David Wright

David Wright

davidwright

David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.


Now that 2015 has arrived, many of us are tentatively jotting down resolutions for the new year. Along with personal goals such as doing more star-jumps and watching less Reality TV, you might want to set some marketing goals for your business that you’ll actually enjoy sticking to. Here are some tips to get you started.

Be clear

Before you make new goals, you’ll need to review what did and didn’t work in 2014. For this, you’ll need clarity of mind, especially after those Christmas excesses! Try an app like Unstuck to help disperse the brain-fog.

Be SMART

Make sure that the goals you set for 2015 are SMART

  • Specific (Who, What, Where, When, Why?)
  • Measurable (How much or how many?)
  • Achievable (How will it be implemented and what resources will you need?)
  • Realistic (Are you willing and able?)
  • Time-Bound (Today, next week, next month?)

Be more sociable

If your marketing doesn’t involve social media, now is the time to get cracking. It’s free, and great for engaging with customers and creating a personality for your business or brand. Social media advertising can be cost effective and highly targeted. On Facebook, you can target users based on their gender, location, occupation, and interests. Paying attention to your responses will tell you who your customer base actually is and what their habits are.

Spruce up your writing style

Think about your audience when writing. It’s not just about relaying information. You should have a consistent tone of voice that ties in with your brand. If you need support with grammar or writing style, try the Grammar Up or Hemingway apps.

Brainstorm

If you’re stuck in a rut, a creative session can throw new ideas into the mix. See here for some tips. Delegate if you need to. Ask a colleague for help if you are not confident with marketing – or reach out to a specialist agency.

Work with the calendar

Plan your marketing activity around major annual events, holidays, anniversaries and anything that will be important to your customers. Leave yourself enough time to decide what you would like to do.

Tell a story

Your favourite brands don’t always promote their products and services in a literal way. The recent Christmas TV ads were a good example of this. Yes, some promotions are based on special offers and BOGOFs. But many more are about communicating the core values of a company, and what kind of experience you will have if you spend time/money with them. Your ‘story’ is what sets you apart from the competition.

Think visually

The popularity of Instagram, Vine and Pinterest is proof that a picture is worth a thousand words. Fortunately, creating your own visuals for online marketing is getting easier, with many simple programs and apps available to help you. Sometimes low-tech imagery works better on social media because it’s easier to relate to. Leading with a visual is a way of saying something quickly and effectively, whilst still leaving room for interpretation.

Remember quality

Marketing success is not always measured in website visits and Twitter followers. Content marketing can inspire brand loyalty and result in repeat business. Think about producing a free guide, download or video containing tips and advice. A regular blog with expert commentary will encourage longer website visits. It will also help improve your search engine listings.

Be a good guest

If you want to position yourself as an industry expert, writing an article for an established website will help. You will be sharing your thoughts with a larger audience, and also borrowing some prestige from the site. Again, this can improve your SEO, especially if you share the finished product on your own networks.

What are your marketing resolutions for 2015? Tweet me at @WeAreLava

David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Last week it emerged that the new iPhone 6 is relatively easy to bend if you put it your back pocket and sit on it for several hours. Who knew! Within hours, #Bendgate became the top trend on Twitter, with rival phone brands, tech bloggers and consumers wading into the conversation.

Kit Kat responded within thirty minutes, proving that you don’t have to be a tech expert to join conversations like these.

kitkat

The following day, we were reeling from the earth-shattering news that Jason Orange had left Take That. Innocent Drinks responded swiftly with this gem:

innocenttweets

As part of your own business marketing strategy, you can have an action plan for emerging news stories and trends, as well as forthcoming events.

If you have the time and resources, you, your staff or marketing agency can get involved in real-time conversations on social media. But the trick is to be prepared:

Here are ten tips to make your marketing more topical and current:

  • Keep up to date with the latest news, and make this a company-wide habit. Get a morning paper delivered, browse national and local news sites with your coffee, and see what’s trending online.
  • Ensure that staff are aware of the company’s stance on current topics. Decide upon the kind of news you would like to respond to and the kind you wish to avoid.
  • Make sure that everyone is fluent in the company’s brand values and tone of voice. Is it formal or humorous? Authoritative or chatty? Do all images need to follow strict brand guidelines? Whoever is looking after your social media feeds needs to know how to respond quickly and decisively, in order to keep the conversation going.
  • Find a way to produce simple, impactful media at short notice as Kit Kat did. Of course, not every company has a skilled designer on-tap, but smartphone photos and videos are just as acceptable on social media as polished, prepared media. Apps like Instagram and Vine provide easy-to-use editing tools.
  • Remember that traditional PR can be used in this way too. If a news topic is relevant to your business and pops up in the media every few months (for example – housing prices, healthy eating, care for the elderly, equality and diversity) – you could prepare statements and quotes in advance and approach the media as a spokesperson. Working with an agency can help you to maximize opportunities like this.
  • Don’t come late to the party – by jumping on a bandwagon after it has peaked, your brand could look out-of-touch.
  • Use annual events such as Halloween as a way of expressing your company’s values and affirming your brand identity. How does your company ‘do’ Christmas?
  • Embrace ‘second-screening’. Major TV events like The X Factor or the recent Scottish Referendum attract millions of comments on social media. Think about how you can link your brand to these events. Companies like Innocent Drinks post about cultural events that have no real link to their fruit juice, but attract a similar audience.
  • Link with local events in order to strengthen ties with the community. You may have noticed that quite a few local businesses posted about the Steampunk Festival and Lincoln Pride, making locals and also tourists aware of their products and services.
  • Latch onto national awareness days that have a direct link to your business. A chocolatier might want to get involved in National Chocolate Week. Is there an event that connects to your industry? Do some research, and you could prepare a special campaign or promotion ahead of time.

Whatever type of business you’re in, always remember that tying into current news and events is a surefire way of boosting your image and engaging with your audience.

Has your business made the most of a hot topic? Tweet us your examples at @lavacomms.

David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

How do you generate new ideas for your business promotion? If you want to create a compelling message with your PR, marketing or design, then fresh ideas are essential.

Brainstorming can be applied to an entire campaign, or elements such as corporate branding, colour schemes, logos, slogans, straplines or social media strategy.

In his seminal 1939 book A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young puts the idea-creation process into five stages:

  1. Gather your raw materials. These are the elements you are working with, which can include physical materials, key facts and overall objectives.
  2. Play with the materials by developing associations between each of the elements, building links, looking at things in a new way, and free-associating.
  3. Taking a breather is crucial. Put the project down for a while, and do something fun which stimulates your imagination, like going for lunch, taking a walk or switching your attention to another task.
  4. The ‘light-bulb’ moment. Allow the idea to pop into your mind. This will usually happen when you’re not actually thinking about it.
  5. Test your ideas. Hold them up to criticism and analysis. See if your ideas meet your objectives.

Brainstorming as a team means that everyone is on the same page from the very start. Each team member will feel invested in the success of the project because they helped to create it. Here are some tips for running a successful group brainstorming session.

Have a clear brief

What are the key messages that you want to get across? What does your audience need to know, and what are they being encouraged to do? What is the tone? Having a clear brief will give the team something to measure their ideas against after brainstorming.

Have a moderator

Choose someone to facilitate the session and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts.

Set the scene

Create a relaxing environment where you can visually share your ideas – use a whiteboard, flipchart or table surface.

Leave judgment until the end

Remember this is brainstorming, not critical thinking. Anything goes. Judging or analyzing stops the flow of ideas. Bad ideas are stepping stones to better ideas, so don’t be scared of the brief. You can edit later.

Embrace different learning styles

Visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (moving). Draw stick figures. Enjoy the silence or play soothing music. Stand up and walk around. If your brief is all text, then draw pictures of the different elements and see how they inter-relate. Try mind-mapping and cubing to help this process along.

Take breaks

Feeling stumped or tired? Take a coffee break or switch seats.

Be flexible

Are you too close to the project to really see it? Are you clinging to ideas, even if they don’t work? Allow others to bring a fresh viewpoint. Hiring a creative agency can help you with this.

Keep an ideas box

Maybe you haven’t had a golden idea during the session, but you’ve set the wheels in motion. Your team might have flashes of insight after the session, so keep an ideas box where people can drop in their suggestions. This also provides anonymity for those who are not confident to share their ideas.

Have another check-in

Leave the ideas to marinate for a few days and then come back together. Work through your ideas and see whether they meet your objectives. This is when you can begin to edit and refine.

I’d love to hear your brainstorming techniques. What works for you?

David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

+ More stories