Tag: marketing

Three things I learned from UCAS

Last week I had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Hargreaves, Director of Marketing Communications, speak about the transformational journey of change that UCAS is currently on.

Aside from some of the Higher Education sector specifics, which went a bit over my head, Andrew delivered one of the most engaging, funny and honest presentations I’ve seen in a long, long while. Here are three things he said which I thought were really cool, and I’m going to put into practice at The Growth Hub:

1. Fix one thing every 30 days

Each manager at UCAS has a ‘fix-it list’ – a collection of issues, challenges or barriers that need sorting out. There are 10 fix-its on each manager’s list and the target is to tick one of them off by finding a permanent solution, every month. You can start by tackling the ‘quick-wins’ to give yourself more time for the harder stuff, or go in with the big guns and make huge strides of progress, really quickly.

The reason this idea is so cool is because it makes shifting the rocks in the road, seem totally manageable. Roll forward a year and you’ll have sorted out 10 major blockages. What’s not to love?

2. CARE

model depicting CARE- culture, analysis, rational, emotionalThe CARE model stands for:

  • Culture: The culture at UCAS is ‘to be the conscience of the customer’.
  • Analysis: For UCAS this relates to tracking digital movement and behaviour, analysing it, and making marketing decisions that are based on data.
  • Rational: On a basic level, when a customer calls UCAS, is the service decent?
  • Emotional: On an emotional level, how does the customer feel about their experience with UCAS?

This is a useful model that any organisation can think about when embarking on Change. What is the culture, how will you analyse your customers/markets/services/performance, what are the rational and emotional connections you want to make?

3. Take responsibility for outcomes, not functions

At UCAS there are a group of managers who are responsible for results, for outcomes, for delivery. They are not responsible for functional areas of the business. This means that when they are solving a problem, they have absolute clear sight of what needs to happen, and the freedom to remove ‘management distractions’ and disregard hierarchical constraints when they need support from other teams or managers. Being responsible for an outcome sure does focus the mind.


Other than this presentation, my most recent experience of UCAS was when I bought media space from them for a digital campaign last year. I thought they were well organised and impressive. It’s interesting to hear about the inner workings of any organisation but the candid approach from Andrew made it even more exciting. I look forward to following UCAS on its travels and am pretty sure the road ahead will be a pleasant one.

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Employee engagement at BDHT: Doing it because you want to, not because you’re told to

A couple of weeks ago I shared a picture on LinkedIn of the ‘Little book of Thank Yous’ my husband had brought home from his annual staff conference with employer Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT). It got 20 Likes- many of which were from people I am not directly connected to. I like to think I started something that went viral!

Joking aside, I was quite surprised at the response. Here’s the post:

Image

 

I think the positive reaction to this piece of internal communications which included a bold statement that it qualified as #CommsHero work, perhaps shows how immature the concept of employee engagement still is.

Companies have long recognised the ‘happy staff = happy customers = profit’ cycle but despite this, many still fail at identifying their key internal messages and communicating these in a way that resonates with the workforce.

In my husband’s case, his employer’s message was one of thanks. BDHT’s book of Thank You’s contained small but powerful ‘favours’ in return for all the hard work of the staff, for example an extra hour in bed and a cup of tea made by management. For my husband, this translates into good feeling, into appreciation of the recognition, into wanting to carry on being effective at his job so he can continue to work in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for customers. It really does go very deep.

Internal communications should be treated with as much, if not more, importance than external communications. If you’re trying to drive forward a new company culture, a set of values or ‘way of doing things’, you need to approach the ‘campaign’ in the same way as any customer or corporate marketing with stages of analysis, planning, execution and evaluation. It’s about knowing your audience, developing appropriate messages, choosing the most effective mix of communications tools and testing awareness and engagement so you can be sure when it is no longer a ‘campaign’ but is truly embedded.

My husband’s company are also very good at being consistent. His Personal Development Plan contains questions like: ‘How can you contribute to BDHT’s success?’ and ‘How have you been able to develop BDHT to feel like ONE team? What would you like to do?’ I am also told that the Chief Exec has a genuine ‘open door’ policy. BDHT has successfully created a clear vision for the organisation where staff feel they can personally grow, where their wellbeing is really important and they can give something back to the communities BDHT works in.

BDHT personal development plan
The BDHT Personal Development Plan

What is your internal communications like? Do you effectively engage your staff? Would the way they speak about your company to their friends delight you?

Let me know about the best piece of employee engagement communications you have seen by leaving a comment. 

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?