Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Going the extra mile

At which point do you say that’s a good enough service to the customer and stop? At what point do you say that’s all you’re getting?

It’s important to have that limit in order to ensure your services are in line with your balance sheet and not too resource draining, but it’s also important to ensure that your competitors aren’t drawing that line way after you. If you’re offering limited after sale service, extras or advice, whereas your competitors are “going the extra mile,” which company do you think your audience will choose? Where you can, show your audience they’re appreciated. If you’ve spent so much marketing money advertising to get their custom in the first place, why not go the extra mile to keep them.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

What is Brand loyalty?

Have you ever wondered what Brand loyalty actually is? A lot of companies and their marketers will go on about how they have such a large base of loyal followers who will only consume their brand, but how true is that. Or is it simply the case that they have the best offering? That they are the cheapest, most convenient, hold the most prestige or invest the most in marketing?

A consumer is only truly loyal to a brand when they have viable and attractive alternative options, and still choose the stated brand over them. This only happens when a lasting, interactive and deeply resonant relationship has been created, developed and nurtured by the organisation. Creating a loyal brand following is costly, time consuming and detrimental to short term goals, but in the long term business strategy it is consistently the best way of ensuring survival and long term stability, regardless of your competition or what obstacles are thrown at the company. Creating experiences, a sense of community and the feeling that the consumer is appreciated and loved all create the level of intimate relationship which creates strong brand loyalty.

Companies such as Nike, Apple and McDonalds have spent fortunes on developing brands which create communities with their consumers and in which they can experience direct relationships with, and as such have extremely loyal followings who wouldn’t even consider consuming their rival’s offerings. How can you create and develop relationships that will create the same level of true loyalty?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Good Marketers are Psychologists

What is it that makes a good marketer? Being a good sales person? Being able to read markets? Being able to intrigue journalists? Being able to create a strong and desirable brand?

Being a good marketer involves being consistently good in various disciplines, but in my opinion the most important is being able to read minds, actions and incentives, and act appropriately. In other words, being a good psychologist. If you can step into your audiences shoes, consider what makes them tick, what motivates them, what scares them, what they desire, which specific language they will react to, etc, then you can create advertisements which they will react to and you can create offers and promotions which they are likely to purchase.

There are numerous complicated and resource draining neuro-psychological techniques that marketers can use that analyse and assess consumer decision making, but as a basic and simple technique, just look at your target audience and consider what makes them tick, what they’ll react to and how they can be reached effectively.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Luck - Way too important to leave to chance

                Have you ever noticed some people just seem to get all the luck. Picking the right stock to trade in at the right time, happening to have an umbrella before it starts raining, finding the bargain buy in amongst the rip-offs. Well, the same applies to organisations. However, rarely is luck as simple as it seems, lucky companies know the art of creating their own luck through insight and preparation.
                Some things in life are just too important to leave to the roll of a dice. The success of your business definitely counts as one of these. If you aren’t looking to the future in times of calm and prosperity, to potential threats and opportunities, then you’re steering your ship blindly in the hope you’ll get lucky and ride into a golden lake. Whilst this certainly has happened in the past, a far more common repercussion of following this strategy is to ride into an iceberg. To make the golden lake option more likely, proper evaluation of the opportunities and dissecting of the threats of the following factors is essential;
 -          Political - Are there specific political factors which may be beneficial or detrimental which can be used to your advantage or prepared for? I.e. trade restrictions, tax laws, labour laws 

-          Legal - Can you foresee any new laws/regulations coming into motion which may affect your business and how you run it? If so, what can you do to pre-empt and negate the negative effects or use the positive effects to your advantage?  

-          Technological - Any new technologies which can be used to the companies advantage, or that may make any aspect of the companies offerings obsolete

-          Social - Any trends that can be foreseen, i.e. changes in average age, career attitudes etc. How can these be pre-empted in order to use them to your advantage

-          Trends - Any trends such as the popularity of specific past-times, popular T.V. shows, clothing styles etc.

Whilst some of these factors seem hard to pre-empt, companies have made millions and created strong and sustainable brand equity based upon their ability to foresee the potential and threats from the stated in their marketplace and so act and counter-act appropriately. Profitable companies are very rarely in that situation because they are lucky. They are in that situation because they have the insight to evaluate their marketplace diligently and prepare for any scenario, like a ships captain steering through calm waters preparing for any unseen obstacles ahead. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Loyalty schemes

     Many large organisations such as Supermarkets, Airlines, retailers etc have loyalty schemes such as club-cards, vouchers etc aimed at promoting repeat purchases from customers and so gaining long term brand loyalty. These schemes are a brilliant way of showing customers that they are appreciated, creating a fear of loss and switching costs if they want to use a competitor and creating a level of comfort for them. However, it’s not just large organisations that can utilise this strategy to their benefit.
     Whatever the size of your organisation, as long as you have customers, you can treat them to a loyalty scheme. If you are a small coffee shop, why not have booklets which you stamp every time a customer has a coffee and after so many visits they get a free beverage? If you are a local taxi company, why not add discounts for customers regularly booking? If you supply to local businesses, why not add incentives for them to repeat purchase from you, such as added products? It may create an initial cost which seems unattractive on the balance sheet, but the intangible strength added to the relationship with your customers in the long term will create a very profitable return on investment.

     What is often not considered by companies is that customers want a relationship with their brand, even as far as they will actively seek such relationships. Having a company they consistently use creates a sense of security and comfort. They know what they are expecting, they have an emotional attachment and they do not have to worry about the risk of an inferior product or paying for a service they are not content with. If you can give them a reason to return, they will usually take it, and the longer the relationship is strewn with incentives the stronger it will become, creating an invaluable level of true brand loyalty.