Why lockdown doesn’t have to mean shutdown

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our daily lives from the way we interact with our families and colleagues, to the way we do our weekly shop. As lockdown restrictions are beginning to relax, the last few weeks have seen some businesses busier than ever and others at a standstill.

That said, in a crisis, a natural response is to batten down the hatches and safeguard the business in the short-term. However, from our personal experience we have seen some companies using this time to effectively plan a long-term response and focus on the things that will really make a difference when normality resumes.

So, as we start to approach what is being coined ‘the new normal’, what role does marketing play and why is it important that your voice is heard?

 

  1. Keeping customers informed – with uncertainty everywhere we turn, keeping customers as informed as possible in your business plans is important. Whether you’ve been operational from the beginning or are completely out of action – ensuring you communicate your actions is fundamental for business continuity.

 

  1. Staying connected – more people, including new and existing customers, are online and engaging with content more than ever before. This has opened up a world of opportunities for content and digital marketing. If you haven’t before, now is the time to invest in marketing to reach those people that you can’t meet in person.

 

  1. Building your brand – it may not seem like it now, but normality will resume eventually. Take this time to focus on your brand, the messages you want to convey and those jobs that usually get overlooked. Whether it’s updating website copy, re-branding technical data-sheets or re-evaluating your businesses’ story, use this time wisely.

 

Marketing will help you to stay in front of the people that really matter. During a crisis, keeping in touch and staying connected with your customers is important, but it’s also an opportunity to get your ducks in a row so you can be fast out of the starting blocks when the world fully reopens for business.

Re-thinking events: Taking them online

One of the longest standing forms of marketing, events are a major element in many businesses’ marketing strategies. Particularly well-established in B2B sectors, events such as trade shows, are the ideal opportunity for brands to elevate themselves on a relevant platform with a targeted audience. To launch new products, network with the industry or generate new leads, face-to-face events have been fundamental.

Much like every other area of marketing there has been a rise in digital formats in recent years – webinars proving particularly popular. That said, face-to-face events are still a major springboard for activity for many businesses.

However, as face-to-face events have halted for the foreseeable future, now could be the perfect opportunity to add digital events to your plan and get creative with the space to explore what works (or more importantly, what doesn’t) for your brand.

So, if you’re looking to get started, what are some of the practical things you need to consider?

  • Audio – Audio is the most important element in online events. Ensure you have appropriate mics and technology that you can rely on.
  • Video – Live video is not always needed, but if this is your chosen method, use it as an opportunity to share the experience – and most importantly, it has to be done right.
  • Time – Dive into the most important content quickly. It is vital that your audiences are engaged from the outset.
  • Customisation – By taking your content and localising it for different regions is key to engaging different audiences and creating evergreen content.
  • UX – whatever your chosen platform, the user experience needs to be simple from registration through to follow up. Give your audience easy access to everything they will need to further their understanding.
  • Plan – have a structure in place but leave room for spontaneity. Audience demands may lead the way, don’t be intimidated by this, ensure you can be agile.
  • Unique – be unique and have a personality. Bring your brand to life just as you would on a stand at an event.

 

While face-to-face events will always have a place in the marketing strategy of B2B brands, digital events can help to plug the content gap while we wait for normality to resume. And when it does, we expect to see much wider spread digital adoption given that they break down geographical and time boundaries, making audiences accessible without the need for travel.

In fact, the current situation could actually be the catalyst needed for many businesses to review event strategies and identify where digital has the potential to add value.

Building towards safer site procedures during the pandemic

As specialists in construction and manufacturing, many of our clients have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak – either by closures, interruption of work or even just widespread confusion. In a letter to the construction industry, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now confirmed that the sector is essential and should continue to operate under specific safety guidance.

In accordance with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice, the Construction Leadership Council has published a set of guidelines to help site managers continue in the safest way possible.

The Council’s advice can be broken down into three key points:

 

  1. Enforce social distancing on-site

First and foremost, all non-essential site visits should be stopped with immediate effect. When on site, all workers should maintain two-metre distances at all times, physical contact should be avoided and any activities requiring skin to skin contact must be halted.

To aid this, site managers can stagger the start and finish times of their team members, reducing on-site congestion and contact throughout the day. Social distancing should be observed not only while working, but also in the canteen, toilets and anywhere else that individuals could congregate.

 

  1. Improve hygiene facilities

Site managers should look into installing additional hand-washing facilities on-site, and making hand sanitiser available where this isn’t possible. Regular hand washing should be encouraged throughout the day, especially following direct contact or use of shared tools.

Similarly, tools and equipment should be cleaned and sterilised between uses – doing so can significantly decrease the risk of the virus spreading.

 

  1. Ensure safe waste disposal

Site managers should be vigilant in ensuring that waste is disposed of regularly and safely. This includes general waste, but also single-use PPE and other disposable equipment. Cleanliness standards should be increased, and closely regulated.

 

In the construction sector, as in wider society, safety must come first in the current climate – but it’s important to keep the industry moving. By following the guidance provided, site managers can enable construction to continue in the safest way possible and protect both employees and ongoing projects.

 

For more advice on ensuring safe operating procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak, use the following links to access relevant resources:

Maintaining a long-term brand strategy during a crisis

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected brands in almost every sector across the globe to varying degrees. Some industries, such as hospitality and travel, have been brought almost to a complete stop while others are adapting to remote working or reduced staffing policies.

Whilst it is a challenging time for all bringing sweeping lifestyle changes, it’s important to recognise that it is a temporary situation. It’s likely that we’ll learn important lessons through the crisis and return to a ‘new normal’, but it remains vital for brands to keep an eye on the future.

 

Keeping marketing in the picture

Ultimately, marketing is an investment, and should be treated as such – rather than as a cost. Although there is no precedent for such an impactful pandemic in the modern era, we can take a few lessons from the 2008 financial crisis, which saw many brands take a hit.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, strength of brand – or ‘brand equity’ – proved to be a significant factor in businesses’ recovery. Brand equity is made up of three key elements:

  • Brand meaning – how is the brand seen by consumers?
  • Point of difference – what differentiates the brand against the market?
  • Salience – how well recognised is the brand?

Of these factors, salience is the greatest indicator of a brand’s ability to recover effectively. It’s having a strong point of difference, however, that tends to indicate growth in the long term.

Brands can improve their salience by ensuring that they have an effective share of voice, which should be equal to their market share, if not higher. Despite the current situation, very few consumers are expecting brands to stop advertising completely, so there’s no reason not to keep developing brand voice provided the messaging remains relevant, reassuring, and avoids profiteering.

Marketing might not be the first thing on everybody’s minds right now – but it certainly shouldn’t be the last, and brands that continue to work proactively will reap the benefits in the long term.

Technical Marketing & PR Named #1 Outstanding Small PR Consultancy in Wales

At the annual CIPR PRide Cymru Awards, Technical Marketing & PR has been awarded gold in the ‘Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy’ category. The awards ceremony which was held at Cardiff’s Exchange Hotel on Friday 11th October and hosted by TV and radio personality Jason Mohammad, celebrated the best of PR in Wales.

“Since laying down roots in South Wales, Technical Marketing & PR has gone from strength to strength with expansion of the in-house team and growing our South Wales client base. It is incredible to be recognised as the leading small PR consultancy in Wales whilst staying true to our core sectors,” said Louise Morgan, Director at Technical Marketing & PR.

The judges commented: “Technical Marketing & PR’s clear, well thought out strategy has supported profitable growth, with impressive global reach which has seen successful campaign delivery as far afield as Russia. Yet this dedicated agency remains committed to supporting its local community; delivering workshops through the local business network and building strategic partnerships with businesses in South Wales. The judges were extremely impressed by Technical Marketing & PR’s continued investment in its staff, with a strong focus on CPD and ensuring up-to-date knowledge of data compliancy and information governance.”

Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners from the night, there is some incredible PR talent in Wales. See the full list of winners and finalists here.

Managing change in manufacturing

The Technical Marketing & PR team recently attended an expert panel discussion covering change management in manufacturing, hosted by Darwin Gray. Joined by an audience steeped in experience within the manufacturing sector, the panel evoked constructive discourse around how businesses can capitalise on new opportunities in a rapidly changing industry.

Change is inherent in manufacturing – whether it’s the effect of new legislation on supply chain management, or a generational shift in working patterns. It is, as the old saying goes, inevitable. As the discussion progressed, it became apparent that change is not something to be feared so much as seen as an opportunity to excel.

So, how can manufacturing businesses start managing change?

 

Plan for change

Too often, specialist consultants and industry experts are brought in to oversee change management projects during times of crisis. The first thing that the panel was keen to raise was that things don’t need to be heading south for change management to kick in – in fact, it’s much better to take a proactive approach.

There’s always a lot going on in manufacturing, and keeping your ear to the ground can go a long way to making sure you are ready for any changes that will affect your sector. Failing to plan is planning to fail – there’s a lot of clichés we could lean on here, but it’s safe to say that those who plan are most likely to prosper.

 

Encourage a ‘change mindset’

Change management does not have to mean an overhaul of business procedures. By creating a culture that supports growth and change, manufacturing businesses will be able to change gradually and ensure that they are working effectively and prepared for the future.

It’s important to be open to change. This might sound simple, but it’s crucial to recognise that change is happening every day – it’s normal, and we must accept it in order to make the most of new opportunities. By embracing a change mindset, manufacturing businesses can be flexible and take any developments in-stride.

 

Communicate and collaborate

One of the messages that the panel was keen to impress was that there is a wealth of support available to manufacturing businesses. By surrounding yourself with experts in your field, you can ensure that you have access to all the knowledge you might need to progress.

It’s worth being prudent with anyone who you introduce to your business, but the panel agreed that being trusting and finding the right partners can be invaluable. Whether it is involvement in government schemes or engaging more closely with local professionals, there is a huge ecosystem around the manufacturing industry which can be tapped into.

 

While there is a question around recognising the need for change, it seems more sensible that manufacturing businesses take a proactive approach to change management. With a strong team and a willing attitude to change, you can prepare your brand for the future and ensure that you’re evolving day by day.

For advice on how marketing and PR support can help you manage and effectively communicate changes in your business, contact the Technical Marketing & PR team.

The Power of Live Events

So, you’ve nailed your social media marketing. Your email outreach is second to none, and your direct marketing is drawing potential customers to your website. What else could you possibly do to improve your marketing strategy?

It’s time to put yourself out there. Jump in the car, hop on the train or catch the bus – and make yourself known at live events. Whether your business lies in B2B or B2C, trade events, networking events and expos could be an untapped market worth making the most of. A recent survey of over 1,000 senior marketers found that the most successful businesses spend nearly twice as much on live event marketing as the average business, and the majority of these marketers planned to invest more into live events in the future – both in terms of budget and number of events.*

Here’s a few things to bear in mind before you dive in:

 

Raise your profile

By appearing at events, you can position your brand as active and involved within your industry. Signalling your presence within the industry will raise the profile of your brand and contribute to your credibility, thus underpinning your entire marketing strategy.

You will be able to make valuable new contacts at events and establish relationships. No matter how strong your outreach is, there’s no substitute for face to face communication when it comes to developing relationships – so spending time with all of your visitors whether they’re a prospective client or otherwise will encourage them to seek you out in the future. People love working with people, and by making them feel valuable and worth your time you will build a strong rapport.

 

Think about Return on Investment

As with any element of your marketing strategy, you’ll be looking to measure your success at events. That said, tracking your ROI for this particular activity is rarely an exact science.

You can look at lead generation and conversion, coverage and sign-ups, but it’s important to bear in mind that the benefit of events can go beyond tangible statistics. Be prepared to take a holistic view of your performance at events over a period of time, and remember it’s worth targeting which events you’ll attend with your ideal outcomes in mind.

 

Have the materials to back it up

It’s crucial that you have information to hand for anybody who is interested in your business. You should have high-quality literature available at the event in the form of business cards and flyers for visitors to take away which will link to your website and social media.

The content on your website and social media platforms must, therefore, also be reflective of your brand. Potential customers are likely to look to your website for more information, so ensure that it is readily available and presented in the right tone of voice. Your social media pages should support your message and act as a platform to showcase your successes.

 

Events marketing represents a significant opportunity within a comprehensive marketing strategy. Whether you are looking to raise brand awareness, meet prospective clients or generate leads, attending events is an effective way to gain a foothold in the market.

If you’d like more advice on events marketing, or assistance with your social media activity and website copy in preparation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

 

*Bizzabo’s ‘Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends’

Technical Marketing & PR welcomes a new team member

South Wales’ specialist PR agency for construction, technology and engineering, Technical Marketing & PR, has once again invested in personnel. Having seen an upsurge of client activity both in the UK and internationally, Technical Marketing & PR has expanded its team, recruiting Tom Martin as Junior Account Executive.

An English Literature and Language graduate from Cardiff University, Tom Martin initially sharpened his skills working in a start-up environment. Deciding to seek a role focused more specifically on marketing and PR, Tom recognised that Technical Marketing & PR’s Junior Account Executive position would allow him to exercise his existing skills whilst developing towards a career in the marketing sector.

Discussing his appointment, Tom said: “I am hugely pleased to join the Technical Marketing & PR team. Not only is it a brilliant opportunity for my own development, I am confident my skillset can add to the agency’s offering. It can be tough to find a job in the right sector after graduating, so I am thankful to find a supportive agency willing to take me on!”

Louise Matthews, Director of Technical Marketing & PR, also commented on the appointment: “In a fast-growing agency such as ours, it’s important to have the right team to tackle new challenges every day. I’m very happy to have taken Tom on as part of the team – here at Technical Marketing & PR we have always been committed to helping graduates develop.”

Technical Marketing & PR is always open to providing work experience opportunities and would encourage anyone who is interested in a career in marketing or public relations to get in touch at, hello@technicalmarketing-pr.com

Post GDPR: Marketing in a regulated world

Post-GDPR: Marketing in a regulated world

Just over a year ago, businesses all over the country were staring down the barrel of the incoming GDPR regulations, wondering how the marketing landscape would change. GDPR seemed set to shake the business world, and it was a clarion call for marketers to review their strategies.

Ultimately, whilst GDPR did change the way we look at data, it didn’t completely change the world. Keen-eyed marketing professionals have recognised opportunities in the post-GDPR landscape, so here are a few insights on how you can reap the rewards for your brand.

 

Consider changing your marketing focus

Email marketing had been growing in popularity in the years leading up to GDPR, and it certainly still has a place. Although contacts lists will be looking a little shorter in the wake of new legislation, email marketing has not been killed off completely.

That said, it may be worth integrating – or perhaps reintegrating – traditional direct marketing activities into your strategy. Direct marketing falls outside of GDPR regulations, meaning you can send marketing material to potential customers.

Direct marketing often requires a little more leg-work than email marketing, but it can pay dividends. To make the most of your efforts, put a framework in place for following up with those you reached out to. Telemarketing can be effective, in this instance – even if a recipient is interested, they might not take the time to pick up the phone. In this way, you can build rapport with a potential customer over the phone whilst having a head start over a completely ‘cold’ call.

 

Reinvigorating your marketing strategy

Be it direct, by email or otherwise, any individual marketing activity is just a piece in a larger puzzle. In this post-GDPR world, it’s worth taking some time to review all aspects of your marketing strategy and see how other areas can make up for any shortfalls.

You might want to consider:

  1. Events: are you putting your brand out there at industry events? Not only can this increase brand awareness and perform a lead generation function, but face-to-face networking is often the most effective way of building a relationship with a potential client. If people can talk to you and learn about your brand that way, they are more likely to remember and pick up the phone.
  2. Social media: your social media platforms are an invaluable tool for sharing brand news, products, and engaging with industry news. Managing your social media profiles shows both existing and potential customers that the brand is switched-on, interested, and present within the industry.
  3. Public Relations: building positive relationships with journalists in your field can ensure that your business news hits the headlines in a timely and effective fashion. Once you have established a good relationship with the press, you will have a platform for sharing success stories and more, thus raising brand awareness.

 

Perhaps the most important exercise in the wake of GDPR is to re-consider who your target audience really is, re-focus your strategy to approach them, and re-imagine how you are putting your brand out there in a wider sense.

If you’re looking for guidance on marketing or PR activity for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Technical Marketing & PR team to see how we can help.

 

*Data & Marketing Association

Reaching a new audience with podcast marketing

Podcasting has seen a huge growth in popularity in the last five years, with weekly listeners in the UK having increased from 3.2m in 2013 to 5.9m in 2018.1 Although the majority of podcast listeners tune in to entertainment genres, many businesses are reaping the rewards of on-demand audio. Podcasting is non-disruptive media boasting high engagement rates compared to radio and television.

Whether you are completely new to podcasting or considering setting up a podcast for your business, here are some considerations to keep in mind:

 

Invest in equipment

Your podcast will be representing your business, so it’s important that the quality is up to scratch. You don’t need a professional studio set-up, but the right gear will set you off in the right direction.

A dynamic microphone (with a pop-shield), an audio interface, a pair of headphones and any modern PC or laptop to run an audio recording software will give you what you need to introduce your podcast to the world.

 

Have a goal in mind

Before you sit down to record anything, take the time to consider who your audience is and what they are looking for in a podcast. Bear your audience and their motivation for listening in mind when planning your topics and booking guests.

It’s usually a good idea to produce a continual podcast with regular releases, whether it be weekly, monthly or even quarterly. In this way, you can work consistently towards your goal and establish a regular listener-base.

 

How will you present your podcast?

There are a few formats your podcast can take, and it is often best to have an interactive element to the discussion rather than relying on a single host. One way to achieve this is to use an interview format, where the host speaks to a different guest each episode. Bringing guests onto your broadcast fosters engaging discussion and can also bring credibility.

 

Promoting your podcast

Last but not least, make sure your podcast is promoted on your website and that you’re telling people about it wherever you go. You might even consider putting together some business cards to hand which point people in the right direction!

 

For some inspiration, check out some of our favourite podcasts:

  • Not Another Marketing Podcast, by Jon Tromans
  • Marketing Over Coffee, by John Wall and Christopher Penn
  • The Science of Social Media, from Buffer

 

If you think podcast marketing could be a good option for your business, feel free to get in touch with the Technical Marketing & PR team for more information on how to get started.


1Ofcom, 2018