keep mindeyesyourhelp businesses smallface meet opportunitylong whatleadsago? theless priceWeb hosting templates

customer insight

Show me you understand me and create moments that matter.

By | branding, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Uncategorized | No Comments

It is often when we are in holiday mode that we get the chance to look at everyday activities and interactions with an open mind. I love the chance to slow down but even with the change of pace I still can’t help keeping an eye out for marketing ideas.IMG_0725
The biggest point of difference going forward for all businesses is the customer experience and being able to show your value, show that you know your audience and deliver some special insights that delight them. Learn more here re predictions for 2015.
While I was having a cup of tea these holidays I came across this tea bag. Each one had a different saying on the tea bag ticket. What a clever and simple way to show that Tetley actually understood that having a cuppa is a moment in time, an experience that we want to escape, reset and enjoy, not just a beverage. Every product and service can use this customer insight to create those moments that matter, that set them apart from others.

We have been staying in a holiday cottage by the sea and the owners have gone to great lengths to think of those creature comforts that make the memories we share here special. Little things like a selection of CDs, magazines, hot water bottles, dominos, extra cushions and blankets, tea and coffee and condiments. They have even developed a little guide for activities and how to get down the the water via a track only known to residents.

Creature comforts

Creature comforts

Gartner has found that for most brands, 80% of your future income will come from your existing customer base. This is why the most brilliant marketers focus their efforts on customer satisfaction strategies.

How do you show your customers that you understand them and create moments that matter? Love to know?

Co-creation as a business strategy

By | Customer experience, Customer Insight, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing | No Comments

Back in 2009 I wrote an article about the intersection of CRM and social media. Basically,to summarise, I wrote about the customer driving their engagement with us as small businesses and the need to engage with them in the appropriate mediums that they choose to use. I also wanted to see some more aggregation of the listening touch-points we have via CRM/Social  (SCRM), so we can get closer to our customers and use this information to be involved in their conversations.

Jump forward to 2012/13 and as Paul Greenberg states “that we are now at a point that the customers’ expectations are so great and their demands so empowered that our SCRM business strategy needs to be built around collaboration and customer engagement, not traditional operational customer management.” It is less about transaction and more about interaction.

The disconnect I still see, is while customers have become in control of how they interact with us, we still are yet to make leap to map our goals to that of the customer needs and concerns with the solutions our products or services provide. We don’t make their agenda important. The end result is we are still in the large part transactional or commodity based businesses not partners or loved brands.

Examples of how we make the customer an intrinsic part of our business ecosystem  Paul Greenberg lists as follows:

 

“It can mean anything from customers and the company collaborating on product development, to customer suggestions on how to improve a company process, to customers helping other customers solve customer service issues, to even doing what gamers do and modifying game play using tools for scenario creation which adds value to the game. Co-creation is the ability of the company and customer to create additional value for each other – what form it takes is not always THE BIG THING.”

Co-creation is one example where we as small businesses can help the engagement with our customers.

 

Examples of co-creation is Amazon with reviews of books,  Nike in the design of shoes. Solosso is a leader in co-creation for men’s wear, making it possible for their customers to create high-quality custom dress shirts

that are perfect just for them, and do it for a reasonable price. Threadless is the same concept. At Threadless.com customers can send in their own t-shirt designs, which are subsequently voted on by the other custo

mers and visitors to the site. The winning design is then printed and sold as a newly created item/product. Again, consumers have a direct participation in and influence on the final outcome of the product development process. By the way, the winning design is rewarded with a cash prize as well as other benefits. Now this concept has moved into different product offerings including iphone case design. Keepcup does the same design concept online.

“The four types of co-creation

  • Club of experts: A very specific challenge is needing expertise and breakthrough ideas. Contributors are found through a selection process. Quality of input is what counts (e.g. Nokia)
  • Crowd of people: Also known as Crowdsourcing. For any given challenge, there might be a person out there having a genial idea that should be given a podium. It’s the Rule of the big numbers (e.g.Threadless)
  • Coalition of parties: In complex situations parties team up to share ideas and investments. Technical breakthroughs and standards often happen when multiple parties collaborate (e.g. IBM)
  • Community of kindred spirits: When developing something for the greater good, a group of people with similar interests and goals can come together and create (e.g. Linux)”

My favorite by far at the moment is Ikea for Business. What a long awaited idea. I want to design my space, pick it and get it delivered! Hooray Ikea you are listening. Great case study examples too!

Chris Lawer for the P2P foundation puts why we should consider co-creation carefully as a small business,

“Co-Creation is therefore just a natural way for organisations to help their customers meet their goals in the lifetime of use of their products. But they can only do so if they embrace a different view of value and start building back from the customer’s view of value, not the firm’s.”

How can you co-create with your customers? It can be a small step first. Even asking for feedback will spark some ideas. Ask your employees and brainstorm how you can co-create with your customers today.

Are you talking all about you, AGAIN?

By | Branding, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

When I look at your website can I tell that you get me? I mean if you really understand my needs, or is it all about you? I am not interested in all about you. The problem with the majority of websites and I dare say most marketing materials, is  that they shows a distinct lack of understanding and insight about two things:
1. The ideal customers that they are trying to attract
2. A way of positioning the value that they offer to that customer group so it is effective.

Maybe this lack of insight  that is resulting in this swell in demand around research, buyer personas, geotargeting, consumer panels, crowd sourcing, social media mapping, branded communities and more.

Larger corporates are leveraging any means possible to provide insight into product development, positioning, sales touch points and refining their brand footprint. As a small business we can take a more immediate and simple approach but it is useful to stay abreast of the technologies used to discover real-time insights.
Some examples of companies in this space are:
Panelportal.com makes it easy for companies to deep dive into what customers think about their brands in real-time using a cutting-edge, socially inspired branded member community website. In real-time you can get feedback from the community on any idea.

Usamp -With 9 million panelists. Usamp combines self-service, mobile ap on demand audience, branded panel.

Gfk.com is a retail research company that has been around for ages but has adapted its research to take in more social media and mobile tools.

So what is the take away for us. Well as a small business ask your customers for their opinions. It might be as simple as having a suggestion tab on your website or doing a yearly survey using wufoo or survey monkey. The direct approach sometimes works well. Is there anything I could be doing to serve you better. Ask for recommendations in LinkedIn and read what they have to say. Do a poll on Facebook. Great a persona of your ideal customers and check it against who you are attracting.

Look at your marketing materials from your customer’s point of you. Are they written to them or more about you? It is not just about your customers but also your employees. Do you ask them for feedback about how they feel about working with you? They often have some good insights for better ways to serve your customers.

Tools

Content Mapping. This Barbara Gago Persona Mapping pdf is a great tool for mapping out your content strategy using the buying cycle and a persona profile template to profile your ideal customer.

Identify your ideal customers: who are those people you serve best and love to work with. Focus on these. This template helps you narrow your focus and allows you to be more purposeful with your marketing strategy.

How well do you know your customers?

By | Marketing Strategy, Sales Process, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Having an “outside in” approach to your business is difficult. It requires you to shift your focus from running, managing and developing your business to that of your customer. This mind shift of really stepping into the customer shoes and then developing a marketing strategy  is critical to be a successful small business (well any business really) and yet most companies are still selling a promise to customers that they can’t deliver or one they don’t want.

I hear customers I interview say all the time;”If they had only asked me what I wanted I would have told them.”

Your customer’s perceptions of you are not based just on an email, your website or going into your store to buy something. Their perceptions are formed when you live up to your promise or break it, generally after the sale. What happens when the product breaks, they are left on hold for 10 minutes, they are given the run around! It is hard to keep promises. It is hard to always treat the customer well, but that is why it is more important than ever to preempt their concerns and stay ahead of their expectations to deliver a really compelling customer experience.

It is about identifying with the customer journey that you can really ensure that your promises are kept. If you make promises that are not kept the customer will judge you as a liar and customers will tell others, as we all hate liars.

If you want to gain some customer insights and map out your customer buying path book a marketing strategy session today.

 

Related posts: Creating a customer centric culture

Podcast on creating a customer centric culture

What is your secret sauce?

By | Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Are you memorable or boring? Are you safe or unpredictable? In small business it is important that you are creating something your customers feel compelled to shout about. How do you do this? What is your secret sauce?

Well I believe it has something to do with the customer experience you provide.  The Dijuluisgroup is a company that focuses their efforts on creating world class customer service organisations.

Let’s face it; there is so much choice with products. Just look at the supermarket shelf and the choice of different sorts of bread, milk, yoghurt or tea. Everything has become commoditised. The real last point of differentiation is your service or more so the customer experience that you deliver to your customers in a consistent delightful way.

Everyone will say that they have great customer service but interestingly as John DiJuluis points out that is an internal view point and when you ask your customers you might be surprised about how they rate your service. Most people however only notice your customer service when it is bad. If you screw something up, believe me it is memorable! Customer insight is a key.

Customer experience speaks more to this secret sauce. It is about your companies culture and focus on delighting the customer at every touch point. How do we personalise their experience. How do you deliver your experience to the customer currently? If you are not sure how you stack up why not take some of the surveys on the DiJulusgroup site. They have one for the organisations customer experience aptitude and one for the individual. If nothing else it will make you think.

Two key questions to keep in mind.

  1. You can make price irrelevant. John tells the story on Jay Ehret Power to the small business of two hairdressers. One had a sign in his window “HAIRCUT ONLY $10”. The salon across from them was a totally different salon and had an average haircut cost of $50. The suggestion was to put a sign in the opposite window saying “We fix $10 haircuts”. The challenge to make price irrelevant is to create a haircut and an experience that is so different is like taking a 60 minute holiday.
  2. Create a fantastic customer experience every time. Imagine instead of charging $100 per hour for a consultation you charged $1000. Now note down what you would do differently and do it. Make the experience exceptional.

Look at how I create an exceptional experience.

Dan’s Quick tips:

Use the customer and your name a few times when on the phone.

Add some value by doing your homework before you meet a potential client, the web is an awesome tool for this

Ask your customers for feedback every chance you can and act on it, own it, improve it.

Key functions of a brand for a small business

By | Branding, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

What is a brand?

The collections of perceptions about your company.

Brand is not just a packaging, tag-line and logo. Brand is every interaction with your customers. The perceptions your customers have about your brand, influences whether they choose you over a competitor.

Brand is more than a logo.

Do you have brand recognition or awareness or just a corporate identity with a logo? Many small businesses spend a lot of time on their logo or website without considering the messaging to the target audience to see if it will resonate and any time promoting their communications. A brand is not just visual, it is behavioral. Are you listening to your customers?

I bought an Apple Mac computer this week. Until then I had a Dell and had been very happy. The support was fantastic, they were proactive with their sales calls and not pushy. Despite enjoying my Dell laptop it did get viruses and I didn’t feel as cool as I might. I even stuck on a Apple logo on my Dell saying to clients ” I want to be an Apple computer”. So you get the picture. So the time had come and I ventured into their Chadstone store.

The store the atmosphere and the branding everywhere made you feel like you were somewhere special. The uniform of the staff being hip and the furniture and layout super cool. Then  I met a salesperson called Clay. He was helpful but not energetic like I imagined a Apple person to be. I felt like I got the right technical advise but the service  left me feeling ripped off. First I asked Clay if there was anything else I needed (perfect up-sell opportunity). I thought at the end of the conversation I had everything only to discover when I got home I didn’t. I didn’t have the extra software I asked for and I didn’t have a mouse which I think is key. What’s more the 1 to 1 registration that we did for extra support in the store had locked me out on my new computer at home. All of this I could live with but then I experienced more dissatisfaction when I went back into the store for the second time in 2 hours. This time Igor told me I had to bring in my old laptop with my new laptop so they could see how long the appointment time would be for support which I then had to book! Holy cow, totally rubbish support and not only that, apparently wrong. I spoke with another salesperson when getting my wireless mouse and he (Chris) said I could book the support/ lesson on line. Come on Apple what is going on? I tell this story because Apple have nailed their physical brand. The logo, tag, store and salespeople appearance, but it all is devalued the moment you experience less than satisfactory customer service. Someone needs to start training these geeks in customer service fast!!! Interesting also is there is no where on the Apple website to make a customer compliant. Not at all promoting the right image in assisting customers.

Brand attributes: for a brand to do its job well it should have the following benefits.

  • Recognition/ awareness: Does the market know you exist? Have you heard of x company?
  • Top of mind awareness: memorised your brand
  • Brand preference: choose you over others, they need what you do.  They like you.
  • Differentiation: they believe you are different to the other choices.

Remember the famous McGraw Hill ad from about 30 years ago? The one with the grumpy, old man saying, “I don’t know you. I don’t know your company. I don’t know what you stand for. Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?”

Brand can help give you sell you service by providing a level of trust and comfort in the eyes of the customer.

What does branding do?

1.Branding – draws clients to you and gives you opportunity to meet face to face with customers.

2.Brands pulls everything together in a cohesive package which gives the your business a visual identity.

3.Brand can make price less of a consideration in the buying cycle.

4.Brands increase sales effectiveness. Brands help generate leads. It makes lead generation programs work better.

5. Brands helps you beat the competition.

6. Brands facilitate repeat purchases as customers prefer to buy from you.

7. Brands attract the best candidates.

8. Brands increase value of a company.

Brands have many long term financial benefits. So as a small business think about brand as more than the physical elements and put as much effort or more into the messaging about what you stand for and delivering the brand promise to your customers.

Insight taken from Professional Service Marketing by Mike Schultz and John Doerr

Take our Marketing Health Check I'm marketing savvy!