Monthly Archives: Apr 2015

Half full or half empty?

I have just read with interest a blog about the optimism bias by David Gault, a contact of mine who specialises in psychology in the workplace. This is the tendency to be over optimistic about the upside opportunities and  to under estimate risk or danger.

We see this so often in marketing. The biggest secret that the industry wants to keep is that, statistically, most marketing fails – that is if you class success in terms of a tangible return. The optimistic marketing manager will use e-shots, newsletters, ad campaigns and numerous other ways of reaching the target market without giving much thought to return on investment. They tend to think that if the business is making enough noise, there will be a response.

When recruiting for a marketing role the business owner needs to decide whether or not the person they employ will not only cover the cost of employing them but also bring in a multiple of that figure as a contribution to the business. This is obvious of course but we have seen the optimism bias time and again in this situation where the feel-good factor of having someone sitting at a desk allows the business owner to turn a blind eye to less than glowing results. It can be tempting to let people get on with their jobs without any real accountability.

One answer to this is outsourcing. A few years ago we ran a campaign called the £15k package. For the cost of employing a junior member of staff, companies could have our whole team on call. The package included a strategy, a 12 month plan and all the activity with benchmarks. We provided a pre-defined service level and any external costs such as printing or media space were provided at our discounted trade rates. The transparency and affordability of this package made it very attractive and it was the start of many of the longstanding relationships we still have today.

The £15k plan was also ideal for starter businesses – controlled costs and an experienced team to guide and support them.

So – next time you feel that optimism bias coming on, think laterally. By using an outsourced service you could reduce fixed costs and achieve better results.

The £15k package is still available. We also offer higher tiers for larger companies that need greater input or more extensive activity. Call me to discuss on 07801 251767.

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What can we learn from dissatisfaction?

The subject of banks and their service, or lack of, came up on Linkedin this week. It seems that, although satisfaction levels are low, people either stay with their banks or move from one to another without finding what they want. One person who joined the conversation said he had to “demand” and “manipulate” to get satisfaction from his bank at a most basic level.

This made me realise that banking is a grudge purchase on the whole, as is insurance. Most people need a bank and there are not that many to choose from. We therefore put up with service that is inadequate and frustrating. It’s the same with healthcare although we do have the option to buy private services if we have the means. High net worth people can bank outside the high street and presumably have staff at their beck and call.

It’s a matter of size isn’t it? Large national organisations become sluggish, unwieldy and out of touch with their clients. The financial crisis drove banks, the health service and councils to pull in their belts and we are now feeling the consequences. They carry less fat yet they are unaccustomed to being flexible, efficient, customer-focused and having all the other attributes that smaller organisations need.

But I do have empathy. Years ago I worked in the civil service. Our work was subject to a code of practice and, although we were dealing with benefits claimants who were in distress, initiative was frowned upon. Layers of bureaucracy weighed us down and it was an environment that stifled rather than encouraged ambition. Not a breeding ground for entrepreneurs although many ex government staff are now being cajoled into self-employment to suit election objectives (or am I being cynical?)

What if our own businesses were as few in number as banks? Would we then allow our clients to feel unwanted or undervalued. Would our marketing claims become trite and unbelievable? Would we even notice if clients grumbled or disappeared? 

If the main or sole purpose of a business is to make money, other values cannot survive. Quality and customer relationships are cast aside in the struggle to get the numbers right whether they are balance sheets, waiting lists or cost savings.

Conclusion? Maybe we should feel sorry for those rule-bound bank staff and be glad that we are free to run our businesses as we wish, succeeding or otherwise according to our own efforts.

If you would like a meeting to talk about how to build and promote a strong brand you know where I am.


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