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A Marketeer’s work is never done


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I was asked to do a presentation to Hull University Students this week on Digital Marketing.  After mulling over how I should approach the lecture, I  have to admit I was a little bit nervous about talking to a group of young adults about one aspect of Digital Marketing….social media, which I was sure they would know more about that I do.

It occurred to me that whilst they might know more about social media tools than I do but did they really understand how it might be applied in the work place and in particular for smaller businesses.

I did wonder if businesses will recruit graduates and expect them to be social media experts because they use the tools a lot in their personal life.  Using Facebook/ twitter/ snap chat to communicate with friends and find out information, is a lot different to coming up with Digital Marketing Strategies and generating sales and growth for companies.

Hull University Business School had a real awareness of this concern which is why they invite guest lecturers to come and talk about their real experiences of marketing for a variety of organisations.  It is often a criticism leveled at Universities that they teach theory but graduates are not prepared for the world of work.  This was certainly the case when I left university….many moons ago!

By doing a case study on the digital marketing I have used in marketing a medium sized family business I hoped to demonstrate to the students how the tools they are familiar with (Google, Social Media, Video, Email) could be used to market a business and a brand. I talked about the challenges we face (constant change, budgets, resource);  the things that have not worked so well for us and the remarkable (and unexpected) success we have had.  These successes inlccuded increasing sales of used cars by 46% following a PPC campaign; increasing our reach on social media by 1200%; and the great feedback we have had from customers on our videos.

I also wanted to show that marketeers can not rely on just one medium to bring in the sales and that digital tools can be used for different things.  We have not generated any sales through Facebook, for example, yet but our audience and engagement with customers and potential customers has increased.

Finally I wanted to show students that marketeers are never done!  Marketing and in particular Digital Marketing is constantly changing and you can feel like you are always behind the curve.  The key is to be open to new things, keep an eye on trends and be prepared to keep learning.  In a way you never leave university, your degree is just another step in the journey to becoming a marketer, that is something they do not tell you in a text book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Single Lady Walks Into a Car Dealership


makemarketingwork:

Interesting perspective, as a woman working in a dealership in the UK I do not recognise all of the experiences that the blogger had but she clearly met some very backward thinking individuals and some of the comments made to here are just unacceptable in this day and age. If I heard any of my sales team (we do have women as well as men) speaking to a customer in this way I would be furious. The blogger too the right approach……. if you go in prepared with the facts and do a bit of research yourself then you can always stand your ground.

Originally posted on Applied Social Trigonometrics:

Buying-a-Car

My family has owned early 90s Hondas for as long as I can remember. Our longest-maintained one, known alternately as The Terminator or the Honda of Doom for its menacing facade, resplendent with a missing gas tank door, and its ability to handily deal with every challenge and small animal thrown at it, long ago passed the 300,000 mile mark. It’s still going strong in its second life with a younger relative.

Three weeks ago my erstwhile Honda, a 1993 Accord affectionately known as Beige Betty with more than 209,000 miles on it, formally announced to everyone on I’s 70 and 63 in Missouri that she was in her death throes.  Heartbroken, I took her to a garage where the staff did a very poor job of concealing their disbelief when I asked whether it was worth it to repair the old girl. “…I mean…no. No. Look, you really shouldn’t…

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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Internal processes vs genuine customer satisfaction


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This is starting to become one of my major gripes!  I know a blog should not be about letting off steam but I am sure I am not the only marketer working in a SME that has the same frustration. This feeling has led me to ask the question again, what is more important…making sure that your customer has a genuinely good experience or ticking a box to say that you have followed a process deemed to be “best practice” in offering good customer service?

I think we all know the answer in theory but in practice it is harder to get that point across to your team and suppliers.

In the dealership world we navigate the intricacies of working with car manufacturers whose marketeers, working in far flung locations, come up with up with grand schemes to improve sales and customer service. Now I am sure that there are some very bright and enthusiastic people working in these offices, but how much do they understand the day to day customer interaction in dealerships ?  In my experience not much.

The latest obsession is what they call their “CSI programs”  I can not remember what the “I” stands for but it is something to do with customer satisfaction and boy do they know how to make it complicated.  Dealers are set targets to achieve and as usual there is a, not insignificant, financial incentive to wet the appetites of Dealer Principals.  But in reality they also require a great deal of resource and, as one of our Managers commented last week, the financial incentives available may just about cover the cost of employing someone to satisfy the requirements of the CSI programme.

It is not that I have a problem with asking customers if they had a good experience, far from it.  We all know how important it is to check that they are happy with the service they got and whether they thought it was good value for money. Any business worth its salt will already be doing that by developing ongoing relationships with customers through open dialogue and transparency.  Is it really better to send them an email with a bunch of questions that they have already been primed to answer in a certain way by a Customer Adviser, just to meet the Manufacturers targets?

I think we have to accept that asking customers continually for their feedback might not in itself be conducive to a great customer experience. As consumers we are asked every 10 seconds for our feedback on this and that…buy a car……..”tell me about your experience”, buy a tin of beans….. “how did it make you feel?” Order a product online ……get a 10 page questionnaire on your lifestyle and what you like to do at weekend.

So when I get a letter that starts with:

“Customers tell us that the follow-up call received after they have visited your service department, is the icing on the cake.”  

I really want to just groan and lock myself in a darkened room for the rest of the year!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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I hang my head in shame


I can not believe it has been 9 months since I last posted in this blog.  Time has certainly flown by and there have been many changes.  At the time of last writing I was working on setting up a marketing consultancy as an off-shoot to my family business.  I have worked in marketing for the B2B sector, namely in professional services and I felt like I had something to offer other businesses that could perhaps not afford an in-house marketing team or who wanted some expert advice in an area they needed help with.

I worked with some fabulous companies on social media marketing and business development but, as inevitably happens, life takes over.  The demands of work in my family business increased and I made the decision late last year to concentrate all my efforts on improving the sales of our business and give up the consultancy work.

Suffice to say I have been a busy bee learning all about the convenience store sector and retail marketing… hence the neglected blog!

I make a promise to you…but mostly to myself to rectify this at once by sharing the journey I have been on from B2B marketer in professional services to B2C marketer in retail.

Stay tuned…..

 
 

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Twitter – We really are better connected


Last night I attended homage2fromage, a Leeds based cheese club.  The club was the brain child of two cheese lovers Nick and Vicky, and in the 6 or 7 months it has been running they have gone from a small gathering of 20 or so cheese lovers to a membership of over 80 people. It was a really great evening of learning about and tasting Italian cheeses, it was also fantastically social and I met loads of really interesting people.

The cheese club started and was promoted through the social network Twitter and last night there was lots of people meeting face to face, for the first time, who had already interacted on Twitter.  It got me thinking about the social network and how it has impacted on my social life and my involvement in the community that I live in.

There are lots of noises about social networking being the death of conversation and social interaction.  There are even some scaremongers who would have us believe that the future sees us all locked in our homes only interacting on-line and becoming socially inept and lonely.

I beg to differ, by using social networks such as Twitter I have found out more about what is going on in Leeds and my local area and I have genuinely felt more connected to the place I live.  I have met new people and developed both business and personal relationships.

Last year I attended an event called the Clandestine Cake Club, where people who love cake and baking get together to eat cake and make friends. Started in Leeds the organisation has used Twitter to generate interest and build a network of cake clubs all over the world.  I first saw a tweet from Lynn, the founder of Clandestine Cake, and I started to follow her and connect with others with a passion for baking.  I have now attended 3 cake clubs, met some great people and had some fab nights out.

Through Twitter I have been to bars and restaurants that I would not have discovered and art exhibitions and events that I would not have known about, all of which have expanded my horizons and taught me something about the city I live in. A year ago I responded to a tweet from Culture Vulture about an opportunity to get involved with Yorkshire Dance as a volunteer.  I responded and I am now a volunteer on their marketing committee.

I moved to Leeds about 5 years ago after living in London and Sydney and I was constantly bemoaning the fact that there was nothing going on in the city, I was wrong. I just didn’t know about it and didn’t know how to find out.  Twitter has opened my eyes to the wide range of stuff that is happening and more importantly encouraged me to get involved.  I feel more connected to the place I live and the people in it.  I was speaking to a fellow cheese clubber (Ewan Mitchell) who suggested that Leeds has really bought into Twitter, more than other cities, if this is the case I think other cities can learn from the “Leeds Experience”.

Social Media is a tool that individuals and businesses alike can use to engage, excite and converse with an audience but the real power is translating that into real life connections and relationships.

 
 

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What works for you or what works for your customers?


A couple of experiences recently have prompted me to think about how process and procedures adopted by businesses can impact on the customer experience.

I recently purchased an item from a concession of Coast in a department store. I went into a Coast store to return the item but was told I would have to return it to the department store.  Aside from this being irritating and inconvenient it got me thinking…..the item is a Coast product and is on sale in their high street stores, so there is no difference in product, so what was the reason behind the store not being able to accept it back?

My conclusion was that really it was down to the internal processes in place at Coast and/or the department store, probably as part of the concession agreement or for accounting purposes.  To my mind who made the rule is immaterial, the question it raised for me as a marketer is, are company’s policies and procedures reviewed with the customer in mind?

Another instance was when completing my tax return online. After receiving a plethora of codes, passwords and unique reference numbers, I finally needed to speak to someone as my online account was not working.  The phone system was a myriad of press 1 for this 2 for that, 9 for the other, I must have been through 3 long, confusing and unclear menus when I was directed to the website and cut off.

Again the question in my mind was, for whose benefit were these processes put in place? Certainly not the customers!

Of course the banks, phone companies and Inland Revenue will tell you that automated phone systems are the best way to direct your call to the right person.  More often than not I suspect it has more to do with managing volumes of calls so they can reduce manpower.  Whilst customers are left frustrated by waiting times, unclear direction and annoying messages telling them their call is important when it is clearly not.

From the moment a customer engages with an organisation, whether it be over the phone, on the web or in person they are experiencing that organisation’s internal procedures.  Yet I wonder how often marketing get involved in the formation of these procedures and to assess their impact on customers?

I would argue that it is certainly marketing’s remit to get involved in this and below are my tips for finding out how your internal processes and procedures impact on the customer.  Using these will help you identify bottle necks or over complicated procedures before they have a negative impact on your customers.

  1. Find out what it is like to be a customer of your organisation, if your organisation is large enough for you or your team to be anonymous make mystery calls to sales reps/ customer services/ your online help team and accounts. Browse your website (how easy is it to find your phone number, the product you are after or the location of the business), attend an event (how easy is it to register, what information do you receive, how are you greeted on the day, are you introduced to the right people)
  2. Employ a mystery shopper to test all of your routes to market,  to return a faulty item, query an invoice, reset an online password, visit reception, make a complaint or attend a marketing event.
  3. Do some customer experience research, all too often marketers ask customers about the attributes of products and services they want, but how often do we ask about how they would like the product or service to be delivered? E.g. how would they prefer delivery (using Royal Mail or a Distribution Company could impact on their ability to pick up if they miss the delivery).  Do customers like your automated call answering or would they prefer to talk to a person in the first instance? Is your reception area welcoming?  Is your payment process clear and straightforward? How easy is it to return an unwanted item?  How easy is it to park at your premises?
  4. Liaise with other departments in your organisation, ask them questions like why is it that invoices are processed in this way, what is the procedure for logging complaints, why is the returns policy this way, how come customers can’t call the sales team? How come our reception area is not manned?  Why can’t the sales team see the same customer information as accounts? Often these procedures are there because “its the way its always been” and that they are not that effective internally either. You may find that there are other advocates for change in your business.
  5. Report back to the senior management team on your findings and suggestions for improvement.
  6. Review regularly.

There are some organisations that get this right.  I recently had a very positive experience with LK Bennett, which demonstrated a good linkup between their phone-based customer service team and their stores and Amazon who always impress with their slick and user friendly ordering and distribution service.  Good examples of where process and procedure are driven by customer need.

If you are a business that would like help on understand your customer’s experience and improving your processes to meet customer need  contact me on jer@josrichardson.couk or call 01405 764525

 

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Believe It or Not, There’s Life Beyond The Family Business


Really great interview with a third generation female owner of a family business.  Talks about the challenges of working in a family business and the benefits of working outside the business.
Believe It or Not, There’s Life Beyond The Family Business.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Business, Family Business

 

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