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Keep Calm and Carry On

December 30, 2010

Have you noticed how some adverts have stood the test of time and still look really good today? I’ve got my eye on a print I saw in a gallery a couple of weeks ago – the Keep Calm and Carry On poster is an iconic, yummy piece of design which is engaging and beautiful – despite having been designed over 50 years ago. Designed as Britain went to war, this poster was part of a series prepared by the Ministry of Information (a government department responsible for publicity and propoganda) to boost morale. The brief was simple – to use bold, bright colours, a simple font and features of the Kind George crown. The first two posters of the series bore the slogans ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is Peril’, and were plastered over buses, notice boards and shop windows.

I suppose it’s ironic that the most famous of the set was designed for release should our shores have been invaded – and of course, they weren’t, so this little gem never saw the light of day for its’ intended purpose. I’m not sure what it is which makes the poster so appealing. Is it the fact that the colours and fonts look contemporary and cool, but in a retro way? Is it that the image evokes a sense of nostalgia? Is it that the poster embodies a quintessentially British ideal which secretly, we all love? Whatever the reason, this image is proof that fantastic design is timeless – and if you can engage your audience with an captivating message, so much the better.

Should price-focussed selling have a place in your marketing plan?

December 30, 2010

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last few months. As you’ll probably know, we run a monthly promotion where we offer a few different items at half price. To promote our offer of the month, we produce copious marketing collateral which have our low prices plastered all over it. We put posters in our window, send out mailers and email all of our clients too. Undeniably, it’s a great way to get new clients who are attracted by the low prices – and it’s useful for saving our existing clients money, too. But should price be your only selling point?

When you’re short on sales, it’s tempting to offer cut prices in a bid to generate some cashflow. It might work quite well – you’ll get some sales, possibly some new clients and you’ll probably make some money. The problem comes when your competitors realise what you’re up to and start doing the same. Price wars aren’t something any business relishes, and can result in selling at a loss just to steal a sale from the competition. The thing is, what does it say about your product or service if you’re always discounting it?

It’s so so important to set your price right and charge what your service is worth. Know the value of what you do and don’t be afraid to shout about it. If your competition is charging less than you, ask yourself what you do differently which make life easier for your client or enhance their buying experience which sets you aside from everyone else and makes you worth paying extra. The new iPhone is a fabulous example of knowing your audience, setting your price and successfully charging it. The iPhone cost upwards of £499 without contract, and despite there being arguably better handsets out there, fans queued for hours to secure theirs. Just goes to show that clever marketing aimed at a specific audience really can help you sell, regardless of what you charge.

We’ve been working with several of our clients recently to help them figure out what differentiates them from their competition, and how to communicate that in their marketing. It’s been a really interesting exercise for all of us, and focusses you on what really goes on in your business that makes you so much more special than anybody else. It’s even helped our clients go away with new ideas on how to refine their service to add value and confidently charge more than their competition. Our free one to one marketing sessions are a great way for us to add value to our service and have helped us raise our profile as design and marketing experts. So what do you think – are your customers motivated by price or value?

New in this week: scratch cards for iPilot

December 30, 2010

I love working on scratch cards! They present such a great opportunity to have a bit of fun, and iPilot have taken full advantage of this. Scratch cards appeal to an innate desire within all of us to gamble, which means they’ll attract a much higher response rate than leaflets. Afterall, who can resist scratching off that little silver strip to see what’s underneath? Although there are no definite statistics, it’s thought that scratch cards will get an impressive 70% response rate. Compare that to the 4% response rate which you should expect to get from a leaflet drop and it’s really a no brainer. iPilot wanted to promote their Champagne Flight Experiences, so we’ve made this their big prize with lots of other goodies available to win too. iPilot are lucky enough to have been featured by some big names in the media, so we made sure that their logos were prominant on the front of the card. We’ve also used the jet image which appears on other brochures, banners and their website to give the cards a really pulled together, branded feel. iPilot have got a very strong brand image, so it goes without saying that we’ve used their logos, fonts and colours too.

Apart from the bold headline and scratch panels on the front of the card, we’ve written some copy for the back of the card to explain a bit about iPilot and the experience they offer. We’ve also made sure that we’ve included a clear call to action, so that winners know exactly what to do in order to claim their prize. We really love it and I can’t wait to see the printed product – what do you think?

Get interactive with your marketing

December 30, 2010

BT have done something pretty unusual. They’re inviting us, their audience, to choose what happens next in the long running relationship between Jane and Adam who feature in their adverts (which has spanned over 5 years accross 35 adverts!). They’ve already created a pretty engaging series of adverts, focussing on the lives of Jane, Adam, their children and their friends with BT’s product being almost secondary to the plot of the story. It seems that the audience have got pretty attached to the central characters of BT’s adverts – in fact, when the story looked like it could be veering towards a split between Jane and Adam, viewers took time out of their day to actually complain. So the latest advert which invites us to choose what happens next is bound to get a huge reaction. Members of BT’s facebook page even got the chance to vote before the ad was aired on TV, further encouraging consumer interaction with the brand.

So we know that BT have got some very clever people in their marketing department who have devised some lovely adverts, a compelling story and an engaging campaign which keep BT firmly in our minds. But what if we don’t have a marketing department, a range of TV ads and the budget to be able to saturate every possible avenue to get to our customer? Well, we know that our customers like to get involved and feel part of our business. We know that if we want to get our customers interested, we need to do something a bit more impressive than a flyer. So what exactly are our options?

This month, we’ve been really busy working on scratch cards for our clients. A fantastic way of getting customers involved, we’ve been appealing to our primal instinct to gamble and have used it to our clients’ advantage to create some really fab promotions. Loads of our clients have found these to be so much more successful at promoting a new product or service than using a flyer – who can resist scratching off that little silver panel to see what they’ve won?! Give away prizes or offer the opportunity to sample your product for free – there are loads of ways to use scratch cards to your advantage and they are guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve tried so far. I’ll post up some of our favourite designs soon and you never know – I might give you the chance to vote for your favourite…. 😉

PS – just for fun, here’s my favourite of the BT ads – who didn’t feel Jane’s pain here?!

No No NO to pushy salespeople!

December 30, 2010

Oh my goodness. I’ve just been subjected to some of the pushiest sales techniques going, in the shape of an uber-bouncy, 5 foot 3″ brunette who bounded into the shop and started trying to sell with no introduction whatsoever – apart from complimenting my outfit before she began her pitch (10 out of 10 for effort though – clearly she knows her audience!). She whipped a small make-up compact out of her bag and started giving me the hard-sell, telling me all about the eye shadows which were ‘really really creamy, cool right?’, bronzer which she brushed right over my hand and the lip glosses which she shoved under my nose for me to smell ‘they smell like mint aeros, cool, huh?!’ and then grabbed her order pad (which I noticed she’d already filled in with certain details) and asked me how many sets I’d like to order. As we all know, my heart belongs with Benefit when it comes to cosmetics and since I stocked up with them just last week, I really don’t care about her new product, no matter that she was offering 80% off if I ordered today. Not to be perturbed, she quickly came back with ‘oh ok, so you’d probably buy this as a gift for one of your friends then, how many would you like?’. Despite being extremely confident and enthusiastic which are qualities that are essential in a good salesperson, I detest this breed of over the top, pushy sales and I know I’m not alone. Do you have to be pushy to intimidate customers into a sale? No. It doesn’t work!

Benefit come to Sevenoaks

December 30, 2010

I walked into Boots earlier today and almost squealed in excitement when I saw that their new layout included a Benefit make-up counter. I was SO excited that I had to call several of my friends straight away – we all love their brand. I’ll forgive you if you don’t know who Benefit are. Unless you’re female, in which case – you’ll know! Benefit make the most luscious make-up a girl could ask for: gorgeous products in beautiful packaging sold with a dazzling smile and all the advice and tips you could possible want (if you’re a girl, this stuff matters!) The look of the brand is beautiful, reflecting the style of 1950’s America giving it that fun, flirty, feminine feel. They know their demographic too – their facebook presence is huge and they’ve got strong links to Glamour magazine (one of the UK’s best selling women’s magazines), giving away a free product with the magazine every year. Benefit aren’t cheap, but they remain a best-selling brand globally despite a rocky economic climate and households everywhere making cut backs to save some cash. Wouldn’t we all like to be in their shoes right now?! Let me talk you through the reasons why Benefit are so darn fabulous….

1) The product is perfect. High quality, long lasting, and total genius (like the slanted brushed to make applying eye make-up easier)
2) Benefit is a high end brand which means it’s only sold at a counter – (and there aren’t very many about!) beauty counters stereotypically come with snooty women who are intimidating to anyone who doesn’t have cover girl-perfect makeup all day everyday. The Benefit girls are different; always welcoming, never intimidating, they’re chatty, fun and make you feel completely at ease
3) The packaging is incredible. Cute, clever and completely unique, you know that when you buy a Benefit product you’re paying extra for the packaging but it’s so pretty you don’t really care
4) It’s such a fun brand! With product names like ‘some kind a gorgeous’, ‘hello flawless’ and ‘boi-ing’, this is a brand who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. It’s so refreshing to buy a make-up product with a name more interesting than ‘mascara-black’, ‘foundation-porcelain’…. you get the idea.

For these reasons, I happily parted with £23 for a blusher, even though I could get one for less than a fiver from a different brand in Boots if I wanted to. Isn’t it amazing that despite the recession, the confidence that Benefit exudes from their brand make their customers willingly pay premium prices for their product? If they could bottle their success, I’d be at the head of the queue. In the meantime, I might just have to content myself with their new line of fragrances…

Has the recession killed off shouty ‘look at me!’ advertising?

December 30, 2010

Well, not killed off. But sedated, perhaps. At the beginning of the recession we saw loads of adverts screaming ‘Quick!! Buy it!! It’s only £10.99 and they’re selling out FAST!!!!!’. They were everywhere – on TV, in magazines, spilling through our front door in their droves (mostly printed on cheap, flimsy paper). Many a company were advertising their Credit Crunch Specials and Recession Busting Super Deals. But a bit like the latest X-factor winner, they were horribly unoriginal, dated quickly and, with astonishing speed, they became so incredibly boring.

We’ve tired off the ‘stack ’em high’ culture. The recession has reminded the consumer that quality is worth paying for – and certainly it means a hell of a lot more than price. Unlike the beginning of the recession, when the media was urging us all to haggle, compare prices and spend hours on the internet looking for cut-price alternatives, we’ve all taken a deep breath and recognised it’s worth paying for a decent product, or paying someone for their time to do the job properly. Probably because we all got stung by a Credit Crunch Special Offer which was cheap, but nasty, and fell apart in the first wash. Marketeers are recognising this shift, which is why you’ll notice a lot more subtle marketing when you look around at the moment. Adverts designed to gently remind us ‘excuse me, I’m here, don’t forget me’ rather than yell in our faces about the latest offer. Less DFS, more John Lewis.

Personally, I think it’s great! Subtle advertising is so much more interesting, clever and enjoyable to see as a consumer. There’ll always be a place for shouty advertising, because sometimes that’s the most appropriate and effective way of doing things. But isn’t it nice that we can all forget about price for a minute and enjoy quality?