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News features great and small…

 In Uncategorized

When it comes to brand loyalty, the old saying of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is about as trustworthy as Russell Brand at a worker’s rights conference. These days, it only takes 140 characters to undo years of your hard work – and even more effort to try and put things right.

Right now, consumers are more empowered than they’ve ever been. Not only is it a buyer’s market but thanks to social media, they can tell the world what they think of you in an instant! Whoever said children are the harshest critics has never seen a dissatisfied customer with a smart phone…

Social media isn’t just big news for the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. I know many businesses that turn a tidy profit just by advertising on Facebook. It’s an easy-access platform that can work in the favour of both businesses and consumers, if you do things right – and that’s all about understanding how your customers interact on an emotional level.

Don’t have a social media strategy that’s relevant to your customers? Then you might have to brace yourself for the biggest bad news story you’ll ever face.

Really? Is it that important?

Yes. Research by the Institute of Customer Service shows that customer complaints made via social media have increased by 800% over the past 18 months – and with social media, everyone gets to read about it.

Remember the US bakery who nearly wrecked their business courtesy of a handful of Facebook posts? Amy’s Baking Company appeared in an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ – the clue’s in the title, TMP faithful… Thanks to their fifteen minutes of fame, customers took to social media to share their own experiences of the business. Now 1,000 negative reviews on Yelp is bad enough, but what happened next would give even Gordon himself sleepless nights.

The owners, Samy and Amy decided to defend themselves by posting their own reviews of customers. Ready for a heart sinking moment? Let’s just say the more printable words they used included “crazy,” “nobodies” and “sluts”. Charming. You won’t be surprised to learn that the relaunch of their business didn’t go so well.

If you’re going to use social media to connect with customers, try and be nice – you can have that TMP tip for free – and remember that this is one marketing platform where the numbers game doesn’t work. You might have a thousand happy customers but one bad comment can quickly turn the tide of social media against you.

Time for the big boys to come out and play…

It’s not just social media that’s important to your business – don’t believe that traditional media is dead, not for one second. Remember that local and national rags are a business just like yours, so they’re all about giving their customers what they want. If they decide that means splashing the smallest indiscretion across their front page then they’ll do it. Only this week, a local leisure firm made headline news in TMP Town because one customer complained that their facilities needed cleaning. Now I’m not going to take sides, but I did notice that the full page article was written as fact, yet without one shred of evidence…

If you want to think national – and why not? – then we need look no further than our old friend, Tesco. Public perception is that Tesco can do little right, so this week we were told that they’re our least favourite supermarket – but the news that they’ve recovered their market share in Ireland was swept right under the carpet.

Compare that with Aldi, who’ve seemingly not put a foot wrong for years. Remember the horse meat scandal? Their part in the whole shenanigans was significantly downplayed, whereas Tesco were sent to their very own slaughterhouse for it. Why? Because customers had already started to distance themselves from Tesco and proudly park their Chelsea tractors in Aldi’s parent and child spaces.

It’s OK, don’t be scared – I’ve got a plan.

So that I don’t become your weekly harbinger of gloom, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to buck a media trend. Take Waitrose – hardly a byword for austerity and savvy shopping, but they’re doing more than OK in our current economic climate.

For every store they have in the UK, Waitrose are making twice as much profit as Tesco – and nearly one and a half times more than those media darlings at Aldi. Why? It’s all about brand loyalty.

According to a survey by Market Force Information, Waitrose have the highest consumer loyalty index of any supermarket – a whopping 67%. They beat their rivals hands down in 5 out of 6 categories, including cashier courtesy, store cleanliness and the ease with which confused shoppers can find the items they’re looking for. Good work Waitrose.

You see, unlike Tesco, who tried to weather the recent financial storms by becoming everything to everybody, Waitrose have always had a quiet confidence in what they stand for – and crucially in what their customers want from them. Tesco got so big that it was hard to adapt as the market changed while Waitrose just got on with doing what they do best. It’s the difference between trying to manoeuvre a juggernaut without power steering and a shiny new Prius with auto-park – people will sneer at the Prius right up until the point they realise it makes life better for both them and the planet.

Waitrose have handled recent gibes about their place in the market– over-priced, posh food for people with more money than sense – because they believe in their business. They know their core values and they’ve stuck to them. Now it’s time to reap the rewards and I’m pleased – it goes to show that as long as you do your homework and learn exactly what your customers want you to stand for, all will be well in the world.

The Monachie Project’s consumer experience research help businesses to know their customers and, just like Waitrose, find their unique market position. It gives our clients the same quiet confidence that they’re on the right track. Get in touch to understand what makes you unique and how best to communicate that to the world. As strategies go, it’s as media-proof as it gets – just look what it did for Caitlin Jenner!

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