This summer I joined the 2015 cohort of home movers by selling and buying my house.
As anyone who has ever engaged with the joy that is buying and selling in England knows, it was ‘interesting’ on several levels. However, moving also triggered a few things that made my inner marketer sit up and pay attention. Home movers are big business!
About two weeks after our agent, Tim Mayho from relative newcomers Keller Williams listed our property on Rightmove we received an almost plaintive letter from Zoopla encouraging us to list on their site too. We happened to use a agency which doesn’t favour Zoopla, and were getting plenty of interest.
Around six weeks after our property was listed online we received a postcard from another agency asking whether we were fed up yet with our not-even-local agent. It went in the bin because we didn’t like their method. Plus, we’d also already accepted an offer which would go through later.
After our property was marked ‘ Sold STC’ online, we started getting post from removals companies offering their services, a solicitor, a mortgage broker and an insurance company wishing to quote for our next home. Clearly we’d made it onto a different set of home mover data very efficiently, deftly bypassing the MPS and my religiously ticking opt-out boxes at every opportunity.
Six days after moving into our property I received the catalogue of a furniture company – I had somehow made it onto their new owner database in record time. They even spelled my entire surname right! Meanwhile the lovely peeps at Homebase sent money off vouchers twice because our new home has a name as well as a number and so occurs in their database twice. Additionally the Royal Mail kindy redirected the ones sent to our old address too. Thanks everyone!
Home mover data
All this has made me curious to see what home mover data is worth in marketing. Here’s what I found:
- 2014 saw a huge increase in first time buyers, the largest since 2007
- Home movers fell in the first six months of 2015 compared to 2014, but were still up 32% on the same period in 2009, when the housing market was at its lowest
- It’s ‘second steppers’ who are benefitting from 2014’s price rises, (still) low interest rates and sitting on a very healthy deposit in the shape of equity. They are also likely to be financially more secure and have more spending power compared to first time buyers
- Home movers are likely to spend more – up to 10 times – on their home in the first six months after purchasing than they do in five years of ownership thereafter
It’s easy to see why marketing budgets are happily allocated to the home mover.
Companies compiling and selling any kind of data are guarded about how they obtain it and where from. It is a labour-intensive and therefore expensive affair: home mover data is collected by trawling portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, estate agent websites, and by using available data from the Royal Mail Redirection service, mortgage valuation data and electoral role updates. Some agencies even physically scour streets for ‘For Sale’, ‘Under Offer’, ‘Sold’ and ‘Let’ signs to take addresses.
What this home mover did…
So, what happened in my household with these irresistible offers?
Well, for starters we chose and stuck with our agent whom we knew before we decided to sell. We didn’t bother with Zoopla or a ‘For Sale’ board in the garden and had our first offer in a matter of days.
We did our homework on removals firms and chose a local one which came recommended by many; we asked for recommendations and were introduced to our mortgage broker who then introduced us to our outstanding solicitor, and we asked our sellers which insurance company they were using and after getting a few other quotes from more recommended insurers signed up with them for specialist home insurance.
We also have recommendations for someone to build a bespoke bench in a corner, because none of our walls are straight and/or at right angles, ruling out most readymade furniture, which tends not to fit through our doors in the first place.
The Homebase vouchers are another story however… As it turns out we have interesting plumbing challenges so having those in triplicate is handy when buying drain unblockers in bulk. Proof that marketing to the home mover works after all!
In a single week in October I received an email asking for feedback on a 2-mile bus journey into town, one from my bank asking asking feedback about the experience of paying in a check at a branch, another about the experience of booking onto a conference, and one about a £100 million commercial development being built 200 yards from my front door.
Which one do you think I spent my time on?
The value of feedback
Feedback can tell us how we are doing: it can tell us which products are going to be best sellers and which ones need development. Feedback can increase profits – personal or commercial. It can help us grow in our roles. We use it to make informed decisions.
Feedback: the word is everywhere.
The ubiquity of feedback notwithstanding, do we truly understand its value and use? For starters, learning to ask for and take feedback is not easy at all. As the examples above show, I want to be asked about things that matter to me, and I’d like to be asked precisely when those things matter to me. Getting that right is an art.
Unfortunately for the Oxford Bus Company I wasn’t overly excited about my uneventful 2-mile trip to the station because I’ve made that journey a thousand times, and could barely remember making it.
The point here is to choose the sample wisely and time the request well, so that the respondent can recall the experience clearly.
Asking for feedback sets expectations
What happens with my feedback once I click send? For me to be motivated to help make things better I need to see the difference my feedback is making. After all, I’m being asked to give some of that most valuable of commodities: my time. Show me the value of feedback, and not just to you, but to me as a customer too.
What will be different if I sent you my feedback?
Delivering on feedback
When supporting change programmes, I spend much time and energy making sure decision makers understand how important it is to ask for feedback at crucial times; to ask the right questions when they do, and above all, show plenty of evidence of where, when and how things changed as a result of getting the input from people.
Evidencing how feedback is making things better is a real motivator for people who are personally invested in the change. For you, this evidence can also help in arguing that you do listen and that everyone has a responsibility in the change process.
A golden rule here is not to ask questions about things you cannot (or will not) change. If feedback simply would not change matters, an entirely different and very honest conversation needs to be had instead.
Being on the receiving end of feedback
Receiving feedback can be synonymous to taking it on the chin. Asking for it means being committed to responding to it, including to comments you consider to be ill-informed or unfair. Other feedback might tap into vulnerabilities you already knew about, but were trying not to face up to. This can be painful, especially if it’s received in a formal way such as an appraisal or 360 degree feedback.
Be prepared for the unexpected and the painful, and perhaps consider when the best time is for you to ask for feedback, if you feel that you’re not in the most robust of mental shapes.
The good stuff
Let’s not forget positive feedback… and the fact that even disgruntled customers can share some constructively, simply because they want to help make things better and consider you to be approachable and receptive.
Finally: you don’t have to take all feedback to heart. You may be developing a product which isn’t actually aimed at the respondent. Or perhaps you received some feedback about your performance knowing it’s about an incident which has since been addressed. A respondent’s taste in logos could simply not match that of an important majority – and that’s OK too.
While feedback is crucial to minimising blind spots and making things better, you’re certainly allowed to exercise judgment. The feedback information you elicited is yours to conscientiously use as you need to.
Emotions colour the world as we perceive it, driving our behaviour and shaping decisions we make – we are human, after all. Advertisers and marketers know this, and tap into it to increase sales.
Everybody knows it, and we knowingly buy into it: it’s part of the deal, as it were.
Emotions at work in advertising
Take for example the annual anticipation around the John Lewis Christmas advert (and yes, ‘anticipation’ is an emotion in itself). See what they did there? We haven’t even seen it, and already we’re getting emotional.
Last year’s was about two friends, a bear and a hare, preparing for Christmas cheer and finding love. This year’s is about two fiends, a boy and a penguin, preparing for Christmas cheer and finding love. The whole thing couldn’t be more formulaic if they tried, but it doesn’t matter, because we love a bit of love in our Christmas ads:
The ad, launched a good six weeks before Christmas, helps us get into the mood by appealing to values many of us share, such as family values, friendship and loyalty, and of course, generosity. John Lewis is especially interested in that one.
Emotions at work – at work
The funny thing about emotions is that while we’re all quite happily crowding around Steve’s PC at work to coo over the cute John Lewis penguin, many of us would feel uncomfortable if Steve then opened the team meeting by asking each of us how we feel about our important project being delayed by three months.
Collectively melting over penguins and hares is acceptable because we are taking a break from work and are having a social moment where we let our colleagues into our personal lives for the length of a YouTube video. We feel connected to each other, and this makes us happy. Then we sigh a final ‘aah, that was cute’, shake it all off and switch back into our emotionally detached professional personas. Work, according to many of us, is a purely rational place requiring us to fire on all cognitive cylinders but few of our emotional ones, if possible none.
Coaching and emotions
Of course, the above is black-and-white and most of us will see more nuance than that, if only because emotions are a personal and subjective experience. Perhaps this is more about emotional literacy than anything.
Take for example ‘Fred’, who is a manager in a large non-profit organisation. Last week he remarked that he never knew what to say when a certain colleague asked how he felt about the meeting. Fred had noticed this colleague always asked everyone this question towards the end of meetings, and wondered about it.
When I asked him why the question was a difficult one, he replied that it made him uncomfortable to be invited into the emotive domain at work. Fred’s personal preference was to keep things rational so he knew where things were, and decisions could be made on well-understood arguments that could be reasoned dispassionately. And when I asked him what was important about that to him, he replied:
‘It’s likely to be harmonious that way, and that makes me happy. And above all else, I want to be happy at work, or I’d have to leave’.
As he spoke the very words, a glint appeared in his eyes and a big grin spread across his face.
We spent a good 20 minutes conversing about emotions at work while creating an ’emotive landscape’ on the table using cards. Fred had no trouble whatsoever picking out the emotions he draws on at work and recognises in others, and talked me through the gradations he saw between helpful and obstructive emotions at work. When the landscape was complete, he took a picture on his iPad to show his wife.
Making emotions work
While talking and exploring Fred realised that he is very driven to check his colleagues too are happy at work and feels responsible for making sure they can be, if it is in his power to make a difference. His colleague’s motivation for asking how people feel about the meeting suddenly became much clearer to Fred. He decided to try the approach himself and find out if and how this changes the way he can positively influence his colleagues.
I’m curious and excited to find out how he’s getting on at our next session.
For more about the eMotive Cards I use in my practice, visit www.westwoodcoaching.co.uk
Yesterday I was talking to a very talented, in-demand wedding photographer. She brims with creative energy, has a gorgeous website loaded with beautiful wedding photographs and an enviable order book. Looking at her website will make even the biggest pessimist want to get hitched tout de suite.
Then she made a confession with a slightly guilty look in her eyes:
I don’t really do anything with LinkedIn anymore. It’s all I can do to keep Facebook going, really.
Then she shot a glance around the table as if to see whether anyone was going to react with shock or disapproval.
Here are some of the things I share with my mentoring clients when social media come into the picture.
Why ‘doing’ social media can be counter-productive
A social media presence is not compulsory
Don’t believe all of the hype. Especially if you are tying yourself in knots trying to decide what you should do, and this starts to distract you from your business goals.
People have successfully built and expanded businesses for centuries before Twitter et al. came along. Just saying.
Start by matching your social media choices to your confidence
Social media have only been around for give or take a decade (not counting papyrus rolls, that is). As a result of the emergence of new and potential engagement channels, the social media landscape is constantly changing and developing.
Many consultancies have started to become very profitable by contributing to this innovation. They are out to prove a point, and are genuinely excited about social media, as you can imagine. Quite a few pump advice into the blogosphere which can be frankly intimidating for the uninitiated.
For new entrants onto the social media scene this can be bewildering. My advice to nervous newbies always is to do this in steps, and if it helps, stay close to what you know to begin with. Build your confidence from there.
Find out where your target audience hangs out and meet them there
Going back to my photographer friend: where do people share their wedding photos? Facebook, you betcha. For her, Facebook is also a great place to ask the question, ‘where else do you expect to find me?’. The answer is less likely to include LinkedIn than it isFlickr or Pinterest, but she will not know until she asks the question.
Write your own social media rule book
It’s OK to learn on the job here. There are some golden rules to help you avoid costly learning. Cherry pick your ‘experts’ and stick to those whose advice stretches your understanding, but doesn’t require Google Translate to make sense of it. The expert advice will always be on tap for you: go find it when you need more.
First let’s get going and get some learning done about what does and doesn’t work for your business on social media.
Hold on to your chosen social media mantra
This is not a paper exercise. Use it as a measure to make sure what you do on social media is in line with your business goals and values. If one of your key ingredients is missing, don’t do it.
For example this one to help decide where on social media to be active:
Find your audience, find your voice, engage in the conversation.
This mantra reminds you to do your market research, match your messages to the platform (see 3) and not just tell your story, but to listen to theirs first.
What it boils down to…
Using social media has to be a help to you, not a worry.
Now I look forward to hearing some tales of your own. What great insight you learned yourself would you add to the above?
The key to serendipity is being organised
A few days ago I spotted a bunch of keys in the street near where I live, and stopped to pick them up. As I did so I thought of the logistical nightmare losing my own keys would cause, and the cost of replacing them, and the bother of it all, and how I’d be truly annoyed with myself that I had lost them in the first place, etc.
The keyring had a tag with a URL to a website called Keyfetch. Excellent, I thought, someone’s going to be relieved to get them back, I’m sure. The Keyfetch website invited me to pop in my email address before opening an anonymous chat box, so that I could exchange messages with the keys’ owner and arrange for them to be returned.
The next day the ‘owner’ of the keys replied:
Thank you for returning this set of keys. Keyfetch, which is a new lost property retrieval service, is conducting a national study on how honest Britons are. By attempting to reunite these keys with their rightful owner, you’ve helped gather statistics which reinforce the belief that we live in a socially responsible society. To thank you, we’d like to gift you a one-year Keyfetch membership.
On doing a quick Google search, as one does, I discovered that Keyfetch launched in January and has been ‘planting’ sets of keys across Britain. A really clever marketing promotion strategy I think, because it does three things:
1. Seeding the product to start the conversation
A well-known tactic used in word of mouth marketing (WOM) is to give people early access to your product. This works particularly well if you are launching something innovative, exclusive or something which has been hyped up already. It can set tongues wagging, especially if you combine a strong campaign with a strong brand message:
Keyfetch, which is a new lost property retrieval service, is conducting a national study on how honest Britons are.
A lovely connection is being made between the name and purpose of the service and doing the right thing, which is of course what will make this service work. A very strong brand message, and it works – I’m blogging about it, and your reading it, right? ’nuff said.
2. Strategic product placement
How do you place your product to make it visible in the market, when that product is a service? Provide a sample.
Yep – I’ve seen the product in action, it was literally strategically placed for me to notice it, and the idea worked. Coming across this product in its natural habitat of abandonment strengthened the message that this is a product I might want myself: in the space of thirty seconds I went through the emotion of surprise at finding the keys, empathy with the owner of the keys who’d lost them, to curiosity about how the system works and contentment that I was doing something helpful for someone else.
3. A freebie
It isn’t just that we like a freebie, but we also might need to build up our confidence about the product itself before we buy. In this case ‘trying out’ the product was certainly interesting, the offer of a free year’s membership could well remove any last reservations I might cling on to.
I’ll be looking forward to seeing the results of that national study. If I was in their marketing department, I’d be getting excited too – the data of the study is going to be great brainstorming material to build on the current marketing promotion strategy, for starters. I just have one little niggle: I’ll have inadvertently invalidated the data when I took the bait. You see, I am not a Briton…