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Research – what is it good for? 8th Oct 2014

We recently completed a new segmentation study for VisitScotland, looking at the UK consumer market. Fraoch was appointed to this task after a competitive tender in 2013. We undertook a thorough process, including a major online research study, plus in-depth statistical analysis. The results are now published on VisitScotland’s organisational website: new segmentation overview.

The new segmentation will guide and inform the marketing strategy of the national tourism body for the next few years, just like the previous solution which fraoch developed for VisitScotland back in 2005/6. That one stood the test of time, and we are confident that this one will too. So are you an Adventure Seeker, a Curious Traveller or a Natural Advocate?

I’m being stalked by sparkly shoes! 8th Feb 2013

Just before Christmas, I searched online for some sparkly black shoes, to complete an outfit for the party season. I found a pair, ordered them and have since tottered around on their high heels two or three times. Now, whenever I go searching and researching on the internet, as I tend to do just about every day, I am followed around by ads for lovely sparkly stillettos – sometimes even the pair I actually bought, yet I am sure they are safely tucked away in the bottom of my wardrobe. Similarly, in early January, I went looking for flights to South America. ┬áThat’s all booked now for a trip later in the year, but it does not stop KLM pursuing me with banner ads for cheap flights to Brazil.

I am all in favour of precision targeting – it is one of the critical components of any direct marketing campaign – so I am loathe to just optout and turn off the ad cookies. Somewhere along the line, however, such behavioural-based online ad-serving is missing a rather large dose of common sense. I am sure that I am not unusual in searching online when I am actually looking to purchase the product, especially something as specific as party shoes or flights to a certain destination.

So by all means, advertisers, draw the conclusion that I am in the market to buy ladies footwear and travel products online, but please use your imagination, if not analysis of your own market data. Try offering me a nice pair of leather boots in the sale or a great deal on a short haul flight instead. There’s much more chance that such related – rather than identical – products will now be relevant to me!

Is Direct Mail Cinema to the Internet’s TV? 7th Sep 2011

The resurgence of direct mail is a hot topic at the moment. Can it fight off the digital onslaught and not only survive but become stronger and better?

Decades ago, TV was supposedly the death knell for cinema, yet both have evolved and continue to exist. Cinema offers a more intense experience: it requires a conscious decision, it gets you out of your normal routine and it holds your attention for longer. A good piece of direct mail is similar in that it demands your attention – you have to do something with it. It is more tangible and higher impact.

The similarities do not stop there: films take longer to make, cost more money and require close attention to detail in the same way that direct mail benefits from a proper planning process, carefully thought through creative and good production values.

Film and TV industries share techniques and learning in the same way that direct mail and digital communications cross-fertilise ideas. Direct mail is here to stay – less as a scatter-gun, high volume, low cost approach, but more as a way to communicate and build relationships with valuable audience segments. After all, people who watch TV also go to the cinema. And online consumers open their post.

Why do people not get Venice? 3rd Feb 2010

For me, Venice shimmers, glistens and captivates. Some, though, find it grimy, decaying and false. Namibia, apparently, can have the same effect – if you love wilderness and emptiness, then its the place for you, but if you like to meet people and enjoy nightlife, then look elsewhere.

Such extremes are why I love segmentation work – what are the dimensions that really polarise opinions, and how do you turn them into simple questions to ask consumers? A great segmentation comes from knowledge and understanding of the potential differentiators, expert data analysis to quantify and link them, rounded off with a dose of common-sense.

I like to think of segmentation as the spider sitting at the centre of the marketing web. It has created the web in the first place, it uses it to catch its target, and it will dash out and fix any holes, joining things back together again at a moment’s notice. ┬áSpiders and segmentation – a bit like Venice, you either love ’em or hate ’em!

A cause for celebration 1st Oct 2009

Last Thursday the Relationship Marketing campaign which fraoch has been working on with VisitScotland and creative agency Union Direct won the Direct Retention category and overall Silver at the IDM Business Performance Awards in London.

These are generally recognised as the top awards in the industry, since they are stringently judged on business results. The judges applauded the clever segmentation and its use to drive personalisation through the intelligent use of data. The programme delivered an incremental 18 Million in revenue to the Scottish tourism industry.

Use what you have marketing 1st Dec 2008

A few years ago on a trip to the States, I bought an interior design book called ‘Use what you have decorating’. The premise – as is fairly clear from the title – is to focus on improving the way your house looks by re-using and rearranging things you already own, rather than splashing out on lots of new stuff. Of course, we can take on similar lessons in marketing, especially as times get tougher economically.

One of the main ways we can use what we have is to focus on getting the most out of existing customer and enquirer databases. A recent study by Gyro International claims that 83% of marketers see building stronger relationships with their consumers as key to surviving the credit crunch, whilst only 2% are considering cutting their investment in CRM. Existing databases often provide the key to acquiring new customers too – profiling, segmentation and the building of scorecard models can give new insight into where to look for future high value prospects. Interestingly, much of my work is centred in this area at the moment, so this need is certainly resonating in the industry.

Another way to ‘use what you have’ is to make the most of networks and resources. I’m a member of the Marketing Society and a fellow of the IDM. I pay my annual fees, so I owe it to myself to get value from them: attending events, catching up with colleagues, reading the journals and logging on to pick up nuggets of information and news from their websites. (OK, you may have lost your password, but it only takes a few seconds to request a reminder!)

Don’t overlook your own corporate memory either. Take a look back in the files at your organisation’s best case studies and award entries. Dig out results reviews and research reports from the past couple of years and refresh your take on them. Re-reading them in the light of what you know now just might spark some fresh thinking.

And finally, don’t just use what you have, but use what’s freely available – there is a wealth of insight out there on the internet to stimulate new ideas and prompt and prod us into things to test in search of improved results and breakthroughs. It could be anything from news articles to trendspotting to checking what your competitors are up to – it’s all there at our keyboard tip. If you don’t already have it, chances are, someone else does – and they may be willing to share it!

In such a mood the other day, I came across this tongue in cheek guide to how to survive the recession – mainly by carrying on doing what we already do well anyway…

Marketing Excellence Awards Scotland 26th Mar 2008

We have just found out that our joint submission with VisitScotland ‘In Search of Real People’ has been short-listed in the Consumer Insight category for these major awards. A lot of work goes into writing the submission paper, but in this case, nowhere near as much as went into the project itself!

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Many months of quantitative research and data analysis gave us the foundation to build a robust, new segmentation model covering the UK tourism market, but also looking specifically at the strength of the consumer’s relationship with Scotland. This was followed by a few more months of qualitative research and insight development in order to convince ourselves – and the wider organisation – that this was more than a piece of marketing theory. We proved that we had found a way of accurately categorising and genuinely describing real people.

As a result, VisitScotland has radically changed its overall marketing approach and even reorganised the marketing department. The new segmentation has provided very valuable management and planning information, has hugely increased VisitScotland’s understanding of different types of consumers, and is now being shared with tourism organisations throughout the country. It is definitely one of the most challenging and far-reaching pieces of work I have been involved in in my career, so it is fantastic to see it paying off.

If you would like to know more about the case study, then please email me from this site.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get 12th Jan 2008

At fraoch marketing we focus on helping organisations to understand their customers better and to build stronger relationships with them. With increasingly sophisticated and cost-efficient techniques for personalisation, both online and offline, there are more opportunities than ever to do this well. But to personalise you need to know something about the individual you are talking to – who they are, where they are and what they are interested in, for example.

The above must sound really obvious to anyone in marketing. So why is it becoming more and more common that organisations only ask for email address at point of data-capture? It tells you so little – if they are called ‘Chris’ you don’t even know if they are male or female! Transparency builds trust, so asking a few more key questions at this point will get the relationship off to a good start for both parties. The individual will know what information they have provided, in the expectation that the organisation will then send them timely and relevant communications in future. The organisation benefits because it has data to help it to understand its customers better, and information around which to build future marketing communications programmes.

OK, some individuals may choose not to provide the additional information, or may duck out of the process altogether. But I bet you that they are the ones who are more interested in the sign-up incentive and less interested in the organisation’s products or services!

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Keeping close to reality 8th Jan 2008

It’s the day before the start of the new football season – for teams in The Championship (division two for traditionalists) in England that is. So tomorrow I’ll be at The Valley, full of hope and trepidation, as Charlton take on Swansea. The result will almost certainly affect my mood for the coming week – it usually does!

I’ve helped a few Scottish football clubs with their marketing in the past – namely Celtic, Rangers and Hearts. Being an avid supporter of a team myself was certainly an advantage when it came to working out the details of strategy and campaigns. The only way to get results was to tap into the mood of the fans – get that right, and success would follow. When the campaign launched, it was with nervous anticipation that we checked the fans’ message boards to get instant feedback on what they thought of the offer and how it was presented – real-time, unmoderated research! Creating positive word-of-mouth momentum was essential.

The internet has changed the way we support football these days – it’s made news so much more instantaneous, it enables you to follow matches as they happen from anywhere in the world and, if you wish, you can engage with fellow fans via blogs and message boards.

I do log-on regularly to the Charlton sites, keen to keep in touch with the latest gossip and views. Many of the topics aren’t directly Charlton or football-related either – it can be a fascinating slice of life and a way to read a wide variety of opinions from a whole cross-section of the population – a much more mixed bunch of people than I tend to meet and exchange views with in my normal business and social circles.

That helps me to justify the time I spend on there, anyway!

McKinlay Kidd wins Scottish Thistle Award 1st Nov 2007

Alongside running fraoch marketing, I am also a director of Scottish specialist tour operator, McKinlay Kidd ( The business has been going for just four years, and has gone from strength to strength due to a lot of hard work by Robert Kidd and the team.

Earlier in the year we decided that we had enough of a track record to enter the PR Excellence category of the Scottish Thistle Awards, generally recognised as the oscars of the tourism industry here. We heard a few weeks ago that the company had been short-listed – reason enough to book a table at the awards dinner, inviting along staff and business partners who had contributed to the company’s success.

Imagine our total suprise – even disbelief – when McKinlay Kidd was read out by host Alistair McGowan as a winner on the night. Needless to say, the champagne flowed…