October 22, 2014

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The difference between design and advertising

Graphic design is the creation of visual order and meaning. It’s about bringing harmony and consistent principles to bear on the many different ways an organisation expresses itself.  It’s about rules.

Advertising is about disruption. It’s about standing in the marketplace and making everyone stop and turn their heads. Once you have their attention, you can deliver your message (which probably involves selling something).

These are two very different tasks.

Complicating matters is the fact that graphic designers often work as advertising art directors, and vice versa. Their technical skillsets – typography, image creation, page layout and art buying – are the same. They often graduated from the same courses and learned a lot about brand identity in the course of their training. Where they differ is in the way they work.

Read full article here

October 20, 2014

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Words are cheap. That’s what makes them valuable.

Luxor-649-Red-Finewriter-Ball-Pen_9000006622-300x257A successful film director once gave a piece of advice to aspiring filmmakers.

The gist of it was simple: you don’t have money but you do have words.

To put it another way – treat your time as a penniless outsider as an opportunity to hone and polish your script.

Don’t fret about lack of resources. Don’t turn your idea into a draft and then hawk that precious first draft around the industry as if it were the finished product. Instead, focus on making the script utterly compelling. Revise, rethink, polish and refine.

Read full article here

November 28, 2013

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Discontent is the Father of Progress

How is it that so many lending institutions in NZ failed and couldn’t get back up, when GE Money held its ground and became stronger in 2009?

It was a hard time for most New Zealanders and businesses as we watched in horror as another bank collapsed like a broken building around us. Financial institutions were the foundation stone of our needs, upon which nothing was safe.

During these tough times, there is still opportunity.

GE Money used the necessary cost cutting exercise to flip the challenge on its head. How do we become closer to our customers during this time of fear and mistrust? How do we become more customer centric?

The last thing they thought would achieve this would be to close branches. Branches offered trust, security, safety presumably? Yet, the necessary closure of branches freed GE to develop a new way to do lending.

1) Instead they invested in a stronger, local call centre that were trained to much higher rigorous standards to ensure that customers could get the same personal, dedicated experience they would expect from a branch.

2) They invested in online systems, looking for the fastest way to approve lending, but maintaining the strong risk policies that had sured the company from failure in the first place.

3) They reviewed processes and procedures that were developed at the branches and cut out unnecessary steps – and delegated lending authority to the trained and skilled operatives on the phone instead of requiring GE Head Office approval for each application.

4) They extended call centre opening hours, so that customers could contact them during their preferred times, rather than during branch opening hours.

What happened? Customers were delighted by the great service, the fast response to their application and the ability to now contact the business 24/7. There were a number of customers who wanted to stay with face to face connections locally who moved to other providers, but in 12mths, GE Money recouped more customers than it had lost. With faster, more cost efficient and customer centric solutions GE not only survived the global financial crisis, but came out stronger and better placed than it had before it happened.

So the message?

Tough times are often the best times to innovate. Often all you can achieve at the top is complacency and a line of people ready to knock you off. A challenge is definitely an opportunity if you look at it and make it better. For smaller businesses this is a real and an every day challenge. Fixing something that is broken and putting it back to how it was is pointless – the world would have moved on.

If it’s broken, or you suspect it could break very soon, take it apart and put it back together in a new way that will make it stronger and better than it ever was before.

April 28, 2013

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A bit of small-business inspiration

It’s your marathon – run it!

People say to me starting a business is hard.

Starting a business isn’t hard at all – you get an idea, a shop and you put your clever hat on and you build a business. Starting a business is fun, it lifts your energy and you create something that is all your own.

Staying in business is the hard part. Once the creative piece is done, once you have your fabulous products and services and your doors are open and your friends and family have patted you on the back for a job well done, then the hard part begins.

Someone one said to me that running a business should be approached like a marathon, rather than a sprint. Having never moved my perfectly rounded self 42 kilometers in anything other than a car, I did have to speak to a qualified and experienced marathon runner to explain.

He said ‘You just keep going through the couple of km’s that is tough because the fatigue drops away, the pain disappears and then you are enjoying it again. You just push through it. It is a mental game more than anything – your mind controls how successful you are.’

I think the analogy is perfect. What keeps me going for my business is inspiration – the people on the sidelines shouting at me to push through the fatigue and get back to the exciting part of the journey again, or inspiring stories from people who had trodden that path before.

Of all those people, there could not be one more powerful for me than the late Steve Jobs. Here is what he says about being in business, and I hope it provides some inspiration for everyone at whatever stage of business they are in.

written by Louise Maxwell

April 25, 2013

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Can you afford a Marketing Team?

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What is the cost of a Marketing Team in NZ?

Most switched on businesses know that marketing is critical to the performance of their business. It’s not just promotion or telling people about your products and services, but it is how you engage your customers and how they interact with you that goes to contribute to your success.

In a recent survey, MichaelPage assessed the typical salaries of marketing experts in Auckland.
So what do they cost and what do you get?

A junior marketer – probably an expert in social media will likely set you back between $40 – 55k. This is an entry level role and you should expect minimal experience. That said, at this level you can pick up some very bright graduates ready to implement their sharp ideas in your business.

A Marketing Coordinator will have the ability to work on a plan directed by someone else. This is an execution role and you can expect a high standard of work of someone who can procure and execute all your marketing plans. They can manage budgets and send out press releases – setting you back around $55-80k pa.

But what if you want someone to really shake things up? Some marketing managers are little more than coordinators in small businesses and take the career jump but in reality lack the experience to be able to drive a business. You could maybe get an entry level marketing manager for between $75 – 90k in Auckland, but if you are really looking for some genuine experience and advice, you’ll be expected to pay around $110k starting out for a Full Time experienced marketing manager. The range will go up to $150k in Auckland for someone with product and sales knowledge.

If you want to shift your business and ensure that you stay profitable, relevant and continue to grow and engage your customer base, then you need a marketing director. Typically it is hard to get them out of bed for less than $150, but you could easily pay up to $220k for a well experienced Marketing Director to ensure the future of your business.

Of course, generally speaking you will need a team of people – a Digital expert ($90 – $120k) a Brand manager ($90k) and a Social Media marketer ($55-75K) on top of your team of directors, managers and coordinators. If you are succession planning, you’ll be likely to bring in a couple of executives to train them up ready to fill the shoes of your coordinators who decide they are ready to leap into management.

Your marketing team could easily be costing around $1M in salaries for good, experienced staff in Auckland.
So what’s the alternative?

Outsourced marketing is a growing trend in New Zealand and around the world.  Growing businesses are tapping into marketing talent on an ‘as and when required’ basis, instead of employing the staff full time in their businesses. This has the dual effect of keeping costs low and also meaning that experienced marketers are working across various organisations, developing new insights and skills that can be used effectively in a business.

Max Marketing is one such organisation, with an every growing team of marketing specialists available to work on a project or short term basis on your business.

To find out more, go to maxmarketing team