Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Customer goodwill’

UPDATE:  Zappos.com is one of the savviest marketers and social media users in business today, but according to a story running in AdAge.com, the company’s recent advertising agency review process has once again highlighted the problems organizations create for themselves when they aren’t prepared to handle the demand they generate.  Read the full article here.

UPDATE RE: FACEBOOK USERNAMES:  Facebook was ready.  At one minute past 9pm Pacific Time/midnight Eastern Time June 13, I went online and grabbed my Facebook vanity URL (facebook.com/marklolson) with absolutely no technical or account issues.  Congratulations to Facebook on being prepared for the demand they created.

Just past midnight Eastern Time on Saturday, June 13, Facebook is going to launch Facebook Usernames and give virtually every one of its 250 million users the opportunity to grab the vanity URL of their choosing on a first-come, first-served basis.  Residents of the Bay Area will feel it first at 9 p.m. when the lights dim noticeably and the ground trembles slightly from an epicenter at street level in Palo Alto.

The big question is this:  “Are they ready?”  Is the Facebook server farm ramped up to make this a pleasant user experience with minimal wait times and clear system messages?  Or will this become just another in a long list of business/Internet case studies for how not to match supply to demand?

We’ll know very quickly even if we don’t try to make the change at that moment.  Within minutes after midnight Eastern Time, the blogosphere/Twittersphere will explode with evidence of users’ experiences and on the West Coast there will be plenty of time for TV stations to cobble together stories of success or failure.

What too many businesses forget is this:  It’s not the “pitch” that matters, it’s the “catch.”  The “pitch” makes headlines…the “catch” makes money.  Let’s look at a few examples of pitch-and-catch to illustrate:

Oprah and KFC – On May 4 this year, KFC used an offer delivered via the Oprah show for free food using a downloadable coupon good only for a two-day period.  Advertising Age reported, “…should have been a promotional coup.  Instead, it turned into an unmitigated disaster when the company was unable to execute and actually had to rescind the offer.”  KFC “maintained that the chain prepared thoroughly, given the time constraints,” AdAge reported.  Uh, KFC, no you didn’t.

The Catch – To any San Francisco 49er football fan, Dwight Clark’s Jan 10, 1982 end zone fingertip snag for a touchdown and victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game is legend.  If he doesn’t bring it down, it’s just another toss from Joe Montana.  That’s why it’s called “The Catch” and not “The Throw.”  [See also: Willie Mays’ 1954 World Series Game 1 over-the-shoulder catch of a deep shot off the bat of Cleveland’s Vic Wertz.]

Harry Potter – When Harry Potter Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released on July 21, 2007 thousands of Potter fan-atics including a substantial percentage of children lined up outside bookstores to get the first copies available at midnight.  Unlike some video game releases (think Grand Theft Auto), bookstores used the opportunity to host “Potter Parties.”  Kids dressed as their favorite characters, read passages from prior editions, and picked up their new books without a fuss.

Perfect storm at McCarran Airport – The City of Las Vegas worked hard to get the NBA All-Star game played there in February 20, 2007, but what many travelers remember about that weekend was not the score, but the three-hour wait at McCarran Airport security check-in to get on their flights home.  A perfect storm of tourism demand overwhelmed one of America’s largest airports as people heading home from the game weekend met up with tourists there for the Chinese New Year, President’s Day three-day weekend, and holdovers from the MAGIC convention.  The lines wrapped more almost a mile outside the airport in the rain.

 

The takeaway from these and hundreds of other pitch-and-catch disasters is this: Plan first for what you want to have happen, prepare for the worst-possible case you can imagine, then worry about creating the demand.  People/buyers/customers/fans remember the last thing that happened to them first.

For Facebook, that means putting all your IT and customer service people on high alert and on station till the wave passes over.  There will be time for sleep later.  Handle the first 24 hours like you knew this was coming and were ready for it, and you’ll be basking in the afterglow next week, not dealing with aftershocks.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I watch more television than I should, but that doesn’t give advertisers the right to offend me with their commercials. 

There are probably hundreds of commercials that different people consider offensive based on their personal beliefs, but this is my blog so I’m going to name two campaigns on the air right now that make me NOT want to buy their products.

CASTROL EDGE “Think With Your Dipstick” (view commercial)  Since when did it become OK to blindside assault a man in his front yard or at a bowling alley with a long, thin metal rod?!  By a fake Scotsman in cliche Scottish attire.  It’s not funny…it’s a FELONY.  Getting whipped with a dipstick is very painful.  Moreover, the faux-Scot yells a distasteful “stop thinking with your dipstick” at his victim…a ridiculous play on an even more exhausted cliche that men’s brains only exist in their penises.  (note: no women are hit with the dipstick. Maybe Castrol believes women don’t or can’t change their own oil, or even choose the oil they want in their cars.)  Maybe the message here is “the beatings will continue until sales improve.”  This is the equivalent of paid media waterboarding.  And just as I’m positive former Vice President (and GOP blowhard) Dick Cheney would change his tune about whether real waterboarding is torture if he ever had it done to him, perhaps the Castrol Edge advertising executives who thought this campaign was a good idea need a dipstick whipping.

QUIZNO’S “Toasty Torpedo” (view commercial).  This one pains me because my daughter and I both love to eat at Quiznos and we’re good friends with the staff at our regular spot.  But I never once thought of the 500 degree oven that toasted our sandwiches as an anthropomorphic rectum.  First, to provide some balance, I think the new Torpedo sandwich is a solid new product and for $4 is a good deal.  Eating it is another matter…unless you eat it like a SqueezePop using the sleeve it’s served in, it’s easy to find half the contents in your lap before you finish.  But in this campaign, Quiznos employee Scott has this exchange with the talking/flashing sandwich oven (which speaks in a voice that is a combination of HAL 2000 and a bad porno voiceover):

OVEN: Scott, I want you to do something.
SCOTT: I’m not doing that again.  I burned.
OVEN: We both enjoyed that.
[Oven introduces Toasty Torpedo sandwich.]
OVEN: Yes Scott.  You make one.  Put it in me, Scott.

Are you kidding me?!  A deep male voice beckons Scott to put something in him…that makes the Quiznos oven a 500 degree rectum.  And I’m supposed to be salivating at the chance to eat what comes out the other side?!  What’s even more telling is that these commercials now air only after 10pm.  An edited version runs before 10pm.

Hey Quiznos…the $5 Footlong jingle from Subway is lodged deep in my brain.  I don’t like where you’ve lodged your Toasty Torpedo.

UPDATE: AdAge.com wrote on June 25: “Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies. Sexualized Sandwich Bits Are Getting Tired, Disgusting.” http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=137541

Read Full Post »

Transparency is all the rage in business and government these days. Which seems funny (as in headshaking versus LOL) to me because the opposite is opacity and deception. What Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing in his or her right mind would advocate to a board of directors a strategy of treating customers like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and bury them in crap).

 

Yet marketers allow their companies to do this actively and passively every day, and it really needs to stop.  Here are a few simple examples I’ve encountered recently:

  • Food packaging. Single cans of tuna at the grocery store shrank from 6.5 oz. to 5.0 oz. in the past year with no visible change in the can form factor or messaging on the can, yet the price stayed the same.  Besides the honesty in packaging argument, recipes often state quantities in terms of how they are packaged, not just weight/volume.
  • Cell phone plans.  Let’s use Verizon as an example because I tried to find this information recently.  What are the peak and off-peak Night and Weekends (i.e. free) calling hours in their plans?  The hours are not listed anywhere on their website or my bill.  They sell the benefit, but don’t publish the terms so customers are left to guess and run up overages.
  • Auto repair.  Why can’t I go to the websites of car dealerships and auto repair companies and look up prices for standardized repairs like oil changes, brake repair and transmission service?  These companies have set prices (and times required to make the repair) in the computer programs they use to run their businesses.

Transparency often requires the point of a spear.  It took a threat of an act of Congress – the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2004 – to force credit card companies to voluntarily make it easier for their customers to know and understand what they were being charged to use their cards.  This legislation has died in every Congressional session since and a 2009 version fights for its life even now.

 

We could debate all day which is the greater offender, business or government.  The Transparency in Government Act of 2008 is “a broad legislative effort intended to make the work of Congress and the executive branch more transparent by creating laws and regulations that would bring more information online and available to the public in a timely manner.”  Organizations like the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International exist to end corruption, promote accountability and establish the systems to improve access to information.

 

So what can marketers do to promote transparency, and build trust, in marketing:

  • Work in the Open – Expose the process of research, development, and planning to internal audiences, strategic partners, vendors, etc.  There is an art and a science to marketing, but it’s not magic.  Invite input, share assumptions, debate findings, publish conclusions.
  • Communicate With Constituents Like People – How many articles/blogs/tweets/etc. need to be published before professional communicators stop issuing news releases and creating website content that demonstrate they never speak with real people?  Use the “Mother” test (“if my Mother can understand it…”).  Speak in plain English.  State clear benefits.  Better yet, if a clear benefit can’t be stated in plain English, don’t.
  • Be the Conscience of Your Organization – Marketers bring the voice of the marketplace back to internal audiences while serving as brand champions back to the marketplace. This gives us a position from which to call “bullshit” on bad ideas, misleading messages, and inferior products and services.  The most influential marketing execs are not afraid to exercise that responsibility.
  • Demonstrate Accountability – Establish at the outset the criteria that will be used to measure success and the methods for that measurement.  Publish them to the organization.  Evaluate the results of marketing efforts and publish them as well.

Read Full Post »

My TV died last night…again. 

I didn’t even get mad.  Just disappointed.  This is the second time in 24 months.  After watching a couple of my favorite shows online last night (if you haven’t discovered this on Hulu.com or FXNetworks.com, I strongly encourage you to give it a try), I woke up this morning with this thought.

Every Marketing executive should add a line in his or her annual budget for the holistic value of customer “badwill.”  Of course, this is the corollary to customer “goodwill” which is a key ROI measure every marketing executive like me likes to believe we engender by the truckload through our work.  Badwill has a very real value to the organization, cause, product or service we market and I think we might make very different decisions at the Senior Staff table if it showed up on a balance sheet like “bad debt” or “bad debt reserve.”

Let me use my very silent TV as an example…as it sits there in the middle of my living room, one tiny little red light still glowing like a very small extended middle finger.  I’ve purchased many TVs in my life.  One of the first things I did when I got to the University of Kansas and into my freshman dorm room — with the money I was given for food, books, and sundries — was buy a color TV.  An RCA color TV.  Cost me maybe $350 and it was a huge deal.  TVs were indestructible back in the day.  When you moved back and forth between home and college, you just threw them in the back seat with your books, beanbag chair, clothes, whatever.  Parts broke off and they still worked.  You could put things on top of them without offending their delicate sensibilities.

As I moved through various career, domicile and marital stages, my TVs got bigger and better.  And more fragile.  To me, an electronic appliance is supposed to perform for me, not me for it.  So two years ago, another chapter passed and I find myself at Fry’s in Las Vegas.  I LOVE Fry’s.  Like my Dad loved Sears.  But that’s a post for another day.

I knew I wanted 50+ inches of screen and I wanted Hi-Def.   The salesman walked me to a corner of the display area and asked me if I’ve thought about a Mitsubishi and 1080p.  He showed me a very compelling example of 1080i versus 1080p display clarity and I was sold.  He pitched me 13 months of interest-free financing.  Again, I was sold.  He rang me up…$2,200 and change (BTW, that’s a lot of change for a TV).  Delivery in a day.  He had engendered my goodwill for the benefit of Fry’s and himself.  And this TV was amazing!  Incredible picture.

Fast forward 9 months.  My Mitsubishi WD-57731 DLP TV is sitting in my living room…dead.  I go back to Fry’s…dismayed.  After way too much back-and-forth, I learn the lamp in my TV is only designed to run for 3000-4000 hours before it craps out.  WTF?!  My first color TV lasted for 10 years without a whimper.  The good news is the lamp assembly is easy to replace.  The bad news is so many of these Mitsubishi TVs have lamps burning out it will be a month to get the part.  But they give me a 37-inch loaner set for free and eventually the part shows up and we’re back live on the air again.

Until last night.  So I go online to look for a replacement lamp.  And I find chat room after chat room rife with words like “class action lawsuit” linked to Mitsubishi and DLP TVs and I start to think…”was there a Senior Staff meeting at Mitsubishi where Marketing, Channel Sales, Engineering, Finance and a decision-maker agreed to market and sell this product even though they knew it would FAIL several times with each customer and they thought this was a GOOD idea?”

If Marketing had a line item in its budget for “badwill” and that debit would have a direct impact on the department’s overall budget for salaries, bonuses, TV ads, promotions, spiffs, events, etc., and there was a possibility that marketing a known defective product and technology might bankrupt their “goodwill” budget…shouldn’t the Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing speak up?

I mentioned earlier the holistic value of badwill.  Marketing and selling a bad product hurts your own company.  But in the case of this TV, it hurts lots of other related entities…albeit in minute ways…but in ways that have value.  To begin, I’ll never buy a Mitsubishi TV again.  When I do buy a new TV, I’m not going to trust the salesman is telling me all the truth I need to hear…this hurts Fry’s and that salesman.  With a dead TV, I’m not watching any programming, which impacts everyone associated with creating and distributing the content.  I’m also not watching any advertising, which impacts every single advertiser, and the station carrying the programming, and the cable provider who pipes it into my home.

Do the math Mr/Ms. CMO/VPM.  Marketing is responsible for brand equity, reputation management, and customer goodwill, in addition to sales leads.  If no one else in the company will stand up and say selling a known defective product is bad for business, then you do it.

Earn my goodwill by demonstrating you understand its lifetime value.

Read Full Post »