Blue Eyed Sun

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A Sweet and Simple Marketing Idea

A Sweet and Simple Marketing Idea

Last year I had the good fortune to see the entertaining speaker and author, Geoff Ramm, share some innovative and simple marketing ideas with a packed audience at the Giftware Association’s Member’s Day.

I’ve always loved marketing and enjoy seeing different ways of tackling the age old problem of standing out from crowded marketplaces. Geoff is an awesome speaker and I love his ideas for ways you make your business outstanding for customers.

Having a sweet tooth, on this occasion, one simple marketing idea resonated with me in particular:

The Wedding Tog

Simon Jones of Bonjour Photography had the list of couples due to attend a wedding show he was exhibiting at. He took the trouble to contact everyone on the list and ask them what their favourite chocolate was. That’s it. No sales pitch, nothing to say how awesome he was as a photographer or how competitive his prices were. Just what chocolate they loved most. He then asked them to visit his stand at the show to collect a gift from him.

He purchased the various chocolates and put them together as a gift pack along with an album of his photographs for each couple. The results were remarkable. 90% of the customers he cold contacted shared their favourite chocolates. He successfully tracked them down, even an obscure chocolate from the US and ultimately took £14,000 of bookings for an outlay of £400.

I was bowled over by the hit rate on such a simple idea. I’ve thought a lot about this idea since. Why did it work so well? It’s not like chocolates are particularly expensive or, for that matter, very special (despite being occasionally delicious). He wasn’t offering discounts, or mega deals either.

Why it Works

The first thing that’s most noticeable about this idea is that the call is not a sales call. In fact, even the most hardened anti-sales call person answering can’t help but be intrigued by such a simple request as “what’s your favourite chocolate?” It doesn’t cost them anything to share this information. It’s also quite fun.

Those called don’t have to go to see the photographer at the show if they don’t want to. Even if they do, they already know it’s a bit of fun. They can just pick up their gift and leave. It doesn’t feel like they are being sold to at any point. They feel in control of the process.

When they did visit Simon, they not only got their favourite chocolate, but they received it as a gift, wrapped up in a ribbon with a nicely bound copy of his work. The book shows his quality of work, the standard of his albums and contained a price list within. The gift aspect is a considerate personal touch.

Not only is the chocolate a personalised gift to suit their taste, it’s actually incredibly personal in other ways too. Our relationship with our favourite chocolate taps into our physical senses of taste, touch and smell, as well as past experiences of pleasure and it evokes memories that undoubtedly make us smile.

None of us like to be sold to and yet most of us like to buy. The majority of engaged couples attending the show needed a photographer for their wedding. Simon was showing them a lot about himself before they even looked at his work. He demonstrated consideration, empathy, a sense of fun, attention to detail and the personal touch.

All of these are vital qualities the couple probably didn’t even realise they were looking for when choosing a photographer. Technical ability and price are actually secondary to their subconscious need for their wedding pro to deliver the images of one of the most important, personal and intimate experiences of their lives.

Not only was his order book filled, but visitors spoke about him at the show and Geoff included his story in his marketing book and I’m sharing it with you now. All from one sweet and simple marketing idea.

Taking Action

Now I’ve been to a lot of talks over the years and felt inspired during many of them. I can’t always say I’ve done anything more after that. You have to take action to really benefit.  As I watched Geoff share Simon’s story with over 100 delegates, I looked around the room and wondered how many would try this idea. I didn’t want to be one of a load of suppliers using this idea in our industry. If a lot of us do it, it loses its edge. Also, we were already doing little things like sending Brighton Rock sweets and handwritten notes in our orders. I almost talked myself out of doing it.

As I sat there it occurred to me that the chances of nobody in the room talking this lesson board was actually quite high. I came to the conclusion that it was highly likely that I would be the only company in the room to try it out. So I did at the next show a month or two later. Here’s what happened…

Chocolate Heaven

We approached 72 customers who had visited us at the Autumn Shows in the past three years and successfully discovered their favourite chocolates. Of these, 33 shops came and collected their chocolates (with a gift sample pack) and ordered at the show or shortly afterwards with a total sales value of £11k (plus higher than average order values). Not bad for acting on advice given to us for the small charge of attending the seminar.

Perhaps they might have ordered anyway. Who knows. Regardless, every customer enjoyed the experience and we loved doing it too. Will, in our office, enjoyed making the calls because he didn’t feel like he was selling. I loved shopping for the chocolates and we had a great time handing them out at the show. We also had fun taking photos and sharing the experience on social media and in this column.

By the time you read this, Blue Eyed Sun will have used this marketing idea at four different shows. The idea has been done in our industry now, so you’ll have to think of something else. The lesson isn’t really about chocolate though. It’s about paying attention to your customers and going that bit further. What can you do to make your business stand out? What can you do that will exceed your customer’s expectations and blow them away?

When you start thinking this way, your business changes and you begin to see opportunities everywhere to do better and take more time to consider your customers more personally. These are some further things we did as a result.

Chocolate Highs

A few weeks later the major buyer of a large retail customer of ours mentioned their favourite chocolate in an interview. We spotted it straight away as an opportunity to connect and sent a box of them along with a personalised thank you note saying how grateful we are for their business. Our customer loved it.

Gift Packs

I’ve started sharing gift packs of Blue Eyed Sun cards with customers and friends that I know that love to send them. They often tweet and share images of the cards online. More importantly, I know they are taking pleasure in using our cards and spreading the love.

Personalisation 

We always hand write the messages in our Christmas cards to our customers, this year we took it one step further by personalising the front of the cards too. The response of good feeling from customers was lovely. Many of the cards were shared on social media too.

Willies Cacao

I recently met Willie Harcourt-Cooze who appeared on Channel 4’s Willies Chocolate Revolution. Last month we partnered with Willies Cacao to cross market to each other’s customers with special offers and fun initiatives like including a gift of chocolates in Blue Eyed Sun’s Valentine deliveries to our retailers.

What about you?

What are your innovative ideas for marketing? How do you create OMG experiences for your customers? What do you do to stand out from the crowd and personalise the experience for them? I’d love to hear your stories. Tweet them to us @Blue_Eyed_Sun

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