The hallmark of any successful brand is the ability to understand customer needs and develop compelling communication which demonstrates that firstly you understand these needs, and secondly that the customer can have them fulfilled by your company. A brand’s marketing and communication plans are usually set months in advance allowing them to be shared with Franchisees so that they can be incorporated into their own plans, marketing tools developed and of course your website tweaked or even changed. Having worked in a large advertising agency we had the luxury of taking as long as 6-months to develop a marketing plan for a brand because customer needs would remain largely unchanged in this time frame. But in the pandemic the most successful brands instantly understood that their customer needs had changed literally overnight and this required an instantaneous change in their marketing plans.
At Molly Maid, perhaps because every customer’s home is different, as is their definition of a clean home, understanding individual customer needs has become a core organisational strength. A strength that’s been developed for over 35 years and through millions of home cleanings. Little did we know how important this strength was to the success of our marketing at Molly Maid but after the past two years it has become obvious that perhaps the two most important functions of a Franchisor’s marketing role is;
- Understanding customer needs, especially spotting when they change, and
- Developing compelling communication that connects with customers about their needs.
What are the most important needs of your customers post pandemic?
I can’t think of anyone who had the same needs on 24 March 2020 as they did on 23 March 2020. It was that quick. This required brands to quickly understand these ‘new needs’ and to quickly develop a value proposition which, for us at Molly Maid, would ensure we retained our customer base and capture new customer demand for our Franchisees.
After the initial shock of the lockdown and communicating with almost 20,000 customers, it became obvious that the primary need of a customer wanting their home cleaned was now reassurance. They needed the reassurance that our cleaners could safely clean their home and that the processes and systems we were following would keep everyone safe. Reassurance became the focus of all of our marketing from that point forward and would see us trademarkHomeSafe which was a combination of two words that we thought were the most important to a customer – their ‘Home’ and keeping it ‘Safe’. Our website was changed and focused on a central message of HomeSafe before restrictions were lifted in May 2020, and our Franchisees quickly embraced HomeSafe and the numerous communication and marketing tools that were developed and the results speak for themselves. In 2021 our Franchisees managed 100% more enquiries from interested customers and this helped them to increase their sales by more than 30% from 2020. Results that were only possible because we firstly understood the changed needs of our customers.
Get creative about how to reach your customers
Marketing budgets have radically changed over the past decade with on-line spending vastly exceeding off-line. Most brands have also shifted direct response advertising from the letter box to the in-box with email campaigns becoming a fixture of any successful marketing strategy. For most brands direct mail is now an after-thought. Being locked down for almost 1 year though has meant that we have never spent so much time in our home. Of course internet usage skyrocketed in this period but being in your home meant that receiving the post was an event everyone was now aware of. Simply put, we were a lot more interested in the post than an email and the competition for a customer’s attention through the letter-box was much less than their in-box.
While most brands shifted even more of their resources to on-line activity, at Molly Maid we took the opportunity to invest more in direct mail. In early 2021 a direct mail campaign was launched, targeting those customers who had not resumed their service because of perhaps fear of the virus or working from home and the results amazed us. A good rate of response on direct mail is 2% but by the end of 2021, 40% of customers who had not resumed service had restarted. It’s an activity that we will repeat in 2022 and will definitely form part of our post-pandemic marketing plans. Getting creative about how you reach your customers definitely pays off.
A central objective of any brand strategy lies in understanding customer needs. While these needs are not set in stone they usually don’t change overnight. But the pandemic was an event that did indeed do this requiring most marketers to go back to these roots and some basic principles of marketing. The most successful brands will have done this and will now be taking advantage of the post pandemic business environment which for many industries will usher in tremendous growth opportunities.
This article was brought to you by Kanika Srivastava, Marketing Manager of Molly Maid UK Limited, the UK’s leading brand in the Home cleaning industry.