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Are you a delegate-list spammer?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

I love meeting new people and learning about their businesses. Networking events can be rich with potential customers, open doors and exciting opportunities. Sometimes you can’t beat swapping knowledge and business cards over a Malted Milk biscuit … and many events allow you to meet face to face with a quantity of interesting people it might take you months to visit individually.

But one thing that winds me up about networking events? When people scrape the list of delegates afterwards and use it to send unsolicited marketing emails.

Don’t get me wrong. I welcome little “hello” emails, the “sorry I didn’t get to speak to you, but I notice you supply …” sort-of missives, where the sender has taken the trouble to personalise their message. These people are often good networkers: the ones not hellbent on making a quick sale, but interested in building mutually beneficial relationships. That’s great.

But I dislike blanket, send-all emails that show no thought or imagination. Sometimes they show no respect for the recipient, either. I once found several megabytes of brochure weighing down my inbox, from a company that makes building components. I doubt they would’ve been willing to spend money on sending literature to a business like mine, which has no need for drainage systems, but just because it cost nothing didn’t mean it was a good idea. In fact, it could have cost them a lot more: damaged credibility.

Am I being harsh? Marketing is difficult, and we are trading in difficult times. These are small businesses and start-ups, who are often told by business advisers to get themselves ‘out there’ as much as they can. So maybe they should be forgiven for jumping on a current, juicy list of people with which they have something in common (the event) and using it to showcase their business.

But I do think people should get more creative and personal in their approach - or hire someone who can be creative and personal for them.

These cheeky delegate-list spammers are not breaking the law. (There are laws surrounding email marketing, but generally they protect consumers, not businesses.) But I don’t think it’s good practice.

What do you think?

Stop spam sign

Happy 2012 (and be nice to your readers)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Happy new year from Good As Gold! My Facebook newsfeed this morning is filled with complaints about sleeping badly, the miserable weather or returning to work (or all three). I hope you’re feeling more positive than the majority of my friends … although I suspect their updates may represent the mood of the nation at large.

One of my 2012 business resolutions is to blog more, so I thought I’d kick off with something that I tucked away this time last year.

Imagine my delight when, on 5 January, I received an unsolicited email newsletter from a leadership management company, with this opening:

Ahhhh the start of another year and all those New Year resolutions have probably already been broken. Back in the same old groove after just 5 days are we? Fancy a change? Fancy something new? Want to try something different? It will take more than a promise to yourself at midnight on New Years Eve after a couple of glasses of shampoo!!

Not only is this badly written, but - worse - it’s patronising, makes assumptions about the reader, and … well, it’s a teeny bit rude. I’d been to the gym that day! I’d eaten my five portions of fruit and veg! I even resisted that enormous slab of Christmas cake at lunchtime.

OK, I’m lying about the cake - but I hope you get my point. Be friendly. Be self-deprecating. Even be personal. Never insult your reader.

Here’s to an Olympic year ahead.

New Year 2012

Resist the slump! Ten low-cost marketing ideas for 2012

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

If work tails off at this time of year, and you’re in any way like me, it’s tempting just to spin around in your office chair, share out chocolate brazil nuts and hum along to Christmas tunes on Last FM. No one starts anything new this week, right?

But not so fast!

This quiet spell provides the perfect opportunity to get ahead with your marketing for the next 12 months. It’s amazing how creative you can become once relieved of your usual deadlines and duties.

While your competitors take Quality Street-induced naps, here are ten ideas for low-cost marketing projects you could start working on today. Even just scribbling your thoughts down on a cracker hat could prove to be very profitable …

Colleagues celebrating Christmas

01. Plan a series of press releases
Now’s a good time to think about PR. Have you got an event coming up? Launching a new product? You can often generate great news stories by running a survey and sharing the results.

02. Streamline your social media
Are you getting the best out of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn et al? If your social media activity is sporadic or non-existent, you could make a plan of action for the new year.

03. Create a blogging calendar
Blogging helps you engage with customers, show your expertise and boost your website’s search-engine rankings. It’s less of a chore when you have a schedule of content and ideas.

04. Start producing a brochure
You may need to hire a designer for your brochure, but the more copy and images you can produce in advance, the cheaper the process is likely to be. E-brochures save on print costs too.

05. Plan an email campaign
How often do you email your customers? Whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly or less frequently, this is a great time to dream up timely and well-targeted messages.

06. Devise a direct mailshot
This doesn’t mean spam or junk mail. What could you send that’s useful to your existing and potential customers? A money-off voucher, a postcard of tips, a buying guide, perhaps?

07. Start a newsletter
Newsletters are brilliant for showing the world what you’re doing. As with brochures, the more content and ideas you can supply yourself, the cheaper your design costs are likely to be.

08. Tweak your website copy

Upload testimonials, sharpen keywords, rewrite phrases that bug you. Look at your traffic analytics, if possible, and see where people are leaving your site. Improve those pages.

09. Write a script
Video content is becoming increasingly important for search engines. You might not have the time or finances to commission a video yet, but it’s a project worth considering for 2012.

10. Work on a leaflet
Are you exhibiting at a trade show soon? While you’re less busy than usual, try to boil your company’s offerings and best features into a few key points.

Now’s an ideal time to brief a copywriter or designer on your next project. They’ll have the Christmas holidays to mull over your ideas and can return fresh and mince pie-fuelled in a few weeks’ time, ready to help make 2012 your best year yet.

marie@goodasgoldws.co.uk.

[Image courtesy of Ambro.]

The Armani of copywriting?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

I’ve just been told by a new client that the person who referred them to me (also a client) calls Good As Gold as ‘the Armani of copywriting’.

So for haute-couture nouns and luxe leather adverbs … step this way.  

Seriously, that’s embarrassing! I’m a little bashful about talking up my skills, as I realised almost painfully yesterday when I attended the NUJ course ‘Writing your first book’ in London. It was a hard-headed and useful day which focused not on high-flown dreams of writing beautiful prose, but the nitty-gritty reality of getting a book finished and sold to a publisher. A much-needed kick up the bum for me.

Course tutor Brendan Foley (author of the bestselling Under the Wire) encouraged me and three other fledgling authors to position our books, writing and ideas alongside other successful publications, authors or gripping stories, stating where they cross and how they differ. (I can’t wait to read the book by my coursemate whose novel will be a Murakami-esque magical realism mystery crossed with a Christmassy The Wicker Man.)

This was a difficult exercise for me, as I always wanted to hedge my bets: “Well it aims to have the literary quality of Paul Theroux combined with the humour and accessibility of Bill Bryson, but really it needs better words and more jokes”.

Hmmm!

Anyway, I just wondered where you position your business or, if you’re a writer, your work?

Internet World videos

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I didn’t make it to Internet World this year (too busy with deadlines, as always), but I’m trying to keep ahead of what’s new and exciting in the world of the web, so these videos from the event organisers are the next best thing.

Thought these three in particular might be useful for my lovely clients!

* ‘The changing face of networking: how is social media and online networking changing business, entrepreneurship, hiring and innovation?’
- Kevin Eyres, LinkedIn

* ‘Digital marketing is growing up’
- Jimmy Schougaard, Ogilvy and Peter Visholm, Agilic

* ‘Harnessing social media to extend your brand: how online communities, user generated content, customer engagement and customer loyalty build the brand’
- Angus Struthers, Trip Advisor.

Survey: customer testimonials in marketing literature

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Do you use customer testimonials in your marketing literature?

Do you trust other companies’ use of testimonials and do they influence your buying decision?

Note saying 'Splendid work! Thank you'

 

 

 

I’m running a little survey. The results will - I hope - help me offer you tips on making customer endorsements work harder for your business. I’ll also publish advice soon on ensuring your use of testimonials complies with the new Code of Advertising Practice.

The survey only takes about three minutes: go on, do it now!

Thank you for your help.

Marie

Good As Gold writing service #07: blogging

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Does your blog lie abandoned, growing weeds? Maybe you’ve identified a patch of expertise that’s yours for the taking in the online world, if only you had time to water and nurture it …

Little green shoot from the earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are five quick reminders why a regularly maintained blog is good for your business:

01) Blogs allow you to showcase lots of relevant and useful content, not only demonstrating your industry expertise and enhancing your credibility, but allowing your organisation to creep up the search-engine listings too.

02) Blogs are great for building online relationships. People can respond to your posts instantly, sharing knowledge, asking questions or offering feedback.

03) Blogs let you respond to topical things quickly. If your business, product or industry takes a blow from some bad press or a dissatisfied customer, you can use your blog to set the record straight, offer an explanation and show you are listening.

04) Your blog can have a global audience! You can tweet all day on Twitter or faff around on Facebook … but people will only see your efforts if they’re ‘following’ you or hooked in to your network. Blogs open you out to a world of readers who can stumble across you when they make relevant search queries.

05) Blogs are free to set up and use (if you know how) and are often easier to update and maintain than websites. If you integrate a blog into your main website, it’s a great way to continually refresh your content (which search engines love!).

So what’s the downside, I hear you ask? You already know: time! Researching, writing and uploading interesting articles is very draining on your day - and you need to concentrate on running your business, looking after clients and keeping your knowledge fresh.

But supposing you could hire someone to ghost-write your blog for you? Now there’s a good idea! 

Good As Gold is happy to …

  • write blog entries for you on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even quarterly basis
  • create a ‘tone of voice’ that is consistent with your business and brand, or adopt the tone of your existing communications
  • either source and craft news stories on your behalf or write blog entries from notes you give us (however skimpy!)
  • source images if necessary, either from stock photography or by commissioning unique work
  • help you set up your first blog, if you need us to, and integrate it into your website.  

The cost depends on how complex your subject is, and how much research is involved in writing your articles. But our blogging services aren’t expensive and - best of all - there is no minimum order. So if you wanted to test us out with just one tiny blog entry, that’s no problem.

It goes without saying that each entry will be written from scratch and entirely unique to your business.

Pour some sunlight on your blog and see what grows! Email Good As Gold today at hello@goodasgoldws.co.uk and let us know what you’re thinking …

New Advertising Codes: don’t slip up!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is launching new UK Advertising Codes, which will take effect from 1 September 2010.

You can download the new CAP as a PDF here. It is clear and easy to read, and contains important information on marketing, including:

  • When ‘puffery’ (obvious exaggeration) is acceptable

carlsberg

  • Where you stand on price information, including when you can or can’t describe a product as ‘free’
  • 'oh yes it's free'

  • Guidelines on making comparisons between your company or product (or price!) and a competitor’s. A Blackpool taxi company got into trouble recently for distributing leaflets that unfairly claimed its competitor was slow and did not value price, quality or service!

snail

  • The need to back up your testimonials or endorsements. Hint: “you must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it”
  • fabricated testimonial

  • Guidance on minimising the risk of your communications causing harm or serious widespread offence
  • internet shock

  • Making sure that advertising aimed at under-16s is safe, suitable and ethical. This section of the Code has undergone perhaps the greatest number of changes, aiming for enhanced protection for children

Boy with football

  • Protecting people’s privacy (including, interestingly, members of the Royal Family)

email privacy

  • The rules on special offers, competitions and promotions
  • Raffle tickets

  • Guidelines on direct marketing, to complement the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 
  • Stop spam sign

  • The need for compliance with data protection legislation.(Are you keeping your contacts’ details safe and giving them the chance to opt out of your communications?)
  • confidential information

  • When you can and can’t make claims about a product being green or environmentally friendly

Earth in hand

  • Details about promoting medicines, medical devices, treatments, health-related products and beauty products. A water purifier ad was banned this month for making unsubstantiated claims that the product was “alkalizing, aided respiration and produced youthful looking skin”

Magic potions

  • Guidelines and rules on marketing communications for weight control and slimming aids; financial products (please note that these can go down as well as up); food; gambling products and lotteries; alcoholic drinks; and motoring-related products.
  • Cherry red summer apple with measuring tape

You may also be interested in reading the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice (BCAP), which governs TV and radio advertising. 

If ever you’re unsure as to whether your marketing communications might fall foul of the Code, give CAP’s Copy Advice team a ring on 020 7492 2100. I’ve spoken to them twice recently on behalf of clients: once to check that a cleaning firm was OK to say its environmentally friendly products were ‘healthier’ than others (we had to tread carefully with this) and once to find out where we stood on making links between hypnotherapy and smoking cessation (again, we didn’t want to mislead with false or overstated claims).

Both times I found the Copy Advice team to be helpful and knowledgeable.

I’ll also be attending training on the new Code in the near future, to make sure I can always give you the best and most up-to-date advice. So if you need sparkling, lively, Code-compliant copy, call Good As Gold on 0121 236 7066.

Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) code review

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) help to set the standards for self-regulation in UK advertising. Independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), they aim to “make sure all advertising, wherever it appears, is honest and decent”.

CAP and BCAP have just opened a 12-week public consultation on all aspects of their advertising codes, so you can have your say on how advertising is regulated.

While some of the proposals were real headline-stealers today (relaxing the restrictions on the late-night advertising of condoms, for example, and permitting abortion advice services to be advertised on TV), I was most interested in those that may affect how advertising copy can be worded.

These include:

* clarifying the use of the word ‘free’
* making sure that claims about products are based on normal, everyday use
* creating an explicit rule to stop marketers from exaggerating the environmental benefits of their products.

I will take the chance to have my say in the coming weeks (and you can too - here is a link to the CAP and BCAP Code Review) and keep up to date with changes that may affect my clients’ copy. Behind today’s hype lies an important and valuable chance to promote fair competition among advertisers and, above all, protect consumers.

Good As Gold’s first email bulletin

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Good As Gold has recently (and not before several hours of tweaking and fingernail chewing) hit the ’send’ button-of-no-return on its first quarterly email bulletin. A lot of thought and care went into the design and writing of this e-missive, so we were delighted to get positive feedback from so many recipients, who consisted of colleagues, clients and recent acquaintances.

Gold As Gold email newsletterAs a direct result of our gentle cyber-nudge (a quick “hello” to tell people about our new website, with a few copywriting tips thrown in), we’ve been asked to quote for three separate writing jobs and have helped another contact to re-write a press release for maximum editor-friendliness. One new client said he chose Good As Gold over other copywriting agencies because of our willingness in the e-newsletter to “give information that you could charge people for … you were really adding value to your service”.

If you’d like to sign up for Good As Gold’s quarterly newsletter, it’s easy! Simply fill in the form here.

Meanwhile, have you thought about sending out an email campaign of your own? This can be a cheap, easy and fruitful way to stay in touch with potential customers … but there are pitfalls you need to be aware of, especially when compiling your mailing list. It’s easy to annoy people with badly thought-out or ’spammy’ messages, which are damaging to your brand and can even get you into legal bother. For guidance on writing an effective email campaign, please don’t hesitate to contact marie@goodasgoldws.co.uk.

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