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8th September 2015 0

Matt

Every day hundreds if not thousands of people start a business. This means there’s a lot of people out there racking their brains, scouring the dictionary and internet domain registrars to find a suitable name for their new venture.

But what’s in a name?

A lot. A good company or brand name can play a significant part in whether a venture succeeds or fails. Just look what happened to PriceWaterHouseCoopers in 2002 when it announced it was changing its name to Monday. People were left confused, the media ridiculed the company and another organisation had already registered the website address they wanted to use. It wasn’t quite so bad for Norwich Union when it moved to Aviva. It took a while for us all to get used to that name change. Royal Mail moving to Consignia sat somewhere in between.

When it comes to choosing a name, there’s a few golden rules to bear in mind.

Go for a name that people will remember. Choose something that’s easy to spell and to say over the phone.

You don’t have to say what your company does in the name, you can always add a tag line to it (a descriptor that appears under your name, such as Lava: Design, Digital, PR, Social Media).

Also make sure that there’s not another company using the same name as this will cause problems securing website and email addresses and potentially lost business as confused customers contact the wrong firm. Checking Companies House is a good start, but remember this just lists plc’s and limited companies.

Think about the type of a business you’re creating. Will it be fun, lively, creative or will it be a more serious entity? Choose a name which reflects these values.

Once you’ve decided on a name, secured the best domain name possible and thought about the values you want to convey, it’s time to create an identity and this is where design can make all the difference. Good graphic design can make your company appear more established than it really is, larger than it is and give people confidence that you’re professional, successful and approachable.

Finally, take time to name your start up. As with people, changing the appearance of a company (it’s logo, stationery and website) is a lot easier than changing its name.

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24th August 2015 0

Joe

We’re currently working with the team behind, Festival800, an artistic response to Magna Carta. The sealing of that document 800 years ago is what provides us with the amazing powers of freedom of speech which we enjoy today. But in a marketing context, are we really free to say what we want about our company, products or services?

The short answer is no.

Advertising
With regards to advertising, the law says that you must give an accurate description of your product and that your advertising must be legal, decent, truthful, honest and socially responsible.

So, how do you ensure your advert is legal? First of all, don’t lie, miss out any vital information or be aggressive in your advertising.

You need to be crystal clear about pricing too. If you quote a price that excludes VAT, then this needs to be clear. You also need to make sure you can prove any claims you make with solid evidence. If you say something is the best, then make sure you can qualify your claim. This is why you see all the small print at the bottom of adverts promoting beauty products. You know the bit where it says the product was tested on 20 ladies and 17 said it was amazing!

Talking of beauty products, that industry is covered by specific set regulations as are adverts are aimed at children or promoting food, alcohol, environmentally friendly products, medicines, political parties and tobacco.

If you’re unsure about what the law says then you should read the Committee of Advertising Practice code, which cover non-broadcast advertising (eg print, online), sales promotion and direct marketing. TV and radio adverts are governed by Ofcom’s broadcast rules.

If you are advertising to consumers then you should also read the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations.

Advertising to businesses? Don’t feature a competitors’ logo or trademark; don’t compare your product with a competing one that isn’t the same and don’t make any misleading comparisons between the two. You can find a wealth of information in within Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations

Data Protection
Don’t’ forget if you’re gathering, storing or using information about potential or current customers then there’s also data protection to consider and this applies not just to printed direct mail but also e-mail marketing.

Direct Marketing
If you’re sending promotional faxes to individuals, then you’ll need their permission to do so before sending the fax. Using telemarketing, make sure the people you’re contacting haven’t registered with the Telephone Preference Service. If they have, then phoning them is illegal and could result in a £5,000 fine.

For traditional, posted, direct mail, make sure your mailing list doesn’t include people who’ve registered with the Mail Preference Service.

Email marketing and text messages
I suspect you get lots of unsolicited emails every day but you shouldn’t. Companies are only allowed to send marketing emails to people if they have permission to do so. If you’re using email marketing and have a bought a list from a data company, then check you have the right to use it for email marketing and make sure that in every email you send, you tell people who you are, that you’re selling and if you’re including a promotion, make sure the conditions are easily available.

PR Activity
Promoting yourself by sending out press releases? Then you still need to make sure you’re legal.

Avoid saying anything that’s misleading. Just like advertising, don’t say anything you cannot substantiate. Journalists won’t believe you’re the best without proof. That’s why many companies describe themselves as ‘the leading’, whatever that means.

You also need be aware of The Defamation Act 2013.

There are several definitions of defamation of character. One widely used definition is: “A statement which tends to lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, and in particular cause him to be regarded with feeling of hatred, contempt, ridicule, fear or disesteem.”

The Act requires the claimant to show how exactly they have suffered serious harm or are likely to suffer serious harm as a result of the statement. Whether the statement will be considered libel or slander, depends on how the statement was made.

If it was said or is in a ‘transitory’ form then it will be considered slander, unless it was broadcast on television, radio or made in a public performance of a play.

A statement will be libellous, if it has been has been published; seen by a third party; and be easy for readers to identify the claimant even if it does not explicitly state his or her name. 

Online And Social Media
Using Facebook and Twitter to promote your business? Blogging? Then remember, once you’ve published something online you, as the author are legally responsible for the content. That means you need to make sure you can substantiate your claims, that you’re not slandering someone or infringing copyright – do you have permission to use all of the images on your website?

And don’t forget the internet is global. Publishing on the worldwide web means the content can be challenged in other countries, and the laws governing defamation do vary from country to country.

Be Transparent
When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, transparency is essential. Don’t create content that appears to come from other people. Don’t involve celebrities or pay others to post nice things about you. What is and is not allowable in social media marketing is a grey area, so I’d recommend airing on the side of caution as anything promotional that’s posted on social media needs to comply with the Committee of Advertising Code.

As you can see there are many factors and areas of the law that cover marketing activity, so perhaps whilst Magna Carta gave us freedom of speech to an extent, not all of its privileges extend to marketing.

Hopefully this short overview will help you stay within the boundaries of what is acceptable. And, if you’re unsure, remember this simple saying – “if in doubt, leave it out’.


23rd July 2015 0

Matt

This post was originally written for The Lincolnite news website in 2013 but it’s still all relevant to today.


Despite sustained economic growth during the first and second quarters of 2013, businesses nationwide are still faced with challenging market conditions.

In fact, with few companies reporting notable share price rises, minimal consumer spending figures and high lending charges across the UK, it seems that we have significant distance to go before reaching dry ground.

With this in mind, more and more businesses are looking towards marketing initiatives to maintain income and stay afloat. In particular, focus is being driven towards a customer-relations approach.

Although a simple principle, keeping your customers front of mind is essential to long-term business success. Long gone are the days of asymmetric communication, identifying quick leads and hard selling. Instead, focus must shift towards listening to your customers, reacting to their changing requirements, building trust and developing relationships.

Listening, however, is something often overshadowed by sales targets, promotional strategies and finance plans. But with daily reports of business bankruptcy, liquidation and administration, can you really afford not to?

Retaining Customers
There is no straightforward equation to ensure a high customer retention rate. This said, we do know that trust, confidence and self-association are all key to building emotional bonds.

Although this sounds complex, building and retaining trust is relatively simple. In fact, it should come naturally from good business practice.

Monitoring market trends and requirements, creating new and improved products and rectifying poor customer experiences is key, and, what’s more, there are a number of marketing tools that allow you to do this easily.

Here’s some of the most popular examples to get you started:

Social Media
From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, Pinterest and blogging, social media gives a direct communications channel to engage with stakeholders, interact directly, respond to queries and monitor feedback.

Free to set up, simple to run and easy to manage, social media is one of the most effective relationship management tools.

Digital Marketing
With over 85% of the population online, 74% using email and nearly 35% owning a tablet device*, digital marketing techniques, such as infographics and e-newsletters, can provide a great way to stay in contact and build relationships.

Personalised, targeted and cost-effective, e-newsletters are a great way to keep front of mind, tell customers about the latest news and views, as well as ask for feedback. Cloud-based software, such as Mailchimp and Bronto, can distribute information free of charge, as well as provide open and click-through reports – giving useful data capture information.

Direct Mail
Developing relationships, building confidence and engaging customers relies on consistent impact and repetition.

Although historically used to advertise, direct mail is a great engagement tool. You can let customers know about the latest products, provide discount offers, give them something for nothing and easily keep front of mind.

Low cost and powerful, direct mail is still the most widely used marketing tool and a great tactic to build relationships.

Rewards
Something as simple as saying thank you can help to retain custom. From loyalty cards and vouchers to repeat purchase rewards, events and priority services, delivering a personal approach and ensuring each customer is considered a valued individual can develop strong bonds.

This can even be integrated with social media, digital marketing, direct mail and other marketing tools to ensure increase influence and ensure communications efficiency.

Although just a few ideas of customer relations tactics, the tactics above give insight into the importance of listening, rewarding, responding and actioning.


21st July 2015 0

Joe

Storytelling is part of human nature.

Whether it’s through prehistoric cave drawings, fireside folk songs or 140 Twitter characters – how we do it might have changed a bit over the years but that desire to tell the world our story is as strong now as it ever was.

The big challenge for businesses in the digital age is how to make their story stand out, with so many different ones being told in so many different places. Most of us see hundreds if not thousands of marketing messages every day – on the bus, on TV and on our Smartphones.

Book sales might be falling but storytelling through advertising and news stories is as important as ever. Developing your ability to do it well is vital. Here are five quick tips to bear in mind:

Know your audience
Who are you trying to talk to? If your answer to that question is ‘everyone’ then you need to think again. Socially, we are less homogenous now than ever – our relationships with the brands and businesses we buy from are complex and differ from person to person.

Identify your audience and research what they enjoy reading already. Then, if needs be, adapt your own writing style to suit.

Get to the point
Be clear in your own mind about the purpose of your writing and make sure it’s clear to the people reading it. Work out the important points you want to say before you start and include them early on – don’t make readers have to work for it.

The genuine article
No one likes a tall tale so make sure everything you write is authentic. You should believe in what you’re writing in the same way that a salesperson should believe in the product or service they’re selling

No-nonsense
Keep it simple and write in the same way you would talk. A good way to check you’re doing this is to read what you’ve written out loud to someone else and ask them whether it makes sense. It sounds obvious but don’t overlook it.

Be yourself
Like any good spoken story, a written one engages and entertains through the way it’s told. Bring your business’ personality into your writing. Ask yourself: ‘Would I want to read this?’ Make sure the answer is yes before you expect someone else to.


18th July 2014 0

Joe

Award-winning integrated marketing agency, Lava, has welcomed its first intern of 2014 – a role enabling one trainee to acquire vast industry knowledge and understanding.

Hannah Porter, a 20 year-old Second Year University of Lincoln student, has joined Lava for a part-time PR & marketing internship. As part of her role, Hannah will be taking on administrative duties, as well as working on marketing related tasks such as research, social media and copywriting. Currently studying Business and Marketing and with five years experience in the hospitality sector, Hannah brings a high level of knowledge and promotional background with her to the position. 


8th November 2013 0

Ed

After recently writing a post about PR evaluation and the death of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), it got me thinking about measuring success for wider marketing campaigns.

In such a creative industry, planning and measurement is often pushed to the bottom of the pile, while actually doing is seen as a much more attractive role.

I like to think that planning and measurement are part of a journey. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know where you’re going? If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?