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Brand evolution or brand revolution?

A highly recognisable brand that is instantly tied to a quality product or reliable service is the Utopia that businesses aim for. And we know it’s a long haul to get your brand well known. But those elements of the brand that comprise visual recognition – the logo, the colours, the fonts, the secondary language, do need a refresh from time to time. And occasionally they need an overhaul. The trick is to know when.

Marketing experts say that a brand should be invigorated every five or six years. That may mean that logos are tweaked to better work with evolving mediums, taglines reviewed, and colours examined. Gone are the days of worrying about a stacked logo taking up too much print space. Now we want something that will bounce out of Facebook or Instagram.

Any messaging that is attached to the brand needs to be considered to see if it still portrays what you do, what your positioning is in your marketplace and that it reflects current society values. Sometimes a small change – for instance from “The place to go…” to “Your place to go…” is all that is needed to turn your tagline into a client benefit message.

Colours are something that every brand needs to consider carefully. There’s colour psychology where research says that blue reflects trust and dependability, red is excitement and boldness, green is peace, health and nature and yellow is happiness and optimism. What do you want your brand to say?

If you are just looking at brand evolution then simplifying your logo and deepening or lightening your signature colour may be enough. If you are looking at revolution, then everything is up for grabs.

Either way, it’s not a job that should be done by an in-house management committee. It needs a fresh eye, and a distance from the emotion your team will have to your brand. You need experts in branding and marketing and how it’s applied. What are the pitfalls if you go down a certain path? You need to test concepts extensively before you go to the expense of making change.

I have highly talented brand experts at FC Business Solutions so if it’s time for evolution or revolution, we can help you.

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Use automated tools to solve your website challenges.

The events of 2020 have proven just how critical a good website is for every business. It’s your virtual shopfront- the first point of contact for most customers. It’s no longer acceptable to just create a website and leave it unchanged.  Your website needs to be dynamic, current and constantly evolving.  The good news is there are some great tools to help you ensure that your website is delivering the best possible service to your clients, and helping convert leads into sales.

The challenges:

  1. Slow website. If your website is slow, your customers will leave in frustration.  In fact, anything above 3 seconds for a page to load will mean that 57% of your visitors will instantly leave your website.
  2. Slow response to customer queries. Ever sent an email through a website and didn’t get a response until days later?  The longer your client waits, the more your brand integrity diminishes in their mind, and the smaller your chance of converting the enquiry into a sale.
  3. Risk of data breach. It’s an unfortunate opportunistic fact of life that hackers are out there looking for weaknesses in website security.  It’s not personal, it’s opportunities and it can be highly damaging.  Apart from the cost if it’s a ransomware attack (the act where they will not release your data unless a sum of money is paid), having your business data and customer details breached is a significant headache.  Privacy breaches require reporting and restitution, creating legal issues and eroding confidence in your brand is eroded.
  4. No measurable data. If you aren’t tracking your leads as they come through, you can’t calculate your CPA (Cost per Acquisition).  Knowing your CPA allows you to confidently budget your marketing spends at the right price point, and allows you to ratchet up your spend in those areas where you are getting the best return.

 

The solutions

  1. Slow website. Use free tools such as Google’s Pagespeed monitor to quickly gauge the load time of web pages on both desktops and mobile devices. With this tool, you can also look at their recommendations on how to increase the speed of your website.
  2. Slow response to customer queries. Consider installing a Live Chat application on your website. You can set it up so that it connects directly to your staff allowing customers to have their queries answered quickly and knowledgeably – leading to sales conversions.
  3. Risk of data breach. A security audit of your website can highlight any major issues your site may be facing.  Following industry best practices for website security can help mitigate any further issues, when it comes to data breaches. For instance, OWASP provides the top 10 web application security risks. Investigate using plug-ins for your website that can help automatically block unwanted bots that are trying to infiltrate your website.
  4. No measurable data. Connect a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager program) to your website to automatically track your leads and build your database.  Examples of CRM’s are Hubspot, Salesforce or Zoho.  There are also a range of industry specific CRM’s tailored to maximise the value to you, in areas that are unique to your business.

 

Attention to these critical areas of your website, as well as ensuring that your website is visually pleasing, easy to navigate and that all your content is current and easily accessed, will help build a better business for you.

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Your database is like a giant hive of potential clients

If you haven’t yet discovered the power of a well utilised database, then you are in for an exciting journey that, if you do it right, will drive sales and brand recognition.

A database is a collection of people that you’ve interacted with in some form or other. Whether they are past clients, people who’ve entered competitions you’ve run, people who have contacted you for information – generally speaking, they can be added to your database. You need to have T’s & C’s around your interactions with people so that they understand that if they give you personal details, you are going to store them and contact them.

Privacy of people’s information is also vitally important. Ensure that you have sufficient protection around your technology that the database can’t be hacked and exposed.

But once you have these protocols established it’s well worth the hassle. Got a new product you’re releasing? Discounting stock? Supporting a worthy cause? Made a video about a new store? Share it with your database. An eDM (or electronic direct mail) is the efficient way of spreading your message. Don’t forget the mandatory “unsubscribe” link. And if someone asks to be taken off your list – do it.

If your business is less retail and more one-to-one relationship based, you can set up a system where you can store additional details about your clients. Say you rang a great customer just to touch base and he tells you he’s going on a trip to… well, it is still a pandemic, so let’s say a houseboat trip on the Murray… put those details in the notes and next time you call, ask him about the trip. People appreciate that you have attended to the detail in their life.

If you have a database with entries that go back over many years, there are artificial intelligence (AI) programs that will sort through your data and match people with new details. Well worth investing in.

Integrate your database into a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) program and you can automate a lot of the follow-up and contact. But don’t forget the still make time for the personalised information that is specific to various categories within your database. Which brings me to my last point. Categorise your database. Everyone is different, and so they are going to need different information on occasions. Use AI to track activity and your messages will be well targeted and produce results.

Business using laptop,with email icon,email inbox electronic communication graphics concept.

Automating your emails and gaining control

Emails are an incredibly effective, instant means of communicating. They are the business equivalents of texts.  But they also can overwhelm you, distract you and destroy your efficiency.  You need to control your email not let your email control you.

Let’s look at the problems with emails:

  • Emails are constantly coming in at all hours of the day and night – they never stop.
  • Emails can cause a constant loop of spending your day replying to emails and not actually having time to action anything
  • Emails can contain pertinent information on a project but spread across multiple emails. (You know, those days when you get five emails from five different people all on the same topic?)
  • Emails with multiple CC’s get lost in clutter and there is a lack of organisation when multiple people are all replying leading to missed communication
  • Searching for emails can be difficult if you just use one folder (Inbox)
  • Emails aren’t categorised, how do you know what emails relates to what business activity?
  • Junk mail constantly comes through and you are continually deleting the same emails day after day.

Now let’s look at the solutions:

  • Set a block of time to sort through and reply to your emails. A good idea is go through your emails in the morning for 30 minutes and organise the ones that should be actioned today. Those that won’t be actioned today should still be replied to, providing the sender with an anticipated date that you will action the email request.
  • Use functions such as Conversations in Gmail and Outlook to automatically group emails into threads https://www.howtogeek.com/397298/how-to-toggle-and-customise-conversation-view-in-outlook/
  • Tag people in a conversation with the @ symbol. This gives visibility that a specific person in an email chain should look at important information that is only specific to them within the body of the text
  • Create multiple folders for your email instead of just an Inbox. There are a couple of approaches to this:
    • #1
      • Inbox (anything unread)
      • To action (anything that requires attention today)
      • In progress (anything that is a continual communication chain)
      • Archived (done and completed)
    • #2
      • Inbox
      • Categorised by groupings
        • Company Name
        • Sales
        • Marketing
        • Admin
      • Use the Categorise function to catalogue and archive your emails for easy searching in the future
        • Example categories
          • Personal Development
          • Business Development
          • Meetings
          • Invoice / Finance
          • Documentation
          • Sales / Lead
          • Personal
  • Adopt a One Minute rule. When you receive an email, can you send a useful reply to the sender within one minute? Is it something that can be actioned quickly? Can you do the task and respond with a short email on its completion? Or is it something that may take time to scope or plan? Spend less than one minute to acknowledge receipt of the email and provide the sender with an anticipated date of action to keep the conversation moving forward. If you find yourself needing more than one minute to just write an email, then set aside the email and block out a period of time in your task management system to complete the task.
  • Setup filters to automatically bin emails you don’t want to receive. Stop just deleting junk mail and look at your options for a long-term fix. Filters within systems such as Microsoft 365 and Gmail let you set up to automatically delete an email before it even gets to your Inbox. This is a good option for spam emails. Using the unsubscribe function for unsolicited marketing emails ensures that you won’t be getting those annoying emails again.

Following these simple rules will help you gain control of your emails and turn them back into the useful business tool they should.  And, give you more productive time in your day.

Ecommerce.

Marketing Trends Rounding Up 2020

Online marketing is one of the most important tools for building a brand. But it’s an ever-shifting landscape that the modern marketer needs to stay on top of. If you struggle with knowing where, when and how to grow your digital presence, you are not alone. With businesses working remotely across the world, a shift to deliver a strong brand online has driven a wealth of changes and innovation.

Who were the biggest trend setters of 2020?

Live streaming
With the cancellation of events, concerts, gatherings and opportunities to meet together, live streaming became an essential for businesses and communities to stay connected. Between March and May means this year, the number of people who had live streamed events doubled (26% of total Australians) and this number has continued to increase since.
With the number of live streams kicking off rapidly, they never reached a point of being able to be commercialised, with only 7% being willing to pay for the stream.

What we’ve learnt about different steaming platforms:

Facebook
Pros:

  • Ability to have built in audiences for ease of access.
  • Very interactive with a suite of tools.
  • Caters to an existing database of users.

Cons:

  • Search engines such as Google cannot find your live stream which stunts the ability to improve your search engine optimisation.
  • No subscription or monetisation supported.
  • Limited to 90 minutes per stream.

Zoom
Pros:

  • Ability to see faces of listeners and make more interactive.
  • Certain level of exclusivity to sessions.
  • Strong security with locking options.

Cons:

  • Lower streaming quality
  • Limited amount of viewers
  • Paid subscription for sessions over 45 mins.

Youtube
Pros:

  • Advanced analytics to monitor performance
  • Effective chat feature
  • Ability to schedule and easily share links for users.

Cons:

  • Lower quality resolutions
  • Lack of tools for publishing

Conversational Marketing
A growing trend has seen conversational marketing being used more and more, with businesses to create a one-to-one interaction. Having a brand be personal allows customers to build trust and awareness of the WHO behind the WHAT.

Live chat on websites – Having a fast response time to customers have shown to increase up to 20% of conversion when a  business is able to respond back within 30 minutes

Authored articles – LinkedIn drove up to 9 billion impressions per week with only 3 million users actually sharing content on a weekly bases. That is only 1% of the entire exposure leaving plenty of space to get eyes on your brand.

Personal video marketing – The reality of 2020: people working from home meant consumers wanted to see a personal and vulnerable side. Voices to give relatability to a brand have become a selling point for consumers.

Selling Online

With spending having increased by 62.6% at the end of FY2020, additions of online retailers and products have never before been so readily available. Popular e-commerce platforms saw increase usage of:
Automated emails – Keep in touch with customers by setting up recurring emails both pre and post purchase. A simple message such as a happy birthday, can re-engage and re-target previous buyers.
Abandon carts – Strategies such as offering a discount code if a customer abandons their cart saw conversion rates increase by more than 10%

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Top 5 social media strategies businesses are forgetting

As the year is approaching its end, many businesses have changed how they operate, especially in the social media sphere. With more customers online than ever, a strong social media strategy for any business should be mapped and actioned in the lead up to Christmas. However, many simple strategies are being missed by business owners that could help increase awareness and boost sales, during a time when brick and mortar locations are looking to re-open and restart their operations.

Here are the top 5 social media strategies that a business should start implementing today: 

1. Segment your audience.
If you have a strong following on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, it’s important to look at who your demographic is, from both a new and retention point of view. Creating audiences when running your ads will keep CPC (Cost per clicks) down and deliver better efficiency in your advertising dollars. Not sure how to set this up? Facebook for Business has a helpful guide in creating on “Lookalike Audiences”

2. Call to actions.
Using call to actions will help customers understand the journey you want to take them when leading them into a product or page. In social media posts, it’s important to have a clear call to action such as an enquiry form, a link to your website or a purchase link. By having just information or an image, a customer should not have to do the heavy work of finding out more information. Facebook also include a “Call-to-action” ad option when promotion your products and services .

3. Setup messenger and online chat.
Having the touchpoint for your customers gives them instant answers when first engaging with your brand. Whether you want having those following your Facebook page being able to interact or your own website to have a direct line to your customer service, Facebook chat is a great option. Using automated responses can also save you time for frequently asked questions such as “when you are your opening times”. To setup automated messages, you can follow the guide .
Got a WordPress site? Why not add the Facebook Chat plugin for quickly getting your chat up on your site. 

4. Using boosted posting.
By boosting your post, you can capture customers who aren’t already following you. Boosting posts will reach a larger audience, make up any decline in organic reach and with no minimum, you can start your advertising budget on a small scale and ramp up after taking a look at your analytics and reports. 

5. Stories in your platform.
The rise of Instagram from a consumer level has increased exponentially over the years with close to 10 million users in Australia alone. However the stories option also expands to both Facebook and LinkedIn. By utilising the power of video, your brand is able to deliver more digestible content, increase consumer engagement and lead to better connections with your audience. 


Facebook
Instagram 
LinkedIn 

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Staying Ethical As A Business During The Social Dilemma

With more users on social media networks than ever before, a bright light from Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma” has highlighted some key points when it comes to consumers and how their data is handled. The Social Dilemma focuses on how social media companies, such as Facebook, can manipulate users by using algorithms that encourage addiction to their platforms. It also shows, fairly accurately, how platforms harvest personal data to target users with ads – most of which could be unregulated. However, not much has been mentioned in regards to how businesses should react to this, and how they should be prepared, when those burning questions may come from consumers.

Below are some key facts that every business should be aware of, when playing in the space of digital advertising, not just Facebook but all social media platforms.

Are consumers the products of Social Media?

A heavy topic and a pillar of the documentary pushes the narrative that users of Facebook are the product, not the platform itself. To a degree this could be true, given that Facebook’s leading revenue generator is their Ads platform. However, it is also a case of generating jobs and new markets that may not have existed previously. Facebook delivers a lot of tools to help businesses reach an audience, a lot of which do not require the scraping of user data: e.g. community groups, instant messages and page feeds. These areas are what you would call ‘opt-in’. Businesses can focus on getting customers to actively select to engage with them, without fear that their privacy is invaded.

How much data is collected?

Social media platforms have a LOT of our data: this cannot be disputed but what data is actually used for advertising? Depending on a user’s privacy setting, not all personally identifiable information is collected. In response to the Cambridge Analytica case, Facebook released a tool in 2019 called “Off-Facebook Activity”, which gives a full breakdown of which sites and apps collect information from a user’s profile, with the option to opt-out anytime they wish to.

Are consumers manipulated?

One of the hot topics is whether or not users of social media are being manipulated and ultimately given false information. In the wake of elections and allegations of foreign interference, it is alarming to think that large groups can be given false information that could ultimately affect entire nations and society. Nevertheless, from a business perspective it would be an exaggeration to think they are manipulating consumers into buying their products. Twitter, a social platform that covers a large demographic, have implemented measures during the COVID-19 pandemic to remove any misleading or false information. This is the beginning of platforms now taking an important step stop the spread of user manipulation and geared bias.

Legislative reform

Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission finalised its Digital Platforms Inquiry, investigating a range of issues relating to tech platforms, including data collection and privacy. It made a number of recommendations that will hopefully result in legislative change: They focus on improving and bolstering the definitions of “consent” for consumers, including explicit understanding of when and how their data is being tracked online