Tag Archives: customer

Campaign Planning is in the B.A.G.

campaign planning

 

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

9 tips to help you to outsource the planning of your next marketing campaign.

I am going to write about campaign planning later, but I want to explain why, first. I attended the launch of a very exciting initiative by a group of SMEs last Tuesday in the Green Isle Hotel, just outside of Dublin City. The founding members are putting together a Business Action Group (B.A.G. – Facebook & Twitter), who have decided to do it for themselves through collaboration, with a focus on sales. 250 people turned up to hear various presentations from business people, ranging from retailers and dragons to bankers and serial entrepreneurs.

The message for all attendees was loud and clear, throughout the day – know your customer, know your business proposition and persevere.

Part of the schedule was a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation from three attendees to a panel of judges including Gavin Duffy, Ramona Nicholas and Niall Harbison. Here are some of the main points I took from their session:

  • Clearly understand why you are in business.
  • Realise who your product / service is for.
  • Know where your audience is and what they do (offline and online).
  • Network, network and network and listen to feedback.
  • Know why existing customers buy from you.
  • Your customer service is your marketing.

It was good to hear that in order to optimise your marketing, the old truism still applies – have the right message delivered to the right people at the right time and in the right location. And, if you don’t focus, listen, segment and respond in a relevant way, you may be wasting a lot of your time.

What we do, make or provide is irrelevant if it isn’t focused on the customer – O’C&K.

Stages of a marketing campaign plan.

As I spoke with fellow attendees (way too many to mention here), during the breaks, two themes kept reoccurring – 1) the notion that B2B marketing is difficult because it is boring and 2) the question of how to plan a marketing campaign. I thought that I would address both themes by way of content for this blog post.

From a communication point of view, there can be a perception that B2B marketers lack creativity as compared to their B2C peers. Also, that campaigns focused on businesses are dull but those focused on consumers are (can be) exciting. I don’t believe that this is necessarily true but if it is, I think that sometimes, marketers (or their brief, if outsourced) forget that organisations are made up of real-live people also!

Business buyers are also consumers in their own right and in this instance just happen to be buying for their company. They may be married, have children, play sport, blog, are social media fanatics, watch TV and go to the theatre. Normal people like us! They don’t change into another species when they don the business attire. They are looking for something everybody else is looking for – a simple solution to satisfy their needs or requirements.

In fact, isn’t everybody today looking for simplicity – in their workplace, in their schools, and where they buy things. No matter who they are, technology is assisting and empowering all types of people to simplify their lives and marketers (and businesses) must respond. My point is this, whether you are a B2B or a B2C business, your audience simply wants to see the benefit for them of working or doing business with you. Simplicity should not mean sacrificing creativity when campaign planning.

I think the best way to address the second theme is to outline the stages of campaign planning.

  • Setting campaign goals – what are you trying to achieve and how will you measure it.
  • Determine a target audience and insight – why will they respond to your call to action.
  • Agree the key campaign message – your positioning and the story around it.
  • Develop a media plan and a budget – what channels to use to reach your target audience.
  • Plan engagement strategy – how will you make contact and convert (online and offline).
  • Include action from existing customers – WOM techniques e.g. social media shares.

This is just a basic outline of what should be involved, but it was what I was discussing with our fellow ‘baggies’, at the launch. Actually, speaking of planning customer engagement, Amanda Coleman from Sugar & Spice made plenty of new friends at the event. She had a marvellous display of her product (candy buffets) which proved to be extremely popular with everybody, when they (ahem) were encouraged to sample same.

Sugar & Spice Candy Buffet

Good marketing is the same as it always was.

At O’C&K, we meet a mix of B2B and B2C organisations that want to outsource some or all of their marketing. Irrespective of which one they are, the same issue arises about marketing. They expect us to show them where the easy button is, where our magic wand is to solve their marketing problem. Unfortunately, we have to point out that there is none.

That is because good marketing, whether online or offline is the same as it always was. Of course tools and trends may change, but the first rule of marketing will not, – ‘know your audience’. It is why we spend a lot of time with clients determining their real audience, and why the message from the B.A.G. launch resonated with me so much.

Tips and Timesavers.

If you don’t have the inclination, the time or the experience to undertake campaign planning, of course you can outsource all or some of it. Here are some tips to remember, if you plan to do that.

  1. Find people who can relate to your passion – they should be able to replicate your energy.
  2. Work with people who offer value – time is precious, don’t let others use yours.
  3. Focus on what the media is worth to your business – not just the cost or the deal.
  4. Marketing materials don’t have to cost a fortune – work with people you can trust.
  5. PR is not dead – but agencies must have a proficiency in online reputation management.
  6. Know who the influencers are in your industry – bloggers, magazine editors, speakers etc.
  7. Marketing outsourced should increase your capacity and capabilities –winning teams collaborate.
  8. Research is essential – online tools are available and many are free. Only pay for new research.
  9. Make sure the marketing activity is relevant – people have never had it so easy to switch you off.

To finish off I want to focus on a few common reasons why campaigns may fail. The most common is, not knowing whom you want to do what. You must be aware why those people will even listen to your message – what’s in it for them? The second most common reason is not pre-defining success. It will only be successful if the campaign objectives are linked to business objectives.

The strategy should connect the ‘why’ with your brand. My third reason reflects the points mentioned already in this post – a lack of creative thinking. Marketing requires ideas that engage people either through entertainment, problem solving or education. We believe that almost all agencies can provide a business with creative ideas. What happens sometimes though, is that the campaign brief to the agency is not clear for reasons one and two above. This is where you just might need to outsource these skills to the experts.

 If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

 

 

Ways to build a desirable brand

Your brand name in lights

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

A desirable brand emanates from a customer’s positive experience.

There is plenty of evidence out there to prove that when brands are managed pro-actively, they can become valuable assets for a business. What I want to chat about in this post is how you might arrange the building blocks of a desirable brand so that it appeals to potential customers. Let’s face it, people tend to pander to their desires. It must follow therefore, that they ‘desire’ particular brands or else they wouldn’t remain as customers or offer repeat custom. So, if  their positive experience of your brand is making them think, feel or act differently, then you have found the holy grail of business – a loyal customer ready to become an ambassador for your brand.

Many company owners will admit that growing their business, on a day to day basis, is a challenge that requires their ongoing attention. That, in itself is fine but in this unprecedented era of customer power, it is far easier for customers / prospects to ignore you, than ever before. As a result, owners are being forced to change from being focused on their business to being focused on their customers. This might not be an easy transition for most but, if they’re not being smarter about marketing, they might well end up having a great business which no one knows nor cares about.

Balancing the energy required to make a brand customer- focused and to make the business profitable is not easy for a business owner. One option is to outsource if you don’t have the in-house experience. Whether you decide to outsource some of ‘the energy required’ to professionals or decide to do it alone, in this post I want to outline an audit process to help you. Based on our own set-up experience in O’C&K, I believe that there are 4 basic areas you should consider initially; –  yourself, your audience, your competitors and your desirable brand experience.

Knowing Yourself

Whether you are an existing business or in a set-up situation, something must have spurred you into action originally. It may well be an incident in a previous employment, a monetary need or a passion that you have always wanted to explore. You might simply be basing your business idea on particular strengths that you have amassed or inherited. Whatever the motivation, try and visualise how it might be infused into your brand. When attempting this, one thing to be conscious of is the personality trait that your business ‘idea’ will require – if you don’t match personally, join with somebody that does. If you’re lucky, your personal story can be brought to the brand, to make it more human and interesting. A ‘beating the odds’ story, your training, your experience, specific talents, your personal background are all good places to start. Ask yourself, does your experience ‘fit’ with the brand you can visualise.

For instance, between Aidan and myself (O’C&K), we have at least 50 years practical experience in the communication business. Aidan specialises in creative concepts and marketing management and I my background is in creating and implementing sponsorship and corporate giving programmes. It is these specialities that we are building the O’Connor & Kelly business around. Initially, when discussing our projected brand personality we had to determine what makes us unique, what our core beliefs that will make our brand desirable, our commitment, whether we could incorporate our hobbies and what emotions people attach to us, individually. It was only after this ‘soul searching’ that we could agree on the actual service we could offer, the goals and the message.

Knowing your Audience

Here is a list of characteristics that you might use to build a profile of your audience. Gender, age, generational values, income levels, where they live, marital status, children and their interests. If they are online, any blogs they read, websites they visit, TV shows they stream and social media activity. It would be great if you could determine career / education levels. Only face to face contact may be able to determine the following, but it can be researched if they are active online – know their frustrations, their hopes, why they might need your service, where they ‘shop’ and is there anything that you have in common with them already.

Knowing your Competition

There will always be someone in your niche that offers the same service or something similar to you. All you have to do is know who they are. When you do – then just apply the same questions to them as you did to yourself (see above), to determine how much of a competitor they really are. For example, how do they describe their offering, is it the same in price and quality? Are they better at something, are they chasing the same audience, is their identity professional and are they online? What is their marketing activity like, their tone, their colours and their style? Are you hearing anything about them from your audience, are they catering already for the same need that you have identified and in your opinion, are they a desirable brand?

Knowing your brand experience

I have said in many posts to this blog previously that branding is way more than a nicely designed business identity. In our most recent post, here, it was emphasised that it is the participant’s experience before, during and after an event that drives return business. Similarly, it is the experience that your audience encounters which creates the ‘desirability’ of your brand. You must build the goodwill if you want WOM promotion by your customers.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here is a sample checklist of some elements that may form part of your planned brand experience:

  • being accessible – opening hours include being online.
  • keeping your word – doing what it ‘says on the tin’.
  • making them feel special – delivering more than they expect.
  • helping people – being informative and a good citizen.
  • being honest and gracious – seeking feedback and acting on it if appropriate.
  • having fun – looking after the customers that ‘look after you’.
  • being accommodating – being consistent and reassuring

Only when you have decided on your values etc. and what your customer is going to experience, should you embark upon creating a business identity and how it will be used. More than likely you will employ an outside agent (you should) to do this, and O’C&K are very well equipped to help you with this should you so decide. Basic elements would include a logo, an ID package (design style, colours etc.) and a web presence. Please resist the urge to go overboard with the design element and bear in mind that you will probably be adapting to your audience as your business grows.

Two final things, 1) give your brand a face and preferably one that is recognisable, be that yourself, an employee or a mascot and 2) infuse everything you’ve decided upon under ‘knowing yourself’ above, into your brand. We have a guide, here, on our website that might be useful to you when planning a marketing strategy.

When all is said and done, a business that delivers a community- like understanding that, ‘we are all in it together’, will be seen as an authentic and desirable brand to do business with.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

 

Your brand should not be the story, it should be in the story.

Taking a break from writing your brand story

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

It’s not your message – it’s their story.

My thoughts on the effectiveness of advertising stories were reignited last Sunday. I was one of the millions of people watching the Super Bowl. In the run up to it I was also getting my head around why a company would shell out $4m for a 30 second ad, to be aired during the game.

Being in Europe, I didn’t get to see the ads live on the big screens, however, YouTube has footage showing 17 of the best, if you want to check them out. I was interested, though, from a marketing point of view. I wanted to see how good the ads were because let’s face it, if they are going to be viewed by 100 million people, I guess they had to be pretty good. Before I looked at them, I formed a mental checklist to use as a measure for effectiveness, as I watched them. Here’s my unscientific list:

  • Is it obviously directed at a target audience and would it connect?
  • Does it reflect the brand, as I see it?
  • Do I ‘get’ the message easily or is the product irrelevant to the ad content?
  • Would anybody care if the brand didn’t advertise – will I remember it.
  • Is it integrated with other marketing activity.

Sorry, if this all sounds a bit boring, I know there will be masses of research done by professionals to determine what did and what didn’t work, at the event. Of course I appreciate that there are different dynamics for judging any type of advertising but for me from a marketing point of view, and the only one I shared on my Facebook page, was the Hyundai ad. I think it satisfied my list above, except I can’t be sure about the last one as, I’m not aware of their other marketing activity. What do you think? Did any of the advertisements have a profound effect on you? Anyway, just to put a smile on your face here is a clever and funny video in relation to this topic by Adobe Marketing.

Now that I’m on the subject of advertising, if you’ve read some of my previous blogs, here and here in particular, you’ll  know that I’m not a great fan of ‘broadcasting the message out’ to customers. If you are / were in the marketing communication business you will remember ‘penetrating’ the market looking for customer eyeballs and monitoring ‘traffic’ to collect data. Rarely was there a mention of having a conversation with the customer.

Tips and Timesavers.

We all know that an individual recommendation can be way more influential than most types of marketing. Word-of-mouth has always been a strong factor in influencing behaviour but historically, it was usually on a one-to-one basis, currently with social media tools the ‘one’ is talking to thousands. So the trick here (actually it’s not a trick at all), is not to blast out your message but to join the conversation in an effort to stimulate positive mentions. Businesses can do this by providing a good experience, that is relevant to the customer / prospect and therefore creating a shareable story. Your brand should not be the story, it should be in the story. I was just wondering how many of the ads at the Super Bowl related to their customer’s story? I still think the Hyundai people got it very close.

All of your marketing activity should be aligned with a focus on what’s relevant to your customers. A lot of SMEs appear to be put off being online because they are afraid of negative comments and damage to their reputation. At OC&K we are constantly amazed at how many times we have to explain to the ‘doubters’ that people may be talking about them anyway – so if you’re not online managing your own reputation, then somebody else is.

Anyway, as alluded to above, isn’t it much smarter to be working with your customers and forming a relationship with them rather than shouting at them with your message. Ultimately, you are looking for your customers to share, mention and generally promote your brand because they want to, based on their experience. They won’t do it because of their demographics or because they’ve ‘liked’ your Facebook page.

I don’t suppose we’ll see any research from the Super Bowl advertisers showing if the viewers changed any behaviour because of the ads, but I’d say the half time experience might have driven sales for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Bruno Mars, alright.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

 

Humans relate to smarter communication.

human idea

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Make your customer feel part of a club.

If you were ever an employee in a large company in the 1990s, you most likely will remember the framed posters around the workplace, reminding us that ‘The Customer is King’. Personally, I’ll never forget reading Fergal Quinn’s 1990 training book, Crowning the Customer. It was like a beam of light breaking through the darkness. For the first time, I was reading about focusing on the customer as the cornerstone of being successful in business. It was explained quite simply as, getting customers and keeping them by looking after them.

At that time, I was working in the marketing communication area of a large company, and I thought that at long last, a business practitioner was talking sense because they had put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Frustratingly, for me, all the usual challenges and cultures that are embedded in the functioning of a large organisation meant that it was hard for our team to convince other departments that focus on the customer’s needs, was all that mattered. However, that’s not the subject of this post. What I want to talk about here is that having left my employment, mentioned above, and set up O’C&K with a business colleague approximately 10 months ago, the importance of a total customer focus, has once again, come beaming through.

70% of customers return because of the way you make them feel.

Needless to say, when you set-up a business, you don’t have a marketing budget per se so you must really focus on meeting customer’s expectations, if you are to survive. Instead of formal marketing therefore, you rely a lot on word-of-mouth, which is based on how the customer feels about what you have delivered. If they don’t feel good, at a minimum, they’re not going to share their positive experience with their friends etc. And anyway, why would they be bothered telling anyone if you haven’t differentiated yourselves by over delivering and making them feel special. Our experience in O’C&K allows us have a passion for excellent communication and our sharing that passion with Irish SME clients enables them to focus on their customers in a smarter way. We operate our client list like a club.

Either way, whether a big or small business, no matter what books are written, or however smart your customer communication is, what will never change is that 70 percent of people do business with you in the large part because of the way it makes them feel. (Source – McKinsey). I think Gary Vaynerchuk nails it in this excerpt from one of his books;

“People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business … even the best of what formerly passed for good customer service is no longer enough. You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob’s shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren’t your customers, wish they were.”   – Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

I am not proclaiming that OC&K are reinventing the wheel here – but seriously, doesn’t treating your customers like members of a club seem like an obvious and human way to run your business. Most people thrive on belonging to something be it through sports, politics, a cause etc. and it makes sense that they would look for suitable brands even more so in the current changing business environment. This is what we strive to build with our company. We want to establish a community of clients learning how to do business in a smarter way, together. To this end we are basing our approach on three activities;

  •  Making our customers feel part of something special, repeatedly.
  •  Over delivering – for free.
  •  Making them feel important.

Tips and Timesavers.

So, put yourself in the shoes of the customer – what would you expect from a company you want to be proud of or be in a club with? – here are my expectations:

  •  Acknowledge me as a person not a number.
  •  Communicate with me on my channels.
  •  Be transparent about everything.
  •  Stand by your customer communication / your beliefs.
  •  Thank me every now and then.

To summarise – we know that people don’t want to be sold to anymore, and we are certainly aware that customers won’t put up with bad products or services any longer. In addition, there are many ways that customers (and prospects) can avoid listening to marketing communication. Plus, more than likely they have already researched products / services online and with friends before approaching a vendor, at all. So if OC&K are to remain relevant, useful and interesting in this complex world, we believe that forming a ‘club’ of clients that can grow their business together will go a long way to ensuring that positive recommendations are being shared with prospects. We’d love you to join our club.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

 

 

Being smart about your customer relationships

measure love

If you want me to love you, treat me as a person not as a consumer.

I want to chat about something that’s been on my mind for a while now. In truth, people have probably always felt this way but I’ve worked in ‘marketing’ so, I would have segmented and targeted audiences – mea culpa.

We are human beings – not consumers.

I am writing this, not as a confession but as a rationale as to why all of us in business need to be smarter about marketing.

The societal change that’s underway right now will affect much more than the traditional marketing we practitioners knew and loved so well. You know what I’m talking about – the MadMen thingy. The funnels of love, big campaigns, slick TV ads telling the customer why they’d be better off with your product / service. It was all about agreeing a message with the client, broadcasting it to a target audience and promoting it ‘through-the-line’. Sure a lot of it worked – (nowadays that impact is lessening), but it wasn’t really about building any real relationship with the consumer, if we’re to be honest.

Authentic relationships.

As I mentioned, the change that’s happening right now is affecting much more than marketing but it may have serious implications for it and thereby clients, if not addressed. Look at what’s happened to the music industry, what’s happening in traditional media and even what’s happening to TV viewership.  After decades of broadcasting messages at people, we need to take off our blinkers and realise that society’s attitude, to almost everything, is different. Not only from a geopolitical or economic point of view (which they are) but the individuals that we so badly want to ‘sell’ to, are changing, big time. They don’t want to be sold to anymore – they want relationships. This is important for business because it is through relationships that purchase decisions are now been guided and made. So if business can develop the kind of authentic relationships that last, we have a chance of survival. Today, the public wants what they want; business can adjust to the new reality or fool ourselves into oblivion.

So if the essence of business has not changed and is still all about relationships with people – what do we need to change? Our attitude, that’s what. There are loads of new and better tools available to enable businesses to be smarter about their relationships. Let’s use them properly and everybody will be a winner.

This is our very first blog. It is our intention to provide readers with marketing tips and timesavers in future blogs. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K