A huge sigh of relief

free magazines don't work

As we take a huge sigh of relief and press GO on the latest issue of one of the publications I contribute to, I reflect on what great content actually is.

When I started my career 15+ years ago (in what was then customer communications agency Redwood Publishing) branded content only existed for a crazy yet innovative few.

Volvo Magazine, was a Global CRM publication produced to engage and inspire recent Volvo purchasers. I worked in quite a few roles on the team from Editorial Assistant to Promotions to Advertising, I got to know the publishing process whilst also understanding the client’s business strategy, motivations and objectives. The Scandinavian team at Volvo’s Head Office understood, valued and believed in the power their magazine and the content within it delivered in order to maintain retention and loyalty amongst their global customer base.

What resonates so much with me today is remembering sitting in Media Buying Agencies presenting the magazine to the planner/buyer types who looked down their noses and 99 times out of 100 said,


“free magazines don’t work, there’s no value in this type of publication”




Volvo Magazine worked, it worked on a global scale. It helped change perceptions and supported the evolution of the brand from a boxy, safe and unsexy automobile to the exceptionally attractive Scandinavian cool premium brand it is today.


Good, decent quality content that is well thought out, relevant and presented properly is invaluable. Since working as a consultant with businesses of all sizes it’ makes my stomach turn to hear business owners saying, “it doesn’t matter what it looks like, we just need to get something out there” or “we’ll just whack something together last minute”.


This is REALLY saddening. It’s so important if you believe you have a decent offering, service or product, to ensure the quality of communication from your brand is very decent too. Content on the internet, emailed into someone’s mailbox or posted to someone lasts, it doesn’t have a short shelf life, it will always exist, in some cases even when it’s deleted it can still be found. If content is worth doing it’s worth doing properly and making sure it works, reflects the business, aspirations and the brand properly.


If I’ve learnt anything from my time in content it’s that it won’t always be 100% perfect but you should ALWAYS aim for it to be, by working with the best and not scrimping on costs!


For help with branded content and communications please contact info@magnificentstuff.net

Making your website work harder (pt. 1)

This is the first in a series of  posts regarding creating a more worthwhile and profitable website for your company.


What is your website for:

There are two main types of business websites. The first is a flat brochure style website, showcasing the best your organisation has to offer, it can include some testimonials and will have clear calls to action. The other is a site that engages visitors and generates leads. It attracts interest and offers solutions and advice to visitors initiating a relationship.

Your website is the hub of business communication and the home of all of your valuable content.  It’s critical that the look, feel and tone of voice are reflective of all that your organisation stands for and the products/services you offer.  The traffic driven to your site will have been directed from all areas so it is important to make sure your website has a strong and clear identity.

Although your website is about you and your business it needs to be written and designed from the customer’s point of view, so instead of writing about ‘what we do’ focus on ‘ here’s how we can help you’.

The content on your website, as well as that posted in social media or shared on others blogs is all integral to your brand. It is there fundamentally to engage and inspire. To endorse your expertise in a sector, to help build trust and to get customers inspired and enthused about you. Smart and cleverly produced content will encourage customers to talk about you and will ensure that you are front of mind when they are ready to make a purchasing decision.

A good website with well constructed editorial will pull in leads and convert them to sales.

The 3 main objectives of a content focused business website?

1. To attract potential customers and retain existing ones

2. To navigate them to the most relevant areas of the site, and

3.  To engage prospects and start to build a relationship with them.


In the next post we will look at the key elements that make a smarter business website.



What is a call to action or CTA?

Emarketing isn’t the only form of branded content out there. There is this popular misconception when you hear buzz phrase ‘content marketing’ blogging, email newsletters and web content instantly springs to mind. We mustn’t forget that long before digital there was print.

Content marketing has always been around, perhaps in different guises though. The advertorials, the newsletters, the members magazines and the infomercials, all forms of content marketing.

By using expert sector journalists to write features old membership publications evolved into an industry worth £4billion. Marketeers recognised the power of content to build on relationships with customers and in turn the benefit to CRM.

It’s all very well having an excellent engaging and informative newsletter, email or ad but there must be a clear and definitive sign off for the piece. The piece should almost whet the readers appetite, leave them wanting more, the ‘more’ should be the call to action (CTA) device, and should lead the reader onto doing something as a result of reading or engaging.


There are some straightforward rules for CTA’s:

1. K.I.S.S. – keep it simple stupid
Make the CTA simple, focus on one or at the most two main actions – don’t confuse or clutter the sign off.

It’s important to make the CTA standout by using contrasting colours and a smart holding device/box or button.

3. Relevance
Wherever possible make the call to action relevant it should follow on seamlessly from the feature in terms of context. If it’s possible you try to personalise it through segmentation.

4. Activate
It’s important to use activating phrases and words to encourage readers to react. Using action words, for example, “click here” or “go online to find out more” or “turn to page 7 to see more” or “call to register”. Through testing it’s possible to identify which CTA’s work most efficiently for your audience base.

5. Don’t be afraid
To have more than one CTA to a page or section. It makes perfect sense to always have the URL or social media link as page furniture but you can have others to such as read more or try this. The CTA doesn’t have to focus on the end point or sale, it can be something that aids loyalty, retention or acquisition.

The importance of trial and measurement in all marketing cannot be underestimated. In the case of CTA’s it’s key to try different words, timings, devices, placements etc.

It’s important to always have a call-to-action with every piece of marketing produced. This helps deliver and quantify Return On Investment but also drives loyalty, and acquisition.

Adapted from Original text: http://www.bluegrassdigital.com/blog/2012/november/28/7-tips-for-great-email-marketing-calls-to-action/#ixzz30jTB2rdP Under Creative Commons License: Attribution