Edmund Tirbutt on Financial Media Case Studies and Storytelling – MPAF Episode 4

Positive Stories. Case studies and videos could be the way to overcome the poor perception consumers have of the financial services industry.

In Episode 4 of the Marketing Protection and Finance Podcast – I talk to journalist Edmund Tirbutt.

Edmund is a freelance journalist and writer and has covered financial services topics for the last 27 years.

His articles are always painstakingly researched and hard-hitting.

A one-time semi-pro stand-up comedian, he’s recently started doing comedy again, performing alongside world-renowned comedians like Mike Wozniak and John Maloney.

Listen as Edmund talks about his early days as a media champion trying to get declined claims paid. Hear his views on how we use humour in financial services communications. He asks whether seminars in the workplace the key to future market growth.

Edmund Tirbutt on Financial Media Case Studies and Storytelling

Edmund feels that positive financial case studies are key to improving the public’s view of financial services. Listen as he explains what works and how advisers can talk to the media to showcase their positive stories.

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What a Caffe Nero Grande Americano says about Empowered Staff and Happy Customers

Is coffee an important part of your business day?

Last week I took an early train down south from Edinburgh. In my pocket was a complete, stamped Caffé Nero loyalty card.

I decided to buy a huge coffee to make my early start more bearable. As I stood at the Caffé Nero Express kiosk at Waverley station I  asked for a Caffe Nero Grande Americano black coffee.

The lady checked again whether I wanted milk. I replied, “No, just black.”

caffe nero grande americano

She accepted my stamped loyalty card and I took my free coffee with me on the train. I settled into my seat as the East Coast train lumbered out of Waverley station and into Calton Tunnel.

I peeled the top off my coffee cup.

And my heart sank.

Staring back up at me was white coffee. I am lactose intolerant and so I couldn’t drink the coffee I was so looking forward to savouring. I asked my immediate neighbours in the carriage if they’d like a white Coffee. One lucky gentleman accepted my cup with a smile.

But I felt annoyed. How much clearer could I have been? East Coast trains Coffee is not as tasty as Caffe Nero coffee.

I tweeted Caffe Nero but of course received no reply. I imagine they must receive thousands of tweets per day.

Over 12 hours later I arrived back at Edinburgh Waverley station. I went along to the Caffe Nero Express kiosk and explained what had happened during my early morning visit. The gentleman in the kiosk immediately apologised and furnished me with two completed loyalty cards. He did this without questioning my story. Nor did he have to refer to a supervisor or a colleague to make me happy.

I immediately felt better and Caffe Nero will stay on my Christmas card list.

So many times these days staff are not allowed to make such gestures without referring up the line. Empowerment in these circumstances is important to keep customer loyalty.

I remember visiting the Ritz-Carlton chain of hotels in the USA a few years ago and going behind the scenes to get some business ideas. They allow every one of their employees to spend up to $100 to look after a guest. They do not have to refer to a supervisor or manager. They use their discretion. This means that the service they deliver is exceptional.

Would you allow your staff to make such a decision without referral?

Now it’s your turn: I love stories about great customer experiences. If you’ve been wowed by a response similar to mine please share your story. Leave a comment or post a link to your own website or blog.

Do you Dread Strategy Planning? Let’s make Strategy Simpler.

What strikes fear into the hearts of even the most hardened businessmen?

How about strategic planning. And the strategy plan that emerges from it? All two hundred pages of it. And that’s just the Executive Summary.

Does your heart sink when you hear “strategy” or “strategic plan”?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m stuck in a strategic planning meeting for the next three days?” No doubt there’s a distinct tone of despair in their voices. And a pleading look in their eyes.

Strategy is so important for any business large or small. So why do so many people dread strategy planning?

Strategy Photo

Is it because many companies make it complex. They let the strategic planning process become all-consuming and forget about the “actual strategy”.

Perhaps it’s because strategy is often inextricably woven into the annual planning cycle. Inevitably we divert conversations about the strategic intent of the business to talk about budgets, cost cutting, staff numbers and pouring over the financials of the previous and the coming years.

As the plan grows in size, the accountants will want constant readjustments to the business projections and revisions of the costs. Planners want to draft and rewrite project plans try to save a week here and a day there. They stick millions of post it notes on walls and then spend days re-arranging them.

And everyone wants absolute certainty over the amount of future revenue that the plan will deliver. The problem is that costs, people and premises are totally under the businesses control, where as future revenue depends mainly on the will of the customer. How can there be absolute certainly over future revenues? There can’t.

The resultant strategic plan is often hundreds of pages long and extremely detailed and yet during this process the “actual strategy” of the business is often glossed over because  planning and budgetary cycle complexity swamps this most important part.

It’s the “actual strategy” that makes the customer want to spend their money with you that creates the revenue.

Of course budget planning is important.

Of course detailed product launches and systems development plans are crucial.

Of course cost control is required.

Of course controlling staff numbers is necessary.

But these need to come once you’ve developed and agreed the strategy. Because the strategy is the most important thing that will drive revenue in the future. Get the strategy nailed first and then commit to the detailed plans.

Yes a company strategy needs a mission statement, a vision and a goal (often a revenue amount for the equivalent expressed as market share), but strategy needs to drive these.

And the best thing to do is to keep it simple.

Customers will spend their money with you if your value proposition is superior to your competitors. You only need to do two things:

  • Decide which specific customers to target – who are they and what are their key characteristics?
  • Create a compelling value proposition for those customers – what will you offer them and what won’t you offer them and what sets you apart from your competitors? How will you price it? Where you will sell it? And how will you promote it.

That’s it.

Don’t get bogged down with planning, cost control and many iterations of strategic plans to guarantee success. Don’t overwhelm simply finding the core strategic intent. Deal with all that once you know where you are going.

Now it’s your turn: I’m sure as many people will disagree with my opinion as will agree with it. What is your experience of creating strategy within a business? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or, even better, share a link to your own articles or blogs.

Are you going through a strategic review or do you know anyone who is? Why not share this post with them.

Get in touch if you want to talk about simplicity in strategy!