Single Parents Wanted for Cambridge Uni Research – can you help?

Can you help with a Cambridge University survey in return for a £20 Love2shop voucher?

Cambridge University wants to speak to single parents, aged 35 or under, who live with their children less than half of the time. The researchers need to speak to parents who have their child to stay with them for at least one night a fortnight, or would if they had suitable accommodation.

Participants must have children under 18 and must not be living with a partner to qualify. A researcher will call you to conduct a short telephone survey – that’s all you need to do. All of your answers would be confidential and data kept anonymous.

Single parents be quick!

We only need 20 participants, based anywhere in the UK, so please get in touch quickly as it will be first come first serve. Please feel free to share this information if it might be of interest to someone you know.

If you can help with this research project, please get in touch on 01638 741830 or tania@spirusmarketing.com

Spirus Marketing celebrates 4th birthday with exciting new client

This month we celebrate our fourth birthday and share our birthday cake with an exciting new client.

Launched by Tania Verdonk and Jo Riches, Spirus has gone from strength to strength over the last four years and is excited to announce it is now working with recycling and waste management company Ellgia.

Joe Rudd, sales director of Ellgia, joined us for a slice of birthday cake, which was supplied by Regency Cakes in Exning. It was also the perfect ocassion to talk about their new strategies for targeting specific opportunities through all marketing channels.

Tania said: “We love what we do and I think that our passion for growing businesses shines through all of our work. We have steadily expanded our customer base over the last four years and I’m so happy that we can celebrate our journey this month with our latest client.

“Profile building and brand awareness will always be a part of our marketing strategy for any business, but our ultimate focus is growing sales for our clients.”

Based in East Anglia, Ellgia provides commercial waste management and recycling solutions for businesses across the East of England. Using innovative technology, they are able to build high-quality, tailored and cost-effective solutions for their customers’ waste management needs.

Joe Rudd, sales director of Ellgia, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Spirus on the next stage of our marketing strategy as we are at an exciting stage with our business and want to partner with an agency who will help us to maximise our opportunities. Spirus have a great team of creative and passionate marketing professionals and we believe that working together will take Ellgia to the next level in terms of reach and sales.

“I want to wish them a happy fourth birthday and to say thank you for sharing their delicious cake.”

The evolution of content marketing

Content marketing isn’t new, nor is it a one trick pony. It’s constantly evolving, offering opportunities for virtually any brand to boost brand engagement. (Just don’t call it that when you do it.)

So here are our Top 10 tips for better content marketing:

  1. Mobile is king. More than half of all online content is accessed via mobile devices, so your content MUST be mobile optimised.
  2. Be visual. Photos, videos, illustrations, whatever. But visual = sharable, and sharable = greater reach. More than half of internet content consumption is video (predicted to be over 80% by 2020). But think about what you’re producing – online users won’t just share your marketing ads for you. They need something more to them than that.
  3. Content is not just pictures and videos. Point 2 (while excellent) is not exhaustive. In the UK, people still tend to trust experts, analysis and reviews more than advertising so use THAT as your content if it works better for you.
  4. Don’t get distracted from your core messages, values, USPs and goals. It’s a marketing tool, sure, but it’s not the only one. Don’t forget to actually sell stuff too.
  5. Do what’s right for your business, not just because it’s a big trend. Analyse, assess and take action that’s right for YOUR customers.
  6. Get personal. (No, not like that.) And not even by just adding someone’s first name to a graphic, or a thank you video (though yes, First Direct, we did like it a lot) – it’s more about relevance and tailoring of messages products and experiences. Personalised = sharable… you get the picture.
  7. Influence marketing (sorry, User Generated Content) is huge. HUGE. Entire YouTube channels of kids playing with Play-Doh, people talking about Vanish Gold stain-removal techniques, thousands of shared selfies with a particular product; you name it, people at home are making it, sharing it, and helping brands get great awareness with it. Think competitions, incentives, test products… But there has to be something in it for the “user” too, whether that’s 30 seconds in the spotlight, a public thank you, or vast audience numbers on social media.
  8. Understand how audiences are changing. (Calling them “audiences” isn’t a great start, to be honest) Consumers (there we go again) want to be part of the story, not just sold to. Check out Rimmel London’s new campaign strategy, as reported in Marketing Week: www.marketingweek.com/2017/01/25/rimmel-london-brand-evolution/
  9. Be responsive. AKA, understand what’s going on in the world of the people you’re engaging with. Ignore the social, cultural and political landscape at your peril. That doesn’t mean ramming your political opinions down other people’s throats of course, but being aware of what’s going on is vital – if only to avoid any “awkward moments”. (And yes, it’s about interacting on social media too.)
  10. Don’t dismiss it as a fad. You might not be convinced, you might think it’s blindingly obvious to do it, you might think “content marketing” is just another word for, well, marketing. But however you want to refer to it, it’s not going away anytime soon, so wouldn’t you be better off finding out how your business could benefit?

 

If you’re stuck for ideas and the creative writing just isn’t flowing, get in touch and book a free content clinic.  We’ll identify opportunities in your business and share insights into the trade to show you how you can make the most of the content you already have, or create it from scratch, taking your marketing from merely content to full on happy.

Why you need a third party to carry out employee satisfaction surveys

Why conduct employee surveys?

Employee surveys can help reveal the best way to retain good staff and keep morale and productivity high.

But done badly they are worse than useless. In fact, most generic surveys bear no relation to your employees’ specific circumstances and will inspire nothing more than an eye roll from staff.

What’s more, a fear that your internal survey is not really anonymous will prevent most people from highlighting problems that may be driving good employees away.

At Spirus we are experts in setting surveys that get to the heart of your staff’s issues – whether it be training needs, better communication from managers or flexible working. We carry out all the surveys over the telephone; a high quality call from one of our trained staff can elicit much more detailed answers than a tick-box online exercise.

Seeing your investment in a proper, anonymous survey makes staff feel valued and supported by their employers. This plays a major part in staff retention, which is a major issue in Cambridgeshire as businesses are often competing to keep their best staff from moving on when jobs are plentiful locally.

We work with you to create tailored surveys whose results will enable you to grow your business. And we give your staff the confidence of complete anonymity so that they can give open an honest feedback.

Other benefits of using an independent third party to conduct surveys, include:

  • We ask the questions you are afraid to ask your staff.
  • Spirus can design the survey with you to get to the heart of the topics that you want to cover.
  • Our expert in-house telemarketers have in-depth conversations and listen to your staff.
  • Ideal times to get feedback are when there has been a cultural or managerial shift, a merger – or a fresh start, such as the New Year.
  • All results are delivered in a word report including graphs summarising findings.
  • Spirus can arrange to incentivise participation or to thank your employees for their time to take part in the survey.

Testimonial
We recently carried out an employee survey for Midas Care. They said: “We found it very worthwhile using Spirus for the employee satisfaction survey. We received valued feedback from our staff, which we are in the process of sharing the findings with and are working on the next steps”.

For more information about high quality employee engagement surveys, contact us on hello@spirusmarketing.com or 01638 741830.

When everything is digital – who can you trust?

It’s hard to know who to trust online and companies need to respect consumers’ wariness, and take the necessary measures to keep customers safe. Social media can be a volatile space, and companies should take every precaution to uphold professionalism and customer experience. Fortunately, social media platforms are helping this with new and improved features designed to reassure users of a company’s authenticity.

Companies using Twitter can now indicate that they offer online support, show when they’re active and display hours of availability, and give people a more obvious option to send them a direct message. All these updates are available immediately – find out more here: https://blog.twitter.com/2016/announcing-new-customer-support-features-for-businesses

If you’re in any doubt about why it’s so important, you might be interested to know that it’s been shown that businesses which interact with customers on Twitter can enjoy improved word of mouth, better brand perception, even higher value sales. Some companies report that up to 80% of social customer service queries now come through the platform, resulting in greater satisfaction, lower cost per query, and even higher customer loyalty and spending.

Twitter has made many updates to its business offering to improve customer service – you can read more here: https://blog.twitter.com/2016/making-customer-service-even-better-on-twitter

Authenticity is particularly important online as people’s trust is undermined by scams, clickbait headlines and fake news which has, ironically, been big news lately. Facebook has been taking action to try to control the rising numbers of fake news stories published, and it’s certainly not alone. You can read more about it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38336212.

Marking an unprecedented acknowledgement of online privacy standards, a new set of online rules has just been unveiled, which the advertising community is hailing as “dangerous,” saying it “undermines the internet’s business model.” Essentially the rules involve companies having to get permission from users before serving them adverts based on their browsing history – which could have calamitous effects on advertising revenues. Read more here in Marketing Week: https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/12/14/ad-industry-warns-dangerous-online-rules/

If you’re a business operating in the social media space, spare a moment to think about your followers’ thought-processes, and do everything you can to both reassure and protect them. In today’s digital age, it’s becoming a vital part of everyday corporate social responsibility.

Other News this month

  • Christmas advertising has gone up a gear – and plenty of retailers are using digital and social media innovatively, and effectively. For our round-up, see our latest blog http://spirusmarketing.com/christmas-advertising-works
  • Facebook *really* wants to beat Snapchat at its own game, launching yet another set of updates to rival its enormously popular image-based social rival. It has also just warned people using Snapchat images as their Facebook profiles to change them by 20th December – or they will delete the pics themselves.
  • Everyone’s at it, predicting what will be big in 2017, from the rise of AI to augmented reality and a content media revolution. Keep your eyes open – 2017 is going to be interesting! Here’s Marketing Week’s round-up: https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/12/15/marketers-predictions-2017

Christmas advertising….what works?

From feel-good festive fun at retail with the likes of Bouncer the Boxer and Kevin the Carrot, to hard-hitting charity messaging like The Alzheimer’s Society’s Santa-suffering-dementia advert, Christmas advertising often involves big names and bigger budgets. But ultimately it comes down to what works – so here’s our advice for effective advertising, at any time of year.

– Know your audience, and understand what motivates them to take action.

– Stick to your values. Your adverts may be novel, but your message, brand and underlying values should be consistent.

– Explore multichannel advertising. Primetime TV isn’t for everyone, but social media, direct mail and digital marketing can all be highly effective, instantly shareable and very cost-effective channels. (We reckon John Lewis got more awareness from people sharing videos of their own pets than from the main campaign!)

– Listen. Use social media and customer feedback to your advantage, and make the most of it next time round!

– Expand on your idea. Aldi has done a cracking job with its online campaign to back up Kevin the Carrot’s TV spots, with “behind the scenes audition” clips and more to encourage sharing and brand engagement. A strong advertising concept can work as an effective sub-brand, so make sure you explore all the options – and have some fun.

– Try something new. Lidl’s groundbreaking Twitter-pricing campaign, whereby certain products’ prices were reduced instore depending on how many RTs they got, was attention-grabbing, cost-effective, on brand and great for customer engagement. Top marks, Lidl.

– Don’t forget digital. Making content bite-sized and sharable is likely to make it spread far more quickly, so don’t splurge your whole budget on TV spots! Rewards, prizes and savings also work well here; M&S is doing some great stuff with mobile this year.

– Use, and understand, social media. If you get it right, your customers will do your advertising for you.

It remains to be seen whether the feel-good factor will win out over the bottom line in 2016 – heartwarming ads are great for awareness, but with the economy weighing on many people’s minds, will it be price-focused campaigns like Lidl’s which reap the real rewards this Christmas? Which ads have you liked – or loathed – this year? We’d love to know!

Our Christmas appeal for two local charities

Our Christmas appeal is starting this week in support of two local charities. As we all start to write our long Christmas shopping lists, here at Spirus we are also hoping you will consider adding a gift for Winter Comfort or Jimmy’s Night Shelter to your Christmas trolley.

Whilst many of us may be dreaming of a traditional white Christmas, there are lots of people in our community who will be dreading the cold weather because they are facing homelessness.

Our two chosen charities this year both support people facing homelessness or vulnerable housing by providing them with shelter, warm clothes, hot food and access to other vital facilities and training.

We think both charities are amazing and do vital work helping people when they need a hand to get their lives back on track. We hope you will help us to collect some gifts, which we will deliver to them before Christmas along with all of our good wishes.

If you would like to make a donation to our Christmas appeal for Jimmy’s Night Shelter and Winter Comfort, please drop off your donations in the marked box in the porch of our office. Our address is: Suite 9, The Maltings, Burwell, Cambridgeshire, CB25 0HB.

For more information about the charities, visit: http://wintercomfort.org.uk/christmas & http://jimmyscambridge.net/

See below for the list of items we are collecting.

Jimmy’s Night Shelter would like:

Guest stockings: Toiletries – gift packs (male & female) Re-usable razors and blades Socks Boxers T-shirts Dressing gowns Brushes and combs Wind up radios / alarm clocks (battery) Battery powered toothbrushes (Colgate, Oral B) Batteries Chocolates and sweets.

For rough sleepers: Sleeping bags Vacuum flasks Hot drinks sachets Soup sachets Pot Noodles Wind up torches Antibac gel/wipes Hand-warmers Hats/gloves/scarves Tea lights Duct tape Plaster packs Sewing kits.

Pet stockings: All things for our doggy pals: bowls, blankets, leads, collars, coats (S,M,L), treats.

General items: Tea, coffee, hot chocolate Sandwich fillings i.e. Meat paste, fish paste, canned meats, canned fish Snacks, crisps, biscuits, cheese, crackers etc. Chocolates and sweets etc. Biscuits and cakes etc. Fruit juice and fruit squash, Marmite, peanut butter. Any films on DVD or board games.

Winter Comfort would like:

Socks
Gloves
Hat
Shower gel
Tooth brush + paste
Deodorant
Make up/aftershave
Baby/face wipes
Chocolate bars + sweets
Hot chocolate sachets
Mini flask
Torch
Sewing kit
Hand warmers
Notepad and pen
Bottle openers/key rings
Vouchers – Supermarket, gift/ or book.

Why data is key to customer loyalty through targeted marketing

Data is key to customer loyalty for most businesses – and it’s absolutely vital in marketing.

The Data Storytelling Conference on 1st November saw data hailed as the “key to loyalty.” M&S, the BBC and Disney were among the big brands extolling the virtues of data in providing a more personalised, targeted experience for shoppers and audiences.

As with all forms of information, it’s how you use it that counts. Data alone will not replace human intuition, expertise or marketing insight, but it is a vital tool. How it’s communicated is just as important. As The Walt Disney Company’s Head of Audience Strategy EMEA Richard Ellwood said at the conference, context and storytelling are everything – data needs context, a story to make it relatable and relevant.

A lack of sophistication in using data can backfire however. Apple attracted criticism from Yahoo’s SVP of communications products, Jeff Bonforte, who said data should be used quickly and responsively, to facilitate repeat purchasing and promote customers’ sense of value.

Data-driven advertising revenues have been in the news this month; recent figures published by Campaign (from eMarketer) project that 2016 will see Twitter ad revenues generate $2.6bn, with Facebook at $22.4bn. The figures also suggest that Amazon will be generating around $1bn through its advertising streams. Data really does deliver value!

However, Facebook has also come under fire for getting a lot of its metrics and reporting wrong. Some have suggested this raises worrying questions about general understanding and reporting of digtial metrics; either way, it’s a stark reminder of why accuracy and transparency are so important.

Finally, November saw the 2016 Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards, celebrating the best means of visualising data. Check out the Pinterest page.

Takeaway tip:

Data, used well, is gold dust, and all companies should be taking the time to use it properly. Whether that’s sales data, customer habits, market research or anything else, any business is only ever as good as its information. But remember: make sure you have enough data to be meaningful, and always spend as much time on contextualising and presenting your data as you do collecting it, or you may find that it actually becomes pretty meaningless.

What else has caught our eye this month?

‘Tis the season to be advertising. You’d have to be trapped in a cave somewhere to have missed the deluge of Christmas advertising hitting our various screens this month – which is your favourite?

Diversity continues to be big news, with new heated debates going on in the marketing world around gender, disability and ageism across all aspects of marketing and media, from stock photography to fashion. It’s a complex topic but worth keeping an eye on – it’s not going away any time soon.

Fake news is big news. Fake reviews, fake users and fake news stories have all been in the headlines this month, so be careful with what you’re reading, and make sure you verify your sources. You have been warned.

Five great reasons why your business should support a charity

We have supported several charities this year, including running a successful wine tasting evening to raise funds for St Nicholas Hospice. This week we have been putting together our Christmas charity fundraising drive – more news on this soon – and it got us thinking about why we believe supporting charities is great for business.

Our top five reasons came out as:

1: Charity fundraising gives you the feel good factor.

It feels good for the soul to raise money or other donations for a deserving cause. We all want that warm glow from knowing we have done a Good Deed. In dark times, a bit of kindness goes a long way.

2: Charity events create team building opportunities.

Maybe you have never spoken to Karen from accounts before, but being on the sponsored walk together has broken the ice. Taking part in charitable events outside of work tasks can forge new relationships and help old team members to bond over a worthy common purpose. It can also open up communication between senior management and other employees

3: Charity fundraising offers networking opportunities with other businesses.

Meeting up with a powerful network of like-minded business people from other companies to help work for a joint cause will undoubtedly bring networking benefits. This is a way to reach out and connect with other businesses and sectors of the community on a different platform.

4: Charity fundraising helps define your corporate identity.

Supporting a charity shows that your business is trustworthy and ethical. This can be an important tool when recruiting new employees who want to know they are moving to a great company with honest values.

5: Charity fundraising can provide great PR.

Taking part in charity fundraising will provide your business opportunities to be seen in the media and will show you in a good light. Detailing your charitable efforts on your website will reinforce to customers, clients and other businesses that you are a reputable organisation.

Most of all, everyone brings their passion and best work to a worthwhile project. Choose a charity you believe in, not just one that seems like the obvious choice in your sector – this way your enthusiasm for the cause will inspire others too.

Five reasons why your business needs a copywriter

Most people can write something informative about their business, but not everyone can write well. Even fewer people can write something interesting to their readers. If you don’t want customers to click away from your website or throw your direct mail in the bin, it is worth hiring a copywriter. Not only can a great copywriter turn dull prose into something sparkling, there are other important reasons why you should think about engaging a professional.

1: Copywriters will save you time

Are you dreading writing the weekly blog on your website? Do you put it off because you don’t know where to start? That is the common experience of many business people whose skills are in other areas that support their company. If you do have a go at crafting a carefully written and considered piece of copy, it could take you ages to finish because writing may not be your best skill. That time would be better spent working to your strengths whilst you delegate to a copywriter who can put something together quickly and accurately.

2: Copywriters get you noticed by the media

Do you wonder why your press releases never translate into coverage in the newspaper? Nine times out of ten it is because – as an untrained person – you missed the hook of the story. Journalists are busy people. They will quickly scan your press release and, if it is missing the most important and interesting part of your story, they don’t have time to dig around to find that gem.  A copywriter will boost your chances of being featured because they are highly trained at finding stories that journalists want to feature in their pages.

3: You are too close to your business

You are a specialist in your field and know all the industry jargon. You probably also find every area of your business interesting. This is not the case for your average customer, who may be a lay person with a busy schedule and a short attention span. To grab their attention, and their custom, you need to provide concise and easy-to-read information that is pitched at the right level. A copywriter can do this and pick out the areas of your business that are mostly likely to attract your target customer.

4: Copywriters spot mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes but a copywriter can catch them before work goes online, to the printers or out to clients. They can spot a stray apostrophe at ten paces and will catch typos or bad grammar. It is vital for your reputation that proposals, presentations and marketing materials have clean and concise copy. Mistakes look unprofessional and won’t help you win the trust of your clients.

5: Copywriters showcase your intelligence

Business people don’t get to their position at work without being smart. We know you are clever, savvy and an expert in your field. A copywriter will help your spark to shine through in your company’s written words. They will talk through everything you want to say and take on board all your golden advice, then present it in the best way possible. A copywriter makes you look as clever as you really are.

To find out more about hiring a copywriter, contact hello@spirusmarketing.com or call 01638 741830.