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.

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

How to introduce your business by email

Copy this email introduction for your business; make a template and add in key information about your business.

In my networking group, we’re working hard to make it really EASY for members to introduce each other to new prospects and new clients.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was asked by the group to help coach them in the best way to write an introduction that others could use.  So here’s an introduction to my own firm and a commentary on what information to put down for yourself.

Now read the perfect email introduction.

What does my business do?

This is an email you can send about our services
Creative Agency Secrets is an expert in marketing and promoting businesses using traditional and online methods.  We work as the outsourced marketing team for busy businesses doing marketing that starts conversations and leads to sales.
 
I have seen their work for [name a client] and used them for my own business to write the copy on our website About Us page.  And I’ve also recommended them several times and had great feedback especially about their careful attention to detail.
 
I will leave you two to connect – I’ve spoken to you both about each other and shared your emails and phone numbers below.

The elements in an email introduction

Start: with your one-liner…. who are you and what do you do
Build: with an example of their work for someone you both know, preferably.  If you can’t say you have worked personally with them, a mutual acquaintance is a positive reinforcer.
Memorability: Add an anecdote that describes your experience – if you can make it funny, cute or WOW that’s best but not strictly necessary.

End: Include all the information they need to continue a dialogue without you….

We plan on creating a shared document for everyone so they can cut/paste the text into emails for business referrals for new business development.

The best introductions are when you’ve spoken personally to both parties.  NOTE not emailed, spoken….

Want to know more? Make sure to download our FREE e-book "Cold Emails – Doing it right and netting yourself leads".

cold emails ebook

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time

A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – The Future Factory

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

The Future Factory profile

This week we’re looking at The Future Factory, a London based cold calling firm. The Future Factory aims to create leads for agencies listed with them by calling up potential clients and offering services on their behalf. The most interesting thing about The Future Factory is their hands on approach to their clients and business in general. They opt to work so close to the client, even spending several days in their offices, to really understand the agencies they work with. In doing so they then fully understand the best approach to take when cold calling for them and it develops quite a close relationship.

The Future Factory

The Future Factory

They offer:

  • Cold calling work search services for agencies.
  • Relationships management services for agencies.
  • Provide brand research and feedback for agencies.

Services for Agencies

By spending 8 days per month, half of that time in the agency’s offices, The Future Factory get clients for agencies by cold calling potential brands. They research these brands and develop relationships with them.

Before this is undertaken however they go through a rigorous understanding process whereby they get to know the agencies business and core principles. They also pass on all information about brands they get work from to their agencies and make sure they are well prepared for the meeting. In this way The Future Factory double as a relationship building firm.

Services for Brands

The Future Factory provides no services to brands directly. Rather they research what services they could provide brands and call up those brands based on a set of unknown criteria.

Charges and Fees

Monthly membership subscriptions are the only apparent payment The Future Factory takes. They decide total monthly costs based on meeting and negotiation (this may be fixed for every agency but it is unclear). These fees may possible be extended each time they win work for their clients but again this is unclear.

Key members of staff – from Linked In

Who is The Future Factory right for?

Agencies who like a hands on approach to client work will find The Future Factory to be greatly accommodating. They work closely with their clients and their testimonials suggest they regularly bring in work. They also benefit those agencies not wanting to get in too deep with an agency search firm through the monthly subscription service, meaning you can cancel any month if it’s not working out.

The risks seem low and the potential rewards seem high, so working with The Future Factory could be a good way to test the waters for newer agencies. If your relationship procurement and development skills are high as an agency though, you might want to go for more of a listing service so you have a greater presence online.

Shortcomings

No listings, only calls – With no listing or extra exposure, The Future Factory is only good for bringing in clients directly. This means if you are already a star agency at procuring and developing relationships then they may not do too much for you. If you’re looking for a greater online presence, better go with a company that  lists your on their website for seeking brands to find.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the

Agency Search Firms Listly

New business development copywriting: Stalled prospects

September is the time business gets down to work after the summer break.  Blair Enns at the Win Without Pitching team say this is the perfect time to clean out your list of prospects and new business opportunities.

Find out which ones are going to buy and which aren’t worth your time chasing further.  Blair writes

Below is a simple email template that you can use to raise deals from the dead. It works throughout the year but this week, more than any other period in the calendar, is when it works best.

THE EMAIL

It was taught to me as The Takeaway but I refer to it by the subject line that I prefer: Closing The Loop. Draft it, modify it if you dare, but send it to all those prospects you were talking to over the summer about real projects only for them to disappear on you. That’s the intended purpose of this email – to raise deals from the dead and solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you over the summer.

Your natural inclination is probably to do the opposite of what I’m about to suggest. Resist. Do not send an overly polite email. Do not make excuses for your prospect’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Do not email in pursuit of a yes or even an answer. No, your mission is to strip away all emotions and matter-of-factly just let your prospect go. Below is how to do this and then what to expect afterwards.

Ready?

Read the detailed email Blair recommends

Enhanced by Zemanta
Facebook Icon On Fire

How Facebook Boosted My Newsletter Subscribers

Email or FacebookFacebook hasn’t replaced any newsletter (at least not yet but you never know what Facebook’ll do next). What Facebook has done is equal the amount of traffic driven to our website from our weekly newsletter.  And helped us to recruit new opted-in newsletter subscribers.

Better yet – it’s all free.

Key things to note: Our weekly newsletter has over 4,500 subscribers. Our Facebook page had just 400 (over the course of this experiment we increased this to 550).  Wow – that’s ten times fewer subscribers but they’re visiting and re-visiting the website.

Everyone knows the theory of email newsletters – their open and clickthrough rates so I won’t waste time here. We’re going to tell you how you can drive more traffic to your website from Facebook.  Then invite visitors to join the newsletter.

What we were doing

We posted 3 times a day on Facebook, for Facebook – all of which was shared from other users and pages on Facebook. These posts were backed up by regular blog post entries (one every day) which were automatically fed to our Timeline. Very standard.

So what did we change?

There were 3 major changes.

  1. The first was to do with posting amounts and timing. We increased the frequency of posting and changed what time of day we posted Facebook updates. This was increased to 5-6 times a day (effectively doubling our previous posting frequency).
  2. The second major change is where we post from. We changed all sources of our posts to our website and then linked to them.
  3. Our third major change was where we sourced our content from. It’s important to note here we hardly ever created original content – we either shared others or repurposed our archived content.

To facilitate changing the source of our posts to our website we installed new plugins. People will spend less time on our Facebook page because we are directing them to our website. As a result, many of the plugins we installed were to make sure our content is still shared (which often doesn’t happen once you leave a social media site). As we knew many of our visitors would also be arriving from a mobile device (Facebook’s App is becoming more widely used) we paid particular attention to how our site looks on mobile devices.

Step 1: Smarter Posting Times

Our audience is active at all times of the day. We were initially posting 3 times daily between 9am and 5pm – Not the smartest move when you look at the graph below of our visitor traffic over 24 hours.

When Fans Are Online

Click To Enlarge

For this reason – we opted to post every 4-5 hours. Remember – we don’t want this to take up all our time and we definitely don’t want to be up all night so we chose to schedule our Facebook posts. To enable auto-posting of blog at all times of day we installed new plugins which I’ll discuss below.

Step 2: Make The Website The Destination

We want to drive traffic off Facebook to our website.  This is marketing real estate that we control and manage.  We’re not dependent on Facebook’s grace.  Making most of your posts direct to your website is therefore logical.  And remember our objective is to drive readers from Facebook to becoming opted-in newsletter subscribers.

This of course means publishing content designed for Facebook on your website. Whether you’re sharing an article or a photo, upload it to your site (add a link on the post to credit the photograph if appropriate).  Don’t just link them straight to the original source, ideally you’re seen as the source of the content so they spend longer on your site and less elsewhere.

With our new plugins – photos are uploaded from our website to Facebook automatically. When a user clicks on a photo expecting it to enlarge they are instead redirected to our website (where there is a larger image front and centre). Bingo – we’ve just driven traffic from Facebook to our site. From here you have 2 challenges –

  1. How can they share this with their friends?
  2. What’s going to keep them from leaving your site?

The first challenge is easily answered – plugins which I will discuss later on. The second is to have an attractive website littered with quality content – this is discussed just below.

Step 3: Sourcing Quality, “Original” Content

To ensure our content is appealing, we need it to be socially shareable. While there are no guarantees, using already proven socially shareable content is a start. But you don’t want to appear a copycat. So how do you get proven socially shareable material while still looking “fresh” and “original”? The easiest strategy is to find content from sources other than Facebook. Pinterest was a great resource for me as pictures make the best Facebook posts and most photos came with a short description or piece of information – perfect.

Setting Up Your Website: Plugins Used

Below is a list of the plugins you’ll want to install if you’re on WordPress. I’ve described the types of plugins you want before stating what plugin we used. These plugins are all free and you may have your own preference.

  1. New Automatic Posting To Social Media (Facebook/Twitter).

    • NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster [Hands down the best autoposter plugin. Fully customisable, plenty of social media options and looks like the posts were shared straight from Facebook. 2 great features of this plugin are that you can choose individual posts to be image posts or linked posts etc & Imports Facebook comments so your website appears popular]

  2. A more simple “Like Us” button further up the News main page.

    • Facebook Social Plugin Widgets (This plugin installs widgets to be used wherever – we used them in the sidebar of our blog page [note page and not post])

  3. When someone enters our site (for the first time) a like us on Facebook plugin pops up [This doesn’t interfere with our pre-existing Newsletter signup popup].

  4. Horizontal social sharing toolbar along the top is non intrusive and doesn’t cover any text unlike many vertical floating ones.

  5. Sharing of individual pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by simply hovering your mouse over the picture.

  6. Floating Sharebar down that follows the user down the side of the post. It allows sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc

    • Digg Digg (Leave a comment if you’d like my custom CSS code so the spacings etc look nice and clean with no borders or ads)

  7. Mobile Plugin so website looks good on every device

 

Results?

Results of Our 1st Change

So what were the results of our changes? The graph below reveals all. With a simple change in the frequency and timing of posts our weekly reach exploded. This is most likely due to reaching more individuals as opposed to reaching the same people multiple times.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

 

Results of Our 2nd Change

The screenshot below is of our website’s referrals for the 2 week period before and during our Facebook efforts. As you can see, vast improvements. We basically received 1000 extra page views each week (remember, at the time we only had 400 people liking our page). I’ve highlighted the Twitter referrals as well (t.co) as although we designed this campaign for Facebook – using the NextScript Autoposter plugin we also published the same content to Twitter (although we changed the structure of the titles and links etc from within the plugin’s settings). You’ll notice the amount of referrals we got from Facebook Mobile (m.facebook.com). Good thing we had WPtouch installed so our page would look good on any device.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

 

Did Our Plugins Do Their Job?

I was initially skeptical when installing the Facebook Page Promoter Lightbox – no one likes popups. After 2 weeks though, we picked up 50 likes from external “Like” buttons. These buttons were only in 2 places, the first was in the sidebar on the blog page the second was the aforementioned lightbox. I’m almost 100% sure the lightbox is where we picked up all of those likes.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Sling pic and both social sharing bars (vertical and horizontal) picked up a few extra “Likes” and retweets which was nice – nothing to write home about but every little bit counts. WPtouch can be attributed to the 13 mobile likes as although it means people liked our Page from Facebook (on a mobile device), the website must have been attractive enough to have convinced them.

Conclusion

The initial results are all very promising, only time will tell how good a long term strategy this is. The short term gains were an instant increase in likes going from 400 to 550 in 2 weeks, engagement going up and a large increase in unique visitors and page views. There were of course more minor, intricate strategic choices made during this period and still being made now – these will be discussed in a later post.

 

If you’d like any help setting these plugins up or want to discuss how this can apply to your online strategy get in touch by leaving a comment below.

Failure of the creative agency business model

Reading a great post about the lack of scalability in the creative agency business model is a great reinforcement for me and validation of the business that we run here at Creative Agency Secrets.

Years ago I realised three things

  1. No agency staff are trained on how to do biz dev
  2. A process must underpin successful, reliably consistent new business
  3. Only by getting buy in from all the senior team can it work in the medium term

Our new business methodology underpins all our work and that’s why, like Blair, our  recommendations from past clients fall into 2 camps. The politely nice and the ecstatic. For the latter, we  succeed in embedding a process that has continued long after our consulting assignment ended.  That is the difference the Creative Agency Secrets team makes in new business development.

Follow our 8 step New Business Methodology in the categories on the right side you’ll see articles listed on each step that can help your business embed, codify and practice new business development successfully.

Enhanced by Zemanta