5 Minutes with Menzies – Episode 4

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Robert: Today’s Theme is creativity.
You are a creative. You have studied design in university and are constantly learning and researching all things design and innovation – So – Are you born with it or is it something you have to work on?

Michael: I definitely believe that there is an aspect of creativity that you are born with. Imagining the unimaginable is something that not everyone can do and to be able to think of a new idea every day is not something in my experience every one can do.

But you definitely have to work on it. You have to be aware of as many things past and present so you can evolve that thinking.

RD: Do you believe anyone can be creative?

MM: Yes I believe anyone can be creative – after all creativity takes a great many forms. So, even though there are aspects of creativity that may be innate there is still room for everyone.

RD: What’s your process for being creative when you are designing?
Is it different depending on the job – UX, Design, Branding, Campaign and ideation?

MM: I am quite driven by solving problems and thinking what a proposed audience may expect to happen – remembering that their expectation may be to be amazed.

I think for me the approach to a problem is often led by a desire to lead someone to a place where there expectation is met; for a logo, that may be the feeling of connection to the brand or the services the business provides. For Campaigns, its about conveying an insight that engages a consumer and inspires them to act etc. 

RD: Like most creatives (except for those really annoying ones that lie) I am sure you get stretches without inspiration – how do you deal with “writers block” – any tricks you can share?

MM: The block you describe often comes from being over-focussed on the solution for too long. My best advice and this is why design is so much more complex than the average joe gives it credit for – and hence, why not being at your desk or just doodling or surfing the net is often the catalyst for the lightbulb moment.

RD: I know we often talk budgets about marketing but in your mind how big of a % of a campaign budget should be given to just the ideation and creativity phase? Do you think this is valued enough by clients?

MM: Well I think that is a tough one to answer because in some ways it may vary depending on the scale of the project.

For instance when you have a very small budget, there is in some ways even more strategic thinking required to find solutions that maximise the inherent limitation of the budget itself.

And for big projects – well you have a huge budget, now the balance is finding how to deliver a truely impactful idea and having enough money to amplify it.

But I would say between 25 – 50%

Do clients value it? I think some do and when they do the outcomes are often preferential.

But in many cases no. And I think that’s because often what we do is so intangible or easy.

If I make a product and it sits on a shelf and it costs a thousand dollars – that is an easily understood concept.

If I am designing a logo, or a piece of graphic art and it costs a thousand dollars – what if I don’t like it or in the case of a campaign it doesn’t work? For clients its these intangible variables that often impact on the perceived value of our “product”.

Often there is personal preferences or bigger broader influences that have an impact on the viability of a solution and that can sometimes make what we do difficult to quantify?

RD: The proof is in the eating sometimes and not just looking at the cake you have to see how it does in the real world I guess.

And that’s another 5 minutes with Menzies done and dusted – if you want to discuss anything we talked about feel free to drop us a line or give us a bell.

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5 Minutes with Menzies – Episode 3

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Robert: Alright, we’re back for another year and another installment of 5 Minutes with Menz. How’s it going?

Michael: Well thanks.

RD: You managed to not come into the office for almost 7 days over the break – congratulations! – What was the best thing you did?

MM: Well I actually was in the office – prepping for a BIG year… I think it was you guys that were on holidays… No but, seriously, I did take a few days. Did some stand-up paddle boarding up the coast and just some family time to recharge the batteries.

RD: Nice one, What do you think we will see in 2018 in the world of digital – will this be the year that AR and VR take over? Will any of the social media streams move up or down in popularity?

MM: It is a very interesting question… And for the second time today I refer to porn [ed’s note: we recorded another piece check out MMOM episode 3]… I think VR/AR’s momentum will be primarily driven by the porn industry. It has been a fairly slow uptake and I don’t see that changing necessarily this year. But there is no doubt that both are on their way I just don’t think at this minute the experience is adding enough value to the users engagement.

As for social channels. Look… the Facebook changes of mentioned last week are going to have an impact for sure on that channel. Facebook are arguing this is returning the Facebook feed to its roots, more about the friends and content you want to see.

Ultimately, for the longest time companies have been using the platform to reach people at very little cost (from a comparative media perspective) and that loophole has perhaps closed to an extent.

It provides an interesting challenge, if you ask me

The audience want the content ultimately and Facebook want businesses to pay to get it to them.

The core question is will business be willing to pay for something they got for free?

The sheer numbers of the FB audience for me says ‘yes”.

But it will change the dynamic of Facebook and smaller businesses of which Facebook has been the champion social platform will perhaps go by the wayside, so we could see an increased push on other platforms such as Instagram…

Will one rise up to beat FB… probaaly not immediately. But there is evidence that millennials (the next generation user) are not as in love with Facebook as GEN Y or X – and that will inevitably mean another channel will rise.

RD: Interesting thoughts, The research does show that the younguns are leaving Facebook, speaking of people being in love with different platforms. I was recently thinking about a client we had a while back who wanted us to create a website like one they had seen but it was in my opinion a very ugly site. How do you deal with clients liking poor design especially without sounding like a design snob?

MM: Well regardless of my experience people, be it clients or otherwise, people will have their own appreciation of what is good, bad or ugly.

When you are dealing with larger organisations often there is a committee and a more rigid process to deliver the outcome so perhaps in those situations our expertise become more valued.

But for smaller companies it often comes down to one or two people or a family and ultimately, regardless of what we say, they tend to go down whatever path they feel works for them.

For us, I am not going to lie this can often lead to the selection or creation of something we would not necessarily recommend, but at the end of the day there is a fine line between delivering an outcome that the client is super happy with vs offending them by calling their decisions ‘unfashionable’ for example.

But yes, sometimes we wish they would listen to us.

RD: So, the customer’s not always right but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

MM: Something like that, look, clearly we make a living in what we do. So with our cumulative experience, we feel pretty confident in providing both advice and direction to a client in relation to their project. But if someone buys and Apple computer and uses it as a bath toy, at the end of the day Apple can only go so far as to suggest that that may not be the ideal way to go!

It’s the same with us. The client can at the end of the day choose to accept our thinking or go in a different direction, but we will always try and ensure they walk out the door feeling they have got great service.

RD: True, I guess that is half the fun. It looks like that’s five minutes – till next time.

MM: Thank you

 

If you want to discuss anything we talked about feel free to drop us a line or give us a bell.

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What Can Scammers Teach Us About Online Marketing

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WHAT SCAMMERS CAN TEACH US ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING

I was reading an article on SmartCompany the other day about an email scam and it occurred to me that they pulled their scam off quite systematically and following some good business rules. The perpetrators swindled “millions” from at least a couple of law firms in Queensland.  Obviously, I am not endorsing this type of behaviour but I was intrigued by the process:

  • “The email scam involves cyber criminals approaching firms via email, posing as prospective clients and asking details about their services.
  • The scammer eventually agrees to sign on as a client, then sends through personal documents to the law firm.
  • These documents prompt the employee on the other end to enter the login details of their work email address, which the scammer harvests.
  • The next step of the scheme involves the scammer watching the inboxes of firms until they see details of a settlement or payment that needs to be made from the firm to another party.
  • The cyber criminal sends a reminder email to the firm about the payment, prompting them to pay this into their bank account instead of to the legitimate recipient, The Brisbane Times reports.”

We are all aware of the different types of customer cycles and paths to purchase. These scammers pretend to be a normal customer and they approach the firm with Awareness; they then move on to, and feign, Evaluation; and finally they move in for a Purchase (which doesn’t eventuate).

Here’s the beautiful part – at the same time that they are pulling the “job”, the firms themselves are also spiralling down the scammer’s funnel. They are approaching multiple top-level firms, making sure the firm is Aware of them and seeing if they are Interested in a new client (who wouldn’t), then move in for the Conversion. I am sure some skilled conmen and women would also like to achieve Retention but I’m guessing that’s a bit hard in their line of work.

As company’s become savvier, these scams will work less and less but as the article suggests, some firms are able to escape the funnel at different points whether it’s the lack of a phone number early on, or two-way identification which foils the scam.

All in all, it’s a lesson to be vigilant against scammers but also a reminder that a well thought out user journey or customer experience can lead to a great conversion.

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Why storytelling is so important to marketing your business

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WHY STORYTELLING IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR BRAND

“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

Dr. Howard Gardner, professor Harvard University

For today’s lesson, let’s replace “leader” with “brand” or “marketer”.

Leaders have used stories throughout history – many ships have been launched for leaders, greedy for new land – and many boats have been stopped by leaders too (don’t worry I won’t let my point of view on the Stop The Boats political saga drown us before we begin).

You can tell your story once or over and over again, and you can tell it in a few words, or a few hundred thousand. Did you know: A Tale Of Two Cities has 135,000 words and is the most sold book of all time.

Notorious drinker and never one to waste words, Ernest Hemingway was in a bar three sheets to the wind when a fellow drinker who was green with envy over the attention he was getting from the ladies, challenged him to write a six word short story that could make you cry. The next day, hungover and bleary eyed, Hemingway typed up the below and won the bet:

“For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

What a great story! Not just the six words, but the fact that it was Hemingway, the famously simple worded pathos in his stories shines through in those six words – although the trouble is, Hemingway didn’t write it. Just like Newton was never hit on the head with an apple that lead to his thoughts on gravity (a story so great it led to the name of one the best known brands and great storytellers in their own right).

As a marketer, you might only have enough space for six words. Coca-Cola went from 6 words to 5 in the 90’s. “You can’t beat the feeling” to “You can’t beat the real thing.”

Coke owns words like life, feeling, real, enjoy and happiness.

These words are crucial to their story telling. Which is why those terms come to mind when you think of Coke, and not obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

If you ask people to think of Coca-Cola advertising or marketing campaigns, most in Australia think of sky surfing, Christmas or the your name on a bottle campaigns. These all tell a story about Coke and the way it makes you feel. But my favorite is the story teller – it’s blatant, it’s obvious, and if it was set up in any other way, it would feel like a 1950s sponsored ad but it has stuck with me since I was 10.

In short, stories have staying power and can create an emotional response in the audience that linger in their hearts and minds for years.

You can use stories to:
• detail events
• make concepts accessible to a new audience
• change minds
• increase stronger memories
• create attachment to you and your brand through all of the above

You may have heard that there are only a handful of story types in the world, whether you subscribe to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, Kurt Vonnegut’s 6 story shapes (to see three of his shapes click, watch it, it’s five minutes, all gold), Christopher Bookers’ Seven basic plots or any other number of numbers (see, writers have been doing listicles* forever).

No matter how many types there are, it’s important to remember there is no end to the variances you can create. Variance is the key word here. You may have been told many times that there is a reason why your business exists and it’s because you are offering something different to your competitors. Find your difference/s and extrapolate. Tell your story, create a connection with your audience and let clients know that you offer an experience or product that will make their life easier, better and happier – like a relaxing squirrel massage.

 

In part 2, we will expand on the art of story telling by focussing on what makes content bad (clue: it’s not a misspent youth).

*not sure what a listicle is (you’ve been reading them for ever): it’s an article that forms a list, wholly or partly. Bustle has an awesome article on the subject.

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Can sports teams teach us a thing or two?

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WHAT SPORTS TEAMS CAN TEACH US ALL ABOUT MARKETING

I am a bit of a car guy, motorsport in particular.

Not sure if you have ever watched a car race but there are some interesting parallels between car racing and marketing. The races are very strategic with lots of moving parts (no pun intended). They are quite technical in terms of getting the car set up right for the track and the conditions and, after all of that, the driver must be both flexible and creative while driving to a plan.

Here are things we can learn from motor racing when marketing your business.

1. It’s not a level playing field

In any motorsport category, there are big teams and little teams. And the money each has to spend on their cars, drivers and crew are all different. But no matter what end of pit lane you are at (at the top level, anyways) what you do notice is just how clean and professional their approach to race day is. From impeccable white garage flaws in an inherently dirty environment, to beautiful uniforms and spotless cars ready to hit the track.

The concept is simple – be clean and pristine and you will find it far easier to find and identify issues when they arise and it also promoted a disciplined and process driven approach. 

The quality of the competition is rarely an issue, these teams work tirelessly to put themselves in the best position possible on the track. Because they know that even their biggest competitors can have a bad day and when that happens they are there to capitalise. 

Ultimately, being in the race is half the challenge what great teams do is look for the areas where their competitors fail to make speed and focus their energy on that niche opportunity. 

And they work hard, relentlessly trying to perfect their approach to get an advantage.

Our approach to marketing should be the same.

2. Strategy is important


You can be the fastest driver on the track but ultimate you must manage tyres and fuel and this is where strategy is so important. 

The best teams are not only fast because of their drivers, they are fast because they are clear in the processes they use to achieve their speed. 

Marketing requires the exact same approach – create a strategy that is clear and build your processes around executing the strategy. Identify the opportunities for your business and develop your game plan around exploiting them.

3. Plan for the season not for the race. 


Marketing is a slow process at times. So how is it possible to compare it to something a fast as a race.

If you think about any sport, motorsport included, it is a season of games or races. In many ways, your marketing is exactly the same, although, we tend to call them campaigns. 

If you look at great race teams, they treat every race as an opportunity to test their strategy and test their equipment – You should be looking to do the same with your messaging and approach. 

But like the race team, at the end of the race no matter where you came (or how the campaign performed) look at all the data and understand what happened, and then trial, amend and innovate for the next round. 

We see so many small to medium businesses who expect results instantaneously which is understandable because it can be hard to invest money and not see an instant result. But the truth is each race has to be taken on its merits and in the knowledge, that it is a long season. 

So invest in a strategy and a plan over a 12-18 month period and learn and grow with each campaign.

4. Pick the best team you can afford

Winning is clearly the aim of any race but as was mentioned before there will be plenty of competitors out there with more money to spend on their marketing. 

This doesn’t put you out of the race – Remember if you are the driver you will never win if you have to jump out of the car at the pit stop and change the tyres and fill the fuel yourself. YOU NEED A TEAM. So, buy the best one you can afford and build a plan. Get to know one another and build trust. Let them make some mistakes and learn together. Neither the driver nor the team can be solely responsible for performance on the day – so work together.

5. Pick your moment 


Ok, so you have put in all this hard work and you have toiled with messaging, channel plans, social marketing and advertising placements…

It’s all going to happen, right?

No, it might not actually. You still have to turn up and perform on race day. 

I recently turned down a client who was prepared to invest in the marketing required to grow her business but it was clear to me that they didn’t actually have the resources, processes in place to deliver the marketing work. 

At the end of the day, what you say and the effort you put into telling your customers what you’ll do for them must be backed up with the ability to actually do it. 

And when you do – just like on race day this is where your team has to really spot the opportunity – because any race driver will tell you that despite all the work the ability to overtake and even win a race comes down to but a few opportunities per race. You need to be on the look out for the moment to make your move, be it capitalising on your competitions misfortune and reaching out to their customers or innovating your products or messaging to propel you past them during a key sales period. 

Just like the race you must stay alert and be ready for that opportunity – and that means working together as a partnership. Your marketing can’t simply be treated as semi automatic function.

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5 Things I Hate About Small Business

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5 THINGS I HATE ABOUT you SMALL BUSINESS

Ok, I gotcha – I love small business; in fact, for me, some of our smaller clients are the most exhilarating to work with, because of their desire and energy to grow. But those businesses are rare and for many small businesses it can be their mentality that holds them back.

See if you recognise any of these traits.

1.    I have a small budget I spend on SEO – I can’t tell if works but I continue to do it because its important to be on “the google”
2.    We have a newsletter (we don’t write it we subscribe to a service and they provide us content we can brand)
3.    We do social media you know, we post on Facebook every so often.
4.    We have promo gear! We have branded pens (or coffee cups) and we give them to our clients!!!!
5.    I have a nice company car. It’s important to look good and I work really hard so it’s a nice treat and I can write it off!!!

If any of this sounds familiar you are in good company – I meet clients like this almost every day; to be honest, I have met with about 12 businesses in the last month that virtually fit this description to the letter.

It always fascinates me, when speaking with these business owners because they are very smart, have taken a huge risk and made a huge investment in starting and running their businesses and yet they seem to overlook a fundamental aspect of their business – MARKETING!.

I am an avid listener of Podcasts and one of my favorites is – The Mark Bouris Show, I highly recommend it to anyone reading this. 

Mark interviews a wide array of entrepreneurs and business owners and across all sorts of industry sectors and one of the key takeaways is just how much emphasis these businesses place on a clear marketing strategy that reaches and informs their prospective customers of their product and brand position.

These businesses have as part of their price point and business planning, factored in marketing as a cost of sale and you should too!

I have never done marketing before and it seems expensive?

Now, I know for many small to medium businesses who we speak to, who have already found some success but are looking for further growth, it can often be quite hard to understand how to, now, factor in marketing activities when their entire pricing model and profit margin have until this point been achieved without any real marketing costs factored in.

They want to grow, they want to do marketing – but they also want to upgrade the car, do the reno to the house and take the family away for that trip to Hawaii.

We get it…. We do too.

So how can it be done?

The first thing is to set some clear objectives for your marketing initiatives and ensure you measure the return on investment against them.

The truth is no marketing can be done without some sort of an investment, both of time and money. But our approach for businesses, who have never marketed themselves before, is to do it in conjunction with product development or product “re-packaging”.

That doesn’t mean a new brand or carton, but rather how can you package your product differently to charge differently for it.

To do so provides an opportunity to build in the cost of marketing without impacting on your existing products or the margins and for many business owners it makes the costs involved more palatable as opposed to simply investing in something as intangible as marketing!

Let’s look at an example.

Recently, we worked with a client who had a successful travel product. It sold really well and they did little to market that product.

They were looking to achieve some serious growth and asked us to provide a strategy to help them market themselves better.

Their aspirations were very high but their budgets were very low.

It was a bit of a conundrum. If they were unable to spend money on marketing how could we reach enough people to drive the sales they wanted?

The margins in travel are not particularly high these days. The internet has made the self-service travel market very large and the airlines, accommodations and tour operators have cut sales incentives to a bare minimum to agents as they place a far less pivotal role in aiding the transaction.

However, our client has a unique position in the market and their clients value the service they provide. But upping the cost of their service was not an option.

We advised them to work with us to develop a strategy. During our strategy process we looked at each type of product they sold, and a breakdown of the most valuable products and customers they have. It is always interesting to walk through this process with small to medium clients because often they don’t have a clear picture of exactly what products, and who, makes them the most money.

Following on from the strategy, we were able to work with them to develop a new product that from the very beginning had a marketing cost built into its retail value.

By promoting the new product as an extension of the services already provided the company could create and service the product with very little cost in overhead; and with the marketing costs built in, they felt comfortable that there was a very clear business case and plan that was measurable in its own right.

By promoting the new product, we were able to build a momentum around the brand that was engaging to existing customers as well as reaching out to an whole new audience.

Now it could be argued that the cost to the business of developing a new product and the marketing costs ultimately comes out of the same pool of money so the net effect is the same. And that is true to an extent, however, this approach had two distinct outcomes for the business that investing in marketing alone may not have had:

1.    It changed their focus from the cost of the marketing itself and instead they became invested in the idea that this new product, which cost very little, to deliver (over and above their core product offering) would actually fund their marketing initiatives – protecting their existing margins but leading to long term path to growth.

2.    The second, and perhaps a more important outcome, was that it changed how the business perceived itself. After years of steady success, this new product was innovative and gave this business a reason to re-engage their suppliers, staff (plus it put a spring in all their steps) and they felt like they were thought leaders and ahead of their competition which in, itself changed, their attitude.

Results

Feedback thus far is – enquiries in the first 3 months have risen and the response to the new product has been very positive. They have re-engaged a large proportion of their suppliers who have actually offered to financially assist some of their marketing initiates and it has already added an entirely new demographic of customers too. With all the additional communication in the market place they have indicated to us – monthly sales could rise by almost 18% over the next quarter.

We’ll keep you posted.

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