriate, relevant, cost effective, and considerably less irritating to the consumer.  A classic case of less was more.

I remember the day that “personalised laser text” became available, and we were able to send out mailings with personally addressed letters which referenced the prospect’s other interests.  Letters that said (something along the lines of)

Dear Mrs Bloggs,

Because of your interest in the world’s wild places, we wanted to introduce you to our our brand new books which demonstrate the extraordinary and dramatic nature of our own planet earthfrom volcanoes to earthquakes …. 

The letter, including that simple piece of “personal” text, was enclosed into a small envelope with a miniscule brochure and mailed out.  It achieved over three times the response of the standard pre-printed control direct mail letter which was mailed in large envelope with enormous, heavy, expensive brochure

But now the European Union is proposing to take us back to the Dark Ages and the days of blanket mailings.  Their new proposed legislation is currently in progress, and will impact every level of prospect marketing.

It’s quite clear that the increasing use of new technology makes revisions to current data law essential, particularly given consumer concern over privacy which has not helped by our own government’s appallingly cavalier behaviour and carelessness with our personal data.  (Some of the breaches committed by government departments would have, if committed by the data industry, have caused severe punitive measures.  Somehow when it’s the government which gets it wrong, the whole thing just quietly gets swept under the carpet. Rant over…)

However, in addition to technological and social media impact, the traditional media channels will suffer significant difficulties.

A brief summary of the key areas is listed below:

  1. Explicit consent to be granted by the recipient prior to any direct marketing – either by word or by action.  In practice this means that where consent is required, organisations must ask for permission to process data.  Without such explicit permission, marketing prospects will not be allowed to receive mailings or cold telemarketing calls.  Current legislation allows such mailings and / or calls to be made unless the prospect has actively opted out.
  2. The customer has the “right to be forgotten” – ie they can insist that their details are emoved from a database in their entirety.  This is entirely impractical.  Once deleted, when or if that customer appears again on the database (if, for example, rented from a third party list, or in the event that the customer makes another purchase), the customer’s request for deletion will have vanished.  So in practice, the “right to be forgotten” should trigger the inclusion of that customer into a ”suppression” or “do not mail” file so that there is no inappropriate future contact.
  3. Profiling or segmentation may not take place without consent.  This will have serious impact on those data businesses which hold shared transactional data from multiple companies, or geo-demographic data, or indeed simply work with marketing profiling models.
  4. List broking is likely to require significant changes to comply with new legislation.
  5. The definition of personal data has been extended to include, potentially, IP addresses and some cookies.  Quite apart from the fact that an IP address or cookie may be used by a number of individuals, this will make it much more difficult for businesses to analyse and profile web activity.  The impact on digital marketing will be significant and, arguably (given that there will be no ability to provide relevant, targeted marketing) counter-productive.
  6. Cost:  DMA (UK) Ltd research shows that complying with the proposed regulation could cost companies an average of £76,000 each. It estimates a total loss to UK industry of up to £47 billion in lost sales.  These costs come, in part, from:
  • Companies with 250 or more employees will need to appoint a data protection officer
  • Under current legislation, subject access requests can be charged at £10 each.  Under the proposed new legislation, this charge is to be eliminated. This is likely to result in increased numbers of requests.  In addition to the lost revenue from existing volumes of which is likely to increase the number of requests, frivolous and serious.
  • Every organisation that suffers a data security breach would have to notify Information commissioner within 24 hours
  • Right to compensation from the controller or the processor in the event of processing activity causing damage to a person
  • Increased fines / sanctions to be imposed

On the face of it, the picture looks pretty bleak.  But there’s no need to despair just yet – there is time to provide our views on required adjustment, amendment and refinement  before these proposals are ratified and become law in the UK.

But for that to happen, businesses need to act now.  There is a fantastically detailed amount of excellent information to be found at the DMA (UK) Ltd.     So have a look and check to see how the current proposals are likely to affect your business and your marketing.

Then we need to write to our MEPs – and the DMA has made this easy by providing this link which has all the vital information, including who your MEPs are.   We need to ask them to fight for the fair interests of business.

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, views, tips or knowledge, please  just “reply” below. Victoria Tuffill – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 or  07967 148398.   Feel free to visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked In, and Twitter

Direct marketing – 13 communication channels …

Puffins larger and croppedThere’s a lot of huffing and puffin-g around marketing, even down to definitions of words and phrases. Take Direct Marketing, which seems to have a variety of definitions, including the very limited perception that it is just another name for Direct Mail.

Regardless of channel, direct Marketing is really all about communication. The Wikipedia definition states:Direct marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and non-profits organisations to communicate straight to the customer.

Shouting loudly in public may generate awareness, but it won’t generate effective engagement.

Direct marketing is indeed channel-agnostic. And effective direct marketing needs to be targeted to a specific audience, with the individual marketing communication (through whatever channel) written and designed for the group of individuals who will receive it.

Direct marketing should also generate some kind of measurable reaction or response from the recipient – whether that be to visit (and buy from) a store, website or social media platform; to reply to an email, or to place an order by post, online, mobile or telephone.

Measuring the response to direct marketing activity can be challenging if the desired reaction is less tangible than, for example, an actual purchase or physical response to the marketer.

Over the next months we’ll cover the main channels in our blog, including the top thirteen which are (in no particular order):

  1. Direct Mail
  2. Email
  3. Online
  4. Mobile / smartphone
  5. Telephone
  6. Press advertising
  7. Inserts and product despatches
  8. Social Media
  9. Billing and loyalty devices / vouchers
  10. Direct Response TV
  11. Direct sales (eg Tupperware parties)
  12. Door drops
  13. Content marketing

The disciplines behind direct marketing carry through all of these channels. Regardless of whether you are mailing, calling, advertising or selling online, the key elements of a successful direct marketing campaign are:

  1. Data quality and accuracy (postal address, email address, telephone number, mobile number)
  2. Understanding the customer or prospect (purchase history, demographics, geography, lifestyle and affluence profiles)
  3. Turning data, analysis and research into insight, to ensure appropriate marketing, relevant list and media selection (online and offline); appropriate selection of channels and channel integration
  4. Determining offer and price
  5. Creating copy and design (which will need to be specific to each channel)
  6. Budgeting, including break-even metrics and “what-if” scenarios to evaluate and establish required financial performance
  7. Forecasting response and financial performance based on history and recent evidence
  8. Measuring performance regularly and ongoing
  9. Proactively developing and refining marketing strategy based on performance
  10. Maintaining appropriate levels of service and quality

Finally, there is a great deal of talk about integrated marketing, and while it’s an excellent start to have cohesive brand and messaging delivered through all channels, there’s more to it than that.

Targeting relevant customers through relevant channels based on what the customer wants – while allowing them to respond through their own channel of choice (which may be different again) is a vital part of any successful direct marketing campaign.

The channels should interact in a way designed to ensure engagement – maybe by moving consumers across the channels, for example from TV to social media platforms, like Daz, Innocent, Aero and by getting them involved in alternative or more complex storylines, or voting for favourite characters or flavours, or entering competitions etc. This is the sort of behaviour that engenders brand engagement, affection and loyalty.

More puffins croppedVictoria Tuffill       01787 277742     07967 148398   victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

new heading for consultancy

Linked in logo twitter logo

Social media, offline and online media … joining the dots

Because social media is so relatively young, and fast moving, there is a view that it doesn’t need to follow traditional marketing rules.   This is simply not the case.

Social media is a fantastic marketing opportunity for businesses today – whether it’s  b2b, b2c, b2b2c or c2c.  But social plans built without a solid strategic foundation are doomed to failure. The building blocks are critical, and should include marketing strategy, target audience, customer and prospect communication, channel choices, content and integration with the overarching brand principles.  Any social media campaign should also be integrated with other online and offline channels such as print, telemarketing, DRTV, press ads, sales promotion or PR.

In my view, joining the dots between social media and any existing or new media channels, (whether online or offline) is critical.

There are six key elements in the social media process:

  1. Strategy
  2. Marketing planning
  3. Marketing implementation and integration
  4. Ongoing engagement and responsiveness
  5. Considering social media data
  6. Measuring results

If a business wants to develop a social media presence, it needs to allocate the time and resource to ensuring that these steps are managed.  Also, as part of the engagement strategy, just like any other marketing channel, regular social media activity needs to be scheduled and delivered.  It is also worth considering that social media operates 24 / 7, so there will be a need for businesses to consider how to monitor customer posts that occur out of hours and at weekends.

Joining the dots

Social media marketing needs to be integrated into existing online and offline  marketing activity, keeping the social media channels and messaging consistent, and producing a fully rounded, integrated marketing story for a brand.  To achieve this, consideration needs to be given to the brand itself, the company’s values, the overall marketing strategy, budgets (both in terms of money and resource), measurable goals, social strategy, and customer communications.  It is also essential to explore the key metrics and the end goals of the business before starting the process – whether that’s gaining customers, making sales, or revenue, donations or profit.

Strategy

The critical starting point part is the strategy, which requires thought, commitment and understanding of the business’s audience, and how best to communicate with prospects and customers.  What is the size of the market?  Any trends to be aware of? Who are your customers and prospects?  What are their needs?  What and why do they buy?  How much do they spend?  What does the competition look like?

Once that research is complete, you can begin to work out the communication strategy – how can you best make a connection with your specific target audience?  What are your brand values?  How to do you want to communicate with your customer or prospect – offline? online?  What should your website look like?  Is TV appropriate?  Or print?   Which social media best fit your goals?  Where and how is your audience they likely to engage with you?  Facebook?  Or Pinterest?  Or Google Plus?  Or You Tube?  Or a combination of all of them?  Is it about competitions, or building a network?  Understanding the demographics of the various social media channels is every bit as critical as creative, which – no matter how clever or witty or engaging – will fall on deaf ears if it’s inappropriately targeted.

Having made that decision, how can you link them all together into one over-arching message?  For me, social media is about creating an ineractive buzz – it’s about moving the conversation throughout the marketing channels both online and offline – teasing your customers into engaging with you – developing a brand and story, interrupting the story and moving it across channels all the time making the process fun, engaging and interactive.

Once you have engaged your audience, the job becomes increasing reach while maintaining engagement levels, coming up with fresh material and content … with the ultimate goal of making it easier and more appealing for your audience to buy from you.  And that’s the secret – you need to make them want to buy from you, recommend you to their friends and connections, talk about you.

Fully rounded activity

Having worked out which social media to integrate into your marketing activity, and how to make them engaging, build a calendar of events, posts, content and links.  And stick to it.  If you’re not able to guarantee you can keep the momentum going, don’t even think about social media.  It’s time-consuming, and can become a costly waste of time and resource if adopted on an ad-hoc basis.

Keep the activity alive – here are a couple of examples, both clever, with one slightly flawed, the other excellent:

Don’t fail to deliver on your promises

Daz has a great concept on Facebook where there’s a storyline developed along a soap opera theme involving characters from Cleaner Close.  The campaign works across channels – Daz’s Dive DRTV ad   pushes viewers to Facebook to see how the dive ends up.  BUT in this instance, Daz fails to deliver.  Though they draw viewers into the soap opera storyline, the dive is not shown in the video clip … which has clearly upset viewers who took the trouble to “comment” and express their disappointment.

A great example from Innocent

Then there’s the Innocent website – excellent in that it reflects the brand’s core values, is simple and clear to read, with great sales promotion concepts such as the Big Knit, great characters and strong links to Facebook and their blog.  It even has a link heading called “Bored?” – irresistible!

For me this is a great example of making social media work for a product which is essentially an impulse purchase.  It engages customers, builds loyalty, and keeps them coming back for more.  Not only is it fun, but it’s healthy too!   They bring the characters to life and engage their customers by running votes and competitions, their blog brings the story to life, and they pursue their brand values through charitable donations and links.

What’s clear about this activity is that it was not thought up in a day.  It was carefully planned and developed, the characters took time and budget to develop, and the activity is regularly managed and kept up to date.  In particular, there is a clear strategy and branding which is consistent through all Innocent’s marketing activity, both online and offline.

It is businesses who approach their social media strategy in such a way who will enjoy the greatest success.

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, views, tips or knowledge, please  just “reply” below.

Victoria Tuffill – Partner Tuffill Verner Associates – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk 

 01787 277742 or  07967 148398.  

Feel free to visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked InTwitter  and Google+

Social media, email … and clownfish

The special relationship between social media and email is similar to that of  brightly-coloured clown fish and the sea anemone.  It’s quite straightforward … the anemone doesn’t sting the clown fish … the clown fish aggressively protects the sea anemone’s (and its own) territory.  The anemone catches and eats the food … the clown fish eats the leftovers – which in turn keeps their habitat clean.  And, because its fins fan furiously while it whizzes around, the clown fish also improves water circulation.  All in all, a very satisfactory relationship which allows improved survival of each party.

Social media and email 

Social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and the like) and email marketing have an equally symbiotic relationship.  They both provide a means of sharing information in real time, through words, images, video, audio, links and attachments.  To be successful, both require strong communication skills and interesting content.

So whether you want to use email to improve engagement on your social media activity, or use social media to highlight your latest newsletter or article and encourage your audience to read it – each can be used to support the other very effectively.  And the end result is pure gold.  This article focuses on b2b, but the same is equally true of b2c which will be covered separately.

Using email to support social media – case study

For example, if you are trying to get a message across or generate engagement from your social media activity, you can achieve a terrific impact just by sending personal emails to your contacts, connections, friends, followers, circles etc.

Last week I ran a poll on a few LinkedIn groups – nothing mind-blowing, I just wanted to get a rough feel for the longevity of a mobile phone number in relation to ‘contactability’ for a client’s telemarketing campaign.

In one group I wrote a personal email to each of my 1st connections asking them to vote, comment and / or like.  The results so far are excellent, with a response rate of 94% in terms of 1st connection votes (within 5 days), of which 50% also commented and 15% shared.

In addition (or as a result) my LinkedIn profile was viewed 7 times more than normal, primarily by non-connections.  These views were of greater relevance to my goals than the normal visitors who drop by.  So the end result has been to gain not only information on a poll, but also high quality, relevant new connections.  And this was simply because I was able to use email to interact with my strongest connections, who, by being decent enough to respond and share, encouraged others to do so too.

94% of 1st connections voted, new profile views increased by 7 times, number of connections increased by 9.4 times

If implemented well, and as long as you don’t wear out your connections, friends, circles or followers, this tactic is effective across social media. It also benefits from being absolutely measurable, while increasing your reach, and driving that all-important engagement. Which takes you a long stride down that the path towards meeting your ultimate business objectives, whether they be as simple as brand awareness, information, charitable donations, sales, ROI or just contacts.

 Using social media to promote your email marketing

So, you’ve finally put together your email newsletter.  You’ve written, edited and/or uploaded the articles, included a couple of blogs, got your guest writer to write something meaningful, found some decent images or videos to support what you’re saying, written a case study or two – and it’s ready to go.

So you mail it out to your email list.  But you’d like more people to read it, share it, and subscribe.  So, there are several ways of doing so.

Firstly, add it to your profile.  You just need to go to “Edit Profile” and you’ll find  Publications – click on Add a publication, and follow the instructions.

You can do the same thing with your blogs – under Applications, add your blog  to your LinkedIn profile.  You can automatically upload each article just but including LinkedIn in the tags, and/or post it in your status bar with a brief note that pulls out the highlights and entices people to read.

Of course those techniques only work if people are viewing your profile.  So the other way to increase your readership do it is to post your article in a LinkedIn group discussion.

But just posting a blog or newsletter link under Discussions is either effective nor engaging.  It just smacks of self-promotion.  At best there will be few if any comments (time is precious, and people have enough to do without looking at yet another blog link that is pretending to be a discussion); at worst it will be moved to Promotions and nobody will look at it in any case.

So you need to create a real discussion about the subject.  And that discussion needs to be tailored to the Group into which you’re posting your link.  Most effective is to provide a brief summary of the point of the article, and ask for views, feedback or comment.  If you achieve comments, stay engaged with the discussion, thank people for commenting, and respond yourself to keep the debate going.

Oh, and it’s worth giving some thought to using email to support you in this.  Perhaps start by  emailing your closest contacts to ask them to help get the discussion moving … and you can equally do the same for them.  The results should be beneficial, and it keeps the symbiotic circle going.

And it’s always quite special when humans operate symbiotically to help each other.

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, views, tips or knowledge, please  just “reply” below.  Or if you’d like to discuss any part of the article, or we can help you in any way, just let us know.

Victoria Tuffill – Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk 

 01787 277742 or  07967 148398.  

Feel free to visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Linked InTwitter  and Google+