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11 posts from November 2014

Turning my Kindle off, and watching Amazon follow Walmart into the pits

I have been reading every long, deeply-researched article about Amazon recently, trying to find some renewed respect for them, with no luck. Turning off my Kindle, spending more on cat food, wondering what I left behind on my wish list... all these actions have been wrenching for me.  Tq140416td

My loyalty to Amazon was based on the amazing convenience they supplied. I have worried that their prices are "too low" to be healthy. Now there's evidence piling up that they are willing to exploit everyone else to maintain their control of the market. 

Sam Walton was a great guy with a vision to benefit society. Then his idea was high-jacked by a bunch of greedy people. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, just seems to be on some kind of sick power trip. 

Low prices are not infinitely good. Long-lasting loyalty is based on transactions that benefit every side. 

Flavorwire: Amazon Publishing Goes American Idol After Terrible Week, 2014-Oct-3 by Jonathon Sturgeon

This is calculating, technology-driven corporatism that should, honestly, surprise no one. On this note, too, maybe it’s time for literary publishing to ask itself whether Amazon is actually evil or just indifferent to authors, editors, agents, and readers. (It’s customers, silly.) And if Big Publishing wants to compete with Amazon — although it really can’t, considering that Amazon dwarfs them all — maybe it should do so by finding new, pro-editorial platforms that humanize the publishing process.

Make sure your relationships are not based on transactions

Wonderful interview with Troy Carter about all the different views and habits he has that allows him to survive big career setbacks... Well, he doesn't view them as setbacks, and that's one of his secrets. 

Fast Company: Troy Carter's Hard-Won Tips for Handling Career Road Bumps, 2014-Oct-30

Luckily for Carter, his relationships were built on "years of nurturing" and saw him through his biggest career setback. "I got a lot of phone calls that gave me confidence that things were going to be all right. People took my phone calls."

How to measure loyalty

Does your CRM system have a mechanism for capturing exceptional acts of loyalty?

  • A customer who picks up the phone and argues for your value with a referral?
  • An ex-customer who publishes an article about their positive experience with your company? 
  • Someone who skips a big discount to stay with you?

Sometimes we can't even know an act of loyalty has happened. So we have to handle our customer records as if they represent real people we know. We have to give them ratings and rankings and make notes. We make those records accessible to everyone in the company so they can add information. 

Our dashboards should include a number represented our "most loyal" customers as marked by a consensus of the people who touch the account. In business-to-business environments, the dashboard should count both companies and people. 

Colloquy: Loyalty is an Emotion, 2014-Sep-15 by Steven Dennis

Luxury brands are defined by scarcity and intangible benefits. As such, they present an example for non-luxury merchants to understand the emotional connections between a brand and its core consumers and dial up those elements in all of the marketing mix, regardless of whether a loyalty program is a core element or not. Ultimately, the loyalty that matters is that which compels customers to advocate proactively for a brand within their tribes, without a special incentive. The loyalty that matters occurs when customers choose one brand over the cheaper or more convenient competitor. The loyalty that matters occurs when customers willingly and generously invest their time to collaborate with and improve a brand’s customer experience.

How to waste your effort in a CRM database

Having a lot of data in your CRM system can give you a false sense of security. Unfortunately, on every day that goes by, some contact records are going out of date. The only way to maintain the data is to use it. Any record that hasn't been touched in a month ought to be verified before it's used. 

Wayne O'Neill & Associates: Why CRM Doesn't Work, 2014-Oct-13 by Wayne O'Neill

So you have a huge CRM database. Pat yourself on the back because you have a lot of data about your clients – but are you really connecting with those clients?

The connection process is more complex and nuanced than any big, fancy CRM can handle. It takes time and effort to get to know who is the decision-maker in the organization – who is actually spending the money.