Tag Archives: marketing

The Social Maze

Where are all my customers?

 The funny thing about all the endless advocacy of social media is that nothing has really changed in the business of matching consumers with brands. Oh sure, now that consumers ‘control the brand’, companies are at the mercy of infantile twittering tantrums such  as when consumers don’t get their way (especially on an airline) hoping to unleash a social firestorm primarily with the hope of getting noticed for a nanosecond or two. (The same folks likely get back on the same airline, content to collect their frequent flyer points.) 

One would think, with all those folks splaying their private lives out in public via the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare – lest we forget this thing called a phonebook or the science of geodemographics and credit card purchase data – that people would be easy to find. In fact, with all of the yottabytes of data out there about consumers, it should, in the year 2010, be a matter of running an algorithm or two to find customers, understand preferences and match any product or offer with any consumer 24/7 in any country with high Internet penetration.  It would be the end to the need to advertise using traditional channels.

Funny indeed. The search and storage/processing technology required to make the social web possible has, as the main output, data. Whether you call it media or content it’s still really just more data taking up space on some distant server farm deep in the Mariana Trench. As such, are we all the wiser? Not really. With free cloud apps having a shelf life not much longer that the vegetables in your local supermarket, many are wary of the risks of implementing something that will be obsolete by the time it gets traction in the marketplace. With the yet to be proven value of social media monitoring and analytics, it’s not as if the world has abandoned representative random sampling or in-market product trials.  

Do companies really have the strategies, skill sets or business processes to effectively leverage the social web? With only $2 billion slated for social media spending in the USA this year, I doubt it. Yet, evangelists are forever hopeful, as that is their stock in trade. Like Charles Revson, founder of Revlon once said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope.”  

On the other hand, Charles Revson didn’t have social networks at his disposal but his customers had no trouble finding the Revlon counter.  

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

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Beyond Brand: The Kawartha Dairy Company

The Kawartha Dairy Company, since 1937.

Yes, this is about ice cream. My favourites are strawberry, chocolate, butter pecan and french vanilla.  Here is French Vanilla: 

FRENCH VANILLA: ALL NATURAL. No artificial flavours or colours. Pure bourbon vanilla and eggs give that bold flavours and a sprinkling of vanilla seeds.

Kawartha Dairy has a website, several storefront locations and is distributed throughout Ontario, Canada and notably Metropolitan Toronto. The “Kawarthas” as they are known by, are located northwest of Toronto by about 100 miles. It is cottage country, rural. Lots of forests and lakes. It is also the home of Kawartha Dairy. Every time I eat Kawartha Dairy ice cream it reminds me of the years we spent at the cottage – family, friends, puppies, children. Ice cream that has always been a part of our lives.

No Facebook, no Twitter, no mobile apps, no need to check-in at their stores on FourSquare. All you really need is a scoop, a bowl, some wild blueberries maybe or fresh strawberries or perhaps even some Canadian maple (light amber #1)  syrup as occasional toppings.

Kawartha Dairy. The tastiest ice cream. Beyond a brand.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

No Ticky No Laundry: The Unservice Service

My 75 year-old mother-in-law recently inquired, via the web, about a laundry product that she has been using for years.  In response,  Church & Dwight employed what is known in CRM-Customer Relationship Management as “the customer service apology” method:

 Subject: Reply from Web Form Regarding ARM & HAMMER® Super Washing Soda

Thank you for visiting our web site recently.  We have received your e-mail regarding ARM & HAMMER® So Clean! Super Washing Soda. We appreciate your interest in our product and are sorry you are having difficulty finding it in your area.

Because so many products compete for space on grocers’ shelves, stores sometimes must limit their offerings to those with the greatest demand. You might mention your interest in our product to the store manager where you shop and he or she may be able to order it for you.

Please understand that we are not able to process individual consumer orders.  And since we work through brokers that distribute our products to retailers, we are unable to give you the names of specific stores in your area that carry our products.

Again, thank you for taking the time and having the interest to contact us.  If you have any questions or concerns in the future, please call us at 1-866-931-9741.

We hope you will visit our web site again at: WWW.CHURCHDWIGHT.CA for information about our company, products, history, and financial information.

Church & Dwight Consumer Relations Representative

 

You may wonder why, in this age of location technology (bar codes, RFID), how a manufacturer could be so clueless as to where its own product is within the distribution channels. By contrast, food companies can locate any shipment.

Being a resourceful sort, my mother in-law has gone with Team Borax.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Cross-posted @ cloudave: http://www.cloudave.com/link/no-ticky-no-laundry-the-unservice-service

Forrester’s Latest on CRM Trends:Opinion

Forrester Research has recently released it’s 2010  perspective on CRM. William Band, the lead analyst, prefaces the report by asking “As the economy recovers, what are the key trends that will drive customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and technology adoption in 2010?”

Here are my own observations on some of Forrester’s 11 key trends:

Trend #1) Companies return to investing in their most important asset — customers: This should never stop but credit to those who realize the importance of this vital asset. By re-orienting the enterprise back to the customer, companies will be able to sense and response to emerging wants and needs in period of tremendous upheaval in the marketplace. Various aspects of the web that affect the way consumers shop for and purchase will translate in to changes across all customer-facing touchpoints of the enterprise and filter back to the supply chain.

Trend #4) Social CRM hype reaches a crescendo, but projects remain in pilot mode: Makes sense as sCRM technology has outpaced the CMO’s ability to absorb and understand the business utility of a wide variety of applications.  For example, FourSquare, while it has intriguing possiblities for retailers, is only at the stage where some (mainly coffee shops) are offering discounts on product. Companies, such as Ford Motor Company, have seen promising results with viral campaigns, notably a significant number of pre-orders in the US market for the soon-to-be-launched Fiesta.  At the other end of the spectrum, few companies have been able to derive clear benefits from Social Networks such as Facebook, other than having a web presence. 

Trend #5) Customer service embraces real-time methods: This is a huge opportunity as it will generate two clear deliverables for the business case – reduce costs of customer service delivery and drive down cycle time to problem resolution. This trend falls in the category of ‘quick hit’ as it takes little effort to set up extension of the customer service function on Twitter and conversation can take place in real time. Additionally, it has the potential to offload contact centre traffic and deliver the added beneft of broadening the customer’s touchpoint options for contacting the enterprise for service/product queries.

Trend #8) Mobile CRM becomes a must-have capability: This may be the jewel in the crown. Not surprisingly, the travel industry has been quick to embrace this technology, as it has been at the forefront of self-serve for some time re. airline check-in kiosk at the airport, via desktop or mobile device. Hilton Hotels, for example, has rolled out mobile apps that enable guests to manage their reservation status remotely, use the GPS function to search for hotels, order special services while en route or check their frequent stay points balance while travelling. I call this “being able to take your brand with you anywhere you go” CRM.

Trend #10) Scrutiny of business cases remains intense: As it should. With some much in front of the CMO these days, the range of possibilities is intensely confusing. I believe that this is one of the main obstacles to adoption, early or otherwise, as too many people advocate one technology solution over another without providing the necessary guidance to client companies. What is needed are clear strategy and process roadmaps with an eye to benefits and outcomes rather than an obsessive (and futile) focus on ROI. Until such time, piloting projects will remain the order of the day rather implementing cross-enterprise processes and technologies that support the business transformation.

Thanks to the Forrester team for prompting this dialogue on CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

The URL: Getting To Know You

The URL. Uniform Resource Locator. A web address that typically includes the type of file, location of web server, path of the file and file name.

It’s easy to take the URL for granted and forget just how important a role the URL plays. Such is the case when monitoring consumer-generated word-of-mouth (WOM) and providing analytics that can be applied to solving complex business problems.  I’m not just referring to locating meaningful content but identifying sources that consumers consistently go to as part of their shopping process. 
  

In an earlier post, I alluded to the importance of the URL in identifying specific online forums, notably those that consumers went to for automotive reviews.   For example www.truckforums.com is a review site for truck enthusiasts. Other sites are specific to certain brands, product categories or applications.

At the analytic level, links can be classified this way: Segment/Mid-Size, Brand/Ford, Nameplate/Taurus, Competition/Toyota Camry, Attribute/Reliability. The key is to know which URLs generate most of the rich content. In effect, what is your “Top Ten” URL inventory? If you are using a monitoring service, have them provide a comprehensive URL list, in descending order of magnitude of brand conversations as classification data.

Some of the analytical applications might include knowing which brands or product categories are discussed the most on line and where; segmentation analysis of consumers who visit certain types of sites e.g. technical vs. lifestyle; comparing sentiment across sites to understand positive or negative drivers of brand perception. On the managerial side, knowing where brands are discussed most often on the web will provide insight into where consumers are exerting material influence.

This high level view just scratches the surface. Like being at the theatre, while we are focused on the stage, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM
                                                                                                                                                               

My Butter, My Friend?

The ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) recently published an artful piece via Fast Company on how social media should be levered for the purpose of building brands. With the caption, “No, I don’t want to be friends with my butter” the post took the assumptive position that social media is a way for brands (any brand really) to build a social movement in order to shape an augmented brand experience – join the conversation around your unsalted butter experience, in a way.

Well, here’s what’s shaping up. As much as the notion that the social media “firehose” is probably dogma by now, when it gets down to engaging with butter, consumers are being asked for a bit too much. Let’s face it, in any househould we likely have over 1000 brands that we have purchased within the past year. In my kitchen pantry alone, some 87 brands are represented. When full, our GE refrigerator has 5 brands of cheese, 9  brands of beverages (and 1 brand of unsalted butter, which I am not at liberty to disclose). Then there’s the workshop, laundry room, bathroom and clothes closet. Even in my car, I’ve got stuff from several brands: Purell to Kleenex, Scott paper towels, Goodyear Tires, a VDO pressure gauge, AAA maps, Altoid mints and two empty coffee cups SBux (hers) McD’s (his) to name a few.

Imagine a world when every brand that you consider, let alone purchase, or just notice, wants to be your best friend. Is it not prudent to first understand whether or not a brand is one of high versus low emotional involvement? Brand strategy needs to figure at the front end of defining a media roadmap, social or otherwise in building brand awareness and engagement. Otherwise, how does one reconcile advertising clutter in the digital age? I cannot find the words to describe…

As for a relationship with butter, only my toast knows for sure.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Crowdsourcing: Spoils of a Pyrrhic Victory

Call it the Vegemite effect but you have to wonder when you read press and blog statements such as “…one of the biggest ever crowdsource fails” or “the creative industry embraces crowdsourcing”, (emphasis mine).

Then there are those who think the barbarians are actually at the gate. In a story about “Dewmocracy”, Pepsi’s trial outsourcing of creative to a shop that is selected in part, by consumers, raises alarms for the creative community. Whether or not this will be successful (by what measure, we’ll have to wait and see), the hand wringing seems to be a function of the issue of agency fees, suggesting crowdsourcing and agency fee structures as undergoing ‘experimentation’ as the quality of some creative is being eclipsed by the fees being charged for business value delivered.

Experimentation indeed. Just because one or two agencies decide to build a business model around crowdsourcing (yet to make a rupee of profit) or Mars goes looking for 18-34 year old males to submit videos starring a Snickers bar, it’s all very, very notional at this stage.
 
Most poignant was Dorritos, who, according to a recent story in AdWeek, was spending money to create awareness but really looking to repurpose adspend dollars. So it’s not really about saving money, it’s about something we’re all familiar with – focus groups. Well, crowdsourcing is about employing one big undifferentiated mass without paying a lot in return for a bunch of ideas that may or may not hit the mark – like being at a advertising roulette table.

Is this simply a case of those with crumbling business models hoping for some magic potion to lift their business out of this advertising depression or are some of us simply overdosing on the nectar of all things social media?

At the end of all this, don’t be surprised if some prolific texting GenY brand manager stands up and says “We need to segment and do some target marketing”. Hard and costly lessons have already been learned: Kraft went back to opinion polling to seek out the ideas of a target consumer market as “Vegemite 2.0” was the laughing stock of the Aussie morning breakfast consumer, thanks to the well-intentioned ideas of the undifferentiated masses.

So before we champion the arrival of crowdsourcing on the advertising world let us heed the words of the Greek King Epirus, who defeated Roman armies at Asculum, in 280 B.C. “One more such victory and we are lost.”