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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | I can say what I like...

I can say what I like…

I can say what I like…

I seem to hear this more and more often, usually by someone defending their right to communicate a point of view that a large number of people find offensive in some way.
This week I was talking to a business owner who found a 1-star review had been placed on a well-known platform. On closer examination, the person who placed the review (which also included a quite damning comment or two) had never been a customer or even a potential customer. The only contact between the reviewer and the business owner was when the business made a personal enquiry to a company where the ‘reviewer’ worked and then subsequently declined to deal with the company. It seems that the reviewer has acted purely out of a desire for revenge. When challenged, the reviewer’s response was effectively “well that’s what I think, and I’m entitled to free speech”
Also, this week, the Labour Party’s NEC agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism with an extra statement relating to free speech.
And every time there seems to be a case of Internet ‘trolling’ there seems to be a defence of the abusers along the grounds of freedom of speech. In the era of social media, it seems many people forget that what 20 years ago would have been a comment to a friend over coffee or a beer, is now published for anyone to read. Social media platforms continue to insist they are not media owners, but we all know that Facebook, Twitter and Google etc. are powerful media channels.

All this made me curious about what ‘Free Speech’ actually means from a legal perspective. According to Wikipedia (I know this isn’t necessarily accurate) the correct term is actually ‘freedom of expression’ and there are around 25 listed exceptions, which I assume means things you can’t say. These include abusive or insulting words, defamation and trade secrets.
It appears then that in the eyes of the law you can’t just say anything you want and claim the right to free speech.
When creating marketing communication, there are some core principles which build effectiveness:
Firstly, we need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve.
Then we think carefully about the target audience – who is going to receive the communication and what do we know about them, their beliefs and behaviours. How will this communication be received and what effect will it have on them?
We should spend time designing the message text and visual imagery – an effective message needs careful crafting, should be single-minded and expressed as simply as possible.
We also need to carefully select the medium – the medium and message need to work together, and the medium should have a good fit with the audience, not just readership, but the way in which it is consumed.
Finally, we should measure and learn – did the message get through and did it have the desired effect?

I can’t help but think that most instances of ‘free speech’ on social media that causes upset would benefit from taking the marketing approach. Thinking about who the message might reach (given the platform), and carefully considering the message, might just cause less offence.
But if you have an overwhelming urge to say something offensive, the pub might be a better place than Facebook or Twitter.

If your business could benefit from more effective communication, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here

Happy marketing!

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | SaaS is a raw deal

SaaS is a raw deal

SaaS is a raw deal

Software as a service (SaaS) is here to stay. Suppliers have moved to a new model, the ‘pay as you go’ system. Those of us who remember the old-fashioned way to purchase IT, when you bought a disk with your program for a fixed, upfront price that you downloaded onto your computer, are increasingly seen as out of touch ‘dinosaurs’, whose ‘rose-tinted’ views are frequently dismissed as being hopelessly behind the times.

It’s easy to see why software providers have taken this route. From a service provider point of view the monthly subscription model practically guarantees a regular and more predictable cashflow into the business, with users paying each month rather than when they buy an upgrade. The monthly fees look manageable to a prospective customer, they don’t have to find the whole cost and pay for it upfront. No longer do you have to provide support for customers who don’t want to replace or upgrade their older systems, as upgrades are done for everyone, automatically. Because change is always disruptive, users will be reluctant to move to a competitor once they’ve made the switch to your software. Finally, our legislators sometimes play into their hands by insisting that we switch. Recent GDPR legislation and the UK’s forthcoming ‘Making Tax Digital’ requirements have allowed the industry, with its well-placed and influential lobbyists, insist that every business – no matter how large or small – comply with the same digital rules which are difficult or impossible to do without upgrading your IT software.

But is this a raw deal for the customer? Have we got SaaD (Software as a Disservice)?

It’s possible.

Here’s why

  • Pay as you go means you’re still locked into the product in precisely the same way as before because coming out still means moving data from one system to another. This means management time, effort and hassle to change systems. It’s still risky to switch provider.
  • Monthly fees can easily outstrip what you would have paid over the lifetime use of the product e.g. a £300 one-off price tag is the equivalent of just over a year at £22 per month subscription. Given that most purchased software would last a business more than 2 to 3 years before it needed upgrading, that’s an increased cost of £492 or over 2 ½ times the cost of buying outright.
  • Problems with products are not always dealt with by the supplier and can develop after the initial installation. If a business had a problem installing a new product this would result in a complaint and getting the issue fixed. With pay as you go, glitches are not always detected and resolved at the outset, leaving the customer with a product that doesn’t work and the unappealing prospect of trying to get through to a real person in the software company that has the knowledge to fix it. I personally abhor the practice many suppliers use of hiding their support contact phone number and instead keeping you waiting through their email ‘ticket’ systems. In practice, this means a user with a problem cannot fix it without delay and disruption to their working day, which has a negative effect on productivity. Often their website directs you to videos or ‘How to guides’ that don’t always, in practice, tell you enough detail to fix the problem yourself.
  • Often you are paying for functionality that you’ll never need or use rather than just buying the product that is right for your business. The same phenomenon happened with mobile phones, as the technologists driving the new product development added more and more functionality that wouldn’t, in practice, be used by most of their customers. Once you’ve bought SaaS you are constantly being bombarded with new upgrades, emails telling you about new functionality and getting confused as the dashboard and menus are changed without your prior notice or consent. This is rarely conducive to improving productivity and occasionally the company insists that your monthly fees go up to pay for something you never asked for in the first place! Conversely, larger organisations that may wish to have more customisation of their IT systems are often limited in their ability to do this.
  • Honesty regarding functionality of the software. Occasionally, in my experience, you contact a support line only to find that the software company knew there were issues with connectivity. For example, we use one of the best-known accountancy SaaS packages, but it has intermittent problems connecting to our bank feed. The company in question, when asked to help us deal with this, knew from the outset that there could be issues, but this wasn’t explained on their website before we went ahead and moved our systems over, nor was it picked up during our 2-week free trial period. Talking to the company concerned did not get a sympathetic response or a reduction of the fees we pay to use it, even though we are still unable to get this to work correctly several months later. Our previous system, which just lived on one PC, didn’t integrate with our bank account, but a monthly bank reconciliation was relatively quick and painless to perform.
  • Another reason to be wary of this way of doing business is data security. Your previous business server might have been old, and it may have been a little slower than you’d like, but access to it was restricted. With the new ‘cloud based’ servers a customer no longer controls the physical location or has complete control about whether the data can be accessed by a hacker. Remembering passwords has now become a full-time occupational hazard (here at Aardvark Marketing we even have specialist software that helps us deal with this) and if you forget to bring your mobile phone with you the 2-step security log in becomes not a safety feature but a barrier to legitimate entry. It’s all too easy to click to open a rogue email masquerading as an important upgrade from your banking software, your accountancy software, your email systems, your CRM etc. That means we all need ever more expensive IT back-up systems to take care of us. Our data, and our customers data, has become a little less secure because it’s all interconnected.
  • Finally, control. We’re now in the hands of our software suppliers as never before. If they go out of business because of mis-management or lose out to a more competitive product, we can potentially lose access to our precious data, systems and processes. Just like those customers who bought into Betamax (for better quality sound and vision) rather than VHS video, your software could be obsolete, and you’ll have to invest time, money and effort in replacing it with a different product. Recently, we had access to our cloud-based project management system blocked because of tightened cyber security measures added by our service office internet provider. Like the driver at the steering wheel of  a driverless car, we have no choice about these settings, someone external to our organisations is effectively imposing ‘controls’ on our behalf.

    Here at Aardvark Marketing we’re not luddites, we were early adopters of many of these new and exciting systems. We’ve won numerous awards for innovation and some of our own customers are building their business on the SaaS model. If I could wave a magic wand I’d like more thought from our software providers (large and small). Yes, the world is your oyster as far as breaking modern technology boundaries is concerned, but good marketing starts with really getting under the skin of your customers. There is a difference between customers who are huge fans of your software and those who merely bought it because it is the market leader or even because they were misled into believing it the latest silver bullet.

    If you’d like all your customers to be raving fans, why not talk to us on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Double celebrations for Excellence in Innovation at Aardvark Marketing

Double celebrations for Excellence in Innovation at Aardvark Marketing

Double celebrations for Excellence in Innovation at Aardvark Marketing

Aardvark Marketing Consultants are celebrating winning two UK awards at this year’s Technology Innovators CV Magazine awards, building on their success in 2017 and 2016. Technology Innovators CV Magazine Awards have just announced the 2018 winners, with Aardvark Marketing receiving the Excellence in Marketing Management Services and the Social Media & Content Marketing Specialists. In previous years, they took home the Marketing Automation and Marketing for SME awards. The West Midlands based marketing firm specialises in providing outsourced marketing at a level and budget to suit, from their Marketing Manager package to part-time Marketing Director service.

Gill Hutchinson, director at Aardvark Marketing Consultants, says: “We’re pleased to have been recognised as innovators once again! We’ve worked hard over the past year to develop our Marketing Manager package, an affordable and flexible marketing solution for SME businesses.” Marketing Manager provides sales and marketing expertise with a first-class team as and when you need it. This results in more sales and increased profitability, without the risks and costs of employment. Aardvark have been selected in the current intake of the prestigious Nat West Business Accelerator programme, based at Brindley Place in Birmingham, to scale up the Marketing Manager business in the UK.

Gill developed the Marketing Manager package after receiving enquiries from companies who needed a knowledgeable and reliable firm to handle all their marketing. Aardvark’s project management brings an excellent structure to the marketing programs they develop for their customers, which has been rewarded with the Marketing Management Award. Aardvark spend time staying abreast of the latest developments in the world of social media, including researching platforms that enable their clients to use social in more cost-effective and efficient ways. Gill says, “We have a very experienced team at Aardvark, who bring their own strengths and market knowledge to every customer, giving us the resources to provide first-class support for an affordable and fixed monthly price tag.”

The Technology Innovator Awards are now in their third year and they showcase the talents that are present in this industry. Looking forward and striving to achieve excellence are attributes that the Technology Innovator Awards look for in their winners. Sophie Milner, Awards Coordinator commented: “The explosion of digital technology in the recent years has increased the need for technology products and services dramatically. Enterprises in every industry sector rely upon technology to facilitate their own growth, as such, opportunities for technology firms continue to expand considerably. It is my pleasure to congratulate the winners and wish them the best of luck for the future.”

For a free and confidential consultation about how Aardvark Marketing can help your business call us today on 0121 222 5743 or email us here

 

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to build lasting customer loyalty

How to build lasting customer loyalty

How to build lasting customer loyalty

John Sills, director at The Foundation described very eloquently why usefulness of a product or service to a customer now trumps loyalty. *  He described how his relationship with a local taxi company took a downturn when Uber arrived. Both offered low prices and lots of car availability. Additionally, Uber launched one tap ordering, cashless payment and an actual map showing that the car was, really, “just around the corner!” The convenience of Uber outweighed the long-term relationship working with his local taxi firm.

‘Usefulness’ can come in many guises. For a couch potato, anything that avoids having to leave the comfort of their armchair means ease of ordering is highly prized. For others, the speed of service is important. This is how comparison websites compete, they save the user the time and effort of having to repeatedly enter your details into lots of individual sites for an insurance quote or a hotel booking. Sometimes the usefulness is a little more subtle; with a premium brand such as an Apple phone or Rolex watch, it’s the status of being seen by their peer group to own something expensive and luxurious that matters most to the consumer. This is the reason dedicated Apple fans will queue to be the first to get their hands on any new gadget.

One of the exercises we do with all our customers is help them define and then focus on their competitive advantage(s) rather than features and benefits. The reason? Differences in your product and service that are useful to customers are the key to success. Customers who are truly loyal to you, those who love those differences in the way you deal with them or your superior product, will stick with you for longer and are generally less price sensitive.

Most of us now collect ‘loyalty’ cards as a matter of course. Open up your wallet or purse and the majority of us will have multiple supermarket or coffee company loyalty cards. We are so unashamedly disloyal that we don’t even have the decency to hide the competitor brand cards from the faces of the cashiers at the end of a transaction.  We rifle through them all trying to find the appropriate one to scan without a second thought in our heads. But are the companies themselves to blame for this lack of loyalty? Yes, they offer us ‘rewards’, usually by collecting points every time we visit, but these rewards are frequently insufficiently good reason to make us drive to a supermarket further off our route between workplace and home or walk the length of the high street for a latte. In reality, we see them all as similar, so price (our money or our time) become the only factors that influence us. What canny consumers have realised is being ‘disloyal’ and shopping elsewhere will occasionally trigger a company to offer you a bigger discount for ‘coming back’ to them. This tactic is seen not just with supermarkets but with insurance, telephone and utilities. It’s a tactic that can turn a loyal customer into an angry ex customer if it gets exposed. It’s a damaging tactic that makes every one of us a little more cynical about business and business ethics.

So there is a difference between superficial loyalty and actual, real, tangible, beneficial (and profitable) loyalty. Another crucial step in our competitive advantage process involves in depth customer interviews. A quick tick box exercise using free survey software is insufficient here.

The final step in our competitive advantage process is to consider the future. The first to notice your change of marketing focus will be your competitors, so getting ahead needs to be followed by staying ahead. Does your management team have a marketing strategy to stay ahead that influences your recruitment, your product development, and your business investment decisions?

If you’d like your company to be more successful by staying ahead of your competition for longer, why not talk to us on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here.

 

The myth of customer loyalty, Market leader, March 2018.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd, | GDPR Marketing basics for SME’s

GDPR Marketing basics for SME’s

GDPR Marketing basics for SME’s

There are plenty of myths being circulated about GDPR. For an SME director some of this looks incredibly frightening. Here we try to offer a sensible, reasonable approach to the new legislation by considering 5 basic questions. We are not lawyers, so this blog isn’t intended to be legal advice, but instead is a starting place for a small business owner to get the basic principles right in practice for their future marketing. There are other strands of GDPR around HR and employee data, and there are some steps that could involve tightening up your IT and data security systems. These are not covered in this blog.

Background information

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on 25th May and it applies to any business that deals with customers or prospective customers anywhere in the EU. There are large fines threatened for companies that don’t comply with the new rules. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, this legislation will apply to UK businesses.

It was intended to put an end to marketing abuse of personal data, for example by unscrupulous companies that bombard people with unwanted telephone calls, emails and text messages or those companies that disregard the existing protection offered by, for example, the Telephone Preference Service.

Companies that sell B2B are not outside the scope of the legislation. There is a lot of confusion about what actually constitutes personal data but, at the moment, the legislation defines a business email with an identifiable individual as personal data. For example, info@mycompany.co.uk isn’t personal data but gill@mycompany.co.uk is classed as personal data. Other personal data could include a business that works from an office at their home address or a business owner that uses their mobile phone number as a business contact number.

Some GDPR compliance issues will take time to implement, so if you haven’t already started on this, now is the time to get to work.

Marketing Week magazine* asked two experts in the field for their views on what marketers should be prioritising right now, to stand the best chance of being compliant by the deadline.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | GDPR security

1.     Have you done a data audit?

First, you need to document all the data your business holds, how it’s obtained and what your business uses it for.

“The first thing that we would recommend would be to examine your data flows,” says John Mitchison, director of policy and compliance at the Direct Marketing Association. “This kind of data audit is often a bit of an eye-opener to organisations because there are always third parties, legacy systems or bits of data whizzing around that not everybody knows about.”

This is also key for Steffan Aquarone, trainer at Marketing Week’s sister brand Econsultancy, who  runs training sessions explaining the fundamentals of the new law. He says: “I would look at all those different touchpoints where you are gathering personally identifiable information and map them out in a flow diagram. Even IP addresses are identifiable data, so it’s basically anywhere a customer is identifiable to you.”

Once this map is drawn out, companies need to decide which data processing activities they intend to carry out, and which legal basis they will use to justify them. For most marketing, there are two relevant legal bases specified by GDPR – consent and legitimate interests – and whichever you choose, you need to document and be able to justify your reasons for processing data on a customer-by-customer basis.

The decision of which legal basis to use is fundamental. Once you have made it, it is highly unlikely it can be changed, and Mitchison even suggests that “if you have been using consent up until now, you are going to have to continue going down that route”.

2. Is consent the right course?

“Everyone thinks about GDPR as being about consent and processing,” says Aquarone, but in his opinion there are two priorities in this area, should you choose it as your basis for using consumers’ data. “The specific places you should be thinking about are the consent on your website upon loading and the consent on any forms, including those paper documents that people fill in in the real world.”

Ensuring these are compliant now – in advance of GDPR coming into force – will mean any new user data acquired in the next three months should be compliant with the regulation.

GDPR requires that the consent given for data processing – including for marketing purposes – be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”. This means many companies will have to be more detailed in their explanations of what they plan to do with personal data and that consent must be signalled by a clear, affirmative action  (rather than simply not opting out or relying on a tick box option). In practice that will mean deleting data that has been bought as a list from another organisation, as proper consent will not have been obtained for your particular company to contact people on these lists.

According to Mitchison: “If your consent is of a good quality and a high standard – if what you have been collecting over time fulfils the requirements of GDPR – then that’s fine. You can pretty much continue doing what you are doing. If it doesn’t, you may have to go through a refresh process to bring that data up to the right standard.”

However, Aquarone believes there is no need to contact everyone in a database and request new consent. “I would not bother doing reconsenting at all – of anything, anywhere. I would bin a certain category of data that you know is a bit iffy,” he says, referring particularly to third-party lists of unknown origin.

Beyond that, if your recent data is compliant, you can then take a view on whether previously collected data has adequate permissions attached. If not, there could be value and justification in recontacting older customers to ask if they are willing for their data still to be used.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | GDPR website data

3. What are your ‘legitimate interests’?

Consent may not always be the best legal basis for data processing; indeed Mitchison goes so far as to say “legitimate interests should be your first choice, and only if you decide you can’t really use legitimate interests should you move to consent”. Essentially, this is a business’s right to carry out commercial activities such as direct marketing.

The requirements of using this legal basis are that you have a relationship with the consumer, and that they would reasonably expect you to carry out the specific kinds of data processing you are employing. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a customer – they might just have an account on your website or entered into negotiations,” says Mitchison.

If this is the case, you may simply have to inform consumers what processing you plan to carry out when you collect their data – perhaps in your privacy policy – and allow them to opt out if possible.

However, legitimate interests are not a “get out of jail free card”, Mitchison adds. Businesses must perform a balancing test, weighing their rights with those of the consumer, and legitimate interests can be relied upon only if you haven’t already asked consumers for consent. The data processing also has to be necessary – in other words, you can’t achieve the same result in a less intrusive way.

Aquarone warns: “I would be cautious about this because it’s not good for people to think ‘why am I getting this [piece of marketing]?’ That’s always worth avoiding.”

4. How sensitive is your consumer profiling?

For most SME’s customer profiles (or marketing segments) are not very complicated.  “If you’re doing something straightforward like segmenting your file based on the consumer’s age, what they have bought in the past or where they live in the country, that’s fine – you can explain that very simply.” Says Mitchison.

Aquarone’s more specific suggestion is that, “if the number of buckets of customers you’re segmenting is equal to or less than the number of different product permutations you offer, then you don’t need to worry too much” about getting consent.

However, Mitchison warns: “If you were doing something much more intrusive – maybe you’re going out to third parties and getting additional data about the income of the household or the car they drive – while you may have a very good reason for collecting that data, it might be more difficult to pass the balancing test to be able to do that under legitimate interests. If you’re doing particularly sensitive profiling, you might have to ask for consent.”

As a general rule, if you ask consumers for consent to profile them, you have to be specific about what you are going to do and allow them to opt out at any time. Aquarone says: “Now we really need to be able to go into much more detail about each customer and say what they have consented to and what they haven’t, both in terms of data collection and data processing, and then allow them to change it at that level of detail.”

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | GDPR email5. Could your mum understand your privacy policy?

Finally, we need to be much more specific about data when we draft our company privacy policy and use simple, everyday language. This is the information that customers will read when deciding if they consent to you having their data. Companies that continue to use long-winded and difficult to understand language will not be viewed sympathetically.

“It’s almost a paradox,” Mitchison points out. “You have got to tell people everything, and you’ve got to make it really easy.”

This principle of consumer empowerment underlies all of GDPR. Businesses that adapt and offer consumers real choice around their data stand a good chance of being seen favourably – both by consumers and the Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO.

Summary

Companies are still uncertain about how the regulator will interpret GDPR, but those that take the proactive steps outlined above and – most importantly – can demonstrate their justifications for doing so, should avoid nasty surprises. Keep a written record of the decisions you make as business and make sure you inform everyone in your company about any new processes that they need to follow around data and any new security measures they should follow when dealing with data in IT systems.

Here at Aardvark Marketing, we’re busy right now helping our customers understand and prepare for GDPR as part of our normal service. If you’d like a confidential discussion about how we could help your business, please contact us

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office’s guide to GDPR can be found here.

 

*Article published in Marketing Week, March 2018 by Michael Barnett

 

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Gill Hutchinson with Woodrush year 10 students

Woodrush High students enjoy high pressure world of business

Woodrush High students enjoy high pressure world of business

Year 10 Business and Enterprise Day was a great success at Woodrush High School. The entire year group were ‘off timetable’ doing challenges as varied as crisis management, reviving a toxic brand and trying new ways of communication.

The day kicked off with outside speakers. Simon Beckett spoke about his expanding business from farming to food retail, hospitality and lettings. Richard Whitby from Crisis Solutions talked about their work helping large organisations deal with unexpected events and adverse publicity. Gill Hutchinson from Aardvark Marketing shared with the students some more examples of how brand management can sometimes go wrong if there are problems with food safety and product recalls to manage.

The students then spent the rest of day in smaller groups. They did exercises using different communication styles (DiSC) and were challenged with guessing games and building origami models with very basic instructions.

They then tried a ‘Zombie Attack’ crisis management exercise. Their team had to plan what to do if Birmingham was under threat from the outside and schools were instructed over a radio news bulletin to ‘lock-down’. Some responses involved drama, modelling or splitting into expert groups to each tackle one problem in detail. In the science labs the staff improvised an electrical blackout by cutting the lights, drawing the blinds and using Bunsen burners as an emergency option.

The afternoon was different again, the students were challenged with reviving a brand that wasn’t selling well and had a competition to come up with the best new ideas for reviving the brands’ success.

Nila Choudhury, ASPIRE Coordinator and Teacher of Business and Computing, who organised the day, expressed her thanks for the help and resources provided by Richard Whitby, Gill Hutchinson and Simon Beckett. “The students gained an insight into high pressure scenarios and campaigns. They worked superbly as a team and showcased their skills throughout the day. The external speakers engaged and stimulated the students with their expertise and experiences. This was a successful day all around.”

Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd is the Woodrush High School Enterprise Advisor. Gill is one of a successful team of 40 local business leaders in Worcestershire as the LEP are the first in the country to have every school engaged in the programme.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Beware a drop in complaints

Beware a drop in complaints

Beware a drop in complaints

Like many businesses, we have an external company who provide our IT support. They are very good, quick to respond, and can usually fix our problems quickly. They also provide a monitoring service which identifies potential problems in time for them to be fixed before we are even aware of them.

All good then?

Well, not quite. We suffer from regular IT glitches – software crashes, laptop freezes, updates that remove customised settings etc. I’m sure you have experienced them too. The first time one of these problems occurs, I call the IT support team and then they call back later to fix it. Often this involves them having remote access to my computer, which is great, but of course means I can’t do any work on it until they are finished.

The second time it happens, I ring again and go through the same process. When it keeps happening, I start to get irritated – not with my IT support guys, but with IT in general and the choice I am forced to make between loss of functionality and lost productivity while it is being fixed. It’s particularly galling when I’m paying a monthly subscription fee to the software provider and need to make repeated requests to a so-called ‘support line.’

Eventually, for repetitive minor problems, I stop calling. I restart the programme, or even my computer instead. Sometimes that fixes it, sometimes I just find a way to work around it. I wonder what the IT company make of my behaviour. Perhaps they think things are improving as I don’t report as many problems as I used to?

A change in customer behaviour should always be a trigger to find out more. When, on the surface it looks like good news, it’s easy to take it at face value and move on. A polite “we’ve noticed you haven’t reported any problems recently” style enquiry by phone or email will confirm if it really is good news or, if like me, the customer is suffering from ‘complaint fatigue’ and lost the will to report problems any more. The next time your customer service team report a reduction in complaints with a big grin on their faces, you might just want to ask them why it has happened?

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Aardvark Marketing Consultants win Best Marketing Automation Specialists 2017

Aardvark Marketing Consultants win Best Marketing Automation Specialists 2017

Aardvark Marketing Consultants win Best Marketing Automation Specialists 2017

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd have again been recognised this year as innovative leaders winning the Corporate Vision Magazines Technology Innovator Award 2017 for Marketing Automation. Technology and digital marketing is constantly changing with new advances including ever more sophisticated automation, web tracking, CRM and lead scoring systems. Keeping abreast of these changes means Aardvark Marketing customers benefit from implementing the latest, most effective marketing programmes with outstanding results.

“Marketing automation is a powerful tool in the marketing toolbox but can be an expensive minefield for the uninitiated” says Gill Hutchinson, Director at Aardvark Marketing. “79% of our top performing companies have used automation for more than 2 years however, for the majority of SME’s, this represents a significant investment of time and resources and requires careful planning and organisation. Giving a marketing executive one of these systems is like handing over a Ferrari to a learner driver – accidents are bound to happen”. Aardvark Marketing recommend getting a specialist into the business to oversee the strategy, planning, implementation and measurement of the new systems to realise the full benefits of the modern technology and fuel faster and more profitable growth. “Winning the CV Technology Innovator award is a real boost for us as it recognises the contribution we make to unlocking the potential of these IT advances for our clients” says Gill.

The benefits of marketing automation include more personal level communication with prospects. This contrasts with the more traditional ‘broadcast advertising’ approach which involved targeted groups of people using specific demographics and media consumption. By engaging in a more personal way an automation system can generate more leads, increase the number of qualified leads and drive more sales through lead tracking. Another benefit is to increase cross-selling and up-selling to existing customers.
In todays’ marketplace buyers are changing their behaviour. They can access more information about your company than ever before and sales cycle length has increased by 22% over the last 5 years because of changes in the decision-making process and more people being involved. Having an effective and efficient lead nurturing system is now seen as a basic requirement by many leaders in the marketing industry.

“Now celebrating its third year, the Technology Innovator Awards return in 2017 to showcase the talented individuals, teams and firms that form the backbone of this dynamic industry. We aim to raise the profile of those who’s innovative thinking and commitment to technology make the industry what it is today. “ Laura Hunter, Awards coordinator, commented: “Technology is vital to everyday life; therefore it has been a real pleasure to be able to showcase those dedicated to making innovations happen. I would like to congratulate my winners and wish them the best of luck going forward.”

For a free and confidential consultation about how Aardvark Marketing can help your business call us today on 0121 222 5743 or email us

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | The evolution of marketing segmentation

The evolution of marketing segmentation

The evolution of marketing segmentation

We’re in a golden age of marketing segmentation and automation. Marketers are benefiting from being able to personalise marketing messages using automation systems that segment us according to the choices we make, what we do, what we view, who we talk to and what we spend.

Martin Hayward of Hayward Strategy and Futures recently wrote an interesting article about marketing segmentation through the ages. His historical analysis of how marketers have changed their segmentation techniques makes interesting reading:

1. You are what you earn – still used extensively today, this model grouped consumers by social class. This model assumes that class, employment and consumer spending power were related. For example, the professional classes include lawyers, doctors and accountants could be assumed to have different lifestyles and disposable income from tradesmen including plumbers and electricians.

2. You are where you live – again, still of use today, especially for direct mail campaigns, this model makes assumptions about the relative affluence and lifestyle of a consumer based on their specific postcode.

3. You are what you say you are – this was popular in the 1980’s era when marketers became very interested in responding to consumers based upon their responses to lifestyle preferences and choices. This had limited value due to the paucity and inferior quality of the available data.

4. You are what you do – the emergence of Big Data led this revolution which has been championed by supermarkets and their loyalty cards. The collection of a huge amount of data about our spending habits has enabled a more targeted marketing approach. The data revolution, together with the growth of social media and pay per click advertising means marketing has never been more laser-like in its ability to respond to our behaviour online, as evidenced by Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Martin’s prediction for the next phase of segmentation is “you are what you choose to share”. He believes this will be a logical step for consumers as we come to appreciate the extent to which we share our personal details and make a concerted effort to control and regulate the data we allow organisations to capture.

So, apart from being a bit of fun for older marketers like myself to appreciate, what would be a useful take-away from this model for a business and the marketing strategy to adopt?

Firstly, I would argue strongly that any way a business can define their ideal customer is valuable information. I spend a lot of time with my clients helping them to research and refine their ideal and we still use size of business and geographical location as a part of that process. The ‘big brother’ world of web tracking and social media allows us further insight about on our prospects, which add more colour and detail to our picture.

Secondly, if we know what brands a person buys, who they associate with, and what they are interested in watching or doing, we can tailor messages that resonate with their world. Over time, tailored marketing gives a better return on investment as we focus on the issues that matter to them. Understanding what issues excite them, what tone of voice we should use and when we should talk to them etc allows us to build stronger, more lasting relationships with potential customers. In short, we can become better at establishing trust.

Thirdly, business owners need to keep an eye on the future trends that will change the way we do business. The era of permission based marketing is fast approaching and business needs to be aware of how both existing and potential customers could react to the use of their data. One of the benefits of using marketing automation is it allows marketing to be permissions based. Customers need to behave in a certain way before we send them more information, and they can choose whether to receive it. In the future, customers may be warier of their behaviour and more reluctant to share information than before. Marketing content will need to be more relevant to the recipient than ever before if consumers exercise more discernment in their choices. Are you ready?

Gill

If you’d like a confidential discussion about achieving more bang for your marketing buck, contact us on 0121 222 5743 or email us here

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How to identify the gaps in your Marketing – webinar

How to identify the gaps in your Marketing – webinar

If there are gaps in your marketing, you’ll often aim to fix those gaps by updating your website, getting to grips with social media or creating a new brochure. But this isn’t necessarily the best starting point.

So what is the best way to identify the gaps in your marketing?
If your marketing isn’t as effective at generating leads as you’d like it to be, then this webinar is for you. Gill Hutchinson shares one of the processes you can use to identify the real gaps in your marketing and work out the key areas that you need to improve.
CLICK HERE to start
This BizSmart lunch and learn webinar was broadcast on 11th October 2016

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