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…

 

How to Set up and Host Live Webinars

We run a monthly podcast for one of our clients which has become fairly popular in it’s respective industry. This is a relatively new ability we’ve learned and as with everything we do, we’re happy to help others learn to do it as well.

To be clear, when we say webinars or podcasts we mean live audio and video feeds (much like radio if it had view-able PowerPoint slides!) which are broadcast over the internet for everyone to view. We record these broadcasts as we do them and give that recording to viewers afterwards and post them on YouTube or SoundCloud.

Create you own webinar

Very recently we got a tweet from a sports coach wanting to start holding webinars and we answered. We arranged a Skype chat, walked them through the programs and techniques we used and introduced them to other possible solutions we found along our journey of developing a quality podcast.  Here’s a summary of our advice.

Our process

We use a combination of the program xSplit and the website UStream:

  • xSplit – recording a webcam or a computer screen is a simple process today, but controlling that recording is an entirely different thing. The FREE program xSplit provides users with multiple “scenes” which operate like a powerpoint presentation. Each “scene” is like a slide in powerpoint and can be customised with images, live screenshots, webcams and more. It also takes audio directly from your computer and microphone, if one is attached. The program can broadcast to multiple sources and can directly record to your computer as a separate option for making videos. While it is only Windows OS compatible (so no support for Mac computers) it provides a lot of flexibility and control to the user.

  • UStream – when you are broadcasting you need a destination and a place for that broadcast to be viewed by others. We use our paid account on UStream with ads removed to broadcast our live viewing. UStream gives us a way to communicate with our viewers as well via a text based chat beside the video as it plays.

This set up makes it easy for viewers to watch as we just need to send them the link to our UStream account while we take care of the broadcasting and content. With other solutions you may need to download programs, make accounts or have to send attendees passwords. We have tested some of those solutions and for a wide audience and age range they proved too hard and presented barriers to attendance.

Other solutions you could use

Many of these solutions add a level of difficulty for either us or our viewers to join a webinar that we broadcast. However they may suit your needs better than they suit ours:

  • Google Hangouts – the Hangouts system created by Google is amazing. It allows you to broadcast your computer screen or your web camera to a live stream (then instant recording) on YouTube. For others to view directly they can watch from YouTube. If you’d like to chat to viewers however they would have to join your Hangout and thus disrupts many of your functions. You would have to mute each attendee if you want to talk and then you could communicate with them via text chat. It works but is cumbersome in it’s design. On the other hand it is a free solution without ads and  is simple for basic internet users to learn.

  • Downloadable webinar technologies – there are meeting simulators that can be used effectively to run webinars such as GoToWebinar or Anymeeting. These solutions are often paid, require you and your attendees to download a program and are designed primarily for corporate use. They will take some training to use (especially for your viewers) but the technology is great. If you’re a businessman looking to run online meetings or training sessions this solution is a great way to go. [only problem with Citrix GoToWebinar solution is the meeting invite does not adjust timezone to the recipient’s calendar]

Now that you’ve got access to the tools, you can start exploring the world of broadcasting and build yourself a webinar! If you’re less technical, or would like to put all of your effort into the quality of the webinar, we’d be happy to take the broadcasting task off your hands. Contact us for more details on these technologies or for a quote on what it would take for us to set up and run your webinar.

How to be a successful Twitter manager

twitterWhat is a Twitter manager?

A Twitter manager is an individual who monitors one or more Twitter accounts and engages with Twitter users for those accounts. They are more than an automatic tweeting machine. They think of ways to engage their followers, how to gain new ones and spend much of their time interacting with the Twittersphere (the space of Twitter).

A Twitter manager must keep in mind that they are an entity and represent the values and voice of the account that entity belongs to. This is particularly difficult when they manage multiple accounts as they have to reflect multiple personas in their tweets.

What does a Twitter manager do?

These attributes are exactly what a regular Twitter user will do. However we’re talking about it and looking at it from a Twitter manager’s point of view. Here are the activities a Twitter manager undergoes and how they do them differently…

  • Creates original tweets: when a tweet first comes into existence it is said to be original, rather than taken from someone else’s tweet.
  • Shares tweets: this is where a tweet is tweeted again and the original sender is notified and credited. These types of tweets can help smaller pages generate hype and develops relationships with the original tweeter.
  • Sends and replies to direct messages: known as DMs, direct messages allow twitter users to message each other privately. This opens up the Twittersphere to the sharing of personal details and private conversations.
  • Uses #hashtags and copies @people in tweets: by using a hashtag or at symbol in a tweet you notify users of that tweet. It comes up in their feeds and is a more reliable way of getting your tweets seen by the Twittersphere.
  • Follows #hashtags and conversations: a hashtag records all tweets with it attached and you can search via hashtags to follow a topic or conversation. This is crucial to success for Twitter managers as they can follow the best conversations from specific topics related to the account(s) they manage. They show you who tweets the most in that topic, who is important in that topic, what trends are rising and even helps you keep up with big news and events.
  • Balances their number of followers with the number of people they are following: this is another way of getting noticed. By following a Twitter account (a user) you encourage them to see what tweets you make and they will often reciprocate the follow. So this subsequently grows your followers and provides you with more original tweets to retweet from that user you followed. This also allows you to get more in touch with your followers by direct messaging who you follow as long as they also follow you.
TweetDeck

TweetDeck

Tools of a Twitter manager

  • www.tweetdeck.com = this is a powerful tool that grants you the power to post using multiple Twitter accounts, schedule posts and see every corner of each Twitter account in an instant. Being able to view messages and posts all on one screen improves productivity by a lot, even for just a single account.
  • www.tweriod.com = if you’d like to know when your followers are online the most, use Tweriod. They’ll send you a report showing you when your followers are most active. From here you can schedule your best tweets using Tweetdeck so they get the most impact and following.
  • Find many more on the Twitter Tools Listly. There are many tools to follow metrics and statistics for Twitter accounts and show you exactly how to use your account to it’s fullest potential.

Pitfalls of a Twitter manager

Be careful when replying – as a Twitter manager, your voice is that of the accounts you are managing. You have to maintain a constant persona for each account and be careful not to stir up negativity in your followers. For example, I’ve created conversations by simply asking people about what they do in their daily lives. They then get interested enough in me to look at the company web page and learn more about the brand I’m managing.

Share for your audience, but avoid profanity – as you re-tweet content you’ll see great tweets that are inappropriate in language, but perfect in context. Tweak these tweets to be appropriate and make sure you read tweets over a few times. It is easy to quickly retweet something that makes you laugh in the context of the account you manage.

Always give recognition of the source – if you know where it came from, recognise the creator because Twitter is all about following conversations and tweets from the source. If you re-tweet without saying who the tweet is from a lot of the time users will feel you’ve cheated the impact of the original tweet. It discredits your account and makes it seem like you put less effort into it.

Have personality, but don’t be personal – avoid getting too comfortable in your role. Have strict rules in place with how relaxed you can be on interacting with your followers.

Balance your followers and followings – try to keep these levels the same or have your followings higher than the number of followers you have. This promotes constant growth and makes sure you’re friendly with everyone in the industry you’re following for whichever account you are managing.

Final notes on Twitter

Twitter is all about getting shared and found, getting the most notice from your tweets and connecting with your followers and industry more closely. That level maintains a professional feel but again being able to become personal with your customers and industry is incredibly powerful for a company’s public relations.

Have all your activities reflect these points and connect with your audience and your industry on a level like no other!

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.

The Economist Native Advertising with GE

The Economist digital adverts on their app has an interesting native advertising content link sponsored by GE – it’s all about clean energy. A web page clearly with the Economist website layout and with their header – but independently closable (the X in the top left corner). All driven off a full page advert in their current edition 25th May 2013.

GE Advert in Economist app

GE Advert in Economist app

GE Future Energy native advertising page
GE Future Energy native advertising page

photo (6)

 

Alexa Rank Demystified: Part 2 – How to interpret Alexa Rank

Alexa provides users with 7 different categories of information that can be used to get an idea of how their website ranks.

This information can be extremely effective when trying to determine where the strengths and weaknesses of your website lie, and how to go about fixing any weakness. However at first glance, these tools may not appear as self-explanatory as you might think, but once you understand them they can provide you the insights you require to improve your overall Alexa rank. In addition to this, these analytics can be directly compared to competitors in order to gain an idea of the areas where each website is lacking, or holds an advantage. Here is a run-down of the statistical tools that Alexa can provide;

  • Daily Traffic Trend: The Daily Traffic Trend does exactly what it says it will. It tells you your daily traffic and how this trends over time.
  • Daily Reach (%): The Daily Reach lets you know what percentage of internet users, monitored by Alexa (ie. Toolbar users) that you reach on a daily basis. Therefore a ranking of 1 means you reach 1% of all traffic reported to Alexa.
  • Daily Page Views (%):  Daily page views are a request to load a single page off of your website.
  • Page Views per User:  This takes the page views a step further. This tool tells you how many pages each visitor views once arriving at your page.
  • Bounce Rate (%):  This is the amount of times that a visitor will load only a single page of your website. This is where the tools get more interesting. A high bounce rate can suggest that there are problems with your website, which need to be addressed in order to improve your standings.
  • Time on site (Minutes): This once again does what the name suggests; it tells you how many minutes are spent viewing your website.
  • Search Visits (%): This tool shows you what percentage of your visits come from search engines, once again this can help identify issues, especially if you have a high bounce rate.

What can these tell me?

Well these seven tools can be used to gauge where your websites strengths lie, and also what weaknesses need to be remedied. For example a website that receives huge amounts of traffic, but has a high bounce rate, and low minutes spent on the page suggests people are being drawn in, but does it not fulfil on the promises used to get people onto the page. Combine this with a high percentage of search visits and you get the message that your SEO is effective, but your content is letting you down, and letting your visitors escape.

So what’s next? If you can, search for your website’s statistics, and try to find where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so that you can determine where you need to make changes, and let us know how you go in the comments.

If you can’t see more than your page rank, the next post in this series will be all about improving your ranking, so this will be for you.

What does a modern creative brief look like?

Take a look at this Master Client Planning Brief Template It comes from a top international agency – and drifted across our desk in the line of duty.

Call out the bullshit.  This is not good marketing agency business practice.

They asked the client to complete the brief for them.

I understand that ‘cover your ass’ corporates may encourage  these practices but how will this improve client retention? Or client service?

Who on earth is going to agree to that?

What a creative brief should look like

Working with CAS we pitch you an idea which should be aligned to your brand strategy and then we suggest ways we’d like to execute.  You edit / approve but we do most of the thinking and the doing for you.

You are busy – you hire an agency for their expertise and experience and probably to save yourself time.  Surely this could be managed more smoothly?

Call out bad practices – We got the courage to write this post because of these two influential folks below.  Take a stand for good work, honest appraisals and don’t allow bollocks into your working practices.

There, we’ve said it.  Weight off chest.

  • @DannyBrown says “When I realized this, and began writing openly about bad practices and calling out bullshit, it once again raised the level of engagement through the roof, as others were clearly thinking the same thing.”
  • Guy Kawasaki “Unfortunately, “social media experts” cause a lot of confusion and frustration with their Fascist recommendations. It starts with their recommendation that you absolutely must first create a strategy with goals, milestones, and expected results that you can follow, step-by-step, to success. “

What is a good creative brief?

But what should be on a brief if you are producing an integrated campaign that works across platforms?

Edward Boches says

I think the brief ought to start with the problem that we’re trying to solve.

The problem, by the way, may not be an advertising problem. It’s what kind of problem are we trying to solve that would make our brand of more value to this consumer?

I think the second thing it has to address is the use of media, technology, content, and community by the users, customers, or target audience or community members. Thinking about how somebody interacts with stuff beyond just the brand and the category is really important. I would actually go so far as to have every brief basically say, “You can’t solve this problem with an ad. You have to solve this problem with an idea that isn’t an ad.”

Then you get to invent this idea or creative that might be worth advertising, right? I think another way to look at it is to really figure out the problem behind the problem. The problem can’t be, “Oh, we want know about this product.” The problem might be, “Well, what problem do these people actually have that we could solve?” And maybe solving it and actually doing something of value in the world of social media, etc., might be the reason that gets them to pay attention to us and might turn them on to the product we want them to know about. That’s almost coming at it from an extreme perspective in order to fight the inclination to solve problems with a TV commercial.

Broadening the reach of marketing

How do you deal with people who aren’t interested in learning more beyond their narrow specialization?  When a TV advert is the ONLY soution; or social media or direct mail?  Agencies need to be able to work across media platforms, to be collaborative and not stand on their high horse of ‘expertise’ when client brands ask them to work with other agencies on the account.

Nobody, but nobody is a leading edge specialist in everything nowadays.

Boches again

Here’s the downside of that. If you’re not aware of the capabilities of technology and APIs and certain platforms, you may never think up the idea to begin with.

So how will advertising change?

Many of these things are in some ways like the antithesis to how advertising works, where we make our stuff so precious and we want it to be perfect and magnificently designed, and then we’ve got to produce it and then we put it out into the marketplace. That long, linear process might lead to something that’s gorgeous and finished, but it’s not always the best. In a world where things change daily and things are disposable more quickly, it’s not always the best way to do things. I think we’re going to see more convergence among and between marketing, advertising, and software and gaming-type companies over the next five years.

What next?

If you’re an agency – take a look at how you take briefs from clients.

If you’re a brand – don’t stand for any nonsense, if you want to brief the old way – carry on.  If you want a collaborative business partner who will work WITH you to help solve marketing problems, change your suppliers until you find one who CAN do what you need and work the way you prefer.

Read our recommended briefing template and download the word document for you to use.