Category Archives: CRM

Brand Engagement – The Lee Valley Tools Experience

No doubt you have read countless articles about the importance of brand engagement on social media. To this end many brands have scrambled to check off their to do list with the lattest Twitter or Facebook account so as to make new ‘friends’ or be ‘liked’ through these new channels.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned but true brand engagement happens at the Moments of Truth – those places where customer and brand come together and something gets done (or not). To put it another way, when there is a moment of truth, there is an opportunity to deliver a superior customer service experience that is memorable to the customer in a positive way. In turn, customers will be satisfied, maybe delighted and at best, generate some ‘earned media’ (word-of-mouth) for your brand, the most powerful kind of recommendation and form of advertising.

The grass can be greener on all sides.

In my particular case, I needed a replacement part for my Lee Valley push mower. The part was a bolt that fits into a knob that is used to adjust the height of the roller. When I called Lee Valley with the intent of getting a replacement part, I was served immediately by a gentlemen who volunteered the following:

– 2 replacement bolts, 4 day courier delivery via UPS, free of charge.

Indeed, the parts arrived in two days and I was back in business. Not only was I pleasantly surprised but even happier to own a Lee Valley product. From a customer perspective, this was a superior and most memorable experience worth writing about for others to read especially since Lee Valley knew that I hadn’t even paid for the lawnmower as it was given to me by a neighbour who was discarding it in favour of a power mower.

As a practitioner of CRM and social media strategy, this is a fine example of genuine customer engagement by a brand this is not contrived, driven by a campaign or planted by an influencer. The Lee Valley experience was simply part of their script, as in reflective of their customer service culture and  the way they do business. 

It is clear that Lee Valley Tools own their brand and product way beyond the point that it’s in the customer’s hands as the positive perception of the brand was augmented several steps away from the original point of purchase.

Not only was this was a fine customer experience, it was very engaging.

– Ted Morris 

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Cisco: Bigger than Big Data – Exadata

Cisco’s fifth-annual Visual Networking Index is stuffed with jaw-dropping predictions of what our world will experience by 2015, four short years from now. Among the jaw-droppingest predictions: 

  • network-connected devices will number 15 billion, outpacing the human population by a factor of two to one 
  • one million minutes of Internet video will be transmitted every second 
  • the total amount of global Internet traffic will quadruple by 2015 to 966 exabytes per year. 
  • the projected traffic increase alone between 2014 and 2015 is 200 exabytes, more than the total amount of Internet Protocol traffic generated globally in 2010 
  • Canada’s IP traffic in 2015 will be equivalent to 7 billion DVDs per year, 542 million DVDs per month or 742,898 DVDs per hour 
  • in 2015, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross Canada’s IP networks every three hours 
  • Canadian mobile data traffic will grow three times faster than Canadian fixed IP traffic from 2010 to 2015 
  • the Asia Pacific region will generate the most IP traffic (24.1 exabytes per month), surpassing last year’s leader, North America (22.3 exabytes per month), for the top spot.

By 2015, world Internet traffic will reach almost one zettabyte, equal to a sextillion bytes, or a trillion gigabytes. This growth will be driven by four primary factors, according to Cisco. They are: 

  1. An increasing number of devices: The proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and other smart machines is driving up the demand for connectivity. 
  2. More Internet users: By 2015, there will be nearly three billion Internet users—more than 40 per cent of the world’s projected population. 
  3. Faster broadband speed: The average fixed broadband speed is expected to increase four-fold, from 7 megabits per second in 2010 to 28 Mbps in 2015. The average broadband speed has already doubled within the past year from 3.5 Mbps to 7 Mbps. 
  4. More video: By 2015, one million video minutes—the equivalent of 674 days—will traverse the Internet every second.

[via Backbone Magazine, Sept 2011]


–  Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Social Media: A “Head in the Sand” Moment

Seeing Your Brand With Eyes Wide Shut

It could not have come at a better or worse time – depending on whether  you are Google or Facebook. Or it may not matter at all given the continued high levels of adoption of “freemium” social media networking platforms. 

The recent survey by ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) conducted by ForeSee Results,  yielded numbers worth considering.

For Facebook, it is basically ranked at the bottom of the deck by users when it comes to delivering on customer satisfaction – ergo, the user/customer exprience. Facebook is rated so low that it stands slightly above airlines and cable companies in general. Not surprising given that Facebook is really an Internet utility. Perhaps the only saving grace it that you don’t get a monthly bill.However, as a brand manager, you might want to ask yourself: “Do I really want to partner with a medium that is seen to deliver, in a measureable way, low customer value?”.  Even worse, some social networks may even dimish the value you are trying to deliver via your brand.

Not to worry, it looks like Facebook will be around for a awhile. Consumers or should I say “users” are as addicted to some forms of social media in a classic love/hate relationship. Things might be different however, if they had to actually pay to use this utility.

Pause for a moment.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Media Integration: The Tradigital Mix

This post originally appeared in the Association of Canadian Advertisers newsletter, The ACA Edge:  http://www.acaweb.ca/en/media-integration-the-%e2%80%98tradigital%e2%80%99-mix/

I was recently reading Golf Magazine, a publication of the Time Inc. Sports Group, which includes Sports Illustrated amongst its media assets. Golf Magazine serves as a hub, trigger or catalyst for viewing relevant content through a range of media types and other brand platforms. Here’s why:

There is a section in Golf Magazine called “Your Game” which is an instructional piece made up of various illustrations, stats and descriptive text on, for example, how to improve putting from short distances. In the bottom left corner of the page, there is a pointer to the magazine’s website at www.golf.com/putting  where there is an online video of the same lesson featuring additional information about the putting process. Golf.com has a link to Twitter (@si_golf). Videos are featured on YouTube, Golf Magazine’s channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/GolfMagazine.

At www.golf.com , there are links to various sites related to events on the PGA pro tour, content related to golf travel, course ratings, opinions and reviews to name but a few of the possibilities. In the current issue of Golf Magazine, there is even a new program that brings it together with SI Golf and Golf.com to enable the audience to “See, Try, Buy” the latest in golf equipment with links to OEMs and dealers. Many advertisers in Golf Magazine have links to ‘freemium’ social network platforms – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – offering additional product content.

Then there are those who write for Golf Magazine who are also commentators on television networks that broadcast golf such as CBS and NBC. It goes without saying that many PGA pros are featured throughout all of the golf media choices. Writers and PGA pros (some 85 are on Twitter) contribute content. Readers and web viewers alike also post their opinions often indicative of topics that drive engagement. There are several blogs: http://blogs.golf.com/equipment.

Golf Magazine is a good illustration of how the “Tradigital” media mix can provide a rich experience through a host of choices for accessing relevant content by integrating traditional and new media. This transformation of brands to a broad media mix reflects the adoption of a new business model that optimizes traditional and new media in order to bring about the right mix for the audience –paid, owned, sold, earned. CMO’s should find this inspiring. It’s not really complicated. Get started, try things out, see what works and like a recipe, add to the media mix until it’s just right.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Ahead of the Curve Behind the 8-Ball

It wasn’t long ago that the clamoring for CEO’s to get with the latest program by using Twitter and various social media platforms, reached a feverish pitch.  As usual, those forever looking for shreds of evidence that ‘social media’ pays out a clear cut ROI, would trot out lists of companies (and their CEO’s) who ‘got it’. Funny thing was, most of those lists, and many related cased studies were  mainly of obscure companies in the early stages of growth. Naturally, a 500% growth rate as a result of using Twitter, was impressive though less so when the base number for that growth rate was near zero, the kind of stats that investment fund advisors like to use when people have little appetite for buying stocks following a market meltdown. 

There have been case studies, some from reputable technology analysts, touting remarkable cost savings. Beyond the headline, the data showed a savings of $4M over 3 years for a certain USD$100B technology provider using social media as a collaboration tool.  In the end, this seemed a bit on the light side. No pun intended here but greater savings might have been had by turning the office lights off when people left for the day.

There has also been a lull in those declaring their location. Shout outs for Foursquare and various locational platforms seem rather muted of late. The initial interest seemed to be focused around luring people into retail premises by pushing discounted offers out to the latte-rati, more recently up-sized to the Starbucks version of 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp. Adoption hasn’t been that broad and one wonders if location-based applications are still looking for a real business problem to solve.

Lastly, not to make too fine a point, recent press by ‘those in the social know’ are now suggesting that too many offers, tweets, friending by brands for the sake of friending and a general overloading of Facebook fan pages by some brands, has started to turn some people off. Mashable had some recent thoughts on this issue of why people are unfollowing certain brands. I also expressed in a post from last year, building on a thought piece by the Economist, that there is so much data out there, one wonders what is to be done with it all – and that was when YouTube, Facebook and the like where just getting ramped up with the posting of video and photos. Clearly, when a brand fails to deliver on the promise, even CEO tweets can’t come to the rescue, GAP logo changes notwithstanding. Again, ask yourself, are we solving a business problem or just creating stuff to do because we’re not sure exactly what to do?

If you’re indeed feeling both ahead of the curve implementing certain technologies and behind the eight ball in terms of getting measureable business results, consider this: any organization that undertakes a transformation, in this case toward the Social Enterprise, cannot achieve success by leading with technology. This is what happened to early adopters of CRM in the last decade. Success can in fact be achieved, notably for companies that are truly customer-centric (culture/process/technology) who understanstand those things that deliver value to the customer relative to competition re. the “Outside-In” approach. IBM, Ford, McDonald’s, P&G are a few companies who do this consistently and have the financial results as proof.

This is not news, in fact, it’s an old principle advocated by Peter Drucker some 50 years ago. While it’s tempting to drink the latest elixir of technology, it pays to stick to managerial fundamentals, much like accountants use GAAP methods to keep track of every dollar earned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Mind The Gap

“At Gap brand, our customers have always come first. We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels.” This is from a recent press release from Gap Inc. regarding a change in its corporate logo. The full text can be found here: link.

So the socialmedialists feel that they won the day. The people (crowd) has spoken. While some have speculated that this was a PR stunt, The Gap Inc. nonetheless appears have capitulated and reverted to its original logo. Amen.

My speculation is that this event was symptomatic of something else: a brand that is indeed struggling amidst a retail industry vertical that is recovering fairly well since the 2008 economic downturn. The stock price peaked near $26 around April 23, 2010 and has fallen 30% to around $18 today. Historically, the stock hasn’t done much in the past 5 years, remaining under $20.

From a marketing perspective, the outcome of the social media/crowdsourced and subsequent response by Gap Inc. suggests a brand that has lost control. There is little sense that the outcry actually came from Gap customers or whether the research that GAP conducted was segmented with respect to brand loyalists, frequent shoppers, Gap customers at large versus non-customers and people who generally make a habit of railing against brands for sport. To take this further, there was little evidence that Gap distinguished between social media in the broadest context or WOM – Word of Mouth otherwise known as earned media, a key metric of contextual online brand conversation. I would also surmise that the Gap’s logo wasn’t top of mind with its various customer segments as opposed to merchandise selection & availability, customer service and the on-line shopping experience.

At the end of the day, whether or not a company chooses to change its logo,  the value proposition has to be clear, strong and reflective of customer wants and needs. If the value is not there, perceived or otherwise and if the product/service delivery does not meet or exceed expectations and create conditions for repeat purchasing, logo changing will do nothing to affect corporate performance. This goes for any company in a fiercely competitive market.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Advertisers and Consumers Like Television

I recently heard someone ask “If ROI is so important, why do brands still advertise & market on television?” Here is part of the answer to a very complex business issue.

According to the IAB – Interactive Advertising Bureau, Nielsen estimates that, for the fall 2010-11 broadcast season, there will be 115.9m US TV households, and 294.65m persons 2+ watching. To put this in perspective, that’s almost equal to the total number of both households and population of the United States. Nielsen also recently published some key media statistics:

> 114M US households have a least one television, almost 30% own 4 or more TVs; the average American watches 31.5 hours of TV per week; kids 6-11 watch 8 hours of live TV per week.

> almost 99% of video content is watched on traditional television; 100M+ are cable and satellite TV ready.

A complementary perspective is offered by comScore. In a piece written by comScore Co-Founder Gian Fulgoni, The Lure of TV Advertising for Internet Businesses, it’s clear that even companies that are significant Internet players, are attracted to the lure of television. Some of these companies include Yahoo, AOL, Autotrader.com, Google, Expedia, Monster.com, Priceline and eHarmony. Fulgoni points out that over the past decade, television ad spend share has increased from 38% to 46%…”confirming that despite the illusion created by some media pundits who would have us believe that TV is on the ropes…”

Even as the Internet continues to grow in appeal, brands prefer television as an advertising medium. While consumers are watching more television than ever and there is no let up in sight in terms of total time spent viewing there are two key drivers, as noted by comScore, driving advertiser appeal. The first is that a lot of people can be reached, during high-rated shows, in a very short amount of time. This is very appealing to advertisers, where time is indeed money – well spent. The other is related to risk. Almost all television advertising is copy tested,especially for major brands, before going on air in order to ensure that the intended message is hitting the mark with the target audience.

With viral advertising, notably on YouTube, campaign success is largely a role of the dice. For every campaign of note, such as the recent Old Spice series, there a thousands of videos that rarely get a mention, let alone reach the people they were meant for. While it is cheap to air an ad on one of the Freemium channels, it is very difficult to understand reach and frequency in relation to target audience. You cannot anticipate who will view what, when and how often before going on air unlike television advertising that is tied to a program’s intended viewing audience. Otherwise, it’s a bit like playing media planning roulette and risking loss of control of the brand. 

As Fulgoni aptly notes “The cost of being wrong becomes substantial”.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia