Read Time: 5 Minutes

Preston based marketing agency Invoke Media and Chorley based ‘Just Write By Lucy B’ are calling for business owners to come together to support the local business community under a new initiative spearheaded by the Invoke team.

Invoke Media launched its Coronavirus Business Assistance Scheme at the end of March in response to the current crisis, currently providing free marketing services to over 80 independently-owned businesses. The services are provided without charge, obligation or ulterior motive – a promise backed by a signed guarantee. 

The Invoke Media team were approached by Lucy Bullough of Just Write By Lucy B, with an offer of support for the generous scheme and the two businesses have been working together on a number of projects, supporting the businesses most affected by the crisis.

The scheme has been a great success but is approaching workload capacity and requires assistance from other businesses who may have an in-house team of marketers who can help service those in need of support. 

Jack Barron, Director of Invoke Media said:

“The scheme has been a victim of its own success, with us quickly approaching a point where we can no longer accept any more applications. Whilst there seems to be some sense of normality returning and the light is at the end of the tunnel, the effects of COVID-19 on small and independently-run businesses will last considerably longer.

I would like to continue the great work we’ve been doing and extend that to as many businesses as possible, but in order to do so, we need the support of other businesses. I am simply not in a position to hire more staff at this time and I know there are businesses out there that can help who either have the capacity to do so, or have furloughed members of their marketing team who could help.”

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, furloughed staff can conduct voluntary work or seek alternative employment for their furlough period. Under this local business support initiative, a marketer that is furloughed could conduct work that both helps other local businesses and gives them new skills.

Volunteer marketers are asked to not be currently under the employment of a marketing agency and they must have the consent of their employer before partaking in the support scheme. 

Jack Barron continued:

“The reason we are asking for in-house marketers only is because we can not guarantee that those currently in an agency role would not seek to engage the supported business as a client, an in-house marketer is far less likely to be in a position to do so. As it is myself that is signing a guarantee that there will be no attempt to sell services, it would put us in a very difficult position and could undermine all of the good work we are doing. It just doesn’t seem like a good gamble to me when there are a sufficient number of in-house marketers ready to help.

Aside from protecting my business, I think we can add the most value to an in-house marketer, with the training provided and the insight into alternative industries providing skills they can take back to their employer.”

Lucy Bullough, Director of Just Write By Lucy B said:

“This is a great opportunity for the local business community to come together in difficult times and provide support for those most in need. 

Employers that have furloughed their marketing teams and are willing to participate will benefit from keeping their marketers engaged as well as learning new skills that will be brought back to the business. 

It is important now more than ever to keep your team engaged and their mind’s active. It also has the added benefit of helping the local economy get back on its feet.”

Volunteers can expect to be trained on the Invoke Media developed 250-point marketing health check, a system of diagnosing and triaging areas of concern and opportunity for businesses. They will also be trained on the COSTEM-AP method of developing marketing strategy, a proprietary framework for developing fast and efficient marketing plans. 

Those currently in employment under furlough are asked to seek the consent of their employers before engaging in any voluntary work to ensure there are no misunderstandings or issues. Employers wishing to commit resources should contact Invoke Media to arrange an initial call. 

Commitment to the scheme can be as little as 3 hours per week and all volunteers would be bound under non-disclosure agreements to protect those being supported. Anyone wanting to volunteer or wishing to find out more should email hello@invokemedia.co.uk at the earliest opportunity.

Press Contact

Kirsty Doyle, Marketing Executive

Invoke Media

Email

Kirsty@invokemedia.co.uk

Telephone

01772 921 109

Read Time: 6 Minutes

 

The current pandemic and associated crisis are understandably causing considerable uncertainty and anxiety. People are struggling with feelings of helplessness and fear, as they try to adjust to the new normal way of life offered by lockdown. 

Of course, the media plays its role in spreading fear and negativity, with selective statistics on infection rates and death tolls, and promoting stories that further a narrative aligned with a Stephen King novel. This combined with the restrictions placed on everyday life and routine, means it can be hard to feel hopeful about the future.

I’d like to pose an alternative view. What if we stopped to look for the positives and opportunities rather than the negatives and fear? We, of course, need to be mindful that there are many who have lost loved ones, have suffered mental ill health or lost businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we should dwell on it. 

I propose an alternative view of tasteful-positivity. Looking for the positives whilst acknowledging the pain of others. Identifying opportunities rather than focusing on the threats. The people that embrace this spirit are the optimistic-adapters that will drive the country, economy and society forward whilst the pessimistic wet-wipes try to hold us back.

In the last two months, we have seen many people reaching out to each other to provide support and reassurance. We’ve seen industries thrive whilst others suffer, and as with any period of adversity, we’ve seen ingenuity defiantly flourish in the face of hardship. 

Of course, what you will largely see in the press is not the positive feel-good stories of community and adaptability, but the defeatist gloom that gets these fear-peddlers the clicks they so desperately want. It’s toxic, and the media could not have got the tone more wrong and misaligned in this crisis. 

Impact on Business

There isn’t one business that hasn’t been affected by coronavirus. Whether it is decreased revenue (or increased!), changes to procedure and systems or the adoption of new technologies to facilitate remote working. 

If you believe in natural selection, which I do, you will understand that as a race we have survived and thrived by our amazing ability to adapt to circumstances and our environment. There is a popular notion, spread by professional naysayers and peddlers of negativity, that we are a cancer or scourge of the Earth, here to eat away at its resources. We are in fact a product of the Earth and the greatest gift we have been given is our stalwart determination and adaptability in the face of adversity and strife.

Those businesses that are viewing the situation with tasteful-positivity and are looking to create or maximise opportunity, without profiteering or exploiting, are examples of our resilience and adaptability and will be the ones that survive and thrive this difficult period. They are the ones that will evolve and overcome. 

These are the businesses that see the current situation as an exciting problem to solve or challenge to overcome, and are getting creative to turn the current situation to their advantage by figuring out new ways to serve and benefit their customers.

I came across a real example of this today. After having a conversation with the owner of a Fish and Chip Shop (diet doesn’t count in lockdown) I was impressed at how after the initial blow of lockdown, he and his team had bounced back and embraced modern channels to reopen, and in fact, have record days in takings during this period. Having been hesitant in the past to use Facebook or provide a ‘click and collect’ service, he saw an opportunity and grabbed it by the proverbials. This is a great example of someone embracing change and using digital in the least likely of traditional industries. He’s kept his business afloat (pun intended) and provided a much-needed service to his hungry customers. It was also a bloody good meal (The Village Fish Bar, highly recommended!) 

Digital Usage

As someone who has studied an MSc in marketing and is currently studying another in psychology, I’m obviously quite interested in behaviour. Particularly consumer digital behaviour.

An expected and understandable change in behaviour in lockdown is the increase in digital usage. As people stay indoors, lack face-to-face social interaction, and try to keep abreast of current developments, they are quite expectedly going to have changed the way they engage with others, find information and entertain themselves.

Recent statistics from Virgin Media show that internet usage is up 100%, a number echoed and in some cases exceeded by other providers across the globe.

In the absence of speaking to work colleagues at lunch, saying hi to that stranger in the street (only in the North of England obviously) or going out with friends for dinner, we seek to stimulate our social and intellectual needs in the digital world, and of course, social media plays a key role in doing so.

I proposed the idea earlier that there was a group of people who adapted to change, were optimistic and operated with a view of tasteful-positivity. I also posited the idea that there were those who thrive off negativity and were doing nothing to adapt to the current climate. 

I stop for a second to ask you, without prejudice or judgement, which category you feel you fit in?

Adapting to Change

The increased usage of digital channels provides an opportunity for the optimistic-adapter, the true entrepreneur. The Jack Russell Terrier of the business world (nature’s eternal optimists).

Your customers are without a doubt online. In 2019, 91% of all adults and 99% of people aged 16 to 44 in the UK had used the internet (ONS). Those individuals are now using it more than ever, more times in a day, for longer periods. 

There has never been a better time to engage your prospective customers online. As other businesses scale down their ad spend, social presence and marketing efforts, they provide you with an opportunity to tap into a captive audience and secure the market share they were too pessimistic to keep. 

Now is the time to engage your existing customers and more crucially, sweep up those customers that your competitors and other providers have abandoned, provide them with excellent value and service, and come out of this crisis with both fists swinging and a raging hard on at how well you’ve done. Not muddle through whilst your business is chipped away at. It’s time to adapt and invest, because we just don’t know how long this will last for and when it will be back (or something similar!).

What if you can’t sell your goods right now because of the crisis? Then get online, start generating awareness, conversations and leads so you can develop relationships for when you are able to! 

There will be a goldrush (or bloodbath) when the market finally makes its return (in whatever industry you operate in) for a short time at least. People will clamber for market share and it’s going to get noisy. 

If you are waiting until then to gain or resecure market share and customers, you have already lost the race. You will be drowned out amongst all the other people who’ve sat back and waited until it was ‘safe’ to engage and invest in their customers and business. The true winners will be those who have initiated and developed relationships throughout this period, have provided value and are already giving proverbial backrubs to the customers you cared about winning 7 weeks ago. 

What if I said you could get in the living room, bedroom and even toilet of your customers on a daily basis (in lockdown too!) with a highly relevant and engaging message? Would that be an interesting or attractive idea? What if I said there had never been a better time to do it? If the audience was captive and open to your messages? Would you think that sounds like a good plan? It is and you can. 

When are you going to do it? Now or when everyone else is?

This article was a long-winded way of saying…now is the time to reach your customers online, not later. An investment in digital now, will pay in dividends…quite literally.

Jack Barron

Director

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting his marketing journey at age 15 promoting music events, Jack went on to plan, market and execute his own events before joining the British Army and serving two front-line tours of Helmand Province. Upon returning to ‘civvy street’ he set up Rebel Marketing to provide marketing consultancy services to the events industry. At around the same time, he undertook an Events Management Degree at the University of Central Lancashire, attaining a 1st Class (Hons) Bachelor Degree, before moving to Manchester to work as the digital marketing manager for a city centre agency specialising in financial services marketing, eventually becoming their marketing director.
Whilst there he undertook an MSc in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan Unversity before reactivating and rebranding Rebel Marketing as Invoke Media in 2015. After moving Invoke Media to his hometown of Preston in 2018 to support the development and growth of the area, he has since started further studies and is due to complete another MSc in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.
Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. His experience working in the fast-moving events industry from a young age, along with a strong drive and discipline fostered by his time on the front line, all contribute to the work ethic and values of the company.

Read Time: 4 Minutes

 

When it comes to working with businesses or individuals providing a product or service, it’s normal for consumers to be a bit hesitant. In the UK, the average person is exposed to between 3,000 and 5,000 marketing messages every single day. As a result, most have become very good at “tuning out” most commercial messaging and digital marketing efforts. It’s what’s known in psychology as selective attention.

Further to that, the advent of the Internet, superfast wifi and internet-ready mobile technology means that your customers can research alternative solutions in an instant and are less than three seconds away from your competitors should you fail to grab their attention, develop relevance and build trust. That has made it more important than ever to develop meaningful relationships with customers and potential customers and to be proactive in your approach to do so. 

Thankfully, social media provides an excellent opportunity to identify, target and reach out to highly relevant members of you target audience, and if you want to maintain a professional appearance while still connecting with prospective clients, LinkedIn is a great platform for accountants and professional services in general.

The Professional Social Network

With over 690 million users across the globe, LinkedIn has grown to become the world’s largest professional network. 

People use the network for a variety of reasons, including job hunting, training, connecting with co-workers, and networking with other individuals/businesses. As an accountant, LinkedIn can be an important tool that’s used to connect with clients while still maintaining a professional presence. 

Platforms such as Facebook are extremely powerful, but they are often used for personal connection rather than a professional interaction. This means that whilst you can still reach out to those members of the target audience, they may well be less interested and open to having to professional or commercially focused conversations on what they consider to be a personal network. That isn’t to say other platforms can’t form part of a larger strategy, but LinkedIn reigns supreme for professional conversations with high-value decision-makers.

The Benefits of LinkedIn As an Accountant

So, why is LinkedIn so beneficial? LinkedIn allows you to position yourself as an authority in your field and a good solution to the problem they are facing. As an accountant your clients need trust that you know what you are doing, after all, their business’s success could depend on it.

LinkedIn provides an opportunity for prospective customers to research and form an opinion on your suitability as their accountancy service provider without even having to pick up the phone. Many people are averse to making phone calls or enquiries with other businesses before they have established that they are a good fit…why? Because years of hard-sales mentality, outbound PPI nuisances and being sold to has made them sceptical. They have likely had experiences in the past where they have been coerced into a service or have agreed to something without being fully behind it, and experienced buyers remorse. They don’t want to put themselves in that situation again without knowing that you are a good fit, trustworthy and are great at what you do. Aside from that, who has time to call round 20 accountants for a 20-minute call? It’s much easier to qualify them, much in the same way a salesperson would, before engaging in conversation with a smaller number of those that look like the most suitable providers.

Ensure you optimise your account for lead generation. Many use LinkedIn as a type of CV, but these people are here to see your ability to meet their needs, not offer you employment. Ensure all of the sections you are provided with are complete and geared towards your prospective customer. Our marketing health check for financial services industries identifies over 30 criteria for the optimum LinkedIn profile. Why don’t you get in touch and ask us to optimise your profile free of charge?

Post high-quality, relevant content 2 – 5 times per week and if possible, make sure that video forms a part of that content. It will keep you at the front-of-mind of your connections, show prospective customers that you are knowledgeable and provide opportunities for engagement and interactions with your peers, customers and prospective customers. Don’t forget…each one of those engagements, whether it be a post reaction or comment, will increase the visibility and reach of your post so more prospective customers will see it and how great you are at what you do.

Another great benefit of LinkedIn the ability to target, connect and message decision-makers in businesses that match your customer profile. Even the free version of LinkedIn has powerful search and targeting options, but the paid versions take this to the next level. We use Sales Navigator (Approx £60 per month) and it pays for itself ten times over. Having a paid version of LinkedIn also gives you a little badge or icon next to your profile picture which not only makes you stand out, it shows you are serious about your LinkedIn presence and engaging with customers.

Forming Customer Relationships

LinkedIn is a professional network, but it’s also a social network in that it allows you to connect with people and form professional relationships. Remember that advertising statistic from above? Using LinkedIn to talk to potential customers lets you cut through the noise of daily advertising and actually form relationships with your customers. 

We live in a world that offers a lot of surface connections. But, underneath that, many people feel very disconnected and are craving real conversation, even from the businesses they trust. Chatting with someone on LinkedIn about how you can help their business or even them, personally, will go a long way. It’s the best way to build trust and allow your customer to feel more comfortable with you. As a result, they’ll be more likely to keep using your services, and more likely to recommend you to others. 

The relationships that develop between you and customers on LinkedIn also give you the opportunity to “sell” to them. Because it’s a professional network, more people are open to the idea of buying and selling or even talking about such things. You wouldn’t just say hello to someone and then suggest they hire you. By forming a professional relationship, you can get a feel for what your potential customer wants and needs, and cater your conversations toward that before showing them how you can help. Our magic number is 5…why? Because we generally have the most success turning the conversation commercial after an average of 5 messages. People generally don’t like the sales message straight away, they want to be made to feel special, feel that you understand them and their needs and expect value to be given BEFORE you turn the conversation into one of providing them with services. I always like to use the relationship analogy…

Generally (depending on where in the UK they are from) people want to be taken out for a few meals and get to know someone before you get them into bed. They’ll probably want to get to know you before you move in together. They’ll likely want to have been seeing you for a while before they get married. You don’t just for the proposal the first time you meet them (or maybe you do?!).

Think of your initial messages as foreplay or courting before you give them the good news and turn the conversation into something YOU want (them as a client).

Is LinkedIn Necessary?

No.

That might seem like a shocking answer and completely contrary to everything else I’ve said, but it is true. LinkedIn is not necessary to market your accountancy practice. You managed before there was social media or maybe even the Internet, you would likely manage without LinkedIn now. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t catapult your business to the next level if you ‘did LinkedIn well’.

Of course, quality of conversation and engagement is a massive factor, but marketing still relies on numbers. I’m hesitant to say it is a numbers game because it isn’t a scattergun approach, it’s a sniper rifle. However, your chances of finding a good fit for your business, that needs you and is at the right stage of the buyer journey dramatically increase if you speak to more people, put your message in front of more people and develop relationships with more people. LinkedIn is a great way to do that in a scalable, systematic and measurable way, on a channel that people are open to discussing business and are likely in the commercial mindset.

If it’s general advice on LinkedIn you’re after, then we’re happy to add that value before we even think about selling the benefits of our LinkedIn Lead Generation services. I’ll stop short of saying I’ll take you on a few dates as I don’t think it would go down well at home, but I’ll certainly provide you with value, position myself as an authority and develop trust until the cows come home. Get in touch and we’ll start your LinkedIn lead generation journey today with a review of your profile. Just email us at hello@invokemedia.co.uk

Jack Barron

Director

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting his marketing journey at age 15 promoting music events, Jack went on to plan, market and execute his own events before joining the British Army and serving two front-line tours of Helmand Province. Upon returning to ‘civvy street’ he set up Rebel Marketing to provide marketing consultancy services to the events industry. At around the same time, he undertook an Events Management Degree at the University of Central Lancashire, attaining a 1st Class (Hons) Bachelor Degree, before moving to Manchester to work as the digital marketing manager for a city centre agency specialising in financial services marketing, eventually becoming their marketing director.
Whilst there he undertook an MSc in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan Unversity before reactivating and rebranding Rebel Marketing as Invoke Media in 2015. After moving Invoke Media to his hometown of Preston in 2018 to support the development and growth of the area, he has since started further studies and is due to complete another MSc in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.
Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. His experience working in the fast-moving events industry from a young age, along with a strong drive and discipline fostered by his time on the front line, all contribute to the work ethic and values of the company.

Hospitality

Read Time: 5 Minutes

 

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now in the millions, and with more and more countries going into lockdown, the question on many peoples minds is ‘When will it all be over?’.

Whilst we should spare a thought for those suffering and their loved ones, I don’t think there’s any shame in thinking forwards to what the marketplace will look like when this crisis is over, and I think it’s wise that business owners not only plan their recovery strategy, but be prepared to execute it at short notice.

None of us knows whether this crisis and lockdown are going to last 3 weeks or 3 months. Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer gave the indication that the lockdown could be 6 months, with others suggesting up to 12 or even 18 months.

The uncertainty of the current situation is without a doubt a contributing stress factor to both individuals and businesses alike. For many, the lack of there being a light at the end of the tunnel is troubling. It stifles optimism and drive, and of course, it makes planning for the future difficult.

It’s like being made to go out on a run, but not knowing exactly how far you’re going or for how long you’ll be out. At some point, your motivation is going to wane, but you may only be 100m from the finish line…who knows? Given the number of people who’ve taken up daily marathon-length training sessions on my Strava feed in recent weeks, that was probably a bad analogy.

I think it’s fair to point out right now, we’re marketers here at Invoke Media, not public health experts. We aren’t going to be making any predictions in this article about when this crisis will be over or the impact it’s going to have from a health or political perspective, we’ll leave that to the Facebook warriors looking for a bite.

What we do know about is business, and I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss with you some predictions about how businesses and consumers are likely to act when the lockdown is lifted. Let’s have a look firstly at how consumers may act.

Consumer Behaviour

When will the market return?

Hospitality Manchester

It’s difficult to say how exactly people will react without knowing when the lockdown will be lifted, and what that will look like. There are suggestions that we could go into full lockdown, whilst others say we’re likely to go into a ‘semi-lockdown’ scenario, with most industries returning to work but certain activities and industries being prohibited, such as sporting events and restaurants reopening. The fact is, we don’t know what’s going to happen.

It’s essential to note that many people, are experiencing a reduction in wages or income, but that could be offset with reduced costs as they travel less and learn the benefits of cooking meals at home instead of eating out. Again, it’s difficult to quantify the impact on individuals personal financial situations, when there are so many variables at play and people in such different circumstances.

What we do predict, however, is a quick rebound in the market for hospitality & leisure in the days and weeks following the lockdown. After weeks or months stuck inside, we predict Brits will be flowing to restaurants, bars, spas and hotels to enjoy all of the creature comforts and small luxuries that they have missed. As a species, we place high value on resources that are limited. Scarcity as a marketing and sales tactic is one of the most powerful motivators in persuasion, and it is one that has been deployed effectively to the population in recent weeks without any effort from marketers or business owners. We expect a short period of hedonism, as those with expendable income ‘blow off some steam’ after months in the house with their three-year-old on constant repeat. Expect meals out, nights out, weekends away and general ‘treating oneself’ to be one of the first orders of business.

This obviously provides an opportunity for those in the industries affected to recoup some of their losses from an inactive period.

On the flip side of that coin, there is also the possibility that people may be apprehensive about engaging in pursuits that place them around others, as they practice extended social distancing until they are confident the threat has passed. It’s hard to say, these are unprecedented times and there’s no rule book to follow, what we advise is to prepare for both eventualities.

It is also of note to mention that this period of hedonism and spending could be short-lived, as some economists predict a looming recession.

Broken Habits

Let’s quickly take a very simplified look at the habit formation process.

Credit: Blue Oceans. Based on Charles Duhigg’s “Habit Loop” in The Power of Habit.

Reminder: The Trigger or Cue 

Routine: The Behaviour or Action

Reward: The Benefit from the Action

Humans are creatures of habit. We know what we like and when presented with too much choice (or too little!), we’ll often go for the safe option. Let’s use a meal at a restaurant as an example.

Let’s say I go for a meal out every Friday with my girlfriend for ‘date night; (Trigger/Cue). I get to the restaurant(behaviour/action), being greeted with a warm smile from the Maître D and swiftly directed to my table, I have a great meal and on my way out get another glowing smile and farewell as if from a lifelong friend. I’ve had a great experience (benefit/reward).

The chances are that I’m going back. There’s been a positive feedback loop and the habit-forming process has begun.

The following week we go on date night again, we look online at the vast array of options of where to eat and can’t decide (a very real problem with my girlfriend!), after 20 minutes of trying to make a decision we select the restaurant from the week before (the habit is formed).

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and we won’t want to eat at the same place every time. After a month of eating there, we might decide to try somewhere new, have an experience that isn’t necessarily bad but just isn’t as good, and then go back to our original restaurant the following week.

Let’s break this down to the restaurant example again:

Reminder (Trigger/Cue): Girlfriend/Friday

Routine (Behaviour/action): Visit Favourite Restaurant

Reward (Benefit): Have a Great Meal & Experience

Habit: Return to Restaurant Following Week

How does this affect your business?

Being in lockdown means that many of our habits are broken, not by choice, but circumstance. In my example above, date night itself is now broken as a habit, not just the choice of restaurant.

This means that when the market does return, you may find that many of your customers take the opportunity to try a competitor or alternative solution. They may have been forced to find alternative ways to get the reward that you once provided and in fact now prefer it due to the experience or its cost. They may not even restart ‘date night’ or the habit that brings them to you.

On the flip side of that coin, you may also find that you have a completely new pool of people open to trying your business who were previously loyal to a competitor. We’ll come on to this in a minute.

As I keep saying at the moment…treat adversity as an opportunity.

What can you do to make it work for you?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to keep the positive feedback loop going if you’ve been forced to close during the lockdown. The restaurant example I gave earlier couldn’t be more apt. Whilst some have opened a delivery service, for most people the actual experience of going to the restaurant is as important as the food itself.

You can, however, do the next best thing…stay front-of-mind and build desire. Front-of-mind (also called top-of-mind) awareness is essentially brand recognition and recall, it’s staying in front of your customers and being the first brand in your industry that they think of. We wrote an article on in recently that you can read HERE. When I talk about building desire I refer to teasing the benefits of what you offer in a tasteful and situationally aware manner. See this post we created for a client as a good example (if we say so ourselves).

By keeping your customers engaged, across multiple channels, you are keeping the embers of their habit cycles burning. You’re staying at the forefront of their minds and maintaining their loyalty. You’re also raising awareness in those who’ve become disengaged with their usual provider, providing an opportunity to capture their loyalty when the market returns.

Clamber for Market Share

Have you ever been paintballing?

As a man with a military past, I normally fare quite well. One of the tactics I employ in the classic capture the flag scenario, one I’ve had to utilise in a real-life scenario, is to dash forward in the opening minutes, to find the best cover and launch my attack or make my decision as to the next best course of action. One thing that is hammered into you when conducting attacks as an Infantryman is to keep the momentum going, and the same principle applies in paintball, as it does business.

It’s about gaining ground and putting yourself in the most favourable position to launch your assault, keeping a rate of fire that puts you on the front foot and the enemy (or competition!) on the back foot.

European empires of bygone centuries used the exact same strategy, albeit on a larger scale. Grabbing land and carving it up amongst themselves, providing them with resources as well as strategic advantage and thrust.

I use the military analogy purposely, as business strategy is directly modelled on military strategy. The words and concepts have been directly brought over from centuries of military knowledge into the corporate and business world.

How does this affect your business?

When the market returns, it will be a ‘land grab’ situation, with businesses clambering for market share. Everyone will be dashing forward to gain ground (the customers!) and put themselves the best position to capture the flag (customer loyalty).

This is why it is essential that you not only invest in engaging with existing and prospective customers but plan an aggressive marketing campaign that can be executed at short notice.

What can you do to make it work for you?

There’s a saying that’s I consider to be a little cliché, but accurate: “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail”. I’m sure you’ve seen it on a boardroom wall somewhere, accompanied by a picture of a soaring eagle or some other ‘motivational’ image…but there’s a lot to be said for it. If your business is unable to trade, then you need to be planning for when it is able to. Use this opportunity to get your plan in place, get prepared to execute it and when the time is right you’ll be ready to pounce.

Capture The Flag

The game has already begun, it’s time to make your advance forward and gain ground. It’s up to you to execute some of your own positive habits to give your business the best chance of survival and success post COVID-19. To summarise, we recommend you adopt the following strategy:

  • Keep your current customers engaged with regular (and appropriate) communications across multiple channels. Agitate the problem and build desire. Remind them why you are the best at what you do, and what a great experience you provide. If you can spare a budget for ad spend, then do so. Investing in keeping your business in front of as many people as possible is a wise move.
  • Mitigate the loss of loyal customers and those who have ‘broken the habit’ by staying front-of-mind, positioning yourself as the caring, responsible business that you are, and treat your customers well in uncertain times. How you treat your customers and staff now will be how you are remembered in 3 or 6 months time.
  • Be prepared. Get your recovery plan in place, make it aggressive and bold. Be prepared to invest in advertisements and get in front of as many of your target audience members as possible, in as short of a time as possible. Develop offers and provide them with the cue/trigger to undertake the action/behaviour so they can receive the benefit/reward that your business provides. Use the adversity you are presented with, as an opportunity to win loyal, habit-driven customers, and put yourself in a better position than you were before any of this happened.

If you’d like us to help you do this, or to ask any questions about the article above & business in general, please get in touch.

Email us at: hello@invokemedia.co.uk and myself or one of the team will be happy to help.

In times of uncertainty, your marketing activity may be the last thing on your mind, but maintaining an active online presence is incredibly important. Now is the time to reassure customers, share positive news and provide company announcements. 

There’s a multitude of things you can be doing to keep your brand/business/organisation front of mind, aside from selling or marketing messages. 

What is Front of Mind Awareness?

First of all, you may be wondering what Front of Mind (FoM) even is. Front of Mind Awareness (also known as Top of Mind Awareness) is defined as the first brand, product or service that comes to mind in a specific category. 

Here’s a quick exercise for you, what’s the first brand that comes to mind when asked the following?

Sofa?

Coffee?

Luxury Cars?

Marketing Agency?

Soft Drink?

I tried this with our marketing assistant Nina and this is what she said:

Sofa? DFS

Coffee? Costa

Luxury car? Ferrari 

Marketing Agency? Invoke Media 

Soft drink? Coke

Chances are many of these answers will be similar, simply because big brands have curated a large mass of relevant and cohesive content, memorable adverts and have spent top dollar on advertising. 

Now, lots of small businesses don’t have multi-million budgets but there are many ways you can stay front of mind with an SME budget and achieve big brand awareness. 

5 Steps to Keep Front of Mind

Be different

Start with what makes you different as a brand. Consider what makes your company special. Is it market niche? High service level? Clearly articulate this message to customers across social media channels and email. If you’re struggling to determine your key USP’s we’d advise on performing a competitor analysis using SWOT as a framework, to learn their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will clearly help you define who you are as a brand and your key unique selling points. A competitor analysis helps you learn the ins and out of how your competition works, and identify what they’re doing wrong and how you can do it better. We regularly run these for our own business and for our clients, and they’re a great way of keeping on top of the market, and understanding what is working (and isn’t!) for others. 

 

Connect emotionally

This is a huge one for all businesses. By doing something small, it proves to your customers that you genuinely care about them, creates memorability and it resonates with the public. If a social media feed is full of negativity, a positive post really can hit home with many consumers. How you do that will depend on your type of business but here’s one that really struck a chord with us: 

Local Preston restaurant The Silk Route delivered free food to frontline health workers. This small gesture will stick at the forefront of many customer’s minds and they’ll likely order from there again. We know where we’ll be getting our next office takeaway from 🙂 

 Of course, it is essential that you act appropriately and any goodwill gestures are genuine, and from the heart. Your customers aren’t daft and they won’t appreciate it if they think you’re taking advantage of the situation to further your own ends. 

Check with someone and see how it looks from an objective eye. We’re more than happy to help you at no cost if you just need us to look at something and give our opinion.

 

Edgar the Dragon: John Lewis…experts at connecting with their audience emotionally.

Build an email list

Building an email list takes time and a solid strategy, but it’s well worth it to be able to market to your customers and stay front of mind, with one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels. 

Here are some ways you can build your list: 

  • Offer value-added material on your site or social to capture email addresses (a free recipe, a discount code)
  • Launch a competition on your social media or website
  • Ask your existing contacts and customers if they’d be okay going on your list
  • Put an exit-intent popup on your site

If you’ve already got a loyal following of newsletter subscribers, you’re halfway there. By emailing your subscribers regularly with fresh and relevant content, you’ll stay front-of-mind and ultimately will keep your customers’ engaged. The inbox is one of the most direct ways to connect with audiences, as long as emails are consistent and packed with value. 

 

Use consistent branding

Use any downtime your teams may have currently to re-evaluate your branding. Look at your brand identity as a whole, your website design, the look and feel of your social media channels, the quality of images, infographics. All of these contribute to brand recall. You may have the best product or service out there but if you have branding that isn’t consistent or looks poor, your business may not be front-of-mind. 

One of the key starting points for many businesses is to consult their Style Guide/Brand Guidelines. If you haven’t got one take a look at some fantastic templates. We’ve created two versions for you to look at, see the corporate style HERE or the more modern style HERE.

The Style Guide will act as your bible for all things branding, take the time to re-evaluate your fonts and colour choices. Are there any colour contrasts? Is the header typeface legible? Something as simple as a colour can really impact your brand, according to Forbes Magazine “Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%”. Take note of some of these questions when you are looking at your branding strategy, if you do require any additional help, please contact us and we’d e happy to help.

By having a clearly defined set of brand guidelines you can ensure consistency across your marketing communications and business as a whole. This becomes all the more important when you hire new staff or outsource elements of your marketing to other businesses.

 

Create freebies

Everyone loves a freebie – either a free trial, free download, free eBook or free advice. It’s a great starting point for brands to connect with a consumer on the buyer journey. Once you have their trust there is a much higher likelihood that they will buy from you or re-engage with your services again. Please do ensure that this tactic is part of an overall marketing strategy, to effectively manage your results. 

Will you be trying any of the tips above? If so let us know, it’d be great to hear some success stories. 

As we like to practice what we preach, we will be providing a series of free guides, articles and resources in the Lancashire area, advising on how best to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on their business. We will be happy to provide you with advice or help in any way that we can assist your business, just get in touch.

 

Kirsty Doyle

Marketing Executive

Invoke Media

01772 921 109

Being successful in business is about more than simply having a great idea and a good business model. It’s also about nurturing your own character so that you, yourself, can be successful in whatever you do. This is especially important when you’re a small or medium-sized business, where you often find that the directors and founders wear multiple ‘hats’, performing a range of job functions within the business.

There’s a reason why so many successful businessmen and women seem somewhat similar to one another: confident, outgoing, and forward-thinking. There are certain character traits that just lend themselves to good business acumen, and topping the list should be optimism. Here are six reasons why optimism is a trait every entrepreneur should seek to possess.

1. Optimism increases productivity

Research has shown that optimistic people work harder, probably because they can more clearly see the goal they’re working towards. Maintaining a positive outlook is proven to increase productivity and therefore make you better at business.

2. Optimism begets optimism

A good mood is contagious, and optimism is largely the same; business is usually people-centric, and when you’re constantly surrounded by clients, colleagues, and staff, the last thing you want to do is put them off with your dreary personality. People around you will enjoy your optimism and probably become more optimistic themselves because of it.

Heard of the law of attraction? Whilst it is widely considered pseudoscientific, there’s something to be said for having a positive mindset. Believing that you can achieve your goals, and conveying that to those around you, is certainly going to be helpful (if not a precondition!) of success.

3. Optimism doesn’t accept failure

Failure is normal; not every business venture succeeds. Those entrepreneurs who succeed overall are the ones who can take failures and get back up again with determination in their eyes. Pessimists fall at the first hurdle; optimists stay in the race. In times of hardship, which in business you will undoubtedly face, the ability to dust off and get back up is essential. The Coronavirus Pandemic, which floored businesses and the economy as a whole, could be viewed as the end, or as an opportunity, lesson or rebirth. How you perceive setback and how you respond to them will have a direct impact on the resilience of your business.

Optimism: An essential attribute of entrepreneurialism

4. Optimism is healthier

Whether you’re in business or not, it’s a good idea to nurture your own sense of optimism if only for your health. A study conducted by the University of Illinois found that optimistic participants were 76% more likely to have an ‘ideal’ health score.

5. Optimism means growth

Optimists are more likely than pessimists to venture outside of their comfort zones and try something new. In business, nothing is more important than this. The old adage rings true: nothing risked, nothing gained. Business is all about innovation, and how can we innovate if we’re afraid to try something new?

6. Optimism just… makes sense

At the end of the day, pessimism is just not going to get you very far. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why are you doing it? You might as well just quit, right? When you realise that optimism really is the only sensible attitude you can have when it comes to business, you’ll realise how important it is to practice thinking positively – even when the chips are down.

For advice and assistance with business strategy and marketing – or even just a friendly pep talk in entrepreneurial optimism – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Local Businesses Affected By COVID-19 Pandemic To Receive Free Support

Preston marketing agency Invoke Media offers free services to local businesses to help them survive the impact of COVID-19

Cotton Court Business Centre based marketing agency Invoke Media, are offering a range of free services to local businesses affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic, to help them survive the difficult economic climate.

The move comes as the future of tens of thousands of businesses in the county is brought into question as a result of the pandemic and the associated measures aimed at curbing its spread.

Free support for Lancashire based SMEs

The services are being offered free of charge, and without a catch, obligation or any attempt by the agency to sell services. The charitable move comes as Invoke themselves suffer in the current climate of uncertainty.

Invoke moved their business to Preston from Manchester in June of 2018, in part, to support and be a part of the growth and development of the Central Lancashire area; a move that Invoke Media director says has been massively beneficial to the business.

 

 

Jack Barron, Director of Invoke Media said:

“We moved the business to my home town nearly 2 years ago to be a part of its growth. Financially it was the best move we could have made, and we have been working with some amazing clients from the local area. There’s a great business community around here and we have a lot to be grateful to Preston and Lancashire for.

I think now is an opportunity for us to pay back into the local business community and local economy when it needs it most. We’re here for the long haul, that’s got to be through the tough times as well as the good ones. Now is the time to get stuck in and help others in the area who find themselves struggling or set back because of recent events”.

Many businesses have found themselves without cash flow, and have therefore stopped marketing or disengaged with their agencies. Invoke Media intend to provide an alternative option, that allows businesses to stay at the forefront of their customer’s minds without any financial burden.

Their ability to provide these services free of charge is owed largely to a comprehensive business continuity and resilience plan written earlier in the year. Key members of the team will not be furloughed, instead, any additional capacity created as a result of COVID-19 will be put to use helping the local business community.

Invoke Media Director Jack Barron

Jack Barron added:
“We aren’t expecting to onboard any new clients over the next three months at the very least, and we ourselves have been hit hard by recent events, with 80% of our revenue disappearing within a week. What better way to use the capacity generated over the coming months than to help others and build bridges in the local community.

We have been humbled by the kind acts of other businesses and we’d like to pass that goodwill forward”.

Services include group conference calls with local business owners, one-to-one support and consultancy, social media management, marketing health checks and much more.

The services are available immediately with monthly reviews. Some services are expected to be in high demand, so you are advised to enquire as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

 

 

 

To take advantage of the offer visit: http://www.invokemedia.co.uk/coronavirus-business-assistance/

Press Contact
Kirsty Doyle, Marketing Executive
Invoke Media

Email
Kirsty@invokemedia.co.uk

Telephone
01772 921 109

The threat of disruption comes in many forms for the modern organisation. Things like viruses, earthquakes and cyber attacks are bigger threats than ever. With technology playing an ever-increasing role in business processes and consumer expectations, there are more things that can go wrong. You’ll rarely be given any advance warning when a disruption occurs, so the only way to be prepared is to have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). But what is a BCP, how does it work and how do you create one?

What is a BCP?

A BCP gives comprehensive guidance on the procedures and processes that must be followed in the event an organisation experiences a significant disruption. It must identify the risks that could cause issues for the organisation, such as:

– Economic issues
– Civil unrest
– Internal vulnerabilities
– Cyberattacks/Cybercrime
– Technological problems
– Extreme weather events
– Public health issues

Business disruption can come in many forms.

Every identified risk should be followed by a set of temporary measures and/or quick fixes to keep as many important business operations as functional as possible. Most organisations will prioritise their technologies, as things like online systems, network connections, phone lines, servers, business applications and network drives are all vulnerable to disruption. Furthermore, if something goes wrong with any of these technologies, it can cause serious problems across the entire business.

That said, business continuity planning is about more than just protecting IT functions. It centres around the critical activities that could instantly jeopardise your services and productivity if disrupted. Thus, IT is one of several resources that are essential for the preservation of those activities.

Restoring your IT could take some time, so it’s important to have plans in place for how business can keep going in the meantime. Temporary solutions can be low-tech ones, like carrying out processes with good old pen and paper. Whatever solutions you plan, they should be thoroughly documented in a BCP to inform employees of how to proceed.

What should be included in a BCP?

There are certain things any good BCP should cover. These are:

Purpose and scope:

You must establish the purpose of the plan and what it covers, particularly if your organisation includes subsidiaries and/or multiple locations. You may want to consider making separate plans for each subsidiary/location.

Responsibilities:

You must identify the employees who will be responsible for enacting the plan. Smaller organisations might only need a single leader, while larger organisations may need to nominate a group. You may also need to give authority to anyone who needs to handle the financial costs of disruption.

Plan invocation:

When and how will the plan come into effect? It’s not always clear whether a disruption meets the criteria, so you will need to document who starts the process and how to mobilise the response teams.

Development of the BCP:

This is where you put the meat onto the bones; the actions needed to recover from the disruptions you identify. You will need to carry out a risk assessment and a Business Impact Assessment (BIA) to identify threats and the impact they will have on your organisation. With this information to hand, you can outline the steps required for each disruption to protect people, contain the disruption and prevent further disturbance to priority activities.

Communication:

Plan for how internal and external communications will be maintained. This might include how to notify next of kin if your employees’ wellbeing is at risk. You will also want to plan for communications with the media.

Stakeholders: Your BCP should contain contact details of stakeholders, as they will need to be notified immediately following a disruption.

Document owner, approver and record of changes:

The BCP is owned by the business continuity manager, who takes responsibility for reviewing and testing the procedures.

Managing changes:

The plan should be available in both hard copy and digital formats, and all staff should have access. If changes are made, the digital and hard copy forms must be updated.

Doing it right

If you include everything listed above, the other key consideration is to test, or ‘validate’, it. You should test it at least twice a year to ensure it is still relevant. Having a business plan for preserving continuity following a disruption will help protect your organisation’s reputation, boost employee morale and strengthen relationships with third parties and subsidiaries. Every organisation should have a BCP – you will be glad of it if/when something happens. If you don’t have a BCP in place already, you should address that immediately to ensure your organisation can remain productive at all times.

Not on Instagram yet? Been a while since you updated your Facebook page? You’re missing a trick! Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching your audience, as well as building brand loyalty. If you’re serious about providing your customers with the very best possible experience, as well as raising your visibility among your target audience, social media is a must. We’ve put together a few of the points that prove social media is an absolute essential for successful restaurant marketing.

1. Social Proof

Customer feedback and reviews create social proof, building trust in your brand. In fact, reviews are one of the key drivers for decision making when it comes to product purchasing, especially in the hospitality industry. With some sources suggesting that potential customers give online reviews the same weight as a recommendation from a friend, it makes sense to encourage as much public feedback as possible. Encouraging customers to share pictures of your dishes on their social media (especially Instagram), is also a fantastic way to let more people know just what delights are in store when they choose you for their next meal out.

2. Be Part of What’s Going On

From celebrating the seasons and national festivals with your audience to current world events or local news, social media gives you a unique opportunity to tailor what you offer to suit your audience’s needs, mood and expectations. It also provides an excellent chance to raise awareness of what you’ve got on offer and how it might benefit customers. Social media gives you the chance to connect with your audience on a deeper level than business.

3. Interaction & Connection

Few things build brand loyalty as much as interaction, which is precisely what social media marketing for restaurants encourages. From reviews through to comments, competition entries, features to share and more, social media posts provide prime content for your audience to engage with and feel connected to your business.

4. Keep Your Audience Informed

Whether it’s an emergency update to inform customers about an event that may impact on their visit (for example roadworks, refurbishment work, extreme weather or some other incident), a reminder to book early to avoid disappointment or an announcement regarding a time-limited offer, social media is a good way to quickly provide your customers with vital information.

5. Social Media is Cost-Effective

PPC, SEO and similar tactics all require a considerable amount of technical know-how, as well as a significant financial outlay. In contrast, social media is extremely easy to use (the majority of restaurant owners or proprietors will already have social media accounts – business accounts are no different) and also FREE. Although someone needs to put the work in by making regular posts, commenting appropriately and responding to customer feedback, social media for restaurants is an extremely cost-effective option.

Social media for restaurants is a proven way of attracting trade and increasing repeat business. Give it a go and see the benefits enhanced social media engagement can bring. Get in touch with us today on hello@invokemedia.co.uk

 

Jane Newby

Marketing Assistant

Read Time: 4 Minutes

 

For independent travel businesses, competition with major online travel agents can be fierce. Often, these operations run on a large scale and can reach a broader customer base, and as a result, pose significant challenges to the rest of the travel industry. 

For many customers, OTAs offer convenience and access to discounted holidays as well as the ability to compare offers. These may be the key factors that attract customers. However, customer service is still significant to many people. And this is the point of difference that independent travel businesses offer. 

To compete, however, it’ll take more than excellent service. You need to focus your attention on providing a combination of automation, personalisation, remarketing, and work on attaining multi-channel exposure. 

In short, to fight the dominant OTAs, you need to invest in your online presence. 

Streamline Your Operation With Automation 

Automation will be a key element in the transformation of your business. This means reviewing your processes and seeing what can be made more effecient. How can you make your operations smoother so that you can pay more attention to your customers? 

Including a personalised touch to your automation will allow your customers to retain the feeling that they are still valued and are receiving the best service possible. 

To automate your travel business, you should look at finding a single platform that can handle all of your business operations in the simplest possible way. This means a full integrating CRM functionality within your business platform. 

The technology that you use should be able to handle every aspect of your travel businesses process, including: 

  • Lead generating 
  • Responding to customer queries 
  • Taking bookings
  • Managing inventory
  • Taking payments
  • Creating sales reports

Take a Multi-Channel Approach 

To achieve maximum success with your automated systems, your CRM needs to be mobile-friendly. 

Mobile browsing accounts for more than half of web traffic, and customers will often book their holidays straight from their smartphone. In fact, the smartphone booking percentages rise closer to the date of the holiday it is. Don’t miss out on this important market share. 

Linking your service with a mobile app will improve the customer service experience while allowing you direct access to engage with your customers, and learn more about their habits and preferences. 

Having this type of technology and customer information at your disposal will make it easier when remarketing any leads have not led to a booking. 

Successful Marketing and Remarketing Using Customer Personalisation 

When improving the digital experience that your travel business offers, look for ways to create a personalised experience for your customers. This means searching for ways to engage in a meaningful way. 

Throughout the booking process, there are multiple opportunities to have automated emails and messages sent to your customers. These may include: 

  • Booking confirmations
  • Payment received messages
  • Bon voyage messages

You could, however, tailor some more personalised content that will add value to your customers. This could include: 

  • Suggestions for places to visit on their holiday 
  • Packing lists
  • Weather forecasts for the date and location of their holiday
  • Advice on visas and vaccinations 

But don’t just stop at getting in touch before their holiday. With many customers keen to book their next holiday immediately after the last one, it’s always a good idea to have automated emails sent out asking for feedback on their holiday. 

Travel marketing should not just be about making one booking. If you have promotions for returning customers or a loyalty scheme, a great chance to promote these is when asking how a customer’s holiday was. 

Make Life Easier for You and Your Customers

By developing a convenient multi-channel experience for your customers, you will be ensuring they can easily book with you, whether from a desktop site, their web browsers, or a smartphone app. 

But investing in that point of difference and finding ways to personalise the experience at every opportunity will help to remind your customers how important they are to you. It will be this that keeps your customers coming back time-and-again when you retarget them through your end-to-end system with CRM.  

Investing in technology and automation does not need to lead to a soulless experience for your customers. Remember to add your brand’s personality into everything that you do. 

Travel agent marketing using this type of automated system will save you money. You’ll be able to deliver a higher standard of personalised experience without having to worry about the additional expenses required in hiring a large team of customer service advisors. 

 

Jack Barron

Director

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting his marketing journey at age 15 promoting music events, Jack went on to plan, market and execute his own events before joining the British Army and serving two front-line tours of Helmand Province. Upon returning to ‘civvy street’ he set up Rebel Marketing to provide marketing consultancy services to the events industry. At around the same time, he undertook an Events Management Degree at the University of Central Lancashire, attaining a 1st Class (Hons) Bachelor Degree, before moving to Manchester to work as the digital marketing manager for a city centre agency specialising in financial services marketing, eventually becoming their marketing director.
Whilst there he undertook an MSc in Marketing Communications at Manchester Metropolitan Unversity before reactivating and rebranding Rebel Marketing as Invoke Media in 2015. After moving Invoke Media to his hometown of Preston in 2018 to support the development and growth of the area, he has since started further studies and is due to complete another MSc in Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.
Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. His experience working in the fast-moving events industry from a young age, along with a strong drive and discipline fostered by his time on the front line, all contribute to the work ethic and values of the company.