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Finding Employees of Customers Online

Want to find websites or blogs written by people who work for a major customer organization? Enter this search string into Google: "i work (at | with | for | in) (google | googleplex)" Substitute the company name for google and any colloquial term for the company for googleplex.

This technique usually turns up the "about" section of blogs or websites where authors mention who they work for.


August 24, 2004 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Business newsletter, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Legitimatly Getting Through Spam Filters

Permission marketers are taking steps to get legitimate opt-in email through spam filters. Cnet Network is launching an ad campaign to encourage it's 12 million subscribers to add the "from" address for Cnet newsletters to their email address books. Email from addresses in users address books is not typically blocked by spam filters. This is fast becoming a best practice for permission marketers. Dare I say we're all over it at BeTuitive.


August 24, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business credibility, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Today's Students Are Tomorrow's B2B Customers

Great customer intuition begins with knowing who your customers are. In these back to school times marketers are realizing that the customer is the student not the parent. More and more school age children and teens are given complete decision making control over their back to school shopping needs.

Why is this news and why is it blog worthy? Because understanding today's student aged customers will help business's of all kinds know better how to build future marketing communications to reach tomorrow's B2B customers.

For example:

InsightExpress, a Stamford, CT-based market research firm, recently surveyed high school and junior high school students and discovered that "students looking to buy consumer electronics say they are the ones in control of the budget and brand-buying decisions." The research was reported on Promo Magazine's Website.

In addition the study found:

- Students are more educated not only in terms of what devices they want to own, but also which brands.

- Devices most wanted by teens include MP3 players, cell phones and digital (still and video) cameras. While students plan to pay for only 30% of electronics purchases themselves, teenagers say they still wield more buying influence than their parents.

- Of those polled, 72% reported learning about home electronics through friends, 70% through the Internet, 70% through television, 58% through magazines and 44% through school.[link]

Studies like these show that teenagers are already dialed in to word of mouth marketing, using the internet to do product research and comparison as well as conventional media such as magazines and TV. In a few short years these tech and marketing savvy teens will be old enough to be employed in your customer organizations. During those same short years they will only get more savvy and skillful in how they respond to marketing and make purchasing decisions. In order to grow your future customer intuition start by understanding how tomorrow's customers who are today's teens behave as employees and customers.

You might even find a source for new ideas and innovations. Consider what technology guru Howard Rheingold had to say in a recent interview:

There's nothing more inventive than a 15-year-old... If I was a Nokia (NOK ) or a Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ), I would take a fraction of what I'm spending on those buildings full of expensive people[R&D Engineers] and give out a whole bunch of prototypes to a whole bunch of 15-year-olds and have contracts with them where you can observe their behavior in an ethical way and enable them to suggest innovations, and give them some reasonable small reward for that. And once in a while, you're going to make a billion dollars off it.[read]

So tonight when your teen asks for a few hundred dollars to go back to school shopping give her the money and ask her about her decision making process. Oh, and when she gets home have her reprogram your cell phone so it doesn't play the theme from Sienfeld everytime your boss calls.

August 23, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Microsoft, You Need to Develop Your Customer Intuition

Cnet News reports on some classic customer intuition gaffs on the part of Microsoft.

Speaking at the International Geographical Union congress in Glasgow on Wednesday, Microsoft's top man in its geopolitical strategy team, Tom Edwards, revealed how one of the biggest companies in the world managed to offend one of the biggest countries in the world with a software slip-up.

When coloring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft colored eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds. "It cost millions," Edwards said.

Another social blunder from Microsoft saw chanting of the Koran used as a soundtrack for a computer game and led to great offence to the Saudi Arabia government. The company later issued a new version of the game without the chanting, while keeping the previous editions in circulation because U.S. staff thought the slip wouldn't be spotted, but the Saudi government banned the game and demanded an apology. Microsoft then withdrew the game.

The software giant managed to further offend the Saudis by creating another game in which Muslim warriors turned churches into mosques. That game was also withdrawn.

Microsoft has also managed to upset women and entire countries. A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation.[link]

In these days of globalism, multiculturalism and political correctness it's imperative to develop an in depth understanding of your customers and markets. Knowing local traditions, geography, languages and customs is essential. Large companies like Microsoft need to have good local advisors who can help them navigate these complicated waters. Even smaller companies need to be careful in crafting their internet marketing. When you are addressing a particular industry there is significant value in "going native" and working with people who know the industry from the inside out. When companies wonder about the outsourcing of their marketing communications and their email marketing programs they need to know that working with the best freelance writers who are deeply connected within their target industry establishes credibility and expert advisor status for their company.

August 19, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business credibility, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Things Yahoo Can and Google Can't

Ever wonder what Yahoo can do that Google can't. The folks over at Research Buzz have at least four cool things. Download the two page .pdf for details.

August 18, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Taking it Back at Holiday Inn

holiday-innThe on again relationship hotels have with booking sites seems to be swinging to off again. Holiday Inn has decided to pull their inventory from Expedia.com and Hotels.com. Business travelers are becoming more and more savvy in their use of the internet to book their own travel plans. When a travel department or assistant make arrangements they are likely to shop based on price. Business travelers booking their own travel are interested in the experience factors of the hotel. Factors such as location, comfort/decor, service and frequent stayer clubs come into play in the decision process. Hotels are realizing that the promotion of these factors is better done on their own websites.

Taking back the sales and promotion of their hotel properties gives the hotels the opportunity to develop their marketing communications, customer relationship systems and the customer intuition data that will drive innovation and growth in their businesses.

I think this is part of a broader trend in America where prominent brands are moving away from resellers and towards controlling their own brand experience. Exhibit A: The Apple Store. Exhibit B: Tupperware pulls out of Target and sticks with their "party" model.

So how do you make you travel plans? Do you use a travel agent, booking site, provider site? What are your tricks of the trade?


August 18, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing What Your Customers are Interested In

Forrester reports that only 165,000 out of 1.8 million online sales leads are closed by the auto industry each month. This is a problem with lead processing technologies and follow up. Forrester suggests better performance could increase online vehicle sales by 40%. The auto business simply doesn't acknowledge that their customers are interested in shopping for vehicles online.

Wow, what an opportunity for increasing business. So many businesses struggle to generate sales leads and here is an industry trying to keep up with the flood of leads they are already receiving.

Most businesses are somewhere in the middle. They would like to increase sales leads and the number of sales resulting from those leads. Developing customer intuition is a way to do both. Knowing what products, services and experiences your prospects are interested in allows you to know which of your offerings they are interested in buying. Technology is a great aide in this process. Being able to read your customer's mind is a process of knowing what they are interested in. There are many ways to know what your customers are interested in. Listen to what they talk about, the questions they ask, the comments they make, track what articles they read and which information they download; all these things can be valuable windows into the mind of your customers and prospects.

Yesterday, Oprah and I both had jury duty. One of the attorneys who questioned the panel I was on asked each person where they got their news, which TV stations they watched, what newspapers they read etc. Clearly he was trying to gain some insight into each prospective juror's mindset by knowing where they get their information. Do you ask your clients and prospects what publications they read? Not just trying to know where to advertise but in a way that provides you some insight into what they are interested in and how they think.

Once you have some idea about what your customer is interested in you can better address their needs. Both with your own offerings and by recommending other offerings that may be of value to them. If you find out that your best customer reads a stack of travel magazines every month you may not know better how to sell her your widgets but you certainly have useful information when you want to reward her for her customer loyalty. Beyond that you might want to send her links to some good woman oriented travel sites like Adventure Divas or Let's Go Girl.

August 17, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Being Transparent Resonates with Women

There are a lot of great blogs, authors and companies talking about marketing to women. Most often marketing to women is talked about in terms of B2C business. It's very important to know that marketing to women is important in B2B business as well. Women are great B2B customers. The same sensibilities they bring to making their personal consumer purchasing decisions they bring to business purchasing. A new voice is heard in another great piece from MarketingProfs.com, Andrea Learned author of Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy—And How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market shares insights into transparent marketing:

Narrow your focus. Start with the narrowly defined but important group of the early adopters of your product or service. Get to know them and serve them well, and their passion for your brand will attract a wider audience...

Understand your customer community intimately. You can’t sit back and operate from within your industry’s vacuum. You’ve got to understand what influences women by exploring their wants and needs. Yes, this sounds a tad touchy-feely, but the results make it worth the initial discomfort. Two elements to consider in your research are “a day in the life” and “a day in the dreams” of your women customers.

Build customer feedback into the process. You’ve got to admit that gathering customer feedback when a product is already on the shelf is a little late. However, getting their feedback on product design changes and marketing strategies before you are too far along can save huge amounts of time and money. Plus, that in-the-process connection with customers establishes your company’s commitment to them and reflects the value it places on such input. Those customers who are involved in the early-on research will most certainly be some of your product’s or service’s biggest and most passionate fans. Of course, they’ll spread the word.

Focus on your product’s context. What are the key scenarios or life stages that the women in your brand’s customer community experience? Are they sitting around at the doctor’s office? Position your brand there in some way. Are they grocery shopping, driving on the Interstate, stopping into a coffee shop chain or going to Pilates classes? Be there as well, or figure out a way to partner with brands that are already there and are already trusted.

Understand and define your brand. Has it been a while since your company revisited this topic? Has the brand become diluted in trying to be everything to all people over the past 20 years? Remember transparency key No. 1 and define what your company does in order to be relevant to the very specific market you’ve identified. The uniqueness or specialization of your brand really appeals to a woman’s sense of being “in” on a great find and it also makes them want to tell others. For example, anyone can look up “day spa” in the yellow pages. But if your spa decides to specialize in and promote a 15-minute lunch-break pedicure service, the news will spread like wildfire and there will be no need for a phonebook ad.

Be authentic. Women have radar for companies that say they know women, and even put smiling women in ads, but don’t reflect real knowledge of which products women want (or how they want to buy them). Back up, with real effort, what your company professes. If you are in a traditionally male-dominated industry, build an advisory board of female customers. If you think your business is doing just fine but you haven’t touched base with any customers lately, think again. A lot of what female consumers are looking for in products and services has changed with the times. So find out what they need and deliver it in a way that reflects your in-depth research and interest in better serving them.

Of course, as many marketers will tell you. Meeting the needs of women customers often exceeds the needs of male customers. Meeting the needs of men gets you male customers. Meeting the needs of women gets you both male and female customers. Seems like something you ought to look into.


August 11, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Understanding Customers Through Analytics

Nice overview of customer analytics at MarketingProfs. The article by Colin Shearer talks about four categories of analytics: Statistical analysis, On-line analytical processing (OLAP), Data mining and Text mining.

I couldn't agree more with Colin when he says:

With the massive amounts of customer data being generated every moment of every day, and the absolute necessity of carefully managing the customer relationship, analytics are no longer a nice thing to have; they are essential. The backlash against spam marketing, and new privacy legislation put into place as a result of this backlash, is forcing a more scientific approach to the art of marketing.

It will no longer be a matter of just throwing out a hook and seeing who bites; it will be about taking the time and using the right tools to truly understand customers, satisfy their needs and wants, and anticipate what they may want tomorrow.


August 11, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hotel Forcasts the Weather

sweetdreamsMichele Miller over at WonderBranding tells the story of a company that provides information of great value to their customers that isn't necessarily about their own business. It's a free prize and as Michele demonstrates a remarkable aspect of the customer experience.

What is it? A simple card left in her hotel room that wishes her a good night's sleep and provides basic weather forecast information for the next day. Note the highlighting and temperature fill in the blank. As you can imagine this is a nice touch that requires little effort on the part of the hotel but is a memorable touchpoint for customers.

In your business what added information would be of value to your customers?


August 10, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Business newsletter, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack