Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

“Staff wanted” and huge little details

August 26, 2015

Liberty Grill Cork

I was having a birthday breakfast with my fantastic daughter, Ellen in one of our favourite spots in Cork, Liberty Grill. This extremely busy spot is run by Denis O’Mullane who is an experienced and terrific operator.

As always the place was busy and as we finished our ‘treat‘  breakfast I noticed a sign they had behind the counter advertising for a ‘Super Barista‘ to join their team.

This sign wasn’t a hand written sign sellotaped to the wall, it wasn’t a typed up A4 page and nor was it a self designed A4 laminated page with some clip art.

The sign was a simple, well designed, attractive poster, which was in keeping with the look and feel of the place. It was professional and for me it made a huge statement about Liberty Grill.

Liberty Grill recruitment

This recruitment poster screamed professionalism and it sent a big message to anyone considering applying for the job and to all customers who frequent the place:

Liberty Grill wants the very best staff to serve the very best food and beverages

This sign was an inconvenient choice – It would have taken time to organise with their graphic designer and it cost more to produce than a standard poster but someone at Liberty Grill felt that this extra effort and cost was more than worth it.

A simple recruitment sign can speak volumes about your place.

The small details are always huge details…coffee anyone?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Artisan and things we believe in

August 16, 2015

Artisan cheeses

Many years ago (in the late eighties/early nineties) I was the general manager of a Guinness owned company in Cork called Deasy’s. We manufactured soft drinks and we distributed beer and soft drinks to pubs, off licences and shops in Cork and Kerry.

We took great pride in our own soft drinks, which to this day are still fondly remembered by people in Cork. Our Deasy’s Orange and Red lemonade were big favourites. Well before my time they even manufactured their own beers and there was one called Wrestler (pronounced ‘rastler’), which people used mention to me.

For years we had been accepting falling volumes in our own soft drinks sales as there was a well accepted principle that it was all about ‘big brands‘ and that these would eventually wipe out all the other smaller brands. The belief was that there was nearly no point in trying with your own products.

As a former accountant for the company I could see the big margins and profitability that these products contributed compared to the products we bought in from other suppliers and I couldn’t see the logic in just letting them drift so we took a different approach.

Guinness - Pension Dispute

We felt that the branding had gone stale and did not reflect the quality of the products so we rebranded including an upgrade of all the packaging. We investigated in an advertising campaign and we also introduced an incentive programme for the customers.

Immediately the results started to shine through with increased volumes but there was also a renewed energy with the sales team who took great pride in their own products and were motivated by us investing in them. The sales pitch to the trade was relatively easy – they were manufactured locally using the best of ingredients and the quality was superb. However many still preferred the big well known brands such as Club Orange and Schweppes.

In a way we were selling ‘artisan‘ products at the time except we didn’t have this label for them and in any case it would not have been the selling point that it is today.

Sadly Deasy’s was merged into another larger Guinness subsidiary a few years later and the manufacturing plant was shut down and these much loved brands were allowed to disappear without a trace.

Phil Cullen Mountain Man Brewing

The Artisan Era

Now we are all about ‘artisan‘ products.

Artisan is defined as “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods“.

These now trendy products are unique, special, something made with loving care and most importantly they are something that we can believe in. We believe that these products are superior in quality and in some ways we can even accept little imperfections as they can confirm the somewhat ‘homemade‘ attributes that prove we are not consuming products that are mass produced. Retailers who are sharp make themselves unique and believable by stocking ‘artisan’ products, which adds to their overall offering.

Artisan is so much in vogue (and selling!) now that even large companies are trying to make us believe that their products are also artisan – check out the recent Guinness adverts for example.

Guinness advert

I strongly believe that one of the reasons for the popularity of artisan products is that when the recession kicked in there was a huge rejection of the ‘excess‘ that was so prevalent during the Celtic Tiger.

We desperately wanted to get back to things that were real and authentic; this included our food, our drinks, our restaurants, pubs and even our service providers no matter who they are. We had lost faith in so many things that we needed to be able to believe once again.

No matter what you do, try to give your customers an artisan service

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Something fishy and great neighbours

July 19, 2015

Quinlans Fish Restaurant, Cork

This week it was fantastic to see the doors open of a new fish restaurant, Quinlan’s in Princes Street in Cork – things are definitely improving and people having the confidence to open new places is proof of this.

Something even more fantastic was the little sandwich board that I spotted outside Nash 19, one of Quinlan’s neighbours.

Instead of listing the specials for the day “Welcome to our new neighbours” it read, which was a very generous gesture from another restaurant, who effectively would be a competitor of sorts of the newcomer.

As usual I like to tweet when I see a new business opening and very cleverly Quinlan’s responded to my tweet by inviting me and the Fuzion gang in for our #FuzionFriday lunch, which is our team tradition, one that we have kept going for 15 years.

We duly accepted the invitation and enjoyed a really great ‘fish and chips‘ lunch (and some vino!) at Quinlan’s and when we were there we had a great chat with their owner, Liam Quinlan, a Kerryman from Cahirciveen.

The first thing he mentioned was the fantastic support and welcome he had received from his new neighbours, many of which would be competitors. He spoke about the Nash 19 sandwich board, he mentioned Ernest Cantillon from Electric, Salvatore and his mum from Rossini’s and some of the traders from the English Market who all popped in to wish him the best.

I was absolutely thrilled and proud to hear about the genuine warm Cork welcome that some of the business people in our fantastic city have given to Liam and his team – well done to everyone involved.

We live in a competitive world and one where we have to focus all our energy on our own business. It is too easy to forget about good manners and making a little effort to be nice and offering a genuine welcome to another business person trying to make something positive happen.

The really great thing about giving a warm welcome is that it speaks volumes for those who offer it – being a great neighbour is actually great for business.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

You, your story and your www

May 21, 2015

Emperor

Before it was your shop front, your building, your address or your Golden Pages listing that were the main things that would create that first impression to make you and your business look good.

While these things are still really important your online presence is your new shop front, the place where your customers will make up their mind about you with frightening speed.

Before you know it that prospect has come and gone, they have clicked onto your online presence (whatever that might be) and without any opportunity to say hello, show your wares, sell the benefits of what you do they have come and gone with their minds made up.

Your online presence includes your website, your blog, your LinkedIn account and all of your social media platforms and each of them in their own way will tell a story about you and your business.

When you do get an inquiry you should know that you have done a good job – they have found you and they liked what they saw, at least enough to make an enquiry.

The selling starts with your www … Ask someone you really trust (thing the Emperors new clothes!) if your online presence really captures your story, the very best of you?

How is your www? 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic and Website Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Opening a new business and budgeting for the essentials

April 27, 2015

Open for business

They were experienced operators with a successful business already up and running.

They decided to take the brave step to open another premises in a different location that they believed was currently under-served with a new concept. After all this is what you do to drive on and make progress?

The budgets were carefully worked out including renovating the premises, purchasing and installing the equipment, furnishing and decorating, branding and signage, professional fees and then some allowance was made for working capital and other opening costs.

Their budget also included a marketing fund – there is no point opening a new business unless you tell your target audience about it!

When all the budgets are done you look at your funding and cash flow requirements, some leasing, loans and an overdraft to make all of this possible and then you try to carefully manage the ‘opening project’ so that you come in on target.

For as long as I have been in business including my time as an accountant and in management there is a ‘rule of thumb’ that nearly always applies: “Everything takes longer than you expect, everything costs more and there is always the ‘unexpected’ that you also have to cope with“.

As sure as night follows day there was a problem with the fire officer that resulted in extra work that was necessary for the building – this delayed the opening and resulted in extra unexpected costs. As a result there was a serious unexpected ‘hit’ on cashflow for this essential expenditure, which could not be avoided.

As a result the marketing budget was wiped out and this new business suddenly had to rely on ‘word of mouth‘ and social media to get the word out there.

Unfortunately the momentum was not enough and the volume of business coming through the door from the date of the opening was insufficient to cover basic running costs and within months the new venture had to be shut as it was not sustainable.

The reality of the situation was that the marketing fund was even more essential than the demands that the fire officer made on the project. One was essential to get the doors open and the other was essential to keep the doors open. As a result all investment, dreams, sweat and tears were lost and the existing business will take some time to mop up the resulting debts and the recovery.

The guys were put in a total predicament and were forced to do what they had to do and this ultimately was the act that effectively closed the business and put their existing business at serious risk.

Did they have any options?

They took a view and a huge risk that they could sacrifice the most essential overhead of all and this was their ultimate downfall (while totally understandable).

Maybe they could have done a few things different ..

They could have:

  • Allowed for a contingency fund for delays/unexpected cost in the original budgets (you always need a buffer) – don’t go ahead until you have that
  • Explored other ways of cutting back and leaving their marketing fund somewhat intact
  • Looked for extra funds before proceeding any further with the project (would a bank manager have appreciated and understood their late request for extra funds? ultimately it might protect his own investment) – a strong open and honest relationship is a must for this to happen
  • Negotiated credit with suppliers – again a strong, open and honest relationship is a must (would suppliers understand?)

We have seen this cruel scenario being repeated time and time again with clients with the same awful result. Some manage to survive the setback and many unfortunately do not.

Once open you must have a fund to promote your business because without awareness and customers everything else is at risk.

Keep dreaming, keep advancing, keep expanding but most importantly keep succeeding!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

You get what you pay for – maybe you get a lot less?

March 9, 2015

PR versus advertising

You get what you pay for ..maybe when you pay you get less?

At nearly every talk I attend about social media these days a business Facebook user asks the question about the crashing reach of their posts – a few years ago when you posted something this post would reach a large number of your users (fans) who had signed up and followed your page.

Over the last few years the ‘reach’ of your posts has been crashing and we are now at a stage when some posts will get just a handful of views.

PR versus Advertising

A savvy customer will believe editorial or an article they read a lot more than an advert – a standard mechanism in the PR industry values media coverage three times more than the equivalent advertising space. (Have a peep at a blog post that our own Edel Cox has written on the topic).

After all if you pay to say you are great it’s not worth as much as someone else saying you are great!

The very same argument can be applied to your posts on social media.

As we have mentioned above Facebook have well and truly entered the ‘show me the money‘ era as fans of your page are no longer seeing your posts that they have signed up to see. Sooner or later this moment was going to come as all the social media platforms must make money just like any other business.

If 10% of your fans are seeing your posts then you are doing extremely well. From my experience those doing better than this are generally either giving away bucket loads of free stuff or have fallen into the trap of posting irrelevant funny videos.

Show me the money

The only way to really ensure that your fans are seeing your posts is to ‘boost‘ them. This is done simply by paying a few quid (the amount will vary depending on how many fans you have) to ensure that your post is pushed out by Facebook to your existing fans and beyond that if you wish.

The big problem with this approach is that suddenly these posts appear in your fans timeline with the word ‘sponsored‘ above them. Your post that was never intended to be an advert has now become an advert and just like the PR versus advertising argument its value has reduced to a third.

In my view the only way around this is to find other ways of talking to your “tribe” – we need to post frequently on Facebook (carefully choose the times that your audience are online) so that we are not fully reliant on the adverts, we must start using the other social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram (which are still relatively “pure”) or try to get your fans to sign up for your e-newsletter, which isn’t quite as conversational.

The important thing, however you go about it is that your tribe believe and trust what you are saying to them

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Launching your Core Values

February 17, 2015

US Marines Core Values

I was having a chat with someone working in one of the large multinationals recently and he was all excited as was telling me about their ‘core values‘.

We launched our core values last week” he explained to me as if he was talking about a new product or a new service.

Wow, that’s interesting!

Were these a new gimmick, something fancy, something that emerged from a brain storm, something that had to be sold to the team?

Your core values are the fundamental beliefs of your organisation. They are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Your core values can help people in your organisation to know what is right from wrong; they can help to determine if you are on the right path and the company is fulfilling its business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.

If your ‘core values‘ are something that have to be launched then maybe they aren’t quite as ‘core‘ as you thought..

What are your core values?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Hoovering and Storytelling

January 18, 2015

Sir James Dyson

Typical..just as we are skint at the start of January and all the bills are flying in our Dyson vacuum cleaner decides to pack up. I guess its not too bad as the previous one served us well for over 10 years so we can’t complain too much. Having said that the timing could be better!

Off we headed on a Saturday afternoon (I can think of a lot better things to be doing!) to buy a new one and for me there was a simple choice to be made – what model of Dyson would we buy and at which store?

For me I had no intention of even considering a different brand of vacuum cleaner (I have to try hard to not say ‘Hoover’) simply because I believe in the ‘story‘ of Dyson, the spirit, the innovation, the person and I believe that this story will deliver a superior product.

While we were browsing the selection of Dyson’s on display at Harvey Norman’s a helpful shopper (another guy as it turns out – is it the men that do the hoovering I’m wondering?! …I used the hoover word didn’t I!) whispered in my ear:

I’d buy a Miele if I were you. The suction is much better. I’ve had Dyson’s down through the years and they are only ok“.

Despite this sound impartial advice and my own experience I still wanted a Dyson. Even though we were surrounded by a wide selection of vacuum brands with lots of different features and price points I didn’t once consider even looking at them. I just wanted a Dyson. One of the Dyson models had a good offer on it, which simplified the task even further and before we knew it we were on the way home.

Opening and assembling the Dyson was a pleasure (relatively speaking!) with all of the parts cleverly clicking into place and inside the box I found a little booklet called ‘The Story of Dyson’.

It tells us that James Dyson is a curious inventor and shared some of his early designs including a Sea Truck (a high speed landing craft), a ballbarrow (a wheelbarrow with a clever ball that stops it sinking into the mud) a trolleyball boat launcher and an amphibious wheel boat.

Observing a sawmill he watched how a cyclone spun sawdust in the air and collected it in a chamber and wondered if the same principle could apply to vacuum cleaners that were using cleaner bags that constantly clogged the machines. After 5,127 prototypes he cracked it!

Since then he launched his range of vacuum cleaners, built a successful company and has constantly improved his products as well as introducing new ones.

James Dyson Foundation

Today Dyson machines are exhibited in museums in London, New York, Zurich,Sydney and Paris and the James Dyson Foundation runs workshops around the globe where young people solve engineering challenges in a practical fun way.

Dyson know they have a great story and they understand the power of this story so much that they include in it every box. This story is an integral part of their brand, so powerful that it had me not even entertaining a competitor product.

What you do, the products you sell and the services you offer are important – your story is what makes you unique.

Time to start storytelling ….

Check out another blog post: “Branding and Storytelling

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Customers aren’t just for Christmas!

December 22, 2014

Marc Jacobs

It was about this time last year when I embraced the “hint” that was given to me by Dee and I found myself in the handbag section of Brown Thomas looking for a leather hand bag, which was stylish but small and tidy.

In the end I settled for a classy navy blue Marc Jacobs bag … that’s a good brand, isn’t it? The price suggested it was a good brand and surely she would be happy with it. Down through the years I’ve bought a few handbags in BT for Dee ..strangely (I know what you are thinking..) I actually like shopping for handbags! I love the leathers and the colours and the different designs and for the most part you can’t go wrong with a bag as a present…I think?

As usual I scored and on Christmas morning Dee was happy with her gift.

Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 he entered Parson’s School of Design. As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year. In 1984 he met Robert Duffy who is still his business partner today. These two have been really successful at building this huge brand, which as all of us knows doesn’t happen by accident

At the end of this summer (just 7 months on) the leather edges of the bag started to turn white – the piping on the seams of the bag were not leather but some type of narrow plastic and the covering was wearing away – this didn’t seem very Marc Jacobs so we returned it to the store assured that there would be no issue with a repair or a replacement.

After two months the bag was returned repaired. Dee was upset as it smelt musty so it must have been sitting in a damp repair shop for quite a while and the inner lining that had to be opened up to complete the repair was still torn.

She put up with this, de-fumigated the bag with perfume but within a few weeks you could see that the repair was not going to work as the seams were once again stripping away – back to Brown Thomas!

Brown Thomas

Our interaction with the manager of the store this week was interesting. She studied the handbag carefully. “Do you have a receipt?” It was clear from the repair paperwork that BT had already handled the previous repair. “The manufacturer has a 6 month repair policy, so we can’t really guarantee anything” hmmm.. “we never know how people will wear their handbags” ..in other words if you are the type of person who mistreats a bag then we can’t be responsible. Taking one look at Dee you would know this is a bag that would be looked after carefully.

We politely reminded her that we trust Brown Thomas and the expensive brands they are selling and that there is no way we should accept this level of wear and tear after just a few months. Surely a brand such as Marc Jacobs care about their quality? The manager elaborated “They don’t care! You can give out all you want, kick up a fuss but it won’t make any difference. They are so big and so popular they just don’t care

That is just incredible – we did suggest that maybe Brown Thomas should stop stocking such a brand if that is what their attitude is towards the quality of their products and the customers who put faith in them. Glancing around the store you could see how much space was dedicated to this very popular brand – The Marc Jacobs brand is big business.

We did leave the handbag with the manager and she assured us that she would do everything in her power to get this brand to behave themselves and deal with the issue. I’m pessimistic and my prediction is that this will end up with Dee being handed back a worn out bag, which will never see the light of day.

When you are that popular and selling that much product is it easy to forget about the customer?

When a brand is so powerful do you do everything you can to stock them in your store even if they don’t really care about customers?

When Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy met 30 years ago and started on their journey I am sure they were passionate about style, quality and their customers? Have they lost control of their brand?

When Hugh Brown and James Thomas started their store in 1848 I am sure the customer come before any of the brands they were stocking?

Maybe something might have changed since then ..

Customer’s aren’t just for Christmas and brands don’t necessarily last forever!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 


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