Tag Archives: multi-channel

Direct marketing – 13 communication channels …

Puffins larger and croppedThere’s a lot of huffing and puffin-g around marketing, even down to definitions of words and phrases. Take Direct Marketing, which seems to have a variety of definitions, including the very limited perception that it is just another name for Direct Mail.

Regardless of channel, direct Marketing is really all about communication. The Wikipedia definition states:Direct marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and non-profits organisations to communicate straight to the customer.

Shouting loudly in public may generate awareness, but it won’t generate effective engagement.

Direct marketing is indeed channel-agnostic. And effective direct marketing needs to be targeted to a specific audience, with the individual marketing communication (through whatever channel) written and designed for the group of individuals who will receive it.

Direct marketing should also generate some kind of measurable reaction or response from the recipient – whether that be to visit (and buy from) a store, website or social media platform; to reply to an email, or to place an order by post, online, mobile or telephone.

Measuring the response to direct marketing activity can be challenging if the desired reaction is less tangible than, for example, an actual purchase or physical response to the marketer.

Over the next months we’ll cover the main channels in our blog, including the top thirteen which are (in no particular order):

  1. Direct Mail
  2. Email
  3. Online
  4. Mobile / smartphone
  5. Telephone
  6. Press advertising
  7. Inserts and product despatches
  8. Social Media
  9. Billing and loyalty devices / vouchers
  10. Direct Response TV
  11. Direct sales (eg Tupperware parties)
  12. Door drops
  13. Content marketing

The disciplines behind direct marketing carry through all of these channels. Regardless of whether you are mailing, calling, advertising or selling online, the key elements of a successful direct marketing campaign are:

  1. Data quality and accuracy (postal address, email address, telephone number, mobile number)
  2. Understanding the customer or prospect (purchase history, demographics, geography, lifestyle and affluence profiles)
  3. Turning data, analysis and research into insight, to ensure appropriate marketing, relevant list and media selection (online and offline); appropriate selection of channels and channel integration
  4. Determining offer and price
  5. Creating copy and design (which will need to be specific to each channel)
  6. Budgeting, including break-even metrics and “what-if” scenarios to evaluate and establish required financial performance
  7. Forecasting response and financial performance based on history and recent evidence
  8. Measuring performance regularly and ongoing
  9. Proactively developing and refining marketing strategy based on performance
  10. Maintaining appropriate levels of service and quality

Finally, there is a great deal of talk about integrated marketing, and while it’s an excellent start to have cohesive brand and messaging delivered through all channels, there’s more to it than that.

Targeting relevant customers through relevant channels based on what the customer wants – while allowing them to respond through their own channel of choice (which may be different again) is a vital part of any successful direct marketing campaign.

The channels should interact in a way designed to ensure engagement – maybe by moving consumers across the channels, for example from TV to social media platforms, like Daz, Innocent, Aero and by getting them involved in alternative or more complex storylines, or voting for favourite characters or flavours, or entering competitions etc. This is the sort of behaviour that engenders brand engagement, affection and loyalty.

More puffins croppedVictoria Tuffill       01787 277742     07967 148398   victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

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Direct marketing … social media … and bonfires

It’s the season for bonfires, direct marketing and social media.  In the case of bonfires, perhaps in your own garden, with foil-wrapped potatoes baking at the base.  And maybe with some sparklers and fireworks to light the night sky. Or as part of a local community celebration where everyone dresses warmly for the evening and gets together for fun, chat, catching up, watching a straw effigy of Guy Fawkes burning fiercely on top, and, of course, spectacular fireworks.

There is something about bonfires that is enormously appealing.  The smell, the crackling sound, the warmth, the smoke, the sparks, and the variety, movement and colour of the flames. And there’s a primeval fierceness about a fire. The way it grows from a tiny spark  into a roaring body of light and heat is a reminder that, although it may be lit by a person or people, fire itself can be dangerous. It is much bigger than we are, and needs to be monitored and controlled if we want to benefit rather than be harmed by it.

Direct marketing campaigns are similar.  Like bonfires, they need fuel to come alive – whatever the channel or mix of channels. There can be no successful marketing campaign  without the carefully laid fuel of end-to-end campaign strategy, including product, audience, offer, price, PR, fulfilment, delivery and customer service.  As a bonfire is lit by bringing flame and fuel together, a marketing campaign gains life when the consumer and the brand, product and offer come together.

As long as the fuel has been properly laid, then the fire will burn well and provide warmth and enjoyment to the crowds.  Like a social media campaign – if the activity is planned and structured well, it will deliver your customers’ needs and provide value to your business.  If not, or if it is left untended, then either it will never grow beyond a small spark, or – worse – it will grow into an uncontrollable inferno devouring your brand and reputation as it spreads.  And those are the fires that are most difficult to put out.

A point worth noting is that social media essentially allow a dialogue between business and customer (or prospect), that is held in public.  It impacts every area of a business, so it is vital that everybody within the company understands the goals and aims of the social media strategy and engages appropriately.  And it is also essential that there is an understanding that though the conversation is held online, it is a real conversation held between real people.  So basic everyday “real life” social principles, behaviour and manners need to be considered and included in whatever social media strategy is developed.

Laying the fire

Before deciding you want to build a social media strategy, the first thing to consider is why. What do you want to gain out of it?    Are you looking to extend awareness of your brand?  Or improve your reputation?  Or engage with a particular audience?  Do you want to increase sales?  Or improve customer loyalty or customer service?  Or do you want information to help you deliver better marketing – whether in terms of product or price or delivery?

Having addressed those questions, if you decide to go ahead, then you need to know your own brand’s  audience.  Where are they to be found?  Are they on Facebook or Twitter or Linked In?  Do they use Pinterest or Instagram?  Google + or You Tube?  If so, how do they use these networks? What’s their style and tone of voice?  Does it match your brand values? Might there be value in creating groups and forums on your own websites. What do you think your customers or audience would want to get out of a social media relationship with you?  What do you want them to get out of it? Where should you focus?  Do they talk about you?  If so,what are they saying?  Are they complimentary or are they promoting your competitors?  And if so, why?  And so on.

At this point it’s probably sensible to start outlining, in words, diagrams, flow charts and pictures, exactly what you want to do and how you intend to achieve your aspirations and integrate a social media strategy  throughout the business.  You’ll need to establish a team and allocate responsibility. You’ll need to make sure that what you are planning complies with all legal requirements.

If you use a third parties to manage your direct marketing and social media activity, the communication between your business and that agency or those agencies will need to be ongoing and seamless from all areas of the business.  Especially where your brand is concerned – any third party will need ongoing information on what is going on in the business, what is under development, what are the current key areas of strength and weakness. And  if you want to build trust through your social media activity, that information needs to be up-to-date, relevant and honest – whether the news is good or bad.

Your communication style will need to be considered.  Generally speaking, it can be more relaxed and fun than some other channels, but it should reflect your brand values and the values of your audience.   O2 has a great social media reputation, build in part from the disastrous few days when the service went down.  Not least on Twitter, where they were able not only to address genuine customer service issues, but also turn the whole problem around and generate more loyalty simply because their responses to their customers were wholehearted, honest, apologetic, helpful and witty.  Having said that, there are inherent dangers within that sort of approach – it’s potentially only a matter of time before one ill-chosen, unfunny, “witty” response has the same effect as pouring petrol on kindling – an instant explosion that – at the least – removes your eyebrows and much of your hair and probably blows you backwards!

Tending the fire

Fires need to be controlled, and monitored until such time as they are put out, or run out of fuel and die down to embers, which can then be allowed to cool, or be used to start a new fire.

Having laid the groundwork for your social media campaign, you then need to consider what you want to measure.  If your campaign is designed to increase awareness, you’ll be looking at likes and shares, reach, comments and other forms of engagement, subscriptions to newsletters, blogs and emails.    Sales and loyalty can be measured through a variety of methods – including mining data retrospectively,  using control groups to measure differences in performance, and measuring sales from social e-commerce.  Again, what you want to measure and how you intend to do so needs to be part of your documentation, and what you learn from this analysis will enable you to drive your ongoing activity based on performance.

You’ll need to be ready to deal immediately with issues that will come up in real time like complaints that come up in a public forum or negative comments on your Facebook page. So it’s well worth the time to brainstorm before the issue comes up so that your team know how to respond to a negative comment before it actually comes up.  You also need to monitor whether what your fans are saying is appropriate to your brand, and, if not, how you should deal with them.

Having established your policy regarding the networks on which you want to concentrate,  how you want to use them and integrate them with other channels, how you want to communicate with your audience, how you will resolve any issues, who your team is, who will do what, what competition you will monitor and how that will be reported, how you will measure your own performance etc etc …you need to execute your plan.

This means you need to know what content you are going to create, where you are going to post it, how you are going to promote your social media activity.  For a start, you’ll need to include icons, links, addresses on your website, promotions, advertising, invoices, email signatures, letters, employee business cards,  and all your communications so that you encourage your audience to visit and engage with your social networks.

You need to provide content for each of the networks – whether you want to blog or promote or sell direct or chat or conduct research or offer prizes in return for information or just run simple but fun competitions. As well as integrating with other channels, you can also integrate social media channels – use Twitter to promote a competition on Facebook, use You Tube to broadcast results and promote the next.

But what is absolutely vital is that your content is planned and scheduled before you push any buttons.  If social media is done randomly or on a whim, if it is unplanned, or if too little time, resource or budget is spent on it, the whole campaign is likely either to go out or – more tragically – be rained on before the fire is properly lit.

We’re all for sharing knowledge and information and enjoy a healthy debate, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  Or if you disagree with any of our views above, just let us know why.  And of course, if you have a social media strategy and would like to share your tips or thoughts, please feel free – in all cases, just “reply” below.

As ever, if you’d like some help with your social media strategy, don’t hesitate to ask – you can reach me on 01787 277742 or 07967 148398.  Or email victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk  If you’d like to know more about us before you do so, by all means visit our website.  And yes, we’re on Twitter and Linked In.  And if we believe we can’t help you, we’ll make sure we recommend one of the good guys.

Loyalty schemes – where bribery isn’t corruption …

Loyalty programmes

New customer acquisition is the expensive part of the marketing cycle, so from the moment a new customer starts to buy, a marketer’s thoughts need to focus on customer retention.  If you can encourage a customer to keep buying from you, the level of revenue, advocacy, good will, knowledge and data you can acquire from them will be invaluable – across metrics such as sales, profitability and retention.

So for me, looking after your customers, recognising their importance to you, and rewarding them appropriately are essential factors in business.  Particularly given the increasing ease and speed with which consumers can – and do – hop from brand to brand, provider to provider.

There is a strong argument that good overall product, pricing and service is the best way of generating long term customer relationships.  You just have to look at Apple to see the truth of that.   But there is no doubt that customer loyalty schemes can help strengthen customer relationships and retention by reducing churn and switchers, particularly given the sheer volume of loyalty schemes in the market. Tesco’s Cubcard loyalty programme is an excellent example.

Because so many businesses use loyalty schemes in one form or another, not doing so can put a business at a disadvantage. Obviously if competitors offer broadly the same product, price, service and quality, and one offers a loyalty scheme while the other does not, from the consumer’s viewpoint the choice becomes straightforward.  One of the suppliers is giving them additional value. For example, coffee.  Given my coffee consumption, a free cup of good coffee every 6 visits works for me! But quality is key – no loyalty card offering free cups of filthy coffee would make me buy filthy coffee more than once.

There are numerous types of loyalty programme, including money off, discounts, vouchers, retail loyalty and credit cards, gifts, prizes, points, cashback, competitions and so many more. The scheme can be developed for an individual business who wants, for example, to encourage their active customers to buy more and stay loyal, or reactivate their inactive customers; there are non-competitive businesses who can work in partnership to increase their customer base (such as Amazon and Virgin Wines);  or groups of businesses – for example, towns who want to encourage their inhabitants to shop locally rather than visit the supermarket.

What is important is that the loyalty programme should reward customers for behaviour that is profitable to the business.  There are any number of metrics – from spend to length of relationship, or even speed of payment.  My hairdresser has a loyalty card which gives me a 10% discount every 5th haircut.   It wouldn’t work if he didn’t do a good job, but he does, so that makes me feel good, and yes, I’ll spread the word.  It would be nice if he’d increase it year on year, but alas, he knows he doesn’t need to!

Loyalty programmes also afford an opportunity to reactivate those consumers who used to buy from you but have, for some reason, stopped doing so. These customers will be more responsive than cold prospects.  Assuming you have a marketing database, you will have their purchase history so will understand what, when and how they have bought.  You’ll know how much they’ve spent, so will be able to segment according to their value to you as a customer.

One of the key issues in any loyalty scheme is data and segmentation.  And this is where Tesco excel.  Their offers – from grocery to financial, to mobile phones and more – are highly targeted based on the incredible amount of data they hold on their customers and what they buy.

In the case of reactivation, it may be that, once you’ve looked at a lapsed customer’s data, you’ll discover that you don’t want to retain or reactivate them –  there’s absolutely no point in incentivising your bad customers to continue buying from you if they are losing you money.  And there is a myriad of reasons why they may be poor customers for you – perhaps you are having to chase debt, or pay out excessive claims (particularly in insurance or telco), or maybe the customer will only buy low margin or loss-leader products, or are expensive to maintain and (for example in financial services) you make no money out of them.

For customer acquisition and retention at the same time, one of the best loyalty schemes I’ve seen is from Naked Wines. A 25% discount off all future orders – which means that you always get 25% off your next wine order, and it shows up as real money available when you go online to buy your next case.

So you end up paying a painless (continuous payment) £20 per month.  When you go online to buy, that £20 has become £20 plus the 25% discount – it becomes tremendously easy to buy and increasingly difficult to move away!

Loyal customers who recommend you to their friends because of your product, offer, quality, engagement and loyalty schemes now have a multitude of opportunities to spread the word through social media as well as face to face.  So your “reach” or awareness among your market becomes significantly stronger.

But to generate that level of advocacy means that your loyalty scheme should be unique, compelling, targeted and benefit both the consumer and the business.  If you can enthuse your customers enough for them to want to spread the word among their friends, then they’ll be enthusiastic enough to enjoy it, take advantage of it, and remain a loyal customer.

We’ll welcome your thoughts or comments on this post – and if you’d like to discuss how you could use and benefit from loyalty programmes, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.  If I can help, I’ll be happy to.  If not, I’ll at least point you to someone who will provide sensible strategic advice.

Victoria Tuffill
Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates – Multi-channel and direct marketing

Tel:         +44 (0)7967 148398  /  +44 (0)1787 277742
Email:     victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk
Web:       http://www.tuffillverner.co.uk

Victoria Tuffill is a direct marketing consultant with over 30 years experience. She founded Tuffill Verner Associates consultancy with Alastair Tuffill in 1996. She is also founder and Director of Fraudscreen – a data tool that assists in the prevention of 1st party fraud. Her experience ranges across businesses including publishing, home shopping, insurance, utilities, telcos and collections.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, October 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The wilful murder of marketing

Punchy title isn’t it.  And, alas, it’s even true.  I, for one, am heartily sick of headlines telling me, and the rest of the world, that direct mail is dead … email is dead … telemarketing is dead … broadcast PR is dead … and so on with any other channel that someone wants wilfully to kill off in order to make a point (or, more worrying, has been written by someone who actually believes what they say).

The real point is that, despite protestations to the contrary, none of those individual elements are dead.  They are simply evolving.  They are part of the past, the present and the future, and need to be embraced in combination with the plethora of channels now available.

The best one I saw recently was “direct marketing is dead…” Well, direct marketing has never been more alive.  It’s evolving all the time.  And increasingly all marketers are evolving into direct marketers by the nature of the channels available.

What’s key to all this is that little has  fundamentally changed about human interaction.  We’ve always been social animals. It’s just that now we have technology that helps us keep in touch more easily, more widely, and – arguably – more superficially.  The internet, Skype, tablets, smart phones and smart TVs have been added to post, email and telephone.  And it’s fascinating to see just how quickly the ‘channel’ and ‘delivery’ and data opportunities are growing.

Also fascinating to see who’s keeping up and how they’re using the variety of tools – even those that are allegedly dead.  Last week, we received a text message from our local, The Writhing Hare, which showed the menu for that night’s Italian night. Guess what – we picked up the telephone, rang six of our friends, and booked a table for eight.  Very simple marketing.  Very inexpensive.  Highly effective.  Oh, and the pub was packed.

Horses for courses – it’s about using the right channels in effective combinations – and measuring results efficiently so that marketing attention and resource is focussed effectively. Which can be challenging in itself as the channel that reaches the consumer is increasingly less likely to be the channel through which the consumer ultimately buys …

But it’s worth remembering – humans have always interacted on a social level  – but now businesses are starting to understand that the consumer should be the centre of communications.  It is the consumer that makes their own choices about how they want to deal with retailers, brands, leisure centres etc.  They will choose whether they post a coupon, pick up a telephone, go online, send an email, or use social media to buy, ask a question or make a point.

The businesses who listen to their customers and respond accordingly will be the ones who succeed.

We’ll welcome your thoughts or comments on this post – and if you need any help with your marketing or communications strategy and/or activity – across channels or through specific channels – please don’t hesitate to give me a call.  If I can help, I’ll be happy to.  If not, I’ll at least point you to someone who will provide sensible strategic advice.

Victoria Tuffill
Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates

Tel:         +44 (0)7967 148398  /  +44 (0)1787 277742
Email:     victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk
Web:       http://www.tuffillverner.co.uk

Victoria Tuffill is a direct marketing consultant with over 30 years experience. She founded Tuffill Verner Associates consultancy with Alastair Tuffill in 1996. She is also founder and Director of Fraudscreen – a data tool that assists in the prevention of 1st party fraud. Her experience ranges across businesses including publishing, home shopping, insurance, utilities, telcos and collections.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, September 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why do social media “experts” talk such guff?

Why do so many social media “experts” talk such guff?  A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference, where the focus was very much on data and how it could be used to help Telcos prevent their customers paying late (or not paying at all) and/or once in debt, collect the most overdue money, most quickly, at the lowest cost – all the time doing their best to treat their customers fairly.  Clearly a challenging combination.

An interesting inclusion in the programme was a chap who came from a social media consultancy.  He was asked to talk about how social media could help businesses understand their customers well enough to prevent them from falling behind with their payments, and, in the event that they fell into debt, whether social media data could be used to identify their ability and intent to pay.

I had hoped this presentation would be fascinating and full of insight.  To be fair to the guy, his social media generic overview was fine. But when it came down to the nitty-gritty of whether or not, and if so, how social media data could be used in a payment behaviour or collections environment, he frankly floundered, and failed to answer even one of the three questions he had been tasked with.

At the end of his presentation I walked downstairs with a fellow delegate.  I didn’t know him, but I asked him what he thought.  His answer was a single word:  “Irrelevant”.

And that’s the problem.  That one poorly targeted, ill-thought out presentation convinced a large group of Telco delegates that social media has no part to play in their business.  And my view is that this is simply not true.  Whether or not it’s possible, legal or even advisable to use social media data in a collections environment, and whether or not there is anything more than marginal benefit to be gained from doing so,  there are certainly opportunities to build  two-way, engaging relationships with your customers, and obtain useful data from them in the process.

If nothing else, that approach gives you an opportunity to encourage your customer to feel positive about you and your brand, making it more likely that your bill will be higher in their hierarchy of “must-pays”.  Especially in the case of mobile networks and phone providers, where it is highly likely much of their social media interaction will be conducted through mobiles.  And these things can be measured – simply compare the payment and spending behaviour of those of your customers who engage with you on, say, Facebook to those who do not.

Use the social media platform to gain information from them, obviously ensuring that your collection and use of such data is compliant.  Make it fun for them to tell you which networks or mobiles they’ve previously used, do some research on how they would rank them, how they use their phones, proportion of personal to business, gain further information on how the phone is used in business – the answers may not be entirely honest, but, with caution, you can use that data to identify likely switchers and even, in some circumstances, likely payment or contract defaulters.  It is worth noting, however, that the time to build the relationship is BEFORE the payments start to be missed – in other words from the moment the application is approved.

What is crucial, and, I think, not understood, is that social media data, communication and engagement are not ends in themselves. They are simply part of an ongoing communication programme with a brand’s customers and prospects.

It is for each individual company or brand to adopt a strategic approach which identifies its business goals, and develops – and measures – the combination of communication channels appropriate to achieve those goals – which could be telephone, social media platforms and forums, email, websites, mail, blogs, updates (digital and print) on news/technical developments/new product, downloads, apps, face to face and so on.

But I think a core difficulty for many businesses is in identifying so-called social media “experts” who look at the subject strategically.  I’ve met both types of animal.  The ones who do really are very good indeed – the bad ones do an alarming amount of damage and harm – both to the perception of social media and, in the worst cases, to the customer’s brand and image.  To identify the good ones, make sure you talk strategically to them, ask them pertinent questions – if they don’t understand your business, your issues, or can’t answer you, or sidestep, or generalise … find someone else!

We’ll welcome your thoughts or comments on this post – and if you need any help with your communications strategy and/or activity – across channels or through specific channels – please don’t hesitate to give me a call.  If I can help, I’ll be happy to.  If not, I can at least point you to someone who will provide sensible strategic advice.

Victoria Tuffill
Partner, Tuffill Verner Associates
 
Tel:         +44 (0)7967 148398  /  +44 (0)1787 277742  
Email:     victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk
Web:       http://www.tuffillverner.co.uk

Victoria Tuffill is a direct marketing consultant with over 30 years experience. She founded Tuffill Verner Associates consultancy with Alastair Tuffill in 1996. She is also founder and Director of Fraudscreen – a data tool that assists in the prevention of 1st party fraud. Her experience ranges across businesses including publishing, home shopping, insurance, utilities, telcos and collections.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, September 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shining the Light

by guest writer, Martyn Richards of Martyn Richards Research Ltd

I’ve become really interested in metaphor.  In a book I’m reading at the moment, Arnold Modell, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard, actually cites metaphor as the concept which makes us human: the ability to transfer meaning is what gives us feelings, which he says are unique to humans (as opposed to emotions, which are felt by many animals).

So I used a metaphor in my title; much of what we researchers do is described in terms of illumination – even the word “discover” is a metaphor – for exposing something to the light.  I love the following story, told to me a few years ago:

A man is on his hands and knees on the ground, under a lamppost, clearly searching for something.  A policeman walks by and sees him; he asks: “Have you lost something?”“Yes”, says the man, “I can’t find my keys”“Where did you drop them?” asks the policeman.  The man points to a spot about fifteen yards away: “Over there”“Then why are you searching here?” asks the policeman.  “Because this is where the light is” replies the man.

The message in this story typifies what essentially happens with a large proportion of marketing research: looking in certain places, because they are the ones we know and can see.  And because we’ve looked before, we can look again and see if anything’s changed.

Don’t get me wrong.  In the qualitative research discipline – my area of the research world – focus groups will remain a staple methodology.  We shouldn’t kick them out (or any other mainstream methodology) just because they don’t answer all the questions.  But the truth is that in many situations, focus groups do not tap into people’s feelings about brands, products and services.  There is a danger that only rational answers will come back, and we know from the work of many fine researchers, notably Robert Heath in the advertising arena, that decisions such as brand choice are often taken with little reference to the rational side of ourselves.  We need to shine the light elsewhere.

Of course, qualitative research found its roots in clinical psychotherapy.  Their world has developed many alternative ways of accessing feelings, including dramatherapy.  This is of particular interest to me, as before retraining to become a researcher, I was an actor and director in professional theatre.  In recent years I have directed amateur actors too.  Along the way, I’ve run a number of workshops.  I’ve also run workshops for research clients: what were once called brainstorm sessions.  But until recently it had never occurred to me to explore the possible convergence between the two.

I have now happily joined the two strands of my working life, to develop creative workshops as a tool in the qualitative research arena.  So far these have only been conducted for a children’s brand, but I look forward to venturing into the adult arena soon.  And one of the central themes of these workshops is metaphor.  A range of workshop exercises have been adapted to provide a basis for this.  I’ll include a few here.  For a Sculpting exercise, participants are put into smaller groups (of say, four) with a nominated person acting as the sculptor, using the remaining participants as their raw material.  Things which I might only have been able to infer from what was spoken to me, I am now able to see in pictures.  We often think in pictures, so why not work with them?  In a Guided Visualization exercise, participants go on a journey in their mind’s eye, and get ‘introduced’ to key manifestations of a brand along the way; what they see is individual to them.  Later they get to draw what they saw.  In addition, pilot workshops have included having participants invent their own advert for a brand, and, again in groups, getting them to perform a story with the brand at the centre.

Storytelling is a particularly powerful tool; when we relate something to someone, we will often use a story style.  Brands themselves will have a story to tell: what better way to uncover these stories than have them acted out to us?

I’m excited by this.  I genuinely believe that it is new, different, and will work.  I know my next task is to convince clients of this.  After all, if I am the one who has shone that old light, the choice was usually the client’s.

Martyn Richards is a key practitioner in the arena of qualitative research with children and young people.  Research tools include focus groups, individual interviews, mini-groups, workshops, immersion visits.  Martyn also works freelance for selected agencies, for example Family, Kids & Youth, Opinion Leader and DVL Smith Group. Recent areas have included confectionery, snacks and advertising.

Email: martyn@martynrichardsresearch.com     Web: www.martynrichardsresearch.com

© Martyn Richards, August 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martyn Richards with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Social Media Case Study

Forex-Factors and TVA

Case Study, September 2012

“Having read this case-study, I endorse every word of it, and have the greatest appreciation of and admiration for the concentrated energy with which the objectives have been identified, pursued and accomplished by TVA.”

Owner, Forex-Factors 6th September 2012

Forex-Factors Background

Forex-Factors provides foreign exchange managed accounts. At the point of initial discussion between Forex-Factors and TVA, the business was in the early stages of development, had a good website, strong creative concepts, initial clients, and a forward-thinking owner with excellent writing skills.

Within a limited budget, TVA was asked to provide advice and guidance on SEO and social media strategy.

From initial conversations and review of current activity, it was clear that Edward had not only the inclination but also the ability to handle the strategic, creative and technical aspects of his social media and SEO activity. What he needed was knowledge, information and a sounding board for specific areas, and advice on how everything could link together for best results.

The key focus of the consultancy was on initial training and ongoing advice.

Key issues

We reviewed the current Forex-Factors status and activity and evaluated the opportunities that would give the business the highest impact most swiftly.

One of the key issues of forex managed accounts is one of trust. There is a number of forex outfits and individuals that, through various organisations and mechanisms, eventually become labelled as “scams” and / or cease trading (often while hanging onto investors’ money). Clearly the honesty and integrity of the Forex-Factors individuals and business needed to be highlighted to raise their credibility and profile above that of their competitors.

As one would expect from a relatively new business, brand awareness was very low, so we developed a strategy of raising brand and personal awareness, and approached the marketing accordingly.

Forex performance is also an issue, and Forex-Factors has a deliberate strategy of providing solid, steady performance rather than promising spectacular returns – which can too quickly result in equally spectacular losses. We used this philosophy as part of the trust-building exercise.

Strategic Objectives

We established clear objectives for the activity, in summary:

  • To increase website visits and, critically, engagement
  • To acquire new investors
  • To increase value of managed funds
  • To develop an ongoing programme to be implemented by the client

To achieve the objectives, we needed to adopt and integrate sensible tactics at a low cost to the client. These included:

  • Building trust, reputation and credibility
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Building personal profile
  • Measuring performance

Achieving the Goals

We discussed the range of social media platforms through which Forex-Factors could achieve their goals, and prioritised them, concentrating on the three key areas on which to focus for maximum gain. With Edward and his team doing the actual physical work, these were then integrated into a sustainable, ongoing social media strategy, which included:

  • Enhancing LinkedIn and other social media profiles
  • Writing credible blogs and articles to build trust and reputation
  • Ongoing SEO improvement techniques
  • Appropriate digital distribution of marketing collateral to increase awareness and drive traffic
  • Joining and contributing to selected social media networks and groups to establish both presence and personality
  • Establishing appropriate analytics tools to allow performance of the activity to be measured.

TVA’s role in the process

Working directly with the owner, TVA provided online, telephone and Skype discussions on strategy and prioritisation. Training was provided in one-hour blocks, as needed. We continue to provide ongoing consultation as required.

This enabled Edward to do the majority of the work himself, and his own enthusiastic and intelligent approach was therefore able to save him significant consultancy fees.

Results

Within three weeks of initial review, results have been phenomenal. All objectives have been met. The numbers of pageloads, first time visits, and return visits to forex-factors.com have all increased by more than 100%, value of funds under management has increased by more than 400%, and numbers of interested potential investors by 300%.

Visit Forex-Factors for information on their business and their services.

© Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates, July 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Victoria Tuffill and Tuffill Verner Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.