Compelling copy can be clear as well

Or – how not to be too clever for your own good when writing marketing material.

Though technically anyone can write, the task of creating copy for websites, brochures, flyers and other marketing collateral is often delegated to copywriters because of their skill with words. That’s their job, after all. Horses for courses. Producing exciting messages to cajole potential customers into buying your product or using your services is in their blood, (or it should be), whereas the rest of us often haven’t the time, inclination or ease with words to write effectively.

We might struggle for hours on a piece of writing which a copywriter could create in a quarter of the time – and with better results – so it makes more sense for us to do what we’re good at and leave the writing to someone with the right skill-set.

Copy that’s as clear as mud?

Engaging a writer to, well, write, is only common sense. However, writers simply love words and like nothing better than playing with them. They love a little lick of alliteration, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for hyperbole and as for onomatopoeia – boom! (See what we did there? If not, it confirms exactly what we’re talking about).

When you’re trying to get across your marketing message, wordplay is all well and good. It makes copy quirky, witty and individual and can really give a sense of your brand image, BUT – that’s only as long as the information isn’t so tied up in linguistic acrobatics that it’s no longer clear what you’re promoting.

We’ve all seen adverts which make us shake our heads and think, ‘Well, that was very entertaining, but what exactly is it about?’ Cleverness kills conversions. On the other hand, copy that is clear to the point of being patronising can be oh so dull – and boring material loses sales too. It’s a dilemma…

There are more than two types of copy

It seems to be an ongoing debate in marketing circles – this idea of clear v clever copy. We’re here to tell you that you can have it all. Sometimes, clear, down-to-earth copy is required, just like the famous Ronseal ad, ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ That’s clear and that’s clever too.

Sometimes, clever copy can pique people’s interest. Here’s one from Swiss Life, financial and legal services:

I like working with you is impossible.

For all life’s twists and turns:

Flexible financial plans.

Clever. Compelling. It makes you look twice. Clear? Yes, we know what’s on offer.

Good copywriters will know which approach to use no matter what the product or service, to maximise effect and the chance of conversions. We all understand that a marketing campaign is wasted if it isn’t on-message and on-brand. That doesn’t mean that the message can’t be clever as well as clear. A clearly-stated benefit which is exactly the same as your competitor’s clearly-stated benefit isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd.

Marketing guru, David Ogilvy says, ‘There are no dull products, only dull writers.” There are clever writers too. The cleverest writers know when they shouldn’t be too clever.

Mailing Expert

Marketing plan or muddling through?

In honour of St. Bernadine of Siena, patron saint of advertising, who is specially remembered today (20th May), let’s have a look at marketing plans, which may well include advertising. Why not?

First, we hear you asking, “Why was St. Bernadine, 15th century Franciscan priest, the patron saint of advertising?” – yes, that’s a whole four centuries before the very first Coca Cola ad, which appeared in 1886. The simple answer is, because he was renowned for his passionate and persuasive speeches. Before his death in 1444, he preached for 50 days in a row. We would not necessarily recommend this as part of your marketing plan, both for your sake and your clients’ – but, passionate and persuasive words would definitely be a good idea to incorporate into any marketing material…

Why is a marketing plan important?

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Been so busy with the day-to-day running of our business that we don’t feel we can spare the time for marketing. It seems counterintuitive to take time away from client-facing activities or fine-tuning production.

Instead, we may use a scattergun approach, reacting to external situations when they occur rather than being proactive and creating opportunities that will help our business to grow. A scattergun fires lots of pellets and the hope is that some may reach the target. Many of the pellets go wide and many fall to the ground. What a waste of effort and resources!

Planning our marketing makes absolute sense – it’s as simple as that.

Writing a marketing plan

If you do it well it will take time. Implementing a plan has plenty of challenges, but more challenging still is deciding what to do, how to do it and when. It needs contribution from every department even if that department is one person, and even if one person wears a number of hats within the company. Finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply – all these elements must be considered in order to be realistic about what’s achievable and where the focus is needed.

What does a marketing plan achieve?

(Aside from the obvious like identifying your target market and setting up focused campaigns – like the Direct Mailing that we specialise in at Mailing Expert).

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  • A chance to reflect on the big picture for your company
  • Your game plan written out in black and white – so anyone can refer to it
  • A mega to-do list assigning specific tasks
  • A rallying point which will encourage commitment from your team
  • Provision of specific measurable results

So – take time to write a marketing plan and make St. Bernadine proud!

 

 

Networking at Christmas

Yes, you did read that correctly. Let’s just repeat that to make sure. Networking at Christmas. It isn’t as crazy as it may sound.

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle!

You don’t have to do anything special. All you have to do is be prepared. We know that the temptation is to forget all about work, break the world record for mince-pie consumption and slump on the sofa in front of the Downton Abbey Christmas special (if sufficiently fortified by sweet British sherry) – but we’d all do well to remember that this time of the year is stuffed full of opportunities to build lasting business relationships. Stuffed like the turkey!

The season for giving…

Christmas is a wonderful time to send out cards and gifts to your clients to let them know how much you value them – and possibly to rekindle fading relationships, exactly the same as with your family and friends. Make the most of it.

It’s party time…

Think of all those invitations you receive to Christmas events from companies, clients, professional organisations, chambers of commerce, networking groups…just go to them.
Of course, socialising is the main thing. Nobody very much wants your slick sixty-second elevator pitch rammed down their throats on these occasions – but socialising is building relationships, and building relationships is how your business will grow. Getting to know people on a personal level as well as a professional level adds a whole new dimension to mutual business connections. How dull life would be if all we ever talked about was the economic climate or sales figures?!

Eat, drink and be merry…

But not too merry. You want to be remembered for the right reasons – ‘This is someone I’d like to do business with’ – rather than, ‘That’s the person who drank too much and danced on the table wearing only a party hat.’

Keep in touch…

The important thing is having the means to stay in touch after the event. Take your business cards, or at least a pen and notebook to jot down numbers. Finish your conversation with a cheery, ‘It would be great to have a chat in the New Year!’ then don’t forget to follow up.
Send your party host a thank you note – that’s a tradition which seems to have died out in recent years. You’ll be appreciated and remembered with warm feelings.
Don’t forget to let clients and business associates know if you’re planning to close the office over the Christmas break. You could also provide suppliers and contacts with details of how to reach someone in case of emergency.

And finally…

Have fun! Use those networking opportunities but also allow yourself time to relax, regroup and revitalise ready for whatever 2016 will bring.

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Telemarketing as part of an Integrated Campaign

First, here’s an advisory: telemarketing is NOT the same as telesales, those calls which we all dread, offering double glazing or solar panels or carpet cleaning because ‘we just happen to be in your area this week’.

So what is telemarketing?

Telemarketing is quite different. It’s a service which is the human interaction element of a marketing campaign, generating interest and creating opportunities. Its personal approach offers a chance for both a potential client and a business to find out more about each other, to see if synergy exists for a mutually-beneficial relationship in the future.

Proficient telemarketers can often communicate brand values and the personality behind your business, putting your proposition into engaging words far more effectively than any other means of contact

Telemarketing can be used on its own but works even better as part of an overall marketing strategy. Telesales can be part of a telemarketing campaign, but, for overall effectiveness it is only one element in a multi-layered approach.

Organising a telemarketing campaign

What are the first steps to take? At Mailing Expert, we work closely with Lesley Roberts of Talkmarketing, a B2B and B2C telemarketing company. She suggests, ‘Ask yourself the following questions: Who are we targeting?  What geographical area will we cover?  How big will the companies be? Will we search on turnover or number of employees?’ Another factor to consider is choosing the optimum time.

Lesley also advises having all marketing collateral in place before you start. Or, at the very least, deciding on the platforms you will use – website, emails, letters, social media… Having well-produced marketing material on hand, both digital and printed, will dramatically increase your chances of building successful relationships which may then be converted into future business.

Most important of all, key to a successful campaign is good data.

Data is king

We’ve all done it – phoned a business and asked to speak to a decision-maker by name, only to be told she left five years ago. This immediately puts us on the back foot. As Lesley says, ‘ The company will think that we have not researched, put us into that box of ‘just another cold caller’ and it is really hard to build the trust from that point.’

Data that is six months old is too old. It’s sensible – no, VITAL – to update it before you start! We can help you to cleanse it, screen it, run it through Telephone Preference Service so that you won’t waste your time or anybody else’s.

If you use inaccurate data, your telemarketers’ time will be spent amending contact information, not forming relationships with potential customers. In the long run, spending time and money getting it right in the first place will actually save you money – and your reputation.

Not to be ignored

Telemarketing should never be taken out of the equation if a marketing campaign is to have maximum impact. It’s something that you shouldn’t ignore – and neither will prospective clients if you do it well.

And the added bonus? Your results are fantastically easy to track and measure.

Let us know how we can help – because, at Mailing Expert, help we can!

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Complement traditional marketing using social media networking

We’re called Mailing Expert, but we know about other things too — anything to do with your company getting its message out to a target audience, most of all to potential customers.

Enhancing not replacing

Social media and online marketing is all shiny and exciting, perceived as today’s way to reach out to customers. After all, half the population is glued to computers, tablets or smartphones – that’s right, isn’t it? If you’re not taking advantage of the power of the internet, if you haven’t an online presence, then that could be a grave error, damaging to your business bottom line.
However, it must be part of an integrated strategy. It could be just as detrimental to neglect offline marketing and throw all your time and money into all-singing-all-dancing online material.

One size does NOT fit all

Think about your market — a statement that’s almost too obvious to mention. If you’re selling alcopops then it’s pretty certain your customers will be social media savvy 20-somethings so it’s worth investing time and money in an online campaign to engage interest – emails included.

On the other hand, perhaps you’re offering chiropody services or advertising stair-lifts? While online promotion is not to be ignored, it may be a secondary channel and resources should be allocated accordingly. Letters and leaflets through the post probably work best for older customer segments at the moment, though that may change.

Word of Mouse

So – you’ve decided to go for it online. Many people fall into the trap of an ad-hoc approach which starts with a bang and fizzles out after a few weeks. Your strategy requires as much planning and consistency as any other marketing initiative.

Your website is the place for detailed information about your company, products and services, and maybe an online shop. Facebook and Twitter are NOT great selling platforms. They ARE a way of communicating with your clients and customers in an informal and interactive way, developing relationships which will lead to brand loyalty if you do it right – and pointing people in the direction of places where they can buy your products or services.

Words to the wise

Here are a few tips to get you thinking about social media:
• Be entertaining but don’t go off-message completely – highlight USPs, strengthen your brand, talk about issues relevant to your business – but NO SALES PITCHES
• If you write a blog, post news or press releases on Facebook – keep doing it at regular intervals. If your last update was in May 2013, what message does that convey about your business?
• Answer questions, gather feedback and respond appropriately to criticisms
• Make use of analytics and monitoring tools

And finally…

Mailing Expert practices what it preaches! Join us on Facebook: follow us on Twitter. Discover the personalities behind our ever-efficient services.

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Mailing Expert – your check mates!

At Mailing Expert we check everything – not only content we have created on your behalf, but also material you have sent to us ready prepared, to use on the marketing collateral, business cards, or whatever you’ve asked us to produce.

Avoid embarrassing bloopers

We want your marketing to be completely error-free, with no unfortunate mistakes which will give a poor impression of your company and could turn off potential customers.

We proofread your text, of course, but we also check telephone numbers, web links, email addresses and QR codes to make sure they’re working properly and linking to the correct place.

QR blunders can happen

Imagine the humiliation if you made the same mistake as Heinz – yes, even a huge multinational can do it. Heinz had a QR code on a ketchup bottle which took customers to a special offer. So far, so good.

However…

Once the promotion had expired, they neglected to renew the registration of the domain name, which was then snapped up by an entrepreneurial porn company. Unsuspecting ketchup customers who scanned in the QR code got a lot more sauce than they bargained for!

Use of QR codes in marketing

QR (short for Quick Response) codes were developed in Japan and have become increasingly popular as a way of grabbing attention and optimising advertising for target audiences.

They’re free to generate and are rather like barcodes except they can store more data, including downloadable material. Customers can scan them, using a smartphone, and will be connected to websites and social media, or be able to download contact information, money-off coupons, product details and the like – whatever you, as a company, choose to link to with the QR code.

Mailing Expert Top Tips for QR Codes

  1. Since QR code are found on smartphones, make sure whatever you link to is optimised for mobile devices
  2. It takes time for someone to scan in a QR code and reach the content – so make sure it is something of value to your target audience
  3. Use domain names that you own so that you always have control over the content to which your customers are directed (unlike Heinz!)
  4. QR codes are perfect for business cards, brochures, product packaging etc. but don’t generate much traffic online, on billboards or vehicles

Finally, if you forget to make the necessary checks, don’t worry – because here at Mailing Expert, we make it our business to remember.

No faces as red as tomato ketchup for Mailing Expert clients!