Communications: Publish and build relationships

Customer service now goes beyond the store and its loyalty schemes; it extends to building a virtual relationship with the customer through social networking, email marketing and contract publishing.

Some companies shy away from Twitter and Facebook and the like, but these routes offer invaluable and instant customer feedback. Sadly it’s the nature of the English that unhappy customers are loathe to complain in person, but have no qualms in naming and shaming bad service to their fellow man or through the faceless media of Twitter.

This should prove an opportunity to the savvy marketeer who manages their social media well – provided their responses are swift, friendly and positive. Social media can help nip issues in the bud before they become bigger problems and can build the brand’s personality and deliver corporate messages.

Email marketing is a growth area and, far from being spam, is generally requested by the customer readership. A good website should allow people to subscribe to a regular newsletter. Like the site, this should be designed to be viewed on tablets and smart phones, as well as laptops and desktop PCs. The latest wave of email marketing is called ‘brand journalism’, broader than ‘content marketing’ it identifies the customers interests aside from just those that might relate to the brand itself. Ultimately this delivers a more interesting read to the customer and the brand becomes favoured and trusted.

Instore magazines – produced by contract publishers – first appeared in the 1980s. Some retailers continued to produce their own customer publications and upped the quality,  making them comparable with newsstand glossies. Other retailers saw their own magazine as too much of a luxury, especially as recessions bit and marketing budgets were squeezed.

Contract publishing tends to be an early indicator of recession; one of the first marketing initiatives to be cut and one of the first to be reinstated when there are signs of recovery. Happily, recently there has been a notable increase in the number of instore magazines and there is predicted growth in the customer magazine sector of 22 per cent in the next three years.

Not only an indicator of an economic upturn, this growth also suggests that marketing departments realise the value of instore magazines in building  customer communications, loyalty and consequently sales. No longer considered vanity publishing and a luxury, instore magazines offer companies the chance to effectively convey their message, with research showing, on average, an instore publication is read for 30 minutes. It may be expensive but it’s unlikely that any other form of marketing offers such dedicated and undivided attention to a brand and its activities.

Call Gaynor at Ozone Creative on 0845 0945 138 or 07956 142214 or email to discuss online and offline newsletters, magazines and all forms of client comms.