Friday, 24 September 2010

Monkey or Northern Folk?

The Tetley Folk are back on our screens after an absence of 8 years. Remember Gaffer, Sydney, Archie and Clarence? They featured in Tetley Tea ads for some 22 years before their disappearance, friendly Northern folk promoting 2000 perforations.

Well they’re back in an advert currently running. They are awakened by a drop of the famous tea spilt by a hapless intern in an office (not quite sure about that bit of the story).

In any case Tetley have been steadily losing market share to Unilever’s PG Tips. That’s the ad with the monkey and Johnny Vegas. Very creative ads from both sides, clearly the meerkat is getting the agencies on the animal trend again.

Of course PG Tips had the chimps for many years, so this brand is no stranger to using acting animals even if the latest actor is a stuffed one (must be a hellava lot easier to work with).

So are you swayed by the northern folk or the monkey?

Or are you only interested in a good cup of tea?

It’s an interesting study of product v brand. Of course in such a competitive environment, and dealing with a commodity product such as tea, it is very important to create some differentiation. Nothing wrong with a bit of emotional branding to keep awareness high.

I think it’s a great idea for Tetley to remember what they are about, brands are too quick to throw away great ideas because the marketing team feel like a change (see my blog post on M&S). Remember what makes your famous is mantra from David Taylor (see his excellent blog).

However, in this war of the clever ads, the PG Tips team and the Tetley team mustn’t forget that, for a lot of people, tea is all about the taste. Innovation is key. When triangular tea bags were introduced this was a stroke of genius, allowing the tea to diffuse better in the water.

Consumers are more likely to switch brands for the promise of a better taste, rather than because they have a penchant for cartoon characters.

So the spin is great but let’s not forget that product differentiation and innovation must also be high on the marketer’s list.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Two rules to disappointment your customer

It’s not easy to get good customer service. Goodness knows, most of us would be shocked to find it.

I am fully expecting to queue for ages at the bank, I am fully expecting to have my phone query re-routed 5 times, I don’t flinch when shop assistants look down on me.

Our expectations as customers are really quite low so this actually leaves bags of opportunity for a brand to do better than average and really shine. On the flip side I have one rule for you to be sure to follow if you are really looking to disappoint your customer.

Rule One: “Over promise”.

I recently sent my iphone for repair. The screen was smashed, I didn’t even drop it but all iphone owners will know how sensitive the little blighters are. Not having taken out apple’s extortionate insurance, I decided to send it to They looked quite reputable, had done a really good job on their web site. Lots of reassurance I was in the right place.

More importantly they offer a 24 hour repair process. Pretty important when your phone is integral to your business. It’s the main part of their proposition.

So of course you can guess that it is still there 7 days later.

They have quite a good email alert process that lets you know the different stages that the phone is going through. So I had the alert that they had received the order and then another for reception of the parcel but nothing since.

So to be really sure to disappoint your customer further and potentially they make sure they tell everyone about it is to then follow the second rule to ensure extreme disappoint which is

Rule Two: “under communicate”.

In other words, don’t bother telling your customer what is going on. Don’t explain under any circumstances what’s gone wrong in the process, just hunker down and hope it will all go away.

Another good example of this rule in practice is demonstrated by most airlines. They pride themselves on never letting their customers know that the flight will be late and by how long.

So you see how it works?

1) Over promise
2) Under communicate

If on the other hand you want to make your business shine and stand out from the crowd, gaining valuable referrals & recommendations, creating a new customer base and saving you marketing money:

1) Underpromise and excel by doing better
Such as how vistaprint tell you it will take 21 days to send you their business cards but they always seem to arrive in less than 10 days

2) Communicate regularly

If by any chance there is a problem with an order or you’re late replying to a client, let them know. Send a little note and you will be surprised how much people appreciate it.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Getting personal in Le Touquet?

There are more than 7000 chambres d’hôte in France and I have just got back from one in the very swish seaside town of Le Touquet in Northern France. It’s less than an hour from Calais and boasts expansive sandy beaches as well as being a destination for well-to-do Parisians on a weekend break.

What a great idea the chambre d’hôte is! It’s a personal service in a way that a hotel can never be. Rooms tend to be different from the standard box we can expect from a hotel, more like a home. You can get local advice on what to do and where to go without visiting an intimidating tourist office with its line of leaflets and fierce looking ladies behind the counter.

There is the opportunity to cater for families. Your standard hotel rooms tend to cram 2 extra singles into a twin room to make a so-called family room and that’s if they offer it all. Despite a family of 5 being commonplace in France you can forget it the larger family at a hotel.

Breakfast is included and is often copious. We had to go to the local restaurant that our owners also ran which wasn’t terribly convenient but certainly good quality. Our lovely host also sent us away with a terrine de lapin (rabbit terrine) and 4 strawberry cakes that he had spotted my daughter eyeing up.

So what is the message? Personal touch, convenience, good information, offering something difficult to get elsewhere and going the extra mile. Sounds like a good recipe for a brand.

We stayed at le Clos des Chenes