Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Customer Facing Marketing.

If this were a conference presentation, you might call these case-studies but really they're just personal customer experiences I've had this week.

1) A made to measure order from a household furnishings store. Delivery time 3 weeks "but will probably be ready in two - we'll call you". Four weeks later - no call. The response to my enquiry, "it hasn't been delivered yet, we'll call you when it is."

No apology = No repeat sales.

2) A twenty month old television explodes. It's no longer under warranty and the supplier doesn't accept (yet) that they sold me a defective product. Repair quotes vary from person to person and ultimately a sliding scale discount is offered due to age of product. Throughout the saga, the staff have been courteous and tried to help, but the processes and the incomprehensible paperwork have made it seem adversarial.

No transparency = No repeat sales.

3) A bottle of beer in a case clearly had a defective seal and I suffered a less than enjoyable taste sensation. The other bottles, so far, have been fine. I return the defective bottle to the supermarket complete with empty carton. I barely have to say a word before I receive a complete apology, a free case of beer and a gift certificate.

No arguments = No end of repeat sales.

Sainsbury's - from whom I made the smallest purchase - understand that it's all about customer service and word of mouth (and always has been). The other two don't.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Claims Bonus.

The sign should obviously have read "Please do not touch. Even clean hands damage surfaces".

And all the others in the gallery did just that - or so I saw afterwards. But this was the first one I actually noticed. What I assume to be somebody's deliberate removal (damage) of one letter made it all the more noticeable.

The original notice delivers a message that goes unnoticed. The altered one is much more noticeable because it is visually haptic - you subconsciously feel it as well as read it.

If you just make claims, they'll be ignored. If you show them to be true, they won't be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Measure For Measurement's Sake.

At a terrific discussion about Indian creativity this week, (where Vikram Seth was just one of the panellists), Amartya Sen spoke of how economists had spent far too long

"engaged in really silly fighting about how much mathematics to use in economics - it depends on how useful it is and sometimes it's frightfully useful - and other times it's a complete distraction.

Remember that when you're next asked about marketing ROI. And if your finance director doesn't know who Amartya Sen is, tell him or her that he's a Nobel laureate.

In economics.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let Your Users Fill In The Blanks.

You've probably taken a Myers-Briggs pesonality test at least once in your life. You've possibly reacted with some surprise to the first personality signifier, the E or the I (which labels you extravert or introvert) because you didn't see youself as introverted. And you would have been very wrong because the Myers-Briggs' axis is not the same as the normal societal extrovert/introvert delineation.

Such presumptions abound in the corporatisation of social media. The "media" isn't about indiscriminate broadcasting of messages under the guise of socialising. The "social" isn't about transferring work and costs to you users under the guise of a conversion to collaborative media. But many organisations insist it is.

Similarly, true excellence in user experience lies in facilitating whatever users want, whenever they want it, but all too often user interfaces are about what someone else belives their user wants. They imagine they're providing a blank canvas but, in reality, they're providing their own interpretation of "blank".

If you assume or dictate, you have to be absolutely sure you're right. If you're prepared to be proactively reactive and truly put your users (with all their vagaries and demands) at the centre of all that you do, you're far more likely to find out what it is that is right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Differentiate By Being Better.

Q. Why are so many new products so bland and derivative?

A. So many companies are competing against each other with similar agendas. Being superficially different is the goal of so many of the products we see. A preoccupation with differentiation is the concern of many corporations rather than trying to innovate and genuinely taking the time, investing the resources and caring enough to try and make something better.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Markets Always Change.

At a seminar about the future of music, I heard a provocative suggestion. If every cellphone owner were prepared to pay an average annual subscription of $10 for unlimited music, the numbers would look like this.

4 billion phones x $10 = $40 billion.

Current size of music industry = $20 billion.

Crisis, what crisis? Of course, the specifics are debateable, but the point is undeniable. Change the way you look at your business and all sorts of discoveries will follow. What's this got to do with marketing. Well not that much if you view marketing solely as promotion, but when you remember that it encompasses the P of place (aka distribution) you'll agree that marketing really has to be approached with a long-term perspective. Its short-term practitioners are the problem, not a symptom.

Markets always change. Always have, always will. It's a crucial marketing discipline to anticipate and, where possible, lead those changes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Qualitative Research.

We are all customers.

We all know what we appreciate as customers.

We all know what we detest.

So why don't we treat our customers as we would wish to be treated?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How To Make Spreadable Marketing.

1) Take an understood and loved tradition, something that is already social and spreadable. Like the easter egg hunt.

2) Substitute your product and prime your passionate users ahead of time.

3) Make it simple (but not easy) and include as many people as possible.

4) Let people react to your generosity of spirit.

5) Maintain personal touch until the end.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Destressing Customers.

I had to register a death last week. An uncommon event for me, but a run of the mill occurrence for the public servants providing the service. So you'd think that the anxiety level of their "customers" would be second nature to them and that any potential glitches would be approached with that in mind.

On the other hand, they might choose to retreat to a default position of ensuring that they covered themselves and their job description regardless of the customer service deficiencies that encapsulates.

It's an extreme example I know, but it has parallels in every business. Ideally, you're making sales and meeting customer needs every day whereas your customers are making those purchases far less frequently. Repetition may cause you to forget that fact. That's only natural.

But it's your job to remember each and every time how stressed your customer potentially is and how long-lasting an impression you can make by easing that stress. Or not.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Are You Talking To Me?

My local library service is changing its online offering - and is doing so by having no online presence for three weeks while they switch it over. Worse still, their warnings about this were couched in terms of the catalogue being unavailable. That might mean something to the IT guys who wrote it but to this user, it certainly didn't suggest that all functionality would vanish and one would have to trek to the library to renew one's loans.

If you're talking to your users, then

1)Speak their language, not yours. Pre-warning is no use if it's vague. In fact, it's worse than useless - it increases the likelihood of irritation.

2)Remember that any project serves the user and not vice versa. Make sure the user experience is paramount.

3)Don't sugar-coat things - detailing the downside will not put people off as much as a nasty surprise further down the line.

In other words, make it easy for them to listen.