Friday, 26 September 2008

Signature Safaris

We are proud of all the work we do here at The Marketing Eye, but every now and again a job comes along that gets everybody even more motivated and engaged than normal. This is certainly the case with Signature Safaris and we are delighted to announce the launch of its new website today.

Simon Lacey, the Managing Director, contacted us at the beginning of the year following a referral by Sussex Enterprise. We were interested and delighted that Simon took the precaution of telephoning some of our clients before getting in touch with us and, fortunately, they all said the right things!

When Simon contacted us, the business was trading as Diplomatic Travel and had been so for 20 years or more. There were two main strings to the business: fully inclusive tours to Southern Africa and a jazz tour to New Orleans. The jazz-tour side of the business was steadily recovering from the disaster of Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, but it was the safari side of the business that Simon recognised he needed to grow.

Our first task was to help Simon with a new name and identity. The business had moved on its offering and yet the brand and the identity still reflected the business of 20 years ago. Brand development is a process that we at The Marketing Eye feel we understand very well and the starting point is always to identify and understand the target market. We identified 4 customers types:
  • Trendy traveller (holidays as a status symbol; follows fashion; brand aware)

  • Once in a lifetime (outside of target group, invests everything to join once)

  • Adventure seeker (seeks the thrill of doing something outside of the norm)

  • Intense nature lover (travels extensively to see nature first-hand)

The main targets for our client were agreed as the 'trendy traveller' and the softer 'adventure seeker'. Typically these are brand-conscious, professional couples in their early to mid 40’s, with dual income, with or without children, an executive lifestyle and an appetite for 3 or more holidays a year.

In a highly competitive market, in which it is difficult to identify a true USP, the essence of the Diplomatic Travel business lay in the personal service provided by Simon and his small team. They all have high professional standards, true expertise (they wouldn’t offer to organise a trip to a part of the world that they didn’t know intimately) and a true sense of concern for the client.

Our challenge was to create a brand that met the needs of the target audience, portrayed the intimate, caring side of the business and yet positioned it to compete with the much larger travel operators.

After a thorough process (and two or three false starts) we settled on the name Signature Safaris. Signature Safaris was felt to communicate the commitment to use all available knowledge, experience and contacts to construct a holiday that was unique and truly tailor-made to the client’s exact requirements. The holiday would define both the company and the client. The strap-line 'quality beyond imagination' and the remaining elements of the identity followed shortly thereafter.

The primary execution has been the new website: an attractive, easy to navigate and information rich site that has turned into a labour of love for all of us over the past few months. We still have a few steps to go to make it even better, but we can't help share it with everybody now. Take a look, enjoy and dream! Hey, don't stop!

Building the site is, of course, only the beginning of the process and we hope to work with Simon and his team long into the future to help the business grow.

Thank you, Simon, for commissioning the site and pushing all of us here at The Marketing Eye to give of our very best. We hope that it brings you great success.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Tasty! - Effective use of direct marketing

Our latest campaign has just landed on the doorsteps of 10,000 homes in East Sussex. DineAsia is a Thai and Indian fusion restaurant in our local village of Nutley. We don't normally target restaurants, but we made an exception on this occasion, not only because it's our local eatery, but because we can tell that DineAsia is going places. As the first restaurant becomes established, more are being planned and opened in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire: we predict that Dine Asia will soon be a valuable chain.

The campaign is the first in a series and announces that the restaurant is open. Despite being open for nearly a year, there is still a lack of wide-scale awareness that this is the case. To tempt people to try the restaurant, we have distributed the take-away menu and included an offer of a free bottle of wine on orders over £25. A coupon is incorporated, which allows data to be collected for future marketing.

We recommended a door-drop as the most effective means of communication as we knew it would allow us to put the name and the menu physically through every door in the catchment area. By going for a 'solus' distribution, we have been able to ensure that our material is uncluttered by any other flyers or leaflets. This is a more expensive, but more effective method of distribution than a bundled delivery or inserts into newspapers.

With items coming through the door often being quickly discarded as junk, quality is the key to cut through and retention; it is also particularly important with this client to position the venue correctly and not have it bracketed as 'just another Indian restaurant'. We, therefore, devised an innovative and contemporary looking wallet into which the menu and the offer flyer is inserted. We also arranged for the pack to be poly-wrapped. All in all, it is a high-quality communication that we hope people will read and keep.

Ahmed told us last night that the first coupons are already coming back and we'll report on the full results in later posts.

What next? Now our thoughts are turning to building the momentum. A Christmas campaign in press and on radio is planned and we will also be starting email marketing.

Naturally, we've kept a few of the wine offer flyers in the office - purely for portfolio purposes of course.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Making waves with marketing

Neil has been to the Southampton Boatshow this week where he caught up with old colleagues from Lombard. Here are his thoughts:

Despite the credit crunch, it was good to see a good number of people at the show and to find former colleagues in fine form. The Marine business was always one of my favourite businesses to market.

From a very early stage, we agreed that our goal should be to make Lombard the best recognised and best understood brand in the marine finance market place. This, we believed, was the only way to make sure that Lombard had first choice of every piece of business that was going.

A goal of this nature was no soft target. At the time, the market for Marine Finance was dominated by Bank of Scotland. Bank of Scotland had superior relationships with the boat dealers and heavily outspent Lombard on promotional activity. Barclays was also active.

Lombard didn't have the budget to match Bank of Scotland on spending, so we had to be more strategic in our approach. Over a period of 3 years, we integrated PR with advertising, ensured a commanding presence at the London and Southampton boatshows, developed a leading website and devised some creative sponsorships, including working with round-the-world yachtsman, Sir Robin Knox Johnston.

The marketing effort supported the sales team, which worked hard to nurture the dealer relationships and also to get more introduced business from parent bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland. The product set and the brand were extended to support an entry into the Superyachts market and better products were developed for the Offshore opportunities.

The strategy has clearly paid off. At this weeks show, Bank of Scotland had reduced its presence to a shared space on one of its remaining dealer's stands and Barclays looked very corporate with what appeared to be an adapted general purpose show set-up. Of course, Bank of Scotland has its own particular problems at this time, but Lombard had it on the run in the marine market long before the current difficulties set in.

So, what do we learn out of this?

Be number one in your chosen market: If you are going to be successful in a B2C business, be number one in your chosen market. This doesn't mean you have to have a massive above-the-line budget, the trick is to define your market as tightly as possible. The Marine market, as opposed to the finance market in general, is a clearly identifiable niche. The customers cluster around the two main boat shows and a small number of publications making reaching them relatively easy and cost effective.

Cover all routes to market: We recognised that the market not only had a direct component, but a valuable and influential intermediary network in the dealerships. Equal attention was paid to both segments and distinct strategies were devised for each. We also covered the off-line and on-line channels to provide customers with a choice of how they dealt with us.

Segment the customer base & talk to the customer appropriately: We established through research that there were a number of customer types - from the passionate sailor who spent his life and every last penny afloat, to the successful entrepreneur who saw the boat as a symbol of achievement. We started to talk to each segment differently, acknowledging their different needs and motivations.

Ensure a strong and differentiated brand identity: We developed a brand identity that stood out from the crowd using visuals and copy that empathised with the target audience. We didn't allow the brand to stand still and kept challenging ourselves to evolve it.

Be a specialist: The Marine market likes to deal with people that it sees as 'one of them'. We showed that we were specialist in the market and had real expertise by employing people with a passion for boats. We produced publications on buying and owning a boat and provided expert commentary through PR.

Align marketing and sales: Too often, Marketing and Sales retreat into silos, neither acknowledging or understanding the other. At Lombard we were able to solve this. The sales team was buoyed by a marketing effort that it saw to be working: marketing thrived on the support of a sales team that turned its campaigns into results. The strategy was jointly owned and jointly delivered.

All in all this is a marketing success story that proves that theory combined with creativity and commercial acumen gives rise to competitive advantage and tangible results.

Good luck guys, may you go from strength to strength: it was a pleasure working with you.


Monday, 15 September 2008

La Dolce Vita

We are just back from Italy, where we have been visiting our clients Ultissimo and viewing 2 of their property developments in Umbria.

Ultissimo is the brain child of Paul Belcher and Steven and Karen White. Typically they find and renovate rural buildings that have fallen into disrepair. The buildings are lovingly transformed into 6-8 extremely stylish second homes or holiday villas, which are then sold, predominantly to the UK market.

The renovations are all meticulously carried out and it is very clear that Steve and Karen, the principles behind the renovation activity, leave a lot of themselves in each project. They take their responsibilities to the community and the local environment very seriously and treat each development as a legacy to the country that they love so much.

Most of the original features of a property are retained, sometimes with surprisingly rewarding results. At San Vittorino, near Gubbio, they uncovered a 14th Century fresco on the wall of an abandoned chapel. This now forms the stunningly original centre-piece of the bedroom in one of the properties.

We have been fortunate to work with Ultissimo since its formation in 2007 and have watched it quickly grow into a successful business. Regular reviews appear in the property pages of the national press and the development at Rancale, nr Umbertide, was a 2008 Award Winner in the CNBC European Property Awards.

Jo, our creative director, is currently out with the clients visiting 2 new projects in the Lake Como area. We'll post her report as soon as she gets back.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

There be dragons!

No, not acerbic entrepreneurs from the Dragons Den, this is Dragon Boat Racing!

Our intrepid MD spent Saturday on the waters of Bewl Water in West Kent taking part in the 2008 Dragon Boat Festival. Racing for the Nutley Stags to raise money for Nutley Primary School, Neil and his team managed a credible second place from a starting field of 50 boats.

The team raised over £3,000 for the school and it is believed that the event generated more than £160,000 for local good causes.

This is the second year in succession that the Stags have got the silver medal. Bookmakers are already refusing to take bets on the team taking gold next time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

We'll put some fun into the numbers

We'll start this adventure into blogging with some good news and a little bit of trumpet blowing by us at The Marketing Eye.

Tunbridge Wells chartered accountants, Creaseys - one of the top 100 firms in the UK - have appointed us to provide strategic marketing support on an ongoing basis.

The move is another step in Creaseys' strategy to position itself as the leading accountancy practice for businesses and high net-worth individuals in the South East. We are naturally delighted to be appointed and look forward to getting stuck into the task.

One of the things we are going to do is introduce Creaseys to the delights of blogging and other social media to make people more aware of the astonishing depth of resources that exist at the practice. Several of the partners have publications to their name - ideal material for blogs and Squidoo.

The greater focus on marketing at a successful business like Creaseys underlines how every business needs to think about how it is going to compete in the long term and have a proper marketing strategy and plan.

We are pleased to say that we are seeing a rise in the number of enquiries here at The Marketing Eye despite the slow-down in the economy - indeed, we have now decided we need to recruit. The attitude this time seems to be one of not waiting to be hit by a recession, but to improve efficiency and go out and compete for every piece of business that is going - thank goodness for that.