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A recent study conducted by the Good Relations, questioning 12,000 consumers on a 120 brands revealed an often forgotten ‘truth’. Brand leadership today is less about rationale benefits and more about how you make customers feel. All of the top performing brands in our study differentiated themselves (in the customer’s minds at least) by the feeling of ‘love’ they created. Think Cadbury, Paypal and Warburtons.
The challenge of course is how you ‘Open Hearts’ in a world of cynicism. A world where nothing a brand says is taken at face-value. Where a customer’s search for the true meaning can so easily give rise to myth or abandonment. Where the words of others have more impact than a brands own.
The study provided some fascinating insights into how brands are tackling this challenge. We have turned these insights into ‘Ten Good ways to Open Hearts’  to create a new agenda for Communicators in 2015.
1. Share the passion – find a bit of culture to own. Think Peroni and Italian style, Airbus and the freedom of flight, Red Bull and adrenaline
2. Be yourself – don’t try and be something you’re not. Find your business/brand truth and link it to your customers passion
3. Align every action – don’t build a façade in front of the real you (your business). Find and enshrine a red thread.
4. Exceed expectations – spice it up. Over deliver with unexpected acts of kindness.
5. Invite them in – open your doors, invite stakeholders in and get them to meet the real you
6. Give them their news – imagine your brand is a political party and the election’s every day. Don’t just communicate….. campaign!
7. Have fun – don’t be boring. Our greatest friends entertain us.
8. Show you care – demonstrate you can be trusted, even when your customers are not in the room
9. Build partnerships – share the stage with other like-minded brands. Their customers could and should be yours too.
10. Activate your following – invest in your advocates (fans). They are your most powerful sales-force

If you would like to find out more about this study please contact Richard Moss at rmoss@goodrelations.co.uk or on 020 7861 3216

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In a world where most corporate leaders believe trust is pretty much bust, the question that maybe we should be asking is what is the power of good to business? The Good Relations Group recently launched the new Triple G rating to help answer this question. What was interesting about the research was the discussion it stirred. Do customers value brand philanthropy?

The Triple G rating is designed to look much deeper than simply …does this business do good. It measures perceptions of actions “would the people behind this brand behave how you would want them to, even if you weren’t in the room” and goes further to look at whether a brand engages with their audiences (is this brand on your side) as well as whether the brand has unlocked it’s most effective salespeople, it’s advocates.

We would agrue that top the top performing brands in the next decade will be triple G brands. Fundamentally they will do what’s right, engage in the right way with their stakeholders and activate their army of advocates better than their competitors. The launch of the rating had some pretty powerful advocates as shown by the video below.

Marketing week also published an article on the research which can be found here Marketing Week – Good Relations

More info can be found at http://www.goodrelations.co.uk

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A few years ago I heard Allan Leighton speak at a marketing conference. “If they haven’t understood, you haven’t communicated” he said in his talk outlining the challenges he was facing at the Post Office at the time. Allan had the habit of turning up unannounced at postal sorting offices around the country to talk directly to staff about the challenges the business faced and the remedies needed.

He claimed his communications team were brilliant at “strategy” … he had never met so many strategists he said…but what he really needed was great communicators …managers who could be understood by the workforce.

He believed that most marketing and comms. people could learn from the Sun newspaper, the best communicator in the world. Every morning it took the most complex political issues and simplified them into something understandable and relevant to us all. That’s what all great communicators do he ranted. And of course he was right.

When we try and communicate, rarely do we start off with the intention of not being understood. Sometimes however it is hard to distil our complex messages into something easiliy understood, relevant and inspiring to our audience.

I came across four questions today in a book about another great communicator Steve Jobs. They claim to be the structure for the killer elevator pitch. I realised when reading them that I often use these principles when crafting messages for clients….but they are useful checklist, none the less.

1. Who am I (why should they listen to me)

2. What problem am I trying to solve?

3. What am I offering that is different?

4. Why should they care?

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I’ve just been sent a free copy of Superbike magazine. Great timing actually as I’ve just bought myself a nice little runabout. Interesting letter attached saying that after a great deal of research they are relaunching to give over more space to readers own editorial. Is this the future of journalism….us?

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Wow..a lots changed in five years. Think about it. Five years ago we only used our mobile phones to call or text people, were still missing the best bits on the telly when the Mother in law called and still shopping in Woolworths on a Saturday. Yep..a lot has changed.

I got thinking about this as I sat reading an article in themarketer about Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi and his Lovemarks this morning. I’ve been a long-term admirer of Roberts. I thought Peak Performance, his book studying peak performing sports teams and applying the lessons learnt to business was inspirational. I thought Lovemarks when they were first unveiled four or five years ago sensational. But as I read the article this morning, I just started to think about how much had changed in the world of marketing and brands.

Lovemarks, Roberts explains, is about achieving the elixir of marketing – loyalty beyond reason. He says Lovemarks are brands that invest in three things – mystery, sensuality and intimacy. That they build connections with consumers beyond their function, afterall he says, most brands today deliver pretty much the same.

Five years on, I find it fascinating that the advertising industry is still seeing consumer loyalty as a brands goal. Research has now proven beyond doubt that the translation of that loyalty into active recommendation (consumer advocacy) must be the target.

Is this just semantics? Absolutely not. Roberts suggests for example that brands should attach a little bit of mystery to their brand “the more you know about something the less interesting it is”.  From an advocacy perspective this is absolutely wrong. Loads of evidence shows that consumers want to get more involved in brands, they want to see behind the advertising facade, they want to look in the eyes of those marketing their favourite marshmallows.

I could go on, but I won’t. Things have changed. “Lovemarks” need to be replaced by “Remarkables”…..and I no longer want my son to grow up to be an Investment banker!

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So, what’s 2010 going to look like? There seem to be many different views around at the moment. This chart is from the Nationwide Consumer Confidence survey. It shows growing confidence among UK consumers up to November, then a drop off into Xmas. This is probably driven by concerns about VAT increases and a growing understanding of what we have to do to pay off our Christmas debts!

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I went to my first Xmas party of the year last night, meeting  journalists and talking about 2009 and the year ahead. The year for many traditional publishing houses has clearly been a tough one, with the perfect storm of declining advertising revenues and declining readership as more of us turn to the internet to consume “free” news.

It was with some interest therefore that I read this morning that Google are to limit free access to online news. They have developed software that will allow publishers to limit the amount of material that we can access free.

This has got to be right for the industry. Although we have all embraced Google’s advertising sponsored free view of the world, the reality is that there is a limited pool of advertising dollars. If we want to maintain high standards of journalism,quite simply, we have to pay for them.

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