Your small customers are now big

We’ve all read about how the Internet and social media has changed things for business. Customers now have a much louder voice through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, foursquare, etc. Some companies get it, some are learning, and some are still hoping if they don’t look, maybe it will all go away.

Recently, my company moved its sales team to the platform. I am very lucky that I work for a company that sees the value of using leading edge technology. With the adoption of Salesforce, all sorts of possibilities are opened up from a Marketing perspective. Having our sales information in the cloud enables us to do a lot of exciting things. With that, we started looking for an application to run our email campaigns that would integrate with Salesforce. We did a lot of research, viewed a lot of demos and finally decided on ExactTarget.

I went to ExactTarget’s website and filled out a form explain our usage and provided our contact info. We were not going to be confused as a heavy user by any means, but a user non-the-less. I waited. Two days, three days, nothing. I called ExactTarget. The woman I spoke with said she saw my info and that someone would contact me shortly. Four days, nothing.It was then that I was given the name of a local reseller of ExactTarget. I called them and got our account set up very quickly. We were set to go, or were we?

There were problems from the beginning. Too many to go into. But it wasn’t the functional problems that bothered me the most, it was the lack of response from ExactTarget. They viewed us as a small customer so they didn’t care. We were promised fixes numerous times but nothing ever materialized. We eventually realized that things would probably never get fixed because ExactTarget didn’t care if they got fixed. We would generate very little revenue for them so they weren’t going to put valuable resources into fixing our problems.

This approach to business may have worked in the past when customers had no real way of making their displeasure known. But the Internet changed things. I went to the Salesforce AppExchange and voiced my displeasure. I gave ExactTarget very poor ratings. And wouldn’t you know it? Within 30 minutes I got a call from ExactTarget. The problem still wasn’t fixed, and we’ve moved on.

The lesson here is that EVERYONE now has a voice. Your biggest AND smallest customers. 10 years ago a company could get away with ignoring their smallest customers, but not anymore. The smallest customers often have the biggest voices. Its important to make sure they are happy.



A day unplugged

It was only one day. No digital devices. Which meant no YouTube, Facebook, Skype, chat, email, Farmville, etc. Seems simple and easy enough. But the results were anything but. This experiment among college students resulted in all the tell tale signs of addiction and withdrawal.

Unplugged experiment

What does this mean for you as a marketer? It  means if you aren’t present in these places that college students are addicted to, then you are going to be in big trouble, if you aren’t already.

EpicMix – Vail Ski Resort’s impressive use of social media

I absolutely love what Vail is doing with social media. I have already heard co-workers say they are going this winter just to experience it.

Check it out here…EpicMix

Really, Cable Guy?

My cable went out last week. I hate when my cable goes out. Not because of the missed TV watching but because its such a pain to get it fixed. First, you’ve got to call the cable company to schedule a day and time for a cable guy to come out to the house.  Then, the only available times always seem to be a 4 hour window during working hours which pretty much kills the entire day. All this being said, something happened during the cable guy’s visit that was a pleasant surprise.

The cable guy showed up within his 4 hour window and was a nice enough guy. I chatted with him while he replaced our box and did some testing just to make sure it worked. But the surprise came once he was done with his work. He handed me his business card and told me if I had any problems over the next 10 days to call him directly and he’d come over immediately to fix it. Really, cable guy? Now that is the way to provide good service. There’s a big difference between a company standing behind their service and an individual standing behind his service. I understand that its AT&T that is telling the cable guy to do this, but its a great approach. As a result, the cable guy takes pride in his work, the customer has a direct line to someone that can help him if needed, and the sense that the service was provided correctly is much higher. I don’t say this much, being an iPhone owner and all, but nice job AT&T.

Is there an opportunity for your service to do something similar to this? Its worth thinking about.

Take Chances

I sat in on an online presentation, or webinar if you prefer, that was titled Be a Non-traditional Marketer -Smart Ways to Brand Build and Boost Sales. At the onset, they asked the audience the following question and gave them three answers to choose from.

How would you best describe your marketing efforts.

1. Traditional

2. Mix of traditional and non-traditional

3. Avant-garde

First off, the question is way too vague. What is traditional to me may be avant-gaurd to you. Or vice-versa. So the results to this question mean very little. But the question did get me thinking. What answer should a good marketing department give to this question? Avant-garde sounds cool. I surely want to be viewed that way. But my feeling is that #2 is the only good answer and here is why.

“Traditional” is defined as a specific practice of long standing. And its of long standing for a reason. It works to a certain degree. So in most instances, traditional marketing should be the foundation of any marketing program. Things like proper messaging, pricing, determining your target audience, defining your competitive advantage, etc are all still very important.  But if you stop there you’re as good as dead. You need to take chances when it comes to marketing. You need to go beyond traditional.

This is one of my most recent favorites of a company that took a chance and went beyond traditional marketing. Its a “Case Study” done by Heineken. Be sure to watch through to the end to see the results of this marketing effort. It was amazing.

Heineken Case Study – Champions League Match vs Classical Concert

So what chances are you taking to set your company apart?

What I’ve learned

Six months ago my wife and I welcomed twins into our lives. Its been an amazing, frustrating, tiring, incredible journey, and it keeps getting better.  And as I sat trying to think about what to write, it occured to me that having twins has tought me a few things about marketing:

1. Having kids creates all sorts of challenges including diapers, feeding, sleep, safety, etc. I will pay you good money if you can help me alleviate any of the issues that go along with these challenges. This holds true for most services. Demonstrate how you can alleviate a problem and the consumer will be interested.

2. Show a genuine interest in my children and I will talk to you all day. The business lesson here is to develop the relationship first, sell the service second. Even if you don’t sell your service initially, the person becomes a part of your network.

3. I need to trust you if its for my kids. Trust is key when selling any service.

4. The two places I go when looking for information to aid in a buying decision is the Internet and my network. If you don’t have a positive presence in either place I won’t contact you.

Are you unwittingly making this disastrous sales mistake?

A great blog post from Jill Conrath, author of Selling to Big Companies. Thanks for sharing Paul Dunay. Remember, selling is about them, not you.

Are you unwittingly making this disastrous sales mistake?