Friday 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas and New Year

It’s been a quiet month for Getting to Excellent. A week away in the beautiful land of Norway, marvelling at their vast acres of twinkling Christmas trees, has thrown my blogging schedule. And now it’s Christmas.

2010 has been an interesting year in all sorts of ways. As social media and email marketing has taken off, so it has become more important than ever to remember that marketing is all about people, and relationships. Technology is still just an enabler in building relationships, not a replacement for it.

But Christmas and New Year is really about getting in touch with friends and family. As well as business colleagues you haven’t seen for ages. At least there is one time in the year when we all make the effort to re-establish contact.

So as 2010 draws to a close, I’d like to wish all Getting to Excellent readers a very happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read the occasional post, and agreed or disagreed with what’s been written. I look forward to seeing you in 2011.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Promotional gifts that stir emotions

Christmas time is a time for gifts - enormous amounts of money will get spent on presents for loved ones this Christmas.

But all year round marketers use thoughtful promotional items to enhance their marketing. A recent study by the Institute of Promotional Marketing measured people’s responses promotional gifts. They found a high emotional reaction to well-pitched promotional items: a reaction normally associated with pornographic images, in fact. This has been backed up by other studies. Whilst the pornographic bit grabs headlines, that's not really the point. The point is that they stir positive emotions in us.

This is interesting. In business, just like at children round a Christmas tree, we love getting gifts. And if it’s something useful/pretty/nicely packaged, we respond very positively to it. And we remember the positive feelings associated with the promotional gift.

This is extremely important for marketers. If you are going to give something away, make sure it gets the response you want from the person who receives it – whether that be loyalty, remembering your company or buying your product or service.

Recently I was on the receiving end of two promotions that were giving away £20. Both companies had worked out what it was worth to get my custom, and were offering £20.

In the first case, the offer was made in a letter that had clearly been sent to a large list of people. As it turned out their computer systems weren’t good enough to recognise when I responded, and I had to argue with them to get the money. No warm feelings there. But it still cost them £20.

In the second case the £20 came packaged as a beautifully branded plastic card. It was enclosed in a laminated card folder with “We appreciate you custom – here’s a gift” printed on it. It was beautifully produced and a joy to open. It will be a joy to spend too. This company perhaps spent a little more than £20 but gets wave after wave of warm feelings from their promotion.

In a world that is increasingly digital, it is a useful reminder that people still respond to physical gifts; whether they may be a voucher, certificate or package with a well-chosen item inside. We may be older than when we first hung up a stocking for Santa, but it seems our emotions are still the same.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Who is your hero?

At the end of a long and busy day yesterday, Notting Hill was the perfect antidote. The film required little or no concentration, brought a surprising number of smiles to the face, and could be switched off part way through because the story is older than most hills round my way.

The film is all about Julia Roberts (aren’t all Julia Roberts’ films?). She plays a Julia-Roberts-type actress called Anna Scott who falls for ordinary Notting Hill bookshop owner William Thackeray. Will’s little sister loses no time in telling the famous Anna Scott just how much she loves her films, and how they have just “got to be best friends”. It’s as silly as the rest of the film but this no-holds-barred star worshipping made me think about few heroes we have these days.

I’ve been rereading David Ogilvy. He was a real advertising and direct marketing hero, described as a genius by many. Yet his genius followed a careful study of other great men’s work. Raymond Rubicam (also of advertising fame), Dr George Gallup (for whom he had worked) and Claude Hopkins were all credited by Ogilvy as major influences on him.

The world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffet, was a great student of Benjamin Graham’s work. He apparently has read his book many, many times over.

Whatever our field or specialisation, we all need heroes. We all need to look up to someone who has excelled and contributed lasting value.
"If we can see further it is because we stand on the rungs of a ladder built by those who came before us."

Friday 3 December 2010

Where have all the salesmen gone?

Have you noticed there are no salesmen anymore?

They have all morphed into business development professionals, account managers, or client service executives.

Yet we make sales; not developments, or accounts, or client services. We make sales and are pleased about it because our businesses depend on sales in order to survive.

David Ogilvy apparently had a sign on Ogilvy & Mather’s wall that said:
“We sell. Or else.”
It was there to remind every art director, every copywriter, every account manager and every print buyer that the purpose of their business was to help their clients sell more stuff. And as Ogilvy & Mather grew it helped to keep everyone grounded in this very simple philosophy; their business is to make money for their clients.

According to the very nice chap at Ogilvy’s the sign is still on the wall. Probably not the same sign, but I’m sure David Ogilvy would be pleased. He might have also renamed the Group Communications department the Sales Department, but I can’t be sure.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Make contact; make someone’s afternoon

I’ve said it before, but making contact with someone seems to be pretty much always the right thing to do. Whether it’s a customer, a prospect, someone you’ve just had a row with, your boss, or an old friend. About the old exception I can think of is an old flame. That’s a bit trickier …

Yesterday I made contact with someone I have known for a long time, but who doesn’t know me. I’ve kind of admired them from afar. So afar that I wasn’t sure they were still alive, until recently. But he is very much still alive, doing great work, moving and shaking as much as ever before. How excellent is that?

And he replied. Said it made his afternoon. It made me wonder what kind of brilliant morning he'd had. The rich and famous, huh?

Working in difficult and stressful times can make us introverted and unwilling to make contact. But it’s so rewarding. And interesting. And it just might make someone’s afternoon.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

The Customer Intelligence Journey

When I started my career I couldn’t understand why EVERYONE didn’t want to be in marketing! To my way of thinking, it was the central activity for any company. Despite a long career in or close to the marketing function I still feel the same way.

Without marketing, no one knows about your product or service. Without marketing, no one knows how your product or service might help them. Without marketing you have no business.

Yet marketing has become more complex over time. The emergence of the internet and social media mean that would-be customers have many more options to familiarise with your product and service, as well as your competitors’ products and services. And alternatives to both. Today’s purchaser has the opportunity to be better informed on a wider variety of subjects than ever before.

Marketing people are slowly waking up to the fact that whilst the consumer is getting more clued up, so, perhaps, should they. They are starting to think about how much they know about their customers and prospects; and beginning to realise that it’s less than they thought.

It’s not that the information isn’t there. No. It’s just that the information is all over the place: in different systems, in different departments, in different formats. It hasn’t been entered correctly, or checked. It hasn’t been cared for in the way that someone might care for something that is REALLY VALUABLE!

The Customer Intelligence journey is that of starting to understand your customers and prospects by looking at the information you have, as well as the gaps: and starting to make some sense of it all.

It’s a journey because getting to know people is an on-going process. A process that requires smart use of today’s sophisticated technologies, and a process that requires a different way of thinking about what’s important in business. A process that starts to put customers at the centre of things.

A place I’ve always felt they belonged.

What’s your experience of understanding your customers and prospects from data within your company? Have you started on the Customer Intelligence journey? Are you considering it? Leave a comment and join the conversation!