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9 posts from March 2011

The campaign method applied to social media

Although advertising campaigns are problematic, the method of building a campaign holds true today. First you decide what you want your target audience to DO, then you figure out what will persuade them, then you find out what type of media they listen to, then you convey that message in the appropriate media, each part crafted to work well in that media It seems to me that social media people have to rediscover this. 

The Social Media Marketing Blog: Blogging is Dead, 2011-March-3, by Scott Monty

For the marketers among us, we need to be prepared for all eventualities in this scenario. Which means the need to cater to the attention-starved while still supporting more in-depth content that conveys a deeper meaning with more context. For example, this would mean creating catchy headlines and could entice views of blog posts or videos. It would also mean creating shareable and embeddable pieces of content within those other formats - content that can live on its own and effectively convey your message.

The bottom line is that as content creators, we face more choices than ever in how we need to convey our stories.

Don't build a revolving door for your customers

I promise this will be my last negative post for awhile, but it's so disheartening to see small business owners ruin their existing business relationships while they chase after new customers, and I see it too frequently. Here's how Scott McKain experienced it recently when he got a chair massage. 

...when I said I didn’t feel as though he should have left me in the chair while hustling other business, the response was, “But, I gotta get more customers!” When I said it also meant I wouldn’t come back in the future, I got the classic “deer in headlights” look. Customer retention was a topic that evidently hadn’t occurred to him.


The pain of being a discount customer

The current rage for coupons frustrates me. Maybe it's just a by-product of economic anxiety, but it feels like the relationship between customer and supplier is cheapened beyond repair.

I recently took advantage of a photographer who offered a discount opportunity. I wish she had been upfront with me that I was pushing it too far. Now I have a client who posed for photographs we can't obtain. The photographer won't return my phone calls or email. I offered to pay more money, but no response. 

What do you think I should do? I wish I had never become a discount customer, but there doesn't seem to be any way to turn back the clock. 

Build painless intimacy with customers and teammates

I'm reading Patrick Lencioni's Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team right now. What he says about building trust with teammates is equally applicable to customers.'s best to start small. The point of the first exercise is to help people get comfortable with moderate vulnerability.

When dealing with customers, how can you keep it small and still get them to open up? I find that a great non-threatening personal question is. "Were you born here (or in this city)?" Notice that they can give a terse one-word answer and shut you down, and that's okay. (Let it go.) On the other hand, most people will open up a little. Then instead of nailing them with more nosy questions, you can share a little (just a little) about where you were born and/or how well you like the neighborhood. Boom! You just made the relationship more personal. 

How cheerful service is crucial to building loyalty

Part of me is ashamed of the way I behaved in a Verizon Wireless store this morning. That would be the peace-loving, empathetic human being who just wants everyone to have a nice day. The 'mama tigress protecting the den and making sure we get our fair share' part of me triumphed. 

After I encountered two different glassy-eyed, ice-encased representatives at Verizon Wireless, I started to talk sharply about the different way I've been treated at AT&T until the manager came over and let me order a free replacement for my son's four-month-old failing phone. I could tell the first two representatives had been carefully trained to rebuff customers asking to replace phones within warranty. I kept trying to make eye contact with the human being inside, but they were clearly under orders to be firm and fight back against what must be a flood of broken smart phones. 

When I got back home, I found a column in Colloquy magazine (excerpt below) that highlighted the situation from Jim Sullivan, who brought a broken iPhone into an Apple Store. The staff were sympathetic from the beginning, not promising to replace the phone, but empathetic with his frustration. Then they pulled up his account, saw how much he'd spent on Apple products, dropped the analysis and replaced the phone without question. 

The point I'd like you to see is that Verizon either consciously or unconsciously taught the staff to distrust me. A few soothing 'that's too bad' comforting comments would have calmed me and encouraged me to share in the repair expenses. I know I'm not an important customer of Verizon, but I felt very unloved, as Jim explains below.

When I speak of love in a business context, I mean cheerful service to others. One fascinating aspect of the service brand experience is that it rests on intangible and often emotional factors. Cues, clues, and their influence on our senses often determine the final consumer perception of quality as much or more than the tangible aspects of the delivered service. Also interesting is that the provider and the consumer of services must work together for the service to be delivered. The relationship, and the way it makes the customer feel, are of central importance to the overall experience.


I am reminded of Danny Meyer's video on hospitality. Visitors to his famous restaurants experience hospitality when they believe the waiters are 'on their side.' We all know how hard it is to achieve excellence and get the most for our money. We don't demand the representatives of a company be perfect. We just want them to emphathize with us and to fight to get us what we deserve. 

Using each tool for what it's designed to do

Confess. Once upon a time you dragged your toolbox over to a loose piece of the house, put a small nail in your mouth, and started searching for the hammer. But someone (a child or a spouse) had left the hammer out. So you grabbed a big screwdriver and used the handle to smack the nail a couple of times. So how did that work for you? Acceptable if you're lucky. 

Sadly, we often use our communication tools the same way. In the worse case we use one tool, such as Twitter, and pump our comments out to other platforms. We 'blast' an email when Facebook would be ideal. We complain that some friends aren't on Facebook, so we have to email the message to everyone. Speaking as your Facebook friend, I call 'bullshit.' You can post it on Facebook and then email the post to the other friends. You're spamming us. 

As Luis Suarez of IBM points out, our new tools offer us an excellent opportunity to offload many of the worst emails to a more appropriate channel. If you want to be an excellent communicator, it's your job to learn how to do this. 

sort out the Q&A [emails]. The way to deal with that is to set up a blog offering the answers. The blog will be indexed by Google, and your answers will be available to everyone out there. This means you are no longer part of the bottle neck, and you are helping people to feed themselves with the information that they need.


Playing nice on Facebook

In the beginning, restricting people to one, verified identity on Facebook seemed like a good idea. Now it's starting to feel like a straight-jacket. What Facebook suggests, tinkering with the lists and privacy controls is just un-doable for most of us. So if you're like me, you just give up and be the nicest, most conformable part of yourself on Facebook. Now many web sites are trying out Facebook comments. Steve Cheney makes some interesting observations. 

In the beginning, Facebook catered to this instinct we all have. But FB in its current form, a big graph of people who may or may not know anything about one another, does not.


And forcing people to comment  and more broadly speaking to log-on  with one identity puts a massive stranglehold on our very nature. I'm not too worried about FB Comments in isolation, but the writing is on the wall: all of this off-site encroachment of the Facebook graph portends where FB is really going in pushing one identity. And a uniform identity defies us. 


Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.


Don’t believe me? Go to TechCrunch and count the comments on last week’s posts. Better yet, go read the comments. They suck. They’re sterile and neutered.