Archive for the ‘Retailing’ Category

Never, ever write a cheque to make yourself look bad!

May 16, 2017

James Bond Museum

I was doing a review of the marketing activities with a new home improvement client a few years back.

In the previous year, they had spent €15,000 on Google Adwords in the UK bringing the right search traffic to the website of their UK operation.

They weren’t convinced about how successful this investment was and they asked me to review the campaign.

The lack of success was simple to figure out because the €15,000 was being used to drive traffic to their website, which was outdated and made them look like an old fashioned, backwards operation. You could easily understand how this traffic was not converting because, like me, I am fairly sure that the people who looked at the website were not inclined to do business.

Not only were they wasting money but they were damaging their brand – an important and very simple SEO tip is to make sure you have a website that makes people want to do business with you!

My simple recommendation to them was to stop the campaign immediately, upgrade the website and then, and only then, start up the Google campaign again.

I was told that there was no budget for a new website and instead they decided to increase their Google Adwords budget in the hope that bringing, even more traffic would somehow improve the results they were getting from the previous campaign.

Whether it is..

– Advertising when your store is a mess
– Putting a cheap sign over your premises
– Paying for an advert and not designing it properly
– Getting cheap business cards
– Bringing traffic to an outdated website

..the message is always the same.

Never, ever, write a cheque to make yourself look bad.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Big Supermarket brands and the Shopping Bag test

July 28, 2014

Shopping Bags

We pop the boot open and the usual process of fishing out a bag or two to do our shopping starts.

I really hate having to do a big ‘weekly shop‘ so most of our shopping is done as required. The store we normally find ourselves at is Quish’s SuperValu where the staff are really friendly and it is the closest one to our home. While the selection of stock isn’t always too hectic it is a handy store for us and shopping there never feels like a chore.

When I pop the boot open I have to quickly grab a bag or two and I’m surprised how this simple exercise shows me how I feel about the different retailer brands and the ones I align with most.

My first choice is the SuperValu bag – after all, thats the shop I am going into and I feel its a good thing to bring a bag from the same store with you. It must drive a store manager nuts to see shoppers entering or leaving their store carrying a competitors shopping bag with them. I know it would really irritate me if a client came to us with some POS or other material from a competitor.

I also love the SuperValu franchise model and I feel this owner operator ethos leads to friendly community orientated stores often including a support and buy local agenda.

My next choice is the Marks & Spencer bag. This surprises me as I always like to support Irish but I do admire their dedication to quality food and I guess I am happy for that to be part of ‘my personal brand‘ as I do my shopping.

The M&S choice probably makes me look like a snob but my next bag choice would be either Aldi or Lidl. To be honest I can’t differentiate between either of these brands and regularly get them mixed up. I really don’t enjoy the shopping experience in these stores but I admire the simple value proposition and huge strides seem to have been made with quality and there seems to be a genuine effort to buy Irish. The adverts are working!

My next choice is Tesco. As a brand it still leaves me cold, with no stand out proposition but I do admire their Irish producers programme in conjunction with Bord Bia. Even though their share performance has been suffering they seem to believe that the Irish producers strategy will play a big role in winning in Ireland.

Bord Bia Tesco Supplier Development Programme

They are doing some great work with Irish producers improving their operations so they can do more business with Tesco.

My very last choice is the Dunnes Stores bag. Why is an Irish company, the one I should logically have an allegiance to, be the one that I connect with least? I really don’t get their brand proposition, I don’t understand it, I don’t see them connecting locally like SuperValu and nationally I don’t see any noise about supporting Irish – they could be the best at this but if they are I don’t know about it.

I know this is just my view and that my simple ‘picking a bag from the boot‘ analysis isn’t very scientific but then I look at the latest market shares in Ireland published in May 2014 and reported in the Irish Independent and see how closely aligned the reality is to my feelings.

German retailers Aldi and Lidl have continued to snap at the heels of Dunnes Stores, with the pair now commanding a combined 17.1pc share of Ireland’s multi-billion euro grocery market

Tesco retained its top ranking, but remains under pressure. Its market share fell 4.1pc to 26.3pc in the latest period, while Dunnes Stores also saw its position further weakened. Its share slipped 1.3pc to 21.6pc

SuperValu the chain controlled by the Cork-based Musgrave group – continues to snap at Tesco’s heels. Its share of the market, which includes its now rebranded Superquinn chain, rose 0.5pc to 25.1pc, confirming its second place in the supermarket wars

Industry insiders said the latest figures will be another wake-up call for both Tesco and Dunnes Stores in particular

Maybe Tesco and Dunnes Stores should do the shopping bag test?

How do customers feel when they pick up a bag from your store?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Big Brands and the Shopping Centre Test

July 16, 2014

Shopping Bags

We pop the boot open and the usual process of fishing out a bag or two to do our shopping starts.

I really hate having to do a big ‘weekly shop‘ so most of our shopping is done as required. The store we normally find ourselves at is Quish’s SuperValu where the staff are really friendly and it is the closest one to our home. While the selection of stock isn’t always too hectic it is a handy store for us and shopping there never feels like a chore.

When I pop the boot open I have to quickly grab a bag or two and I’m surprised how this simple exercise shows me how I feel about the different retailer brands and the ones I align with most.

My first choice is the SuperValu bag – after all, thats the shop I am going into and I feel its a good thing to bring a bag from the same store with you. It must drive a store manager nuts to see shoppers entering or leaving their store carrying a competitors shopping bag with them. I know it would really irritate me if a client came to us with some POS or other material from a competitor.

I also love the SuperValu franchise model and I feel this owner operator ethos leads to friendly community orientated stores often including a support and buy local agenda.

My next choice is the Marks & Spencer bag. This surprises me as I always like to support Irish but I do admire their dedication to quality food and I guess I am happy for that to be part of ‘my personal brand‘ as I do my shopping.

The M&S choice probably makes me look like a snob but my next bag choice would be either Aldi or Lidl. To be honest I can’t differentiate between either of these brands and regularly get them mixed up. I really don’t enjoy the shopping experience in these stores but I admire the simple value proposition and huge strides seem to have been made with quality and there seems to be a genuine effort to buy Irish. The adverts are working!

My next choice is Tesco. As a brand it still leaves me cold, with no stand out proposition but I do admire their Irish producers programme in conjunction with Bord Bia. Even though their share performance has been suffering they seem to believe that the Irish producers strategy will play a big role in winning in Ireland.

Bord Bia Tesco Supplier Development Programme

They are doing some great work with Irish producers improving their operations so they can do more business with Tesco.

My very last choice is the Dunnes Stores bag. Why is an Irish company, the one I should logically have an allegiance to, be the one that I connect with least? I really don’t get their brand proposition, I don’t understand it, I don’t see them connecting locally like SuperValu and nationally I don’t see any noise about supporting Irish – they could be the best at this but if they are I don’t know about it.

I know this is just my view and that my simple ‘picking a bag from the boot‘ analysis isn’t very scientific but then I look at the latest market shares in Ireland published in May 2014 and reported in the Irish Independent and see how closely aligned the reality is to my feelings.

German retailers Aldi and Lidl have continued to snap at the heels of Dunnes Stores, with the pair now commanding a combined 17.1pc share of Ireland’s multi-billion euro grocery market

Tesco retained its top ranking, but remains under pressure. Its market share fell 4.1pc to 26.3pc in the latest period, while Dunnes Stores also saw its position further weakened. Its share slipped 1.3pc to 21.6pc

SuperValu the chain controlled by the Cork-based Musgrave group – continues to snap at Tesco’s heels. Its share of the market, which includes its now rebranded Superquinn chain, rose 0.5pc to 25.1pc, confirming its second place in the supermarket wars

Industry insiders said the latest figures will be another wake-up call for both Tesco and Dunnes Stores in particular

Maybe Tesco and Dunnes Stores should do the shopping bag test?

How do customers feel when they pick up a bag from your store?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Amazon – Lessons in knowing your customer

September 18, 2013

Music Store

It’s Friday afternoon, I’m  up the walls after a really busy but great week.

Before the afternoon closes out I’m determined to clear down my emails..

There is an email from Amazon in the middle of all my other emails …before I hit “delete” the nice image catches my attention and I give the contents of the email a quick glance:

Reprave: Volcano Choir – BON IVER, new 2013 album from his collaborative side-project with fellow Wisconsin crew..

hmmm… I love Bon Iver, which of course Amazon will know from my previous transactions.

Click …it’s a new album

Click …the reviews are good

Click …buy (they have my credit card and delivery address already)

Bought in under 30 seconds!

AmazonI’ll avoid clicking or looking any more because they have recommendations for me, which are always so spot on that I end up buying more. They also show me some of the other music people have purchased who also bought this album – even more temptation.

Amazon must have the best, most intelligent database management system for e-commerce ever – ask my credit card!

Know your customer, understand what they like, write to them and remind them you exist, make recommendations,  make it easy for them to buy, update your database and start the cycle all over again.

Where was I?… Back to my emails

Note in diary: Send out an email to my database on Monday

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Are you throwing away the “Wow”?

February 18, 2013

Fitting Carpets

We were excited as we pulled into the drive after a long day – after work we had to attend an event and eventually we were on the way home ..after midnight!

That day we knew the new carpets that we had ordered were laid and we were nervously looking forward to seeing our home transformed – the old carpets had been there for over 12 years and it was time for a change ..

After picking the carpets in the showroom you can never be quite sure if what you picked out actually does in fact work with the colours in the house – we were nervous but we were hoping that the little investment would be worth it and our home would be transformed for the better.

We opened the front door and switched on the hall lights ….

A wall of upset hit both of us as we saw the mess everywhere – the carpets were installed but the fitters had left the place like a bomb hit it. There were carpet cuttings everywhere, loose pieces of carpet, nails, broken grips. The fitters had stormed through the house moving furniture from one room to the other and returning them randomly, there was a pile of rubbish in the corner of the bedroom and the bedside lockers were stacked in the bathroom.

We couldn’t close the bedroom door because the carpet was a deeper pile – who would leave it without being able to close the door? We felt like the place had been violated, people had been in our home who didn’t give a damn how they left the place – nearly as if robbers had been through the place.

We were raging and really very upset. I wanted to just return all of the carpets  – Dee just wanted to go to bed but I knew I couldn’t face the mess in the morning and carry this horrible feeling into another day.

I started tidying, gathering up the nails, the loose pieces of carpet and I hoovered the whole place with Dee’s help. Miraculously after about 40 minutes the place transformed and we were able to see that the carpet was in fact gorgeous and despite our initial feelings it looked like the carpets were fitted really well!

We didn’t want this crew back in our home so we agreed to ask a friend in the morning to sort the door problem.

With just a little bit of extra care and attention and a quick tidy up, the carpet fitters could have easily delivered us a huge “Wow” but instead they carelessly threw this away and destroyed a great customer experience.

Sometimes when we are operating to tight budgets do we end up throwing away the valuable “wow” that ends up costing us a lot more in real terms?

The “wow” is the most important part of the whole transaction – don’t throw it away? 

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

It’s finding the right fit that counts!

July 17, 2012

“The Shoes”

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to shopping. For me, quality rather than quantity is the important thing, and I would prefer to spend €100 on one great item than €100 on 20 cheaper bits and pieces!

I recently bought an expensive-ish pair of shoes in Brown Thomas (got them in the sale you see!) and was happy out leaving the shop with my new purchase. So off I went to work in them on Monday morning, and by lunchtime my feet were killing me.

Now I’m persistent, and felt I could break them in, and continued to hobble around for the next few days….

The same week I came across an Irish Independent article by Peter Flanagan entitled “Mad Men shake off the downturn and discreetly pursue new clients” which addresses the changes in the PR industry in recent times, including the issue of charging clients. Reading this got me thinking about my poor feet and my new shoes….again!

Flanagan wrote “The most common rate is in the region of €210 for a senior account manager or account director. Those sorts of rates may seem exorbitant to the outsider, but for a big company it is a price worth paying if it maintains its reputation. Inevitably cost has become a bigger consideration than ever before, and that has forced prices and margins lower and lower — close to the point where the rates are unsustainable for the industry.” He adds “…Anecdotal evidence shows some agencies charging as little as €110 an hour for an account director.”

So is he saying that paying less means their service won’t be as good? That by paying the higher rate, you’re guaranteed better results? While I may have agreed with this at some point, my “shoe experience” has reinforced a recent change of opinion on my part.

It’s been almost three weeks now and they’re a little better (my persistence may be paying off), but they’re just not as good as I thought they would be. In the past I’ve bought items that have cost significantly less than “the shoes”, and are comfortable, work for me, and still serve me well. This got me thinking about how business isn’t all that different… surely it’s finding the right fit that counts!

It’s finding the right fit that counts!

Alison O’Brien is an Account Manager with Fuzion

When Great Products mask over Poor Service

October 18, 2011
Butlers Chocolates

Great Products - Poor Service?

I found myself in the queue of Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shop for about the fifth time in the week for our ritual morning treat and we just had to leave and search the streets of Cork for another outlet that might serve coffee as good (Cork Coffee Roasters on Bridge Street is a little too far away).

Unfortunately we didn’t find a better cup of coffee anywhere so I just have to try to solve my dilemma by blogging about it in the hope that they might notice.

Butlers Chocolate Coffee Shops do great coffee but at times the customer service is just appalling (my social media contacts will have seen a zillion posts about this from me). Some of the staff are very friendly and some are really quite the opposite. I find this incredible – I go in there at least three or four times a week, I buy a few coffees each time and some of the regular staff would neither smile or make eye contact.

There is also a very definite policy of preparing the coffee for the customer and leaving it on the counter and then “shouting” out the order until the customer hears and collects. You could be in there on a quiet day, sitting having a chat while waiting for your coffee , just feet from the counter and the staff will still “shout” your order instead of popping it over to you – I must admit it drives me nuts!

This must be how the staff are trained and I feel it also probably creates a culture whereby a “no smile” scenario is acceptable as well. I can see the logic around staff overhead but this policy needs to be applied with some intelligence and “cop on”.

Hilariously they recently introduced a new electronic loyalty card system called a “happiness” card and for the few weeks around it’s introduction all the staff had t-shirts with “happiness” written boldly across them. With the card you earn your usual one in ten coffees free but you also earn loyalty points – all designed to have you coming back. Now there’s a good idea!

This week I witnessed the very worst customer service incident, which motivated me to eventually write – A woman with a young kid and a new born baby around her neck in a little sling ordered a low fat latte. She seemed under pressure as she sat down while waiting for her coffee – the “shout” duly followed: “low fat latte” to be followed by an even louder and more impatient “low fat latte”.

The poor lady who was sitting down and a little under pressure with her toddler and baby responded “I’ll get it when I am ready“. At this stage practically every customer in the coffee shop had heard the awful interaction and were trying to figure out why none of the three staff on duty could make an exception and walk the few feet over to the woman with her coffee.

I was chatting with a buddy of mine and I was about to collect the coffee from the counter and bring it over to the woman only to be beaten to the punch by another customer.

Incredible!

The product is great so we keep going back but at some point a new coffee shop will open that will know the value of smiling and the even greater value of bringing coffee down to a customer in extreme or not so extreme situations .. I look forward to it.

If you have a great product don’t let it create an opportunity for poor service to creep in.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you Making a Sale or Changing a Customers Routine?

August 2, 2011
Cafe Chico

Do you change your routine easily?

I admit it … I’m boring!

Every Sunday morning myself and Dee go for a walk with our four legged creature, Bing to the local park with our good friends Tommy and Joan and their four legged creature, Tammy.

This routine was so predictable – walk to Ballincollig Park, lap of the first field, walk alongside the river to the lower fields, cut up through the Gunpowder mills and the GAA fields, into the village, stop for coffee and scones at Nosh and Coffee, chat, walk through the village and home. This as I mentioned is what we do pretty much every Sunday.

A few months ago a very cute little mobile coffee kiosk moved into the car park at the start of the park serving coffee and buns and they even have a few very neat tables and chairs outside their unit complete with flowers in vases. Now, this didn’t really suit our break “routine” as the location of the kiosk was at the start of our walk and not in the middle so even though it was a really nice set up it wasn’t quite right for us (its a big deal changing people’s habits!).

Recently we did our usual walk but some of the “crew members” were a little hungover so having completed stage one of our walk we double backed, cut the walk short and went back to the little kiosk, “Cafe Chico” (the owner called the kiosk after her dog, who she brings with her for company each day) for some very welcome refreshments.

The woman working in the kiosk was really friendly, the coffee and home made scones were perfect and to top it all she offered us biscuits from a tin especially for the four legged creatures – Wow! this woman knew and understood her customers really well.

Officially we have changed our routine! Now the first leg of our walk is the same as it was before but now we do a few laps of the lower fields, double back along the river to lap the first field again and then return to the beginning to enjoy our coffee, scones and chat at Cafe Chico!

I know.. exciting stuff!

Why? She runs a great little friendly business, she understands her customer and she goes a little further than you would expect but fully appreciate.

Are you making a sale or are you changing a customers routine – which is worth more?

While we can look after your PR needs, your reputation starts with what you do yourself.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Have a Postitvely Fabulous Easter!

April 14, 2011
Retail tips for easter

Positivity? - Why not !!

Budgets, bad weather, IMF bailouts, things are tough, sales are bad, wages are down, burn the bond holders, senior bond holders, junior bond holders, any bond holders – Oh my God, my head is bursting ! Enough is enough ..

In business all the marketers will tell you about the importance of having a Unique Selling Point, a USP. It is that element that is unique that makes your business special and makes you different to your competitors. In a busy marketplace that can be hard to achieve. In the current climate it can be even more difficult as everyone is afraid of mistakes so we end up playing it very safe, even boring at times.

Now go back to my first paragraph, read it again and then read further on and let’s discover a really simple way to make your business stand out this Easter.

Here goes..

This Easter draw a secret line around your business and make it a haven for all those who enter or deal with over the phone or on email – you are going to give them a gift, something that is quite unique, something that are not getting in most other places. When anyone crosses that secret line they are going to experience nothing but positivity – yep, that’s right simple positivity.

That’s all well and good but how do we do it? – Here is my 10 step plan!

1.       Yourself – You start! ( “Good morning, Greg”)

2.       Your Team – Tell them that negative talk is banned, you want them cheery and bright with customers – watch what happens (have a negative jar instead of a swear jar!)

3.       Bright – You want to see bright merchandise in the windows, bright visuals on your website, bright stock in the stock list, bright clothes on the staff. Buy flowers!

4.       Sales – Increase your sales targets. We all know it’s not easy but tell the team you are budgeting for an increase (let everyone else do the opposite, prepare for the negative it and it will definitely happen)

5.       How to? – Ok, while you are positive you are also realistic. You want positive plans from your team as to how the sales targets will be achieved

6.       Bonus – Promise bonuses for those who succeed, win/win if you make it

7.       What to do with that bonus? – Get everyone in the team to write on a piece of paper what they will do with their bonus (put their private responses in an envelope with their name on it – keep it for them)

8.       Drinks/dinner/chocolates/coffee – When the sales plans are done and the bonuses are decided on do something as a team. Bring chocolates or buns into work.

9.       Customers – treat them really nice, offer them coffee, offer them biscuits. Tell them about the secret line if you have to – they will think you are nuts but they will appreciate it

10.   The World – little enough that you can do about the other stuff, keep it outside the line!

Sorry I have one more tip – why stop at Easter?

Happy Easter!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Perfecting imperfection ..

April 3, 2011

Cafe de Flore Paris

Cafe de Flore Paris - Perfectly imperfect

Do we really want everything to be absolutely perfect?

I absolutely love those places, products or services where you get a genuine, authentic experience that connects with you in a particular way that just cannot be beaten.

The magic ingredient is that besides being great at what they do or sell they have maintained some element that is actually imperfect and genuinely authentic, which is what makes them extra special.

You know what I am talking about .. that market stall, that character pub, that artisan cheese, that hotel with character, that boutique with unusual labels, that restaurant or coffee shop with a great buzz. In these places the crooked pictures on the wall, the charismatic character behind the counter, the candles burning in the wine bottles and the unusual product packaging all actually make the experience better instead of worse.

Just think of Cafe de Flore in Paris – expensive, chic, atmosphere and yes .. perfectly, imperfect!

The opposite is the franchise hotels, shops, restaurants and coffee shops where you get the standard experience, the same look and feel and staff well trained in executing the standard operation manual. Operating at their best you are guaranteed a good experience but you will never get that little bit of magic and authenticity.

Maybe, just maybe the manual needs to be loosened a little so that the local manager can be encouraged to do something authentic and get closer to being perfectly imperfect?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications


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