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Breakthrough – Winter 2017

More Engagement and Book-Throughs for Jackson County TDA

Rawle Murdy recently launched a new website for the Jackson County, NC Tourism Development Authority (TDA). The TDA represents a large geographical area in western North Carolina with a vast array of recreation opportunities, but the previous website was uninspiring and wasn’t getting the engagement and book-throughs that it should.

Rawle Murdy worked with Jackson County TDA to clarify the brand so that all messages on/offline were aligned and crystal clear. This carried through to the website redesign, with the added goals of driving more engagement and longer, more frequent visitation. Ultimately, this generated more web-derived revenue.

The new website (www.discoverjacksonnc.com) was launched with a user-experience that easily connects things to do, places to see, eat and stay, with easier, simpler navigation. New site content focuses on engaging visitors and ties into the destination’s ongoing PR and social media efforts with social media channel integration, interactive maps, etc. The site was developed with new photography and video to bring human emotion into the communication.

The initial results are awesome (vs. previous year)!
• Website traffic increased by 1,023%
• Unique page views increased by 814%
• Goal completions (Newsletter Sign-ups, Contact Forms, Calls, Planner Guide Downloads) up 259%

Using Negative Feedback as a Force for Good

As you craft and nurture an online reputation, it’s easy to become anxious and downright offended by unfavorable press or reviews. Truth is, the way your company reacts is often the most important way to swing perception and even win new customers over. Here are 3 steps to take after the negative arises:

1. Fully understand the complaint and try to learn from the situation. Why did this happen? Was the complaint valid, and how can you avoid it in the future?
2. Respond swiftly and be transparent. Rather than hiding a negative comment on social media, use it as an opportunity to quickly show concern and restore confidence. When it comes to the truth: tell it early, tell it yourself and tell it all.
3. Rectify the situation. For issues large and small, it’s always worth asking how you can make things right. How can you exceed the customer’s expectations and turn the negative into a reassuring experience? By doing this well, your company can often get noticed by existing customers and new prospects.

Why We Storyboard

More so than any other design medium, the most important part of an animation is the story. They’re called storyboards for a reason. They allow us to visually plot out key moments in an animation and make sure the story makes sense from start to finish.

Storyboards are where we explore different visual styles and set up the environment our animation will live in. What is our aesthetic? How does this work with our brand? How much text should we include? Answering all these questions during the storyboarding process saves a tremendous amount of time.

Obviously, we wouldn’t have animation without movement. Storyboards allow us to explore different types of movement, scene transitions, pacing, etc.

It may sound a little strange, but you can even plot out audio in a storyboard. You can use them to set time stamps and markers in a storyboard where important points are in a voice over, background music, or sound effects. So when final audio is approved, it can be dropped into an animation with minimal tweaking. Storyboards are a road map, a blueprint to an animation. They’re a solid foundation where all the elements of a successful animation can be seen together.

Customer-Focused Technology

 The other day, I was on a restaurant’s mobile site with my iPhone, and I wanted to call them. No live ‘click-to-call’ link. I didn’t call them, and they didn’t get the reservation. About two weeks ago, I was trying to find directions to a store in another city, but without their Google business page updated, there was no ‘click-through’ to directions (and yes, I got lost). A few months ago, I wanted to sign up to get more information from a home service provider, but their online form was so long and tedious, I clicked off their website, and they lost me as a potential customer. All these are examples of retailers and service providers putting their toe in the digital footprint, and getting it stubbed. Do you have stories like these? Most of us do. So, what gives?

It wasn’t so long ago that retailers, even at an individual local store level, discovered the power of customer data. At least, they found that they could collect data, but perhaps they were not sure exactly what to do with it. So, they kept gathering this data, hoping to find some magic insights that would help them sell more. Technology was advancing at a rate far beyond our ability to appreciate its value. But most important, many of us in the marketing and data collection world were looking at this new frontier through the wrong lens. We were looking at this great data grab as something that would help us sell more stuff. And where savvy retailers and others are moving today is to make sure that this technology benefits consumers first.

Happy customers, with tools that they recognize as helpful, intuitive and easy to use, result in deeper relationships, longer customer life, and more sales. In other words, the road to greater sales is by putting customers first. There’s a novel concept!

So, what does this mean for you, on a more practical level? We hear it all the time—that ‘superior customer service’ is a differentiator. You probably agree with this concept, but are you really doing it? Are there companies that are doing things the right way, and how can we learn from them? Well, yes, there are! Here are a few examples to get you thinking, as a business owner or marketer, in the right direction.

We’ve seen a lot of technology gains with POS (point-of-sale) devices. Whether it’s paying for your meal right at the table with your card at the airport restaurant, or having a sales associate at the local Apple store get you exactly what you want and get it paid for right from their iPad, you’ve seen it. And this technology exists for small retailers as well.

“Multichannel customer service” is another buzz term of the moment. You’ve seen it in action—live chat with sales agents while you’re online. Personally, I love it. And research indicates most younger shoppers prefer communicating with an online associate rather than actually talking with someone on the phone or in person.

Technology allows us to also provide a more focused, personalized experience. We’ve all seen it with retargeting ads, where you’re served up ‘reminder’ messages if you were looking at something but didn’t buy it. Later, on other websites over a period of time, up pops an ad on your device to remind you about what you were looking at earlier. Do you do this in your marketing?

Many of us get personalized ‘offers’ from the grocery store based on our shopping patterns. For example, I get better deals on white wine and natural foods, because their data is centrally stored and used to provide very focused interactions with their customers. They know that’s what I like. Whether you’re a professional service firm, an auto dealer or a clothing store, you can use this technology if you have centralized data collection.

Disney, which is always at the forefront of technology, uses information about you to send you offers and suggestions customized to you and your family. You can use the Fast-Pass app in real-time to make reservations, add selections to bypass the lines while you’re at their parks, even make some purchases. All of this drives your spending and happiness level up…but most users see it as a valuable customer- focused technology.

These are just a few examples of how data and technology, when focused on the customer and not your short-term gain, it can actually provide a much more satisfying customer experience. It’s our job as marketers to create that bond between customers and your brand. So, seek out ways to use that data and use technology to its fullest. It’s another win-win situation where everybody smiles. 

We’re Proud of our Staff!!!

Welcome Tina Benson, our operations and new business assistant. Tina relocated to Charleston from Buffalo, NY and is very happy to be done with lake effect snow! She is a yogi who loves going to the beach with her dogs.