Author Archives: Sarah Hickman

New year, new marketing plan: 10 ways to revamp your marketing for the new decade

Posted on  
New year new marketing plan

It’s a new year and a new decade, so now's the time to reflect on the successes or challenges you faced in 2019, and think about what you want your business to accomplish in 2020.

Like many areas of your business, it's a good time to take a look at your marketing. To help you revamp your marketing strategy in 2020, we've put together 10 helpful tips to get you started:

1. Establish a budget
When creating your marketing budget, you need to be focused on your customers. Where are they, and how do you find them? Start by looking back on last year’s marketing costs and create a realistic budget. Methods of marketing are rapidly evolving, so your budget should have some room for changes you might need to make in the new year.

2. Consider your target market
You may have plenty of customers coming through your door or visiting your website every day, but are these the customers you really want to reach? Do you know who your target market really is? You can’t focus on revamping your marketing plan until you know who you really want to target. Have a look at the value of your current customers – should you be sticking with them or looking elsewhere?

3. Consider your strengths
Say you run a restaurant. Do you serve the best pasta in town? Offer the friendliest service? Run a great mid-week offer? These are the things you should to focus on in your advertising. When you know your strengths, you can use them in your marketing materials.

4. Create a realistic schedule
One of the key parts of staying on track with marketing is establishing a realistic schedule that works. Just like any new year's resolution, it's better to make it achievable. Planning your upcoming year will help you stay focused on your goals.

5. Update your logo
Your logo is one of the first things potential customers see. Does it communicate your brand well? If you think your logo still fits, there’s no need to change it – but if the font or graphics seem at odds with the personality of your business, consider getting a new one. And do it properly: hire a professional designer!

6. Review your website
Is your current site easy to navigate? Has it been updated in the past few years? Does it feature an accurate menu and easy-to-find contact info? Has it been optimised for mobile devices? If the answer to any of these questions is no, consider revamping your site.

7. Create valuable website content
People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed – and it's also great for SEO. When a website is updated regularly, Google sees it as an active site and therefore ranks it more highly in search results pages. Have a look at what you say on your website, and make sure it's regularly updated and reflects your brand well.

8. Be mobile-friendly
Mobile internet use is growing and growing (something we first wrote about way back in July 2013). This year, it’s important to make sure you're producing content that’s web-friendly, and ensure your website is optimised for mobile (if you haven’t already). This will help you reach more of your audience and let customers know that you take your digital marketing seriously.

9. Review your advertising tactics
Look at the channels you use for your advertising. Do you use Google AdWords, email marketing, press adverts, social media advertising, or something else? Are these methods bringing in the customers you want? Think about where your ideal customer is and what channels they'll actually see - and be most receptive to.

10. Have a fresh look at your social media presence
Social media is no longer an option…it’s a necessity. It's also one of the most direct and effective ways you can promote your business. Even if you’re already actively using social media, evaluate your activity and see if you’re doing all that you can. Are you using your Facebook page effectively? Are you responding quickly to customers on Twitter? This is also a good time to think about whether you need to be active on so many platforms. For example, if your customers don't use Twitter, stick to Facebook. Your time will be better spent and you'll have more time to engage. A content calendar is a fantastic way of scheduling in your activity.

So in summary...
Marketing is basically about listening to your audience, and telling them why they would benefit from using your product or service. Making a few tweaks to your plan can help refine and target your marketing, and put you on the right track for a successful 2020.

Posted on  

5 reasons why your marketing campaign needs print

Posted on  
Marketing campaign needs print

In today's integrated marketing communications, print is sometimes overlooked. However, not everything can be communicated online, so while the internet can help to promote your business, print still has an important role in closing sales.

Many businesses have moved all of their advertising online because of its cost effectiveness, convenience and potential for exposure. But print is still a powerful and necessary component of your campaign. Why?

  1. Branding - Printed marketing materials and adverts are a fantastic way of solidifying your brand identity. Your branding can be carried through in terms of design, colours and fonts.
  2. Tangibility - You can actually touch a printed piece. Your brochure or printed advert can be kept for years, while old online ads disappear into cyber space.
  3. Credibility - Print gives a sense of legitimacy. It shows that you're not a cheap, 'here today, gone tomorrow' organisation.
  4. Targeted marketing - Brochures can be handed out to qualified prospects at events and retail outlets. And placing adverts in speciality magazines, for example, can reach niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.
  5. Engaging - Consumers are often more 'switched on' when reading printed material, and read more slowly. Websites are more likely to be skim-read.

The best way to market your business is to use as many channels as possible to reach your customers, and this should include print. Contact us at Public to find out how print can contribute to your overall marketing effectiveness.

Posted on  

Should you build your own website?

Posted on  
Build your own website

So you've started your own business. Or your current website needs a bit of a makeover. Or you work for an organisation and have been tasked with refreshing their site. But you haven't got a multi-million budget to spend*. What to do?

*Although it would be nice if you had.

It's tempting to go down the DIY route, especially if you've already done a bit of web stuff before. Of course you could sit down and teach yourself how to build a very basic website. But for a professional organisation, this isn't the best idea. Here we look at a few reasons why.

  1. Looks cheap
    It will look like it's been built by a beginner – because it has – and this will damage your brand. If you look like a cheap enterprise, your customers will go elsewhere.
  2. Looks like every other site
    Use a cheap off-the-shelf template and it will look like every other website out there, and will offer no customisation or advanced functionality such as a CMS. You'll probably want to update your website regularly, and a CMS (Content Management System) is by far the best way of doing this. Plus it will save you time and money in the long run.
  3. Costs more
    It will take you a long time to build, so ultimately cost you more than using an expert. How did we work this out? Say you pay yourself £25 per hour. Your web developer charges £35 per hour. You're saving money by doing it yourself, right? Probably not. It might take you 200 hours to learn how to set everything up and try to get it just right. Factor in all of that time and you've spent £5,000 of worth of time building an average website. Instead, you could have a website beautifully designed by an expert for a cheaper price and in a shorter timeframe.
  4. Takes time
    Your time and therefore money is better spent on other things – such as running your business, or doing the job you're actually being paid for.
  5. Nobody will find it
    It won't be search engine optimised, so nobody will find it. Here at Public we can create comprehensive campaigns that include SEO, social media, online advertising and much more that will bring traffic to your website and attention to your brand.

By hiring a professional you'll realise a return on your investment. At Public we're experts at creating stunning and engaging websites. It's what we do every day. Contact us to find out how we can help your business.

Posted on  

Graphic design jargon buster

Posted on  
Graphic design jargon buster

Here at Public we make sure we explain everything to you in layman's terms. But have you ever heard a graphic designer or graphic design agency use a term and wondered what on earth they're on about? This little glossary might help bust that jargon...

Author's corrections
Corrections made by the author on proofs, that alter the original copy. The cost of making such alterations is charged for.

Bitmapped image
Image represented by an array of picture elements, each of which is encoded as a single binary element.

Blank dummy
Mock-up consisting of the substrate and cover material required for a printed document (e.g. a paper brochure).

CMYK
Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and black process colours.

Encapsulated PostScript file (EPS)
Type of image file conforming to Adobe standards.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
A simple way to log in to another internet location in order to retrieve or send files.

Gradation
Staged change in tones from highlight to shadow.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)
A commonly used method of compression for digital images. The degree of compression can be adjusted.

Line art
Image that has no tonal gradation.

Pantone
Pantone is one of the most widely used colour matching systems in commercial printing.

Portable Document Format (PDF)
File format used for the exchange of documents and defined in the Adobe portable document format.

Point size
Typographic unit of linear measurement.

RGB
Abbreviation for red, green and blue, the colours that combine on a digital display to make an image.

Tag Image File Format (TIFF)
Format for exchanging raster-based data.

Tone
Degree of lightness or darkness in any given area of an image.

Tone value
Percentage of the surface occupied by the image area.

Typography
Process of designing, specifying, composing, printing or otherwise working with typefaces by means of analogue and/or digital techniques.

Posted on  

Who are my customers? Using market segmentation can help you find out

Posted on  
Customer segmentation

OK, so this may sound like a dry, academic topic. But using market segmentation needn't be difficult, and can help any business – large or small – define who their customers are. Once you know who your customers are, you can then take steps to shape your offering to meet their needs.

A segment of the market is basically a group of people that share similar characteristics.

You can follow four rules for creating useful segments. Your segments should be:

1. Measurable
We should know where it is, how big it is, and exactly how it differs from the market at large and other segments in particular.

2. Accessible
You need to be able to access the segment with your marketing communications.

3. Substantial
It has to be big enough to be worth your while.

4. Homogeneous
The members of the segment must act in the same way, and respond in the same way to marketing messages they receive.

So the next question is – what criteria should you use for segmentation?

This depends on your business, but here are some suggestions:


1. Geographical markets

By country
By region
By county
By town
By postcode
Or even by street

2. Demographic factors
By age
By gender
By family life stage (e.g. whether they have children)
By income
By occupation
By education

3. Social factors
By social class (although this is becoming less useful)
By lifestyle
By personality

4. Benefits sought
For example, if you are a toothpaste manufacturer, why are your customers buying your product? Is it for dental health, social reasons (fresh breath), or appearance (tooth whitening)?

 

The list above is based on a business-to-consumer business. A B2B organisation could use slightly different criteria, such as type of customer, end uses, common buying factors, and buyer size and geography.

Segmentation isn't necessarily a precise exercise, but it should be able to help you target your marketing efforts more effectively. It can help define the focus of your company, increase your competitiveness, retain your customers, improve your communication… and ultimately increase your profitability.

Posted on  

10 tips to get your marketing calls to action working for you

Posted on  
Calls to action

How many times have you seen instructions like "Subscribe Now" - "Sign Up Today" - "Contact Us To Find Out More" - "Buy Now" online? Do you have any on your own website? If not, we strongly advise that you get some!

Calls To Action (CTAs) help your website to work hard for you. They are also very valuable in email campaigns, because one of the purposes of an email campaign is to get your potential customers to take an action.

CTAs are a marketing necessity. Get them right and you have the means to drive your customers to just the conclusion you want, for example:

  • purchasing goods or services
  • signing up for a newsletter
  • downloading your latest white papers, etc.

Get your CTAs wrong and you are potentially damaging your digital marketing efforts.

So how can I make them work for me?

They should be:

1. DIRECT
Make it clear what the customer will achieve by clicking on your CTA. Use concise language. If you want your customer to ‘Download full report’ then say so. Not ‘Click here to be amazed by our survey’s results’.

But at the same time...
2. UNAMBIGUOUS
Avoid open-ended invitations such as ‘Click here’ or ‘Submit’. Instead, state a clear outcome, such as 'Buy now’, or ‘Download your free trial’.

3. PROMINENT
Whether presented as a button, advert, text or image, your CTA needs to stand out from the rest of the page in terms of colour, design and position. Don’t hide it away where it won't be found.

4. WELL PLACED
Its position on your web page is vital. Generally, lead generation or eCommerce CTAs should be displayed prominently near the top of the page, whilst more complex pages might warrant a CTA below the 'fold'.

5. CONSIDERED FOR MOBILE DEVICES
If you’re aiming at a mobile audience (and most people are), don’t bury your CTA at the bottom of your page - users will be required to scroll endlessly to reach it. Also, don't use tiny buttons that will go unnoticed on a small screen.

6. PERSONALISED
People like the personal touch. Think about the language you use. Amazingly, a case study from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 showed a 90% increase in sign-ups by altering one word in a CTA, from ‘Start your free 30 day trial’ to ‘Start my free 30 day trial’.

7. TESTED
Testing will allow you to maximise the impact of your CTA and understand the preferences of your audience. It's worth trying different wording, and placing your CTA in different areas to see what works best.

8. REALISTIC
Make sure your CTA does what it says. If you've promised a free report, make sure the CTA leads straight there, not to your homepage or to a series of complex sign-up procedures. Potential customers may get frustrated and leave the page.

9. OPTIMISED
If your CTA is embedded as an image, make sure you alt tag it with strong keywords. You may need to ask your web developer for help! Alt tags ensure your content is correctly indexed with search engines, and will help to maximise traffic and improve your SEO.

10. FEW
Don’t confuse your visitors with too many CTAs or buttons per page. Where more than one CTA is necessary, create a hierarchy to prioritise. The most important ones should be bigger and placed in a prominent position to maximise clicks.

Posted on  

Content marketing – what's the point?

Posted on  
Content marketing

What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.” (Content Marketing Institute)

In other words, it is creating or finding relevant information and high-quality content, and sharing it on a mixture of digital channels, such as your website blog and social media.

The ideal content is entertaining, informative and helpful to potential customers. Good content directs those customers to your website (or makes them linger there), where you can potentially capture leads and sell products. Successful content marketing creates positive associations to your brand.

Why is it so popular?
In today’s digital world, people are inundated with adverts. As a result, businesses struggle to get their messages noticed. In 2011, a study conducted by the Custom Content Council showed that more than 70% of people preferred to get their information from articles rather than from advertisements. This helps to explain the growth in popularity of content marketing.

Why do businesses do it?
Large, successful brands like Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Toshiba (to name a few) use content marketing – so it must be worth doing. Large brands are interested in content marketing for two reasons:
1. It's an effective way to reach audiences
2. It provides more “immediacy” to learn from and interact with these audiences than traditional bought media, like press and TV advertising

In other words, it's a great way of carrying out your own market research, and building your brand. Through content marketing, you are communicating messages to your customers all the time, and hopefully building a relationship.

SMEs obviously don't have the huge marketing budgets of these organisations, but can learn from them.

Is it worth the investment/time?
Content marketing is a lot like going to the gym. You’re not going to see results in a week, but if you commit to doing it regularly over time, you’ll see results. The bottom line is that there is tremendous ROI in consistently developing great content for your audience. And, unlike other forms of marketing, content marketing pays dividends far into the future.

Posted on  

Features vs Benefits: How to think like your customers

Posted on  
Features vs benefits

Why do people buy a product or a service? They do it for the benefit it offers them.

As the seller, your mission is to answer the question, “What's in it for them?”

Approach your marketing efforts from your customer's perspective. Next time you write content for your website, send an email campaign or update your social media accounts, stop and think – why should customers buy from me? What benefits am I offering them?

There's a difference between the features of what you're selling, and the benefits.

Feature = what the product is, or what it has;
Benefit = what the product does for the customer.

Here are some examples of features vs benefits:

1st generation Apple iPod
Feature = 5GB hard drive storage
Benefit = 1,000 songs in your pocket

Rachel's Organic Greek Yoghurt
Feature = nutritious and tasty
Benefit = makes you feel healthier and more satisfied

Kleenex Balsam Tissues
Feature = thick and soft
Benefit = soothes your nose and helps you through a cold

Nurofen Plus Tablets
Feature = contains active ingredients Ibuprofen and Codeine Phosphate
Benefit = one dose relieves your headache and gets you through the day

Both features and benefits are equally important when you're writing your marketing copy and campaigns, but it will be the benefits that give you the best advantages for converting customers.

Try making a list of your product’s features and write benefits for each. Do this again for different potential customers, even ones you may not have considered before. You may find a new way of looking at your product that helps you better connect with people.

Posted on  

How Google Analytics can help improve your web traffic

Posted on  
Google Analytics

Google Analytics monitors and measures your website traffic.

It’s free, and integrates with other Google programmes like AdWords.

You can see how many people are actually engaging with your website, which you can't do using offline marketing tools like brochures or press ads.

We recommend that you analyse your website traffic reports regularly. These will help you understand where your traffic is coming from, and what visitors do when they land on your website.

How to set it up
1. To use Google Analytics you need a Google account. If you don't have one, set one up. It's quick and easy.
2. Once you have a Google account go to Google Analytics and sign in with your Google account.
3. Follow the instructions to create a new analytics account.
4. When you are creating a new account, the 'Add Tracking' step will generate your tracking ID. The tracking ID will start with 'UA'.
5. Copy and paste the tracking code into the pages of your website that you want to track.

You can follow these steps yourself, but it may be easier to get your web developer to do this for you.

With this code in place, you will immediately start to receive data related to your website that you can then use to analyse your traffic and business goals.

One fantastic feature of Google Analytics is goal tracking. Set up a 'conversion goal' within your analytics account and you will be able to check if you are reaching this goal. You will be able to see exactly where you are losing your visitors along the conversion process, allowing you to correct any mistakes you are making on your site.

Posted on  

Printing jargon buster

Posted on  
Printing Leamington Spa

We received so much positive feedback from last month's blog post on busting the jargon around graphic design that we thought we'd treat you to a glossary for printing terms! So here goes...

Binding
Method by which pages of a publication are held together.

Bleed
Additional printing area outside the normal printing area. Necessary for the allowance of the mechanical cutter in the trimming process.

Creep
Tendency of a printed image to drift out of register or position during the printing process.

CTP
Abbreviation for 'Computer to Plate', the method of making printing plates direct from digital media.

Die cutting
Process that uses sharp steel blades, laser beams or water jets to cut predetermined shapes into substrates.

Digital proof
Soft or hard copy proof produced from digital data on a display or on a substrate.

Drilling
Process that uses drills to bore holes in a substrate, for example in paper inserts which will be bound in a ring binder.

Embossing
System that uses dies to press raised images or textures onto blank or printed substrates.

Encapsulation
The process of covering and sealing printed paper or board with a tough waterproof, plastic film. An overlap is usually left around the edge. Often mistakenly referred to as 'lamination'.

Fill in
Undesirable effect in which small non-image areas are filled by ink.

Gloss lamination
A printing finish that gives a high gloss sheen often used on brochure covers, menus, magazine covers or presentation folders.

Gravure printing
A process in which the printing areas are below the non-printing surface. The recesses are filled with ink and the surplus is cleaned off the non-printing with a blade before the paper contacts the whole surface and lifts the ink from the recesses.

GSM
Measure of paper density. Stands for ‘Grams per Square Metre’. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper. For example, standard A4 office paper is 80 gsm.

Hickey
Imperfection on a printed sheet caused by unwanted particles that can cling to the image carriers during lithographic printing.

Imposition
Positioning pages in order to ensure correct sequence when the resulting print work is converted to final page form.

Laminating
The application of transparent plastic film, usually with a high-gloss or matt finish, to the surface of the substrate to enhance its appearance, increase the thickness and stiffness and to increase its durability. Differs from 'encapsulation'.

Letterpress printing
A process in which the printing surface of metal, plastic photopolymer or rubber is raised above the non-printing surface. The ink rollers and the substrate touch only the relief printing surface.

Lithographic printing
Process for printing from a smooth surface, called a plate, to a substrate, generally paper. Based on the rule that ink and water repel each other. The image area of the plate is treated to receive and transmit ink to paper via a blanket. The non-image area of the plate is treated to attract water and thus reject the ink from the ink roller.

Matt lamination
A printing finish that gives a subtle, tactile effect, and forms a protective coating over the print. Gives a less glossy finish than gloss lamination.

Moiré
Interference patterns that can appear at regular frequencies when two or more patterns on an image interact with each other (for example a fine check pattern).

Offset printing
The most commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.

Pagination
Making up into page format.

Perfect binding
Adhesive binding – gluing together individual pages or signatures directly to the cover of the book. Best used when the spine thickness is from 3mm to 25mm.

PP
Acronym standing for 'Printed Pages'. For example a brochure may have 16pp.

Perfecting
Printing the second side of the sheet. Also known as backing up.

Process colours
The colours used for four-colour process printing: yellow, magenta, cyan and black.

Raster Image Processor (RIP)
Processor that creates a bitmapped image from any other form of electronic file.

Register marks
Small reference patterns, guides or set of fine line crosses, added outside the image area to provide points for alignment and registration of subsequent colours in printing operations.

Run on
The additional cost to print further copies at the same time as the main print run.

Saddle stitching
To stitch with wire through the back of a folder booklet or brochure. At a larger pagination this method will not work, and a different option such as perfect binding will be used.

Screen printing
Often called silk screen printing. A stencil process with the printing and non-printing areas on one surface, the printing (image) area is open screen. The substrate is placed under the screen and ink is passed across the top of the screen and forced through the open (image) areas on to the substrate below.

Self cover
A brochure or booklet having the cover in the same substrate as the text pages (inside pages).

Signature pages
Professionally printed books have many pages printed per sheet of (large) paper, which is then folded and cut where necessary to produce a gathering or 'signature' of several smaller sheets.

Spot colour
Colour created from a single ink, which is not one of the process colours.

Spot UV
A special printing finish you can apply to specific areas on your print work to make it shinier. For example you can apply UV varnish to your logo.

Stitching
Method of binding pages in a booklet, for example using wire, thread or metal/plastic rings.

Stochastic screening
Printing process that uses the variations of spacing of tiny dots of uniform size and density to render tones.

Substrate
The base material that images will be printed onto, for example paper or card.

Web printing
The use of rolls (or 'webs') of paper supplied to the printing press in a continuous form. Generally used for runs in excess of five or ten thousand impressions. Typical examples of web printing include newspapers, newspaper inserts/ads, magazines, direct mail, catalogues and books.

Posted on