Author Archives: Sarah Hickman

Is your website still fit for purpose?

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Is your website fit for purpose

Ask yourself these questions about your current website:

  1. Is it immediately obvious what it's for? If you can't tell in the first five seconds what the website is selling or telling, then it isn't doing its job effectively. Amazingly, this is the amount of time viewers will spend deciding if they want to stay or leave. If they can't tell what you do in that time – they'll be off.
  2. Is it optimised for mobile devices? Have a look at your website on a smartphone or iPad. It should be simple to navigate and text should be easy to read.
  3. Is it too cluttered? If you've had the same website for a few years, it may have been tempting to 'bolt on' more information, perhaps as your business has grown. To gain a competitive advantage, you need a crisp, clean design that's easy to navigate.
  4. Is it flexible and adaptable? What if your business launches a new product or service? You don’t want to have to revamp everything to accommodate it. Using a CMS (Content Management System) can allow for future expansion, and enable you to add new features to your existing website.
  5. Are my competitors doing it better? Have a look at what your rivals are doing. If their sites rate above yours in search results and look more professional, it may be time for a refresh.

If you'd like to a chat about what you need to go forward, give us a call.

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What to include in a website brief

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What to put in a website brief

The website brief - thinking about getting a website built but not sure what to ask for?

Let's turn the question on its head. When people come to us for a cost estimate for a new website, we ask them to answer the questions below. These questions will help both us and the client understand exactly what they want from their new site.

1. YOUR BUSINESS
What products do you sell or services do you provide?

How big is your business?

Do you trade within the UK only?

Describe the company using five or ten words (e.g. young, vibrant, technology based, etc.)

2. YOUR CURRENT WEBSITE
Why is it no longer suitable?

What do you like and dislike about it?

Do you know what levels of traffic is it currently receiving, including from mobile devices?

3. YOUR AUDIENCE AND COMPETITORS
Who are your target audience for this website?

What's the purpose of the website? (e.g. sell products, provide information, educate, etc)

What actions do you want visitors to take? (e.g. contact you via email or phone, fill out an online form, follow you on social media, make a purchase, etc)

Please list the names of two or more of your competitors.

Please list the names of two websites that you like and two that you dislike. What do you like and dislike about them?

How will your target audience be accessing your site – via their phones, tablets or desktops?

4. DESIGN
Do you have any ideas for the look and feel of your website?

Do you have existing logo/branding/business cards or other printed materials, or should branding be part of our quote?

5. GENERAL
We will link to your social media so please provide the links.

Do you need to purchase a domain name or do you already own it?

Do you need to purchase hosting?

Do you have an idea of budget and a deadline date in mind?

6. WEBSITE FRAMEWORK
Please place an 'X' to identify any pages or features you envisage as part of your site:
Basic
 Home
 Products / services
 FAQs
 Directions
 About Us
 Contact Us with contact form
 News / blog
 Upcoming events

Special Features
 Home page slideshow
 Video
 Map
 Search facility
 Newsletter / email list sign-up
 Information / request forms

Applications
 Registration / customer login
 Store / shopping cart
 Online payment
 Forum
 Reviews
 Customer surveys/polls

Please list any additional or custom pages you would like.

7. AFTER IT'S BUILT - WEBSITE CONTENT
How often will you need to update the website content?
Hourly
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Rarely

How many content pages do you expect to update on your site each month?

Who will be responsible for updates – your website developer or yourselves?

Who will be responsible for generating content – text and images?

As with any purchase you make, you should send exactly the same brief to a number of web companies, so when you get the price back you are comparing like with like.

Ready for the next steps? Check out our blog post about the stages involved in getting a website built.

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How to create a simple yet effective marketing plan

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Simple yet effective marketing plan

It’s a well-known fact that a business plan is vital. However, many people don’t realise that a marketing plan is just as important.

A marketing plan is a strategic document outlining your objectives. It spells out all the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s your plan of action, and unless you’re using it to help gain funding, it doesn’t have to be lengthy: bullet points will do.

Here are the elements you should include in your marketing plan:

1. SITUATION ANALYSIS
This is a snapshot of your current situation. It can be broken down into these sub-sections:
• Definition of your company and its products or services
• Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• How the benefits you provide set you apart from your competition (also known as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP)

2. TARGET CUSTOMERS
Create a simple description of your target customer. This is known as a Customer Persona. You can describe the person in terms of demographics - age, gender, family, income, location - as well as lifestyle or social factors. Is your customer traditional or modern? Are they leaders or followers? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what you’re selling? You'll probably have a number of different customer types; create personas for each of them.

Customer Personas work just as well for B2B organisations, although you’ll need to adjust them slightly. Your target customers will be working within other businesses. You can define them based on their type of business, job title, size of business, location, estimated turnover, etc.

3. MARKETING OBJECTIVES
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 10% increase in sales per quarter?

Write down a short list of goals. Make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic and time-bound) so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

4. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
This is probably the most important part of your marketing plan. In this section you should detail the tactics you’ll use to reach your target customers from section 2, and achieve your objectives from section 3.

Strategies
Different strategies are suitable for different stages of the ‘customer journey’. For example, advertising and direct marketing are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects - people who have already been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you - will respond best to permission-based email, for example. Your hottest prospects are people who already know you, and are ready to buy. Generally, personal contact (whether face-to-face, by phone, or email) combined with good marketing will help complete the sale.

Tactics
In this section, summarise your marketing strategies above, then list the tactics you’ll use to reach your customers at different stages of the customer journey. For example, you might combine online and print advertising to reach cold prospects, but use email to contact your warm prospects.

To identify your ideal ‘marketing mix’, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service you sell. Are your target customers using social media? Do they read trade publications? Do they attend industry events? The marketing tactics you choose should reach people when they’ll be most receptive to your messages.

5. MARKETING BUDGET
A good rule of thumb is to set aside a percentage of projected annual sales for your marketing budget.

Tactics are available for even the smallest budgets. If you exceed the budget in your marketing plan, you can simply go back and adjust your tactics until you have a mix that’s affordable for you. The key is to never stop marketing.

6. REVIEW AND ADJUST
The final step in any plan is to monitor and evaluate progress. If you're not achieving the results you would like, go back a few stages in the plan and make any tweaks you feel are necessary.

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So you want an eCommerce website. Where do you start?

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Ecommerce woocommerce

You may be a business owner who currently sells products from a 'bricks and mortar' shop, and is looking to expand their sales channels to include online.

Or perhaps you've already got an eCommerce website, but it's been around for a few years and you're unhappy with its limitations.

If you've read any of our previous blog posts you'll know that we're big fans of WordPress. We love it because our clients can update their own websites after launch, it's easy to use, it's great for SEO, and if you want to increase what your website can do, it's usually possible to add functionality with 'plugins'.

If you want to sell products via your website, WordPress can handle this via a plugin called WooCommerce.

Woocommerce allows you to easily control the products on your website. You can add 'basic' products, products with variations like different sizes and colours, and add a range of images to show different angles. Shopping carts and checkout pages look professional and are customisable.

You can up-sell and cross-sell related products – Amazon do this, so why not borrow their idea? It's also easy to enable social sharing, so your customers can share links to your website via Facebook, Instagram, etc.

You can administer the whole process on the website, including checking your orders, despatching them and printing out packing slips (via an additional plugin).

If you have stock to clear, you can set up a Sale at any time by updating the prices of your products and showing a 'before' and 'after' price. You can even use voucher codes for a set price discount, a percentage discount or free delivery. This could be for a month, a week, a day...or however long you want your promotion to last. All this can be done with no input from your web developer.

There are a wide variety of delivery options including Flat Rate Shipping, Free Shipping, International Shipping and Local Shipping. Delivery options are very flexible and allow for detailed control of shipping rules and rates. This part can get a bit complicated depending on your delivery requirements, but once it's all set up there's no need to go back and update it.

WooCommerce supports hundreds of payment gateways (for example WorldPay and PayPal) and provides secure SSL certificate support, giving you and your potential customers peace of mind.

How about keeping a track of figures? The system includes dashboards and widgets to monitor your sales and performance.

There are so many possibilities when using WooCommerce, whether you want a basic online shop or an all-singing, all-dancing site. If you want to find out more about how WooCommerce can help you run your online shop more easily, drop us a line.

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10 tips for producing a brilliant brochure

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Brochure-design-Leamington

Nowadays many small businesses forego a sales brochure. Your website provides all the information your customers need, so what's the point?

There are still lots of good reasons why your business needs a brochure. Many potential customers still like to have something tangible to take away with them, to use as a quick reminder of your products or service. A well produced brochure will help to reinforce the message that you provide a good quality service.

For example, a conference venue may leave a brochure with a potential customer after a venue show-round. Brochures also continue to be widely used by companies providing high value products such as cars.

Too many brochures, though, lack the visual impact or marketing message that will lead people to look twice. Our advice – if you're going to do it, do it properly and hire a professional. A brochure that you have mocked up in Word, littered with clip art and printed on your office printer simply won't reflect your business as a professional outfit.

We've come up with five things to consider when you're talking to your marketing agency about your new brochure:

1. Outline your brochure objectives
Ask yourself why you need a brochure. Then define your objectives – is it simply because your last brochure didn't work? Is it to promote a new product or service?

2. Define your target market
Who is the brochure for? Will it be used as a 'scatter-gun' mailout, or only distributed to warm leads? Are you targeting the budget holder/decision maker? When someone opens it, what will it say to them? It should be designed for that person, not for yourself.

3. Check out the competition
See what your competitors are doing. This can be tricky as you might not want to contact them for a brochure. Many companies upload their brochures to their website however, so you can do your research anonymously! See what works and what doesn't, and work out what elements you might need in your own brochure.

4. Make sure it fits with your brand
Brochure designs need to fit in with what you do as a business. For example, charities won't want to spend money on luxury brochures, whereas a new manufacturing product might need a brochure that looks amazing on an exhibition stand.

5. Don’t consider it permanent
A good brochure may only work for a few months before you want to change the offer or send a different message. Perhaps your business is seasonal – for example a chocolate retailer might have separate brochures for Easter, Christmas etc. Don’t think of your brochure as something you’ll distribute for years.

And here are five things your marketing agency should do:

6. Use a copywriter
Excellent copy is crucial to great brochure design, but is often the most undervalued element. Copy needs to be considered as part of the overall design. The messages should be clear and simple, and focused on providing a solution for your reader. The brochure doesn't need to include every piece of information in great detail, but should highlight the benefits of using your company. The reader should be interested enough to take further action. Finally, make sure it's proof-read as many times as possible – a mistake can't be corrected once the ink is on the paper!

7. Include calls to action
Your brochure should always include correct, legible contact information and a call to action. We’ve seen beautiful brochures that omit the company’s phone number, include it in tiny type or even get it wrong. Be sure to have a goal in mind for what you want readers to do. If you’d like them to visit your website, direct them there. If you’d prefer them to phone, say so.

8. Use great images
To make a brochure enjoyable to flick through, it needs good photos. Don't worry if your budget doesn't stretch to your own photoshoot – your agency can use stock images from an online image library like iStock or Fotolia. However, they should try to find pictures that don't look like they're stock images! Your agency should be using large, colourful photos. We see many brochures using lots of tiny images, or no images at all. Pictures should be relevant to the message – there's no need to include a photo of your office, for example, unless it’s to encourage potential customers to visit.

9. Invest in professional printing
Your marketing agency will deal directly with good printers. They may even be able to negotiate a cheaper price on your behalf. Printers can advise on the best and most cost-effective paper stock, and size of page. For example, A4 size is much more cost-effective than a non-standard square size. Heavyweight paper that feels substantial in the reader’s hands, and a nice finish can add to the good impression.

10. Don't cut corners
We might be biased but we would always recommend getting the help of a marketing agency skilled in brochure production and its component parts, such as graphic design and copywriting. You might save money by writing the words yourself, for example, or taking your own photos. But unless you are experienced this can be a false economy – there's no point investing in a brochure if it's not properly produced, as this could make your business look cheap and unprofessional.

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10 reasons why you need a WordPress website

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Why your business needs a Wordpress website

If you're doing some research prior to getting a new website built for your business, you might have heard about WordPress. We love WordPress here at Public, and all websites we build for our clients use the WordPress platform. You can see some examples of our WordPress websites on our Clients page.

WHAT IS WORDPRESS?
WordPress is an open source website creation tool. By open source, we mean the framework is available for anyone to download free of charge. It’s the most user-friendly and powerful CMS (Content Management System) around today.

WHO USES IT?
You’re in good company if you've got a WordPress website. Well-respected sites like Mashable and TechCrunch use WordPress. This WordPress showcase gives you a flavour of some of the companies using it, and this chart shows which content management systems are currently the most popular.

HOW DO I GET IT?
If you're going to use a hosting company (and there are plenty out there to pick from), you can download it from WordPress.org. Alternatively you can use it as a hosted service via WordPress.com. If you're not very tech-savvy, ask your local friendly web developer (us!) for advice.

WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
There are lots of reasons why WordPress is so popular. Here are just some of them:

1. You have control of your own website
No more waiting for your web developer to make simple changes and updates – and paying for every tiny change. With WordPress, you have control of nearly every aspect of your website and can carry out simple updates yourself.

2. Easy to use
WordPress is very easy to use, even for non-technical people. Adding new pages, posts, images, etc. can be done quickly and easily.

3. Manage your website from anywhere
Because WordPress is browser-based, you can log in and manage your website from any computer, anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection, and a little bit of knowledge.

4. No specialist software required
WordPress is a self-contained system, so you don't need to use HTML editing software such as Dreamweaver. You can create a new page or blog post, upload or edit images, and upload documents, video files, images, etc. all without the need for additional HTML or FTP software.

5. Great for SEO
Google loves WordPress! The code behind WordPress is very clean and simple, making it easy for Google to read and index. In addition, you can give each page, post and image its own keywords, description and title. You can optimise your content for specific keywords, allowing for very precise search engine optimisation. And you can update all of this yourself, without the help of a web developer.

6. Multiple users
There's no need to be the sole administrator of your website – other staff members can have their own logins. The primary administrator of a WordPress site can set up multiple users, and assign different access levels to different users.

7. Blogging is built in
WordPress started life as a blogging platform, so blogging is built in and easy to integrate. Setting up newsletter subscriptions and commenting is very simple. You can also add your most recent blog posts to other pages of your website, like your home page.

8. Increase what your website can do with plugins
Plugins are pieces of code that allow certain things to happen on your website. They have already been written, so there's no need for your web developer to write them from scratch. Plugins are either free or cheap to buy. There will be some configuration required – if you're not technically-minded, your web developer will do this for you. Plugins allow your website to have features like event calendars, video galleries and Twitter feeds.

9. Large community
As the world's most popular CMS, there's a lot of free support out there. If you're not sure how to do something, you can Google it! Someone will have been there before and will have the answer.

10. It also does eCommerce
WordPress websites can be set up to sell your products online, using a plugin called WooCommerce.

If an easy-to-use Content Management System sounds like the kind of thing you are after, drop us a line for a no-obligation chat about your requirements.

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Create a compelling, profitable website using these 9 steps

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So you've got a fantastic idea for your new website. Before you start talking to web developers about the project, it will be hugely beneficial to map out the steps and plan the important details. That way you'll lessen any delays or surprises along the way.

Here's a brief, whistle-stop tour of what you need to do:

1. Determine Your Market

  • Get a clear understanding of your website’s potential users – why will they visit?
  • Create a list of your competitors' websites
  • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of their websites
  • Define your organisation’s Unique Selling Points – what's special about you?

2. Set Your Goals

  • Make sure the goals of the website are the same as the goals of your business. For example, are you trying to showcase your expertise? Or perhaps sell online?
  • Decide on a method for defining and measuring success, for example, number of leads or orders generated by the website

3. Name Your Website

  • Choose a domain name and hosting
  • Consider potential misspelling issues
  • Purchase your domain name(s)

4. Think About Content

  • Draw up a plan of what you need to include
  • Name your pages or major sections such as Contact, Services, etc.

5. Find a Web Developer

  • All I can suggest here is to contact us!

6. Design Your Website

This part of the project will be carried out by your web developer, but here are some things you should keep an eye on along the way:

  • Use lots of space, a harmonious colour palette and web safe fonts
  • Find compelling, good quality images that correspond with your branding
  • Check the loading time of your pages – if your web developer has done a good job your pages should load quickly (depending on your WiFi speed)
  • Check the 'depth' of your pages. How many clicks does it take to reach any page? You want as few clicks as possible
  • Check your browser compatibility - does it work on Safari as well as Chrome, for example?
  • Check for broken links
  • Optimise your footer area with links, terms and conditions and privacy policy (essential for GDPR compliance), and contact information
  • Ensure that SEO best practise is used
  • Include links and sharing to social media

7. Include 'Sticky Content'

Again, you may have appointed a professional to look after your content, or decided to take the plunge yourself. Either way, here are some tips to follow:

  • Create a call to action on every page
  • Use a style of writing that will appeal to your target audience
  • Break text into small, easy-to-read sections separated with headings and images (remember - many people skim-read web pages)
  • Include an 'About' page and testimonials to identify yourself and appear more human
  • Make your contact information easy to find

8. Measure

  • Set up Google Analytics to monitor and measure your traffic (again, your web developer may do this for you)

9. Update and Promote

Website up and running? Great. But there are millions of websites out there, so you can't just sit back and expect visitors to find you - although your SEO will help. Here are some tactics you should use:

  • Update your website regularly. Use interesting content so people keep coming back for more
  • Create an ongoing method of marketing and encouraging visitors to your website. This subject could fill another article but basically can involve writing blog posts, videos, cross-promotion with other websites, social media, newsletters, etc.
If you're looking for a web developer in the UK, drop us a line.
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Top tips for proofreading your marketing copy

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Proofreading your marketing copy

When you're writing copy for your website and marketing materials, proofreading your content may be the last thing on your mind – particularly if you're on a deadline. But paying more attention to the words you're using could help to maintain and improve the perception people have of your business.

Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poorly-constructed sentences can make your business look unprofessional, which will only encourage your potential customers to look for other - more professional - companies to spend their money with.

Mistakes can also cost you money. Business owners sometimes waste whole print runs because of bad spelling, punctuation or grammar that spellcheck didn't pick up. Mistakes can be more easily and cheaply rectified on a web page – but only if you spot them!

Here are some handy tricks that professional proofreaders use, which should help you pick up errors before your customers do.

QUICK TIPS

    • Make sure you are in a quiet place, free from distractions
    • Work from a print out if possible
    • Use a red pen
    • Read out loud
    • Cover up the line below
    • If you're using a computer, use spellcheck but DON'T RELY ON IT!
    • Read backwards sentence by sentence
    • Read backwards word by word
    • If you can get someone to help, get them to check it too
    • If you can get someone to help, have them read it out while you follow the text
    • Double check numbers too, e.g. £100000 instead of £1000000

COMMON MISTAKES TO LOOK OUT FOR

      • Spacing between words – are there any spaces missing or are there too many?
      • Letters accidentally typed twice e.g. Councill
      • Words accidentally typed twice
      • Full stops missing
      • Missing close bracket
      • Writing numbers: 1 to 9 should be written as numbers. Numbers from ten onwards should be written as words
      • Make sure quotes and speech are in speech marks
      • Make sure proper names, places and brand names start with a capital letter
      • Look out for missing or extra commas
      • Look out for full stops used incorrectly
      • Make sure brackets are closed
      • Add speech marks where necessary
      • No need for double punctuation e.g. !!

PUNCTUATION
Incorrect punctuation can be dangerous...

“Let's get ready to eat, Granny!”
OR
“Let's get ready to eat Granny!”

You can see why punctuation is important if you try to make sense of this sentence which has no punctuation at all:

perhaps you dont always need to use commas full stops colons etc to make sentences clear when i am in a hurry tired cold or lazy i sometimes leave out punctuation marks grammar is stupid i can write without it and dont need it my uncle Harry once said he was not very clever and i never understood a word he wrote to me i think ill learn some punctuation not too much enough to write to Uncle Harry he needs some help

Now let's see if punctuating it makes a difference...

Perhaps you don't always need to use commas, full stops, colons etc. to make sentences clear. When I am in a hurry, tired, cold or lazy I sometimes leave out punctuation marks.

"Grammar is stupid! I can write without it and don't need it," my uncle Harry once said. He was not very clever and I never understood a word he wrote to me. I think I'll learn some punctuation - not too much, enough to write to Uncle Harry. He needs some help!

Get in touch if your marketing copy could do with the once-over from our eagle-eyed team of proofreaders!

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The benefits of working with a graphic designer on a retainer

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As a business owner or marketing manager, you’ll already understand the importance of high quality, consistent branding for your business.

You may work with various graphic designers on an ad-hoc basis to produce your marketing materials. But have you considered working with a graphic design agency on a retainer?

We work with some of our clients in this way, and it works brilliantly (even if we say so ourselves!).

A retainer – or support package – is an agreement between you and your designer or design agency to work together regularly for a period of time, or indefinitely by mutual agreement.

Retainers usually involve weekly, monthly or quarterly work, and your agreement reserves time in your designer’s schedule for a set cost.

Working with designers on a retainer could make a huge difference to your business and your marketing budget. Why?

Peace of mind.
The retainer arrangement guarantees that we’ll allocate a certain number of hours to your work throughout the month. This gives you the peace of mind and confidence that your project deadlines will be met.

Quality and consistent style.
As it’s a long-term relationship, we get to know the brand inside out, and care about your brand as much as you do.

If you work with different designers on separate elements of your branding and marketing visuals, you could end up with a jumbled mix of design styles and quality.

Working regularly with one design agency will ensure that the style and quality of the design is consistent – and therefore memorable – across all your branding.

Our best-ever brochure design brief from one long-standing client? “You know what you’re doing. Just do it!” This proved to us that the client trusted us implicitly!

Queue jumping.
Retainer work can be prioritised over other ad-hoc last-minute projects. With a retainer you’re essentially pre-booking and pre-paying for time in your agency's studio schedule.

A good graphic designer or design agency can get booked up weeks, or even months in advance. Either their schedule is full, or they’re willing to work overtime but you’ll be charged a rush fee.

With a retainer, you get to jump the queue. You’ve already paid for the work, so even short-notice* projects will be delivered on time.

* Within reason!

Efficiency and time saving.
A long-term relationship means you don’t need to interview and brief a new designer or design team every time a project begins.

When you work with a designer or agency for the first time, you’ll spend time getting to know one another. Your designers will need to familiarise themselves with the style and personality of your brand before creating any visuals. There’s a risk they won’t get it right first time and you’ll need a lot of back-and-forth to get the design right.

When you work together long-term, you can skip this step and get work approved and delivered faster and more efficiently.

Discounted fee.
On a graphic design retainer agreement we usually – depending on the package – offer a discounted fee compared to our normal hourly rate.

Simpler budgeting.
Your accounting will be simpler. You know exactly how much you’ll be paying each week or month for the duration of the retainer contract, so you can plan your budget and stay organised.

Less paperwork.
On one-off jobs you’ll be dealing with quotes, contracts, invoices, etc. every time. Having a graphic design agency on a retainer means you have less paperwork to deal with. And less paperwork equals more time for you to focus on your own core business activities.

Still not convinced? Get in touch.
If you think a retainer might work for you, we can test the water by starting small. You can select a few modestly-sized regular jobs, and we can use those to create a mini support package. In time you can, if required, increase the scope of your retainer.

Before setting up your retainer, we’ll have a chat about the kind of work you need and how often you need it, so we can get a support package in place that fits your needs and budget.

If you’d like to chat about setting up a graphic design retainer for your business, get in touch.

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Who are your customers? Finding out will improve your marketing

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As a business owner or marketing manager, one of the most vital things you should ask yourself is “Who are my customers?”

Knowing who you are talking to can define what you say and do as a business, and how you say it and do it. In this blog post, we're going to put ourselves in the shoes of a marketing manager for an airline.

Customers fly for a variety of reasons. We can use these reasons as a potential basis for segmentation, i.e. dividing our customers and potential customers into groups.

Most airlines operate a segmented service: first class, business class and economy class for example. This segmentation is based essentially on price: the more customers are prepared to pay, the more comfortable they can be. However, this does not really tell us enough about our customers and the opportunities for differentiation – i.e. how we can make ourselves different from our competitors.

Segmentation allows us to identify specific groups of customers for whom we can recommend specific positioning for our business, and so achieve some differentiation. Let's assume that our airline operates largely in a consumer market, although its business customers could be B2B. Segmentation variables available are:

1. Profile variables – these are variables in the way that individuals live their lives. The main attraction for us is that they are tangible.
- Demographic variables include measurable data on age, gender and family life cycle (e.g. families with young children, retired couples).
- Socio-economic variables include data on individuals' occupations, education and income.
- Geographic variables include data on consumers' location and geo-demographics (the demographics and socio-economic data on a particular area).

2. Behavioural variables – these are variables in the way that consumers behave when buying or using your product or service.
- Benefits sought are the reasons why an individual purchases your product or service.
- Usage is how the consumer uses your product or service.
- Purchase occasion is the type of occasion on which a purchase is made.

3. Psychographic variables – these are the variables in the attitudes, interests, personality and lifestyle characteristics that might reflect in buying behaviours and choices.

In the case of air travel, benefits sought would provide an insightful segmentation. For example:
CORE PRODUCT:
Fly to correct destination
Safety
EXPECTED:
Good customer service
Reasonable level of comfort
AUGMENTED*:
Entertainment
Baggage
Catering
Pre-booked seats
Priority and late boarding
First class lounge
Fully flat seats
Frequent flyer programmes

* Many of the augmented services are available as standard on certain airlines, but not on budget airlines.

The important features of the augmented benefits are that:
- They provide the opportunity to differentiate your airline from others.
- If they value these benefits, customers will be prepared to pay a premium price for them.
- BUT over time, these services become expected and may lose their power to differentiate and command a premium price.

As a result of this, the airline must continue to come up with new service offers in order to distinguish themselves from the competition – for example spa treatments in the first class lounge, business centres with free wi-fi and refreshments.

Your organisation or small business may not have the huge budgets of airlines, but tips can still be taken from this example. What are your customer segments? How can you offer something different from your competitors, that your customer segment(s) will value?

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