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Win a cuddly raccoon USB warmer!

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USB powered raccoon wrist-warmer

USB powered raccoon wrist-warmer

Win-a-raccoon competition

Win-a-raccoon competition

Here at Seven Creative, we’re offering you the chance to win a cuddly raccoon USB warmer.

All you have to do is like our Facebook page for the chance to win this cute little guy, who’ll keep you toasty warm in front of your computer until summer arrives.

We are great fans of them in the office, especially Ellie. It’s not often you’ll see her eagerly typing away without his cute little face peeping out from under an item of her clothing! As you can see from the desperate look on this one’s face, he can’t wait to be won.

We’ll allocate one winner from the first 25 people to like our Facebook page, and after 50 likes, we’ll allocate another.

Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seven-Creative-design-agency/135031813196711 or use the button below for your chance to win the lovely fellow! Good Luck!

Written by Chris

March 1st, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Seven Creative March Newsletter (17 March 2010)

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A note from the editor

Spring arrives

Spring arrives

With the snow just about gone, Spring finally arrives a few weeks late and, in an amazing coincidence, so does the the Seven Creative Newsletter!

In the news today, the marketing geniuses, Dominos Pizza, strike again with an astonishingly simple affiliate marketing-type scheme to exploit the recent social networking explosion <takes a breath>. The new advertising tool allows social network users to display an advert for Dominos Pizza on their Facebook page (or blog) which, when clicked, tracks whether the ‘clicker’ goes on to buy a pizza. If so, the person who displayed the advert earns 0.5% of the order. Genius!

Dominos pizzas might not be everyone’s cup of tea – even described as decidedly greasy and mediocre by some (not me, of course) – but you have to hand it to them when it comes to marketing, they’re way ahead of the pack! The original ’delivered in 30 minutes or your pizza is free’ advertising campaign was revolutionary – it caused people to order a pizza delivery, willing it to arrive late – which is incredible, however; it helped to create one of the largest brands in the world and gave us one of the first examples of viral marketing. With the impending launch of their new revolutionary marketing campaign, they’re now set to become one of the first companies to truly make social-marketing work for them!

In this issue

  • Marketing avenues you may not have considered
  • Very cost-effective direct mailings
  • Wireless network security issues
  • Free business promotion

Marketing your business – avenues you may not have considered

YouTube

YouTube

I did a little exercise recently examining exactly how Ebuyer conduct their marketing activity and it returned some very interesting results! Ebuyer have grown to become a big player in a very difficult and competitive Market through difficult economic times so must be doing something very right if they are still able to compete on a level playing field with the really big players!

When you’re thinking about your business and wondering what the best options are in terms of sales and marketing, a very good idea is to examine your competitors. You can quickly establish what they are doing that is different to you and how much of an impact it is having on their business. This can often be cheaper and quicker than trying new ideas your self but, more importantly, you may be surprised at what you find out!

One of the surprising marketing activities and revenue streams that Ebuyer use is an Ebay shop. This might at first sound counter-productive; however, there is a certain section of customers who are time-rich and money-poor who will shop around for the best price before buying. Ebay is a buyers’ market and many people who regularly use it believe that it will allow them to always get the best price. Ebuyer are able to access this potential customer base by association and therefore widen their potential customer base significantly.

One of the other surprises thrown up when examining Ebuyer’s wider marketing activity was their YouTube channel. You’d be forgiven for naturally assuming that a computer hardware retailer has no place on this video sharing website, however, they are in fact very active here.

Savvy internet users will use YouTube for product reviews and tutorials as the video element adds an extra dimension to the traditional instruction booklet or written review. When choosing, for example, your next mobile phone or notebook computer, you can see on your computer screen how it looks, feels and works. Once you’ve made your mind up, the next step is to find a supplier! The logical choice when watching a YouTube video provided by Ebuyer is to visit their shop. This again allows them access to another potential customer base.

In summary, the lesson learned is that when planning your marketing activity you need to be creative and open minded. Potential customers could be where you least expect them to be!

Direct mailing

Post box

Direct mailings

Did you know it might be a lot easier and more cost effective to send a direct mailing than you would have imagined!

Over the past few years, Spam has turned from a tasty meat-based product to a four-letter-word as our dependency on email increases. Direct mail, on the other hand, is currently going through a resurgence!

From 40p per letter including printing, envelope and postage, direct mail can also be surprisingly cost-effective!

Here at Seven Creative, we’re offering a new service where we’ll take all the hard work out of a direct mailing campaign. Simply tell us which business sectors you’d like to target, what you’d like to promote or sell and we’ll do the rest.

We’ll provide you with a marketing list (including primary contact name), design a full colour and fully branded sales letter and post it out.

Prices are one-off £100 for sales letter design and 40p per letter including full colour printing, envelope and postage (no minimum).

Contact us for more information.

Wireless network security

Government legislation that may be introduced within the next few months will place wireless network security responsibility with the person whose name is on the bill. If your network isn’t secure you may be liable for illegal downloads, which, in turn, may lead to broadband service loss, legal action or worse! Many wireless signals can be picked up easily from neighbours’ houses or by wireless devices nearby so it’s never been more important to make sure your wireless network is properly secured.

All modern routers allow you to create secure password protection in order to connect to the wireless network securely; however, many allow connection without a password as default. As a rule-of-thumb, you’ll need to connect to your router directly using an Ethernet cable to change the password and the control panel is usually accessed via a web browser.

For further information, PCWorld.com provides a good article on wireless network security including explanations of terms:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/130330/how_to_secure_your_wireless_network.html

if you’re still concerned you can get an on site visit from our resident computer hardware wizard, Kristof; give us a call to arrange.

Promote your business for free

Promote your business for free and drive extra traffic to your website

Promote your business for free and drive extra traffic to your website

One of the best steps you can take from a search engine optimisation point is to create contextual inbound links to your site, or to put in another way, links to your site from within an article relevant to your website and using your keywords and phrases.

As a newsletter subscriber and customer or friend of Seven Creative you’re invited to write an article or business profile about your business and we’ll publish it on our blog site. This will help with your search engine indexing and bring extra visitors to your site

Email us for more information

In the next issue

  • Building your personal brand – how and why
  • Grown-up IM for business and pleasure – saving you money
  • Virtual marketing department – working for your business

…and finally

This brings us to the end of another newsletter and towards the start of Easter. This time of year is a time for friends and family and naturally reminds me of something I once heard on the subject of friendship:

“Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings” – anonymous

From all of us at here at Seven Creative, we wish you continuing success and a prosperous year.

Seven Creative February Newsletter (12 February 2010)

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A note from the editor

The year seems to be flying by – I have no idea where January went which is worrying as I’ve not touched anything stronger that Horlicks since New Years Eve! As I write this we’re already over a ninth of the way through the year with only 271 shopping days left until Christmas so it must be that it’s all-systems-go here at Seven Creative Acres – our diversification and sales push seems to be working a treat and we’re busier than we’ve ever been!

In the news at the moment, Toyota’s recall of the 2010 Prius along with 2 other hybrid models comes on top of 2.3 million cars already recalled has sent their share price plummeting. The prognosis, however, looks quite good. From all accounts, Toyota will survive this crisis and, no doubt, will emerge stronger than ever. They may have initially expanded too quickly, however, they were perfectly placed to weather this particular storm. What can we learn from this? Toyota concentrated on quality and reputation and built a brand towards which consumers feel loyalty and trust. The words ‘quality’ and ‘reputation’ sometimes seem anachronistic these days in a world of cut-throat business, however, they have served Toyota well and the company will undoubtedly remain as successful as they ever were.

In this issue

  • Who owns the intellectual property rights to your website?
  • Ever accidently deleted an important file?
  • What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
  • Which browser do you use?
  • Domain name maketh the site – when to use a hyphen
  • What is a .DOCX or .XLSX?
  • Promote your website for free

Intellectual property rights – a word of warning

When we produce any kind of design work for our customers, from websites to leaflets, we automatically transfer the intellectual property rights of the work to the customer upon final payment. This is something we believe to be fair, ethical and is clearly outlined in our terms and conditions. If one of our customers decides they’d like to take the artwork elsewhere in the future, they’re free to do so. This also applies to domain names, photography, logos etc.

You would be forgiven for assuming that this was just standard practice in our industry.  However, we’ve recently taken on a new customer who has been very poorly treated by her previous design company:

When she decided she wanted to upgrade her website she approached us and we presented a proposal, which was accepted.  She then approached her previous design company to inform them of this and to request administrative control of her domain name and her website files in order to allow us to move the hosting and upgrade her site. She was shocked with the response. The company abruptly informed her that the website, its content and all the imagery and design belonged to them and was further informed by them that if she used any elements of the site without their permission, she would face legal action.

Luckily, the domain had been registered in her name so we were able to transfer administrative control directly. If this had not been the case, this would have also been lost.

This, in our opinion, is totally unethical but just goes to show that unless you have these issues clearly outlined when you enter into a contract, you may have no rights to your website or artwork if things turn sour!

We would like to point out, however, that, in our opinion, commissioning a bespoke design (rather than the purchase of template artwork) would infer IP transfer at the point of completion.  A commission, by its very nature, is a piece of work undertaken for you.  Imagine having a portrait painted and then the artist telling you it always belongs to them!  On a day in court, I think she would have won, but who wants the stress and expense in undertaking this?

Obviously, we’ll not be mentioning our new customers’ name, but the company who treated her so badly, on the other hand, were ‘webworksinternet.com’. If this is the type of service they provide to their customers, I’d avoid them like the plague.

Recovering deleted files

Piriform Recuva logoI have a little free application installed on my computer that I use surprisingly often to recover ‘permanently’ deleted files. The trouble with installing an application like this after you’ve deleted that important file is that there is a good chance you’ll overwrite it and therefore properly permanently delete it.

Recuva by Piriform is a compact and intuitive application that scans your hard drive for deleted files and allows you to restore the files it finds. The application is free and takes up no system resources until you actually need it. I’ve used it and would recommend it to anyone who might be in a position where they need to recover an important document that has been accidently deleted at some point.

Download it from the Piriform website: http://www.piriform.com/recuva/download/standard

Conversion rate optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation is probably not a phrase you’re currently familiar with.  However, it is something you’ll undoubtedly come across at some point if you start optimising your website. Basically, the difference between a ‘sale’ and ‘no sale’ can be, for example, down to the colour or font of your ‘buy now’ button. Making small adjustments and monitoring how it influences your conversion rate allows you to optimise the look, feel, layout and content of your website which will ultimately mean your site provides you with a better ROI.

A design decision, even when based on years of experience, is sometimes still just a ‘best guess’ but conversion rate optimisation will help you to make decisions based on real usage data

Browser comparison

Google Chrome Internet Browser LogoSometimes is seems that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is never out of the news – security holes, urgent updates, compatibility issues and downing street petitions to phase out Internet Explorer 6 to name a few – and, more recently, even the German Government warned web users to use a different browser to protect security!

Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser, but is it the best? I stopped using it several months ago due to the unreliability and clunkiness of the browser. Obviously, due to the nature of my work I have to test websites on all the main browsers.  However, internet explorer began to become more of a liability than something to actually facilitate my work.

When Chrome came along, I discovered a light-weight and fast browser, which speeds up my online experience and proves to be extremely reliable. Chrome is the free browser provided by Google and has already rocketed in popularity since its release in late 2008.

I personally find Mozilla Firefox to be slow, heavy and clunky – not a great deal different to IE.  Safari, on the other hand, is less buggy, however, I’m used to the Miscrosoft shortcuts which don’t always tally up with the Apple browser.

If you’ve not tried Chrome, why not give it a go? It’s changed my online experience for the better and shown there is a better way to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever use IE as my primary browser again!

Choosing a domain name – when to hyphenate

As more and more of the best domains are registered it becomes harder to get the right one. Many people will initially consider compromise or shortening their business name, however, this may not always be the best solution.

Something which is not always considered is the humble hyphen. Did you know it can often help your visitors or potential customers find you as the hyphen often breaks up a string of letters into readable words. One of the most high-profile examples is the National Lottery. Their domain name ‘national-lottery’ is easier to read than with the hyphen than without: nationallottery.

Another issue to consider is from the search engines point of view. A search engine will match a search term against a domain name without prejudice, or to put it another way, if your domain name contains words that have been formed by putting other words next to each other, the search engine will match them.

One of the most infamous examples of this is the Mole Station Nursery. Originally, a perfectly innocent website for a genuine nursery based in New South Wales, they quickly became famous on the internet when someone pointed out their domain name implied something else: molestationnursery.com

This example is an extreme one.  However, it shows that this nursery could have avoided any embarrassment with a humble hyphen or two to break up the words.

Just for a bit of fun, here are some other famous examples of domain names that could have benefited from a hyphen:

  • Experts Exchange – expertsexchange.com
  • Therapist Finder – therapistfinder.com
  • Powergen Italia – powergenitalia.com
  • Pen Island – penisland.net
  • Who Represents – whorepresents.com

What are DOCX / XLSX?

If you’ve ever come across a file with a .docx or .xlsx extension and not known what to do with it, read on.

Microsoft’s Office 2007 brought many changes including new file extensions for Excel 2007 and Word 2007 documents. Whereas Office 2003 documents are forwards compatible with Office 2007, the 2007 documents are not compatible with the 2003 version or prior versions and this is where the problem lies.

The cynical amongst us may speculate that this may have been done to encourage Office users to upgrade to the latest version, however, this isn’t actually necessary.

Not many people know this, but there is a compatibility patch you can apply to MS Word 2003 and Excel to allow you to open the 2007 version documents and use them as normal.

More information and download available from here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/ha101686761033.aspx

If you’re using Office 2007 and you’d like to save a document in the older format meaning it will be compatible with 1997, 2000 and 2003 versions of Office, simply click on the top-right windows button, select ‘save as’ from the  drop down menu then select Word 97-2003 document.

Promote your business for free

Inbound website links are one of the most important elements when it comes to Search engine optimisation. Of the different types of inbound links you can have, direct, on-way contextual links are brilliant when it comes to helping your site index well with search engines and driving traffic to your site and we’re giving them away for free! If you’re a customer or friend of Seven Creative / Seven Website Design, simply write a title and paragraph about your business and send it to us and we’ll put you direct a link on the Seven Creative Blog. Simple as that! No strings, no cost. Give us a call if you want more information

…and finally

This brings us to the end of another newsletter. If you’re still with us; congrats. 1800 words is quite a pile to plough through! To reward you for your dedication, I’d like to leave you with a final thought:

“Whenever I see a man with a beard, moustache and glasses, I think, ‘There’s a man who has taken every precaution to avoid people doodling on photographs of him” – Carey Marx

Wishing you a continuing happy, successful and prosperous 2010 – Chris and the Seven Creative team