New year, new brand: refreshing your comms for 2018
How was 2017 for you?
What better way to start the new year than by taking stock of what worked – and what didn’t – in 2017.
Honestly: how do you think your brand’s comms performed last year? If it worked, how are you going to continue that success in 2018? And if things didn’t go so well, now is the perfect opportunity to consider how you can improve things for the year ahead.
However you did in 2017, there are loads of ways you can refresh your brand’s comms this year without spending a penny (or for very cheap). Keep reading for our thriftiest marketing, PR, and social media tricks – perfect for even the tightest comms budgets!
Get some goals
According to CoSchedule’s 2018 State of Marketing Strategy Report, marketers who set goals for their marketing activity are 429% more likely to report success than those who don’t. A further 81% of marketers who set goals actually achieve them.
Before you embark on a mission to shake up your comms in 2018, think about what you’re actually trying to achieve. While most businesses engage in comms activities to increase sales or raise brand awareness, targets like that may feel dauntingly large. Concepts like ‘brand awareness’ are a bit vague and difficult to measure.
If your goal for 2018 is to increase sales, aim for a specific number of sales, or desired turnover figure. Your targets don’t have to be as big as this, though. Your 2018 goal could be to achieve 2k social media followers or 10k site views in a year. Whatever you want to achieve, write it down and check your progress throughout the year. If you don’t think about what success looks like, how will you know when you get there?
If your goal for 2018 is to increase visitors to your brand’s website, we have a couple of tools up our sleeve that might help. If you use WordPress for your website, Jetpack is a great plugin for tracking site traffic, and Yoast is great for SEO optimisation. Google Analytics is another brilliant tracking tool everyone can use.
Spice up your social media
Over 71% of consumers who have a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. It’s so cheap and easy to use, we don’t think there’s any excuse for a brand not to use social media.
We hope that your brand is already using social media to share blog content, PR, and trending industry news. If not, creating profiles on relevant platforms should be your first step.
For those of you that have already mastered the basics, here are few tricks for refreshing your social media comms in 2018…
- Twitter polls: Ask your followers a question or seek their opinion. Check out this guide for more information, plus some excellent examples.
- Gifs: Where appropriate, a gif can be a lighthearted way to add some extra interest to your feed. Giphy has loads of free to use gifs, and you can even use their platform to create your own.
- Emojis: Don’t go overboard, but a carefully-placed emoji can help add personality to your social media posts. This guide from Social Media Examiner weighs up what brands need to consider before using emojis on social media.
- More visual content: If your brand’s social media content is guilty of being a little dry, try adding more imagery to liven it up. Two of our favourite tools for creating social media imagery areCanva and Pablo by Buffer. If you need some free-to-use stock imagery to use, we recommend Unsplash and Pexels.
Boost your blogging
Regular readers of our blog will know that we’re big advocates of content marketing. Not without good reason: 70% of customers distrust traditional advertising, and 42% say they distrust brands in general. However, research from the Content Marketing Institute reveals that 70% of customers would rather get to know a business through branded content rather than advertising.
Though the practice includes a wide range of activities, regular blogging is one of the easiest ways your business can benefit from the magic of content marketing. HubSpot says B2B brands that blog receive 67% more leads than those that don’t. If you’re already a blogging convert, there are a number of ways you can freshen up your content.
Committing to regular blogging can quickly leave you short of inspiration. It may seem like a big task, but creating a calendar of planned content in advance can save time when it comes to writing. To create your blog schedule, consider the types of questions your target customers might be asking – seek inspiration from your FAqs, Google search suggestions, and questions posed on social media. Check out our guide to finding inspiration for your business blog for loads more suggestions.
Once your brilliant blogs are published to your site, there’s lots more you can do to make your content work for you. Blog posts using imagery receive 94% more total views than those without, so remember to include an eye-catching image with your article. It goes without saying that you should be promoting your blog content on social media, too. Check out this guide from Hootsuite on how to promote your blog on social media.
Work on your website
If your website is your main channel of communication with customers and prospects, it’s important to keep it performing at its best. For those of you planning a completely new website in 2018, here’s our number one piece of advice: use a customisable platform like WordPress, and get to know how to make changes to it yourself. All businesses change, so your website should evolve as you do. If you have to rely on your web developer to make even simple changes, there’s a chance your site can quickly become outdated and irrelevant. Here are a number of tweaks you should be able to make yourself to refresh your site for 2018.
- Case studies: Do the past clients and examples of work listed on your site reflect the types of client you’d like to win in 2018? If not, freshen them up. Make it super easy for your prospects to see how your business can work with them.
- Team page: Are any new starters listed on the website? Are everyone’s job roles up to date? Customers and clients like to know who they’ll be working with, so this is an important point of reference.
- About us: Update this page with any developments that have happened in your business over the last year. Don’t forget to include things like award wins, acquisitions, or big moves.
- Our services: Do these reflect the products and services you’re trying to sell in 2018?
PR your profile
For those of you working with a specialist PR team in 2018, there’s a lot they can do to boost and refresh your comms. However, if you’re managing your brand’s PR in-house, there are plenty of ‘quick wins’ you can pick up.
Here’s a (poorly kept) industry secret: most PR agencies subscribe to fancy media databases that notify them when journalists are seeking information or case studies for a story. This is one of the ways agencies know how to get their clients featured in top publications. Subscriptions to these services are often very expensive, but there is a free alternative. Anyone can subscribe to Journo Requests to receive a daily roundup of requests tweeted using the hashtag #JournoRequest. The free service doesn’t allow you to filter by subject area, so you may have to do some scrolling, but journalists from many excellent national titles do use this service to find info.
The biggest drawback with Journo Requests is that the roundup mailer only goes out once a day. Since time is of the essence for most journalists, you might find you miss the boat on some leads. However, brands that use a social media management platform like Hootsuite can benefit from a clever workaround. Set up a stream to display tweets tagged with #JournoRequest, and you can investigate those leads whenever you’re ready.
Regardless of how you pick up PR opportunities, it pays to be prepared. If you know there’s going to be a big news announcement relevant to your sector this year (think GDPR or similar) then it’s worth taking some time to prepare an opinion. Even if you don’t manage to use it to win your brand some media coverage, it’s still a valuable source of blog content.
Time to roll up your sleeves
We don’t buy into that elitist, ‘only seasoned professionals can do it’ mentality. Anyone can get stuck in and make a positive impact on their brand’s comms.
Most of the suggestions we’ve shared above are very cheap – if not totally free. All it takes is a little time.
However, if your business is time-strapped, or you have really big goals you want to achieve in 2018, maybe it’s time to call in the professionals. Check out our guide on how to pick the right PR agency for your brand – and here are five questions to ask to make sure you’ve picked the right one.