SHC Life

SHC Proud to Sponsor Kent Cooks’ 2017

SHC Life
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SHC Proud to Sponsor Kent Cooks’ 2017

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.

Kent Cooks summer launch from KM Charity Team on Vimeo.

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.

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Let's Talk

Best Minds Think Alike!

Let's Talk
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Best Minds Think Alike!

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.

Imagery

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.

Strategy

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.

Networking

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.

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Industry Insights

How do you measure up?

Industry Insights
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The 2018 Kimberly-Clark Golden Service Awards  

GSA 2018First 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.

The awards

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.

Categories

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.

Judging

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.

Visit the Kimberly-Clark Professional Golden Service Awards site to learn more about the awards or contact us to find out about excellence in the cleaning industry.

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Industry Insights

Is your employees' social media activity damaging your brand?

Industry Insights
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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?

Risky behaviour

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.

Confidentiality

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.

B2B relationships

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.

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Industry Insights

The Power of Social Media - Part III

Industry Insights
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The Power of Social Media – Part III

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.

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Industry Insights

The Power of Social Media - Part II

Industry Insights
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The Power of Social Media – Part II

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

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Industry Insights

The Power of Social Media - Part I

Industry Insights
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The Power of Social Media – Part I

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.

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Industry Insights

Social Media Content Planning

Industry Insights
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Social Media Content Planning – What it is and why it’s important

Whatever industry your business is involved with, social media matters. An important part of any marketing campaign, social media can help you to raise brand awareness, connect directly with your target audience, build customer relationships and grow sales.

However, in order for a social media campaign to be successful, it needs to be strategic and well organised. The more structured and coordinated a campaign is, the more chance it has of hitting its mark and meeting your business objectives.

Structured social media

Though occasionally a one-off post will go viral and bring the company responsible thousands of views and shares, in general it takes a consistent approach and a lot of work to build up a substantial social media presence.

To get the best results possible from online activity, businesses need to be posting interesting and relevant content multiple times every week. Ideally, this should take place across a variety of platforms, with content tailored to suit each social media network. By being consistent, and posting content that your network will find interesting and informative, you can begin to build up your online presence and get social media working for you.

Content calendar

The easiest way to plan and keep track of your social media activity is to use a content calendar. Clearly laid out and easy to use, a calendar will help you and your marketing team to plan your posts, ensuring you are giving equal attention to relevant social networks and providing you with an easy way of keeping track of your online activity.

At Suzanne Howe Communications, we’ve developed an efficient and easy to use content calendar for ourselves and our clients to work from. It covers all of the biggest social media networks and has been designed to allow users to get the most out of their content planning.

In fact, we think our content calendar is so useful that we’re giving it away in this blog. Download it at your leisure and please feel free to offer suggestions on how we can make it better.

Download SHC’s social media content calendar template

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Guests of SHC

How does PR play a part in your game-plan for business growth?

Guests of SHC
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How does PR play a part in your game-plan for business growth?

PR is a vital part of the marketing mix, and for many people, this is what they think marketing is all about (plus a bit of paid-for advertising too perhaps).

However, PR is just one aspect of the complex and ever-evolving discipline that is marketing.

To clarify, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as being ‘about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.’

To expand:

‘Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’

Meanwhile, the latest (2007) definition of marketing from The Chartered Institute of Marketing explains that:

[Marketing is…] ‘the strategic business function that creates value by stimulating, facilitating and fulfilling customer demand. It does this by building brands, nurturing innovation, developing relationships, creating good customer service and communicating benefits. By operating customer-centrically, marketing brings positive return on investment, satisfies shareholders and stake-holders from business and the community, and contributes to positive behavioural change and a sustainable business future.’

In practice, strategic marketing is about going back to basics and the bigger picture for your business:

  • looking at your brand values, vision and mission,
  • understanding and defining your target markets,
  • creating customer journeys to nurture prospects through a buying process,
  • ensuring customers have a good experience of your product or service to engender long-term loyalty
  • pricing and packaging your products and services in the most profitable and effective way

You need to start by taking time out from working ‘in your business’ to working ‘on it’. This will give you headspace to define the marketing strategy that will drive your business forward. You can then move into campaign execution, where you start to employ the various communication channels (online and offline) which form ‘the marketing mix’. This is where PR comes into play.

Together, a well-considered, holistic, integrated strategic marketing plan, and tightly focussed, well-managed PR campaign will produce a winning game-plan to drive sales and power your business to achieve its objectives.

With the fast-pace of change in our world today, your business needs to review and refine its marketing strategy on an annual basis to stay relevant and agile. If you would like to be guided through a comprehensive process to review your current marketing strategy, and map out an approach to move your business forward, check out the Get Fruitful Marketing Playbook – a practical step-by-step guide to transform your marketing and create a more passion-fuelled, profitable business.

Get Fruitful - The Playbook

Click here to find out more and buy online at Amazon.

About the Author: Anwen Cooper is the Creator and Director of Get Fruitful Marketing. She brings a fresh insight and experience from working with over 70 different organisations in the last 15 years to achieve record-breaking sales and an improved bottom line. You can read more at www.getfruitfulmarketing.com

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Guests of SHC

Never underestimate the effectiveness of strong and effective PR

Guests of SHC
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Never underestimate the effectiveness of strong and effective PR

Andy Janes from Muntons PLC guest blogs about what PR means to him and the role it plays in their award-winning malt business, www.muntons.com.

It’s funny how a term can become either misunderstood or misused, even something as simple as the two-letter acronym ‘PR’. I found myself talking to a business colleague about some of the work I undertake and within the conversation ‘PR’ was mentioned. “Yes, press releases are a good way of telling the world what we are doing.” He said. I had to explain that press releases were not what the letters PR stood for. Of course, I did this in a very tactful way, without making them seem like an idiot because that is one of the skills of someone who undertakes PR; Public Relations that is.

Another skill is to recognise your limitations, which is why we employ the services of a professional PR agency rather than try to undertake everything ourselves. I say ‘we’ although of course I mean ‘I,’ as the PR team where I work is one of those rare things: A team which does have an ‘I’ in it. As the only member of the team I undertake all of the necessary corporate PR work. I also look after corporate image, manage the canteen, chair the Works council, take responsibility for CSR activities and prepare the annual review – amongst other things. It is a truism that the longer you work somewhere the broader and more useless information you know. I have been here 38 years and seem to know very little about a lot of things. So, what can a real PR agency bring that a long serving creative individual cannot? For a start, they have resources at their disposal, people who have the time and skills to undertake effective PR strategies. More importantly, they have contacts. As the old saying goes it’s not what you know it’s who you know. As a busy fellow, I do not have the time to build and maintain relationships with the media in general. OK, I know the local newspaper group pretty well and they tend to support local business with press coverage but who do I know in the water treatment media? Contacts here would have been useful when we were trying to tell the world about our new anaerobic digester plant.

Maltichoc

We invented a new product, ‘Maltichoc’ it was brilliant. Our New Product Development team had a brainwave and noticed that the price of Cocoa had just shot up three-fold its usual price. They developed a malt based product which could be used to replace a good chunk of cocoa in recipes such as chocolate muffins, brownies and cookies. Being malt based, its cost was linked to the price of cereals not cocoa and would save the manufacturer loads of money. As an aside it also improved the keeping quality and mouthfeel of the end-product, making them seem richer. Taste tests had proved that Joe Public could not tell the difference in appearance and general taste. This was a good story, as not only would this save the manufacturer money, it would also significantly reduce food miles as UK manufacturers would be using a UK made product rather than just importing cocoa from Africa.   Now we must tell the world, so bring in the experts….

I picked up the phone to Suzanne Howe, she has a good team and understands the needs of business and offered her the challenge. A PR programme was pieced together and a product launch was arranged in a carefully selected top London restaurant, one chosen to attract the interests of the press. Press releases were pre-prepared, product tastings organised and our exciting new product Maltichoc was successfully launched. The cost was very reasonable, particularly when measured against the amount of press coverage achieved: Had we advertised, we would have had to spend well over ten times the PR cost and I would question whether advertising would have achieved the same level of buzz – is an advert as believable as someone writing a piece in a magazine having personally tasted the effects of this brilliant new product? Never underestimate the effectiveness of strong and effective PR.

Andy Janes  |  Muntons

 

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