Category : Word of mouth

If you think your company is boring…

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‘Tis the season for marketing planning, which can be painful if you’re in a rut. From many years of experience I believe every company has remarkable ideas to talk about, but finding those ideas can sometimes be challenging.

This week I talked at the Word of Mouth Supergenius conference about how to shake things up and find those ideas. Thanks to Merritt Colaizzi of SmartBlog on Social Media for her post that sums up those ideas. You can find it here.

Finding those interesting ideas to talk about is well worth the work. Consider:

  • What do sales reps to say to engage prospects?
  • What makes your proposals and RFPs stand out?
  • Social media only works if you have interesting ideas to talk about
  • How do CEOs get employees’ attention?

To get more interest, you have to be more interesting.  It doesn’t mean you have to be cool like Apple. In fact, much of my work has been with “boring” B2B companies.  Everything in marketing and sales gets much easier when you find the “talkable” ideas.

If you get stuck, call me to help jump start your thinking. If your company is really stuck, let’s do a workshop in 2010  to uncover those amazing ideas just waiting to be found.  While I am slightly biased, this is the best marketing investment you can make next year.

A CEO's Twitter advice

smiley face JPEGMost companies tell employees what NOT to Tweet about, but Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, suggests to employees that they Tweet about these three things:

  1. What will cause my followers to smile
  2. What will enrich people’s perspective
  3. What will inspire

Thanks to Hollie Delaney of Zappos.com, for sharing this yesterday during out social media session at The Conference Board conference on extending your brand to employees. Thanks too to the other super-smart and generous panelists — Marietta Cozzi of Prudential Financial, Kat Drum of Starbucks, and Kelle Thompson of Liberty Mutual.

Employee attitude matters more than advertising

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Companies spend so much on acquiring new customers, hiring the best talent possible, taking chances on innovative marketing concepts. But engaging employees often seems to a stepchild, loved, but in a less passionate way.

Given the influence of employees on customer loyalty, maybe the priorities need to be altered. At yesterday’s Conference Board conference Engelina Jaspers, HP’s vice president of corporate marketing, shared three stats that can help focus management’s attention on employee engagement:

  1. 68 % of customers leave a company because of poor employee attitude
  2. 41% of customers are loyal because of good employee attitude
  3. 70% of brand perception determined by experiences with people from the company

Brian Ray of McDonald’s is quantifying the value of committed employees in revenue and profitability for McDonald’s owners/operators. (85% of McDonald’s are franchises), and has just completed an project to create an employee value proposition.

(So interesting that every company seems to have a customer value proposition and mission, but not so for employees.)

To develop this “EVP” McDonald’s spent just $65,000 and asked two simple questions, which got an amazing 79% response rate from frontline workers in 33 countries:

  • What do you love about working for McDonald’s?
  • What do you love the least about working for McDonald’s?

What do your employees love the most and least about your company?  These two simple questions asked at least annually can provide the insights you need to understand how to make your employees your best marketing advocates.

Did PETCO kill the squirrel?

Bird feederHere is  our birdfeeder, with no birds, not even the pesky squirrel who does contortions to break into the feeder. You see we bought a new bag of   the PETCO Black Oil Sunflower Seed  and the animals disappeared. No fighting over the perch, no annoying squirrel hogging the feeder.

Alarmed, my husband cleaned the feeder and thoroughly checked the yard for any weird growing berries or other vegetation that could be deterring the animals. But nothing. Pretty sure that the birdseed was contaminated  he emailed  PETCO Customer Relations, and they wrote back:

Unfortunately, there has been no information provided to us regarding any issue with the PETCO Black Oil Sunflower Seed. You may want to check if there’s something different with the bag that you recently purchased compared to those you have purchased before…You may also want to contact the manufacturer, Kaytee, regarding your inquiry.

Why would PETCO refer us to  the manufacturer when it was a PETCO branded product?  Why wouldn’t they ask for more details about our purchase so they could track possible contaminated shipments in our geographic area? Why wouldn’t PETCO apologize and tell us to return it to the retailer for another product?  If they looked at my husband’s purchasing history — he has one of those PETCO PALS loyalty cards — they’d see just how steady and profitable a customer he has been over the past 10 years.

The lack of PETCO interest so turned off my husband that he switched to a competitor, PetSmart, and tells all of his animal-loving friends about this story. Talk about word of mouth marketing.

The marketing lesson is this:  customer service is more important and valuable than any advertising.  It creates positive or in this case, negative, word of mouth.  Yet for many companies customer service is not part of marketing.

Advertising, promotion and CRM loyalty programs report to marketing, but not customer service?  In today’s social media world where the good and bad travel fast, that’s just for the birds.

Our bird friends are returning after a month away from the feeder.   But no squirrel. We think he may have died from the tainted birdseed.