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If you are running a small business, becoming a member of a code sponsor within the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme can provide an endorsement of trust and confirmation that you have a commitment to high quality customer service and consumer protection - which can give you the edge over your competitors and help you to attract and retain customers.
The Chartered Trading Standards institute (CTSI) runs the Consumer Codes Approval scheme (CCAS) and the objective is to raise customer service standards by approving and promoting codes of practice through code sponsors, protecting consumers with higher levels of customer service and allowing businesses to display the codes logo to reassure consumers.
The benefits to your business include:
- When consumers see the CTSI approved code logo on your marketing materials and website when searching for businesses within your industry or sector they are reassured that you have a proven commitment to honest business and higher customer standards which will give you an advantage over your competitors.
- Belonging to a code sponsor will help drive up customer standards within your business sector.
- Being part of CCAS proves to your customers and potential customers that you have a robust customer complaints procedure and clear pre-contractual information.
- It enables you to promote your business as one that consumers can trust.
- Consumers can be confident that any approved business they choose has a proven commitment to their customers and that they will have protection above and beyond normal consumer law rights.
- It improves overall consumer confidence.
Find out more about the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme for businesses
CCAS continues to grow, helping over 83,000 consumers and supporting 52,000 business members in 2018 across 23 different consumer code categories across a variety of economic sectors. In the latest annual report 2018 it reveals that the work undertaken by the scheme continues to benefit consumers across the UK with a recovery of £3.7m in compensation for consumers via the complaints and dispute resolution mechanisms which code members subscribe to and a consumer spend of £47bn across all code members.
Find out more about the Consumer Codes Annual Report 2018.
The UK economy is supported by a backbone of small businesses. This has always been the case culturally, with the image of the plucky shopkeeper and self-made entrepreneur a mainstay of British identity, but it is also true statistically. Indeed, 99% of all private sector businesses are classed as small/medium enterprises, accounting for 60% of all private sector employment and 52% of all private sector turnover in the UK. However, with Brexit uncertainty looming and the prospect of another recession stifling consumer spending, the future is not looking bright for this iconic sector.
Unfortunately, this is compounded by a change in consumer attitudes; driven by our online-focused society, consumers are becoming increasingly litigious, with some estimates gauging that up to three percent of ecommerce transactions generate a dispute. In this context, businesses need to be savvy; fighting your corner might feel like the right approach, but it can be costly, stressful and time-consuming. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers a different approach, helping parties to settle their difference amicably and to mutual satisfaction. In recognition of the importance of ADR to businesses, small retailers in particular, Business Companion – a free online resource produced by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – has recently launched a Business in Focus guidein partnership with the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help sole traders and limited companies in all sectors understand the relevant rules and regulations.
The guide begins with an introduction to the concept of ADR, clarifying that it is a process for resolving disputes between consumers and traders that doesn’t involve going to court, using a neutral third party to reach an agreement quickly. It also covers some of the advantages of ADR, including cost savings, and the fact that courts will often insist on parties trying ADR before a case will be heard. ADR can also generate goodwill from a previously negative consumer, and can help businesses avoid appearing negatively in the press or through word of mouth.
Practical considerations are also covered, including the differences between mediation, conciliation and arbitration as types of ADR, and the criteria that third parties have to meet, which should give disputing parties confidence in the fairness of the process. The guide then explores the requirements for traders, covering internal processes and communication requirements, with useful case studies to illustrate the stages.
Finally, there is a breakdown of the online dispute resolution platform, including details of the CTSI helpline, which businesses should ensure they are aware of. This platform allows consumer to log details of a dispute, and serves as a mechanism for communication between the consumer, trader and ADR body in a dispute. If the UK’s small businesses are to survive the coming turbulence, a sense of pragmatic solutions to commons problems is a must-have; ADR fits this box, offering forward-thinking traders a calm, low-impact way to deal with potentially sticky dispute situations.
Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing is the sale of one company’s products and services to another company as opposed to a direct consumer (B2C). The essence of B2B marketing is to build and maintain valuable relationships with a view to securing repeat business and retain and repay the customer loyalty with return on their investment (ROI). This is not about landing a quick win (although that certainly can happen) but more of a symbiotic relationship that will deliver results consistently over time.
Understanding the requirements of your customer is key so that you can work together to maximise the chances of success. A B2B company must tailor its offering to each of its clients and ensure that it is targeting the right customers/markets on their behalf. Whilst a marketing approach must be layered and focussed, the aim securing the engagement and interaction of the customers will further enhance the chances of a positive outcome.
With B2B relationships you are often dealing with more than one person in the client organisation and thus must be prepared to handle queries from senior figures in differing departments, all of whom have their own focus and targets to take into account. This differs from dealing with the end-user customer directly and must be factored in to any strategy you employ on their behalf.
One vital pillar of any B2B proposal if that the marketing agency must show that their proposal brings value and ROI to the client and in a hotly competitive marketplace this could come about through the promotion of skill-sets, product/market/competitor awareness and understanding of the latest digital trends, integration and ease of use of your products, client budget appreciation, comprehensiveness of reporting and knowledge of the business USP’s. Most likely most if not all of these attributes will need to be displayed in order to stand out from the crowd when making your pitch.
Once the proposal has been accepted the real work begins. A detailed discussion must be had to identify the priority target markets and agree a budget. Flexibility is required here as some opportunities have a very short lead-in time and life so those who can react fastest will reap the greatest rewards.
Our world is ever enmeshing itself further in the digital spectrum. Search engine results pages (SERP’s), social media platforms, email, text, Application’s and other channels all now need dedicated, mutually reinforcing strategies that come together in one overall marketing strategy. Here is where the B2B marketer can come into his/her own.
Whilst there are most certainly short-term wins to be had, the emphasis here is often on the long-term and so an online strategy may be more heavily geared towards long-tail keyword and the publishing on white papers / case studies featuring the client brand. In the physical world this could be complemented by getting figures from the client company to speak at appropriate events and attend or display at exhibitions, anything to positively reinforce the clients brand and ensure a steady supply of fresh content which could be distributed online to push the company further up the rankings.
A thorough review of current online content and update is necessary, this could come if the form of a refresh of text and imagery where applicable and the elimination of duplicate content to avoid search engine penalisation which is an essential early step. A review of the quality of any customer facing web pages is also highly recommended as is ensuring that all relevant company contact information is up to date and visible to where customers can easily find it. Content marketing is extremely useful and if done properly by the B2B marketer will aid brand visibility quickly and effectively. Make sure you communicate the importance of the products/services being promoted, make the end-client aware of why they should choose your products/services over a competitors.
Social media marketing is something that can no longer be ignored in today’s marketplaces. Millions of people actively use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Google+ etc every day so these are very accessible channels that have the potential to reach large audiences quickly. They also make it extremely simple for businesses to engage with their followers and react quickly to any opportunities or issues that need addressing.
Negating the efforts of a client competitor and reinforcing your own clients online position is a policy that takes time to reach its maximum effect and just remember that they are trying to do the same to you! Innovation, adaptability and being aware of what is happening to the client, customers and marketplace are strengths of the best B2B marketers.
All of these approaches can be used as facets for an all-encompassing successful marketing plan. Just remember that communication is key and managing expectations should be firmly to the fore. Changing a few keywords in Google will not necessarily bring the customer an immediate surge to #1 in the rankings and thousands of extra sales – but it can certainly be a major step towards such goals if done and managed properly.
Greyheart Media Ltd is an award-winning digital agency located in Leeds and was founded in early 2013. Created with the purpose of providing a personal and professional service for our customers we want you to succeed as much as you do.
We believe that getting to know your client and appreciating their individual goals is the best way of ensuring the maximum returns on their investment in our services. We work with customers across a wide range of industries and appreciate that their needs are often quite different.
Leeds is rapidly becoming a hot-spot for the digital industry with and being at the heart of this vibrant hub keeps us on top of the latest developments and able to attract the best people. And as the overheads are lower than for a comparable London based digital business it means we can pass the savings directly on to you.
At Greyheart we care about what we do for you and will never over promise and under deliver. We think it’s vital to get to know you and your business in order to best help you achieve your goals. Whether we’re helping sell slatwall hooks, or promoting household names. We really do have your best interests at heart.Chris The Dropshipper likes this.