Meet Jane Hoban: Global Marketing Director for T2, a global luxury retailer and phenomenal brand. Jane is an international business leader who has been responsible for some of the largest, most successful brands across the globe. She knows how to develop and manage a brand, and engage with customers on an ongoing basis. Jane has some excellent advice with regards to managing a brand and reputation.
Tea done differently
The T2 vision is to inspire a new generation of tea drinkers, called the T2 Tea generation. This was the original idea of the founder 21 years ago and it remains the mission today. Essentially, that means as a brand everything is geared towards trying to get more people to love tea. Beginning with a single store in Melbourne, there are now 96 stores worldwide across 5 markets. T2 is a great success story for Australian business.
T2 is a distinctive brand and it’s important to manage and protect that now that it’s a global business. Quirky and rebellious, the brand is design- and taste-led, and according to Jane, extremely innovative. Because T2 describes itself as ‘tea done differently,’ as a brand they are constantly looking at the product offers and brand communication and asking, ‘Would another brand do this?’ If the answer is yes, then they have work to do.
Brand icons as business assets
T2 has a number of important icons that are integral to the brand, such as the orange box or shopping bag, the colour black and the store design. Jane describes the visual merchandising in every store as beautifully curated chaos. These are points of difference that the business has worked hard to maintain all their touch points across the world.
Customer Experience LEAF Process
T2 prides itself on being what Jane calls ‘an experiential brand.’ An experience with a team member in-store is their number one brand asset and turns customers into brand advocates. There is a process in creating that experience and inspiring the next generation of tea lovers, and it’s called LEAF. The LEAF process stands for Learn, Explore, Add Value and Forever T2.
Team members in store start by trying to learn about why the customer is in the store on that particular day and then help them explore the world. T2 has over 200 different teas, so there’s a lot to explore! The next step is to add value, which can be by giving brewing or storage tips or sharing a bit of history around the tea.
Finally, once a customer has made a purchase, the team member will enroll them in the loyalty program. This step is called ‘Forever T2’ because it’s the business’s way of encouraging their ongoing love of tea. The loyalty program is T2’s primary customer retention tool. It’s called Tea Society and has just shy of a million members. It’s the brand’s way of continuing the dialogue with the customer, sharing news and inviting them back to the store.
Although T2 coined the LEAF process to support their tea-buying customers’ experience, it has a lot of synergies with financial advisors. Before giving financial advice, an advisor has to learn about the client and explore what their goals and aspirations are. The advice is the adding value part because it is helping the client actually achieve those goals. Of course, they’re forever building the relationship with the client as their goals evolve and they move through life stages.
Modern day marketing
T2 uses influencers extensively as a way of getting the authentic message of the brand out there online. They have about 200 influencers who are really just a panel of T2 fans that create content on behalf of the brand. They have a combined reach of about 20 million people! It’s modern-day word-of-mouth marketing and one of many digital marketing strategies the business uses. They also do affiliate marketing and advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Google searches.
Social media is the primary way the brand communicates to customers in an authentic way. It allows T2 to connect with and engage with them, but Jane points out that social is the customer’s environment, not the brand’s. They’re constantly reviewing and tailoring their strategy to be open to the customer’s interpretation and to better ways of engaging with them via the brand. Social media is really a customer experience channel, not a brand channel. As T2 has brought in more customer-created content, they’ve noticed that the imagery the brand creates and the imagery the customer creates is actually quite different. The next step is to align the brand with the customer expectations, and look at what they are talking about, not just what the brand wants them to talk about.
Focus on connection, and the sales will follow
T2 spends a lot of time getting their team right, starting with the recruitment process. They’re given continued training to maintain brand consistency but also on creating a connection with customers. The business’s approach to sales is that if you can make a friend or create a moment of connection with a customer—they call it a moment in 3 minutes—the sales will follow.
The moment in 3 minutes is something that can apply to financial advisors equally well as T2 team members. If you’re going out and networking, take that approach on board. How can you engage with whomever you’re speaking with and create moments they can remember you by? It only takes 3 minutes and not only will you create a connection that could lead to a sale, but you might make a friend to boot.
Jane believes that branding can help set you apart from the competition, attract new customers and keep current customers coming back. It’s not just for product-based businesses like T2, but for service-based professions like financial advisors too. But to have a great brand, you truly need to know your customer and have them at the heart of your brand proposition. You must be thinking about your customer’s needs and how your brand can address those needs and fit into their life. If you can crack that, that’s when you’ve truly got an amazing brand that can help you do better than anybody else.