marketing strategy

Ground-hog day

Every year a new school-year starts and the evening news will splash pictures of twins or triplets skipping to school on their first day. Every year global politics will lurch one way or the other creating a bit of upheaval for a while. And every year when the school-year ends some incredibly smart teenagers will be in the news having deservingly Ace’d the exams talking about how they’re finding it hard to choose between a double degree in something fantastic.

Every year fundamentally the same things happen. And that probably sounds depressing to some but it shouldn’t, because it’s actually a wonderful opportunity.

Take a look around your business and as well as focusing on insights for next month and the next quarter begin focusing on foresight for next year. Get your team organised and start accurately logging not just the quarterly sales and trends, but what you and the market actually did so the business can reference it next year.

Did a competitor come out with an industry moving campaign this quarter? Did your company release a new product that did well? Was there new regulation which materially affected how customers bought? Log it all and make it accessible to a broad group of people.

You may not even be at the same business next year but that doesn’t matter. Imagine walking in to your next job and all this was already done, the year ahead would be so much easier. You and your team would have more freedom to focus on more important things because you’d be able to see the previous year or two of the entire industry at a helicopter-view level immediately. Opportunities would be obvious, it’d just be left to you to leverage them.

Do concessions foster loyalty?

In an age where brands are becoming more socially aware and engaged, and traditional market norms are blurring the lines with social experiences what can brands do when the two worlds clash? What action should be taken where an unhappy customer has the potential to publicly embarrass a brand / institution?

The immediate thought is, ‘concessions’, ‘just get them to be quiet’ and ‘do anything to make them happy’. It may work in the short term but does it work in the longer term?

The problem, as I see it, is that this is a reactive attitude to problem resolution. Perhaps a more proactive and open strategy could work more effectively.

Using the example of penalty fees on an everyday transaction banking account – instead of penalty fees every time a consumer overdraws on their account, what would happen if the customer was given the power to use two free fee waivers every 12 months?

Employing this strategy, both the financial institution and the customer know where they stand, and it gives the power to the consumer to make the choice about whether they want to cop the penalty or not. There would almost certainly be a small percentage of consumers who would call up asking for a fee waiver after they’ve used their two free passes, but the financial institution could quite reasonably respond by reminding them they’ve already actively chosen to use their two concessions already.

Giving power to consumers is a powerful tool. One reason why many consumers get so angry is due to a lack of power in the relationship between them and the company in question.

This proactive approach could be adapted to telco’s, insurance companies, sporting organisations, gyms and many other organisations – and may well foster more loyalty than a reactive concession which only comes in when someone has suffered a bad experience and the both sides know the resolution is a hasty one to temporarily keep someone happy.