Tag Archives: brand

Brand Loyalty vs Engaging Relationships.

engaging relationships

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

There are warning signs that you may be complacent about your brand.

Better analytical tools are providing organisations with the capability of making smarter marketing decisions. As a result, the scientific element of marketing is growing in importance. In the midst of this science though, we should not lose sight of the fact that humans react to social connections (Matthew Lieberman) and relationships that engage them. It should not be a surprise to anyone that a customer wants to connect with brands that resonate with them.

I believe that often, this customer desire is perceived as brand loyalty. Organisations that use loyalty metrics on which to base their business decisions, must be careful not to fall into the trap of remaining in their marketing comfort zone. We will have a look later on about how organisations may become a little complacent in relation to their brand management and, in particular, their relationship building activity.

Perhaps another (jargon warning!) way of looking at how brand loyalty is not the same as engaging relationships is to observe how customers evaluate purchase decisions. The changing marketing paradigm means a move from relative evaluation (provided by traditional marketing messages e.g. ‘our washing powder washes whiter than yours’), to an absolute evaluation, where comparative information can be sourced from anywhere, by anybody. So customers are no longer buying from brand loyalty but are buying based on absolute information.

In such a scenario therefore, it is even more important to proactively engage with customers, online and offline, so as to retain them by providing the information they need. A good engagement marketing strategy is ideally placed to meet these challenges. It also offers guidelines for growing a business in collaboration with customers so knowledge of the ‘customer journey’ is a key to this strategy being successful.

Stop selling and start telling.

The foundation for any successful organisation has always been a founder’s long term vision of what she/he wants to achieve. In O’C&K we sometimes encounter small organisations, or start-ups, that don’t believe in the necessity for a vision statement. As I’ve alluded to above, customers are beginning to choose to deal with brands that give a damn about building engaging relationships.

Often it is the vision or the ‘brand story’ that resonates with them in the first place. Thereafter, they are more open to relationship building. In this digital age, with all its noise, it is important to know and communicate your vision so as to entice customers into being a part of it.

What I’m saying here is that organisations should stop selling and start telling. A story gives people a context for decision making. It allows your brand’s personality to shine through and gives relevance to what you do. Also, the tone of how you tell your story should be one that is like that of your existing or intended audience. The days of the boring old advertising campaign are over, in my opinion, because people can just switch it off, if you don’t resonate with them.

There is a plethora of new channels through which organisations can communicate. These channels allow for direct engagement with the customer and an interface at their level. As visuals are such an integral part of the online world, there is no excuse for campaigns not to be more interesting and engaging.

There is one BIG difference that organisations should take into account when developing an engagement strategy. That is the environment in which your audience engages with your brand. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs etc. all deliver real time engagement, but in different contexts.

The user doesn’t care about how you got there, just that you are, and that you can help. Although you cannot control such environments, you can make an effort to create an experience that is relevant to the user. This is where an engagement strategy is paramount.

Tips and Timesavers.

There is a danger that when business is good, an organisation can get a little complacent about their brand and their marketing efforts. I wrote in a previous post, here, that some organisations can pick up bad marketing habits, but complacency must be one of the worst. The business landscape is changing fast, driven by customer expectations and their technology. You must keep up to speed or your competitors will whizz by you.

Here are some warning signs that you might be getting a little complacent about your brand.

  • Your existing customers are not spending as much with you as they were. – You probably have no engagement strategy in place. You may have lost touch with your customer base by being too busy to listen to them. You don’t know what they want or expect from you anymore.
  • Your lead conversions are down. – You might be basing your strategy on old research and your audience has changed. You are not using up-to-date sales tools that are available or you are not engaging with prospects in a way that they expect you to.
  • Your ‘look’ is a bit old fashioned. – Is your brand identity getting a little jaded? You can modernise your identity without affecting your vision and while you’re at it – check out your website. Even if it is only a few years old, SEO, usability, download speeds etc. can all affect your customer’s experience. By the way, how do you compare with your competitors at trade shows?
  • You still use dated photos for your marketing. – Changes in clothes, hairstyles, products, transport and even YOU, can all quickly date your image. You can upgrade sales proposals or presentations by using modern apps and plug-ins (often for free).
  • You do not use social media channels. – You might be on social media, because a ‘friend’ or a competitor compelled you to set one up. It is important that you devote the time and resources to use these tools to their full effect. 
  • You don’t have the time to attend to any of the above. –  Your existing marketing agency should be attending to these items or you can outsource projects to a small flexible company, such as ourselves.

Relationships are the new currency.

What organisations should realise is that nowadays, they must prepare to invest in engaging relationships. Everything they do, every piece of content they create from ads to emails should create a positive interaction so as to form a relationship. The interaction may be short lived, but it is still a first step. Thereafter, smarter marketing will build the relationship by using repeated engagement.

The only caveat I have for you here is to bear in mind that not everybody wants the same kind or relationship. The best kind of relationship is to provide your customer / prospect with the engagement they want, when and where they want it.

So, to summarise, don’t rely on presumed brand loyalty. Continuous relationship building is imperative, all of which should start with a positive interaction. Thereafter, repeated engagement how and when they want it, will form a ‘bond’. This bond is the difference that will stop your customer being tempted to move to a competitor. The ultimate achievement is that they would become your brand ambassador and we would love to help you with that objective.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K



Social Media is neither social nor media.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Thoughts from a social media ‘tweetup’ of Irish SMEs.

Are you a small business? Are you on twitter? Are you wondering when this social media thingy is going to start providing you with a bucket load of leads?

Last Thursday evening, I had the privilege of speaking at a gathering of small businesses that ‘tweet’. It was organised by Samantha Kelly, @tweetinggoddess and was hosted by the wonderful Deirdre McDonald, General Manager of the Ariel House in Ballsbridge, Dublin. I was asked to speak about marketing and social media for small businesses. My problem was – I had only been given 20 minutes to elaborate on what is probably the content of many a day-long course, on the matter.

The first thing that struck me at the gathering was the enthusiasm of the 28 participants. Interestingly, only 18% were of the male variety, but it was like working your way through a box of liquorice allsorts. I spoke with a credit management consultant (@creditspace), a theoretical physicist who is a knitware designer (@naoimigillis); there was a fertility expert (@fertilityexpert), a business editor (@ailishohora), printers (@castleprint_dee), watch makers (@pridewatches) and even love letter writers (@lovelettersws). Apologies to everybody I’m leaving out here, but you get my gist. The room was buzzing, and all talking about social media.

Then I spoke, and dropped the bombshell – “I don’t believe that, for a business, social media should be either social or media”. Well, I can tell you, that statement silenced the room. I went on to explain my thoughts, in that businesses shouldn’t really try to build a ‘friendly companionship’ with their audience. This is not to say that a business should not engage, it’s just that it should not do so in the same way as we do on our personal social media sites. In relation to the media ‘bit’ of the above statement, I elaborated that historically, media tools (press, radio, TV etc.) were used for unilateral flows of information. Social media platforms on the other hand, I suggested, are a place for attracting people to find out stuff – the modern description is, inbound marketing. The rest of my ‘few words’ summarised other things that social media wasn’t and of course I also highlighted how social media can be used by businesses, both big and small. By the way, I did finish within the allotted 20 minutes, in case you’re wondering. Chatting with people thereafter was fascinating and the rest of this post is a reflection of the theme of our conversations.

While all of this was taking place we were being spoiled by canapés and other delectable goodies – baked in-house by @arielhouse.

We discussed the fact that although social media is an integral part of marketing activity, it is only one piece of it. I warned some of my new ‘friends’ against setting up numerous social media accounts because doing so would give a false sense of security that they would be automatically exposed to a world of business leads – when in fact if their customers or prospects are not there, their return will be exactly zero.

With a few people, I did find myself warning that social media will not be the saviour of their business i.e. a quick fix. Many in the room were twitter ‘newbies’ and, in fairness, appeared to realise that being on social media, is an activity to be undertaken, and not a static platform that one sets up and then ignores. I underlined that just posting content or re-tweeting is not the answer either. Created content must be relevant to a specific audience and as such, time must be spent building a database of loyal customers and / or visitors. I made the point that the ultimate goal of a business is to build a loyal customer (previous post), but that a person just ‘liking’ your page, or ‘starring’ your tweet does not ensure such loyalty. It was generally agreed that there are no short cuts and that a business owner has to have the commitment to work on customer engagement – just having social accounts is not enough.

What everybody totally understood though was that at the very root of a brand is a person. Nearly all of the people I spoke with were either one or two person enterprises and it was very obvious that these people wanted to engage with other people that were in a similar situation. I thought there was a real sense of community in the room. It felt like ‘we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out’. It really was fantastic, and there was a sense of ‘can do’, in the air. This was epitomised by Jason of Pride Watches, who told us the story of how he set his business up in 2012, and is set to hit sales of €1m this year.

I do believe that most of the participants there accepted the point that if a business wants their ‘social’ efforts to pay off, they have to go beyond just being on twitter, facebook or linkedin. For me, I was reminded that being social starts and ends with real engagement, both online and offline.

If you’re new here thanks for popping in and please feel free to leave a reply below. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K


A brand proposition is a good place to start.

brand quality

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Really good brands provide a sense of belonging.

The very first thing that we in OC&K try to establish with our new customers is whether or not they are clear and specific about who the brand is meant to serve, how it does it and why do existing customers find it relevant, to them.

Allow me to put this in a checklist; we try to determine if the client,

  •  really knows who the brand is and why it exists
  •  is clear what the brand represents
  •  is structured to serve customers (communication / operations)
  •  is clear as to how they want to be perceived (vs how they are perceived)

Answers to the above questions help us to determine whether the brand is living up to its promise and whether it is being used to facilitate decision making. We get a feel for whether public perception is really a reflection of what the brand is and if it is a fair statement about the brand’s beliefs.

Operations vs marketing.

We have found that many business owners aren’t comfortable in this area. They usually spend approximately 70/80% of their time ‘running’ the business and “don’t have time for marketing stuff”. At the very least, we try to enforce the notion that a critical aspect of their brand development is that of their brand proposition. There are many different names for this out there, so let’s just say a brand proposition should cover a) who is the audience, being offered value, b) what is that value and c) why their brand is unique. Why this brand proposition is so important is that many SMEs have very similar goals and business objectives, the only differentiator being the industry.

If a business is established for a while, it probably is doing a lot of things right but if it wants to, not just survive but differentiate itself and become a great brand, it must have a solid brand proposition. Who wants to be a great brand? I wrote in my last blog that 70% of customers buy from brands because of the way they are made to feel – well, the thing is, great brands provide a sense of belonging, and even meaning, to people’s lives. And guess what? Such brands don’t just appear – they are built from the ground up being focused, offering solutions and being different, in the eyes of the public. So if you have already had a stab at brand positioning or are going to try it for this year’s planning, we at OC&K can help you – if you need it.

Tips and Timesavers.

On a related topic, more and more of late, clients have being asking us how they can start to build their brand online. Such a topic should be the content of a blog post in itself, but I will outline a few pointers below that may be helpful. Whether you do one or all of them it’ll still be much better than just jumping on Facebook or Twitter, because someone told you to do so. We are delighted when SMEs ask about this because it is a sign that they are taking their brand proposition seriously.

  1. If you don’t have time to write a blog, read others and comment on them.
  2. Find out where your online audience is. (there are many tools for this)
  3. Find influencers (and competitors) for your area of expertise and follow them.
  4. Share content that reinforces your area of expertise.
  5. If you have a website or blog – provide customers/prospects reasons to subscribe.

To finish, I hope you’ve gained some insights from the above. The fact is that a brand is a way for people to remember how you made them feel and why they will tell others about you. The proposition is all about you – the owner. It’s your vision after all so think about the big picture of your values and your goals. Constantly think about your customers – what are they looking for? What are their goals? Once you have a brand proposition you will have a roadmap of where you want to go with your customers, and that needs to be crystal clear. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K


Increase your brand’s visibility by using digital marketing

OC&K Digital

The days of single channel marketing are over.

At this stage most companies will have realised that their customer base is changing and are looking at ways to adapt their communication activity to include digital marketing.

Just in case there are still some out there who need a visual reminder of how fragmented the customer journey has become, here is a diagram. I have yet to come across a better diagram of it than this one from a www.ZDNet.com blog:


Although some companies do realise that the habits and purchasing methods of their customer base is changing, many just don’t know where to start. Just look at the sheer volume of ways that a customer now engages brands. This phenomenon has caused many companies to fail, as they could not or did not adapt quickly enough. Even today, some companies insist on sticking to the old ‘reliable’ broadcast methods such as TV, radio, press only. Basically, the public have moved to a more digital world (e-commerce) and business is not keeping pace. Business needs to move from making customers aware and trying to sell the benefits of, their product / service, to letting the customer know (on their terms) that you have what they want. Admittedly, it’s still the age old approach of solving a problem for them, but now you must make their life simpler or at least engage with them as a person. The point is that the opportunity of being able to do this, as a strategy, through digital marketing  is greater than ever nowadays.

Moving from invisible to visible.

Every day you will read somewhere that email is dead, that SEO is dead, that TV is dying, but one thing IS for sure – the days of single channel marketing are over. Combining and integrating existing marketing activity with a digital strategy (social, search and content) into your business planning is now vital to move from invisible to visible in an increasingly crowded and fragmented marketplace.

Here are some statistics for Ireland, courtesy of www.simplyzesty.ie

Mobile Movement


Professional help is available to SMEs to fully embrace this digital integration and it need not be a costly exercise – just a smarter one.

If you’re new here thanks for popping in and please feel free to leave a reply below. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K