For a technology that has been around for over 25 years, the QR code has had a chequered history (sorry, we could not resist that one!).
It is a feature of marketing that arrived with great fanfare, but not with widespread acceptance in the UK. It’s not quite a comeback that excites like the Spice Girls or Take That. Yet, yet this is one 1990s return that could actually be ‘back for good’.
Ironically, the pandemic has been the catalyst for the potential of QR codes finally being realised by UK businesses and their marketing departments.
As of December 2020, the NHS COVID-19 app has been downloaded over 20 million times in the UK and over 750,000 posters with QR codes have been created through the Government’s services to service test and trace. In short, we have suddenly become a nation of QR code users. It has been a long time coming.
Heritage sites across the UK were among the early adopters to utilise QR codes as a way for visitors to quickly access further multi-media information on site in the early 2000s and enhance the customer experience. But they were underused with uptake limited in the UK.
It is not the pattern globally. In China, consumers are reliant on QR codes for digital interactions, to make financial transactions, to access further information, and to authenticate their identify – all supercharged by the giant WeChat social media platform.
In India too, the QR code has become embedded in consumer life with retailers embracing the technology in their millions. QR codes use is also surging in parts of Europe, USA, Africa and the Middle East. It is inevitable to surge in the UK and is a technology that marketing professionals will need to urgently review.
Modern day marketing is grounded in data and analytics. Digital media has enabled businesses to track consumer behaviour and provide a true measure of their marketing activities, which threatened more traditional printed marketing channels such as advertising, leaflets and posters. After all, if you can’t measure the return on investment on a marketing channel, how can you be sure it is working?
However, the QR code changes all that and will enable businesses to make fuller informed decisions on marketing budgets – and perhaps lead to a comeback for traditional marketing channels?
As consumers become more open to the QR code, it provides businesses with a fresh avenue to reach customers, to better understand their behaviour, to better inform them of their products and services, to better interact with them and ultimately, to sell to them. Perhaps those 1990s trends were not so bad after all?
Stories create connections between people – they appeal to our emotions. No one is immune to a gripping tale. Whose ears haven’t pricked up or moved to the edge of their seat when someone says “Hey, I’ve got a good story for you.”?
People are emotional beings and their behaviour reflects it, including what they buy and what they don’t buy. Being a distant, faceless business with a good product has never been enough, particularly in today’s digital landscape. So many options are at the end of our fingertips, screaming for you attention, a little human touch goes a long way.
Who are you? What makes you tick? What’s your story? How do I connect with you? Finally, why should I give you my hard-earned money?
A brand’s narrative is a critical part of any organisation’s branding strategy. It must be grounded in truths – authenticity is essential. Every brand must have a clear purpose meeting needs of people. It needs to be relatable to win hearts over and create an emotional bond and loyalty between the brand and the consumer.
A good narrative gives your customers reason to buy your product or service. Every brand has an interesting story behind it, it just needs to be effectively and engagingly articulated. A great brand narrative can maximise your business’s reach, engagement, impact and profit.
Apple are a great example of a brand whose story has enabled it to become a market leader.
Apple still has a lot of the DNA of its co-founder and former CEO, the late Steve Jobs embedded its brand narrative, be it covertly or overtly. Despite being a multi-billion dollar corporation, it still has a brand that evokes a slightly maverick, but entrepreneurial spirit with an obsession to put the users (customers) needs first.
It is still a brand that commands enormous loyalty from its audience, that few others in the tech industry emulate. Largely, it’s down to its story. They have built a connection with their customers and from that, an enormous business.
We define it as promoting your products or services to your target market in an engaging way, that defines, differentiates, and converts.
Effective marketing boils down to the very simple principle of “right message – right time – right channel – right audience.” Actually, you can add an ‘s’ to all of those.
At Fruit, we believe in a multi-channel approach and a rule of seven; that means that people will typically respond to a marketing message when they have seen or heard it seven times.
Of course, one size does not fit all. The same message at the same time on the same channel to the same audience will not reap the same rewards across business and across brands. There is no silver bullet for marketing. We wish it were that simple.
Marketing must be tailored specifically to each business, their objectives, a particular product or service and their customer profiles. A simple example is the Unilever brands Dove and Lynx, which utilise very contrasting approaches. One is softer, subtle with body positive content, the other is cheekier and more overtly sexual. We do not need to explain which is which.
If you need some support and guidance on crafting your marketing strategy and operations, please contact Fruit for a no-obligations consultation. We can help you get it right too.
From their low-key base in South Devon, it might not be immediately obvious the national and international level of expertise that lies behind the boat house doors of SeaSports Southwest.
Little more than a stone skim away from the back beach in Teignmouth, this small enterprise is a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) certified water sports training centre.
They are one of UK’s premier Water Sports Centres, specialising in water-based experiences and training courses for beginners through to advanced and instructor level, covering power, sail and paddle water sports.
They are also the foremost training base for one of the world’s greatest endurance challenges. Billed as “The World’s Toughest Row”, the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge takes place every year with dozens of teams attempting to complete an arduous 3000-mile journey from the Canary Island to Antigua.
To ensure a safe and successful crossing, SeaSports Southwest is the centre that more teams entrust their training to than any other centre in the world. From 2013-2019, they have trained 61% of all race participants from 16 countries, including 15 who have won the race or broke a world record.
SeaSports Southwest have trained more ocean rowing teams than anyone else in the world and are the only recommended training centre from race organisers Atlantic Campaigns
Fruit Marketing have been proud to work with husband-and-wife team Sue and Tim, ably supported by Sam and not forgetting Bradley the dog, who have led operations at SeaSports Southwest since 2017.
It has been a time when the website and brand have been refreshed and relaunched and new communications, marketing and advertising plans have been activated. It has resulted in an increase in social media following of 212%, off-season sales growth of 200% and an overall revenue growth of 35% whilst reducing previous adverting and marketing costs.
Sue Cox, Owner & Managing Director at SeaSports Southwest said: “What really makes Jo (Fruit Co-founder) stand out is that she has worked tirelessly to understand our business inside out. She listens to us and consequently her advice to us is sound and her marketing campaigns are successful.”
Life is not always plain sailing, but together, SeaSports Southwest and Fruit Marketing are safely on an even keel.
If you have spent the last few months living on Mars, you probably will not be aware of today’s US Election (November 3).
For the rest of us, it has been in our faces for some time now; an ever-present feature of the news cycle, peppered across our social media feeds and a topic of (socially-distanced) and sometimes fraught conversations with friends, family and colleagues. Donald Trump has been a virtually unavoidable presence in the lives of us all these last four years. Bigly.
The American election tells us so much about marketing. And not all of it is pretty.
Firstly, it dominates political strategy and spending. An eye-watering $14 billion is set to be spent on the Trump and Biden campaigns combined, a record that will more than double the spending on the 2016 election. Much of the spending is on social media. You may have joined Facebook not long after it launched in 2004. Perhaps you even “threw a sheep” or “poked” an old school friend?
Back then, it was unthinkable that Facebook and other social platforms, especially Twitter, would become such major players on the political landscape. But social media’s incredible breadth of reach, its ability to target demographics with specific messaging and – most worryingly – its relative lack of regulation over content have made it THE critical battleground.
It has made the environment more challenging for the more tightly regulated traditional media, who have had to adapt their own tactics with a multi-platform approach.
It is hard to imagine that someone like Donald Trump, with no political experience, could be elected the leader of the free world in a time before social media. It gave him a platform to build an audience, that he would have been unable to do otherwise.
It is also a reflection of the celebrity-obsessed cultures we inhabit. Trump’s celebrity from shows like “The Apprentice” gave him a currency of credibility that an equally – or even more – successful businessman with no public profile would not have. It is by no means a new phenomenon. But it is still a strange feature of human psychology that we will listen to and be led by people who have achieved fame and notoriety, even when they communicate on a subject they have little or no expertise on.
Another huge lesson from Trump is the power of simple, effective messaging. Like it or not, “Make American Great Again” is one of the most successful slogans in political history. It’s a simple four-word phrase that is both provocative and memorable. It cuts through to the audience and speaks over the constant noise of messaging we all navigate online and offline. There is undoubtedly a real ugliness to US Elections, more so in recent years.
But if you can bear to watch, there are marketing lessons to be drawn for businesses of all sizes.
This week’s #clapforthecarers moment was a genuinely touching moment for the country, a rare moment of national unity brought about by the coronavirus.
The media got behind the campaign, joined by key public figures from politics, showbusiness, sport and even the monarchy. Major venues also joined in with the campaign, illuminating their buildings blue in tribute to the NHS.
The public engaged whole-heartedly online and – most movingly in person – opening their windows and front doors in neighbourhoods nationwide and openly applauding NHS staff at 8pm on Thursday night.
Why did the campaign hit the mark for the nation? Simply, it was authentic. It was not selling anything, no one was on the make. It was just the right thing to do and people get that. Genuine messaging will always engage people.