I often work from the Virgin Money Lounge in Edinburgh – as a Virgin Money customer, you get access to the lounge for free. For those that don’t know, a VML is a very comfy environment with complimentary coffee, snacks, power and wifi. A working dream! A recent visit got me thinking about Virgin’s approach to this and how adopting similar from a marketing perspective would be hugely valuable for any business. Let me explain…

Offering value for ‘free’

I can use this lounge for as long and often as I see fit. My VM credit card gives me access to it, for no extra charge. I never accrue any interest on the card, so aside from data, VM are getting nothing from me. By creating these lounges, they’re establishing a hub that people use and experience the Virgin way of thinking on a regular basis. The brand front-of-mind impact is huge. The value they’re offering is even bigger.

If you can take that ‘free’ approach to your marketing – offering advice, insight and help via content and social media, you’ll go a long way to attracting new and retaining existing customers. Just make sure you’re fully aware of the value of this work for the business and can explain it succinctly to those that may baulk at your approach.

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Taking a very personal approach

I visited the lounge with my toddler on Sunday. He received a lovely welcome from the ladies on the desk and a huge box of toys to play with. The wee fella has a serious Babychinno habit and while the coffee at the lounge is great, the machine doesn’t offer such frothy-milk, child-safe delights. This was no problem for one of the VML ladies, who disappeared and then came back with one top-notch caffeine free treat for junior. Get the picture? We were afforded a very personal service, that led to further affinity between the brand and I. And a very happy young chappy.

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If you can take your marketing to a personal level then you’ll reap the benefits. Down to a specific individual level is largely unrealistic, however you can cater for your distinct customer groups. Often when I’m in the VML, I’m the youngest by around 30 years – a lot of people of retirement age use Virgin Money’s savings products and make great use of the lounge. I often hear them having chats with the lounge team that clearly relate to conversations that occurred in the past – more personal, friendly service. They have the retiree users, business users and family users, all of which receive a personal service that suits their needs. I wrote about the need for content marketing personalisation in 2015 for the Stipso blog.

Being true to your brand

When I think of the Virgin brand, the words that spring to mind are innovative, maverick and different. They tend to do things that disrupt the industry they enter. The Virgin Money approach is certainly fresh and the creation of these lounges falls in line with the overall Virgin brand. They’ve just opened their Glasgow lounge, which is the first to have full banking facilities available – of course, they’re hoping people will transact and enquire about products while there, but they aren’t leading with that aim, their lounge approach feels truly genuine. Never falter on your brand values. Unless they are terrible.

I’d like to add at this point that this is no way a sponsored post etc, I just really like the way they do things and thought it would be useful to put some real-life context that you can apply to your marketing.

Bravo Virgin Money, keep it up!

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