April 8, 2020

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You know small businesses are suffering,

You know small businesses are suffering,

But how can You help? 

It’s no secret that COVID 19 is hurting many businesses here in New Zealand and all round the world.  Stuck at home in Alert Level 4 you may be wondering how you can do your bit.

Well, here are 8 ways that you and your smartphone can support your favourite local businesses from the comfort and safety of your couch. And they don’t have to cost you a cent! 

Get active on Social Media.

Hit up their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and spread the engagement love. Many small businesses are doing their very best to get attention and will be posting regularly. If you are their customer then chances are that you are part of their target audiences and so are a lot of your friends. Your likes, comments and shares on their social media posts will help increase their brand awareness across your social network. Helping with the organic reach of pages will also help their promoted posts go further.

Get active on LinkedIn.

Again engaging with posts is very helpful but go a step or two further if you can. If you know individual business owners and contractors connect with their personal LinkedIn accounts and give them some endorsements to help boost their profile. Invite them to relevant LinkedIn groups you are active in. If you can use your professional network to help people make some connections, please do so. This is particularly helpful for the contractors, sole traders or employees of small and medium business who are on shaky ground in terms of job security.

Write reviews.

Smother your favourite businesses with review love. Facebook, Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, there are loads of review options out there – just get typing! Customer testimonials are marketing gold for a small business (or any business for that matter) and they cost you nothing but a few minutes of time.

Give them content they can use.

Videos and photos of people enjoying their products is another form of marketing gold for small business. If you are comfortable letting them share your images/video this can be such a valuable tool. This works well for trades to especially if you happen to have before and after photos of the work they did for you.

Show Up.

Many trainers, performers and fitness instructors are doing online performances, classes, webinars or live Q & A sessions. Make sure you show up and get involved. Let them feel heard, make comments, add to the buzz around their live events. For many, trying to move their business online is pushing them way outside their comfort zone. They will be very grateful for the support that your presence offers them.

Buy Vouchers.

I know, I know I said this wouldn’t cost you a cent – let’s rephrase that to it won’t cost you a cent that you wouldn’t have spent anyway.

If you know anything about business finance you will know that bricks and mortar businesses are taking the biggest hit right now. Yes there is the government wage subsidy but many have massive overheads they are trying to cover with very little money coming through. Many are also doing their best to support their employees through this difficult time. Buying vouchers will give them some much needed cashflow and hopefully help prevent further job losses.

Got someone you love celebrating their birthday during lockdown? Buy them a voucher to use at their favourite local business once the lockdown is lifted. As a bonus you will be able to send the voucher to them on the actual day of their birthday without breaching any lockdown measures. Beats a pair of socks from the supermarket any day!

Planning a meal out to celebrate the lockdown being over? Buy a voucher for the restaurant now.

If the business doesn’t have their own obvious eCommerce platform set up for vouchers send them a message – I’m sure they will figure something out. There are a few sites like SOS Cafe popping up to help with this.

Order now – receive later.

Missing your favourite retailer and craving some non-essential stuff? If they are set up for it, shop in your favourite online stores now. Sure it won’t be sent till after lockdown, but you have the joy of knowing it will arrive eventually so fill that shopping cart!

Book Appointments.

Make sure your favourite service providers have work to come back to. Book in your haircuts/ spa treatments/ home improvements now.  Being able to forecast future work will allow these small businesses to get the right business strategy in place to carry them through the remainder of what will be a difficult year. Do keep in mind you may have to reschedule if the alert levels stay high.

Now I’m not saying that throwing out a few likes and shares is going to take the pressure off a struggling business, I’m not suggesting it is going to result in massive growth, but I promise you it will make a difference. If even a few of us care enough to make an effort to offer some not-so-random acts of kindness then we might just be able to give our favourite businesses a fighting chance.

Published by Kiri Mayers


April 8, 2020

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2 Experts give advice on COVID-19

2 Experts give advice on COVID-19

Your company’s marketing during the crisis

“Be kind to one another, think not only of yourself but of those around you.”

This message has been ringing loud and clear from all sources, most notably from our Prime Minister. In these uncertain times, consistent messages are comforting, giving us set of expectations which enable us to rally and support one another.

So, as business owners, how can we provide the same level of support to our customers who likely share the same sorts of anxieties we’re experiencing?

Lessons learned from marketing during the Global Financial Crisis

Research by the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) UK after the GFC showed that businesses who continued to market during challenging economic times were able to pick up more quickly than those that chose to hibernate. The main findings were as follows:

  • Cutting budget in a downturn will only help maintain profits in the short term.
  • Ultimately the brand will emerge from the downturn weaker and much less profitable.
  • It is better to maintain SOV (share of voice) at or above SOM (share of market) during a downturn: the longer-term improvement in profitability is likely to greatly outweigh the short-term reduction.
  • If other brands are cutting budgets the longer-term benefit of maintaining SOV at or above SOM will be even greater.*

With the effect of Covid-19, a large number of businesses have been wondering what the best strategy would be right now and how to allocate their scarce resources wisely. Right now is NOT the time to slow your marketing efforts. Now is the time to tweak your marketing plans to gain more value and get out of the crisis and become even stronger. Here are a few things you should be doing to manage your company’s marketing during the crisis:

Keep marketing but adapt your tone

Continue marketing but adapt your messaging and your expectations to suit the times. Now more than anything, being “helpful” will be one of the best ways your business can support customers and build prospective customer lists for later, when customers are ready and able to move to the next stage in their relationship with you. Content creation that is empathetic and helpful is far more important than customer acquisition campaigns.
The last thing you want is to sound heartless, snobbish and money-driven. Do not use heavy sales techniques in order not to be criticised by your audience. Act with empathy, sincerity and spread some positive thinking.

Adapt the marketing channels you use to fit the current situation

With many of us in lockdown locally and overseas, we are searching for reliable information that will help us deal with a new Covid 19 environment. People are watching more videos, podcasts, taking up online educational courses to up-skill and reading content that directly answers their questions. Face to face has been replaced by facetime and live video streams for anything from professional services to exercise classes. Think about what you need to change to still be accessible to customers.

Use the right visuals

Think of all those people in isolation right now, and please do not use images of crowded places, people partying or at large gatherings. It just looks odd. We all know that our life will get back to normal, so inspire your audience instead. Mirroring the reality is great, and I love unique content, but do it in a bright and light way.

Expand your audience

Think of your audience as being connected right now even more than ever. They gather information every minute. You, as a business, can benefit greatly by a huge number of people being available online much more than ever. With the right communication techniques, you have the potential to grow your audience and gain not only followers but brand advocates.

Make sure you can be found

Now, more than ever it’s important for your business to be found through Google Search. Make sure your website is optimised. An SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Audit can identify where there are gaps and how you can rectify them yourself or by using a specialist. Use the time to update your content, load up the projects and case studies which reinforce the value you provide and update your keyword search terms into your page headings, content and meta descriptions. If you provide products or services to companies categorised as an essential service, make sure your content and meta descriptions are optimised so that they can find you, ensure your listings are up to date in online directories and that you link to reference websites they may be using to drive inbound traffic to your website.

Ask your customers what would help them right now?

Doing some informal research with your key customers will help you to keep connected with them and learn how best you can provide value and assistance. By making some subtle changes like making it easier to do business with you, or providing better training or customer support, you can demonstrate your willingness to adapt and serve your customers when they need it most.

Create value through online platforms

If you ever contemplated whether it was worth your business to go online, now is the time to put that in action. Provide valuable advice to your audience, create programs, launch apps, i.e. add more value! We see numerous examples of businesses creating value through providing exercise programs, distance learning, online courses and others.

Offer value

Look at your offer as it stands today. Is there anything you can add in that would help your customers right now? Can you offer existing customers a free month’s extension on a contract or service you provide to keep them on board? Can you produce content that provides tips on how to get the most out of your product or service? If you provide a professional service, run online seminars about topics that are important to them and their businesses. Sharing your expertise through a seminar can be a great way to provide value, build customer loyalty and grow your list of prospective customers.

Get creative

Help communities, provide free advice and service, offer free delivery. Help those who are in need the most. A large chain pizza company offered free pizzas to the elderly population. How can you help the locals? Donations for goodie bags for health care workers are being created daily. No, you don’t have to be physically present somewhere right now but you can still help with a huge benefit for your business.

With COVID-19 marching around the planet, in the next few weeks, we are all going to be called to sacrifice something and it won’t be easy. However, you can make it easier for your business and your team to come out on this even stronger. Soon it will all be over, so let’s use the chance to learn and grow, here and now.

Even in unsettling times, small changes can make a difference. Keep calm and connected.

Published by Maria Albert & Maria Holic

* Source: Advertising in a Downturn- A report of Key Findings from an IPA Seminar.


March 11, 2020

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6 Steps to prepare your marketing for the Coronavirus

6 Steps to prepare your marketing for the Coronavirus

 

Over the last few weeks, our clients have been asking us for help to avoid a downturn in their business due to coronavirus. During any crisis its important to have a communications plan to explain to customers how your business will trade through the crisis, and give existing customers reassurance that you are managing any risks that might affect them. For small businesses in New Zealand, this can be hard to navigate, but there are steps you can take with your marketing campaigns that will ensure you emerge from the crisis stronger.

What could you do?

1) Develop a clear Campaign Message

Proactively contact your existing customers and explain to them how you might make changes to keep them safe. This can include protocols around the retail space or switching from face to face meetings to video conferencing. Make it clear that you have a plan for the business to continue through the crisis including how you will manage any servicing that would normally take place face to face or how you will manage stock of products that would normally be coming out of China or other affected countries. If you anticipate a shipping delay, be clear about your response to this and see if you can divert customers to another product line whilst you try to source products locally.

2) Focus on Digital Marketing

Improve your online marketing to ensure customers can still trade with you. If you have a retail store, consider improving your ease of use of your website, run an email marketing campaign to let customers know they can shop online, and consider including shipping costs to limit barriers to trading with you. Now is a great time to ensure your key words are adjusted for search engines so that you also pick up traffic that is looking for ways to purchase from you or your customers. Hand Sanitiser received 10,000 searches per day last week – and was the most searched for product on Google. Make sure Google knows where you are!

3) Use Social Media to your advantage

Be active on Social Media Marketing so that you remain top of mind for your customers, let them know you are still trading and remind them how to engage with you. People aged 35-55 years are still avid users of Facebook and Twitter, and are busy using these tools to keep up to date on covid-19 cases, so this is your opportunity to turn those eyeballs to your messages.

4) Innovate your offer

Necessity is the mother of invention. Now is the time to consider how you can change your products or services to respond to people’s need to stay inside. If you are a restaurant can you create an UberEats offer for your customers? If you are a beauty salon, perhaps you can offer automated subscriptions to your product ranges that are sent every month. If you are in travel, can you offer local trips or tours to customers not wanting to fly overseas? Can you help people to buy your goods or services by creating an online self-select tool that makes it easy for customers to say yes? Your loyal customer base may be willing to spend money with you on an alternative product or service so now is also the time to consider what business you are truly in, and whether there are any adjacent products or services that your customers could benefit from that they would be happy to buy from you. For example, if you are selling vehicles, could you offer a service to search for customers requirements from the comfort of their homes, instead of getting them out to look at your stock? Or can you move your business into finance or insurance from your customer base?

5) Consider your Sales Promotions

In the event of a short-lived dip in sales, a specific and targeted offer can be appropriate to ensure your business survives the mortality rate. Without resorting to price discounting, there are many other levers you can use to drive increased sales through offering product or service bundles, or rewarding customers who are demonstrating loyal behaviour. Make sure your marketing goals are clear around what you hope to happen with your promotion, and once the crisis is over, the campaign should be too. Reliance on offers and discounts is a sign that your marketing strategy may need a review.

6) Laying off staff

Before you consider laying off your staff due to a downturn, now is a great time to engage staff with other proactive tasks that will help you to grow, including contacting customers for market research, or training them in other skills such as creating content. There are lots of great training courses online that staff can do at home around content marketing whilst they are self isolating, or looking after family members in the event that school closures occur further down track.

Ultimately, it’s about having a marketing plan that is set to guide you through the crisis. We are offering FREE 30min video meetings with our marketing experts to help you create a marketing communications strategy that will ensure your business not only survives the Coronavirus crisis, but is able to thrive through it. To book, call 09 4761921 or start our FREE online Healthcheck now.

With the media focused firmly on public health, our focus is on ensuring your marketing efforts remain strong and healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic.

January 14, 2016

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A Starters Guide to Content Marketing By Nicola Heath

Content, it's at the centre of your inbound marketing

How does content help your marketing?

Content is at the heart of the marketing strategy of many businesses and small businesses should be no different. Businesses use content marketing to generate awareness for their brand and demonstrate expertise in their industry. Well produced content can makes a vital connection between your brand and your target audience, whether this be existing customers or prospects. Determining the right messaging for the right people, and delivering this in the right medium at the right time, is the fundamental key to successful content marketing.

The goal is to offer tips, help and education that will be insightful and beneficial to your audience and draw them towards your business. In order to do so, your content needs to be meaningful, relevant and deliver real benefits to your recipients. Once you’ve determined the right messaging, you’ll need to consider where best to publish your content. The online environment offers many opportunities for the publication of content from your own social media channels to third party websites, so most marketers choose just a few channels to focus on.

When choosing where to put your focus, it’s critical to pick the channels that’ll offer the most value or the best access to potential customers. In other words, the goal should be to be ‘fish where the fish are’ that is, go where your prospects go. Your information can be shared in many forms including blog posts, web articles, white papers, infographics, webinars, videos or social posts. Repurposing content to enable publication in different formats and different mediums is crucial to delivering an improved return on investment as you’ll reach a wider audience with reduced additional cost.

How do you start?

First, start by revisiting your business goals, who you are targeting, what value you will offer the customer and what value you’ll deliver back to the business. Then consider what information you can provide that will truly be of benefit your customer.

To do this, you need to build a real understanding of the needs of your target audience to appreciate where and how you can help them. Start by talking to your frontline staff, reviewing email and phone queries and speaking directly with your customers. Identify some common demographics and common needs and focus your content accordingly.

Some options for content could include educating your clients, offering advice on best practice in your industry, warning them of common pitfalls, sharing valuable tips for achieving success, answering their questions, opening their eyes to new trends and innovations or sharing relevant case studies of other customers’ success.   Creating and distributing relevant, valuable and compelling information will help you to reach prospects, turn prospects into buyers and buyers into long-term supporters.

 

October 6, 2015

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Will your website cut through the clutter?

How will you make your website stand out in 2018?

If you have ever looked up how many websites are currently online, you might find Internet Stats Live’s counter which records new sites at around 3per second, hovering around the 1 Billion mark since September last year. With 4.6Billion indexed pages, it’s little wonder that Google has to keep improving its algorithms to ensure that you can find the absolute most relevant and most up to date source of information for your needs.  With approximately 3Billion people with access to the internet, that’s around 1 website for every 3 people.

Webstats

 

In marketing we talk a great deal about Relevancy – right message, right audience, right time. In the days of traditional media it was easy to control the clutter because there were a finite number of tv and radio channels – and if you wanted to get more people to pay attention to you, you simply bought media during prime time viewing or listening and you had a captive audience. Even so, your message needed to be crafted to ensure that it stuck in the minds of the viewer, or else they could simply switch off and make a cup of tea.

But our challenge with new age technology is much much harder.  At a recent Google conference we were told that

the average consumer looks at their phone 250 times per day.

250 times.

It means that the traditional means we marketers had to capture your attention has been reduced from 3 seconds to less than one.

So how do you cut through the clutter and grab attention for your site?  If you are planning a re-vamp or to finally get your business up on line in 2018, here are some things you need to know about trends that will save you from the clutter:

1) Trend from cookie cutter sites

You can get a site built almost for free – in NZ, if you are a Spark customer, they can build you a website as part of your internet package.  Alternatively there is a proliferation of D-I-Y web builder platforms where you can create your own site from a template in an evening over a glass of wine and some nibbles.  Yet one thing that will count against you here is that all these sites will start to overcrowd the market, and it will be those who break from the mould, do something different and create something engaging that will capture those eyeballs.

2) Every page is a homepage

If google is indexing pages based on key word search and relevancy, then you have to imagine that someone could come into and go out of your site from any page – maybe never seeing your beautifully crafted introduction on your homepage. Make sure every page can stand alone if it has to, and that it tells the users exactly what you want them to do – very quickly.

3) Layouts like journalism

Newspapers were the internet of yesterday. They had to grab your attention with strongly, well-written headlines and pull your attention through copy line by line, paragraph by paragraph, always assuming that you would eventually be distracted by something else – their trick? Distract you with something else on their page – an idea, concept or offer that was placed specifically due to its relevancy to the article you were reading.  Newspapers relied on eyes travelling from headline to headline, not left to right, top to bottom like a book. your site needs to do the same – plot and plan where you want to take the reader and lead them there.

4) Short, regular, timely updates

The world wide web is growing faster than many nations, if you stay still, you are simply going backwards at an alarming rate.  Since the new MaxMarketing website went live in May 2013, there have been 295 million additional sites join the web. You need to ensure that you are keeping yours fresh and up to date and giving people, and Google, new news to rate and rank.  It is a vicious circle of attention – the more you get, the more traffic gets sent to your site, but it needs to stay on your site and engage with your site in order for Google to think that it is a site worth sending people to.

5) Integrate with your Off-line

Finally – don’t abandon your other marketing channels.  Whilst it may seem cost effective for you to take the ‘Field of Dreams’ approach  – ‘if you build it, they will come’; the chances are they won’t. You need to point people to your site, have a really great reason for them going there, and ensure that you manage their experience whilst they are there, otherwise you risk throwing the doors open to a party that no one knows about. And with 1 Billion other invitations to attend, they actually may never show up at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 11, 2015

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Should I be on Facebook?

To be or not to be – that is the question.

 

socialmedia

If I’m at an event and announce to new acquaintances that I am a marketer, the first question that typically follows is

‘Do you think I should be on Facebook?’

‘Yes,’  Is my reply.

‘…if you want to chat with other people on Facebook. Do you?’

Back in the olden days when FB was new, many organisations, including the big corporate I worked for had a ‘listening’ vs a ‘diving-in’ approach to Facebook. Nowadays there is this FOMO (fear of missing out) that organisations go through, wondering if Facebook is like some kind of party that all their friends go to, but they missed out on the invitation to.

Well, in many ways Facebook is exactly like that.  Imagine that the world of virtual reality could for a moment become real – and you (as the representative for your business) were suddenly transported into a room of people from Facebook – all connected by the same motivating criteria (Mums with Newborns, or People who love Star Wars or Beauty-queen Wannabes).  Let’s imagine in the scenario you had the floor and a microphone and could talk to all of them about your business. What would you say?

If you are thinking – those people would throw things at me, or heckle me out of the room, then think again about Facebook being for you.  Or perhaps, think about the types of groups and people who could be on Facebook that you would be more comfortable to speak in front of.

Social media is a great tool for businesses if you know who you want to talk to and what you want to say. And don’t be limited to Facebook either.  If your products or services are Business to Business (B2B) you will find that fishing in a Linkedin pond of similar like-minded people could be perfect for you.

As with all marketing it comes back to the golden number 1 rule

WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

What is it about your products or services that unites one group of people to need to engage with you.  Don’t just think about demographics here – a 50year old man in the US may have just as much need for baby products as a 30-something first time mum.  What problem are you solving for this group?  Know that – know who you are relevant for, and then seek them out.

Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and GooglePlus all have filters that will bring more relevant messages to the customer audience they serve.  As long as you know the audience your products are relevant for, these social media networks can help you find those people within their walls.

The thing to remember with social media is that it is two-way.  Unlike traditional media where you broadcast your message out to the world and hope your audience is listening, social media allows people to tell you what they think, and to tell their friends too.  That way it can be an incredibly powerful tool in your arsenal if you use it correctly (talk to the right people about something that is relevant to them).  However, get it wrong and you can end up pointing that big gun at yourself.

Facebook is a media that takes work – if you are going to build a group of people (Facebook likes) that want to hear from you, you have to regularly post information that will be useful and will push that relationship with you forward.  If you fail to do this, they will simply stop liking you.

So, essentially, Facebook is no different from any other promotional channel.  If you want customers to engage, then engage them – either on Facebook, on the phone, via email, face to face or with an entertaining and stimulating tv commercial.  Get them to like you, get them to be interested and want to hear more – and then, only then, will they buy your products or service.

Face book is a means to an end.  Don’t lose sight of that.

 

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

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