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Fresh foodFoolishly I fell victim to the Apple / iPad marketing campaign after the launch in January and recently invested in the world’s most expensive handheld toy. Aside from relieving me of some of my hard earned cash, it has brought one ray of light to my life… Ocado. I have to say I’m a huge fan. I dabbled in home delivery back in the early noughties but somehow it just didn’t seem that convenient. Browsing the isle on my 56K dial-up didn’t quite float my boat and I returned to the chaos of Saturday morning shopping at Sainsburys. Then along came the iPad and its wonderful App store, along with a passionate recommendation from a colleague about how good the service was. Within a couple of taps and a flick and found myself able fly through my weekly shop in record time and to top it all off, get it all delivered 24 hours later within a 30 min window early enough to catch me before we both went to work… Fantastic!

Having been so thoroughly convinced of the merits of Ocado I was delighted to receive an email informing me that they would pay me up to £400 in vouchers for recommending their wonderful service which I had already been gladly recommending for free. Sounds good .. well this is where the excitement starts to wear off. Determined to get my free vouchers I started searching their email for a link, button, anything I could click on to get me through to the point where I start recommending. Let’s be frank anyone like me, who loves Ocado probably doesn’t spend a lot of time reading the details in such an email. Eventually I found a link at the top of the page (Ocado logo) and did eventually read the text in the email .. (I mean as if you’re actually supposed to read that stuff).

1. Log into your Ocado account.

2. Click on the ‘invite-a-friend’ link at the right of your homepage (under your basket).

3. Invite your friend to shop with Ocado.

“Its that simple” they say. Well I’m not so sure that is what we would call simple in today’s world where you can order your shopping from a handheld flat-screen device that you carry round your empty cupboards. In fact, considering I was at work and didn’t know my username and password, it wasn’t simple at all.

Having been so impressed by Ocado and wanting to continue my newly found loving relationship with them, I felt compelled to write them an email.

“Dear Ocado, blah blah blah, love what you’re doing etc etc, changed my life… However you could make your email a lot easier to use, and here’s a few suggestions… all the best , Simon”

Well as a replying customer who is not only saying how much he appreciates a company’s service, but also someone who is taking time out to impart some of his highly respected knowledge and on top of that is gagging to give them a few more customers, I’d say my email to them should have been pretty high up their priority list.

Well I bet you can guess how this little story ends.. No reply, no recommendations and one newly found customer who already feels a tiny bit disappointed. Nonetheless, I’ll keep shopping for now.

influence projectA Study by agency 360i indicates that the majority of Twitter conversation is between consumers and that Corporate Twitter seems to be directed at the Consumer rather than with the Consumer.

According to the study, only 12% of consumer tweets mention a brand by name. When they do refer to a brand, consumers are sharing news or information about the brand (43%) or reporting use of or interaction with the brand (35%). Hold on..what do you mean ONLY 12% of consumer Tweets mention a brand name? Are you telling me that  brands would be unhappy if in the physical world over 1 in 10 conversations mentioned a product?

But of course the real failing is in the idea that again Brands are not engaging in a dialogue but in a monologue – ‘’Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness’’….Margaret Millar. This does seem to hark back to an era when TV and Print indulged in ‘Interruption Marketing’, talked about in great detail over a decade ago by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing. And of course even the early days of email marketing followed a dose of ‘Spray and Pray’ communications.

We all know these days its much more about the conversation and the idea of spreading influence through peers and contacts. I came across a very interesting form of this influence spreading by the Fast Company. They essentially wanted to created a viral campaign to find the person with the most Online Influence in 2010 – The Influence Project. They do this by a very crude method of making you feel more of a mover and shaker by getting people to click on your personal url . And yes that was mine. And they have effectively used this to get a degree of awareness out there about their magazine.

Perhaps more importantly, as I type, they have acquired something in the region of 25,000 email addresses. Hopefully they won’t abuse that privilege, and so have used a very ‘social’ need of many people ( i.e. to perhaps to have their 15 minutes of fame) to potentially start a conversation with them in the future and indeed have already created millions of google searches ,tweets, emails, facebook mentions. 100% of which have mentioned the Brand.

Oh, now that I can think about it, 1 in 12 does seem low.

Ps…I am currently ranked 422..please make me famous

Feedback Welcome

'Any Comments?'I’m in sales and I hate losing deals! Any sales person worth their salt should be the same (whether they admit it or not). There are thousands of reasons for not winning a pitch; some valid and some totally ridiculous. Either way, it is the most difficult part of the job…you can spend months – even years – on a pitch and no matter how close you are to winning, you get nothing in this game for finishing in second place.

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate how difficult it must be from a client’s perspective. No-one likes having to say ‘no’, especially when you know that the other party has put in a lot of work and time on your brief. I can forgive a potential client choosing another supplier, no matter how strange their decision may seem sometimes. What I can’t forgive, however, is when a prospect won’t give any feedback as to why they’ve chosen another partner. Feedback is a vital part of the sales process. It’s what helps companies and individuals grow and improve.  I can bear to lose a pitch (I’m never happy about it, obviously!) if it means the feedback from that process helps me/us improve in the future and win more business as a result. Linda Richardson talks about the importance of  ‘Improving Yourself Through Feedback After a Lost Deal’ and I would agree, providing the client gives constructive feedback.

Giving no feedback at all is inexcusable. Giving nonsense or false feedback is just as bad or unhelpful. Here’s the worst piece of feedback ever: ‘We chose X because they were cheaper. Period.’ Despite what anyone might think, I genuinely don’t believe that anyone makes a decision purely based on cost. If I saw a Ferrari on Ebay ‘Buy It Now’ at £100, would I buy it? No, obviously not.

Here’s the sort of feedback that IS helpful:

‘We chose supplier X based on the fact that their costs were competitive, but they weren’t actually the cheapest. We went with them because one of our marketing team had used them before and was familiar with them. We also know they have functionality X, which we don’t believe you have. Also, they have a partnership with Company Y and we work with them too. We saw 10 suppliers and you made it to the last 3 and we ultimately made our choice based on these key criteria’.

I would really respect the client that gives me that feedback.

If you are reviewing suppliers, I would ask you to map out your feedback strategy before you begin the review and outline this as part of the brief/RFP (all the best ones do). I would also ask that you offer a follow-up meeting, call or structured feedback document to unsuccessful providers. That’s my feedback anyway ;-)

Thanks in advance.

Face book dislike buttonIs the hype over? Obviously it will not be over that fast and Facebook will very likely continue to face growth rates but these new stats tell me that they might be losing a key target group to build up into a lifelong customer.  Another new study shows that customers are becoming increasing dissatisfied with the social network due to their recent privacy issues,   click here to read more from Meghan Keane on the Econsultancy blog.

If Facebook loses a key audience how will they recover? Is it likely that us as grandparents will be telling each other via Facebook who passed away and who got new grand children? Personally I doubt that but there is silver surfer potential.  Maybe Facebook will need new features that our tech savvy youth will pick up again?  Or they will look to concentrate on a new target audience with features focused at higher income brackets?

We’re all well aware that they are still flying, as more than ever log into Facebook on a daily basis and membership is now exceeding 500million.  But the Facebook Executives can’t fail to notice that something needs to be done – and fast – if they’re to get themselves out of the bottom 5% in the customer satisfaction survey.

Hand coming out of the computer with mail.I’m a massive advocate of Linkedin. What a great way to connect with relevant communities, self promote and check out the merits of potential clients, recruits and colleagues. As a ‘social media’ platform, it’s by far my favourite. Want to gauge the health of a competitor or industry? You can find out by checking employee turnover on Linkedin. Need someone who knows about printing? Up pop two or three colleagues of old who now work in printing. Need a professional network but too shy to invest in a £60k MBA or 5 years at Oxbridge? Join Linkedin. The list goes on, and I haven’t even got started on the nosey factor! Matt Owen from Econsultancy looks at businesses attempting to drive engagement across social networks like Linkedin in this blog post Who owns your social media?

Embracing this amazing new business tool, like many I duly signed up, filled in my profile (100% no less) and even got a few ‘would recommend him in a heartbeat’ recommendations, in exchange for a few ‘what an amazing guy’ recommendations from myself. “No you’re the best, No you are …!”

Believing my latest recommendation to be entirely true, and not being the type to feel like he’s missing out I also signed up to a few of those ‘must connect’ groups, calculating that anything with ‘email’ or ‘lead generation’ in the title is probably a good place to start, and for investigative purposes only selected the top ten busiest looking groups relevant to me. I ascertained that this way I will be better informed who the industry movers and shakers are, what the topics of conversation are and best of all forever be seen as on the pulse of my industry. Ergo, I am therefore a progressive, game changing industry mover and shaker and will have to request more recommendations from my new found industry connections first thing tomorrow.

It did seem a bit too good to be true, and somewhat unsurprisingly, I arrived the following morning to an overloaded Linkedin group folder in my outlook. That’s ok (tolerance threshold mildly irritated), I signed up to a few after all. But to my dismay (tolerance now blown), following 20 minutes of spam sifting in that oh-so-familiar way seen with the establishment of email, Linkedin has become a haven for unsolicited trash being sent without proper control or respect for recipients. The vast majority of email alerts I checked within groups took the form of;

  • I’m selling some product or service
  • I’m spamming you in an indirect effort to sell some product or service
  • I’m writing to enter discussion whilst thinly disguising my product or service, which I’m actually selling in an unsolicited, spammy way

None of these were what I signed up for, which led to a sinking feeling of déjà vous. This then led to the dejected conclusion that it was highly unlikely that anyone was actually engaging in discussion for the benefit of the groups as I’d hoped. In fact, silly me, with the inevitability that night follows day, this form of communication has followed much the same path we’ve seen with many online media channels. The gold rush of an exciting new media platform created by a few early winners, snowballs into the subsequent come-one-come-all mushroom of exuberance, leading to the eventual incessant dilution of any value to all save the most spam tolerant. A new channel is a fertile ground for all players and what follows is the painful process of learning how to harness healthy practises fuelled by diminishing protagonist value and the backlash of the brow-beaten exploited.

So although I still remain a fan of social media platforms like Linkedin, this exercise re-emphasised the cyclical effects seen in all media channels, the extremes of which are no better illustrated than in digital media. Just as in the email industry, natural selection hastens the removal of poor contributors either through legislation/cultural rejection (also seen recently in Twitter where self promoters are increasingly snubbed) allowing for the emergence of better practices which are more palatable to the consumer. As we have seen within email, consumer acceptance re-emerges when the trust is rebuilt and the unscrupulous are shackled.  This is what we should all be focusing on take Stephanie Miller tips on how to connect email, social and eCRM. So email marketing can be the template for Social media platforms like Linkedin to follow. Ben and Jerry’s take note.

Stephanie Miller highlights how to connect Email, Social and eCRM