Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Starting Out the New Year in a Posterous Style: Life Streaming

No, this is not a luxurious product or expensive commodities I’m selling you. And no, no one has paid me anything to say what I’m about to tell you. But I gotta admit that I’ve been flirting with a bifurcated heart recently. And that is instead of blogging, I’ve been “lifestreaming” on posterous.com. If you’ve never heard of Posterous or lifestreaming, you should check it out. It’s bound to revolutionize the way you organize information you want to share, store and send.

Blogging through my Gmail account is one of the many features Posterous offers. (No, Posterous didn’t pay me to write this blog post in case you’re wondering.) But I realize that if I come across a really cool news story, do some further digging into it, jot down some quick thoughts and make it available to others to jump on the same topic, Posterous does exactly that for me. The multimedia posting is even a bigger draw. You could practically post any video, images, podcast and feeds at your finger tips, again, via email.

My lifestream can be found on adamarcom.posterous.com and by sending an email to my posterous account, my lifestream post will go up instantly (between 1-2 minutes). I use Adamarcom as it’s my Twitter handle and it’s easy to remember. You can also integrate your Posterous stream with your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Honestly, I can’t find a better tool than this to help organize my virtual life three-way likeso. (And yes, Posterous supports posts on WordPress as well, though for me personally, Posterous is more of a bookmarklet style of blogging, and I’d rather keep my WordPress a bit more analytical and incisive than merely bookmarking my favorite resources and industry news, so I’ve decided to keep them separate.)

My most recent stream is on the top-growing retail sites and categories in December 2009. The information is HIGHLY RELEVANT to brands as we go into 2010. The reason is that our December holiday spending is a good indicator of commodities and information we consume regardless of the economic sentiments around us. If we visit those retailers and retail categories in spite of a slowed economy, a shrunk paycheck and a slightly damped mood, I think we’re onto some valuable insights here. A little further digging will get you into the psychographics of your customers and help you craft the best marketing strategy into the new year.

Another interesting lifestream I did was on “Eye-tracking” for those interested in SEO and SEM. If your website is a key channel of information and e-commerce for your business, Eye-tracking results are always going to be key to unlock the priorities of the different properties, elements and advertising assets happening on your website. Especially if you’re about to redesign your website in 2010, eye-tracking should definitely make it to the top of your list.

For many of us, 2010 will be a HUGE year of customer relationship building — face-to-face AND via social media. Consider Posterous and many other up-and-coming social tools (which I’d continue to keep you posted on in the days to come) that can help you do your job better.

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Pizza Time! Domino’s Keeps it Real

When a company is this bold, transparent and carries such swagger to reinvent its age-old secret recipe, it’s bound to turn some heads and raise some eye-brows—but all in a very good way.

Domino’s Pizza gives itself a kick in the back when it makes a “public” confession to its customers that’s like “Yeah, we gotta suck it up to our cardboard-feel pizza crust”, and wants their customers to give them a fair shake so that they can start all over again. Literally, their chefs decide to start all over from sauces and cheese to crust and toppings. Never have I seen a turnaround team so engaged and painfully open about their reactions to customers’ feedback, but they’re surely doing the right thing and making their campaign fun and compelling to watch & follow, hence a great social media project.

Domino’s Pizza’s social media campaign involves the following steps (tactical) that brings out profound learnings (strategic) for all marketers:

Step 1:

Document what customers are saying about their pizzas (the fact that they loathe Domino’s Pizza for the various obvious reasons)

Step 2:

Engage their in-house master chefs to investigate what has gone wrong

Step 3:

Create a new recipe; reinvent the way they market their pizzas using social media

Step 4:

Re-engage their existing customers and ask them to give Domino’s another chance

Classic marketing techniques but applied in a fundamentally open, transparent, graceful yet revolutionary way. Here’s to a praise-worthy brand that truly cares, listens, acts and improves! Good job customers and great job Domino’s on directing negative customer feedback into positive energy to re-focus on creating better products.

Watch the Pizza Turnaround Campaign:

Related posts:
HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Blog on How Domino's is Using Customer Feedback and Social Media Outreach
Capturing Your Customers' Full Value

2010 will be a busy year of customer relationship building…for marketers

When Bruce Temkins of Forrester Research says on his blog (http://experiencematters.wordpress.com) that 2010 will be a busy year for customer experience, he says it right. Strategy, technology, knowing and building relationship with your customers, restoring purpose in your brand, and the list goes on, are all part and parcel of the busyness marketers will experience next year.

The other day I was a participant (@AdaMarcom) on a Twitter chat #sm38 with Charlene Li (@charleneli) and other great marketers discussing social media, she said social media will be a key differentiator for businesses in 2010, where companies/brands who do well in this arena will increase customer loyalty, I was a bit skeptical.

Yes, social media tools on websites can help differentiate your products from your competition. They will make customer experience more pleasant and welcoming. But when most companies are going on Twitter and Facebook, responding to sales inquiries and handling customer service questions, then what could have been a differentiator is now part of life (the way of doing business). Companies are expected to provide satisfactory customer service, be it via a social media tool, a mix of social media tools or over the phone and email. More so in 2010 and the years to come, given more choices and increased exposure to brands in the media (online, TV, print and events), customers are becoming more knowledgeable than ever. They’re not only becoming selective and knowledgeable about the products themselves, they’re also getting pickier than ever about their shopping experience, how companies handle their orders, and what sources/sites they’re getting their products from.

“Don’t think of social media as an incremental “thing” to be handed off to a consumer. Your social media strategy is an extension of your company’s behavior,” said James Kelly on Forbes.com’s CMO Network in an article named “CMOs: Don’t Give Up Those Brand Reins!”

Customer service experience, with a smart choice of technology and social media tools, is going to be the key differentiator of marketing success and good company behavior in 2010. May I call it the “all-around” customer service experience? When I can pick up the phone, send an email, tweet my question, post on a Facebook fan page about the product I’m considering, finding help to research the product I’m purchasing, rating my experience with the product (and the process of getting the product into my hand), YouTubing the way the product works if it’s really that cool to warrant a video of its own, I think that’s ultimate all-around customer service experience.

Customers still dominate the center-stage of product marketing; they still have the reins the last time I checked. Though Time magazine just announced the “Person of the Year” to be Ben Bernanke, I think the ultimate person of the year is “I” the customer.

Let’s end with this thought on customer loyalty, and we’ll expand on this discussion in my next post: “Real value of social media/technologies is that it creates deeper relationships. How do you measure relationships?” tweeted by @charleneli on the Twitter chat #sm38. Building strong customer relationships will help unleash the true value of social media and technologies, hence giving you the best bank for the buck you spent on achieving it.

I believe with the thinking of creating deeper relationships and measuring them, we as marketers will head the right direction in 2010.

Related posts: Are you capturing your customers' full value? 
10 Customer Service Trends in 2010
Social Media Convergence

Two sides of the table: Agency vs. Client

Seth Godin hit it on the head of the nail again. He posted a blog today and turned my thinking upside down, inside out, like no one ever has, on the subject of being a great client. “Is there such a thing?” you may ask. Of course there is. Having been on both sides of the table, trying to be innovative on the agency side, and trying to keep innovation flowing as a client, I’ve never thought about my role in the light of “fostering.” But Seth said it well, and here’s my reaction to his bullet points.

I have here counter bullets of what you’re supposed to do if you’re on the other side of the table — that you’re the innovator. I think these bullets will serve as great reminders for anyone who wants to stay innovative and to become your client’s favorite innovator:

If you’re the client… If you’re the innovator…
  • Before engaging with the innovator, foster discipline among yourself and your team. Be honest about what success looks like and what your resources actually are.
  • If you can’t write down clear ground rules about which rules are firm and which can be broken on the path to a creative solution, how can you expect the innovator to figure it out?
  • Simplify the problem relentlessly, and be prepared to accept an elegant solution that satisfies the simplest problem you can describe.
  • After you write down the ground rules, revise them to eliminate constraints that are only on the list because they’ve always been on the list.
  • Hire the right person. Don’t ask a mason to paint your house. Part of your job is to find someone who is already in the sweet spot you’re looking for, or someone who is eager and able to get there.
  • Demand thrashing early in the process. Force innovations and decisions to be made near the beginning of the project, not in a crazy charrette at the end.
  • Be honest about resources. While false resource constraints may help you once or twice, the people you’re working with demand your respect, which includes telling them the truth.
  • Pay as much as you need to solve the problem, which might be more than you want to. If you pay less than that, you’ll end up wasting all your money. Why would a great innovator work cheap?
  • Cede all issues of irrelevant personal taste to the innovator. I don’t care if you hate the curves on the new logo. Just because you write the check doesn’t mean your personal aesthetic sense is relevant.
  • Run interference. While innovation sometimes never arrives, more often it’s there but someone in your office killed it.
  • Raise the bar. Over and over again, raise the bar. Impossible a week ago is not good enough. You want stuff that is impossible today, because as they say at Yoyodyne, the future begins tomorrow.
  • When you find a faux innovator, run. Don’t stick with someone who doesn’t deserve the hard work you’re doing to clear a path.
  • Celebrate the innovator. Sure, you deserve a ton of credit. But you’ll attract more innovators and do even better work next time if innovators understand how much they benefit from working with you. 
  • Ask what success means for your client. Tell your client what success means to you in relation to your client’s success.
  • Lay down ground rules and lay out a road map with which you can reach a creative solution, and explain to your client how you’re going to get there. Find out what your client’s ground rules and road map to innovation is like.
  • After writing down the ground rules, if you think some of them are getting in the way of innovation and creativity, revise them.
  • Discuss the importance of simplicity vs. efficiency, that your client doesn’t need to sacrifice sophistication nor efficiency with simple design.
  • Get the right people on your team, even if they’re smarter than you. Having people who are very good at what they do on your team is better than getting generalists who try hard to be good at everything.
  • Talk about innovations and decisions with your client. Make it clear from the get-go that decisiveness and a risk-taking mindset is key to the successful execution of innovative ideas.
  • Be honest about resources and constraints with your client. Be transparent about the truth, you’ll earn your client’s respect that way.
  • Don’t work for cheap. You know the market price of your work, so don’t accept less and spoil market.
  • Don’t concede to issues of irrelevant personal tastes from your client. Your client may have weird tastes and pet-peeves but your client may not be the only consumer of the product/service that you’re innovating. Your audience is king, your client is not.
  • If you sense someone on your client’s team is consistently killing innovation, pull the person aside and have a one-on-one discussion about innovation. This is a great opportunity to “educate” someone who might not have gotten it yet.
  • Your client may be the faux innovator, and you can’t run away from him. If the client continues to supersede your job to innovate, maybe you need to change your strategy or simply walk away.  
  • Celebrate a good client. If your client offers you plenty of room to innovate and make things happen, you should recognize the wonderful relationship and do even better work. 

About capturing your customers’ full value, read more on http://wp.me/pvnpY-85

Think What Not to Brand: 5 Things You DON’T Want Others to Say About You or Your Business

When we talk about branding, we’re really talking about how you want people, i.e. your customers, to talk about you and your service/product. And if we can get this concept down, we’ll have success on any media platform from social media to website to advertising.

  • Think of 5 things you want others to say about you and your service
  • Think of 5 things you DON’T want others to say about you and your service
  • What does it take for people to say what you want them to say about you, but not about your competitors?
  • Why should your customers trust your brand versus the others?
  • What functional and emotional benefits you can offer to your customers?
  • On a scale of 0-10, what would your customers rate you in terms of service satisfaction?
  • On a scale of 0-10, how likely would your customers recommend or refer you to others?

Once we’ve identified these items, we can begin to discuss the language, messaging and visual image you aspire to convey through your brand.

My little annecdote: On the client loyalty surveys we conduct with customers, we always ask the following set of questions:

  1. Would you recommend us?
  2. Are we your top-of-mind partner?
  3. Are you getting quick enough responses from us?
  4. Do we demonstrate knowledge of the marketplace?
  5. Are you happy with our products/services ?
  6. Are you happy with the process we deliver our products and services?

Ultimately, these are brand perception questions and the answers to them can help us figure out what we need to work on for successful branding.

Fortune 100 Companies Favor Twitter Over Facebook

SEOmoz Social Media Marketing

Image courtesy of SEOmoz’s Social Media Marketing Guide

The Affinitive blog talked about a “land grab” is happening on social media. If I may develop on this idea, I think an “attention grab” among consumer brands is fully out the gate. Imagine thousands of brands are trying to get your attention on TV, Radio, Newspapers, magazines and now – social media.

Twitter and Facebook are clearly surging as the strongest players in this great battle for attention—voted by Fortune 100 companies to say the least. According to a recenty study by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital, Twitter has now become the social media platform of choice among Fortune 100 companies. 54% of companies are active on Twitter, versus 29% on Facebook and 32% on corporate blogs. (Twitter experienced 3-digit surge in user growth this year, active user growth is projected to reach 18 million by end of 2009. Click here to read about Facebook growth.)

If you look at the activities companies have on these three platforms, they are actually pretty similar:

  • Distribute news and updates about their company
  • As an extension of their customer service
  • Announce marketing promotions (promotions/deals/contests)
  • Part of employee recruitment/human resources efforts (job postings)

Give or take, job postings probably don’t happen on corporate blogs as much as they do on Twitter and Facebook, and same thing for deals and promotions, which appear much more frequently on Twitter and Facebook, but not on corporate blogs.

Twitter and Facebook share various common characteristics but companies are clearly jumping onto Twitter at a much faster pace than onto Facebook. According to the study, 25 of the 54 companies that are active on Twitter are also active on Facebook. Although no specific reasons were discussed on the study as to why stronger engagement is found on Twitter vs. Facebook, there are some identified challenges about the ease of Facebook adoption from a corporate perspective:

  • Facebook page setup requires time for organization and optimization
  • Users need to get used to the fairly complex layout to find their way around
  • Opt-in applications require users to grant access or connect
  • Users are less likely to provide immediate response as they do on Twitter, which is built to capture real-time gut-reactions
  • Side-bar advertisements and highlights on Facebook compete for attention

I think I can come up with more reasons, but that’s not the point here. Just like any business, companies are looking for quick and lasting ways to engage customers on a regular basis as frequently as possible. The brand has to be front-and-center, and the conversations should be the core. Twitter provides for that and makes it easy for people to hop on and use. One doesn’t need an hour to learn how to use Twitter, but Facebook can be quite involved if you want to take advantage of its full suite of features and functions.

Then again, for those who have spent enough time on Facebook and have benefited from the dynamics it offers, Facebook is still one of the most loved inventions for the connection-craved generation and brand-saavy customers…it surely has my attention and the attention of my 150 friends.

Webinars are IN, but keep common faux pas OUT

Webinars are IN these days, in case you haven’t noticed. And Twitter and Facebook names are becoming popular leave-behinds from presenters to continue their dialogues with the participants post-webinar. Preparing for a highly-engaging and interactive webinar is not much different from preparing to present like Steve Jobs. How do you keep your webinars informative, relevant and engaging? How do you make sure your audience doesn’t tune you out 5 minutes into the presentation? Here are a few webinar faux pas we can try avoid:

  • Starting your webinar late – like 5 to 10 minutes late – making attendees wait or drop off.
  • A moderator who has very little knowledge of the presentation content and offers no insight on the value and background of the presentation and fumbles through the transition from one presenter to another.
  • Presenters are not cued properly to begin their presentation, causing awkward silences on the line. (Need a better moderator!)
  • Loud or monotone presenters 
  • Webinar application doesn’t allow you adjust the volume of the presenters from the listening end.
  • Unsynchronized audio and visual presentations – shouldn’t they be tested prior to going live?
  • A presentation with non-working audio and requires you to dial in via phone to hear the presenter. (Why bother with a webinar?)
  • Questions or raised hands that aren’t responded to or addressed. 
  • The webinar goes on forever, say more than 40 minutes.

Some must-have and considerations:

  • A knowledgeable, communicative and assertive moderator.
  • Presenters who can present effortlessly with high energy and the right tone (and volume).
  • Iron out all the technical kinks prior to the webinar.
  • Rehearse, test and dry run your webinar at least once before you go live.
  • Keep your presentation under 30 minutes – most people’s attention span is much shorter than that.
  • Provide audio AND visual in one application. (This is 2009, not 1999.)
  • Engage your audience and be interactive! Answer questions as they come in (or acknowledge incoming questions and hold them until the end of the presentation).
  • Poll your audience to gauge their business needs, interests and inclinations.
  • Summarize lessons-learned and calls-to-action.
  • Make your presentation memorable, buzz-worthy and viral.