Before buying anything these days, customers are able to find out all kinds of things about your products and your company- with a simple Google search. For many, the first place they may look is a review site- Amazon for general merchandise, B & H Photo and Video for photography gear, or user forums- either run by your company or by your fans.
There are also review sites that are independent, offering testing and evaluation of your product that will tell you more about your product than you probably ever want to know. In photography- you can go to:
Where you can find information from people “just like you” who have the same questions.
All those searches, all those clicks, all those links- which could help the BMW brand grow its brand reach, are on sites where BMW doesn’t have any control.
You know the old adage, a happy customer tells a few people, an unhappy customer tells everyone? Well, it’s your job as the Chief Marketing Officer of your company to make a decision- do I spend more money on ads talking about how great we are, or do I spend that money making sure our existing customers are super happy and only telling a few?
Even though we’re in the business of making ads- we’re going to tell you that great customer service stories out perform any ad. Making ads about customer service stories only resonate if every customer gets that kind of level of satisfaction when they have a complaint/problem/issue with your product.
Tom Peters was into Wow! A long time before the Internet made it so easy to share experiences
Some businesses have distinguished themselves with outstanding customer service. Zappo’s is one example. They focus on creating “Wow” experiences. Don’t believe me- google it: zappos customer service stories. But don’t think they were the first to come up with this, Tom Peters wrote “The Pursuit of Wow!” back in 1994.
We’ve run into clients who don’t want to run a forum on their site to respond to customer issues. “We don’t have time for that” is what they say, yet, when they get call after call about the same issue- they may put up a lame-o FAQ or write a blog post, but only after the 10th call.
Forums are easier to manage than ever, as well as running great help desk type software. The difference between the two is who is answering the questions- on a forum, your fans and customers can work with other customers, while a help desk means you will be running it. We strongly believe that the investment in a well moderated forum is as critical as any large ad campaign. Customers will find out about your arcane policy on battery replacement, or that your manual has a problem on page 37 a lot faster than your staff will.
Smart companies don’t implement “social listening” without having a well supported customer service department to work through the problems. We often find the people involved in social monitoring to be more responsive than those in traditional “customer service” positions. The social media amplification factor of dissatisfaction is and can be deadly. Dell Computer learned this early on in the age of the web when Jeff Jarvis blogged about his customer service nightmare- which he called “Dell Hell” and it blew up online.
Here’s some advertising advice- go Google your products, and problems, and see where you end up? If it’s not on your own site that you manage, get to work. If you need help, you can call us.
There is a reason we’re not “The Next Wave Advertising” or even say we’re an ad agency (unless forced into a corner so that people know what little mental box to check off). It’s because back in 1988 we knew advertising was already dying.
What they taught us in “marketing” and in “advertising” was that it’s all about deliver a product to match up the consumers needs with our products and services. Only one small problem in our eyes- consumers who had unlimited choice and the entire globe to buy from- and an abundance of information aren’t rational- they are emotional.
The nice science of the “4p’s” didn’t work. It wasn’t Product, Place, Price, Promotion” - it was what makes me happy. Selling was out- stories were in. People activated when charismatic leaders put on great performances- just look at what Steve Jobs did with Apple- and has refined over the years.
That Apple computer had a position called “Evangelist” was the writing on the wall- not a VP of sales- but a fracking Evangelist. Which would you rather have on your business card?
We thought the most cogent explanation of business to date was one from Peter Drucker- that business only had two tool- marketing (in the broad sense) and innovation- hence our name.
But our methodology was all Apple- it was style with substance. It was stories and sales. It was more about “In Search of Excellence” - the first mega-business best seller book by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, than about marketing and advertising- we wanted customers to delight in the process of buying things.
One of our hero’s is still David Ogilvy, the founder of Ogilvy advertising- and even though he died in 1999, with the epitaph “I’d like to be remembered as a copywriter who had some big ideas” his firm lives on- and is still generating big ideas for big clients.
Recently, they posted their new take on the 4ps- which they believe as given way to the 4E’s- and we concur:
from Product to Experience
from Place to Everyplace
from Price to Exchange
from Promotion to Evangelism
EXPERIENCE Discover and map out the full Customer Journey on your own brand – in your own country.
Develop your knowledge of new media and channels the way a chef masters new ingredients. Try new things – do something that doesn’t start with TV or print.
EXCHANGE Appreciate the value of things, not just the cost. Start by calculating the value of your customers – and what their attention, engagement and permission are worth to you.
EVANGELISM Find the passion and emotion in your brand. Inspire your customers and employees with your passion.
The reality is that even the best advertising only brought customers to your door- you still had to do the final sale. The best ad agencies in the world now tell their clients- we’re not only going to do your ads- but we’re even going to tell you how to ask for the sale- how to answer the phone. It’s why Burger King has finally found an ad agency in Crispin Porter + Bogusky that’s delivered the kind of growth that BK hadn’t gotten out of the traditional agencies they’d worked for previously. Pull through the drive thru- and the voice on the speaker will say “nice order” after you finish. Crispin has even helped with product development- typically not a part of what an ad agency does.
The move from a media creation and buying agency to one as partner and consultant has been difficult for many agencies and clients alike. With the overload of media and messages that the typical customer experiences everyday- there is one thing that will always outperform any ad: an amazing experience with your product or service.
So before the next meeting with your ad agency- instead of asking what the next ad is going to look like- maybe it’s time to discuss what the next customer should experience- because that’s where the money changes hands if it’s done right.
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