blog: Marketing Strategy

A Report on the Customer Experience Conference, CMA – 11-04-2013

Overall: an uplifting event demonstrating that customer-centric marketing has come of age, albeit rushed through teen adolescence at light-speed, by the power of social media.

Some very strong presentations and some surprises:

GO Transit wins the award for a Public Agency teaching private enterprise how to go about their business: for putting customer experience at the front of the line and driving up commuter volumes. Their customer research, segmentation and designing their brand promise entirely around the customer’s values of ‘easy’ rather than a transportation value of ‘efficient’ is as customer-centric as can be. How far apart are easy and efficient? We usually separate them with a comma − easy, efficient − it rolls off the tongue. Go-Transit learned the hard way, that when you separate ‘efficient’ from ‘easy’ an entire customer base can fall through the cracks. Great job learning that and fixing it in such a comprehensive and successful way!

1-800-Got-Junk? also rates top marks for walking the walk in customer-centric marketing. Compensating your franchisees based on the degree of positive customer feedback is a brilliant incentive, and immediately measurable through use of the net promoter score service. And then turning each high-score customer into a brand ambassador for lead-generation −very slick. If only all business models were so simple.

Other key ambassadors of integrated customer-centric business models, Porter Airlines and Miele Canada were very powerful reinforcements of the core value of the strategy.

It was very exciting to learn how Microsoft, Samsung and Canadian Tire have re-focused their energies on customer experience. If these Mega-brands in their respective markets have taken this on board, it is very encouraging to contemplate how customer-centric marketing will start to influence all aspects of delivering on the brand promise for marketers.

Most encouragingly, the conference was packed. Well done CMA for planning and hosting.

Written By |B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, In the News, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing|Comments Off on A Report on the Customer Experience Conference, CMA – 11-04-2013

My Google AdPicker, My Choice

When “Single Women Want You” ads started to appear in so many of the news and information sites I was browsing at my office, I became suspicious. Before that it was ads for a downtown hotel with a good reputation. I am not suggesting there was a connection, but my web-browsing exists solely for business (at home I prefer to read books), I am 25-years happily married, and have no reason to stay downtown in a hotel, so I was mystified why I was being haunted by these ads.

In Firefox I tweaked a few settings, so that now my cookies delete daily and the Women vanished.

Big news: Microsoft’s web browser default is now set to “Do not track”. This has earned the resentment of advertisers in general, because being able to track and insert ads wherever the customer searches and browses gives the advertiser a lot of impressions.

The beauty of Remarketing online is that the advertiser doesn’t have to pay Google until there is a click-through. Remarketing means your ad will follow an online web user through their successive browsing experience until you stop decide to stop paying for the campaign. This earns lots of impressions at no cost. Google is supposed to manage it so that the insertion of ads from sites you have visited does not become obvious or annoying. I don’t remember visiting any dating web-sites, but in my business I do a lot of research on advertisers, so it is possible I did, but not as a punter. Any tab left open in a browser, the duration-of-site-visit is clocked, even if you don’t look at the page. If my advertising market research tripped Google’s Remarketing program, then it became a very annoying feature!

Will this type of campaign flourish, or will the Do Not Track caucus win out?

Here is where I think the online ad universe is headed:

Users will start to set their browser privacy settings to “Do not track”. A lot of online advertisers will get bummed off.

Google will then present me with a personalized database of advertiser opt-ins called MyGoogleAdPicker so I can elect which ads to view based on my search and browse history, to enrich my daily browsing experience. I will also be able to add my own list of opt-ins of anything trending in Social Media, or word-on-the-street. Google will also be able to suggest – based on my search history, and some canny algorithm using demographic assumptions – any marketers that I might also find of interest under the category of MyGoogleAdPicker Plus. Google will offer incentives to use MyGoogleAdPicker Plus that will be charged back to the advertisers like an inverted PPC model.

Within this model, as an Internet-browser, I will have the expectation that every online banner I see is tailored to my interest. The advertiser will get a highly-qualified conversion rate and the web will have less clutter to worry about. You can’t get more customer-centric than that.

What is the down-side? Why isn’t this happening yet? Because the consumer market is not yet that savvy. It hasn’t pushed Google to take the initiative. But it will and they will. Not soon enough for single women perhaps. If the concept is my invention I’ll be happy take a percentage, but I hope someone is already hacking away at this model, because I am happy to appreciate the benefit, like every other Internet user.

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Customer Experience: a Roadmap for Marketers

Please take a look at the Canadian Marketing Association’s most-recently published whitepaper Customer Experience: a Roadmap for Marketers. It aligns very closely to our own publications on customer-centric marketing and many of the blog posts in this site.

Written By |B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, In the News, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Customer Experience: a Roadmap for Marketers

PLANNING OUT YOUR PRODUCT LAUNCH

Planning Out Your Product Launch —

Avoid 3 common mistakes that could reduce your chances of success.

3 common mistakes that inventors, entrepreneurs and even experienced marketers make bringing products to market are:

  1. Falling head-over-heels in love with the idea
  2. Not properly defining the target market
  3. Under-estimating the amount of effort involved

 

These mistakes are easy to make in the excitement of launching a new product. But with good guidance and teamwork they can be avoided and your vision can translate more easily into success.

See more: http://www.hydrogencreative.com/planning-out-your-product-launch

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Stop gazing at your own corporate reflection

New research out of the Zeno Research Group suggests that more than one-third of CEOs ignore their company’s social media reputation when making important business decisions.

Strong language

On another note, almost two-thirds of CEOs do pay attention to their company’s social media reputation when making important business decisions. Reputation measurement is still a fairly new science given that the majority of customer opinions are still not recorded online in many demographics. Two-thirds is a pretty good sign to me that the immediacy of social media feedback is making enough waves to turn the tide of brand-centric marketing towards a more customer-centric model.

All research is skewed in some way, but let’s presume that these results are absolute, that 34% of CEOs will never pay attention to their social media reputation. Why not?

– The Gratification of Self-Image –

It is a human flaw that we cannot see our own failings as clearly as others see them. It is not just related to self-esteem. It is also related to the monumental effort required to make a fundamental change. So we manage to overlook our bulges, emotional reflexes, proportional misalignments and project a demeanour that masks the flaws that lurk beneath.

This is also true of businesses that are, in many cases, extensions of their decision-makers’ persona. Ego hides what it doesn’t like to see because change is hard.

CEOs are emperors of their enterprise. It takes a huge amount of ego to rise to such a position – ego that can fight even its own intelligence to justify its decisions.

– Adjusting to Reality –

Social media conversations are immediate, blunt, and have no regard for ego. It is the classic case of the Emperor vs. The Mob. We see in the Middle East, imperial models crashing, proportionate to the rising use of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in those countries. Social media coalesces one person’s opinion into millions of shared values.

The CEO model is imperial. The Social Media model is democratic. With the proliferation of conversations and their influence on market performance, an Emperor who doesn’t know how to listen will be replaced by a republic. In commercial terms, that means your customers will defect or your Board will take you out.

Social media helps to inform a CEO of a failure to execute properly within the ranks of the organization. This is a huge benefit. Self-policing an organization can be oppressive and de-motivating to the workforce. Embracing social media as your source for checks and balances is a relatively cost-efficient monitoring tool for the Enterprise and justifies to all parts of the organization the need for training and improvement.

Zappos has a good model to show how an organization empowers its employees to make key decisions at the time of customer engagement. It is an effective, self-policing model where the employee defines their own career satisfaction through dynamic engagement with customers. Its online reputation score is very high. The Twelpforce from Best Buy is another great example of empowering dynamic response at the lowest level of customer engagement.

– Change by Osmosis –

The one-third will change, or die. There are very few businesses that are immune to public opinion, unless they are a legislative monopoly. This time next year the Zeno Group will have to find something more pertinent to research.

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Social Media and other bubbles

Read Social Media Skeptic (MM 11/30/12), for the commentary on BJ Mendelson’s new book “Is Social Media Bull#*%!?”. It reads like a wail of dashed hopes and dreams. Once a social media neophyte, the author became jaded after a miserably-failed campaign in the cause of something great and beautiful. He calls a ‘crime’ the hoopla that surrounds any ‘next big thing’. There is a smack in his words of: “The more things change the more they remain the same”.

Yes, he may have a perspective, but the big question is: “Why do we have to pay money to read a book about a truth that has remained constant throughout human history?”

MORE, BETTER, FASTER ISN’T A GOAL IT IS A PROCESS. 

The goal is perfection. Perfection is unattainable. So the bubble is created out of human expectation.

I like expectation bubbles. They drive change. The reason they burst is because the expectation is either flawed in logic, or beyond the reach of achievement with the resources currently in place. Nobody likes a bubble to burst, but they do, eventually. Flawed logic can create a devastating burst (housing market in US, .com meltdown etc.)

BJ Mendelson saw his expectations pop when he followed the rules laid down for success and it did not work. He is pointing to a ‘flawed logic’ within the Social Media bubble. Does anybody really see Social Media so rosily-coloured? I hope not.

Social Media has created a dynamic platform of communication that can scale easily and rapidly. Exactly what content will scale is as predictable as rain in the Sahara. It is also more subject to the whim of influencers than to content creators. And what scales could equally be trivia or significant; of commercial value or zero value.

If your expectation is a guarantee of success then it is your individual logic that is flawed. If you can make money selling a book about it, good luck. You might save someone with logic as flawed as your own from investing in Social Media.

I don’t participate in Social Media much, because I personally don’t enjoy the interface. But I understand the genre of user that does. As humanity continues to bond with Digital Interfaces then Social Media platforms and their like will remain essential hubs of human interaction.

If the bubble bursts, it will be because something else evolves to create a higher expectation, not because the logic is flawed, as BJ Mendelson implies.

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The Religion and Politics of Branding

Credit to Chris Koentges for his article entitled “Can a brand speak to both the lunatic left and right? There is plenty of evidence of brand partisanship from political, social, environmental or religious perspectives.

The question we should really ask “what is the implication of defining consumers by their partisan leanings?”

 

There are many characteristics shared between opposing factions that gave John Lennon a reason to believe in the Brotherhood of Man: Hassidim use cell-phones , anarchists eat potato chips, and most men with two legs put on their pants one leg at a time. If you take religion, countries or politics out of the equation we have more in common than what divides us.

As a marketer we have some choices in how to align to customer values. Do you define a segment by what sets it apart, or by what unites it? Take single, overworked single Moms on low income as an example. If research states that 70% of them have strong socialist leanings, do you press that button for stronger brand affinity – or do you stay true to the broader human condition? If your competitor takes aim at a customer segment by sponsoring a cause, do you react, up the ante, go in a different direction?

There is no right or wrong except by measure of results. Some products will relate better to an ideology and some to a basic human need, but brands don’t determine personal values. So do you have a rule of strategy, or do you just play along with an opportunistic grin.

Written By |Brand Integrity, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Religion and Politics of Branding

How does customer service fit into your marketing mix?

This question was asked by Marketing Magazine to Longo’s Grocery Chain (see the November Special Issue on Customer Service).

I didn’t get to the answer. The question short-circuited my frontal lobe so I stopped reading. Let me explain.

I have, for the past 16 years, had a mania about customer-centric marketing. I have also been a critic of brand-centric marketing. I have never had a problem selling the strategy, but I have sometimes been a bit disappointed by the casual observation that “It doesn’t look much different”.

It has been a splinter in my brain to characterize the contrast between the science of customer-centric marketing and brand marketing without reaming off thousands of words.

Don’t breathe!  I may have found a solution. I am going to reword Marketing Magazine’s question:

HOW DOES MARKETING MIX FIT INTO YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE?

(I feel a bit dizzy. Need to take a moment.)

Customer-centric marketing takes brand ego out of the equation and replaces it with brand empathy, at every touch-point. It focuses your value proposition, media execution, product delivery, customer service and relationship management on the customer’s values.

“How does Customer Service Fit into your Marketing Mix?” vs. “How does Marketing Mix fit into your Customer Service?” It is an 180 degree flip. And it is a mind-set. Perhaps you can’t see the difference until you feel the difference.

Is it easy to make the transition?
No.

Is it so obvious when you have?
It may not be so noticeable to the casual observer, but it is very significant to the target audience and to your customer retention, share of wallet, marginal cost of marketing and all those other important variables.

So, how does your marketing mix fit into your customer service?

Written By |B2B, B2C, Customer Focus, In the News, Marketing Strategy, Relationship Marketing, Sales & Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on How does customer service fit into your marketing mix?

The Customer is Queen (not King)

You know the old aphorism: “The Customer is King”. It turns out that nobody really means it. You have to wonder why. Let’s take a look….

WHAT IS A KING, ANYWAY?

Kings are confrontational — whatever conflicts with their rule must be challenged. Two kingdoms in conflict have limited choice: to conquer, negotiate, submit, or make an alliance.

What does it mean when we say that ‘The Customer is King’?

Most business owners would answer that it helps them to remember the ‘significance of the customer’. But it doesn’t mean the customer should have the power to dictate terms to the business. The Business is really the King.

WHAT IS A QUEEN?

In metaphor – the Queen is the consort to the ruler of the kingdom. If a King wants to extend his rule, he needs a loyal, supportive Queen who can raise princes that won’t challenge him, to keep the peace in his kingdom.

The ‘King’ is your business and the ‘Queen’ is your customer. The princes are your growth in market share, share of wallet etc. Be disloyal to your customers and they will rebel or defect.

 

Treat your customer like a Queen: two heads sharing common goals, values and interests. Don’t treat your customer like a King. You’ll butt heads and they’ll replace you with a competitor.

 

Play your cards right by reinforcing customer values to create a loyal, profitable and long-term relationship.

IT’S NOT A FAIRY TALE

It is in your best interest is to build long-term relationships with your customers by understanding and anticipating their values.

This is the top-spin that we put into Customer-centric marketing, to create, grow and sustain your customer relationships. It’s more than creative, more than branding, and more than rewards.

Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.