How Quickly can we Convert Followers into Customers?

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Recently I was talking to a large, reputable organization about their marketing and communications efforts. When I mentioned that I’d want to ramp up their social media efforts to help build connections with younger members, they got a little uncomfortable. They pressed me for information. How would I use social media to grow their membership?

I explained that social media requires patience. There isn’t a direct do-this-to-get-clients technique with social media. It’s a communications channel that requires an authentic approach. No hard sells. You slip in your message sparingly. Only 20% of the communications should be self-serving.

But how, exactly, would I grow their membership with social media?

I left feeling a frustrated. I was talking to people that had expressed frustrations in building their membership, but they only wanted quick-fixes. What can we do to get new members tomorrow? They had ho interest in building a genuine, long-term, brand.

I wish more people would read this piece from Fast Company, Without The Right Message, Twitter Is No Better For Your Brand Than A Fax Machine. It really hits home with how I’ve seen many organizations use social media. A choice quote from the article that paraphrases an old advertising quote:

What this means in social media is sharing what is valuable to your audience, not what is merely valuable to you… Adding another social media channel to your network will not make an anti-social brand more social. It will simply increase your efficiency in alienating more people with greater speed.

That organization I was talking to? They had key questions about their brand that were unanswered. But they were too concerned with tomorrow to bother thinking about next year.

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Is it Time for Fedex to Overhaul their Brand?

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When one of your senior executives has to quickly produce an apology video, your brand is in real danger.

Along with many of you, we’ve seen the video showing one of our couriers carelessly and improperly delivering a package the other day. As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience. This goes directly against everything we have always taught our people and expect of them. It was just very disappointing.

As an aside, if your name includes “III” or “the third”, you may come across a little pretentious when you speak to the masses.

This video, which appeared shortly before Christmas, is Fedex’s response to this video, which shows a Fedex driver throwing a box over a short fence, apparently while the recipient was home.


But that last video has nothing on this video of another misbehaving Fedex driver:

It’s probably time for Fedex to give some serious thought about how they can start delivering a better customer experience. A brand that doesn’t really understand how important it is to deliver that experience is a doomed one, especially with the voice that today’s consumers have.

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Occupy Wall Street Branding Blunders

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It seems pretty obvious that a corporate brand shouldn’t try to profit from an anti-big-corporation-movement, but this piece on Brandchannel says otherwise.

When Jay-Z’s Rocawear brand yanked its “Occupy Wall Street” shirts over criticism about profiting off a social movement (with no plans to donate anything back to Occupy Wall Street), the lesson was clear: Those capitalizing on OWS must tread lightly or risk major PR blowback.

Nice profiteering Rocawear. The whole article focuses on a wine conglomerate that has recently filed a Trademark application for “Wine for the 99%”. As Brandchannel adroitly points out, the wine industry profits heavily off of undocumented immigrant labour:

The problem is that the wine industry—especially the low-end segment—is a huge beneficiary of undocumented immigrant labor. In fact, the California Association of Winegrowers president once estimated that up to 70 percent of those employed in California’s wine industry may be undocumented. The 2010 comments by the CEO of Wine Group competitor Bronco, were sobering. A May 2011 New York Times investigation begins “Nearly every drop of Napa County’s world-class wine is produced by migrant labor.” While new federal regulations are in place to increase fines for such hiring practices, a lawsuit suspending implication of the law for the time being.

Irony much? It’s hard to imagine how these brands could be less authentic. Read the whole thing on Brandchannel: Occupy Spritzer, Anyone? Wine Group Trademarks ‘Wine For The 99%’

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Coupon Sites Offer a Bad Deal for Brands, Part Two

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Cornell University recently published a paper about daily deal sites, and the negative effects they have on your brand. The key takeaways:

  • There’s lots of word-of-mouth generated about your brand and it’s offer;
  • You get a big boost in the number online reviews of your business after the offer runs;
  • Your average online review score falls 10% as a result of your offer.

Lots of people talk about your brand, but on average they think less of you than before you ran the offer. And for the privilege, you give up 75% of your revenue!

The whole thing is available at Cornell. But here’s a good summary:

Daily deal sites have become the latest Internet sensation, providing discounted offers to customers for restaurants, ticketed events, services, and other items. We begin by undertaking a study of the economics of daily deals on the web, based on a dataset we compiled by monitoring Groupon and LivingSocial sales in 20 large cities over several months. We use this dataset to characterize deal purchases; glean insights about operational strategies of these firms; and evaluate customers’ sensitivity to factors such as price, deal scheduling, and limited inventory. We then marry our daily deals dataset with additional datasets we compiled from Facebook and Yelp users to study the interplay between social networks and daily deal sites. First, by studying user activity on Facebook while a deal is running, we provide evidence that daily deal sites benefit from significant word-of-mouth effects during sales events, consistent with results predicted by cascade models. Second, we consider the effects of daily deals on the longer-term reputation of merchants, based on their Yelp reviews before and after they run a daily deal. Our analysis shows that while the number of reviews increases significantly due to daily deals, average rating scores from reviewers who mention daily deals are 10% lower than scores of their peers on average.

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Coupon Sites Offer a Bad Deal for Brands, Part One

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I am pretty biased against coupon sites. My wife subscribes to all of them, which is cool. But I don’t like them from an advertiser’s point of view.

My wife bought a deal from a site a few weeks ago. She was pretty excited when she told me about it, and we shook our heads in wonder, “How can that business afford to do this?” Then she got this email:

——– Original Message ——–
From: [email protected]
Subject: [Auto-Reply] Cupcakes
Date: 14 Oct 2011 12:01:29 -0700

Thank you for your interest in Little Miss CupCake

Unfortunately because of the issue we experienced with dealfind.com we are not accepting ANY orders for the time being, and we will not be accepting any of the Dealfind vouchers purchased.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

DEALFIND ISSUE
Dealfind oversold passed what I had asked them to,
and then would not turn off the deal when asked to do so.
To top that off, they refused to answer my calls and emails as the deal was going on.

They added free delivery to the deal, which was not the case.
I had told them there was no free delivery allowed.
I gave them rates and delivery restrictions, which they refused to put in my ad.
They also stated that the vouchers could be redeemed all at once,
which is not something I agreed to.

I do sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you,
and I encourage you to ask for a refund (Dealfind.com will issue full refunds within 30 days of purchase, I personally cannot issue refunds, as Dealfind has all of the funds)

This is just an awkward mess. How much of this is true, I don’t know. But it looks like a ridiculous offer went out and sold like crazy. The advertiser claims that Dealfind basically just invented the whole offer against his wishes, then disappeared on the day it went out. Now customers are left to sort out the mess with Dealfind, as the bakery has enough to worry about, trying to repair it’s brand from this mess.

I don’t like these sites primarily because the math doesn’t work out very well. Advertisers have to offer steep discounts (roughly 50% off), and then they only get 50% of the proceeds from the deal. So you’re only getting about 25% of the regular price for your product/brand.

Then think about the type of clients this brings the brand: either existing customers already familiar with your brand and just picking up a good deal; or new customers that are often unfaithful to your brand as they seek out new deals from your competition. Now you realize you’ve just paid 75% for a pretty unattractive customer. Can your margins bear 1000 of these customers?

Tomorrow I’ll get into some research done about these sites, and the actual effects these offers have on your brand.

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Pretty Little Fence-sitters

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This article on Brand Channel is worth a read. The short of the story is that after a right-wing group petitioned General Mills to pull their advertising from a show with a lesbian character (Pretty Little Liars), General Mills replied:

“We have informed ABC Family Channel and our agencies that Pretty Little Liars is not a program that we will sponsor.”

But then General Mills started to get some more attention for pulling their ad they responded with:

“General Mills does not make advertising placement decisions based on the sexual orientation of characters.”

Which is funny, because that’s exactly what they led us to believe (rightly or wrongly). Sitting on the fence is an awfully uncomfortable position for a PR department to take these days.

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