Marketing matters

The things that make me different are the things that make me, me

When you’ve been to as many conferences and presentations as I have over the years, they can all roll into one. Some presenters are interesting to listen to at the time, but by the lunch break you’ve forgotten pretty much everything they said. Others stick with you for longer, far, far longer. This isn’t always a good thing. Anyone who was there at the time way back when will know what I mean when I say “death by crane off-loader presentation”. Also “weird baldy Swedish man in black”.

However, others you remember for good reasons. I can still recall stuff that Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sir Clive Woodward, Alastair Campbell, Robert Tansey and the really rather wonderful Michael Caulfield, among others talked about at various events.

Geoff Ramm, the marketing guru, was just as engaging, entertaining and erudite in Harrogate this weekend as he was in Malta back in 2015. He is always worth listening to, even though as someone tasked with writing the event up for the troops back home, I struggle to capture his ebullience on paper.

What struck me again this weekend, just as it did in Malta, was how much of what he says is simple and obvious, glaringly so at times, if only we took the time to think about it. If you make people feel a little bit special about your service, your products, your brand they will be more disposed to using you.

The internet is full of ‘marketing fails’ if you have an hour to kill. Companies who thought that something seemed like good idea at the time, but which back-fired spectacularly because they didn’t; put quite enough thought into the execution. The Hoover-free-flights fiasco is probably the one that springs to mind first, but there are so many others.

Making your customers feel a little bit special about your product or your service is not really that hard a concept to grasp, surely? There’s one of those mobile phone screen places in my local town that I will never use again because the man there was horrid to me once. He may not even work there now, for all I know. Don’t care. I’m not using them again.

It’s the little things in marketing that can make the biggest differences. Even when you don’t realise they actually are marketing. Ramm’s tale of how he tracked down the lovely lady from LNER’s ticket office who helped make a four-year old’s train journey a little bit more special brought a teeny lump to the throat of this jaded old hack. And the picture of the spectacularly merchandised flower shop, ruined by the fantastically grump sales assistant made me roar with laughter.

I know that Ramm speaks the truth when he talks about how special it is when you make people realise that you have thought about what they need or like rather than a knee-jerk, one-size-fits-all marketing response. I know because this weekend someone sent me something thoughtful and lovely and I haven’t stopped going on about it since.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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