Focus Groups Briefing

July 29, 2009

The brief is the cornerstone of all research. It need not be a lengthy piece of work but there should be a written document to ensure that everyone is clear what they are expecting from the work. Whilst not comprehensive, the following ‘headlines’ should be considered, and like this post proves the brief really can be short and sweet!

1) Purpose of the research: Why is the research being considered in the first place? What hypothese do you have about your business? What questions are you hoping to get answered? Think here about who exactly will want to get access to the information provides and ultimate give consideration to just how the results are to be used in the organisation?

2) Objectives: Map out the specific topics that need to be covered, in short you need to be clear on just what it is you want to find out?

3) Target group profiles: Ideally as tightly defined as possible, with some thought to where these people might be found. One challenge we are sometimes faced with is that of wanting to find non-users. Non-users of a new or a niche brand may be very easy to find, and as such they may represent a potentially large segment to target. However we’re sometime asked by shopping centres to find non-users of their scheme. Bearing in mind that the centre itself may have existed for many years, and may potentially dominate the town centre the chance of finding non-users i.e. never users may be the equivalent of looking the needle in the haystack so perhaps you can focus on lapsed users – those that have been but have made a decision not to return – an incredible source of rich material on the areas your business may need to focus. Especially in these challenging times where sales are all important – every person in a focus group (no matter what they look or sound like) that has an opinion based on their experience has a valid and important insight into the performance of your brand and may be more helpful than you think.

4) Required feedback: How do you want or need the information, for instance this can be a ‘book of the film’ approach, more of a presentation format, an executive summary report, the full blow by blow transcript of the focus group or a video of the groups from start to end

5) Timing: Not forgetting of course to be clear just when feedback is actually needed!

So there it is. Not too hard after all.

Just two words does it

July 17, 2009

It is not often that a phone call to a call centre puts a smile on my face but the last call to my bank did just that. With my home PC being particularly slow the other evening and wanting to make a payment in case I forget it, I picked up the phone to my bank. I have to admit I do have a soft spot for first direct and am more than happy to recommend them to any one who wants to listen. Anyway having gone through security I was quite taken a-back when the lady on the other end of the phone wished me ‘happy birthday’. Strangely enough I found this actually rather nice and even made a point of telling my wife. I must say at this point that it was indeed my birthday!

So what are the lessons here?

Well for one thing I felt that I was being treated as a real person, not just a person on the end of the phone. Secondly it reinforced all that ‘good feelings’ I get from a brand I trust, and thirdly I’m sharing that with you and that has to be good for first direct.

Cost of two words negligible, value to the brand immense. I suppose the question is what can we all be doing in our own respective businesses to create the holy grail of complete and utter brand loyalty?

Let’s be nice to customers

July 10, 2009

An article caught my eye the other day about a major high street chain. The headline read ‘Carphone Warehouse decides now is the right time to be especially nice to customers’. Now this is an interesting one. On one level this has to be good news. A major player on the UK high street appearing to embrace a customer service strategy. A retailer having the courage to build a sales strategy around customer feedback. The way it works for those who didn’t see this story is that employees will be judged on whether customer would recommend the company to a friend, and this will be used as an indication of their ability to generate repeat business. Charles Dunstone was quoted as saying “We believe that over time it will create even greater trust in the brand in the eyes of customers.” To reiterate this has to be good news, not just for Carphone Warehouse, but also for their customers, however it does beg the question just exactly what Carphone Warehouse have been up to all these years? Should they have been being nice to their customers all along. After all isn’t that part of what customer service is all about? At the end of the day it is never to late to start and the wonderful thing about any customer facing business is the second that you implement change on the front line you immediately create an impact on the future of your business. Good luck Carphone Warehouse and if you need a hand – at Business Blueprints we run a unique programme called Magic. The three day programme allows participants to recognise their innate talents and potential through a process which enhances their self esteem and therefore desire and confidence to deliver great service. It is a fact if you feel bad about what you do it is almost impossible to give a memorable service experience

Anyone seen the brand manager?

July 3, 2009

According to the now accepted story, the concept of the brand manager was invented in the early 1930s by a young Harvard Graduate by the name of Neil McElroy when at Procter and Gamble. The core of his approach was that clearly focused attention should be given to individual ‘brands’. There should be a nominated person who would take charge of the brand, and to go with this there would be a team of people devoted to thinking about all aspects of the marketing of that brand. This dedicated group should attend to one brand and one brand only. The concern of these managers would be the brand, which would be marketed as if it were a separate business. In this way the qualities of every brand would be distinguished from those of every other brand in the business.
An interesting history lesson certainly, but is there something here to take on board today? In today’s shopping centre world there appear to be a plethora of individuals taking on any number of roles – advertising and promotion, asset management, leasing, development, operations, to name a few as well, as the centre managers themselves. In fact we seem to have a veritable number of people in any number of committees and working groups all ‘working on the shopping centre’. If we assume that the shopping centre is a ‘brand’ and I am sure I can find enough people who will tell me that indeed it is, the logical question is where is the brand manager?

Is it for instance the asset manager, since he or she invariably has a role to play in the product mix? Possibly, but they often have no role in the day-to-day running of the centre itself and in these current times act very much in a business to business sales function rather than getting close to end consumers.

So is it the centre manager? Possibly, but they conversely don’t always have personal responsibility for the marketing of the centre, which is certainly a core function of the brand manager, and that role usually sits quite logically with the marketing manager.

So is it the marketing manager? Possibly, but they are often the junior member of the team and have to defer to either the centre manager or the asset manager on many matters.

We could also argue that the architects and the development team have a brand management role since they are often the ones who design the centre in the first place but who after a successful launch, somewhat like a midwife hands their newborn over to the centre management team.

Now I’m not saying that this is a problem but some of the most successful marketing organisations in the world have used the brand management model to this day, and whilst the brand manager is nearly 80 years old I still think there is life in there for many years to come. So the question for shopping centre owners is ‘could you learn something from the model and would it help your schemes to become real brands if indeed that is what you are really trying to build?’