|The power of feedback
The management textbooks tell us there’s a clear link between feedback and performance. Feedback is said to ‘enable the movement and exchange of information that allows organisations to move, respond, develop and grow’. So that’s why organisations place high value on feedback, but what’s in it for us as individuals? As managers, how can we give constructive feedback that will bring the best out in our colleagues and direct reports?
Receiving feedback. What’s in it for me?
- Feedback makes you feel good.
- Feedback makes you feel like you’re important and that you make a difference.
- Feedback takes the guesswork out of your day.
- Feedback fuels your personal and professional development.
- Feedback gives you the information you need to work towards rewards.
- You can use feedback to shape your career and make informed choices.
Giving feedback. What’s in it for me?
- Making someone else feel good makes you feel good.
- Giving feedback shows you care about the growth of the people on your team.
- Feedback is a chance to clarify performance targets without simply repeating yourself.
- Giving feedback takes excuses away from people who use them.
- Learning how to feedback well develops your interpersonal and management skills.
Focus on behaviour
Behaviour is the only thing that can be observed and measured over time so limit your feedback to behaviour you have observed. For example “You made multiple mistakes in your last three reports,” or, “You missed two deadlines in the past month,” are statements describing behaviour.
Opinions about the recipient’s attitude such as “You just don’t care about delivery” or “You’re too laid-back to get things done on time” should be kept to yourself. They provide no basis for improvement and therefore have no place in feedback.
Refers to specifics
Say exactly what you are feeding back on, when and where the behaviour was observed and say exactly why it was praiseworthy or poor.
Avoid general words such as ‘good’, ‘great’, ‘bad’ and ‘fine’. Find more helpful ways to describe performance. For example “Your presentation style was lively and interactive, which really helped the audience engage with the message” or “Your choice of jokes in the internal newsletter was politically insensitive.”
Consider the consequences
Say what happened (or failed to happen) as a result of the behaviour in question. This puts behaviour in the wider context of team and company performance and can make the most nonchalant recipients appreciate the impact of their actions. Even the smallest tasks can be extrapolated into having sizeable impact. For example “You took the minutes from the campaign planning meeting very accurately, but you didn’t send a copy to the meeting attendees for 2 weeks. This meant that important actions were delayed and we have missed the opportunity to book the media we wanted."
Should feedback be mainly positive or negative?
There are three types of feedback and all three are necessary and valuable:
- positive feedback reinforces good behaviour, acknowledges valuable contributions and motivates people.
- negative feedback redirects unwanted behaviour, describes the potential consequences of continuing the behaviour and deters people.
- constructive feedback involves an active exchange of ideas with the employee to help them learn to do something differently and develop them.
Research shows that focusing on what an employee does well and giving positive feedback does more to boost performance than focusing on what an employee does not do well. That is not to say that a performance deficiency is best ignored; but putting more effort into expanding an individual’s strengths than eliminating the individual’s weaknesses can yield better results.
The feedback sandwich
Used in isolation, any single type of feedback can be unhelpful. To maintain a recipient’s morale when giving feedback, aim for a 2:1 ratio of Positive: Negative. One tried-and-tested technique for delivering negative feedback is to use the Feedback Sandwich, literally delivering it between two items of positive feedback. Here’s an example:
|“You did a good job of defining the project requirements.”
||“You missed sending a copy of those requirements to the client for sign-off. This resulted in some confusion about the start date.”
||“You followed up with the client to correct the misunderstanding, and the project is back on track.”
Giving feedback – 7 things to remember
You may have prepared your feedback notes beautifully, but unless you’ve worked on your manner you’re only half-ready. The ‘manner’ in which feedback is given is just as important as the content of the feedback. ‘Manner’ means the words you choose, the tone of your voice, your facial expression and your body language. All these things can dramatically change the way feedback is received.
- Acquire the skill of active listening. Listening is the single most important skill in receiving and giving feedback. If you practise nothing else in feedback sessions, practise active listening.
- Keep your body language open. Avoid placing physical barriers between you and your feedback partner, such as a wide imposing desk.
- Make regular - not permanent – eye contact to show that you are listening. Occasional nodding indicates understanding and can encourage people to open up.
- Summarise and repeat what you have heard to check your understanding. This identifies misunderstandings before they snowball.
- Make yourself interested: It’s easier to listen when you are genuinely interested in what is being said. If you find your motivation flagging, remind yourself of the link between feedback and personal performance and inspire yourself with the list of benefits in Giving feedback: What’s in it for me list above.
- Check your tone. Start sentences with ‘I’. Say “I noticed that…”, “I saw that…”, “I had it reported to me that…” “I realise that…” to take the blame out of situations. Avoid phrases such as “you need to” as these put people on the defensive. For example:
- NOT “Mike, you need to get your reports turned in on time and you need to spell-check them.” This statement could be perceived as accusatory or judgmental.
- BUT “Mike, your report missed the deadline by a day and contained spelling errors. Please submit your next report by the deadline and ensure it is free of spelling errors.”
- Avoid generalisations like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘all’. These are not only usually exaggerations they also convey an overwhelming sense of failure and futility. Similarly, avoid saying “Yes but…”. It negates and diminishes what was previously said. Say ‘Yes. Also…’
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|GLR gives its volunteers glowing feedback at Moor Hall Board Meeting
GLR’s Board meeting at the end of June was a chance for all the region’s hardworking volunteers to meet up before the summer break and celebrate the year’s achievements. New GLR Chair Mocky Khan handed out bottles of Champagne to four team members who had made outstanding contributions to GLR in the past 12 twelve months:
Award for Best Event:
Bernie Emery & Ade Onilude for Women in Marketing ‘The Ethical One'. Honourable mention went to the monthly networking events Meet with Drinks and Meet and Drink which have been running successfully in Central London and West London throughout the year.
Award for Best Contribution from Newcomer:
John Sweeney, Central London Team Leader
Award for Driving Positive Change:
Colin Linton, Outgoing GLR Chair
Award for Unstinting Commitment:
Brian Burgess, GLR Finance Director
Based on the evening’s entertainment which followed the Board meeting, GLR News considers a couple of alternative awards of its own devising…
Award for Best Pot on the Moor Hall Snooker Table:
Louise Elliott, West London Team Leader
Award for Best Heckling at the Moor Hall Snooker Table:
Maria Cenalmor, West London Team
Region in Review
Last year the region had yet another successful year with a variety of interactive and informative learning events about some of the latest technologies to communicate with your audiences, from video to social networking. Our “How to use video to communicate your messages” event was supported by an excellent case study from Vision Express and also gave the delegates a chance to get behind the camera themselves. We also had a good turnout to our MySpace generation event which enabled delegates to understand the advantages of social networking to tap into key audiences and in particular the youth market.
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Some exciting events to look forward to...
GLR teams shared their plans for regional events from September through to January. Here are some of the fascinating topics they’re lining up:
- Marketing to Men
- Ethical Marketing
- Chinese Consumers
- Crank up your Charisma
- Data to support marketing decisions (Beyond Analysis)
- How to protect the Marketing budget in an economic downturn
If you, or someone you know, can speak on any
of these topics, please contact Mocky
Khan with your details.
We will also have our regular Meet and Drinks (West London) and Meet with Drinks (Central London); these will begin again in September so please come along. Whether you are studying or looking to share ideas this event will enable you to meet with like-minded marketers at all levels within CIM.
Put up your hand if….
…you would like
to get involved in your regional team, planning and organising
events, meeting other members and generally being an ‘out
there’ kind of marketer. Just email Mocky
Khan and he’ll put you in touch with your Team Leader.
Your involvement will not only enhance your CV and demonstrate
your commitment to your current employer it will also give you
access to a wide range of key marketing people that will enable
you to gather knowledge that will enhance you career.
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| A warm welcome to all Croydon members
As part of a review of The Institute’s regional services, GLR has just extended its boundaries to include members from Croydon and East Surrey. Previously part of the South East catchment area, all 700 members from the London borough will now be able to tap into GLR resources as part of their membership.
The Croydon and East Surrey branch has been chaired by Chartered Marketer Claire Hardesty since 2006 and is supported by a large committee of dedicated volunteers, some of whom are pictured after the recent GLR Board meeting. GLR News hopes to be profiling Claire and her team in forthcoming issues.
“We very much welcome the move into the Greater London Region,” says Claire. “It enables us to reach more members south of the river as well as the City & Docklands areas. We plan to put on events in these new areas, enable more members to attend and network with their peers.”
What’s going on in CIM Croydon?
Croydon is an active team with a lively diary of events. The first event for autumn will be a ‘Shape the Agenda’ seminar on the strategic role of marketing. This will be followed by a highly entertaining workshop Crank up your Charisma, which is aimed at helping marketers with the way they present themselves and their ideas.
The branch also attracts many local business people who have found the events an ideal forum for them to network with like-minded people. “As well as the formal part of the evening we actively encourage our members to network and look forward to welcoming new faces in the bar afterwards” says Claire.
“We’d love to hear from our fellow GLR members with any suggestions about topics of events and great venues or speakers they are aware of. Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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| The London Business Award for Marketing Excellence goes to…?
Following the success of last year’s Business Awards, GLR is delighted to announce that it will be once again sponsoring the Marketing Excellence category in both the Thames Gateway Business Awards and in North & West London Business Awards.
Awards organiser Archant is now calling for entries from all individual marketers, agencies and businesses active in these regions who believe they’ve done some great marketing this year. Here’s what you could get…
Why should I enter these awards?
- Five finalists in each category will get the chance to go to the Award ceremony at the prestigious Emirates Stadium on 5 December (for North & West London Business Awards) or The London ExCeL International Exhibition and Conference Centre, in Docklands on 21 November (for Thames Gateway Business Awards).
- One winner will walk away with the Marketing Excellence Award in each area and all the free post-awards PR they can handle. The awards are supported by a high profile media campaign in all of Archant's free and paid-for newspapers, and in its pan-London specialist Business-to-Business Life magazine which is read by 7,000 SMEs.
- Winners will receive an impressive solid steel trophy along with a £1000 advertising deal within Archant London Business-to-Business Life publication.
- Each outright winner will also receive a Red Letter Day to reward them for the immense effort they have put in to making their business a winner. Winners will be able to choose from a wide range of activities, from paint-balling to rock climbing, sky-diving to a spa break.
So cast your minds back to your best bit of marketing you’ve done this year, dust off your frock or DJ and enter the awards. You’ve got until 3 October to get your entry in.
I want to win! How do I enter?
Get your application form from the Thames Gateway Business Awards website or from the North & West London website. You’ll also find entry criteria and FAQs.
Should we enter the Thames Gateway Awards or the North & West London Awards?
It depends on your location, the location of your client or the location of your campaign you are entering. Check out the entry criteria on the Awards websites:
How long will it take to enter?
Archant suggest you write no more than 500 words to describe your campaign, but you can include attachments, examples and testimonials to support your words. It is worth taking a little bit of time over your entry materials, as this is the only thing the judges will consider.
How will Archant judge Marketing Excellence?
They’re getting in the experts. Chartered Marketer, Fellow and former GLR Chair, Colin Linton, will be helping judge entries. As many readers know, Colin is more than qualified to sort the wheat form the chaff. In a financial services marketing career spanning 30 years, Colin has held a number of senior marketing positions within NatWest and RBS, including Marketing Director of RBS’ UK Corporate Banking Division. Colin is looking forward to his task and seeing some great examples of marketing in the region. So get your entries in soon and make his day!
Why does GLR sponsor Business Awards?
GLR sponsors the Marketing Excellence category in these prestigious Business Awards as a way to promote best practice in regional marketing. It also supports The Institute’s strategic objective of positioning marketing alongside other celebrated award category business skills such as Innovation, Customer Care, Environmental Responsibility and Use of Technology.
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| Last year’s Marketing Excellence Award winner
Acumen Design scooped the gong at last year’s Thames Gateway Business Award. Here’s a quick reminder of how they won.
Acumen Design entered the awards with a campaign for an insurance broker client who needed to dramatically and quickly raise their profile in their industry. Acumen developed the brand, ramped up brand awareness and increased customer database with hard-to-find contact targets.
To enter the Business Awards, Acumen submitted 500 carefully considered words about their campaign along with an attachment showing key financials. Here’s how they won:
Performance indicators that win awards…
- Client project completed all for under £7000
- Dramatic increase in industry profile for client
- Increase in client’s customer database with targeted contacts by 200%
- Potential sales from increased database is £285,000 + over the next 12 months
- One individual immediate new client worth £30k pa. Contact only made possible by profile raised at show creating an opening in a previously closed door.
- New policies sold with a value of £24,800
- Secured renewals of over £100,000
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|The benefits of award ceremonies
Glitzy award ceremonies seem to happen almost every week now – depending which TV channels you watch. Are they a cynical symptom of the modern media frenzy and or a laudable desire to honour the achievements of our peers? Either way, industry awards present some great opportunities both for our careers and our businesses. GLR Chair Mocky Khan explains how to make the most of award ceremonies.
People who know me will tell you that I rarely question the motivation behind any activity that results in a celebratory knees-up – award ceremonies included. But as a marketer and business owner I have examined the benefits of entering business awards with the same scrutiny as I use to consider any promotional opportunity that comes up. I believe that they offer companies a wide range of often-overlooked commercial opportunities:
- Raised PR profile
- Increased credibility
- A profitable night of networking
- Boost employee morale
- Make the media come to you
1. Raised PR profile
If you are short-listed you will appear in pre-results promotion as well as in the programme at the awards ceremony itself. Even if you don’t end up winning, you’ve still have a few free name-checks along the way. Make sure you purchase any article reprints for you own use.
Tips for entering and winning awards
- Be strategic. Enter the award you want to win, not necessarily the award you can win most easily.
- Understand the judging criteria and be clear about how you meet them. If the brief asks you to include financials, do so.
- Speak to previous winners and, if possible, read their entries.
- Allocate enough time and resources to preparing your entry and seeing it through. Up front costs include an entry fee.
- Stick to the required word count. Making judges wade through tonnes of supporting material can put them off before they even read about you.
- Check out the other entrants and make your company or campaign stand out from the rest.
- Communicate clearly and simply – use a professional writer/or PR agency if necessary.
- Being involved with your industry body can make judges take you more seriously.
- Make sure you submit your entry before the deadline!
If you’ve gone to all the effort of submitting an entry it would be a crime not to milk it for your own publicity purposes. Post it on your website, have an awards build-up blog, include it in your customer newsletters, tell all your clients about your participation, encourage them to vote for you (unless it’s decided by judging panel). If you win or come highly commended, then your hard PR work really begins. Leverage your success by:
- announcing it to the media via a press release
- building a customer mail-shot or even a special offer around your win
- including the award logo on your email signature, letterhead, website, business cards, brochure
- using the words ‘award-winning’ in all your marketing communications
- holding a staff party or inviting customers to a celebratory drinks evening
2. Awards give you increased credibility
Awards can shower your brand with credibility and act as a powerful sales-closer. This can be particularly useful for start-ups who desperately need the exposure but have low budgets. Exposure through ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ or ‘Best Start-up’ categories can help new business capitalise on early successes. Business awards can act like powerful 3rd party endorsements for your products and services. Winners often see an increase in traffic to their websites as well as uplift in sales. The implied reputation of an award reassures customers that they are buying into the ‘best in show’ and that you have been ‘industry-approved’. This is particularly useful for companies trying to change a presiding negative perception of them or for new brands.
3. A profitable night of networking
As well as being one big excuse for a posh frock or black tie, awards ceremonies are a networking gift. Rubbing shoulders with peers, competitors, customers, suppliers, media, contacts of all kinds between speeches and over champagne. There’s no better arena for dusting off your networking skills and kick-starting some new business activity.
There are usually several sponsorship opportunities at award ceremonies, such as posters, goodie bags, wine bottle labels with your logo on or table name cards in your corporate colours. Small but fun touches like this can generate a buzz around your company and give people a reason to seek you out on the night.
4. Boosts employee morale
Industry awards can be a great way to show that you are proud of your staff and their achievements. Get senior management involved in preparing or at least approving your entry to show that they think the staff are worthy of wider recognition. People love having the profile of their work raised and you can see job motivation rocket.
Also there’s nothing quite like working towards a deadline for entries and waiting for a nail-biting announcement to bond teams together, even if you don’t win. Try to invite as many staff as possible to the final awards evening. Investing in a corporate table at a glamorous event can seem like an extravagance but it can show your appreciation for a whole year of hard work. Award-winning companies also attract the best recruits, so if you’re looking to expand or want to increase the quality of your applicants, make the most of the business award tool.
5. Let the media come to you
Journalists are always looking for new spokespeople, experts and case studies. One of the first places editors and journalists look is on the recent winners’ lists for the relevant industry awards. Being on these lists is like having a hotline to influential journalists and opinion-leaders in your sector. The media in general love winners and generating interest in a press release about your company is much easier if you have a recent business award under your belt.
Have a press release ready to go should you get an urgent request from a journalist. Ask for copies of any publications or articles you appear in and compile a clippings file that will show you the overall long-term PR value of entering the business award in the first place.
Get your entries in now! Entry forms at:
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| Harnessing the power of peer reviews and testimonials to sell
According to digital marketing experts at www.ClickZ.com, people shopping for or researching a purchase on your website are looking for one of two kinds of advice: Expert advice or Everyman advice. How do you know which potential customers want to read what?
The Expert advice-seeker doesn't want advice from peers. A customer testimonial is meaningless because “It's probably some idiot who never read the manual complaining how difficult the product is to use." Only the opinions of Experts appeal to this potential customer so endorsements like ‘Recommended by The Wine Society’ or ‘Shortlisted by the Times Literary Club’ will capture their attention. This type of user responds to expert product guides, reviews from ‘trusted sources’, how-to guides, and even raw comparison charts illustrating feature-to-feature differences.
The Everyman advice-seeker wants to know what other people think. He's interested in others' opinions and could use a little comfort and reassurance from people who had to make the same decision he is about to. To the Everyman, expert opinions are nice but not completely trustworthy. Because an expert is paid to be an expert, the Everyman imagines their objectivity is questionable.
Appealing to this type of user means using word of mouth and other community-based peer reviews. Customer reviews and testimonials are great examples of this kind of peer review. Amazon’s Listmania! is a great example of a peer review that appeals to the Everyman advice-seeker.
Provide both types of advice in your marketing
Most people seek Expert and Everyman advice at different times in different situations and the best marketing accommodate both. In areas in which we feel we are smart and knowledgeable, we look for the Experts-Only advice. In other areas, we seek reassurance from Everyman advice; peer reviews provide confidence and reliability for your customers and make their buying decisions easier.
Put opinions and advice on your site from various sources, including both expert and communal advice. For example the ideal restaurant website embraces two facets: testimonials from satisfied patrons and a review by a professional, objective third party, certifying a certain level of performance. Separate them so your users don't confuse the categories. Separating them also limits overwhelming users with too many opinions. Make it easy for users to switch between expert and non-expert opinions.
How to use customer testimonials
- Word of mouth is known to be the most powerful form of marketing because of its credibility. Testimonials are one way in which businesses can look to harness this power. Displaying testimonials automatically gives customers increased confidence in your company, illustrating that you’ve been in business for a while and that you do have some happy customers.
- To be fully effective testimonials must be credible. People are naturally skeptical and especially so when testimonials given from people with only first names mentioned. Don’t include testimonials from people if you only have their first names – they simply create a sense of suspicion amongst potential customers. If possible also include their location, and company name; for most effectiveness include a photo of the happy customer and even their contact details.
- It’s just as important to avoid vagueness with the content of the testimonial. “They provided a good service” says nothing about the company in question. What was the good service comprised of? Excellent turnaround times or helpful suggestions? The best testimonials mention specific points, aspects that potential customers are concerned about. Also, try to choose testimonials that sound natural, rather than comments that have been scripted by you.
- Use testimonials throughout your website, perhaps through dedicating a small area on each page of your website where a new testimonial is shown each time a new web page loads. This will ensure that the customer is constantly reassured throughout the decision-making process, helping to increase your conversion rate significantly.
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|BPA Road to Beijing
To mark the build-up to the Beijing Games in September 2008, The British Paralympic Association has created an online virtual fundraising map to represent the incredible journey British athletes will take in the run up to Beijing. You can get behind our ParalympicsGB Team by completing a mile of your choice, collecting sponsorship and getting yourself on the map.
To get on the map, all you have to do is run, swim, row or even hop, skip and jump a mile and ask a few friends and family to give you a couple of pounds in sponsorship. You can have miles of fun along the way and be safe in the knowledge that you have given Britain’s top disabled athletes the chance to fulfil their dreams on the biggest stage ever.
Britain is one of the most successful Paralympic nations of all-time and with our help The BPA can keep our athletes on the podium.
|So pledge your support to ParalympicsGB and get on the map today.
| Asking for feedback online
Whether you’re starting or building a business, listening to the voice of your marketplace is paramount. Traditional research methods however, such as postal questionnaires, telephone surveys and focus groups are often beyond the means of the small businesses or individual departments who simply want to ask their customers some key questions. Online surveys are one low cost way of getting customer feedback fast.
With a typical postal survey, totting up the material costs alone can stretch the purse-strings of a small to medium sized business: paper, ink, envelopes, postage, reply paid envelopes and so on. Not to mention the less immediate but more alarming environmental costs of all this pressed and dried tree pulp landing on our doormats.
Add to that the time cost of stuffing the envelopes that go out, opening the (albeit far fewer) envelopes that come back in and finally capturing the data from all those ticked boxes, and you could be looking at a 5-figure sum just to ask your customers a few questions. No wonder then that ‘voice of the customer’ research programmes have long been the domain of large corporates with large coffers.
Low threshold cost
Since its inception, the Internet has proved itself to be life’s (second) great leveller by making previously unattainable resources accessible and affordable to everyone. Customer research is becoming the latest practice to benefit from the e-revolution. Thanks to the new generation of web survey capability, thousands of responses can now be generated for a few hundred pounds.
Agile businesses do it online
In theory you can design your questionnaire today and analyse your results tomorrow. Some American research agencies are now even offering same day turnaround from survey brief to results. In practice however, it might take a day or two to compile an effective multiple-choice questionnaire and a few days to generate sufficient response. Even so, you’re still shaving weeks off traditional research schedules, allowing you to move faster in response to what your marketplace is telling you.
Maximising your response
As long as they are quick and convenient to complete, online surveys are shown to elicit a high response – potentially up to 4 times higher than postal surveys. They give a professional impression and can generate a more candid or considered response. Ensure that navigation between sections is simple and seamless and that questions are phrased unambiguously. Finally, promise that the questionnaire will be short and make it short.
It’s well worth getting support from a market research professional when it comes to the specialist task of question selection and survey writing. They can ensure you find out as much as possible as simply as possible. Use the Consultants Directory at www.cim.co.uk/msdirectory to find an expert who can help you.
What would you do with it?
- Ask customers what new products or services they need and want. Find out before someone else does!
- Customer loyalty: what do they buy from your competitors and how do you compare?
- Get on the grapevine: help your employees get it off their chest with an anonymous online satisfaction survey.
- Are your prices right? Judge whether customers will pay more for extra features or enhancements.
- Measure satisfaction: simply ask your customers how you’re doing with a regular satisfaction survey.
- Improve your marketing ROI: measure the effectiveness of your advertising or PR by monitoring recall or awareness.
Who’s doing it?
PriceSpective: How kind of you to ask
Pharmaceutical pricing consultants PriceSpective email post-project satisfaction questionnaires to key contacts in client organisations. As well as producing specific, actionable feedback for PriceSpective, the survey itself bolsters client satisfaction and the likelihood of getting repeat business.
Chartered Institute of Marketing: What can we do for you?
GLR regularly uses online surveys to canvass opinions from members on the range and nature of its events and services.
Polaroid Eyewear: Motivation research
Polaroid have a survey on the homepage of their e-commerce website to find out what browsers and buyers think of the Polaroid brand, why they came to the Polaroid website and what their sunglasses shopping habits are.
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| Give yourself a pat on the back with a Spa Day treat for 2 at Champneys
Win a relaxing Champneys Spa Day for you and a friend.
Enter this GLR News competition and you could win a mid-week Spa Day for yourself and a guest at either the glamorous Champneys Forest Mere in Hampshire, the modern Champneys Springs in Leicestershire or the cosy Champneys Henlow in Bedfordshire.
Your day includes an indulgent body massage and a relaxing facial each, a thalassotherapy pool session, unlimited use of all facilities, plus a delicious lunch.
If you can't wait to win call 08703 300 300 or visit www.champneys.com to book your own spa break.
|Also, Champneys are giving all GLR readers a 10% discount on all gifts and beauty products in their online shop. Use code CIM08 when you checkout. So get shopping at www.champneys.com/collection.asp
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