Tag Archives: Word-of-Mouth

How “Leadership” and “Management” translate in Social Media

Steve JobsLEADERSHIP is about “leading people” because they choose to follow you…emotionally. You are the one they believe has the vision they want to see happen. Leaders don’t demand anything…people follow because of the leaders’ passion, commitment to their cause/focus, and their authenticity.

MANAGEMENT is about getting things done. These are people who can organize the teams, give guidance/orders, create the project plan for how things will get executed, and deliver results. People don’t follow managers…they work for the managers to help make things happen.

Social Media has both…Leaders and Managers. And as consumers of social media, we look to both…but for different reasons. If you are looking for thought leadership, blue ocean thinking, new ways of thinking about something, innovation, and other possibilities, you generally follow “Leaders” on social media. But if you want “how to’s”, ways to use the social media tools better, more analytics, how to get your tweets read, how to put a social media execution plan together, you are generally more focused on people who “manage” social media.

Who are YOU on the social channels? What do your audiences think of what YOU do to help them in the areas of content and execution? Do people follow and connect with YOU because they are getting thought leadership or ways to execute more effectively? These are great questions to help you (and you company) determine what kind of social media strategy you have in place.

A company without one or more “Social Media Leaders” is one that will struggle in building meaningful relationships with their audience. A company made of up of “Social Media Managers” is generally without a strategy that is tied into the vision of the company, but they can generate lots of activity and show great numbers for their activities.

“Social Media Leaders” will drive the need for “Social Media Managers” in an organization. After all, if you have people that others want to learn from and seek out for their insightful and thought leading content, someone has to manage the activity of those followers. But it doesn’t work the other way around, unfortunately. The Managers don’t create a need for Leaders.

Who are the people involved in Social Media in your organization? Are they “Leaders” who generate original thought leadership content where your audience constantly says, “I didn’t think about it that way but that is a very interesting perspective.” If you don’t, then the Managers are shuffling the chairs on the Titanic because there is not valid reason why the audience needs your content…unless you are self-promoting, offering deals, pushing products/services, and simply blasting the airwaves with what you have to offer. The audience tells us they are getting tired of this approach…customers need (deserve) more than this today. The tools are easy…management is a requirement…but LEADERSHIP is the critical life blood for success in using social media effectively. What does your Social Media Strategy look like and is it built on “Leadership” or “Management?” Would love to get your feedback and thoughts…

The Changing Face of News…and Life

Man with a Note Pad and Global Network ConceptNews hasn’t changed…it is still important and it is still the drug of choice for everyone. Who doesn’t want to know the latest happenings in their community, city, state, country, and even the world? The only difference is “how” you get your news, not that it isn’t important or desired.

With the advent of the internet and social media, two things changed. Speed. Source.

Speed…no longer is waiting until 5 O’clock or the next morning satisfactory. By then, it falls into the category of “old news.” And no one gets excited about old news because there is new news on its way. Speed has become the new drug for everyone. We want it NOW…and we can get it.

Source…no longer are we relying on central sources and news channels/newspapers for news. It comes at us from everywhere…usually right from the source or people near the source. We have become addicted to authenticity and traditional sources have proved authenticity isn’t their primary objective. After it has been screened, scrubbed, manipulated for the right message, and staged, we would get it. Today it is being shot on personal video and recorded and reported. We want it REAL…and we can get it.

Today these are both how news is absorbed. But there is a broader aspect to this…beyond the news. Think of this in light of your business. Does your business have news? Does it have updates about customers, employees, and industry? How is this being disseminated to your audiences? Newsletters (print or online)? Monthly? There is a reason no one reads these any longer…they don’t have the “speed” and they aren’t from the “source.” What if you had your audience participate…in real time…with news and updates? Would this change how people viewed your company?

It’s time to think differently for your life…and your business. Ask your team how you are delivering your content and information in regard to Speed and the Source. The answer might change how you decide to communicate with your customers and others…

5 Customer Profiles and their Likelihood of “Spreading the Word” about You

Here’s a simple way to analyze the customer base in your own company and identify how likely it is they will “spread the word” you with others. Do an honest assessment and see where your customers would fit into each of the profiles. I have also included some “Repair” tips and some “Goals” for you to shoot for in each category. Where do YOUR customers fit?

VERY UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS – this is easy…but dangerous…they will never give you a recommendation or offer up a referral to anyone but are more than happy to go out of their way to blast you “proactively” to others because you have become “top of mind Negative” to them. They will “spread the word” but not in a good way…and they are relentless about it for a long time…this situation has a “long tail” associated with it. Requires immediate repair. Goal…NONE of these.

UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS – they will never give you recommendation or a referral and generally aren’t as vocal about being unhappy…unless they are asked. These are the silent killers to a brand and organization. You know they are out there but they don’t surface easily where you can try to repair the situation. These “spread the word” only when asked…but also have a long tail because you generally don’t know about them and they just sit out there for a very long time. These require immediate repair as well…when you can find them…keep an eye open for them. Goal…5% or less.

SATISFIED CUSTOMERS – these might give you a recommendation or referral when asked, but it will be luke warm and unimpressive to the person. It is going to generally do nothing to enhance your position and generally has caveats or conditions associated with their response…such as, “they were OK to deal with but I think I could find a better price if I looked.” This group doesn’t “spread the word” either and even if they talk, it pretty much dies right then. There should be a major focus to move into the next group of “Happy Customers” since these do minimal, if anything, for you overall. This requires an immediate plan of how to move them forward. Goal…reduce down to 10%.

HAPPY CUSTOMERS – this is a group that is very positive and vocal…but only when asked. If you ask them for a referral or recommendation, they are happy to give one and it is usually quite glowing overall, but you have to ask. They aren’t “proactive” in offering up recommendations. This group will certainly “spread the word” when prompted to one or more people. So on social networks, if you ask them they will gladly share or if they see someone else talking about you, they will be happy to jump in at that time. The repair work is to identify those that can become your “Advocates” and move them and to do everything you can to keep them from moving down to “Satisfied.” Goal…50% of your customers.

ADVOCATES (Vocal Happy Customers) – this is the group you would ideally want every customer to be in…not realistic but a great goal. Not only are they very happy with you but “proactively” go out of their way to tell others about you. They don’t need to be asked, they volunteer it. But when asked, they are very high energy to tell them about you. Only repair here is to get more of them any way you can…and set up the right social channels so they can have a place to share their great stories and experiences. Goal…100%…realistic goal…start with 25% and grow as fast as possible.

SEO is MEANINGLESS…unless you are doing this

SEO_Tag_Cloud_Dollarphotoclub_51269947Does it matter how many visitors you get on your website, or pages viewed, or ranking on Google, or a host of other measurements if you aren’t talking to an audience that wants what you offer?

There are lots of “tricks” today to get a person on your pages…that isn’t rocket science any longer. There are plenty of “tricksters” available to show you how to make this happen. But does it really matter if they really don’t care about you, what you offer, or the experience you can deliver…it just isn’t relevant.

Why not take a different approach to SEO…find an audience that truly wants to interact with you, see what you are doing, hear what you are talking about, and purchase what you are selling (product or service, B2B, or B2C).

When you find this audience, and only when you find this audience, do the SEO analytics matter…because they are telling you what an “engaged audience” really likes about your online presence. Without this…it’s just meaningless analytics. And while the numbers might sound great, they aren’t going to help you build a loyal audience of “Advocates” that sing your praises…just doesn’t happen.

And don’t forget what happens when people are engaged…they tell their friends and colleagues. They spread “word-of-mouth”…lots of it…to thousands…most of which are also the “right” audience because people connect more with people with similar interests. This is how you create “word-of-mouth on steroids.” Let you audience help you connect with others that value the great things you do or sell. It starts with just one person in an audience that is “right” for your business. Let it grow from there…

Oh yea, and the SEO…it will take care of itself and the numbers will finally be meaningful.

NFL GameDay Experience…A Missed Opportunity

Gameday-Header-650x247As you know, I am “over the top” passionate about delivering totally awesome and memorable customer experiences…because this is what people talk about…in fact it’s what creates “word-of-mouth on steroids.” I had the opportunity to attend the biggest event to kick off the football season, the “NFL GameDay Experience” before the Seahawks first regular season game. They bring this experience to the city that wins the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season so they brought to our fair city.

There were tons of booths from every imaginable sponsor of football including such names as Marriott, Verizon, and even Snickers. And there were bunches of people, mostly young, working the booths and tents trying to get you to come in and check out what they were about. It reminded me of the old movies about when the circus came to town and there were all these “hawkers” standing outside trying to entice you to come into their tent. This was the modern day version of the tents and the hawkers. What were they using to entice you to go into their booth? FREE STUFF and PRIZES and CHANCES TO WIN and GIVEAWAYS.

So being the customer experience fanatic I am, I went into a number of these booths to see what they were offering and what kind of experience I would get. What did I find…DRONES. That’s right, not the new Amazon ones flying overhead but people who clearly weren’t excited to be there and this was just their “job” for the day. Drones as in, “Stand over there, fill out the form, come back over here, we’ll give you a free prize and you can leave…next!” Sadly…no memorable experiences…just a process. Had they done it so many times before that they ran out of delivering “amazing” or “awesome” experiences and now were just delivering a routine process…or did they ever deliver this type of experience?

What I was hoping for was more like, “Greetings, thank you for taking time to visit us today. We are so glad you chose to stop by and check us out. We have some cool stuff you can leave with but we also want to make sure your experience with us for a few short minutes is the best it can be so you feel it was worth your time to visit. Now, if you don’t mind, we are going to get you through this line as fast as we possibly can and while you are waiting, we have some cold water if you would like some. We also have some things you can play with if you want while you are moving through the line. I would also be happy to answer any questions you might have along the way. Thank you again for stopping by…we are honored you gave us your time.” OK, maybe a bit over the top…or maybe not. If you heard that from one booth and the drones from all the others…which one would you remember and tell your friends to check out?

Translate this into businesses today…maybe even your own business. People who do their job day in and day out and sadly become drones because of the repetition. But to your customer, each day is a special day and one where they get to interact with your employees. Which conversation are they going to get…drones or memorable. Might be a good thing to test out on your own organization and see what is being delivered to your customers.

Oh, and one more thing. These jobs are not paying high wages. These are most likely minimum wage or slightly above jobs at the NFL GameDay Experience. I have to believe with current unemployment rate that there are lots of people who would enjoy the energy and thrill of working in this environment. HINT to employers…interview those who demonstrate passion for what they do and demonstrate passion in whatever they are doing, they go over the top. There are tons of people out there looking for work…find these people. And if your management team can’t, they aren’t looking in the right places or they might not know what to look for. Hire passion and find passionate people to hire them. Passion is contagious…and it can be in your own business. The difference is amazing…

As you know, I am “over the top” passionate about delivering totally awesome and memorable customer experiences…because this is what people talk about…in fact it’s what creates “word-of-mouth on steroids.” I had the opportunity to attend the biggest event to kick off the football season, the “NFL GameDay Experience” before the Seahawks first regular season game. They bring this experience ot the city that wins the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season so they brought to our fair city.

There were tons of booths from every imaginable sponsor of football including such names as Marriott, Verizon, and even Snickers. And there were bunches of people, mostly young, working the booths and tents trying to get you to come in and check out what they were about. It reminded me of the old movies about when the circus came to town and there were all these “hawkers” standing outside trying to entice you to come into their tent. This was the modern day version of the tents and the hawkers. What were they using to entice you to go into their booth? FREE STUFF and PRIZES and CHANCES TO WIN and GIVEAWAYS.

So being the customer experience fanatic I am, I went into a number of these booths to see what they were offering and what kind of experience I would get. What did I find…DRONES. That’s right, not the new Amazon ones flying overhead but people who clearly weren’t excited to be there and this was just their “job” for the day. Drones as in, “Stand over there, fill out the form, come back over here, we’ll give you a free prize and you can leave…next!” Sadly…no memorable experiences…just a process. Had they done it so many times before that they ran out of delivering “amazing” or “awesome” experiences and now were just delivering a routine process…or did they ever deliver this type of experience?

What I was hoping for was more like, “Greetings, thank you for taking time to visit us today. We are so glad you chose to stop by and check us out. We have some cool stuff you can leave with but we also want to make sure your experience with us for a few short minutes is the best it can be so you feel it was worth your time to visit. Now, if you don’t mind, we are going to get you through this line as fast as we possibly can and while you are waiting, we have some cold water if you would like some. We also have some things you can play with if you want while you are moving through the line. I would also be happy to answer any questions you might have along the way. Thank you again for stopping by…we are honored you gave us your time.” OK, maybe a bit over the top…or maybe not. If you heard that from one booth and the drones from all the others…which one would you remember and tell your friends to check out?

Translate this into businesses today…maybe even your own business. People who do their job day in and day out and sadly become drones because of the repetition. But to your customer, each day is a special day and one where they get to interact with your employees. Which conversation are they going to get…drones or memorable. Might be a good thing to test out on your own organization and see what is being delivered to your customers.

Oh, and one more thing. These jobs are not paying high wages. These are most likely minimum wage or slightly above jobs at the NFL GameDay Experience. I have to believe with current unemployment rate that there are lots of people who would enjoy the energy and thrill of working in this environment. HINT to employers…interview those who demonstrate passion for what they do and demonstrate passion in whatever they are doing, they go over the top. There are tons of people out there looking for work…find these people. And if your management team can’t, they aren’t looking in the right places or they might not know what to look for. Hire passion and find passionate people to hire them. Passion is contagious…and it can be in your own business. The difference is amazing…

Forget “Customized” for the Customer…Just Take Anyone’s Money

Fox Business Small Business CenterThis just caught my attention and was so blatantly against where we are today I just had to write about it. The article was in Fox Business-Small Business section, “Never Turn Down a Paying Customer.” Just because it comes from a major name in news reporting doesn’t make it the right thing to do…just someone’s perspective. But beyond the title, the real comment that got me was…

“The latest feel-good advice making the rounds is that you should be highly selective about the business you are willing to do and the clients you want to engage with. After all, if you’ve got to focus – and we can all agree that you do – why not focus on the kind of work you want to do and the kind of people you want to work with? Seems to make sense, doesn’t it? It does … if you don’t mind living hand-to-mouth for the rest of your life.”

How do you, as a customer/client feel about this? Let’s take a look at this from both a customer and company perspective.

As a customer…do you want to be treated as if the company doesn’t care about you specifically? Your needs, wants, desires, and even more importantly, the experience they would offer to you? Is being treated the same as anyone else who has cash in their wallet feel “personalized” to you? And what about the marketing messaging…how likely are you to grab onto a marketing message if they aren’t specifically talking to you? In a world of more and more speed, noise, and choices, are you going to do all the work to find this company rather than be specifically dialed into what they can do to help you?

As a company…do you feel it is a waste of time to identify the “ideal customer/client” and then find ways to serve them better than anyone else? What have been your results from “shotgun marketing” over the past 5 years…blasting out one general message and seeing who it attracts? How has the return been going on your direct mail pieces that are sent out to everyone in a geographic area (that might even be a bit of targeting)? When customers buy from you, because they have cash, do you treat them all the same? If you only had $100 to spend, do you feel it is better to spend it on the segment of your customers that are perfect fits for your product/service or simply buy the most reaches you can into the general market?

I don’t disagree that if someone shows up with cash you don’t consider selling them your product or service. But there are many more ramifications even if this was a good model. So let’s say you have thousands of customers, scattered in different segments, locations, and other criteria. How will you service these or support their individual needs. You would need an incredible investment in your support departments just to handle all the “one off” issues and requests. Just getting cash from anyone that has it is a commodity. You throw it out there, price it cheaper than anyone else and open the cash drawer and watch it flow in. That works for commodity products.

I wonder if some of the most successful companies in the world ignore a strategy that identifies the specific needs/wants/desires of their ideal audience. Do you think IBM (I am an ex-IBMer as well), Starbucks, Nordstrom, Zappos, Southwest Air, Alaska Air, Amazon, just to name a few, don’t have an “ideal customer segment(s)” where they build their marketing, support, and experience around? Do you think they use a “one-size fits all” approach to creating their customer experience and product selection?

And one final note…I could go on much longer…is about Word-of-Mouth. How many “one-size fits all” companies do you know that people talk about today…in person or on social channels? As long as you have the lowest price commodity product, someone might share this information…until someone beats you on price or other terms. Short of that, no one will talk about you. Customers talk about how special they were treated…and they were treated this way because they are one of the ideal segments the company is oriented around. They talk about the awesome experience they had because the company is geared up to deliver this experience to this segment of customers…not everyone. Sorry if I burst your bubble, but these successful companies might not be right for you and that’s OK, there is another company out there that is designed for what you want…they are customized and personalized around you…the customer. And that’s what you want and expect today. I don’t think they are living “hand to mouth” today!

So if you have cash burning a hole in your wallet…think about where you are going to spend it. I somehow think it will be with a company that “speaks to you” and delivers an “awesome experience” to you and “supports you” rather than “we take cash from anyone.” Would love to hear your thoughts…

Do you “Extend” or “Kill” the Emotional Feeling in your Customers?

“Image courtesy of Stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”
“Image courtesy of Stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Customer Experiences are emotional. They draw you in and create a feeling inside you…good or bad. Regardless of which it is, something changes inside you when you have an experience with a company. As a company, do you “leverage” and “extend” this feeling or “kill” it when you deliver your customer experience?

The buying process, whether B2C or B2B, starts with a need and some degree of emotion. The need, whether it might be out of necessity or a dream of owning something, congers up an emotion inside everyone. It’s easy to see this when you are buying the engagement ring for your to-be bride, there is a ton of emotions running through your body, transforming yourself to a place of wonderfulness just thinking about purchasing this ring. But it is also, albeit less exciting, an emotional situation when a company is buying supplies from their local distributor. The company might not be dreaming of the future like the guy buying the engagement ring but they are feeling a sense of relief, ease, and accomplishment when they know they have taken care of this company need. Regardless of the degree, there is emotion with a purchase.

The key is what you do to either “extend” this emotion further and stronger with the customer or does your experience “kill” it and make it head the other direction? No one ever admits doing the latter, but they do…every day.

How do you “extend” the emotional feeling for the customer? At the time of purchase, they are at a “high” in the buying cycle…their emotions are peaked because they actually moved from “dream/need” to “execution/accomplishment.” This is one of the “moments of truth” where you get to leverage this emotion for the customer or do things that make it less enjoyable. Making this an enjoyable, remarkable, memorable experience is what will push most customers over the edge where they want to share it, spread the word, and create word-of-mouth. If you miss this point, they still might have a great experience, but usually won’t talk about it. The beauty is that it is in your control.

So when you look at your “buying process” ask yourself which direction it will take immediately during and after purchase. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and see how you would react during this moment of truth. Ask your employees to do the same and then write down the emotions they feel and are experiencing. If the words are “great, good, OK, it works, or it went well” you missed the opportunity. If the words are “awesome, amazing, remarkable, or incredible” you hit the mark. These are the experiences people talk about and share. Take the test…regardless of the results there is always room for improvement.

Let’s Play the “Customer” Newlywed Game…

The_Newlywed_Game_logo_(2009-present)Everyone knows the Newlywed game. It’s where two newly married couples compare their answers to the same questions to see how well they know each other. What if you played this game with your customers…how well would you do?

How well do you think you know what your customer would say about the interactions…customer experience…they have with your company? What if we put all your employees through the game? How well do you think your employees know your customers? How much of the time do you think you would be in agreement with such things as…

  • What’s the one thing that really bugs your customer(s)?
  • What’s the one area that they wish you could improve in?
  • On a scale of 0 – 10, how high would they rate you on the customer experience you deliver to them on a consistent basis?
  • On a scale of 0 -10 how high would they rate you on your responsiveness to their needs?
  • What are the top 3 issues…or maybe the top issue…your individual customer wishes they could solve that would help their own business?
  • Ask them to write one sentence to describe their experience with your company, are the words WOW, Incredible, Amazing, Awesome, Remarkable, Memorable, or Unexpected enter into their sentence?
  • Do they feel you are “customer centric” or “product/service centric” when it comes to how you run your business?
  • If asked who they think you put first in all your decisions about how to improve your business, who would they say?
  • I think you get the idea of the questions here…

Anyone want to play?

Ever wonder why your customer isn’t out there on the social media channels raving about you to their friends, family, colleagues, business associates, or anyone else that will listen? Hopefully you are just a bit closer now to figuring out the answer…

Out of Sight, Out of Mind…does this describe your Customers?

top-of-mindWe all know the phrase…Out of Site, Out of Mind. It is one that most marketers live by every day. The feeling is that if we aren’t in front of our customers on a regular basis they won’t remember us or think of us when it comes time to purchase. There is some truth to this…but only some truth.

There are three aspects to this statement that deserve consideration.

  1. If you aren’t in the front of your customers mind, they probably won’t remember you. The question is HOW you stay in front of them. Most marketers choose to shove more ads, promotions, or announcements at them in hopes of accomplishing this…online and traditional. This doesn’t work anymore…they turn you off and ignore the incoming attack. But there is an answer…relevant and helpful content. Share with them something that will help make their lives better and they will read/listen/view it and thank you…and keep you in their mind. But it has to be relevant…one size doesn’t fit all any longer. And if the content is really good, you get the added bonus that they might just share it and talk to others about it.
  2. The second area to think about is WHY you are out of their mind. Is it because you didn’t do #1 above? Is it because they think of you as a commodity instead of someone that gives them lots of value? Is it because they are just a customer instead of a “loyal customer” or better yet, an “advocate?” If your customers see you as the one that gives them more than just a product or service…one that gives them tremendous value…you stay top of mind.
  3. What kind of customer experience do they get when they interact with you…all of you (your entire company)? Is it something that is “memorable” or “forgettable?” People not only remember remarkable…they talk about it…a lot. Creating an incredible, memorable experience keeps you top of mind.

How would you grade yourself in these areas? Before being too hard on your people for fighting the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” battle, take a look at the strategy and mission of the company and see if it lines up with an “In sight, Top of Mind” result.

How Low Will They Go To Get You To Watch Their Ad…

We all know traditional media is either dead or rapidly dying, depending on which media you are tracking. This has been in the news for a long time now. So advertisers have switched to the internet and online advertising to try and make it work again. It isn’t. What is working is that people are becoming really good at “skipping ads” from wherever you throw them at them. So how do they get you to watch the ad instead of skip it? One agency thinks they have the answer…THREATENING TO KILL A PUPPY.

You heard me right…they threaten to kill a puppy if you click on “Skip Ad” in their videos. You can watch it here and see what you think…

So what did you think? Did it make you incredibly angry that someone would stoop this low and actually wire up a puppy to prove their point? Did it make you laugh because it was a unique way to get you to watch their ad? Did it make you feel like ad agencies are really grasping for straws to try and get their ad in your head? Maybe some of all of the above.

The problem…they estimated that 94% of the people skip these “roll over” ads on videos. That means from all the money spent on creating this ad, 6 out of 100 people watch it. We have no clue what the 6 do after watching…but my bet is less than one actually acts on the ad. That makes the real percentage abysmal for the company looking for results from their ads. So agencies have to do something to get you to watch…I think I am having a Déjà vu back to “interruption marketing” that died with traditional media.

But this isn’t the real point I want to make here. The real point is why do you need to spend money to interrupt me anyway? Wouldn’t it be better if your customers actually “talked about you” to their friends and colleagues and “told them” they need to buy from you? Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest these huge video production dollars back into your customers in a way that would cause them to want to talk about you…a lot…on their social channels? Wouldn’t your new customers be more anxious to buy from you if one of their friends told them how great you were?

Somehow I think this would be a far better use of your ad money than hiring an agency to produce and publish an ad threatening to kill a puppy because they can’t get you to watch any other way. I guess the real question we have to ask is, “How low will they go,” to try and get you to watch an ad you didn’t really care about. What is the new ground floor for “interruption marketing” even when it is done online instead of using traditional methods? I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom floor of this elevator ride quite yet…unfortunately. And one final thing to think about…what is this saying about your BRAND???