Volkswagen's Customer Intuition

Have you seen the startling ads for the VW Jetta? The ones where you are riding along with the occupants when suddenly out of nowhere they have a collision. The ads are designed to highlight the “safety in light of the unexpected” aspect of the Volkswagen Jetta. Dave over at our sister blog BeTuitive call the ads risky but they connect with him as he has experienced an accident and can relate with the sudden impact of these commercials.

Seems to me to be an intuition moment on the part of Volkswagen or at least their ad agency. These ads are most likely the result of market research that shows that safety ranks high in customers and prospects minds, therefore commercials dramatically promoting the safety performance of their vehicles.

How are you responding to the discussions that your customers and prospects are having about your business or products? Are you responding in advertising? In your email newsletters? On your blog?

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May 23, 2006 in Advertising, Advertising, Blogs, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Newsletter Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Volkswagen's Customer Intuition

Have you seen the startling ads for the VW Jetta? The ones where you are riding along with the occupants when suddenly out of nowhere they have a collision. The ads are designed to highlight the “safety in light of the unexpected” aspect of the Volkswagen Jetta. Dave over at our sister blog BeTuitive call the ads risky but they connect with him as he has experienced an accident and can relate with the sudden impact of these commercials.

Seems to me to be an intuition moment on the part of Volkswagen or at least their ad agency. These ads are most likely the result of market research that shows that safety ranks high in customers and prospects minds, therefore commercials dramatically promoting the safety performance of their vehicles.

How are you responding to the discussions that your customers and prospects are having about your business or products? Are you responding in advertising? In your email newsletters? On your blog?

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May 23, 2006 in Advertising, Advertising, Blogs, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Newsletter Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Daily Candy to Sell at Auction for $100 Million

Here's a word from the B2C email newsletter world that will give you pause. Daily Candy a trend spotting shopping daily email newsletter service is poised to sell for $100 million. Wow! there is a lot of value in building a targeted permission based audience.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Daily Candy's business is a simple one: It produces urbane email newsletters that make daily recommendations on shopping, entertainment, food and media. Originally written for a clutch of trend-obsessed New York City women, the site produces 11 electronic newsletters, including editions for Chicago, San Francisco and London. Advertisers pay for access to the newsletter subscribers.

Wall Street Journal: Former AOL Official Pittman Puts Web Firm Daily Candy Up for Sale

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February 16, 2006 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NPR's 17 Podcasts Are Getting A Lot of Downloads

If you're still wondering if all this buzz about podcasting will amount to anything consider this:

NPR's podcasting numbers are blockbuster: 4 million downloads in the two months since it launched.

It may not be time to start your own but it is time to start following the podosphere and developing a strategy for how your company can participate. Whether advertising buys, sponsorships or content creation it's clear that podcasts are a growing highly targeted marketing opportunity.
PaidContent:
NPR's Podcast Numbers

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October 31, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What XM Satellite Radio Should Be Doing at the World Series

On the heals of my post yesterday about Story-crafting I can't resist commenting on XM Satellite Radio's plans to market to baseball fans by passing out coupons good for their portable receivers to all 40,000+ ticket holders to game one of the World Series in Chicago on Saturday.

This is old school marketing where the marketer tells the story and the consumer has to listen and respond in the narrow way as prescribed by the marketer. In fact fans who received the coupons have to buy at least three months of the $12.95/month service to get their radio. Way to build a nice barrier to entry XM. It's passive buy before you try marketing.

What XM Should Do

It's all about sampling the content not the hardware. By simply giving out coupons they don't allow potential customers to do either.

XM should:
-Develop special one station receivers to give to every fan on the way into the game.
-Partner with MLB and Fox to provide the best content possible.
-Do pre game and post game programming to cross promote XM content.
-Produce the game coverage with as much listener participation as possible. Use fan interviews, call-ins, contests, trivia quizzes, etc.
-Allow fans to trade in their receivers for discount coupons good for discounts on hardware and service.
-Consider broadcasting to those receivers that aren't turned in for a week following the game as further promotion of XM content.

A freebie that's got a hidden cost to it is doomed. You're bait and switching potential customers. Those prospects will feel cheated before they even hear the content. Pay per use media needs to be all about sampling. You don't buy a car without test driving it. You don't buy concert tickets to bands you've never heard before. What makes them think people will sign-up for audio content they have never heard before?

A single use sampling of the experience provides true motivation to buy. If customers feel that they can participate in the creation of the consuming experience they will take ownership and passionately evangelize the product, service or experience.

Bask in headlines like these, XM, because that's all you're likely to get out of this promotion.

Satellite Radio Outfit Outfits Baseball Fans

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October 20, 2005 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Sports, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Storytelling vs. Story-crafting

These days marketing is all about the story. It's the story of the idea that lead to the creation of your business, the history of your company, the creative uses of your product, the experience of your service, the transformation that results from your experience. Whatever it is, it's all about the story and thus the storytelling. The storytelling techniques and venues are constantly changing. Just as mass communication grew through newspapers to radio to television the new media is evolving communication and storytelling. Electronics and internet connectivity are changing the game from mass communication and storytelling to individual communication and story-crafting.

Story-crafting is different than storytelling because the listener takes an active participatory role in how they consume the story. User generated content builds on the base framework created by marketers to create new narratives that are much more powerful and relevant to consumers. A forum or blog comment section that collects customer experiences, tips, recommendations, reviews, suggestions etc. is much more relevant to consumers than traditional marketing speak generated by the in-house copy writers. Trust has shifted. Consumers believe their fellow consumers perhaps more so than the company line.

Today customers or fans self organize into different levels of loyalty and devotion to your product, service or experience. In so doing they seek out different levels of connection to your brand. Some just buy your product, some refer you to friends and colleagues, some subscribe to your email newsletter, still others read and subscribe to your blog, a few subscribe to your podcast and somewhere out there somebody wants to tatoo your logo on their body. There's a hierarchy of brand loyalty and devotion. The examples are obvious and oft written about. Apple, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Disney, Harley-Davidson, Tom Peters, Starbucks, etc.

What's needed today is a comprehensive integrated approach to the use of the new tools and communication channels available to today's marketer. The tools keep coming. It's too easy to just grow haphazardly from email newsletters to blogs/RSS to audio podcasting to video pocasting with wikis, forums, chat rooms thrown in along the way. We're seeing some dazzling failures along the way as companies attempt to use these tools without understanding how best to integrate them into an overarching story-crafting strategy.

Today's marketers need to understand new media tools and just how they can and should be used to allow customers and prospects to enter into a participatory relationship with your brand that allows them to connect at a variety of levels with your ongoing stories. Not everyone will utilize all of your communication channels but their needs to be a strategy so that all the elements move the story forward and don't frustrate customers by simply duplicating messages across different media.

That's why it pays to consider outsourcing your customer communication like email newsletters and blogs to a company like BeTuitive Marketing, LLC because we bring a lot of experience and understanding of these new media tools and can help you craft overall strategies for building your relationships and sales with your existing and prospective customers.

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October 19, 2005 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Personal R&D: Reading and Discovery

Your plane was just delayed and now you have 30 minutes on your hands. What to do?

Sure you could get a coffee, browse a bookstore, watch Hurricane news on the overhead monitors or....

You can deliver as much value to your network as you possibly can. Open your email address book. Scan the list and look for connections waiting to be made. Who should be introduced. What news stories, magazine articles or blog posts have you read recently that should be forwarded to someone in your network. Don't just tickle people for the sake of keeping the relationship live. Always deliver value to the relationship. Build the understanding in your contact's mind that communication from you whether it's a meeting, email or phone call will always be worth their time.

How can you constantly be ready with something for everyone? Well, you can't. Not everyone all the time but you can be ready for the right people at the right time.

The key is managing your personal R&D. In this case reading and discovery.

Read Strategically - Let your reading list grow out of your relationship network. When considering what to read consider who you know who is reading this same thing. Scan the desks, coffee tables, bookcases, carry-on bags, purses, briefcases, etc. of your coworkers, customers, prospects, competitors, etc. Discovering what someone is reading will give you clues to how they think and thus how you can work with them and add value to their lives.

For example: You're on a flight and you meet an executive across the aisle. She's in an industry you don't know a lot about. You sense there is an opportunity to follow-up and open a sales conversation with her. You notice a copy of a trade journal tucked into her laptop bag. After the flight find and read that trade journal so that your follow-up communications can include discussions of issues relevant to her business. She will feel that you value the information she values. It's a good first step to building a relationship.

Discovery - Cultivate your curiosity. Develop your power of observation. Make a game of it. Pretend you are an intelligence officer and practice noticing everything in your environment. Look for connections, patterns and cause and effect relationships. Watch human behavior. Notice advertising. Study new products when you come across them. Meet new people. All these things will develop your social skills and help you understand differences in how people behave and react to what you say and do. Most importantly actively noticing, observing and analyzing your environment and the people around you will help to make and keep you interesting. You'll always have insightful stories, humorous anecdotes and fresh ideas to share with the people you know and those you meet.

For example: You're in sales and marketing for a software company. On the subway ride to the meeting you notice just how many people have white wires running out of their ears. iPod listeners. When walking through a customer's office you notice that many of the young staffers are listening to iPods. In conversation with your contact you learn about half a dozen training needs the company has that surround your products. On the way back to your office an iPod ad reminds you of the article you read last night about podcasting. The light bulb goes on! The next day you propose a series of podcasts addressing the training issues you learned about the day before.

It's obvious that people are drawn to those who they know are interesting, funny and insightful. It's more important than ever to be that person. Being knowledgeable is the baseline. Being entertaining, insightful and helpful is more important than ever.

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September 21, 2005 in Advertising, Blogs, Books, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

UPS vs FedEx: One Experience...Shared with more than a few friends.

Everyday there are examples of the power of blogging to influence customers and prospects. Here's a little post for the very popular Signal vs. Noise blog.

A comparison of some real-world contingency design at two leading shippers.

I had to call FedEx and UPS this week and pick up packages at both locations because I missed the deliveries at my house.

When I called FedEx I got through to someone in about 12 seconds.
When I called UPS I actually called three separate times because I was on hold for over 10 minutes each on the first two calls and hung up. On the third call I had to wait 21 minutes until someone answered.

When I visited FedEx, their location was bright, fairly friendly, carpeted, and overall pleasant. My package was brought to the front desk within seven minutes of giving them my info slip. When I visited UPS, their location was dungeon-like: a windowless steel door marked “CUSTOMER PICKUP” in poorly aligned all-caps, a cracked cement floor, cold florescent lights, a TV in the corner with horrible reception, afterthought plastic chairs, and a woman behind the desk with a matching attitude. I swear it felt like an interrogation room. It took too long for them to bring my package to the desk.

Just one experience, but a lasting one.

Typical customer service type rant right? The kind of thing that circulates among coworkers and friends everyday. What's different here is the ability for others to join the conversation. As of this writing there are 46 comments. This is not surprising when you see that their are over 13,400 subscribers to the blog.

UPS and FedEx can't really worry about those conversations about them that few people hear. This however becomes something else all together. This is why you need to use web services and tools to track and participate in important conversations that are relevant to your business. Step one is hearing the conversation. Step two is responding appropriately. Hint: A C&D letter is like gasoline on the fire. There are better ways. It's perhaps the number one reason to hire a blogging consultant that can help you formulate your responses in a way that's well received in the new world of the blogosphere.

UPS vs FedEx: One experience:

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September 15, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Promotion Fatigue

Last week I had to go shopping at a clothing store I prefer to avoid. They were the only store in the area that stocked what I needed. The problem I have with this store is promotion fatigue. Their everyday pricing is clearly inflated to support their promotions. Playing their promotional games requires that you shop their stores on certain dates to receive savings coupons that are good only on certain days a month out. It's blatantly manipulative and I resent it. If you want me as a good customer don't make me jump through your arbitrary hoops. Don't make me shop on the days you want me to shop. I'll shop at your competition when I want to shop.

It's a fine line between sales and manipulating customers to make your numbers.

Have you talked to a customer lately to gauge their response to your pricing and promotion practices? Oh, look, there's a phone right there on your desk.

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August 29, 2005 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Trade Show Booth Tale

 Booth Images Img 0912BAnybody in the marketing game is well versed in the ins and outs of trade shows and conventions. You've either staffed a booth or you are considering doing a booth at some upcoming event.

The visual image of your booth is important. The all important first impression for customers and prospects.

Fed up with the high costs and limited options available one software company engineer built his own with a few tools and lots of trips to Home Depot. Inspiration for some, cautionary tale for others.

Building a Trade Show Booth on a Budget

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July 24, 2005 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Creatively Sponsoring Podcasting

By now you have heard something about podcasting. It's a niche audio programming system that allows anyone to produce an audio recording that can be easily downloaded and transfered to a portable audio player for playback at a listeners convenience. As the phenomenon catches on thousands of individual podcasts are popping up across the internet. Because individual podcasts are usually associated with an established blog the audiences tend to be segmented and very focused. This naturally appeals to marketers looking to expand the number of channels they use to communicate with customers.

Click Z reports that Warner Brothers is sponsoring a podcast. Warner Bros. will provide some exclusive music and interviews for an entertainment focused podcast.

The article includes this kernel of an idea for the future of podcast sponsorship:

"He'll incorporate that this is a sponsored message," said Bill Flitter, CMO of RSS marketing firm Pheedo, which brokered the deal. "It's basically paid placement. The music becomes the advertisement. The way I sold both these sponsorships is [that they're] enhancing what someone's already doing and adding value to it, as opposed to the interruption mode."
The challenge of sponsoring podcasting is understanding that traditional, radio style, interruption advertising is inappropriate when the listeners have the ability to fast forward right through the spots.

The approach of value added content contributions is a far better approach. This is a no brainer for music producers but other types of businesses can contribute as well. Consider interviews with the CEO or product designers/engineers, audio documentary style customer profiles, site visits, etc.

Another tactic mentioned in the article is to include an exclusive promotion code that listeners can use at a company website to obtain special services, discounts, exclusive products, etc. This technique has the added benefit of being measurable.

Bottom line is to keep an eye on the growing world of podcasting. While your business might not yet be at a place to start your own podcast you may want to track the emergence of prominent podcasts that are relevant to your customers and prospects and then consider creative sponsorship opportunities.

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March 22, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sony Makes it Easy to Feed Your Fellow Gamers

Couldn't let this one get by. Sony has intuited that their video game customers might get hungry during multi-hour gaming sessions. Going beyond the in-game advertising that's all the rage these days. Sony provides a direct option where Everquest II players can simply type in "/pizza" while playing the game to bring up the Pizza Hut website were they can order a pizza online. Going further they want to build the option to have the cost of the pizza added to the monthly subscription fee paid by players. Just a cool little feature until you read that there are 330,000 active players. A win win situation to be sure.

Do you offer any products or services that could benefit from a synergistic partnership like this? Based on your own customer intuition could you build in a link to a truly useful product or service into your main offerings?

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February 25, 2005 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E-Marketing Tips from Gas Stations

Interesting piece over at WebPro News about applying the customer intuition skills and insights from your local gas station to the design of e-commerce experiences.

How Everything I Know About Web Marketing I Learned from Your Local Gas Station

During my holiday travels, it occurred to me how few people leave a gas station without buying anything. Whether it's a package of Pop Rocks or a full tank of gas for a Hummer, gas stations drive sales at high double-digit conversions versus an average e-commerce conversion rate of around 1.8%. What are we missing?

It's an interesting idea. The author, Jeremy Swiller, goes on to identify some key areas and approaches that can inform keyword advertising and site design.

Regular, Super or Premium?

On the highway, the search term is usually an empty gas tank. But do your search terms accurately represent your product online? If your product is more expensive than the average, then brand that product through search. A visitor searching through organic listings for "premium chocolates" may be willing to pay $50-$100 when you provide the inherent value of the product. However, conversions will not be as favorable on the more generic term "chocolates" when you drive visitors to the same page. And "discount chocolates" will create frustration for the visitor once they see the high price tag.

Descriptions are key in paid listings as well. Our gas station displays the prices on your way in, but how does this translate to the web?

American Crew Hair Gel
Best Hair Gel Selection & Expert Advice
American Crew $7-$20 plus free shipping
www.exampledomain.com

This helps meet a visitor's need to determine price range before wasting their time (and your money). Was this what they planned on spending? What can they expect when they click through?

The idea is simple. Approach your interactive internet marketing with knowledge of what your customer is looking for and how they are looking. Are they looking for regular, super or premium and are you communicating that you have what they are looking for.

Next time you ride the train or spend some time in an airport lounge watch people reading newspapers and magazines. See what you can observe that might provide some insights for your internet marketing. Do they read the articles or just skim each page? Do you notice them studying the ads? (Most magazines have ads on one side and editorial on the other. A person studying both sides of a spread is probably studying both editorial and ads) Do they tare anything out or make notes of telephone numbers or websites? Do they reach for their Treo to browse for more info? There just might be some insights that could help you formulate your next email newsletter in a way that will increase user friendliness.

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January 5, 2005 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Sponsored Link Google Search

I think we would all agree that it's important to keep an eye on our customers and competitors. Here's another tool to help you do just that. This search returns only sponsored links.

If you want to see who else has bought the keywords you are buying here is your tool.

December 31, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Knowing Where You Are Calling

Has the concern over off-shoring of call centers gone mainstream? I just spotted a TV spot for 1800 Dentist that clearly states that their operators are "right here in the USA."

Have you found any sensitivity to the issue of off-shoring call centers in your marketing work?

December 9, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kottke on Advertising in RSS Feeds

Jason Kottke has started a great conversation about advertising in RSS feeds. If you are a regular blog reader you need to be aware of the trends developing to defray the increased bandwidth costs associated with RSS feeds by adding advertising to the feeds. Some sites add advertisements to the bottom of posts in the feeds and some site post advertisements every x number of posts.

Kottke correctly anticipates the desire users will have to block advertising in RSS feeds like they do "pop ups." To dig into it he asks the makers of popular Newsreaders to see if they plan to add ad blocking features. The question is skillfully answered by Nick Bradbury(Feed Demon), Erik Barzeski, (PulpFiction) and Brent Simmons(NetNewsWire).

Brent Simmons goes on to give some excellent reasons not to include advertising in your RSS feeds.

I don't think that ads in RSS are a good idea, anyway. Here's why:

1. If you have a feed with summaries, and the summaries are compelling enough to cause me to go read the full entry on the site -- then I'll actually go to the site and see the ads there. If you don't have a feed, I may *never* go to your site. Even with full-content feeds I often open pages in my browser -- and, again, I end up seeing the ads.

2. Using RSS/Atom feeds increases your readership among webloggers. A weblogger will then link to stories at your site rather than stories at sites that don't have feeds. So feeds can help drive traffic to your site. Including ads in your feed increases the likelihood that people will unsubscribe, and you'll miss out on this effect.

I suspect that people link to the New York Times far more often than they link to CNN, since CNN doesn't have feeds. And I think this is significant. As a feed provider, your goal should be to get people to *link* to your pages: *that's* how you build traffic and ad views.

While advertising in RSS feeds is mostly an issue for the major high traffic sites who need to support their costs, it's important to keep up with the developments in the RSS advertising space.

Rather than advertise in RSS feeds I would, of course, recommend that you launch a corporate blog of your own for your products, services or experiences. Outsourcing your blog development and content can dramatically shorten the learning curve and leverage experience in the field.

Learn more: Blogs: What are they good for?

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December 7, 2004 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shaping Your Reputation

This pdf file points out that Americans are taking their love of ranking and reviewing to the internet in huge ways. From the report:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 26% of adult internet users in the U.S., more than 33 million people, have rated a product, service, or person using an online rating system. These systems, also referred to as "reputation systems," are online applications that allow users to express their opinions and read opinions posted by other participants.

The data, collected as part of a tracking survey conducted in May and June, provide new evidence that a substantial number of internet users exploit the two-way communication feature of the internet. The findings also add to the picture we have about the substantial number of Americans who contribute content to the online commons.

Points out the importance of shaping the reputation of your brand, product or company doesn't it? One of the best ways to shape the reputation of your offerings is to establish a corporate blog. A blog will help put a personality to your company. While voice and personality are important knowing what to do with your blog and how to do it is important also. Consider outsourcing your blog. That enables you to shorten the learning curve and bring experience to your blog from day one. You don't film your own TV commercials do you? You outsource them. You should do the same with your corporate blog.

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December 1, 2004 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Study Finds Google Critical for B2B Marketers

Be sure you don't miss it. Marketing Profs has gleamed some important lessons from their recent study of B2B search habits.

Lesson #1. Google's dominance is overwhelming in B-to-B.
Lesson #2. Searchers are often warm (not yet hot) prospects.
Lesson #3. Organic results are far more noticed than paid ads.
Lesson #4. Position counts for clicks - but so does your copy.
Lesson #5. 18.9% of Prospects Visit Your *Before* Search Engines
There are many important things here.

Bottom line is that for those doing paid search placements Google is your best bet but you might want to consider doing a blog to achieve high organic listings that are the choice of the majority of search users. Not ready to tackle blogging? Consider outsourcing your blog to those who have experience and knowledge of the tips and techniques to create a blog that search engines will find and index.

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November 22, 2004 in Advertising, Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Declining Paper Paper Readership

PeopleontrainSpeaking of declining newspaper readership. I was on the commuter train yesterday during rush hour and it occurred to me that another factor in the decline in paper newspaper readership might also be the increase in cellphone use. Many commuters fill their "train time" with cellphone calls where they may have once been reading a daily newspaper. The same can be said for a number of technologies.

I wonder what the commute was like before cellphones, audio players(CD, MP3, Cassette), DVD players laptops, PDAs, etc. No wonder people used to read newspapers. What else was there to do. They probably talked to other people as well.

Thanks to Susan for her comment on the last post pointing out that while paper newspaper readership is declining the same is not the case for newspaper content online. It has ramifications for advertising to be sure.

So why talk about this on a blog dealing with customer intuition and interactive marketing communications? It's all about knowing your customers and what their life experiences are all about.

If your customers are commuters feeding them information in commuting friendly formats might insert your message into their lives where competitors aren't. If you publish an opt-in email newsletter consider a full text .pdf print version that readers can print and read on the train. If your customers are tech savvy consider some of the new communication techniques like Podcasting that will deliver audio programming in MP3 format ready for download into a portable audio player. Podcasts can be listened to through headphones(train riders) or through a car stereo.(highway commuters) Of course it will help if you suggest to your readers how they might access your content. "Pressed for Time? Why not read me on the train home tonight."

November 9, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paper Paper: Who Reads Paper Papers

Developing customer intuition means knowing your customers and their habits and practices. Often times a study in the news will prompt a question that's relevant to a better understanding of B2B relationships and educating clients and prospects.

MarketingVox is pointing to a story that has relevance for marketers:

According to the study, over 70 percent of "newspaper loyalists" access the Internet daily, while fewer than 42 percent read a printed newspaper every day. Further, this group is heavily engaged in multi-channel shopping, meaning they use newspapers, the Web and brick and mortar stores to research a purchase and then make that purchase offline. As a result, Yahoo! said marketers should supplement their offline newspaper buys with placements on Internet news sites.

The relevance goes beyond just advertising buys. Knowing that fewer customers are reading paper newspapers can influence the targets for you PR plans. When you do something newsworthy and you or your PR team work to get ink make sure that you get pixels also.

A study like this raises a relevant question that is something worth asking when you talk to customers and prospects. Ask them how they get their news and what web sites they read.

Related:
Knowing What Your Customers are Interested In
More on Getting to Know Your Customers

November 4, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Solving Problems vs. Selling Products

Remarkable customer service always makes for a good story. The point of this story is building a customer relationship that transcends transactions and addresses solutions to customer problems. The story details the manager of one business taking a customer to a neighboring competitor to solve her problem even when she did not profit from the sale.

Does this happen in your business? Do you solve customer problems or simply vend products. What about your marketing communications? Do your opt-in email newsletters tell stories of problems solved or just features and benefits of your offerings?

The power of solution stories positions your strategic internet marketing as a resource not just advertising.

October 26, 2004 in Advertising | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Intuitive Marketers Turn to Keyword Buys in Times of Crisis

CBS/Marketwatch reports that the Vioxx news of this past week is mobilizing lawyers, who smell blood in the water, to buy up adwords to find new customers.

From the article:

As people search for credible sources online, marketers realize that there is an opportunity to target potential customers by sponsoring keywords associated with news as soon as it breaks.

It's exactly what happened when Merck's (MRK: news, chart, profile) $2.5 billion arthritis and painkiller drug was recalled last week. As soon as the news broke, law firms seeking Vioxx takers to represent in lawsuits against Merck began bidding on the term Vioxx. It was $2 per click last Friday, when I wrote about this story.

That could be chump change when compared to the money that a lawsuit could reap for attorneys and plaintiffs.

At last check, that keyword Vioxx is attracting swarms of lawyers and driving the word up to $11.88 on Yahoo's Overture network.

It's bidding frenzies like this that's putting search increasingly on the map.

The point is customers are turning to search in times of crisis. A marketer with polished customer intuition will see the opportunities and jump on opportunities to put search engine marketing to work to find new customers.

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October 6, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Embarassing Lesson in Originality

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Both Dell and Gateway are getting an embarrassing lesson in the value of creating custom content for marketing communications. Whether it's the use of stock photography or the creation of email newsletter articles fresh relevant high quality content wins the day.

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July 29, 2004 in Advertising, Business Marketing, E-Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Build Your Customer Intuition with Google Adwords

google_smallAn intelligent use and analysis of the Google Adwords program can provide valuable customer intuition. Brian Teasley over at Click Z has some suggestions.

Knowing What Words Appeal to Customers
By creating a series of keyword ads aimed at specific landing pages on your site it is then possible to track what visitors do once they are on your site.

In addition to the number of searches on your words and the CTR[click through rate], you can tie data from a Web-related event on your site to the ad data to get an even better measurement on what keywords work best for you.

For example, you can measure how many people who viewed your ad ended up on the "Thank you for ordering" page. This, of course, is a measure of what percentage of people from each keyword (or group of keywords) purchased from your site.

Reading the Minds of Customers

AdWords can provide more than a simple analysis of your keywords. It offers a tool that suggests other words Google searchers have entered in combination with the keywords you already thought of.

At a minimum, this information is like focus group members telling you what phrases are on their minds when they thinking about your product or service. In the best possible scenario, this is your focus group telling you about other possible applications of your product or service -- ones you might not have even thought of yet!

Testing Customer Appeal
Again, by tracking the effectiveness of different keywords and ad formats you can test the effectiveness of different offers.

If you were a large telecommunications company, this provides an opportunity to quickly test whether a "Free Camera Phone" offer might outperform a "Free Blackberry Device" offer. If you're a consultant or professional service provider, you might test a "Free Analysis of Your Business" offer against a "Free White Paper Report" offer. The possibilities are endless and will vary depending on your business. [read]

Google Adwords joins other tools for developing your customer intuition.

July 27, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bezos Goes With His Intuition

On the train this weekend I had a chance to read yet another Jeff Bezos cover story from the August Fast Company magazine. The article written by Alan Deutschman covers a range of subjects related to Bezos. Of interest were insights into how Bezos trusts his instincts and intuition about what is good for the long term satisfaction of Amazon customers. Clearly Bezos is into "leap of faith" kind of decisions when it comes to serving the interests of customers:

What really distinguishes Bezos is his harrowing leaps of faith. His best decisions can't be backed up by studies or spreadsheets. He makes nervy gambles on ideas that are just too big and too audacious and too long-term to try out reliably in small-scale tests before charging in. He has introduced innovations that have measurably hurt Amazon's sales and profits, at least in the short run, but he's always driven by the belief that what's good for the customer will ultimately turn out to be in the company's enlightened self-interest.
However he also has a strong reputation for measuring the performance of new features and programs.
"One of Jeff's most recurrent phrases when someone has a good idea is, 'We can measure that,' " says Stonesifer. But, she adds: "It's one thing to be a data junkie who just looks at history, but Jeff takes a prospective view. He takes risks and he changes and changes."

Sometimes, Bezos says, you can't rely on facts because it would be too hard to test an idea, or too costly, or you can't figure out how to do it. And "sometimes we measure things and see that in the short term they actually hurt sales, and we do it anyway," he says, because Amazon managers don't think the short term is a good predictor of the long term. For example, they found that their biggest customers had such large collections of stuff -- especially CDs -- that they accidentally ordered items they had already bought from Amazon years ago. So they decided to give people a warning whenever this was about to happen. Sure enough, the warnings slightly reduced Amazon's sales. But it's hard to study the feature's long-term effects. Would it reduce sales over a 10-year period? They didn't think so. They thought it would make customers happy and probably increase sales. "You have to use your judgment," Bezos says. "In cases like that, we say, 'Let's be simpleminded. We know this is a feature that's good for customers. Let's do it.' "

Amazon faced similar dilemmas with its dramatic moves to cut prices and offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more, which is very costly for the company. "You can do the math 15 different ways, and every time the math tells you that you shouldn't lower prices 'cause you're gonna make less money," Bezos says, laughing inevitably. "That's undoubtedly true in the current quarter, in the current year. But it's probably not true over a 10-year period, when the benefit is going to increase the frequency with which your customers shop with you, the fraction of their purchases they do with you as opposed to other places. Their overall satisfaction is going to go up."

Clearly, Bezos makes decisions based on what is in the long term best interest of it's customers. It's a vision thing. Bezos' intuition tells him that serving the best interest of his customers over short term sales performance wins the day. Another example:
From Amazon's early days, his vision was "to create the world's most customer-centric company, the place where you can find and buy anything you want online." Within weeks of first publishing customers' reviews of products, Bezos says, "I started receiving letters from well-meaning folks saying that perhaps you don't understand your business. You make money when you sell things. Why are you allowing negative reviews on your Web site? But our point of view is we will sell more if we help people make purchasing decisions."link
When you are making decisions about your company and your customer communications are you looking out for their long term best interests? Educating customers and prospects is perhaps one of the best ways to look out for their best interests. Knowing more about your industry and specifically the problems and opportunities your products or services address is a powerful way to link customers and prospects to your brand. E-newsletters provide a great opportunity to provide world class communication and education in a format that is completely trackable and measurable.

What innovations or ideas have you implemented where short term analysis proved negative but the long term interests of customers carried the day?

July 19, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is This Any Way to Build a Relationship?

wheeladsAttention hungry advertisers are getting desperate. The never ending quest for surfaces to cover with ads has turned to the hubcaps of 2000 LA taxi cabs. The ad surface spins free of the wheel and is weighted to appear stable as the wheels turn. Like other novelty advertising this will work for awhile and then be ignored.

Anybody wonder what would happen if Jiffylube spent their ad budget on building relevant relationships with their customers instead of constant interruption advertising? Sure they mail the reminder post cards to their customers when it's time for a oil change but that just sparks more transactions it doesn't build a give and take relationship. What's in it for the customer? The reminder post cards are just another to-do item for already busy people. What if they took a cue from the Viagra people and offered every 7th oil change for free? They would build customer loyalty to the point where saving a couple of bucks at the competition wouldn't be a very good deal as it would move you towards your freebie. Being a card carrying member of the program would give Jiffy Lube permission to talk to their customers about car care and related services. Monthly program updates could come in the form of an email newsletter.

Amazon.com was successful when they redirected their advertising budget to offer free shipping to their customers. Returning substantive value to your customers generates positive buzz and creates customer evangelists. The key is finding the lever. What element of your business do people value most highly? How can you structure your offerings such that the one key element can be positioned to carry the greatest appeal to customers. The high cost of vehicle maintenance could be the context for a program that really helps save money for customers. In the case of Jiffy Lube their advertising budget could be used to subsidize the free oil changes. Adjustments to their pricing structure and incentive system could be adjusted to accommodate the 7th free program. Ditch the $3 off coupons and give free oil changes.

Build real relationships with your customers, find their value lever, design your offerings to provide real benefit to customers and enjoy the benefit of positive buzz and customer evangelism.

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July 12, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Consider McDonald's

mc_logoConsider the customer intuition challenge that McDonald's faces. They deal in the fixed asset world of real estate. They own most of their restaurant locations leasing them to franchisees. Yet within this fixed structure their business is a moving target. They must constantly adapt to changing tastes, perceptions, technologies, cultures, religions, languages, political movements, supply chains, currencies and competition. As if that isn't challenge enough consider the moving target of their customers. Everyday millions of customers die and millions new customers are born. Expectations are born and expectations die.

McDonald's constantly tests new products and technologies to see what works for their customers. All the while they discover what works and what fails in the scrutiny of the public eye.

Love them or hate them you have to admit that McDonald's knows how to develop their customer intuition. They have survived and thrived as long as they have and grown as large as they have by knowing their customers.

When you think about the challenge of knowing and communicating with customers think about McDonald's and the scale of the challenge they face every day.

Maybe I'm just hungry. Time for lunch.

June 3, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Food and Drink, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Advertising: Missing the Relationship

An interesting post about the shortcomings of contextual search engine marketing from search engine marketing guru John Bettelle. Without a known relationship between audience, publisher and advertiser there is no trust and no customer intuition being developed. Advertising may be relevant but it's not valuable.

It's this relationship which I find entirely missing in all these contextual, behavioral, paid search networks. Sure, they are "relevant" to either a search, or to the content they match. But they are driven by metadata and the actions of only one of the parties - the content of the publisher for example (AdSense), or the actions of the audience (Claria, Revenue Science, Tacoda, etc.). As far as I know, none are driven by an understanding of the give-and-take that occurs between all three parties in a consensual relationship mediated by the publication. A site which has only AdSense or behavioral advertising fails to value (or monetize) the community connection between audience, publisher, and advertiser. Advertisers in these networks are not intentionally supporting the publication, and by extension they are not supporting the community the publication has created. In essence, they are not being good citizens of the community where their advertising is being displayed.

Contextual, behavioral and paid search advertising techniques may bring you traffic and even build your email list but it is the development of your customer intuition and your 1:1 marketing communications that will build your business.

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June 1, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wrangling the Blogsphere

Today there is a nice piece over at ClickZ about tools for identifying influential blogs. A great resource for PR people and marketers who are new to blogs and blogging. From the article:

"Word of mouth is a form of advertising, it's a form of media," Blackshaw said. "This media is getting in front of consumers at these inflection points where they are unsure about how they feel about a product."

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May 14, 2004 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Corporate Blogging, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack