THE BLOG FOR AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS

MISLEADER OF THE PACK

How to Avoid Breaking the 3 Simple Rules of Honest Advertising.

Could your customers end up feeling cheated or conned by misleading advertising from your business, even if the mistake is purely accidental? Here’s how to avoid breaking the rules of good honest advertising.Here at the Martin Print Blog, I often discuss new and creative ways of demanding attention from your Business Advertising.
But it’s all too easy to get carried away with compelling copy, and drift a little too far from the clear and simple truth.
Here are the 3 Rules of Honest Advertising to help you avoid accidentally misleading your audience and landing your business in legal hot water…


I invited Old Bert to have a drink with me last night, down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’m not usually so generous to Martin Print’s very own grumpy caretaker, but I was willing to push the boat out after spotting one of Smokey Joe’s new promotional posters in the window earlier this week;

“FREE EXOTIC COCKTAIL FOR EVERYONE WHO WALKS THROUGH THE DOOR!”

It sounded too good to be true.
It was.

When I cheerily tried to claim our two free drinks at the bar, Smokey Joe swiftly drew my attention to the small print on the promotional poster, directly underneath the big bold headline.
He passed me a magnifying glass, just to make sure I could read it without too much eye strain.

It turns out that Smokey Joe was actually offering a Free Exotic Cocktail to everyone who walks through the door…and buys a Smokey Joe Mega Grill Meal for only $99.99.

Hmm.
There were plenty of disgruntled noises coming from my fellow customers, one of whom was even threatening to report Smokey Joe to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) for false advertising.

If Smokey Joe had followed his usual route of getting Martin Print to professionally produce his promotional material, my team would have been very quick to point out the huge mistake he was making.
Alas, he got a mate to run off very low quality prints on the cheap, and he was now left to deal with a very unhappy crowd of customers.

Here’s how to avoid upsetting your own audience by following the 3 Simple Rules of Clear and Honest Advertising


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ARE YOU GETTING THE MOST FROM TWITTER?

The Tools, Tips and Tricks that YOUR Business Should Be Using on Twitter This Year

The tools and features that every small business in Australia should be using to pull in the biggest marketing results from Twitter.When using Twitter as a marketing tool, those 140 characters can seem like a long shot.
Here in the Martin Print office, we have difficulty in getting Old Bert to condense his vocal ‘crucial communications’ down to 140 minutes.

You can imagine the fun and games we endured when we tried to introduce him to the succinct sound bites of Twitter. It was a total non-starter.
We never really got past his irrational fear of trolls anyway. I don’t think he fully grasps the meaning of the internet slang term, but it was taking forever to explain that he was not going to be pursued by an army of cave-dwelling creatures with mighty noses.

However, forget the trolls, ignore Piers Morgan, and get signed in;
Twitter is undoubtedly worth your time. It’s a free opportunity for your business to communicate and engage without stuffing promotions down the necks of your customers.

Twitter features are evolving all the time, so let’s take a look at some of the finest features this year and how other businesses are already using them.


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PROUDLY PRESENTING… YOUR BEST WORK! Why Building a Small Business Showcase is Far More Effective than Writing Hollow Words

Are you showing your audience what your business can do instead of just telling them? Here’s a show and tell with no tell but lots of show.Are you showing your potential audience the very best bits of your business?
Could you be falling into the trap of trying too hard to tell instead of show?
And how exactly do you build up powerful online and offline showcases of your very best work?

Well, I’d like to kick off by talking about broken business promises.
Not that you or I would ever break a promise to our customers.
Not intentionally, anyway.

No, I’m talking about the empty marketing promises made on a regular basis by less reputable businesses.
The kind of business that doesn’t actually have anything decent to offer, so makes up for it by shouting a lot.

You know the sort I mean. They’re not in a position to show anything good, so they will instead try to tell the customer that their product or service is ‘Amazing!’ or ‘Out of This World!’ or ‘The Best in Australia!’ or ‘So Brilliant That My Grandma Bought Nine and She Doesn’t Even Own a Hovercraft!’
They usually do this in a very big font with capital letters and lots of exclamation marks.
The end result never lives up to the hype.

Nobody likes a broken promise.
Whenever another business breaks a promise or misleads the customer, a little fairy dies.
Far more importantly, it makes every business look bad. It makes our job harder.

A cynical customer who’s been let down in the past is never going to just take our word for anything.
That’s probably the right attitude, too. Why should they?
Anybody can call something Amazing, especially if they’re trying to sell it.

This is why you need to show the quality of your business instead of just coming up with a string of generic excitable words.
You need to show your prospective customers exactly what you can do, why you’re so uniquely brilliant, and why they would benefit from signing up to your services instead of your inferior rivals.

So, how do we do it?


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QUICK DRAW COPY!
How to Write Business Content
for an Audience Turned Off By Words

It can be a tricky challenge to communicate all your key messages within a single slice of business content. So how do you hit all your targets without confusing your audience?Communicating a big batch of crucial business information to a target audience who are repelled by reams of words can be a challenging prospect at the best of times.

So, how on Earth do you compose business content for people who instinctively switch off from the sight of too much text?

A cynic might suggest that the digital generation just don’t have the concentration levels or willpower to bother with reading lots of words in one sitting.

But the truth is perhaps more to do with time and efficiency.

We live in a busy world and your target audience will have a lot of other stuff to do.
In many ways, it would be quite unreasonable of us to expect them to put everything else on hold whilst they absorb every detail of our long-winded essays.
Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty big ask. And it’s up to us to come up with the solution.

So, whether we’re writing a slice of new marketing copy, an email communication, helpful snippets of advice or guidance, a new Social Media post, or indeed any type of written business content at all, it’s vital that we focus on making ourselves readable.

It can be particularly tricky to convey a mix of potentially complex information within a single parcel of content.
Here are a few helpful tips and pointers on how to get your messages across in the most effective possible manner…


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RED HOT HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013
A Rapid Roundup of the Juiciest New Developments of the Year for Small Business

The red hot highlights of the year! Here’s a roundup of the best Small Business developments of 2013.What was your favourite Small Business Highlight of the Year?
Maybe it was an intriguing new development?
A useful new innovation? A fresh opportunity to market your business in an exciting new way? Or simply a comical highlight which made you smile?

My own Rapid Roundup of My Favourite Bits of 2013 hopefully includes a brief sample of all of the above…

I did ask some of my fellow Martin Print team members for their own thoughts, but I must have forgotten to stress the ‘business’ element.
Josh was very keen to point out that the highlight of his year was reaching Level 172 in Candy Crush Saga with only minimal screams of frustration.
Charlie, our Shipping Supremo with a mind rooted in strategy and tactics, seemed particularly proud of his work mapping me out a brand new route to the Sweet Pastry Shop.
It shaves a whole two minutes off my travelling time, although I now get stung by nettles and scratched by thorns every lunch break.

Meanwhile, Old Bert claims that his highlight of the year was beating Big Ted at Snakes and Ladders in a high-tension match which went on for days. His victory celebrations lasted just slightly longer.

Hmm.
Well, I’ll politely skip over those for now, and unveil my own selection of the hottest highlights of the year for Small Business.
From long-overdue changes to Facebook Contest rules which change the game completely, to the rise of NFC marketing, via the funniest Social Media meltdown of the year.

Did you miss any of these juicy bits of 2013?


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AVOID THE BOGUS RULES OF SMALL BUSINESS
Why You Should Never Follow These
Mythical ‘Unwritten Rules’ of Business

False! Wrong! Bogus! Untrue! Let’s take a look at a list of some of the worst unwritten rules in Small Business and why you should never follow them…Are you following any of the so-called Unwritten Rules of Business?
If so, could you be making a very dangerous mistake and putting your business health at serious risk?

I was having a catch-up with my good friend Wonky Alan last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’d spent what seemed like two hours listening politely to his latest news, updates, and plans for the future.
In fact, I’d managed to get through four Fizzy Frothy Fruity Fusion drinks before it got round to my turn.

Eventually, I got the chance to share some of my own new stories and anecdotes from the continuing design-driven adventures of Martin Print.
However, I was only really starting to get to the good bits when I was abruptly cut short after less than ten minutes.

“Stop!” yelled Wonky Alan, dramatically. “Have you been feeling unwell or something? It sounds as if you’ve been breaking every unwritten rule of business in the book! Maybe it’s time you took a holiday?”

Well, I wouldn’t say no to a holiday. But I strongly disagreed with Wonky Alan’s reasoning.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘unwritten rules’ of anything.
If a rule is so good, why on Earth has nobody ever bothered to write it down?
Could it be because the rule in question is actually a bit rubbish?
Is there even perhaps a small chance that the unwritten rule could turn out to be completely wrong?

At this point, Wonky Alan pulled out a curiously named book from his pocket called The Definitive List of Unwritten Business Rules.
Hmm. Surely a contradictory title? Unless all the pages were blank.

But no, the pages weren’t blank. In my honest opinion, the pages were crammed full of very bad business advice which should definitely have remained unwritten and unspoken.
Wonky Alan seemed to have been absorbing all this nonsense recently, so I decided to postpone sharing my own stories and news until our next catch-up.

I felt our time would now be better spent on exposing the lack of logic in many of these mythical guidelines, and ripping up The Top Four Completely and Utterly False Rules of Business


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SMALL BUSINESS PINSPIRATION!
How to Add a Visual Twist to your
Social Media Marketing with Pinterest

Here’s how to get started promoting your Small Business products and services on the virtual pinboards of Pinterest.Does your business have a presence on the world’s third biggest social networking platform?

Now attracting 85 million unique visitors per month, Pinterest has rapidly developed into a surprise Social Media success story, casually brushing aside big rivals such as Google+ with less than a fraction of the hype.
In fact, only Facebook and Twitter can now boast bigger networks.

But how can you take advantage of Pinterest to add an extra visual dimension to your business marketing, and engage with a whole new online audience of potential customers?

This pinboard-style photo sharing platform is proving to be a popular choice for users wishing to create, manage, and share theme-based image collections.

It’s a bit like an online version of the cork notice board that still hangs up on the canteen wall of Martin Print H.Q today, but with infinitely more space, extra functionality, and a much bigger audience.

Old Bert still uses our physical notice board every day but, despite his best efforts, he struggles to generate much interest in his Thursday night tap-dancing lessons or his Sunday afternoon lectures on the secret history of the mole wrench.
It seems that the rest of the Martin Print team just aren’t really the tap-dancing or mole-wrenching enthusiasts with whom Old Bert is ideally attempting to engage.
Maybe he’d attract bigger results if he pinned his promotions onto the virtual boards of Pinterest and really opened up his marketing to the world…

Here are a few tips and pointers on getting started with the basics on Pinterest, squeezing more business benefits from simple pinning strategies, and really making the most from this powerful online scrapbooking platform…


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#TRENDING ON TWITTER
How to Create a Bigger Business Buzz
with the Twitter Hashtag

An introduction to the Hashtag on Twitter, along with advice, tips, pointers, and a full guide on how to get your business trending on Twitter.How on Earth did a faintly unassuming little squiggle become one of the most powerful buttons on your keyboard?
What exactly does the humble Hashtag represent, and how can you use it more effectively to get your business services trending on Twitter?

I was having a little chat about this with Josh in the Martin Print canteen yesterday. He was telling me about a recent project that he’d been working on for one of our long-term clients.
Josh had been designing a new set of Flyers for a very special business promotion, and he was delighted to discover that the promotion was now trending on his Twitter home screen.
“The client had created a new Twitter hashtag and she requested that we include this in the design,” he told me. “The promotion has really taken off now and everyone’s tweeting about it in the Twittersphere!”

At this point, I noticed that Old Bert had wandered in with a look of bewilderment on his face.
He had just caught the end of our conversation, and he was clearly struggling to decipher a single word that had been said.
“Whatever happened to the English language?” he eventually wailed.
“We never had to deal with any of this nonsense back when I ran my own handyman business. Ah, they were simpler times…”

The hashtag may seem like a baffling concept to begin with, but it could actually prove to be one of the most dynamic tools in your Social Media Marketing arsenal, as it cuts right through the useless online chatter, and delivers clearer and stronger communication between your business and your audience.

If you’re already familiar with the power of this strange little symbol, you may wish to skip to the tips and pointers below on creating a bigger buzz with the Twitter Hashtag!

But if you’re still scratching your head and wondering what all the fuss is about, let’s just kick off with a brief introduction to help put you in the picture…


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BANG ON TARGET!
How to Identify and Connect with the
Perfect Target Audience for Your Business

Get on target with your small business marketing! But how do you identify and connect with your perfect target audience?Is your Small Business Marketing reaching the right targets?
Have you identified your target audience and built up a profile of your typical customer? How do you get connected with your chosen targets? And perhaps more importantly, how do you stay connected with this audience well into the future?

The Martin Print team have been chatting this week about the types of infuriating marketing that really drive us all round the bend;
Hostile marketing, pushy marketing, intrusive marketing, dressed-up-in-a-giant-chicken-costume marketing…the list goes on and on.

But one form of marketing that kept cropping up in our conversations over and over again was deeply irrelevant marketing;
The kind of stuff that lands on our laps without any thought or care as to whether it might be at all suitable for us.
In many cases, this marketing material might be laughably unsuitable.
For example, I can’t really think of any logical reason why I keep getting bombarded with strong encouragements to upgrade my current knitting machine, or why Old Bert keeps getting told where to go for all the latest Volcano Boarding accessories.

Of course, there are situations where there may well be some value in grabbing tiny crumbs of custom from a blanket catch-all marketing strategy.
But it’s surely much more cost-effective and rewarding to focus your marketing campaigns on a shrewdly considered target audience.
You stand far more chance of generating the right results without aggravating everybody else who gets caught up in your marketing net!

So, let’s take a look at the four key points to bear in mind when narrowing your sights on the perfect target audience for your products and services…


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ON THE INTERNET BUT IN THE DARK
How Every Australian Small Business Owner Can Get Help to Improve Your Digital Literacy

How’s your digital literacy? Is your business making the most from the internet? A new report from Paypal suggests that Australian SMB owners are struggling to seize the true potential of online marketing…How do you rate your own digital literacy?
According to new research from Paypal Australia, there’s every chance that you might not be making the most of everything the internet can offer for your business.
In fact, you may be barely scratching the surface…

A new report from Paypal entitled Digital Literacy Among Small Business in Australia suggests that a whopping 3 in 5 Aussie SMB owners feel that their low levels of digital literacy are preventing them from running their business more efficiently.

But what other shocking findings have been thrown up by the report?
And what are the positive steps you can take to improve your digital literacy for the sake of your business?

In all honesty, I’m not entirely surprised by the figures.
We may happily live in a world of expensive fancy gadgets which plug us into the infinite realm of Cyberspace, but how many of us are really taking advantage of all the solid business opportunities right at our fingertips?

Last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar, I was having an insightful chat with Sharp Simon.
Well, I say insightful chat…
He was actually just throwing his latest ‘hi-tech business purchases’ in my face, and telling me how super-fast they all were, and how much he had paid for them all.
Smartphones, desktop PCs, laptops, iPads, tablets, phablets…Sharp Simon had the lot.
And for a second or two, I was mightily impressed.

“I see you’re taking the digital revolution very seriously,” I ventured.
“I’m guessing that all these gadgets are vital in helping you to build and maintain a huge online presence for your business. So, tell me a bit about your online marketing strategy. How’s it coming along?”

At this point, Sharp Simon faltered for a minute.
He eventually showed me how quickly he could access Angry Birds, and then pointed out the crisp definition of the screen displays.
Hmm…

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