Top 7 Marketing Tips for 2017

For most of us the Christmas and New Year break is over and it’s back to the every day grind! So, in an effort to provide some inspiration and hopefully a bit of a spark, I’ve put together some general marketing tips to help get you off to a flying start in 2017.

Review these tips in context of your own target customer, business and marketing objectives. For some, one or two of these tips may be relevant, but for most brands many of these tips should be strongly considered.

Happy reading, and best wishes for a successful for 2017!

Embrace Change

The bottom line is your customer’s behaviours and habits change, and change fast. Brands and marketers need to keep up with their target market, or get left behind.

Before you even read the other tips below, you need to be open to doing things a little differently in 2017, especially if you’re still investing in the same marketing tactics you did in 2014!

The average Australian spent 37 hours online per month in 2014. Last year that figure reached 67 hours, but it’s not just the amount of time that’s significant. The attitude shift towards the online world, and what we as consumers can do with it is also significant for marketers.

Consumers are increasingly managing their lives online, communicating and socialising, studying, streaming TV and video, managing finances, searching for their next holiday destination, researching products and services, and making and executing buying decisions.

You only have to take a quick look at your customer in their online environment to also realise they’re increasingly valuing experiences over ‘things’ (i.e. material objects, here is a great article). This is particularly true if your target audience is millennials, but it’s clearly evident in all demographics. One quick scroll through a customers’ Facebook page will see them sharing holidays, food and their social life over the 4k LED TV or Gucci Handbag purchase.

If your organisation can embrace change, there is a great opportunity to find new and innovative ways to reach your customers, and keep them.

Focus on Customer Experience over Slogans and Price

Personally, I love a great slogan, but it can be absolutely useless if it doesn’t accurately represent every customer’s real experience, or journey with your brand. Setting expectations you cannot meet is a recipe for disaster.

As discussed above, consumers are more often putting value on experiences over ‘things’ and this includes price in many instances. It represents a fantastic opportunity for business, because it allows you to protect your margins by adding real value to your customer’s experience with your brand.

Make sure you invest the necessary time to work out what your customers really want – and what their pain points are – then decide how those line up with your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.

My advice would be to aim high with your customer experience and work backwards. Think about your customer’s typical journey, from initial contact (enquiry), through the process of engagement (sale) and into a long-term relationship (retention).

Then work out how you can improve that journey by adding more value to the customer through that experience. And remember to make it personal; it’s not always about material things. You might find a personal phone call to say thank you after the sale (as part of your retention process), has more value than a Christmas Card.

If you get this right, you’ll find good old ‘word of mouth’ sales skyrocket, as you build an army of happy customers and ‘influencers’ happy to spread the word.

Invest in your Brand and Visual Identity

Your Brand and Customer Experience ties in closely, so for some organisations that need to work on both – ideally you do it all together.

For those unsure what a ‘brand’ really is, here’s a really easy way to understand it – Forget about businesses and corporations for a second and just think about your best friend in school – let’s call her ‘Shannon’.

What do we know about Shannon? Was she fun, or serious? Friends with everyone, or did her friendship feel exclusive? Did she have personal values like honesty, being true to her word, or never being late for an event? Was she clever and witty, or was her tone always a little bland but trustworthy? How did you feel when you ‘hung out’ with her? Did she have a reputation for anything?

All of these characteristics are representative of Shannon’s personal brand, and it’s no different for a business or corporate brand. It’s these unique characteristics that give your organisation the ability to appeal to your target customer, and connect with them on a meaningful level.

Your brand is a considered combination of the following:

Brand Purpose and Promise – What does your brand stand for, what will your customer get when they buy from you, and how do/should they feel?

Brand Expectation and Perception – What should customers expect from your brand, and what is their perception of your brand?

Brand Personality – Traits, language and tone of voice.

Your Visual Identity is the last element of your brand, and it’s the vehicle you use to communicate with your audience. It includes your logo, brand colours, packaging and communications. Your visual identity brings together all of your brand elements and allows you to consistently communicate and shape your purpose, expectation, perception and personality.

One of the most significant things we see within the process of developing a brand and visual identity is an organisations ability to clearly define their customer while going through this process. Investing in your brand, visual identity and customer experience often has far greater Return On Investment than any short-term, reactive advertising or marketing campaign that’s often a repeated process of failing to convert and retain customers.

Develop a Content Plan

Common forms of ‘content’ for most organisations include articles, blogs, images, videos, events, ads, and customer testimonials.

We’ve already discussed in small detail the consumer shift in valuing possessions to valuing experiences. One of the other major shifts in consumer behaviour is a growing discontent for ‘traditional’ advertising messages, and appetite for information through digital channels such as websites and social media.

Social Media in particular represents a great opportunity for brands to build an army of everyday influencers, people who have been wowed by their experience with your brand and happy to tell people about it.

I’m not recommending a drop in newspaper or radio spend, but if you don’t have a content plan that supports your brand and marketing objectives, you probably need to start one. A marketing plan that includes traditional advertising only, in 2017, just isn’t going to work.

Content can be developed in-house, externally via a Creative Agency like Media Fox, or both. While investment needs to be made in content development, the channels available for sharing content (like social media, email and websites) are a relatively low cost way to reach and engage your target audience, and start your customer journey.

Use video to tell a story

Video content is far more engaging than images and written content.

This is not surprising as it entices all of our senses by allowing your brand to be creative with the message, visuals, style, emotion, language and tone that all goes with telling your story through video. Some of the most effective videos (sharing, engagement or conversions) always connect with a target audience through some form of emotive story or inspiring imagery, and are generally short and sharp to avoid stretching short attention spans.

When you’re able to inject creativity, humour, emotion or personality to a video that aligns with your brand and product, then the sky really is the limit.

There are numerous platforms to share your video. Depending on your target audience; your website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are all great places to start. Just don’t forget to add a call-to-action at the end of the video or on the channel, to make sure your customers know what to do next (e.g. visit your website, book an appointment, download an information pack, or simply call).

Think about why you’re using Social Media

Social Media presents an opportunity most brands cannot, and should not ignore.

But remember, if you’re not clear on why you’re using it, and what your objectives are, then you’re probably better off not using it.

Take the time to review how Social Media can help your brand achieve its business and marketing objectives, and what content is appropriate for your social media channels (See Top Marketing Tip 4).

For example, a marketing objective for a Restaurant might be to distinguish the eatery as having the freshest ingredients in town. A Facebook Live Video series could showcase the head Chef picking and preparing fresh garden vegetables.

A business objective for a Telco company might be to improve customer retention. In this instance, a Twitter handle specifically for customer service could improve response times to help achieve this.

Once you really think about why you’re using Social Media, and how it fits in with your business and marketing objectives, you can start to work on creating the right social media plan to maximise your engagement and ROI.

Update or re-design your website in line with your business and marketing objectives

If you have a website just sitting out there in the online ether, doing nothing more than acting as an ‘online brochure,’ or if you don’t have one at all, it’s time to get going!

As I’ve already mentioned, the average Australian is spending 67 hours online every month, and the data shows he/she is not just chatting on Facebook.

A great website will pull together all of the things we’ve discussed above: your brand, communications, customer experience, customer service, content, video and so much more. It will help you reach more customers, convert them and keep them.

It can also open up brand new marketing opportunities that previously did not exist for your business. It could entice customers to sign up as a member by handing over email addresses, opening up direct email marketing opportunities.

If your marketing plan includes special public events, it could promote your event and include a call-to-action to buy tickets, or allow for RSVP’s.

Your website could be your brand’s best sales funnel, and the start of your customer journey. It could take all of your website leads and send them through to your Customer Relationship Management software, so you never miss a potential sale.

Evans Petroleum signs up for fourth year running

The Media Fox team is pumped to announce a 12-month extension to its ongoing marketing contract with Evans Petroleum.

We are extremely proud to have worked so closely with Gippsland’s largest private fuel and oil distributor, since Evans joined the team as our very first client in 2012.

Evans Managing Director Stuart Evans said the relationship simplified and streamlined his company’s complex marketing needs.

“Before we joined Media Fox, we were dealing about 10 different advertising reps from across Gippsland. It was very time consuming,” Mr Evans said.

“We are distributing and working with more businesses and clients than ever before, so Media Fox’s service frees up valuable resources for us to put absolute priority on our clients and customers.”

Through rebranding, consistent messaging and targeted wholesale and retail campaigns, Media Fox has helped grow Evans’ profile to national-class standards, utilising strategies across online, radio, print and television.

“We’ve certainly been very happy with Media Fox’s service over the years, in both the effectiveness and the simplicity of the whole arrangement.”

The report every small business owner needs to read

At Media Fox it’s our job to help our clients set and achieve their marketing goals.

Part of this job is ensuring our team is always up-to-date with the latest in marketing trends, technology and consumer behaviour, so we can provide the most effective and relevant advice to new and existing clients.

In our research, we lean on numerous organisations and reports, however there is one source in particular we keep an eye out for every month. And it’s free.

If you own or run a small business, or have marketing responsibilities in your job description, the Nielsen Online Landscape Review is an invaluable asset.

While most small businesses generally accept the importance of an effective online presence, the Nielsen Review makes an irrefutable case, boiling down a world of online data into compelling and digestible detail.

Consider these main points from the December 2015 report:

  • 18,312,000 Australians were actively surfing online in December 2015.
  • The average Australian spends 30 hours online per month, across 60 sessions.
  • It was even higher for businesses targeting people in the 25-34, 35-49 and 50+ age brackets, with average usage coming in at 34, 32 and 33 hours per month respectively.

(Admittedly we are still a little surprised by the usage figures in the 50+ bracket – hence the importance to keep up to date!)

Of particular relevance to businesses without mobile- and tablet-friendly websites; 67% of online Australian traffic now comes from portable devices.

Let’s be clear here. If your website is designed only for desktop computers, then you’re catering for only 33% of website visitors.

Just imagine how many potential sales you are missing out on.  

The Nielson report also reveals some competitive clues as to how you can engage new and existing customers:

  • The average Australian is streaming more online content (e.g. video) than ever before, at an average of 8.5 hours of every month. YouTube and Facebook are by far the two biggest players in this space.
  • It isn’t just 18-24 year olds driving the streaming surge (539 streams per month), Australian’s over 50 stream content 211 times per month!

So if you’re looking for ways to increase sales in 2016, we’ve got it on good authority a new mobile-friendly website with customised and engaging video content might be a great starting point!

The four foundations of good design, and why design ‘short-courses’ don’t cut it.

When it comes to graphic design, the marketplace is literally swarming with designers looking to whip together your business’ new brand, logo, business card or website.

But like so many industries, graphic design is a service where you ultimately get what you pay for, and there is a strong line of distinction falling between those with university qualifications and those without.

While there are always exceptions to the rule and some great natural design talent out there, the difference either side is usually vast, and here’s why:

Consider this all-too characteristic pitch to budding designers from one of the many short course institutes available in Australia.

“Are you yearning for a creative career but worried about starting from scratch” it reads, promising delivery of relevant industry skills and a ‘polished portfolio’ in only three months.

Three months.

It is simply impossible to gain a solid grasp of design fundamentals in such a short time frame.

While a short course will teach you the basics of colour, type and design software principals, it condenses so much from the rich world of good design that a student becomes embroiled in nothing more than a crash course of basic skillsets.

There’s a fitting analogy we like to use here at MediaFox when talking to clients about good design – knowing how to use an oven doesn’t make you a chef.

Here’s the top four things that set a tertiary qualified graphic designer well ahead in their field:

An ability to critically analyse own work

A good designer has the ability justify every design decision.

They need to quickly recognise if their art – for whatever reason – is simply not up to scratch, and move onto their next idea or risk presenting a client with a substandard product.

A meticulous eye for good design

A good designer has a comprehensive understanding of the interrelation between type, font, layout, branding and identity.

They bring measured consideration and a developed eye to every design decision, ensuring harmonious and relevant layout.

Full immersion in design principles

Only a three-year degree equips a gives you the time and space to fully immerse yourself in the broad spectrum of best practice method, theory and approach.

While everyone brings his or her own flair to their style, good designers need in-depth knowledge of the ever-changing rulebook of design that works and what does not.

A true design voice

A degree gives you the opportunity to experiment, explore and hone your flair and talent, and make mistakes in a controlled academic setting.

Tertiary education provides mentoring from the some of the industry’s best, fostering an environment in which a designer can fully realise their own visual voice, ready to take to the marketplace.

Degree educated design is the difference between ‘winging it’ on the job and confidently delivering on the next client’s needs, armed with a well-rounded knowledge of what works for the client, and what does not.

A final thought

Your design choice is ultimately going to reflect highly on your business’ image and public profile. When considering your design needs, ask yourself; does your future designer have the right skills and support around her/him?

At Media Fox, we recognise and deliver good design, in the very fullest sense of the word. Read our blog post on how copywriting and other skill sets support the full design process.

Welcoming Latrobe Community Health Service

The team at MediaFox warmly welcomes Latrobe Community Health Services into its marketing den.

With eight locations across Gippsland, LCHS is one of Australia’s fastest growing health service providers.

Ahead of its August expansion into Warragul, Marketing and Communications Manager Dom McInerny approached MediaFox to help coordinate LCHS’ extensive marketing requirements.

“The most important thing our partnership with Mediafox provides is time. I know I can give a brief, and MediaFox will take care of it,” Mr McInerney said.

“Planning and booking advertising can be both expensive and time-consuming. The team at MediaFox ensure we get the best value for money, and free my team up to focus on other projects.

“MediaFox is also a safe pair of hands. That is important to me; I want to know that I can hand over work without worrying about whether it will be done properly.”