The Secret to Zero Cost Marketing

The Secret to Free Marketing? Remarkability.

In Seth Godin’s classic marketing book Purple Cow, he illustrates how making a product or service truly remarkable will save you a fortune in marketing costs. Whereas a humdrum product will need constant investment to get the word out there, a remarkable one just needs a little gentle encouragement and the word spreads like wildfire. Because remarkable products and services get, well… remarked upon. People tell each other. And there simply isn’t a better form of marketing than friends telling friends.

It’s simply no longer enough to make a mediocre product and then pass it to the marketing team to find an angle, or a hook to shift a few units. Purple Cow thinking suggests you build your marketing in at ground level by making your product so remarkable you won’t even need a marketing department.

Is remarkable difficult? You bet. But it is possible.

Here are some examples…

Impossible Foods

Calls for people to eat less meat have fallen on deaf ears, despite the fact that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recently estimated that livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Other studies estimate this figure could actually be as high as 51%.

People love eating meat – especially beef. But relying on livestock to meet consumer demand requires a huge amount of land and water, and pollutes the environment. That’s where Impossible Foods comes in.

No more veggie burgers with all the allure of cardboard. Impossible Foods creates delicious meat substitutes that are indistinguishable from the real thing. Their first product, the Impossible Burger is made from 100% plant protein, using a unique ‘building block’ called heme. Heme is what makes meat taste so… meaty. And the team at Impossible Foods have found a way to create this magic ingredient without mass livestock farming.

Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a total game-changer for vegetarians, meat eaters and the planet.


Casper is a mattress startup helping us all get a better night’s sleep. They’ve done away with the traditional bed and mattress showroom with enormous overheads, and are instead focusing on the science of support and comfort. In the case of Casper, it’s not necessarily the mattress that’s truly remarkable – it’s the way it’s delivered.

Think of the way you’d usually shop for a mattress. You might visit a store and try it out for yourself, before placing an order. You’d then place an order and it would be delivered to your home. But mattresses are huge, unwieldy and heavy – they can get stuck on winding staircases, and you might have trouble fitting them through doorways.

With Casper, the delivery process has been revolutionised. The company use industrial machines to compress the mattresses into small boxes that can easily be manoeuvred into any home. Whether you live on the top floor of an apartment block or you’re a single person who can’t handle delivery of a mattress solo, the entire process has been made super-simple.


It’s common knowledge that insects are among the most potent sources of protein on the planet. Crickets, in fact, are a complete protein source. They contain all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of our bodies), and they contain more iron than spinach, chicken, salmon and eggs. But eating a cricket whole isn’t exactly appealing, even if you are looking to bulk up and keep lean.

EXO has managed to turn crickets into clean, sustainable protein bars that don’t taste like you’re eating bugs. Packed with other wholesome ingredients like cocoa nibs and dates, these simple bars are helping convince thousands of people to join the bug-eating revolution.

Cricket farming is more sustainable than regular livestock farming – the process produces 1% of the greenhouse gases produced by cows. They provide maximum nutrition with minimal resources – and by all accounts, they taste great. Taking something unpalatable and transforming it into something useful is certainly remarkable enough to sell – and judging by the success of EXO so far, the cricket protein revolution is only just getting started.

Ultra-Ever Dry

Ultra-Ever Dry is a unique coating that repels water to an incredible degree. Perfect for use on everything from tools and equipment to clothing and footwear, this superhydrophobic and oleophobic coating will repel water like nothing else currently on the market.

The coating is ideal for keeping objects dry, and it offers corrosion protection for things like equipment and tools. Because it repels dirty water and certain oils, it can also keep objects clean. Imagine if you were a plumber who never had to wash their work overalls because they repelled water and grime all day long!

Like many truly remarkable products, Ultra-Ever Dry’s videos have been viewed and shared millions of times on YouTube.


We all know someone who has had something lifted from their bag by a thief. Whether it’s a wallet, a purse or mobile phone, theft feels like a real violation – Loctote set out to do something about it.

Loctote bags are designed to be theft proof. Their FlakSack is lockable, so you can leave it hanging on the back of your chair in a restaurant, or on the beach when you go for a swim, safe in the knowledge that no one can access your belongings.

As well as being made from a double layer of heavy-duty fabric, the bag is knife-proof, water-repellent, and made from an RFID blocking material to effectively shield contactless credit cards, passports, smart cards and key cards from unauthorised scanning. Yes, it’s just a bag. But a truly remarkable bag.

All of these startups have built global reputations thanks to the remarkable nature of their products, and prove that the secret to zero cost marketing is to engineer remarkability into the very DNA of your product or service.

Marketing is Broken – Here’s Why…

Marketing is Broken - 5 Things We Need to Fix

Are you finding it hard or harder than it used to be to generate sales leads and sales enquiries?

You’re not alone.

Marketing is in a real mess.

Many business owners are reporting a decline in response rates to their marketing, across almost every industry.

Less web traffic, lower engagement rates, fewer sales enquiries and as a consequence, declining revenue.

If you’re not already seeing it, there’s a good chance you will soon.

So why are the old marketing techniques, which have worked perfectly well for the last five or ten years, just not working as well as they used to?

Our research has revealed 5 common themes which help explain why marketing is becoming so difficult.

1. Trust Has Been Compromised

Marketing, particularly online marketing, is at breaking point.

We’re swamped with click bait, spam and unwanted, evermore intrusive advertising.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. You’re trying to use a website and ads just keep appearing, no matter how many times you close them. Sometimes a full video just hijacks the page and starts playing.

It’s not as if anyone has ever said, ‘Oh ok, I was reading that article, but now it’s turned into a video for some shampoo so I’ll just watch that instead.’ 

The amount of chatter and noise out there, particularly online, is deafening for people. As a result, people have become very good at tuning marketing out. And when this happens, people tend to tune everything out, so the good stuff, the interesting stuff, also gets tuned out too.

Trust has been damaged and as marketers, we’ve got some making up to do. We need to stop shouting over each other for people’s attention and get back to treating prospective customers like real people. 

2. We’re Focused on the Wrong Metrics

We’ve been misled. Business owners have been encouraged to focus on the latest shiny social channels and tactics, instead of being focused on what the customer actually wants.

We’ve become obsessed with ‘vanity metrics’. Likes and shares and retweets and clicks and views. It’s easy to get something clicked on or liked, but, as a business owner, you can’t take clicks or likes to the bank.

So now we have a situation where lots of the metrics that business owners and marketers are working hard to improve, are actually quite artificial metrics and not the ones that actually matter.

It might not be the most popular view, but you know, there’s a reason that social media is free.

Some better metrics to focus on may include: number of repeat orders, number of referrals, average spend per customer, customer satisfaction levels, sales conversion rate etc.

3. The Fear of the New

Did you know, that statistically, you’re more likely to get arrested than to change your bank account?

People have always been scared of change, but politically, socially and economically, we’re living in quite dark, cynical times, and in times like this, people look for comfort in familiar things – and they’re much less likely to try something new.

Look at the film industry, the only big films getting made are sequels, remakes and formulaic franchises – because new is risky, and risk isn’t welcome anymore.

It was hard enough to encourage people to try new things before but in these uncertain times, we need to make our products and services as easy to try and as risk-free as possible.

Behaviour change is harder than ever before but good marketing removes all risks for customers (both perceived and real).

4. Attention Black Holes

We all know what a black hole is, it sucks everything towards it and destroys it.

The same is happening with attention.

Just a handful of very powerful tech companies currently absorb most of the population’s attention, leaving a few precious, scraps of attention for everyone else to fight over.

The smartphone has changed everything. Over 60% of web traffic is now mobile. And when sat obsessively on their phone, people split 90% their time across the same few apps. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Repeat.

With everyone carrying a tiny supercomputer in their pocket which gives them instant access to all of their friends, family, celebrities, sports stars, politicians etc. it’s no wonder that people are quite happy to let everything else just pass them by.

As business owners, we need to appreciate that it now takes something truly remarkable to break through the noise and attract someone’s attention.

5. The Content Tidal Wave

We’ve been swamped with content.

Everything is on demand.

Unlimited choice.

You want to watch a film? No problem, here are 10,000 to choose from.

You want to listen to some music? No problem. Would a million albums suffice?

And at the same time as this explosion in entertainment content, there’s also been an explosion in business content.

There are countless free e-books, reports, whitepapers, guides, and mediocre downloads constantly being cranked out by marketing departments. 

When it comes to content, are you creating genuine value for people? Or are you just adding to the noise?

Now I know this paints a pretty gloomy picture but it’s important to be a realist, especially when it comes to business. In these cynical times, I believe, more than ever, that we need to get back to marketing that truly connects with people. Marketing that inspires, delights and educates. Marketing that works.

7 Websites that Prove Clarity Beats Cleverness

7 Websites that Communicate Clearly & Concisely

As Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky famously noted, people don’t choose between things, they choose between descriptions of things. Yet if you take a few minutes to visit a few of your competitor’s websites, you’ll notice how few of them clearly articulate what’s actually for sale within the first few seconds. If it’s confusing for you to grasp what’s on offer,  imagine how frustrating it is for potential customers.

Articulating a compelling proposition using the written word is an art form that has been eroded over time. In years gone by, traditional advertising space was so expensive, a copywriter’s role was to craft short, memorable sales messaging using as fewer words as possible. Paying per word, literally, forced ad men to be economical and creative with the language they used.

Online, however, there’s no need to keep it short. In fact, we’re encouraged at every turn to write more copy rather than less, because that’s what Google likes. And after all, in the digital world, it doesn’t cost us more to use five hundred words instead of five.

Except, of course, it does.

It costs us dearly in lost business that we may have won, had we put ourselves in the shoes of a new customer who is short on time and patience.

For inspiration, here are 7 websites that deliver clear, powerful messaging that cannot be misunderstood.

Floom - Independent Florist Marketplace

If you want to send flowers to someone that lives in a different town, how do you find a florist that is local, good quality, and can take payments online? Floom has taken this problem away and has built relationships with the best independent florists in the UK, listed their various flower arrangements online and hooked up a super quick, convenient payment and delivery platform. A great concept with a perfect one-liner to sum up the proposition: Send Stunning Flowers From Independent Florists’. Got it.

Ollie - Tailored, Fresh Dog Food

People think of their dogs as part of the family and genuinely care about their wellbeing and nutrition. Ollie is a subscription service that delivers fresh dog food, tailored for your particular pooch. The website design keeps it friendly and simple while the copy does the heavy lifting. Although not a fan of puns, ‘A New Breed of Dog Food’ is actually very clear. It tells you that it’s dog food but not as you know it. It’s the button text however, that really nails it: ‘Design Your Dog’s Meal.‘ In four words you understand the entire service and what to expect next. Top marks.

Habito - Online Mortgage Advisor

The instant chat website format is becoming ever more popular, but it’s the copywriting that makes this site stand out. The world of finance, and mortgages, in particular, is not traditionally plain speaking. But what could be misunderstood about an opening gambit that says: ‘Hello, I’m a Digital Mortgage Advisor’ and goes on to explain that after you give a few details you’ll get some mortgage recommendations, for free, within a few minutes. It’s not particularly short, but it is clear, and every carefully selected word has a purpose.

World Wildlife Foundation

The thing that we love about the WWF homepage (as well the adorable Koala) is the Zen-like level of discipline and restraint that has been shown. With an organisation this size, that has so many initiatives to shout about, it would be so easy to go off in a million directions at once, confusing and losing visitors. However, by leading with a clear, simple offer to adopt a Koala, rather than asking for a generic ‘donation’, new website visitors are met with a clear proposition that clarifies, in one example, exactly what the organisation does – as well as converting visitors into contributors. Other charities should take note.

Impossible Foods - Meat Made From Plants

This is an unusual one in that the headline is actually not that clear at all. But it intrigues and compels you to read the sentence below. What’s so impossible about a burger? Why is it impossible? Then you read the next line and at all makes sense: ‘It’s here. A delicious burger made entirely from plants.’  Note the use of ‘It’s here.’ – which cleverly assumes that this is something you and the rest of the world have been waiting for. Within 5 seconds of arriving you’ve been intrigued and educated.

Wealth Simple - Investing Made Simple

Wealth Simple takes the prize for explaining a complex service in the fewest words possible. ‘Investing on Autopilot’ couldn’t be any easier to understand and concisely explains the product and the main benefit in just three words. Hats off to the copywriter who clearly understands that less is more. Incidentally, the copy throughout the site is a masterclass in how to write in a way that feels both personal and professional at the same time.

Pink Ribbon - Breast Cancer Awareness

This is a great example of how copy can be used to amplify a hard-hitting message. The Pink Ribbon website uses images of real women with one breast showing, with a simple line of copy urging women everywhere to ‘Check it Before it’s Removed.’ Notice, that because of the high impact image, the copy doesn’t even mention what you need to check, or even include the words breast, cancer or awareness.  The image grabs you, then just five carefully selected words do the rest.

What comes through loud and clear with these examples, is that clarity of message should be your absolute priority when it comes to your website. So many sites look great but fail to answer the 3 most important questions any new website visitor has:

• What do you do?
• What’s in it for me?
• What do I do next?

If your website answers these 3 questions in the first 5 seconds, you’re already streets ahead of your competition.

Is it Ever OK to Swear in Your Marketing? (Warning: Explicit Content)

Is it Ever OK to Swear in Your Marketing Copy?

I swear.

Not frequently, out loud.

But I do.

And as well as the occasional high decibel outburst, I’ve become very aware that I have also developed a habit of sighing and gently whispering ‘What the actual fuck?’ to myself as I exhale.

When monitored, I’ve discovered this habit tends to peak when I’m spending lots of time with extended family around Christmas, although it also seems to happen at many a social engagement too. Weddings, christenings, not so much funerals. I’m not an animal.

But overall, I’d consider myself a light swearer. An entry level novice compared to the guy who came around to fix my boiler. He clearly believed that it was part of his role to exorcise the demons from my boiler by shouting profanities in ever more exotic combinations until eventually, he resorted to repeatedly telling the boiler to ‘just fuck right off’. With me sat quietly in the other room, sighing ‘What the actual fuck’ to myself, the two of us sounded like some kind of x-rated a cappella act.

My point is, most of us swear. Usually around the people that we feel most comfortable with and sometimes in front of strangers, like sweary boiler guy. Which is partly what makes this such an interesting conundrum. When seeking to connect with people, the best copywriters write how people actually speak. They slot into a relaxed, chatty style which disarms and puts the reader at ease. Like talking to an old friend. So if what if we write our marketing copy the way people really talk, swear words and all?

Gary Vaynerchuk is certainly not shy when it comes to swearing in his video and audio content. Every 30-second clip should come with a parental advisory warning – yet his no-nonsense, New York street style has helped him build a massive social following with the entrepreneurial cool kids that the brands would kill for. So why can GaryVee swear like a sailor, scoring massive points for authenticity and passion with his audience, yet Nike, for example, who target the very same cool kids, cannot?

Gorden Ramsey based an entire career on boiling a few carrots and playing the role of shouty, sweary TV chef who tells it like it fucking well is. Swearing didn’t do him any harm. In fact, it gave him an edge that propelled his career both in the UK and in the US.

The tradition of mass media swearing goes back even further. Who could forget Bob Geldof’s ‘Just give us the fuckin’ money!’ tirade during Live Aid in ’85? In many ways, that was the opposite of Gorden Ramsey’s contrived, constant, potty-mouthed antics – it felt authentic, urgent, passionate. It got transmitted around the world. And still gets aired now over 30 years later.

So if swearing is mainstream, why is it still such a taboo when it comes to marketing copy? I guarantee, you’ve never picked up a flyer off your doormat that said (in Comic Sans): ‘Sick of all that bastard ironing? Why not give it to us? We fucking love it!’

For good reason too.

It will never be OK to swear during the first, ten or even first twenty exchanges with a new customer. That’s just terrible manners. And even after the honeymoon period, if you are going to swear in your marketing, you have to be a copywriting master. Like an advanced martial artist, you must know the rules so well, that you’re comfortable and nuanced enough to know when and how to break them effectively. This is not entry level stuff, this is training in silence for 30 years in a Buddhist mountain temple stuff.

Of course, if you are an advanced copywriting ninja and also in the right industry (think media, marketing, fashion, music etc.) and your communications to date have had a bit of swagger, then the odd expletive could very well make your reader sit bolt upright and spray their Starbucks all over their screen. In a good way.

And of course, if you pull it off, you’ll be hailed a hero, another rule breaker cast in the Vaynerchuk / Ramsey / Geldof mould, who just tells it like it is.

The rest of us will have to stick to quietly sighing ‘What the actual fuck?’ – just out of earshot.

The Marketing Technology of the Future and How Your Business Can Benefit

The Marketing Technology of the Future and How Your Business Can Benefit

It wasn’t that long ago that a mobile-friendly website and a Facebook page were all you needed to be considered futureproof from a marketing viewpoint. But with smartphone sales stagnating (most likely because we’ve reached smartphone saturation point), other disruptive technologies are set to shake things up, bringing with them some pretty incredible ways to connect with and wow your customers.

The future of marketing is frickin’ exciting. But only if you’re cool with acronyms; VR, AR and IVI make up the new wave of technologies to go mainstream in the next couple of years, changing the way you market your business in a big way. Let’s take a look at each one…

Virtual Reality: the future is here...

Just ten years ago, the idea of using a virtual reality headset to take a tour of a hotel you’re considering staying in, or to wander around that new kitchen you’ve been dreaming of seemed like a fanciful idea. But consumer-ready VR has arrived and the market is growing at an astonishing rate.

Experts predict that by 2020, the world of virtual reality software will be a $24.5bn market, with more than 200m VR headsets sold worldwide. It may still be far behind the expected 6.1bn smartphone users that we’ll see in 2020, but 200m is more than likely just the tip of the iceberg.

So how can businesses make use of VR? There are already some great examples out there. Concert promoters Live Nation are expected to live stream 10 popular concerts using VR apps and headsets, via their own channel, with users paying for access. Production-driven businesses are using VR for simulations, testing and examining products under a range of different conditions. North Face, the outerwear brand, offers a VR experience in its stores, giving people the chance to see how it feels to rock climb in Yosemite before they buy a jacket or backpack.

Perhaps the most exciting opportunities are those that offer a virtual reality ‘taster’ without the consumer leaving the comfort of their sofa. Hotels can offer a guided tour of their facilities, gyms can let you have a wander around and check out their equipment, you could sit inside the new Tesla, choose your seat at the cinema or on a flight, by actually sitting in it.

Augmented Reality: enhancing reality

Many people confuse VR and AR – the two have similarities but are quite different. AR stands for Augmented Reality – it essentially uses digital technology to create an ‘enhanced’ version of reality, overlaying virtual assets on top of the real world. (Whereas VR is 100% virtual – the whole experience is digital.) Pokemon Go is a great example of Augmented Reality in mainstream culture – the game created a version of reality where you could ‘see’ the creatures in your real surroundings, through the lens of your smartphone camera.

AR is developing fast. Using AR glasses like HoloLens, you’ll be able to see text messages, emails, apps and web pages floating in mid-air in front of you in the near future. This ‘overlaying’ of virtual content into your own physical world, naturally, gives businesses the chance to create some incredibly immersive experiences for customers. In fact, augmented reality is arguably a safer bet for businesses than virtual reality – as consumers are already using it in their millions, with AR experiences in Instagram, Snapchat and Pokemon Go proving to be enormously successful.

Of course, using AR to see what you look like with a kitten’s nose and whiskers on Instagram is one thing. Using AR to drive sales is another. Cinema chains are already using augmented reality, with movie posters acting as the triggers to bring up trailers, movie schedules and ticket purchasing options there and then. Retailers are introducing augmented reality into their stores, allowing customers to point their smartphones at certain products to learn more about them or see product demonstrations. Perhaps the biggest opportunities for AR are in the in e-commerce space, as you will be able to ‘try on’ a jacket or a dress instantly. Or see what that new sofa will look like in your lounge before you buy it. Augmented reality is going to make marketing more powerful and exciting than ever before.

IVIs: getting vocal

We’ve already covered the rise of voice-activated personal assistants on this blog – these fall under IVIs: Intelligent Verbal Interfaces. This technology is expected to drastically reduce the amount of time we spend tapping on keyboards or clicking with cursors, allowing us to control pretty much all of our devices with our voices alone.

By 2021, it’s expected that there’ll be more than 7.5bn digital assistants installed on devices around the globe – that includes Siri, Cortana, Alexa and the range of other voice-activated assistants that are popping up.

Increasingly, people will ask their digital assistant for recommendations for a particular product or service, and, using artificial intelligence and previous purchase and selection data, the digital assistant will make an educated guess at the best option for that specific individual.

The proliferation of IVIs represents one of the biggest shake-ups in the world of marketing for decades. The move away from typing into our devices and speaking to them instead opens up a whole new area of marketing that simply didn’t exist before.

In the same way that the first businesses who grasped the power of Adwords or SEO in the early days rode out as clear winners just a few years later, the business owners and marketers that take the time to understand and master this new marketing frontier will reap the rewards.

The Voice Search Revolution Is Coming – Are You Ready?

The Voice Search Revolution Is Coming

Siri – how can I prepare my business for the imminent voice search revolution?

Just a decade ago, the prospect of using a voice-activated assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa to find a product or service would have seemed like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie. But technology has developed more quickly than we could have ever anticipated, and now voice search is well and truly embedded into our everyday lives.

With intelligent, voice-activated assistants embedded in our phones, tablets and domestic gadgets, we can order our weekly shopping, schedule reminders, find out the latest news and weather, and even control other smart devices within our homes. It’s undeniably revolutionary – and it will create a seismic shift in the way we search for things online.

Studies in the US show that there will be more than 30m voice-controlled products in use across the country by the end of the year. By 2020, it’s thought that half of all searches will be made with voice commands, and at least 4 in 10 adults are already using voice searches at least once every day.

64% of those who own a smart speaker said they can’t imagine going back to the time before they owned one, and 42% of respondents to a Geomarketing survey said that voice-activated devices are now ‘essential’ to their lives.
You can’t argue with those figures – so how will voice search affect marketing, and what can you do to prepare your business for this enormous shift?

What is voice search?

Instead of typing your query into Google, with Voice Search, you search by speaking to your device instead.  When you search using your voice, your query is analysed using a combination of text-to-speech technology and natural language processing (NLP) tools. This helps the AI (whether it’s Alexa, Siri or Cortana) to understand what you’re searching for, and allows them to bring up relevant answers to your query. Depending on the platform you’re using, the AI may return a direct result (which is usually delivered by voice) or a SERP that is relevant to your search.

Voice search technology has transformed smartphones into personal assistants. Popular queries include asking for directions, dictating texts, calling someone, checking the weather, adding things to to-do lists, playing songs and managing other internet-enabled devices (such as turning up your heating or switching off lights remotely).

How is voice search changing marketing?

Voice search is undoubtedly changing the face of marketing – and SEO in particular. This is because the queries we type are completely different from the queries we make with our voices.

For example, if you wanted to find Chinese restaurants in your local area, you might type in ‘Chinese restaurants London’. But if you were using voice search, your query might be along the lines of, ‘OK Google – show me the best Chinese restaurant in my area’ or ‘Siri, what’s the best Chinese restaurant within a three-mile radius?’. This more conversational tone was hinted at all the way back in 2013, with Google’s Hummingbird update.

The use of more natural language means that longer-tail keywords, how-to queries and question-based searches are vital.

Voice search is also dovetailing perfectly with another rising trend in marketing: local search. Think back to the Chinese restaurant example – if you’re looking to visit a restaurant, the chances are you’re going to be looking for something local to you. In fact, a study by Chitika found that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text-based searches.

Moz has pinpointed voice key ways that voice search is changing marketing:

  • Voice has longer queries – we use more natural language when speaking, whereas when we type, we tend to cut out filler words like ‘and’, ‘to’ and ‘the’.
  • Natural language means more question phrases – in fact, question phrases in search have grown 61% year-on-year.
  • Natural language reveals intent – the questions you ask to show your intent more clearly. If you searched ‘Ford car’, you could be looking to buy one, rent one, have one repaired, compare reviews or simply find a picture of one. But if you search ‘Where can I buy a Ford car?’ or ‘When is my Ford car dealership open?’, your intent becomes clearer.
  • Voice search has high local value – as we mentioned, voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based.
  • It greatly impacts third-party listings – quick results created by voice searches give users the ability to complete their intention without clicking through to your site. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and other directories will be vital in helping users to take action quickly.

What can I do to prepare my business for voice search?

The Hummingbird update back in 2013 gave us all a vital clue as to how we should be shaping our online marketing efforts, especially in terms of SEO. If you started introducing a more natural, conversational tone to your marketing back then, you’ll be prime position to take advantage of the voice search revolution.

If you’re looking to prepare your business for voice search right now, here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Focus on longer-tail keywords. Spoken queries are usually a lot longer than typed search queries, so bear this in mind when building your keyword strategy going forward.
  • Terms like ‘best’, ‘nearest’, ‘near me’, ‘cheapest’ and ‘closest’ should all be built into your strategy appropriately, as these terms are heavily used in voice search in order to bring up the most relevant results.
  • Use analytics to find out which queries are currently bringing people to your site. This can give you some great ideas for developing voice search keyword targets.
  • Humanise your content. Remember, you’re not developing content for search engines – you’re developing it for people. Search engines are just the gatekeepers, and by impressing the end users with your content, they’ll keep the gates open for you.
  • Invest in good Schema markup. This gives search engines a little more context to use when they’re crawling your pages – thus making a search engine more likely to bring up your site for relevant voice searches. It provides better structure to your site and helps search engines to identify your authority.
  • Encourage user-generated content like reviews or forum chat on your website. This will help make you more visible to voice searches, which tend to be semantically worded.

It seems that the only constant in the world of digital marketing is the disruption the industry faces every few years. As new technology breaks through and becomes part of our everyday lives, as voice search currently is, businesses must adapt fast, or risk being left behind.

How to Write Killer Headlines

How to Write Killer Headlines

We’re awash with mediocre content. So how can you make your article stand out from the humdrum wave of SEO fodder that has engulfed Internet? Well, a good start is by writing a headline that grabs people by the danglies and refuses to let go until they have read every…last…word.

Your headline is your salesman. Your headline should make people stop in their tracks. Your headline should be irresistible. Your headline should scream ‘C’mon, read me baby!’  Yet very often, after going to great lengths creating an incredible piece of content, we treat the headline as a throwaway afterthought. It’s a common and costly mistake. David Ogilvy sums it up best:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

So how can you write the headlines that will capture those clicks and boost your conversions? Here are some proven techniques to help you grease the wheels…

1. Clarity beats cleverness

Be clear and effective. Many a copywriter has come unstuck trying to sound clever. Long, rambling or woolly headlines will not persuade anyone to click through. Your headline needs to quickly and concisely tell people what they can expect to find in the content. If you take too long, use obscure language, make a joke or fail to get to the heart of the matter, your target audience is far less likely to engage because they don’t really know what to expect.

Take a look at the title of this article, for example. It gets straight to the point, it promises to solve a problem, and you know exactly what to expect from the content. Simple and effective always wins the day.

2. Start with a working title, then enhance it

If you’re struggling to come up with a headline for a piece of content you’re working on, start with the most basic title you can think of. For this article, that might have been ‘How To Write Good Headlines’. While that’s certainly concise and to the point, it’s not punchy enough to grab anyone by the aforementioned danglies.

Look at ways you can improve the title based on what you already have. Think about who it’s aimed at and try to tailor it specifically to their needs. Try to come up with different ways you can phrase the headline, and always aim to be as specific as possible. So instead of ‘How To Write Good Headlines’, you might end up with, ‘5 Ways To Write Killer Headlines That Convert’. It’s still concise, it’s much catchier, and it’s far less generic than the original effort. Start with a basic outline and build from there to come up with your ideal headline.

3. Rollout the heavy hitters

You’ll have noticed that in the last example, we upgraded the word ‘Good’ to ‘Killer’. The use of persuasive, impactful vocabulary is critical when writing a catchy headline. If you’ve already taken a look at 21 Words That Sell, you’ll already be well aware of some of the most powerful words you can throw in there to spike interest – here are a few of the biggies to consider…

  • You
  • Secrets
  • Proven
  • Results
  • Free
  • Easy
  • Never
  • Value
  • New

4. Numbers rock

There’s something about using numbers in headlines that just works. This style of headline has become popular in recent years, with Buzzfeed-esque titles that we just can’t resist clicking on. But newspapers and magazines were using numbers in titles long before that – and you should be too. Browse any magazine rack at your local store and you’ll see endless articles promising ‘7 Ways To Lose Weight This Season’ or ‘4 Celebrity Fashion Fails You Don’t Want To Miss’.

If you’re going to use numbers in your headline, there are a few guidelines you should follow. First – write up the content, then add the number into the headline. Many people would be tempted to go straight for ’10 Tips…’, and then struggle away adding weaker and weaker ‘filler’ content to hit the magic number. When using this list format, odd numbers tend to feel more genuine for some strange reason, so don’t worry about shoehorning in extra tips or sections just to bring your content up to a nice, round number.

5. Try to optimize – but don’t compromise

Obviously, when writing up headlines, you’ll have one eye on optimizing for search and social. However, this shouldn’t be the main focus of your headline. Titles that are written purely for SEO purposes rarely convert well – it can make your headlines sound strange and forced. The main takeaway here is that if you can optimize for SEO without compromising the essence of your headline, that’s splendid, but a great headline for a search algorithm and great headline for a human being are rarely the same.

6. Split-test your way to success

Most marketers push their article live and then wait and see what happens. Very rarely will the headline or the content be amended or improved as time goes on. However, and this is a big one (consider it your reward for reading all the way to this point!) There are A/B split-testing tools which allow you continually test different headlines, track their success and give you a certain winner each time. The great thing about split-testing your headlines is that, over time, you’ll start to select words and phrases instinctively that have the desired impact you’re looking for.

Note: While we’re focused on headlines here, be sure to also to use Google Analytics to check the bounce rate of each piece you publish (a high bounce rate might indicate that your readers felt misled by certain titles and didn’t find the content they were looking for).

21 Words that Sell

21 Words that Sell

As marketers, words are the essential tools of our trade. We spend our days carefully selecting the right combination of words to persuade, to inspire, to entertain and, most importantly, to sell.

There are certain words that pack a real marketing punch. So we’ve put together a list of these marketing power words and phrases that can help you connect, convey urgency, earn trust and close deals. Toss a few of these humdingers into your next headline, email or print ad…

You (Your or You’re)

Who, me?! Using this word forges an instant connection with whoever is reading it. ‘You’ personally involves the reader so they’re an active participant, rather than someone perusing from a distance. The same goes for variations including ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. ‘You’ is the cornerstone of all persuasive copy and, unsurprisingly, is the most commonly used word in online marketing.


Everyone loves free. It removes all elements of risk for the reader and as a consequence, ‘free’ transforms someone from merely interested to convinced.


Human beings like ‘new’ and shiny. New things are a lot like free things – they appeal to people on a deep level that can be hard to resist. Using this word helps your customer base feel like they’re right at the cutting-edge; that they’re getting something before everyone else.


Just one letter away from ‘new’, ‘now’ is another powerful word that conveys real urgency. It’s usually part of a call-to-action, and can act as the final push for the consumer to act. The word ‘now’ gives customers the idea that if they don’t act fast, they might miss out.


All the words on the list up until this point have been fairly straightforward words. This one invokes a more dreamy, creative feeling, and it invites customers to picture how their lives could be improved with your product or service. If you can help people visualise, take them on a journey with you, you’re much more likely to sell to them. Powerful stuff.


Fear of missing out is a proven psychological driver and therefore the use of the word ‘limited’ is enormously persuasive. It conjures up a feeling of prestige and exclusivity – and makes customers feel like they have to act now. Think limited editions, limited access, limited quantities.


Psychologically, this word works in a similar way ‘free’, but with an air of class that free on its own doesn’t conjure. Of course, you can always smash the two together to make ‘free gift’ – the atomic bomb of freeness that, although a well-worn combination, has a tremendous impact.


There’s nothing subtle about this word. People will pay for results. It’s direct, it’s assertive, it’s full of promise. The word ‘results’ helps convince consumers that this solution will work for them; that it will deliver the outcome they were hoping for.


This word immediately tells the consumer that their investment will be a lasting one. Whether it’s lifetime access to certain resources or a lifetime guarantee on a particular product, the use of this word helps provide reassurance, and boosts the sense of trust that a consumer has in a brand.


Selling to a new customer can be tricky. You’re essentially convincing them to go out on a limb and take a chance on your product or service, despite having never used or experienced it before. The word ‘proven’ helps to removes that sense of fear that the product or service might not deliver. Of course, to deploy ‘proven’ effectively, include the proof in the form of testimonials, case studies, results etc.


This word has become even more important in the last few years, as the rise of lightning-fast technology has created a generation that wants everything now. We want our packages delivered the same day, we want our videos to load at the speed of light, we want music in a heartbeat. Instant gratification sells, what can your business offer that can be delivered ‘instantly’?


If you’ve ever been let in on a secret, you’ll understand that it creates a sort of bond between you and the secret-sharer. You feel proud to have been trusted with the secret, and you might even feel moved to share a secret of your own in return. In marketing, the word ‘secret’ also makes the consumer feel like they’ve found something unique and precious, which no one else has access to. Making your target audience feel trusted and special is a great way to build trust.


‘Value’ is a useful substitute for ‘cost’ or ‘price’, which can make consumers feel like they’re losing out. In uncertain economic times, people are increasingly focused on getting value for money with every purchase, so use this word to reassure them that their investment is a sound one.


The word ‘discover’ appeals to the people who like to be in the know. It implies that there’s something unknown and mysterious that they aren’t informed about – and also suggests that ‘discovering’ this information will benefit them. Plus, they get to score cool points with friends and colleagues when they pass the information on.


This often-overlooked word can be very powerful if used in the right scenario. Consider the difference between ‘5 Solutions To Get More Sales’ and ‘The 5 Solutions To Get More Sales’. The addition of ‘the’ makes it sounds as though those particular solutions are the only ones worth considering.


As a marketer, you should be trying to make life as easy as possible for your customers and those you’re trying to sell to. So tell them how much easier their life would be with your product or service. Easy is a powerful word, but it’s an even better experience. If you’re going to market your business on being the ‘easy’ option, make sure your website, your order process, your delivery system lives up to it too.


Using the word ‘remember’ acknowledges that your customers are busy, and gives them a mental cue to store this information for future use. ‘Remember’ also gives you a great lead-in to remind people of information they may have forgotten or disregarded earlier in the marketing process, i.e. As you may remember…


‘Because’ is one of the most powerful words in any marketing process. After you’ve helped somebody understand exactly what you offer and how it will benefit them, you need to paint a compelling picture of what happens if they choose not to go ahead. Use the word ‘because’ as a less aggressive and more acceptable way of saying ‘or else’. Helping people avoid negative consequences is way more persuasive than highlighting the benefits.


Human beings make emotional decisions and ‘love’ is one of the most emotive words of all. It’s a romantic, endearing, positive word that goes way beyond merely liking something. So ‘satisfied customers’ become ‘customers that LOVE us.’ Go on. Spread the love.


The word ‘truth’ has the same psychological impact as the word ‘discover’. It creates a sense that the reader doesn’t know the full story (yet), and it also puts you in the perfect position to deliver that truth – helping you build trust and a sense of belonging in the reader.


This might seem like a strange word to use when trying to sell – but it can help you convey what’s known as a ‘negative benefit’. ‘Never worry about spam email again’ or ‘never overpay for your web hosting again’ can also create a sense that this product or service will provide a long-lasting benefit.

Thank you

People like to feel appreciated, and a little ‘thank you’ can go a long way in the world of marketing. Whether you’re thanking them for signing up, thanking them for a purchase or showing your gratitude in another way, make sure you show them a little love.

Use these power words liberally, why not throw a smattering of them into the mix on your next marketing email, leaflet or landing page?

Marketing Plan Template

Free Marketing Plan Template

Most marketing initiatives fail. And more often than not, it’s not because the business owner isn’t creative enough, smart enough or driven enough. It’s because there simply wasn’t a marketing plan in place to deliver against.

If you think about it, a pilot would never take off without a flight plan, a builder would never start building without an architectural plan, and a doctor would never treat a serious condition without a treatment plan.

You get the idea. If it’s important, there’s always a plan.

And what could be more important than the success of your business?

Below is a free marketing plan template and a step by step guide which explains exactly how to use it to plan, track and measure the success of your marketing initiatives.

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How to Use the Marketing Plan Template

A well-structured marketing plan is often the difference between success and failure. In far too many cases, business owners and marketing professionals are too quick to rule out particular marketing channels and tactics after very light testing – or sometimes no testing at all. This marketing plan template gives you a framework to systematically test all the marketing channels and record your results. Be sure not to rule any out without testing them first. Much of the time, the most exciting marketing results are produced by exploring the less well-trodden paths that your competitors ignore.

1. Who Are Your Customers?

First things first. Who are we selling to? What does your ideal customer look like? Write a list that describes your customer, include their age, job, salary, the newspapers they read, the TV programmes they watch, the car they drive etc. Are they time-poor? Are they wealthy? Are they vegetarian? Build out your list with as much detail as possible.

Now we know what your perfect customer looks like, it’s time to add what they feel like. What do they believe? How do they feel about the product or service you’re selling? What is most important to them? The more detail you build in at this stage, the easier it will be to craft your sales proposition later.

2. Identify Customer Pain Points

So we’re clear on who we’re looking for, but how will we connect with them? In this section, you need to identify what’s most important to your customers. What drives them nuts? What particular problem are you looking to solve? Is it really a problem or just a perceived problem? A few 10-minute conversations with real potential customers will help you identify genuine pain points that will resonate with your target market.

3. Who Are Your Competitors?

Most business owners are aware of competitors, but rarely analyse their offerings and selling points. Make an exhaustive list of the competition from your potential customers’ point of view. Your competition is not just limited to those who offer the same product or service. It’s important to include all the alternatives. For example, if you own a gym, your competitors or not limited to other gyms. You’re also in competition with personal trainers, fitness apps, home workouts etc. Write them all down, then list the upsides and downsides of each one.

4. What's Special About You?

Looking at your list of competitors and their strengths and weaknesses, why would your ideal customer choose to come to you? Are you quicker? Less expensive? More convenient? The more plus points you can write down here, the better. After you’ve jotted them all down, organise them into an order of priority, number one being the biggest benefit.

5. Craft Your Proposition

Now that we’ve made the effort to understand our customers and the part we can play in their lives, crafting your proposition is much easier. Crafting a proposition means building out a series of creative assets that, when combined, create a powerful case for enquiring with or buying from your business.

To craft a proposition that really cuts through the noise requires much more brain power than simply highlighting what makes you special. Yes, the thing that makes you special is in there, but so should be other, crucial elements that make people stop and take notice, these may include:

• High impact images
• Clear, persuasive copy
• A compelling ‘call-to-action’
• Professional photography & video
• Guarantees & warranties
• Testimonials & social proof
• Case studies & examples
• Before & after examples
• Free products or services as a hook
• Special introductory offers

6. Assess Potential Marketing Channels

Before selecting the marketing tactics you may use, it’s good practice to assess every marketing channel available to you. The best results often come from testing the areas that your competition overlook, so try not to instinctively rule any out. Here’s a rundown of the marketing channels to consider:

• Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
• Social Advertising (Paid)
• Offline Advertising
• Search Engine Optimisation
• Content Marketing
• Email Marketing
• Viral Marketing
• Strategic Partnerships
• Direct Selling
• Affiliate Marketing
• Exhibitions & Trade Shows
• Speaking Engagements
• Guerrilla Marketing
• Influencer Marketing
• Direct Mail & Leafleting
• Sponsorship
• Publicity & PR
• SMS & Mobile Marketing
• Social Media (Organic)

7. Match the Appropriate Channels to Your Market

Of course, all of the marketing channels are open to you – you will, however, need to start somewhere, (unless you have a huge team and a budget to match.) So initially, select 3 or 5 of the most likely channels to yield results with your particular market and jot them down. These will act as our test channels.

8. Prepare for Sales

Agree how sales leads will be recorded, distributed and followed up. Ensure any paperwork (contracts, order forms, payment systems etc.) are ready. Are there any sales fulfilment or customer support systems that need putting in place? Make a list of everything that needs doing in order to delight every potential customer that enquires.

9. Connect the Channels

Before pushing the button, ensure that your marketing messaging is consistent across all channels. For example, does the website homepage reflect the messaging that customers are seeing on your social channels? Does your latest brochure download include the product that is being promoted on your direct mail? Are your prices, descriptions, images etc. consistent across all collateral? Consistency is key, write a list to help you join the dots.

10. Set Your Budget

How much are you comfortable spending to really test each channel? Your budget needs to be large enough to give each channel a meaningful test that doesn’t leave you open to anomalies or outlying results. Equally, your budget should be flexible enough to quickly switch away from less effective channels to double down on the ones that are generating the best results. Keep your budget fluid and flexible, and if you find a winning channel don’t be afraid to really back it. Specify your budget for each channel below…

11. Agree Responsibilities

Agree who’s doing what and by when, with specific deadlines. Also, agree a review date for each marketing activity. List key areas of responsibility here…

12. Execute Your Plan

The day has finally arrived! Time to roll out your marketing campaigns across all the test channels you selected. Make a checklist of everything that needs doing to get your campaigns rocking and rolling.

13. Review & Iterate Upon Your Marketing Plan

Marketing is an iterative process and your course will most likely need tracking and readjusting as you progress. Conduct regular reviews (the more channels you’re operating in, the more frequent your reviews will be) and iterate, iterate, iterate your way to success. Use the table to schedule in your review dates.

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The 7 Best Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns Ever

Guerrilla Marketing - The 7 Best Campaigns Ever

Guerrilla Marketing, as the examples below demonstrate, has been appropriated by the big brands over the last few years. However, the origins of guerrilla marketing are rooted in small, independent businesses that couldn’t afford traditional advertising space. At Marketing Renegade, we believe it’s time for independent businesses to take the streets back, here’s some inspiration to get you thinking…

Guerrilla Marketing Definition;

A way for businesses to promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget. The main point of guerrilla marketing is that the activities are done exclusively on the streets or other public places, such as shopping centres, parks or beaches to attract a bigger audience.

Break Me if You Can - 3M Security Glass

The 3M Security Glass guerrilla marketing campaign is legendary. $3million is encased in 3M’s ‘bulletproof’ glass, and passer-bys were asked by a uniformed security guard if they would like to attempt to break the glass (using their feet only). If any individual were successful in their attempt, they get to keep the $3million – sounds fair. Only all the money was fake apart from $500 dollars on the top layer. The glass is not bulletproof but definitely kick proof. And only a handful of people got to try their luck. That didn’t, however, stop this image being shared millions of times around the world.

Free Snowman - Ikea

This Ikea guerrilla marketing campaign pokes gentle fun at the flatpack nature of their own products. It successfully gives Ikea a gentle humility and a clever sense of humour. The concept was warmly received and shared like, a bazillion times. Here’s the rub though,  this brilliantly simple idea was not even by Ikea. The concept was created by freelancer Steve Lownes and was featured by the Chip Shop Awards in the Best Outdoor Ad category. Of course, the internet doesn’t care, and Ikea is usually given all the credit.

Get Off Your Ass & Run - Nike

This execution from Nike encapsulates the essence of guerrilla marketing. It’s cheap, it’s clever and it is bang on message for the brand. Hats off to Creative Director Annie Chiu, for dreaming up such an inspirational piece of work. As is the case with all truly great guerrilla marketing campaigns, the number of people that see the idea for real pales in comparison to the millions that have seen it online.

Polo Snow Stamp - Polos

What could be cooler and fresher than a blanket of snow? A polo mint made of snow. This super clever, yet refreshingly simple execution resulted in snow-made polos appearing on pavements, cars and park benches all over London. The concept has taken the internet by storm ever since it was dreamt up by JWT’s Executive Creative Director Russell Ramsey.

Sharp Exit - Lynx Axe

In case you’re not a teenage boy, Lynx Axe is a deodorant that has been sold for years on the promise that it will make you irresistible to women. How effective the product is in achieving that aim is questionable, however, the effectiveness and downright cleverness of this guerrilla marketing campaign is not. Creative Director Véronique Hermans takes all the plaudits for being as sharp as an, erm, axe.

Dirty Water Vending Machine - Unicef

UNICEF estimates that 2 billion people lack access to clean water and that over 4000 children die every single day because of a water-borne disease. To raise awareness about the issue and to raise money, UNICEF installed this vending machine in Manhattan’s Union Square. The vending machine not only offered bottles of dirty water labelled as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and dengue to really drive the message home, but it also took $1 donations, explaining that this tiny sum would provide clean water for a child for 40 days. This guerrilla marketing campaign, although the most sombre, is actually the best of the bunch as it achieves two goals (raising awareness and the collection of donations) in one masterful stroke. Top marks.

Short Shorts Leg Stamps - Superette

Fashion chain Superette, with the help of agency DDB New Zealand, decided to take advantage of the fact that shorts are getting shorter, for men and women.  By fitting indented plates to inner-city bus stops and benches in and around the fashion district, not only did Superette have branded seating all over the city, but when someone sat down, the advertising message was imprinted on their thighs, creating thousands of walking billboards, each one lasting up to an hour. (It’s worth mentioning that the execution of this campaign was in Auckland, New Zealand so the locals wear shorts much of the time.)

What jumps out on all of these guerrilla marketing campaigns is that although they are all executed by big name brands, they are all achievable for even the smallest businesses. There’s nothing particularly expensive about any of them, they are simply good ideas that make people stop and stare. What kind of guerrilla marketing campaign would get your business noticed? Get your thinking cap on and go and reclaim the streets.