neutral face, happy face, sad face with finger pointing at happy face

How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are a cornerstone of how consumers make decisions whether to buy a product or not.  If you see a product that you want, you will read through the reviews to make sure that you are going to be getting what you need from the product.  If the product website does not have reviews, the odds are good that you are searching online for one that does have them.  But what if you are the business that is getting reviewed?  There is a certain level of expectation that you are not going to have 100% positive reviews, right?  Here we discuss some ways that you can handle negative reviews online.

The Site Does Not Matter

It does not matter if the review was posted on a very well-known site or one that you might have never heard of, people will find it online.  That means you have to take all of them seriously and get a plan in order so that you can defend your business against them.  The first time that you see a negative online review about your business you are probably wishing that you had an online public relations degree.  Build a plan and stick to it and then reviews will eventually get taken care of on all the sites they are posted to.

Contact the Review Site First

Depending on the review site where you found the negative review, you might be able to contact them about it.  Take a minute and search through the site to see if you can find contact information relevant to your review and how to handle it properly.  If you think the review was added by a competitor, you may have a leg to stand on to get it removed, but the process will have to be fool proof. 

Join In and Engage The Reviewer

If the website that you find the negative reviews on allows you to respond to them, take a minute and do just that.  Being able to explain the situation to them and possibly clear up the reasons they left the review is the first step to repairing your reputation.  There is not really any need to hire a public relations expert for this, but an intern working towards an online masters in public relations might not be a bad place to start looking for help.

Always Encourage Positive Reviews from Customers

In many cases, and to keep things fair, you might find that negative reviews are not going to disappear from the internet.  If that is the case, you can combat them by asking your future customers to leave positive reviews if they are satisfied with your business.  There is nothing wrong with asking for some help if they are truly happy with your services.  Over time, this will push the negative reviews and bring your overall average rating up, helping your business.

Take a minute to take a look at your business and if there is anything that might cause a negative review.  There could be a few easy fixes that you can do to keep the negative reviews to a minimum.  Good luck!

Marketing Success

3 Marketing Tips to Stand Out to Your Customers

Every good business owner and marketer knows that standing out from the crowd is important when it comes to attracting the interest of potential customers. However, when millions of companies around the world are all competing for the top spots and the most customers, standing out from the crowd can often feel impossible. Yet, some companies manage to do it, so it’s entirely possible to get both existing and potential customers to take notice of you, rather than your competition. Here are some of the best ways to encourage this.

#1. Novelty Marketing Methods:

When it comes to marketing efforts, today’s customers are used to it. Nobody is going to be wowed by Facebook banner ads, website pop-ups or being added to an email marketing list – it’s all fairly standard today, and being bombarded with advertisements has become the norm for anybody opening up their laptop or picking up their smartphone to go online. So, think outside of the box when it comes to marketing. Old-fashioned methods such as sending postcards, for example, are rarely used today. Therefore, you have an opportunity to take advantage of the gap and stand out from the crowd. Check out these great postcard design ideas for inspiration.

#2. Become an Authority:

Becoming an online ‘authority’ is trickier than it may sound, especially today when the web is filled with new content on an hourly basis. Standing out in your niche is even more difficult when you lack in knowledge, however, as your customers will expect brands to be knowledgeable about not just their own products and/or services, but also about the niche itself. Today, brands must be prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to providing their customers with information. Your audience will expect informational posts, videos, graphics, and a high level of customer engagement from your team to help them with any industry-related queries. Provide this through a highly-interactive, authority business blog or social media profile.

#3. Connect with the Audience:

The days of marketing being all about how great a product is and why you should spend your money on it are quickly dying out. Today, customers aren’t as bothered when it comes to learning about a product; the amount of competition available means that they can probably buy it or something similar elsewhere. When it comes to price, they know that a quick Google search will likely give them all the information that they need on where to find the best deals. So, what are they looking for in a brand? Today, customers want to shop with brands that they feel relate to them on a more personal, individual level. A strong level of customer service, prioritizing the online user experience and offering additional support, advice and information to your customers to help provide solutions to their industry-related problems all come under your brand’s ‘voice’, to connect with your audience on a human level.

Did these tips help? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Creative Agency Secrets live chat icon

Increase customer engagement through live chat

How can you increase customer engagement through live chat on your website?

Creative Agency Secrets live chat icon

Creative Agency Secrets live chat icon

 

A question I received and I thought the answers given were intriguing.  Because after the obvious answers, yes it should engage – because people talking to people, if done respectfully, should successfully answer questions and possibly transact sales.  But the risk here is for marketers to try to create inappropriate outcome measures like ‘engagement’ from customer service activities.

More people on the site should chat with the live chat representatives.  These are real people.  Don’t even think of trying to use bots.  It undermines your brand – unless that’s what your brand values are – robotic.

Use more than one chat option

I would also recommend adding Facebook Messenger as a second live chat option. So many people use it in their private lives, it can be used to build trust with your brand in a medium the customer is already familiar with.

Try this integration for Messenger [disclaimer – I’ve never tried it].

Create a secondary output from chat

We have a mantra to “Write once: Use Three Times”.  And chat is a great source of content for marketing.

We recommend using the chat interactions as source material for your content marketing. Every question should become an FAQ answer.  And a blog post.  And part of your product descriptions, and and and.

Did you know that you can also build a mailing list using the Facebook pixel from your Messenger interactions?

Using this, you can do push messaging using FB straight into Messenger which is an awesome replacement for email marketing.  Particularly as many lists are suffering high unsubscribe rates from customers with over-loaded inboxes.

Happy to discuss further if you need.

Read more on related topics by clicking the icons below

Symbol for marketing communications Symbol for relationship development Symbol for creating new business opportunities

WooRank Website Test Tool

How to test your website is working effectively

May I show you a little insider secret from the world of web marketing?  It’s called a website rank check tool.  It shows you a score out of 100 for how well your website is built, secured and how well it delivers marketing engagement.

My favourite one is the WooRank tool – I have it installed in the toolbar of my Chrome browser.  But you can use this website or the HubSpot Website Grader Tool does a similar job – but from behind a registration paywall.

We use this when testing SEO on a website for clients.  But you can do it yourself – we’ll show you how.

A case study Central Flowers

WooRank Website Test Tool

WooRank Website Test Tool

I read a lot of newsletters and when I got one from a printer and web design company, I clicked through to their gushing review of their team’s work building a website for their customer.  So I decided to do an independent check on the website.  It scored 52.3/100.  Hardly a rip-roaring success for a new site.

You can see the result here and it demonstrates two things

  1. The web team are only designing for HUMAN visitors, not SEARCH ROBOTS
  2. The client is not expert in hiring and buying expertise.

First things first.  The web team should know about these issues

  • Headings should be in a hierarchy (they choose to only use H1)
  • Three image Alt attributes missing (so search engines can’t index the image and link back)
  • No anchor text in several external links (except the one going to the web design company)
  • No language declared (so the search engines know it’s English)
  • No blog – so the web rankings won’t become good because the site won’t get regularly updated (this is a failure of marketing strategy more than web design)
  • Secure (SSL) website but registered to a different domain (a property management company)
  • Automatic Copyright update to the correct year (it’s 2016 on the site)

These are hygiene factors.  They show up the lack of quality control by both the developers and to a lesser extent by the client.

The #1 mistake business owners make when buying a new website

The mistake is to buy a pretty design layout.  This is made by a designer.

What you need for an effective website is web development made by a web developer as well.  This sets up the effective tools and structures which humans cannot see from a website front end.  But robots and web search engines CAN see.  And now you can too.

Go and test your website using the Hubspot or WooRank tools now.  And send me the results.

Book in a 20 minute call and we will tell you what can be easily improved and how you can do it yourself (yes, really – most of these improvements do not require web development expertise, only editing in your CMS).

Or just buy the book.

Social Media in a circle around the earth

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

You cannot possibly compete online if you do not have a strong social media presence. It is one of the most influential platforms on the internet, so you must start developing engaging campaigns on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, if you haven’t already. Our goal is, therefore, to help you develop an effective social media strategy that will ensure you stand apart from your industry rivals.

Focus on Relationships Not Sales

Take a look at Dove’s social media presence; their goal is to inspire and promote confidence in people (particularly women) globally; selling soap appears to be a secondary objective to this positive message. Many beginners often make the mistake of giving it the hard sell when using social media for the first time; however, this will provide little to no value to your brand. If you want to engage with your followers, you need to give them a reason to follow you. While you might believe you have the best product in town, your target market might take a little convincing.

So, instead of pushing your goods and services onto social media followers, aim to create social media posts that make you different from your competitors. For example, you could launch an online competition, share helpful blogs and post high-quality photos for their enjoyment. You should only publish promotional ads every three to five social media posts.

Integrate Video Marketing

Some of the most inventive advertising is currently happening in video marketing. Take a look at this online advert for Hotels.com. According to Cisco, online videos will make up more than 80% of consumer traffic by 2020. It is, therefore, a powerful tool to use on social media, as people are more likely to drop everything they are doing to watch a funny or informative video. You should strive to develop creative, entertaining and unique videos that make people not only want to follow your page but share your posts.

YouTube is also one of the most influential social media platforms, with more than one billion unique views each month. If you want to become a leading channel on YouTube, you should not only create innovative videos, but you could buy subscribers from Social Media Daily to boost your profile and encourage views and subscribers.

Listen to Feedback

Consumer feedback is the cornerstone of a successful business, as it allows a brand to refine their goods and services to improve customer satisfaction. Lego has long seen the value in working with customers to improve its products.

Social Media can be a superb platform to gain insights from your past, current and potential customers. You should ask questions to provide customers with a forum, so you can offer the perfect service – so it can be great for product development purposes and could save a company a significant amount of money in the future.

Engage

It is important to make your social media followers feel that they are more than just a number. L’Oreal encourages staff to use the hashtag #lifeatloreal to promote the culture at the organisation this, in turn, encourages consumers to see the company as human and approachable.

You should engage with your followers, responding to their comments, mentions and direct messages. It will prove to them that you are a caring brand that appreciates their social media following, which will encourage online and brand loyalty.

So, if you want to embark on an effective social media marketing strategy, you should aim to be creative, active and helpful in your online approach.

seo for growth

SEO for Growth: Unleash the Potential of Your Website

What does it take to generate leads for your business?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about making search engines like Google and Bing show your website in the first positions of the results page. With more businesses utilising digital channels for business, it’s necessary to invest in your SEO strategy to remain competitive. If your audience can’t immediately find you online, you are severely inhibiting both growth and profitability.

“SEO isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s baked in from the start.” – Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger

On Thursday 25th of May, you can learn the skills needed to generate leads for your business through SEO in less than two hours. You will learn how SEO sits in the broader context of your marketing and brand building. This will help to increase the visibility of your website, all through simple tips and tricks that you will learn over breakfast.

Creative Agency Secrets and ColabNZ host this FREE training breakfast to demystify SEO and show what you need to know about modern SEO that works for your business.

Eventbrite - SEO for Growth: Unleash the Potential of Your Website

In this seminar you will learn:

  • Why 99% of Websites Fail – your site’s ranking potential
  • How to Build Stronger Website SEO – the balance between design and SEO
  • Link Building Today: the Dos and Don’ts – quality, relevance, trust and authority
  • How to Manage Your Brand’s Reputation and Reviews – from content to credibility to conversion
  • How to Feed Your Optimised Website – the tools you need to dominate

What previous attendees had to say:

“I was wanting to go to get educated and was interested to hear how the Google algorithms have changed over time and what they’re doing now. Building stronger websites and optimising them stands out as something new for me.”

Jeff Watkins, Director of BrandMedia

“I’m a complete SEO novice so I got a better understanding of what SEO means and how I can apply it to my business. It gave me a platform to make some decisions around the business.”

Rebecca Churchill, Director of Electric Fish

“The breakfast seminar was interesting, informative and full of useful tips and tools – so much so that I was inspired to put some of it into action as soon as I got back to work!”

Anna Radford, Co-Founder of Cadence Communications

Key Information

When: Thursday 25th May, 2017 at 7:30am – 9am

Where: ColabNZ HQ, 46 Albert Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010

seo for growth book

 

You can also purchase along with your ticket a copy of the book “SEO For Growth” by John Jantsch, published in October 2016, and collect it in the event.

This book is a manual for modern SEO so there’s no need to be intimidated by online marketing. It is the perfect guide to help you learn how to use the internet successfully for sales growth.

Join us on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 at 7:30 am for a morning of SEO enlightenment.

 

How to Market Your Consulting Services Effectively

Consultants offer all types of services from HR placement to IT, but when compared to other businesses such as selling cars or real estate, marketing a consultancy is much harder to drum up new business. Most of the time, your potential clients are not even aware that they need your services.

You must, therefore, come up with a consistent approach to marketing if you want your business to get traction.  Diligence and persistence pay off when selling services.  

So, if you are new to this line of work and need clients, here are a few ideas on how to market your consulting services effectively.

1. Send Direct Mail

Direct mail is an effective marketing tool since it accurately targets the right audience. To get started, first make a list of prospective clients. Next, send them a brochure, flier, or sales letter detailing the services you offer.

However, remember to address each recipient by name both on the envelope and in the sales letter. By personalizing a sales message, you increase your chances of getting a favorable reception. In the letter, describe the benefits of your services before listing your contacts. Finally, include an attention grabber such as “limited time offer” on the envelope.

Also, make sure that you play up your area of expertise. If you have an online masters in communication management and you’re intending to become a communications consultant, make sure that your qualifications like the master in communications is front and center on any of your sales material, especially your blog.

2. Make Cold Calls

Simply put, cold calling is making calls to prospective clients who do not expect to hear from you. Although many people resent cold calls, they are still worth giving a shot, especially when you are starting out. So, expect a lot of rejections. For every prospect who says yes, hundreds may say no.

3. Advertise

Traditional advertising, which is expensive, may be out of your reach when you first start out as a consultant. So, focus on advertising in trade magazines and journals as well as in consultant’s directories. Also, use another (mostly) free, and often overlooked, advertising tool – the Yellow Pages.  Other local Marketing tips include free directory listings.

Once you install a business phone line, your business name and phone number are automatically listed in the book. You can opt to leave it at that, for, after all, it is free advertising, but to look more professional, consider paying for a larger ad. It also makes your business more conspicuous.

4. Newsletters

Newsletters are another effective way of drumming up new business. They work by presenting relevant information about your trade to prospective clients. In addition, they remind your former clients that you still exist.

A typical newsletter includes helpful tips, your opinions on a particular subject, and any news of importance to your work.  Remember to include local marketing news and information – most of your early clients are likely to be in your city or region – so let them know what’s going on locally where you could meet them to say hi. Here are more local marketing tips which you can action immediately.

5. Referrals

This is probably the easiest marketing tool at your disposal. After you complete an assignment, send clients a note to thank them for their business, and to ask for the names of associates who might be interested in your services.

Overall, a consultancy advisory business is unique because prospective clients rarely know that they need your help. To stand out in the marketplace, use as many marketing methods as possible and deliver them consistently every month.  

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile Raising.  Click the link to read more free advisory articles on how to raise the profile of your business.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

Barfoot And Thompson sponsorship of World Masters Games

Backstory on Barfoot’s World Masters Games advert

I saw the Barfoot & Thompson’s advertising sponsorship of the Auckland World Masters Games and was stunned by the ingenuity of the imagery.  Here’s a poster near my office.

Barfoot And Thompson sponsorship of World Masters Games

Barfoot And Thompson sponsorship of World Masters Games

And this prompted me to want to find out more about the context for the campaign.

Barfoot’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jen Baird, kindly answered my questions and also introduced me to Joe Holden, the Creative Director.

Why did Barfoots take on the sponsorship of WMG?  

Jen Baird, CMO, Barfoot & Thompson

Jen Baird, CMO, Barfoot & Thompson

Sponsorship has become a larger part of our strategy over the years – a large part of our business is residential property sales – most people do this every 5-10 years.  We want to stay relevant in their lives when they’re not thinking about real estate.

Being involved in the community is key – we have always been very involved because real estate is about community and people.  WMG was an opportunity for us to be hugely about this amazing place where we all live.  Our over-arching objective is to make Auckland an amazing place to live, work and visit.  We are an Auckland-only real estate firm.  Bringing the event to Auckland is about us giving back to the City.

Our sponsorship helped WMG happen. 

What was the brief ?

The brief was quite broad – this is the largest sponsorship that B&T has undertaken.  The event fits nicely with our philosophy of supporting the local area and also sports – we have  backed sport with sponsorship before.

We wanted brand awareness, and also to continue to build awareness of us as a strong community partner. We have a philosophy of being a family-run business.  This is all about Auckland, a celebration of sport and Auckland tied together and made relevant for us.

We sent a full brief about what the WMG event was all about and what our sponsorship means to us as an organisation and what our goals are.  It’s about celebrating the games and also the City and making the city amazing and creating great events that bring visitors here from overseas.

We felt that when the creative team came back with such as strong concept – we felt we didn’t need lots of iterations – it was so strong on its own and so we put everything behind it. 

All the space has been booked by us.  It was launched beginning of February with light touch digital – there’s more this month and again in April, it’s largely digital and outdoor media.

What next?

One of the things we’re excited about is an activation using a Cheer Squad – visiting competitors entered a draw to win their own “cheer squad” – we have 7 winners and they will have their very own squad to support while they are competing. … we did a Skype interview with the first winner, she’s a Professor from Yale University.  She was entered in Softball with an Australian team.

The athletes who have won are competing in cycling, golf, hammer throw, triathlon, softball and 2 x athletics.

We are doing lots of local promotion with staff in our branches and local schools. One of the legacy goals is to get kids involved to try out sports.  There are 42 venues across the region – we are also down at the entertainment hub at the Cloud.  We’ve got a sports arena set up there, for try-outs for a load of sports.

And the medals are also branded in corporate colours, Blue and gold,  blue and silver, blue and bronze.

[Watch out for Jen in her running shoes as she will be doing the 10k run from the Cloud to Orakei and back.]

WMG time lapse

Take a sneak peek behind the scenes of our World Masters Games campaign video! Each of the events in the Games has been represented here – can you find your sport?

Posted by Barfoot & Thompson on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Joe Holden talks about the creative process

What was the brief you received?

This was sold to us as the biggest sponsorship Barfoots had ever done.  We needed to really reflect that as in the past these sponsorships have had ideas that have tied in with selling real estate. This time the brief was more open – the background to the sponsorship is that B&T love Auckland, and giving to the City, and enabling Aucklanders to benefit from the big events, which may not come here without their sponsorship.  They did it in the past with the Triathlon World Wide Naming Sponsor for 2 years. 

This is all about participation – not spectatorship.  It’s a massive event and unless they’re participating the people in the street won’t know much about it.  Awareness is mainly with the competitors but Day 1 on April 21st everyone is going to realise something massive is on.

How did the team set about brainstorming the concepts?

We kicked around a lot of different thoughts – upfront normally when you brief a campaign it’s a minimum of three different executions.  But we did come up with a lot of multi-execution ideas.  So we struggled in a way – there are 28 different sports and sub-events within them.  We couldn’t use ideas that only showed one sport because that would be ignoring 27 others; so multiple executions would not be possible. 

We had different views of Auckland – Bean Rock as a shuttlecock and North Head was a cycle helmet…. but that iconic view of downtown from the water with the key things like Sky Tower and Vero Tower we felt that was the strongest one. 

To do it well, we realised we needed to put all our eggs into one basket – it was a craft job and had to be done really well to work on any format – you get prolonged enjoyment by seeing more detail. 

I’m really happy with the standard of the execution. There aren’t many jobs where you don’t have a thought about how to improve it afterwards.  With this one we had a long time to do it and we had ultimate control and we could control all the variables 

How did you shoot the image?  

There was no photographic shooting – it was all done by 3D modelling.  All the elements of the sporting equipment pieces were sourced as 3D models and skinned, lit and textured and coloured and logos removed.  Or they were created from scratch.  You can buy models of sports equipment e.g. Nike shoes – but it’s a rudimentary model and you have to put the colours and textures into it.  So you start with that and build each one of them and then have the arguments about what goes where!

For example, the concrete texture in the front of the picture – we felt it should not be water.  It’s not a photoshop collage, it’s a representation of Auckland but isn’t Auckland.  So it’s concrete.

We got every sport represented – all 28.  Some sports are covered off by one element in the image e.g. Cycling is also Triathlon and running shoes also cover a couple of sports.

Which were the hard ones to do?  Rowing was a challenge for us (it was going to be a bike end-on as the Sky Tower but it didn’t look right) then we thought why don’t we use a sculling skiff?  We couldn’t find a model of that – we had to do it from scratch.  There were endless arguments about the Cloud – we used bike helmets which do approximate to the right shape even though they don’t look exactly like the City. 

I hope you all agree this is a wonderful piece of work – congratulations to Barfoots team and also to all the competitors.