General Marketing

How do I determine what my marketing budget should be?

As a rough guide, allocate around 10% of turnover – more if you need to make a specific splash, less if you’re well established and need to maintain momentum. How this 10% should be divided depends on business objectives, target markets and the personality of the brand – the mix will be different for every brand.

How do you measure results?

The most important thing is to have measurable targets in mind at the beginning of a campaign. This might be a quantifiable number of sales or business leads, or a specific increase in website traffic. Whatever your preference, always use a “call to action” to persuade customers to take that next step so you know they’re listening to your messages.

A variety of methods are available to determine the success of a campaign. Website traffic is increasingly the best barometer of audience interest, and analytics offers amazingly detailed and comprehensive data of visitor habits.

Using a special phone number, email address or website landing page will enable you to track response rates to advertisements. Likewise, e-shots can be coded to provide information on clickthrough rates.

For PR, column inches, increased Facebook likes or spikes in Twitter mentions provide a means of quantifying impact. We would be remiss in mentioning AVE – traditionally, the most common barometer of PR measurement – but in the fast-changing world, many industry analysts are questioning its reliability. We still offer AVE to those who want it but we’re keeping an eye on new developments, too.

By a similar token, there’s no surefire, scientifically quantifiable way of measuring the return on investment (ROI), for the simple reason that so much of marketing remains unseen – how do you quantify word of mouth or brand awareness?

But if it’s hard figures you’re after, work out the profit by subtracting the initial investment from the return. Divide this figure by the investment amount and multiply by 100 to express as a percentage. For example:

If £50,000 was generated from a £10,000 campaign, the ROI is:

(50,000 – 10,000) / 10,000 ] x 100 = 400% ROI.

What is the best type of marketing for my campaign?

There’s no such thing as one size fits all. Anybody who tells you there is an off-the-shelf marketing solution… isn’t listening to what you want.

The marketing that is right for you depends on your overall business objective, product or service, budget and even personal taste.

That’s where we come in. The ethos of full service marketing is to have all of the options at our fingertips, so as to be able to tailor the most appropriate solution to your specific needs.

 

Agencies

What benefits does having an agency offer me?

An agency will look at your business with a fresh perspective. Imagine an extra pair of eyes, with access to a magnifying glass for the details, and binoculars for the bigger picture.

Our employees are all experts in their field who know exactly what to do to help your brand and generate the best return on your marketing investment.

Oh, and we’ll deal with journalists, advertising reps and everyone else who makes demands on your marketing resource – it’s amazing how relieved many clients are at not having to field endless enquiries. Consider it a perk.

Should I choose an agency that specialises in my sector?

Think about the analogy of fishes in pond. An agency specialising in your sector might be the biggest fish, but it’s swimming in a very small pond and doesn’t get a chance to experience anything new or different.

As a full service agency, McConnells might be smaller (at least in terms of sector knowledge; certainly not in ambition or talent!) but we swim in the biggest of oceans, giving us the insight into a much greater wealth of marketing tactics – and their effective use. That means we can always bring something fresh to the table that a specialist will not know about.

And, rest assured, when we start working in a new sector, we become specialists very quickly.

Does location matter?

It depends what you want to pay for. Big London agencies sell their reputation on being in the thick of things but – thanks to the Internet, social media and conference call technology – there’s little that cannot be handled long-distance.

The only thing London agencies can guarantee is that their overheads are much bigger. As a regional agency, our fees don’t need to pay for sky-high rents or weighted salaries. We won’t try to justify our existence with superfluous glossy reports or by sending a posse to meetings. What you see is what you get: there’s a practical purpose to everything we do, namely to improve your bottom line.

Yes, there are undoubted advantages to being “on your doorstep,” but, first and foremost, the question to ask is: are you and your agency compatible? Does it understand your goals? Do you get on? It’s easier for agency or client to travel 150 miles when the chemistry is right, rather than 15 miles when it isn’t – but if the right agency happens to be the one that’s only just down the road, you have a win/win situation.

How difficult is it to change agencies?

If you have a contract, check the terms you agreed, including notice periods.

If you don’t have a contract, you’re not tied into a formal exit timetable but there are always i’s to dot and t’s to cross. For example, you should focus on getting all high-resolution artwork that you still need in order to ensure a smooth transition.

My current agency say they have copyright of my logo what can I do?

Generally, reputable agencies will always assign creative rights over to the client – after all, you’ve paid for it. This is certainly the way we work at McConnells. That said, we have known of other agencies who claim copyright.

Check the small print of your contract: unless you’ve agreed to their keeping it, you should have right via payment.

 

McConnells

You are a full service agency does that mean you want all the elements of my marketing deployment?

Not at all. Every company’s requirements are different. Some want only to advertise and never use PR, or vice versa. Others have long-term agencies who they’re perfectly happy with, but need specialist help in an area their existing agency doesn’t handle.

Our attitude to marketing strategy is that you can pick and choose whatever you require. We’re here to help you build your brand, not to burden you with elements that you don’t need.

Do I have to sign a contract?

It’s up to you. Certainly, formal contracts ensure that both parties know where they stand in terms of ownership of creative work, notice period and recompense. But we’re happy to use written quotations as a record of agreed terms.

So, if I make an enquiry how long before you start to hound me?

No hounds here, just our MD’s border collie. While we’ll always respond to all enquiries and follow up out of courtesy to see if you’re interested, we’re in the business of reading consumer psychology – so we’ll pick up on the hint if you’d rather be left alone.

How do you get paid? hourly rate, commission, retainer...?

It depends on the work! As a rule of thumb, creative, online and PR project work is billed by the job, based on a pre-quoted assessment of the hours needed. For a long-term commitment, retainers are available at a preferential rate. Media and production work is generally done on a commission basis.

If I need something in a hurry do I have to join a queue with your other clients?

In marketing, the deadline is king. If that means burning the midnight oil, or putting the whole team onto it, then that’s what we’ll do.

How do I know if you have a competitor as a client?

Ask! We would never enter into a potential conflict of interest without informing all parties first. Only if everyone is happy will we go ahead. Often, that’s what happens; if our existing client uses us for a different service to the one that you want, there’s no direct conflict.

I'm a new start-up business, will you help?

Companies that were once unknown start-ups: Virgin, Google, Microsoft, Coca Cola. The agencies that turned them down? Kicking themselves.

So, of course we’ll help. Establishing a new brand is one of the most exciting challenges in marketing; watching it grow into a market leader one of the greatest rewards.

I'm a College/University Student, what availability do you have for placements?

We have a number of placements every year, providing the opportunity to learn what McConnells does the best way possible: by getting involved!

There is huge demand for limited places, so we do insist on a formal interview process to assess your suitability.

If you’re interested, please contact Paul Bayliss, Production Director, on 0871 915 2456.

Design

Why do my corporate colours look different on the brochure?

We always stick to agreed pantone references, but paper stock can create variables in the finished look. Where time permits, we always recommend that you receive a proof so you can sign-off the exact finished product before it goes into full production.

Why is there no flashy imagery in your creative concepts?

Advertising design isn’t all about pretty pictures. Our creative team has years of expertise in understanding the psychology of customers and our designs use images, fonts, colours and layout in combinations that are precisely calibrated to the profile of the target audience.

 

Online

What's your view on the social media train?

These are exciting times, with plenty of new opportunities to engage with audiences. But the core strategy remains the same – these are simply new tactics to be used alongside existing marketing platforms.

Pepsi recently decided to drop all traditional advertising and use only online media – only to see their market position drop from second to third most popular cola in the U.S. for the first time in the company’s history.

Lots of companies offer SEO for free - should I trust them?

Half the story, and then they charge you.
#1 you want relevant keywords – not obscure phrases
Genuine SEO takes time and management.

What do all these online acronyms mean?

  • PPC is Pay Per Click, a popular form of online advertising where your ad appears on the Google page for your chosen search term, or ‘keyword,’ but you only pay when a visitor clicks the ad to visit your website.
  • SEO is search engine optimisation. The means by your website can attract the attention of Google and other search engines in order to obtain greater prominence for your preferred keywords.

 

Media

I go direct to the media for my advertisements. How much would it cost me to have you plan and buy it for me?

The short answer: nothing.

I've been approached by a radio station direct and they have given me a plan that is way below the price of my agencies proposal - why?

As the Romans knew, “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware. Many radio stations have to fill 24 hours of airtime a day, so it’s common for advertising reps to offer spot plans based on poor opportunities to hear (OTR).

An agency will always negotiate hard to ensure your advert is heard at peak times (for example, commuting hours) and never in the dead of night.

 

PR

Will magazines always publish news free of charge?

The majority of consumer magazines still generate enough advertising revenue to run news without you paying for it.

In the B2B trade press, this sadly isn’t the case. Many need to augment advertising revenue with so-called “colour separation charges.” That’s a term which meant something in the 1980s (when you genuinely had to pay a premium to have photographs reproduced in colour) but today, it’s basically a fee to run your PR. Increasingly, online portals are charging, too.

It’s not ideal, but a necessary evil in order to maximise news reach. When we put together a PR strategy for B2B clients, we always recommend allocating a budget for placement, based on careful placement of stories in reputable media outlets.

I’ve been offered a free editorial feature, but the magazine wants a list of my suppliers – why?

Nothing comes from free. The magazine will recoup the cost of your feature by encouraging suppliers to support you with an advertisement. Often, this “supplier support” arrangement can lead to suppliers feeling coerced into taking out an ad – so, unless there are tangible strategic benefits to agreeing, we would always recommend you say no.

Why doesn’t your press release sell my message heavily enough?

Press releases have to strike a balance between the objectives of the client and the requirements of the media. PR is subtly different from advertising, and a journalist who feels that a press release is too sales-led will ignore it.

We always write in a neutral, factually objective manner that is ready-made for editors to run in their magazines. This makes us trusted as a source of reliable news, which increases the chances of your press release being covered.

How often should I send out a press release?

In short: as often as you have something to shout about!
As a rule of thumb, we recommend to retained clients a frequency of one release every 4-6 weeks (or 10-12 per year), which establishes a regular rhythm that suits the deadlines of monthly magazines.
A smaller company may only require a press release every few months to achieve a presence that matches its business needs. A major consumer brand whose audience expects regular updates might want to push the frequency into fortnightly or even weekly.