18-21 July 2021
Home & Gift Buyers Festival
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Kate Hardcastle / 08 Apr, 2020
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Kate Hardcastle MBE, often referred to as The Customer Whisperer, is a leading expert in customer understanding and runs global consultancy, Insight with Passion—which dedicates 40% of its time to supporting small businesses across the UK through free online workshops, mentoring and support.

Kate has some valuable advice for Home & Gift exhibitors and visitors navigating this difficult time.

1. Finance First: Think like your accountant, taking a fair and balanced look at your current position, understanding the potential support available from the government. Take clear and positive steps to ensure you can meet existing commitments or agree finance plans. Be cautious with your forecast - optimism is important but it’s far better to work on a more challenged view and then end up delighted with the result.

2. Genuine, Human Communication: Even if you’re not trading right now, keep in touch with your customers and do so in a genuine, human way. Don’t copy and paste messages you’ve seen online (we’ve all had that same email from hundreds of brands telling us they care about our safety) and avoid jargon and coronavirus buzzwords where possible.

3. Service Perfection & Personalisation: If you’re trading online, make every single order a great experience, from purchase to follow up email. Communicate regularly about order status and delivery, try to build a relationship to spark future sales and personalise the experience to your customer, perhaps with a handwritten note thanking them for supporting you right now. For gift purchases, you could invest in your packaging and look at personalisation as a way to make your brand stand out and make the experience of receiving your products even more special.

4. Try to Do the Right Thing: Whilst you and your business may be under significant stress right now, think of the opportunities you have to support your communities and grow your brand value in an entirely different way.  Consumers will remember what you did during this time and we’re already seeing brands who have done good e.g. those looking after their staff and key workers, coming out on top.

5. Use Engaging Content to Make Friends: Whilst at home, many consumers are spending more time than ever online, so use this time to build relationships with them, through quality content. You could host online home styling/craft masterclasses, ‘how to’ videos and sneak peeks of upcoming trends. If you can’t sell to people, look for other ways to connect with them and support them during this time. It doesn’t even have to be related to your product - even brands like Gucci are sharing World Health Organisation tips on staying fit in the home so try to understand the challenges your customers might be facing and seek to lessen the burden. Champion your customers through your social channels and celebrate their stories, perhaps getting them to share their own home styling pics and content which you can then showcase. A great example of this is Yorkshire Blankets. In addition to selling their blankets, soft furnishing and accessories which use surplus yarn online, the brand is keeping their customers busy with their DIY heart wreath making kits, sharing their customers’ ‘isolation creations’ online to increase the feelgood.

For more information on Insight with Passion and to get in touch with Kate, please visit
www.insightwithpassion.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/katehardcastle/
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