Tag Archives: Marketing Communications

customer response times: how long is too long?

I made to a call to a company the other day and encountered a voicemail message telling me that the caller would return my call within 3 hours. I went away satisfied, able to get on with my work and confident that I would get a call back and didn’t need to make a mental note to call again.

In the same week I had an ‘out of office’ response to an email informing me that the recipient was working part-time this week as it was half-term and so may take a little longer than usual to get back to me. Too much information? I don’t think so. Again, I felt happy to be kept informed.

In contrast I ended up in an anonymous ‘phone queue the other day and, though I was probably only on hold for a minute, by the time I’d been blasted with ‘I’m in the mood for dancing’ I was in the mood for murder!

Unless you are operating in a truly time critical environment it seems to me that the best way to keep customers happy is to keep them informed. Think about what is an appropriate time scale to return a call or email in your particular business scenario, tell your customers when they can expect to hear from you and most important of all…stick to your promise.

Information overload: get your marketing message right

I often get asked how long a sales letter, email, newsletter, or in fact any type of marketing communication should be. And, as soon as I start to say… ‘well, that depends’… I see a flicker of  ‘ oh why isn’t anything straight forward?’ flash into view.

You will know for yourself that you will read any amount of information on a subject you are really passionate about. The same is true if the information is relevant to you at a particular time; I will read endless travel destination reviews when I am looking to book a holiday, but not at any other time in the year.

The starting point is to know your target audience and identify the point at which they will be most interested in receiving information about the product or service that you are selling. It will also depend upon the relationship you have with your client. Generally speaking, the warmer the relationship, the more time and attention your client will be willing to give you and your marketing.

Remember though, this doesn’t give you carte blanche to bore your clients to death with the wonders of your glorious new technologically advanced elastic band! So, however exciting you think your product is, see it from your customer’s point of view and go easy on the marketing copy.

Tell your customers what they want to hear

Everything about this gorgeous packaging tells me exactly what I’m going to find inside; luxurious, high quality milk chocolate! From the colour and glossy finish, to the gold embossed wording and  product photograph, it is beautifully and cleverly designed.

Just one thing puzzles me though. Why, in the prime position on this lovely wrapper, does it shout 31% Cacao? Granted there are rules surrounding product packaging, but surely placing some random fact about one of the ingredients top right is not wholly necessary?

I love chocolate. I like the taste. I like some brands better than others…but I couldn’t tell you the ‘percentage cocoa content’ of any of them. Perhaps I’m in the minority and customer research shows that cocoa content in a crucial factor when it comes to choice of chocolate? I think not though. 

In any form of marketing communication, be it a business to business proposal or a consumer advertisement, think about what information is relevant to your customers. Turn your product features (what your product is ) into benefits (what your product does for your customers). It is an age-old concept and a well-worn path for those of us with a sales background – but it works.

So here is your challenge. Come up with a benefit statement for each of your product or service features. Use your benefits in your marketing communications rather than a list of facts that will, at best, be ignored and could even confuse potential customers.

Great marketing copy is good for business

Is it a trait of small business owners or something to do with British reserve? Recently I seem to have come across many examples of businesses simply selling themselves short.

Of course, I still see countless examples of overblown marketing copy hyping the next must-have product which sends me reaching for the delete key. Equally though, there are plenty of great businesses, brilliant products and wonderful services that could benefit from a few well placed superlatives in their web copy or adverts.

 I was recently asked to write an advertorial piece for a client who was, if I say so myself, delighted with the outcome. I know this particular client, and their products, very well and so had no difficulty in articulating how good they are. The client in question felt uncomfortable  ‘blowing their own trumpet’ but was quite happy for me to do it for them.

So why is it so hard to get the balance right? Try putting yourself in your customers shoes and think about what they would say about your product or service. Better still, get you customers to do the job for you. Genuine customers testimonials ( and yes, we can all see through them when they aren’t genuine) are worth their weight in gold. Don’t worry if they don’t say exactly what you would have said, this makes them all the more compelling, and they are likely to be written in the language that your prospective customers will understand.

So go on, ask a few customers what they think of your product or service and have a go at injecting some life into your marketing copy.