Monday, 16 May 2016

Nauseating Email Marketing

An unsolicited marketing email landed in my inbox which I found so nauseating, I simply had to reach for the blog!  This is what it said:

Hi ,
I was thinking about Charlie Apple a few days ago because it was brought to my attention by an excellent Account Manager I've gotten to know.
As part of the conversation I asked if there were any companies that he could recommend and Charlie Apple came up.
I wasn't sure who to contact and I therefore wanted to reach out to ask who I should speak with there about considering new staff?
Simply "Reply" to this email and I'll arrange to speak with you to discuss further if that's OK?
With kind regards,

Now, I can assure you reader that there was no such Account Manager that he's "gotten to know", and that Charlie Apple did not come up in conversation as I have never used a recruitment company.  As a marketing company being marketed to, marketeers really need to tread a little more carefully. Surely, if we are worth our salt, we would see straight through such an overt pile of rubbish.  Cripes, you wouldn't even need to have an iota of marketing experience to see straight through this, would you?

I was tempted to reply and then when we spoke, push for the name of the "excellent Account Manager" that Keith has gotten to know.  But Keith's game is to get you hooked in and then once he's engaged with you in person, he can flim flam his way out of any and all questions and rely on his superb salesmanship (of which I have no experience to comment) and pull in a sale.

There was a follow up to this email from Keith - the type that says 'just checking to see if you got my email....'.  Of course I could have offered him the services of Charlie Apple as he clearly needs to improve on his marketing tactics. 

Let's have some honest approaches - there's nothing wrong with a regular pitch telling your target what you do and why or when they should contact you.  Why all the BS?  It's damaging to your reputation and is more likely to put people off than to have them hit 'reply'.

Monday, 25 April 2016

If we have "new improved recipe" why don't we have "same price, smaller pack" honest labelling?

I have a consumer rant to explore and expose.  I have been buying a 1kg pack of Chicken Breasts from Morrisons for £5.00 for a very long time and it's very much a part of my weekly shop.  I know how much it serves, I know how many people I can cater for before I need to buy a second pack.  One day, when serving dinner, I noticed how little was left for me after serving everyone else (cook is always served last).  I made a comment at dinner and thought nothing more about it.

When I was next doing my shopping, I went to select my chicken and noticed that the weight on the pack was now, suddenly, without announcement or fanfare, 800g.  Still £5 a pack - the same large yellow £5.00 label on it that is usually the focus of the shopper - the price.  So not only have they sneaked in a 20% price increase on this product, but now I have the added dilemma of the new pack size not feeding the number of people I used to feed.  So now what?  Do I pay £10 for two packs of chicken and have leftovers?  Do I pay the higher per kg price and by a smaller pack as well as the bigger pack?  That doesn't work out mathematically as you get less for your money.

Prices do have to increase (although I think 20% is pretty disgraceful) - but wouldn't it have been nice, and honest and fair to put a sticker on the pack that said at least "smaller pack" or in promo speak "new, convenient size" (even though the container is the same size, it just contains less chicken!).

I am a big Morrisons fan - having been a Tescos, Sainsbury's (and sometime Waitrose) regular - but this kind of practice makes me feel utterly duped and conned - not a happy shopper.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Can staff giving out information please be informed?

Today's blog is going to be somewhat 'rant' style.  The element of marketing that it pertains to is - Customer Service.  Well, that's the official title that it goes by, but it relates to any member of staff being in the position of giving 'information' to customers.  So, how many times have you been misinformed directly by the company. Not by hearsay, a friend telling you something second hand, but actually by a representative of the company itself.

Well, two such incidents occurred this week - both by big guns - and as neither are clients, I can name and shame.  The first is the DVLA and the second, Barclays Bank.

DVLA - when last paying my car tax online, I had the option of saving a fiver by paying by direct debit.  Now that I have no tax disk to check, I was concerned that I would forget when my tax was due.  I also wanted to know if the direct debit was for the one off payment or for a regular six-monthly payment.  So I made the arduous task of phoning the DVLA (several number options, a song and several minutes later I was connected to a helpful human).  I asked purposefully and clearly whether the direct debit would be taken again.  He said no it would not, it was just to do the one off payment and each time I need to choose that option again when paying online.  Fine.  I asked if he was sure, he said 'absolutely'.  I then asked if I would be notified that my tax was due.  He said I would be and that it was only the tax disk that was being scrapped.  I reiterated.  He repeated.  I would definitely be told when it was due and the next payment definitely wouldn't be taken from my account.

You know where this is going now don't you?  Yes, today a direct debit was taken for £120 which I only saw because I looked at my app today.  Did I get a notice to say my tax was about to expire? Did I hell as like.  Did I get advance notice of the direct debit going out - like I do from O2, PlusNet and others?  No, don't be silly.

So I appeal to all business owners - big and small - make sure the people on the front line know their onions and do not misinform your customers.  When we call back and complain to say how we were misinformed, we get "well, I don't know who told you that, they shouldn't have told you that" - which is absolutely useless to us after the fact.  If they don't know the answer, please train them to ask someone who does know rather than make something up on the fly.  We, the consumer, would much rather wait for a correct answer than get a quick wrong answer. 

If anyone has any stories of misinformation from companies, I'd love to hear them.  Barclays will follow next blog.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Event Troubleshooting - When event management is not necessarily the right service

When your event is not panning out like you wanted it to - you have no sponsors, exhibitor prospects are non-responsive, you do have a venue booked, a logo and a theme, but do you have an event?  You realise you need help, but do you hire an event manager, a marketing consultant or a salesperson?

A call we received this week has inspired today's blog.  This is the position this (now) client found themselves in, but their call was to hire an event manager to manage the event.  After a short discussion about the event and the current status, it was clear to me that there was no event to manage and that the client needed to take a step back and evaluate the situation.

It's vital for anyone in the 'service' industry, to sell the right service that is appropriate to the situation, even if the client has contacted you about a different service.  The client doesn't always know best.

So, rather than provide a quote to manage this event, we suggested a 4 hour consultancy for a "Marketing Strategy & Situation Analysis".  This would enable the client to see why the results had been so poor, and to feed this into the strategy for a future event, before more time and money has been spent on an event that has clearly not got off the starting line.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

To blog or not to blog

That has been the question for a few years.  Over those years, I have had plenty to say about plenty of things, and have often thought “if I had a blog, I would write about that”.  The question always bounced back - who would want to read what I have to say?

Well, those questions remain relevant today – so why am I starting this blog now?  As a marketing consultant, I have to advise and recommend when planning a client’s marketing strategy, which channels they should use.  Aside from the most popular social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest – there lurks the longer running question of ‘blogging’.

When advising clients, I do not recommend all the channels to all my clients.  I do not subscribe to the mantra that you must engage on every possible channel – they are not all appropriate for every type of business and, more importantly (or at least, as importantly), you have to look at the resources of the client that are available.  Setting them up with a blog or social media channel that is never used or updated can do more harm than good.

I will cover these issues, and more, in future blogs, and intend to give real case studies (though I may not always be able to mention the client by name) of all aspects of marketing and event management.  I also fully intend to use this blog to have a rant (one of the key reasons for starting this blog), tell some stories but all with a marketing focus.  And I will also be asking some questions – so if no one ever reads this blog, we will soon find out by the lack of answers that come back!

I built my website a few years ago and, back then, sites were not ‘responsified’ or ‘mobilised’.  However, thanks to Google changing the way they rank sites, they have forced my hand into responsifying my website.  So at this juncture, I explored the idea of adding a blog while I did the makeover – and that, dear reader, is why I have decided it’s time to blog.  It will be interesting to see what it does for my SEO and engagement with clients, potential clients and the world at large.  If no one engages, I shall still have fun writing.

Until the next…