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How to take better pictures

October 12, 2018  |   Email marketing,Marketing tips  

How to take better pictures

While there is no substitute for a professional photographer, sometimes you just need to get a shot of an event, activity or completed project, perhaps for social media or your newsletter.

I have seen many amateur photos that could have been pretty good if only the photographer had spotted the ugly background, the large expanse of ceiling, or the fact they’d cut somebody in half. So here are my top tips for taking a half decent shot yourself:

The power of suggestion

June 26, 2018  |   Email marketing  

The power of suggestion

Our local shop knows its local market well. When you walk in to post a parcel, buy your milk or bread you have to walk past a tower of wine.

But the real skill is in how it’s presented. 

Success or failure relies on getting the details right

January 26, 2018  |   Email marketing  

Success or failure relies on getting the details right

Two different items have arrived in the post lately which provoked entirely different reactions.

One was a personal card from the vet after we sadly took the decision to put our elderly dog to sleep. It was a lovely card, featuring an image of dogs and cats on the front, signed by the team and it contained a poem and a packet of forget-me-not seeds.

The other was a handwritten envelope addressed to me at my business address. It was from an executive car company and contained a letter inside addressed to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, printed on cheap, flimsy paper.

The first one was very timely, reassuring us that we had made the right decision and extremely thoughtful. We have always thought well of the vets, but this reinforced that feeling and makes us feel confident and happy to recommend them.

The second started out well with the handwritten envelope which was very personal. But the contents completely let it down. An executive car company with substandard stationery? What are the cars like? What are the drivers like? Will they be reliable? Are they really ‘executive’? And if they’ve taken the trouble to hand write the envelope and know my name, why put such an impersonal address as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ inside? It’s really easy to either do a mail-merge, or even to simply hand write ‘Dear Jane’ at the top of a standard typed letter.

Writing a personal letter can be very effective, especially in the frantic environment of email and social media. If you’re going to go to the considerable trouble of communicating personally (and it’s worth it!), think it through and do it well. Otherwise your efforts will go to waste and you will end up leaving entirely the wrong impression.

Maximise your efforts for best effect

Maximise your efforts for best effect

Have you been on a British Airways plane recently? They have managed to transform the humble safety video with a star studded cast and a refreshing approach. The video with a difference was created in conjunction with Comic Relief and launched in September.

I first saw it on a weekend trip and giggled along as they went through the various safety elements with different actors (Rob Brydon demonstrating the jacket was my favourite …) I thought it was a great way to refresh an important series of messages and re-engage jaded frequent flyers. On the return trip 2 days later, they showed the same video which lost some of its impact as I had already seen it.

As it happens I had a work trip the following weekend, and yes, the same video. And again on the return trip. My colleague and I ended up predicting and joining in with the lines.

It strikes me that gathering all those celebrities and actors together must have been an enormous feat – and surely they were hanging around with potential to say more than one or two lines. Why not make the most of it?

Frequent flyers are notoriously the hardest to communicate with when it comes to safety advice, and it’s most likely to be seen week in, week out by them.

If they had mixed it up and swapped people around, they could have created 4 or 5 versions of essentially the same video but with different characters playing different parts each time.

Having said that, it’s had more than 7 million views on YouTube so perhaps it’s doing what it’s supposed to do! You can see it here if you haven’t already.




From Slough to Milan

From Slough to Milan

Several years ago, I was a guest speaker at a business event in Slough. There was a sign-up sheet for my newsletter and I collected quite a few contacts that got added to my mailing list. One of them was Abhi, a video producer, and she has received this newsletter ever since.

About 18 months ago, she invited me to join her networking group as a guest. As we had met so briefly years before, I couldn’t remember her and it was an early morning slot and I was unable to go for some time. For some reason though (perhaps because she was gently persistent) I did end up going along and was quite taken with her brief presentation about a video she had just finished filming. It was a sensitive but fun promotional video for the Great British Skinny Dip and it was her sense of fun but also responsibility that appealed. 

The importance of the ‘preview’ line on email bulletins

April 26, 2017  |   Email marketing,Marketing tips  

The importance of the ‘preview’ line on email bulletins

When an email arrives in your inbox, how do you decide whether to open it or delete it?

Apart from the headline, the next thing you often see is the preview line … the small line of text at the top of the email that gives a further hint to the content that follows.

This is often the way people make a decision whether or not to open your email so it’s pretty important.

View it as a sub-heading that supports your main subject heading. Will somebody be more likely to read your email as a result? Can you draw them in with a few extra words? 

Who cares?

November 18, 2016  |   Communications,Email marketing,Marketing tips  

Who cares?

I regularly work on customers’ newsletters and the brief is often: “we need to tell our customers about our new website” or “we need to let people know about our new service”.

The problem with that approach is that your customer’s aren’t necessarily that interested. They might even say “so what?”

So how do you tell them about what you’re up to without simply shouting at them and hoping they’ll listen?

The importance of an enticing subject line

The importance of an enticing subject line

As I opened up my email this morning, I was faced with a page of messages with a huge variety of subject lines. I use an email provider that automatically separates out the emails into ‘primary’, ‘social’ and ‘promotions’ and I was looking at the ‘promotions’ tab. Some of them just got deleted straight away without even looking at them. Others prompted me to think a bit harder before deleting them, and inspired this article.

Grow your mailing list

April 25, 2016  |   Communications,Email marketing,Marketing tips  

Grow your mailing list

If you want to send out emails to ‘prospects’ it can be very frustrating if you have a list that you’ve compiled over a few years but find that the email providers won’t let you use it. Companies such as Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Aweber are popular because they are cheap/free to use and offer an easy way to send out professional looking emails. However, they have a reputation to protect, and do not want to be associated with ‘spam’. No matter how carefully crafted your email is, if it is going to people who have been ‘collected’ over a few years, or generic job titles such as ‘info@xyz’ or ‘admin@xyz’ they will be flagged and you will not be allowed to use them.

Why it’s important to be prepared

November 11, 2015  |   Business Networking,Communications,Email marketing  

Why it’s important to be prepared

I was recently invited to an early morning networking meeting (6.45am in this case) where business people meet weekly with the aim of bringing business referrals to each other. It’s a regular weekly commitment, and every member does a ‘one minute pitch’ to remind everyone what they do, and tell them what business they are looking for.

I was asked to be a guest by one of my newsletter readers, Abhi from Lifesize Videos who is a member of this group. Although I haven’t done any business networking for some time, we had met several years ago at another networking event. She had signed up to receive my newsletter, and has been on the mailing list ever since.

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