Know your Customer

Here at Highland Titles, weekend leave has been cancelled. We came into the office on Wednesday morning to find twice as many orders as usual; unusually these extra orders were mainly from the UK. Odd. August is usually a quiet month. We encourage staff to take their main holiday in August. Yesterday sales continued to be up and this morning again, we have a bumper bundle of orders. We have no advertising starting this week, no special offers, no affiliates advertising us.

The penny dropped when we compared the start time with the publication of a blog which was far from complimentary about us. We had to smile. The blog was being advertised far and wide by social media, to a new and untapped market. A percentage of all advertising converts to sales. We love all publicity, good or bad and we seem to be getting better at persuading people to get the message out there. A Highland Titles pack makes a great gift, even if sent tongue in cheek.

The main barrier to sales of souvenir plots of land is simply that most people have no idea that they can purchase a tiny bit of land, for themselves or as a gift. When they discover this simple fact many people simply file the information away. Some rabid nationalists may be outraged that foreigners are able to buy a bit of “their” country. Others are offended by the idea of private enterprise doing things that they believe should be in the public arena. Some love the idea of gifting land, supporting conservation, becoming part of a community. But the odd thing is that any and all of these people are potential customers. When we track where our sales come from, we get sales from hate-sites as well as from sites that love what we do.

At the end of the day, we are pleased to make a sale to anyone, whether they love us or loath us. Nature does not care.

Social Media

oscarWWhen Highland Titles began in 2006, social media was in its infancy. Even eBay and Amazon were new and valuable ways of getting the word out about how to become a laird or lady.  Since those early days, various platforms have been launched to inform and motivate our supporters. The main difficulty now is that there are too many ways of creating communities and tempting the public to support our movement. We have had to choose what to use, what to ignore and what to use sparingly.

The main contenders that we have included in our marketing plan are Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest. Strategies for these may differ, but overall is our core vision to build a Community rather than maximise the number of followers. This led to us create two Facebook groups, one of which has a general interest in Scotland and things Scottish. The other is interested more in our conservation and all things to do with nature.

Our big break with Facebook was to secure the services of Stewart, a Scot living in Ballachulish and a volunteer on the Nature reserve at Duror, as our Facebook Admin. He was able to insert personality, humour, and local knowledge into our Facebook pages. After all, social media has the word “social” in it for a reason. More often than not social media works to entertain and kill time.  The education has to be worked in carefully. Our messages need to adjust according to our audience and we publish new content every day. Our followers can experience what we are doing in their name. They learn who is visiting, what the wildlife is doing and can actually see them in photographs and media clips. Most of our customers will never be able to visit in person. Multimedia and Facebook bridges that gap.

The massive amount of interactions and shares not only establishes the authority of the Highland Titles brand, but also drastically increases chances of this post showing up on a friend’s newsfeed (therefore gaining brand awareness, followers, leads, and customers).

Also vital, is that we converse directly with our followers: Literally we converse with them, and comment on their posts,. They directly interact with our content and any questions can be quickly addressed.

We want our audience to stay engaged, and so we engage them in two additional ways. Firstly we have a huge mailing list and inform our supporters with monthly mailings, but more importantly, we ask their advice on matters of importance. Everyone with a plot gets a voice within the community. Not just on social media, but directly. Our attention to customer support, with a great head office team that responds instantly to the telephone, emails and live chat, is also a vital tool. And finally, we have our very own blog site (http://community.highlandtitles.com/blog/) with rich content for those with the greatest interest in our operation.

Our Pinterest is an evolving platform (https://www.pinterest.com/highlandtitles/) which has yet to prove its value. With less than 100 followers it is not able to serve any valuable purpose. We have created a number of boards and time will tell how best to develop it.

Which brings us to Twitter, which has some interesting limitations. All tweets are 140 characters.
It is possible to add a photo, a video, a poll, or a gif, and hashtags can be used for adding to a larger conversation. For several years we had no success, in part because it is so difficult to include serious content within the limitations of a Tweet.  At the start of 2015 we still had only about 100 followers and it seemed impossible to create a community or interest in the platform. Three months later, thanks to an enthusiastic campaign by several “Twits” with large Twitter followings (and a legal bent), we had increased our following to thousands and Twitter was finally starting to make sales. It is now worth our while to use Twitter sparingly to create some content and with only occasional prodding, our enthusiastic “partners” continue to drive new followers to our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/highland_titles) and our website.

Oscar Wilde was certainly right.