Archives for category: Customers

Brexit could be all done by the time you read this post, though as I write it couldn’t be more finely balanced.

There’s a tremendous amount of international shadow-boxing going on at the moment, as the UK government looks to brace itself against the punches of blame that might come its way from within. Stories have been ‘leaked’ and senior government officials are expressing their frustration that the EU doesn’t understand the UK position.

It’s clear to me that there is not a single marketer in the UK government. No-one has stopped for a moment and said, ‘hang on a moment, the EU is effectively a customer, or at the very least a partner. We should treat this as a commercial arrangement. Let’s try and put ourselves in their shoes, figure out what’s important to them and proceed accordingly.’ I think the EU has done this, and the thinking UK person has too. The unthinking person on both slides of the political divide probably hasn’t.

‘Let’s make it about them, and stop acting like it’s about us.’

Simplistic I know, but sometimes it suits to go back to basics before FUD fogs everything. A lasting, long-term negotiated agreement has to be a win-win, otherwise it won’t last.

A bit of humility and thoughtfulness rather than the usual dose of haughtiness and arrogance, please.

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The Glastonbury Ghost

The Glastonbury Ghost

I’m a late convert to festivals. Music festivals, arts festivals, family-focused, eco-focused: there are now so many to choose from, from May to September every year, and no shortage of acts to perform at what are now for them highly lucrative sources of revenue.

I’ve probably been to about a dozen festivals, all but one in Ireland. For a number of years I’ve tried to get tickets to the Glastonbury festival, the Daddy of them all, for my good lady and her friend. I’m not that keen myself, I like the creature comforts at my festivals.

So for the last few years, having registered Mrs D’s details, and Mrs G’s too, I’ve got my notification email and stood ready at my laptop at a few minutes to 9am on the day of ticket release. That’s as far as I’ve ever got. A few minutes before 9 and you get the holding webpage. 8:59am onwards and the page hangs, then returns a time out error. You repeat this process for maybe a hundred times until you get to a holding pages about half an hour later that tells you tickets have sold out.

You see, I think Glastonbury tickets are now the preserve of IT people, people who know the back routes into booking servers, or how to pool resources into multiple simultaneous requests until someone gets through and orders the maximum amount for their cohort.

For the rest of us, the event is like a ghost. You’re met with platitudinous messages about being really sorry but supply has so far outstripped demand blah blah blah. It’s getting like the Wimbledon tennis lottery.

From a marketing point of view, this is the dream, because it’s all about scarcity. There’s not enough to go round, and the excess demand drives the price.

You see it on TV and you know it does happen. At least, you think it happens, you’ve never seen one.

I was having lunch with my mother the other day. We were catching up on plans. ‘Apart from mine in Ireland, are you going anywhere else for a break?’ ‘I’m going to see Irene, remember?’ ‘No, I mean abroad.’ ‘No, I can’t get reasonable travel insurance now I’m over 80, it’s too expensive.’

OK, so I understand the underlying business model behind insurance. Anyone elderly is at a higher risk of needing expensive healthcare services compared with someone younger, it’s simple statistics. Throw in a medical condition and the risk increases even more sharply.

That said, does it not appear to you to suck big time that you can’t get to a certain age, when you have time, freedom and money to travel, without having to pay as much as your holiday in travel insurance?

That seems to me to be a real poor reward for working a full career and wanting to enjoy it.

‘So what did you do for travel insurance last year when we all went to Spain then?’ ‘I think I just took the risk and went without insurance. I didn’t feel like I had the choice’

That’s coming from an ordinarily very risk-averse octogenarian. Something’s not right, but I’m not sure what the answer is.

Who’s the most important stakeholder in any organisation? If you’re in the private sector is it your partners or your customers? If you’re in the public sector is it the people who use your services, like the general public, or is the local and national government entities? If you’re in the charity sector is it your funders, your donors, or your clients?

The answer for all three types of employer is the same: none of them.

You are the key stakeholder. You and your colleagues determine your organisation’s ethic, its culture, its brand. You are responsible for making people aware of your products and services, getting them to use them, delivering those products and services to them, sorting out problems for them.

Having the right staff in place, the good ones like you, will take care of your customers, clients, partners, suppliers, funders, donors, volunteers  Рall the other stakeholders that make up your industry or community.

When it comes to stakeholders – to adopt a well-known car-maker – you are job 1 .

It’s easy to get hung up on a go to market plan. Sometimes it can feel a bit daunting: all that research, data analysis and projections to do. Yes, a full go-to-market plan can be a big undertaking depending on the stakes, but the essence of a solid go-to-market plan is being able to answer 6 questions.

Who? Who are you selling to? Which customer segment? Which individual buyer types are you appealing to within your target customer?

Why? Why should they care? What can you do for them and why should they come to you rather than elsewhere?

What? What’s your offering? What’s the make-up of your product, service and accompanying services?

Where? Where will you reach them? Where do they go for their information? The web, via partners, consultants?

How? How will you reach them? Email, advertising, promotion, PR, events, calls, meetings?

When? What’s the timeframe for preparation, execution, review, adjustment?

You can probably see that this kind of 6-question framework doesn’t simply work for go-to-market projects. You can apply it to almost anything you need to do, in order to cover the key bases and get a quick-fire direction that you can build on.

 

When I look back on individual short-term events in my life, or over long-term things like career, health and so on, I find that I have allowed external factors to shape and evolve me. I have on occasion rolled with the punches, got caught up in the forward momentum and gone with the flow.

I’ve not been in control. I have allowed the focus of control to be external of me, rather than internal to me.

I think it’s important to level-set every so often and endeavour to take back control. Take back control in everything from individual decisions to relationships with other people or entities and to strategy for companies and organisations. Not at the expense of others, that’s not what I mean here. I mean to be active, positive, current, engaged and decisive.

Yes, an important part of assessing our strengths and weaknesses is also assessing the opportunities and threats that are outside our control. Yes, sometimes we have to play the hand we are dealt.

But, if that hand is not what we like, or has developing into something that we don’t like, do we have the option to walk away, and play another game? A game that gives us back control?

It’s about options, isn’t it? If it is, then it’s about taking back control, because without it our options are poorer and more limited.

Electric Picnic closes the summer festival season, and is the largest in Ireland. In this last in a 3-part blog series in praise of the event, I focus on the people.

People come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and to a degree the same can be said for EP. There aren’t supposed to be kids from 13 to 18 there, but you see a few of them. The main demographic is 19 to 35 without question. There are a few young families there, but there’s also a surprising number in the 45 to 65 range too. If you can do 20- or 30-thousand steps a day in fields, and probably a good deal less if you’re not a culture vulture, you’re young and healthy enough for EP. You get the socio-economic panoply attending as well; it’s not confined to musos and hippies.

Drink is freely available, and according to my more savvy festival friends, drugs are too. I’ve never seen anyone supplying or receiving, but I’m not in the particular demographic and I’m not in the market. You do see a lot of people the worse for wear from both groups of stimulants, but trouble is very hard to find. You can be jumping up and down in a packed arena and bump into someone, and it’s all very good natured. A mutual apology is usually forthcoming.

Environmentally, of course, these types of events are an unnatural disaster. I don’t know where to start on this. One of the most ironic moments for me was watching a video in the middle of The 1975’s set where we were encouraged to consider civil disobedience since governments had failed to response adequately to the environmental crisis. ‘We’re producing too many greenhouse gases,’ said the screen on the main stage, which was probably burning 1.21 jigowatts of energy a minute in front of 30,000 people consuming their drink from a plastic cup.

EP is making an effort on the enviro front, but it needs to do so much more. A truly great weekend though, if that doesn’t sound too flippant a sign-off.

In this second in a 3-part series in praise of the Electric Picnic music and arts festival in Ireland, I look at accommodation. And what a choice there is. While your ticket entitles you to put up a tent in ‘general camping’, there is a large array of additional options.

It all depends on your preferences for comfort, company, noise and location. You can bring a motor home. You can opt for eco-camping, as well as family camping. You can take one of the several ‘glamping’ options with the common denominator being that the accommodation is ready for you when you enter the festival, and you leave it set up when you head home. This makes an awful lot of difference to the amount of gear you need to transport to and from where you’re sleeping. But it come at price. There are lots of different sizes and types of tents and huts, from the functional to the fairly luxurious.

These posher camping options also come with better toilet facilities, showers, and are generally located closer to the action so you’ve less distance to trudge to get to the entertainment and sustenance.

We went with a modest pre-erected teepee-style tent in the glamping area. It pretty much doubles your entry ticket, but it’s worth it, especially if you’re the wrong side of 40 and can’t be bothered to slum it any more. It was also a mere 5 minutes’ walk to the main site, which is very handy if a change of weather calls for a wardrobe change, an occupational hazard at the end of August/beginning of September.

As you might expect, the nicer the accommodation, the nicer condition the place is left in when you leave, and the less of a hammering the site takes. I’m told the general camping is like a war zone on a Monday morning, and I’m inclined to take people’s word for it. I simply wouldn’t go if all I could get was general camping. I’m not 20 any more.

For many who attended the largest music and arts festival on the island of Ireland during the Summer-Autumn cusp of 30th August to 2nd September, it is but a distant memory. With my tickets for 2020 already in the proverbial bag, however, I thought it would be worth paying a 3-part homage to the event.

I’m going to tackle this 3-part blog series as follows: music, accommodation and people. For music fans EP is a chance to connect with many major acts that you’ve not seen before. The kind of acts that you might not go and see specifically, in isolation. You’re probably not going to see the huge global acts coming to EP, but you’ll still get some major players making the trip down to rural county Laois. Performers play a huge variety of venues, from the main stage which can accommodate 50,000 people, to the big tops that will hold 5,000 and the little corner venues that will just about seat 50. Some of them are unknowns, some are on the rise, some are massive, and some were household names a generation ago and are still playing the lucrative festival trade.

There’s also a bourgeoning comedy and arts side to the festival, which tends to get dominated by the over 30’s, but again it’s a chance to hear and see some major people in their respective domains.

Many folk do their research beforehand and mark the shows they definitely want to see. Often there are clashes and agonising decisions to make: do I catch one or the other or try and do a bit of both? For me, though, the real benefit is going from venue to venue, stumbling onto stuff I’d never heard of and either giving it 5 minutes or else staying for the entire gig and making a note of them for the future.

I’m never quite prepared enough for the weekend, by which I mean I haven’t listened to enough of the pre-event playlists to make sure I’m not missing out. I tend to listen to the EP playlists for a few days afterwards and come to the realisation that there was so much more music I would have seen if I’d only had the knowledge, and more time.

If you like your music, there’s no better place for gorging on the sheer breadth and volume of it than at EP.

As I write this, daily and even hourly developments in the UK get filed under the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ column. As you read it, I expect the same situation is currently prevailing.

I heard an interesting story the other day, another symptom of the ‘every man for himself’ panic that sets in during similar times, affecting everyone from your neighbour up to national governments, causing us all to pull decisions, funding and the plug left, right and centre. If only we could be so decisive in our positive actions.

Anyway, this training company was offering programs on business growth. All very worthy in any environment, never mind today’s. Front and centre in the program was Brexit planning and mitigation.

Attendees were signed up, trainers were assigned, everything was ready to go. At the last minute, three companies pulled out, causing the program to be re-organised and two trainers to be let go. The reason they pulled out? Brexit! The irony that you’re pulling out because of concerns around the area that the program is focused on helping…

Remember recently when I mentioned organisations pulling marketing at the first cost-cutting sign of hard times ahead, when the one thing that can differentiate them in a challenging economy, and even grow at their competitors’ expense, is marketing? More of the same :-).