Archive for March, 2008
Thursday, March 27th, 2008
“Marketing media.” Did you ever stop and think about what that means? “Media” = “In the middle.”
Every good little ad agency always makes sure that a media plan accompanies each recommendation they present to a client. It is assumed that all marketing communications must have some media in the middle, bridging the way between buyer and seller.
There’s no good reason. In fact, the most effective marketing doesn’t have mediation. It is when the buyer and seller are in direct contact, sans media.
Certainly, there are times when media are necessary. If you have a lot of customers, you may not be able to talk with them all directly. If you want to reach people you don’t know, you may need to delegate customer communication to some magazine or billboard. But, here’s my question: What do you build first into your plan – rich, personal, unmediated encounters, or mass, impersonal, mediated transactions?
Instead of building your media plan first, try this: Build your un-media plan. Start conceiving of your marketing by focusing on interacting directly with your customers. And then, use relatively-inefficient, less-productive marketing media for what’s left over.
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
So what if you’re different? Does anyone care?
Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing one of his competitors. This company has a unique feature, and has built their entire brand story around that feature. The problem? The feature isn’t that important to many people. (My friend smiles at this competitor’s strategy)
There is a difference between being different and being differentiated. “Since 1984,” “The Largest” or “Unlike others, we use only the highest quality rivets” may all be true. But do they matter?
(Shortly after speaking with my friend, Stumble Upon brought me to this picture, at funnyharhar.com)
Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis. The Men’s Room, 10 minutes before Springsteen takes the stage.
I overhear a man commenting on this ad …
… asking his friend, “Isn’t it strange to advertise advertising?
At least everything else was well-targeted in the vicinity.
(And, by the way, Bruce got 10,000 people’s undivided attention for 2 hours and 20 minutes.)
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Lately, I’ve been managing many relationships with clients, colleagues and prospects. Each day, I am talking and/or writing back and forth with a lot of people. Although I love encounters with people – it’s where I get my energy – the sheer volume of interactions is challenging.
As I’ve been doing this, I’ve been thinking a lot about customer relationships as ongoing conversations. (This is the subject of Chapter 3 in We) I keep reminding myself what my best relationships with friends are like; if a friend and I don’t talk for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months, we are able to pick up right where we left off. There is no need to start over. The same goes with good customer relationships – they are framed by ongoing, unbroken conversations.
Here is a mindset I find helpful: As opposed to thinking, “My customer and I talked about X last week and we are going to talk about X again this week,” I try to think, “My customer and I are talking about X.” It’s as if we are always in the middle of a conversation, even when we aren’t actually talking. If I’m thinking this way, it’s easier to jump right back into the conversation when my customer and I meet again.
This isn’t always easy. But it is important. A strong relationship is an ongoing conversation.
How do you create ongoing conversations with your customers?
Sunday, March 16th, 2008
Close your eyes for a minute and think of a few companies you really like doing business with. (You can open them now) Now, try to remember the interactions that influenced your opinions of those companies.
How many were interactions that were created “en masse” for you and other customers, such as ads, web home pages, fine print, FAQ’s, direct mail pieces, etc.?
How many were one-on-one interactions, such as personal advice from a salesperson, a customer service rep fixing a problem for you, a maintenance person trouble-shooting an issue for you, etc.?
Here is the simple truth: Marketing becomes less effective the more people it tries to reach at one time.
No doubt, it’s impossible to talk to customers one at a time, all of the time. It’s even hard to talk to them in small groups all of the time. Hey, even this blog is a form of mass communication. There are times when it is necessary, and even smart, to talk to customers as a group.
But it is also important to recognize that you are always making a compromise as you talk to many customers at one time. The natural tendency in marketing is to gang up communications and reach more customers, concurrently. Don’t look at this tendency as a convenience that makes the marketing job easier. Look at it as a compromise, even if it is a necessary compromise, that limits your ability to communicate.
Remember The Rule of the Few and the Many. It’s a simple rule: When possible, few is always better than many.
Thursday, March 13th, 2008
If you are a typical American, you will be exposed to something like 5000 marketing messages today. These will cover the spectrum from logos on shirts and ketchup bottles to impassioned pleas for your business.
Throughout the day today, notice how many of these messages actually have an impact on you. Even if they don’t encourage you to buy something, do they at least stick with you after the exposure?
You will probably notice that very few of these messages make a difference for you, let alone even get noticed by you.
Now, think about your customer, who will also be bombarded with 5000 messages today, in addition to an avalanche of emails, text messages, memos and voicemails. What happens if you send message number 5001? Will she be happy to see it? Will she notice it? Will it move her?
You can not shout your way into your customer’s life. A bigger marketing budget and more brute force is rarely the answer. Focus on creating an experience of brand harmony for your customer, where all interactions with you blend to tell one, cumulative story. And focus on relationship-building encounters, instead of impersonal transactions.
What can you do – today – to rise above the noise of your customer’s life? (Hint: It’s not a direct mail campaign)
Sunday, March 9th, 2008
Today, you can make this positive impact on your business: Improve your relationship with one customer.
Customer relationships are your best source of competitive advantage, and the true driver of value in your business.
Every time you come in contact with a customer, you have the opportunity to improve your relationship with that customer. And, when you improve your relationship with one customer, you are keeping the competition away from that customer … and increasing the value of your business.
So … make your next interaction with a customer a relationship-building encounter. I am offering my ebook, Encounters: The Building Blocks of We Relationships, to readers of this blog for free. Take it. Use it. Lose it and then download again. Use it as a coaster for your coffee cup and then download it a third time. I don’t care, as long as you improve one customer relationship, today. (And another one tomorrow)
I’m sure you’re busy today. So am I. But, can you think of a better use of time than improving your relationship with a customer?
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
“We’re attacking the target market with a rifle shot approach.”
“We’re in a fierce battle with the competition to capture market share.”
“We’ve scheduled a volley of advertising for the fall.”
I’ve actually heard people say these things. What is this, marketing, or West Point?
Why are we targeting customers? Are we trying to shoot them?
I’ll bet many of these companies claim to have a focus on “relationship marketing.” (Which usually means their IT department manages CRM software and they use it to “target” offers to certain customers)
These are marketing words I avoid:
These are marketing words I love:
Throwing information at customers is a very ineffective method of communication. If I want to persuade you of something, would I have much luck if I tried to “capture” you or “target” you?
Relationships require dialogue. Monologue can cripple relationships in their tracks.
Marketing is not hypnosis. Is it not something you do to your customers. It is something you do with them.