Archive for September, 2009

Learning from Steve Jobs: Executive Presentations Made Perfect

The other day, a girl friend of mine came to visit and she was cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Before she placed the dishes out on the dining table, she was feverishly decorating the dishes with garnishes, wiping off the edge of the dishes, looking up matching colors of plates and napkins for the table, and even grabbed one of my crystal vases from next to the TV and put it on the table like a centerpiece (sans flowers). “People eat with their eyes,” she said to me with a big smile, expert-like. “Presentation is everything!”

Is presentation everything? Yesterday I came across this link on Twitter about this new book called The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs written by Carmine Gallo. Apparently, Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ presentation has harnessed enough attention that some experts are analyzing and advising executives to present like Steve. So what is it about Steve’s presentations that warrant our emulation?

Here are the FIVE key takeaways:

  • Introduce the antagonist
  • Create Twitter-friendly headlines
  • Sell dreams, not products or services
  • Keep your presentation sophisticatedly SIMPLE
  • Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse

1)      Just like any story, there’s always an antagonist. If your company, product or service is the hero, how would you open up the presentation? You would set the stage and give your audience the lay of the land, that your company can make things better and restore equilibrium to the situation. Essentially, here’s where you explain why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why you’re introducing your product/service to the world the way it is. 

2)      How people write their Twitter updates (140 characters only) is what you want to strive for in describing your product or service. Keep the description short, sweet and significant. “Our cleaning products can clean up any mess at home”, “Our restaurant offers you the best Italian experience outside of Italy,” or “Our service revolutionizes the way medical billing is done.” Weighty claims, short statements.

3)      Change is in the air. After all, what you’re selling is going to set off changes in the way people do business, conduct their lives and deliver better outcome. Tell the story about your product or service in the same way – what positive changes or experience people should expect from using your product or service.

4)      Simplicity is the way to go, or in Steve’s words, the “Zen” way. What’s so Zen about Steve’s presentations is they’re all simple, clean and professional-looking. Though dramatic in his delivery, Steve made his slides easy to follow, attention-grabbing and focused with key, memorable messages. He believes simplicity demonstrates sophistication – love this concept!

5)      Since we were kids, our parents would constantly remind us how “practice makes perfect.” Presentations are no exceptions. Steve Jobs is maniacal with his practice and rehearsals, sometimes spending over 100 hours on one presentation. I’m not talking about putting the slides together, but rehearsing the actual delivery of the presentation. No wonder he speaks so effortlessly and elegantly on stage. What admirable diligence!

Watch Steve Jobs’ keynotes and presentations here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/guide/appleevents/

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – How to be insanely great in front of any audience http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8655775

For other discussion on Steve Jobs’ presentations: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2008/sb20080125_269732.htm; http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2008/01/5-presentation.html

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Are You Capturing Your Customers’ Full Value?

When customers buy from me, there I’ve proven that I’ve captured all the value (and revenue) to justify the time, energy and resource spent on my customers. Ain’t I capturing all the value there is?

You might be capturing some value, but probably not all. With the rising usage of social media, do you have a marketing engagement strategy to capture all the “social revenue” made possible by sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Based on the customer marketing life cycle, are you interacting with your customers at every major touch point? Are you under their radar all along? If not, then somewhere along the life cycle path you might be losing out to competition.

Let’s use the customer marketing life cycle flow chart to look at these key areas of engagement: want, need, research, evaluate, buy and use.

Customer Marketing Life Cycle

1) Awareness (WANT vs. NEED)

Heightened awareness is now made available through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With the many conversations, status updates, discussion groups and resource sharing happening online, be sure you’re part of the social conversations. Awareness drives engagement. The more you’ve increased your brand awareness, the more likely others will begin to engage with you (if they find your brand interesting and engagement-worthy). Be proactive and progressive in having dialogues with your customers on how you can add value to what they’re doing and try move the conversation to the next level – consideration.

2) Consideration (RESEARCH & EVALUATION)

Now that you’ve successfully guided your customers along the first part of the life cycle and brought them to come to terms with the different options, it’s time to dig in and do some research. This is the part where you can shine. Research studies, industry reports, white papers and insights that you can share with your customers will help you be part of the consideration here. If you’re engaging customers in this phase, you’re further down the road of closing a deal. But the engagement process doesn’t end here.

3) Purchase

Here’s the phase where you want to make sure customer service is achieving 100% client satisfaction. Customers who want to buy your products or services but are treated with subpar customer service during the transaction might ruin your chances for future engagement (i.e. repeat business) with them. Remember the social conversations that have brought you this point – you’ve built a relationship with your customers! Don’t let that relationship leave you or your brand. Bring it to a higher level. Be 100% certain that you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s during this phase of transaction. Seize the opportunity as your wedding ceremony (where you give the ring and seal the deal). It should never be a mere thanks-and-goodbye. The word gets out if customer service doesn’t deliver.

4) Ownership

Ownership is the customer support phase. Are you answering the questions posed? Are you continually engaging the customers to make sure they’re liking what they’ve purchased and would recommend others to buy it? Customer loyalty is cultivated in this phase and engagement here can potentially turn into influence. You’d better watch out “influence” here as this is what new buyer behavior is all about – every customer becomes a point of influence in the social conversations. Are you capturing the influence you need to take your business to the next level?  

Do you survey your customers? Are you actively finding out whether your customers felt positive about the consideration process, purchase experience and usage of your product/service? What type of feedback are you providing to your customers when your receive their comments? As you can tell, social conversations didn’t end with ownership nor will they in the future as long as your business and brand exist. Ongoing engagement with your customers will keep you focused on the purpose of your involvement in social media and keep the energy and innovation flowing. More business to come!

Related post: 2010 will be a busy year of customer relationship building...for marketers

Achieving Geometric Growth in Revenue like Facebook

Just announced on Sept. 15, 2009:

Envy…Is your business growing the same way? I’m not trying to toot Facebook’s horn, but there are a few lessons-learned we can glean from their geometric growth and adopt on our own terms:

  • Embracing an OPEN business model
  • Making friends and partners with other talented technology and creative companies
  • Keeping company’s existence relevant and up-to-date
  • Influencing the influential (building relationships with news media, large corporations and celebrities, etc.)
  • Monetizing influence (Facebook allows ads but make them highly contextualized and relevant to the users)
  • Responding to both positive and negative feedback (from users and developers)
  • Maintaining a sense of urgency (never delay an announcement or decision that pertains to the wellbeing of users)

Seek Out Your Customers, Be Where They Are: Engage and Be Social

Figuring out my "social" prioritiesWhere are your customers hanging out these days? Chances are social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. (And if your customers go to three particular tradeshows a year, and only those three tradeshows, make sure you’re there also.) With the time and resources people are spending online, everyone’s trying to figure out a way to monetize the relationships they have. But before we go into monetization, let’s think about relationships for a second.

I always think the concept of “following” vs. “followers” on Twitter is revolutionary – you’re not just friends or colleagues with people who follow you or who you follow, but you’re actually cultivating a clout – a group of followers – while you become another person’s following.

What do you do with your followers? And if your followers happen to be your customers, what would you do differently in your interactions with them online? Chances are, you will interact with each person fairly equitably. Every Tweet is posted instantaneously on every follower’s status page, so your communication with any one person is shared and displayed. (Unless you go the route of DM – where you Direct Message the person; but what’s the point of DM if you can email each other.)

So what’s the insight here? Social media compels marketers and business owners to behave differently from before – every decision and point of interaction made is in relatively full view of other people (some competitors, too). The relationship-building process becomes open, rather than competitive, i.e. you’re no longer an exclusive commodity to your customer and neither is your relationship with your customer an exclusive one because your customer can be followed by Nth number of people just like yourself.

The open nature of online communication brings us to rethink the way we’ve been doing business or marketing our products and services. Our engagement with each customer is now driven and fostered by relationships, not by hardselling or advertising. And these relationships require commitment – a commitment to continually engage our customers in meaningful and reflective conversations, continuous service/product improvement and deeper relationship building. And some of these relationships may translate into better performance or financial rewards, while others may not. (Charlene Li of Altimeter Group recently released a study on the breadth and depth of the 100 most valuable brands’ engagement across 11 different online social media channels http://www.altimetergroup.com/2009/07/engagementdb.html )

So when Topsy (a Twitter-based search engine) said on its blog today: Influence is the New Web Currency, I think that ties right back to what we’ve been saying about relationships, engagement and open communication – the three elements that make influence possible.

Instead of figuring out what our customer loyalty index is, maybe we should ask, “What’s our influence index?” to be more relevant, engaging and social.

Resources:

1) Measure your social media influence: Take the Engagement Survey http://www.engagementdb.com/Rank-Yourself

2) Check out the brand engagement report at http://www.engagementdb.com/Report

Noticing the Unnoticeable

Different marketers have found different sources of creativity. I’ve found noticing the unnoticeable to be mine.

When I notice something extraordinary, I pause, look again, stare and think. Then I make associations in my head with the thing I’m looking at, “What I’m working on right now needs exactly this thing to be different and to sell.” 

I take notes, mental notes and sometimes voice recordings as well. Taking a spin around the block can also usher in new thoughts and reactions. I believe ideas come when you’re not noticing, when you’re caught off-guard. In fact, I find driving , not talking about the idea, a great companion to decision-making, especially when it comes to making quick and important decisions.

Maybe that’s why we still see billboards on highway, that TV commercials are still selling today.

Can we cut out the ads before a trailer or video online? Coz the way they pop up is too noticeable and predictable. Put ads on plates, coffee cup sleeves, paper napkins, shoe-boxes and any place unexpected – places where you won’t normally look for sources of creativity.

Inspired by reading Magic Beans, TV and the web, watching Julie & Julia and eating at Max Brenner.

Assessing high and low commitment levels of social media tools for your business

Are you getting your daily dose of social media in the right proportions?

Stumbled upon this wonderful pyramid posted by Lee Aase on his SMUG blog. I’m drawn to the two arrows in particular – one pointing up as the Commitment level, and another pointing down as the Quantity level. If you’re interested in Lee’s observations, check out his blog. But here I have some added thoughts as to the implications of the different tiers of social media activities.

Courtesy of Lee Aase and Valeri Gungor

Courtesy of Lee Aase and Valeri Gungor

Does the higher commitment level always yield higher gains? I’m not sure. I think both the quanitity and quality of gains can go up and down the pyramid, depending on what types of gains you’re looking for.

Via Twitter, some recruiters are finding candidates while some candidates are finding jobs. Level of commitment – pretty low. Tweeting a job listing is not rocket science, and may take as little as 5-10 seconds to do. For the candidates, the amount of time required to click through the link, read the job post and respond to the job might not be all that much different from checking a job post on Careerbuilder or Monster. However, the advantage of responding to a tweet is that you’re building instant rapport with the tweeter, i.e. the recruiter. That rapport can be further developed via more tweets going back and forth. That’s where social networking begins.

Using the same example of job listings and job search, let’s take a look at the interactions between Twitter and Blogs. Checking different blogs to keep abreast of the latest job postings take a much higher level of commitment, and I’m not sure if people post job listings or talk about the jobs they’re hiring on blogs so much. However, via blogs, one could end up landing on more job postings with links on the sidebar, inspiration from the blog posts, or identifying names and company names mentioned on the blogs, but the level of engagement is more significant and the commitment to keep checking back is undeniably higher than checking into Twitter.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make? Yes, blogs require a higher level of commitment, but the lower level of commitment required by Twitter might not yield any worse results than blogs.

If you’re a company thinking where and what social networking sites you want to be involved with, then consider this: Twitter might not be as scattered or schizophrenic as one might think. The next time someone says to you Twitter is not fitting for your business, that it’s a tool for young people only (which by the way it’s not true at all, see the latest Comscore study on the changing demographics of Twitter users), ask them why they say so, how they can apply the tool for your business and make it work, and what commitment level is required. You might be surprised by how much low-level commitment tools can offer you.

Cultivating user engagement

Courtesy of Seth Godin

Courtesy of Seth Godin

On one of his recent posts, Seth Godin presented an interesting perspective about the balance between delivering a little to a lot of customers vs. delivering a lot to just a few of them. He pointed out at the end of his blog that the solve for delivering good customer service is to set the right expectations with your customers. How true that is: don’t market what you can’t deliver, surprise your customers by delivering something unique, thoughtful and beyond-expectations. (Sounds familiar? Take a look at my previous blog post on 24/7 customer service.)    
 

Mass Marketing (serving a lot of people with a big promise) is no longer a sexy concept these days, but it was a popular one fifteen, twenty years ago, when marketing was about eye-balls, impressions and reach. Don’t get me wrong, those are still very important metrics today, but the advent of social media has changed the marketing landscape. 

Consumers are getting smarter, and to win them, you need to cultivate niche, engagement, user ratings, retweets and everything user-generated. Cultivation is the key – you’re cultivating customers, not luring, enticing or wowing them. User reviews and interactivity hold the key to any successful brand, product and service, and companies need to work extra hard today on generating good will, good reviews, ratings and referrals, which can then lead to more business orders. 

Customers’ expectations have also morphed, consumers are still looking for value, but they’re also looking for novelty, exclusivity, trust and emotional connection with the brand. For many brands, the stakes are getting higher in successfully delivering those values and staying ahead of their competition. More brands will be created, but more will also fall away.
courtesy of N Social Media on Flickr
Remember the phone queue I was on with the utility company mentioned in my last blog post, well, I did eventually get through after about 55 minutes but the customer representative somehow managed to drop our phone connection when she had to look up my account. I thought, “Oh great, now I can start all over again.” But no, I decided not to call back – I wrote a letter to their corporate headquarters office and mailed it out the next morning. They’ve lost my trust and earned my lowest possible user rating.