When Neil McPhillips, Director of Infants’ Friend, first began to utilise Facebook as a marketing tool he was astounded by the power of Social Media and the positive effect it has had on his business.
by Shannon Woolacott
For over 80 years Infants’ Friend has been a staple in any new parent’s reserve of baby supplies. A trusted and valued product, it has provided relief from the symptoms of colic for many unsettled babies and their sleep deprived parents. First developed in the 1930’s by JC Minnis, a chemist in Ipswich, Queensland, the liquid, made mostly from Essential Oils, has grown to become Australia’s No. 1 Baby Product for colic and wind.
Neil McPhillips, co – Director of the company, acquired the business thirteen years ago. He describes it as “a nice little business that rolled along”, however with his experience in marketing and advertising and expertise in economic development, saw the potential to expand it further. Both he and his business partner decided to purchase the company, taking a chance, as neither of them had any experience within the pharmaceutical industry.
It has paid off as Neil discusses how, although it has been a bit of a learning curve, overall it has become “a very good success story”.
Recognising What Works & When to Change
Neil’s vision for the business saw a more targeted marketing plan, focused on taking the product to new levels of exposure. By mixing the traditional with the contemporary, the company has ensured that the brand has remained easily recognisable and yet is still relevant in the competitive world of baby products. The labelling remains the same as it did 80 years ago and they will only retail the product through pharmacies in order to preserve its credibility.
“We’ve retained it looking like the old bottle used to because that’s what people recognise.”
Neil believes that it is these things that have helped to keep the product alive, with word-of-mouth playing a large part in the success of the business.
Other than pharmaceutical brochures and word-of-mouth, a system which has worked because of the respect the product has received due to its effectiveness; few avenues of marketing were sought until a few years ago.
Neil explains that “whilst the word-of-mouth advertising was working for a long time, business has become more competitive, especially over the last few years with online retailing.”
Finding New Means of Marketing
With both Neil and his business partner consistently analysing the various demographics, two main methods of advertising which directly target their market became evident, V8 Supercars and Social Media.
“If you want to be a successful retailer these days, you must have a presence and it’s got to be a strong presence.”
With the V8 Supercars not only engaging the targeted market but also providing television advertising, Neil and his partner turned their attention to Social Media.
Creating a page in 2010 and not having the time to maintain it, it sat stagnant until the company outsourced the handling of the page to a Social Media management company. In just three months, page ‘Likes’ have increased from 600 to over 3,500.
“The results are just amazing…outsourcing the management of our Facebook page is the smartest thing we have done,” Neil reveals. “We are over the moon with how it has grown our prospective market and prospective audience!”
Sales have increased since utilising the Facebook page and Neil is sure that it is due to the wider reach that Social Media offers. This has, in turn had a substantial impact on the business and provided a cost effective method of advertising.
“Our sales, since we’ve been working the Facebook page over the last three months have increased dramatically. We can’t put this down to anything else other than the Facebook because that’s the only thing we’ve done differently.”
Neil and his business partner are advocates of spending money on marketing, taking the approach that it is a vital part of keeping any business alive and well, yet he is amazed at how affordable it is to outsource and promote through Facebook.
“You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on glossy brochures and that sort of thing but here we can be attracting anybody in the world, through a bit of smart marketing and branding.”
Neil also values the monthly analysis report provided to him by the Social Media manager.
“We can actually see the target market we’re hitting, we can see how strong we are on the site…there’s no other form of advertising I know of where you can do that.”
The Proof Is On the Page
Although there were some initial concerns regarding possible negative comments, for Neil and his business partner, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Not only is it the exceptional results they have seen, but the uplifting feedback and testimonials on their page which have left them both certain that Social Media is well worth the effort.
“Apart from the business component where you do this to make money, it gives you a really good feeling when people enjoy what they’re buying off of you…personally, for myself, it’s gratifying.”
The client feedback and testimonials play an important role in the success of the business. By referring potential stockists to the Facebook page, it is the consumer which provides the most valuable marketing by demonstrating the value they themselves place on product.
Tips for Social Media Success
So would Neil recommend using Social Media to other businesses? Absolutely! Here are some tips and advice he has recommended to ensure that you get the most out of your Facebook page:
- Don’t skimp on advertising and marketing.
When times get tough often the first thing to get cut back is the advertising budget. Neil believes that this is a big mistake stating that this is the time that “You should be out there trying to get more clients.”
- Outsource the management of the page.
Often Social Media can seem like another job to do on top of an already full workload. By outsourcing the management of the page, this allows you the opportunity to promote efficiently and effectively, without it imposing on your schedule.
- Have professional photos and graphics.
Having everything branded the same helps the audience recognise your product or service. Looking professional is also an important priority when advertising.
- Engage the audience.
This can be done in a variety of ways including “Did you know?” teasers and asking the audience to share their experiences.
- Cross promote.
Use Social Media to promote any deals or offers.
- Work the page.
In order for it to be successful you have to really manage and work the page. Post regularly, respond to questions and ensure that you are engaging your target audience.
The company is continuing to expand with a second product, Comfy Baby Cream with Aloe Vera proving very successful. They are also in the process of developing a new range of eagerly anticipated baby products. This, along with a new app on their Facebook page to help parents determine if their child has colic, are just some of the latest ventures being undertaken.
For more information on Infants’ Friend please go to infantsfriend.com.au
Or visit their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/InfantsFriendAustralia
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