Christmas is almost here! Office workers are winding down, looking forward to the festive season and office parties are in full swing. For many businesses, this is traditionally a quiet time during which there’s not much to do and most people are twiddling their thumbs and counting down the days. However, if you’re a marketer or a business owner, now is the perfect time to start planning for 2020 to make sure you hit the ground running, miles ahead of your competitors on 2nd January. Here are our top tips for using the last five working days of 2019 to your advantage.

1.Update Customer Profiles

Developing customer profiles will help you to focus your efforts on the correct people and help you to get the best results from your activities. You will probably already have these in place but you might not have reviewed them for a while. This quiet time couldn’t be better for conducting this research and making sure all of your activities and strategies are on point in the New Year. Use Google Analytics to find out more about the people who are visiting and engaging with your website and social media channels. Can you make your website more relevant or easier to use? Sales team data will also help you to see patterns and trends to get a better understanding of who your customers are and where they go. This will help you to form an idea of your customer journey too so your marketing can be used to guide them through this process.

2.Think About Your Content Strategy

Interesting, informative and relevant content is an extremely valuable part of any marketing strategy. Spend time mapping content around each stage of the customer journey to provide the information your customers are looking for and set yourself as an expert. Think about blogs, videos, images and infographics to maximise engagement. If you write a piece of content every day for the next seven days, that’s a few months of content ready and something you don’t have to worry about in the New Year! This content will also fuel your social media channels so getting it in place now will be highly beneficial. Your content strategy should also include promotions you’re going to run throughout the year. Look at key dates in 2020 that relate to your products and services. Adding National Days, special events and holidays into your content calendar will help you to think of content ideas that will create interest in your brand. This approach means you can be far more proactive and leave your competitors playing catch up because they’ve forgotten all about days you will have been promoting for weeks before it even falls on their radar.

3.Look at the upcoming trends for 2020

You can never do enough research. Look at emerging trends in your industry and spend time looking at how you can latch onto these in the New Year. Does your current marketing strategy lend itself to those trends? Or do you need to change course to make sure you’re ahead of the curve? Which marketing activities are set to get the most engagement next year? Make sure you pay particular interest to the buying habits of customers in your industry and the tools you can put in place to influence their decisions and set your business as the market leader. With the rest of the year being packed with calls, emails and meetings, now is the time to make sure you put that downtime to use and understand your customers as much as possible. Google Trends is a great tool that allows you to see how often relevant keywords, subjects and phrases have been searched for during a specific period of time. Knowing this information will help you to refine your content and make sure your business appears in those searches.

4.Take a Closer Look at Your Competitors

When was the last time you had a detailed look at what your competitors are up to? With daily tasks getting in the way, finding the time to look at what others are doing can be difficult. Most businesses are guilty of focusing so much on our own promotions that we sometimes forget that some of our target audience is being engaged by more creative, interesting or relevant campaigns than our own. You might find that more people are engaged by your activity but it’s good information to have! Is your competition utilising their website in a better way than you to guide customers through the sales funnel? Are they more proactive on social media and responding to comments? Looking closely at all of these elements will help you to tune in to what others are doing and start thinking about how you could do better or identify the elements you do best.

5.Align Your Team

If you spend the last few working days before Christmas preparing your strategies and activities, if you don’t have your team behind you and ready to get going, you’re still going to find it difficult to hit the ground running. The greatest long-term competitive advantage of any company is its talent. Your team have a wealth of knowledge and expertise so put it to good use! Make sure you keep them informed of everything you’re doing so that they can implement activities and engage with customers who will feel more confident in your staff and business as they display their knowledge by providing relevant, quality information that offers real value.

Most importantly, once you’ve taken all of these steps, you can relax and enjoy your break. What better feeling than to leave the office on 20th December knowing that you’re ready to tackle the New Year head on miles ahead of your competitors and with your team fully on board?

As we reach the end of 2019 it’s a great time to provide a quick update on life here at Rare and to look ahead to our plans for 2020.

Our new home

We have moved! The lease on our premises in Attercliffe expired at the end of November and we decided to look for a more creative space. After a long search and no less than 12 viewings we found the perfect space at Bells Square in the city centre.

Once a warehouse, Bells Square reminds us a little of Aizlewood’s Mill where we resided for the first 15 years of business. Our new home is a light, airy environment and a perfect creative space to support our future ambitions (more on that later).

A new brand

Our relocation also provided an opportunity for us to evolve our brand as we wanted to refocus the business on our core strengths as a creative and digital agency.

Our Head of Client Services, Joanne, led us through a detailed process of brand workshops, internal discussions and creative development resulting in the updated brand you see on this website and throughout our offices.

The update is an evolution of our old logo with a sympathetic look back to our roots.

 

The new tagline ‘Connected Creativity’ neatly reflects our ethos of offering fully integrated solutions to support our clients’ business objectives. Why not have a look at the ‘About’ section of our new website for more about our brand story?

All change!

I have taken over the full-time leadership of the business from Steve (my father) as he takes a step back to enjoy his retirement after 15 years at the helm. He is continuing to work with Rare as a strategic consultant on major client projects. My sincere thanks go to Steve for his strong leadership and the support/guidance he has given me as we have made this transition.

I am delighted to welcome Myke Meynell to the board as Technical Director. Myke has been with Rare for 5 years and I am excited that we will be leading the business on the next stage of its journey together.

2020 vision

2019 has been a year of some disruption with a number of staff changes and an office move! I hope that 2020 will be a year of consolidation and consistency.

Our new client wins mean that we need to strengthen the team, and as such we are recruiting for a Senior Creative, a PHP Developer and a Senior Account Executive/Account Manager.

We look like having a very strong start to 2020 and we are looking forward to building on both ours, and our clients’ success during the year.

Christmas Closure

Rare will be closing for the Christmas break at 5.30pm on Friday 20th December and will re-open in the new year on Thursday 2nd January 2020.

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Chris Bellingham
Managing Director

As the days get colder, and the nights get longer, it reminds us that we have almost reached the end of yet another great year here at Rare. After celebrating 22 successful years of business, we want to end this year with a December to Remember.

Our official company anniversary was on the 22nd of November and what a busy year it has been! In these past 12 months, we’ve taken on two new members of staff including head of client services, Joanne who has over 25 years of experience in the industry and has brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Rare team. We’ve also taken on web developer Matthew Poole whose main role has recently revolved around building our new website to ensure the best possible experience for our clients. We’re sure he’d love to know what you think of it. There have been plenty more changes over the past year which you can read more about in Chris’ blog, and we’ve done all of this whilst keeping up with all the hard work we do to seamlessly develop and deliver outstanding brand experiences for our clients.

Looking back at the work we’ve done throughout 2019

This brings us on to mention that we’ve been working with Prasino through 2019 to launch their new range of Prasino Smart Stoves. We’ve implemented a complete launch strategy and brand direction, supported by creative design,  web development, written content and social media. They also exhibited at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show back in September where we designed a dynamic stand to help promote their products and ran a competition that aided their strategy. It looks like we’ve not been the only busy ones! We’re certainly look forward to continuing to support them throughout 2020.

We’ve also developed a completely new strategy for one of our long-term clients, Protec International Ltd. This included identifying their audience to develop 2 major key campaigns that will be rolled out next year with their exciting new product launches. Make sure you keep an eye out for those.

As well as tending to our current clients and all their interesting new projects, we’ve more recently taken on work for Keepmoat Homes with new creative for on-site signage to help elevate the brand.

Some of the other work we’ve done this year includes literature development for OSL Cutting Technologies and working with Elevation Recruitment to add new functionality to their website, amend their job application process, and improve the UX of the site.

All that said, at Rare, we know it takes a lot more than a fancy brand and keeping clients happy to run a successful business. Our genuine enthusiasm to achieve great things is what drives us to build strong relationships based on mutual respect and shared success. This is why we’d like to say thank you to you, our clients (old and new) as well as our suppliers that have aided us to keep doing what we do. After all, we couldn’t have done any of it without you.

Therefore, we’re inviting all of our clients and suppliers to take the opportunity to have a look around our new offices in the New Year. We’d love if you could pop in for a coffee and a chat. No call required, just come and see us!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We hope to see you soon.

Customer experience should be an integral part of any business, and should be defined as creating the most positive experience throughout the entirety of a business relationship, which is likely to create repeat and loyal customers.

Why is customer experience so important?

Put simply, no business (no matter how good your products are) can exist without customers who feel valued. This is why all companies should be putting the customer right at the centre of their thoughts- this applies to both existing customers, as well as potential new ones.

Over the last couple of years- and according to a survey by Bloomberg- delivering a great customer experience has become a top priority, with consumers and businesses alike looking to build relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect and getting things done (when you say you’re going to do them.)

In recent studies, its become glaringly obvious that while a huge majority of companies believe they are offering a “superior service”, only a small percentage of customers believe they are receiving that level of service. So, where’s the discord?

There’s one simple answer to this. Customer expectations are rising, and companies aren’t keeping up the pace with innovative and engaging ways to interact with customers.

In a time when the customer has access to a wealth of information online, it’s imperative to provide a better service than your competitors, otherwise your customers will move away from your brand. Not a nice thought when you can see all the hard work that’s going in to actually finding new customers in the first place.

The best way to ensure your service is actually perceived as “superior” by those outside your office walls, is to embed your values, company goals, and staff satisfaction in your culture. Do your members of staff understand the importance of creating a great customer experience? Do customers deal with multiple members of staff- if so, do they know the company goals? Do your staff feel valued, and does that affect their attitude towards giving your customers the absolute best level of service? Are people in your organisation creating emotional connections with customers to build long-lasting relationships, or is the focus more on quick-wins to hit short-term KPIs? Are all your members of staff mentally and physically well so they’re at the top level of performance? All these things matter, rather than just “being nice” to your customers.

All these questions will lead you to a conclusion on whether customers can even start to get a “good” service, never mind a “superior” service.

The overriding factor in all this is understanding who your customers are. Where do they engage with your brand, and what are they expecting from you? Once engaged with your brand, you must do all in your power to proactively capture their feedback and make them feel valued. Take the time to treat your members of staff as ‘Internal Customers’ and actively encourage them to provide feedback on their experiences and implement change when necessary. Your staff are on the front line of the business, and will be best-equipped to know where the pinch-points are that are making the service average rather than excellent.

If there’s one thing to do away with now, it’s the sense of a quick-win sale. As with personal friendships, it takes time to build trust, compassion and a full understanding of the relationship, and this must be applied in the business world. Customers will see straight through any attempts to ‘get them over the line’ and will inevitably go somewhere else (most likely to your biggest competitor) to seek the kind of service they’ve come to expect.

Away from formal strategies, company goals, and creating a brilliant culture, indulge in books around body language, how to listen (actually listen, not just pretending you are whilst waiting for a gap to shoehorn your next big thought into the conversation) and emotional intelligence (EQ.) EQ is such a big thing now (and is so vital to any form of relationship) that anyone would be a fool not to look at the massive value it adds to your offering.

By doing some, if not all, of these things, you can start to measure the ROI of investing more time in a great customer experience. Then, sit back and watch the top and bottom line of your business grow, as customers won’t be able to wait to flock to your business.