Marketing

Choosing the Right Voice for Your Brand

We’re told from a young age that “first impressions are everything”; they’re the ever-lasting picture a new person paints of you from the moment you meet. While we tend to take this with a pinch of salt when socialising with others, the idiom rings all the more true when there are physical barriers in place, such as communicating over the phone.

When it comes to the first impression of your business, the stakes are much higher, as this often determines whether or not a new customer will jump on board with you and what you have to offer. While meeting customers in real life gives you ample opportunity to charm with your smile and warm personality, interacting over the phone is an entirely different story, and it’s the initial aural handshake that truly counts.

This is why choosing the right voice talent for your audio production is so important to your branding and customer reach. If a new customer is calling your company for the first time, it’s imperative they’re greeted with a warm and welcoming audio greeting that perfectly reflects your brand.

If your business is in a delicate industry, such as respite care or a funeral home, your voice talent ought to be soothing, comforting, and informative, rather than energetic and bubbly. On the other side of the coin, a younger voice with bright tones and a vivacious energy will be better suited to a childcare centre or café.

Each of our voice talents offers varying degrees of tone, warmth and personality types, to mirror your company’s image. There’s Candice, whose glowing, cheerful smile can actually be heard down the phone line; Magnus offers a host of character voices; Grayton has an authoritative, deep tone that commands attention; and Annie’s mature voice connects with callers while being helpful and comforting.

The right voice talent for your audio production shouldn’t be so out of line with your brand that it distracts the callers: what your callers should be focusing on is the content of the messages, rather than the voice. If you currently have a welcome message recorded in-house by your nervous receptionist or ambivalent IT guy, then the impression you’re offering isn’t all that strong or professional.

Take a listen below and see what you think. Here’s an average run of the mill in-house welcome example:

 

And here’s something we rustled up with one of our professional voice artists, Adrian:

 

So what do you think? How are you greeting each and every customer and prospect over the phone?

The right voice talent for your brand will not only receive every customer with professionalism, they’ll also get your customers excited about your promotions, keep them informed with vital information, or even calm them down if they’re stressed out.

Think about your company and brand as a person. What are their values? What do they talk about? What do they sound like? Now head over to our massive voice talent library and find the right voice to bring your messages and business to life!

– Cassie

Why Translation Services Are Vital in a Global Marketplace

So, you’ve come up with the slogan, you’re thrilled with the visual branding and your adverts are short, sharp, and effective. What’s next? If you’ve found success within your home-country give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve done a great job.

Now it’s time to step out onto the international playing field and tap into new markets, reach a greater audience, improve your reputation and expand your revenue.

There’s just one tiny problem: you don’t have a translator.

Translating marketing ideas from one culture to another isn’t just a matter of having the language and dialect translated well: your revolutionary ideas may hit cultural barriers in another country and your clever marketing campaign will simply fly over the heads of your intended audience.

In the past we’ve seen well-established brands such as KFC, Pepsi and Schweppes caught in international marketing blunders, begging the question: if someone like Pepsi can make a huge marketing faux pas, what’s stopping a small business like yours from doing the same?

Before you set off on your worldwide marketing venture, take heed of these reputable brands, who simply had to learn the hard way.

“Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave!”
When Pepsi branched into the Chinese market, they certainly didn’t want to imply their beverage would raise the dead… but their slogan did. The hit slogan ‘Pepsi Brings You Back to Life’ was poorly translated to ‘Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave’ – not an ideal sentiment for a culture that reveres their ancestors.

No Storks in Japan!
Pampers nappy manufacturer Procter & Gamble were hit with a translation blunder when they expanded to Japan. After wondering why sales were so low, Procter & Gamble did some research and found the problem was the packaging, which featured a stork delivering a baby. This Western fable isn’t a part of Japanese folklore, and as a result, the campaign was lost on Japanese parents.

KFC – It’s so good you’ll want to “Eat Your Fingers Off!”
Even the likes of KFC aren’t privy to a translation mishap! When they opened up in China in the late 80s, their infamous slogan “Finger-lickin’ good!” was completely lost in translation and turned into “Eat your fingers off!” Not the most tempting thing to see before dinner…

“Schweppes Toilet Water”
Over to Italy and we have big-wigs Schweppes happily boasting their refreshing “Schweppes Toilet Water” – a serious translation confusing the words “toilet” and
tonic”!

Richard Gere: Unpopular in China
Global giants in the automotive industry have also watched marketing campaigns fail in other cultures, with FIAT using the copy + paste method for their TV ads. In 2008 FIAT released an ad featuring actor, Richard Gere. Unfortunately, Gere is despised in China for his outspoken support of Tibetan independence, and online message boards become rife with people saying they would never buy a FIAT. Oops.

Parker Pens Make You Pregnant!
When Parker Pens moved their campaign to Mexico their in-house translator dropped the ball. Their ads were supposed to say their ballpoint pens “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Unfortunately, they chose the verb “embarazar” for “embarrass” which means “to impregnate” so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”.

Comprenez vous?

When big names find themselves in hot water over translation fails, their chances of bouncing back are much higher than when a small company makes the same mistake.
Smaller brands don’t yet have the benefit of a global reputation – their products aren’t widely recognised so the likely-hood of the public simply dismissing them straight off the bat is very high.

Save yourself the embarrassment: invest in a professional translator to really carry your marketing campaign across cultures and languages.

After all, employing a savvy translator now will save you a world of embarrassment in the long run – take it from Schweppes!

Languishing over language: how to improve your copywriting

In a fascinating interview with National Public Radio in America, UCLA professor Keith Chen spoke about how language can affect the way one thinks. Specifically he mentioned how different languages impact the way in which certain cultures view and save money.

In Mandarin for example, one does not say “tomorrow it will rain”, but rather “tomorrow it rain.” According to Professor Chen, this equalisation of the future and present impacts their worldview. In this way, Mandarin-speakers view saving money for the future in the same mindset with which they view having money in the present. This leads to an observable increase in their monetary savings.

Writing languate we got

In English we’re stuck with a ‘present progressive’, meaning that in order to speak about an event in the future we have to use an ‘obligatory form’. If that makes as little sense to you as it does to me, put it this way:

Today it is raining.
Yesterday it rained.
Tomorrow it…

There’s no future tense for rain. The only way to say it is: “tomorrow it will rain.”
The theory dictates that this characteristic of the English language means we’re predisposed not to put the future and the present on equal footing, but rather to view the future as a vague, incomprehensible eventuality sometime down the road. Thus, English -speakers tend to save less.

Language can literally shape the way we think.

Bad language past present future

The Internet can be an unforgiving place.

As a copywriter at Messages On Hold, my primary goal is to craft messages that shape callers’ thoughts about a company, product or idea. So how do we use language subtly yet effectively in our on hold messages? Allow me to show you.

Take for instance this sentence:
Did you know that when customers sign up with Tim’s Mowing they experience our great commitment to customer service by getting access to discounts on our full range of services!

The sentence is long-winded, bulky and the focus is on the seller, not the customer. If a caller is on hold hearing this message, not only will the sentence not sink in, but it doesn’t even leave the caller with an understanding of what Tim’s Mowing offers them!

Better writing through comedy buzzword
Let’s remove the excess details, drop the generic opening, turn the focus from the seller’s features to the buyer’s benefits and craft a clear message.

How’s this?
Sign up with Tim’s Mowing for all your professional landscaping and garden services  at discounted prices.

There’s no fancy language only a professional copywriter could come up with. There’s no brilliant eloquence to rival Shakespeare, Dickens or Austen. However, the sentence is succinct, unambiguous and focuses on how the listener/reader benefits.

We’ve ditched the words “can”, “commitment” and “when”. Those are all words that just fluff up and obscure what the client wants to hear. No one cares what you can do; they want to know what you will do.

The second example lays it all out effectively; you have landscaping requirements, they will provide a solution and this is how to engage with that service.

Eat your words, writing and choice of language
The specific language you use (or don’t use) will affect the way in which a caller might receive and absorb the information. In fact, at Messages On Hold we have a list of phrases we avoid at all costs.

Your messages need to orient the caller so they immediately understand what they stand to gain by engaging with your services. When it comes to improving your writing, it’s all about the specific language you use. Keep it simple, keep it focused and keep it targeted.

Tomorrow, we will write better.

Ditch the Pitch

Literary legend has it that Ernest Hemingway took on a bet that he couldn’t tell a complete story in just six words, and won it with this simple sentence: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

In the 21st Century we’re no strangers to this kind of bare-bones messaging. We can’t watch a news bulletin without simultaneously reading headlines flashing along the bottom of our screens. We abbreviate entire SMS’s into an almost illegible jumble of letters. We’re suckers for the succinct.

As a business it is imperative that your marketing strategy reflect the demands of your would-be clients, customers or investors for instant gratification and bite sized news items. It’s time to forget the out-of-date Elevator Business Pitch, and acknowledge that we live, after all, in the age of Twitter.

The Elevator Pitch, the long standing bread and butter for ambitious entrepreneurs and successful salesmen, was originally conceived as a reference to an incidental meeting in an elevator, and thus having the course of a single elevator ride during which to make your sales pitch.

Traditionally, the most liberal of time-keepers would say that your elevator pitch should clock in at around 30 seconds, a sentiment reflected in television advertisements (themselves a form of the Elevator Pitch), which in recent decades have shrunk to averaging at around 30 seconds as well.

A 30 second Elevator Pitch, at a rate of 2.5 words a second, would result in roughly 75 words in which to deliver your message. Contrast this with a Twitter post, which ranges between 100-140 characters. If we figure that the average word is between four and five letters in length that leaves us with only 10 seconds/25 words with which to pitch! It is interesting to note that TV ads are increasingly coming in at around the 10 second mark as well.

It might seem like an impossible task to generate enough interest, convey enough information and include a call to action all in a single sentence. Yet, as pointed out by Carmine Gallo from Forbes Magazine*, Apple founder Steve Jobs would pitch his products with half a Tweet-sized tagline; the iPod was famously introduced as “1,000 songs in your pocket”, the Macbook Air is “The world’s thinnest notebook” and most recently the new Macbook is hailed under the clever line of “Light. Years ahead.”

There are three key ingredients encapsulated in each pitch:

–       An introduction of the product.

–       Information of what is being offered beyond its competitors.

–       An indication of how this advantage benefits you.

Your marketing tagline should, in Jobs’s own words, “[get] so close [to your customers] that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves”. So to help you get started, here are three simple tips to help you craft your own perfect Twitter-pitch.

1)    Differentiate – isolate the single most definitive aspect that divides you from your competition and will entice consumers to seek you out.

2)    Describe – develop a one-line description that rolls off the tongue easily, that uses clever word play, or is simple and iconic.

3)    Delete & Develop – trim away all of the extraneous words and descriptions. Ensure that you’ve created the most succinct pitch possible, and make sure that you keep it to one line and under ten seconds, because less is more and if it can’t be digested in 10 seconds or less, no one is going to take any note of it regardless of its quality.

It’s 2015 and it’s time to pitch small and strong, or go home. Your customers/clients are all scrolling down dozens if not hundreds of Tweets a day. They’re seeing billboards sprawled across the city, and ads on TV pumping products down their throat – so it’s your task to break through the white noise and get yourself out there.

Go simple, get Tweeting!

– Aaron

Improving Your Business By Sweating The Small Stuff

You’d be surprised at how many silly errors a professional copywriter makes in his/her first draft. I should know! Before you see our work, we’ll have revised and scrutinized that piece of copy a dozen times; laboring over every word, comma and capital letter.

It’s very rare that your first effort is your best effort, whether that’s in business, sport or your personal life. But those few who stop, take a minute and ‘sweat the small stuff’ are the ones who create something brilliant.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Another person who sweats the small stuff is product creator Tony Fadell. In his compelling TED Talk, Tony tells us how as humans we’re hard-wired to get used to the way things are. That’s great for making our world a little less chaotic, but it’s hell for writing copy that leaps off the page – or creating a product that people fall in love with.

If you’re passionate about making tomorrow better than today, take the next 15 minutes and check out what the man behind the iPod and Nest thermostat has to say on noticing – and driving – real change in every area of business.

– Lachy

The Top Five Christmas Campaigns for 2014

Every year around early November, the internet starts to come alive with the excitement for the upcoming ad bonanza that is Christmas time. So in spirit of Christmas, here are our top 5 Christmas campaigns for 2014!

5) Sainsbury’s – Christmas Is For Sharing, made in partnership with The Royal British Legion. [Warning – turn your speakers down]

Talk about pulling on the old heartstrings! The famous war story of The Christmas Truce has been brought to life in this ad which at publishing date has had over 14 million hits. Sainsbury’s took a big risk with this one.  War isn’t a topic to be taken lightly. However if we look past the fact that in essence, the supermarket is using war to advertise their company, what we have is a beautiful representation of the spirit of Christmas. (Sorry for the saccharine, but if we can’t at Christmas then when can we?) What makes the campaign more palatable is the fact its promoting a chocolate bar of which all profits will be donated to the Royal British Legion.  A brilliant message indeed.

4) Tesco’s Wigan Light Show

Once upon a time, retailers would release one wizz bang Christmas ad and that was enough. Not anymore. UK Retailer Tesco has released a fun, sweet Christmas ad campaign which at face value is fine. But it’s not the official ad that we love. In 2013, Tesco customer Claire Hannah tweeted that her local Tesco wasn’t displaying the iconic ‘Tesco hat’. Instead of a miserly, boring response tweet, Tesco threw plenty of energy (and plenty of dollars) at a response (seen here) this year that’s already getting them plenty of free publicity. Not only did they respond to the tweet, but they added to their Christmas message this year in a spectacular, explosive fashion. It looks like the proof is already in the pudding in terms of free exposure thanks to Christmas-themed content.

3) David Jones – The Things We Do For Love

Speaking of saccharine! We’re proud to announce that Aussie retailer David Jones has jumped on the Christmas bandwagon and offered up a classic Aussie Christmas problem in their sentimental Christmas ad! Here in the wide, brown land, we’re not famous for our inclusion of chimneys in our architecture. This ad plays delightfully on this notion and reminds us why we celebrate Christmas at all. Because it makes the people we love happy. While this ad’s not racing up the viral stakes yet, we’re expecting a Christmas miracle!

2) Aldi – Aussie Christmas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVaZ1hvXW0A#t=55

Australians enjoy a fairly unique Christmas. While the romance of a white Christmas isn’t lost on us – most of us spend December 25 sweltering in the heat wishing we’d let the whole ‘hot food’ thing go. Aldi has jumped on this idea and offered a delightful mash-up of the traditional white Christmas and the quintessential Aussie Christmas. While the advertising elements of this ad might be a little overt, we’re willing to forgive it just to watch those zany Europeans having a crack at the slip n’ slide on the snow! And keep an eye out for the budgie smugglers – we didn’t know they existed outside Australia!

1) John Lewis – Monty The Penguin

And finally, it wouldn’t be a modern Christmas without a visit from Monty The Penguin. John Lewis must be rubbing their hands together in the lead up to Christmas now, knowing they’re days away from an absurd amount of free publicity. Before it was even released, the Twittersphere was abuzz with excitement. And, as expected, this year’s Monty The Penguin ad notched up 12 million views in the first week it was released. John Lewis pre-empted the insane response to the ad with more content marketing than you can poke a stick at including  a website where you can explore Monty’s world, a storytelling app, Monty’s Den in each of their stores and Monty the Penguin adoption toys which raise money for the WWF. Oh and Monty the Penguin has over 35,000 followers on Twitter. Not bad for a penguin. John Lewis spent £1 million on the Monty the Penguin ads but when you look at the YouTube shares, the interactive content and phenomenal free publicity this little guy has earned the retailer, it’s a small price to pay.

– Sophie

Marketing Messages: What Kim Kardashian Can Teach You

Whether you loved it, hated it, or thought it was the latest character in Ryan Murphy’s and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story, you probably saw the photo of Kim Kardashian’s behind. There’s also a good chance you shared it, tweeted it, liked one of the hundreds of memes it produced and discussed it with friends. While a great lesson in Photoshop, Kim shows us that just one carefully selected image can be shared, posted and published over and over again across social media, websites, and even in good old fashioned press. In a nutshell, if you have the right image, it can be seen by millions.

Kim’s Paper Magazine shoot is also a great teaching tool when you’re deciding how to market your small business. Whenever you upload, post, or interact with customers on social media, or update your website or online shop, words are only half the battle. To be truly effective, you need marketing messages with images – good ones.

 Bolster your marketing messages with compelling images.

Websites

If you have an online shop, take note that 56% of consumers consider images of products to be more significant than any other information you may provide, including detailed descriptions, reviews and ratings. Forget ‘images coming soon’ notices and grainy iPhone photos, consumers want images that are both clear and professional. This is because a) they want to know what they’re getting before it arrives at their door, and b) only tangible images will produce that “yes, this is exactly what I want” feeling.

If you don’t have an online shop, and instead just have a contact number, email and a two year old “under construction site” notice, (you know who you are) you still need an image. Upload one of your store front, or with your staff members standing in the foreground. Why? Because 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact your business if an image appears in local search results. Consumers want to put a face to a name and want to know that the company they’re choosing to do business with is a) real, and b) legitimate.

On Social Media

90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, and visuals are processed in the brain 60,000 times faster than text. This means when a person is scrolling down their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn feed they’re 90% more likely to stop for an image than for text, not because your tagline isn’t engaging, but because their brain picks up on the image rather than the text.

The statistics back it up. Images are liked twice as much as text updates on Facebook; articles with images on LinkedIn get 94% more total views; and using images on Twitter increases retweets by 150% and click-throughs by 18%.

Pinterest and Instagram

If your business isn’t currently on Pinterest or Instagram, here are two figures that should change your mind. Pinterest saw a 1047% growth in unique visitors in their first year, (unique visitors refers to a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time) and Instagram has 130 million users who like 1 billion photos per day.

Whether you’re a fashion, furniture or fencing business, get an account and start uploading. Images are so important for your marketing messages because they let consumers imagine. Customers can picture themselves in your dress, imagine how their pool will look with a stylish glass fence, or envision how your dining set will look in their home. Plus, Pinterest and Instagram let you connect and interact with current and potential customers on a fundamental level, and by constantly uploading and updating, consumers are constantly exposed to your brand. And as we know from the Effective Frequency Theory – a consumer has to be exposed to an ad at least three times before they take action – more exposure to your brand can never be a bad thing.

The Bottom Line

Next time you’re updating your business’ Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account I want you to stop and think about Kim’s oiled up bottom, and imagine what kind of photos will stop your customers mid scroll. Stay away from poor stock photos or images that looks too set up, and get creative – images that show your human side will create stronger connections with customers.

– Steph

Marketing Messages – What Really Gets Customers Through The Door

Would you buy your wine from Dan Murphy’s because they take “pride” in “offering the lowest liquor price guarantee?” Your new plasma TV from Retravision Online because they “guarantee to beat any advertised competitor price?” When your nephew or niece’s birthday arrives, will you purchase your present from Toys R Us because they promise their “prices can’t be beat”, and that they’ll “match any advertised price?” These retailers wouldn’t lie to you… or would they?

According to the University of East Anglia, lowest-price guarantees can actually work against consumers, potentially pushing prices up and discouraging them from shopping around. So, in fact, lowest or best price guarantees are not good indicators that a store is cheaper than its competition. Why, then, do we keep returning to and buying from these businesses? Well it’s pretty simple – you’re a marketing message sucker.

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the small print. We as consumers don’t bother reading that: “In some cases there are prices which Retravision Online cannot match,” “The competitor store must be within 10 kilometres of Dan Murphy’s,” or that the Toys ‘R Us guarantee “Excludes competitor’s category or storewide discounts, conditional sales, package deals, discontinued lines, loyalty or third party offers, fire or liquidation sales, clearance/warehouse outlets.”

Marketing messages should excite customers with what you can do for them.

Our eyes and wallets are dazzled by lowest price guaranteed slogans. So what does this mean for the average business owner? You need to think about what you are selling to your customers. Retravision, Dan Murphy’s, and Toys ‘R Us aren’t telling consumers they’ve been in production for however many years, who they’re owned by, where they source their materials from, or where they hope their business will take them. Why? Because people just don’t care.

Most consumers have one thing they care about more than anything else. You need to work out what it is and sell it to them – whether it’s getting the product to them quicker, being cheaper than your competitors, or by ensuring that the quality is the best on the market. So, if your business has been running since 1969, don’t give them a history lesson from that year – it’s useless and frankly, it’s boring! Instead, mention that with over 40 years of experience under your belt they won’t be paying for you to learn on the job.

If your production takes place locally with locally sourced products, don’t just focus on the fact that this supports the community. Tell your customers because it’s right next door, it’s fresher and faster! In the event there is a problem, you’ll be able to solve it a hell of lot quicker because you have the part right on your shelf – they don’t have to wait weeks for shipping. And, in years to come when a part needs replacing – you’ll be able to do it for them – they won’t have to scour eBay for a part that hasn’t been manufactured in years.

To ensure your business can compete– you need marketing messages that excite customers with what you can do for them. Instead of dropping your pants on prices that might see a short term spike in sales, opt for something that will provide you with long term growth. Find the most compelling features of your business, and sell them.

– Steph

Marketing Messages – Some Harsh Truths

If you’re not selling as much as you used to or sales have petered out, your marketing messages are no good. I know, it’s hard to hear – and it’s supposed to be. This is a wake-up call.

Sure, we could blame it on the market or customers being more frugal with their hard earned dollars. But the truth is you can sell in any climate to anyone if your marketing messages are on-point.

What I mean by on-point is this: are they focused on your target market? Is your audience receiving these messages regularly and through a variety of mediums? And finally is the content of your marketing messages high quality and relevant? If you can’t tick all three, then you may as well be shouting your marketing messages down a well with your fingers in your ears.

Are your Marketing Messages focused?

In 2013, Dove launched their ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign to prove to women that they are more beautiful than they think. Knowing that only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful, Dove used this to create a powerful message that resonated with their audience. This message is an extension of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, and the video became one of the most shared videos of all time.

Are your Marketing Messages consistent?

When Motorola launched their ultra customisable Moto X smartphone, their message was simple: this is a smartphone that can be customised to match your personality. The customisation was the key and that’s what they pushed through outdoor initiatives like bus shelters and storefronts that changed colour to match the clothing of the viewer. They even created an interactive print ad that allowed readers to change the colour of the phone on the page using polycarbonate paper and LED light pipes.

Are your Marketing Messages of high quality?

You don’t need a million dollar budget to create highly relevant, high quality content. Kit Cosmetics keep note of customer purchases and email them around the time those purchases are likely to run out. For example, if you purchase a 50g tub of face moisturiser, they know it has a three month lifespan and will email you similar products in three months time. Simple, yet highly effective.

It’s no longer enough for you to spend an hour banging out a sales email on a Monday morning, firing it out on a Tuesday and expecting results on the Wednesday. You need to convince your audience what you’re promoting is worth their time, attention and most importantly of all, their money. Here’s the kicker: all that takes time.

On average, a person will need at least seven exposures to a business’ marketing messages before taking action. The more your target audience is exposed to your message, the more they will recognise it. It’s this recognition which builds familiarity, which in turn builds trust. Once they trust you, they will be open to being sold to.

Multiple exposures to marketing messages – quality marketing messages – aren’t just a pleasantry, they’re a necessity. A lone, well-worded email simply won’t cut it. Your audience needs to see your marketing messages everywhere. In bite sized pieces of information on social media, in downloadable PDFs that offer them value & insight, in banner ads, radio ads, from their neighbour’s mouth – everywhere.

Your target audience isn’t trying to make your life difficult – they are expecting you to work hard for their loyalty. If you can create great, value-adding content that regularly appears in, and is relevant to, their situation you will have them. Remember, you have to give to get.

Now take a few minute, make yourself a cup of coffee and ask yourself: what marketing messages are you sending out? Are they consistent? Are they of high quality or value? And finally, are they appearing everywhere they could be?

– Lachy