This post was originally written for The Lincolnite news website in 2013 but it’s still all relevant to today.
Despite sustained economic growth during the first and second quarters of 2013, businesses nationwide are still faced with challenging market conditions.
In fact, with few companies reporting notable share price rises, minimal consumer spending figures and high lending charges across the UK, it seems that we have significant distance to go before reaching dry ground.
With this in mind, more and more businesses are looking towards marketing initiatives to maintain income and stay afloat. In particular, focus is being driven towards a customer-relations approach.
Although a simple principle, keeping your customers front of mind is essential to long-term business success. Long gone are the days of asymmetric communication, identifying quick leads and hard selling. Instead, focus must shift towards listening to your customers, reacting to their changing requirements, building trust and developing relationships.
Listening, however, is something often overshadowed by sales targets, promotional strategies and finance plans. But with daily reports of business bankruptcy, liquidation and administration, can you really afford not to?
Retaining Customers There is no straightforward equation to ensure a high customer retention rate. This said, we do know that trust, confidence and self-association are all key to building emotional bonds.
Although this sounds complex, building and retaining trust is relatively simple. In fact, it should come naturally from good business practice.
Monitoring market trends and requirements, creating new and improved products and rectifying poor customer experiences is key, and, what’s more, there are a number of marketing tools that allow you to do this easily.
Here’s some of the most popular examples to get you started:
Social Media From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, Pinterest and blogging, social media gives a direct communications channel to engage with stakeholders, interact directly, respond to queries and monitor feedback.
Free to set up, simple to run and easy to manage, social media is one of the most effective relationship management tools.
Digital Marketing With over 85% of the population online, 74% using email and nearly 35% owning a tablet device*, digital marketing techniques, such as infographics and e-newsletters, can provide a great way to stay in contact and build relationships.
Personalised, targeted and cost-effective, e-newsletters are a great way to keep front of mind, tell customers about the latest news and views, as well as ask for feedback. Cloud-based software, such as Mailchimp and Bronto, can distribute information free of charge, as well as provide open and click-through reports – giving useful data capture information.
Direct Mail Developing relationships, building confidence and engaging customers relies on consistent impact and repetition.
Although historically used to advertise, direct mail is a great engagement tool. You can let customers know about the latest products, provide discount offers, give them something for nothing and easily keep front of mind.
Low cost and powerful, direct mail is still the most widely used marketing tool and a great tactic to build relationships.
Rewards Something as simple as saying thank you can help to retain custom. From loyalty cards and vouchers to repeat purchase rewards, events and priority services, delivering a personal approach and ensuring each customer is considered a valued individual can develop strong bonds.
This can even be integrated with social media, digital marketing, direct mail and other marketing tools to ensure increase influence and ensure communications efficiency.
Although just a few ideas of customer relations tactics, the tactics above give insight into the importance of listening, rewarding, responding and actioning.
Whether it’s through prehistoric cave drawings, fireside folk songs or 140 Twitter characters – how we do it might have changed a bit over the years but that desire to tell the world our story is as strong now as it ever was.
The big challenge for businesses in the digital age is how to make their story stand out, with so many different ones being told in so many different places. Most of us see hundreds if not thousands of marketing messages every day – on the bus, on TV and on our Smartphones.
Book sales might be falling but storytelling through advertising and news stories is as important as ever. Developing your ability to do it well is vital. Here are five quick tips to bear in mind:
Know your audience Who are you trying to talk to? If your answer to that question is ‘everyone’ then you need to think again. Socially, we are less homogenous now than ever – our relationships with the brands and businesses we buy from are complex and differ from person to person.
Identify your audience and research what they enjoy reading already. Then, if needs be, adapt your own writing style to suit.
Get to the point Be clear in your own mind about the purpose of your writing and make sure it’s clear to the people reading it. Work out the important points you want to say before you start and include them early on – don’t make readers have to work for it.
The genuine article No one likes a tall tale so make sure everything you write is authentic. You should believe in what you’re writing in the same way that a salesperson should believe in the product or service they’re selling
No-nonsense Keep it simple and write in the same way you would talk. A good way to check you’re doing this is to read what you’ve written out loud to someone else and ask them whether it makes sense. It sounds obvious but don’t overlook it.
Be yourself Like any good spoken story, a written one engages and entertains through the way it’s told. Bring your business’ personality into your writing. Ask yourself: ‘Would I want to read this?’ Make sure the answer is yes before you expect someone else to.
Lava, the integrated marketing agency, has been appointed to handle PR and social media engagement for Festival800, Lincoln’s artistic response to Magna Carta.
Organised by cultural solutions UK on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Festival800 will offer ten days of live music, comedy, spoken word, street theatre, lectures and debate. Unlike previous celebrations of Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, Festival800 will focus on how the document’s powers of liberty, justice and freedom of speech have shaped today’s society.
Some of Festival800’s highlights include performances by acclaimed musicians Billy Bragg and the Levellers; author, screenwriter and comedian Shappi Khorsandi; YouTube sensation Alfie Deyes; and Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, DBE, FRSL. A host of national and international artists and human rights activists will also visit Lincoln for Festival800, which takes place between 28th August and 6th September.
Lava, which offers copywriting, design, PR and social media marketing services, started work this month and will provide a full press office service along with audience development and social media engagement for Festival800.
David Lambert, director of cultural solutions UK: “We’re all really excited about Festival800. It’s going to be an amazing event and we have a varied and challenging programme. We need to create an audience and raise awareness of Festival800 quickly. Lava has an incredibly strong track record of delivering impressive results for arts events and festivals – that’s why we chose to work with them. We’ve been working with them for just over a fortnight now and we’re really impressed with their understanding of our needs, their contacts and the speed at which they work. We can’t wait to see the results of their campaign.”
As well as Festival800, Lava has an impressive track record of helping festival organisers build audiences, having worked on the visit of Black/North SEAS to the UK in 2009, Lincoln Book Festival and SO Festival between 2010 and 2014.
The media are loving our 2014 Christmas Card, which comes with two make-your-own reindeers!
Last year our Christmas Card contained everything people needed to make their own Christmas Penguin. We were inundated with photos of orange and black penguins, including one of Jeremy Vine in the BBC Radio 2 studio.
Like you, we know that Christmas penguins are so last year. That’s why this time around we included not one but two make-your-own reindeers. And, once again, the media have raved about our creative approach to celebrating Christmas.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire really got into the festive feeling with Nicola Gilroy challenging her Lunch Bunch panel to make the reindeers we sent her. She even took to social media to share her enthusiasm and posted a video onto BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Facebook page.
So, here’s the story. We send out our festive Christmas card and challenge everyone to make the enclosed origami Christmas Penguin.
William Wright, drivetime presenter at BBC Radio Lincolnshire, has a go and a very good go it is. He’s so impressed with his Christmas creation that he gives it a little mention on air (thankyou!) and Tweets a picture (@MrWilliam).
Next thing we know, a picture of Jeremy Vine posing with a Lava Christmas Penguin is Tweeted to us. Yes, that’s right! Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2 presenter! Amazing!
We’re not sure how the Christmas Penguin found its way from Lincoln to London – it is, as Mr William says – a bit of Christmas magic!
The effectiveness of a Lincoln integrated marketing agency’s campaigns has been recognised twice in this year’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards.
Lava, which offers design, digital, public relations and social media marketing services to clients in the public, private and third sectors picked up two Gold awards at last night’s prestigious black tie ceremony in Leeds (28th November).
The Lincoln-based agency’s integrated marketing campaign for SO Festival 2012 on behalf of East Lindsey District Council was judged Best Event. Lava also received a Gold in Best Use of Social Media for its work for Milk4Childminders, part of Cool Milk.