Monday, April 26, 2010

Who brings your brand promise to life?

By Marc Sokol

Readers of our last post resonated to the importance of aligning the brand message marketing sends out to customers and prospects with the behavior that is displayed by customer service. If these two aren’t aligned you are just wasting your time and money.

Elsewhere you can see marketing described as the metaphorical lighthouse, beaming your brand message to the ships (potential customers) out at sea. Customer service, in turn, is the port, ready to greet those ships when they like what they see and guide them to shore by the lighthouse.

When we have alignment, life is good! When we don’t, fingers go pointing. It’s easy to see how the lighthouse might claim the port is shabby, or how the port might claim the lighthouse is casting the wrong message. Sometimes what they both really need is to look for support from managers who can bridge the two groups.

Here’s one story: Years back I managed the Washington, DC office of a consulting firm. When we moved buildings I had the opportunity to make some decisions where staff would sit in the new location. In most consulting firms it’s the senior consultants who get first choice (and all) of the high-priced real estate, the rooms with ‘a view’. One of my first choices was to assign Sondra, our customer service manager, to an office that had a nice window overlooking the Potomac River (instead of an interior office with no view). She loved that view! Surprised (shocked actually) at what seemed to be an overly kind gesture, Sondra asked me why. My answer…

“Sondra, you are the first point of contact when someone calls our office. You are the one here every day, while others are often out of the office. That view out the window makes you smile, and when a client calls I want them to be able to feel that smile of yours!”

Sondra never let me down, just as she never let down our customers. I wasn’t being nice; I was just making sure we matched our brand promise with our customers’ experience of that brand promise.

That’s my story. What’s yours?
When and how did someone you worked for take your firm’s brand promise to heart?
How has your company made an effort to increase alignment between marketing and customer service groups?

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

The Mobile Bandwagon

By Philip Wocken
It seems that every white paper, every article, every webinar that I’ve come across lately has been about mobile marketing. It’s Mobile Madness! If you would have asked me a year ago about the prospects of mobile marketing, I would have told you that mobile would be a difficult (if not impossible) channel for marketers to penetrate. I mean, honestly, who would be willing to surrender the last bastion of their privacy and offer up their mobile number? You’d have to be crazy to willingly give up that information. It was for that reason that I felt like the mobile craze was nothing more than a phase.

I’ve since begun educating others and myself on the promising prospects for mobile marketing. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had my doubts. I also owe Drew Dahms an apology. Last year, Drew visited this blog and boldly declared that mobile marketing was going to become a major player in the marketing landscape. Drew, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry…you were right.

Now I find myself inserting my own personal QR code in my email signatures, researching out mobile marketing platforms, drafting mobile marketing proposals for clients, soaking up “best practice” articles and upgrading my own mobile device to enhance my mobile experiences.

A few months ago, I began to finally understand the power of mobile. As people upgrade to smartphones, they realize that the $70/month they spend on their cell phone data plan gives them access to so much more than standard phone calls or text messaging. Now, smartphone users can also use their cell phones to access the Internet, as a GPS device, as a digital camera, as a camcorder, to access email, for portable gaming, for mobile banking, as an mp3 player and thousands of other functions that downloadable applications can provide. That gets you quite a bit for $70/month. Consumers are seeking out applications and mobile websites that help improve their efficiency. For instance, Target is now adding additional value to its customers by offering mobile coupons.

Consumers are also beginning to demand that companies offer mobile options to help improve their brand experiences. We no longer have to wonder if consumers will offer up their mobile numbers. Apparently, some consumers are more than willing to sacrifice their privacy if it means saving money, winning prizes or getting valuable information from brands.

I’d like to now officially announce that I’ve hopped on the mobile bandwagon and I have no intentions of hopping off anytime soon.

How about you? Are you still skeptical about mobile or are you sitting next to me on the bandwagon?

Philip Wocken is the Director of emerging media at d.trio marketing group, a Minneapolis-based marketing agency. He can be reached on Twitter (@pwocken) or at

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Monday, April 12, 2010

The New Marketing Department

By Emily Jasper

When it comes to representing your organization, you can work on messaging until you’re blue in the face. You can spend hours and hours tweaking words and colors until they are representing the essence of your company. You make branding and use guides to make everything as easy as possible for your employees.

Then you send everything out into the world with your fingers crossed.

Anyone who works for your company is essentially a part of the marketing department now. Thanks to technology, anyone online represents your company (whether you like it or not). So what do you do? All those internet people didn’t read your branding guide. How do you control the chaos?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you’ve read any posts about this topic, you find you can’t. What you can do is to make it a priority for the organization overall.

Some key things to keep in mind:
Customer Service is your automatic extension. If the people in call centers, accounting, or operations can’t stand to represent your brand (or do their jobs), then you have a problem. It should be a focus of the organization and marketing to find a way to help these functions work seamlessly. When they are able to act in a pleasant manner, your customers are happy. And then they associate positive thoughts with your organization!
Sales should able the organization, not the personal quota. When a client sees a salesperson who is really out to make his/her own quota, the client isn’t as likely to buy. When the salesperson represents the good work of the company, and shows how the client can benefit, then trust is gained.  Positive thoughts!
Utilize your brand ambassadors! I’ve written about brand ambassadors before, and I don’t know if I can hit it home hard enough. These are great people to help carry your message.
Clients are great marketers. If you have an excellent client relationship program, you should keep those clients happy. Now, you may not be able to bend over backwards for every client, you are allowed your dignity! But, you should be thinking of giving your client reasons to talk to his friends.

If you aren’t acknowledging the extensions to your marketing department, you’re not a good marketer. People aren’t even buying from marketers anymore, they want to buy based on the opinions of friends, family, and followers.

How are you extending your marketing department? What tips can you share? How can you see it making a difference?

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. She currently writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting Social with Your Customers

By Jackie Kaufenberg

We all know that social marketing is much more then marketing. It is customer service. It is sales. It is your brand and your voice. And if you are lucky, it is the voice of your happy customers too.

Imagine if more of your customers spoke out and became your brand evangelists? What would happen if they loved your product or brand so much that they shouted it out over the mountain tops (or their closest social networking site)?

Let me share my recent experiences with you:

I began following a mom through a twitter search. On one of her tweets, she was experiencing problems finding a standing frame that would work for her son, because of his special needs. Through 140 characters on Twitter, I tried to explain how our product was different. After about a four month process of trialing the equipment, submitting it to medical insurance, and two appeals, she finally got the stander for her son and was ecstatic. She blogged all about the experience, including her son's grandparents seeing him stand for the first time! She shared photos, and tweeted all about it. Now we are also working on a customer story about her son to share on our website.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of our Facebook fans had a profile picture of her little boy smiling in one of our standers. I sent her a simple message introducing myself, complimenting her on the photo, and asking her if there was anything I could do for her. She replied with a friend request, and atypical comments of dissatisfaction. She was frustrated because she got the product without really knowing exactly what her son needed. She did not order an option that provided the support he needed to stand comfortably. Worse yet, she had been contacting the vendor to get the problem solved and they were ignoring her. I had talked to my customer service department, and it was an easy fix that would cost us close to nothing, in comparison to an unhappy customer. We sent her the part and she was so grateful. Within 24 hours, she had sent me a Facebook message, updated her status, posted a photo and comment on our wall, followed us on Network Blogs, and posted a comment on our blog - all with words of extreme gratitude and appreciation for helping to solve her problem.

The beauty of social marketing is that it takes us back to looking at each customer as an individual, instead of a target market or demographic. Every customer has the power to spread the word. Make it good.

Jackie Kaufenberg is the Marketing Manager for Altimate Medical Inc. in Morton, Minnesota. They manufacture standing frames for people who use wheelchairs and also have a blog for people with disabilities, and medical professionals.

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