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And the types (and frequency) of posts that irritate you, also irritate your customers. It’s funny but when we start working with many brand managers, they don’t make this connection. It’s like they think that customers are a different species! When our clients realise that we are all very similar, their entire perspective on how they will use Facebook for their brand changes.

By Jo Duxbury

By Jo Duxbury

How are you using Facebook? 

Think about it: When, where and how do you use Facebook? Maybe you check it on your phone, tablet or laptop before you even get out of bed in the morning. Or you’ll take a look via your phone when you’re waiting in a queue. Do you have time to click through to external content or watch that video?

For many of us, Facebook is a filler, something to keep us busy when we need to pass the time, or when we’re procrastinating. Or it’s a treat – a little break from work.

Next think about this: What catches your eye in your Facebook newsfeed? Chances are you’re attracted by image-based content. We have such short attention spans online and want to be entertained. Pictures and videos do this much better than plain text status updates do.

Observe what kinds of visual content you stop to look at. It’s probably pictures of friends – their holiday album, snaps of their kids. It might be a funny captioned picture, or perhaps images of something you’re specifically interested in, like a food photo linked to a recipe.

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By Louis Nel 

I know it’s hard. And that penny can look oh so pretty sometimes. But staying focused and sticking to your guns can strengthen your brand and save you money in the long run.

We get inundated with phone calls from overzealous media sales reps on a daily basis.

Oh I have the absolute perfect opportunity for your client to advertise in our magazine. We’re running a feature on XYZ and your client is a shoe in for the spot. We’ve saved it just for them. And the rate has been so drastically reduced for your client too. But for today only. I need an answer before 3pm.

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4 tips for writing web copy

Published on 01 February 2013 by in Fresh off the press

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I was recently handed the task of writing copy for a client’s brand new website. Having never done a project of this size, I went straight to my best friend Google for advice. I also channelled everything I’ve learned about copywriting, since starting here at Mint HQ.

Article by Louis Nel

Before you can put finger to keyboard, your site spec has to be in place and more importantly, be aligned with your content strategy. After all, you want people to find what they need on your site. And that’s where good web copy can help tremendously.

So here are the top tips I kept in mind when writing copy for a website…

1. Write for your reader

Why do most companies always insist on broadcasting stuff that THEY want to say? Why don’t they say things that their AUDIENCE actually wants to hear?

Keep your readers in mind when writing your copy. Who are they? Why are they on your site? What are they looking for? What will irritate them?

Janice Redish insists on developing personas for potential readers before she writes web copy. For example: imagine you had a website that sells mountain biking gear. The types of people who might visit your site could be:

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1. Posts that tell us what day of the week it is. 

By Jo Duxbury

It’s the weekend/Friday/Monday? Really?! Oh thank you, Brand – I was completely clueless there for a minute. I can’t tell you how many of my weekends have been amazing as a direct result of a brand wishing me ‘Happy Friday’. And whenever I’m told to ‘Smile, it’s Monday’ (cue meant-to-be-amusing cartoon image), my week improves dramatically. These are only slightly less irritating than ‘What do you have planned this weekend / What did you do on the weekend?’ posts. Am I really supposed to think you give a toss?

2. Posts announcing how many fans the brand has.

I get that it’s very exciting for your social media team when they hit a number-of-fans milestone. But (a) what’s interesting to you is (very often) not interesting to your fans and (b) there’s a lot more to social media success than fan numbers.

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How to check print layouts

Published on 08 October 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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By Jo Duxbury 

You’ve asked your marketing agency to design a brochure, leaflet or other printed item for you. They present their creative concepts and you love what they’ve come up with. (Or maybe you have some suggestions and comments.) Once the concepts are approved, they go away and do the full layout, dropping in all the copy, sourcing images, and designing all the pages.

When the layouts arrive in your inbox for signoff, they look pretty good and they should – several people have already checked them by this point. But the buck stops with you, and only you can sign them off. And unlike online creative, once you’ve printed those 100,000 copies, you can’t fix any mistakes!

If you’re not sure what to look for, you can either hire us to manage this for you, or you can use our Print Layout Checklist below. We hope you find it useful!

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By Louis Nel 

Finding interesting content for clients’ newsletters and blogs is one of my daily tasks. If you have to do something similar, you’ll know that it can be quite a time consuming exercise if you don’t have the right methods in place. Having done this for quite some time now, I’ve more or less figured out a way to save time and still find good content.

So here are four steps to curate content for your newsletter or blog:

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I’m having an affair

Published on 07 September 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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By Jo Duxbury 

What do you do when you realise you’re tired of your relationship? When it seems like all your hard work isn’t getting you anywhere? When you’re annoyed – or worse, bored – by every little thing? And what do you do when you hit a setback and feel (frustratingly) like you’re right where you were three years ago?

You have an affair, of course. So I did.

Before you all judge me for being immoral, I should clarify that I am not cheating on anyone. Earlier this year, I lost my enthusiasm for my business, and I’ve been pursuing a passion on the side.

Some of you might think I’m crazy for admitting this publicly, where all my clients and potential clients can read about it. Let me be frank and explain:

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A short proofreading checklist

Published on 07 September 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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By Louis Nel 

I’ve done so much proofreading during the past week that my eyes are not really seeing straight anymore. Hopefully they will return to normal vision soon.

One of our clients will be distributing close to 100,000 copies of a 28-page booklet in October. We were entrusted to project management it, write the copy and of course, check if everything is correct before it goes to Mr Printer Man.

Before I embarked on my error finding mission, I remembered a few proofreading tips that I picked up at Tiffany Markman’s Copywriting Course last year. Thanks to these handy little guys, I saved a lot of time during this project.

So here’s what I kept in mind when proofreading:

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By Jo Duxbury – article source

It’s possible that you’re too inwardly focused. Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and see what happens.

Years ago I did a marketing strategy workshop with a company that makes and installs stairlifts. I gave the team five minutes to write down what their company does – without consulting each other.

The answers were slightly varied, but each focused on their products’ features. They talked about building stairlifts that have good quality materials, excellent engineering, customisation options, reliability, and top customer care.

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By Louis Nel 

I’m not really a fan of the Games, although I did find myself cheering for the Korean archery team when they took on the Ukraine this weekend.  But that’s only because it screened while I was awaiting the kick-off of that heart breaking Super Rugby semi-final at my local. Let’s not talk about that though.

I’d like to add my two cents to the whole debate surrounding the heavy restrictions set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the media and athletes.

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Article source. 

You’d think the relationship between freelancers and social media would be all hearts, flowers and expensive choccies. But it isn’t. It’s often love-hate, sometimes like-fear and sometimes hate-hate. So, which social media channels work best, why, how and to what extent? Don’t worry; we’ll tell you. What follows is a Q&A ménage-à-trois: Tiffany Markman, Jo Duxbury and you. Enjoy. And please pass the choccies.

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Newsletters: love them or hate them, they do serve a purpose. After producing around 40 over the last year, I’ve learned quite a few interesting things. In May I spoke about a few tips to keep in mind when writing newsletters for your business, but in this post I’m going to elaborate on the importance of campaign reports.

By Louis Nel

I conducted a research project to see how well a few clients’ 2011 newsletters fared, and how I could improve them going forward – with the help of the newsletter-management service, Mailchimp. This service gives you all the useful statistics like how many people open your newsletter, how many read the articles, etc. Paying attention to these stats will help you understand your audience and tailor your newsletter to make it popular.

Reasons why Mailchimp rocks

  • It gives you detailed stats – from open- and click rates to who opened what and when.
  • It gives you average rates per industry, so you can compare your newsletter to the rest of your specific industry. For example: if you’re in IT and your newsletter received an open rate of 14%, and the IT industry average is 13%, then yours did well.
  •  It automatically cleans your database, which means that all the email addresses are legit.

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What’s your secret talent?

Published on 31 May 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Over at Freelancentral this month we’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. What inspires people to make beautiful things? What do we get from doing it? And what impact does it have on other people?

Article by Jo Duxbury

Many people think the work we do at Peppermint Source is creative. Yes, we conceptualise strategies for companies and brands, and come up with ideas and copy all the time. But it’s all done within certain parameters. A good opinion piece needs to tick certain boxes. There’s a ‘right’ way of planning a marketing campaign. And there are definite rules for using social media (we even run workshops on them!).

So while marketing is perhaps more creative than other fields (like, say, accounting…), it’s still done within very defined parameters and processes.

People like rules. And they’re imposed on us from early in life. I think I stopped doing creative work at the end of Standard 7 (that’s Grade 9 if you were born after the 1970s). That was the point where school got serious: I had to pick the subjects I’d do for Matric, which would determine The Rest Of My Life. So I dropped Art in favour of less creative fields like Geography, Biology, Physical Science and Maths. Because those would give me more options.

More options, but less well-roundedness. Less fun. Less creativity.

Some people make creativity their career. Others pursue creative hobbies. However you find it, it’s important to have a creative outlet or a passion. If you can make this your work, wonderful! But if not, where do you get it?

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Now I’m no expert in this field, but I do consider myself a fast learner. And since being with Peppermint Source for over a year, I’ve picked up a few handy tips for project management – mostly from our Mint Imperial tossing life buoys at me in the deep end.

Article by Louis Nel

These are the four steps that I keep in mind when faced with managing a project:

  1. Get the full story

Get the brief. Get the brief. Get the brief. And get the FULL brief. You don’t want anything to slip through the cracks or have one of those ‘but I told you’ moments halfway through the project.

Ask ALL the questions related to the project. Even if you think they’re stupid. Get all the answers in writing to make sure you have a paper trail of everything that’s been agreed on and signed off. Rather receive too much information from your client and suppliers than too little. You don’t want any nasty surprises along the way – like receiving a cost from a supplier that’s a lot higher than initially quoted.

  1. Plan your project

Right. You’ve got all the necessary info; now you need to put a project plan together. If you have a tool like MS Project, great – but if not, Excel works fine as well.

Here’s how you put a basic plan together:

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Some of our favourite clients are techies, and Connection Telecom is one of them. This innovative company specialises in IP PBXs – voice in the cloud – and are shaking up the way things are done in this space. We were introduced to them in mid 2010 by their then PR agency, Sentient, as Connection Telecom wanted to start formalising their marketing activities.

Starting point: Marketing Healthcheck

As with several other clients, we began our involvement with Connection Telecom with a Marketing Healthcheck. This involved auditing their marketing to date, clarifying their positioning, USPs, target market, key messages and more. In other words, we established what they do, who they do it for, and why customers should choose them over their competition. Once this was clear, we developed a marketing strategy and implementation plan for them.

Sounds simple enough, but when you’re dealing with a lot of industry jargon, complicated concepts and hundreds of acronyms, it can be challenging! Our task was to communicate Connection Telecom’s offering in a clear, memorable way that would be easy to understand. It was about simplifying their message, without being simplistic.

We supplemented the healthcheck with an informal market research exercise to identify what it is about Connection Telecom that current customers loved, and what areas needed improvement. We then integrated these findings into the marketing strategy and key messages.

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Newsletters: we all know them, we all receive them. Some of us actually read them, while most of us either mark them as spam or immediately delete them from our inboxes. There is, however, still a warm and fuzzy place for a newsletter in today’s spam infested digital landscape. But they’ve gotta be done well. A good newsletter has to entice you (as its recipient) to want to click ‘open’ and continue reading.

Article by Louis Nel

So if you’re thinking about putting together a newsletter for your business, keep the following tips in mind…

1. Ask permission

So you’ve decided to send out a regular newsletter for your company. First step is to put together a database of potential readers – people who would be interested in a newsletter in your particular industry. These could be your existing clients, prospects and people in your network.

Step two is the most important step: ask for their permission. Send them an email in which you describe your newsletter in a few short sentences and link to an issue if you can so they can see what it will look like. Then ask them if they’d like to receive it. You’d be surprised at how many people would actually say ‘yes’ if you ask them first. Obviously if they decline, respect it.

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Article by Jo Duxbury

I’m not sure whether autocorrect or ignorance is to blame, but my social media feeds have been riddled with eyesores recently. As a grammar nerd, I can’t help but cringe to see very intelligent people making basic language mistakes. Sure, in some context a little leeway is fine – like in chatty, conversational tweets. But anything that’s put out there on behalf of your company, brand or even your own personal brand (like a link to your latest blog post) really should not contain errors like these…:

Reins (noun) / reigns (verb).

I see this one ALL the time. With homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently), if you’re speaking, nobody knows you’re misspelling your words. But write it down and you’d better (a) know that spelling variations can change meaning and (b) use the right version. A person does not take over the reigns of an agency – she takes over the reins (like a carriage driver controlling his horses). She might reign over it though (like a queen).

Vial (noun) / vile (adjective).

Another homophone. Correct use would be: “He poured the vile liquid into a glass vial.” Not “The leftovers I had for lunch were vial.”

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My annual social media detox

Published on 30 March 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Earlier this week, Mike Stopforth posted a thought-provoking article on his blog about social media addiction. My hand is raised: I also check Facebook and Twitter through bleary eyes before I’ve got out of bed in the morning (email can wait though) – and just before I go to sleep. You know, in case anything earth-shattering has happened in the world or to my friends.

Article by Jo Duxbury

But despite working in digital marketing, I often feel overwhelmed by social media. Twitter in particular – I feel my stress levels rising if I’m not able to read every interesting link people tweet. Of course it’s ridiculous to expect to digest everything that comes into my news feed, but I do sometimes feel panicky that I might be missing out on a gem.

Come December, after a long year of helping clients with their social media strategies and trying to manage my own addiction, I’m usually near breaking point. And that’s why I do my annual social media detox. Despite the thought of it making me short of breath, it’s something I have to do to keep me sane. Will I fall behind my clients and competitors if I don’t go onto Twitter for three weeks? Will my friends even notice if I don’t update my Facebook status for a month?

To make this hiatus less stressful, I’ve developed an easy and enjoyable way to enforce it: I travel somewhere which has horrendously expensive data roaming rates and unreliable hotel wifi. I’d rather spend money on delicious local food than a local SIM. Corny as it sounds, that moment at the airport when I send MTN the USSD to deactivate my calls and data is when my holiday begins.

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By Louis Nel

So the new rising star on the social media block is a little something called Pinterest. Actually, not so new anymore – the platform’s just over 2 years old. But only recently has it started to draw attention to the social media masses and, of course… brands.

What is it?

Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and or ‘like’ photos.Wikipedia

Impressive stats

  • Almost 12 million active registered users. In January 2012, it became the fastest standalone site in history to hit 10 million users. Respect.
  • In December 2011, Pinterest was one of the top five referrers for several US clothing retailers’ (Nordstrom, West Elm, Mod Cloth) websites – infographic. It beat YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • 87% of Pinterest users are female, between the ages of 25 and 54.

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Case study: Molo Innovation

Published on 12 March 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Our client at Molo first approached us back in 2009 because he’d read an article Jo wrote for ITWeb, about why DIY marketing is a bad idea. Molo is a bespoke software services company that can create any kind of software you can imagine – just tell them what problem you’re facing and chances are their clever tech team can solve it.

But while they are excellent at crafting very impressive IT solutions, they are not – and can’t be expected to be – marketing pros. After being in business for over eight years, MD Charl Barnard felt it was good business practice to start formalising Molo’s marketing. “I was attracted by Jo’s article’s no-nonsense approach – a down-to-business, agile and tech-savvy focus which I felt would resonate well with the way Molo operates.”

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1 March 2012 sees the introduction of Facebook’s premium new ad offering, Page Post Ads. Designed to be larger and more eye-catching, these ads show not only brand generated content, but users’ interaction with the post and page.

Article by Emily Shaw

These ads incorporate three important elements into their structure:

  • Social context – you can see which of your friends like it.
  • Interesting new content – it can be copy, a video, a photo, etc.
  • Engagement – you and your friends can give feedback on the ad.

Habari’s Michael Krynauw wrote about the benefits of this new format, outlining how research had proved that they performed better on average, than the old ads.

With the ability to turn ‘anything you can post onto a wall into an ad’, the new ads promise to double ad recall and target friends of fans along with the fans themselves.  This is great news for brands wanting to advertise effectively online.

It’s also great news for us content strategists as this new format demand stronger and better defined content strategies – something few brands have focused on so far.

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*ping* New email! And this time it’s not a note from our bookkeeper about how much we owe SARS, a Facebook administrator alert (someone just liked us!) or the latest group buying deals. No, it’s an enquiry from our website – always welcome!

Article by Jo Duxbury

We’re on a bit of a new business drive at the moment and it’s a lot of fun getting out there and meeting new people, and learning about their businesses. In some cases we are not the only company they’re talking to – which is entirely sensible, of course.

But what has been quite an eye-opener is how bad some of the legacy marketing work is at some of the companies we’ve been meeting. (Actually, I’m stunned that some ‘marketing’ companies get away with doing such terrible work – and get paid for it!)

I realised that actually the fault is not the clients’ – very often, these clients are experts in all sorts of areas, but understandably don’t have the first idea about marketing principles. I worry though that if the client is unaware that they’ve commissioned bad work in the past, how will they be able to evaluate the companies they’re currently interviewing?

So here is my list of ‘things to watch out for’ if you are a non-marketer looking to hire a marketing, design or web company, or freelancer.

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By Louis Nel

Since writing my previous post on Google+, I’ve been following the growth of this new social media platform with some interest. Especially since the search giant launched its pages for brands on G+ in November 2011.

G+ launched in June 2011 and grew at quite a fast pace. It currently stands at around 90 million users.

Graph source: Google+ News.

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Jo Duxbury’s Fair Lady debut

Published on 29 February 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Since 2010 the Mints have been working on some of South Africa’s (and the world, for that matter) biggest brands, many due to our relationship with the Habari Group’s newly consolidated agency, Machine.

For the last 18 months we have been working with Domino – Machine’s digital arm. As their expert content-led social media strategy partner, together we’ve taken all kinds of industries, from insurance to retail, cars to cell phones, beauty to education and liquor onto social media!

Content is key for social media strategy

We’ve been developing content-based strategies for effective and sustainable brand pages on Facebook and Twitter accounts – as well as considering other social channels. Operations Manager at Domino, Alice Jakins explains why they work with us: “We see content strategy as an integral part of a brand’s success in social media; working together with Peppermint Source allows us to bring this specialist skill set to our client.”

Corny as it may sound, it’s been so rewarding to see clients thrilled by their fans’ and followers’ feedback after our recommended approach has been implemented. Some of the accounts we’ve worked on with Domino/Machine are Southern Comfort, Damelin, STA Travel, iBurst, Sanlam Reality, Berco, Heart FM and Williams Hunt.

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The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers is one of our favourite clients. “They trust and listen to our expertise, are simply lovely people – and they pay on time! That might be something to do with their financial skills!” says Mint Imperial, Jo Duxbury.

We started working with the ICB in 2009. The company that was then running our Freelancentral website was doing the design and development of the ICB newsletter, but needed a hand with the copywriting side, so asked us to help. After a few editions, we recommended a restructure of the newsletter to make it more engaging and interesting for its audience – which our client loved and implemented. We still edit and produce the ICB’s newsletter every month.

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Google vs gut: how to screen clients

Published on 22 February 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Article source. 

Article by Jo Duxbury

Whether you’re a big agency, or a small one, or a freelancer, chances are that when a new client starts nosing around, contemplating working with you, they’ll do some background checking. After all, they’re going to be giving you money and they need to know you’ll be able to deliver what they order.

Funny, though, how rarely this screening happens in reverse.

We all want clients; we clamour for their business and bend over backwards to impress them. That’s fine, but how about doing some homework to make sure that the client is (a) legitimate and (b) the type of client you want to work with?

Here’s how I screen potential new clients:

1. Their manner – and manners

I recently had a client submit an enquiry form on our website. It included her name, phone number and email address but no note. I had no idea what she wanted so I sent a polite enquiry in response. She’s been brusque and brief in our communication since – “Call me on Thursday. I’ll be out so phone me on my cell.” This sounds like I might catch her when she’s driving, or having her highlights done – somewhere where she won’t be focused on our conversation.

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Article source.

Article by Louis Nel

Statistically, anyone in a professional position can send up to 80 emails a day. Sometimes it feels like a lot more, doesn’t it?! Have you ever thought about what you said and how these mails looked on the receiving end? An email between you and a client can seem rather insignificant, but it’s hugely important.

Your company/brand has a voice and tone. Think of yourself as a soldier in the front line. More often than not, you are the first point of contact with a client and an important mouth piece. So here are some tips on professional email etiquette…

Use the subject line wisely

Think of it as a heading to an article and try to keep it under seven words. Make sure it’s an accurate summary of what’s in the email – and if you want the recipient to take some sort of action, include that in the subject line, e.g. ‘Please respond – authorisation of March expenses’.

Courtesy tip: If you’re email is quite lengthy, include the word ‘long’ in your subject line. Your client will then know that it will take some time to read.

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KISSing 101

Published on 08 February 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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Article by Jo Duxbury

Article source.

‘Keep it simple, stupid’ is not a new philosophy. It’s one that’s been enthusiastically adopted by copywriters, software developers and management consultants all over the world – amongst others. So why then are many companies like awkward teenagers on a first date when it comes to their communications?

Being ‘simple’ is not the same as being simplistic. ‘Simple’ is not about dumbing down your messages and patronising your audience. Simple communication is also not devoid of personality – it may demand ruthless editing but does not silence your brand’s voice. There are ways to keep it simple, without appearing stupid.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonard da Vinci

Simple is all about being clear, to the point, and getting your message across effectively. It’s about using plain language. The higher up the chain your prospect is, the less time she has for you, so ‘simple’ becomes even more important. It’s likely that a busy CEO would rather read something that’s short and easy to follow than a long, complex and jargon-filled missive.

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I’m not so sure about social media strategists. I understand that social media channels need strategy; I’m just not convinced that they need social media strategists.

Article by Emily Shaw

It’s a funny job description that seems to have popped up recently and its candidates are in high demand. It’s no surprise that brands want someone to integrate their campaigns from ATL into the social space. And obviously it would be good if that person was a social media expert. As in, someone who knows a lot about the medium and what works and what doesn’t.

But to call someone like that a strategist is, for me, a bit of a stretch.

Social media what?

In the traditional sense, strategy is a difficult discipline. It takes years of working in communications, lots of mistakes and experience in many different platforms of publishing. It takes knowledge and understanding of human psychology, more than a few theorems and an ability to get to the essence of a situation. And of course it takes a very finely tuned understanding of branding. In order to call yourself a strategist, I think you’d need a fair amount of time in the industry, doing all of the above.

Facebook isn’t even 10 years old yet. Twitter is even younger. And the demand for ‘social media strategists’ only began about 2 years ago. Simple maths tells us then that social media strategists don’t have much experience at all.

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A quick event management checklist

Published on 08 February 2012 by in Fresh off the press

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I’ve now been a Mint for 10 months and the time has come to manage my fourth and fifth event for a client. Although I don’t have much experience with corporate events, I have been known to put the odd party together. What I know about corporates I’ve learned on the fly. There are a few important things to add to your checklist during the planning stages and I thought I’d share them.

Article by Louis Nel

Start with a complete brief

This is a biggie. And that’s why it must be your starting point. Knowing exactly what your client wants will save you a lot of time and stress. It’s important to know:

  • The type of event – cocktail briefing, breakfast briefing, half-day seminar, etc.
  • The type of venue – hotel, boutique guesthouse, yacht, etc.
  • The number of guests.
  • If there will be presentations.
  • The food and drinks requirements.
  • The date, duration and time of day.
  • The purpose of the event.

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Hat tip to Cerebra for inspiring this post.

Dear Santa

I have been a very, very good girl this year. No, wait. I have been an exceptional girl this year. It’s been a long, hard year for most and to top it all off, I work in social media. I’m a social media manager, Santa.

That means I’m paid to talk to people on behalf of brands. That’s hard work. I have smiled when most would have cried, I have sat quietly when I wanted to run screaming from the boardroom and I have spent hours behind my computer being ‘engaging’ when it was hot and sunny outside.

I’ve learned a lot this year, about things I like and things I don’t like so much. That’s why I’m writing to you. Last year, I asked for a GHD flat iron. This year I want to ask for something completely different. I want to ask you NOT to bring me the following:

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When brands get it ‘disastrously’ wrong, online users are quick to point fingers and bay for blood. And yes, there are some basic marketing rules, let alone social media principles, that companies just don’t seem to comprehend. All brands should have a strategy and understand social media best practice if they want to go social.

But when a brand that usually does a stellar job online makes a mistake, should we not retain some perspective and cut them a little slack? (And let’s reserve the word ‘disaster’ for tsunamis and earthquakes, shall we?)

Much as they (and customers) would like to think they are, social media managers are usually not in complete control of their little online empires. Often, it’s when a social media strategy has been signed off and the channels are launched that the social media managers’ battles begin.

In the last year, the Mints have developed at least 15 social media and/or Facebook strategies for high profile brands. And sound as these strategies are, internal battles can prevent them from being implemented properly.

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By Jo Duxbury 

Have you ever tasted a chocolate cake made from an Ina Paarman bake mix? Perhaps one has even saved the day for you. They’re pretty good – and they’re idiot-proof. So they should be, because it took 121 iterations of that cake mix for Ina and her team to be completely satisfied that they’d found the perfect recipe.

Persistence in pursuit of excellent quality is a trademark of Ina’s business. She advocates ‘constructive discontent’: keep refining until you get it right. In the 20+ years that have seen her garage-based cooking classes evolve into a wildly successful foods business, Ina’s focus on quality and care has served her well.

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Keeping up with the Kardashians

Published on 25 November 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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How brands should be better than people on social media. 

Article by Emily Shaw

Shiny, happy people

There’s rather a pithy saying going round at the moment, ‘you’re never as ugly as your passport photo or as good looking as your profile picture.’ It’s funny because it’s true. Most profile pictures are chosen very carefully. They’re the most flattering, they don’t ‘try too hard’, they show us looking relaxed, healthy, wealthy and most importantly, happy.

If you think about it, a lot of the content people generate (and consume) on social media is staged to some extent. Think about status updates. While you do get a couple of friends who seem not to have got the social dynamic of what is acceptable and what isn’t, the majority of people post carefully. If they’re normally pleasant, they’re saccharine in their updates, the foulest mouthed in reality will asterisk out cuss words and if someone is quite excited about going to a concert, they’ll tell you where they’re sitting, with whom and how much the tickets cost. In upper case.

They’re faking a bit, aren’t they? And in turn, so are you and so am I when we say the show was ‘enjoyable’ when it was boring, the party ‘awesome’ when it was passable and when we upload photos that hide our double chins. Yet no one ever calls people on their fakery on social media.

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By Louis Nel Tiffany Markman

The lava lamp shines blue against the short arms of T-rex. What a lovely card. I was spoiled on my birthday. My mouse pad bears the proud Facebook moniker and my office looks out onto a fountain where birds come for their daily bath and I sometimes sit and eat spaghetti bolognaise. Life’s good.

That’s called free writing. The very first lesson learned at Tiffany Markman’s Cape Town Copywriting Course on 16 November 2011. It’s an exercise designed to clear your mind and beat writer’s block. The aim is to write for 3 minutes. About anything. It doesn’t matter. Just write. I had to cut my piece short, as it would have filled an entire page. Three minutes is longer than you think.

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Sorry, I’m not following…

Published on 19 October 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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The Mints just last week put the finishing touches on a Twitter strategy for an electronics/tech brand.

Article by Jo Duxbury

What was interesting was the lack of basic ‘how Twitter works’ knowledge amongst both the client and their creative agency.

There are lots of Twitter-for-beginners articles out there so we’re not going to churn out another one here. But the section of our strategy that was best received was the part about followers and who to follow.

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A quick Twitter 101 in case you’re a newbie to the platform:

Twitter’s a social medium that lets you post updates for all the world to see. (You can also protect your tweets if you don’t want them to be public, but few people do this.) People subscribe to your updates (these are your followers) and you can subscribe to other peoples’ (you become one of their followers). On all public Twitter accounts, anyone can see who you are following, and who follows you. How people – and brands – use Twitter varies tremendously, from Tweeting what’s for lunch and sharing content to product news and customer service updates. We work with brands who want to use Twitter to supplement their marketing – to build awareness, interact with (and learn from) customers, and promote their products.

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Customer service: the right way

Published on 19 October 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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Please don’t make me feel like I’ve just asked you to climb Mount Everest… barefoot. 

Article by Louis Nel

Having to deal with suppliers and other service providers on a daily basis can sometimes be bad for your health. Some get it right and others… well, you wonder how they’re even doing business. Customer service can make or break any company. Big or small. It’s really not rocket science. Here’s what keeps me going back for more:

Friendliness

Have you ever wondered why some businesses employ customer service people who absolutely refuse to smile? It blows my mind. You’re practically the face of the company. Do you really want your business to be known as grumpy central? Friendly staff relaxes your mood and just makes the entire experience a pleasant one.

Remember these tips the next time you take a telephone call from a client: smile before you pick it up and sound pleased or excited to hear from him/her.

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Article source: The social break-up report #8 from Exact Target.
Download ‘The social break-up report #8′ here (PDF – 10,34KB).

A consumer’s decision to “unlike” a company has surprisingly little impact on the perceived likelihood that they will buy from that company in the future. In total, 63% of consumers said they were as likely or more likely to purchase something from a company after ending their Facebook relationship. Another 18% said they only “unlike” a company if they never bought anything in the first place.

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Article by Emily Veitch

A lot of people believe that having some form of social media channel for their brand is better than having none at all. Which is pretty much the same as saying it’s better to have a blank print ad with your logo on it in a magazine than not having a print ad at all. If you’re not going to manage your page or account properly, there’s no point in taking up the space.

But what we have noticed recently is that brands are confusing the idea of keeping their social media channels active and chatty with getting everyone from their team to upload content. There’s nothing wrong with having a core group of (trained) brand ambassadors working together on populating the channels. It’s when the platforms become a ‘free for all’ in the work place that problems start creeping in:

Inconsistency of language

Using words and terminology that are typical of the brand is very important. The brand might not say ‘awesome’, but Shelley from Events does. If she is uploading content for that day, she may well use the word. Educating your staff or colleagues about your brand’s unique tone and manner, including the kind of words it would and wouldn’t use, is vital.

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By Louis Nel

There has been a lot of speculation since Google launched its social media network, Google+, in June. Will it be the next Myspace? A Facebook killer? You might find it rather annoying: yet another social network to maintain. But about 26 million people think it’s the bee’s knees.

Many brands have been contemplating the future value of Facebook and the impact Google+ might have on their brand pages. I’ve done a bit of reading and am of the opinion that brands on Facebook have nothing to worry about. Here’s why…

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Spiced mint

Published on 21 September 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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The Peppermint Source team all seems to be pretty driven by our stomachs. Mint #3, Louis, is our fresh tuna supplier (thanks to his local SPAR), and ‘Curry Friday’ has become a much looked forward to treat. (Our office is a short walk from Bhandaris restaurant – Mint #2, Emily, says it’s the best lamb curry ever!)

When Mint #1, Jo, spotted a discounted Indian cooking class on a group buying website, she snapped it up for the team. While the thought of ‘90s style corporate teambuilding gives us chills (remember those ‘trust’ games?), we’re always up for a shared food-based experience.

So at 9am on Saturday, the Mints were all present and correct at Masala Dosa in Long Street. And no, the restaurant didn’t have a TV for us to keep an eye on the Boks’ game, but we did have Twitter…

Our host was chef and proprietor Amit Raz, who has run his South Indian eatery successfully for over five years (no mean feat inCape Town). He’d laid out spice-filled thalis on each table (round metal bowls with smaller ones nested in them). As we waited for the rest of the attendees to arrive we played ‘guess the spice’ – the more obscure ones like fenugreek had us stumped!

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I don’t mean four letter words and the awful vitriol in News24.com’s comment section. I mean the multitude of typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and disregard for punctuation that pepper Facebook and Twitter.

In a recent two-part article, Caryn Gootkin explored how damaging bad copy can be to brands. She’s taken the bold step of naming and shaming companies who are slapdash with their online copy, and we’re not talking small businesses here.

While errors can be found on print ads, billboards, printed materials and websites, it’s social media that seems to suffer the worst of it.

Why is this?

Read Jo Duxbury’s full article at Bizcommunity.

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To like, or not to like

Published on 07 September 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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Should your technology business have a Facebook page?

Four million South Africans are spending an average of 27 minutes a day on Facebook. Brands have cottoned on to this as a fantastic marketing channel, and some are using it really effectively to interact with customers.

Done properly, Facebook can put a company on people’s radars, widen its audience, build loyalty, give the company valuable customer insights, increase sales, generate goodwill, give it more mileage for its marketing, and much more.

Done wrong, it can damage the company’s brand, be a PR disaster, annoy the audience, and drain resources.

Just because all the cool kids have Facebook brand pages, it doesn’t mean your company should too. When considering putting a company on Facebook, think through these key questions first… read Jo Duxbury’s full article at ITWeb.

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By Jo Duxbury 

Recently, a client and I were almost scammed by fraudsters. We could have lost a not insignificant amount of money to them but fortunately spotted it in time. Here’s what happened:

I received a call from a ‘Terrence Williams’, claiming to be calling from my client’s accounts department. He called me on my cellphone from an unknown number. My client’s number never displays so this was not unusual. What was more unusual was that he got my company name a little wrong – you’d think an accountant would be hot on detail. He said he was calling to check how much we are owed in the month end payment run. I thought this was a bit odd, as my client contact sends through our invoices and statement every month to the accounts team for payment, and he should have had that. He pushed me on it though and because I was busy with other things and not giving the call my full attention (lesson learnt), I told him what the outstanding amount is.

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By Emily Veitch

While we can’t stress enough how important having a proper content strategy is, there are a few small but impactful changes you can make to your fan page to improve its appearance and effectiveness.

1. Choose your profile picture carefully.

When potential fans are searching for your brand page, they will need to be able to recognise it instantly among similarly named or branded pages. Make sure your logo or name is easy to read even when the picture is reduced to a thumbnail. If you use a picture as well as your logo, make sure the picture also looks neat when the image is in thumbnail format – you don’t want to cut your visuals in half. You also have a lot of real estate on your actual page for your profile picture – make it interesting. Remember, bright and simple is best.

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Twitiquette for brands

Published on 25 August 2011 by in Fresh off the press

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By Louis Nel

I’ve recently had to do a little research on acceptable etiquette for brands on Twitter. My findings were rather interesting and after some cyber stalking, I was appalled by how many brands get it wrong. So, having done some online research too, here are some points to consider.

Make your profile interesting

You can’t go wrong with using your recognisable brand logo as your avatar. Make sure it’s cropped correctly and legible as a thumbnail. Clearly state your purpose for being on Twitter in your bio and include a link to an engaging and informative page on your website. And please, do invest in an attractive background.

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By Louis Nel

Since I started working at Peppermint Source in March 2011, I’ve learnt (and am still learning) how valuable good content is for any brand. I’ve decided also to implement this newly gained knowledge into my night job as a Taxi Violence band member and Facebook administrator. Although still in the trial phase, I’ve already seen improvement and growth.

Let’s face it. There are tips all over the web on how to get the most out of your band’s fan page. There are even people and companies who can guarantee 60 000 fans in 3 weeks. At a fee, of course. The fact is, it’s never a bad idea to implement a good content strategy for your fan page. And this you can put into practice yourself by just considering a few helpful areas. [...]

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By Emily Veitch

A big downside to working ‘for the man’ has got to be the restrictive office hours. In at 9 (or for some, 8am) and out at 5:30 with an hour’s lunch. And if you’re out of the office for more than two hours for some unavoidable reason, a few bosses might make you put those hours down as leave.

We’ve all heard whispers of the glorious idea of flexi-time, but have accepted so far that this particular luxury is reserved for heads of companies and entrepreneurs. But what we haven’t considered and possibly proposed to our managers or decision makers, is how beneficial a little bending of the rules can be. [...]

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A personal note from Mint #1, Jo Duxbury:

The really cool thing about seeing my business grow is that I can now afford to do some of the things that I couldn’t during the Early, Lean Years (make that Very, Very Lean Years). Like pay myself a salary. Or buy nice chairs for the office that don’t cause back pain. Or support organisations who are doing amazing community work. And earlier this morning I snapped up a Groupon voucher for pampering treatments for ME, for a bargain R330 – because I work hard and deserve it.

But did you know that for just R40 more I could feed a child for a YEAR? [...]

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