What marketers can learn from alumni associations (and visa versa)

Relational marketingFor years, marketing has been associated with very bottom-line, monetary, transactional processes. As my colleague Dilip Mutum posted in his blog back in 2009, there has long been an assumption that Marketing is the same as Sales.

This is no longer the case. As Dilip says, the perception of marketing has moved on tremendously over these last few decades, and more recently with the advent of social media.

In comparison, alumni associations have focused on providing the feel-good post-sales experience and emotional connection with the School/University and have often been accused of being all about the parties and socialising.

Just as Marketing has shifted its position, so Alumni Associations seem to be waking up to the need to be more structured and constructive for the School/University as a whole – establishing metrics for proving a return on the investment and exploring how to impact on areas of activity outside of the established alumni arena.

In this altered economic environment, now more than ever, there is a need for the marketing profession and alumni associations to learn from one another – taking the best of both worlds and creating a new culture of relational engagement and collaborative development.

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Superbrands

Well my organisation is again a Superbrand (for the fifth time).

When we think about the notion of a brand, we often confuse it with the visual identity; logo and style. However in the true nature of a brand, it is all about what the perception of the product, organisation or service is. As Jay Ehret says “It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers”.

So what emotions, thoughts, ideas are conjured up when you look at some of the examples of the brand above. If you have had no connection with the organisation before, you will probably have very little to say about it, other than perhaps recognising the artistry involved.

However if you have every had the joy of connecting with Warwick Business School, I hope you see these alternive logos as a creative and dynamic way of representing the true spirit or nature of the School; entrepreneurial, creating inspired and interesting individuals, looking at things differently.

Whether you like the individual logo styles or not, you must agree that the very creation of them is in an effort to live out the true brand of the organisation.

I would be really interested to hear what you think – let me know.

Redeemed

Yesterday I responded to a marketing email from an online printing company I regularly use. I had an item in my basket that I hadn’t checked out (because of the added cost of delivery) and so they were ‘helpfully’ reminding me that I still had this item to check out and with the incentive of free delivery.

Now this seemed perfect, the very barrier stopping me from completing my sale had just been removed. Or had it?

When I went online to check out my item I couldn’t see how the free delivery was being applied. Now normally at this point I would just give up and delete the email but I thought ‘No, I am going to get to the bottom of this’.

So I called customer services, only had to wait a couple of minutes, and then spoke to the individual on the other end of the line. When I explained the problem, she responded immediately with ‘I’m very sorry but free delivery only applies to orders over £40’.

Now I’m sorry, but if you are going to send personalised emails about a specific item in your customer’s account then you should be sure that what the email offers, actually applies to the recipient.

I expressed my displeasure at this and at this point, wasn’t expecting anything else, however she responded immediately to say she couldn’t give me free delivery but could give me 50% off the entire order. This worked out as more than the saving of free delivery.

That is why I have called this post ‘redeemed’ – the company made a mistake with their marketing but greatly made up for it with their customer service, and ended up with a happier customer than if I had just got the free delivery in the first place.

So remember, everyone makes mistakes but the key to customer delight is to admit it and make up for it.

I will definitely be continuing to use that company in the future.

It’s a start…

Well here we go – the start of my journey into blogging – sharing what is going on in my head, my world.

I have resisted starting a blog in the past, maybe a little out of fear of never having anything to say; becoming too introspective, or just not having anything original to say – a small whisper in an overcrowded room.

But doesn’t everyone have that thought to begin with? Don’t most people start blogging as a way to make sense of their lives, to have a say, to make themselves heard? It’s about joining the conversation.

As Susan Jeffers says “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

And so what do I hope to achieve with this exercise? What have I got to say? I am going to talk about what I know best, what I am involved in every day; engaging with my customers, listening to what they are telling me and each other, and using that information to provide a better service and delight them right back.

I believe in excellence in everything, striving for the best rather than the adequate. But this attitude isn’t created overnight; it takes practise. As Aristotle said so wisely, ‘Quality is not an act, it is a habit’.

Through these blogs, I hope to celebrate examples of excellent customer service, stakeholder engagement, brand management, marketing, communication and design, whilst also learning from the worst.

This is a journey I am embarking on – opening my eyes to what is around me and applying the learning to my own practice. I do hope you will join me on this process of personal development.