Our first Strategy Session features Frazer, Head of Communications at Mäd, where he discusses marketing strategies, execution, and how he stays on top of everything.
We caught up with Frazer, the Head of Communication at Mäd. Mäd are a HCD agency based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that pride themselves on great remote work capabilities and practices, that have helped them lead the pack in their industry - securing a wide array of impressive clients.
Hi Frazer, thanks for joining us. To start, Head of Communications... what does your role entail?
Job titles come in and out of fashion at Mäd, we actually try to be as versatile as possible as individuals. We muse the concept of the 'M shaped' team member, which basically points to us creating a team of dynamic people that can give great depth and insight to a range of topics.
Slightly evolving from the traditional job spec for a comms role, I'd probably sum up the majority of my (current) daily tasks as managing advertising and marketing functions, both internally and for clients, with a developing focus on Mäd operations. I tend to do a lot of graphic design and copy writing tasks too, I think that's certainly a strength of Mäd that so many of our team members are competent across various software and functions. My background is largely shaped by various marketing roles, so it was a no brainer to combine comms and marketing.
How would you define the difference between Marketing and Communications?
Marketing covers a lot, it's the strategic planning to promote a brand and any services and/or products. Communications is more about how the strategy is actually executed.
What have you been working on recently?
Inspired by the progress and adaption principles, we've taken a step back from our marketing goals to view the entire customer journey.
Curious, can you explain those principles firstly?
The progress principle claims that the journey is more important than the ending.
For instance, if you achieve a goal, you often get a hit of dopamine and feel good for an instant, short amount of time; In contrast, if you're working towards a goal that you're excited about achieving, then each step forward in the right direction can create lots of positive emotions.
When applying this to our client base, our idea is that we need to focus on the entire process rather than purely the end result they receive.
The adaption principle compliments this nicely,
"In every permanent situation where there is no expectation of change, the mind of every man, in a longer or shorter time, returns to its natural and usual state of tranquility. In prosperity, after a certain time, it falls back to that state; in adversity, after a certain time, it rises up to it."
Smith, A. (1976/1959). The Theory of moral sentiments. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
The idea supports steady sustainable growth (the 1%) as huge peaks or troughs are adapted to over time. In regards to marketing, it reminds us that simply making one huge splash is not enough. To ensure we stay at the top of our industry, we have to plan out long term, consistent, strategy - as our CEO says, our "big leaps forward are actually thousands of little steps".
A sensible approach, and can you explain what you mean by the 'Customer Journey'?
Being invested in our work, and the work of our clients, it's all too easy to become 'too close' to a brand, in that, we are unable to see the true public perception of our work. As experts of our own creations, our understandings, feelings and general experiences with our product(s) or service(s) may greatly differ with how our target market (and beyond) will perceive us throughout their 'customer journey'.
The customer journey is a great tool that I'd recommend to any aspiring marketers, to ensure their strategy is well thought out at all stages. Simply put, the journey follows a customer from their initial discovery of the brand, and throughout each stage of interacting with a brand before (and after) completing a sale.
And here's the thing: it's too easy to focus on the sale and nothing else. Companies can become soulless as they push huge budgets into purely driving sales, without any consideration as to how the customer feels about the brand.
The beauty of the customer journey is that we can map out key questions, such as 'how might someone first be introduced to our brand?' followed by 'how can we make this potential experience as positive, and aligned with our brand essence, as possible?'.
At Mäd, we looked at our client journeys in detail - and even wrote about the exercise of mapping a journey out - we decided that we needed to keep journey optimization as a live task.
How do you keep track of your customer journey, especially if it is something you want to keep as an on-going exercise?
Well, this is where Bloo comes in.
After mapping out our journey in our 'War Room', on pen and paper, we realized there were far too many areas to expand on and optimize. Our team kept adding ideas, and eventually there was a miniature library of information for me to grapple with, and transcribe.
Having already used Bloo with our clients, I quickly realised that the Kanban board structure was staring out at me from our hard copy of the customer journey - so I simply created a new project on Bloo and added each step of the journey as a to-do list category.
Before you explain the Mäd approach, could you advise on how someone less familiar with the 'Customer Journey' might set up their first project?
At it's core, we could probably condense the journey into three categories:
Discovery, that is, how a customer will find a brand. This could be by searching Google or social media for a product or service; by seeing a digital or printed advert; reading a press release; being told about the brand through a friend; or even simply by seeing a physical store, or worker in some form of branded uniform.
In this first category, to keep it simple, we could also include all related experiences that the customer may have before entering the sale process. This could be how they interact with the brand website, how they perceive brand values, or even as basic as how the company logo makes them feel!
Next, is the Sales Process category. Much more than the moment of a customer paying for goods or services, the sales process can be expanded into clever 'funnels'.
Suppose you're selling software online, your funnel might start with an advert driving a user to a particular page. Next, the page may be built with strong marketing messages and a limited price offer to prompt a purchase, perhaps you'll have an automated chat bot designed to drive customers to the purchase point. If you get the sale, that's great, but your process might include steps for chasing abandoned carts- this will help you discover why a potential sale fell through, and help tighten up your process.
Once you've made the sale, you'll then need to ensure the delivery of goods or services. This should be an enjoyable experience that matches customer expectations - such as clearly defined timeframes, well wrapped physical items (if appropriate) or perhaps good quality digital assets. One of the advantages of using Bloo, is that within an idea - we can create lengthy check-lists, to really expand on a particular strategy. It keeps everything organized.
There's a huge number of marketing ideas for an effective and intelligent funnel, but moving on, the final category can often be the most overlooked: After-Care.
This to-do list should be filled with ideas for re-marketing, customer retention, and ways to increase the overall brand image. For example: we may send the customer future discount codes, or information about new products based on their previous spending habits; We could send out a personalized thank you card for having previously bought from us, perhaps encouraging social media reviews to help our online presence.
Certainly a lot to think about. How do you structure the Mäd Customer Journey?
We've taken those three ideas, and developed them into eight. It's about putting yourself in the shoes of a client. We created some personas of potential clients, and then imagined all the steps they'd go through with Mäd and how we could improve them. We ended up with these sections:
- First Impression
- First Contact
- First Office Visit / Meeting
- Project Kickoff
- Project Maintenance
- Project Completion
You could condense most of the to-dos from our project into the initial three categories I suggested, but our layout gives us an extra layer of focus. It's also easier to visualize a journey as lots of little steps rather than three big ones. You've got to ask 'Where is this person on the journey map?' and 'How can we create a great experience, to move them to the next stage of the journey?'
That's key- The whole exercise is about making sure people want to continue along the journey.
Diving deeper into how you use the tools in Bloo, how do you manage the project in more depth?
Whilst hard copies often serve as vague reminders, potentially being reduced to creative office decor, Bloo keeps the projects active in multiple ways.
The most obvious feature is the ability to assign to-dos. When we think of an idea such as 'add an intelligent chat-bot to our services page', we can then assign a team member to develop the idea further. Adding a due date gives them guidelines on the task urgency, and we're able to keep all updates on this particular topic neatly contained within the to-do; It's great being able to share imagery and ideas on multiple topics in their clearly defined sections - it means we can recall information quickly, nothing gets lost or muddled, and it keeps our focus sharp.
I'd also recommend the views feature, as it's very useful to change to 'list' view and get an instant overview on the particular ongoing tasks of a particular category. For example, we can turn our attention to our website and instantly see what needs done next at any given time.
I'd be remiss not to mention the updates feature too. As our agency champions remote work and flexible hours, it's extremely important that the team culture prioritizes achievement; no matter where team members are, we can use the update tab to make sure everyone at Mäd is informed of our progress. The additional 'mood' options are nice too, I always default to 'feeling ok', so the team would know if I proclaimed 'I am stuck' that they'd be needed to help. It's such a little extra, the moods, but it makes the updates much more personal.
Thanks for joining us today Frazer!
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