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WHERE WILL COMPETITORS BE SPENDING THEIR MARKETING BUDGETS IN 2018?

It’s a competitive world out there with ambitious businesses each seeking a secret recipe for a successful ‘marketing mix’ to help them win business and out compete competitors.  So, to help those who may be a little lost or unsure, we thought it would be useful to share what our clients are doing and the marketing trends that are proving popular in 2018.

 

The first question is typically, how much should I spend?  Research suggests that since the 2009 financial dip, companies have been steadily increasing their marketing spend and this looks set to increase again in 2018.

 

As a gauge of how much to spend, marketing budgets are often compared to an organisation’s total budget, with smaller firms typically spending a little more to steal a march on their more established rivals. Depending on the service or product provided, the percentages can vary with businesses selling products to consumers typically spending on average 13.4%, compared to 10.4% for businesses selling products to other businesses.  Across all industries, companies were found to be spending 11.4% of their available budgets on marketing.

 

Now that budgets have been determined, where should the monies be spent?  Forrester Research predicts that in 2018, the average firm is expected to allocate 41% of their marketing budget to online activities with this rate is expected to grow to 45% by 2020.

 

Ensuring that businesses achieve a good search engine ranking will capture the largest single share of online spend with online display adverts taking the second largest share.  The spend on social media will continue to grow at nearly 20% each year until 2021, reflecting the changes in Facebook’s algorithms and the likely impact on other platforms.

 

When choosing which social channel to spend with, much would depend on who you are looking to target and what content you have to share.  As always, good content will remain king but Facebook is expected to remain number one on spend, with 90% of social media users utilizing the platform.  Instagram will continue to grow, from a 32% penetration to 47% by 2020.  The other channels, namely Pinterest and Twitter, will continue to have relatively low penetration, peeking around 33% of users by 2020.

 

The research also highlights that in 2018, at least half of all respondents planned to increase spending on social media marketing, content marketing, video and online lead generation principally at the expense of traditional TV and radio advertising.

 

Despite all the figures on advertising spend, whether your customers, suppliers, employees and regulators chose to buy your product or service, or to even be associated with your brand / business, will continue to depend on your reputation and how you’re perceived against your competitors.  Having PR support remains a critical, and affordable, way to build your reputation, credibility and to differentiate yourself from competitors.

 

A PR or communications team is also well placed to act as a central hub to marketing activities, bringing consistency to marketing communications and operating at the centre of the strategy due to their unique ability to manage the messages across the marketing platforms.  Let’s also not forget what I feel is the key ingredient – having clear objectives, a desired outcome and the right team in place to deliver.

 

It’s clear that a diverse range of ingredients is needed to achieve the right mix.  The good news is that market confidence remains high and evidence suggests that businesses who invest in their marketing will be best placed to reap the benefits of their efforts, particularly in the context of a growing economy in 2018.

 

 

 

‘The Source’ of 2017’s Success

The Christmas and New Year break was over before we knew it, and now 2018 is in full swing. To beat the ‘January Blues’, here at The Source we’re keeping positive by reminiscing about the finest moments of last year. 2017 was filled with incredible cultural moments, from that ‘oops’ moment at the Oscars (how will we ever forget the Moonlight and La La Land mix up?!) to the recent royal engagement, but away from all the crazy going-ons of the outside world, nestled in the quaint village of Tattenhall, we had quite the year ourselves. From team expansions, to new clients, awards and of course, a rebrand! In case you missed any of our highlights from the past year, we thought we’d share them with you here.

It’d be rude not to start with our biggest moment of 2017; making the final transition from The Source Partnership to The Source. The new branding of ‘The Source’ was a move that reflected our ambition and client focus so of course we needed an updated look to mirror this. After a new site was designed, Natural Selection Design paid us a visit to create a professional company video, and new headshots were taken. Add in to the mix a freshly-designed logo (a big thank you to Emily, our Graphic Designer!), along with our new(ish) premises, The Source was ready for reveal.

2017 also brought a number of new clients for us. From the Grosvenor, to Combermere Abbey, TextLocal and DV8, we gained a fantastic mix of B2B and B2C clients. We ran a series of PR campaigns, competitions, and launches for each, and we can confidently say that each client has been a pleasure to work with. We can’t wait to work with them all again this year.

With our new branding and increase in clients came new team members. We gained two fantastic team additions in the summer; Jo joined us as a PR Assistant following the completion of her degree in English and German Literature at University of Warwick. With existing PR and experience studying abroad, Jo was warmly welcomed to The Source. In June, Evie also joined us, having graduated from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English Language and Linguistics. Evie has proven to be a fantastic team member and works on key accounts such as; Wright Marshall, Combermere Abbey and Drivers Direct.

The year wouldn’t be complete without awards, and of course our clients took home a number of golds – but would you expect anything less? Meadow Foods scooped gold at the International Cheese Awards, the largest industry awards in Europe, whilst our client Barnes Logistics also came out on top in the Rochdale Business Awards for ‘Business of the Year’ with their impressive turnover of more than £5 million, business expansion and increasing fleet.

One of our longest standing clients, TIMco, also had an incredibly successful awards season scooping not one or even two, but three award wins at the NBG Awards in November at a Gala Dinner in the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool. Fantastic recognition for three very deserving clients!

2017 wouldn’t have been complete without some incredible coverage either, and with pieces from the Telegraph, the Sun and the Guardian, our coverage goals were achieved. Local business and long-standing client The Ice Cream Farm was recognised by the Telegraph as one of the top 20 most visited free attractions in the country, whilst the Guardian wrote a fantastic review on Liverpool bistro Wreckfish and the Sun published the professional comment of Drivers Direct on the HGV driver shortage. Brilliant results for each client!

Away from print media, of course we made a number of TV and radio appearances. We kick-started the year by filming with our client Wright Marshall as they hosted one of the largest model train auctions. Naturally, ITV were keen to air the event, which had over 4,000 model trains and raised over £230,000 for charity. Then fame fell at Europac3D’s feet as they made their TV debut featuring in an episode of ‘Find it, Fix it, Flog it’ to 3D scan one of the show’s presenters, creating a ‘mini me’ for a doll’s house restoration project (take a look at Gemma Longworth’s 3D miniature here, it’s very impressive, even if we do say so ourselves!) Then throw into the loop an appearance on Good Morning for Freedome, a filming collaboration between Kirsty’s and Redrow Homes, features for the Ice Cream Farm on Children in Need, and for Bolesworth on North West Tonight. Add in radio debuts on Newsround, the Jeremy Vine Show, Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 2 and the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, and you have yourself one very busy year!

You may be wondering how we could possibly fit anything else into the mix, but in October, we organised, not one, but two client launches. Wreckfish, despite only launching in October, quickly became a foodie favourite across Liverpool with its exceptional dishes and stylish interiors. The restaurant became a record-breaker after crowdfunding £200,000 to support the opening of the business. If you haven’t visited yet, make sure you put it on your to-do list, as we can confirm that the food is just amazing! A little closer to home we also launched Søstrene Grene in October, welcoming the Scandi Interiors brand to its new home in the Chester Grosvenor shopping centre. Dubbed as the ‘mini-Ikea’, the event proved to be popular with shoppers – we may have even picked up a few homeware pieces ourselves…

2017 now feels like a distant memory, as we are already busy writing up plans and proposals for the next 12 months. We’re incredibly excited to see what 2018 brings – we’re certain that ‘The Source’ of a fantastic year lies in PR – so watch this space!

Fake News – Can It Be Avoided?

In a world of “he said she said” debates across social media and “click bait” news articles, it’s difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t….

 

Although fake news is not a new concept, it’s now moving up the real news agenda with the help of social media – allowing a story to spread like wildfire within a matter of minutes.  People often say they find out the latest via their trending list on their Twitter page before they’ve even switched on the TV.  We can’t deny that it’s pretty impressive having access to world news at the touch of a button but you can also run into some Chinese whispers along the way.

 

Fake news takes many forms which is why it’s so difficult to monitor.  It ranges from pop-up websites, nation state-sponsored misinformation, social media and parody publications, such as The Daily Mash – well-established before fake news even became an issue.  But following Trump’s move into the Oval Office, the talk of fake news has been widely popular, especially as it’s so regularly used by Trump himself. The word is also set to be added to the next print edition of Collins Dictionary as it’s recently been dubbed as ‘Word of the Year’ – who’d have thought?

 

With the aim of cracking down on fake news sites, internet giants, Google have implemented a “Fact Check” feature for Google News and Google Search, enabling publishers to show a “Fact Check’ tag in their stories.  Google’s criteria separates the type of content pushed out online, distinguishing between fact and fiction, an all-important mission by todays’ standards.  If the criteria aren’t met, Google will simply take the site off Google News and or, it won’t be rewarded with a “Fact Check” tab.

 

If you’re unsure of the legitimacy of a story, the first port of call would be to go to ‘The Source’.  We handle social media on a daily basis and know what to look out for when collating news stories.  Before passing on a story, we make sure to read beyond the headlines and check that ‘The Source’ always backs the claim.

 

Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can assist you in developing your online presence (fake news free)!

 

 

Emojis – More Than Meets The 👁

The task of connecting with the Millenial market is getting harder and harder as young people become savvier about brand messages and stunts. But their love of emojis is showing no sign of slowing down – but proceed with caution: as the symbols have grown in variety, so have their meanings…

 

💅

The nail painting emoji evolved quickly to suggest far more than touching up colour. Now this symbol is used to portray defiant nonchalance: something’s happened that the writer should care about, but they just don’t.

 

From offering any form of self-indulgent services to promoting your brand image as light-hearted but self-assured, most businesses can use this emoji to emphasise a message of being carefree and putting yourself first, no matter what others might think.

 

💃

Few people could have predicted the popularity of the simply named ‘woman dancing’.

 

The dancing woman emoji become the symbol to be used as a marker for social occasions – from nights out, to a quiet one in the pub, to a night in, the dancing woman was used to show enthusiasm. For businesses looking to promote a bold brand message or generate excitement for offers, the dancing women is perfect.

 

🐍

The background: after years of feuds and make ups, Kim Kardashian proved Taylor Swift lied to the media about a supposed lyric approval request from Kanye West, after she released videos of the exchange.

 

Within minutes of it being released, every single one of Taylor’s Instagram updates were flooded with comments using the snake emoji – to the point that she actually had to contact Instagram to block the symbol from her account. The snake has become synonymous with Taylor and her damaged reputation. Used correctly, businesses can ironically engage with the famous incident.

 

The world of emojis is deep and complex – and, most importantly, constantly evolving; to make sure you stay ahead, get in touch with our team today!

Store Dubbed Mini IKEA Arrives in Chester to Record-Breaking Queues

Interiors fans, brace yourselves… Last week we helped Danish brand, Søstrene Grene, open their Chester store in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre. The homewares brand is famed for its huge product range; from quirky kitchen accessories and sumptuous soft furnishings to stylish ceramics at affordable prices.

Approached by Søstrene for our extensive experience in the retail sector, knowledge of the region (and perhaps for our penchant for everything Scandi), we held an exclusive VIP launch event on Thursday, 19th October, followed by an official public opening on Friday, 20th.

Only the second store in the country, there is little or no knowledge of the brand in the UK and so we were tasked with not only increasing brand awareness regionally, but we also introduced national press to the cult-homewares business.

Our launch campaign included working closely with the Danish team to compile social media content, as well as securing press coverage in local and regional press, which resulted in Søstrene Grene featuring in a huge variety of regional publications.   We also worked with a local radio station to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the VIP and official openings.

Over 100 people attended the VIP launch event, including regional press and bloggers, as well as a wide demographic of guests, who all enjoyed fizz and canapes from local bar and restaurant, The Botanist whilst browsing the store.

For the public launch the following day, there were hundreds of eager shoppers wanting to get in on the action, with queues through Grosvenor Shopping Centre and into the street, which hasn’t been seen in the centre for many years.

For more information on launch events or introducing brands into the UK, please get in touch on 01829 720789 or email info@thesourcepartnership.com.

Awards Season

It’s that time of the year again where, if we’re not drafting award entries, we’re getting all dressed up, attending ceremonies and watching our clients win some amazing awards!

On Friday, 6th October we attended The Cheshire Business Awards at the very beautiful Chester Cathedral.  The awards welcomed some of the most respected businesses in the region, demonstrating the exceptionally high level of quality competition that Cheshire boasts. We’re extremely proud to say that The Ice Cream Farm scooped the Innovation & Enterprise Award for their continuous development of the tourist attraction and success of their wholesale brand.

The Chester Grosvenor beat off competition from the likes of Chester Zoo to win the coveted, Employer of the Year award for their fantastic employee initiatives and dedication to their team’s development. Needless to say, our table had a great night!

We waited with bated breath earlier in the week as the shortlist for the Marketing Cheshire Awards were released and we’re very proud to say that out of seven entries submitted for four clients, all seven were successful! We’d like to wish The Ice Cream Farm, The Chester Grosvenor, Freedome and Comberemere Abbey the very best of luck. The Source is also up for an award- Best Tourism Marketing Project for our safety campaign with Freedome, so fingers crossed!

WHAT’S BETTER ATTITUDE OR APTITUDE?

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to hear ‘The world’s greatest living explorer’, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, speak about his expedition to circumnavigate the globe from pole to pole through the world’s vertical axis.  A truly inspirational man who not only knows a thing or two about exploring, but about picking the right team to succeed.

 

When asked, ‘How did he pick the right people to deliver on his record breaking ambitions?’  it was assumed that he’d go for proven polar explorers, super-fit and mentally tough athletes or expert navigators with a degree in engineering, dentistry and extreme survival.

 

In-fact, from the 800 applications who were willing to work for nothing and with no guarantee for success, he opted for a beer salesman and a butcher.  Neither had any exploration experience, let alone experience of working in some of the harshest climates in the world.

 

The reason behind his thinking was; “You can teach skills but you can’t teach character”.  He picked a team he could work with, trust to get the job done and most importantly had self-motivation to succeed.

 

Here, sitting in the comfort of my own desk, it made me look to see if there are any comparisons or lessons that can be learnt in our own business.  The reality is that there are huge similarities.

 

In the world of PR, communications and consultancy – people buy people.  The work we do is not an exact science but one that is based around people and that continues to evolve and progress.  The best people are those that are natural communicators, adaptable and that build trusted relationships with clients, along with having a common goal and a positive attitude in achieving it.

 

We’re proud of our client retention rates and the results we consistently deliver.  This, in my view, is down to the team and their positive ‘can do’ approach when undertaking the great work that they do.  So, for me it’s attitude over aptitude every day, even if we’re not working in total darkness and at minus -85°F.

The GIF that keeps on GIF-ing!

This year the GIF celebrated its 25th birthday and stands as one of the longest reigning elements on the world wide web. Originally presenting itself in small animated icons throughout the 90s and transitioning through a bold and glittery Myspace phase, the GIF today has evolved into a repetitive looped sequence mainly extracted from television or movie clips.

Think Obama mic dropping, the waving bear, Kanye cracking a smile, Jennifer Lawrence tripping on the red carpet, GIFs are taking the internet by storm and they haven’t gone unnoticed.

Facebook and Twitter both got on board during the last two years integrating GIF buttons for users to get GIF-happy! Now when you scroll through your newsfeed, they have become impossible to ignore – advertising, demonstrating, reacting, entertaining – you name it, the GIF will cover it!

But why the GIF and why now?

We are living at a time where almost everything is available to us instantly. Gone are the days of dial-up connections and buffering videos, the GIF will start immediately with no need to even press play. Internet users are met with a continuous loop of a message, moment or advertisement whether they wanted to see it or not.

On top of this, the nature of GIFs means they are only a few seconds long so their message is conveyed instantaneously. Ad Week described them as “a moving picture telling the story of the moment better than either a photo or video ever could.” Content often gets lost within a lengthy video where as a GIF gets to the point directly and there’s no qualms if you missed it the first time because it will repeat itself over and over and over again. In fact, based on Ad Week’s data, GIFs typically generate seven times the views and engagement of a video from the same event. Hard evidence that the GIF must be onto something good.

While they are great for comedic value, GIFs also serve a valuable purpose within the world of advertising and marketing. They have been used to showcase products and ideas, advertise events or just to inject some fun into brands and campaigns. Take our client Kirsty’s for example… We have created a variety of playful and branded sequences for her to share across social media, which successfully engage viewers while also reiterating the brand name and encouraging product sales.

The GIF continues to expand across social media and is now moving into the top of web searches, where we are witnessing the introduction of sponsored brands’ GIFs. Despite its 25 year milestone, it has stood the test of time and according to Digimind, “far from falling into disuse, the GIF has actually mutated and become a medium in itself, an education channel, and of course a communication and marketing tool.”

If you are interested in personalised GIFs to take your business’ social media to the next level, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Three Clients Nominated for Cheshire Business Awards 2017

It’s an exciting day in The Source offices today with not one, not even two, but THREE of our clients being nominated for the prestigious Trinity Mirror Cheshire Business Awards 2017.

We love an award entry at The Source and don’t mind us if we say we’re pretty good at it. Of course, it helps that our amazing clients have plenty to shout about! The Chester Grosvenor hotel, The Ice Cream Farm and Text Local have been nominated for the Employer of the Year award, the Innovation and Enterprise Award and the Business of the Year award (over 50 employees) respectively.

The awards recognise excellence, innovation and achievement across the Cheshire region. With a staggering 48% increase in entries this year, we’d like to congratulate our clients for getting to this stage, as it was a particularly competitive shortlisting process!

The awards ceremony will be held at Chester Cathedral on Friday 6th October. For more information, visit http://www.eventsnorthwest.co.uk/cheshire-business-awards/.

2017: The Tact of Advertising the Drink of Diplomacy

Drinks companies constantly produce and push campaigns through various social media platforms and TV channels.  We’re so used to seeing them that we almost become desensitised.  However, in April 2017 campaigns from drinks giants Pepsi and Heineken became hot topics for different reasons.  Both put out issue-driven messages but one took the internet by storm and the other had to be taken down…

 

Heineken’s ‘Worlds Apart’ social experiment reached 13,520,408 views on YouTube with #OpenYourWorld creating a real conversation on Twitter. At the start of the video the question, “Is there more that unites than divides us?” was asked in between short clips of six people describing their views on topical issues such as; Climate Change, LGBT rights and Feminism. By addressing real world issues, Heineken created a campaign that everyday people could relate to, choosing subjects at the forefront of today’s society.

 

In contrast to Heineken, Pepsi took inspiration from the social justice movements Black Lives Matter, yet the campaign was vague and lacked any acknowledgement of real-world issues.  The advert showed a generic protest with a serious looking police officer relaxing when handed a Pepsi by super model, Kendall Jenner.

 

This message was not received well by viewers.  Bernise King, daughter of Martin Luther King tweeted a picture of her father with the caption: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” The lack of perspective was put down to the campaign being created in-house in comparison to creative agency input.

 

The question is – Did they create these as PR stunts purposefully taking a gamble on the outcome?  When creating a PR or marketing campaign, every element needs to be dissected and each possible reaction debated to prevent a PR disaster. As the saying goes, ‘There’s no such thing as bad PR’, but careful planning, understanding your audience and preventing the inevitable is all part of the difference between a bad campaign and a truly great one.

 

If you feel your business needs some guidance to create the best PR campaign, get in touch. We are what you need.