Tag Archives: marketing

So does inbound marketing work?

1 Mar

As savvy consumers, we are constantly dodging sales reps…well at least I know I do. I subscribe to the Hubspot blog, which quite frankly is fantastic!

Today they sent out a post about avoiding sales reps and congratulating their clients for avoiding them! They then suggested they explore the options by themselves. This is an absolute nod for inbound marketing. It’s brilliant…enjoy!

Is Customer Relationship Management important?

30 Jan

In one word…absolutely!

But what is CRM? It is actually about looking after and recognising your customers as individuals, in it’s most simple form.

Think about it this way – as a person in the working world, do you like praise, appreciation and thanks? Do you like to be treated as an individual? If you’re a regular customer at a coffee shop or a bar, do you like the fact that your host recognises you and gives you a bit of extra attention? I bet most people would answer yes to those questions. Why? Because it makes you feel valued. I know for me, tell me I’ve done a great job (only if it’s deserved obviously!) and I will move heaven and earth for you. We all love to feel special at times. Now, if you like it, how do you think your customers would like it?

As a paying consumer I am often amazed at what a brand promises and what a brand delivers on the ground. How many of my friends and colleagues, as well as me, just get mediocre service at best. It is all too often the case that we are sent from pillar to post just to try to get an answer, and half the time we don’t get an answer at all. We give up, and you know what, will probably just take our business elsewhere without airing our grievances to those who really should know – the company that we’re dealing with. We do however tell all our friends about the shocking service we received, and this as we know can be harmful. Don’t get me wrong, it is impossible to please everyone, but it’s how you as a business are geared to deal with unhappy campers that makes all the difference. Customers often feel like a little number in a huge pool of big numbers…quite frankly they shouldn’t.

Now think of the flip side – you walk into your local coffee shop, which is a small business. The owner comes over and greets you and says would you like your normal? Wow, you feel quite delighted! I remember in my youth in London, without giving too much away about my age, we were regulars at a particular pub. They would see us coming down the street and as we walked in our drink was ready and waiting, whilst all the other customers were waiting in line. We felt special, so we kept going back, over and over again.

In my opinion, big businesses have a lot to learn from small businesses in most instances. The difference lies in the fact that small businesses are fighting for survival and are always engaging with their target audience on a much more personal level.

But there are some corporates doing it really well. Take www.kulula.com as an example. At each and every point I engage with them, on their website, on a plane, their call centre…the message about who they are is very clear and they live and breathe it. The cabin crew especially are amazing and to me they completely and utterly are a true representation of their brand.

So, hopefully you can see where I’m going…to keep your customers delighted, engage with them and treat them as individuals. In my years of experience with big corporates in London and in South Africa, it forever has, and always will amaze me at the reluctance of big companies to implement a truly world-class CRM strategy. In so many instances, businesses focus on chasing the numbers for new customers, tend to forget a bit about their existing customers, and don’t really have a plan on how to keep the new customers that they’re getting. Bad idea!

I believe that CRM is an absolutely critical element of any marketing plan and should not be ignored. It comes at a cost, which is often the stumbling block for companies…your software, your database, your infrastructure and your staff all cost money but are important elements in getting it right.

As a customer does it frustrate you when a company gets information wrong…your name, your address, your title or what you’ve bought? I get frustrated and that’s why the investment into your database has to be done, and it has to be done properly. Data cleansing, de-duping, unsubscribes are critical. You might even need to conduct a telephone drive to make sure your database is up to date, but the investment is well worth it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are a lot of companies out there that are realising the value of CRM Strategies…and are investing into world-class CRM programmes. They will do well. Of course to do well, they will have to get it right! But that’s part of the challenge and that’s what makes it more exciting…it has got to be a fundamental part of your marketing plan.

I would love to hear your thoughts on your experiences of CRM…look forward to your comments.

My journey to fulfillment…

8 Jan

Have you ever sat down and had a long hard look at your career? How did you get there? Where to next? What have you achieved? What are you going to achieve next?

I have a long working career behind me (I won’t say how long as that might give my age away!) and I’m often drawn into my self reflections. In my pursuit for happiness I always ask myself “Am I doing what I love?”

Over the years, especially the awkward young adult new to the world stage, I can’t say I loved what I was doing. I was still finding myself and wasn’t paying much attention to what I enjoyed and what I was good at. I got caught up in the action and just got the job done. It was only a bit later in life, as obviously age gives us a huge amount of wisdom, that I started to consider myself. I went through the where to next, what now and what should I be doing scenarios and quite by accident I stumbled on what I love. As Confucius says “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. For years I treated this little pearl of wisdom as yeah, yeah whatever. Clearly he had no idea about working!

But once you get there it’s pretty darn great!

So it might sound a bit weird…yep, but working with words is really what I love doing. I know, I know…of course she’s going to say that as she’s plugging her services. Well a bit of a shameful yes, but also a resounding no…I truly am doing what I love.

This long, journey was a bit of a happy accident quite frankly. How I got here was a bit strange, but I was obviously meant to. My career really got off the ground in my 11 years in the UK – I was given amazing opportunities that I just ran with and taught myself a lot in that time. About 80% of my career has been in publishing – which was a chosen industry on my behalf. Throughout my years in marketing, working in publishing involved many other things besides just marketing my product. I was involved in content creation, copywriting, editing and proofreading. These were all part of a bigger role. Our Managing Editor always used to call me the ‘eagle eye’ as I was a pretty good spotter!

Years went by and in every single role I was heavily involved in communications and my lifelong passion, the written word. This little fling I’ve had, dates way back to my school years…and yes I can remember them! I wasn’t particularly studious at school, but English always captured my imagination and I would spend hours crafting and learning.

After having a child we decided to move back to South Africa and this is where things really started to change for me. I was presented with freelance opportunities involving content management, content creation, proofreading and copywriting all under the marketing umbrella. At first I approached it in a very typical marketing manner, but soon came to realise that it wasn’t quite the same.  Without me even realising it, I made a transition from pure marketing to a content driven role – which involved the written word. It kind of snuck up behind me and whacked me on the head before I realised that this is what I really enjoy. As I kept getting repeat jobs, I assumed that I was pretty good at it.

Marketing still underpins the very nature of content, so I happily get to do my written word work, sprinkled affectionately with a good dose of marketing skill and expertise.

That’s my happy accident journey – I would love to hear from you how you landed up where you are and if you’re doing what you love?

I always think of one thing…we only have one life and we better live it well!

How to write a good creative brief

5 Jan
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A creative brief is an essential part of any form of marketing that you do. Get it wrong and you won’t be pleased with the results. Get it right, and you’ll get your creative and messages spot on. It is very possible as marketers to kill the creative mind…I explore this below. I’ve given some ideas below on writing a creative brief, but I would really welcome your feedback on how you do this.
How to kill the creative…
Creativity can be killed, and it happens day in and day out. What you put into a brief is what you get out! Having worked both sides of the fence, client and agency side, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Believe me, I was certainly part of a few uglies in my first year…and this kills the creative process.
A good brief creates good creative! Remember one thing…creatives need to be inspired, feel passionate about your product or service and you want them tearing out of that meeting enthusiastic and ready for action. But how to do that…now that is the question.

When I was first let loose at a creative brief, I was a fresh new Account Exec at an agency in London. I had no idea what to expect or in fact what to do, but I soon learnt with a rather large failure. The agency had one of the best creative directors I’ve ever seen, but I was terrified and intimidated at the same time. I used to see Account Execs running out the door crying…this does not bode well for me is what I thought, and how true that was. So before my first briefing, I had shaking knees, voice and hands…and I walked into the lions den. It started off in a very civil way, but then all my little mistakes and inattention to detail were slowly and methodically pointed out with large gaps and lack of inspiration in a very bad brief.  It was awful! The creative that came out of that brief was hardly inspiring.

So my mission from that day on was to master the best creative brief out there. Ok, so I still haven’t mastered it…as we learn things each day. But I can honestly say that I have delivered some great briefs in different ways that have produced outstanding results. But how did I go about it?

Creatives are just that…creative!

So we should treat them as creatives…get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re the client of whether you’re the agency and inspire.

One of the first things I did after that was to truly get to grips with the product or offering that I was dealing with. What is it and what is unique about it? And even more critically, who is your target audience – their wants, their needs, where they live, what they like and what they don’t like…I’m sure you get the idea. Now this is part of a normal brief that we do each day, but there is a hook there that you will find if you look hard enough and think about in a different way – challenge your thinking.

A brief needs to be creative in the way it is presented and also ‘brief’! Who wants to go through 20 pages of words…certainly not me and certainly not a creative!

Watch this great video on You Tube from a creative – it’s brilliant. Being from the other side, it just speaks to me.


I worked for a large entertainment company and often due to time constraints, our briefs with our creatives were held over quick telephone conversations, in the hallway or sometimes there wasn’t even a brief…we need to deliver X by Y date and goodbye. Go do your thing. We couldn’t understand why our agency just wasn’t delivering the world class creative we should be getting with such an exciting product to work with. The simple truth of the matter is that we were not paying enough attention to the most critical part of the creative process. The brief. There was no leniency for creative thinking or the opportunity to push the boundaries.

How to present your brief

A video brief?

First, think about the sector or industry you’re in. In the brief I describe below, I had the luxury of working with a truly entertaining product – TV. We had heaps of content that could stir up all sorts of emotions from our viewers…so we needed to stir up the same emotions with our agency. Instead of doing a written brief, I decided to do a visual brief. In short, it was a video. I used movie, sport and entertainment clips, with some pretty awesome sound as well as vox pops with our customers! I presented the ‘brief’ at a local cinema…so it was a cinematic experience, which was what our brand was all about. I did have a written brief to go with the video to give the nitty gritty. The editorial and creative strategy that emerged as a result of this was pretty awesome.

Target audience, target audience, target audience…

In my opinion this is one of the most important parts of a brief…you cannot create a campaign for everyone…it just doesn’t  make sense! Be niche in your approach. Different people react to different things – is a working mother of three going to respond in the same way as a male technical engineer? I think not.

Even presenting the target audience should have a bit of a creative flair…yep it really can.

You could do two things…

Create your own ‘pen profile’ – not being a creative at least you can all have a laugh about your drawing skills…see example below, and I truly encourage you to laugh at my drawings!

My very novice pen portrait of a target customer just to get you laughing…

I also created a mood board of who we were and what we were trying to portray in our communications.

How about presenting your creative brief in a mood board form?

Use the same principles for any industry…what makes it special? Really and truly think about the bare minimum that needs to go in to inspire those creatives and that’s all there should be…you could have back up documentation if it is really necessary. Remember a creative is about words and pictures not about long corporate ‘stuff’. If you put it in, ask yourself why they need to know this and will it really add to the creative process…my guess is a lot of it probably won’t. Maybe you need to do a round tour of site visits, get your aency to speak to customers…anything that can make it come alive. The key here is to get the message across loud and clear and with passion.

For the above, I clearly had too much time on my hands, and is not necessarily practical in today’s day and age, but for this particular brief it worked.

Who are we talking to?

For me, one of the things that is often a bit unclear in a brief is the target audience…lots of stats, facts and figures and not enough insight or real juice to work with. Sometimes I’ve even just got an answer of ‘well we’re targeting everyone’…that doesn’t really work for me as how am I meant to get the messages relevant and spot on.

I used to create a ‘Pen Portrait’ as shown above. It was great fun to do, and was incredibly powerful. I literally used to draw a portrait of my target audience (yes even though my drawing skills are no match for a creative!). That person had a name, she had an address, we knew her family members, her interests, what she liked to buy, what she liked to eat, where she went on holiday and what motivated her. Instead of reading loads of words it was a simple but effective way of seeing exactly who you’re dealing with.

In a nutshell…

Use your imagination when briefing creatives…try and get those creative juices flowing! What would inspire them? What would excite them? Get the brief right, and you will surely be on your way to a highly successful campaign.

Good luck!

I would love you to share your tips on how to present a winning brief? Please let me know!

A proofreader with a difference…

2 Jan
This is me...

This is me…

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Plain and simply…I am a copywriter, proofreader and editor with an absolute passion for the written word and creating words that work. To make my words even more powerful, I have over 19 years of experience in marketing, direct marketing, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), segmentation and publishing to name a few. So, when I start a job, I’m able to input from a strategic perspective to ensure that the messages are absolutely spot on and working hard for your brand! When it comes to proofreading and editing I have a vast array of experience within many different industry sectors.

I write content, proofread or edit anything from blogging, facebook, website articles, manuals, corporate brochures, toolkits, advertising, theses and then some.

After being in marketing for so long, I reflected on where my career has been and where it’s gone – what an awesome ride. I realised that quite by chance I was doing something that I was always meant to do, and this was where I was always meant to be. I am truly lucky to be able to do something that I love.

I have worked in the UK for major corporates and in South Africa managing content for various projects. I have a breadth of experience from consumer copy to business copy with a strong focus on targeting, segmentation, strategy and making sure messages stick and engage with customers.

Who have I worked with?

  • British Sky Broadcasting
  • British Telecommunications
  • Redwood Publishing
  • Caxton Magazines
  • Ogilvy One
  • Primedia
  • Department of Environmental Affairs
  • SANParks
  • National Heritage Council
  • www.babeeze.co.za
  • Resource Africa
  • Local Enterprise Authority
  • Small Business Development Agency

Each of these projects have given me insight and experience with many different markets…

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