Over the last few years there has been a real move towards individuals being able to work anywhere for any client on the planet. We are one of the lucky industries that have no real need to be in a certain physical location to do a fantastic job for our clients. As long as we have an internet connection we can build a site or run online advertising for anyone in New Zealand, or across the globe. However, there can be a real sticking point for some clients wrapping their head around how hiring a Napier web design company could work if they are based elsewhere in the country. It's a pretty understandable thought process, so we thought it was worth doing a little blog on how it all works from our end, and the benefits that come along with being based in one of NZ's fastest growing regions.
By email: how we work with our clients varies from company to company. For some, they love just having communication via email, which is all good at our end. They email us a brief, send through examples and changes they want made, and we get those changes made for them with minimal hassle.
By phone: other clients are verbal and would prefer to pick up the phone and chat through their project with us. That works just as well as far as we are concerned. We're more than happy to talk through things and take a brief verbally.
In person: some local clients really do appreciate the face to face, so we often head out and meet up with clients. We get around the country a fair amount to put in a bit of face time if clients would like it - New Zealand is such an easy place to get around these days it's a pleasure heading to Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington or wherever we need to go really. There's also the opportunity to Skype or video conference regardless of where we might be based any day of the week - technology is certainly making the world smaller.
The cost: this is the major one. By being based out of the major centres our overheads drop immediately - which means we can pass on those cost savings to our clients. We're also grounded in a more sensible approach to pricing for small businesses, so by choice we'll never push our prices too high.
The people: cities like Napier, Hastings, and the like are built on a backbone of small business. That means that the people tend to have a real street smarts to go with the education they bring back to the Bay. You won't get outrageous plans from 543 for a marketing plan that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars - you'll get a smart, practical and affordable plan that works. We're friendly, helpful and truly motivated to help our clients with realistic advice and budgeting.
The innovation: we're lucky to be based in a city that is constantly innovating. Whether it be events like the Art Deco Festival or growth in the food and beverage industry, the local scene is constantly moving forward. When companies like Kiwibank and Xero identify Napier as a place to bring their business, that's a fantastic way to be surrounded by smart people and smart ideas. The net result for our clients is that we are constantly wanting to move forward for them and for ourselves.
The convenience: it almost seems counter-intuitive to think that an agency outside of your city would be more convenient than one locally - but the reality is it can be. Because 80% of our clientele comes from outside of our home base, we have to have impeccable communication processes in place. We're extremely responsive, and whenever you have an issue we'll be there to answer an email or a phone call. In this regard we've turned the only weakness of being in a different location to the majority of our clients into a huge strength. If you want to feel like you are a top priority - we definitely recommend giving 543 a try.
All in all we love supporting Hawkes Bay business and being a Napier website design company and are incredibly excited to be bringing the passion and professionalism we pride ourselves on to more and more of New Zealand's small businesses, no matter where they are in the country. So whether you're based in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin or anywhere in between, make sure you get in touch with us and have a chat. You'll love our pricing, and will find that using a design/online advertising company outside of your city might be the best move you've ever made for your company.
First day of work
Every year it's the same - Christmas and New Years Eve comes around, we drink, we eat, we be merry, and for alot of us we have a bit of a break from the 9 to 5. It's amazing...until that first day of work post holiday hits and you find your brain grinding through the gears trying to avoid work at any cost. For small businesses in particular it's a very interesting part of the year - retail has a bit of a boom, but us office workers seem to have a dead patch where the important jobs are put off, clients don't get in touch too often, and you find yourself having to make yourself motivate to work.
This blog has stemmed out of that start of the year haze. It's our completely unscientific observations about how you can turn the usual lull at the start of the year, into a bit of a boom period for your company. It all comes down to making the most of those few weeks where alot of people have low expectations. Client's and customers don't necessarily expect you to be at work, so even though alot of us hit the office floor very early in the year - the phones stay a little more silent than usual. Our musing on this stunning NZ day - use that time well.
What constitutes well? It could be a number of things for your business. It might be getting your finances in order, making sure you've identified your companies running costs and pulled them back to a level that increases profitability. It might be planning, we certainly spent most of our first week strategising for ourselves and our clients, devising a general plan for the year. It might be marketing, investing in advertising (particularly online) that will run for a few months while you have a slow period to think about your own business. Or, and this is a crucial one, it might actually be relaxing. When the time comes for the work to really flow through the doors you are going to want to hit it with a zen state of mind. Particularly in New Zealand, take a few extra hours in the day to get out, work out, or sit lake, pool or sea side. Take a minute to appreciate what's around you - after all, it's why we grind away everyday.
As for employees - the same advice probably applies. It's a great time of the year to do a little forward planning and clear the decks for busier times to come. Your boss may not enjoy you escaping the office early, but if the opportunity arises, get out in the sun and improve that state of mind. You'll love your work far more if you love your life - and employers should remember that.
As the year gets rolling along properly, we'd love to hear any of the tips you might have for getting the year started. Comment below!
This year we were lucky enough to be asked to help out with a couple of local election campaigns. With such a bizarre election going on in America, and social media platforms in particular bringing a whole new dimension to the process, it seemed fitting that we give a few thoughts on the lessons that we learned from the campaign trail that can translate to your business.
Know your audience
We’ve previously posted about knowing your audience from a commercial perspective, but in the election campaign that was really emphasised here in Hawkes Bay. As a general rule, the last few years' voter turnout has been less than half the population. In reality, what that means is a serious skew in the demographics of who is voting. The voting population is much older than the general population and targeting that demographic through online advertising and social media can be very tricky. This is certainly one instance where the trend to move away from conventional advertising didn’t hold entirely true; with newspaper, radio advertising and good old fashion leaflet drops still a very effective approach.
From a business point of view, understanding your audience is vital from a sales and marketing perspective. For the most part, our purchasing audience is moving from conventional media to online media, and even more noticeably, they are moving to mobile. What the election campaign hit home though was that if you want to be effective in reaching your audience, you need to tailor how your message reaches them.
The better the product, the better the campaign
We were very lucky with the candidates that we worked for, in that they all had clear policies and opinions that resounded with the public. However, when you look at the American election Donald Trump's campaign managers must wake up with cold sweats at times! As a ‘product’ he appeals to a very niche market and turns a lot of people off. That’s all good and well if you are able to survive off that niche market (as he did in the Republican Primary), but if you’re going for broad appeal, the outlook isn’t great. As advertisers, no matter how we package up a product, if at it’s core there is an issue, that issue will always shine through.
As business owners, that is something we need to constantly remember. If we put forward a product or service that isn’t desirable, no matter what advertising and spin we put behind it, there is always going to be a big risk it is going to fail. Always, always think of the potential customer and what they are after when creating your products and services – and if it’s a dud, don’t be surprised if a huge marketing campaign doesn’t help it.
One issue can change perception
In Hawkes Bay in particular we had a couple of issues completely dominate the conversation. The water crisis was one (although that wasn’t very polarising, because as a general rule we all agreed it needed fixing), and the Ruataniwha dam was the other headline grabber. In the Regional Council race in particular, the dam debate seemed to completely determine who people voted for. Every anti-dam candidate made it onto the Council, at the expense of very capable pro-dam candidates. In helping with the campaign, this was by far the trickiest area to work around, as obviously the candidates needed to choose which side of the argument they were on, and stick with it. From a neutral perspective the anti-dam campaign was certainly able to create far more passionate feeling through the media and the community. They harnessed the communities love of the environment and turned it against a project that the large majority of voters didn’t really know much about. In this regard it became just as much about selling your side of the issue as yourself as a candidate.
The big takeaway for businesses in this regard was definitely to listen to the customer, listen to the community and take note. Customers and clients always want to be heard, and if an issue begins to gain traction, it is so important to hear that issue and do something about it. Whether that is solving a problem, making a suggested change, or just educating the consumer base about why something is happening the way it is, it is far better to act than to let that issue take control and dictate the perception of your business.
Digital is still king – and growing
While I mentioned earlier that a large portion of the voting demographic was an older population, this campaign certainly affirmed that digital and social advertising is a hugely powerful tool in an election campaign. In an electorate where only 20,000 – 40,000 people vote, we were able to reach 200,000 people in a very targeted manner. In the American election you can see this in an even more obvious way. Whether it be Donald Trump’s tweets guiding the media conversation, or Hillary Clinton cleverly targeting specific minorities in her online advertising, social media is where a lot of that election is now being fought. In New Zealand, if we make a move to online voting next election, then the instant click and vote will completely shift the demographic of voters. That’s an exciting prospect, but regardless, a well run social media campaign where content is carefully crafted and individuals develop a connection with a candidate, is certainly a powerful campaign tool.
We shouldn’t really need to sell you on the power of online advertising and social media for your business. It is cheaper, can more effectively target groups you want to, and provides you with the ability to have a constant advertising presence. If used correctly you can reach thousands of people daily for tens of dollars – something small businesses never would have been able to do in the past. No matter what industry you are in there is a social media platform out there that will let you achieve the goals that you want to, and hopefully lead to more sales. 543 Designs puts its money where its mouth is and put 95% of our marketing budget online.
Negativity breeds negativity
This election campaign we got to see just how quickly someone can jump online and turn the conversation negative. Individuals who didn’t like a particular policy would constantly leave provocative and negative comments on candidate’s Facebook pages which could turn a good post, bad, quite quickly. For us, the way to stop these type of comments was not to ignore them, nor delete them, but to engage them with respect in a manner that left the individual feeling like their question had been answered, but without them feeling a need to add to the conversation further. That was a tricky balance to meet, but the key was never being combative, and the ‘ace up our sleeve’ was to always offer to call the commenter to chat further. By moving the conversation into a real world scenario 9 times out of 10 the sting was taken out of the comment and no long winded negative conversation would develop.
We actually hear this fear from business owners a lot – “what if I go on social media and someone makes a negative comment…can I delete that negative comment?”. Well – two things…yes you can, but no you shouldn’t. The first thing you have to acknowledge is that even if you aren’t on social media, that negative comment is likely to still be out there, but if you aren’t online you have no chance to respond and guide the conversation in the direction you want it to go. By having a social presence, and dealing with every negative comment with respect (and being candid in your response), you are far more likely to stop that negativity before it develops into something more widespread. Never be combative, or dismissive, and you can often turn negative into positive on social media. Furthermore, if you hold the high ground online, your supporters will often get in behind you. Most importantly, if you focus on providing fantastic products and service then you’ll get a huge swell of positive reviews, and those will far outweigh the negative.
Colour and branding
As we drove around the electorate through the campaign what we noticed the most was colour and how various candidates had branded themselves. In an outdoor setting, some colours disappeared into the background, while others jumped out at you as you drove past. Some candidates went for simplicity, focusing on only their name on the signage, while others listed policy after policy (which most of the time you couldn’t read when driving past at 100kms an hour!). The big takeaway for us personally was how powerful white is as a colour – particularly on a roadside. When you think of bright colours you think of oranges and pinks and yellows, and logic says they will be eye catching. But next time you have a drive down the road – particularly in more rural areas – notice how much a bright white stands out. By definition, white is the brightest colour out there, and we often forget to think of it that way. From a branding perspective, a real focus needed to be put on name recognition for the election, so while 2 word catch phrases do help, the candidate's name is absolutely what you want to reinforce. The only other comment we would have is to avoid orange. Yes it stands out, but it has a really polarising effect with the general public.
When going into business we often forget about how much colour and branding can convey. Too often we make a decision based on what colours WE like, when ultimately it’s not us who are going to be buying our products. Have a search for a colour emotion guide sometime and just see what people associate with different colours. Whenever we run a Facebook advert for 543 we’ll always run identical versions with different colour palettes to see which one performs the best. It’s quite amazing sometimes to see that even with the same words and the same picture, text in one colour can be twice as effective as text in another. The other takeaway is to be concise in any of your advertising. If you can get your message across in a few words, it will be punchy, memorable and effective. If you don’t, you run the risk of it being ignored.
Those are all our musings on being involved in an election campaign. It was certainly a thoroughly enjoyable experience and we look forward to implementing some of the lessons we learned into the business world in the future. As always, when you read through this blog I’m sure you’ll pick up a strong theme of thinking about the client, customer, or target audience. If you analyse everything you do in your business based on how it can improve the experience for the customer, you’re far more likely to have success – particularly in marketing.
Pricing your services & products
Recently, we've seen just how important a customer's perception can be to your bottom line. If you price too low, you run the risk of being perceived as 'cheap' and low quality, where if you price too high, the perception is that your product is too expensive. So the big question is how do you hit that sweet spot? The price where perception meets reality.
There doesn't appear to be a silver bullet for this one unfortunately, but there are a few well established guidelines that you should consider when setting your pricing.
THE CHARM PRICE
Multiple studies have now concluded that putting a "9" in your pricing makes a significant difference into it's attractiveness. Initially we thought this sounded like a bit of an old wives sale tale, and could never understand why companies continually put their prices at '$9.99', but it's been shown that having your pricing adjusted to this can increase your sales by 24% - and that is significant.
TEST THE SWEET SPOT
This is the big one. Pricing has been shown to, on one hand, give a perception of value and equally, on the other hand, a of a lack of quality, so it's really important to figure out what your consumer thinks is the right price. Funnily enough, this was pretty much perfectly shown by Kanye West recently - he opened a pop up store and started charging exorbitant prices for his "one of a kind" t-shirts. People were more than willing to pay this price, until they noticed the generic brand tag inside the t-shirt which told them it was just a cheap product with fancy sign writing on it. Equally, the Warehouse in New Zealand has had to battle a 'cheap and nasty' perception for the last few years, despite bringing in higher quality products.
DO RIGHT BY YOUR CUSTOMER
You won't find this one in any text book, but we strongly believe this is a critical part of the equation - particularly for repeat business. If you set your price as low as possible (without going below the perception of low quality threshold), you will ensure clients continue to return again and again. We certainly keep this as a key pillar of our pricing.
The last little takeaway we'd like you to think about as you read this blog is to think about how you yourself perceive products from now on. Don't just buy something because it is more expensive, and equally don't buy something simply because it is cheaper. Ask why the price is set at where it is. Think about the product, not the price. 543 will continue to keep our prices as low as possible and hope that we can debunk the 'cheap' perception by providing high quality website and marketing for our clients. They understand we can do that be reducing our overheads and working with systems that save them money without compromising on quality... Hopefully that means we hit the 'sweet spot' for pricing!
Earlier last week we were lucky enough to present a seminar on search engine optimisation and how it can have a great effect on your sales. Throughout that workshop we fielded a ton of questions about everything online - social media, online advertising and search engine optimisation - and it really drove home to us one thing. Know your customer.
This doesn't sound like revolutionary stuff, but for us it is the one thing that should drive your marketing decisions. Below are a few of the key questions we were asked - the answer always being "know your customer".
What social media channels should we use?
This is a question we get asked time and time again, and we have heard a vast array of technical responses and reasons why various social media channels are great, but at the end of the day, our answer - "know your customer". Think about what your clientele finds interesting, think about what social media they are using, and think about what they might find engaging from you. If you're an accountant for example, instagram would likely be a terrible platform - with very little visual cues for you to offer. If you're a photographer on the other hand, you customers will be using instagram and will lap up everything that you send their way.
What keywords should I use on my website for search engines?
This is a really common question. If you get the keywords right, you'll do better in search engines and ultimately make more sales. There are great tools to figure out exactly what people are searching in your area - including googles own adword planner - but at the end of the day, all these tools are telling you is what your customer is searching. Take a step back, think about your customer, understand their search habits, and you'll race up the search rankings.
How much information should I have on my website and what should it look like?
Website structure can be so important to sales. A good web designer will not only think about what looks good, but will also think about how they might be able to funnel your traffic towards sales. Ultimately, that means knowing your customer! We recently completed a website that was mainly used by an older audience - so one of the key things was increasing the font size and making it really simple. If your audience is an older demographic, you might want to consider all the flashy bells and whistles that come with some modern website designs, if it's younger, your can push the envelope a bit more.
You may be reading this and thinking 'well that's pretty obvious', but the truth is, when it comes to marketing, simplicity and the obvious thought pattern can end in really effective campaigns. Always remind yourself of these basics and for every social media post, online advert or promotion you run, step back and think 'what does my customer want'. Follow that simple rule, and we are sure you'll increase sales in no time.
Pokemon Go Advertising
In the last two weeks a new Augmented Reality game/app has swept through New Zealand, bringing people into the street, glued to their phones and engaged with their surroundings. That phenomenon is Pokemon Go, an app which lets users walk around their cities 'catching' digital anime characters in their real world environment. This blog won't look into the mechanics of the game too much, but rather looks at how smart businesses can take advantage of a craze like Pokemon Go to boost their sales and brand. For us, it all boils down to three steps - know the craze, know your brand and combine the two to take advantage of this unique digital marketing opportunity.
KNOW THE CRAZE
Understanding a craze and what is making people love it is the first step in doing well in these spikes of popular interest. By getting inside the mind of the person you're trying to make a customer, you'll better understand what they might react to. For Pokemon Go - get the game and play the game. You'll quickly realise that certain things are desired; items to collect, Pokemon to catch, gyms to battle at and Pokestops to visit. You'll figure out that you can add an item (a lure) to a Pokestop to have more Pokemon show up, and that something like that immediately increases foot traffic in an area. You'll realise that gyms have people arrive and stay in that place for a prolonged period of time, and that in general users tend to engage with each other people in real life alot more than any other game.
This logic goes for any sort of craze or high engagement activity... knowing what appeals to people on social media like snap chat will make you better at utilising it for your business, just like understanding why people were all of a sudden into 'macaroons' a while back, will help you figure out how you might leverage of that taste craze.
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS
This is where we feel alot of people fall down when it comes to a craze or fad. It's all good and well to jump on board the latest new bandwagon and start throwing social media posts out about it, but if it isn't the right fit for your brand, then think twice. As an example, we haven't immediately jumped onboard the Pokemon Go craze with our professional service clients just yet. As lawyers, accountants or other professional services, they have an image of professionalism and expertise that we didn't think was quite right to associate with the an anime game. A throw away Facebook post wouldn't have garnered a huge amount of traction for those companies, but the perception away from professionalism might have been detrimental. On the flipside of that we quickly realised that any company in the food and beverage industry (and to a lesser extent retail) had a huge opportunity. Because Pokemon Go draws people to certain real world locations, we realised that people at those locations would still need to eat and drink, so absolutely jumped on the idea.
If the craze and your brand go together, then you are in a great position to leverage off it in your marketing activities.
COMBINE THE CRAZE AND YOUR BUSINESS
The final key to leveraging off a craze is figuring out how you are going to combine your business and the craze naturally. Nothing should feel forced in this social world, so be smart and don't just do something for the sake of doing something. For Pokemon Go, real world locations that are already close to Pokestops and that are in the food and beverage service have it easy. By buying and adding 'lures' to these Pokestops in game, you are able to increase foot traffic to your location and as a consequence increase your sales. In America their have been reports of a pizza joint increasing their sales by 75% since Pokemon Go kicked off. For the rest of us creativity will be key. We recently saw Hawkes Bay Signs create a Pokemon character out of post-it notes on their shop window - that might not immediately increase sales, but it will drive more social media traffic and is right on brand for what they do. Offering discounts in store for certain 'teams' in Pokemon has also been gaining traction. As a web design and social media company, our little foray into Pokemon go was to use a local bar (Shed 2) as a spot to put a lure on just so we could post on social media and have our post shared and liked. It was more about experimenting so that we could understand what might work for our clients, and creating this article is a natural progression of that.
The bottom line is that once you understand the craze, understand your business and think creatively about combining the two if appropriate, the opportunities for increased sales and exposure are definitely waiting to happen. Be smart, be natural and always have someone on staff or contracted to your company to keep on top of social media changes and crazes like these. The early bird catches the worm!
NZ Flag Change Debate
Having just gone through a really huge referendum in New Zealand, we sat back and had a little bit of a reflection on what went wrong, and why we haven't got a new flag today.
To put our cards on the table, we are pro change. As much as we love everything about New Zealand, we have never felt like the flag represents NZ accurately. The Union Jack is symbolic of the United Kingdom and the colours of the current flag were inherited from that. NZ has changed, and we have always thought the flag should reflect that change.
That said...the flag change had to be about democracy, so our personal opinion is no more relevant than anyone else. This was a massive opportunity for the country and the process itself may have ruined the end result. So...this is how we would have done it.
Once all of the above has happened, then you'll be left with a flag that is far more likely to be accepted for change. A panel of diverse individuals and cross section of NZ society will have chosen the final options, the public won't be rebelling because of a terribly expensive process...and the flag, importantly, will have been professionally designed. These are the keys to success.
So, we feel a massive opportunity has been missed, and we put it completely down to a process that took democracy too far. How do you feel about it all?
For the record - if the black and white sporting silver fern is completely off the cards, we would have gone for the option at the top of this page. It looks good, it removes the UK flag and replaces it with our most prominent symbol, it keeps the red that is associated with Maori, the blue of our ocean and heritage (darker though - closer to our National colour of black), and the Southern Cross of our old flag. But you know....why on earth would we go for something inclusive, good looking and simple?
Our Tech Blog
The founder of 543 Design & Online gives his thoughts on everything web and branding.
We're always happy to have a chat about anything you read on here - just get in touch!