Alpha’s January Sale

Firstly Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since my last blog post as I have had a few issues with logging in, fortunately that is all sorted now and I am back! Last year proved to be a busy time for Alpha, we were lucky enough to work with some excellent clients who had exciting products to launch to market.

During January Alpha is running a special offer to help clients, new and existing, to get their marketing plans in to order. We are offering FREE one-to-one workshops for business owners and £100 vouchers redeemable against any projects arising. The ‘Try Before You Buy’ service on offer will explain how we work and what you can expect to achieve.

We want to get to know more business owners, show them what we can do and hopefully remain front of mind when they need help with marketing.

Workshops include:
1. Evaluation of your marketing plans for 2015, or help with formulating new plans.
2. Advice on funding options and eligibility*.
3. A one page summary of recommendations.
4. Planning templates you can use.
5. A voucher for £100 redeemable against any Alpha service.

Offer subject to availability during January 2015 only. Workshops last between one and two hours and take place either at our offices or by Skype. Call me to book on 01743 239287.

*Funding of up to 70% of our fees can be claimed by eligible companies needing help to grow.

I will look forward to hearing from you.

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FIR Compliant Labeling & Packaging

If you own a food brand chances are you’ve heard all about the new EU Food Information Regulations (FIR). Here at Alpha we have been busy working on our clients, as well as our own labeling and packaging. It is extremely important to amend your packaging and labels to these new rules as they could be removed from shop shelves during 2016 if they are found to be using the old regulations. The new regulation defines changes in how nutritional and allergy advise should be displayed as well as how large fonts must be, ingredients warnings, notification of place of origin and caffeine content .

 

The Food Standards Agency website has links to the FIR – http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2011/dec/fir#.U48lavldUwx

 

There is still plenty of time to get organised. If you would like help contact Alpha directly on 01743 236631 or email me amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

http://www.adm-group.co.uk/fir-compliant-labeling-packaging/

Bank Holidays

It’s been a little while since my last blog post. My ‘slackness’ has been down to the fact that the Alpha team has been very busy of late dealing with new and returning clients. So far, this year seems to be going well for our clients, their attitudes towards the economy are far more positive than they were this time last year. We’ve always stressed that during hard times marketing is more important than ever, which is what could be responsible for our clients positivity.

Alpha Design & Marketing Shrewsbury

Make the most of marketing for Easter (image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net)

With this is mind, I thought I’d talk about how we can make the most out of ‘forced’ time off, otherwise known as Bank Holidays! We’ve got several coming up over the next few weeks, firstly the Easter weekend and then the May holidays. For some of us this will be a busy time naturally, whilst others will shut up shop for the few days and hope to pick up the slack later in the week. For those who think that the latter example runs true with them, then there are a few marketing tricks to put in place to help reduce the loss of business (The Alpha team will be doing these as we’re away too!).

Alpha Design & Design & Marketing Shrewsbury

Use Social Media pages to promote special offers & events

If you have any special promotions planned which coincide with the time of year – Easter for eggsample (see what I did there!?) make the most of it. This is easily achieved by using Social Media to help create hype. If you Tweet something a bit silly, like my ‘eggsample’ for example, then it is more likely to get a retweet than something which is hard sell. Photographs also do well on social media, perhaps you’ve designed a spring themed window display, why not take a photo and share it online. Don’t be shy, retweet what other businesses are tweeting about and get involved, they will be more likely to do the same for you. Whilst your away on the bank holidays, set up automatic Tweets using something like ‘Tweet Deck’ or Hoot Suite. This gives you complete control on when you want a tweet to be posted, for example you could set one up to be posted on all social media pages which simply says ‘Happy Easter’ planned for Easter morning. It might not seem like much but to your customers it is, you’ve proved that you’re thinking of them even when your business is closed for a public holiday. This is a brand awareness exercise, it may not generate physical sales over the holidays but it keeps your business in your customers mind even when the shop is shut.

Splash out on some printed advertising. These days printing adverts in local papers or magazines is relatively inexpensive. If you are planning on running a special event or discount then you need to let your customers know about it. When booking advertising space don’ be afraid to haggle, there is often room to negotiate especially when booking a series of spaces. Make sure your advert is eye catching and has all of the important information on it such as when, what, where and how much. If in any doubt speak to us, we will help you put a beautiful advert together and even help you book the advertising space. Increasing the footfall to your business before and after the bank holidays will help you to reclaim any profit which may be have been lost, who knows, you might do better than a normal weekend!

Alpha Design & Marketing Shrewsbury

check your online shop works correctly

If you have an online shop perform checks to insure that it is working correctly. Your shop might be shut over the bank holidays but your customers will still be shopping online. To make sure no orders are missed test your website thoroughly. Why not offer some sort of special discount, perhaps an ‘eggstravagant sale’! Make sure your website clearly displays what the terms are to the sale and again promote this on your social media pages.

If you’d like a marketing health check we offer free one hour consultations. Simply call us to make an appointment, after which we will put together a proposal of marketing activities we recommend and can help you with. Call me today to make your appointment 01743 239287 or email amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

From the Alpha team – we wish you all a fantastic bank holiday and a Happy Easter!

www.adm-group.co.uk

How to get more from your social media pages in 2014

Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely festive break and are now feeling refreshed and ready to take 2014 by the horns!

The start of a new year is often a time of reflection, looking back at the year gone by and enjoying memories of the good times as well as the bad. In terms of business, the bad times are often just as useful as the good as they highlight areas that can be improved. For example, a lot of us have social media pages but we’re not really sure how to best use them. By looking back at lasts year activity you will be able to see what worked well and not so well.

It is important to keep in mind that social media is not to be used as a hard sell. Followers will tune out if all you ever share is sale information or ‘buy this’. Here are some tips to help grow your social media following by engaging with your audience in thought provoking, helpful and exciting ways.

1. Competitions

A good competition is a fail safe way to increase followers and promote interactions on various social media pages. Competitions on Twitter run all day everyday by hundreds of different businesses. You will receive lots of new follows and retweets by offering a prize for some sort of interaction. Some are as simple as ‘retweet for your chance to win’ or as we have often done for our own brand of chocolate – ‘Beyond Dark’ tie your competition in with an existing campaign. For example, to follow up our ‘Moments of Pleasure’ campaign we ran a Twitter and Facebook competition open for all followers if they sent us their #momentsofpleasure from their week. Therefore if people wanted to enter they had to follow us, generating more follows. We then retweeted the entries to reinforce audience interaction and made comments on any where we thought applicable. Be sure to label tweets with hashtags such as #win #competition #freebiefriday to help people find them and, if possible, tweet a photo of the prize. This not only shows your audience the real life prize but it shows them what your product looks like. If they were to see it in the shop they have more chance of recognising it and picking it out over your competitor.

 

2. Consumer generated content marketing

Encourage your audience to share your brand. This can be tricky to achieve as it can not be forced. The intention is to give your audience the power to share your product socially. For example Coca Cola ran the ‘Share a Coke with’ campaign where they printed names on the side of coke cans and bottles. I don’t know about you but I lost count of all the Facebook and Twitter posts I saw where my friends had uploaded a photograph to their page of their beloved coke can adorned with their name. Fantastic marketing! Coke simply gave their customers the opportunity to share their brand with their friends and share they did. They didn’t ask their customers to do anything with their named bottles but their customers took it upon themselves to share and that’s why this campaign  is clever.

Coca Cola share a coke with campaign

Coca Cola share a coke with campaign (image via Google)

 

3. Use your brand voice

Choosing the correct tone of voice for your social media pages might take a bit of practice. There needs to be a fine balance between being friendly and businessy, after all you are running a business and are using these pages for a reason. Try and adopt a similar tone as your other marketing activities, keep posts on brand. As for personal posts, try and keep them to a minimum.

 

4. Don’t ignore complaints

If customers get in touch through your social media pages with a complaint try and deal with them as quickly as possible. Turn the negative into a positive by reacting in a proactive way to sort the problem out. Yes your followers will probably have seen the complaint but more importantly they will see how you deal with it. This will demonstrate your customer service and how you react when something goes slightly wrong. Turning a blind eye or not reacting quick enough may result in other followers becoming involved by retweeting, or reposting the complaint. Nip it in the bud quickly and confidently to show your excellent customer service off.

 

5. Share

We are often sent photos of our customers Beyond Dark creations. The fact that they have taken the time to send us something is worthy of recognition. The fact that they have shared it with their family and friends on their social media pages earns them, in our opinion, a lovely gold star (and often a free bag or two of chocolate)! We are always thrilled to receive them and where possible we try and show their creations off to our followers and friends alike on our own social media pages (below is an example of cupcakes made using Beyond Dark, sent in by a lovely customer). If a recipe is involved we ask their permission to share it on our blog. Again this helps build quality engagement with our audience as well as brand loyalty.  This helps to guide old and potentially new customers to the point of purchase.

Beyond Dark Panda Cakes

Beyond Dark Panda Cakes shared by @tweetladyaga

By experimenting with various social media platforms your brand can elevate itself by engaging with customers to reinforce brand loyalty. Try and be different, run unique campaigns that will capture the imagination of your customers so that they become even more involved with your brand.

If you would like help putting together an exciting social media marketing plan call us on 01743 236631.

www.adm-group.co.uk

Content Marketing – What is it?

You’ve probably heard about content marketing, but do you know what it is and are you doing it?

Content marketing is a term which refers to creative writing which is shared across different platforms including blogs, social media pages and white papers etc. The idea is that potential clients/customers will find this information useful and therefore generate traffic/enquiries to acquire more custom. Content marketing is not focused on selling, but engaging and communicating with existing and potential customers. By delivering ongoing support, interesting and useful information the customer feels a sense of loyalty and will return or be compelled to begin a long lasting relationship. This is what we call Brand Loyalty.

According to research published by ‘The Drum’, British marketing gurus are rather confident about how we create and use content marketing,

“Produced by the CMI in partnership with the DMA, 48 per cent of British marketers who used content marketing said they were effective at it, compared with 41 per cent of North American marketers and 33 per cent of Australian marketers.”

(http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/12/11/uk-marketers-found-be-more-confident-their-content-marketing-strategy-american-and)

Chances are if you already have a Twitter or Facebook page for your business you are already creating content marketing material. Not only is social media great in sharing your insights, it is also a great way to boost search engine optimisation. The more useful content that you can share on the internet the more you will help increase overall visibility of your business.

So what can you do to write effective content? If you’re just starting out it is a good idea to get to grips with social media. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are easy to use and readily available on desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets. Make sure your pages are branded up to match your website etc. Try and post things which are useful and interesting as often as you can and avoid posting the same content across all platforms. You’ve probably heard others complaining that they’re not interested in what you had for lunch, but if you are a food company than this could be relevant. Share thoughts from your clients, perhaps they have sent you a recipe or a photo of your product they purchased. By sharing things like this you are engaging with your clients. This will help build a reciprocal relationship which will not cease once the service or product you provide has been exchanged.

Once you are fluent with social media pages you might like to try writing a blog (a bit like this one!). Again it is important to write content as often as possible, on subjects which your clients might find interesting. A blog allows you to go into much more detail, if you were to write something like this on a Facebook post for example you might find you start losing ‘likes’. Remember that your content should be informative, NOT a hard sell!

If you have recently undergone product/consumer research you might like to share your findings by producing a white paper. This is an authoritative report or guide which should help your readers understand a particular issue or problem that they might face. The white paper will present facts and figures to help the reader come to a decision to help them solve the problem. A more visual way to display similar information would be to create an infographic. At Alpha, we reference infographics on our Pinterest page. Any useful infographics we come across are pinned here for safe keeping, which illustrates exactly how they work. See our Pinterst Page HERE.

You can be as creative as you like with content marketing, why not make a short film and post it on YouTube or put a photo album together on Pinterest. By creating as many opportunities to interact with your clients you will help develop brand loyalty. If you would like to know more feel free to drop me an email at amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

 

www.adm-group.co.uk

Looking After Your Brand

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned business person, looking after your brand is one of the most important jobs there is when it comes to protecting your business. Your brand represents the company and everything it stands for. You should treat it like a model employee who you just couldn’t do without. Make sure it gets the attention it deserves and is never put in any awkward positions where it can’t work for you.

Chances are you’ve put an enormous amount of time and energy building your business up to its current level.  You might have even employed a designer to come up with a logo that captures and communicates your company values. In our opinion, this is time and money well spent. However, just because the initial design process is over doesn’t mean the brand should stand still and remain as it is. Well established and successful brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple and Cadbury are constantly reviewing and evolving their brand. This helps them to stay up to date without harming their heritage or the reasons to believe in their brand. Companies like these employ full time brand managers who are responsible for caring for the brands. They are constantly reviewing how the brand works and monitoring its results. We realise you might not have the man power or budgets to monitor your brand quite as closely as this, but we can help.

Reviewing Your Brand Will Ensure it Performs Consistantly

Reviewing Your Brand Will Ensure it Performs Consistantly

We offer our clients an unbiased, comprehensive brand review. The intention of a brand review is to identify any areas of your business that are misaligned with your brand. If any are identified we can help you to get them back on the right tracks and working together. We assess how strong your brand is by looking at brand development opportunities or threats. Depending on the brand, identifying opportunities could result in brand re-positioning or brand developments in the form of extending product range.

During the review process we ask ourselves questions such as:

Does the look and feel still attract the target market?

What do your clients/customers think of your brand?

What do your employees think of your brand?

What does the brand say about the company?

How does you brand currently sit in the marketplace?

Is the logo used in the correct way across all marketing collateral?

How is your brand managed?

By answering these questions we are able to put together a document of recommendations where we feel improvements could be made to help grow or maintain business productivity.

If you would like more information or would like us to review your brand get in touch on 01743 236631 or drop us an email amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

www.adm-group.co.uk

Make your marketing last beyond Christmas

Make your marketing last beyond Christmas

Make your marketing last beyond Christmas

Whether you are a lover or a hater, there is no arguing that Christmas is coming. For many of us it is the busiest time of the year in both our private and professional lives. Dealing with excess orders and inquiries as well as making sure the turkey is on order and family are organised can leave you in a bit of a tizz. But it is no excuse for letting your marketing slip. If you haven’t thought about Christmas marketing by now you are cutting it very fine. Hopefully you have thought about corporate cards and gifts for clients and suppliers and placed an order for them, and have placed plenty of advertisements, posted lots on social media pages and everything else to create excitement and buzz around your brand and products. Chances are you’ve done enough already to keep you going through the busiest months, after all ‘if you build it, they will come’. However what happens after Christmas?

January is notoriously a slow, quiet month. People have spent up and are clutching on to their last few pounds until they are replenished by the long awaited January pay day. It’s during this time your marketing should be working it’s hardest. Make sure your brand is not forgotten after the mad seasonal rush by continuing your marketing as if it were still Christmas.  Of course remove any reindeer or mistletoe and make it more seasonal but continue with the campaign. This will help to reinforce your brand and drive customers and clients back to your business once more. Make sure the need and want for your product still exists long after Christmas has passed.

If you need help putting a marketing plan together to last you throughout the new year speak to Alpha. We will create an easy to follow plan that can be carried out even in the busiest of Christmas periods. However, if reading this blog sent you in to a panic as you haven’t arranged your corporate gifts or advertising campaigns, don’t worry, we can help you with that too. For more information or to make an appointment call us on 01743 236631.

www.adm-group.co.uk

Why Social Media Is Great!

So you’ve probably come to realise that I’m somewhat of a social media fanatic! Not only do I use it in my day to day personal life to keep in touch with friends and family dotted all over the world, I also use it in my day to day professional life.

Alpha Design & Marketing Shrewsbury

Alpha Design & Marketing

 

Part of my job role at Alpha Design & Marketing is to keep our social media pages up to date with relevant, interesting and if it calls for it fun stuff. I am also responsible for designing and setting up pages for our clients. Not everyone feels as strongly about social media as we do and it is up to us to persuade our clients that social media can help them to grow their business. With this in mind we offer start up packages to clients where we create the pages. We also help them put together an easy to follow plan which we execute together. Our aim is to help our clients fall in love with social media within three months. After the three months is up, they can carry on with out us, or if they prefer we can carry on assisting them.

So far social media has led to a number of introductions and sales. Within the first few weeks of creating and running a social media campaign for one of our clients we were approached by two online retailers asking if we would be interested in listings on their websites. Through social media we interacted with the retailers, directing them to the correct person to speak with in the company. A couple of weeks later our clients products are now listed and selling well.

Online Networking Social Media

Online Networking Social Media

We also encourage our B2C clients to interact with their customers by running competitions and encouraging interactions. Everyone loves free stuff, it is possible to generate large followings of new and potential customers by running a short competition, the easier the competition is to enter the more followers/likes you will gain. This type of follower/liker are great to have on-board as they help to spread the brand around the online world, reaching more potential customers (as well as retailers). This sort of exposure is great to help communicate your brand values.

There are many different ways to encourage online interactions through social media. If you would like to know how we can help your business to sell more through the power of social media call me on 01743 239287 or email amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

The Importance of a Business Newsletter

Newsletters are an effective way of letting people know your companies news (I guess the clue is in the name) however just because they are newsletters doesn’t necessarily mean it gives you an excuse to toot your own horn. Here are my suggestions into suitable, thought provoking content which will engage colleagues and clients alike.

The content which goes into news letter should of course be relevant and targeted towards the reader. If you are putting together a company business letter intended for staff make sure it has content which your staff might like to read about. This is an excellent opportunity to praise staff by giving them their 15 minutes of fame. It also provides an excellent platform to broadcast company information, new policies and events. Keeping your staff in the loop is fundamental to making sure your business runs as efficiently as possible.

If the newsletter is for your clients why not let them know about new products or services. However, you don’t want your newsletter to come across as a hard sell, this will turn your clients off and will probably end up with your newsletter in the bin or spam folder. To avoid this from happening balance it out with interesting information such as business related news. Why not discuss current affairs such as budgets and offer tips or advice on how you might be able to help your clients come in or under budget with the services or products you provide.

Share news with colleagues

Share news with colleagues

Make sure you get the design right. This newsletter represents your company and therefore should follow brand guidelines. It should look professional. If it is too cluttered or doesn’t resemble your company it will be filled away in the bin. Take the time to produce something you’re proud of, chances are if you think it looks rubbish so will your clients.

Be regular, plan when your newsletters will be delivered and stick to a schedule. Newsletters are commonly sent out once a month, however if budgets are tight quarterly will be sufficient.

If you are emailing your newsletter make sure you send it from a reputable email distributor such as ‘mailchimp’ or ‘pure360’. If you send more than 10 emails out in one go through outlook or mail your emails will automatically be flagged as spam. This could mean that your ip address is blacklisted, meaning you and your colleagues will not be able to email again. Also, to avoid being flagged as spam try not to use ‘spammy’ words such as ‘Sale’ ‘Free’ ‘Offer’ and avoid using to many exclamation marks!!! Spam filters don’t like them!

If your clients prefer their newsletters delivered by snail mail make sure your database is kept up to date with names and addresses. There is less direct mail sent these days due to high print and postage costs, however this means there is less direct mail to compete with. To ensure your newsletter is picked up off the doormat, make sure that your design is spot on. It needs to capture the attention of the client and seduce them into opening it and reading it.

junk mail Less direct mail means less competition

Less direct mail means less competition

Newsletters are fantastic at keeping contact open and constant with clients. It may not create sales straight off but by reinforcing your brand awareness you will keep your company in the minds eye of your client and when they do need you they will come to you.

If you need help putting a newsletter together email me amysmart@adm-group.co.uk or call me on 01743 239287.

 

photos from http://www.freepik.com

Back To Work…

Now the kids are back at school your business is once again your main priority (only in office hours of course!). Marketing is normally the first activity to be forgotten during those summer months, somehow it seems less important than bill paying or booking that summer holiday, however if your marketing is left completely untouched you will notice a drop off in sales and then how will the bills be paid?

If you have been less than generous with your marketing activities over the past 6 weeks now is the time to take stock and re-evaluate your marketing plan. Try and get back in to the swing of things by making a plan of action to help achieve your business goals, after all, that’s what marketing is all about.

create a marketing plan

Create a marketing plan (photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by imagerymajestic)

Look at how your marketing plan was performing before the summer break. Had you seen good return on investment? What worked? What failed? Use past experiences as building blocks, learn from them to improve your future plan. Book advertisements and put the deadlines in your diary or work planner – you don’t want to miss them as you’ll still be expected to pay for the advertising space whether that is printed or online.

Don’t forget to plan for the seasons, the nights will be drawing in soon, Halloween is just around the corner and we can almost hear the jingle of Santa’s sleigh in the distance. It might sound crazy to think of Christmas in August/September but it is good practice to think ahead and plan for these events. Will you be running any special promotions? Could you use Halloween or Fireworks Night for graphical purposes to help highlight a sale? Do you want to send your clients a special Christmas gift? All of these things will need to be accounted for to allow you to make accurate plans and budgets which you will be able to stick to.

As you can see there are lots of different marketing options to suit all budgets, we help our clients to evaluate what is important to them and what goals they wish to achieve. By identifying your goals it will make your marketing activities easier to manage, after all you need to market yourself correctly to be able to achieve your goals. If you would like help with your marketing plan speak to us – 01743 239287 or email amysmart@adm-group.co.uk

www.adm-group.co.uk

Alpha Design & Marketing Studio

Trust The Professionals – Alpha Design & Marketing Studio