Tag Archives: Value

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Volkswagen’s Adverts Have a Message for Us All

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I particularly like the current campaign of Volkswagen television commercials. They feature a range of ordinary people hunting for a bargain, and finding it in a number of inadvisable situations. From budget shark diving to discount parachutes, special offer climbing ropes and cut-price laser eye surgery, the adverts perfectly sum up an old adage which many of us seem to have lost focus on since the recession caused a return to penny scraping attitudes.

You get what you pay for

As someone working in marketing I can attest to the truth behind this statement. Marketing is all about investment: a small investment will yield a small return. It’s not an area you can cut corners in, yet many companies still try.

Over the past few years I’ve encountered many people trying to make money without spending any. I’ve seen businesses wanting thousands of words worth of content per month, yet expecting to pay rates that equate to lower than the minimum wage to the writer unlucky enough to get saddled with the task. I’ve had people suck air in through their teeth at the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on website copy, forgetting the fact that it can be one of the major differences between a bounce and a conversion.

Sometimes it is understandable that people are a little wary with their cash. The recession has caused us all to look for better bargains. Is one of the reasons behind the approach Volkswagen have taken with these new commercials. We do tend to think mostly about price. But there is something far more important that we are overlooking, to our own detriment: value.

What is it worth to you?

The most uncomfortable thing to see is when you come across a company whose product or service price is incredibly high trying to get away with paying minimum rates for copy, design, and marketing. Perhaps it is because – and this applies much more to copy than the other two – they often seen as extras. Copy is the proverbial cherry on the cake, or the engraved message on a new watch. It’s not obligatory or important, it just adds a nice touch.

This is not the case, and when copy is considered as part of the cost of sale you can see how easily it gets paid for by the additional revenue it generates. Copy, rather like footballers, is charged not on what it is, but on the value it brings in. The same with marketing. A sales letter that brings in £10,000 worth of extra business is clearly worth paying £1,000 for. Conversely, a £10 sales letter is unlikely to be written with the skill, attention to detail, or passion to even pay for itself.

In racing terms cutting corners is a good thing. When it comes to marketing, cutting corners is like cutting a square cake into circular portions – you’re going to lose out on a lot of cake.

Which is why the Volkswagen advert is not just about showing how the price of their vehicles is intrinsically linked to the quality, but also about the importance of prioritising value over cost when it comes to our businesses.

How you assess the value of your marketing activities? Do you have a clear idea of what you are getting back from your investment?


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Do you market your business like it’s a charity?

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Have you heard of Chuggers? It’s short for Charity Muggers, and refers to those people in town centres who try and bully or guilt you into donating money. While their dedication to a good cause is admirable, no one likes being unable to walk down the street without being pounced upon by a person with a clipboard.

(Once, five of them spread themselves out across the bottom of a street in Penzance so that it was impossible to get past without talking to one of them.)

What has this got to do with business, you might ask?

Are you trying to mug your customers with marketing?

A quick trip around Twitter or the internet in general reveals many companies marketing as though they are charities; Twitter accounts with nothing on them but ‘Read our latest blog post’, or ‘Check out our latest deals'; blogs that only talk about the service they provide; Facebook posts consisting entirely of links to their website.

People don’t respond to this type of marketing very well. The reason is that internet users are thinking about what they get out of the deal. It’s not selfish, it’s only logical. Why should they invest their time in visiting your website, or following you on Facebook? People want value, and following a Twitter account that constantly badgers them to check out your website doesn’t give them anything of value.

Can you spare five minutes, ma’am?

The reason this kind of marketing fails is because you are a business, not a charity. People expect charities to ask for favours – that’s the point. But very few people who don’t know you personally are going to ‘Like’ your Facebook page just to help you out. They need to get something back out of the arrangement.

Just as a good example; my author page on Facebook has 85 ‘Likes’, 50 of which are from friends, yet I have around 150 friends. I’m not bothered for a second that those 100 other friends haven’t ‘Liked’ my page. Clearly they don’t feel there’s anything in it for them, and if I can’t provide them with value, then I don’t want them to be following me. But it perfectly illustrates the fact that even friends won’t always ‘Like’ your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter or WordPress. So why would complete strangers be more selfless?

Marketing is Christmas, not Birthdays

Think of marketing as Christmas – people give you presents, but you have to give them something back. You are both adding value to each other’s lives. However, many business approach marketing as though it is a birthday, in that they expect people to give them things, for nothing in return.

Learn to give your customers and followers value, and they will be far more likely to engage with you. Share great content that they will love, offer prizes or tips and insights, ask for their opinions and feedback. In other words, give them a reason to follow.

Because ‘We want you to buy stuff from us‘ isn’t a reason to follow.

Stuck for ideas? I can help with the creation of great blog articles, web content, and print marketing copy that excites and engages your target market. Send me an email now.


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How a personal bugbear can save you time and money

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Something has been annoying me recently, and it isn’t even the fact that I’m wearing five layers and am still cold. It’s the fact that you can find posts on many jobs sites for freelance writers where companies are asking us to blog for free, or as good as. They say things such as ‘This is great portfolio experience’, or ‘We don’t have the budget to pay’.

I’m going to let you in on a secret

If you don’t believe your blog is going to add enough value to your business to even cover the costs of paying a freelancer to write it for you, then you don’t need a blog.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to get a freelancer to write a blog for them. I’m simply saying that, when you look at the big picture, if blog that doesn’t add enough value to your business to cover the costs of running it, it’s probably not worth having.

What is your blog for?

Whether or not you have a successful blog, whether or not you pay a freelancer to write it for you, it’s always worth asking yourself, ‘Why am I blogging?‘ After all, it is a time-consuming endeavour. What would happen to your company if you stopped blogging?

Like any marketing you do, a blog should add value to your business. Whether that value is in money, reputation, exposure, or web traffic, a blog should be a vital part in your business machine. If it isn’t doing any of these things, you might as well invest that time throwing lemons at passers-by for all the benefits it will get you.

Just another form of marketing

Say you intend your blog to get new people to know about your products. In the print world, this job would probably have been taken by posters or leaflets. Imagine going to your local printers, or graphic designers, and saying “We need to be leaflet marketing, but we don’t really have a budget for it, so can you do it for free, because it will be great portfolio experience?

The idea is ridiculous, isn’t it? The only reason it works when it comes to freelance writers is because there is nothing of perceived value being exchanged. Freelance writers don’t have to buy their words in, and get them delivered on the back of a large truck. When we write a blog post for free is not as if we’re losing money on stock, only time.

If it’s not worth it, don’t bother

If you genuinely didn’t expect to get a return on your investment in those leaflets, you wouldn’t bother getting them made and distributed, would you?

Well the same logic applies to blogging. Blogging is like any business activity. If your business truly needs it, then it can afford to pay for it. If your business can’t afford to pay for it, even if you can do it yourself, then you are just wasting time and money.

Want more advice on business blogging? Send me an email today.


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Get blogging right by remembering this one simple fact

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A lot of businesses try blogging, only to give up because they believe it isn’t working. A lack of hits, comments, shares and follows might suggest that your blog is not performing, but this might not be the blog’s fault.

In the same way a match won’t ignite if you strike the wrong end, your blog won’t take off if you don’t use it correctly. A lot of people make some very basic mistakes when it comes to blogging. These mistakes cost them not only time and money, but also potential.

There’s one thing you really need to remember when it comes to blogging. A blog must provide your readers with value.

Why people read blogs

In order to write a good blog, you have to keep in mind why people read blogs. There are several reasons people might read your particular blog, which could include:

  • Your blog title promises to answer a question they have
  • They are looking for more information about a product or service
  • They want a better insight into your company
  • They want interesting and relevant content to share with their social media followers
  • You are the expert in your particular field
  • They want information on why they need your services, or how your services help them

There are many different reasons, but these give you an idea of the value people are looking for. Your blog should be giving something away for free. A lot of businesses baulk at that prospect. Think about how you operate in real life. If a customer came into your store with a question, would you want your staff to answer it helpfully, or tell them to go away because you don’t give out free information?

People want to get something from your blog posts – they won’t read them as a favour to you.

Why selling gets you nowhere

Your blog needs to be about giving. Selling is exactly the opposite. No one is going to want to read a post when all it is doing is asking them for money.

In order to be allowed to sell to your blog followers, you have to provide them with something in return. In fact, you should let the rest of your website do the selling for you. If appropriate, you may want to point people towards your contact page or another part of your website, but it is a good idea to get the notion of profit completely out of your head when you first start blogging.

Have you ever sent your customers a satisfaction survey? If you have ever offered the chance to win a prize for completing it, I bet you saw much higher completion rates. Even when your customers are buying something from you, they aren’t thinking about what they’re giving you, they are thinking about what they’re getting.

Keeping this in mind when you write your blog posts will help you to avoid perhaps the most common blogging mistake – writing posts as though you are a market stall fruit & veg seller, constantly shouting about your wares and prices.

How remembering to add value gets your posts off to a great start

Keep in mind the idea of giving value to your reader as you write each blog post. Whether you are educating, enlightening, helping or entertaining them, you will find you get a much better response from your audience if you switch things around. Be the one giving something away, and let them be the ones expecting something from the relationship.

Keep it up, and the value you give away will be vastly overshadowed by the value a functional, engaging blog brings to your business.

For more information on blogging, get in touch with me now.


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