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Here's a selection of our latest articles on marketing, design and digital issues, and our latest news. If you would like to add an opinion or join the debate please do leave a comment. If you would like to find out more please click the link to the author.
You may have been selling via your website, perhaps using an order form, advertising the products online but taking orders over the phone.
But if you are now ready to gear up to online ordering and payment, it can be daunting knowing the best way forward. What are the options and what do you need to think about?
You may NOT need a new website
Firstly, don’t panic, there are several options whereby you can integrate ‘shopping’ software within your website so take advice from your web design agency about which might be the most suitable. If you want to sell just a few items per month, you might find that you can use PayPal or EventBrite (for sessions or events). But if you want to sell more, you’ll need to think about whether you want to offer discounts, ship abroad, provide order tracking, take deposits or offer alternative ways to pay when drawing up your specification for the shopping software you use.
You may need a new website
“Huh – I thought you just said I didn’t need a new website!”
Well it will depend on the technology platform of your existing website BUT oddly, it can be cheaper to move to an entirely new platform designed specifically for shopping. Many of our customers are very happy using OpenCart, Magento and ZenCart and we’ve been able to adapt these to the precise requirements of our clients. So starting again might actually be a good thing as it is a great opportunity to refresh your design / styling and update some of the rest of your website content – as well as streamlining the shopping experience.
These authorise payments for online sales and they protect credit card details by encrypting sensitive information as it passes from your customer to the payment processor (e.g. bank or credit card company). Different merchants require different % fees depending on your transaction volume, amounts and frequency – there are services where you can compare the fee levels / providers for your type of business. And it is also worth asking your business bank – they may be able to give you a better deal.
Displaying your products / services
Almost all shops rely on images of a product nowadays although clearly this is harder for services. Think about how you will get high quality photos of your products or how you might represent your services (e.g. well-designed colour coded icons) to make the shopping experience easier.
Preview has many years’ experience in successfully integrating shopping software into client’s existing websites as well as branding off-the shelf software and building bespoke solutions. For some clients, we manage the photos and upload the products / prices, others do it for themselves. Our clients sell across the world, some with high volume / low value, others with high value transactions. Let us know how we can help you.
Burgess Hill based sign writers Art D’Signs have joined PVL UK and Preview as part of the ongoing growth of the specialist graphics, marketing and visual communications group.
Since 1975 Art D’Signs has been producing and installing high quality signage and vehicle graphics throughout Sussex and further afield. From traditional hand-painted signage to comprehensive modular sign systems, interior graphics and custom vehicle signage they are well known for their expertise and service.
As the UK’s leading manufacturer of reflective and specialist graphics for emergency service and highways vehicles, PVL also offer fleet wrapping and branding services to clients throughout the UK.
PVL already supply the entire Scottish and Welsh Police forces following successful recent tender wins. Preview worked closely with PVL to produce and apply a 1000 strong fleet of “snow leopard” vans as well as high profile “Harry Potter” bus wraps recently.
Preview and PVL are already based in adjacent offices in Victoria Way, Burgess Hill and the Art D’Signs team will relocate to PVL’s old premises a few hundred yards away.
Nick Broom, Managing Director of PVL and Preview said “We are excited that our combined experience in all areas of visual communication enables us to extend a versatile range of services to our growing customer base.”
PVL UK is the respected market leader in Emergency Services vehicle livery, producing bespoke reflective vehicle kits and fleet vehicle wraps and livery to clients all over the UK, Ireland and beyond in materials supplied by industry leaders 3M and Avery.
Established in 2000, PVL comprises a team of people with their own expertise in manufacturing, sales and customer service. Customers are in both the public and private sectors and include Police, Fire and Ambulance services, Local Authorities, fleet operators, highway maintenance and sign shops. Customers are provided fast turnaround for their graphics, either supply only or fitted, with fitting offered throughout the UK. Reflective products are made to order from a vast and growing library of bespoke vehicle data covering every type of vehicle.
PVL have their own large-format printers enabling them to produce graphics on a wide range of materials for a huge range of surfaces including interior and exterior walls, floors and windows. For more information, see www.pvluk.com
Art D’Signs provides a wide range of sign, livery and creative solutions including vehicle graphics, banners, fascias, window graphics and shop fronts supplied and fitted to clients in the South East of England. A small team of experienced specialists with a wealth of knowledge and an understanding of the client’s needs, their customers are in the public and private sectors and range from local builders and individuals to large commercial corporations, shops, charities, councils, schools and colleges.
Art D’Sign’s customers require quality and reliability, problems solving, advice and prompt turnaround. Projects begin with a site visit and survey where required, with creative visuals provided before work commences. The range of their services and recent projects are revealed at www.artdsigns.co.uk
You? Sales team? Senior managers? All staff? If you have responsibility for building business, the reasons for joining LinkedIn’s 200+ million members are compelling. It is perfect for finding new people, keeping in touch with contacts and showcasing your professional / company expertise. But have you considered how your staff should represent you on LinkedIn?
It is a question that I often get asked in our workshops and the answer is quite straightforward. As an employer, you would like your employees to represent your company in the best possible light but as any person has a right to set up their own LinkedIn profile, it cannot be ‘controlled’ by the company as the licence agreement is with the individual. This means that you can’t restrict it to just ‘sales’ team or ‘senior managers’ or ‘customer-facing’ staff.
So usually the best policy is to encourage staff to present a professional profile for themselves with your COMPANY NAME in the same format that you set up your company profile e.g. Preview (not Preview Ltd). If you explain how to write a good personal profile (with examples) and demonstrate the sort of posts you make, most employees happily comply. Encourage them to use a professional looking photo and perhaps you could arrange a team photo-shoot as an incentive where they get to keep the images they like best. There is a great benefit of having staff engaged on LinkedIn because they will show up in your COMPANY PROFILE as staff members and whenever they post anything, it will reach a much wider network with a link to your company details. This helps demonstrate individual’s expertise AND staff’s alignment to the company. But don’t forget that when employees post comments, they sit with that individual rather than on your company profile. Your LinkedIn administrator can always add posts referring to company activity.
We’ve found that encouraging best practice for staff has definitely proved to be the most effective way (rather than a free for all or policing bad behaviour) so when you have an exciting piece of news, a new video or an interesting tip to share – why not ask your staff to share it too?
We’ve trained many companies, sales teams and individuals in how to use LinkedIn – and they’ve really noticed the difference. Let us know if we can help you too.
When you brief your web / graphic design agency – at what point in the process should you consider the site structure i.e. menus, navigation and content by page?
It is interesting that many clients want to see their brand developed FIRST with the graphic design coming soon after. They are then happy to consider the website structure at a later point. I think this is because this stage is exciting and motivational, as it gives meaning to the ‘idea’.
However, we believe that there are convincing reasons as to why you should consider your site structure at the EARLIEST stage possible.
The most important reason why you want to consider your website structure early on is because it is actually the articulation of your proposition. Your target audiences / key products / services / what you do / what you are known for / what makes you different – all influence how you will structure your site. This includes thinking about your main navigation menu, sub menus and any featured areas such as banners on the home page.
Only once you have considered these important issues – will you be able to write a really good creative brief which clearly expresses WHO you are targeting, WHAT you stand for, WHY people should believe you and WHO your competitors are. Your graphic designer will do a much better job if they understand all this and know how you want to express your offering and which aspects are most important.
Nowadays, websites are using two or more navigation systems. Perhaps there will be a top or side menu bar and in addition some featured areas (may be banners) for different products / services. There may also be a way to navigate by audience type or by the customers’ requirements. You’ll also need to think about how you incorporate your social media feeds, blogs, testimonials, case studies, shop etc. This makes it a bit more complicated at the design stage, but it provides better choice architecture for customers so they will engage with your site better and stay on page for longer.
There are some great free tools out there which help you structure your website called Wire Framing Tools
We also strongly recommend that you use a Creative Brief / Strategy document which once completed can prove invaluable to brief ALL creatives involved in the process including graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, photographers, PR and social media agencies.
So if you would like a hand pulling a Creatives Brief / Strategy together or you need help defining your proposition and website structure – just let us know.
With 17% of all online time being spent on Facebook, around 175 million daily Tweets and over 200 million LinkedIn users - social media is truly a powerful force in marketing. So is your BRANDING on these social media platforms recognisable, compelling and consistent with all your other collateral?
The ‘banner’ or ‘cover photo’ in social media is an important way to represent your brand. Facebook has recently relaxed the rules about what you can incorporate on this image so you can now include clickable ‘calls to action’ - a big improvement. But check out Facebook Page Terms for the details.
You might also like to think about your Twitter background graphic. As you have very limited word count on your ‘profile’ make the most of this area where URLs are clickable (links to website, LinkedIn, Facebook) and leave out phone numbers, service descriptions or strap lines because you can put them onto the background graphic instead (which you will need to design to fit). On the ‘profile’, the text is always white so choose this background image carefully.
With 20 years’ experience in translating brands across various media, Preview works closely with companies to help them communicate their brand on social media. We also help companies devise their social media strategy and provide half day training sessions for those embarking on their journey.
Consistency is a crucial part of branding and communications. When creating your brand, it's important to consider how it can be applied consistently across different media, e.g. from online to print.
Specialist fleet graphics manufacturer and supplier, PVL wanted a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to keep their customers up to date with current projects and news, as their customer and influencer profile ranges from informal contact to professional, senior decision makers.
For PVL, the same ‘banner’ image was deployed on their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages and we ensured that, for each platform, the logo displayed correctly as social media sites all use different size and format files.
We now work with the PVL team managing and monitoring the content and growth of the traffic through their social sites as well as promoting their online shop, building their e-commerce success.
At Preview we understand brand consistency and how this can help your business. Talk to us about making a consistent presentation on social media sites and engaging with your audience.
In this digital age it's a pleasure to be able to design new brochures for some of our clients. Ensuring brand consistency in print as well as online is an important part of the design process and through consistent use of brand imagery, type styles and presentation of the company logo we have been able to produce some invaluable collateral for our clients.
A4, 12 page brochures with pockets and inserts allow Independent Financial Consultants Sterling and Law to present the Wealth Management service to new clients, featuring striking images of some of London's most famous buildings that have now become key elements of their established brand.
Development business IMA International specialise in capacity building worldwide. A printed brochure that illustrates all of their courses and delivers their people focused brand is an important asset, which can be posted internationally and read in areas with limited internet access.
Our recent work includes square brochures for Allectra and Quest Professional. These corporate documents deliver their respective brands with clever use of imagery that ensures recognition and impact.
We recently launched the new brand identity and website for Evosis, a Brighton based business that enables organisations to achieve strategic, sustainable and systemic culture change and leadership development.
Our creative team worked on a new logo and colour pallette that reflected the theory of evolution as well as Founding Director Alison France's personality, before producing designs for a new website and a twitter company page. A suite of images was defined as part of the brand and business cards with a spot UV were also delivered.
The website was built in Wordpress in order to give the team at Evosis an easy to manage, update and maintain website which is also optimised for search from the outset. Ongoing SEO of the site with new content, blogs and integration of Evosis' twitter feed will ensure the site is kept fresh for search engines as well as a human audience.
"The preview team proved to be the perfect solution for my requirements. I wanted a re-brand (including logo, colours and images), new website with improved functionality and SEO, business cards and exhibition materials. The team worked well together producing a fantastic result which looks amazing and does exactly what I want it to. Thanks guys!"
We have just received the results of a recent survey (carried out in October) from the Chartered Institute of Marketing tracking marketers attitude, sentiment and outlook.
It details the findings from their first quarterly survey on marketers views, from all sizes of organisation and across industry - making it the largest and most representative study of its kind in the UK.
You can access the results in four different formats, from video briefings to infographics, top-line results to in-depth findings:
- Watch the animated results video
- See and share the results infographic
- Download the top-line results snapshot
- Download the full in-depth report
It’s only a few minute video and worth a quick look, we noted that:
- There seems to be increased confidence in business prospects, despite a relatively large proportion feeling that global economic conditions have worsened.
- Measurement is becoming more and more important (at last! What IS the point of spending anything on marketing activity if you don’t put metrics in to measure how successful it was or how much return you got for your investment!)
What’s your views, do you concur with those of the 1200 marketers who responded?