Jumping on the Bandwagon

The news changes minute by minute, but some stories stick around for longer. The hype surrounding Pokemon Go, Brangelina’s break up and the move of the Great British Bake Off to Channel 4 are all recent examples of ‘light’ stories (i.e. not major catastrophes or tragedies) which have captured the public interest for longer than the average news story.

So, should a small business jump on news bandwagons to obtain a little publicity for themselves? Many do, sometimes more successfully than others, and small businesses can too, providing they take consideration of the following three ‘rules’ for success:

  1. It must be quick: to jump on a bandwagon effectively, your leap must be almost immediate. Leave it more than 24-36 hours and you will have missed the boat, and then risk looking foolish and making comment on something that others have already lost interest in.
  1. It must be light-hearted – nobody likes to see a cruel advert or comment about a news story, and a little wit goes a long way for encouraging engagement, especially on social media.
  1. It must be relevant – your business should have a link to the news story you are commenting on to give your publicity context and make sense to the viewer. Without it, you may risk appearing as though you are simply using the news for publicity’s sake, which could turn potential and existing customers off. The key here is to keep your message simple, so that the relevance isn’t lost to the viewer.

A good example of all three of these points working well for publicity is Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA’s recent “Brad is Single” advert in a newspaper, promoting cheap flights to Los Angeles in reference to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s recent marriage break up. Simple, relevant, timely (it appeared soon after the separation was announced) and light-hearted, I have seen it shared several times on social media already, maximising its audience to those who may not usually consider Norwegian for flights and promoting its services in a positive manner.

For small businesses, this style of marketing is probably best achieved via social media or email marketing due to its immediacy in reaching the intended audience. Providing the three rules above are followed, there is no reason why small businesses cannot make use of news stories to give them an angle for short-term marketing and can help to make a marketing message memorable. So go ahead and jump on that bandwagon!


Out of the Box

I recently heard of a company who were trying to get new customers in a crowded business market by sending a branded box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts every day with their marketing literature and key messages to the businesses they were targeting  for three days. They sent them at 11am and 3pm to coincide with sugar lows – a crafty, and I’m sure effective, way of making sure their doughnuts were eaten and messages seen!

This is clearly a very targeted approach, and too costly for most small businesses to consider. However, it does show that thinking of something a little different can make a big impact. I once got sent pieces of Lego over the course of a few weeks, which eventually built a small aeroplane. As I recall, the message was about building slowly and achieving success, and it still stands out as one of the most eye-catching pieces of information I’ve ever received. 

Small businesses should also think outside of the box to achieve similar results with those they want as customers. For example, if you wanted to target builders, you might send them a branded mug (large-size, of course!) with a tea bag and biscuits popped inside. Or if you were trying to appeal to graphic designers, you’d probably avoid anything with design on, but send them a high quality pencil for them to use, with your business name and website address on.

A novelty branded item is more likely to stay on someone’s desk or in their mind than a simple letter or brochure, so have a think about what might make your business stand apart and what would make the people you want as customers remember you.

Do Inspirational Quotes Inspire or Repel?

To be blunt, I am not a fan of inspirational quotes. The many Twitter accounts dedicated to repeating famous soundbites do not do anything to inspire me and I find their use in presentations or by businesses cringeworthy and off-putting. 

However, there are a lot of people who love them, find them moving and aspirational, and use them in a positive way. Each to their own. 

There was an article in the Financial Times recently which discussed the issue of using famous phrases. It recommended that if you are to use such nougats of wisdom, then the user should “look beyond the obvious” and remember that some of the more well-used quotes will have been seen time and time again. The writer of the piece, Rhymer Rigby, suggests that quotes lose their power quickly when over-used, so regular use in places such as email signatures should be avoided.

I couldn’t agree more. When I see something “inspirational” on an email sign-off or on a work contact’s Twitter or LinkedIn page, I am turned off. The majority of inspirational quotes are often just ways of saying something much more straight-forward, so I’d rather take the simple route. 

For the FT’s opinion, the full article can be found here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a4df47ec-3b22-11e3-87fa-00144feab7de.html#axzz2kWXj65I9

Developing a Strategy

When I first started in marketing, I sometimes struggled to make the theories and academic marketing reasonings make sense in terms of actually doing marketing. As I’ve worked for longer in the field, things have become clearer and I’m now able to apply theories and ideas directly to the work I do and pass that on to others.

This is useful when it comes to developing a marketing strategy for a business. The tools that are taught at the start of any marketing course come in especially helpful for developing the marketing plans to start or grow a business. Anyone running a business should take the time to think about and draft SWOT and PESTEL analyses and think carefully about what they want to achieve and how this applies to the marketing mix. These will not only help you to work out where you stand in the marketplace and what you need to do to improve, grow and get to where you want to be, they’ll also help you to avoid the things that will distract you or send you off-course from your business aims.

All businesses are encouraged to write a business plan. Many banks won’t consider providing a business loan without one. It is worth remembering that a marketing strategy is just as important, as getting the word out about your business and attracting the level of customer that you need to continue and grow will be the next step to making sure you succeed.

The Changing Nature of Complaining

There was an experiment done on British TV recently which looked at the speeds that complaints were resolved at in companies, using both traditional methods of complaining (i.e. letter or email) against making a complaint on Twitter. In all 5 cases, the complaint on Twitter was responded to personally and quickly (the longest taking just over an hour), whereas within 24 hours, only one response had been received to a complaint by email.

Before the take-off of social networking as an everyday public forum, 24 hours to reply to a complaint would have seemed like a rapid response. Now, however, it is deemed painfully slow as we expect a response instantly. Our impatience has been heightened by being part of our hyper-connected world. I have to admit to having made a complaint myself whilst still in the place I was complaining about – an action that was not possible before smartphones and social networking. Previously, by the time we’d reached our homes and got out paper and a pen, it seemed like too much effort to make a complaint.

Hopefully, the end result of this will be that all companies will recognise that their customer service has to improve across the board, regardless of their size or stature. The effect that a negative tweet can do to a company’s reputation is huge – there are plenty of horror stories to be found to back that up – but by having good customer service practices and someone available who can respond quickly to any complaints made, we can lessen the damage done.