Friday, 22 February 2013

Topshop And Google Collaborate For London Fashion Week

Events such as London Fashion Week have generally been perceived as being something for only the exalted few. The rest of us have to wait to see the pictures in magazines or for the styles paraded on the catwalks to be copied or filtered down to our local high street stores so we can snap them up to our heart’s content. Not so anymore, however. With online facilities such as Google+ events such as London Fashion Week, dare we say it, could become more readily available to the teeming masses. Topshop’s collaboration with Google for this year’s London Fashion Week is a pretty high profile example of how this can work. 

For Topshop’s Fashion Week show, Kate Phelan, the chain’s creative director, and Justin Cooke, its chief marketing officer, coordinated a fashion show that could be viewed simultaneously through Topshop’s own website, YouTube and Google+. This means it has been able to offer access to online viewers previously unheard of for this major event in the fashion calendar. 

Models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn wore outfits fitted with HD micro-cameras to give viewers at home a model’s-eye view of the event. Google Hang Out events, meanwhile, has even allowed watchers to speak directly to designers and fashion editors, and a ‘Be the Buyer’ app will allow users to get tips on how to put this season’s key looks together.

But will this kind of approach really bring about a sea change in the way big fashion shows are put together and marketed? Young designer Fred Butler seems to think so: “I think it is fantastic that fashion is no longer an elitist thing. What is important about the way Topshop is doing it is that the show remains central to the experience.”

Of course, it’s not just about democratising the whole experience for Topshop’s legions of eager customers throughout the world. Using Google+ and other online tools is an undeniably powerful merchandising weapon for big brands as well. As Justin Cooke says: “Consumers will be able to download the music, buy the nail polish the models are wearing and click on the clothes to re-colour them and pre-order them. This has the potential to be digital wildfire.”

Google+, when all is said and done, is a marketer’s dream, so it’s hardly surprising that we are increasingly seeing major collaborations such as that with Topshop. With over 250 million users worldwide there is very little limit to how businesses can use it to connect with their audiences – whether it’s streaming live events, inviting them to webinars , advertising exciting one-off promotions or inviting them to Google Hang Out events.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Corporate Philanthropy – How Giving Gives Back

Historically the leaders of large corporations have often donated to charitable causes or used their stance at the helm of great ships to pursue causes dear to themselves. Henry and Edsel Ford founded the Ford Foundation in 1936 and contributed hugely to Third World development, for example. From his very first wage John D. Rockefeller gave 10% to charity and continued to donate huge sums of money to educational and public health causes throughout his illustrious career.

By the 1970s, companies donating to charitable causes had become commonplace and it was from the end of that decade that charity began to evolve into corporate philanthropy. Money was no longer the only resource companies began to donate; giving up employee time for charitable causes also became the norm.

Skip forward to the present day and every corporation understands that philanthropy is an essential part of brand image. As marketing companies are increasingly advocating, giving does indeed give back but (arguably more importantly) failure to give can actually be extremely detrimental to a firm’s reputation.

The message of these marketing companies is simple; giving to charity and being philanthropic is a win, win situation. The receiver of the charitable acts or donations benefits directly whilst the donating company experiences an increase in brand awareness and positive feeling from the general public; except it isn’t quite that simple.

First of all, consumers tend to be particularly cynical especially in times of economic downturn and even more especially in the UK. Moreover, consumers aren’t simple minded creatures – they can see straight through charitable stunts that are put on purely to increase brand awareness, etc.

A company’s philanthropic policy must therefore have genuine intentions, be carefully considered as well as be something that is in line with its traditions and core beliefs.

The idiom ‘charity begins at home’ therefore applies perfectly to this situation. A company that treats is clients and employees well is likely to be far better respected than one that pays very little attention to its own people’s wellbeing but spends millions in funding overseas aid projects.

Moreover, funding local community projects is often a far better venture, particularly for SMEs, as potential clients can actually see the work being done or better yet, the people being helped may actually be the company’s clients.

On a similar note, a company should rigorously check its own ethics and question how social responsible its operations are. Firms that operate with a strong moral and ethical code are usually far more respected than those seen to be exploitative or environmentally unsustainable.

Philanthropic projects that incorporate or a related to a company’s own operations are also often more successful than those that are not. The reason for this is that a company can invest its own expertise into a project to ensure it succeeds, as well as just time and money. An example of this may be a bank running a programme to show inner city school children around their major branches in an attempt to inspire them onto university and a career in the city.

At the end of the day, corporate philanthropy and charity has to be two things; genuine and carefully planned. Even projects with the best of intentions can fail spectacularly if a company does not do its research adequately. Regardless of good intentions, if the public perception of a charitable programme is poor it could seriously harm company reputation and brand image; potentially as harmful as not running a project at all.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Five Tips For Boosting Employee Morale

The research that positively correlates workplace morale with employee efficiency is extensive and well documented. Any business consultant will tell you that a happy workforce is a more productive one. Despite the trend being near common knowledge many employers still neglect to employ morale boosting techniques and encourage a more productive workplace.

The fact is an expensive business consultant isn’t necessary to raise employee morale and neither are grand gestures or costly schemes. Here are five simple, inexpensive techniques instead – perhaps give them a try in your workplace!

1. Food

They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In fact, there aren’t many people who’d be upset by an offering of free food! A round of pastries on a Friday to round the week off or a business lunch to break up those arduous Mondays can really give staff a lift.

2. Stash

Free clothing is another simple way to keep people in high spirits. By giving out a t-shirt every few months emblazoned with the company logo, not only are staff getting something for nothing, they can also wander round advertising your firm to whoever they come into contact with outside of work!

3. Engage In Conversation

If an employee feels undervalued, forgotten or out of place he or she is unlikely to perform to their potential. As a firm’s director try to speak with as many employees as possible, not only to keep them interested and let them know they are valued but to gauge their opinions on how the place is run. Moreover, act on these opinions, particularly if there is a common theme. If everyone feels the office is too warm, for example, turn the heating down!

4. Team Work

Left to their own devices, most people will slowly dwindle until they are moving at snail’s pace. By encouraging team work and collaboration, employees almost become self-regulating, keeping each other on their toes. Organise workloads in such a way that encourages collaboration and gets active minds exchanging ideas.

5. Competitions

Most people have an element of competition in them, some even a burning desire to win. By running competitions every so often not only are you allowing employees a break from their daily tasks, you are stoking their willingness to succeed.

The competitions could be charitable – ‘who can raise the most money?’ for example, or work related – ‘come up with a new slogan for our next ad campaign’. Who wins isn’t always important, but encouraging participation keeps staff on their toes and encourages competitiveness – something essential to success.

So there we have it. Five simple morale boosting techniques that you might like to try in the office next week. You might be surprised at how effective they are!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Marketing Corporate Social Responsibility

In the 21st century any marketing consultant can testify to the fact that social responsibility has become a necessity for medium to large sized firms and corporations. Whilst being socially responsible can be extremely beneficial to a company’s brand image a failure, or even perceived failure to be so is potentially catastrophic.

There a whole host of factors to corporate social responsibility, including sustainability, environmental considerations and corporate philanthropy and for a company to be seen as socially responsible each of these must be addressed. Moreover, each factor needs to be carefully marketed to create the double victory corporate social responsibility can allow.

First of all, and most importantly, a social responsibility policy must have its foundations in the core principles and beliefs of the company involved. This ensures the ethos spreads throughout the entirety of a business and is consistent between different departments and branches of a firm. Failure to do this can lead to a mismatch of practises between difference departments, causing truly responsible acts to come across as disingenuous.

On a similar note, a well marketed corporate social responsibility story is only as good as the actions and ventures that make it. The public quickly see through projects that are executed solely for the benefit of a company’s brand image or share price. In fact, a story with solely selfish intentions can quickly escalate into significant bad press.

The good news is, however, that by being genuinely green a company can expect an increase in popularity and even share price according to a number of studies in the US and USA.

Similar studies also show that by being transparent a company can also benefit both financially and in terms of reputation. By opening up to scrutiny a firm can address its shortcomings and easily allow the public, investors and media to examine their operations and corporate responsibility record.

Transparency and corporate responsibility story alone however will not do the trick. As any marketing consultant knows, the key to any business is marketing and corporate social responsibility is no different. A company should create a brand image that ties in their social responsibility with their day to day operations and ensure it is visible to as many audiences as possible.

For a company relatively new to social responsibility the road to achieving ‘nirvana’ can seem daunting. As is often the case however, becoming a champion in one or two aspects can be far more effective than attempting to master every facet of social responsibility. This is not to say that every factor of social responsibility should not be addressed, but that championing those close to the company’s core principles can be far more effective than spreading resources too thin.

Once this ‘champion’ status has been achieved there is no reason for a company to reinvest the rewards back into an expansion of the social responsibility policy and further philanthropic ventures.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Structured Approach To Your Business Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, having a realistic plan or structure is all important. Unless you have an experienced marketing team on side, it’s all too easy to get drawn into adopting a ‘scattergun’ approach to your marketing, which won’t achieve the success rates you want. In fact, you could end up thoroughly frustrated and despondent, because you will be wasting so much time and energy on activities which won’t work for your business.

So how does this happen?

Scattergun marketing normally occurs, either because business owners try several different marketing strategies in isolation. For example firing off one sales email, setting up a blog and writing one post every two weeks, signing up for a Twitter account, then forgetting to Tweet at regular intervals.
 The other reason businesses adopt this scattergun approach is because they really aren’t at all sure of what ‘actions’ they should be taking. They know they should be ‘doing marketing’, but what does this really mean for the individual organisation?

The key thing about internet marketing is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. You need to take the right ‘actions’ for your particular business. But how do you know what these are? Going down any number of blind alleys will cost you valuable time and money.

However there is a solution. Discussing your business with your marketing company – your ally in digital marketing success.

Your marketing company will have a wealth of experience in helping companies like yours produce better results with their marketing. They will draw up a plan of action, with realistic, achievable targets, so you will know exactly what they intend to do for you and when, and what each element will cost.

A marketing company will make running your business so much smoother and easier, because it will free up your time to concentrate on other elements of your business like customer care and service delivery.

Having a structured internet marketing plan means that it will be so much easier to track your Return on Investment in the future. You will know exactly how much your leads and conversions are costing you, as well as the cost per customer.

Without a structured marketing plan in place, it’s all too easy to deviate from your course of action and you will not achieve the financial rewards you deserve.

So why not find out how a marketing company can deliver a structured marketing plan that adds value to your business – today.