Archives for category: Customer Experience

Purely in a visual sense of course. We have all read with great interest the new design shift that has taken place at Apple with its new iOS. There is an interesting dynamic to this shift in design philosophy as Apple moves from “skeuomorphic” design to a ‘new modern swiss’ design style favoured by its competitors such as Microsoft’s Windows 8.
Skeuomorphic design mimics real world objects. The phone icon on an iphone has an image of a phone that none of us have in our houses today. It reflects the ear and mouth piece of a dial phone.

Steve Jobs believed that computers should be so simple that anyone could use them. He felt that this would be achieved by an interface design where digital elements resemble real world objects. When you analyse familiar digital objects, you see that this philosophy is embedded at many levels in how we access our digital content. The envelope is the first choice for email and SMS messages. Opened and unopened envelopes create a neat distinction between opened and unopened envelopes. On an Android Samsung phone the email icons is even more archaic. It uses an envelope with a red wax seal, an 18th Century prop but with a modern @ pressed into it. It’s not just the appearance of apps and icons, some of them also behave like their old-world equivalents, the note app having a page curl…

This design philosophy is familiar and quickly accessible to everyone. Steve Jobs would approve.

The design style that Apple is now following has another interesting angle, it is the result of a seismic shift within the company, which saw the previous head of iOS, Scott Forstall, outed in favour of British born-designer Sir Jonathan Ive, who oversaw the new software.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said it ‘represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.’ However, he said the changes could be too much, by stating: ‘The new version is almost unrecognisable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.’

Apple has an amazing history of making objects that look and feel like nothing else. They didn’t invent the mp3 player, but what they did with it was amazing. Every product, from its packaging to other digital touch-points look like the pinnacle of design. I’m an Apple fan and I think that it’s taken them too long to realise the UI world has changed… and it wasn’t them that did it. The new Windows UI did that. Its minimal layout, flat colouring, strict typography and no unnecessary ornamentation was a complete paradigm shift for the market and makes Windows clearly distinguishable from its competitors.

Apple is now playing catch-up with its rivals. What looks like Helvetica Ultralight is an obvious choice rather than an innovative one that Microsoft achieved with Segoe. Helvetica Ultralight is generic modernist design; not Apple’s Myriad Pro, not built on Apple’s iOS past, and obviously not the herald of a new way at looking at user experiences.

It doesn’t create that distinction and have that incredible Apple touch that we all appreciate. It feels like everything else. Rather than being Apple. Has Apple lost its shine? Well, in a design sense it has. Any shines have been replaced by flat colours and opaque layers and as a trail blazer in design and innovation – I think it’s lost a little shine also. I wanted to see something different, something that made me think differently and from the screen grabs I’ve seen, I’m a little disappointed.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Well, it finally happened. Fergie time is at an end (several minutes after the final whistle of course 😉 )

The long-serving football management guru has called time on his prestigious career. As Sir Alex Ferguson bids farewell to football management he will leave much change in his wake, as well as a few heartbroken fans. But life goes on and change happens.

Change is all around us; the way we live life, the products that help change our life, the businesses in which we operate. There’s no getting away from it, no hiding place, and as with most things in life; it’s better tackled head on. After all the only constant in life is change.

In the world of marketing it is no different. Staying ahead of the game, and keeping up with change is a constant challenge for any marketer or business owner. It’s something we wrestle with everyday, or at least perhaps we should do.

How does your company cope with change? How well is your company planning for the future?

Take the Change Challenge ….

Read the four sections below and mark yourself out of 10 for each section. There’s tips on scoring at the end of each section.

1.  “Ooooh, I didn’t realise you did that.”

This phrase is often uttered (sometimes sheepishly) between client and their supply partner. It’s sometimes hard to understand. You’re moving with the times, evolving products or service; there’s more bells, more whistles, you’ve let your customers know and still there’s a segment of your audience who revert to their original perception of you and what you can offer.

The “I didn’t realise” sentence can be one of the most frustrating to hear. A perception that is not in aligned with who you actually are needs to be changed. This is common. It can take a while for perception to be changed. Consider how useful high impact communication can be here. Communication that helps the recipient see things differently, to take another look, something they are not expecting. And from then build momentum, simple ways are often the most effective. Use multiple channels to communicate your message regularly. Keep chipping away to help change the perception.

So how many of your customers know what you actually do?

(When scoring yourself consider if there could be a perception gap? Do you have market research to back up perceptions? How well are you cross selling? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “they don’t know at all” and 10 being “I told them absolutely everything we do about 5 mins ago”.)
2.  Land ahoy!

How can what you offer help your customers? Or turn that on its head and ask “what issues do your customers have and how can you help solve them?” Understanding what’s going on in the world of the customer will help you identify their land; and help them get towards it quickly and effectively. How can what you offer make their life easier, help them be more successful, bring them joy. Sometimes it’s practical, sometimes it’s emotional. Talking regularly to customers will help you understand just what issues they are facing (even if they don’t know what issues there are it’s always good to talk). What’s coming up on the horizon for them? Help them scan the horizon and understand how what’s there is going to affect your customers. How can you partner with your customers to help them.

So how much do you know about your customers issues and challenges?

(When scoring yourself consider what is it that will make their lives (personal or business) much better? Can you provide multiple examples of detailed discussions you have had with your customers to help them with their future planning? How much time are you spending working on the future? On spying land? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “Nothing” and 10 being “Absolutely Everything” .)

3.  Knowledge is power.

Make the most of new technology; of the change that is around us. CRM (customer relationship management) systems and marketing software are becoming ever more sophisticated. The right software can help you know just the right time to contact a customer whilst understanding their behaviours and buying/browsing patterns, their likes and dislikes so you can target them with the right message at the right time for the right results. The most successful businesses focus on B2M (business to me) highly personalised communication on their clients’ terms. What would you like to know about your customers; and how can you use the power of marketing software to aid loyalty, to improve conversions, to increase market penetration?

So how would you rate yourselves in the knowledge you have of your customers; and how often do you use this information?

(When scoring yourself consider Are you using B2M tactics? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “I know nothing useful” and 10 being “A stalker doesn’t know half as much as I do”)
4.  It’s a rapidly changing landscape.

How are you keeping up? Market research will help you understand what’s happening in customer’s minds. Keep an eye on what’s happening in your customers industry. Recognise how your customers and prospects viewing, learning and forming opinions on your company. Just because your customers have bought from you in a certain way; doesn’t mean that they always will. This affects businesses of all sizes; from high value face to face deals to simple ecommerce exchanges. By understanding what is happening, and why, you can formulate accurate plans. Perform the market research regularly and you’ll be in the top echelons of the changing business world.

So when was the last time you did research with your customers?

(When scoring yourself consider what evidence do you have to support that what you are doing is the right thing for what your customers need? What do your customers say about the future? Give yourselves a score out of 10, 1 being “I once did a customer service survey”, and 10 being “Is everyday too much, because I don’t think so”)

One often overlooked outcome of the Fergie news this week is that fact that even a company as huge as Manchester United PLC had a succession plan in place for such a key person. They were ready and embraced the change. So much so, it’s obvious that they have spent many years researching and creating structures ready to embrace change.

You may agree or disagree with the appointment of David Moyes, but you cannot argue that Manchester United and Sir Alex have done all they can to prepare for the change. Maybe you too can embrace the exciting possibilities that change can bring to your business or marketing campaigns.

So, how did you do?

35+ – You are truly ahead of the game. Well done! You’ve got your eye on the future, as well as a well-established foot. The smallest minority of companies reside in this category. You are a change champion.

25-34 – You are doing very well. Identify the areas for fine tuning and tighten these up. You are in an elite group.

15-24 – Most companies find themselves in this category. Tighten up some of the lower scoring areas. Put some immediate focus on what can improve in these areas so that you can plan for the future.

Below 15 – It’s not the best place to be in. But not to worry. You’ve taken the first step. You know where you are, you have a benchmark from which to build. Look at what can be done in all four areas, concentrating on your weakest areas; and change your marketing processes to help you move forwards.

Karen Lambert is the founder and Managing Director and strategic marketing expert at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

I have two children, a young boy and a younger girl. The boy has swimming lessons on a Sunday and the girl doesn’t. The older boy was teasing the younger girl that he was going swimming and she was staying at home. Nah nah nah na… you get the idea.

The younger girl was getting upset by this and in an attempt to make staying at home with her daddy a bit more exciting than it really was, I had an idea. I saw that she was holding a Hello Kitty toy and then engaged my mouth before my brain had thought through the consequences and said that we were going to ‘Hello Kitty Land’. As I talked through ‘Hello Kitty Land’, I envisaged a make believe game that I would be playing later with the small girl. However the lie just got bigger and bigger and out of control.

The young boy didn’t believe that there was a ‘Hello Kitty Land’ and to be honest I wasn’t sure either, however I thought quickly on my feet and we decided to look on the internet for our make believe ”Hello Kitty Land’. I had though I might find a picture of a shop and then convince the skeptic that ‘Hello Kitty Land’ did exist. I was surprised and secretly pleased to find that there is one as I was fully immersed in my lie and couldn’t see a way out of the situation.

We looked at all the pictures, discussed all the rides and the skeptic was convinced that his sister was going to have more fun than him at his swimming lesson. Phew! I’d made it and would have 40 minutes to come up with reasons why we didn’t go to ‘Hello Kitty Land’ while he was swimming. However I’d done such a good job of presenting ‘Hello Kitty Land’ to my two children, that when the youngest made the statement, ”We’re off to Hello Kitty Land, see you at lunch time’ , I had to reveal that we couldn’t go to ‘Hello Kitty Land’ for the main reason that it is Malaysia and we didn’t have any plane tickets etc etc. My small girls reaction was as you would expect, annoyed, angry and upset. As she is a small child, it was quickly forgotten when I promised her an ice cream.

In the grown up world, ice creams don’t always solve self-made problems and as Creative Director of Happy Creative, I had not followed one of our most important mantras which is ‘delivering on promises to our clients is an integral part of our business’.

Each time we make these commitments, we build trust. At Happy Creative we always do what we say, because our reputation is incredibly important to us. It is our responsibility to give our clients the best possible service so that they are confident in our abilities and have no reason to think otherwise. Keeping our promises has created satisfied customers, that speak highly of us, for our creative and marketing services and regard us as people who are a pleasure to do business with. Clients that speak highly of you also talk to other people and referrals from existing clients has become a cornerstone of Happy Creative’s success and growth over the years.

If you break a promise, all that hard work and energy you’ve spent keeping a good relationship can be quickly become strained. Keep or over deliver on your promise and you will have a client, colleague or friend for life. High expectations of our standards keeps the bar at a high level and creates a cycle of success. We maintain our high standards by following some simple steps.

1) Don’t over promise. 

We are always very clear in what we can deliver.

2) Thinking Time.

Before we commit to a promise, we analyse the situation, consider the possibilities and weigh up any variables.

3) Expect the unexpected.  

“NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!” and projects can sometimes throw up a situation that is so out of the blue, that it impacts on every component of the project. We allow time in a project so that these unexpected events can be faced and their impact on the project is minimised.

4) Be happy at every stage. 

At Happy Creative, we ensure that your project meets your expectations at each point of its journey, from start to completion.

Keeping a promise does ensure business success and promotes that hard to earn but quick to lose commodity of trust. By making this commitment that you can keep –or, even better, exceed –you will build a foundation for future successes and growth.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Everyone knows about Brazil’s growth in the last few years. Part of the BRIC, a grouping acronym that refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, Brazil and the others are deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development.

Some specialists might argue that the boom is nearly over for the South American country (short lived dreams?), but I saw for myself on my recent visit to Brazil that the spending power has grown massively, especially within the middle class. And I know the difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’, as Brazil is my home country.

Faced with consumers with more money to spend, it’s no wonder all brands are trying their best to grab customers’ attention. This, of course, results in more and more creative advertising, as the need is to stand out more than ever.
But what is it that makes Brazil’s advertising so special? Here’s my take on it…

1. The Brazilians like it
Brazilian advertising pieces have been taking top prizes at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and other international competitions for many years. Generally speaking, Brazilians like and admire advertising, especially when it is entertaining. They talk about it, they appreciate it, they watch out for it, they celebrate with it.

2. It’s everywhere
Familiar venues for advertising include television, billboards and signs in city streets, magazines, newspapers and electronic media. Evening soap operas (the famous telenovelas that are exported to many Portuguese-speaking countries) are extremely popular and, along with sporting events, especially football, provide some of the most coveted advertising space. Usually campaigns are very well planned and continuity and consistency can be noticed throughout.

3. It’s a ‘people’ thing
In Brazilian advertising, people are stars. Many have actually famously become icons in the whole country and have been on the telly/printed media for decades. One example is the guy from Bombril (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpZOQ0aZsXk), who is basically a geek that likes to talk about cleaning products in a very funny way. I like him myself and always smile when a new advert invades the telly.
Models as well as producers of advertisements often achieve celebrity status in Brazil. Gossip magazines report on the private lives of top advertising executives, adding to their celebrity status.

4. Why is Brazilian advertising so creative?
Brazil is a blend of many races and that makes us creative, sensual, musical, talented, and good-humoured. I’m not being big-headed, no no. It’s true. It’s just that we are a very lively nation and it’s easy to see our colourful, humorous, dancing mood duly transferred into the advertising we produce. Advertising in Brazil is almost a translation of the people and their behaviour.
Brazilians are lovers of three things mainly (and pardon me for generalising, as I know that we are also very passionate about many other things). The three things are: women, football and carnival. These three things are in almost every advert you see. Now you have to be creative to use these three themes in so many ways that they don’t become repetitive. And somehow we manage to do just that. To get to this stage, though, it wasn’t a short process.

When multinational corporations began coming to Brazil, especially in the 1970s, they generally had difficulty importing the commercials that went along with their products. Many felt that they could simply use an American or Mexican commercial (with language changes, of course), but this approach tended not to work. People knew it wasn’t meant for them and just discarded it straight away. These multinationals quickly learned that commercials aimed at Brazilians had to be different and very much tailored to the audience.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Brazilian market was generally closed to foreign imports. When it opened up in the 1990s, imported cars, wine, and other luxury goods from abroad became available. Multinational corporations began buying Brazilian businesses and using them to extend their global reach. As consequence of this transformation of the Brazilian market, the advertising industry also changed. The foreign owners could not understand the language, humour, or style of Brazilian advertisements. Moreover, the multinationals wanted campaigns that would work throughout Latin America, not just in Portuguese-speaking Brazil.

A major obstacle was the Portuguese language, which, although the official language for Brazilians who constitute 51% of Latin American population, is typically unknown in the other 12 countries of South America. This linguistic block precluded others understanding and admiring even the most brilliant copy. Moreover, puns, jokes, and other forms of language play did not translate well. As a result, Brazilian advertising became much more dependent on visual communication. Brazilian advertising communicates through single, simple ideas that express brand essence. Understanding it does not depend, most of the time, on knowledge of the Portuguese language.

5. The body beautiful in Brazilian advertising
Once, in Cannes, a Brazilian marketer had a question from the audience. They asked: “Why do you always have so many exposed bodies in Brazilian advertising?” He answered: “Because we like it!”
Simple as that.

It is hard to understate the importance of sex in Brazilian public life. It is discussed on TV shows, magazines, and everyday life. Sexuality is on display, be it on the beach or on the telenovelas. One of the first things that foreigners notice in Brazil is the extraordinary focus on nearly nude bodies, sensual clothing, and over the top expressions of sex.
Advertising in Brazil, therefore, leads as well as follows in emphasizing physical beauty. It can be very difficult for foreigners to understand how it works, but if they had a chance to live in Brazil, they’d get it. Advertising is strongly linked to how society is structured.

6. Expanding markets
With growing companies and expansion (still) on the horizon, many brands are trying to export more and more. Although many get it right (the flip flop brand Havaianas – www.havaianas.com  is a good example), I have been on countless Brazilian brands’ websites that try to cater for the British public … and boy do they get it wrong. As a Portuguese and English speaker, I can clearly see where they have badly translated a sentence straight from Portuguese, without taking into consideration the audience at which the headline is being directed to. It’s a shame to see a country that is striving in so many ways to lose precious points when trying to expand their markets. Brands should be more conscious of the cultural differences and should definitely invest in proper translations and even adaptations of their taglines and adverts. If the intended public doesn’t ‘get it’, it’s very unlikely that the product will sell.

Overall, Brazil is a brilliant country with expanding economic power and brilliant marketing and advertising campaigns. If brands want a slice of the British market too, though, they’ll have to re-think their strategies and invest in quality specialists to make sure they stand out. The UK is small in comparison to Brazil, but its public is much more educated than the Brazilian majority. What I’ll say is: want a slice of this market, work for it and make the British public feel like the advert is made for them. Bad interpretations and straightforward translations will only do what the American adverts did in Brazil: annoy people and drive them away.

Marilia Spindler is an Account Executive at Happy Creative, a strategic branding and marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Tis the season to be jolly … well for me tis the season to be jolly every season 🙂 As anyone who knows me will agree 🙂

It did get me to thinking though, now that the season of goodwill is upon us, how effectively goodwill is used in business.

I am not talking about goodwill in the accounting sense of selling a business, but about the random acts of kindness that happen as part of business life. Something out of the ordinary, from the goodness of someone’s heart; a kind word at the right time; a surprise gift, the benefit of someone’s skill and experience.

Immediately my mind conjures up an image of George Bailey surrounded by the generosity of his customers in the  1940s film “It’s a wonderful life”. Black and white it maybe but the warmth of the scene positively glows from the screen.

It really touches me that these humble people were willing to give what little they had to help someone in their time of need. There was no fiscal  reward just a plethora of random acts of kindness. Make believe it may be, but I know from experience that these acts of goodwill happen daily in real (business) life.

The generosity of the human spirit never fails to touch me. Spreading happiness is something I believe in; a kind word at the checkout; a readiness to smile, focussing on the positive, and seeing the best in people, and helping others.

Helping others is not only good for those who help, it makes them feel happier too. It’s a fact. When we give to others it activates the parts of the brain that are associated with pleasure. Help others whilst eating chocolate (which releases serotonin) and you are on to a real winner!

What instances do you know where goodwill is being used authentically in business? I would love to share such stories, especially at this time of year. I am not talking about philanthropy (truly marvellous in its own right), just the sharing of ordinary, everyday occurrences. They may be unusual events that struck a chord and were unexpected that you have experienced or know of. Please do share.

It’s not about giving money. It’s about giving time, or sharing skills or knowledge. I am sure it happens very often, and goes unspoken because that’s what make these acts so special. It doesn’t have to be big, in fact it would be great to hear about the small things – all these small wonderful events that are occurring every day. It’s true .. small things do make a big difference.

Here’s three true real-life random acts of kindness in business that I think will resonate with you:

1.  Staff at an established business were betrayed by a colleague, leaving the mood, and trust in human nature a little low. What should arrive from someone who cared about the people in the business … afternoon tea and cakes with some kind, inspirational words.

2.  The MD of a successful company offered their years of experience and knowledge to help a growing business by suggesting relevant tips and focus to help their growth plans. All without being asked, it was done from the heart because they saw something special in the company, and wanted to help.

3.  A business owner who had taken some tough knocks receives a poem from someone who cares. The poem is by Mother Teresa and is called “Anyway“ and they are encouraged to continue believing in themselves, what they do and the difference they are making.

I am blessed to know some wonderful people who truly give from their hearts. People like Helen, Mark, Jason, Peter and Gail amongst others who have surprised me with random acts of kindness this year. Thank you for making me happy and spreading happiness.

As Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”

Here’s wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and happy Christmas.

Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

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