copyright & trademark symbols

The Legal Side of Marketing – what you need to know

Whether you are a young entrepreneur looking to venture out into the world of small business, or you are a high level marketing

copyright & trademark symbols

Image from auocoms.com

firm, you need to fully comprehend the ins and outs of basic marketing and law.  It’s important to know what will get you (or your clients) in hot water, or even worse, put out of business. Claiming ignorance will not work as a defence when you’ve been dragged into court over trademark or copyright issues. There is a very thin line between what is protected and what isn’t; the following are ways in which you can assure that you are properly protected from a costly and time consuming lawsuit.

Trademarking

When it comes to names, catch phrases and images it’s generally a good idea to check a Trademark Database. If you find what you’re looking for in the database, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it; however, you would be wise to ask permission from the trademark holder. Unless you are a direct competitor of the trademark holder, they tend to give or sell permission. This rings especially true in regards to using stock photos for websites and catalogs.

Copywriting and Ad Copy

If you make your living writing ads that capture and engage an individual into purchasing your product, it might behoove you to check and see if your country has specifics on what is and isn’t acceptable. I check in with The American Writers And Artist Inc frequently to ensure that no new laws have been passed regarding copyright or trademark infringements.

It astounds me the number of websites and marketing ads that promise unobtainable results due to their products. Perhaps the most abused clientele are those attempting to purchase weight loss diets, pills, and exercise equipment. An example of this would be using false testimonials in advertising.

Copycatting Isn’t Only for Serial Killers

Anyone who has ever watched a crime show eventually sees an episode about a copycat serial killer. It’s inevitable. Now, I’m not saying that those in marketing that copy other people’s work are perpetrating as severe a crime, but nonetheless, it is a crime (and like all copycat serial killers, they will get caught).

It’s a simple concept to grasp. It was cheating to copy a friend’s homework in school, and it’s cheating to copy someone’s marketing work in the real world.

Just because someone else was successful using an idea or phrase in his or her ad copy does not allow you to copy it into your advertising campaign.

Faking It on the Internet

Possibly the fastest growing form of illegal marketing is the growth of black hat SEO techniques. This is the attempt to use hidden text, improper link building, and cloaking to raise a company’s website profile in search results.

Another illegal form of online marketing is creating fake reviews of companies and products. In a recent case, in which nineteen companies were fined for created fake reviews on Yelp and Google Local, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, stated:

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising. When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.” Schneiderman continued “This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution.”

Without a business law degree, it’s not always possible to know what is and isn’t allowed. Thankfully, the internet is always full of advice and answers, and there are always sites like Legal Vision that make it their goal to provide insight and solutions to legal needs.

When all else fails, remember the words of Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, “Being good is good business.

If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong…

 

Bloggers Club NZ website

Interview with Jenene Crossan, NZ Girl

Jenene has an enviable track record as an internet entrepreneur.

Bloggers Club NZ website

Bloggers Club NZ website

What made you pick the internet

The first part was to be young enough – when I first went into this space I was a teen, it was a natural part of where things were going.  For years I’ve used the descriptor if you’re on the ski field and you see kids fly past at 100km an hour and you’re just trying to stay upright.

When you’re young enough you don’t worry about falling over and that applies to business too.

I have a natural gut instinct around consumers, and I’m passionately curious about this space.  I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Tell us about NZ Girl

We launched in 1999 there was nothing else in that space – there were corporates dallying with the idea of corporate websites, Google was in its first year and social media hadn’t happened.  We were taking advertising orders by fax.  That meant we got to see the full evolution of everything.  We led the pack to say where it was going – we didn’t know better we just gave it a go.

We found an audience who were interested in the space naturally, alongside that the business attracted people who needed to speak to that audience and used us as their guide to use the internet to talk to them.

I developed other businesses to do research, strategy and guidance too off the back of that.

We started as an online magazine and it’s now a social mag with the content written by the audience, curated by us and it’s now a bloggers club.  We manage 400 bloggers and offer content marketing services through that.

What do you think about Native advertising?

It’s been an interesting evolution – the digital advertising world is in a worse state now that 5 years ago and I credit that to the agencies getting involved.  We had direct relations with the clients and created cool platforms.  The agencies commoditised it and it became very CPM driven and more recently CPC driven and that bastardised the whole offering and the whole platform.  It’s hard for publishers to give advertisers the environment to get relationships with consumers when they’re trying to rely on click throughs immediately at a certain $ value.

We said it’s madness to use CPM as a measure of success for a campaign and we have always been about integration and it hasn’t been embraced by agencies because it’s too hard for them to do.

Integration must be creatively led – e.g. J&J have new skincare product – they tell us who its aimed at and we do research into the audience and what they think about it, we recommend angles, and we come up with the creative concepts of ways to talk about it which might be editorial, blogger content, advertorial, competitions, sampling, ways to purchase.  All sorts of things.  For Gilette we chucked 2 tonnes of sand and put on a beach volleyball contest… it’s a 360 experiential view.

it’s mostly technically led and on the site.  We have done apps, games, treasure hunts.

What’s the future for online advertising and agencies?

The recession didn’t help but if you look at the very large agencies – their model is being able to provide a better price than everyone else- they have to cut deals and so they cut out people and will only work with a certain number of suppliers or publishers.  They are metric-driven and pit people against each other.

We were being missed out on schedules for brands we’ve worked with for a decade and it was because our CPM wasn’t low enough.  We lost out to sites with no integration or technology.  This was madness.  So we said “stuff it”.  We no longer charge for display advertising – we are not prepared to be measured by a CPM metric.

If you do content marketing with us, integrated campaigns with us and we give the display advertising for free.

We do still deal with agencies, Rochelle has had to turn round and tell them that that’s not how we work.  We refuse to be measured in this way and here are our arguments and we get left off the schedule because of this.  We need to get brands to the other side of this – to get measures – that’s not how consumers buy they build relationships and want recommendations.

The female consumer is driven by what others tell her about how to get things and where to find them.  It doesn’t work in a metric driven way.  They are such magpies – so excited about the next big thing e.g. Facebook – they invested in it because it’s free, organic reach is stuffed and now they have to pay for sponsored and promoted posts.  This even more supports the theory that you need others talking about your brand.

How can brands take advantage of this?

To be successful in this landscape, you need to introduce people naturally to your brand and they can easily talk about it if they want to do so.  The model in bloggers club is subscription driven – brands pay us to work out how to create conversation – bloggers are paid by us but it’s not specifically by the brand.  This is the Church and State separation that’s required.

We get a variety of bloggers – nutrition and fitness, parenting and all sorts of stuff, art and drawing, sketch bloggers too.  It’s really cool. UGC was never going to go away – it gives folks a reason to continuously get involved and social allows them to spread the voice.

Commericalising it gives problems to some people – great content but no ida of audience development.  And others who can’t make their content look professional enough to make it marketable. We have a template-driven format that they can use.  So clients see what’s being written about them and they can then take it and share across their networks.  This allows the individual to have a voice – this is never going to go away now that we’ve found our voices.

Internship at Creative Agency Secrets

My time as “The Intern”

My name is Johan Ericson and I’m a marketing student from Sweden. I’ve just completed a three-month internship at Creative Agency Secrets and feel that in a short space of time I’ve learned a lot. Aside from having the benefit of getting to know the people and work environment at CAS, I got to experience how a marketing agency works in the real world. With a broad range of daily activities and interesting one off tasks, I quickly found myself dealing with actual work for actual clients. Some of the skills I have developed during my time at Creative Agency Secrets:

  • Blogging: One of the first things I did as a intern was to start a blog, “The Intern“. Through this assignment I learned how to use WordPress as well as learning to write and when to publish my content.
  •  Social Media: Having managed multiple Social Media accounts for clients across a range of mediums in Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).  I’ve learnt some of the theory behind Social Media (what to post, when to post etc) as well as some of the technological tricks you can use to drive traffic back to your website. Learning both the theoretical and technological aspects of Social Media have helped develop my skillset and increased my competence in this area.
  • Google Analytics: During my time, I’ve learnt how website success can be measured. I’ve learnt about the importance of reducing bounce rate, and how the information gained from analytics helps make websites better for both the user and the administrator.
  • Client Meetings: After spending time with clients and planning and preparing for meetings, not only has my level of comfort increased in these situations but I also have gained a greater understanding of the needs and pressures potential clients have which allows us to help them better.
  • Marketing Tools: During my time with Creative Agency Secrets, I’ve learnt to use many different marketing tools. This has allowed me to better help clients and broaden the range of skills and services I can now offer.

During the brief time I spent at Creative Agency Secrets I feel I’ve learnt a lot and gained a well-rounded experience. I’ve developed my skillset and have a better understanding to real life marketing which will help me to take the next step forward in my career.

What’s the advantage of FeedBlitz over Mailchimp?

We got this question from an SEO agency who works on a client and thought that our answer might be useful to others.  These services are mass email sending programs – each has different features and applications.

Creative Agency Secrets uses FeedBlitz…..

  • Firstly because they did RSS to email first before others offered the service.
  • Secondly they were a client for a couple of years – we did a lot of copywriting for them.
  • Thirdly they do not require double opt-in for new list imports (AWeber does).
  • Fourthly they enable an autoresponder to end and then you can migrate people onto a mailing list from the autoresponder (so lists mutually build)
  • Fifthly they allow you to pick a random subscriber for prize draws (very cute)

Downsides of FeedBlitz

Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor do most of these same features.  I like the templates in these services better than FeedBlitz’ options.
I also like the mail-as-many-times-as-you-like during a month with FeedBlitz where you pay once and just mail.  Whereas Campaign Monitor charges $5 plus every time.  But depending on your list size and mailing frequency other services may give you a better price.
You can import a list but FeedBlitz insists on mailing the people and checking they know you’ve added them to a list before you can send messages to them.  It has high anti standards.
It doesn’t make creating and managing a large number of lists easy. This is because it’s principally a publishing/sharing platform not a mass email service.
Happy to amplify further or give readers a guided tour inside the services we use most and some of the cute nice-to-have features like who your social media influencers are.

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The DOs and DON’Ts of newsletters for accounting firms

Newsletters are an essential form of communication between companies and their stakeholders. More often than not though, those that sign up to a newsletter are (potential) customers who are interested in what you do. Many accounting firms are adding newsletters into their regular marketing activities and we’re here to help you build your newsletters for new business success.

We’ve taken time to analyse a couple of newsletters from accounting firms around New Zealand and we’ve noticed one major pitfall – these newsletters are LONG!

They often involve several articles, a lack of links and often their content just isn’t well focused on their business or those who may be signing up to their newsletter.

For a broader picture, lets take a look at the common successes and mistakes some accounting firm newsletters are making…

 

Successful elements in accounting newsletters

Relevant content: accounting firms are experts in their field and they show that well through the article content they provide in newsletters.

1Great use of spacing: the newsletters we’ve seen space out their content well and use headlines or boxes to separate content. Making content discernable is a good thing as it draws readers eyes in and encourages them to read. Content that is jumbled or squished together deters readers, and you should want your newsletters to be read.

Well planned structure: titles, headlines, blocks of content and different sections are commonplace in accounting firm newsletters. This differs from spacing as a coherent structure helps a reader flow from one piece of content to the next, until they’ve read the entire newsletter. It’s simply another way to encourage readers to read all the way through.

Include social media/ web page links: newsletters help drive website traffic, and so integrating links to online presences is vital. What’s more is that accounting firms include these links well by using images. These links are often included in sidebars or at the bottom of the newsletter so as not to distract from main newsletter content.

 

Common mistakes

Text-heavy/ too much content: often entire pages are included in accounting firm newsletters for any one of the articles they include. This is more so for less frequent, quarterly newsletters than regular monthly ones but does still happen. Entire articles belong on web pages or blogs, and we’ll tell you why after pointing out some more common mistakes.

Content Heavy Newsletters Risk Losing Reader Interest

Content Heavy Newsletters Risk Losing Reader Interest.

3Irrelevant or unnecessary content: we’ve seen accounting firm newsletters that point out nearby office areas to buy or that their neighbours or friends are raising money for a charity and would like some help. While this content may be great to share with your readers, it isn’t NEWSLETTER content. Share these bits of information in email blasts to your email lists (possibly including your newsletter mailing list) instead. Your newsletter subscribers subscribed to a newsletter for information about YOU, not about local news.

Lack of an introduction or voice: some newsletters we’ve seen don’t include introductions or conclusions at all. Instead they’re collections of potentially exciting articles lumped into a series of pages.  This is a great place for the marketing partner to be the voice of the firm and to give a good face, tone and feel to the newsletter.

No website link backs or calls to action: one big thing missing from accounting firm newsletters to date are links and calls to action. Newsletters do more than inform, yes, but more importantly they exist to bring readers closer to the sender.

 

Our suggestions / good practice for newsletters

Short is successful: newsletters aren’t books. Newsletters are in fact short notes and pockets of information that a company provides its readers to keep them informed of their expertise and activities. Short is the key word there, and there are many ways to shorten a newsletter while also keeping it informative!

One great way to do this is to post articles or news reels on your blog or website, while linking to them in the newsletter along with an excerpt of the article – this encourages newsletter readers to navigate to your website and helps with google page ranking so that people searching for accounting firms find YOU!

Call to action: while you shouldn’t flood your newsletter with links it’s a good idea to link back to your website in some way shape or form. Getting newsletter readers (people who are interested in YOU) on your website improves the chances of them becoming a future client! You don’t necessarily have to develop a call to action or sales pitch but newsletters a good place to redirect readers to such a thing. A blog (if you have one on your website) is a great example of an opportunity to include articles in your newsletter and include a link back to your website that entices readers to click and read more.

 

Sidekick accounting brand mascot.

Build a brand, use a voice and provide colour: a newsletter can be the essence of your firm and how you share your company culture with stakeholders. Use it to build a brand by creating a voice and an image! Sidekick Accounting achieves this with their superhero icons and friendly writing style.

 

Conclusion

In short – accounting newsletters should embrace a short and unique style of presentation while providing links back to their website and social media as they beware of including irrelevant content. If they follow these guidelines it’ll result on a more engaged audience and better chances for turning a potential customer into a full client!

 

Interested in this article or accounting marketing in general?

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Interview with TrustRadius founder, Vinay Bhagat

Image representing Vinay Bhagat as depicted in...

Vinay Bhagat, TrustRadius Image via CrunchBase

We were lucky to find out about TrustRadius the enterprise software comparison site founded by Vinay Bhagat

Image representing TrustRadius as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

through a search we were doing for clients.  As a result, we got in touch with them and secured an interview.

Why did you start TrustRadius?

We’re trying to change the way software is bought and sold. If you’re a consumer who wants to buy a product or service there’s a wealth of information out there.  But if you’re trying to buy a piece of technology which could have a huge impact on your career, or business – it’s more challenging; more opaque.

Technology marketers try to control the information flow a customer gets.

Our belief is that through a platform like TrustRadius we can give buyers a more authentic, rapid way to make smarter decisions.  It’s not just picking the right product – it’s the right product for your use case.

Every business has unique needs – on TrustRadius you can crowdsource different perspectives about the context around the problem the business is trying to solve. This allows the user to made a more informed choice.

This isn’t trying to provide all the answers.  TrustRadius is a layer to get intelligent and get insights, way to avoid mistakes.  It’s more than a content layer, it’s a way to allow people to connect with each other. a contextual social network.

What are the issues with other solutions?

The Gartner magic quadrant is not appropriate for everyone.
We have a user who contacted people through the site and did information exchanges to get to the real story behind their tech selection and purchase.

People have tried to do backchannel references for years – it’s hard to get peer input rapidly at scale.
Reviewers have authentication – and we use Linked In – in connect button to verify identities.

What’s your business model?

Today we are not focused on making money – we’re trying to create a trusted at scale network – as a young company we

have to concentrate at this.  If we can wedge ourselves between the buyer and seller its a $4trilliion marketplace.  We bootstrapped for 1 year and now have raised VC money last June – we maniacally focus on getting to scale through effectively recruiting reviewers, sourcing content and engaging vendors. Read more

3 ways to improve proposal writing next steps

We advised a client today about how to make 3 improvements to their proposal ending texts.  Writing a descriptive of your service or product and pricing it is only part of the new business development process.  It is essential that it leads to a next step to keep the discussion going and lead towards a buy/no-buy decision by the prospect.

Three key information points in a proposal

  1. clarifying next steps
  2. adding a timescale
  3. pushing the client towards buying what you want to sell

Here is the original ending paragraph they wrote:

Let me know if you are interested in talking more. If it would help, we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2 if you provide us with some game event data. As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.

By improving the text the reader is given clear expectations about next steps in the discussion process .

We recommended editing the last paragraph to give clarity on the 3 key information points

“The next step is for you to send us with some game event data and we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2.  

As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.  We would make a nominal charge for this work of $XXX which will be fully refundable if we proceed to a full implementation.  

I will call you on Wednesday next week to confirm when you can send us the data and a date for the demo.”  

Although sounding rather presumptuous this text sets clear expectations with regard to timeframes and next steps against which you can update your biz dev pipeline.

What are your favourite closing sentences in a proposal?7 Make New Biz Happen icon

Google = advertising around intent; Facebook = demand generation

I was at a networking event yesterday and the Sales Lady from Facebook New Zealand was presenting.  She made this statement

Google is advertising around intent; Facebook is about demand generation

And it started me thinking.

Google – yes I get it – the intent is shown by your search string.

Facebook’s claim is harder to back up.

Why Facebook’s demand gen claim is slack

The sales lady says that because on Facebook brands advertise to drive likes, then it’s demand generation.

I think because it’s hard to get visitors off Facebook and onto your website where you can actually make prospects take actions that lead them into the sales funnel, the effectiveness of this strategy is low.

But there are work-arounds – read this technique which we developed for our clients How Facebook boosted my newsletter subscribers.

Is Facebook still good for brands?

The answer today is yes… but.  We have great client brands who are successfully recruiting new readers through their Facebook promotion, advertising and status updates.  But without a clear set of tactics to drive those readers off Facebook and onto their website, all this work would be hard to monetise.

For many brands, especially B2B, their audience isn’t on Facebook.  So it’s irrelevant to their marketing plans.

Take a look at this FB post and the comments below.  We are seeing readers adding in their friends’ names to their comments in order to draw their attention to this bit of content, and that’s bringing in new visitors.

Facebook Comments promotion