People Don’t Care

There’s one assumption that I start every marketing campaign with: People don’t care.

Every communication must assume that customers, prospects, and other stakeholders — e.g. people — don’t care, and aren’t looking for a brand to communicate with them. Even with permission, most folks aren’t eagerly awaiting our next outreach. As communicators, it is our job to give them a reason to care.

Yet, self-centered drivel fills most corporate and nonprofit emails, blogs, social updates, etc. An inability to focus on the customer plagues brands through era and medium.

Companies can’t help themselves.

They create a game of messaging tic-tac-toe to satisfy an innate need for their work to be important. It’s important to executives and marketers because that’s how they spend 50 hours of their week together, building something every week, month and year.

Meanwhile, the customer turns to the brand for an answer, a resolution to an issue, perhaps a special something to make life better. And that’s where it begins and ends, with the customer and their decision to buy or not to buy.

So when marketers bore them to death with messaging and facts about why x is important, we actually turn people away. Because we have not delivered an answer or something special.

Where is the utility? How is it entertaining? Why should anyone not employed by the company care?

Native advertising is such a big craze these day because brands have to pay-to-play. They have no choice because their communications bore just about anyone who reads them. The attempts to make them social have failed outside of core evangelist communities.

This continuing failure forces me to conclude that a vast majority of customers, prospects and donors just don’t care about brands. We haven’t given them a good reason to invest in us.

Everything created for them has to focus on giving them reasons to become interested. Communications have to revolve around the customer’s core motivations and needs. Otherwise you create messages that serve as lukewarm rallying points to keep employees and vendors motivated rather than true marketing touches.

What do you think? Do people care about marketing content and messages?

Image by Ida Stalder

The Dog Bowl of Big Data

Big data continues to confound the average marketer. The issue surrounds comprehending the data that matters.

Marketers need to understand how to use the technology. Big data has no value unless you can mine information sets to achieve better business outcomes.

Which data sets make for richer relationships with prospects and customers? How will it impact business? What should a marketer look for?

Go back to key performance indicators (KPIs). One worthwhile KPI might be return customers. Let’s apply that to both a hypothetical B2C and a B2B scenario.

If you are a retailer, instead of examining the immense amount of data produced from web site and social interactions, intentionally predetermine what will matter to your company. One thing we know about social media is that People Love Pets! They post pet pics, talk about them incessantly, and like everyone else’s pet pics.
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2013: Clicks and Mortar

Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation
Image by CRUSTINA!

The big digital media shift in 2013 has little to do with new mobile applications or social networks. Rather, it revolves around how brick and mortar businesses — and in particular stores and entertainment venues — integrate social into their physical brand experiences.

Some folks dub this trend Clicks and Mortar, the integration of online into our everyday physical whereabouts.

Recently, I attended the Ivy League Sports Symposium, and, whether it was MLB or the Tough Mudder franchise, everyone was talking about the live fan experience from a participation perspective. For example, new stadiums are developed with incredibly robust wifi networks for in game experiences.

The trend extends well beyond sports.

Burberry recently invested significant dollars to bring their online experience into its flagship London store. The effort includes some creative use of RFID chips to show video content about clothes that have been brought into changing rooms.

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Why You Need a Customer Experience Officer

RCMP smiles
Image by Eyesplash

Greg Verdino turned me on to a fantastic article about the rise of the Customer Experience Officer. The article rightly discusses the real trend of branding today — the comprehensive user experience.

By focusing on the comprehensive user experience, research shows brands strengthen return on investment (ROI).

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The More We Stay, the Less We Say

Forrester recently updated its Technographics profiles (made famous in the book Groundswell) for global social media consumption, surveying 95,000 consumers across 18 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. One primary finding was the lack of commenting occurring in mature western markets, including the United States.


Adoption is pretty much complete in the U.S. (86%) and globally. Almost everyone who is online also is using or has used social media. Comscore recently corroborated this data, saying 83% of the world’s online population participates in social media.

But, most of us in the United States are not social and care not to converse. The Forrester report finds that 2/3 of the US adult social media population doesn’t comment. This is notable.

Commenting seems to have decreased over the past six years. Perhaps it’s because of the widespread proliferation of mobile media with smaller screens and touch input. It’s certainly harder to type in a blog comment or critique a product on a smartphone.

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The Customer Is Not Your CMO

Walmart's "It's Back" Tags Direct Customer to a Detergent Reintroduced to Store
Image by Walmart Stores

Wouldn’t it be great if customers ran marketing?

No, I don’t think it would be great. In fact, it would suck.

It flies in the face of the way business occurs. People within a company determine how to build products for, market to, and serve customers.

A customer centric business model is smart and often the mark of a successful company. Great companies exist to serve these customers. Today, the social business movement (an unfortunate term born to be clichéd from the get go) seeks to reinvigorate modern companies with a listening-based customer-centric model.

But let’s be clear here, customer centric does not make your CMO a customer. The customer has no interest in showing a company how to market. Honestly, the only time they tend to interact with a company after a sale is because of a customer service issue, or because they are ready for a next generation product.

Yes, there are die hard evangelists, and these are invaluable resources for a company. But the customer has no seat at the table, how can they be the CMO?

Nor would they be good at it because they have no professional training. While crowdsourcing advertisements have yielded some diamonds for products like Doritos, an overwhelming majority of the crowdsourced ads are crap. Really, they are. We just see the one good one out of the lot.

What About Customer Service?

Some say that customer service should be the linchpin in a customer marketing experience. Let’s be clear: Customer service is a touchpoint, not The Touchpoint.

It’s a feedback loop for product development and marketing, and the front line. When consistently excellent, customer service can create word of mouth and new sales.

Companies that don’t understand and listen to their customers experience problems because not only are the ignoring their customer, but also the flaws in their offering. That’s because customer service is usually activated when people are pissed, not when they are happy.

What about the vast majority of happy customers who never call? How can customer service represent them?

Just like the army doesn’t want GI Joe managing a supply line, international troop deployment, and war strategy, I don’t want customer service driving marketing. While feedback can lead to innovation, overall I think the effect would be stymied, reactive products that don’t advance anywhere nearly as quickly as they currently do.

Just my two cents on working with customers, crowdsourcing for a few years, and building programs to market for companies, including a turnaround campaign or two that involved negative customer perception. What do you think? Is the customer your CMO?