The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Member Blog: A tale of 2 trains (of thought about marketing!)

By David Wright - BSA Marketing
I don’t know whether you saw this video that was posted on YouTube then rapidly went viral.

Steam enthusiast Ryan Allen had positioned himself in (he thought!) the ideal spot to get close up video of the iconic Flying Scotsman on its first inter-city run in 10 years – then it happened – thank you Virgin Trains!

Hopefully he saw the funny side…..

But what about the marketing?

This story neatly demonstrates 2 different marketing approaches:

1. The instant-win quick fix

Undoubtedly Mr Allen wanted the video for his own interest rather than having any commercial motive; however, the fact that he got the movie he did and then published it on line, means it went viral, got picked up by national news and so caught the attention of Virgin Trains themselves.

Feeling a little sorry for Mr Allen, they have generously offered him 2 return flights to New York.
Not a bad quick return but next time he wants to fly to the States I’m not sure he will be so lucky – he is back at square one!

Many SME businesses see marketing as a direct extension of their sales process. Whenever they do anything they focus on a quick win so tend to be more interested in short term results rather than any longer term benefit.

As a consequence, while they may get some immediate sales, there is little or no longer term benefit. Next time they are looking for business, they have to start again and hope that their next ‘campaign’ produces more results.

2. Making the most of opportunities for long term engagement – Real Marketing?

OK, Virgin is a big and successful brand but as soon as they got wind of the Virgin east Coast photobomb, their marketing operation swung into action with Sir Richard Branson being interviewed on the BBC News making the offer of the free transatlantic flights which, while having great value to Ryan Allen, will cost Virgin virtually nothing to deliver yet the goodwill shown by the company is a great reinforcement of their brand values. Even the likes of me are writing about it!

My guess is that Virgin aren’t going to see a spike in bookings on either trains or planes as a result of this story so there isn’t much of a quick-win sales hike – but I suggest the benefit in terms of ongoing promotion and support of one of the strongest brands in the UK is significant – and at remarkably little cost to the company.

And my point is….

In my experience, most SME marketing looks for short term sales results. Money and resources are put into campaigns that often don’t deliver quite as much as the business owner might have wished.

If a little more focus was given to building longer term engagement with a market, awareness of a company and its brand values and propositions will grow creating ever more likelihood that when a potential customer has a need they will think of that company first – the sales will come!

Even better, in terms of overall sales and marketing budgets, additional focus on market engagement, making the most of skills and resources already available in a company, can normally be achieved at a remarkably modest cost in terms of time or money.

It just takes a bit of commitment and anyone can do it.