Archive for October, 2009

John Jantsch on “how to get your customers talking”

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Today John and Duct Tape Marketing posted on a topic near and dear to my heart: how to get customers talking. (I take it for granted that customers talk anyway, but John is right: smart companies help the process along.) Read the entire post, but here’s my favorite piece of advice from John’s post:

Ask them – the best word of mouth starts with “word of listen.” Call your customers up and ask them why they buy, why they stick around, and why they tell their friends about you. You might be a bit surprised by their answers. Hint: it’s usually not the stuff you have in your new marketing brochure. You stand a far greater chance of attracting the right customers and the right buzz if you really understand what your current customers value about doing business with you. This goes for online and social media listening as well – what are they saying in chat rooms, blog comments and on twitter?

One phrase in this excerpt – “you stand a far greater chance of attracting the right customers… if you really understand what your current customers value about doing business with you.” This points directly to the Values Proposition, and I think every company, B2C or B2B, needs to have one.

(Hat tip Brick and Click)

Please visit these new pages on the site

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Caution: self-promotion ahead.

I’d like to bring your attention to some new pages on the site, describing particular offerings you can get from Caddell Insight Group (see circled links below). I’d appreciate it if you could give those pages a visit, and contact us if we can help you in any of these areas.

If you’re reading the RSS feed, here are the links:

Slide1

Strategy as an appreciation of serendipity

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Today is Columbus Day in the US (my 6-year-old son was singing to himself at breakfast, “In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”), and it’s a good time to think about strategies and objectives. Management consultants will tell you that developing a clear set of objectives and committing to a well-considered strategy to achieve them is essential to success in the business world.

Columbus had a clear objective – open a new trade route to India. At that objective he failed miserably, bumping into a land mass more than 10,000 miles short of his target. Yet, his mistake ended up being far more important in world history than reaching his initial goal would have been.

Like the earth in Columbus’ time, the future of any business is unknown and unpredictable. Therefore, while objectives and strategies are important, so is an appreciation for serendipity. Good things you didn’t anticipate emerge while you’re in execution mode. And being able to recognize these, and adjust your strategy (even possibly your objectives) as a result, is more valuable than being able to stick to a course of action.

Related posts:
Time for a new strategic-planning process
Describe your strategy in a simple picture

Creative Destruction? #7

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Another in a series of posts tracing the evolution of two vacated business sites.

The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .

Joseph Schumpeter

32nd and Market Streets, Camp Hill, PA, 07 October 2009

Creative destruction 20091007 1

The new Rite Aid is almost ready to open. On the other hand…

Carlisle Pike, Silver Spring Township, PA, 07 October 2009

Creative destruction 20091007 2

Prior posts in this series:
Creative Destruction?
Creative Destruction? #2
Creative Destruction? #3
Creative Destruction? #4
Creative Destruction? #5
Creative Destruction? #6

Ford uses real customer stories as centerpiece of new ad campaign

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I’m convinced that authentic customer stories are the best way to convey the values and benefits of a product to others, so I paid attention when I read in today’s Wall Street Journal that Ford is using customer stories as the basis for their latest ad campaign. The Journal writes:

Starting Monday, Ford is launching a new chapter of its “Drive one” campaign, featuring 15-second spots using real customers talking about the “cool” features of their new Fords. It comes as the car maker plans to boost its fourth-quarter ad budget 10% from a year ago.

“It’s all about what real customers are saying,” said Matt VanDyke, Ford’s director of marketing communications. Ford will air 30 to 40 spots over the next 26 weeks that have a grainy, home-video feel. Mr. VanDyke said they are meant to showcase owners’ testimonials as “believable, honest and authentic.”

We’ll have to wait and see whether a “grainy, home-video feel” will convey authenticity or something else, but a move by a carmaker away from geek-speak to human-speak can’t help but be an improvement.

As far as stories go, the rawer the better in my mind. Take this example (previously blogged about here). The NFL, as part of its Super Bowl promos, solicited stories from its players and selected one to be featured during Super Sunday. Here’s the final video:

The NFL, back in 2007, also uploaded all the initial stories, told in the first person, directly to the camera, with no cutting, embellishing or actors impersonating college coaches. The polished ad is funnier and more creative. But the original is more authentic, and better, in my mind. (You’ll have to take my word for it on that account, as the nfl.com has inexplicably removed those videos from its website.)

Related posts:
Super Bowl stories

Twitter’s lousy memory

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

When you tweet something, it’s small, ephemeral. It makes sense that it would vanish like a puff of smoke. After all, aren’t tweets largely pointless babble anyway?

But what if you want to look back at what you said, or, better yet, search for something you tweeted?

Good luck.

For all its benefits and delights, Twitter has a lousy memory. Here’s an example:

I searched for all my tweets with the word “narrative” in them. Twitter found:
twitter search narrative

Nada.

Here’s the same search on Friendfeed (which collects my tweets as well as other utterances from my blog, Delicious, etc.):
friendfeed search narrative

Nine results, stretching back to March.

I did a brute-force look for the “narrative” tweets on Twitter, by displaying my profile and pressing “more” at the bottom of the page repeatedly. They’re all there. Why didn’t search find them? Your guess is as good as mine.

So why would you need to search back through your own tweetstream? Well, for one, I like to use Twitter for link-sharing. Finding and sharing an article I like is a really fun part of the service. But sometimes after sharing a link, I find I want to explore it more, perhaps by writing a blog post about it.

But if I can’t find it easily, I can’t do it. I’m considering using Delicious for all that stuff, feeding it through Friendfeed, and auto-tweeting it from there. It’ll work fine, but seems a bit convoluted, doesn’t it?

Customers Are Talking: In Praise of “Customer-Oriented Defiance”

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Behind many great customer-service stories is a front-line person who went outside standard operating procedure to solve a customer problem. Now this practice has its own name: Customer-Oriented Defiance.

In “Customer-Oriented Defiance [COD]: Exploring Righteous, Sacrficing and Sneaky Behaviours,” co-authors Cheryl Leo and Rebekah Bennett of the Queensland (Australia) University of Technology comb existing sources and do first-hand research of their own to flesh out the phenomenon. Leo and Bennett show that it is not a completely altruistic practice, nor always (or even primarily) beneficial to the companies involved.

Yet it’s clear from reading this paper, and backed up by my experience, that exceptional customer service doesn’t happen without front-liners (the most vulnerable staff in the company, the least paid, often the least respected) stepping out and taking some personal risk by addressing a customer problem in a non-standard way.

In the past, management has been able to avert its eyes and allow this to happen without explicitly sanctioning it (a pretty shameful practice when you get right down to it). But, with auditing/control technology on the rise, it will be harder for COD to occur without a paper trail, increasing the risk that stepping outside the lines, even “righteously,” will be caught and punished. (See this post on the benefits of lighter access-control policies.)

Which means that exceptional customer service will become even rarer than it now is – unless leaders recognize that some processes are art rather than science, including customer-service processes, and provide lighter constraints that reflect the values of the business, the worth of the customer and a respect for the judgment of the front-line employee.

After all, just because you can audit and control something, doesn’t mean you should.

Related posts:
Processes as art & science
Carnival of Trust (the benefits of lighter access-control policies)

(Thanks to Arie Goldshlager for pointing out this research.)