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Content Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct

YouCom-Direct-Creative-Marketing-Tips-Be-More-Dog

This article contains bullet point tips for getting more calls and more clicks and more footfall than your competitors and it’s all free by the way.  YouCom Direct are an advertising agency who advise clients how to turn around their campaigns.  But we provide that advice freely and it’s available here too.  





Creative Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Your website, social media platforms and online business directory listings should all be working hard to help you stand out from the competition.  Because your digital footprint is what will help you sell.  But not every company does that well. Everyone’s looked at their own websites and wondered how is it that the competition is getting better search results, better call volume, better footfall?  The answer in the main is because many brands assign social media or business directory advertising to someone in their organisation who is simply putting content out there and doing little else.  But that would change if they followed this free advice.  

There is so much more they could be doing to get their story and their message noticed.  YouCom Direct are a local search advertising agency that specialises in getting brands noticed in local searches and we have identified the following ‘tips’ for digital marketing staff;  





YouCom-Direct-Creative-Marketing-Tips-Be-More-Dog


Focus on tags
Our clients outperform their competition. Period.  Their call volumes are higher than before they worked with us, their stores are more sold out than their competitors and there are many things we add but tags are the quickest big difference we can make.  If you do a Google search on ‘YouCom Direct’ and go to Images what do you see?  The same applies to our clients and should apply to your company or you as an individual if you’re writing posts and blogs.  You can’t just throw a lot of tags in there, there is some science behind it, but broadly speaking, any tags are better than none.  Place search tags on all your images.    





Creative Marketing Tips By YouDirectories

Focus on Keywords
It sounds obvious but marketing staff don’t do it enough or as well as they should.  YouCom Direct have taken on brands as clients who only had their store address, phone and URL data on their directory business listings (think Yell.com).  What about the keywords? How do they expect to stand out online and achieve that digital footprint they want?  The first thing we do is a full review and identify the keywords the brand should have.  Digital marketing staff need to do the same.  Use the business description, use the heading, use the photos, even use the URL.   There are many different ways to add keywords and alter the local search results in your favour.    




Creative Tips by YouDirectories

Content Curation (show the love)

This is the next big marketing term.  We had content marketing and everyone was talking about that.  Now it’s content curation.  This is where you find another piece of content that you feel is great for your brand and your business or that you feel your customer audience will benefit from possibly unrelated to your business and you share it. You make your social media channels a place where people go to for the best news regarding your industry or their interests.  And that’s the key.  Use good data-marketing techniques to establish the interests of your customer audience. Always make sure you give credit to the source.  This is a new world with an old word and that word is love. Share the love, gain traffic for someone who wrote some great content (if you wish to share ours / this news article, click on the links at the bottom).  




YouCom-Direct-Creative-Marketing-Tips-Be-More-Dog

Hashtags
Almost always forgotten, almost always not used well enough.  Many brands have an in-house member of staff, sometimes even an agency, who does some really good writing and engaging content, they put it on social media and it’s lost in space. For Twitter, Google Places, Tumblr, LinkedIn and even directories, if you use hashtags, you’ll gain traction. The main purpose of hashtags is to highlight the relevant local search word in each tweet or post. With the right research, all brand marketing staff can find the highest searched hashtags for their industry.  




Creative Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Headlines

The headline serves as the single biggest factor determining whether your reader will click to read your article or post.  You have to have a headline that draws them into your marketing message. Make it A.I.D.A. related (see glossary at the bottom of this article). Give readers a promise or promotion. Think about what will they learn by reading your message? Why should they bother? Becoming really good at writing headlines is one of the most important skills a digital marketing person can gain and this is one of our most important creative marketing tips.  




YouCom-Direct-Creative-Marketing-Tips-Be-More-Dog

Use different formats

Creating quick social media posts is easy, blogging is also pretty good for content creation, but what about video?  What about research studies?  Surveys? White papers? infographics? There are many ways to reach your customer audience. The biggest mistake a digital marketing person can make? (Or rather the biggest mistake senior management can make when they appoint them) is allowing the company to focus on using the platform they are most comfortable with rather than the platform where your customer audience spends most of their time.  


Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

Our Twitter news

Our Tumblr news

Our Pinterest news

Our LinkedIn news


Glossary: A.I.D.A. – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (marketing model)  

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Sept 2019, London, ‘Be More Dog’.

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Brand Marketing
 Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct


YouCom-Direct-GenerationZ-and-their-origins

For Marketing staff to reach their audience effectively it is necessary to categorise people into age groupings.  Here is a brief history leading up to Generation Z and why companies need to change their marketing to focus more on review management, online directories and social media marketing;  



The Lost Generation by YouCom Direct 

The Lost Generation

Also known as the Generation of 1914.  This is the age group who fought in World War I. The members of the lost generation were born between 1883 and 1900.  This was the first of the marketing categories created.  Sadly, none of this group are alive today.  



The Greatest Generation by YouCom Direct 

The Greatest Generation

Also known as the G.I. Generation.  This includes the veterans who fought in World War II. The members of the G.I. Generation were born between 1900 to 1924.  This group required intelligent marketing, editorials, localised Direct Mail works well.  They are of high morality and ethical.  They fought, they served, they gave us our freedoms we enjoy today.  



The Lucky Few by YouCom Direct 

The Silent Generation

Romantically known also as the Lucky Few.  This includes men who fought in World War II, the Korean War and many who fought during the Vietnam War.  Similar to the Greatest Generation, the Lucky Few respond well to localised direct mail and (formal) personalisation.  The members of the silent generation were born between 1925 and 1945.  



Baby Boomers by YouCom Direct 

The Baby Boomers

This is the generation that was born following World War II.  Members of the baby boomer generation were born between 1946 to 1964.  At this time due to the end of the World War, there was a marked increase in birth rates and prosperity.  This generation is the generation still alive today which common consensus agrees has the most wealth for brands marketing products and services to sell to.  They are also widely regarded as the most educated and self-motivated.  The baby boomer is most likely to own more than one home in more than one country with more than one car.  They worked hard and saved for a good pension.  


Baby boomers respond well to localised direct mail and personalisation, catalogue marketing, coupons and voucher marketing, cinema advertising, billboards, signage, TV advertising, editorials, radio advertising and PPC.  Baby Boomers are less knowledgeable for online marketing (unless their career required later learning), so PPC to this group is simply the first results on the search page and more effective than natural search results.  Directory marketing works very well for this generation and most would use their local Yellow Pages rather than look for a business online.  



Generation X by YouCom Direct 

Generation X

Usually abbreviated to Gen X, this generation were born after the baby boom and retained a lot of their parents’ traits.  They also desire to exceed their parents’ achievements.  Generation X are highly educated, active, balanced, happy, and family-oriented.  They were the first generation to have a great surge in entrepreneurs.  These are the go-getters and self-starters.  They are ambitious and were the last generation to have a good attention span.  

Generation X are the greatest group for multi-channel marketing, able to process the editorials effective with the Baby Boomers, yet still be at ease with mobile app advertising and natural search results.  Cinema advertising works well with this group the most frequent audience and radio advertising also.  Localised direct mail starts to become less effective with this group and personalised mail whilst still effective is starting to become less able to stop the journey from the letterbox to the bin.  

Outdoor advertising such as out of home and alternative marketing like guerrilla marketing is effective for Generation X people.  TV advertising is still effective but less so as people can now pause live TV and turn to services such as NetFlix and Amazon TV.  Generation X looks past the PPC results for the natural search results.  In some studies, participants ignored PPC completely beginning their reading at the first natural search result. 

Printed directories are less effective for this generation although the earlier members still use them.  Online directories are however highly effective because of how they filter through into the natural search results on Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Members of Generation X were born between 1964 and 1980.  



Millennials by YouCom Direct 

Millennials

Often known as the Millennial Generation, or Generation Y. The Millennials are generalised as having traits of greater confidence and tolerance, but also a new sense of entitlement and narcissism that wasn’t seen in such numbers from the previous generations.  

In the millennial generation this group are a mix of those still with traits of generation X and those whose attention spans were beginning to shorten.  By the end of the millennial period, attention spans had shortened by a significant 11 seconds.  This has had a great impact on advertising campaigns to this audience and many brands were too slow to adapt their marketing.  

Advertising messaging needs to be much shorter to this group with more imagery.  Millennials have a sense of being let down, that the world isn’t the way they thought it would be.  The entitlement factor mostly isn’t met by reality.  

Offer based advertising, money off, price match advertising all works well to this group.  Aspirational advertising and advertising better suited to storytelling using real-life examples of other customers work best. Channels such as radio isn’t suited to that.  Cinema advertising works, Mobile apps, outdoor, out of home and natural search including online directories all works well for this generation group.  Signage is less important as this group are less brand loyal and drive vehicles less than previous generations.  Members of Generation Y were born between 1980 and 2000.  



Generation Z by YouCom Direct 

Generation Z

This generation follows generation Y (the millennials).  They are occasionally referred to as Generation Alpha.  Generation Z is highly skilled with technology.  But they are also under more social pressure than any other generation before them.  Their lives are all shared and online.  Society has moved toward expectations for all young people to aspire to University education while apprenticeships and early employment are all but unheard of.  

Unfortunately, due to the changes observed in the millennial generation, the average Generation Z member has a documented attention span of only 8 seconds (for context; a goldfish has an attention span of 7 seconds.  Although this is amusing, there are serious implications for our future).  Members of this generation were born from 2000 and the category won’t close until 2025.  



Generation Z

How to Advertise to Generation Z and to prepare for when they form your main customer audience

Generation Z are most notably at ease with today’s communications.  They have grown up with the internet and social media.  They are familiar with viral videos, virtual interfacing, international gaming, and comfortable with technology in general.  Unlike previous generations a greater than average proportion of their social interactions is from social media websites.  

It is a widely held view that growing up through the crisis or recession of 2008 has given this generation a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity.  This combination of social factors makes Generation Z one of the hardest to advertise to.  They are clued up and will switch off from traditional advertising.  With today’s options to pause live TV they have more resource to remove themselves from brand messaging.  

Indeed, Generation Z watches more YouTube and online video than traditional TV (and TV advertising or sponsorship).  In a way, this shows how brands must change how they organise their advertising and marketing (more emphasis on digital, social media, video, imagery and reviews).  




Generation Z - Images Are Important

Advice 1 – Images Are Important

Generation Z has grown up with visual communications. Every one of them has tablets or big screen smartphones. They can filter and edit pictures and have entire conversations with just photos (think Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat).  We advise clients to keep imagery as a constant central theme through their messaging to this generation.


 

Generation Z - Short Attention Span

Advice 2 – Short Attention Span

The average Generation Z member has an attention span of only 8 seconds (a goldfish has an attention span of 7 seconds).  Generally, attention spans have decreased by 11 minutes since the Millennials (Generation Y) who were the last to actively challenge the world around them in a way where they were forced to memorise, learn, adapt and multi-task without the help of an electronic device or peer sharing.   Therefore, Generation Z marketing must maintain short, snappy content.  Reach out and yank their attention fast or they will be past your content and on to other brand messaging.  



Generation Z - Real Life Reviews

Advice 3 – Real Life Reviews

Generation Z is the social media generation.  They will share content and therefore will more quickly identify advertising.  If brand messaging is or appears to be genuine advice and useful guidance (or just interesting to their group) Generation Z will retweet, repost, or share it digitally or by word of mouth.  This increases importance to review management and review gathering (services offered by YouCom Direct).  Good Google+ reviews will increase your brand engagement with this generation.  


Generation Z by YouCom Direct 

Advice 4 – Hunt Them Down

Facebook is now more popular with the previous generations (including the baby boomers).  As it becomes populated with mum’s and dad’s, Generation Z are turning to other channels such as Twitter or Tumblr. 


Social Media Management will become increasingly important for your brand as this generation Z gets older.  Remember, the first of this generation Z (born in 2000) are already 16 years old now.  In a few more years they will become your main customer audience, looking to move out, requiring driving lessons, insurance, storage, banking, finance, car rental, solicitors, and with increasing disposable income for opticians’ products, mobile phones, clothes etc.  


Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

Our Twitter news

Our Tumblr news

Our Pinterest news

Our LinkedIn news


Required reference
: YouCom Direct News Article, Aug 2019, London, ‘Generation Z .’

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Data Marketing
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Account Manager, YouCom Direct

YouCom-Direct-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories 

Have you ever seen your business listed on a directory site and wondered how it got there? Perhaps the information is wrong and you correct it but it reverts back to the incorrect data again? It will help if you understand the origin of that information. The national database known as OSIS.    


In this article, YouCom Direct will share;


– What is OSIS?
– Why you can’t change your business details on the directory site displaying the wrong data.
– How you can change your business details on OSIS.
– How do you find OSIS?
– European OSIS
– Alternative databases.


As a directory agency we manage a company’s details for their stores across all print and online directories. It is our knowledge together with buying power that makes us a valuable partner. But we don’t just keep our knowledge to ourselves. OSIS is not widely known but equally it’s no secret either.  


What is OSIS?

 
“OSIS” stands for Operator Services Information System and is a stream of seemingly endless data flowing along corridors of database servers.



YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-3

Like all large datasets, OSIS is much in demand and has never lost its popularity. It is a database of directory data managed by BT Wholesale Directory Services. The data is used to populate the BT Phone Book printed directory and is bought by other companies such as Thomson Local, Yellow Pages (once owned by BT), the 118 telephone directory companies and a large amount of online directory sites.   



YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-4       YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-Yalwa  

Directory sites like Yell.com are very well established, Yell.com has 10.9 million monthly views, but how did they begin? Look at Yalwa.co.uk, see how different they are to Yell.com? Yalwa currently have 82,000 monthly views (a far cry from 10.9 million), yet they already seem to have a lot of businesses listed on their site.  

This means when your customers search for your business, one of the Google search results could show a Yalwa URL link. But the information could be incorrect. Perhaps your telephone number is wrong on Yalwa, or the address inaccurate.


So how did they obtain their data and your business details specifically?  


BT Wholesale is obliged to make OSIS available to any organisation who wishes to pay for it, specifically under Universal Service Condition 7.4 (USC7.4) which states that


“BT shall supply [the contents of a directory information database] on terms which are fair, objective, cost-oriented and not unduly 
discriminatory…”. A condition frequently challenged by those who pay to rent it. 


YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-BT-Phonebook

The OSIS database contains more than 26 million residential and business names, addresses, and telephone numbers supplied to BT by over 80 UK Communication Providers and sources such as Companies House.  


When an individual requests a new telephone line and agrees to be listed in the telephone directory, the data will be entered into BT OSIS. When a new business starts up, the data will be entered into BT OSIS. This makes the BT OSIS database very accurate and up-to-date (The database is updated 6 days a week).    


There are three types of entry on the OSIS database:


Directory Entry – The printed phone book is comprised of these records. A telephone number can be appended to a name and address that matches to a directory entry record on OSIS.


Directory Enquiries Only – These listings are not present in the phone book, but are made available to directory enquiry 118 services. You can append a phone number from these entries where it matches the name and address on your record.


Ex-Directory – Ex-Directory listings are only available in telephone directory enquiry 118 services. Don’t worry, only the fact that the record is ex-directory may be provided.



  YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-7  


Why can’t you change your business details on the directory site displaying the wrong data?

Type your business brand name and the town of your store location into a search engine like Google. If you see an incorrectly listed entry for your business on an online directory like Yalwa, why can’t you contact them and change it?  


The short answer is, you can. You can also pay them for a paid-listing to feature more prominently in their search results (the fundamental service of YouCom Direct as an agency). But the next time that online directory uploads a new data feed from OSIS, all the non-paid for listings will be replaced by the OSIS data. In other words, although you’ve changed the incorrect data, the change is overwritten by the old incorrect data from OSIS.


You can’t stop the waves and you can’t surf against the tide either…    



YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-8  


How can you change your business details on OSIS?


Keeping it simple, there are two options.

One, contact BT Wholesale and make a formal request to amend the data. This process can take between three to six months. You will need to check it afterwards to ensure there isn’t a duplicate data entry still containing the old incorrect data.  

Secondly, you can take the stance of the larger advertisers and pay a specialist directory agency like YouCom Direct to do it for you. YouCom Direct will reach out to BT OSIS and change your data as quickly as 1-2 weeks. We see it in all walks of life that businesses respond quicker, to other companies whom they sell to (in our case, BT sells directory advertising to us for paid listings and paid classified adverts).  




YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-9  


How do you find OSIS?

You don’t find OSIS.  OSIS finds you. 

But you can change their data.


BT Wholesale Directory Solutions (BTWDS) is a ring-fenced unit within BT Wholesale. They aggregate telephone number information from Communication Providers (CPs) in order to produce an accurate central telephone number database historically referred to as the OSIS database. Under OFCOM regulations, all UK CPs that have signed a Schedule 11 agreement have to provide BTWDS with their customers’ name, address and telephone number information. At present there are over 80 CPs in the UK e.g. BT, Virgin Media, Cable & Wireless etc.  


OSIS data can only be used in Directory Products and Services by companies who wish to produce Directory Information products or services, who agree to their pricing terms and gains authorisation from BTWDS to receive OSIS data. OSIS data is sold under specific terms and conditions including the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Information Commissioners Code of Practice on Telecommunications Directory Information covering the Fair Processing of Personal Data and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. – Licensees must agree to abide by these within the terms of the Directory Information Licence Agreement. OSIS cannot be used for Validation and Verification of individuals or in associated Validation and Verification Services.    



YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-10  


European OSIS

Operator Services Information Systems aren’t only peculiar to the UK of course. YouCom Direct talk with media owners across Europe and manage listings in several EU countries. In Sweden these are primarily Eniro and Rejta businesss directory websites, Din Del and the 118 118 directory assistance service. In Norway, Proff and the 1880 directory assistance are the main directories. Danish search services are marketed under the krak.dk (now owned by Eniro), Mostrup and Den Røde Lokalbog brands plus several others, while Panorama Firm is the brand in Poland. Finland customers encounter the 0100100 brand.

All take their data from OSIS equivalents such as Factual, a database of 75.8 million local business listings in 50 countries. Or Schober, a B2B data provider in Germany.    


Alternative databases

There are other data sources also, OSIS shouldn’t be the only place you look.  


The Postcode Address File

(PAF) is a database of every address in the UK to which mail is delivered, together with its appropriate postcode. This database contains over 28 million addresses of residential, business and other organisations. The PAF is produced by the Royal Mail and is updated quarterly.

The National Change of Address register
(NCOA) records individuals and businesses when they relocate. CRM practices teach all marketing mangers that to retain existing customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. With the NCOA register you can maintain contact with your customers when they move home, saving cost and increasing profits via an elongated customer life cycle.

The Gone Away Suppression
(GAS) File from The Data Agency uses both public and private data sources and is a compiled list of individuals at addresses they are known to have moved from. In every case, each move out is qualified by a move in to ensure accuracy.

Despite the other data sources, OSIS is certainly the most powerful database storing data on your business and if you don’t ensure its correct (and remains correct…), then every other organisation and directory site renting their data, will broadcast incorrect details about your brand and ruin your SEO.


Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

Our Twitter news

Our Tumblr news

Our Pinterest news

Our LinkedIn news

 

Glossary:

OSIS – Operator Services Information System

GAS – Gone Away Suppression

NCOA – National Change of Address register

PAF – Postcode Address File

B2B – Business to Business

YALWA – Yet another local web application

CP – Communication Providers

SEO – Search engine optimisation

BTWDS – BT Wholesale Directory Solutions

 
Data source:

OSIS Definition

BT Wholesale

Universal Service Condition explained within an Ofcom dispute raised by Thomson Local over costs of renting OSIS.

Ofcom dispute on OSIS rental costs between The Number (118 188) and BT wholesale proving that telephone directories like 118 118 also obtain their business data from OSIS

EU Factual Database

Schober Database


Required reference
:

YouCom Direct News Article, Jul 2019, London, ‘OSIS, the origin’.

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Content Marketing
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Senior Account Manager, YouCom Direct



Content Marketing by YouCom Direct


Keeping good data records is it seems, important for all parts of life (even father Christmas keeps a list).  Yet, according to a CMI study, 40 percent of those businesses surveyed who stated they did not keep adequate records of past content marketing, experienced quite poor results. Whereas 53 percent of marketing managers who state their content marketing was very effective actually kept good documents recording previous campaigns. Keeping good records of your content marketing strategy will also help marketing managers justify their work and communication plans.  






A brand requires brand marketing and brand marketing relies heavily on credibility. Consumers are receiving thousands of marketing messages daily from other brands competing with yours. Therefore, if your content marketing lacks credibility, seems insincere or out-of-touch with your target audience, then consumers will not have faith in your brand. To have credible content marketing, your SMM should have fresh messages that are unique and address a real concern your target audience might have. Messaging should carry brand imagery to reinforce brand association and show you understand the needs your target audience has for your product or service.  





Content Marketing by YouCom Direct

Where you communicate is also an important factor in implementing an effective content marketing strategy. This is called a distribution channel or media channel. Again, good record keeping is vital to assess different media used, times of use, content trialled, response rates etc. Without finding the right media to distribute your message, even the best content will fail in delivering ROI. YouCom Direct are specialists in local search via business directory sites because we have good record keeping analysing each campaign for ROI. But also, because we have many local directories that deliver fresh content via media channels that work best for your brand and store location.  





Content Marketing by YouCom Direct

With the right network of local sites and page authority backlinks in place; With the right record keeping and reporting ready to analyse results; With credibility established via planned content along brand guidelines; It then comes down to how relevant the content is for your ‘local’ audience.  Many brands forget that whilst the target audience can be classified by demographics and social-economic grouping, consumers vary greatly by location. Two ABC1 25yr old females, one in Bow, East London and one in Middlesbrough, will not respond the same way to your message. The content of your business listing must therefore meet the needs of your ‘local’ audience.  

Registered Trademark

Good content marketing won’t happen overnight. But you can make measurable improvements if you ensure your agency is keeping good records of what content works and doesn’t work, if you ensure you have fresh content relevant to ‘localised’ catchment areas and if you adjust marketing budgets to fund the media channels that deliver greater ROI while withdrawing funds from underperforming media.  No local business listing campaign should have the same content for all stores.  Email us to discuss further.  


Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

Our Twitter news

Our Tumblr news

Our Pinterest news

Our LinkedIn news



Glossary: CMI – Content Marketing Institute SMM – Social Media Marketing ROI – Return on Investment  

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Dec 2017, London, Content Marketing.

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YouCom Chatter
Copywriter: Sam Jones, PR Assistant, YouCom Direct


Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

There are a lot of talented pumpkin carvers out there and in this article we present some stunning and funny designs from our mystery shoppers and publisher/supplier contacts. 

First Place – “Mr K” is the cool superhero name of Eileen’s 9-year-old.  Mr K shown above prefers to do a monster face than use a template.  Excellent Pumpkin grimace Mr K.  We look forward to what you create next year.  But it wasn’t only Mr K’s Pumpkin that won the top prize…    



Pumpkin contest by YouCom Direct

It was a family effort again that won second place with Eileen’s original Tinkerbell Pumpkin created using a drill bit.    




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

And Eileen’s second attempt of a very pretty pumpkin (isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary Eileen?).  So, Eileen and Mr K win £15.00

 

Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct
 

Second Place goes to Dani for this Batman and Superman inspired effort with crazy teeth pumpkin in the background.  But this image alone wouldn’t have won without a little help from our furry legged friends as shown by the same picture in the daytime…    



Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct


Bat girl and Spider Dog to the rescue.  Dani wins £5.00  




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Lucy and her son Tyler are missing Disney and carved a Mickey Mouse Pumpkin.  Mum and son also carved Goofy, but the photos didn’t come out so well.  However, this effort judged with photos that we can’t upload, wins a third prize of £5.00.  Well done Lucy and Tyler!    



Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Group Account Director Award
Louisa’s boys were very keen for her to send their pumpkin efforts again this year.  The glitter pumpkin on the left is the work of 3 year old Oliver.  The scary face on the right is by 5 year old Benjamin!  Well done Benjamin!  They win the special Group Account Director award of £7.00    




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Louisa’s husband and Life-long Mansfield Town fan sneaked his own design in between the boys pumpkins late one night, a carefully crafted pumpkin showing he’s a real football fan (no prawn sandwiches for him on match day).    




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct


One of our favourite pumpkins for cuteness factor was submitted by Petra having first been drawn all over by her 3-year old.  Very colourful.    




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Laura’s daughter Sophie age 3 years helped her mum make the cat pumpkin and was very insistent on how it should look (an agency creative director in the making there).  Laura’s son Alfie, age 6 years, made the other pumpkin all by himself!  Well done Alfie!  And a very cute mini-pumpkin made by Alfie too.  We’ll be sending mummy some equally cute finger puppets because we’ve run out of cash prizes.    




Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct


Marie runs a creative and engaging blog and sent in the above.  Excellent effort by Marie and family and worthy of highlighting here.    





Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct


Jackie made her first pumpkin for ages after her children previously made them.  Placed at the entrance to her house by the looks of it, this spooky chap will scare off trick or treat visitors!    





Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Afra’s pumpkin is uniquely adorable.  Made with her 11 year old daughter who absolutely loves owls, this ‘Owl Pumpkin’ with it’s slightly odd eyes will bring a light and a laugh to even the darkest night.  And as Afra says, how many pumpkins do you see with feet?  Well done all!    





Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct

Hannah’s son Jaxon (with a little help from dad) carved this and clever mum made pumpkin soup for tea.    





Pumpkin Contest by YouCom Direct


We end this year’s competition with a simple yet slightly sinister pair of pumpkins from Laura B. Thanks to everyone who took part.  Always remember if you’re making something anyway, give a competition a go, you might just win!  

Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

Our Twitter news

Our Tumblr news

Our Pinterest news

Our LinkedIn news



Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Oct 2017, London, ‘Pumpkins 2017.

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Brand Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct

Service Marketing by YouCom Direct

80 percent of people in advanced economies work in the service sector.  The marketing of services is therefore more important today than ever before. Any economic activity that creates value or some sort of benefit for people at a defined time and location, is a service.  The RAC, AA or Green Flag provide the service of car breakdown recovery.  Enterprise rent-a-car, Avis or Hertz provide the service of a car rental.  Boots, Specsavers or Vision Express provide the service of an eye health examination.  In some cases, services are coupled to products, so in the last example, an optician having performed an assessment of your vision can then sell you a pair of glasses.  








The way services are marketed will be different to how products are advertised.  The traditional marketing mix of the four P’s (Product, Pricing, Place, Promotion), is extended for service marketing with 4 more P’s (People, Process, Physical Evidence, Productivity). If your agency understands each of these P’s, the content for your local area business listing or local search result will have greater impact for SERP (search engine results page) success and generate a greater number of sales leads.  






Product

In services, the ‘product’ is intangible. When you produce it, you also consume it, for in producing the service it is often at the time it is ‘consumed’ by buyers.  The service offered can be much more customised than a product therefore but brands are wise to maintain a consistent level of service offering to maintain quality and brand reputation.  



Pricing

Establishing the price of your service is harder than creating the price for a product.  With a product, a company can calculate the cost of raw materials, labour, staffing, overheads.  With a service, the company must calculate a price for the intangible offering provided with that service.  For example, when choosing a restaurant, you don’t just want to be given a service of food delivery.  You also want an ambience, a view, a mood setting. Service managers seek to reduce the effort customers spend obtaining the service, including time, mental or physical effort and negative sensory experiences such as a noisy room, bad odour, poor queuing system etc. This impacts on marketing.  




Service Marketing - Place

Place

Products can be sent to the consumer, but services are linked to their place of delivery.  A relaxing spa will portray a better service sensory experience (added-value) in a countryside place than in a busy city.  If the place of your service is different to competitors or enhances the service, then this also can be considered in the service marketing message.  





Service Marketing - Promotion

Promotion

All marketing campaigns require promotion and education to succeed (see the blue box in the above image). Promotion persuades consumers as to the benefits of your service over the competition, encourages consumers into time-specific action and educates them with information and advice for which your service can deliver.  Services can be very quickly copied and supplied by another firm so promotion is more important in service marketing.  This makes your SERP’s more important and the right localised content on your business listing advertising is key to whether your service gains market share.  





Service Marketing - People

People

Brands must focus on reviews.  Many services depend on personal relationships between your staff and the consumers.  The type of interaction received by your customers will dictate if you can retain their custom and build your customer-base from word-of-mouth advertising.  Remember, customers largely judge the service received, by how your staff delivered that service.  Here is where an agency managing a Google Places review campaign is critical to marketing your service.  Also consider other review platforms such as Facebook, Feefo, Trustpilot and social-marketing channels such as a well-managed Twitter program (YouCom Direct have almost twenty thousand followers with high engagement for each tweet).





Service Marketing by YouCom Direct

Process

A ‘process’ is a set of rules by which a service operating system works. A poorly created process will lose you customers by a slow, laboured service delivery.  Here is where our UX (User Experience) research proves useful.  Understanding how customers interact with you (and with your competitors) will identify weak areas in service delivery where your process can be revised and improved.  Remember, poor processes will also demoralise staff resulting in low productivity.  Pret have a very good process.  Rules for rules and all designed to ensure that the same standard of service is repeatedly delivered to each new (and repeat) customer.  





Service Marketing by YouCom Direct



Physical Evidence

Services are intangible, you cannot ‘hold’ them.  There is little to associate with them other than feelings.  Most companies therefore try to link tangible things to their service to enhance their perceived service quality. This could be the appearance of the building (the red bricks in Pret, the warm browns in Costa, the black wood in Café Nero etc); landscaping; vehicles (the bright orange of RAC, the bright yellow of the AA, the green of Green Flag etc); equipment; staff uniform; signs; promotional literature and many more. This is why your hairdressers will have a well-designed waiting area with magazines, drinks and comfortable sofas for customers waiting for the service.  






Productivity

Improving productivity is vital to keep costs low and make your service more competitive.  Brands must trade productivity against making cost reductions that result in lower service levels resented by customers (and staff).  If your service inputs are transformed into service outputs that add value to the customer, then this is a good addition to place in your business listing on directory sites.  Have this productivity feature stand out prominently in your directory listing when it is pulled back by Google into the first results page.    

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Glossary: SERP – Search Engine Results Page UX – User Experience    

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Jul 2017, London, ‘Service Marketing’.

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Data Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct


Personalisation by YouCom Direct


At YouCom Direct we focus on something called ‘Design Personalisation’.  We tailor client’s advertising to show accurate local content for stores, but we also have specifically designed adverts for a local audience and personalised messaging.  These adverts have a design that is unlike anything you normally see in Yellow Pages or online and will create customer engagement to drive higher call volumes (as you can see from these images).  




To understand the ROI from marketing design personalisation, we should first look at hospitality marketing.  Hospitality is a collection of supplementary services that adds value to a purchase by treating customers like guests, providing amenities that anticipate the person’s needs during their interaction with the service/product provider.  Hospitality marketing ensures employees treat customers as guests, greeting them with pleasure when meeting them for the first time and when old customers return.  They are creating a personalised experience for each customer.  This creates brand loyalty in a fractious marketplace.  Pret do this very well.

Pret rated the highest on personalised interaction with customers


A survey of 4,500 consumers by Market Force, asked consumers to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a coffee shop and how likely they would be to recommend it to friends. The data was averaged to rate each company brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.  Pret also rated the highest on seven of the eight critical drivers of satisfaction, primarily driven by ‘friendliness of staff’.  Courtesy for customer’s needs extends to all forms of marketing communication.  Face-to-face like in Pret, but also telephone and online interaction.  



Brands realise the importance of customer lifecycle marketing


Brands realise that the customer lifecycle is more important than short-term sales and seek to build customer loyalty to gain repeat business and upsell opportunities.  In the USA, hospitals make a lot of money from people because they don’t have a national health service free at point of use like in the UK.  They know the reason most families start using a hospital is to give birth and with so many birthing centres and hospital, they face stiff competition.  Stiff competition and a service/product that opens the door to further ‘sales’ opportunities will require hospitality marketing to make that service or product more personal to the customer.

74 percent of marketers know personalisation is good for business

To gain new customers, brands seeking to deliver hospitality marketing messages do so via data personalisation.  According to an Econsultancy study, 74 percent of marketers know personalisation is good for business, yet the same study reveals only 19 percent of marketers are actually using personalisation.  BMW improved sales conversion rates by 30 percent by personalising their media messages with customer’s first names.  BMW know that your brand begins to have added value in the customer’s mind when you design the adverts to create engagement via tools such as personalisation.  

The search for competitive advantage in mature industries will come down to not where you advertise but what and how you advertise.  The creation of value-added services and supplementary services to make your product/service/brand stand out from the competition.  Managers must be aware of selecting the right mix of supplementary services and the right agency will help you to do that.  YouCom Direct won’t just list your store details on websites with high user numbers, we focus on ‘personalising’ your store data to become relevant to the customer on a local level.  Good Design Personalisation is an effective form of local marketing.  


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Data source: Survey by Market Force, a leading global customer intelligence solutions company.  

Required reference: YouCom Direct News, Jun 2017, London, ‘Personalisation.’

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Consumer Behaviour
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Senior Account Manager, YouCom Direct


YouCom-Direct-Marketing-Tips

Many local business’s today are overwhelmed by the variety of local marketing choices available across desktop, mobile and tablet platforms. Many don’t know where to start which is where these marketing tips help.   At YouCom Direct, we understand how every local business is trying its utmost best to attract as many local customers as possible. We can help businesses outperform their competitors through local search optimisation and directory advertising.


Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Accurate & Accessible Information

One of the most important aspects of local search is ensuring that your businesses information is consistent, accurate and accessible throughout the web.


50% of business owners have listings for their business that are not accurate.


70% of business owners say they don’t have the time to manage listings on all of the sites that consumers use.


Only 23% of business owners have a good sense of how listings drive traffic to their business.


 
If your business information is outdated or appears in different ways in different places, it will not only lower your visibility in search it will make it difficult or even impossible for potential customers to find you.  



Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Optimise Your Website
Make sure that potential customers can find your business in search by listing all relevant information in the website title. Create individual pages for each business location as well as each product or service your business offers. This will raise the visibility of each in search, making it easier for potential customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.


Use keywords and phrasing that potential customers are most likely to use. Include basic business name, address and phone number information on every page of your website. This not only boosts SEO, but also makes it easier for a potential customer to contact or visit your business.  We recommend more than this of course for a website needs a UX focus but these are the basic tips.  


Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Mobile Friendly

One of the biggest mistakes your business can make is not optimising its website for mobile. 50% of local searches are carried out on mobile devices. If a potential customer attempts to access your website via mobile but is interrupted by pages not loading, sizing issues or the inability to find information, they are more likely to go back into search until they find one of your competitors.

70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour. Mobile users that find your business online have a conversion percentage nearly three times higher than the same search done on a desktop or laptop. Why? Because mobile users are on the go. When a consumer grabs their smartphone to search, they have a specific intent in mind.  



Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Visual Content

A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention, you want to take full advantage of every chance to communicate your message. Consumers today are attracted to photos and engaging videos, they also help to boost website SEO and improve visibility for local listings.

Studies show our brains not only process visuals faster, but they retain and transmit much more information when it’s delivered visually.

According to Brightcove, video on social sites generates 1,200% more engagement than texts and images.  Imagine what this could do to your business listing on a directory site?  But you need the right sort of video so talk to us to get it right.  



Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Don’t ignore reviews
If you want your business to appear prominently for localised searches, then you will certainly need to consider how your customers are able to leave reviews for your business online. The importance of accumulating genuine and honest reviews is increasing.

People are looking for reviews on local businesses to determine if they are exactly what they want or try somewhere else. Customers are now sensitised to write reviews and publish them, especially after a positive service and experience.  

For 7 out of 10 consumers, positive reviews inspire trust. This highlights just how important they are for a local business, and it’s clear that reputation management is something that cannot be ignored.


  Marketing Tips by YouDirectories

Over 20% of searches on Google today are from users who are looking for local information and 97% of all consumers are going online to look for local companies. Using the above tips can really help to engage your customers. 83% of people doing online local searches then continue with a number of actions offline such as phone calls, emails, visits or even purchases. What’s interesting is how consumers are researching online but buying locally.   Contact us to discuss how we can help you enhance your customer engagement using the above great tips and much more!

Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

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Glossary: UX – User Experience SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, April 2017, London, ‘Local Marketing Tips’.

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Mystery Shopping
Copywriter: Aqsa Muzaffar, Freelance Editor


YouCom-Direct-Mystery-Shopping

When it comes to cuddling up with your favourite thing in the world, brands want it to be something that they sell.  An American Express study revealed that 70% of shoppers spend 13% more with businesses that provide exceptional customer service.  Every company wishes to have an increase in revenue but how does one know the value of the customer service provided by their business?   Mystery shopping companies send unbiased individuals into stores to provide feedback on key areas of the customer shopping experience.

These can include:

– Interaction of staff with shoppers

– Types of products shown

– Types of services offered

– Speed of service

– Store features such as security, cleanliness, store location or ease of access.

– Opening and closing of the sale and compliance with company standards.



YouCom-Direct-Mystery-Shopping

Inspect what you expect

Mystery shoppers behave in a certain way to gather information. These are known as “scenarios.” For instance, a mystery shopper at a jewellery store may enquire about different bridal bands being sold as part of an upcoming proposal e.g. type of gold and style. After the visit the shopper submits the results collected to the mystery shopping agency, who analyse the information to provide statistical data. This allows brands to compare against previously defined criteria.  




YouDirectories Mystery Shopping

Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and the Post office all use the mystery shopping tool to analyse their stores. This helps to set staff bonuses and highlight any training issues. Jill Spencer a spokeswoman for ABa states “each day mystery shoppers spend up to 8 hours visiting 5 to 10 stores, plus another hour or 2 filling in detailed reports on every aspect of their visit.” They can take home up to £155 a day and are reimbursed for petrol and hotel stays. Shoppers are repaid any money they spend and as a bonus may be allowed to keep the products they purchase.  




YouCom-Direct-Mystery-Shopping


A different perspective through the eyes of a customer.

With the data analysed and appropriate action taken, brands can see numerous benefits from mystery shopping:

– Increased customer satisfaction

– Increased sales/profits

– Employee satisfaction. Once an employee acknowledges their role in helping create a happy customer they can benefit from a morale boost. A new-found sense of confidence will make going the extra mile second nature.

– Any deficiencies in the customer experience can be resolved before they are seen by actual customers.

– Reduction in the cost of advertising.




YouCom-Direct-Mystery-Shopping

Want to use mystery shopping as a marketing tool for your business?

This is a short article, but if the benefits we’ve listed give thought to creating a mystery shopping programme, here is what you need to do.  Speak with an agency (preferably us) to gain an idea of process and plans.  Find out which mystery shopping service fits well with your requirements and budget.

When you are ready to begin, inform employees of your intention and the ins and outs of mystery shopping (no one would enjoy being blindsided after the campaign takes place). Identify your key reasons for starting this initiative. What do you wish to achieve? Having benchmarks will also allow you to monitor the effectiveness of the programme to your company.  




YouDirectories Mystery Shopping

Increased Revenue

Mystery shopping can be used as one of the best ways to identify your current quality of customer service available to your audience. A professional in the world of mystery shopping can give your company guidance on raising standards of your employees resulting in a win-win situation for all.  Then there are the SEO benefits from having more positive feedback said about your brand on Google. Ultimately the best way to judge the benefits of mystery shopping is to try it out yourself.  

Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

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Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Mar 2017, London, ‘Mystery Shopping’.

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Consumer Behaviour
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct


Praying with my Dog

February is known to be the most depressing month. It’s grey, wet, cold, costs are higher and we’re stuck indoors more to see each other’s faults.  This is why YouCom Direct decided to run a competition to find what motivates people and to share the positive in that which surrounds us.  A positive prayer is worth a ton of negative thoughts…  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times

We are living in a time of progress.  Events such as Putin in Russia, Trump in America, Assad in Syria, restriction of speech in China etc. make us worry for democracy.  But democracy is in no danger, it is in fact at an all-time high.  Peaceful government transitions occurred in 2016 in Morocco, Japan, Ghana, Iceland, Croatia, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and yes even in the USA.  
Gambia saw the end of a 22 year rule of fear by President Jammeh when he was beaten democratically by the opposition candidate Adama Barrow and after many attempts to hang on to power, finally left office.  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times


For the first time in 50 years, Myanmar had their first civilian leader, elected by the people.  Gambia banned child marriage in 2016 along with Tanzania.  Plus, the pan-African parliament gave their endorsement to a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) across Africa.  These are most certainly good things to smile about.  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times

A WHO report showed that since 2000, worldwide deaths caused by Malaria have declined by 60 per cent!  Deaths caused by AIDS have also fallen by 45 percent.  Mothers dying in childbirth have decreased by 44 percent since 1990 and infant deaths have fallen by 50 percent too.  We undoubtedly live in the best of times.   Did you know from 2016, people can now expect to live seven extra years on average compared to those born in 1990?   The WHO also told us in 2016 that measles has been wiped out from all the Americas and that polio could be wiped out within a year!  And in western countries, incidents involving colon cancer, dementia and heart disease are all decreasing.  So, we can look forward to healthier times too it seems.  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times

How about those cute fluffy animals for you animal lovers out there?  Well, more than 20 economies have agreed £5.3 billion to conserve the world’s oceans.  2016 saw Wolves reintroduced to Europe (umm, shouldn’t this be in the list of bad things?) and the big bad grizzly is back in Yellowstone national park! Plus, green sea turtles, humpback whales and giant panda’s are now all finally off the endangered species list whilst the number of tigers in the wild rose for the first time in 100 years – How great are we for finally getting our act together to protect the creatures we share this planet with!?  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times-World-Ozone-Day

These positive things we don’t usually get to hear.  The media seems to be full of doom and gloom.  But take the environment for instance.  For 3 years now, worldwide Co2 emissions did not rise at all.  China has decreased use of coal since 2014 and India has announced no intention to build new coal plants for the foreseeable future.  Acid pollution is at the lowest level since the 1930’s and guess what!?  The Ozone hole (remember that?) continues to shrink from our great efforts to do something about it and is expected to be fully healed by 2050. 🙂  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times

How about money?  Well, the amount of people below the poverty line fell by 10 percent for the first time ever.  In the last 26 years, over 1 billion people have escaped severe poverty.  In the UK, the average household income grew at its fastest rate for the last 15 years.  Plus the numbers employed is at a record high of 75 percent (although this is weighted heavily against the young with most unemployment being seen among University graduates and younger people).  We also had the introduction of the national living wage to address inequality.  With the growth of digital media, we’re also able to go shopping at any time on any day, in any place.  Meaning we rarely go without things we want.  How lucky are we to live in this age?  



YouCom-Direct-best-of-times


At YouCom Direct, we try to be just as positive with others.  We decided to send our clients, suppliers and mystery shoppers a free ‘Seize the day’ calendar of daily motivational quotes and positive sayings.  Because we understand that when good people come into your life we will all contribute to a happier, stress-free world, if we communicate and stay in touch with others instead of losing good friends.




 YouCom-Direct-best-of-times

We asked our large online community if you knew what the most important thing in life is and give you this video clip from the heart-warming comedy Holy Man which contains the answer:


We invited you all to enter a competition to win a copy of this DVD.  Entrants simply had to tell us what they live by to lead a positive life.  


Here are the winners and all will receive a free DVD of this Hollywood film!

‘Make them understand with love.’
 
 

– Safia Qureshi’s words to her daughter Amber.  “In all interactions, I process life and people with this!!!” says Amber.  

“For a good happy life, I live by smiling at everyone, engaging with strangers, selflessly helping others and making sure my family and friends are happy around me. This genuinely makes me happy – Leyla Preston, Brand Ambassador and Chief Editor of Motherhood Diaries.  Read more from her blog here: http://www.motherhooddiaries.com/about-us/  

“My motto is ‘Do what you love, love what you do’. Try to make most of your life about the things that you really enjoy and love and put effort and love into those things too.” – Petra Robertson editor of A Mum Reviews.  Read more from her blog here: http://amumreviews.co.uk/about/  

“Not every day is good but there is good in every day” – Sabina Green editor of MummyMatters Read more from her blog here: http://deepinmummymatters.com/who-is-mummy-matters/  

“Try to live each day by the laws of love, the love of family, the love of friends, the more love we put out into the world the more we get back, in life, love, business, just use love and always remember and I mean always, You are good enough and never let anyone try to tell you differently” – Mandy Charlton, Travel and Commercial Photographer See her beautifully professional photos here: http://www.mandycharltonphotographyblog.com   

“I live by always being honest not just to my family but anybody that I talk too and spending more time with my family.” – Amy Bryant, Kentucky, USA.  

“I live life to travel to spend my days enjoying the time I’m not at work, enjoying time with my 9 year old. This year I’m enjoying taking him to Disney World Florida. As a surprise :)”Lucy Greens  

And here’s a few more inspired words to hopefully restore some positivity to all of us;

“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” – Unknown  

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt  

“Let your hook always be cast.  In the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.” – Ovid  

“To love deeply & be loved in return, that’s a rare gift from God, everything else is just packaging.” – T. Tolis  
“Trust in your dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.”Kahlil Gibran  

Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

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Glossary: FGM – Female Genital Mutilation WHO – World Health Organisation  

Data source: The Times columnist P. Collins.  

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, February 2017, London, ‘The Best of Times.

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