Challenging the status quo

As I sat in the lecture theatre of the Westminster Business School and listened to Eamon Fitzgerald and Doug Shaw talk about their take on customer experience at CIM’s professional marketer series event, I couldn’t help but think back on the talks I’ve been to recently and the common threads across them all.

As always, CIM selects a variety of speakers. From digital politicians to artists for business communications, their events always leave me thinking a bit differently. So, for this blog post, I’ve decided to talk about the common threads so far.

1. As marketers we need to use our craft to our advantage

This sounds like common sense right? But how many of us get too bogged down in the daily grind and forget how great it is to be a marketer? Marketing for me is dichotomous. Meaning it is both a blessing and a burden. On one hand it’s great to be in an ever-changing sector, and on the other hand it can be overwhelming and leaves you exhausted.

Being a marketer means we can broaden not only our team’s horizons, but the organisation’s we work in too. We have the ability to be masters of our own destiny. We have an abundance of tools at our leisure and we are being more recognised.

British businesses are increasingly turning to marketers when it comes to finding suitable leaders, with 21% of all FTSE 100 CEOs now coming from a sales or Marketing background.

2. We remember stories, not facts and figures

Eamon Fitzgerald is the MD of Naked Wines. After quitting his job at Accenture, he went on to explore a more fulfilling work route focussing on his passion for wine. The bulk of the wine sold in supermarkets actually doesn’t benefit the customer nor the wine maker, whose margins are squeezed until the pips squeak. Naked Wines was created to offer good quality wines whilst financially backing wine makers all over the world. The Naked brand is about transparency.

Eamon went on to talk about many ways in which they improved their customers’ experience, through personal touches and only striving for five star customer feedback. Naked Wines also invests their time and money to ensure their staff are happy and have fun when they’re at work, leading Naked Wines to be one of the best UK companies to work for according to The Sunday Times.

Facts, figures and accolades are all well and good, but what I remembered the most were the stories that Eamon told to accompany his points. For example, Naked Wines first wine maker was Carmen Stevens who became the first black wine maker in South Africa. They reached out to their investors (called Angels) through crowd funding to ask for support to back Carmen. As Naked Wine put it themselves,

“In one afternoon, Carmen’s life was transformed by 2,000 Angels. Carmen soared from humble roots to become head winemaker at Amani Vineyards — a prestigious, high-end, Gold medal-winning winery. In 2011 your funding set her free — and she’s gone on to become one of our best-selling winemakers.”

In just 8 hours, £120,000 was invested. This figure is seriously impressive, but what you remember the most is the story that evokes emotion. You understand a bit about Carmen, her talents and how Naked Wines Angels gave her, her livelihood. We remember stories, whether they are good or bad, not infographics, facts and figures. Marketers have a responsibility to use storytelling in what they do. Every brand, organisation and team have stories to tell. Every customer has a story to tell. Use this powerful tool to your advantage.

3. People respond to people

At the heart of all of these presentations I’ve listened to recently and interactions I’ve had with speakers, another common theme is that people respond to people. You remember an interaction you had with someone, perhaps what you did or what you spoke about. You don’t remember an email you received from your boss or a re-tweet someone gave you when you last went on Twitter.

Work fulfilment comes from being supported, encouraged, rewarded and being able to have fun with your colleagues. A personal praise is much more effective than a 1% bonus that might even be spent before you earn it. Doug Shaw’s presentation focussed more on your own personal actions. How staying in touch and connections give us real meaning. You are influenced by interactions with others, whether good or bad.

As marketers our communication channels are endless, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of interaction with others. Why not try and personally call a customer to say thank you for their review, or reach out to an old LinkedIn contact to see how they are doing, what have you got to lose?

4. Every speaker is influenced by books

As I write this now, we celebrate World Book Day, apt for the next point. Almost every speaker has highlighted a number of books that have changed their way of thinking and actions. We must engage with content in a variety of ways, such as blogs like this, social media and so forth. But we must not forget to read books. I may just be holding onto a generational thing that in time will completely disappear with e-readers, but no one can argue with the power of reading a good old paper back.

Here’s a few of the books that have been showcased at the recent CIM event’s I’ve been to.

The Power of Storytelling
Crush it
If Disney ran your hospital
Delivering Happiness
Start something that matters

5. It’s OK to take risks

All of the presenters have been sourced for good reason. They are creators, innovators and aren’t afraid to take risks. This is closely linked to my first point about using our sector to our advantage. Most of us have the capability to experiment with little or no budget and approval. Try out new content, new imagery, and new film. You’ve got nothing to lose and you can only benefit from trying it out.

If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter. You’ll know next time what works better. Encourage others in your organisation who don’t have a voice — some of the best ideas might not be sitting in your marketing team. By exploring new avenues, asking different questions and collaborating with others, new ideas will easily form.

Eamon launched the Shark Tank at Naked Wines. An event where anyone from the organisation could pitch an idea to a company panel. Votes were taken and it was someone in their IT team that received £5,000 to set up Naked Wines first ever text-for-wine service. Sales sky-rocketed and a new area of the business was formed.

6. Customers are at the heart of everything you do — continue to work hard for them and only accept excellent service

Customers can now rate everything and anything. Whether you’re spending £1 on shower gel or purchasing your annual car insurance. We all expect good products and good service. And if we don’t receive these, we can complain using a multitude of channels.

More and more businesses are now built on reviews from other customers. The likes of trip advisor will become common practice with other sectors. You can even search for the best reviewed Doctors or Surgeon thanks to iWantGreatCare. If you try and wow, instead of satisfy your customers, you’re onto something great.

To conclude, marketers have the capability to be explorers, innovators and creators. Whether you’re creating a new customer service benchmark within your organisation, or sharing a great book you’ve read with your team, we must continue to be proud of being marketers.