Friday, November 28, 2008
Celebrity derisement perhaps?
Now I've previously commented that Celebrity is not to be confused with influence, but when a person has both of these and they start giving their opinions, people listen and act accordingly.
This was once-again brought to my attention yesterday when Rory Cellan-Jones mentioned Stephen Fry's negative Twitter comments about his new Blackberry Storm on Twitter. It seems that one man is able to make a difference in the successful launch and selling of a product.
The topic must therefore get around to the question of "which celebrity derisement do you need to avoid?" or "which key inflencer's negative sentiment causes the most impact?". How do you find this out?
By understanding, measuring and plotting your company's corporate social graph, you can specifically identify your celebrity influencers as well as other key figures (journalists, officials, etc.) and appropriately deal with their positive and negative endorsement.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
you should satisfy customers with the best possible product in the marketIts as simple as that! However,the term has fallen out of favour to more recent and newly-hyped theories & tools such as anaytics-based and 1-to-1 marketing . Why?
through a relational exchange process.
Customer relationship management goes beyond the normal transactional model (customer told, customer buys, customer goes away) but actaully enables the marketer to estimate the customer's sentiment and buying intention, so that the customer can be provided with products and services before they start asking (or even realise).
This is possible through the integration of four important company components:
Perhaps its time we take a look again at CRM.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- The BBC Trust on Friday (21st November) has rejected plans, described as 'controversial', to launch a network of local BBC news websites with video content.
- This scheme would have cost around £68m, but was judged "unlikely to meet [licence fee payers] needs" or improve the service
- The regional press has welcomed this decision, as it saw these plans as direct competition to their own local efforts (less laughing at the back there please) and would potentially affect their revenues by 4% per year.
This is in direct contract to nearly every other major media player, who is currently cutting back its regional news operations (e.g. even ITV). For more information see the well-balanced report on the BBC website.
What I believe the BBC management have done is find an area of communication (e.g. local coverage) that isn't the subject of innovation and ground-breaking new models that we would have once hoped for from the regional press. By planning a new, alternative and professional service that moves the Corporation one step further from broadcaster to local media hub, it surely is only trying to provide what people want?
This isn't necessarily the end of the matter. There is still a public consultation process which will see the final decision given on the 9th January 2009.
Perhaps the BBC now needs a new Media Relations Manager?http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/776268/media-relations-manager
Monday, November 24, 2008
Well, apparently not very well, as in the UK we spend almost five days a year communicating with customer services by phone, in person or via the Internet.
This astonishing fact comes from a recent European DHL survey that suprisingly shows that 5.8billion hours a year in the UK are spent dealing with Customer Services staff. This is an average of two hours & 16 minutes a week......!
The UK's top three dislikes about customer service are:
- waiting times (83%)
- language barriers (80%)
- lack of knowledge (74%)
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Why do I say this? Well you may currently be making enough money on your current branded eCommerce site to keep the boss and shareholders happy, but what are you missing out on?
Answer: An opportunity!
Lets put this another way, your customers don't always use the same online channel to:
Gain awareness, review features, understand detail, discuss their potential purchase, etc. Some use shopping comparison sites (e.g. Google Shopping, etc.) , some go direct to brand sites, some go to independent & industry-recognised reviews and others ask their friends on social networks. http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006719
Q: Doesn't that just commoditise our product?
Sure, there's the chance that cusomers just look at price, but that happens anyway. Others use multiple online sources to gain information and clarify their purchasing decision. If you are not present when they are making that decision you are missing an opportunity.
Q. How do I do this ?
Easily! Most eCommerce software/vendors allow you to take a regular product (including price, image reference and even inventory/stock) feed from your online catalogue/database. This feed (usually in XML format) can be provided to key partners or affiliates, who can easily re-format it and put it up on their site to work for you.
Note: If your eCommerce provider says this is difficult or even impossible to do this, consider reviewing their contract ASAP
Q. Doesn't this cannibalise my existing eCommerce operation?
Possibly and lets be honest about this. If you are running a successful online sales channel and you provide a feed allowing your products to be sold on other channels, then there is this risk. This can however be measured and avoided by carefully selecting your channel partners. This comes from understanding & comparing the sales made with that of your own site . It may be that these partner channels target a different demographic or catch people at an entirely different part of the product consideration process. Careful analysis is imprortant here.
Has anyone got any more questions?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So just how influential are they?
Well, in Europe they make up about eleven percent of the workforce despite having higher costs for higher education than previous generations.
Having never known a world without the Internet, they obviously spend a great amount of time online and 18-24 year-olds make up 19% of the adult online population. But despite their apparent stereotype, they do not demonstrate the impatient, self-absorbed and disloyal characteristics sometimes labelled to them, but instead they are more optimistic, more loyal and less rebellious than previous generations .
Even though these tech-savvy young adults may still live at home with their parents, they do strongly influence many adult consumer buying choices (e.g. parent shopping habits) particularly the family technology preferences and habits. In a recent Motorola study Millennial were shown exerting: considerable influence on parental decisions about cable, DSL and satellite service, as well as on which HDTV to purchase, and even which programming packages to buy.
A slightly older piece of research from 2006 showed they influence household purchases in the fol owing ways:
- 81% of clothing and apparel purchases
- 77% of groceries purchases
- 76% of movie, video, DVD purchases
- 69% of video games and systems purchases
- 68% of computer purchases
- 66% of cellphone and computer software purchases…
And lets not forget that they are now politically active. For example in January 2007 Farouk Olu Aregbe, a student government coordinator at the University of Missouri, launched a Facebook group, "One Million Strong for Barack."
As mentioned by Brad Sago, in his report on The Online Shopping Psychology and Expectations of Millennials:
Over the next few decades, Millennials will continue to stamp their own unique imprint on business and society.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Has no brand manual (the logo use varies from campaign to campaign, fonts are varied, writing style is confused, etc.) yet they think they have a great brand. It seems that sales are declining in their high-specialised market right now, but this is the 'customers fault for not understanding them'.
Has a great 'brand bible', put together less than a year ago by a highly-paid brand consultancy, yet has started to ignore these guidelines because the person who commissioned/championed the work has left (they went on to bigger & better things). They have now been replaced with someone who wants to put their own "emphasis on things".
The thoughts that my companyIdeal Interface have taken from this experience has been:
- Document your brand (if you don't know, how are your customers going to?)
- Take every opportunity to use your branding across all channels
- Be consistent, be very consistent
So once again, I find myself referring to the work of Mr Paul Isakson and his thoughts on branding in the modern age:
Monday, November 17, 2008
Following a social media outcry, McNeil Healthcare (the parent company) have issued an apology on the homepage of their website http://www.motrin.com/
As well as this, they have also issued apologies via email to concerned customers and pledged to remove all occurences of the offending advert as quickly as possible.
This apology seems to have been relatively well received:
I'm sure there will be several commentators out there who will provide their opinion on this series of events, but here's my main bullet points:
- Following the backlash, McNeil Healthcare, and in particular its VP if Marketing, seem to have responded over the weekend and today (I guess time will tell how badly this has affected brand and revenues)
- Several Motrin names on Twitter have now been taken by 'concerned' individuals (I'll not post who they are, as I don't think they have acted entirely in the public's best interest)
- Brands can no longer afford to ignore social media and should take steps to monitor the mentions and sentiment all the time
The ad targetted mums who carry their child in a sling on their body and went on to mention how this this is fashionable and gives you back pain. They haven't gone as far as to say "your child is a pain in the neck", but a lot of people took offence to the clip, blogging about it:
(e.g. http://shakethesalt.com/2008/11/motrin-the-anti-mom/ ) and using Twitter. (At this time of writing, the http://www.motrin.com/ website is even down).
Judge for yourself :
This is a warning to every brand. Your customers could take offence, even at your highly-researched campaign, especially if it targets a sensitive section of the population (e.g. new mums). Make sure you have plans in place for how to deal with this sort of crisis and learn from how other companies respond.
(Note to Motrin: Perhaps taking down your own website at a point like this isn't the best policy?)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Astrology, tarot cards, tea leaves, etc. have now been replaced by: scenario modelling, data-mining and a lot of computation & analysis. However I can help but think that this is still similar to palm reading and its ilk. Why? Well, it still uses one critial part of the system that is fallable... the human component!
Although a single human may be considerably inaccurate at predicting the future (Old Moore, Nostradamas, etc.), is a collective group of humans any good at guessing what happens next? Well, on the basis of the recent financial crisis, it would seem not
The recent USA Presidential Campaign was
Friday, November 14, 2008
But after reading through many of these from different companies, I've noticed one word missing from the collective bunch... Integrity
Why is this?
Why do companies not include "The steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code" as a differentiator? http://www.thefreedictionary.com/integrity
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A quick search on the web, shows that the NYT actually noticed as well:
It seems that newspapers still have a role in getting the message across, but its perhaps more worrying that they had to give away the 1.4 million printed copies of this hoax, rather than charge the cover price for what is obviously a great souvenir!
“There is a time and a place for Facebook. But there is no justification for it to be used as a sounding board for staff of any company to criticise the very passengers who pay their salaries.”
"But hang on.... this is Virgin Atlantic Airlines" I hear people say. "They are the 'fly in the British Airways ointment', the company that has a Facebook page with quotes from Richard Branson, endorsements by James Bond and they actively encourage their customers to take silly photos of your free DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) socks as you travel the globe with them".
But, in my opinion there is a definite difference between a company presenting itself in a friendly way on a social networking site and the action of some employees venting their frustrations and opinions on the same platform.
Is this therefore not a principle case for segmenting the different contacts in an individual's Facebook account? Surely to have: work colleagues, school mates, customers and everyone else all seeing everything you say or do is not what anyone really wants? Wouldn't it be better to classify some aquaintances in one way (e.g. Business contacts) and others in another way (e.g. people I can say what I like to)?
Classification and segmentation of a personal social graph must obviously be the next step for all multi-purpose social networks (or over vertical/market-specific social networks that allow you to import your entire social graph). Perhaps following that segementation, companies will be likely to follow-suit and understand just who within their Corporate Social Graph they can have contact with and what that contact should be.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Forward thinking Michael Resenblum tells it like it is this week whilst backstage at the Society of Editors conference in Bristol:
His words during the conference were very powerful. Quotes such as:
“Any idiot can do this, making TV is not hard, it's not complicated, it's not difficult. The technology makes it incredibly simple.”
were meant to galvanise publishers into thinking more about cost-effective TV production and less about paper. It the news that's inportant, not how its delivered.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Or to quote him directly:
Nobody has the right to a business model.Amen to this! The World is filled with people who had a great but failed idea. Why should the newspaper industry survive just because:
- "that's always the way we've done things"
- "that's what I trained for"
- "we helped bring down a government in the 1970's"
We may eventually find that the profitable running of a newspaper was a failed experiment!
Monday, November 10, 2008
For example, just take a look at how many 'lite', 'freemium' or 'trial' versions of software packages there are out there (I'm currently a sucker for the demo / trial versions of applications on my iPhone).
So, you've recouped the cost of development, shown it costs you virtually nothing to produce a copy (e.g. software, an idea, a process, etc.) and then your strongest competitor comes along with something...... and charges for it. What makes it worse is that customers pay for it, a lot of them.
So how does that work?
Well according to Kevin Kelly, a great modern thinker, Editor-At-Large for Wired magazine and Author of the 1997 book New Rules for the New Economy (which still holds true 11 years on), there are 8 reasons for paying for something rather than settling for a free version:
Basically, there are several reasons why paid-for stuff is better than free.
It therefore strikes me, in these modern and leaner times, that companies need to reconsider if the really need to give everything away and that this may be the difference between profit & loss (and therefore economic survival).
Friday, November 7, 2008
Therefore, assuming the quality remains constant, the only real competitive edge comes in the delivery and support of the item. In other words, the service provided, either during the transaction or afterward, becomes the difference.
This is especially true online, where customers think they get a lesser service compared to in-store. This is proven in a recent survey, where eight out of ten consumers believed they get better customer service in-store, rather than on the internet or over the telephone. What's even more surprising (especially in these more-frugal times of a recession) is that 73.4% say they are prepared to pay more for a product if they receive a better service in-store.
Tim Ogle, CEO at Retail Eyes , who did the survey is quoted as saying:
The public has spoken - even when their pockets are stretched in times of financial adversity like now, they are prepared to pay for quality of service.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The idea is that banks will continue to finance retailers over the coming Christmas period, when a lot of retailers make a significant proportion of their money, This will be in the hope that this revenue is enough to keep them afloat.
The role of companies like Begbies Traynor is to rescue companies about to go under. Its therefore good business for corporate insolvency specialists to identify those who are not doing good business (think of this as the equivalent of a corporate dead pool)Mark Fry of Begbies Traynor said:
"There is every chance we will witness a rash of retail failures at the start of 2009"
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
But share a though for those gamers currently playing the new Burnout Paradise xBox360 console game. This is currently one of the screen shots captured from a particularly slippery part of the xBox Live course:
Monday, November 3, 2008
But how do you make sense of it all? Well, if you are using more than one communication or retail channel, then you need to think about how to leverage these touch-points so that you get the right mix of: message, content, sales, support and whatever else.
So, if you:
- Advertise online to get customers into store
- Provide a kiosk for an online newspaper
- Sell online and have customers collect from store
Then you've probably found out already how mad it can be.
But are you providing the mix that your customers want? For example, in the US earlier this year, retail customers cited the 'Ability to return merchandise to a a store, even if it was purchased online or over the phone' as the feature they desired the most from multichannel.
- The analysis (and decision) of what channels to implement
- Identifying the right metrics/KPI's across channels (and then actually measuring & acting on them)
- Organizational impact from exisiting 'siloed' departments
- Maintaining the message consistency across channels
- Finding or building the central technology to manage the whole thing
- Integration of the data between disparate systems
I'm going to try an focus on these challenges (and quite possibly more) in forthcoming posts and try to figure out how to avoid or resolve them. Hopefully it won't make us all mad in the process.