03.05.2016 How brands can boost customer experiences

Last week our senior communications manager Bethan Lewis attended the CIM Wales brand experience conference Cardiff. Here she blogs about her day and what she learned.

On a beautiful sunny morning I headed to Cardiff City Stadium for my first Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) event. The conference was all about brand experiences so I was really intrigued to find out more given that we are always looking for ways to advise clients on how to enhance their customer experiences – something that equally applies to both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) businesses.

Armed with my bright yellow notebook I was ready to digest all the advice from the three respected speakers.

First up was head of external affairs for CIM Steve Wooley. We’d chatted during the networking stage before the event kicked-off and I immediately knew he was going to offer practical and informed advice.

steve-woolley-cim

He talked us through the findings of a survey CIM had conducted with over 2,200 marketers to find out why companies fail at connecting their brands with consumers.

We all appreciate that brand choice is ever-increasing and ultimately this means consumers can and will continue to be more demanding. Surely brands know this though don’t they? Surely from the top-down in organisations of all sizes, employees understand the vision, its offering and ultimately what its customers want? Wrong on both counts, in most cases.

With lots of choice out there, the fight is on for brands to deliver consistently high-quality experiences to build their databases of ambassadors because, unsurprisingly, customers talk to each other. They ask each other for tips, advice, recommendations and unfortunately for brands, consumers place more value on peer recommendations than they do beautifully designed adverts or well-executed e-newsletters. Brands, if you let us down, we won’t forget it in a hurry and it could have a long-lasting impact.

So, this is where Steve’s research came in. The report, which can be viewed here in full, highlights that there is often a clear disconnect between brand promise and the strategic direction of an organisation. The survey showed the following statistics, which scared me – how do organisations function like this?

 

  • Only 47% of leaders understand the brand and what it means for their areas
  • Only 43% of employees understand the organisation’s vision
  • Only 50% of data gathered, which includes customer base insights, is shared with the leadership team and with the wider marketing team
  • Only 13% of data and insights is shared with agencies including PR agencies

 

This is clearly why there is disconnect then. As Steve said, with marketing managers/teams apparently still working in silo to the rest of an organisation, the end user/customer is the important person missing out. Marketers need to be part of the wider conversations, they need to be engaging and working with all elements of a business to gather data and drive the organisation’s strategy forward as they are the best-placed people to do this. They understand the marketplace, they can get sales figures from the finance team, they can share new ideas and long-term thinking with the organisation’s leaders and they can see why the end user isn’t buying something with the help of the operations director.

The end of this speech was quite inspiring as marketing can still be perceived as fluffy but it is up to the person responsible to dispel these myths and become the most important person within the organisation, ultimately bringing all departments together to improve those poor-looking statistics.

This is the key thing I took from Steve and it’s not hard to find out what consumers want – just ask them, work together and deliver it.

Promises

Next up we had Sharon Flaherty, Brand Content, who talked about the most effective ways of engaging with bloggers. We’ve engaged with some lovely bloggers over the last couple of years but we agree completely with Sharon on the following top tips:

 

  • Be sure you have researched the blogger before approaching – there is nothing more that bloggers hate than blanket emails or impersonal approaches
  • Most bloggers are commercially savvy so will be offended if you try and coerce them into promoting your brand for free
  • Make sure the request you make is clear and targeted to what they normally write about and PLEASE PLEASE if you take nothing else from this blog post, don’t fail by repeating a similar mistake (this is a genuine blogger testimonial as highlighted by Sharon)

 

Life

Last, but by no-means least we heard from the very knowledgeable Sameer Rahman who leads the analytics and research team at Response One and is also vice chairman of CIM Wales.

His talk was a bit different to the others as he not only explained the benefits of measuring engagement as one example, he actually provided us with the necessary tools to help marketers put these ‘fluffy’ terms into quantifiable and financial terms that would satisfy any financial director’s questioning.

Every piece of activity marketers put in place to reach its customers can be quantified if the right questions are asked and the necessary data is collated.

If you’d like to know more about how to impress your financial director and PROVE that marketing efforts CAN directly impact a business’ objectives, drop me a line and the coffee will be on me. Email me at: bethan.lewis@brightercomms.co.uk