Opinions on business,
marketing and related technologies.

Whitespark’s guide to optimising Google My Business

An informative look at tweaking and improving your Google My Businesses from Whitespark so you get the best chance in local search.

One area I think that’s important to me is to being found are reviews.

For local businesses, it’s no longer enough to rank. Your presence in the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Position) has to stand out in order to attract new customers. Reviews play a critical part in a business’ ability to differentiate from the competition and can impact rankings.

The Impact of Reviews:

– Listings with reviews instantly stand out because they have the golden stars.

– Google showcases your reviews in the branded KP (Knowledge Panel) and also adds review highlights.

– Google also features a section of reviews around the web giving your total reviews and average rating, which means if you have reviews from other third party sites (or even on your website) then your KP will expand further.

– Reviews can bring in more business and provide valuable feedback.

 

However, I wasn’t aware of this new review condition from Google.

You cannot review gate – if you are using a review platform or any review software to encourage customer feedback, you have to provide all users the option to leave online reviews. No moving the negative/unhappy experiences to a different landing page.

 

I find a lot of the information from Whitespark valuable, I recommend you signup to their newsletter if you are interested in performing well in local search.

3 reasons your website is repelling your customers

Tuba in shop window

You go to your local town to do some shopping. One shop entices you with its window display, and you head for the entrance. Only to find that the door is jammed, and you can’t get in. You can see people in the shop, but no matter how much you try you cannot access that store. Eventually, someone comes to the door and mouths through the glass that the shop is closed. You come back the next day and the situation hasn’t changed. Would you be frustrated? Would you shun that shop forever more and go somewhere else?

So why would you think that your website is any different? You may be proud of your new site, with its branding and its colours, even its poetic and whimsical copy. But does it actually work?

Your website is the face of your company, and you don’t want to give the wrong first impression. Perhaps one of the buttons lead to an error page, maybe the images don’t load, or worse – the website displays that annoying 404 message. There is just too much competition for your customers to turn to, so don’t give them a reason to go.

So, what are the 3 main reasons you could be sending your customers to your competitors?

Inadequate mobile optimisation

In 2017 mobile shopping became the most popular method of shopping for consumers with research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), showing that smartphones were the devices most used by consumers for online shopping, at 41%, during the 2017 Black Friday weekend. And this trend is set to rise with a research report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Google and PayPal forecasting that around two-thirds of online retail in the UK will be via mobile by 2020.

It’s important for the survival of your business that you adopt a mobile-first mentality. This means, at the very least, checking that your website is optimised for mobile use but ideally ensuring that your visitors’ experience of your site is as good from their mobile as from a desk or laptop.

If your website is not mobile responsive and doesn’t proportionally resize to different size screens or you don’t have a mobile version of your site, that’s not going to go down well with those customers who shop from their mobile. Indeed, statistics show that 40% of users will click over to another website if they are not satisfied with their mobile experience or have difficulty completing a mobile transaction.

Slow website speed

I remember the days of dial-up. Minute upon painful minute of waiting to access the internet. These days everyone is impatient, and most of us won’t wait even 2 seconds for website content to load. And a study by Kissmetrics shows that 40% of us will abandon a site entirely if it takes longer than 3 seconds.

But it’s not just our impatience that is driving this behaviour. A fast website is the sign of a professional and reliable enterprise and having to wait longer than 10 seconds means a site is unworthy of our attention. We relate speed of loading to efficiency, trust, and confidence. But, we relate having to wait with incompetence, insecurity, and to a lack of credibility. The impact of this can be catastrophic for your business. And there is proof in that pudding with some of the biggest companies testing this out. Amazon’s tests showed that if they slowed down by just one second, they would lose $1.6 Billion every year.

Find out why your website is taking its sweet time. For example, slow-to-load mobile pages could be the result of a large number of javascript files and plugins. Image file sizes could affect it too. Look into it and fix it or find someone who can. The impact on your business is just too drastic to leave it to sort itself out.

Pingdom speed test tool


Test the speed of you website on Pingdom, you should be aiming for under 2 seconds.

Poor User eXperience (UX)

We expect a seamless experience when visiting a website. It has become a basic requirement across all platforms and devices, and a site that doesn’t conform to this standard doesn’t stand a chance.

If your website delivers good content and clear conversion opportunities you are maximising your chances of conversion – a recent study from Forrester Research showed that a user-friendly website could raise your conversion rate by up to a 200%.

If, however, you are trying to entice with over-the-top, eye-catching trashy content and/or inundating your visitors with newsletter sign-ups and in-your-face ads, you’re simply going to annoy more people than you attract.

Instead, avoid the garbage. Make the buttons tap-friendly by making sure all buttons, links and calls to action have the appropriate size and margin to prevent errors. Ensure users can tap-to-call. Use infographics and videos rather than reams of text to relay your message. Make it easy for users to navigate, read and tap on menu items.

You need to know your site works, and that all the functions work as designed, and you also need to make it easy for users to navigate and use your website. Otherwise, you might be inadvertently encouraging your customers to go elsewhere.

Your website is the way people buy your product or service, and this is becoming increasingly the case with more sales happening online than ever before. You have only seconds to influence your visitors so ensure that they are accessing a high-speed website, optimised for mobile use and that they are presented with an excellent user experience.

Make sure your customers don’t have to struggle to access or find your products or services, because with the highly competitive nature of eCommerce, your customers will not hesitate to go elsewhere if even the slightest headache arises, and this comes at a considerable cost to your business.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Our Five Favourite Web Chat Apps

A client recently asked for our recommendation on which website chat app to use and as I’ve only have experience with Olark in recent years I thought it would be worth reviewing what’s currently available.

I picked five listed below based on whether they were recommended elsewhere, if I’d heard of them before or on the clarity of the offer and the systems design.I evaluated each chat app as a potential customer chatting to the vendor’s operator judging each on how quickly I got chatting, if I was hounded at all to begin with, what integrations they had and of course the cost. Hopefully this will give you a little more information to refine down your selection to test out.

Summary: JivoChat and Olark stuck out for me as a cost effective way to get started but Zendesk looks like a good step up to a fuller chat and customer support system with better integrations when time and budget allow.

Tawk.to

https://www.tawk.to/
Tawk.to web chat sales website screenshot

  • Chat only. Free with option to pay for branding removal or chat agents
  • Need to enter email/name to start chat
  • Admin is browser only as far as I can see

 

Olark

https://www.olark.com/pricing
Olark web chat sales website screenshot

  • Chat only from £12/mo/agent but have free plan capped at 20 chats/month
  • Automated messages to start conversations based on rules such as referring URL or location
  • Message templates for quicker responses
  • Integrates with many CRM apps
  • Needed to enter email/name to start chat
  • Exit survey and ability to send copy of the transcript by email

 

JivoChat

https://www.jivochat.com/pricing/
JivoChatweb chat sales website screenshot

  • Basic version free for 5 agents. Pro version (£7/mo/agent) includes canned responses with some automation message automation
  • No questions to start the chat, was initiated by operator
  • Have desktop and mobile apps as well as browser app
  • Have API/Webhooks
  • Simple exit survey to capture sentiment (thumbs up or down)

 

Zendesk

https://www.zendesk.co.uk/product/pricing/
Zendesk web chat sales website screenshot

  • Chat from £12/mo/agent
  • Email software £5/mo/agent. Includes basic Knowledge base/FAQ system
  • Optional Answer bot from £38/mo/50 queries
  • Chat box doesn’t pop up automatically. Not able to test out the chat feature
  • Mobile and browser apps from what I can see
  • Have API/Webhooks

 

Intercom

https://www.intercom.com/pricing
Intercom Inbox web chat sales website screenshot

  • Chat from £38/mo unified comms inbox to manage chats. Can also manage social (Twitter/Facebook) direct messages
  • Help document/FAQ management £35/mo. Includes an operator bot to surface relevant content
  • Initial bot interaction asked for name/email/company/employees. Seemed slightly slower process to other companies
  • Chat box didn’t pop up automatically
  • Mobile and browser apps
  • Have API/Webhooks

 

Let me know on Twitter which chat apps you use or the experience you have using them on other websites

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Something Inventive 25: I’ll get back to you in a minute

Al and Ben talk about the importance of being a fast responder and our thoughts on the WXG 2018 conference.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked-off.com

Check out the sponsor ticked-off.com. When you sign up let us know and I’ll extend your trial for 2 months.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Waiting by Aurimas

5 ways to be memorable

Man with beard wearing a suit and tie

There are plenty of reasons why brands and businesses fail, don’t let a lack of differentiation be your failure. Make yourself memorable and you will stand out.

The last thing you want is to be forgotten as soon as you’ve met a potential client. You want to remain in their head for as long as possible so that if they ever need your service or product, you’ll be the first to mind.

Whether you’re simply networking or actively selling something, you want to know that you won’t be forgotten as soon as you walk away. So, how can you be memorable?

1.   Don’t try to be better, be different

There’s little point trying to be better. Everyone is trying to be better. Whether it’s being more efficient, more sophisticated or more professional, there will always be someone who does this better than you. It’s just too difficult to make an impact this way.

Instead, do what you can to stand out from the crowd – do things differently to what everyone else is doing.

How do you make car parts interesting and different? I hear you ask. Or personal finance? Just take a look at Brittney Castro, who raps about her niche – personal finance! If she can do something different with a subject as dry as personal finance, then you can certainly put an interesting spin on your photography, website development or kitchen design business.

Think Apple. They don’t do anything particularly better, but they do things differently. They don’t do what every other mobile device company does. They forge their own path, and people love them for it.

You may think it a bit risky to try to do things differently with your business. After all, you may put people off with an off-the-wall approach, right? But, in a world where an abundance of choice is available for everything we could possibly need or want, the only way to stand out is to do things differently.

2.   Don’t follow the herd

Closely related to ‘doing things differently’ rule is to show your individuality. We’re all unique. We have different lives, different backgrounds and different connections. So, when we create a business around our unique experiences, skills, and values, our brand or business should be unique too. Yet, there are so many doing the same things. They’re scared of showing their real selves.

Trying to hide the traits that make you unique will not make you memorable. Yet, we do it to blend in, much as we did at school, where to show our uniqueness meant certain harassment. But if we want to be memorable we can no longer think this way.

Richard Branson is one for showing his uniqueness. His many crazy publicity stunts, such as attempting to fly around the world in a hot air balloon or drive across the English Channel in an amphibious car wearing a tuxedo, as well as his non-conventional approach to business, has earned him the name of being one of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs.

We must strive to celebrate our uniqueness. Do crazy stunts, wear colourful stripy socks to work, grow a perfectly trimmed beard if that’s what you want to do. Wear flowery dresses rather than a neat boring suit. Share what makes you different, unique and human and you will be remembered.

3.   Show your passion

Show the love you have for your work. Positivity and passion speaks volumes and if you have a real, honest enthusiasm for your work, you will not easily be forgotten.

Showing passion is a huge advantage for a business competing in a crowded market. If you’re passionate about what you do, and you show confidence in how you express it – you’ll stand out.

4.   Be synonymous with a niche

I used to call myself a copywriter, which encompasses many different types of work. People would glaze over, either with boredom or with a lack of understanding of what a copywriter actually does. But for the last year I’ve been predominantly doing business blogging, which is what I love doing most of all. So, I now tell people this is what I do. It gets me a lot more attention because it’s so specific. It doesn’t mean I won’t do general copywriting but I specialise in blogging – and have lots of enthusiasm for it.

When you’re telling people what you do, be specific. Be synonymous with one thing in your field. Be a champion for a niche category in your industry. So instead of being a photographer, be a newborn baby photographer. What you call yourself defines how people will remember you. Don’t tell people you work in marketing, that’s a very broad subject. Tell them you are a branding expert. To stand out from all the other marketing people you have to define yourself by your area of expertise.  Put yourself in a different box to everyone else in your industry and you will be more memorable.

5.   Be a good listener

Your customers crave attention, we all do, and we all want to feel like we matter. By showing your interest in learning about them and their lives, hearing their aspirations and their ideas, you are telling them that they matter, and you will stand out from the crowd as someone who really listens.

People can smell a fake a mile off so if you’re pretending to listen, when in fact you’re just waiting for the next opportunity to speak, you are like the majority of people – and therefore will not be memorable. Show an interest in what others are saying and think about your response. People appreciate sincere conversation.

These days the key to getting attention in the business world is to be remembered.  You want to be the name at the front of people’s minds and on the tip of their tongues. So, distinguish yourself from the crowd, make a powerful impression and stick in the memories of people you meet. Present yourselves in such a way as to be unforgettable.

Image credit: Pixabay

Value of Visual content

Scattered polaroids on a table

All content has to have a visual element and the reason being is far more than simply catching someones attention.

There has been a shift to providing value and having purpose to your visual content, with photos and videos featuring heavily in digital marketing strategies.

Photos and video hold more weight than text, they are remembered easily and encourage audiences to interact.

We all see posts using stock images on social media and in blog posts that are only there to fill a blank space. Don’t get me wrong – there will be instances when there is no other option to use some sort of stock photo.

Taking the time to consider the value of images to best reflect your brand and have the desired impression is time well spent. Imagery should feature in all of the content that you post online, therefore using photos, videos or infographics that help you to tell the story are essential. It may take a little time to plan and gather the right images that you require.

So, what is the best visual content?

Building a bank of photographs across all of your activities will help to make life easier. You will then have a series of images you can select when you need to.

Here are a few things you can should have photos of:

  • Your team
  • Meeting with clients
  • Products or delivering a service
  • Events / expos
  • Seminars that you deliver

Authenticity is key with everything online, helping to build credibility around your team and brand so it is important that images are yours. Grabbing the attention of your audience and leave a lasting impression should be your objective.

Moving away from the staged corporate imagery helps to bring personality to your marketing.

When thinking about the type of visual content that will work best for you consider these areas:

  • Can you demonstrate what it is like to work with you.
  • Provide an insight into the environment you have created.

Think bigger than photographs – infographics are an ideal way of communicating hard hitting topics in an easily digestible format. Piktochart is great tool to use to create your own infographics.

Image credit: Polaroids by Minidigi Kadorin on Flickr

Something Inventive 24: I’ve just bought a wheelbarrow

Al and Ben discuss the Scandals Facebook, GDPR begging emails, The important of review sites, Email response times and who we’re looking forward to see at WXG 2018.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Our Newsletter

Grab a free copy of our social media strategy book Be Sociable when you subscribe to our marketing ideas newsletter just scroll to the bottom of this site and pop in your email!

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: The Wheelbarrow Run by Dana

Take a deep breath – How to come across well on camera

Take a big breath and step in front of the camera

We aren’t all made for the red carpet and in fact, I don’t think you need to be.  With the ever-growing pressure for more visual and personal marketing capturing testimonials and standing in front of the camera to show off your business and wares has grown increasingly popular and is something every business should be considering seriously. People invest in people and as long as you are clear and genuine about what you are trying to say I think you will be surprised at how well you will come across.

Even the most seemingly confident person can feel the pressure when the camera lens is pointing at them so here are my tips on getting the best out of them.

The trick is not to rush

Where possible take your time and make it as pressure-free as possible. If you are against the clock don’t let the person in front of the camera feel it as it will only put them off and increase their mistakes.

Forewarn them that you would like to interview/film them. Email your questions/themes of discussion the day before to give them a chance to mentally prepare their answers but don’t rehearse or stage their responses let them respond naturally and in their own way.

Be confident

When filming your staff or a customer testimonial be confident for them, keep calm and keep smiling if they are fluffing it up and panicking – respond with encouragement and guidance – always start with a positive and tell them that they are doing well but you would just like to take one more take and if they could just XYZ will make them feel they are doing ok.

Only have the people there which are necessary. It’s not helpful having fellow staff members grinning in the background and smirking at them if they are stumbling over their lines.

Warm-up

Before you start ask your subject a few warm-up questions to get them comfortable in front of the camera. This will allow you see whether your set up needs any adjustment or if they move out of frame. Rather than stand in front of the camera a lot of people will feel more comfortable being seated and are less likely to step out of the frame and wave their arms around when they talk.

For really nervous subjects remind them to breathe and to relax their shoulders if they are hunched and tense. Literally, ask them to raise and drop their shoulders a few times and take big breaths. Do it with them and they are more likely to mimic you and be less self conscious. If their mind goes blank on a certain phrase change tack and break it up. Don’t expect them to monologue long scripts.

Questions

When you ask your subject the question, ensure they say the question in their answer to make sure what they are saying makes sense when you come to edit it. For example: “What impressed you particularly about our ABC product?” Their answer would be: “I was particularly impressed by the quality and efficiency of the ABC product.”

When answering your questions ask your subject to look and speak towards the top of the camera and to look past the lens. Make sure the person who is asking the questions is stood directly behind the camera to ensure their eyes and body language doesn’t instinctively gravitate towards them and away from the camera.

Take one more take

Don’t be afraid to take a couple of shots of the important stuff to ensure you definitely have it. There is no harm in asking them to repeat what they said as it is better to spend a few minutes refining and re-recording a question than having to come back and shoot it all again. If in doubt, capture it one more time.

Be sneaky

Last of all don’t always let them know you are filming or pretend you are capturing a dummy run – you’ll be amazed at how many times people can do it on the cuff without the pressure of thinking they are being recorded!

 

Image Credit: Camera Operator Setting Up Video Camera by jsawkins Flickr

Interview: Into the Dragon’s Den with Sophia from Tickle Tots

I catch up with Sophia Ferguson, the founder of Tickle Tots Cloth Nappies, about the journey she’s been on over the past 4 years from product development to getting investment.

If you would like to find out more get in touch with Sophia on Twitter, Facebook or visit www.tickle-tots.com.

Image Credit: Sophia Ferguson, Tickle Tots

Something Inventive 23: From Audio Books to Zero Reach

Al and Ben discuss the benefit of audio in learning, Some advice on GDPR, and my interview with Sophia who entered the Dragons Den.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 7 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your email and no credit card.

Show notes

 

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes.

If you like the show please give us a rating in iTunes and we’ll read out your comment. You can do this from the podcast player on Apple.

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Listen by Jim Simonson

Educate to compete

Jon is a kitchen designer and he is struggling. There are so many other kitchen design businesses in his area that he is finding it difficult to compete.

There are few industries these days that aren’t saturated with new businesses. In 2017, there was a total of 5.7 million businesses in the UK. With so many businesses in operation, a good many of them are likely to be in your sector or industry. So, what can you do to get you noticed?

Unless you are a big fish in your ocean then you won’t have the means to advertise enough to be noticed among all the other businesses. Small firms like yours will not have the resources to out spend the bigger businesses in promoting itself. But, what you can do is out educate them by creating useful and practical content.

Why teach?

When readers learn something new, their brain recognises the content as rewarding and their dopamine levels increase. This makes them want to seek out more content in the future to repeat these feelings of pleasure, and if it’s your content they’re reading they’ll appreciate you for it. It also makes them want to share this valuable resource with others.

Teaching helps your customers

Jon is good at what he does, building quality kitchens, using only the best sustainable materials. He has noticed recently that some of the clients that come to him have little idea about where to start choosing their dream kitchen. He decides to offer them some tips and guidelines in the form of blogposts. He writes about where customers can find out about the different options available to them, he creates case studies of previous clients and how they created their dream kitchen, and he writes about the best materials to use as well as many other topics that he thinks his readers might want to learn about.

By educating his readers about kitchens, Jon benefits in two ways. Firstly people are interested in what he has to teach them so they keep coming back, and they share Jon’s website with all their friends. Secondly, customers have a better idea of what they want when they come to him because his blog posts have given them the guidance they need.

Teaching helps your business

By teaching others about your industry, you show yourself to be knowledgeable; an authority in your subject. Nothing brings more respect than being considered an expert. To teach what you know to your readers, and offer some practical utility puts you at the forefront of your industry and gives you a distinct advantage.

Tileflair are tiling experts – they know everything there is to know about tiles and tiling. Every month they publish blog posts about how to install tiles, how to use them in décor and they give ideas for interior styling using floor and wall tiles. People visit their website because they offer this service for free. This bring them respect in their industry and among their customers, but it also inspires their readers to buy tiles from them.

The more you become known as a business that teaches, the more people will see you as an expert, and a resource, the more opportunities you’ll get for exposure. It is this exposure that helps lift your head up above the crowds of other businesses identical to yours and will nurture those all-important relationships with your business community.

Teaching shows you as an expert

Readers want actionable advice. Once they know you can offer this, they will come to you to learn, and if you deliver again and again your business will benefit.  Some of those people may sign up for your service or email list because they want to repay you for the content that helped them, or they’ll want to share your practical advice with others. Either way, you win.

At Rather Inventive we are practicing what we preach. We’ve create many blog posts that inform and teach readers the vital parts of marketing. So, how can you educate your audience? How can you share your knowledge and experience so that they’ll want to visit you again?

Image Credit: Cea+ Art Rotterdam

Elevenerife! Let your testimonials sweep your customers away

I am sure you have encountered them, people who brashly sell themselves and tell you how great they are… at everything! If you have been to Tenerife they have undoubtedly been yachting at Elevenerife!

It is incredible how some people still get swept away with this but if you look closely and listen carefully, it’s usually nothing more than overcooked fluff. Over time, their initial supporters learn the hard way and will eventually notice they are not quite what they have projected themselves to be.

For some people, it comes easily to shout about how awesome they are but if you are like me, then you might struggle with doing that convincingly. What if you could get someone else to promote you instead?

Reconnect with your customer

Gathering customer testimonials not only allows you to reconnect and stay fresh in your consumer’s mind but creates more credibility for you and your business. Being able to peruse other customer feedback and evaluate your company and product automatically increases the confidence of your audience and instils a stronger chance of investment when they do make contact with you.

The following testimonial was collected as part of our project feedback request with the client.

“I felt totally supported by RI throughout the [web] project and I thought we worked really well as a team to achieve the final result. The overall knowledge, skills and experience that RI has is impressive and I was delighted with the high level of customer service throughout the project from all members of the team.”
Abbots Hill School for Girls

Text is good but video is better

Text-based testimonials are good but in a generation who are skimming through the lines and reading less, you are more likely to get noticed with a video. Having real people in your testimonials and not airbrushed stock images is more likely to draw in and immerse your audience. By being able to see the person reviewing your service humanises your business and helps create that personal connection. By indirectly showing them how you can help their business, solve their problems and hear why other people thought you were the best choice will only strengthen your allure.

Testimonial video from Matt at Witley Jones

There is virtually no cost in posting a testimonial online, whether in text form on LinkedIn or on a video platform like YouTube. With the click of a button your videos can be easily shared and within seconds you can appeal to a multitude of your customer segments. Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet and your testimonial will be working around the clock reaching out across the continents to viewers from all walks of life.

Why not contact one of your customers to see if they would like to share their thoughts with you?

Find out how we can help you use video effectively in your business.

Image Credit: Win by Lisa Risager

Something Inventive 22: Bad Interfaces – Snapchat, Facebook and Big Brands

Jonathan Pollinger (stepping in for Al) joins Ben to discuss Snapchat’s recent design change, Facebook’s news feed favouring ‘meaningful social interactions’ and big brands on social media.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 7 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your email and no credit card.

Show notes

The Hosts

Jonathan Pollinger (@intranetfuture) – Social Media Specialist at Intranet Future
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Classroom Laptops Computers Boy.jpg by R. Nial Bradshaw

Do you have customers or an audience?

Coldplay doesn’t have to convince people to buy tickets to see them in concert, they do what they’re good at, giving people listening pleasure. And they let those people – their audience – voluntarily come to them.

You probably spend loads of your budget each month running ads and sending emails trying to reach people, to interrupt people as they’re watching TV, reading a magazine or travelling on the underground.

This type of advertising relies on clever wording and catchy images to capture attention, and those viewing the ads may or may not turn into a customer. But this type of marketing doesn’t offer customers any inherent reason to engage.

Forget customers, you need an audience

An audience will not need convincing with ads, they will come to you. They will return to you periodically to find out what you’re up to. They’ll want to hear your message – rather than try to avoid it bombarding their day – because they are getting something of value.

These are the people you should be striving to attract to your business, those who will give you their attention willingly. You don’t have to twist their arm with special offers and incentives, they’ll want to find out what you offer and will seek out that information.

So, how do you create an audience?

It could be through blog posts, podcast recordings, white papers, downloadable guides, infographics, free books, Youtube videos – anything that benefits others. This is how you build an audience, and this audience will happily give your permission to market to them, if they are getting valuable content out of it too.

To build an audience you don’t have to sell, you need to give them something they’ll appreciate, something they don’t want to live without. Whether it’s good music or valuable information. So, do what you need to do to get that information out there.

You’ll know if you have an audience, because you won’t need to try to get their attention – they’ll already be listening to what you have to say.

Photo Credit: Party fans raised their hands, Anthony DELANOIX

How to make a great video – Seven Seconds to Success

Within the first 7 seconds, we can all determine whether a film is of interest and at a professional standard. Due to the sheer quantity of visual stimulation, we each experience on a daily basis essentially makes us all film critics who can quickly cut through the chaff and determine what is a good video.  So, you could say that creating a great video has got that little bit harder. Here are seven tips that will help you make your video into a great one.

Storyboard

First and foremost, make the time to storyboard and script your film. This will help take the pressure out of making it up on the spot when the camera is staring at you. It will allow you to be efficient and capture only what you need which will ultimately save you time and money. It may also throw up the need to coordinate with others, gather any necessary permissions and an opportunity to work through any potential problems.

Realistic

Be realistic about what you can achieve; think about the time and resources you have available. In the world of video, what you see in the lens is what you get. It is not so easy to photoshop out the tatty background or change what you have captured. Avoid creating work for yourself by saying you will adjust it in the edit, get it right to start with.

Check and recheck

Once you have set up and framed your shot, check to see if the background is tidy, whether the white balance is accurate, whether you have set your camera to record at the correct frame rate, check your microphone is working and your camera is tightly secured your camera onto a tripod.

Unforgiving Eyes

Some of us have more forgiving eyes than other so as much as it pains me to say it, the video quality of your piece is not necessarily as important as having a good, strong story and message within your film. You could technically get away with slightly the shaky shots, poor lighting, cluttered backgrounds, grainy film quality and a Homer Simpsons complexion if the bones of what you are trying to convey are of interest and presented well. However, and I can’t stress this enough if you take the time to look at the things I have listed you will certainly make an average video into a much greater video.

Equally, if you have spoken audio in the film, the quality of your sound is more important than your story and visuals as poor sound quality will instinctively shut down your audience.

So when you start to plan your video try to get your story, sound, and visuals in an equal Librium to ensure you have an effective, impactful film.

Keep it Simple

If you are new to filmmaking and are not a natural presenter don’t make a long script, keep it simple. Break down what you need to say into short, simple sentences and change your camera angle to avoid long static monologues. Brochure text is not a video script. What sounds good on the page can feel stiff in front of the camera.

Aim for a 1min video. You will be surprised at how much you can pack into a minute and how much effort it takes to create a minute of quality content. Any film, over 5mins in marketing, is an eternity – so definitely keep it short and snappy.

Relax

Make sure that the person you are filming is comfortable in front of the camera otherwise you could make the viewer feel uncomfortable watching them squirm. Even if you are a confident public speaker you will be surprised how difficult it is to remember your lines when the cold eye of the camera lens is staring at them.

Try to read your presenter to gauge how comfortable they are. If they are tense, rushing through their lines or stumbling over their words stay positive. Get them to practice a few times and quietly keep the camera rolling they may just nail it the first time. Keep smiling and stay calm, don’t clock watch them or apply any pressure. Maybe change the words slightly if they are getting hung up on a particular phrase. Deep breaths and shoulder shrugs will help reduce any tense posture and keep them visually looking more relaxed.

Audience

Know your audience and tailor your video to pique their interests. What do they want to know? Rather than creating a purely selling video could you share knowledge, testimonial or an experience?
Let your audience know you, people invest in people. If you plan to film regularly brand your videos with your logo so they can’t be repurposed by other companies and your clients can recognise your brand.

Hopefully, these helpful pointers might help you stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.

 

Image credit: Alienated by Taylor McBride – Flickr

Something Inventive 21: Getting more personal in 2018

Ben and Al discuss whether marketing has lost it’s personal touch, LinkedIn tips and Website design trends.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your name and email and no credit card.

Show notes

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: My What A Big Nose You Have by Gavin Mawditt – Gift of the Gav

How to build business relationships using the Benjamin Franklin effect

When I left school, I worked as a shop assistant for a company that was struggling to stay afloat. The owner, an imposing but respected figure, whose mass of hair seemed incongruous to his immaculate suit, never stood still for long enough to talk to his staff and always seemed a little unapproachable. One day, to my surprise, he took me into his office and personally asked for my help in supporting him in the shop through a difficult time.

Before he asked me, I didn’t think much of him, but with this one small request, he turned me from an apathetic member of floor staff into a dedicated employee. I would have done anything to help him make a success of the store.

Many of us cringe at the idea of asking anyone for a favour, and most managers wouldn’t dream of asking staff, perhaps worrying that it will make them seem desperate. But why?

Is it because we worry that others will think us rude, presumptuous, needy or annoying if we ask for a favour? I didn’t think this of my boss – in fact I thought him humble, courageous and gracious and I liked and respected him so much more than I had before. This is known as the ‘Benjamin Franklin effect’.

Benjamin Franklin had a powerful adversary in Pennsylvania who took a dislike to him so Franklin asked the man if he could borrow a book from his library. The man was flattered and lent it. Franklin returned it one week later with a thank you note. The two remained firm friends from that day on. My manager knew how to build business relationships using the ‘Ben Franklin effect’; I liked him more because I was doing him a favour.

Psychologists tested the Ben Franklin effect in 1969. They figured that it works because of ‘cognitive dissonance’, where we find it difficult to reconcile doing someone a favour and disliking them, so we decide that we must like them. We feel more powerfully obligated to self-justify our behaviors, than to carry out a particular behaviour as a result of the thought.

But there’s more. It is thought that the desire to build bridges by the person asking for the favour, which we perceive to carry a high risk of rejection, means that the person asking must be very keen to be friends, that they respect or like us or are acknowledging our resources, skills or abilities.

This brings in another psychological phenomenon called the ‘liking’ effect. We all want to be liked. So much so, that we will go out of our way for someone who really likes us. Hence the reason car salesmen are super-friendly. They’re trying to show that they really like us so that we’ll buy a car from them. Franklin’s rival respected the risk that Franklin was taking by asking for the book, and took that as Franklin’s intention to build bridges, but he also, on some level, wanted to be liked, so he happily obliged in lending the book.

When Franklin asked his favour, he was also acknowledging that his rival had the resources that Franklin didn’t have. When my manager asked me, he was recognising that I had the skills to help him, he as putting me on an equal footing with him, which was very flattering and gave me a perceived sense of power.

How can you use this in your business?

If you’re a good businessman then you’ll already know that the success of your business comes from developing positive relationships with associates, employees, customers and investors; those who can help your business and buy your product or service.

Asking for help from these people has the effect of connecting with them and acknowledging that they have the means – whether it be the skills or the ability, or simply the like-ability – to help you. It will make them feel important to your business. It will make them feel empowered and they will be more loyal to you.

The important thing is, as Franklin writes in his autobiography, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” So, we are more likely to get people doing us favours, if they have already done so than someone who owes us a favour.

It might seem counterintuitive to ask for assistance or favours from your employees, clients and business associates but to do so, in a personal way, will make them feel empowered.

Start by personally asking small favours of staff and clients such as ‘Tell me what you think of this video/article/product.’ Or ‘Please leave a testimonial’. Do this and you will not only gain a loyal supporter of your business, but they will do you many more favours, thus doing more for building your business relationships than you thought possible.

 

 

Image Credit: Ben Franklin Steamboat Springs by David_Jones

Has Marketing Lost It’s Personal Touch? The Benefits of Video

A great video can help you capture your audience on a more sociable level and show off your company’s personality and product quality without drowning them in large chunks of text. As the saying goes, a picture can speak 1000 words so imagine how many you could say when it is moving. On the practical side of things, it can also help draw more traffic to your site via SEO and quickly showcase your services and products without having to write big blocks of text.

In a generation where we are all becoming more self-sufficient and can replace skilled professionals with apps and digital devices, video is not as out of reach as you might think. You would be amazed at what can be achieved with a DSLR or a mobile phone even.

I am sure many of you will agree that standing out in your marketing is getting harder, and it is important to ensure you stand out for the right reasons. Whether you attempt to film in-house or get a professional in, a video will certainly help you stand out but you need to ensure it has a clear story, is cleanly shot and the content is of interest.

I must admit, I am becoming numb to a lot of the clever marketing strategies as I find a lot of it has lost the personal touch. For me I much more inclined to invest in the people, the company ethos and quality over anything else.

Video can help you open this door, without the pressure of a dogged sales person breathing down your collar pushing for an impulsive decision or worst engaging in the uncomfortable standoff, of ‘I am not interested’. A video can provide that personal touch and allow the viewer to look behind the curtain and indirectly get the information they need to inform their decision. By being able to communicate through moving image, sound and movement you are able to resonate with an individual on multiple levels leaving a much longer, lasting impression. It can be replayed and digested at the customers own pace.

Like many of us, I am guilty of being attached to digital technology long into the evenings after working hours so your 2min video is not only giving your customers a low pressure, friendly insight into your business but it is also working around the clock capturing and luring in potential business. Reaching out to a wider audience worldwide and to places which you wouldn’t have expected to capture.

By allowing your customer to have a more voyeuristic experience and the time to contemplate their decisions often in the comfort of our own homes ensures a more committed customer.

There are loads of different styles of video used in marketing case studies, knowledge focus, testimonials, interviews, highlights etc so evaluate what would be appropriate to your business.

Let us know what video has worked for you?

How to avoid woolly answers and disorganisation

I was set the task of organising our company Christmas outing and with a job title of Marketing Superstar, there was certainly no pressure in pulling this one out of the bag.

When organising even the simplest of activities I think we often take a lot of the skills involved for granted. Some people are instinctively good at clear communication and others don’t seem to be wired the same way.

The task was to ordinate a band of individuals who are located across the country with very diverse work schedules, availability and priorities to meet for an entertaining afternoon puzzling our way out from an escape room and feasting on a festive meal. Sounds simple but when you get more than 3 people together to coordinate this can get a little more challenging.

My method takes the pressure out by giving people a decision to make. Make it simple, give them options A or B. Sometimes I like to simply list the pros and cons of each option. If you approach with a woolly question you are only setting yourself up for woolly answers: What would you like to do? Can you let me know your availability? It may sound silly but when people are in the thick of it they can’t always make those decisions so it falls onto the ‘I’ll get around to that’ pile.

It is much easier for people to answer yes or no – I am available on that date, yes or no I don’t want to do that.

When organising or delivering a project, I hate wasting my time, repeating myself and poor communication. So I try my best to reach out to people how I would like to be approached.

When given a task I suggest to try and loosely touch base with the key parties involved aka your line manager to ensure you are striking off in the right direction and to come up with the foundations of your brief. Now is your time to ask your questions and to try and unpick what it is that they want you to do and be responsible for.

Remember, when you ask your questions, it is not acceptable for them respond with an ‘I don’t know’ or be vague, even if it’s the boss. Don’t accept the answer, in the politest manner possible ask them why they can’t answer or don’t know or have just not replied. Do they need more time to answer? Do they need more information? Is there anything you can do to help them to answer? Keep pushing and get to the bottom of their resistance.

A brief can simply be a list of bullet points or notes. In my case, it was a month, general location, activity idea and meal. By ensuring you are starting off with the correct information will save any unnecessary embarrassment going forward.

Once the core plan has been signed off, look into the details and gather all of the facts. Think about what your team members will ask you. Don’t be lazy, call the organisation, the restaurant you are going to and ask them your queries. Be proactive, don’t just send off an email and wait for a response. Time is precious and you might miss out on the booking for being too slow. Like anything in life strike with impulsion.

When you have gathered all of the information make sense of it yourself. When I am being informed about something I want to receive one email with the options laid out clearly. I don’t want to be digging through multiple emails trying to link two and two together. Take your time over it, don’t rush it as it is amazing how many people just hit the send button and realise they have missed some crucial information. That’s when your communication starts to get messy as people respond to different bits, completely overlook certain information and the result, is a gaggle of confusion.

When reaching out be firm on your deadlines, when asking for a response make it clear they need to respond by a certain time otherwise you will assume they do not want to attend or you will not take further action. It will save the chase of cat and mouse as you try to pin them down to a simple yes or no. Although if it’s your boss that’s a little slow maybe be a little more lenient and send a gentle reminder!

Something Inventive 20: Ducks in a row – Anniversary edition

Ben and Al talk about email scams, Facebook shadow profiles, email marketing advice, planning your marketing for next year and how the world sends 2.6 million emails a second.

If you have any feedback, ideas or topics you’d like covered on our podcast we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via our contact page, leave a voicemail on 0800 881 5805 or mention @RatherInventive on Twitter.

Listen on Apple Podcasts app

Something Inventive is an entertaining and lively podcast on creativity and the web. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or search for ‘Something Inventive’ in your favourite podcast player.


Episode sponsored by Ticked Off Marketing Checklist

Simple marketing tasks to act on right away. Each task includes examples, downloads or the steps needed to complete it, plus a big button to tick it off when you’re done. Sign up for a free 30 day trial at ticked-off.com with just your name and email and no credit card.

Show notes

The Hosts

Al Osmond (@inventiveal) – An unusual mix of logical thinker with a creative eye
Ben Kinnaird (@benkinnaird) – Knower of Social Media, SEO and ‘the Web’

Be part of the show

Tweet a service or product you’d like to promote, mentioning @RatherInventive and the hashtag #podvert and we’ll read it out over the coming episodes

Thanks for listening!


Audio edited by Donalize – ‘Goofy Vocal Groove‘ intro music by Dave Girtsman – Image Credit: Rubber Duck by Quang Nguyen