January 24, 2012
As I surfed the internet reading various news stories the other day look at the page that I stumbled upon.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m a brand manager for one of the major cruise lines, I don’t think I’d want my automated review / display media units coming up next to the article about cruise ship deaths. Not good.
This illustrates my point that we have to act smarter than our technology. Someone was asleep at the switch to allow this to happen. Now, certainly stuff happens – no one knows this more than me. However in the case of a very public problem like an oil spill, cruise ship deaths or other tragedy it should be first upon our minds as internet marketers to supersede the automated processes we have to inject some human compassion and courtesy. At least we should try.
Thoughts? Maybe I’m being hypersensitive. Personally I thought this was awful.
December 3, 2011
During the holiday season we are all asked to break through the noise of our competition and other market segments to get the attention of our customer base. This is harder than ever to do in both traditional and digital marketing channels. My assertion is that the results that you get during the holiday season are a product of what you have been doing all year to create a relationship with your customers. People are smart and many have less disposable income than ever. Whether or not they spend some of that hard-earned cash with you is dependent on the value they have been getting from your product lines throughout the rest of your relationship with them. I think this is real meaning of a “holiday bonus”!
So let’s assume that you have been working diligently all year to create value, educate your customer on product benefits and differentiate yourself from the competition. Now is the time to reward those loyal customer for their patronage. Well constructed promotional offerings across all channels can gain you the most benefit with your base while also using this time as an opportunity to acquire new customers. This is the cheat sheet of things I’m trying to remember as I navigate through the season and make plans for 2012:
1. Take Risks – It’s time to shake things up. Offer deeper or different discounts; introduce new products alongside the existing lines and don’t be afraid to ask your consumer base what they like and want. Online polling options can be easily integrated into your existing site – use them!
2. Make Promotions Simple & Understandable to Your Consumer – Consumers do not like being confused. You do not want your offerings to read like the small print on a credit application! Stick to offerings that can be easily communicated in your creative materials.
3. Don’t Forget a Call to Action – Activating your customer base is not just about getting them to make purchases. Cause related commerce allows your brand to do something worthwhile in the world while making your revenue numbers. Select something that is on message and that your own team can get excited about.
4. Know Your Competitors & Be Different – Hopefully you’ve been doing competitive analysis all year-long but if you haven’t now is the time to sign up for your competitors email blasts and review their sites and social media channels. You can’t differentiate yourself if you don’t know what they’re doing!
5. Make a Cohesive Connection Between Holiday Offerings and Your 2012 Planning – This may be the time of the year when your site gets the most traffic. Find a way to engage those lurking on your site for your future campaigns. If you make the connection between a call to action, cause related offering or continued loyalty programs you can acquire customers long past this holiday.
Each market segment is different and there are many ideas out there.. This is just my take on what is required to break through during this season. Enjoy!
August 9, 2011
Today I’m at the eTail Boston conference listening to a very distinguished collection of speakers talk about the challenges of growing our ecommerce business. At 5pm today I’ll present on multi channel marketing integrations. You can see the live stream via this link http://bit.ly/qkX5ZP and also download it later.
What I’m struck by from the discussion from my colleagues is how we are mapping out the future for ourselves. Many pundits and vendors have opinions about how important for instance social or mobile is however brands feel that the jury is still out on how these things are integrating into their overall strategic vision. I feel it is folly to think that purchasing behavior won’t continue to evolve the same way we’ve seen it exponentially expand and transform over the last 10 years. Key is making sure your brand message is not lost amongst the technology. I feel that holding the customer experience as the main touchstone of your development efforts is extremely important.
Deciding whether or not you are a company that is going to grow and customize its own platform, embrace open source customizable solutions or partner allows you the freedom to move forward accordingly. I’m not sure that many companies now need to focus on their own slate of programmers. There are tons of tools readily available today that arguably can get you into the frey in a particular channel much faster than doing it yourself. You will still require staff but the skill sets will be different. Having a realistic view of the existing strengths of your team and your willingness to financially invest in them is an important business decision.
The great thing about conferences of this nature, at least for me, is that I get an opportunity to have some space to think about the big picture amongst other people who are doing the same thing. There’s an immediacy to the inspiration that comes from hearing about the solutions and challenges of others.
The CEO / CMO / SVP panel today drove home one thing – a focus on the basics of great customer service will always put you head and shoulders above the rest. Whether it was the CMO of ShoeBuy.com talking about their API’s or the President of Build.com hammering that exact point home they were both really talking about the same thing. Technology alone or new channels won’t save a business that doesn’t have a clear focus and capability on the fundamentals. Furthermore, now is not a time to be timid. Now is the time to push forward with enthusiasm as noted by the CEO of Brookstone. If you react to the market factors with fear one of your more bold competitors will run over you.
So be bold, go forth (with good metrics) and conquor the new channels that make sense for your brand. There’s no time like the present and tomorrow may be too late!
Thanks to the great folks at eTail for putting on a show with so many valuable speakers and including me in the list!
June 18, 2011
Have you ever sat in a meeting with a vendor and felt like this guy behind the desk?
This hilarious video made me laugh so much because it hits squarely on the head the absurdity of our current digital marketing situation. Between all the technobabble coming out of vendors and the industry as a whole business people like myself are often left holding the terminology bag and still not driving revenue up. I think I know why. We have to get back to basics.
Customers don’t care about our latest cloud based solution and neither does your CEO. What they care about are the basic key principles of good customer service delivered to them where ever they are. Yes, we all need our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed but all too often we’re not thinking about the tone of what we’re saying and doing. We’re only thinking about the next greatest coolest thing we can deliver. Here are a few notes from my own thoughts about doing this better:
1. Have Real Conversations: Pretend you were standing there talking to a customer. Yes, I mean live, in the real 3d world. What would you say or show them about your product and how would you do it? Translating a this personal experience to the web is the holy grail. You can’t do it if you’ve forgotten what the real human experience is like.
2. Know Your Customers Consumption Device: Pictures are worth a thousand words. We all know this but all too often we talk too much and show too little in a useful visual way. Remember the lowest common denominator of device that someone will be viewing your digital product artwork on?
3. Workflow Your Customer Service Process: Yes, folks good customer service does not happen by accident. It is a process. What happens when someone wants a return. What’s the conversation you have with them at that time. How do you gather metrics throughout the process? What about exchanges and credits? This may sound operational but at every step in this phase you are informing your customer about the integrity of your company and that is brand management 101.
4. Evaluate your Competitors: Usually you have successful competitors. Know what they are doing. Too often we are buried in our own work and forget to look up and around at what other people are doing until its too late. You don’t want to see your competitors new tool from an article on Mashable.
5. The Web is About People Not Gadgets: I could write an entire article on this thought alone. Technology is meant to bring people together in a web of knowledge and shared experience. The toys and gadgets are secondary to this true purpose. Stay true to this concept and you’ll be that much closer to elevating your brand beyond the basics.
Happy digital marketing folks. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. Thanks to Mark Miller from Global360.com and NothingButSharePoint.com for posting this to his Facebook feed. It made me laugh out loud!