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Make time for innovation & watch what happens

Identifying future problems all starts in understanding how changing market conditions can affect your business. What would happen if interest rates changed? What would happen if you suddenly had an increase in competition? What would happen if a business-changing technology was launched? And finally, what would happen if a global pandemic broke out? Needless to say, these things are often difficult to predict until they are upon us. But it doesn’t stop us from wondering, if we were more aware that the situation was about to break, would we have done anything differently to prepare? 

All businesses experience changes in some way, with the degree of change varying each time. One thing we have noticed is how quickly a lot of businesses reacted to the changes during COVID-19 and how so many new companies were formed pretty much overnight! What would normally take months seemed to take shape in a fraction of the time, so it has us wondering… If we forced ourselves into a pressure cooker environment where one thing that we heavily relied on failed or wasn’t there for us, could we develop creative new ways to work without it or even better invent something new to supersede it? 

 

“Don’t be afraid of new ideas. Be afraid of old ideas. They keep you where you are and stop you from growing and moving forward. Concentrate on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” Tony Robbins

 

You might be thinking, hang on, slow down, we aren’t that creative! However, creativity in people can sometimes spark under pressure. Some people swear that they do their most creative work under tight deadlines and as far as our team goes, high pressure environments aren’t for all of us. Understanding the people in your team and which ones can handle a little added pressure is important. You could create a test to see if anything good comes out of setting a tight deadline to produce something new for the business and ensure that all other deadlines are removed so they can give the new task their full attention. 

Really, what we are suggesting is to take time to think, plan, brainstorm and research. We all know it can be difficult to find the time to do it, but if you actually make time for it, who knows, the next greatest idea for your business could be born. 

Tony Robbins is quoted saying: “Don’t be afraid of new ideas. Be afraid of old ideas. They keep you where you are and stop you from growing and moving forward. Concentrate on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” 

Making and creating time for innovation is something our team does regularly. We are often the “go to” place of new ideas for clients and we simply love our role. If you have a great idea but unsure what to do next, we can guide you. If you need a clever new way of taking your same old worn out message to market, we can create something new and make it different and exciting. 

All we can say is that the saying “the more you do something the better you get” applies to new ideas also. 

Remember, businesses don’t innovate, people do. Make time for the people in your business to be innovative and we would love to hear from you about your successful strategies. 

If you are feeling blocked, stuck or uninspired, here are a few things you can try that always helps bring our mojo back.

  1. Trust that new ideas will come – your brain is an endless source of ideas, so don’t ever fear that you will ever run out of them. 
  2. Set the mood – whether that be through your surroundings or music, get yourself and/or your team into an environment that feels just right. 
  3. Check out your competitors – review what they are up to and how they take their message to market. 
  4. Check out businesses outside your industry – see how you could apply a concept or way of thinking to your business.
  5. Makes notes when you see something you like – and share this information with your team or keep it somewhere for easy reference. 
  • Posted on 16 Sep 2020
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Time to adapt

It’s fair enough to say that North Queenslanders have had our fair share of tough times. Now, with a global pandemic upon us, we appreciate that everyone has been busy reviewing their business activities, including marketing. In times like this it can be tempting to take the defeated road and pre-emptively close-up shop until the tough time passes, but is that the right decision long-term?

Businesses throughout the world have seen and overcome tough times and if we look at each crisis, we see a pattern that the resilient ones see through to the other side and can even grow stronger. Of course, many business owners are feeling overwhelmed and it can be difficult to clear your mind enough to develop a plan forward. So, what can you do in your business to help you make it through this challenging time? Our team has gathered our thoughts to create a list you can apply right now. 

 

“We have a 100% success rate in obtaining grants for our clients…”

 

Tell people you are open
If you are still operational, in any form (reduced hours, work from home, etc.), tell people you are open and remind them of the products and services you have available. Communicate payment and delivery options you have available, along with any new precautions or safety measures. 

Update your business hours
If your business is offering extended trading hours or has had to alter them due to market conditions, update these wherever your customers will be looking for them; your website, Google My  Business, social media accounts, online directories and your premises entry signage. 

Develop a plan
There is never a more important time to have a clear and defined strategy in relation to how you are spending your precious marketing dollars than right now. You may have been fortunate up until this point with your scattergun approach but the phone might not be ringing as much as it was before, so knowing which areas to direct your focus towards and what customer groups to target is critical.  

Ask for reviews
Your current customers are your best brand ambassadors, so if they aren’t engaging in their usual spending habits, then ask them to offer you a review online on either Google, Facebook or elsewhere. A written testimonial might be the difference in converting a potential customer to an existing one. Having public testimonials at the ready will assist your business once normality returns. 

Maximise your current commitments
If you are locked into an ongoing advertising agreement, be sure to utilise all the benefits you are offered. It could be that you aren’t taking advantage of a digital component, a website ad space or social media mentions. Go back and check your agreement or even better, meet with your rep and ask them what else they can do to assist you right now. Between the two of you it could mean developing something creative that could drive new interest your way. 

Promote suppliers’ offers
If your suppliers are offering special offers or discounts right now, ensure you are promoting them to your customers. You can do this through your digital strategy or if the offer is simply too good to refuse, then look at creating a specific marketing campaign for this. Start with a small investment where you can test and measure its success before throwing everything you have left at it. 

Apply for a grant or stimulus packages
There are numerous government grants along with stimulus packages available that can assist your business. Your accountant can assist you in accessing the stimulus packages, while grants would see you apply directly through an application process. Some grant applications are extensive, so if you need assistance navigating your way through, our team is here to help. We have had a 100% success rate in obtaining grants for our clients that we believe fit the criteria they are applying for. 

Submit tenders
If your business is in an industry where tenders are available, but you have never considered them, then all you require is some well-produced company documents to ensure your submission stands out in this sometimes-competitive arena. Ensure that you register on government tender sites in the areas you can service and set up alerts for tenders that match your search criteria. 

Keep adding to the team culture
For many industries, labour is the greatest expense for businesses. Remember that we are in a time of grief and depending on your individual circumstances, your staff will be in different stages of the grief cycle. Just like your customers, it’s important to keep up communication to your team, with clear information, to curb their anxiety levels.  

Facetime or Zoom
Bring a different level of customer service to the table if you are in retail, by walking the shop floor and showing different options available to customers over the phone! This is not only a great added service offering, but fun. Keeping in touch with your team or partners that are working remotely has never been easier with Zoom, online video conferencing that can be accessed anywhere you have access to the internet. Sign up is free! 

The most important thing is don’t press the stop button immediately. Sit back and reflect on what you are going to do now and give it some uninterrupted time and attention, as sometimes it can be challenging trying to start from ground zero. If you get stuck or lost thinking about what to do next, our team is here for you and we are happy to answer questions. The decisions you make now could have a great impact on the business in a few weeks or months. 

Stay safe everyone.

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Hottest Design Trends in 2020

If you are looking for some inspiration to elevate your business’ image this year, our team has gathered together our creative energy, along with a few outlandish predictions to what might be on trend and eye catching right now.

Over the past decade we have seen a heavy use of script, calligraphy and handwritten fonts. Well, let me tell you, those days are over. This year, design is all about breaking the rules and making an impact without shouting. It’s about getting the message across in a simple fashion that leads the mind to thought. 

 

“This year, design is all about breaking the rules and making an impact without shouting.”

 

Design is forever changing and evolving, so getting on board with the next trend can come with some concern, as businesses don’t want to be left behind and appear outdated or not in vogue. At the same time, you want the design elements that you use in any advertising or communications for your business to really reflect the personality of your branding, and that’s where a marketing or branding professional is a worthwhile resource – they can help decipher which trends will work for your brand, and how exactly those trends could work best for you. 

Welcome to our hottest list.

1. Minimalism
Some say less is best and you are either a lover of white space on a page or not, but current trends are certainly dictating that white space is king. This new decade is challenging us to make every word on the page be there for a reason, rather than filling the page with unnecessary text. This applies to your all of your branding too – logo, window signage, vehicle wraps, brochures and letterheads, the whole hog.

1. Bold, chunky fonts
Bold fonts on a simple background are all the rage right now. If you are currently using a font you’re attached to, stick with it and see if there is a bold or extra bold version in that same font family. Simple and small changes to your font and use of a simple background image can immediately bring a modern and innovative appearance to your marketing material and business. 

2. Vintage colours are back
Step aside neon bright, it’s time to turn back the clock and mute the intensity. Think of a subtle colour palette including pastels, watercolours and natural tones. This also includes grayscale and monochromatic colour effects on pictures. In our production studio, we are all crushing hard on the choice of colour filters at our fingertips. Put simply, it involves desaturating the image with a complimentary colour, white or black. 

3. Abstract illustrations
Unique and organic illustrations are here with a more abstract feel, calling for designers to unleash their Picasso within and construct a movement that was never there before. Expect to see human figures, buildings and products be portrayed in an imaginative way. 

4. Animation explosion
Custom designed animations are on the rise as big brand companies fight to get noticed and create a competitive edge. Expect to see GIFs and moving images in every digital space possible. 

5. 3D Depth and realism
Thanks to modern technology and software programs, this year we will continue to see photos and 2D objects be transformed right before our very eyes. 

6. Unique fonts
Artistic typography is a craze that designers have been playing with to generate an innovative and modern edge to their work. Decorated with flowers, geometric shapes and other creative elements, fonts get a new lease on life. 

7. Colour gradients
We have seen a recent increase in using gradients of colour as a background to logos, advertisements and publication design, as an alternative to background images and patterned illustrations. Colour gradients are a simple, clean way to compliment complex illustrations while showing depth and texture.  

8. Real images
Generally, as a society we are seeking more realistic images in advertising. We have grown tired of the “airbrush” and portrayal of how humans should look, whether you are a man, woman or child and welcome the raw image that we can relate to. Genuine and authentic photographs is something to consider next time you are looking at a photo of yourself and wanting more photoshop! 

Want more? Stay tuned for further updates on our social pages, or drop in and see the team for some great inspiration. 

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Strategy before social

By now, most of us have a pretty good understanding of social media and how it works. You possibly even have multiple social media profiles active for your business. But how many businesses out there have an actual strategy and stop to think, ‘why am I posting and what do I want to get out of it?’ I can tell you not many, so don’t worry about feeling alone if you are one of those businesses. 

The obvious reasons why businesses are on social media is to create brand awareness and ultimately drive revenue. But for most, creating that desirable link between posting words online to generating actual dollars is miles apart. If we break this down and be realistic about our expectations from social media, it may help us create goals that are achievable and deliver tangible outcomes. 

Developing a digital strategy is exactly what that does, and having one helps you create a plan that includes all areas you can generate income from, and the frequency is then matched with either the quantity of overall sales or profit. How often do you find yourself promoting the product that has the best images or is the most visually appealing? But we need to stop giving attention to the products and services that are the easy ones to market and take a wholistic view across our business and promote the products and services that make us the most money or are the products that our customers actually want. At the end of the day, we want every marketing dollar to generate a return, and in the marketing world, that outcome is making the phone ring.

If this all seems too hard or you only know the basics about social media, there is an entire industry out there that can help you craft a digital strategy; but be warned, this is a relatively new industry and there are a lot of companies claiming to be the best people to assist you. 

Another option you have available is engaging a professional to map out your digital marketing strategy, and the best news is that there are digital grants available from the government to assist with both the cost and accessibility. 

The Small Business Digital Grants Program is assisting businesses looking to access digital technologies and services to help work smarter, engage with the digital economy and make the most of online business opportunities. Our team can assist by supplying you with a quote to develop a digital strategy and also assist you with the grant application itself. We have had great success in gaining grant funds for our clients and we would love to assist regional businesses further. 

If successful, matched funding of up to $10,000 (excluding GST) may be provided to eligible businesses for the purchase of hardware, software and services (such as digital coaching). The minimum grant funding is $1,000. The business must show how the digital technology or service purchased and adopted will enhance the digital capabilities of their business and help them to be more competitive and employ more staff.

To be eligible the business must:

• Have fewer than 20 employees at the time of applying for the grant
• Have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be registered for GST
• Have Queensland headquarters
• Have a turnover of $2 million or less in the last financial year
• Not be insolvent or have owners/directors that are an undischarged bankrupt

Only one application will be accepted from an individual ABN or a financial beneficiary of a business.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore further, please give our team a call before grant applications close.

Remember, a digital strategy is the main method of online management for a business and it must relate and complement the overall business strategy. Having a digital strategy is also integral to business success because it allows the business to reach its target audience more effectively, using the preferred platform they are on. 

Allowing your digital strategy to be cohesive is important as it allows the target audience to be reached more seamlessly which is the end result for the business.

 

Tips for developing a social media strategy

1. Determine what you are looking to achieve?
2. Who is your target audience?
3. Select the right platform to reach them
4. Create great content
5. Monitor your results 

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Want to increase your customer loyalty?

Without customers, businesses wouldn’t exist, which is why we should value and respect them. 

Your customers want to feel connected or aligned with your business and once you create this wonderful connection, they are more likely to recommend you to others. Retaining your customers comes down to loyalty and regular communication. And it’s important to pay attention to them and offer not only great customer service, but a total experience. This is commonly referred to as user experience, and for all the geeks out there it’s often shortened to UX. 

Every single day, people are making purchasing decisions based on their own needs, wants and desires. Large companies can spend billions of dollars annually studying what makes consumers tick, and although you might not like it, your every move online is being monitored by Google along with many others to see what you are interested in. 

Studying people’s buying habits isn’t just for the large companies. Small businesses are seeing great success in understanding which post codes their customers come from to shop and then targeting them online. So, without investing thousands of dollars into market research, we have compiled a list below of simple things your business can start doing to increase your customer loyalty, with the aim to ultimately increase sales. 

Communicate regularly
Ensure that customers hear from you throughout the year and not just when they turn up to purchase something. We are in the year 2019 but we still need to remind some businesses out there to gain customers’ email addresses and phone numbers. These critical details will form a database that you can continue to invest time into and craft specific messages that your customers might enjoy. These messages could be highlighting new products or services that you have added, a new model being released, or simply a further chapter to your brand story. 

Do something special 
Do you ever call a customer at random and thank them for their business? Do you ever send them a movie voucher or offer them an added gift with purchase? It’s the little things that can show a customer that you are really grateful for them. It often doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just an acknowledgement. 

Ask for a referral 
The customers you have attracted to your business are part of your tribe. As they say ‘birds of a feather flock together’ so it would be likely that the people your current customers know could also be your customers. Simply asking your customers to refer you to a friend could be a great way to grow your business and also a great time to thank your existing customers. You can share your vision of growth and showcase your plans of creating an even better customer experience. Remember, everyone wants to know “What’s in it for me?”

Have a good team culture 
Customers can ‘feel’ the mood of a business from the moment they enter. So make sure you leave them with a positive lasting impression. Too often people choose to shop elsewhere because of a particular person they dislike or after a bad experience they have had. Trying to lure that person back and convincing them to trust your business again will take time, and money. 

Train your staff 
Ensuring your team are friendly and helpful is one thing, but ensuring they have a good understanding of what they are selling is another. Customers often want information prior to making a purchasing decision, and nusinesses lose sales every day due to poor product knowledge forcing potential customers to shop elsewhere. 

Embrace technology
Customers these days are demanding quick transactions. Don’t hold customers up at the counter with painstaking paperwork. Adopt point of sale (POS) software to enhance their experience and let them get out the door so they can start using their new purchase as soon as possible. 

Be part of the community
The rise of social enterprises can be directly attributed to the changes in customer purchasing decisions. A social enterprise is an organisation whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. This includes listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world. It is an organisation that shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen (both inside and outside the organisation), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organisation. Being mindful of this emerging trend should be enough encouragement for any business to ensure they are investing back into the community around them. 

Of course, there are a multitude of more things you can do to increase your customer loyalty and remember that it costs us up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one you already have. If you create an experience that people want and makes them feel special, then the price won’t matter. 

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