Ready for the next step in your career? You could be just what we’re looking for!

Are you ambitious, creative and ready for a new challenge? We’re looking to add new talent to our team in 2021 and you could be just what we’re looking for!

We’re on the lookout to fill some seriously creative roles and would love to hear from you if you think you’re the right person to join the O team and help us to fulfil exciting projects for some awesome brands.

 

O People

O people like to have fun, keep healthy and enjoy being great at their jobs. We’re fast paced and super ambitious. We have each other’s back!

 

Life at O

As well as our Ocademy that takes your CPD seriously, you will be provided with a mentor. Life at O is fast paced and fun, we like outgoing people that want to get involved. Our CSR programme sees us support charities with a range of volunteering and fundraising events and we like to have regular team socials when we can.

25 days’ holiday- plus your birthday off.

 

Content Marketing Exec – business and consumer client teams

We’re looking for some great content creators to join our team, across our business and consumer client services teams. The perfect team mate will first and foremost be a great writer, able to create interesting copy that tells a story across all platforms, from website copy to press releases, brochure or magazine copy, direct marketing literature, photography briefs, video scripts to social media plans. You’ll love to research and find that elusive ‘hook’ that make sure campaigns are seriously creative, with exciting concepts driven by insight. You will support the client account manager and director working within a team and will need to work quickly and accurately across a wide range of content topics.

Firstly, we are looking for a content marketing executive for our business-to-business team, so experience in writing about topics like tech, law, industrial manufacturing and economic issues is preferable.

In our consumer and lifestyle team we are looking for a content creator with an interest in writing about property, homes and interiors, food and drink and retail topics.

1 years’ experience in agency or an in-house marketing experience is preferred, but if you have published examples of your work this will also be considered.

Sound like a role for you? You could be….

  • Working with the team to develop awesome content ideas for exciting clients – a keen eye for detail and up for trying new ideas with clients
  • Drafting written copy for all platforms, including press releases, flyers, social platforms and video storyboards
  • Creating social media toolkits and run social media campaigns with our digital team
  • Support with agency marketing, including updating the agency blog, website and managing our social channels
  • Training to provide support to your team mates with media outreach
  • Working closely with your O mentor to learn new skills and continuously stay ahead of the curve (we also have an Ocademy where we deliver regular team training sessions)
  • Occasionally help to organise O and client events, including launch events, press events and webinars
  • An integrated marketing enthusiast!

 

Studio Content Creators

We are looking for new talent in our busy content studio – if you are a graphic designer, videographer, motion graphics artist or someone looking to enter the creative industry with a degree in video production, multimedia or graphic design get in touch!

 

Business Administration Assistant

To support our growing team, we’re looking for a Business & Finance Administration Assistant to support our office manager and finance team to help with the day to day running of the business. The perfect team mate will enjoy the numbers and have a really keen eye on detail and deadlines to make sure everything runs to schedule. We’re looking for a super organised process lover, who can support with everything from credit control and invoice management to general office administration.

Sound like a role for you?

  • Proficient in Xero Finance Software
  • Quick learner and up for a challenge
  • Experienced in credit control and invoice management
  • Experienced with advanced features of Excel
  • Confident and client facing (to deal with invoicing and credit control)

 

Get in touch opportunities@opr.co.uk

 

HOW YOUR NORTH STAR COULD DISRUPTION-PROOF YOUR BRAND

2020 has been a defining year and we’re all starting to see how good we really are at change.

Without the ‘north star’ of a clear brand purpose could the coronavirus crisis steer us off course, as we fumble around for the right reaction to the ever changing world around us?

At the moment business leaders need the strength to seemingly fight the impossible. But if you remember to hold onto your values, you could be amongst the 42% of purposeful companies that are currently outperforming the stock market. (EY Global Leadership Forecast)

Purpose-driven companies do better – especially in challenging times. They are more ambitious, attract talent, inspire innovation, make faster decisions, are more trusted, have increased loyalty and attract investment – yet 68% of business leaders do not use their purpose as a guidepost in leadership decision making.* (PWC)

Google Trends shows a steep incline in 2020 for people seeking brands that are ethical, sustainable and have policy and purpose at their core.

Interestingly, donating money is not what they necessarily consider purpose. They want to see business making a significant difference, behaving well within their own company and taking a stand in their communities.

Amidst the current chaos, really understanding how your customers are feeling and what really matters to them will help you shape how you communicate purposefully with them.

Use any available data to find out what they need from you as a business right now and where you can add value to their lives – they might be feeling scared and need reassurance, want to know you’re invested in making the world a better place or simply need to feel a better connection with your people – who are of course, your brand.

This is not touchy-feely stuff – it’s hard fact.

Purposeful companies deal with volatility much better.

Remembering why you started is everything right now.

Less is more.

Don’t blow with the wind – have patience with your purpose.

Go back to basics and involve your team.

Reset, recharge and let’s go again – with purpose – into 2021.

HOW CREATIVE THINKING CAN CHANGE CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR

Behaviour change campaigns have always been some of the most exciting, head-scratching and brave projects to work on. With behaviour change comms you’re selling a product or service, but an idea, a passion or vision that aims to create lasting and positive change in a community.

Clever creative campaigns help to promote changes in knowledge, attitudes, social norms, beliefs and behaviours, they’re more than one hit wonders, their job is to win the public’s hearts and minds and elicit positive change. So, to get people to behave differently, as marketeers we have to think a little differently to our usual campaign planning.

From mental health to vegan food, personal finance to charitable giving, at O we’ve worked across a spectrum of campaigns that have had produced real-world change, and they all have a few things in common. To build a campaign that people not only see and remember, but also act on you should:

  • Get to know your audience and their current behaviours inside out, back to front and upside down. What do they currently do and why do they do it?
  • Find the barriers to changing their behaviour. Is it ease? Cost? A belief system?
  • Make the change easy and actionable. Break down the actions you would like them to take into small chunks, don’t ask your audience to make a big lifestyle change all at once.
  • Don’t preach. Telling someone they are wrong or bad for thinking or acting in a certain way is a sure-fire way of getting them to stop listening to you.
  • Be creative and stand out. The world is a busy place and there is lots of noise vying for your audience’s attention. Being seriously creative with your messaging will make your campaign memorable and help cut through the noise.
  • Keep measuring and evaluating. Keep track of the impact of your campaign and regularly refer back to your main objectives to make sure your results are moving you further towards your big audacious goal.

Here are some of our favourite campaigns demonstrating the tips above from the last few years:

TIME TO TALK

Time to Change is England’s largest anti-stigma campaign – challenging attitudes and reducing stigma towards people with mental health problems. O worked with the campaign leads to make improvement in the North East to public awareness, attitudes and discrimination in relation to people with mental health problems, to increase knowledge and improve confidence and break down misconceptions and discrimination.

Research shows that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some time in their life. We aimed to bring the Time to Talk campaign to life by using real-life local case studies of people who have been affected by mental health problems and engaged them as campaign ambassadors. The campaign generated an additional awareness reach of 54,150 people, smashing the initial 15,000 target. Of those who recognise the campaign, 47% claimed it had improved their opinion of those with mental illness. How did we do it? We got creative. Alongside celebrity endorsement, a 48-sheet van roadshow, poetry competition, press campaign and video, we used the idea that 1 in 4 people will feel ‘blue in the queue’ during the January sales. Now, how do you get people’s attention on a cold, wet day in January to talk about mental health? You put a blue man on a park bench, bus stop, Metro train…. The January Blues ‘Blue Crew’ street crew dressed in blue morph outfits appeared ‘out of the blue’ on the streets of five cities and on the Tyne and Wear Metro. The campaign team supported the blue crew asking the public to sign the pledge and distributed signposting information. The eye-catching figures were used to create an attractive photo call to accompany a tailored press release for each location.

KIELDER WATER AND FOREST PARK

O was commissioned by Kielder Water and Forest Park to encourage a new audience to visit the park through the Living Wild campaign. Living Wild at Kielder was a two-year social media project designed to bring Kielder Water & Forest Park’s wildlife to life for visitors and residents, whilst also contributing to the long-term protection of the area’s incredible array of animals and plants. Research showed that a key barrier to attendance for non-traditional Kielder audiences was the fear of ‘doing it wrong’. For people who were new to the park, there was sometimes a nervousness that Kielder wasn’t for them, or that they would not engage with the activities in the right way – so our campaign had to change that.

#WildatKielder aimed to show all of the different ways that you could be wild in the park, whether that was a family day out, spotting wildlife, walking the dog – we wanted people to show what wild meant to them, and support them to understand that there is no right or wrong way of engaging with nature. We achieved this through a social media photography competition, working with a range of influencers from different backgrounds, social media games and a programme of content showcasing what you can expect from Kielder when you arrive, alleviating the element of the unknown which may have been off-putting to some first time visitors. The key to this campaign was not understanding why current visitors were visiting, it was taking the time to extrapolate why possible audiences were staying away. Once this was established, we were able to create engaging campaigns which brought the magic of Kielder right to their screens.

If you would like to speak to our creative director Lauren about bringing seriously creative ideas to your campaigns, or just want to chat through what’s possible, email l.regan@opr.co.uk or call 0191 2325690.

WANT YOUR BRAND TO STAND OUT IN 2021? TIK TOK YOUR WAY TO THE TOP

Remember in 2006 when brands argued over whether their brand really needed to think about Facebook? Don’t be that guy. TikTok isn’t all dance moves, lip syncing and teenage drama (ok, it partly is exactly that), it should also be a key strategy in engaging with your audience in 2021. Based on forecasts (released in September 2020), the number of TikTok users in the UK is expected to reach almost 11 million individuals by 2021. Despite common misconceptions about users, only 25 percent of users in the UK are between 18-25, more and more we are seeing 30 – 50-year olds adopting the app, producing and engaging with content. Whether you are looking to increase sales, build brand advocacy or manage your reputation, TikTok cannot be ignored as a key method of getting in front of your audience.

What are the benefits of jumping on the trend?

  1. Influencers

Whatever platform you choose, working with influencers is good for business. Word of mouth and peer recommendations are still the most successful tools in a marketer’s arsenal, and the lines are blurring between ‘in real life’ friends and the people we follow and engage with online. If you can’t get your product directly into the hands of your clients, working with influencers is the next best thing. Millennials trust user-generated content 50 percent more than other media and more than 55 percent of over 45’s trust a review on a personal blog and 92 percent of customers trust earned media over all other forms of advertising. Not only that, 61 percent of people have made a purchase based on a recommendation from a blogger and user generated content is 35 percent more memorable than other types of media. Working with bloggers and influencers is an effective way of building your brand credibility and speaking to your potential customers in an authentic way, and they have their audience’s attention now more than ever.

The followings of UK influencers alone are staggering, Jamil Jamel Neffati has over 9.6 million followers, Amelia Gething is topping 7.3 million followers and topping the UK follower chart with over 16.6 million followers is Holly H. However the same golden rule of influencer relations still applies when working with rising TikTok stars – don’t be sucked in by big numbers, choose people who are right for your brand and have the ear of the audience that you want to engage with. Working with micro-influencers at scale gives you a much higher chance of your content going viral. With this in mind TikTok has built their own influencer platform called Creator Marketplace; using the platform you can find and work with influencers that are perfect for your niche or big scale audiences.

  1. Paid advertising

TikTok is one of the most exciting new advertising channels because it has the scale of Instagram, but it’s not yet saturated with advertisers, making it much more affordable for impressions and clicks than some of the more established channels. As well as all the usual suspects when it comes to targeting (age, location, demographic) what works particularly well on TikTok is targeting people who have viewed similar content to yours – for example if a user regularly favourites or watches full videos of cookery inspo, chances are they will be a good candidate for your new food product launch, if they engage heavily with fashion influencers and content with a certain aesthetic, they may well be worth targeting with your new shoe launch. You get the idea.

  1. Organic content

Don’t be put off if you can’t stretch to a paid ad campaign just yet, TikTok is much more powerful organically than other channels. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s algorithms mean that organic content (content with no spend behind it) can travel much further. On TikTok it is possible for a well-crafted piece of content to get 1 million views, without having any followers at all. Basically the demand for content on TikTok is much higher than the supply, so there is a real opportunity for brands to produce content to fill the demand. What this comes down to is having a clear creative vision for your campaign, researching your audience and what they enjoy and creating content that gets people talking. TikTok is built to show more people great content, that means that if your video starts getting noticed it will be served to more and more people.

With every campaign the mode of delivery is only one part. Your creative has to work for the channel and strike a chord with your target audience, but when it’s done right it will really deliver. If you would like to talk to our creative director about how a TikTok and influencer campaign can move the dial for your business email l.regan@opr.co.uk

It’s not woke, it’s good business – putting the cause into your marketing strategy 

Emerging out of lockdown is a new wave in marketing, just this week I’ve seen two exciting collaborations that show we are moving into an era of purpose as a business strategy.

John Lewis has launched its new ‘Style with Purpose’ collection, edited by social influencer Erica Davies and modelled by real women on their own doorsteps. The collection donates 15% of sales to domestic violence charity, Refuge, Barbour also launched an activation with Selfridges, as part of the department store’s Project Earth campaign, partnering to create an electric Land Rover Defender to mark its commitment to environmental issues.

Here at O, we have seen a marked increase in clients wanting to revisit their brand purpose and work together on a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy that can find creative routes to re-establish their commitment to their causes, from local community to the environment. Movement in this direction can only be a good thing, but often the benefit it also has for the business is overlooked.

Profit is not just a shareholder benefit, when invested into growing companies through staff development and job creation or by putting back into charities, communities and causes, it is necessary to make money to make the world a better place.

The ‘kindness economy’ was a term coined by retail expert Mary Portas, borne out of a new wave of consumerism that has been accelerated during the pandemic.

The biggest change to come out of lockdown has been a shift in people’s values and mass ‘consumers’ have now been replaced by socially-conscious shoppers.

The term does not just apply to shopping for goods, but we believe it has rolled into the purchase of business-to-business services too. Having all witnessed bad practice by some big companies over the pandemic, we are now looking to buy from businesses that treat their people, the community in which they work, and the planet well.

Mother nature has become a big concern, the pandemic has shown us the impact of lockdown on lowering pollution and waste and has made us stop and think. Recycling, buying local or second hand, swapping car travel for zoom calls or walking to work to benefit the environment has started to become the norm already and this means every business needs to rethink what it is doing to make the planet a better place.

Portas says we now have a triple bottom line, People, Planet and Profit in that order.

The interesting thing I note when advising on CSR strategy is that the businesses that get the first two right, always make a profit. They also tend to stick around longer, growing a business with real roots and longevity.

CSR is the most exciting and creative part of any marketing strategy – cause-related campaigns join up internal comms with the customer, because clear values are the glue that gives everyone inside and outside of your business a reason to work with you or buy your goods. Plus having a cause you care about can be activated in so many creative ways that is fuels your content strategy with wonderful storytellling too.

If you would like to explore your Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy and make a real difference, start today by getting in touch with kari@opr.co.uk

Join us for our Autumn Webinar Series…

Quick learning woman silhouette isolated on white background
Over September and October we’ll be hosting a series of webinars and workshops to share insight and to start the discussions around the big challenges businesses are facing right now and the opportunities ahead with robust marketing and digital strategies Post-COVID. We’d love for you to join us, for more information or to book your slot please contact kirsty@opr.co.uk.

Tuesday 8th September – 11.00am
Marketing in a Post-COVID World
Finding your new tribes and engaging your customers in new ways. We’ll be discussing consumer behaviour and how your old customer profiles may need not paint a true picture post-lockdown. Creating flexible marketing strategies and more.

Tuesday 22nd September – 11.00am
Digital Strategy just got really serious!

The world went digital overnight, the only to communicate and sell was virtual and online. Steve Maybury will talk you through the ‘new’ digital strategy for businesses and why it’s so important to future proof your business against disruption.

Tuesday 6th October – 11.00am
A Creative Recovery

The pandemic has encouraged bold marketing messages, emotive creative and ‘together’ campaigns that have united entire nations. Lauren Regan our creative director will talk about the perfect creative campaigns and how we can use creativity to help our businesses to recover quickly.

Tuesday 20th October – 11.00am
Building a Disruption-Proof Brand
Purpose driven, transparent brands that really live by their core values have been the winners of 2020, with brand loyalty remaining highest through the pandemic with the world’s most purposeful businesses. This workshop will talk you through the importance of transparency, dealing with change and putting the right foundations in place to build brand loyalty.

Lessons in lockdown…Kari Owers, MD

How are You?

Right back at the beginning, one of my business mentors texted me to ask ‘how are you?’ Sometimes leaders need to hear those words too and I remembered the power they can have on someone’s day – so my first lesson of lockdown was to ask how others are doing.

It’s very easy to get caught up in your own drama, but talking to others helps you get things in perspective, share war stories and break down your issues.

I hope it’s a habit I never lose sight of when everything gets back to normal.

 

Track the numbers

It’s all too easy to feel a lack of control when outside influences throw your carefully laid plans out the window, but it’s worth remembering you can always affect some things – and by getting close to the numbers you maintain some element of control. At the very least knowing your P&L inside out, ensuring you have a clear and realistic pipeline of work where possible, you understand your cashflow – and you track the wider economic trends – you’ll be ok. At the very worst you’ll maybe know the point at which you won’t be ok, and you can reach out for financial support.

 

When it gets dark the stars come out

This was my mantra after the 2008 recession, as a very young business we survived because some people really stepped up. Look out for the stars, sometime they are the quiet ones – but remember to recognise who really made themselves available and supported you during times of crisis.

 

Don’t languish in lockdown mode

The change of pace actually got quite nice – lunchtime walks, slow starts to the day over a coffee with no commute, time for some yoga after work. All great habits to keep but I think it’s too easy to get too used to a slower pace and its not going to get you where you need to be – by the end of May I was firmly looking over the horizon, challenging myself to go further, be more ambitious and can-do – remember to always lean forwards, even in a headwind!

 

Look after yourself

I have learned that I work better when I have time to think. So my diary is never going to look the same again. I know where I add value to the business and that’s the only stuff I will be doing. The rest of the time I will be making sure I get good sleep, exercise and eat well – and don’t sweat the small stuff. I mean if a pandemic can’t teach you that, then you’re a lost cause!

 

CRISIS COMMS JUST TOOK A SPIN IN A NEW DIRECTION

Public relations gets a bad rap a lot of the time, especially when handling a crisis situation – the word spin is often used when a PR steps into the eye of the storm.

Having handled crisis communications for well over a decade now, from court cases to natural disasters, never could I have predicted such a seismic shift in how to handle a crisis as Covid-19.

The world has changed radically in this storm – and finally crisis comms has come round to my way of thinking – transparency is key. The key rules of crisis PR are planning – ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ as they say.

But when we were all sat in our offices at the start of 2020, not many of us were planning for something like this. Covid-19 has affected so many lives around the world, and the economic impact has been and will continue to be massive. As the pandemic has made its way around the world at pace, businesses were also faced with a tsunami of issues  – and the public wanted answers.

When will you close to protect lives? When will you reopen? How are you protecting your staff? Why can’t I buy your goods? How are you self-distancing? Why is my delivery late?

Everyone’s a critic

Social media has made everyone a critic, and before facts are checked, minds are made up in seconds. None of that is really new, but here are my observations of how crisis communications have had to adapt and will likely change the way businesses have to communicate for good.

1- There is no agenda – other than the main agenda. There is only one thing that matters when communicating right now – saving lives. Nobody cares about any other agenda – so you shouldn’t have one.

2- The walls have come down. Many businesses that aren’t used to press attention feel an inbound enquiry is some kind of attack, or at best a trick – and social media criticism is viewed with contempt. I spend a lot of time explaining to business owners that tackling criticism head on requires absolute transparency and speed; we live in a world where nothing else is tolerated now. Be open, be timely and be yourself. If you have to hold your hands up and say you don’t know how you’ll cope but you are trying – that’s ok just now. We are all in the same boat of uncertainty. With an honest approach people understand that you are facing something you’ve never faced before, so if you are being deliberately opaque, evasive or are actually not doing the right thing you will be remembered for it long after this pandemic.

3- Facts matter. I’ve always diffused a situation by simply sticking to the facts. Under attack by an angry customer – what are the facts? A disaster is unfolding by the minute – what are the facts right now? The Number 10 Daily Briefing plays this card – they show the scientific facts first and foremost. Any announcements are often numbered – for example ‘here are the 5 steps to recovery’ or the ‘3 ways we will help businesses’ today. Facts and numbers matter – they should provide clarity and stop us straying into assumptions or confusion.

4- Front and centre. Every business leader should be media trained – that’s what they say. My belief is that every business should show leadership – you don’t need trained how to swerve questions or stop fiddling with your tie – you need empowered people ready to speak openly and honestly with the public. Front and centre – that’s where your leadership team should be in a crisis. Right up there speaking to their staff, their customers and the press. If that comes in the form of a written statement or video, so be it. As long as it comes from you, is direct and honest, and is communicated well before rumours start to breed.

5- Every negative needs a positive. As any crisis concludes I also ask – what are you doing to put things right in the future? At the moment sometimes it’s hard to see past the unfolding chaos to think about something positive from the situation, but many businesses are doing the right thing, right now. For example: Despite having to close all their hotels – they kept rooms open for NHS workers. Despite all shops closing and staff furloughed, they made deliveries in the community where they could. Despite not being able to manufacture – they’ve made PPE. This pandemic has brought communities closer together, and businesses large and small have put aside their normal lives and done some good. This shift in how we communicate shouldn’t always have to come out of a crisis, and one positive of the Covid-19 pandemic must surely be that in the future it won’t.

 

Kari, MD

REACHING THE ‘AT HOME’ CONSUMER

With real life events being cancelled, the Flymo team and O threw our carefully laid plans out the window this year and went back to the drawing board on how to inspire children and families to get out and enjoy their outdoor space.

The end result was an incredibly successful collaboration with influencer Skinny Jean Gardener, for a digital activation which reached just under a million families across the UK. Over the Easter holidays, Skinny Jean Gardener took over Flymo’s Facebook page every morning to encourage families to get gardening while socially distancing, resulting in over 60,000 families tuning in every day to watch the show.

From top tips on how to make gardening fun for families, games and top tips for growing your own, the content kept families coming back for more each day and increased engagement on their social media channels dramatically. The O team worked closely with Flymo to understand the problems that the brand was facing during these strange times and align with the overall business strategy for handling the crisis. Flymo was keen to keep brand awareness high with one of their core markets, families, as well as share positive, helpful and engaging content that their consumers would love.

Working with influencers

Working with influencers successfully isn’t always about picking the person with the highest following online, it’s about choosing the right person at the right time and keeping your target audience at the front of mind at all time. Influencers can be anyone, from celebrities to your next-door neighbour. And influencers with smaller communities are proving more influential than their celebrity counterparts with 54% of consumers believing that the smaller the community, the greater the influence. All in all: bloggers, even the smaller community ones, are influential.

Skinny Jean Gardener fits the Flymo brand perfectly, down to earth, fun and likeable, he makes getting out in the garden an activity to do together as a family, not a chore that has to be conquered before you can enjoy your space.

Flymo is no stranger to pushing the boundaries when it comes to influencer activity. From launching the #FirstCutSunday campaign each year through bloggers and influencers to encourage millennials to get out and  get mowing, to getting product into the hands of celebrities that their target market love, including Joe Wicks.

So why has this strategy been so successful for the brand recently?

While the UK is in the midst of an unprecedented national crisis, we have seen huge spikes in online and social media consumption as people stay behind closed doors. Research by Global Web Index found that we are seeing substantial increases in people checking social media across all ages; 27% among Gen Z and 30% among Millennials, Flymo’s two key markets in the UK.

Influencers doesn’t just mean bloggers. Stars of Instagram, Facebook and more recently Tik Tok draw in huge audiences, and if you can’t physically get your product into the hands of your potential customers, this is the next best thing. If you currently have stock to sell or want to continue to be front of mind and build a connection with your audience, getting your product into the hands of influencers during this period can be extremely powerful, but only if it is handled sensitively, strategically and with expertise. Our message had to be relevant, community-minded and ultimately useful, hard sells are not going to resonate and could be considered insensitive as thousands of people across the UK struggle to make ends meet. As consumer spending habits change, influencers like Skinny Jean Gardener are uniquely placed to provide useful content including great recipes to cook at home, fashion tips for home working, how to entertain the kids, staying fit indoors and healthy or make-up and hair tips if you can’t get to the salon.

Emotion plays a strong role when it comes to choosing a brand

Emotion plays a strong role in the decision-making process, especially if we are feeling confused or scared in other areas of our life – your customers have warm, friendly feelings towards the people they follow online. The lines are blurring between who is a friend and who isn’t. It’s clear that a brand is only as good as the consumer’s mental representation of it. If this representation is only made up of certain attributes like features and pricing, the consumer doesn’t have any emotional connection with the brand that will influence their preference and action. Positive emotional content in the mental representation will not only encourage sales, but also drive loyalty. Basically – we like things that make us feel safe and happy, especially now.

But ultimately your strategy needs to result in sales right? Well here’s the thing, Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media and more than 55% of over 45’s trust a review on a personal blog and 92% of customers trust earned media over all other forms of advertising. Not only that, 61% of people have made a purchase based on a recommendation from a blogger and user generated content is 35% more memorable than other types of media. Working with bloggers and influencers is an effective way of building your brand credibility and speaking to your potential customers in an authentic way, and they have their audience’s attention now more than ever.

As we all look for ways to cope with self-isolation and social distancing, we are seeing more than ever people looking for ways to simulate real human contact, exactly where social media and influencers come into their own. We have to remember that influencers are also in the  same situation as us and with more time on their hands they are certainly not going to stop producing content  any time soon, the trick is to harness their increased  visibility and use it to form real human connections with your customers, they won’t forget it.

Digital Transformation – using technology to solve problems

Over the last decade, ‘Digital Transformation’ has been on the agenda for almost every business. This year, the world went digital almost overnight.

Today’s article is from our Homegrown Magazine, Lockdown Edition, where we share insight for future communications and celebrate the home-grown businesses from the North continuing to do great things. For your copy please email kirsty@opr.co.uk

Transformation

We have all been forced to change almost every habit and routine, switch every face-to-face meeting to a video call and even communicate with our teams and our loved ones virtually. For every business and every person the change is having different levels of impact, but one thing is sure, we’re all still finding our way and getting used to a new ‘normal’.

In the UK only 17% of the thousands of businesses surveyed felt their business was fully ready for remote working or to offer their services and products digitally. Of those businesses who were able to operate remotely, 79% felt their team’s productivity would drop and that they did not have the right systems in place to be able to communicate effectively.

But despite the disruption, businesses are adapting quickly, and in the UK we have some real positives to take from lockdown. People are innovating, and finding new ways to engage with their customers, some are developing new websites and apps in super-fast time, others improving their online systems, most getting their online experience right in weeks when it’s been on the ‘to do’ list for years. As a nation we are ‘doing good’ – in the UK, businesses are using their strong digital presence to raise thousands for local communities, charities and to support key workers. They are sharing positive news stories and sending digital love around the world.

So what now?

Online engagement is up 82%, online search and traffic numbers are off the charts and every generation is trying new technology online. We’re spending longer researching, trust is higher than ever before and, what’s more, consumers are enjoying online experiences and sharing them far and wide. 73% of consumers who had tried online shopping for the first time, said they would continue, even after lockdown was over and more than 69% of users felt more confident to seek financial or legal consultancy online and to share personal details.

However, all this extra time to research and explore online, is leading to heightened demands. The number of online reviews and customers dropping off slow, poorly-optimised sites before they make a purchase are at an all-time high. So how do businesses take this opportunity to engage with their customers and continue their digital transformation?

There are a lot of definitions for ‘Digital Transformation’, but the most consistent and widely used is:

“Digital Transformation is the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems.”

For every business technology should be different: there is no one-size-fits-all approach and technology should be used to solve your problems as a business, to solve problems for your people and to meet the needs of your customers. Do your systems need to be more efficient, do your current systems lack security, is there a risk of breach, do you need better internal communication systems or new ways to process orders online? The list of potential problems that need to be solved is endless.

For your customers, solving their problems should always be top of your agenda, but now it’s even more important to do this well, and you may find that they have a whole new set of issues or needs as we navigate life post lockdown.

Use data and trends to help you to plan your digital strategy

Listening to your customers and watching how they  behave has always been the key to getting your  technology or digital offering right. Now everyone is spending so much more time online, digital interactions, leads and sales are representing a far larger proportion of businesses’ incomes.

It is therefore more important than ever to ensure you are gathering and analysing the data that you have at your disposal and using it to influence your marketing and business strategies. Look carefully at what works, what doesn’t work, where you have gaps or where you may need to improve, and be prepared to tweak your approach to suit shifting demand.

Listen to and analyse consumer trends and behaviours, how your customers are interacting with you, what research they are doing, how they are doing it, and what was their experience: once they arrived on your website, which pages did they visit and what did they buy? If they left without buying, why did they do that and what can you change to improve that in future?

Furthermore, look at their reviews and feedback: don’t be upset if it’s negative: use it to learn from mistakes and make your business stronger. Let all of this this data help you to decide how to use  technology for the best now and in the future.

Going Digital

Digital transformation doesn’t always have to be extreme, but it should be constant. We’ve seen our favourite bars and restaurants switch to online ordering and take away, using their social channels for live DJ sessions at home  and delivering video masterclasses for cocktail making  and gin tasting, they’ve adapted and embraced new ways of maintaining their brand loyalty online.

Whilst Covid-19 has accelerated the need to review all of our technology, our online channels and our strategy going forward, the need to use technology to solve problems will always be there, along with the need for businesses to plan for different scenarios so that you can adapt quickly. This is a great chance to re-set and to think long-term about how you can continuously innovate with technology, improve systems, adopt new technology and change how you operate digitally.

Plan for the future

Trends around cyber security, website performance, SEO, usability, chat functions, app speed, online events and  content marketing are heightened right now, but these  are all topics of conversation that are here to stay. When considering how your business will transform over the next few months and beyond, think about how your digital capability will match the way your customers are feeling right now and what is likely to be important to them in the future.

Maybe it’s chatting to you online, or engaging with an online community group, or maybe they just want to know that your website is secure so they can make that decision to purchase. Digital transformation is not about a new App, a new website or installing the latest team chat tool, it’s about understanding why you need technology, how you can adapt digitally, how changes enhance experience or the problems you can solve.