On Thursday, 28th September the autumn sun shined as we celebrated 21 years of SHC at the Hotel du Vin in Henley on Thames. The weather was kind and a great time was had by all as we enjoyed afternoon tea, sipped sparkling wine – all to the beautiful tones of the accomplished saxophone artist, Robert Benson.
The team at SHC, which today is around 18 strong, mingled with invited clients, suppliers and former colleagues, plus Suzanne’s immediate family and friends to celebrate together in style.
Following the delicious tea, Suzanne gave a short presentation to mark the 21 years, giving a snapshot of her career and also looking back on her first clients and landmarks over the last two decades.
Such landmarks included SHC’s 10th birthday celebrations, the recession, organising five Golden Service Awards for Kimberly-Clark Professional, and adding Social Media to SHC’s list of specialist skills.
Suzanne also thanked some of her clients who have helped the business establish its three sectors including food, packaging and cleaning/FM. Clients to thank include SAI Global (formerly EFSIS), Italian Secrets, Tri-Star Packaging and Kimberly-Clark Professional.
Suzanne has no intention of stopping any time soon and looks forward to providing an excellent service to all her clients over the coming years.
Here’s to the next SHC milestone celebration – how about 25 years?!
Packaging is the gateway to a product. Ask any graphic designer, retailer, manufacturer or clued-up customer. All of them will agree. Every stage of that complex process called purchasing – searching, evaluating, selecting, buying, opening – starts and ends with packaging. Fact.
And while we should never judge a book by its cover, another fact remains: the design, quality and style of an object’s packaging goes way beyond product, brand, and corporate identity. At its honest best, packaging pushes into subtler, emotional realms, smoothing out confusion, alleviating consumer fears, or appealing to our sense of humour to secure the purchase and one happy customer.
Whoever, or whatever, that customer is – from uncle Bob to Auntie Beeb – getting the packaging right is absolutely critical to securing more of those purchases, increasing revenue and improving your brand identity. Understanding how packaging influences purchasing decisions at every level – emotional and practical – is the first step in getting your branding just right. Fact.
Quality and excitement
Like a bee drawn to a bright flower, we all respond differently to colours, images and shapes, but one thing we instantly sense from the look of a product’s packaging is quality. Too shiny, fussy or flimsy may give the customer a distinct impression the product is, well, ‘not quite for me, perhaps’.
Packaging made from good materials, defined by clear graphics and eye-catching typography is more likely to trigger a positive domino effect on behaviour, attitude, aspiration and motivation. Actions speak louder than words, and without saying anything, the message is clear: you are buying if not a great product, then one of substance, reliability and quality.
Excitement is a key part of the psychological mix – product, via its packaging, must trigger excitement, especially true for impulse buying. Our culture of consumption means temptation is increasingly getting the better of us. But only a perfect creative storm of shape, text, graphics and words will unleash the sudden, spontaneous and strong burst of acquisitive desire. That is the power of packaging. Fact.
The way packaging communicates with buyers is an important part of its impact on consumer psychology. The design of the packaging should tell buyers – either overtly or through subliminal cues – who the product is aimed at, what its USP is, and other pieces of key information likely to coax a buyer to make that all-important purchase.
They way to communicate these key markers is through easy-to-understand icons, common phrases and images, all of which find their expression in good packaging. The easier it is for consumers to understand what a product is and how it can benefit them, the more chance you have of closing the deal.
Conversely, however innovative, exciting or relevant your product is, if its packaging fails to convey this, it is unlikely to win the attention it deserves. Those who tack on packaging as a project afterthought or don’t invest the intellectual rigour from concept through to conclusion are on shaky ground from the word go. But those who anchor their box, bag, soft container or other form of packaging at the heart of a product launch or marketing push, are more likely to reap retail success. And that is an indisputable fact.
Although most of us haven’t even set off for our summer holidays, forward thinking brands, journalists and bloggers have already begun thinking about Christmas. Less than six short months away, this key selling season gets bigger and bigger every year. Companies who want to make the most of it need to make sure they’re ready to begin promoting their products while the summer sun is still high in the sky, otherwise they could miss out on vital PR opportunities.
To ensure your company takes full advantage of the lucrative festive season, we’ve put together a guide for creating an effective Christmas PR plan. For this guide we’ll be using new client Whitebeam Gift as our example brand. This well-organised company is already getting its name out there and getting ready for Christmas.
When putting a PR plan together for a product or brand, the first thing you’ll need to do is some research. Take a look through as many magazines as you can to find out which are most relevant to your industry or target audience and which run Christmas gift guides. For Whitebeam Gifts this covered national magazines, national newspapers, regional magazines, regional newspapers and men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines. As the company also offers a range of boxes for weddings and newborns, it included baby magazines and bridal publications.
As well as printed magazines and newspapers, you need to make sure you promote your products online if you want to reach as many people as possible. Take some time to research bloggers that write about relevant areas.
Once you’ve made a list of publications and bloggers that run Christmas gift guides and that appeal to your target audience, it’s time to make contact. Put all of this information in a spreadsheet so you can keep track of who you’ve spoken to and what the outcome was.
Christmas in July
One of the key events taking place this summer in preparation for the festive season is Christmas in July. This great new event gives journalists the opportunity to find out which products and brands will be promoting this winter. Whitebeam will be exhibiting this year, and so when their PR team contact magazines, journalists and bloggers they can tell them to visit Whitebeam’s stand and see their beautiful gift boxes for themselves.
If you are planning on attending Christmas in July, take a look at the event’s social media to find out who else will be there. This will give you the chance to network online, learn a little more about the competition and stay ahead of the curve.
Before attending Christmas in July or any other PR event, you’ll need to write some press releases. In Whitebeam’s case, this meant compiling five different releases for the different sectors they’re involved with: For him, for her, wedding, baby and Christmas. Once you’ve sent your press releases out, you’ll need to follow up with journalists to answer any questions they may have, to send samples and to encourage them to feature your brand or product.
To find out more about creating a festive PR plan, explore our site or get in touch with a member of our team.
Following on from a hugely successful Kent Cooks’ Competition in 2016, Suzanne Howe Communications (SHC) is proud to once again be a key partner for the MasterChef style cooking competition.
Suzanne Howe, founder and Managing Director of SHC said: “It was such a pleasure to be on the judging panel last year and I was so impressed with the calibre of contestants. It was great to see local businesses coming together to support young people’s talents and I can’t wait to be involved in this year’s competition.”
SHC specialise in the food industry which makes this the perfect opportunity to support a local event and encourage budding young chefs in the space that the PR and marketing company have called home for over 20 years.
Sponsoring this culinary event reflects Suzanne and the team at SHC’s continued passion and commitment to all things food. With a strong portfolio of clients in the food and packaging industries, SHC’s sponsorship of the competition brings a balance of passion for PR as well as food.
Once again the competition is divided into three categories – primary, secondary and family. Contestants are encouraged to use local ingredients and stick to a fixed budget. Budding young chefs between 6 and 19 years are encouraged to enter Kent Cooks and the 13 finalists will be invited to cook their dish for a VIP panel at the live final at the end of November at East Kent College in Broadstairs.
Last year saw Suzanne help crown the winner of the family category, where 3 families competed for the top spot. Eight year old Lucy wowed the judges with her posh cheese on toast and apple pie with homemade bread and butter ice cream. Take a look at the official event photo gallery and official event video from last years’ competition.
Preparations and applications for Kent Cooks 2017 are well underway and parents or teachers are invited to complete the simple online entry form at www.kentcooks.co.uk on the child’s behalf by Tuesday 7th November.
Proud to be a thought leader within our sector, it’s not unusual for us to be asked our opinion by both businesses new to cleaning and organisations established within the industry. In order to pass on some of our expertise, and help raise standards within the sector, our MD, Suzanne Howe recently gave an interview to Best Minds, a marketing company that works specifically with the cleaning industry. In the interview Suzanne talked about many of the key challenges facing businesses operating in the sector and discussed the best ways to overcome these challenges and build a successful company.
Suzanne began by talking about the importance of photography and imagery in marketing. All too often, companies cut corners when it comes to photos, using substandard images to promote their products and services, and illustrate their website. However, as photos tell customers a huge amount about the quality, personality and ambition of a business, it’s crucial to invest in professional images and to use them creatively throughout your online and offline marketing materials.
Marketing Vs advertising
During the interview, Suzanne also spoke about the importance of marketing and strategy in business. She discussed the importance of backing up advertising campaigns with marketing and how a comprehensive strategy can help a business to achieve its potential. Suzanne also talked about how companies can position themselves as thought leaders within the industry, giving them a higher profile and helping to build trust between the company and its customers.
Another key point that Suzanne made when talking to Best Minds is the importance of having a well thought out and comprehensive marketing strategy. By planning exactly how to use social media, blogs, exhibitions, events and advertising, companies can boost the impact of marketing campaigns and get more back from their investment. This comprehensive approach can be adapted to suit specific campaigns and specific brands.
Best Minds also asked Suzanne about the challenges companies within the cleaning industry will face in the future. Though this is a broad and open-ended question, Suzanne did identify the importance of standing out in an increasingly crowded marketplace and how networking and maintaining a digital presence can help. She discussed the benefits of getting to know thought leaders within your sector and networking with editors and other companies that influence ideas and trends in your industry. Suzanne also pointed out how networking with businesses in your target industry, as well as your own industry, can help your business to grow.
As well as these important points, Suzanne discussed a range of other relevant topics including vlogging and CRMs. Check out Best Minds for the full interview or get in touch to learn more about marketing and the cleaning industry.
First launched in 1991, the Kimberly-Clark Professional Golden Service Awards have grown to become one of the most esteemed events in the cleaning sector. Recognising excellence and high standards, the awards have evolved to further drive innovation and the continuous improvement of standards in the cleaning industry that deliver optimal results.
For 2018, the awards will place an even larger emphasis on raising standards within the cleaning industry. Open to a wide range of businesses involved in many aspects of cleaning across several sectors, these awards are a must for all companies who want to achieve and set new high benchmarking standards in the cleaning industry.
Since they were first founded over 25 years ago, the Kimberly-Clark Professional Golden Service Awards have provided an opportunity for cleaning companies, facilities management companies and in-house cleaning teams to showcase the excellence. To ensure the awards remain relevant and continue to meet customer and market demands, Kimberly-Clark Professional has re-focussed the the awards on core industry areas.
Save the date
The Kimberly-Clark Professional Golden Service Awards will take place on 8th March 2018, held at The London Hilton Park Lane and attended by senior representatives from some of the best-known facilities management and contract cleaning companies alongside all the nominees and key figures in the industry.
During the evening, awards will be presented in 14 categories. These categories are designed to recognise excellence across the healthcare, office, education, retail, manufacturing, hospitality, environmental and training sectors. At the end of the event, the prestigious Golden Service Awards Cleaning Operative and Supervisor of the Year will be announced.
In the run up to the awards, the judging process will begin in September, independently overseen by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSs) to ensure fairness and impartiality and site visits will take place in October and November.
According to the Chief Executive Officer at BICSs, to stand out this year companies must demonstrate quality across all areas, particularly in staff training and development. They also need to show a dedication to quality and the continual raising of standards.
How to enter
If you feel your business has the excellence and dedication needed to win one of the awards, you need to make sure you enter. Entries open on 1st June and you’ll need to download the How to Enter Guide from the company’s website to begin the process.
Is your employees’ social media activity damaging your brand?
Social media is now one of the most powerful marketing tools around. Companies of all shapes and sizes use social media networks to promote their products, boost brand awareness and run marketing campaigns, with a lot of businesses enjoying increased success in the process.
However, though social media can bring businesses valuable publicity and allow them to connect with their target audience, when it goes wrong, it can damage brands irrevocably. If your employees post damaging or inappropriate content about your business online, it could seriously harm your reputation and impact on your company’s customer relations. So is your employees’ social media activity putting your brand’s reputation at risk? And what steps can you take to protect your business and ensure it stays on the right side of social media?
If your employees are using Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform to send or post inappropriate content, it could damage your company’s reputation. Even if they’re using their own personal email account, the statements they make and the content they post will reflect on your business. If their views are controversial or if the photos, videos and content they’re posting is less than family friendly, it may put customers and businesses off of working with your company.
Another important factor to consider is confidentiality. If your company is working on a new product, a corporate takeover or another big business move, you probably won’t want competitors, or the general public, knowing about it. Employees who carelessly or thoughtlessly post confidential information about your company operations on social media could be putting your profits at risk, potentially impacting on your long term success and business dealings.
As well as being an essential aspect of your company’s relationship with the public, social media is increasingly important in B2B communication. Occasionally, employees can take it on themselves to bad mouth other companies or products in a misguided effort to drive customers to your business. Not only is this unprofessional and unproductive – most customers will see through the ruse – it can seriously damage your business relationships and create bad feeling between you and rival businesses.
Social media policy
The best way to ensure your employees don’t damage your brand through their social media activity is to create a clear and concise policy for all staff to stick to. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings and should help your business to maintain a professional online reputation. Ensure all employees read and understand the policy and remind them regularly about the importance of your company’s social media status.
To find out more, explore our site or contact a member of our team today.
Though it’s important to understand the potential of social media and select the right network for your needs, your digital marketing efforts won’t reap much of a reward if you don’t have a comprehensive strategy. To help you form an effective and productive strategy, and develop your social media presence, here are some of the most important things to consider when putting your social media theory into practice.
Giving away useful information can help build your reputation
While it can seem counter intuitive to give your trade secrets away for free, it really can help to boost your company reputation, make your business appear more trustworthy and help you to become a thought leader within your industry. The more relevant, interesting and informative your content is, the more likely your contacts will be to share and like it.
To get the best results possible, use a combination of the written word and visual media. Infographics, photos, memes, gifs and videos all work really well on social media as they grab the viewer’s attention and are quick and easy to understand. Research has shown that a tweet with an image receives 150% more retweets, Facebook posts with images are nearly 2.5 times more likely to receive likes and shares, and 4 times as many customers would prefer to watch a video about a product than simply read about it.
It’s important to listen
Though posting content is a big part of building a social media network, it’s also important that you pay attention to what’s happening around you. Take a bit of time to listen to what people and businesses in your network are talking about. This will help you to develop a two-way conversation on social media, get to know your target audience and ensure the content you’re posting is relevant to your network.
Listening to your network will also help you to develop your tone of voice – something that will play an important part in developing your company image and brand personality.
Managing social media
In order for a social media strategy to be successful, it needs to be well managed. One of the most useful tools available for managing your posts, tweets and pins is a social media calendar. A calendar will help you to plan your social media output and give your team a useful overview of the type of content you’re posting, your tone of voice and the businesses you’re interacting with.
If you haven’t nominated a single person to manage your social media output, you may want to consider creating a social media protocol. This will help to ensure your team are all on the same page and that everyone knows exactly what your main goals and objectives are for the platform. Alternatively, you might want to use a professional social media consultancy to manage your output for you.
As social media is now such an important part of business, there’s no way we can say everything we need to about the digital tool in just three posts. To find out more about the power of social media, explore our site further or get in touch with a member of our team.
In the previous post in our in-depth look at the Power of Social Media, we covered the basic benefits of the digital marketing tool and took a look at the most common objectives companies may want to achieve. This week, we’re going to look at the power of social media in sales, B2B marketing and brand awareness. We’ll also glance at the different social media networks available and how they can impact on your business objectives.
Establishing your target audience
As well as taking your existing client base into account when trying to establish your audience, it’s important you consider communicating with experts and opinion leaders within your industry. This will help to give your brand credibility and help you to build your reputation. It’s also worth having a quick look at your competitors’ profiles to see who they’re connected to, as these people and companies may well form part of your target audience.
When growing your audience, remember that it’s quality, not quantity that counts. Don’t be disheartened if your legion of followers is slow to develop. It’s much better to have a smaller network of high-quality contacts than a large network of people not really interested in the products or services you’re offering.
Social media and sales
Though originally social media was primarily used for brand awareness and market research, it’s now becoming ever more important in sales. According to recent studies, 57% of the research that takes place during the buying process happens online before the customer even reaches out to the sales team. This can jump to 70% in complex sales. If you have plenty of information on your social media profile, have an extensive network and come across as a thought leader in your industry, customers will be far more likely to trust your brand and buy from your business.
Social media and B2B
Even if your business is primarily involved with B2B sales, you can’t afford to ignore social media. According to research, 54% of B2B social media users reported that they had acted after they’d seen a brand mentioned in a tweet. This makes social media an incredibly important B2B tool, especially for businesses who are growing their name, establishing their brand or trying to boost their sales.
Social media networks
In order to ensure you’re targeting the right people, and to give you the best chance of achieving your business goals, you need to make sure you select the right social media network for your needs. For example, if you want to target teenagers, Snapchat would be the perfect social media network for your needs. For B2B marketing Twitter and LinkedIn are ideal; while Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all appeal to a range of ages and interests.
Whichever social media networks you choose, make sure you’re active within your network. The more you interact with your followers, the more ‘real’ your company will seem. This will boost your brand awareness, reputation and visibility – all things that will help to make your social media strategy a success.
Watch out for part III of our series on The Power of Social Media
Unless you’ve been deliberately avoiding social media over the last few years, you’ll know just how influential the digital tool has become. If you already use social media on a regular basis, you’ll know that it’s now very much a part of modern marketing and should form an integral part of any comprehensive strategy. When combined with PR, exhibitions, events, seminars, networking and white papers, social media can help you to achieve your marketing goals.
Connecting with your target audience
One of the main reasons social media is so important to modern marketing is that it allows you to have a two-way conversation with your client base. In the past, it was a question of you pushing your message at your target audience. This meant that meaningful communication was often minimal and that there was often a lack of information coming from your customers.
Now, however, social media allows you to have a real dialogue with your client base even before a sale has taken place. Once you have made a sale, you can use social media to keep the channels of communication open. This will help you to ensure your customers are happy with their purchase and give you the opportunity to garner valuable market research and feedback.
Social media objectives
If you’re still developing your social media strategy, it’s important you decide exactly what you want to achieve before you start posting, liking and sharing. Possible objectives could include establishing your target audience and their needs. This is often particularly relevant when you have a new product or service and want to ensure you’re targeting the right customer base.
Another common goal for businesses using social media is raising brand awareness. For new companies looking to build their name and existing companies who have re-branded, this is where social media can really come into its own.
Companies who post reliable, informative and well-written content on social media will often find their blogs are shared widely both within their social network and on numerous digital platforms. This can help you to position your company as a thought leader within your industry. As well as being good for your company’s reputation, this will encourage customers to see your company as trustworthy and could help to boost your business.
Last but not least, a major objective for most, if not all, companies using social media is ultimately to grow sales. An important business goal no matter what industry you’re in, continually working to increase your customer base and grow sales will help your business to achieve its full potential.
For an in-depth look at how social media can impact your company and how you can use the tool to realise your business objectives, read the next part of our series on The Power of Social Media.