Do people still read blogs?

Clients often ask us if having a blog is worthwhile. The short answer is, yes. Absolutely. 72% of online marketers described content creation as the most effective SEO tactic, in other words, the number of visitors to their website increased. Blogs were recorded as the 5th most reliable source for gathering online information. Still questioning the benefits of blogs?  

Why?  

The Internet has radically transformed how your customers receive the latest information. It’s become non-negotiable for businesses to be present and consistent via social media. How often have you searched up a brand on Instagram or Facebook to find out more before committing to a purchase? It can be tough for brands to keep on top of current trends in marketing, but simplicity is usually key.  

Before creating an effective marketing strategy find out how your website is performing. Where does your traffic come from? Which keywords are ranked the highest? What web pages performed the best? Is your site mobile-friendly? According to HubSpot, the number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.66 billion in 2021.   

Key words or phrases are what users type into a search engine such as Google to find the sites that best match their search. Those keywords tell us how many users are searching for a specific term, and how much competition there is for a given keyword. 

How often do you update your website’s content? Not that often, right? Blogging is more than a means of attracting new traffic, it can build a community of readers who visit your site regularly. So, each new post is an opportunity to rank higher in organic search, generate new leads, and drive long-term results. 

But what type of content to post?  

One of the first steps is to find out what type of content aligns with search intent. Tools like ‘Google Keyword Planner’ and SEMrush offer powerful and versatile ways to identify which keywords reach the right audience, fit the type of content, and drive the most traffic. Do a quick search on Google for your target keyword, and analyse what pages rank the highest, as well as the kind of content that’s produced. 

What are the long-term benefits of blogging?  

Blogging can be time-consuming, but don’t underestimate it as a worthwhile component of your marketing strategy. While you may not see immediate results, over time, you’ll have built up a loyal audience base of leads and traffic for your business with limited additional investment. Blogs are also a way to share company news, updates, or events, that can be easily highlighted on social media. And remember, people buy from people: so, use blogging to share your personality with your existing and potential customers. 

Using carefully considered marketing and communications strategies, Instinct will help you communicate with your existing and potential customers to grow your business. From brand awareness, media relations and email marketing to copywriting and social content creation, our experienced team can provide the support you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help. 

Marketing in an economic turndown: stay the course

 As the cost of living crisis dampens consumer spend, marketing budgets across the country are likely to feel the squeeze. With a forecast for economic headwinds, companies will, rightly so, be looking at where they can reduce costs.  Marketing is often the first casualty. But studies have shown that such a knee-jerk reaction tends not to be the best approach for the long term success of a business and can do more harm than good.  Rather a considered reflection on where budgets can be better spent and to focus on how you can get more with less, marketing more efficiently.  
Digging a little deeper we can see why. 

  • Play the long game

Marketing budgets are often first for the chop when times are tight because their benefits are generally realised in the long rather than short term. So while a decrease on marketing spend may seem like a good plan, it doesn’t bode well for the longevity of your brand or your communication with customers, without which, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant to them. Your brand awareness will drop, and with it, your search engine ranking and brand loyalty. Instead, use the opportunity to review and revise your marketing spend – it’s a time to tune into customers and the impact the downturn is having on their buying behaviour, and adapt your communication accordingly. View marketing as an investment, not a cost. 

  • Exploit the quiet

If you’re considering scaling back your marketing efforts, you can bet your competitors are having similar thoughts – and many of them will have already made cutbacks, leaving plenty of room for you to fill the void and take the lead on attracting any customers they’ve left behind. People still spend money during a recession, and fewer competitors to choose from spells good news for your business. 

  • Focus on the clear winners

While marketing your well-loved, tried and tested products and services should certainly continue in a precarious economy, a time of reduced competition is ideal for bringing your brightest and best ideas into the spotlight too. Economic challenges can drive innovation, as entrepreneurs focus on how to do more with less, and a well-structured marketing budget should accommodate new as well as existing offerings. 

  • Seize the attention of a captive online audience 

With lower disposable income, people go out less, so the number of people accessing online content increases – good news for digital advertisers. Although a significant portion of your audience may not be buying now, it’s a chance to connect with key audiences, and build a relationship that will last a lot longer than the downturn. 

  • Adapt and thrive

Marketing during a financial crisis will always be challenging – not least because it goes against our instincts. Consumer spending changes drastically in difficult economic circumstances – and the most successful marketing changes in response, shifting messages and channels, re-packaging and reinventing value propositions.  Past recessions have shown us that companies who bolster their marketing efforts, rather than reduce them, are better placed to survive the slump, and come out stronger on the other side.  

This is a time not to stop spending money on marketing, but to change how you spend it, with a view to boosting efficiencies and maximising ROI. From researching customers and re-working a past success to creating compelling offers and price-sensitive portfolios, use this time as an opportunity to be there for new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones. 

Why cold calls leave us cold – and a few things to try instead

Picture the scene – it’s 6pm on a Thursday, I’m cooking dinner amidst the usual domestic chaos that is week-day teatime in a family of five. One child is trying to read me something from the latest book he has home from school, another is asking if I’ve seen his shin guards anywhere ahead of his football practice “IN HALF AN HOUR!!”, the third is exceeding the agreed amount of screen time in his bedroom. My phone rings. Like a fool, I answer it.  

A tired and slightly bored-sounding man at the other end introduces himself and after some incoherent rambling, explains he’s calling from a beer company we once bought from several years ago, on the ‘off-chance’ that we might be interested in making the most of a discount campaign they’re running to celebrate the company’s forthcoming birthday. I am at once irritated and baffled. Does anyone still say yes to this stuff?  

Suffice to say the call prompted not a beer purchase, but a mental list of all that is wrong with making cold calls in the 21st century. Outdated, annoying, intrusive, statistically proven to be unsustainable, damaging to a company’s reputation… the list goes on.  It got me thinking about what the misguided beverage seller could be doing instead though… 

  • Cold emails 

Cold emails are far more effective than cold calls, especially if you personalise them and spend time selecting the recipients. To pique readers’ interest, include a punchy or surprising subject line, and make your email about them rather than what you’re offering. Be clear but brief, concisely highlighting how your product or service helps to solve a problem. Some great examples of good and bad cold emails here. (The Best Cold Email I’ve Ever Received (and… | Proposify [Free Trial]) 

  • Monitor your web visitors’ behaviour 

By tracking when users are looking at certain pieces of content on your website, you can decide on the best time to reach out to them. Using tools like Google Analytics (insert link Create and manage custom alerts – Analytics Help (google.com)) you can receive mail notifications when people are browsing your site, then when you do reach out you know you’re contacting a warm lead who has already demonstrated an interest in your offering. 

  • Networking – virtual and IRL 

Virtual and in-person events are an excellent way of finding out about the needs of your customers and prospects. Rather than pitching your offering, use events as an opportunity to ask questions and engage with people’s answers – the more you ask, the better you’ll understand your target market. 

  • Online networking 

If social media was an effective tool for building relationships with prospective clients before the pandemic, in a post-pandemic world it’s essential. People browsing your content may leave questions and comments, giving you an opportunity to interact with potential leads. Crafting considered, insightful responses will show that you care, and help to position your business as a valuable resource or an authority in a particular field. But retain a focus on authenticity – if visitors share or comment on your content, avoid instantly offering a demo or free trial – let the relationship evolve naturally. You could also join industry groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and engage with prospects by liking, commenting on and sharing their posts, gradually building authority and earning trust in your field. More on how to become an online networking guru here: 10 Guaranteed Tips to Become an Online Networking Pro 

  • Online content 

Be active on forums related to your product or service. Platforms such as Quora and Reddit are a useful space in which to build awareness, authority, and trust. Browse different threads and identify places where you could share your expertise and answer others’ questions. Rather than pitching or selling, aim to be genuinely helpful, and only reference your product or service if it’s directly relevant. This will ensure your name is front-of-mind when they’re next looking for your kind of help. 

  • Word of mouth 

We all love a good recommendation. Word-of-mouth referrals act as powerful social proof that your product or service is a safe bet and reassures customers, they’re onto a good thing. Ask satisfied customers to leave you a positive testimonial – and be sure to share them online – or refer you to others who might benefit from your solution.  

  • Webinars 

Sharing your expertise via webinars is another way to reach potential customers. Collaborating with others in your industry and holding sessions with helpful and actionable content will help prospects see your business as an industry authority as well as a helpful source of information. They may then research your offering and consider purchasing it. 

 

Using carefully considered marketing and communications strategies, Instinct will help you communicate with your existing and potential customers to grow your business. From brand awareness, media relations and email marketing to copywriting and social content creation, our experienced team can provide the support you need. And not a cold call in sight. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

To share or not to share: the perils of reactive social for brands

It’s only human to want to share our experiences. And with instant photos, real-time recording and unlimited reach at our fingertips, the desire to share is greater still. Made all the stronger by a global pandemic that prohibited real-life contact with so many of our nearest and dearest. Overnight, virtual connections became a lifeline. It’s hardly surprising then, that posting our reactions to global events and current affairs and how we make sense of them on social media has become the norm. But should it be the norm for brands too? 

The death of Her Majesty the Queen this month dominated the headlines at home and abroad, with millions of tributes pouring in from every corner of the world. Companies and brands were no exception – keen to express their sorrow, their gratitude, pay their respects and mark a moment in history. But some of them seemed to get it so wrong (Brands Post a Flood of Bizarre Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II (businessinsider.com)) 

Before responding as a brand to global events and social issues on social media, it’s worth running the idea through a few filters first: 

  • What would your customers expect? 

Staying silent on social media can feel odd, especially when everyone else seems to be saying something. But it doesn’t mean you don’t care, and if there’s no direct link between your offering and the global event, saying nothing is perfectly acceptable. It’s not compulsory to join every social media conversation.  

  • What can you add? Are you qualified? 

When it comes to reactive social, it’s worth considering whether your brand has the authority to join the conversation – and whether there’s more to lose than to gain by joining it. If you’re not 100% sure, it’s usually safer to leave. After all, if you can’t add anything meaningful or relevant, do you need to say anything at all? Or might it come across as a token gesture? 

  • Timing is everything 

If you conclude you need to say something, timing is key. It’s tempting to try to be first on social media, but acting too soon can be perceived as insensitive, while taking too long can come across as indecisive, so tread carefully. 

Timing of other posts is also important following a global tragedy or crisis – watch out for those pre-drafted scheduled posts, and be sure to sense-check everything due to be issued or posted that day. 

  • Avoid selling 

We all love a bit of brand publicity, but exploiting global events and social issues to raise your profile isn’t a good look, so beware of posting only to be seen to have a response. 

  • Think brand personality 

Does your brand really care? Does posting sit well with your brand personality? Would keeping quiet – perhaps a period of dignified silence – ultimately say more, or better align with your brand values? 

  • Consider alternatives 

Maybe a gesture would have greater impact. In the case of the late Queen, Fortnum & Mason, which has held a Royal Warrant from the Queen since 1954, lowered its flag to half-mast, stopped the clock on the façade of its flagship store in London’s Piccadilly, and blacked out its famous window displays. 

  • Exercise caution 

If in doubt, it’s probably better not to post. A cautious silence probably won’t trigger a backlash, but getting it wrong certainly could. 

Instinct welcomes new staff

Instinct has appointed two new staff following a re-branding exercise earlier this year. Joining Managing Director, Debbie Rennie, are established copywriter, Sally Wallis, and tourism and marketing graduate from RGU, Cara O’Brien. The appointments reflect a busy period of growth for the company.

“I’m delighted to be welcoming Cara and Sally to the team at such an exciting time,” says Managing Director, Debbie Rennie. “Our recent relocation and re-brand have helped to re-position us in an increasingly dynamic market, and with the addition of two new employees we’re well placed to cater for the demands of a wide and complex client base. With a background in corporate communication and copywriting, Sally brings a wealth of expertise across multiple sectors from energy to tourism, while Cara’s degree in Digital Marketing and recent academic experiences provide a great range of insights which will translate to added value for our clients.”

Previously a freelance copywriter, Sally joins Instinct as Marketing & Communications Executive, and is pleased to be part of a team again: “The freelance existence has its advantages, but I’m sociable by nature and had been on the look out for an opportunity with a small team for a while, so joining Instinct was an obvious choice.” Sally’s background in Science Communication stands her in good stead for technical clients, while her experience juggling clients across energy, tourism, conservation and construction, has equipped her with a broad understanding of multiple industries. “We’re fortunate to work with an interesting range of clients at Instinct, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all as we help to raise their profiles at home and further afield.”

RGU graduate, Cara, comes fresh from the academic coalface, having achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in international tourism management in 2021, and now completing a Masters degree there in Digital Marketing, alongside her new role as Communications & Marketing Assistant at Instinct. “The Masters gave me a wide range of experiences – from working on creative projects for clients such as Greyhope Bay and Walter Gregor’s, to gaining the IDM Certificate in Digital and Data Driven Marketing. My dissertation looks at how brands use female-targeted advertising to impact consumer purchasing decisions,” she explains. “The learning continues in my new role at Instinct, where I’ve been creating content for social media, filming with clients for PR stories, and brainstorming ideas with the team for future projects. I’m looking forward to improving my knowledge and skills within the industry, creating high quality work for clients and improving my confidence by occasionally stepping outside my comfort zone!”

Debbie added: “It’s fantastic to be growing the team with such a range of backgrounds and experiences. Cara and Sally add a great combination of skills to the mix, giving us a robust platform for collaboration and growth, and we look forward to building on our continued success in delivering marketing and communications services to our diverse client base.”

 

B2B email marketing: why include it in the mix and things to consider

Are you including email as part of your marketing activities this year?

According to a survey by HubSpot, 83% of B2B marketers will be using email newsletters as part of their marketing content programme in 2022.

For 86% of professionals email is still the preferred communications channel.

It may not be the shiny new tool on the block, but email is a proven, effective method of directly reaching your customers, and future customers, to promote your brand and provides the potential to increase sales.

It remains a key channel, effective in building connections with your customers and placing your business at the front of their minds when it comes time for purchasing decisions.

Here are five things we suggest considering for your email marketing:

  1. Identify the purpose of your email.
    Why are you sending it?  Are you launching a product or service?  Is it a membership or subscription email?  Is it a monthly/quarterly newsletter?  The goal and purpose of your email will dictate the style, content, messaging and Call to Action (CTA), as well as the audience list or segment of your list that you send to.
  2. Prioritise and prepare your audience lists.
    Often there is a tendency to jump into creating email content and design first, with the audience list becoming an afterthought. Depending on whether you have a well-functioning CRM system in place or a good, clean database of customers and contacts, this process can result in a scrabble to pull together names and email addresses.Make it a priority and organise your audience and customer lists into a master list.  You can then use this to segment into further sub-lists.  For example, specific products of interest, by geography, by sector, customer versus prospect, or whatever is relevant for your business and the email you are sending.Think about the purpose, who your audience is and build your target list appropriately.
  3.  Choose a style and layout that fits with your brand and a layout that lends itself to the type of email you are sending. The layout you choose for your monthly newsletter may be very different to the one you would select for promoting a new product or range of products.  There are many helpful templates and layouts available to select from within your chosen Email Service Provider, (three of our favourite ESPs are Mailchimp, HubSpot and Madmimi) or you can create your own.
  4. Create your content for your customer.
    This email is about them and adding value for their business.  Keep your copy in-line with your brand and make it relevant, engaging and easy to read.  Wherever possible include personalisation.  When using graphics and images use good quality images optimised for email and with a consistent size, look and style throughout.  Don’t be tempted to cram too much into one email, there’s a fine balance between getting it just right and overwhelming the recipient.  Keep it focused and on message.  We’d suggest if it’s a newsletter style email then stick to 5 or 6 key articles using the call to action links and functions to direct recipients to a dedicated landing page on your website or to items such as downloadable resources to read more.
  5. Include a clear ‘Call to Action’.
    What action do you want recipients to take on receipt of the email?  There are various calls to action you can use to support your different goals, whether it’s selling a specific product and therefore directing them to that product on your online shop, signing customers or prospects up for a new programme or service, sharing your knowledge and directing them to an online video with tips and advice, or downloading a guide or brochure.Whatever the call to action; make it clear, easy to follow and offer value to the recipient.

If you need any help or guidance with your email marketing to promote your business and attract sales, then feel free to talk to us.  If you’re interested in exploring and implementing a CRM system to support your customer relationship management, we can be of help with that too.

North-east Marketing and PR firm launches new name and brand

Established marketing and communications business Innes Associates has unveiled a new name and brand.  Now trading as Instinct Marketing + PR, the company aims to build on its continued success.

Trading for over 18 years, the business has been rebranded to better reflect the services offered, position the company in an ever-changing market and to drive further growth in new sectors.  The firm creates, manages, coordinates and delivers marketing, PR and advertising projects for clients locally, nationally and across the world.

The name change coincides with a restructure of management which sees Debbie Rennie taking on the role of managing director, succeeding Charlie Innes who founded the original company in 2003 after 35 years in the marketing industry.  He will remain as a director of the firm.

The business relocated to the Banchory Business Centre just over a year ago and has since secured new work with several clients across multiple sectors.

It expects to achieve further growth in 2022, which would lead to the creation of new positions, expanding its existing team of staff and sub-contractors.

New managing director Debbie Rennie said: “I’m really looking forward to leading the company in its next phase of growth.  The name change and rebrand is an evolution of all the experience and expertise of our combined team.  It gives us a great platform to adapt and reposition the business in a changing market, building upon our achievements.”

Charlie Innes added: “This is an exciting next chapter for the business, one that will support new opportunities for future growth and development.  Having led the company for 18 years, now is the right time to hand on the baton.  I will, however, continue to remain on hand to assist the team in delivering our marketing and communication services to our diverse client base.”

Instinct Marketing + PR provides marketing and communications support and services tailored to clients’ specific requirements.  With a client base spread across the UK, Instinct Marketing + PR works to raise the brand profile and support the growth of companies it works with on a local, national and international scale.

Featured charity: AberNecessities

Inspired by the season of giving (but not just for Christmas) we are are going to be featuring and raising the profile of local charities from across Aberdeen City and Shire.

We’ll be featuring different charities each week on our social channels and website, helping to raise awareness of the diverse range of causes that so many charities are working so hard to support and how best individuals and organisations can support them right now.

This week we are featuring leading family support charity AberNecessities.

Charity Name: AberNecessities

What do they do and who do they support?

Founded in 2019, AberNecessities is a non-profit charity that supports disadvantaged families living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.  Throughout the year it provides critical products that are needed to care for babies and children and distributes them directly to the families in crisis.  To date, it has assisted over 8,000 children across the north-east.

AberNecessities runs an annual Christmas Eve box campaign called ‘No Child Should Go Without Believing in Magic’.  It aims to add some much-needed sparkle to the festive season for babies and children whose families are living in poverty.  Each box is filled with around £35 worth of items, including books, hats and scarves, pyjamas and puzzles, which will make the night before Christmas as memorable as possible for the youngsters ahead of a visit from Santa Claus.

What positive impact does the charity make?

Regardless of background or lifestyle, AberNecessities believes that every child should have the best possible start in life.  It aims to provide support to children of disadvantaged families across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to ensure that happens.

The charity receives referrals from a body of professionals and voluntary organisations including social workers, family nurses, health visitors, teachers and doctors.  From referral, AberNecessities aims to have the required items distributed within a two-week timeframe.

Support provided can include basic essentials for a baby to warm winter bedding for primary age children.  Other examples of how AberNecessities has assisted children and families includes:

  • Supporting a mum who had been diluting baby formula so much that it was nearly pure water because she didn’t have any money left to buy more.
  • Giving underwear to a toddler just out of nappies and who was going to nursery without any underwear because their mum could not afford to buy any.
  • Providing clothing and toys for a mother who fled domestic violence with her three children and had nothing for them to wear or play with.

 

How can you help AberNecessities?

At short notice, AberNecessities supports children and families facing a variety of challenges and therefore requires a range of items to meet these needs.  This can include – but is not limited to – good quality, nearly new clothes, shoes, bedding and equipment.  Donations of maternity clothing are also welcomed for expectant mums, while formula milk, nappies, wipes, toiletries and baby equipment are regularly needed for newborns and young babies.

Donating £10 can purchase 300 size one nappies, while £20 allows two cartons of formula milk to be provided for a baby and £50 buys a maternity bag with clothing and toiletries for a mum to be.

As with any charity, AberNecessities also requires the assistance of volunteers to help deliver its day-to-day operations.  There are many ways volunteers can make a difference, including:

  • Helping to sort through donations at the charity’s office to get them ready for distribution.
  • Washing donated clothes to ensure everything that is distributed is clean, fresh and ready to wear.
  • Dropping off donations to health centres, charity offices and other locations across the north-east.
  • Organising an event to raise funds for the charity.
  • Joining the AberNecessities knitting group and creating a range of clothing, blankets and toys for babies and young children.

 

How you can find out more?

Find out more about AberNecessities by visiting www.abernecessities.co.uk or by following them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Featured charity: Home-Start Aberdeen

Inspired by the season of giving (but not just for Christmas) we are are going to be featuring and raising the profile of local charities from across Aberdeen City and Shire.

We’ll be featuring different charities each week on our social channels and website, helping to raise awareness of the diverse range of causes that so many charities are working so hard to support and how best individuals and organisations can support them right now.

This week we are featuring leading family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen.

Charity Name: Home-Start Aberdeen

What do they do and who do they support?

Being a parent has never been easy. It can be lonely, frustrating, heartbreaking and overwhelming.

Home-Start Aberdeen provide a support service where carefully selected and trained volunteers are there for families, visiting them in their own homes with compassionate, confidential help, backed by expert staff.

Volunteers support parents, with at least one child under the age of 5, as they learn to cope, improve their confidence and build better lives for their children.

What positive impact does the charity make?

Over 90% of parents see significant improvements in their own and their children’s emotional and physical health and wellbeing following Home-Start support.

“With the support of a Home-Start volunteer, I learned how to interact and play with my daughter put boundaries in place, and create a safe and secure home. I can’t thank you enough for listening and being there to help. I really appreciate it.”

 

How can you help Home-Start Aberdeen?

There are several ways you can support Home-Start Aberdeen from becoming a Home-Visiting volunteer, volunteering in its charity shop on George Street.

Home-Start Aberdeen urgently need volunteers to work in its shop in George Street.  An ideal volunteer is a people-person with great communication skills, and who is comfortable handling money.  Previous retail experience isn’t necessary as full training is provided.  There are various shifts available from Monday to Saturday.  All profits from the shop go to support Home-Start’s work with families with young children in Aberdeen.

You can find out more about volunteering with Home-Start Aberdeen here:

https://www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk/volunteer/

 

Make a donation to help families affected by social isolation, bereavement, relationship problems, illness, disability and financial hardship.

On average it costs Home-Start Aberdeen £1,500 to support a family through the challenges they face until they can cope again.

https://www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk/donate/

 

Do your own activity or event and raise money for Home-Start Aberdeen

As we head into 2022 maybe you’re looking for a challenge to set yourself or ways to make a difference?

It could be a run, a walk, a cycle a quiz night, clothes swap or nominating them as your work’s charity of the year.  Everything helps!

If you’re interested and looking for some more information please reach out and talk to Karen Smith at fundraiser@homestartaberdeen.org.uk

 

How you can find out more?

To find out more visit the Home-Start Aberdeen website here www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk

Read Jamie’s story here: My Story – Jamie – Home-Start Aberdeen

 

Do you want to grow your business in 2022?

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is just around the corner (where has the time gone?!)

There’s no better time to be thinking about what’s in store for your business next year and starting to set-out plans for the year ahead.

How much would you like to grow your business in the next 12 months? Do you have a marketing plan in place to help you achieve that?

If you’re feeling a little bit lost or overwhelmed we can help to provide some focus and together we can set out a marketing plan to help your business thrive.

Feel free to get in touch or book an appointment to discuss further – we’re ready to talk whenever you need us.