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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Kill your customer service with social media

Most of my marketing experience has come from B2B (business to business) scenarios, but recently the distinction between B2B and B2C (business to customer) has become really blurred. Afterall, marketing is ultimately human to human and we're all customers.

Those who think of themselves at B2C have been quick to adopt social media, as a natural extension of their customer service. They get the chance to engage and showcase their brand. A great way to position themselves and demonstrate their companies personality. All well and good, until it bites them.

I was the customer on two occasions this week, with very different outcomes. Firstly I ordered some christmas cards from the little known but rather lovely They shipped as I ordered, but parcelforce failed to deliver. As the days went past, I emailed postcarden and their customer service couldn't have been better. They chased parcelforce on my behalf, proactively emailed me to tell me what was happening every step of the way and offered to send someone round to personally deliver my cards if the lost package couldn't be found. They tweeted what was happening too. I was very impressed.

Contast this, with big brand Waterstones. Inspired by Mary Portas to support the High Street, I went in store and bought 3 books. So far, so good. On return home I checked the site and discovered to my horror that had I purchased on line, the same books would have been £40 cheaper! I tweeted to Waterstones. No response. I took my complaint to their Facebook wall. This time I got a reply, which basically said, it was standard practice to charge more in store, as online they had to stay competitive!!!!

I wonder which brand I'll be telling all my friends about for all the right reasons, and which brand I will be boycotting in the future?!

In a world were perception is 99% reality, it doesn't matter how big brands are anymore, or whether they're B2B or B2C, your customers will judge you on how you treat them on or offline.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Organic rags to community riches

Every small business I work with started as a leap of faith.  For some, that leap is bigger than others and for my newest friends at Clear Sky Communities, it was the grand canyon.

CSC turn organic waste into biochar, which is a compost like product which makes your soil extra great for growing.  The profits made are then given back to the communities who provided the waste in the first place, to support local initiatives.  In CSCs words 'if the project helps the community, then this is the chance for the community to help that project'.  Sounds like a no brainer right?

So, while I always tell my clients that blogs are designed to inform rather than to pitch, this is a direct plug, for some lovely people saving the planet one community at a time. And even if you don't care about the environment, I know there are some gardeners out there .......

P.S.  You can also find them on twitter @1ClearSky and on facebook - tell your friends.
P.P.S. I promise not to make a habit of plugging my clients but 'tis the season of goodwill to all and that's the excuse I'm sticking with.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Staying focused

This is the fabulous 'Head of Invention' by Eduardo Paolozzi, which can be found in front of the Design museum in London. It's a head stuffed full of possibilities and ideas but fragmented by distractions from every angle. Ever feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day?

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein." - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Perception is 99% reality

For me, Pringle knitwear suggests golfers and odd diamond colour combo's, reserved for unsuspecting Dads and Uncles at Christmas.  Younger generations probably don't recognise the brand at all.  So it was a brave move when early last year, Pringle of Scotland tried to change its stuffy perception and hit a new demographic at the same time, with its youtube outreach.

Being Scottish, I might find this funnier than most, but it's a great example of how major brands are embracing social media to expand their existing audiences.  
I think I might even ask Santa for a cardi.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Have I heard of you?

On the web, you are what you publish. In cyberspace it seems that familiarity does not breed contempt, but rather puts our fears at ease. The more we know about you the better.

That's why the 'have I heard of you?' question is so important. It's the starting point for every decision - which brand to buy, which deal to take, who to use? It's all about trust. Knowing, or at least having heard of someone or something, reduces the risk, if only in our perceptions, and helps us move a step closer to buying/choosing and committing our hard earned cash.

With my SME helper hat on, there are some simple ways to increase visibility for yourself and/or your brand.

1. Make sure that as a company, you can express who you are and what you do
It's amazing how often I work with SMEs who can't agree on these basics. Every employee making up their own version confuses customers and reduces sales. Keep it simple and memorable.

2. Have a consistent face to the world
People buy from people, so stop worrying about whether social media is for B2B or B2C and instead think of it as a chance to engage and be seen. Customers are reassured by the same branding, colours and imagery across all media you use, so stick with it.

3. Look for listeners
Building visibility with niche groups, is far more beneficial for SMEs than trying to shout over the noise of a mass market. Who is going to be most receptive to what you have to say? Look for the smallest, most defined group you can e.g. 40+ women, living in London, with a passion for knitting etc. Find them and amaze them and you'll never have to worry about being invisible again.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

What's this blog title all about?

I once read that to really enjoy life you should practise being a lamp, a ladder or a lifeboat i.e. helping others to see new things, achieve their goals and know they can ultimately rely on you.  So, that's it - the title of my blog and a daily mantra.  I've also read that no-one actually reads body text any more, which makes titles even more important and suggests that anyone stumbling upon this, will forever think I'm a drama teacher.