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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Put a value on your brand when buying marketing materials

In the age of the internet and austerity the fashion of today for many organisations is to buy cheaper.

Buy it cheap buy it twice.

Cutting costs and improving efficiency are laudable business aims, but organisations need to be careful to understand the difference between buying cheaper and attaining the best value.

Dissipating your brand value

And when buying in marketing materials this adage is even more important.

And this is because marketing materials represent your brand. And your brand is quite simply your organisations greatest and most valuable asset. It is estimated that 93% of Coca Cola market value is associated with non tangible assets. These assets are what you and I have in our heads about Coca Cola!

Buying with our brand in mind

In larger organisations there are product or brand guardians. But for most SME's this role can be undertaken by a host of differing people, often with no real training and understanding of what they should be buying in terms of its brand impact.

So there is a real risk that buying design, print, web, marketing and the host of other marketing services based on price alone. Not only could this not deliver the brand values you expect but, even worse, it could serious undermine the organisations perception in the customers or prospects mind. This means you spend money to have a negative effect!!

How to buy with brand in mind

There are two key aspects of brand delivery - clarity and consistency. For you to buy services with your brand in mind there are a few things you can do:

  • Ensure you have a brand strategy and brand guidelines and use these when buying marketing materials
  • Review your brand delivery and ensure there is some gap analysis done as part of this
  • Try to measure your brand effect (sometimes difficult but not impossible)
  • Use suppliers that understand brand delivery and can ensure your brand is represented well and to the standards stated in the brand guidelines.

If you are still not convinced, then I will remind you of the Ratner effect. Gerald Ratner oversaw a huge jewellery empire and was represented extensively on the high street. His shops represented great value jewellery for many customers.

That is until he was reported widely as stating that his products were 'total crap'. Nothing else changed. The products stayed the same, the shops stayed the same and the prices stayed the same. What changed was how customers perceived what they were buying. What was in the customers mind changed and he wiped off £500m off of the value of the organisation he owned.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sustainability claims that are really cost reduction exercises

The real cost of claiming sustainability

27% of Utility companies are making unsubstantiated claims with regards switching to paperless billing to save the environment (

The reality of these claims are that these organisations are using emotive language to persuade customers to turn off paper based billing so that they can reduce there own cost base. If the claims were true then this activity could be accepted. However, when these claims are clearly unresearched and in many cases unsubstantiated then these organisations need to be taken to task.

We all need to make efforts to reduce our environmental impact and act in a sustainable manner. But in doing this we need information that guides our actions that is robust and accurate.

For large organisations to be manipulating information to suit there own profit and loss accounts is dangerous and actually counter to the very message they are purporting to make.

My advice to everyone is to question claims like these and ensure that they information they produce is accurate and in the interests of the wider society they are trying to serve.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

How the development of UV inks is changing the face of print procurement

The print industry is very used to 'change'.

In the last twenty years technology has had a huge image on commercial print production to such an extent that a modern print operation is a very high tech environment - a world away from the print production techniques employed as little as twenty years ago.

And change continues unabated. The most recent 'game changer' has been the development of UV Ink technology. UV ink and UV printers are nothing new - but historically this type of printing has been the remit of specialists. Now the benefits of UV printing are now being transferred to the commercial printing market - with devastating effect.

So what are the benefits of UV inks and UV printing?
  • Faster turnaround times: jobs are ready for 'finishing' the moment they are printed. In this respect they behave like digitally printed jobs - but without any of the quality compromises that can be the downside of this type of printing.
  • Better pricing: having printed sheets that are immediately dry has a significant benefit in terms of production efficiencies. They can be 'backed up' immediately. The sheet has no spray powder contamination. The sheets can be immediately processed in the finishing department. All in all our experience has demonstrated a 30% increase in production efficiency for most jobs.
  • Improved quality: instantly dry sheets eliminates problems such as 'dryback' and, because UV inks dry without absorbing into the paper, create much sharper and vivid images when printing on uncoated papers.
I believe that for print buyers this technology is a game changer and makes a positive contribution to the argument for printed media playing a key role in an organisations marketing mix.

For more information on H-UV printing and its benefits please contact Greenhouse Graphics or see how new UV Printing technology contributes to sustainable printing.

The role of strategic marketing for business development


For many the world of marketing is about producing an advert, a website, a brochure or an email blast. The reality is that although these are tactics delivered by marketers, the real skill of marketing, and the huge success that this can deliver to an organisation, lies in developing a clear marketing strategy.

With pressures on those organisations in the education sector  and the results they deliver at an all time high, how could a strategic marketing perspective make a positive contribution to a schools development?

What you do and what stakeholders think you do:

Marketers know that it is not what you do - but  it is what your customers or prospects think you do that is the key to business success. The example of Gerald Ratner crystallises this point perfectly. From running a billion pound business to bankruptcy  almost overnight because he changed the perception of his product in his customers minds - from great value and accessible jewellery, to 'crap' (using his language).

Understand your stakeholders mind:

The story of Parker Pens (I am old enough to have been a pupil in secondary school when what pen you used really mattered) shows how customer feedback really does deliver results. Suffering from decreasing sales despite extensive marketing activity to its male dominated user base, the company completed an extensive customer feedback exercise. They found that although the consumers of their products were indeed male, their customers most certainly weren't! Most pens were bought as gifts - by females!!!

The power of positioning and brand:

There are numerous examples in the business world of companies that have become hugely successful through marketing and brand development. Some of the most valuable companies in the world have focused key resources on building a compelling brand proposition to its customers and prospects.

In recent times Apple has been revered in this context. Yet there are clearly very capable competitors for its products and its pricing policy means that they do not have the cheapest products on the market. It is also rarely first to market with its products. The difference is that its customers are almost 'evangelical' about it products. They have recognised that most people do not buy on price - even in difficult economic times. They have created a brand that resonates with customers and prospects at an emotive level.

Einstein stated that 'We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.' A strategic marketing perspective understands that the world changes as does the desires and needs of customers and prospects. Organisations that want to be successful don't just adapt to change - they create the change. Will Apple be successful with its 'wearable technology'? Would you want to bet against it?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

GreenTex - a revolution for SME branding

GreenTex is a brand new exhibition and event wall covering product from greenhouse graphics.

The product is PVC free, in line with the company's strong sustainability printing policy, and offers a number of tangible benefits for businesses and organisations that wish to develop a strong brand message. These benefits are:

GreenTex is easy to apply and doesn't need a professional installation service.
GreenTex is tough and enduring
GreenTex is reusable
GreenTex leaves no residue on walls and is very easy to remove.
GreenTex is one of the most cost-effective ways of applying branded graphics to walls.

Whether you are planning an event, exhibiting or wish to add impact to your foyer of offices, GreenTex is a remarkable product that will make an instant impact. GreenTex was used as an event branding tool for the 2013 Rugby Expo at Twickenham stadium

Delivering bottom line results through great design

Here is the scenario:

An advertiser agrees to take out an advert (either online or offline) at a cost of several hundred pounds. Having spent this money, and not wanting to spend any more, they decide to put together their own advert in a software application they have access to.
They spend many hours creating their advert and finally submit it to the publisher.

The likely result of this?

1] The artwork will not be in the correct format for the publisher and will get rejected.
2] The artwork will not be in the correct format for the publisher, who will publish it anyway, regardless of how it looks.
3] The advert will not have impact. It may read like 'War and Peace', lack an appropriate structure, have no call to action, ignore brand values, not relate to any marketing or communications plan, have no colour management and will not have any clear call to action or method of monitoring the result.

The question I often ask myself is why do organisations and business spend sizeable sums of money on advertising space, but are reluctant to invest in marketing or design services to ensure the advert achieves tangible results? Especially when the spend on this is often significantly less than the spend on buying the space in the first place.

Is is similar to buying your favourite car, then not driving it because you don't want to spend money on the petrol!

If you are not sure of the tangible results of professional design services, take a look at this video about the benefits of great design.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Exporting contacts out of LinkedIn

More and more business professionals are using LinkedIn as a method of keeping in touch with key business contacts. However, how do you integrate this information into your contacts list or your CRM system.

Exporting contacts is relatively simple if you want to create a CSV file. If you go to 'Contacts' tab and choose 'Connections' from this menu, a list of your contacts will appear.

At the bottom of the list on the right hand side is a link called export connections.

Click on this link and you will be able to export all the connections to a CSV file. This you can import into another contact or CRM database.