2017

SEP

12

Stop the hate. Why marketing works (honest)

Marketing

Marketing works. I would say that wouldn’t I however I do believe it and dedicate my life to proving it does. The simplest way to prove it really does work then do nothing (and I mean zero) and measure your sales, then do something (marketing wise) and then measure the difference in sales.

Now I do wish it is as simple as that as with marketing there are so many variables at play which is why marketing is never a sure fire thing that will change your fortune forever. It is a series of assumptions, ideas, plans and execution that should always result in a positive return on investment. Marketers can tell you what they like but sales if the only metric, so don’t be distracted by anything else.

The factors that can affect any campaign are insight, strategy, idea, creative, spend, media channels chosen, length of campaign, bespoke execution across all channels, energy to keep up the ante and team engagement. So it is tricky and also easy to explain away why it may not have went well, blaming any one of these things.

The issue is in our industry’s definition of marketing is different from its true purpose and this will affect the ROI from any marketing is seen as just a switch to be flicked. Marketing is usually seen as promotions or just communications for short-term gain. However, if you revisit the fundamental definition of marketing then this helps you focus and reset your thinking.

“Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.  Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.” Kotler

Also, instead of seeing marketing like a sales booster (short term discount or promotion) look at everything as a whole. Kotler’s four Ps are still relevant today and this is where I would start. Clients come to us and ask the classic question. Can you raise our sales by £5k per week please and they have a budget for 3 months activity (if that) and expect a shot in the arm to then help sustain the sales gap forever. I wish this was the case as I would either be very rich or out of a job depending on how easy it was to achieve.

The four Ps is always where I would start. They are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. However I would add some more Ps in there for good measure. Often the issue lies in at least one of these.

  1. Product: Talk to your customers and look at the market to find out if your product is good enough or if a competitor has leapfrogged you.
  2. Price: Look at your pricing. You may even be too cheap, have the change to reengineer you pricing to ensure an upsell for every visit.
  3. Place: If you are miles off pitch, then you are going to have to do a lot of work to make your self a destination. Not impossible, but next time do better.
  4. Perception: Reviews, Word of Mouth and what people think about you. If you are scored 2.3 on Google reviews or Trip Advisor then forget doing a 50% off or a new type of coffee. Fix whatever is wrong first.
  5. People: Make sure you have aces in places who are living and breating brand ambassadors. Never scrimp on this, Hire slow, fire fast.
  6. Promotion: Once the other parts are in place, then you are in a position to promote all of your USPs and great things about your business.
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2017

SEP

12

3 reasons why it pays to have a marketing budget

Marketing

Marketing is always seen to be a cost centre rather than a revenue stream and this is why often marketing is seen as a waste of money run by those who prefer crayons and fluff as opposed to Mont Blanc pens and hard ROI. If you believe that then I have no sympathy for the outcome of your efforts as if you treat something with disrespect, guess what, you wont get the best out of it (be it people or objects). So, how do we change our mindset, ensure marketing is a key part of the business helping you grow your business? Here are five ways that I would say shows that it pays to have a marketing budget.

1) It focuses the team.

If you can start off by saying “We want to grow sales by £100k a year or £500k a year”, then this instantly helps planning tasks, spend in what areas and resource. This puts you on the front foot from minute one and pushes you to then think about a planning session and be a marketing first business. Right, so if you want to make £100k per year more gross sales and then put in a sum that you think will sustain your current sales, then that becomes your marketing budget. A good way to look at it is budget for between 1% and 5% of your forecast gross sales. Usually the smaller you are, the higher a percentage you want to attribute to give you a boost.

2) It helps you prioritise

Learning to say no to 95% of things and say yes to 5% is helped by having a marketing budget. Spend this and only this, however you need to the plan ahead (another good thing) to determine what the big things are that will make a difference to your business and are worth investing in (as well as business as usual). For example if you have a marketing budget of say £50k, then take off BAU (also square it with yourself that BAU is all-necessary too. You may want to rethink that). Then put in budgets for new website, a product launch, 4 x seasonal campaigns and some social media advertising then that is it. Stay focused and just fuel the things that will make a real difference to your business.

3) Motivates your teams

All businesses rely on the motivation of their teams to really make things and a motivated team will ensure you meet and exceed your targets. Being a Marketing Manager (as I have been) or an agency person (as I am), there is nothing more demotivating that hearing “We have no budget (but we still want to do this)” or the best one is “Can you come up with a low cost or no cost solution”. What kind of business person or leader are you if this is what you tell or want from your teams? It is unprofessional and bordering on disrespect. Having a marketing budget helps you to avoid this and it means that you can engage with the right people upfront and if you have a low budget then at least find people to help that can still be rewarded by making your budget work as hard as it can. Constantly fighting over price or getting people to do work only to say you have no budget is really not on. That reputation about you will spread so you will stop attracting the best employees and external minds who will eventually give you a wide berth.

I hope these 3 reasons help give you confidence that having a marketing budget is the right thing to do and help you go forward with confidence.

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2017

SEP

12

Top 10 marketing mistakes

Marketing

Below, I have laid out the top 10 marketing mistakes that I have made over the years, that we see from our clients and from people out there in the market place. This list should help you avoid repeating others mistakes and help you sell more (which is the only reason to carry out marketing).

Having spent the last 20 years working across industries from the music magazines, to banking to online travel to Japanese restaurants and working both client and agency side, I am hoping that I have learned a few things that may help you when planning your next marketing push. I have had things go terribly well and things that have just went, well terribly but on balance more bad that good and I hope that I can give you some guidance below on what not to do when executing your next marketing campaign.

  1. Have your brand defined. The first place to start is to define your brand. You need to be able to write down the following in order for you to have a solid base from which you can make all decisions and communicate. What’s your story? (write down why you started the business or it’s story and imagine that you are telling a customer), What is it? (This is the granny test. Imagine you telling a 92-year-old granny what it is you actually do so that she doesn’t look puzzled. If it is a coffee shop what type of coffee shop is it? If you a brew beer, what kind of brewery/beer is it?), Who are your customers? (Who is the one type of customer that you can build your business on profitably?), What are their motivations? (Keep asking why they would use you and pick your top motivations for using you from your exhaustive list), What are your USPs? (Pick 4 competitors who steal your business and list why they are better than you. Then fight back on why you are better than all of them), What is your personality? Pick a few magazines and pick 20 photos that you feel sum up one personality trait from each photo that you feel describes your brand as if it left the room. What would you say about it? Narrow it down to 4 and based you tone of voice on this. What is your role in life? (Take all of the information you have gathered and put it into a statement on why you exist, what you do and who for) and lastly try to sum up the role statement above into two words.
  2. Getting commercial. This is the key thing that so many marketers do not think about. We are only here to help sell stuff. When I was at YO! Sushi, it was drummed into me that every penny spent had to have a return. “How many pieces of sushi will we sell by doing that”. So simply look at your current takings, define what you would like them to be and then divide by average spend per head. That then gives you the number of customers that you need per day, week and month. This outline the work to be done. This helps you get super strategic in your thinking (looking at daypart issues, upsell ops, refer a friend etc).
  3. Defining your target audience and where their attention is at. From point 1, if you know exactly who your audience are, then the next step is to figure out where their attention is. Mainly, it will be stuck to a mobile phone. So guess what you need to do? If the media channel that gets the most attention is the punchline, then all you need to do is write the joke. Be focused, not scatter gun and traditional marketing methods are there to be used, but interrogated.
  4. Stop being an order taker. If you simply an order taker then you are replaceable. Don’t just do what your board wants. Most marketers are (quite understandably) compromising to keep their job, however many CEOs in our industry’s opinion and experience in marketing not as up to the minute as hopefully a practicing Marketing Manager/Director is. We get so many comments of “We want to launch our product and our CEO likes Bus Shelter advertising”. Really? It is our job as marketers to know our numbers, our facts and you therefore should hopefully be able to fight your corner to test, demonstrate and expand on what your gut or empirical theory is.
  5. Not enough discipline in our industry. In your sector, so many marketers fall into the job by showing aptitude for it, but they have no training or previous experience and are learning on the job. This is great, however to have a foundation in marketing is a must and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure your teams have the proper training and support to give them the proper discipline they need to become subject matter experts. This means that they are probably under resourced and under equipped to change your fortunes and become do-ers rather than a strategic asset to your business.
  6. Dismissing the more ‘low rent’ marketing methods. Most clients come to us with a one store issue. This means that you have to revisit the more low rent and personal marketing methods. You need to create relationships in the community and meet people one by one by one every day, door knock, call people, actually go out an personally sell your business. Most people don’t want to do the hard yards, but this is what it takes to boost you sales locally.
  7. Having ‘no budget’ or ‘no resource’. This is another common mistake. Marketing Manager is told, I want to raise my sales by £5k per week, but there is no budget to do that or there is £1k to do that. My advice would be enter the lottery or put it on a horse as you will have as much luck in turning that amount into a real return. This is business, get real and start thinking about what you want to happen and what value it has to you. There is no diamond bullet or secret answer; otherwise we’d all be doing it. If you want to raise your income by £250k per year, then think about what you would be willing to invest to get this return (if this was the best bank in the world).
  8. Stopping after 2 weeks. Something we continuously come across is clients wondering why sales are down since launch (when they supported the launch for 2 weeks) or since the last campaign they had. Campaigns should never end. Marketing is a constant fight for attention and you need to keep winning the fight. Figure out an affordable way for you continuously keep your company/brand/establishment visible and this takes people, money and energy.
  9. Digital. The level of misunderstanding and under appreciation for digital is still staggering. Having a website is great, however if you are not spending 10 x what you spent on the site a year on content, search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising to drive bookings and sales, then you might want to think about that. If you have not update your site in months, then Google et al will stop ranking you, therefore you will be dead (if not on page 1 for your key search terms). Also, do look at your housekeeping also on Google local listings, location tagging on all social media.
  10. Marketing from your desk. Due to busyness and pressure of the job, marketers do tend to find themselves behind the desk a lot and pushing out what you want your in store / shop teams (for example) to do, doesn’t work well (although it does tick a box). Spending the time to create relationships with the in store /shop teams to talk to them about the bigger picture, why you need their help and also some value exchange on what is in it for them is time well spent in the long run. I really admire clients who practice and preach Marketing by walking about and also empowering their teams to work from the venues more often than not.

I hope that these tips really help you as having falling into all of the traps above, I am now focusing on what to do, rather than what not to do.

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2016

MAR

10

Attention! Please start marketing like the year you are living in

Industry

I have been obsessed lately with the musings of American marketing business guru Gary Vaynerchuk (check out his daily and weekly show on YouTube). Gary has crystalised the real issue that I have with marketing in our industry today. His main point is that we all need to start marketing like the year we are living in and not a cut and paste of last year and the year before because it is the path of least resistance.

I presented to a group of Casual Dining brands last week and from this advice I laid out what we need to do to market effectively in this day and age. Most people reading this will just find it too difficult, but for those who are willing to change things up a gear, blow ‘**it’ up (like BrewDog state in their charter), realise that marketing and PR is dead in most of its traditional guises and start thinking about your team of marketers as attention traders and task them with this KPI, ATTENTION. (like you would your Ops team with sales), it will be worth it.

The whole reason that I am getting obsessed about this is that if you do not start marketing to millennials (where they are and in a relevant way), your brand/business (like your current audience) will eventually die.

So, what are the facts about the millennial audience?

  • They were born between 1980 and 2000, not just 14 year olds which is a common misconception (source Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research).
  • They are now the majority of adults in the UK as a population.
  • They are brands in their own rights and self promote every minute of every day.
  • It is all about them and not about you or your brand. You need to be give them ways for them to be involved in your brand and for you to be a part of their daily life and their story that they are documenting every second of every day.
  • They love brands that share common values to their own, not just a product they like or a brand that is convenient/local to them.
  • Demographics are screwed as this generation is becoming more gender fluid and making it nigh on impossible to generalise these days. You will be marketing to niche tribes rather than broad demographics.
  • They each wanted to be treated as individuals so giving them customisation.
  • They are the ultimate multi-taskers and have a broad skill-set thanks to technology. They are Journalists, Photographers, Restaurant Critics, Film Directors, Editors and the most influential group of people that have ever lived.
  • They are powerful and due to them being brands in their own right, they have followers that they influence. It matters what they think and say about your brand.
  • The main platforms to grab their attention are Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram. (YouTube and Twitter are still in the mix).
  • They want things immediately. No waiting. For example, don’t let them ask for the bill ever again (Use Flypay et al to make it easy for them).
  • Facebook is not dead. Millennials still use Facebook for news aggregation rather than their main social media platform.

What should you do?

  • Start from the start. Rip up your current marketing plan and start again, afresh thinking about your audience, where their eyes spend their time and market to that. I promise you, it will be very different.
  • Think how you can grab their attention on their phones. This is your ad space. This is really the only space that matters to drive acquisition/new sales.
  • Stop sending out press releases and question the value of your PR agency immediately. Engage with a content agency or create content yourself using one of your talented team members who has a passion for this. The new PR brief is to get your brand mentioned on BuzzFeed, reddit, Mashable, Techcrunch, VICE, Kobini and Huffington Post. This is where the establishment of Daily Mail, Telegraph, Metro etc etc all get half their news these days. They are scouring the internet for great content, not printing press releases about your next opening, your guest ale or your new menu.
  • Don’t count a trade piece of PR as a win for your business unless you are trying to sell your business or influence the business/investor market. It is all about the mainstream press, you will get noticed by both communities here. Sure get a mention in trade, but that is easy.
  • Create entertaining and valuable content for them that imparts knowledge they can use, gets them involved or is so fun that they will share it.
  • Never ever sell to them. They can see through that. They don’t care. You will have to work harder to give value, create a real relationship and then ask for a sale.

Case study – Think differently:

We had a brief from our client Millie’s Cookies to make Valentine’s Day their best ever. Their audience is younger than a lot of brands in the eating out/takeaway space. Naturally your mind turns to ‘How can we have a better message, better creative and grab some more attention’. Millie’s were brave, ripped up the rule book and worked with us to create a new range of emoji cookies rather than just do the same as last year (and same thing as competitors) namely traditional heart shaped cookies that say I heart you or Happy Valentine’s Day. These were still available, but the lead campaign was a set of customisable emoji cookies. Millie’s had their best Valentine’s Day in many years and all because we sat down as a team and thought ‘What would Millennials want?’, ‘How do they interact with each other and how can we help them customise what they really want to say that is not available anywhere else?’

Case Study – Asian brands on social:

Having worked with one of the leading Asian food brands in the UK (YO! Sushi) and led the social media push there to become one of the most followed and engaged with brands on social media I know what it takes to grab people’s attention and keep them interested. That said the old ways of buying followers, running lots of competitions and push posting 3 times a day are long gone.

The new way was exemplified perfectly the other day. As most food brands in the Asian space were posting ‘Buy my product’, ‘Here is our new menu’ and ‘Please visit us for half term’ there was a story that spread like wildfire across all social media which was a piece of knowledge that people could share which was entitled ‘Chopsticks, you are using them wrong’. Basically the story showed you that what you are meant to do with a certain type of disposable chopsticks is to break off the block at the end and use this as the rest for the chopsticks for the duration of your meal. Simple. It actually looked hard and most people said it didn’t work, but no matter, it create lots of noise and piqued interest that made us order some takeaway that evening in the office to give it a go.

When you look around this seems to be an old story, however it has been picked up by Buzzfeed et al and the avalanche of this story being posted by major and minor newfeeds, blogs and companies was unbelievable. Instead of looking inwards and pushing our your content about your new takeaway service, why not put your time and energy into looking for an creating content like this and owning it. If that post had came from Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Itsu or Wasabi the attention, engagement, interest and sales off the back of this would have been fantastic as you would the most relevant brand in that space for the time period where the noise was being created.

What if your next post you created (and had a strong story for said), ‘Beer: you have been drinking it wrong your whole life’ or worked to create a story to say ‘why beer before wine does not make you feel fine’. Maybe that content is already out there, go and have a look on Google. You can curate and repost (just give some credit to original source).

This all seems like hard work, it is. But the rewards are so huge, plus it is good for your brand not to be in people’s faces every day as quality of content will always beat quantity of content.

The final point I want to make is that although this article focuses on millennials, this is the behaviour of everyone now (I bet you at least look at your phone and check your social media / emails at least 5 times a day). Marketing is now the fight for attention. It is just thinking about how you can create a plan to engage eyes, clicks, shares and sales.

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2016

MAR

08

‘Beating your competition’: Usain Bolt is just 1% better than the person chasing him. Get your 1% advantage in place.

Industry

To beat your competition, you just have to be 1% better than everyone else. That is what a leading sport psychologist said at the Web Summit in Dublin in 2014 when talking about the 100m sprint. This is where Usain Bolt’s nearest competitor was just 1% behind him in terms of time, yet he gets world fame and no one remembers who came second. That quote has stayed with me as it focuses the mind and is a fantastic place to start when thinking about beating your competition.

I also drew inspiration from watching Brewdog’s Retail Ops Director David McDowall speak at the Casual Dining conference in February. He nailed it by saying if you are not the best at what you do, then why do it. Focus on what you are world class at and you will outstrip everyone. To many people settle for being ok.

So there are two ways in my mind to tackle this.

  1. You spend your time getting under the skin and getting obsessed about all of your competition. Then set out to beat them in all areas. This could be a long process and you might drive yourself crazy with everything your competition does consuming you.
  2. You waste no time and dive in, as you will know (or you should know) who the best in your market are. Look at your business in comparison and focus on making every single person you hire, thing you make or serve and how you communicate this 1% better than anything you have ever seen across any sector you can think of. Getting 1% better will be the hardest part, Once you have done this, it will be simple for you to have confidence to develop each area (People, Price, Place, Product and Promotion. Profit will follow soon after all of this is right).

The first thing I would do is ensure you have your brand in place. Every company is a brand (many state that they are not), however if you take money and you have competitors you are a brand. You may need some external help, but you need to find definitive answers to:

– What do you do (keep it simple as is you were explaining it to your Grandmother)

– Who is your one type of customer that you can build your business on forever.

– Why do people come and eat and/or drink with you?

– Why are you better than any other competitor (4 reasons with proof)

– If your brand left the room how would people describe it and how would it speak?

– Add of all together to create a statement that describes your role in the life of your customers.

– Try and distill that statement down to two words. This is the core of your brand DNA.

Once defined, this is the lens that you look through and asses all areas of your business – People, Price, Place, Product and Promotion. Really look at these areas (no sacred cows), the answers lie in interrogating every inch of your business to find your 1%.

Once you get into your stride, you will soon be upping that marginal difference to a landslide.

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2016

FEB

15

Pump up the volume

Industry

Beer is now the latest in a long line of products/services to give the consumers what they tell us they want. Choice. TV is a good analogy for the craft beer explosion as when there were the 4 main channels, the viewing audiences (throughout) and quality of programming was better (or so people say). Now you have thousands of channels with nothing on worth watching (apart from that one show on box set that you must watch).

If you are concerned about wastage and quality on draught, the answer to me is quite simple. There is an overwhelming choice for your customers, however don’t be overwhelmed yourself. Go back to basic marketing, find out or judge what your core customers want and give that to them. Is it range of flavours (IPA, Session ale, Hopbomb?) or a certain ‘on trend’/traditional brand or should you be showing your support for an independent brewery locally? Like social media, you don’t have to do it just because everyone else is. The worst thing you can do is mimic your competitors and be everything to everyone – that is exhausting and will show. Find the range of beers that your customers want and that are commercially attractive to you and be cautious regarding your mix of draught vs can and bottles. Take the lead beer from Camden/Harviestoun/Beavertown (whoever you choose) on draught and then augment the range with their can and bottle offerings. Merchandising this well is key here to tempt people to buy.

I am sitting in a popular Brighton pub as I type this and they have 10 lager/cider taps of which only 1 is craft lager. They have 4 ale pumps and only one is a local craft IPA.

If your audience will drink a large choice of draught in volume and that is what they want, then great, go for it. It really is your job to judge this and no one size fits all unfortunately. So, more choice for customers is good, but they still need you to curate the best range for them.

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2016

FEB

05

Your pub is a brand and every bit as relevant as Adidas, Nike or Google.

Branding

The definition goes that if you have competitors and take money, then you are a brand.

Lots of pub and food brands that we work with say that they are not a brand as ‘we are not big enough’ or ‘we don’t have the money for that’ or ‘we can’t afford to act like a brand’.

None of the above should stop you – thinking is free – and if a pub is your brand (or at least a brand that you look after), then you have as much right to define and promote it as the next company.

Brand seems like an expensive word as it is usually closely followed by the word agency, communications or the ‘C-word’…consultant.

Forget all of this, as with some time and the right structure, you should be able to sort it all out in the short term by yourself and beat your immediate competitors. (Competitors being cited as those who can take a pound, euro or dollar from you).

I coach and mentor pub groups on this very subject and I try to get across that the process of defining your brand and acting like one is an extremely simple one. What you are searching for is your brand DNA.

The process to find your brand DNA is as follows:

Start off by choosing 4+ people from across your organisation (or if you are smaller, run it with who you have). Ideally attendees will be from different departments, levels of seniority and length of service. Host 2 x 2 hour sessions or a 4 hours session with someone facilitating to encourage discussion and debate plus take notes. The questions that the group must answer are:

1) What are you? 

Describe your business as if you were describing it to your grandmother. No corporate jargon and no waffle. A pub yes, but what kind of pub?

2) Who is your target customer?
If you could only have one type of customer for the rest of your business life, who would that be?

3) Why would this customer use you?
Think of all of the possible reasons why customers would use your product or service. List as many as possible, and have a vote on the main reasons.

4) What are your competitors’ advantages?

Take three competitors that are keeping you awake at night and allocate each one to a team. Ask them to pretend that they are in charge of those companies and list all the reasons why they are better than your company – be honest, brutal and factual. You then have the chance at the end of each presentation to say why you are better than the competitor. The four or five clear unique selling points/competitive advantages should be clear after this exercise.

5) What’s your brand personality?

Take a good range of recent magazines (travel, music, gossip, home, food, photography, sport). Pass these out to the group and ask them to find one picture each that encapsulates the personality of your company. Ask people to present their pictures, and words that describe them, to the group. Write up the main personality words and then narrow all the collated words down to four that describe your brand.

6) What’s your tone of voice?

Once you have agreed on your brand personality keywords, select supporting words for the main brand personality words. For example, if brave is one of your main brand personality words, it could mean that pioneering, confident and spirited are good supporting words for your tone of voice. This is then how you sound on all communications (Aboard to website to social posts etc).

With these questions answered, now it’s time to put your brand DNA statement together.

Pull all of the answers together – think of it as your ‘Cluedo’ moment where you pull all the information that you have gathered together. You start the positioning statement as follows: “Our role in the life of our customer is …”. A generic example could be: “Our role in the life of our customers is to serve a curated range of craft beers and ales, fine wines and high end seasonal dishes using fresh, local ingredients in a warm and friendly environment.”

You then weave in what you do, who the customer is, their motivation, and how you do it. This should be a tight paragraph that has no waffle in it. It will be packed full of everything that you have discovered over the session.

Finally, can you take your brand DNA statement and sum it up in two words? Think of this as a shorthand version of your longer brand DNA statement, for everyone in your business to keep at the back of their mind.

I would thoroughly recommend spending £14.99 on your brand by buying Winning in Your Own Way by Robert Bean, available from Amazon and all good book shops. This will talk you through the importance of brand and how to go about acting like one.

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2016

JAN

22

2016 – the year of the (sociable) Monkey

This year is shaping up to be the year that everyone should (rightly) question the role of social media in their business. What effect is it having on sales and loyalty?

2016 is also the year of the Monkey, which according to the Chinese zodiac, strengths are agility, enthusiasm, self-assuredness, innovative thinking and sociability.

The lucky direction of travel is also said to be north.

This sounds very much in line with the way to think about your social media activity whether you are a small, independent hotel or a huge hotel group spread across the world.

The traits above and direction of travel are spot on in terms of you ‘having a go’ at social or indeed hiring a social media team/agency.

2016 feels like the year where we will grow closer to understanding what social media is all about and more importantly how it will give a return on investment for your business.

The last five or so years have been based on both social media platforms and companies of all shapes and sizes figuring out how to monetise social media.

My advice for anyone thinking about starting social media activity or if you are looking to get more grip on what your business/team are doing on social media, is to think more like a (zodiac) monkey.

1) Agility – You need to be curious at all times on social.

Social in the early days used to be all about when should I post my key posts. The issue with this is that if you are a breakfast, lunch, dinner or evening business then you tend to want to post at the same time (or just before that key period). This is not how social works as actually most interaction happens between 8pm and 7am. You may need to think more laterally and also more nocturnally when thinking about social media posting. A case study relating to a UK parent and baby brand showed that key interaction with their audience was at 1.32am UK time. If you think about it, it does make perfect sense as parents will be up feeding around this time and also most of the content (noise) of posts will be from US brands at that time, so you will have an advantage and gain automatic stand out by being doubly relevant. Your brand will be long remembered, have a good chance of getting that booking/sale and will be looked for as you are hopefully entertaining/informative and a support for those in that situation.

 

2) Enthusiasm (Out think, out post and out perform your competitors)

Social media is increasingly becoming an always-on sport and as such the winners are those who are always there, watching, listening and getting involved. Latest best practice suggests that you should be posting up to 16 times a day (on twitter). This is due to the fact that tweeting and posting on instagram is gone in 60 seconds. It is the real life equivalent of (when driving) winding your

down you window, shouting something (140 characters or less) out of the window, rolling up your window and then driving off. You will have this much impact on the world if you just do this now and again to a small number of engaged followers. It is also vital that you understand what content works where as simply posting the same content on Twitter, facebook and Instagram is lazy and inaccurate. It is the same as trying to speak English in Japan and vice versa. Each platform has it’s own ‘language’ or more simply put, its own best practice when sculpting or creating posts and content for each platform. (e.g. 2 hashtags on twitter seems enough, whereas two hashtags on facebook are two too many on Facebook but far from enough on Instagram).

 

3) Self assured (know you tone of voice)

This is all about knowing what you will say and how you will say it. Do you intimately know what your tone of voice is and how you should sound? If not, then you need to look at your brand and go though a process to define your brand, its core purpose, positioning, and personality. This will help you uncover and define what your tone of voice should be and therefore how you should sound in any communications including social media. There are many great brand agencies that can help you with this (including our good selves), however if you don’t want to spend too much initially, then I can thoroughly recommend this book on getting to the core of your brand which is an easy read and is a great guide to get you thinking in this way: Winning in Your Own Way by Robert Bean which is available from Amazon and all good book shops.

 

4) Be Social (practice the rule of thirds)

I was lucky enough to meet with the Innocent Drinks social team and they told me that being social came naturally to them as it is what the brand is built on. If you think about it they are right. From them asking the public if they should go into business at all when they made smoothies at a local village festival and had a yes bin and a no bin for people to vote with their empty bottles to then encouraging customers to send in feedback and knit little wooly hats to help older people less fortunate than us and invited customers to visit or call Fruit Towers (their head office). All of it was social, before social media. I would translate this to you feeling like you are at a dinner party and you want to be the best guest working the room. If all you do is bang on about how great you are, successful your business is, how good looking your partner is and how amazing your car / house is, before long you will be standing alone. This is the same in social media. If you are a good listener, interject with good facts or humour and ask lots about the person you are talking to, you will endear yourself to them and be engaging. In social media that is all you want to be, engaging. The way that we approach this is to ensure that you are speaking in thirds. A third of the time, talk about your brand, a third of the time, talk about your product and a third of the time, talk about something that is core to your brand attitude (fun, health, nature, rebellion) – whatever you feel is right for your brand.

 

5) Innovation in thinking (new platforms, tech, trends)

Social media is all about being innovative and those that win will not be those who spend the most money, but those who are forensic in their understanding of the social media platforms, best practice and their customers/audience. Do you really know who your audience is? Have you trawled through your list of followers looking to see who each and every person is? Have you then looked at commonality between these people? Are these the right people? If not, why not? What can you do to tweak your content, posting times and platforms to attract the audience that you want? It is also a good idea to investigate newer platforms like Medium, Periscope and Snapchat to look at what they could do for your business. The quicker you are to use/market on these newer platforms, the bigger an impact you can make.

6) Only travel north (do something every day to improve)

North is the only direction that most successful organisations want to travel. It is the same with social media. What are you doing to improve all metrics (followers, fans, likes, shares, comments and DMs)? Fans and Follower numbers are a crowdpleaser (read boss pleaser) but the more important thing is engagement. It is a good rule of thumb to start tracking that. A simple best practice way of quantifying engagement to get you started is for you to have a week on week dashboard that shows improvement in your metrics and also will show clearly when a certain post or series of posts worked in terms of engagement. The social Formula for this is Likes x 1 + Customer Comments x 5 + Genuine Shares x 10 = Engagement Number.

If you are just starting out in social media or want to know more about the subject of being a champion in the social media space, I would thoroughly recommend buying Jab Jab Jab right hook by Gary Vaynerchuck (who is THE thought leader in the US when it comes to all things social).  Again, this is aviable from Amazon and all good book shops. Gary’s ‘Ask Gary Vee Show’ daily/weekly video blog are on YOU TUBE are also very insightful, entertaining and inspiring if you want to get to the next level in business and social.

My final point of note is that social media is a vital part of your PR strategy. Traditional PR is dead and if your PR team are not all over social every second of every day, I would question why. Constant content creation is here to stay and you should at least be spending 50% of your marketing time and budget on this.

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2016

JAN

22

The C word (Coeliac I mean)

“It’s too difficult, it will cost us thousands”, “it’s only a niche set of customers anyway”, “they don’t have a real allergy, they are just fussy”. These are some of the statements that I have heard when working with food retailers and saying the dreaded C word.

However, those being diagnosed as coeliac suffers and those choosing to eat gluten free are on the increase.

Research shows that coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, making it much more common than previously thought. Under diagnosis is a big problem and research suggests around 500,000 people have not yet been diagnosed. Coeliac is not a food allergy or an intolerance, it is an autoimmune disease*. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. Other parts of the body may be affected too.

Whether it is a lifestyle choice or not is beside the point. The customer base for the gluten free option is now millions strong and you could have first mover advantage if you fly the gluten free flag high.

Just look at Tesco, they ran a Christmas TV ad where the Tesco family is out shopping for their friend who likes to eat gluten free. Greggs have also just claimed thousands of coloumn inches by announcing that they will be offering gluten free options in their fight to stay relevant.

Some tips on how you can get gluten free are as follows:

1) Have a gluten free champion in your food/marketing/pub team who knows all of the facts and feels passionately about it to be able to spearhead the project.

2) Talk to your customers and ask what they would like to see on the menu.

3) Start trial specials night called Wheat Free Wednesdays and create demand on a night that may be lacking slightly by letting customers and groups that may be interested in this offer try.

4) Make sure that you market this well by:

– Training all staff to be gluten free experts.

– Updating your menus, clearly showing you have GF options (same menu if possible as it feels poor getting a ‘special’ menu or, worse, being handed the nutritional info encyclopaedia.)

– Sending out a press release to all targeted trade and consumer press.

– Inviting the press and other people of note down (local VIPs and food bloggers) to taste the new menu and/or work with you to create it (documenting the progress through all marketing channels).

– Update your website to ensure that you will be found for those looking for GF.

– Send the message out that you are good for GF diners through your in-store marketing, email marketing and social media conversations.

Finally…If you think gluten free food tastes bad (or that’s what you perceive to be the truth), then please order an Honest Burger with a gluten free bun when you can. They are even better than the real thing.

*Source htpp://www.coeliac.org.uk

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2015

JUL

29

Can you describe your brand in one sentence?

Branding

What does the word brand mean to you? Is it a badge, a logo, a name, a colour or a collection of these things?

For me a brand is something that runs much deeper than that – the best way that I have heard it described is as a promise. For example, if you buy a can of Heinz beans, you know what you are getting and they deliver every single time. It is the same with Innocent smoothies and companies like Apple, Google and Nike.

These companies have a promise and they align the three main parts of their business – culture, product or service and reputation – around it. From who they hire, to what they make, to what people say about them – everything is in line with the brand promise.

So, ask every member of your team to explain your brand in a sentence that your grandmother could both “get” and get excited about. Do they all say exactly the same thing? If not, you may have an issue.

However for a SME with limited resources, finding your brand promise and redesigning your brand identity can seem frivolous or even a waste of time. But there is a low-cost solution that has stood me and my clients in good stead over the years. We call it finding your brand DNA, and when you have done this it should be the lens through which you view and filter all business decisions – such as who to hire, what to sell and where to sell it.

How to find your brand DNA

Start off by choosing 8-10 people from across your organisation (or if you are smaller run it with who you have). Ideally attendees will be from different departments, levels of seniority and length of service. Hire a venue outside the office, put aside a half day, and set a date.

Find a facilitator (who must be an objective outside party) to run the day. They force the group to make decisions on every question and encourage discussion. The questions that the group must answer are:

1) What are you?
Describe your business as if you were describing it to your grandmother. No corporate jargon and no waffle.

2) Who is your target customer?
If you could only have one type of customer for the rest of your business life, who would that be?

3) Why would this customer use you?
Think of all of the possible reasons why customers would use your product or service. List as many as possible, and have a vote on the main reasons.

4) What are your competitors’ advantages?
Take three competitors that are keeping you awake at night and allocate each one to a team. Ask them to pretend that they are in charge of those companies and list all the reasons why they are better than your company – be honest, brutal and factual. You then have the chance at the end of each presentation to say why you are better than the competitor. The four or five clear unique selling points/competitive advantages should be clear after this exercise.

5) What’s your brand personality?
Take a good range of recent magazines (travel, music, gossip, home, food, photography, sport). Pass these out to the group and ask them to find one picture each that encapsulates the personality of your company. Ask people to present their pictures, and words that describe them, to the group. Write up the main personality words and then narrow all the collated words down to four that describe your brand.

6) What’s your tone of voice?
Once you have agreed on your brand personality keywords, select supporting words for the main brand personality words. For example, if brave is one of your main brand personality words, it could mean that pioneering, confident and spirited are good supporting words for your tone of voice.

With these questions answered, now it’s time to put your brand DNA statement together.

Pull all of the answers together – think of it as your Cluedo moment. You start the positioning statement as follows: “Our role in the life of our customer is …”. An example could be: “Our role in the life of our customers is to help thrill-seekers and culture vultures travel the world to make the most of their free time on a budget without harming the planet.”

You then weave in what you do, who the customer is, their motivation, and how you do it. This should be a tight paragraph that has no waffle in it. It will be packed full of everything that you have discovered over the session.

Finally, can you take your brand DNA statement and sum it up in two words? Think of this as a shorthand version of your longer brand DNA statement, for everyone in your business to keep at the back of their mind.

This post was written for . Check out the original post here : Can you describe your brand in one sentence? by Mark McCulloch 

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