Tone of voice | Pauhu Translations' marketing blog

Owner gives up fight – Finnish Isis changes its name

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Bank refused to forward payments, PayPal froze funds.

Helsinki-based translation agency Isis Translations has quit the battle over its name. The company is changing its name to registered trademark Pauhu Ltd.

“The real Isis is known as the benevolent goddess of creativity. Unfortunately, a certain infamous organization started using the same name. I’ll let you guess the resulting consequences”, says company MD Linda Ahlblad, motivating the name change.

In the fall of 2014, Isis Translations asked the media to call the other organization by its self-proclaimed name, IS (Islamic State), instead of the abbreviation “ISIS”, which the organization itself had stopped using. The name has, however, never gained a foothold in Finland.

Ahlblad says the translation agency has met surprising challenges in its international operations, ranging from denial of service attacks from abroad to various refusals.

“A certain bank refused to forward a payment to us, since the recipient was Isis. US-based money transfer service PayPal, on their part, has repeatedly demanded explanations for our payment transactions. Some of our funds are still under PayPal investigation”, Ahlblad continues.

The company’s new name, Pauhu, is an old Finnish word (meaning ‘rumble’, ‘roar’ or ‘thunder’). No organizations bearing the same name, whether good or bad, are known to exist.

“Pauhu has a far-reaching sound to it. It is also a perfect fit for a Key Flag company, promoting our Finnish origin”, Ahlblad states.

Pauhu Translations specializes in clever marketing translations. The agency features a network of approximately 40 translators, translating into all European languages, as well as Russian. Its clients include American Express, Mercedes-Benz and Ruukki. Pauhu follows the terms of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters and is the only translation agency accredited with the Association for Finnish Work’s Key Flag.

 

Additional information:

Pauhu Ltd, Managing director Linda Ahlblad, tel. +358 (0)40 866 8669, linda@pauhu.fi – www.pauhu.fi

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Customer magazines show appreciation

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There was a time when customer magazines were regarded as second- and third-rate publications. “Real” journalists turned their noses up at them and swore on whatever was available for the purpose that never ever would they as much as touch them with a ten-foot pole.

However, as so often happens, the world changed – and there’s no going back. If in the old days the most expensive grades of paper, finest images and best stories were found only in top-brand consumer magazines published by prestigious agencies, the situation has certainly moved on from there. Nowadays the best-looking periodicals and many of the best articles and reporters can be found almost as often in customer magazines as in traditional publications.

There have always been good customer magazines. Finnair’s well-known Blue Wings is a customer mag of the very best calibre. Its content and appearance have invariably competed well against even the best public magazines (though it must be remembered that Blue Wings has always been put together inside the publishing department of a bona fide magazine publishing house). Publications like Blue Wings are characterized precisely by how good they are, as well as the high quality of their content – quality in which all manner of marketing dazzle has shone in its absence.

A customer magazine is at its best when it serves or entertains its readers in all channels used by the customer. To ensure that any publication is either browsed through or read, it must generate some kind of added value. Marketing spiels are the least interesting content of all and – luckily – an increasingly vanishing species of publishing tradition.

The purpose of a customer magazine is not to simply sell anyone a product right here and now. Its readers frequently know that they are reading a company publication, and understand that the enterprise wants to have or keep them as clients. It is precisely this that represents careful cultivation of a customer relationship: that the maker of the magazine – in this case the company – appreciates its readers so much that it is willing to go to the trouble of providing a publication as a service to them. This is called a magazine/reader relationship.

In the hierarchy of periodicals, so-called coffee table magazines have ruled the roost. These are publications that are meant to be left for guests to see on the coffee table – status symbols that define the status and value system of their readers. Many customer mags have reached this point by operating exactly the same way as so-called “real” magazines. They have given attention to the quality of content and appearance, taken their readers’ special needs into consideration, and responded to these aspects by still giving them a little more.

Business enterprises have woken up to the potential of customer magazines. A well-done customer mag increases the attraction of the company’s brand as a whole. Most have understood that, for example, there need not be a dozen stories about cleaning in a customer magazine for the cleaning industry: in fact, the content of a customer mag should not restrict itself to the field of the parent company and spreading its gospel.

A carefully conceived and well-executed article on a fascinating theme tells the customer that s/he is appreciated. Once respect is earned, it is not very easily lost. If an enterprise cares about its customers so much that it offers them a customer magazine on top of its other products and services, that positive message travels far and wide.

After all, a good story is a good story when told in a customer magazine as well!

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A city without moving ads

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Cityscapes embrace a certain sort of dazzle, including taped-up trams and multicolured illuminated advertisements. The quantity of adverts illustrates the total number of services and the city’s scale of activity. They’re also part of the everyday aesthetics representing a fundamental part of all cityscapes – but everything can nevertheless be done well or poorly, elegantly or without any sense of style.

When there’s an abundance of advertising, it no longer gets noticed. Advertisements and posters on buses and trams turn them into tape-covered moving commercials – a flow of images with low entertainment value that may even irritate viewers.

In Helsinki’s Kalevankatu street, there is a 37 square metre billboard, where each advert rotates 8,500 times a week. Media sales reps claim that the message reaches a million people a week. Hopefully marketing decision-makers don’t swallow this. One could also claim that in a week, one million people turn their gaze elsewhere. It does have attention value, of course.

Moving ads have become a form of visual contamination which could be prohibited entirely. It’s been estimated that it would be a significantly better key resource for advertising as well as profitable for business if the City of Helsinki were to become an advertising ‘free zone’ – that internationally famous and rare little town where no advertising exists at all. A peaceful, safe, clear, beautiful, relaxing venue.

Sao Paulo – Brazil’s largest city – has already managed without advertisements for close to ten years. There was an aspiration behind the ban to cleanse the city of rubbish and excessive stimuli, as well as to intervene in visual contamination. Curtailing outdoor advertising increased active participation in commerce. When the big adverts disappeared, small signs took on new value. Underneath the flood of commercial advertising, buildings, information placards, rest stops, street names, people, shop windows and the logos of enterprises came into view.        

The amount of advertising can be an indicator of success in a capitalist world, but it may also be a measure of despair. Or one of uncertainty. Some want a sea of advertising similar to Times Square or Broadway, but this sort of wistfulness is closer to being pitiful.

Helsinki could take a bold step forward and start with prohibiting moving advertising displays entirely and dedicating the sides of vehicles and walls of construction sites for advertising cultural events instead.

The regulation and control of advertising sites could be targeted at healing the cityscape, improving the enjoyment of street dwellers and residents and, through this, at boosting business for shops as well.

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Document your content marketing!

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Today, many are considering how to reap the best harvest from their marketing. The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs conveys an important piece of advice: a documented content marketing strategy has been proven to boost marketing. In other words, sales suffer if the strategy remains empty words instead of being written down.

Only a third of the B2B marketers responding to the questionnaire actually had a written strategy for content marketing within their organization. About half had a strategy that had not been documented in written form.

In addition to being documented, it is essential that the strategy is meticulously implemented. According to the survey, less than half (42 %) observed their strategies precisely, with half fairly precisely. To the Institute, the conclusion is clear: the most influential marketing occurs when the company has a strategy in writing that is also observed and meticulously implemented.

Thus – go from words to deeds, put your strategies on paper, have a clear road map for implementation and be active!

Read report

Warm autumn greetings,
Isis Translations

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Sponsored disappointment

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Media publishers who put their trust in native advertising and sponsored content apparently have a big problem on their hands. According to the Reuters Digital News Report 2015, published this summer, 33 per cent of British and 43 per cent of American respondents had been disappointed after reading an article that they only later realised were sponsored content.

Half of the respondents in both countries reported that they did not like sponsored content but accept it as part of free news content. Only 13 per cent of British respondents and 22 per cent of the Americans regarded sponsored content an interesting way to learn about topics of personal interest to them.

The message from these readers is clear: paid content should not be concealed under the cloak of journalism. The wheat must also be separated from the chaff in story-telling. Figures showing such low levels of interest indicate that native advertising still requires considerable development.

The Council for Mass Media (CMM), which monitors media ethics, recently issued a statement clarifying the difference between journalistic and commercial materials. New guidelines were hammered out by the key actors in the field from newspapers and magazines, television and radio.

The practices in various media channels have been versatile and diverse. There has been talk of sponsored cooperation, associate blogs, partner content and radio programme enablers, for instance. In one way or another, the frequently colourful terminology rather coyly blurs the fact that some external party has paid for and determined the content. On the other hand, it is implicit to the basic sacrosanct principles of journalism that editorial decision-making is never surrendered to interests beyond the editorial office.

CMM recommends that mass media uses the word ‘advertisement’ for notices, commercial messages, advertorials and other traditional commercial content, because as a term it is unambiguous and highly familiar. The word advertisement must always be used in newspapers and magazines and on radio, television and the Internet when there is a risk of confusion, or if the general public are incapable of easily differentiating whether the relevant item is an advertisement or a story. The party that pays for an advertisement is called an advertiser.

The Council noted in its statement that the traditional terms ‘notice’ and ‘advertisement’ have been shown to be overly general in native advertising, for instance, where cooperation between the mass media and its partners can be highly creative. Paid content can also be marked in this case with the term ‘commercial cooperation’, which clearly notes that journalism is not what is in question. The name of the advertiser in the same connection also indicates with whom the cooperation is being practised.

As far as commercial radio is concerned, CMM recommends that radio broadcasters distinguish between advertising and journalistic content by explaining the commercial cooperation at the beginning of the programme, at suitable moments during the programme, and at its end, as well as who the partner and programme sponsor are at the time.

The new guidelines have managed to attract a certain measure of fresh confusion and criticism. One of these misunderstandings should be corrected: not all notices need to be distinguished from other content by the word ‘advertisement’, and only in those instances when the content of the notice resembles editorial content in style. For example, the words ‘death advertisement’ need not be added to obituaries.

It should also be remembered that this concerns a recommendation: CMM will not automatically hand down a punishment if it is not observed. The Council will consequently assess the whole matter at a later stage to determine whether the advertisement content emerges clearly enough to the reader, viewer or listener.

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Badly targeted ads harm credibility

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A large retail store sends me a weekly newsletter with subjects such as "Products just for you"! You might think that the advertiser would know my preferences based on two decades of holding their loyalty card, but no! Not one of their popsicles, bags of potato chips, sausage packs or Coco Pops have found their way into our household’s shopping cart in over fifteen years.

A few inaccuracies would be acceptable – but when there isn’t one single interesting product on the list, it just seems like junk mail. When the expectations for a personal approach are high, errors hit the wrong spot much harder – which harms the advertiser’s image.

Inaccurate targeting can also be seen when using various devices. Browser-based analytics can’t keep up with my shopping habits. I often compare alternatives on my tablet computer but actually purchase the service on my laptop. Some offers appearing in my tablet computer’s browser or – even worse – in my email  – have already expired. This is really frustrating!

I think the most unpleasant ads are the ones where a company’s Facebook fans are obliged to tell others about their “likes” – “(Your friends) A, B and C like service X”. Many are not aware that they have given their permission for their names to be used. When they find out about the advertiser’s activities, almost everyone removes their “likes” for the service’s Facebook Page – and conceivably in real life as well. Unpleasant advertising eats away at the advertiser’s image as well as at people’s attitude towards advertising in general.

In Finland, 65 per cent of the population relate positively to advertising, whilst 22 per cent react negatively to ads. The common objective of the marketing communications field must certainly be to preserve or improve this situation, instead of increasing negativity with inappropriate approaches.

Digitalization has brought us many good things, but it isn’t smart to do everything just because it’s technically possible. An appealing and interesting advertisement certainly stands out from the crowd to a receptive audience. In that case, an ad doesn’t offend or irritate – even if the product itself isn’t particularly interesting to the individual.  

As old-fashioned as it may sound, Finns consider printed newspapers the most attractive advertising channel. Up to 43 per cent of Finns would prefer to receive their advertising in printed newspapers. The second most attractive channel, television, is supported by 12 per cent of the population. Social media services lag far behind, even with regard to young people.

Although people spend a considerable amount of time on social media, it’s not currently considered to be the best advertising channel. This has been confirmed by a number of research studies, such as the Finnish National Media Survey, the Community-reinforcing Media Report or even Kari Elkelä’s doctoral thesis. However, when we consider the targets of increasing interest among advertisers in the Advertising Barometer Survey, printed media clearly appears to be falling, whereas social media is increasing vigorously. The hopes and wishes of Finnish people and the intentions of advertisers are diametrically opposed to each other.

If the question was about more than sales and the resulting sustained increase of net sales, jobs and well-being of people, this would be fun. However, at the moment it’s just sad. Can advertisers really afford to irritate people by seeking their attention in ways that they don’t want at all?

Have the sales results really been so wonderful and sustainable that dislikers are simply free to go? It would be a good idea to have an open discussion on real short- and long-term results.

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Owner gives up fight – Finnish Isis changes its name
Linda Ahlblad, Pauhu Ltd | 23.6.2016
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