In this ‘Real Life Video Marketing’ conversation, marketer and CEO of McQueens Flowers, Richard Eagleton, shares his insights and thoughts on how he has navigated his company through the turbulent times of COVID. How do you get your messaging right as a business, when the world around you is entering such uncharted territory?
Richard : I think marketing more than ever is hugely important right now. But it’s also about being highly selective in the things that you do. I’m fascinated by the way that lots of brands have responded to COVID 19 actually, I think you can see lots of what in hindsight might look, at the time I’m sure it wasn’t, but in hindsight might look a bit like sort of a desperate attempt to somehow have some dialogue or somehow make some statement or say something reassuring, but actually I think we’ve largely held off making any kind of sensational sort of noises.
We might’ve gone a bit quiet. We’re certainly not quiet now, but I think we just wanted to, if anything, give our customers the opportunity just to sort of gather their thoughts as well. The thing that I’m absolutely fascinated by is how many brands have decided to turn the camera around and let the customers do so much of the talking. I think this is just wonderful. I think marketers have known for the longest time that customers really are their best salespeople, and yet don’t always sort of point the camera at them metaphorically, I guess.
So, I think, this is a great sense of community around brands and great sense of advocacy. And I think marketing has become hugely important right now. For sure our messaging has become more refined, it’s become more focused. Dare I say, it’s become much more in line with the brand we want to be or we know that we are.
So I think that the opportunity to reassert ourselves and with confidence by the way. I’m not terribly shy about telling people how wonderful I think McQueens flowers is. I’m very passionate about it and I think we’re a really amazing business and an amazing team of people. But I think we’ve been able to really focus that and we’re certainly having much more of a dialogue with our customers. I think that, you know, fans and followers have become advocates and communicators, which has been really just amazing.
Jeremy : But what strikes me, Richard, is that what you’re talking about is this sort of essence of the business or a brand, but it’s all from the heart. It’s a genuine thing. I think what you were referring to earlier about brands, there was a sort of flurry of, Oh my gosh, this huge Covid thing has happened and we need to say something about it. It’s all very retrospective, but there seemed to be quite a lot of slightly hollow sounding words they sound like now. I mean at the time probably there was a measure of them being quite sort of soothing I suppose. But my point is that it feels to me like there were definite businesses that were walking the walk and it really came from the heart. And then there were others that were like, actually we don’t really believe, or at least my perception was that they didn’t really believe what they were about if you see what I mean. And so they were thinking that they needed to say this stuff and so they were saying it, but it just all rang slightly hollow. Is that your sense of it?
Richard : Yeah, and actually, I can’t be the only person that got sick and tired of reading new email subjects in my inbox with the words Covid19 in them, A, and B, you know, some terribly important Covid19 message from the CEO or the president or the managing director or the chairman of the board of a business that I’ve literally never heard or never had any communication from those people, you know. I think my team would probably tell me otherwise, but I think we only have used the words Covid19 in communication with our colleagues about furlough, on our website just to explain to customers how we are doing safe, Covid secure social distance, contact free deliveries. How, how we’re planning to work safely in the future. I think other than that we’ve not used those words at all. And I do say again, you know, I think at the time I’m sure it felt like the right thing to do, but I think in hindsight we will look back and see some pretty hollow communication.
Jeremy : But how do you make sure that your communication doesn’t sound like that as a business?
Richard : Because I think there are always reasons to be joyful even the worst of times. You know, you have two choices. You can be a pessimist or an optimist. You can be joyful or you can be not joyful. You can still be a pragmatist. You can still be realistic and be positive. I think the two are not mutually exclusive of each other.
You know, I’m very privileged, I know to be running a business that day in, day out on the darkest days and the brightest of days, brings joy and lifts the spirits. That’s what flowers do. They release serotonin in the brain; that creates something that makes you feel joy. You know, I recognize that. Literally nobody doesn’t like to receive and see flowers. It’s a biological, physiological reaction in our brain. So we are in the bringing joy business most of the time but I still think there are things to celebrate.
Something related to Covid but actually, it’s sort of slightly an aside as well is that it’s the first time I think that numbers of people have worked from home and the technology is actually not being ridiculously useless. The technology generally works. Well that’s very interesting and yes it brings lots of challenges about how we support people working from home. But that’s hugely exciting because you think about what architects might design, what house builders might build in the future. Do we move to less travel and greener cities because more people are working from home and yes, we have to make changes to the way we build homes to live and work in but that’s quite exciting. I think there are many, many things to be pleased about. It’s not all bad.