Football fans are incredibly passionate about their teams. Wouldn't it be great if your customers felt as passionately about your small business; if they’d tell everyone about you and defend you to the ends of the earth?
We must remember that we are all tribal, even though we no longer live in tribes. We have an innate desire to belong to something. Today, we create an identity for ourselves through the businesses we align ourselves with — whether they are big names or a local store or café.
It’s something that big brands understand but that many small firms miss. Nations have flags to bring people together and give them an identity. Logos are the flags of big brands; helping members of the tribe recognise each other and tell the world where they belong. Who we give our allegiance to often tells our peers who we are and what we represent.
Branding is like a flag. It helps the consumer declare to the world what they stand for. Every business, no matter what size, must have a clear message. Ask yourself, “What does my brand stand for?”
The brand is a promise to the consumer – a promise of an expected experience. "Buy from us and you will receive this."
By making a promise you attract customers, by keeping that promise you create loyal fans.
Do you remember the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” campaign from Apple? The campaign was effective because the message was clear; use a PC and you are in for disappointment and frustration, use an Apple and create your dream. What’s important is that Apple delivered on its brand promise and this is why we see so many Apple products today.
It is imperative to make sure your business can deliver on its brand promise. We can learn from Samsung here. In order to compete with Apple in the mobile phone industry, Samsung came up with a bigger phone. For some months, it looked like this tactic had worked. However, those people that switched began to head back to Apple. Why? Simple; the Samsung phone was too complex and Apple users who had switched found its operating system user-unfriendly.
People went back to Apple in droves and Apple seized an opportunity; they saw the demand for a bigger phone and delivered it.
Apple once again is leading the market. One company had focused solely on its features (Samsung) while the other focused on the experience and tribe (Apple).
Branding without delivery is simply a lie. People will become discouraged and look for something better. Delivering the brand experience will ensure your business stands out.
“You cannot say ‘the customer is king' in this day and age...” That was the feedback I was given recently. “It’s so 1985.”
At first, I wasn't sure if the criticism didn't say more about the critic than about the three little words but I am not so sure.
It feels like the obvious is being stated when we are told. However, if it is so obvious, then why do so few people do it?
Well, what I do get is that the phrase is not as of the moment as CE, CX, or CEM, (and if you have to ask then it shows just how behind the curve you are).
While the phrase may seem a little dated, I did also have a simpler problem. Way back in 2002, I wrote the book, Customer is King. It was good enough that Sir Richard Branson wrote a foreword for it.
As it happens, it has just been updated and published on Kindle. As it is the title of my book, I do feel committed to using the phrase.
The phrase has been over-used but then so has “profit is vanity, cash is sanity”.
However, the real question is whether the phrase imparts its full meaning. Personally, I think it probably does. But then again you are my customer, and only your opinion really matters, so what do you think?
Copyright © 2015 Robert Craven. Robert runs The Directors’ Centre, helping businesses to grow. He is a keynote speaker and best-selling author of Kick-Start Your Business and Grow Your Service Firm as well as The Customer is King.
Image by: The Logo Company
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine working in a large digital publishing company had a debate with a client about whether or not to use a black background in a forthcoming email campaign.
She asked me if I had any research to back her up. Unfortunately I didn't have anything concrete, but putting myself on the receiving end of that email, I knew I would hate getting an out-dated looking email from the 1990s.
This made me dig a little bit deeper into the psychology behind colour and how people react to colour in email.
There are seven main colours and they evoke very different feelings:
But how does colour affect email responses? The best way to find out is to test. We tested these two approaches:
In a driving context, green means “go” and red means “stop”. So which of these do you think had the higher conversion?
The red button outperformed green by 21%. It’s probably not what you had in mind, right?
Which colours to use for calls to action is an age-old discussion. The lesson we must learn here is that even if we do our research, we should always be testing our campaigns.
Every customer is different and their response to each colour can vary depending on their mood, location, device used and many more. So remember: always A/B test.
Copyright © 2015 Amir Jirbandey is marketing lead UK at Mailjet.
Many small firms pour all their marketing time and resources into maintaining social media accounts in order to interact with customers and strengthen their online reach.
But, in order to fully ensure customer satisfaction, it’s important not to neglect social media’s predecessor, email.
Email is still a vital tool for businesses that want to communicate with their customers. As popular as social media has become, the use of email isn’t faltering, and the number of email accounts is expected to increase from over 3.9 billion in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017.
While it may appear that consumers head straight to social media when they’re dissatisfied with a product or service, 42% of people use email as their most common channel for making a complaint.
However, as this infographic shows, businesses are not always equipped to deal with the number of emails that enter their inboxes. Although 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours, only 36% of retailers respond this quickly. And 59% of businesses take more than eight hours to reply; while one in four take 24 hours or more.
Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.
The world seems to be obsessed with selfies. But is your brand maximising the benefits of this trend?
Many marketers look down on the selfie, seeing it as a teen trend, one that promotes narcissism and shameless self-promotion.
But on Instagram there are over 53 million photos tagged simply with the hashtag #selfie. Selfies are also trending on Twitter and Facebook.
To stay current in this fast-moving, saturated marketplace, brands need to take notice of trends. So why are so many brands are still ignoring the selfie? It may be vain but selfies can be used by brands as a marketing tool.
The selfie has been used to raise awareness for social good. The #nomakeupselfie campaign that took social media by storm last year is a good example. This campaign encouraged girls to take make-up free photos, post them online and then donate money to charity. It raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK. The fact that Cancer Research did not come up with the campaign shows just how powerful the seflie is for engaging with an online audience.
For business of all kinds, the selfie is a fantastic way for brands to show a human side. Encouraging customers to post selfies with a brand-related hashtag also gives your business free marketing. What could be more powerful than hundreds of social media users posting images with your product or making use of your #brand?
Brands have reported huge benefits from including the selfie in their marketing strategy. Axe Deodorant, for example, ran a selfie campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day, asking users to post images of themselves alongside the hashtag #kissforpeace. This generated more than 10,000 tweets with similar results on Instagram.
And who can forget Ellen DeGeneres famous celebrity-packed Oscar selfie? It became the most tweeted picture of all time, with over 33 million retweets. Some say the fact that this was taken on a Samsung mobile was a brilliant marketing idea from the company, although Samsung claims it was unplanned.
It’s clear that selfies can generate a huge amount of brand warmth. Asking customers to endorse your products and services through a selfie is much more credible than simply blowing your own trumpet online.
Businesses are actively trying to get user-generated recommendations and build social proof; the selfie could be a critical part of this.
Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.
Never ask a candidate for your sales team how they should be rewarded. Here’s what you’ll get: “a highly competitive salary” (read, £200K per year) “a fast company car” (so they can get to that important meeting on time), “a realistic expense account” (where “realistic” is a euphemism for “unlimited”) and “very long holidays” (they work really hard and need their recovery time).
This little excursion into cloud cuckoo-land is finally garnished with: “an uncapped commission scheme”. They argue that results should bring proper rewards – so what if it bankrupts the company at the same time?
This is, of course, meaningless drivel, guaranteed to give you an ulcer and a hernia simultaneously. Anyone who sits in front of you and seriously suggests you should pay them £200K per year plus fringe benefits needs their head examined (possibly by your steel-tipped boot). You’re an SME, you can’t afford ludicrous packages. Plus you don’t need to pay them commission.
I can hear the red felt-tips of hate being unleashed as I write this. Surely salespeople need to earn a proper living? Surely the sales force needs to be motivated?
Of course they do, but in Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs”, money is way down the list. In a small company, with its tribal atmosphere, anyone who tells you they’re only working for the money needs advice on moving to somewhere more boring and stable, like a building society. Working in an SME provides the key things at the top of Maslow’s list: peer respect and making a difference.
What salespeople really want (but usually won’t tell you) is “an easy life”. The perfect company has a nice bunch of people who are a joy to work with, not too much hassle (like checking up exactly where they are every 10 minutes), and a product or service that’s easy to sell to nice people, who enjoy a decent lunch now and then.
Salespeople should be rewarded for success, but not some ludicrous commission scheme that means they get three times as much as the delivery people who actually do the hard work. Our model is to put everyone on the same scheme. First, pay a slightly above market rate salary, so you can attract the best people. Then, give out bonuses based on two factors: how the company’s performed, and how the individual has performed.
The first is the most important – if times are hard, it’s belt-tightening all round, even if you’re working 14-hour days. Company performance should be presented openly at the monthly company meeting, so this element should not be a surprise at bonus time.
Personal performance can be hard to measure for administrators and delivery people, but not for salespeople. Discuss and agree sales targets at the beginning of the process, and measure the salesperson’s performance on a weekly basis.
It’s important to explain that if a salesperson beats their sales target, this is usually increased for the next quarter; it’s the way of things. Also, if you don’t hit your sales target you get formally warned, and then fired, sometimes over the course of only a couple of quarters. That might seem a little unfair, since it’s a lot more difficult to get fired from delivery or admin or finance. But that’s just the way sales is.
So only hire salespeople who enjoy selling, who like your customers and aren’t too greedy. High-commission salespeople get desperate and will tell any damn lie or stick a knife into their workmates’ back if they think it might help them hit target.
Copyright © Mike Southon 2015. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.