Tag Archives: marketing

Why “social media marketing” isn’t really marketing

Image of a facebook business page

A tool for some businesses, but is yours one of them?

Social media marketing: business activity. . . or waste of time?

Have you got a Facebook business page? Did you know that, on average, only 1 in 10 of your followers will see a post from your page?

“Social media marketing” may be a popular term, but the impact on the average business has been less than dramatic. Sure, it makes business owners feel good. But bottom line? Little to no positive impact on the business in the majority of cases.

Why? Quite simply, because “social media marketing” puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. Posting updates on social media shouldn’t be construed as “marketing”. In reality, it’s a form of unpaid, vanity advertising.

Don’t get me wrong — I believe there is a lot of potential in a platform like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to help connect you to potential customers. But calling your posts on Facebook or Twitter “marketing” is an overstatement.

I am more and more convinced that most businesses are wasting time and energy on social media. With the exception of a few entrepreneurs who are a “brand” in and of themselves, the majority of business activity on social media, particularly Facebook, is unfocused and ultimately ineffectual.

And until you can track it, and measure the revenue you generate as a direct consequence of it, don’t call it marketing.

P.S. If you’d like to engage in marketing you can measure, get in touch.

How to boost your business with video

Laura Bruce from Bruce Public Relations speaking to a group at SCVO’s #DigitalMeetup in Inverness 25 January

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you will have noticed that the popularity of video has grown exponentially.

From Facebook to YouTube, we are consuming more video content than ever before. And the business case for video is compelling: according to Hubspot, after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online.

2017: the year of video?

We’ve seen growing interest in video, but I believe 2017 will be the year that video really takes off across a range of social platforms. By taking a few simple steps, any business can capitalise on the potential that video offers to share your message far and wide.

The power of leverage

For small- and medium-sized businesses with small- to medium-sized marketing budgets, video offers a powerful tool to generate leverage in your promotional activity. Equipped with little more than a smartphone, you can create short videos to bring your website and social media channels to life, and reach potentially millions of viewers online.

What should you say?

One of the best uses of video is to help people to understand what you do, and how you do it. A “value proposition” is a tool to help potential customers understand the benefits you provide, the problems you solve, and why they should choose you over your competition. Your value proposition should be a top priority when developing video content, and it’s something we work with clients to develop before doing any marketing or promotional activity. Once you are clear on what makes your business unique, it is much simpler to communicate this and convince potential customers why they should buy from you. [More on this here.]

Educate clients online, and build rapport

Also, consider the questions you typically respond to from clients or customers. For professional services firms like solicitors, accountants and architects, a video can save time responding to queries about your fee structure or services you provide. Perhaps your video could spec out the path of a typical query, and take a potential client through the process so there are no surprises? One of your team could explain how your fees are structured, and which if any services or advice you provide free of charge. A video will save staff time, and also serve to educate your audience. Moreover, by using an actual member of your team, video can build rapport in a way an email will never do.

Use video to accomplish new tasks online

But your video doesn’t have to be about your products or services. I recently worked with a large accounting firm to develop a video to recruit graduates to become trainee accountants. Shared on their website and social media channels, the animated video truly engaged the target audience — outperforming all other recruitment tactics— and generated a talented pool of ideal candidates!

Get something down on paper first

While some people are talented improvisational speakers, don’t put undue pressure on yourself or your team. Start with a script, outlining your key message and some details you want to include. Scripting your video doesn’t have to be complicated, but preparing a script will ensure you communicate what you intend to. And keep it short. Hubspot notes that 5% of people will turn off a video after one minute, but this figure jumps to 60% by two minutes! And ‘word count’ will make it simple to see how much you’ve got before you start filming: between 120 and 140 words will take about one minute to speak.

The crucial ingredient: a call to action

Don’t forget to include a call to action. Make sure to give your viewers one clear action to take — invite them to visit your website, ring your office, download a PDF, or email an enquiry. And make it simple for them to take that next step, by including a link, an email address, or similar.

What are you waiting for? 🙂

Video can positively impact your business in a range of ways – from increasing sales and driving traffic to your website, to educating potential customers about your products or services. The sooner you start using video, the sooner you’ll experience the benefits.

If you want to use video, but are not sure how to start, drop me a line or ring me. I think every business could be using video, and I can help you make the most of it!

Laura Bruce, Bruce Public Relations Ltd. copyright 2017. 

This article is based on my column in the January 2017 issue of Executive Magazine, a monthly publication of Scottish Provincial Press.

Why awards pay great dividends (even if you don’t win)

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Are you thinking of nominating your company for an award, but wondering if the time and effort required will be worth it? Are you a rising star in your industry, but still small potatoes compared to your competitors?

It may be worth spending the time and effort to enter the awards, for reasons you may not anticipate. Here are three compelling reasons to get an entry in, plus one benefit you probably never anticipated.

  1. Profile: Winning an industry award is a great way to get on the radar of potential investors, employees and key influencers. It’s like a big, flashing neon sign has been lit over your company and it can really help to open doors. Having won the award, your organisation has new credentials. Put them everywhere – on your website, social media pages, business cards and all over your marketing materials. People like to work with award-winning companies. Be one.
  2. Publicity: Most awards programmes have an element of publicity attached, which can be particularly beneficial for smaller organisations that don’t yet have much profile. Take advantage of the potential for this by entering awards where you have at least a decent chance of being shortlisted. Most awards schemes publish a list of nominees, so even if you don’t win, being shortlisted will give you some worthwhile exposure.
  3. Focus: The time and effort it takes to create a well-written and well thought-out application for an award benefits you as a business leader. It focuses your mind on where your company has come from, where you are, and what makes you unique. The best awards programmes also ask you where you are headed. If this is something you haven’t thought about recently, completing the entry form can be a timely reminder.

And the unexpected benefit of putting together an entry: Team-building.

One of the biggest rewards – surprisingly – has nothing to do with winning. It’s the potential the process holds, to bond your team members. The key here is to get everyone involved in the nomination process. Make it a truly organisation-wide effort. Let your staff know that you are planning a nomination and that you would like their input. This is the time to ask your team what they think makes your organisation unique. It may be things you never considered – from how you fill orders, to the way you reward employees. There is gold dust out there – you simply need to ask and you will receive.

The best results will come out of a culture where employees already feel a part of your business and feel their contribution is valued. But even if that’s not the case, the awards process opens the door to getting that culture of communication in place.

Good luck!

If you think you could use some assistance articulating what makes your organisation award-worthy, find a talented communications team to work with. If you need some advice on how to select someone, please get in touch.

This article by Laura Bruce of Bruce Public Relations was published in the June 2015 edition of Executive Magazine.

Are you ‘driving around aimlessly’? 3 tips to focus your social media

taget practise“Public relations without research is like shooting an arrow, then requisitioning a target to install in the field.” — Anthony J. Fulginiti, APR — communication briefings

Last week I made a presentation to the Highland Business Women’s Club. I was invited to talk about my business, but I decided instead to focus on the importance of having clear objectives for your company, before you head off on a PR or social media initiative.

It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But it’s the hardest part of the process. So many companies I speak to want to start doing social media, or a blog, or making announcements, but they have not spent time thinking about where it is they want to go as an organisation.

I used a metaphor in my talk, and listening to the guests afterwards, I think it made an impression. “Social media,” I said, “is like the car. Public relations is the map. But your goals — that is the destination.” And I suggested that nobody in the audience should waste their time driving around aimlessly. They needed PR for the map it provides, but without a destination, they could spend hours on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and end up no nearer achieving their objectives.

Sound familiar?

Here are my three tips to ensure you don’t waste time in your social media activities.

  1. Spend time thinking about your business objectives. Get together with your key people. Don’t be afraid to include juniors in the discussion. They often have fresh ideas and a different perspective.
  2. Visualise the outcome you desire. Then write it down. What does it look like, in that place that means “success” for your company. Is it a second office? More staff? More lucrative clients? Be precise, so you will know when you get there. And think big.
  3. Assign the work. Choose someone talented to develop a plan to achieve these goals. If your company is too small to have a staff member devoted to communications, then out-source it to an experienced contractor. Not only will you get just what you need, if you choose well, you will also access a great reservoir of business experience.

If you think you could use some assistance developing your company’s goals, and then crafting a plan to make them happen, get in touch with us. We love this kind of work. We specialise in ideas, and PR is just one way we make things happen for our clients.

The £Million Pound Slogan – but what did Tesco pay?

You shop. We drop.

“You shop. We drop.” Tesco’s grocery-delivery slogan has stood the test of time.

“You shop. We drop.”

Developed about ten years ago to promote their then-new grocery home-delivery service, Tesco’s “You shop. We drop” is one of the best slogans of recent years. You see it every time you pass one of their lorries on the motorway, or your neighbours get a delivery. It makes several million impressions each day across the UK.

But: what did it cost them? 

It would be difficult to quantify the value to Tesco of such a powerful and effective slogan. And yet, someone, somewhere, did. Someone in an agency billed Tesco for that brilliant piece of work. But I reckon they didn’t charge near enough what it’s true value was. Which brings us to today’s topic: “value billing”.

Working in PR and marketing, every now and then you or one of your team has a stroke of brilliance: a bit of work, a slogan or a strategy, that is second-to-none.

Unless you’ve agreed otherwise, billing the client for that brilliant piece of work means simply billing them the agreed hourly rate for your services. In certain instances, however, “value-billing” is a much better proposition. Value billing is where the amount billed is based on the value of the service (or information) instead of the number of hours spent.

Saving you thousands: what’s it worth?

Let’s say your accountant gives you some advice that saves you several thousand pounds. You would not mind getting a bill for a few thousand in that instance, even if it only took them a few minutes to pass along the information. You’re paying for the value of the information, not the time it took to generate it.

Value-billing is a practise adopted by some law firms and accounting firms, and the occasional PR or marketing consultancy. It’s described in detail in the book Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour: Strategies that Work by Mark A. Robertson and James A. Calloway (2008: American Bar Association).

The important thing if you are considering adopting value billing is to be certain that you can deliver the goods. Once you are confident of that, take steps to put an arrangement in place to bill on a value-basis.

I have come up with dozens of slogans for clients and campaigns, some of them still being used more than a dozen years later. Tesco has gotten millions of pounds of value from their “You shop. We drop” slogan, and I hope one day to come up with a cracker like that. Most of all, though, I hope I’m working on a “value-billing” basis when I do!

6 common website errors SMEs make and how to avoid them

How many Joes are there?

If this sign looks fine to you, then keep reading

Most business owners would agree that a website is a must for our business. More than just giving us a presence in Internet searches, our website allows potential customers to learn more about our products and services. It also enables them to get a feel for who we are and what we do. A quality site encourages potential customers to get in touch; a poor site loses them at the first hurdle.

It’s surprising how many SMEs miss out on the basics when it comes to their website.

While large organisations typically have a team of people devoted to ensuring the business’s website is functioning effectively, the majority of small- and medium-sized businesses don’t allocate any resources to their website once it’s up and running. And that can be a costly omission. Whether it’s hard to find or is filled with grammatical or spelling errors, if your website isn’t up to scratch it is sending the wrong message, and whether or not you realise it, your business is paying the price.

Here are my top six website mistakes SMEs make, and how you can avoid them:

  1. Your website copy is full of spelling and grammatical errors.  Losing customers because you are offering “Marketing Tip’s”? Don’t know your “their” from “there”? Poor writing on your site says “We can’t be bothered.” When I see grammatical errors on a site, I always wonder what else they are getting wrong. Ensure the writing on your website is competent. If writing isn’t your thing, ask someone who writes for a living to quality-assure the copy on your site. There are lots of talented PR and marketing people who can tidy up your website content. It won’t cost a fortune, and it help to ensure your site conveys a professional image to visitors.
  2. Your website is hard to find. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to find a business you know exists, but whose website exists somewhere in the ether due to an overly complex URL. My advice: If you can’t get a straightforward domain name, consider changing your business name.
  3. There’s no phone number or email address. There’s no point having a website if you don’t provide easy-to-find contact information. Give people a telephone number or an email address, at the very least. And don’t bury this information. Put it on your homepage. In fact, put it at the top of your homepage, in a large font! If you don’t want to list your email address because you are tired of getting spam, install a contact form. And if you are sick of getting those automated PPI-claims phone calls, you should also be judicious about listing your mobile number.
  4. Your business name doesn’t say what you do. It may seem obvious to you, but to someone new to the community, “Dewey, Cheatham and Howe” does not necessarily scream “firm of solicitors!” or “quantity surveyors!”. There are hundreds of businesses whose business name is the surname of two or three of its principals, or worse, two or three of its long-dead founders. You don’t have to change your business name, but it is helpful to put “Quantity Surveyors”, “Chartered Accountants”, “Architects” or “Solicitors” after your name. Doing this on your website header will help to ensure that your firm comes up in an Internet search. It will also ensure that your site visitors know they have arrived at the right place.
  5. It’s all text and no visuals. Set yourself apart from other similar businesses by using real photos of real people. Even better, include photos of local landmarks on your site. This helps to root your business in the local community, and that is ideal if that is your main trading area. If you haven’t got decent photos, commission some from a local photographer. If you can’t afford to buy-in photography, source some royalty-free professional photographs. Your site visitors will appreciate it.
  6. There is out of date content on your homepage. Did you do a promotion for Christmas? If it’s January and a smiling image of Santa still greeting your visitors, you are sending the wrong message. If you can’t be judicious about updating your homepage, consider hiring in someone to tidy it up for you on a regular basis. Even if you only update it once a quarter, it enables you to say something timely, and your visitors will appreciate it.

I hope you have found that useful. And if you see Joe, please ask him to give us a ring.

Does your website need a bit of tidying up? There is nothing we enjoy more at Bruce Public Relations than a wee bit of editing! (Check our handbags — you’ll find a red marker!) We can edit your website in a jiffy and we promise it won’t cost you a fortune. Get in touch and we will give you an estimate pronto!

6 things you need to know to create compelling content

David Sim from Open Brolly speaking about "Digital Story-telling"

David Sim from Open Brolly speaking about “Digital Story-telling”

In this brave new world of social media, content is king. Create content that is appreciated and shared, and you will be delighted with the results.

A few years back, a good friend married a talented and sociable lawyer (he’s in the States). I wasn’t surprised when she told me he had a weekly radio programme. He had a good personality for that. It was a call-in show, where people would ring in with their legal questions. He could answer pretty much anything that came up. The radio show was good publicity for his legal practise. It got his name out there, and helped bring business through the door.

Now, you might wonder: was his radio show marketing, or PR? Good question.

But the answer doesn’t matter. What matters is that Nick was generating content. It was old-fashioned content, broadcast on the radio. Today, he probably has a podcast. But the principles are the same: create interesting content and, if you are good at getting the word out, people will view it and share it.

Last night I was a guest speaker at Highland Social in Inverness. Started by Michelle Russell from Snow Marketing, Highland Social is a networking forum for social media professionals and those wanting to learn more. Each event has a few guest speakers sharing their experiences with social media and related topics like branding. [My topic was “PR in the age of Social Media”.] Two of last night’s speakers talked about how they had created content that had driven traffic to their sites, raised awareness of their brands, and ultimately, had a clear and positive impact on the bottom line.

Jen Tomatin

Jennifer Nicol from Tomatin Distillery speaking about the launch of Cu Bocan whiskey using social media

One was Jennifer Nicol from Tomatin Distillery. Jennifer recently launched a new whiskey on a shoestring budget using old-fashioned creativity and the wonder of social media. I’m not surprised her launch was a success. Her technique and content was brilliant.

Nick from Highland Bottle Shop told us about how he had grown his newly-opened beer and liquor store using social media. One successful example was a photo of a six-pack of beer, posted on Twitter and Facebook the day before Father’s Day, noting that if anyone else had forgotten Father’s Day, Highland Bottle Shop could help. Nick sold quite a few six-packs that day, and no doubt, make more than a few fathers happy.

But what about the rest of us? We’re don’t all sell sexy Highland whiskeys or charming microbrews from around the world. What should we be talking about?

David Sim from Open Brolly addressed this. His topic was “Digital Story-telling”. [That’s David in the photo at the top of this page.] David said that in the world of social media, there is so much out there you need to be creative to stand out. He gave some excellent examples to illustrate that we bond with people if the content of their stories connects with us on an emotional level. David had some statistics to show that some words are better triggers than others: “coffee” and “perfume” make a stronger connection, he noted, than “table” or “chair”. He said that these connections light up a particular part of our brain. It made me think that we must be “hard-wired” for story-telling.

As David explained, telling a compelling story is a wonderful way to connect with people — be  it in person at an event, or on your blog. He suggested that if we are interested in creating compelling content, we should look for episodes in our lives that have an emotional element to them.

And this morning, when I looked up the YouTube videos David had planned to share (network speed prevented this), as exemplars of “digital story-telling” I saw that these were indeed, great examples of how companies had pushed the boundaries and created compelling content for social media to promote their brands.

Coke’s “Happiness Machine” youtube video shows the surprising results of how a modified, personalised vending machine delivered “happiness” (and a pizza!) at a college campus in the States. And the Dollar Shave Club video uses direct-address and a moving camera to convince men that paying a premium to remove hair from their face is a silly idea and that they should try an alternative.

And that’s when I had an epiphany: we all have our own television network. Thanks to YouTube, iTunes, and a host of other channels, every one of us has the capacity to become a broadcaster — whether it’s analogous to radio, television or a newspaper, there is nothing to stop us from getting our messages out on our own channel. However, most of us — myself included — have barely scratched the surface of that potential.

So to that end, I would like to share 6 suggestions to help get you started on creating compelling content:

  1. Tell a story. Do you have something to say that has a surprising or poignant element? This will engage your readers. If you would be more comfortable with something less intimate, share insights or episodes from your business career. Was there someone who made a big impression on you? What about your first day at your first job? Tell that story.
  2. Use photos to help bring that story to life. The most popular tweets and Facebook posts are those with photos.
  3. If you haven’t got anything nice to say, complain articulately. There’s little I enjoy reading more than a well-crafted complaint. Surely I am not alone?
  4. Think about how video can be used to help tell a story. “Direct-address” to your hand-held is the new Cinéma vériténon?
  5. Once your content is complete, get it out there. If you don’t have a personal site, create a blog from one of the free sites like Google’s Blogger or the more user-friendly WordPress. Create a YouTube or Vimeo channel if your content is visual.
  6. Finally, go all-out to share it across your networks. Post about it on your Facebook, and share a link on Twitter. Whichever social network suits you, use this get it around.

Then sit back and wait. Measure your results using a link hosting service like bit.ly and see how you did! You may even want to conduct your own experiment, changing the key words in your blog title, and seeing if you get different or better results.

I can’t think of a better way to learn about the potential of social networking than by creating your own content, getting it out there and seeing what happens. Can you?