Make sure it’s integrated

When I came to Canada nine years ago I can remember finding either raw ingredients in the shops, or highly processed foods.  In the UK, I was used to getting part-made or ready-made meals made with real ingredients which allowed us to eat healthily in little time and relatively low cost.  I discovered Sobeys as it was, and really still is, the only grocery store that had prepared in store meals without all the preservatives and six-month shelf life.

It came as no surprise to me to hear in August that Sobeys had teamed up with Jamie Oliver, the champion of real food.  His eleven-year alliance with Sainsburys, a UK supermarket with a similar product rather than price positioning like Sobeys, was very successful for Sainsburys.  He championed real food and the ability for everyone to eat well.

Last week the first TV and radio ads came out and the cheeky chappy Mr Oliver was running around Canada telling everyone how you can eat well and affordably by shopping at Sobeys.  So imagine my surprise when I got an email in my inbox from Sobeys that very morning, with no mention of Jamie.  On Saturday I popped into the local Sobeys and again, no in-store branding.  There was one hairy picture in the meat department advising me to take my meat out of the fridge one hour before cooking, with Jamie’s face, but that was it.

I asked at the till about what was going on and got an “I dunno.”  Where is the internal communication, to use your best brand ambassadors, your employees?  So please when investing in a celebrity or any campaign, ensure there is an integrated marketing plan, map every touch point and be consistent with the messaging.  It takes from three to seven times for people to see the message before it is picked up.  If a customer doesn’t see that consistency it may cause confusion and definitely reduce the impact of your activity.

Victoria Bennett is the Principal of Bennett Milner Williams Consulting. With over eighteen years experience in Business to Business and Business to Consumer marketing in Europe and North America; in addition, she has overseen sales, operations, finance and HR, experience to ensure a comprehensive implementable solution.   She is goal-focused with strong commercial success working for major companies including; Procter & Gamble, TD Bank, Mars, Tervita, BP, Gushor (a Schlumberger company), ENMAX and Axia NetMedia. Her proven ability to define the problem, collect and analyse the data and develop an effective plan is supported by her project management abilities to draw on her strong network of trusted, proven consultants to implement the approved plan.

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Increasing Customer Loyalty

Increasing customer loyalty and growing the business by understanding and meeting customer needs

A large utility company offered residential and commercial products and services.  They offered the small to mid-sized commercial companies their residential product.  There was a high churn and negative customer feedback.

Using secondary research and then primary research we were able to identify what were the three core elements the existing products and services offered that met their needs, and what was the root cause of their frustrations.  Fundamentally the core of the services met their needs, but the customer service needed to be better tailored to their requirements.

Working with the customer service team, we were able to address these concerns and deliver the additional customer service with limited impact to the contact centre.  Then we repositioned the products and services to demonstrate we understood the customer and their needs.  We activated an existing sponsorship to host two large launch events, and invited key customers to share the process and the new offering.  Churn reduced and customer satisfaction increased.

Oilfiled Services in a lean market

When prices are good, oil and gas service companies receive plenty of inbound calls and achieve nearly full capacity, it really is a case of make hay whilst the sun shines.  Certainly in the past year, the junior and mid-cap oil companies have struggled to get investment and this has had a knock-on effect for the service companies.  The negative impacts can include reduced business and prices.  How can you ensure you get more than your fair share of the business that is out there, and ensures you are positioned for further growth when the markets rebound and drilling is back to 2011 levels?

This was the challenge that I worked through for a large oil and gas service company that not only maintained but grew market share by 2% and I am happy to share the process we followed.

Identify why your customers use you

Undertake research with your customers to understand the top three reasons they use you.  Keep doing these things, if they make business sense.  Remind your customers what you do well and thank them for their loyalty.

Identify your competitors

As part of the research understand why people use your competitors.  Put an action plan together to reduce any gaps between you and your competitor, or at least neutralize that advantage.  Look at the costs, you probably can’t do everything, but make sure you communicate improvements you have made. Is there something that is keeping the customer awake at night that neither you nor the competitor is solving today? Solve it.

Review your pricing

In tighter markets people often look to reduce their prices to increase business, this can devalue the market and can make it a pure pricing play, not recommended.  Definitely review your prices, but look at them in context of the whole value chain.  In my specific example, the basic cost of services was at a premium, however, the reliability of the service, the speed of delivery, and therefore reduced downtime and reduced additional costs to the customer meant the total cost of the service was lower than the competitor.  Give your sales team the tools to be able to demonstrate the value, such as total cost of service savings, to your customer.

Measure the effect

The key metrics were captured before we put this plan in place, during and continued to be measured over the following sales cycles.  This is probably data that you already capture, but track when you put the next part of the plan in place and the impact it has.  You will be amazed at how running customer research before you even do anything with it, will have an impact because you are demonstrating you value the customer’s business and you are listening.  Once you demonstrate you have listened and then demonstrate you are doing something about it, I am confident you will see a positive impact on your business, that will help you through the lean times and set you up to win more than your market share, when the market returns.