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How can creating an individual customer view add real value to your data?

February 10, 2010 by Phil Capper

Companies are generally very good at collecting customer data. They have processes and systems in place to record every touch point a customer has with them. Whether it be in-store, online, through an email or direct mail campaign or via telesales and telemarketing, behaviour is tracked from various sources and saved into various systems.
However, all too often this data is not integrated, it is stored in different locations or departments (web databases/offline databases/telesales databases etc) and is never consolidated into one central location. As a result companies fail to create an individual customer view and ultimately miss seeing the value of their data.
This is because segmented customer data can’t be analysed for trends or buying habits and opportunities to cross sell or up sell are missed. Most importantly, you cannot build a relationship with your customer without knowing everything about them.
By using an intelligent data management solution that will automatically pull customer data from your various sources into one central database, you can start to build an individual view of each customer, learn everything about them and begin to build valuable, meaningful relationships.
When you can see, on one simple interface who your customer is, their browsing and buying history, what messages they respond to, how they respond, at what time, what they like and don’t like you can communicate with them in a relevant and targeted way, learn about them and understand how they interact with you. By doing this you begin to add real value to your data.
The next step needs to be taken in data capture and individual customer views need to be created to ensure trends and behaviours aren’t missed or ignored and businesses can begin to learn about every aspect of their customer.

Phil Capper of Parker Sandford Ltd

What makes up a brand?

February 10, 2010 by John Hayward

So if it's not just your name and logo what is it? A brand will be made up of a collection of different perceptions that will have been built up after exposure to every aspect of your business. This can be a myriad of different things:

  • Product design and experience
  • Packaging
  • Sales experience - your sales people or distributors
  • Service experience - during the sale and after
  • Advertising messages and straplines
  • The way you look and sound - imagery, colour, fonts, personality and tone
  • Your website, blogs or mentions on social networking sites
  • The price, and how you discount
  • Your reputation
  • The shop, office or factory experience
  • Uniform, badges, vans and trucks 
  • Your people
  • The logo
  • Your name

Any one person could be exposed to all or just one of these variables, that when mixed together form the brand in their mind. There are many ways you will be able to influence what the brand means to people, so you can steer its direction.

Left untouched and uncared for, without clear direction, your brand will take a course that will lead to fewer and fewer customers. So have a think about the list above – and see what sort of brand you’re presenting across the board.  Is it all working to a common direction and goal?  Is it the direction you want it to take?  If not, you may just need to get clarity and some help setting the direction.  It doesn’t take long and will be well worth the effort.

John Hayward of Brand Glue

Seven tips on how to choose the right design team

February 09, 2010 by Sara Drawwater

The benefits of quality design are often lost because it’s so easy to choose the wrong designers to work with. However, if you choose wisely and get your design and marketing team right your business will communicate professionally, consistently and dynamically. The result of such a winning formula is what we all want – increased business. Follow our seven top tips to choose the right designer.

  1. Go for a broad skill base. You need to partner with a designer who understands the many ingredients that come together to make successful communication tools – a designer who is creative AND understands marketing, communication and business principles. You should be looking for skills that include design, copywriting, marketing, ability to produce web and paper based communication tools and project management. For example, there’s no point in having the snazziest website design if the navigation is so poor people never get past the home page or if the word content of the site switches viewers off!
  2. Portfolio’s speak. Look for a range of design solutions for an assortment of clients. A broad portfolio shows a designer can do what they’re meant to do – successfully communicate different messages to varying target audiences.
  3. If a designer asks lots of questions that’s a good sign. To produce good results, a designer needs to fully understand your business. To find out everything they need to know they need to ask you the right questions. So don’t be put off when a designer asks to meet you, clarify things or even comes up with a design questionnaire!
  4. Go for price confidence. Designers that know they provide profitable solutions are price confident. They won’t shy away from a price discussion but neither will they throw a random price at you without assessing what you need. And they won’t offer massive price discounts as soon as they sense any hesitation from you, rather they will be able to explain what value they offer you.
  5. Be impressed with a detailed estimate. There’s nothing worse than a big black hole swallowing your money. Rather, a quality designer will understand that you want to know exactly what your investment is getting you. Before you invest make sure you know what is and isn’t included.
  6. A good designer will stay in touch. It’s difficult to know if a designer will do a good job of keeping you informed during a project if you’ve not worked with them before but you can often tell from the standard of communication during the early stages of the project discussion and proposal submission.
  7. Testimonials serve as a good guide. It shouldn’t come as a shock to a designer for you to ask them for some testimonials. If they’re any good they should have loads! In fact they should be readily available either on the designers website or submitted in their proposal.

Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to finding the right designer to partner with on a long term basis – a designer who will positively affect your profitability. If you’ve got this far then, well, we tick all of the above so you can always choose us!

This blog post by Sara Drawwater originally appeared at

Shoreditch brews up a dis-loyal community

February 08, 2010 by James Ainsworth

Shoreditch’s bustling café society is thought to be the first place to offer customers a disloyalty card in order to drum up business for local independent baristas and reward customers for trying new places in the area.

The loyalty card is a well-established consumer psychology tool but the idea of collecting stamps from eight different coffee houses in order to gain a free coffee was dreamed up by award-winning barista Gwilym Davies to combat the homogenised high street coffee culture.

The reason behind teaming up with fellow independent coffee shops arose due to the overwhelming demand and lengthy queues at Mr Davies' shop on the back of winning the World Barista Championship.

Initially he tried suggesting nearby alternatives that he recommended on a whiteboard, something that might be the last thing a small retailer might want to do in a very competitive and cost-sensitive industry. But as a supportive gesture for fellow traders and to help satiate the increasing lust for good coffee, it still wasn’t enough and so the disloyalty card was born.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Mr Davies' business partner, Jeremy Challender, said: “There are a lot more places opening, and as prices are the same, it seems a shame a lot of people haven’t experienced high quality coffee. It’s totally different to what you get in a high street chain.”

The partnership has seen eight independent coffee shops join in with the venture which, if successful, could see the consumption of 45,000 coffees and a new culture of using local coffee traders and award winning baristas that are passionate about the content of the cup they vend.

As a retailer, would you try a similar scheme with fellow businesses?

Brand positioning

February 05, 2010 by John Hayward

People like to understand what they're buying into, and see if it fits their values and what they're all about. It could be quality, cool, innovation, value, leadership, surprise, luxury, expertise - the list could go on and for any one brand incorporate an appropriate combination of these.

That core brand promise and positioning sits at the heart of everything. We call it brand glue, and it drives many different business decisions and activities including your marketing. It knits everything together and is something that needs careful thought, so it reflects your brand truthfully and as far as possible is different from your competition.

Think BMW aligning behind a premium driving experience, Nike making sportswear for winners and Disney uniting behind a goal to provide happiness and magic. Things wouldn't be quite so effective or memorably unique if they positioned themselves to make expensive cars, colourful footwear and somewhere to take the kids with a good line in mouse hats.

Similarly, confused thinking and lack of clarity can reflect in a confused customer. Imagine if Tesco wanted to state they were the leading supermarket in the country, the best. Let's also add in great service and low prices. Ooo but lets not forget it's an innovative supermarket too for good measure, and the fact that they're pretty keen on the environment. Far easier to remember they want to do everything they can to help you with your shopping down to the tiniest little detail. Everything else is just features.

A well looked after brand will eventually become clearly understood and familiar, as well as something that customers are willing to spend their money on.  That’s good brand positioning.

John Hayward of Brand Glue

How headlines build credibility

February 03, 2010 by Karen Purves

You can learn a lot from reviewing old advertisements. Sure, they may not be sophisticated but going back to basics is a good way to gain clarity on your own material.

Waterman’s Fountain Pens advertised as an independent company for nearly 100 years before being taken over by Sandford who still have the brand today.

By taking an overview of the headlines, you can understand how they can support the positioning of your company.  Building credibility takes time and this is why it makes sense to consider the long term impact of headlines on your website, brochures, direct mail and advertisements.

By keeping in mind where you want your company to be in three to five years, you can create headlines supporting that desired positioning.

Now, Waterman’s used two types of headlines during their most successful period (1900-1920s). One was just the company’s name. This was acceptable as they were well known and had already been in existence over 25 years then. In today’s climate, this won’t really work unless you have a well known, internationally recognisable brand.

Now what is more important is their use of the short headlines. Here is a selection:

1900s The most important part of your vacation outfit
1910s Simple, Reliable, Durable, Inexpensive and Guaranteed
1910s The tool of opportunity
1910s An expression of intelligent appreciation
1920s Try Waterman’s before you buy
1920s A letter a day while you are away
1920s One of these will fit your perfectly?

In the 1910s, they also used one word headlines such as Speed and Self-Regulating.

The headlines highlighted what the user would experience if they used a Waterman’s Pen or, relating to the aspirations of those using a Waterman’s pen.

This approach is still valid today. By understanding the feelings of your market, you are able to appeal to their aspirations or the fears to grab their attention.

Dig out all your headlines. Read them in chronological order, what do they say about your business? Is it congruent with how you are positioning in the market place?

By doing this review, you are able to understand what is being received. You are able to change the words, the tone and the feel of the headline to fit with where you want to be in the future.

Remember, by maintaining true to the long game, you are building the future each day with every headline and every piece of material. 

This blog post by Karen Purves originally appeared at bmarvellous

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