Marketing Brilliance: Simple is often BEST

By on Oct 16, 2014 in Case Studies, Search, Social, Strategy

I’m enchanted by this delightful video (who doesn’t love marionettes, after all?). There’s no doubting the puppeteer’s talent both in terms of crafting little Stix, and in terms of his performance skill. That’s some co-ordination! But what caught my eye (of course :)), is the brilliant marketing he applies to every part of the video. Let’s break it down: First of all, he uses video. Many of you will know by now that I’m a big fan of YouTube for marketing purposes. It’s the world’s second largest search engine, after all, and the perfect thing to plug yourself into while you get on with the more mundane parts of your daily grind. Everyone’s doing it: plug in the earphones, pick a channel, and prepare to be entertained. If your business lends itself to YouTube in any way whatsoever, you’re crazy not to take advantage of all it offers (watch this space for more thoughts on YouTube marketing for business). Secondly, every part of everything is branded. And note the phenomenal attention to detail! Stix has his own little bench, perfectly made to scale, and the bench is (wait for it …) Yep! Branded. Ricky Syers has his name on his trousers AND his shoes, too. Whether you happen to glance at the show as you walk past, or you get right down and meet Stix at his level, you can’t help but get the message: Ricky Syers is a puppet MASTER in the surest sense of the term, and someone worth following online and off. Thirdly, Ricky gets really personal. He engages his audience. He knows who they are, where they’re at, and what they want – then he gives it to them. He’s not afraid to go out there and get to know his audience – in person. We all know by now that personal engagement with the real humans behind a business is the surest way to increase a marketing audience, and Ricky’s doing that perfectly. Finally, neither Ricky nor Stix miss a single opportunity to monetise their marketing investment. As much as their show is an awareness-building campaign (both in real time and through the virtual virality of YouTube), each of them has his own little to-scale hat ready for donations from the inspired and intrigued – and it works! If you’re not using video to market your business, it’s time to jump online and do so. It doesn’t take as much effort as you may believe, and it personalises your brand in a way little else can. Vanessa Davies is the head writer, senior designer, social media pundit and business owner at aXent Associates. Online marketing, blogging, home education, lifelong learning, optimal nutrition and personal growth are high on her list of priorities. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter or...

How one organisation transformed an out-dated online brochure into a vibrant conduit for giving back

By on Oct 23, 2013 in Case Studies

The Community Chest of Durban serves the most amazing cause: they raise funds from charitable donors and then distribute these funds to those in need, once the needy have been prequalified. Shining a Light in the Community The organisation serves a vital and often overlooked role. As a result of their tireless work, people who would like to donate money (for any reason, from philanthropy to fiscal considerations), have an avenue to give. They don’t have to spend hours researching the various needy foundations out there, trying to evaluate whether their funds will be put to good use. The Community Chest evaluates each recipient’s case, and ensures that the funds are put to work properly, where they are most needed. Any organisation trying to do good work and raise money at the same time can attest to the struggle involved. In our modern age of rising mistrust and decreasing fiscal yields, people are less inclined than ever to part with their hard-earned cash. However, organisations that genuinely serve a purpose, who focus on doing the right thing with the income they manage to gather, have the opportunity to approach the Ubuntu Community Chest for help. If they can demonstrate that the funds will be well used, they are added to the list of beneficiaries supported by the efforts of the Community Chest. This leaves them free to focus on what they’re good at: helping those who need it most. Out with the old … Of course, any charitable institution will struggle to raise funds for its own marketing. This is a shame, since the result is often that people just don’t know they’re out there. They don’t realise that while they’re wishing “someone would do something” to help, someone actually is. And they can be a part of that. This was certainly the case with the Ubuntu Community Chest. Their website was old-fashioned. The content was out of date, and it lacked certain key functionality components. Moreover, the content management system (CMS) they were using was hard to maintain. In fact, no one on staff had the requisite skills. And the blog functionality didn’t work. As we’ve described in the past, a blog is a vital aspect of any business trying to get FOUND, since it serves as the news engine of the site. Without an easy-to-use, up-to-date blog, it can be very difficult for a webmaster to keep the content on the website fresh. For all of these reasons, we switched the site to WordPress. I overhauled the design to match their new branding, which included vectorising the very small logo they had so that it could be used on their site and in print marketing. I updated the look to something clean, contemporary and engaging. Words that come alive As far as content goes, we updated all the copy with fresh information, and then edited it extensively for web. Writing online is not the same as writing for any other platform. Sentences should be short, meaning should be plain, and editing needs to be done with intention and a certain amount of ruthlessness. Giving made easy Once all of this was done, we worked with a payment gateway provider to link a donations portal to the site. Empowering the client Finally, we worked with the Ubuntu Community Chest marketing team to empower them to maintain their own site. This included training in WordPress blog maintenance, brainstorming themes for blog content, establishing a content posting schedule, and the rudiments of social media maintenance. Now the Community Chest has a beautiful, interactive site, which makes both donations and volunteer work easy. It has also been kept up to date with engaging content that inspires and enables individuals and corporations to do their part for the less fortunate. It has been a privilege to work with this worthy cause, and help to establish them as the best port of call for charity work and funding in and around Durban. Check them out here: www.giving.org.za To get your business up to date online, with a spruced up and effective web presence, give us a call today. Vanessa Davies is the head of aXent Associates, a team of writers, designers and social media strategists working on online content around the world. Writing, technology, online marketing, education, nutrition and personal growth are just a few of the many interests she spends her daily research time on every day. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter or...

Online marketing at work in real life

By on Oct 14, 2013 in Case Studies, Site, Social

Some people really buy into the potential of online marketing. Their vision is to grow their business beyond their borders, and the World Wide Web is the most obvious route for a small business to make a big impact. Those who do harness the power of the internet to grow their businesses do one thing slightly differently to those who are still not quite sure it is all it’s cracked up to be: they engage their customers regularly and authentically in a way that builds their reputation and the belief in their expertise. Share and share alike One of our clients, PIVOT, has grasped this concept beautifully. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they know the ins and outs of all the social media platforms. What it does mean is that they are excited about sharing content. Since sharing content is the foundation of an online marketing campaign, the team at PIVOT is starting to see a significant increase in the traffic to their site. PIVOT’s great enthusiasm for their campaign lends itself to online marketing, which really needs the integration of both strategy and connections. Joining the dots These connections are the whole point of social networking, and companies that get on-board with their campaigns make the connections with their customers much more authentic. Customers can tell if they are being spammed with lots of automatically generated updates, and they don’t feel special. In return, they won’t find your updates worthy of their limited time. However, even if you do automate some of your updates, the personal touch will make the sale. Spend the time PIVOT started their first strategised campaign at the beginning of September, and while social media marketing is well known for the time it takes to generate real leads, their circle of influence has already grown dramatically. People are showing their excitement to come back to the site through a 40% returning customer rate and a continual influx of new visitors, and through the interactions on Twitter and Facebook. Organic search has also increased dramatically. Every part of the PIVOT campaign relates to a strategised topic which is rolled out through many different types of visual, verbal and video content. This means that they are appealing to all the preferences of their customers while putting out valuable and relevant content. Visit the website we created for PIVOT, or take a look at their social media campaigns for yourself on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (here’s why we LOVE Pinterest). If you want your content marketing and social media management carefully planned and executed to achieve the results that PIVOT is getting, give us a call today. Jane Hendry is Writer-in-Chief for aXent Associates. Her passion for education has led her to home school her children, and she reads voraciously to quench her own insatiable thirst for knowledge. Follow Jane on Twitter or Google+. Visit her blog to read about content marketing and life-long...

How Pinterest turned a business around

By on Oct 4, 2013 in Case Studies, Social

Despite the meteoric growth we’ve seen in online marketing and retail in recent years, doing business on the World Wide Web is still in its infancy. As Social Media Marketers working in a part of the world characterised by its reticent to ride the online marketing wave, using concrete results to show value is a great way to prove the power of online marketing. We’ve had some fantastic success stories with a number of our clients, and you’ll love reading through the real experiences that have changed businesses for the better, increased their client base and converted more and more, and more sales. Home industry is actually alive and well Though once a thriving industry due to the strength of home economics and the craft-centred skill in abundance in homes around the country – the world, in fact – the art of making your own clothes, curtains, cushion covers and anything else a seamstress could turn her hand to, home industry seems now to be a dying trend. Having said that, there is still an enormous market for all things homemade, and being the shop that caters to the needs of those skilled crafts-people has its benefits… if they know where to find you. Do you know who’s visiting your website? Websites are notorious for hanging around in the ether, all on their own, hiding from all and sundry, until someone actually says: ‘Hey look! Here’s a great place to visit. Everybody come and have a look!’ And on the Internet, the way to do that is through social media. Here is what the client’s website statistics looked like before we began a targeted social media campaign on Pinterest: Here is what happened just three days after the Pinterest campaign began. It’s a remarkable increase in traffic. And driving traffic to the website is the first step in ensuring the online marketing does its job.   The other thing that the statistics tell us is the fact that the traffic is valuable: 72% of it is local. That means that from no one knowing that the site is there, this month there are 3000 potential new customers. The social media vision As a result of the recent upsurge in traffic, this client has now seen the value of their website, whereas before they’d unconvinced. They’ve even asked for a bit of a design overhaul to make it more attractive. This presents us with the opportunity to complete the other end of the cycle: converting traffic to sales. We are now able to create some fantastic calls to action that will convert those potentials into paying customers. This case study has been a valuable tool for us to capture the imagination of business owners who are still a little bit wary of getting involved in Social Media marketing. After all, it is no longer an added option: it is the way of today, and of the future. If you need help with your social media marketing, custom graphics or content writing, give aXent Associates a call NOW and what your business grow. Jane Hendry is Writer-in-Chief for aXent Associates. Her passion for education has led her to home school her children, and she reads voraciously to quench her own insatiable thirst for knowledge. Follow Jane on Twitter or Google+. Visit her blog to read about content marketing and life-long...

NWP High Performance Centre

By on Jul 17, 2013 in Case Studies

We’re always struck by how great our clients are:  intelligent, innovative, diverse and fascinating. Working with SME’s is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for us. Website design for new clients gives us an opportunity to be part of something new and important. We partner with a nifty little IT company in Jozi called PCB Technologies, creating and maintaining online spaces for their clients. What makes PCB a pleasure to work with is how both they and their clients actively contribute to their community. They’re really focused on giving back, and that resonates with us. Our latest collaboration with PCB has yielded a project with depth and intrigue. NWP High Performance Centre describe themselves thus: We are a leadership and skills development firm that uses the latest behavioural-science research to create high-performance solutions for people and organisations. We specialise in organisational psychology – with a particular focus on equipping leaders with a specific set of competencies required to bridge potential cultural friction in today’s global & diverse workplace. Their CEO, Gary, reminds me of an intensely driven human wikipedia on humans: how we work and how we can be better. Since self-actualisation is such a fundamental core value at aXent, this project was a particular pleasure to work on. We certainly learnt a lot – far more than the concise content on the pages of this site would lead one to believe. Now that the project is live, we’re chuffed with a job well done. What are your thoughts on how our psychological make up affects our business processes and ultimate success? Vanessa Davies is the illustrious Senior Designer and business owner at aXent Associates. Online marketing, home education, blogging, optimal nutrition and personal growth are high on her list of priorities. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter or...

Sapient Software

By on Feb 16, 2013 in Case Studies

Both the online marketing and IT divisions of aXent associates launched themselves in part through partnering with Sapient Software. We still have the privilege, all these years later, of working with the Sapient team as the need arises. “Sapient” means wise, and we have found that this is not only true of the entire team; their understanding of their own industry is underscored by a sound ethical approach to business that makes this company a pleasure to do business with. Identity In the early days of our association with Sapient Software, we were tasked with creating an identity for the Sapient team. We wanted something clean and professional, which would also stand the test of time. The brief called for an elegant, sophisticated logo which, at the same time, evoked a sense of the technological prowess behind the brand. After a number of refinements, we created a design that combines the essential elements of the “S” in the title, as well as evoking a sense of both partnership and support. Our client was very pleased with the design, and we subsequently rolled it out into business cards, letterheads and email signatures, as well. Online Presence Once the identity had been established, it was time to create an online presence. Using the robust WordPress framework and our in-house HTML and CSS skills, we crafted a website design that supported the company’s corporate identity. Meetings were held both on Skype and in person to establish the requirements of the content, and on the basis of these we wrote web copy for the website. The finished product is a user-friendly, attractive site that succinctly portrays the company’s services and business practices to existing and potential clients. Visit them online at www.sapientsoft.co.za. Vanessa Davies is the illustrious Senior Designer and business owner at aXent Associates. Online marketing, home education, blogging, optimal nutrition and personal growth are high on her list of priorities. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter or...

Great content writing, combined with a marketing strategy based on decades of online marketing success form the foundation of a potent relationship marketing plan.