Vantage Blog

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29
Oct
2014

Clarity from simplicity - the customer point of view

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain. I was reminded of this saying last week when I received my new credit cards from CBA.




Normally these types of communications are long on complex instructions and unnecessary promotion largely written from the perspective of what the bank wants, not what the cardholder needs. Far from being simple or clear for the reader.


This letter, however, was a pleasant surprise.

Two sided letter – a short introduction on one side (which I actually didn't read - and didn't need to when I looked later). It was the flip side where the cards were that struck a chord.














Three simple boxes:
  1.  "What you need to know"
  2.  "What you need to do" (which I read first), and 
  3.  "Important PIN Information".

It was clearly structured making it easy for customers to quickly absorb. Often you are required to plough through lots of meaningless verbiage, which is not a great customer experience.

I could find what I needed to do quickly and painlessly. In fact what I needed to do was follow four simple steps - took no time at all to understand, and less to actually action.

Distilling communication to its essence, as the CBA have done in this instance, is simple in concept, but hard in practice. Quite often brands attempt to stuff so much other information or brand messages into what should be a transactional instruction. The irony of course is that in taking this design led, customer focused approach the CBA are in fact delivering a positive customer experience. This will build the brand so much more than the insertion of ‘key brand messages’ ever will.

I think this approach owes a lot to Apple and their approach to user experience. It's a real opportunity for all businesses to apply this mindset in how they communicate with their customers - in line with their needs and aligned with the sort of brand experience you are trying to build.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile 


“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain. I was reminded of this saying last week when I received my new credit cards from CBA. ..

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10
Oct
2014

Complimentary Webinar - Tips & tools to help get traction with execution of strategy

One of the biggest challenges most people in business face is getting real traction or progress with implementing their strategies and plans.

In this free 30 minute interactive webinar on Tuesday October 21st at 5pm (AEDT), we will explore

  • approaches to setting up your strategy and plans for effective execution
  • simple tools and tips to help keep you accountable
  • how to improve the likelihood of achieving success

You will also receive a complimentary workbook to help you get traction in your business.

Click here to reserve your spot.

Please feel free to pass on this invite to your team, colleagues or friends - it is a free event.

Best wishes,
Vantage Strategy & Marketing

One of the biggest challenges most people in business face is getting real traction or progress with implementing their strategies and plans.

In this free 30 minute interactive webinar on Tuesday October 21st at 5pm (AEDT), we will explore

 ..

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08
Aug
2014

5 Tips to Help Make Social Media Work for You

Social media can sometimes appear like the emperor without clothes. Lots of people praise its power, and trumpet their success, in driving new business. Many more sit back puzzled at what all the fuss is about.

Much of the problem stems from believing (or hoping) that social media on its own will be the solution for all your sales and marketing efforts. It certainly is part of the solution, but not all as some would have you believe. For instance, for businesses where high trust is critical it won’t close a sale.

But if approached in the right way it can be an effective and efficient part of the marketing mix helping you increase awareness and make your offer more accessible and credible.

1. Fish where the fish are: Be where your customers (or prospective customers) hang out. You wouldn’t attend a networking event full of people you had no interest in doing business with, so why hang out on social media networks where there are no prospective customers. If your customers are on Facebook use that as your primary social media network; if business professionals are what you are after then LinkedIn is for you. And once utilising one of those platforms use their targeting and profiling tools to hone your focus.

2. Connect with a purpose: Social media is a great way to connect in a simple and non obtrusive way. But its real value comes when it is part of how you build your business network. If you sit behind a PC all day madly digitally connecting without a clear target strategy in place then you are pretty much wasting your time. You need to consider who you want to connect with and how you can add value (hint: it’s not all about you!).

3. Integrate online and offline: Online should be a part of an integrated approach. You need to connect online AND offline – that’s right face to face (especially for B2B) and/or via your service delivery. Think through how you build your network on and offline. For most businesses connecting offline is where you will build real trust – online is a support for that process and a great way to keep connected without having to be in their face.

4. Deliver value: Content is the new currency of marketing. And social media is a great platform to distribute and share. But it needs to be content that adds real value. It needs to hit what I call the sweet spot - solve real customer problems, be easily digestible (that is easy to read, understand and apply) and is grounded in your competitive advantage (what makes your brand and offer unique). Content that doesn’t hit this sweet spot – that is provide real value – will just be noise and add to the clutter. It can be a mix of original content by you and sharing great content by others. For more on sweet spot click here.

5. Be consistent and engaging: To expect a single posting on social media to make you a thought leader, or to ‘go viral’ with one click, is unrealistic. You need to have a strategy that fits with what you want to achieve and enable you to consistently connect, engage and share. Given the 1000’s of commercial messages everyone is exposed to every single day you need to creatively present and re-present the content you create. Just as TV ads are repeated to ensure you see them more than once you need to ensure you do the same in social media. But unlike say TV, you can easily keep them fresh by recycling and refreshing. Here’s a few ideas:

• Add an image or a quote
• Re-purpose for the different platforms (an image for Instagram, a quote for Twitter)
• Re-publish at different times of the day to reach different users
• Re-present in different formats – a video for YouTube, a presentation for SlideShare, a blog for your website
• Write intriguing headlines – numbers and lists are really popular

Two final thoughts. There are a number of cheap (or free) tools to help you manage social media, and your connection and publishing approach. Two good ones are Hootsuite or Sprout Social.

And of course be focused. Work out what works for your business and focus on doing that really well. If you take that approach social media can become an important part of driving sales and marketing success.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

Social media can sometimes appear like the emperor without clothes. Lots of people praise its power, and trumpet their success, in driving new business. Many more sit back puzzled at what all the fuss is about.

 ..

blog date arrow
01
Jul
2014

REGISTER NOW - Finding Value in your Value Proposition Webinar - Tuesday 8 July

What value is there in having a value proposition?

This free 30 minute workshop, on Tuesday July 8 at 5pm (AEST), explores how to deliver and unlock real value for your customers.

Three easy to apply techniques will be explored during the webinar, and you will receive a complimentary workbook to help you apply them in your business.

Click here to reserve your spot.

Please feel free to pass on this invite to your team, colleagues or friends - it is a free event.

This blog post is linked to James' Google+ profile

What value is there in having a value proposition?

This free 30 minute workshop, on Tuesday July 8 at 5pm (AEST), explores how to deliver and unlock real value for your customers.

Three easy to apply techniques will be explored during the webinar, and you will receive a complimentary workbook to help you apply them in your business.

Click here to reserve your spot.

 ..

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03
Apr
2014

Are you 'Malcolm in the Middle'?

I recently was a guest of the retail specialist Greater Group at a breakfast where Peter Birtles from the Super Retail Group spoke (Super Cheap Auto and Rebel Sport are two of their brands). Peter is clearly a very focused retailer with an impressive track record of significant growth.


He highlighted what is increasingly seen as a large challenge for most businesses – what he described as being ‘stuck in the middle ground’.  He sees a real polarisation of the market with scale on one hand and niche at the other. Increasingly these opposite ends of the spectrum are where the profit pools of the future will lie (if not already for many).

Being 'Malcolm in the Middle' with no clear distinctive position or strength will see you squeezed. Many retailers have learnt this the hard way. Think Fletcher Jones and department stores. But it's not just in retail - professional services, finance, manufacturing; they all have their own version of this scale vs. niche dichotomy.

He covered a wide range of topics about what drove their business, and where he believes they have been successful. How they frame the choices they make, provide focus to what they do and how they do it was particularly insightful.

Their purpose is built around enhancing their customers’ leisure time across three key categories - outdoor, sport and auto accessories. This acts as a clear view on where they focus - helping them decided what categories they compete in, and the capabilities and assets they need. Despite many unsolicited offers to buy new retail businesses they have used this as a filter and invariably rejected new customer segments, as well as new categories, that don't fit their purpose, and I imagine their core capabilities.

Effective strategy is as much about what you will do as it is about being clear on where you will not play. Super Retail Group’s approach fits well with the 5 Questions model that you can use to challenge and refine your strategic choices. Read more here.

Differentiation for their business, interestingly, is not just based on what they sell. In Peter's view what is critical is building an emotional connection beyond product and price. Yes Peter, an accountant by trade, realises the importance of holistically building brands!

My final take away was how the Super Retail Group view people as the foundation of their businesses and not just a cost to be minimised. For them their staff need to buy into the vision and direction of the brands if they are going to make headway. The link between people and performance was made really obvious with their purchase of Rebel Sport. Purchased from private equity, where staff engagement was critically low (and not seen as an important driver of performance amazingly), they materially lifted staff engagement and improved sales followed in pretty short order.

Peter believes that brand and culture are the only sustainable competitive advantages for their businesses.

A great case study in how focusing on a clear market position, a differentiated customer offer and real staff engagement can sustainably build and grow a business.

17 June Update:  Super Retail Group have issued a trading update where they indicate sales are softer due to consumer confidence.  Interestingly they still expect net profit after tax to be up 5% on last year (which was 23% up on previous year) so some resilience showing in difficult market conditions.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

I recently was a guest of the retail specialist Greater Group at a breakfast where Peter Birtles from the Super Retail Group spoke (Super Cheap Auto and Rebel Sport are two of their brands). Peter is clearly a very focused retailer with an impressive track record of significant growth. ..


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