Risky marketing

When we listen to our customers, we have to consider why and how

Listening to one's customers is not a simple thing. The questions, the context, the objectives we have color the entire process. The article below by Steve Blank does a great job differentiating the Lean Startup approach from Design Thinking. Both approaches can lead to strong and productive customer ties, if we are aware of our objectives.

However, every listening initiative has to recognize its own agenda, which could be hidden by corporate double-talk or biases on the part of the people running the show. If we approach our customers with an open heart and view them as collaborators, we have a better chance of overcoming our biases and avoiding miscommunication.

Xconomy: Driving Corporate Innovation: Design Thinking vs. Customer Development, 2014-Jul-30 by Steve Blank

  • Customer Development and Design Thinking are both customer discovery processes
  • Customer Development starts with, “I have a technology/product, now who do I sell it to?”
  • Design Thinking starts with, “I need to understand customer needs and iterate prototypes until I find a technology and product that satisfies this need”
  • Customer Development is optimized for speed and “good enough” decision making with limited time and resources
  • Design Thinking is optimized for getting it right before we make big bets

In all email communications: give the gift of a great subject line

When I started work for Ogilvy in 1984, we didn't have email—we had memos. And memos lived and died based on their titles, or subject lines. Tq140620id2All news account executives were schooled in producing informative, engaging subject lines for our memos. Or they wouldn't be read.

Now that I spend so much time communicating by email, I have sadly become lazy, frequently using the 'catching up' subject line. Maybe the purpose of my email is to catch up with a friend, but the purpose of my subject line is to make my friend light up.

Web Ink Now: Catching Up and Touching Base, 2014-May-29 by David Meerman Scott

My grandmother told me that if you want to receive a letter, you have to write one first. Wise advice. The more you give, the more you can ask. Give to get applies in social networking as well. Be helpful and share. Good things will come back to you.

Think about what you can do for others. Give gifts. Write thank you notes. Make introductions. Connect people who should know one another. Review someone’s book. Suggest a job opening to a friend. Link to a blog. Re-Tweet. Like.

Say what you mean

There is nothing wrong with asking for a favor. But use a descriptive email subject like: “I would like an introduction to Samantha” instead of saying: “touching base”. Instead of “catching up” as your subject line, it’s fine to say: “I am looking for a new gig and would like your advice”.

This SteadyCRM thang

Tq140407wdSo some people have observed there's a new experience line on my LinkedIn profile. Yes, I have gone back to the entrepreneur grind. My new venture is a consulting business to help professionals improve their customer relationship management process.

The goal is to help my friends clone their best customers. So many people think "I need new customers," but that's too broad. You need everyone to act like your best customers. I can help you build that system.

The profitability of your business will improve because you will learn what makes your customers more loyal to you specifically. "We get loyalty."

Standby for future announcements.

Do your prospects see themselves as buyers?

One of the big challenges in identifying prospects for a product or service is selecting people who have 'mental access' to it. Tq140529bd By that I mean, when they observe it, can they imagine themselves using or possessing it. If they cannot, then that's your biggest marketing hurdle. Maybe you should identify different prospects.

It's not wrong to go after people who don't see themselves as being in your market, it just takes more time and/or money to reach them.

Medium: Why do people buy art?, 2014-May-9 by Amrita Chandra

People didn’t recognize themselves as art buyers. The art establishment has done a number on people, painting a picture of an art collector as someone who dresses in black, spends their evenings in minimalist white cube galleries and drops thousands of dollars on pieces at the drop of a hat.

Why culture is a by-product of action

One of the best ways to control ourselves is to establish processes which can become habits. But in a company, these processes can become deadly. People follow them without grasping their meaning. So leaders have to find meaningful ways to display their values by taking actions, over and over again. Do your actions display your values?

Only Dead Fish: Don't f**k Up the Culture, 2014 by Neil Perkin Tq140512cd

Culture, [Brian Chesky] says, is "simply a shared way of doing something with passion...By upholding our core values in everything we do. Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times." It is far more than lots of well-meaning words that then are not lived or evident in the environment in which people work every day, which somehow seems to happen so often. It's a difference summed up nicely in this quote (via Undercurrent) from Jason Fried:

"You don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture.

Signals of loyalty masquerading as complaints

At MosquitoZone we had a client who complained and sometimes boycotted our malaria education products. She thought we could do better, and she was right. Finally, she made a suggestion that was too good to ignore. In my next company I hope we embrace and support the customers who push us to keep make it better. Tq140422pd

MIT Sloan Management Review: Why Customer Participation Matters, Winter 2014 by Omar Merlo, Andreas B. Eisingerich and Seigyoung Auh

Although word of mouth may get more attention, our research shows that both customer-to-customer reviews and customer-to-business interactions can influence a customer’s propensity to buy more of a company’s products and services. While not all satisfied customers become repeat buyers, encouraging them to provide feedback and suggestions helps tie them more closely to the business. Companies can even recapture defecting customers simply by contacting them and encouraging them to participate. In addition, customer-to-business interaction is often more malleable than customer-to-customer word of mouth and more readily within the control of management. When customers provide feedback, management can monitor their contributions, whereas word of mouth works best when the company is not directly involved.

We found that customer participation is more strongly associated with customer spending than is word-of-mouth activity.

What Zuckerberg was thinking

The purchase of Oculus Rift did not arrouse my curiosity, but when Dave Pell of NextDraft pointed to a story by Lev Grossman... I figured out why Zuckerberg got so excited. And I must admit, it's pretty exciting! Any technology that helps people do things, as opposed to doing things to them--that's worth understanding.

Time.com: The Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift, 2014-Mar-26 by Lev Grossman

Iribe says “It’s kind of like the beginning of film. It’s going to take this whole new set of mechanics and engineering to master it. We have no idea what really works in VR. People ask us, What’s the holy-grail app going to be? I have no idea! Don’t know.” The uncertainty doesn’t bother him....

“I think people have always wanted to experience the impossible,” Luckey says. “That’s one of the reasons games have caught on. They want to actually do things themselves, have a say in how that world works, instead of just watching someone else do it.”