Thursday, May 21, 2009

More personality from a local brand

In February, I commented on the common-sense approach (yet one that is rarely used) that Nova Scotian Crystal used to address consumer confidence in the financial strength of the brand. A well crafted letter written like a friendly conversation - rather than the corporate nonsense we often hear from most brands- went out to customers. It discussed how the downturn in the economy has affected Canada's oldest blown glass company, made a couple of suggestions on how one could help and even made a few guarantees about the future of the company.

Well, it's now May and a follow-up letter has been sent to the same audience. It is written in pretty much the same conversational tone, but tells a story of renewal rather than recession. I've attached a copy below for you to read.

I have not seen any formal press on this yet. I hardly expect a story like this would make it into the newspaper - it just isn't scary enough. Regardless, I don't think it matters. The previous letter came out during a time of bad press for Nova Scotian Crystal. In my post there was a comment left about the importance of balancing consumer communications with the media as both impacted perceptions and ultimately word-of-mouth. However, in this case I think that Nova Scotian Crystal has continued to acknowledge the source of its success and the power in its customer base. We often say that customers will speak with their wallets and, although the newspaper is a trusted source of information, it still does not surpass the referral or reference from a trusted friend.

This letter plays to all the common-sense marketing strategies that are so often forgotten:
  1. It recognizes that existing customers are easier and more cost effective to keep, and persuade to repeat purchase, than finding a new customer.
  2. It recognizes that existing customers usually have a vested interest in your success (they've given you time and money - which never comes lightly).
  3. The letter is about 'you' not 'us'. Although it has to communicate the 'us' story, it puts the attention on the the people that contribute to the success rather than the brand.
  4. It has done something that most brands have a lot of trouble doing - recognized that there are people who are passionate about the brand. Most brands are extremely insecure about this. They fail to give their customers credit. Need an example - think of most viral participation campaigns. Even if humor has no place within the brand it is often used because it is generally thought to be an easier sell. In these cases it is just underestimates the way people actually feel about the brand and discredits the intent behind the campaign.
  5. NS Crystal makes a remarkable product. This always helps. I know it sounds obvious, but there are a ton of just-good-enough products sitting on the shelves at department stores across the country. None of those manufacturers could establish the customer relationship like this even if they wanted to.
  6. The brand has a story (that sometimes is not told well enough). To the people that buy into the brand, the remarkable product becomes part of their life. Word-of-mouth spreads easier when your product is a big part of your brand. In this letter, the story continues to be told.
I know there are a pile of other little things I could pull from this, but I think the main points resonate well. Often marketing tactics are just distractions to the truth. However it is truth and common sense which are two foundations of any good relationship.