SMEs

Hello! Is anyone listening? The magic of Radio and its similarities to running successful Social Media campaigns

It’s a while since I last wrote a blog, the truth is working in marketing you tend to neglect your own promotion in favour of your clients. But that’s no excuse it is important to be consistent. So today I wanted to talk a little about the wonderful world of social media. I remember being one of the first of my friends to sign up to Facebook in April 2007. Back then there was no Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter was only in its first year.

How far social media has come since then? Facebook now has in the region of 2.23 billion users. They’ve recently had a ‘rough’ time losing £90.8 billion of their share value following the Cambridge Analytica scandal (I must hasten to add the company is still valued at nearly £400 billion – yes billion).

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What is true is that businesses of all sizes are looking to harness the power of social media. Just like any other media there are different channels which may be more suited to your target audience. Instagram users for example are predominantly aged between 18 and 29 and there is a greater tendency for them to be female over male. Whereas Twitter and LinkedIn users, tend to be older and more business orientated. Effectively utilising social media reminds me a lot of my time as a Radio Presenter. Different stations appeal to different audiences.

But the similarities don’t stop there. Just like the world of radio particularly commercial radio;

You need to plan

Before each show I’d spend at least an hour prepping. My prep would include reading the local and national papers, checking on upcoming events, researching in to any new music that was added to the playlist, creating topics to encourage listener interaction. Planning was imperative to an enjoyable show (for me and the listener).  The same can be said for social media, making the time to produce a fortnightly or monthly social media plan will make the process of generating regular content a far less onerous task.

You’re promoting…

 In radio this is usually the station you work for, other presenter’s shows, local events or special guests. But equally as a business owner utilising social media to promote your business is a wise choice. What other media gives you the opportunity to directly promote your product/service to your customer?

You’re conversing…

Encouraging listener participation brings the show to life. One of my favourite features was my topical themed final song of the show, during this feature I would get listeners to get in touch suggesting a song themed around a news story from that day. People love to receive a direct response from a company, favourite brand or business . I once tweeted Screwfix about a great experience I’d had with their Cheadle store. They passed the message on to the store who responded to my tweet with a thank-you – I was touched. Conversing with your social media supporters encourages brand loyalty and sets you ahead of your competition.

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You’re sharing…

 I remember a few years ago whilst I was working for Cheshire Silk 106.9 there were a number of school closures due to excessive snowfall. Silk became the go to station to find out whether your local school was closed. That’s one of the things I loved most about radio was its speed. If you were on air when a big story broke you could share it with you listeners instantaneously. That speed still puts radio ahead of other media such as print. You can utilise your brands social media to share something relevant in your industry or to your followers.

Sharing, conversing and promoting is the holy trinity as far as establishing a successful social media presence. But I would encourage you to exercise caution when utilising social media. Unlike the world of radio which is regulated by Ofcom anyone can get online through social media and share news, views, pictures and videos. Without the necessarily having the knowledge on what you should or shouldn’t share. I once received a piece of advice whilst working in radio which I still reflect on today ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.

Also avoid the temptation to sell too much. I once took a call from an irate listener during one of my shows for a commercial radio station following a particularly long ad break who asked ‘Are you running an advertising agency or a radio station?’ the truth was a little bit of both. But they raised a good point effective selling should blend in to overall content and be informative not overpowering,  if you ‘sell’ too much people will switch off or in the case of social media at a click of a button they have unliked/unfollowed your page.

Radio is a medium which will always remain special to me, my five years working for stations in Manchester and Cheshire has taught me so much. If you’d like to have a friendly chat about your social media or broader marketing strategy  feel free to get in touch kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk

Good Customer Service

Not so long ago I spent 4 years working for the late Tim Bacon the founder of Living Ventures a group of restaurants and bars including Gusto and the Living Room. I learnt a great deal, his Core Manual is one of his greatest legacies almost biblical!

In it Tim teaches you how to give excellent customer service and at the root of his teaching is that the customer is always right. Many people couldn’t understand why a degree educated person would want to work in a restaurant with the long unsociable hours and relatively low pay. I never explained to customers that I was a Business Development Manager and that there was much more going on behind the scenes, they just viewed me as a host (well what’s in a name?). Those 4 years taught me so much about providing good service, dealing with difficult customers (sometimes drunk) as well as creating a welcoming environment. A fellow hospitality worker once said that ‘hospitality should be made a national service’. I really couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, this has made my expectations very high and I find it quite frustrating when I don’t receive the same good customer service from other business to consumer enterprises it’s not hard to get it right just put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re dealing with and ask yourself what would you expect? In many other countries i.e. America hospitality is viewed as a career whereas over here many view it as a stop gap.

If I have to call a business and get good customer service I’m actually amazed. Almost shocked if I get through directly to the person I need to speak to. Lansinoh are one such business I needed some replacement valves for my breast pump the lady who answered the call was able to deal with my query straightaway without having to pass me to another department. It made me think it doesn’t matter what communication method you use as long as you do it well. I recently had to speak to a large business who provide a wide range of electrical items let’s just say their name began with Sam and ended in ung. I was appalled by how poor their customer service was. Firstly, the line was very poor so it was difficult to hear them, they took me through their troubleshooting (basically) switch it off and on. When this didn’t resolve the issue they put me on hold for roughly 15 minutes until eventually my call was dropped. I called back only to have to go through the same process again and once again was put on hold for a further 10 minutes whilst the individual reviewed my notes. Finally, they deducted that my equipment (a sound bar) was faulty. I had called about the same issue a year ago and was made to feel quite foolish because my husband had removed the battery (I hadn’t checked before I called). On this occasion I was transferred to the supervisor who asked me over and over again if my problem was resolved, even though they knew it wasn’t.

As a parent you’re told to ‘praise good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour’ (not entirely sure which guru came up with this theory). I don’t agree with this theory. I do agree with praising good behaviour something I do loud and proud however, but bad behaviour should also be acknowledged. We shouldn’t insult the intelligence of our children by assuming they can’t understand right from wrong and this is why they should be punished. In the world of consumerism people don’t follow this rule (I’m as guilty as the next person). Giving feedback to a company is the only way to help them improve. Posting a negative review can be very damaging for a small businesses. So back to the electronics company there is an email address on their site where you can directly contact the CEO of the company surely he would care about the poor customer service I received? But I’ve received no response as of yet. I also tweeted their official twitter handle yet again no response.

You can be sympathetic to small companies not having the resource to be across all communication channels but a global business should be able to provide brilliant customer service. I am a big Gin fan and for Christmas I received a beautifully packaged bottle of Gin from the Gin Parlour with complementary bottles of tonic and beer matts it was a real treat. On their website they state in their FAQs

“WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A TELEPHONE NUMBER?

We are a small, 2.5 person, online company. We made the decision not to have a public phone number and instead embrace the various online methods of communication - email, live chat, Twitter and Facebook - because these enable us to provide a better, more reliable, level of customer service. We could put a phone number up but 9 times out of 10 you would have to leave a message for us to get back in touch with you. In our experience that frustrates people even more.

We know that some people see a phone number as a sign of a company’s validity and will not want to shop with us however we have been independently verified by our website security certificate provider and our independent review provider.”

This is a prime example of smart communications, you don’t need to be across every method of communication to give good customer service just pick a few and ensure you do them well.

kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk 01625 533102

Credit: Jonathan Farber

Credit: Jonathan Farber

The Birth of Icon Marketing Communications

As my first blog I thought the best place to start would be to talk about how and why I set up my own marketing communications consultancy.

I went to University in Leeds and studied a degree in Media, Communication and Cultural studies. It was quite a diverse course where we learnt about the practical side of media as well as theory. We did work placements in related industries I chose PR (I really wanted to do a placement at a radio station), but communication is communication. At Uni we were taught to analyse things and look for the hidden meaning in things. Such as the stereotypical roles used in Disney films like the jive talking smoking crows in Dumbo. There are many subtle messages in mainstream media like the constant barrage of negative programming such as ‘Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole’. ‘EastEnders’ depiction of Stacey’s battle with post-partum psychosis or even the late George Michael's lyrics in his hit tune Faith.  We can learn a lot from the media we consume both positive and negative.

Having spent several years working in marketing/advertising/business development and radio change was on the horizon when I fell pregnant with my first son Nico. During my maternity leave I threw myself into various projects not to mention Mums & Tots groups. But if I’m honest they weren’t my cup of tea and believe me there was always plenty of tea! The only class I felt was useful was Tiny Talk a baby sign language class. Where babies learn useful signs to communicate with their parents before they can speak. I remember going round the circle when we were asked how many signs our babies had done and my answer was always none (but who’s to say the other Mums were telling the truth?). Many months later and even now Nico does various signs for me and has even learnt more.

Anyway the maternity leave went by quickly and it was time to take on the dreaded commute on the M60 to Salford Quays. I knew it would be tough (husband often works abroad) but I wanted to keep my independence and small income once nursery fees where paid. The world of media and particular social media is constantly evolving so if you take time out for too long it’s a major setback. It was becoming challenging taking on the commute and with no work from home option available I regrettably handed in my notice. With the encouragement of my husband I decided to set up my own marketing communications consultancy. Thankfully since setting up I have learnt so much including how to build websites.

Working as a sole trader is a tough slog; finding new business, getting expensive contracts written up, paying for office space and dealing with late payers. A survey by the Federation of Small Business in March 2015 found that 43 per cent of firms have waited over 90 days beyond the agreed payment date before they got the money they were owed. Is it any wonder that so many small businesses fail?

The hardest thing of all was coming up with a name it took me long enough to agree on a name for my children this was going to be just as challenging. After weeks of shortlisting I finally settled on ‘Icon Marketing Communications’, Icon being an anagram of Nico.

Icon Marketing Communications is designed to help businesses just like mine, people with an idea that just needs promoting to the outside world to attract customers. If you’d like to discuss your marketing requirements, please feel free to get in touch kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk or 01625 533102