Category: Relationship Marketing

Every business needs a Heather

Heather is a first year degree student working part time at stationery shop Staples, in Redditch, Worcestershire.

Heather is in love with stationery and absolutely adores her job. Her passion for her product and utter joy at the bargains available in store, pours from her heart. Every business needs a Heather.

Now… I also love stationery so I’m a pretty easy-sell. But last Friday I had the best in-store shopping experience I’ve had in a long, long time.

Staples logo
Staples, Redditch. The best in-store shopping experience I’ve had in a long, long time.

I went to Staples to look at the Arc range (which I’ve been admiring online for a while). Arc is essentially a choice of notebook exteriors and customisable inserts. I sat on the floor of the Arc aisle while I flipped through the leather covered book and the poly one, debating the merits of both. Eventually I went to the tills to ask for help.

That’s when I met Heather.

I started the conversation by asking if the poly notebook was flimsy. Heather’s face lit up. “I’ve got one for uni. Shall I go and get mine to show you? It’s amazing. I love it. It’s sooooooo good…”

So off she went to the staff room to fetch her pride and joy.

And boy was she proud.

“I’ve got these little place markers and I use colour coded stickers and pens for each subject. I’ve got the the top tabbed dividers and the side tabbed dividers and I use the small notes pages for to-do lists….”

Heather went on and on…but in a good way. She was so excited about the product and even asked if she could show me where her favourite pens were in store.

Cartoon girl with call out saying I love my job
Do your Heathers love their jobs?

I came away equally enthused. Even though Heather assured me that the poly cover was as good as the leather one (and that if I wasn’t sure I could always buy the bigger rings for more support), I bought the leather cover, lined paper, side tabbed dividers and some plastic wallets.

I had only gone to Staples to look but Heather in her innocent, uncomplicated, authentically personal way, convinced me that the Arc was perfect; that it would somehow improve my life.

So has your business got a Heather? Do your staff evangelise about your products? Does the love they have for their job shine through?

If not, what will you do to find your Heather?


We need to have a quick chat about the loo…

This month I had the pleasure of travelling on the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Brussels. The experience from booking our trip to arriving back home has made Eurostar stick in my mind as an example of a business that truly understands how to convert a set of brand values into behaviours and marketing communications.

From the copy on their website to the toilet signs on-board the train, the tone of voice from Eurostar is:

  • Friendly, helpful, no-nonsense, fun, young and trendy.

It makes me want to engage in a long-term relationship with them. It makes me feel comfortable in my purchase and that I know what to expect in return for my money.

It’s the detail like: “That’s as long as each item is no bigger than 85cm…” and “…so make sure they’re not too heavy”, and “We need to have a quick chat about the loo” that works for me.

Screen shot of Eurostar baggage page
Eurostar website baggage page- informal language makes this effective
Photo of toilet sign on Eurostar train
We need to have a quick chat about the loo…

We know in life that sometimes the service delivered doesn’t match up to customer expectations. (The Marketing-Geek in me wants to tell you about the Serv-Qual model here). But with Eurostar the complete opposite happened.

My expectations were very high and Eurostar certainly delivered. My friend Vicky (I write about her quite a bit!) broke her foot on our trip and needed wheelchair assistance. Eurostar arranged this with no forward planning by us. They collected Vicky from our connecting train, wheeled her through customs, waited while we bought some coffees, got us on the train before everyone else, and supported her UK-side too.

While we were on the train home I spotted another piece of advertising that I liked:

“If you have any ideas about things we could improve, or fancy letting us know where we’ve got something spot on, text us…”

I like the informality of this and indeed it was effective- (I had to let them know our carriage smelt of wee!) (Oh how relevant that toilet sign really was!)

A poster asking for customer feedback on the Eurostar
A poster asking for customer feedback on the Eurostar

So Eurostar’s brand values, which came through in their messaging was also prevalent in their personality as delivered by their fantastic staff. The only let-down was an unfortunate smelling return journey. Smell aside, this adds up to make a proposition that sets them apart, for me at least, in the travel industry. I feel the value added through engaging communications and a service that marries up to the expectations they set, is unique.

brand proposition
A model for brand development

Have you had any similar experiences?

How have you used your LinkedIn Company Page?

I recently saw a cool infographic on the portrait of a LinkedIn user in 2013 on Social Media Today, and thought the section on Company Pages was really interesting. Here’s a screen shot:

Infographic LinkedIn Company Pages
Info by and Graphics by screen shot taken from Social Media Today

What hit me was the missing answer to: “How have you used your Company Page?”

OK, so 56.5% of Company Page owners “share status updates with followers”, but the top response to this question should be: “100% engage in regular, meaningful conversation with company followers”.

LinkedIn Company Pages can be a really effective business development tool. In fact, if you follow LinkedIn’s guidance in “Relationships That Drive Results”, then you could find yourself directly communicating with the 80% of LinkedIn users that actually want to connect with the companies in their lives.

LinkedIn advises companies to avoid the pitfall of only talking about themselves, and to share content that is not ‘salesy’, and that delivers a specific benefit to followers. There are many companies on LI that only post inward-looking updates, for example links to their self-published press releases, but equally there are many businesses that use LI fantastically well.

So which brands do you think use LinkedIn Company Pages to great effect? Leave a comment and share positive examples below.