Tuesday, September 30, 2008

LinkedIn Will Launch Their Own Ad Network

According to comScore, LinkedIn has over 27 million registered users, most of these who are in the professional workspace and own smartphones/PDAs. Currently, LinkedIn already already sells ads against this professional audience right on its site that are targeted by industry, seniority, company size, gender, and other specifications. Freddie Laker discusses in this latest post on SocialMediaToday that LinkedIn will expand its reach to targeting partner sites.

Publishers will have to apply to become part of the LinkedIn ad network. Similar to Yahoo’s and Google’s ad-targeting network, when someone visits LinkedIn a cookie will be placed in their browser. When these users visit partner sites, they will be identified as LinkedIn members and they will be grouped into different categories. Users will also be able to opt-out of this network if they so choose.

Facebook has received a lot of heat in the past for releasing Facebook Beacon and similar ad networks. Will LinkedIn users be annoyed with the new ad network?

Cable Customer Service

In this previous post we had discussed a new position that had been created by Comcast called "digital care manager" whose responsibility was to manage customer service through new media methods. This latest news report, however, gives no indication that customer service is looking up for the cable industry. As the article states, cable customer satisfaction score is 60 out of 100 with 70% of respondents citing that they would have no qualms about jumping to a competitor. The article also reports that:

"the industry average was was weighed down by the scores of Comcast Corp. (58) and Charter Communications Inc. (51)."

In addition to the threat of changing to competitors Customers also cited, that they would

"dump cable, given the chance, because of poor customer service."

Focused Group Dynamics

One of the best things about my job as a moderator is getting to create an atmosphere where a group of strangers feel comfortable enough to talk about a focused topic for a couple of hours.

It’s fascinating to be in the driver’s seat, gently nudging each person to give a point of view or express their opinion. And it’s just as interesting to watch the complexity of group dynamics in action. What a joy it is when the group interacts and expresses differing opinions in a constructive way, providing true insight. I believe this doesn't happen automatically. Rather, it comes with a bit of finesse. While there are times when it’s necessary to go to more dramatic means to ensure cooperation and avoid group think, the following steps will help you get there most of the time:

1. Set the Stage—I believe people in most focus groups generally want to give you what you want—insight from their perspective. I also believe that people need “coaching” many times on how best to do that. So, it is your responsibility as the moderator to properly set the stage. Tell respondents that you expect everyone to participate, that you expect them to have at least some differing opinions. Explicitly stating your expectations in the beginning will help you when you have to shut down the loudmouths and call on the wallflowers later in the discussion!

2. Be in Charge—you, as the moderator are responsible for the discussion thread. If you don’t manage it, someone else will. Do not be afraid to shift a respondent from an off-the-topic monologue. Time is not your friend in a group…you only have a set amount of it to extract insights. Therefore, keep yourself and your respondents focused on the objectives of the discussion. Again, be in charge of what you want to hear!

3. Use Non-Verbal Feedback First—this is especially important when gaining reactions to communication pieces or concept ideas. Get a quick read non-verbally by having participants write their opinions first. I also believe that structuring the verbal feedback process is helpful. Ask for positive comments first, then neutrals, then negatives. Structuring the feedback this way helps you stay on a path of constructive feedback rather than everyone jumping on a negative bandwagon.

4. Control the Loudmouth and Nurture the Wallflower—it is important to your clients to hear from everyone (if they all have something meaningful about the topic to say, that is☺) So, again, it is your job as the moderator to ensure that the “loudmouth” doesn’t overtake the conversation. You can do this by simply stating, “Thanks, I really want to hear from XXX.” When trying to get the “wallflower” to speak, it helps to make strong eye contact with them and when all else fails, call on them. “I haven’t heard your thoughts yet, XXX. Please tell me what you’re thinking.” Specifically stating the respondents name who is not participating will usually at least get them focused in again.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Making a Difference with SocialVibe

Mashable recently gave a great review of the online network SocialVibe which allows users to build sponsored widgets that give back to various charities. What’s great about this tool is that creating the widget is fairly simple, and SocialVibe does all the work in inserting your widget in existing profiles on Facebook and Myspace.

Since its launch six months ago, it has already generated over $120,000 for charities that they support. SocialVibe users don’t donate the money themselves or spam their friends, they just simply display the widget on the profile pages and click-throughs generate sponsored donations. Companies like Adobe, Apple, the NBA, and the UFC are among the sponsors involved.

Merits of CRM

In this news report, they discuss the merits of CRM. Since the conception of CRM systems, much has changed. In 1997, 39% of contact centers said they "had a single view of the customer" with 45% planning to follow their lead within 2 years. By 2007 this number had dropped to 34%. As Stephen Loring, a business development manager for customer interactive solutions stated:

"The rise of the Internet, and the use of different channels such as IVR and Web self-service has disrupted the unified 360 degree view of customers in CRM. At the same time the payback period for CRM installations is too long for many of today's business managers."

This has lead people to question the usefulness of CRM. In response Pete Marston, a Forrester Research Analyst had this to say:

"If you have customers won over you need to maintain those relationships, on the marketing side you need to get people interested in your product or service by understanding their buying behavior is, and then on the sales side you understand what the customers' needs are. The various CRM tools help you carry out these functions."

What is your take on this debate?

Market research methods for innovation development

I recently found this white paper by Dennis List about how to do market research for your innovations. With today's current market, we need to keep innovating to stay ahead of the market and suit customers needs. This paper gives quite a few methods to research your new innovations.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Can't Miss: Keith Ferrazzi Web Seminar

We were pleased and honored to have Keith Ferrazzi give a fantastic webinar entitled, "Team Bonding: How Building Internal Relationships will Lead to Big Wins with Your Customers.” Keith Ferrazzi, the CEO of Ferrazzi Green Light will be a keynote speaker at the 2008 NACCM Customers 1st.

Times People a way to share what you're reading

Mashable recently took a second look at the new TimesPeople launched this week on the New York Times' website. It's a way to share with other readers favorite articles and give recommendations to fellow readers, and follow those who are giving their opinions with RSS feed updates. It also includes a function where you can rate restaurants, movies, and Broadway shows. Check out the new addition here.

Have you used this yet? What do you think about the new functionality?

The Speakers of the Market Research Event

Over the past month, we've been introducing you to the speakers of The Market Research Event. With the event next month in California, we'd like to give you a rundown of some of the keynote speakers and podcasts we've been working on for you:

Billy Beane
Kathleen Vohs
Read an excerpt from her book: Part 1 and Part 2
Colleen Fahey Rush
Dan Ariely
Lindsay Zaltman
Heather Kluter
Kelley Styring
Marcus Buckingham
Simon Uwins

A guest post by speaker Greg Heist
A podcast with speaker Tom Brailsford of Hallmark
A podcast with speakers Greg Heist of Gongos Research and Bill Eisele of Hallmark
A podcast with keynote speaker Dr. Kathleen Vohs
A podcast with conference producer Krista Vazquez.

For more information on The Market Research Event, check out the http://www.themarketresearchevent.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marketing Research Budgets

While organizations may be contemplating cutting the marketing research budget to help squeeze through these financially turbulent times, a survey by the AMA found that 60% of respondents felt that this was the "biggest mistake" that could be made. In fact, interestingly enough as reported here, many of the respondents felt that, with the current economy it is more important then ever to continue marketing research efforts. Here are their inputs on what is important for corporations in this industry to find:

1. Shape the message; don't slash the price.
2. Focus on who NOT to target.
3. Stand apart from the Crowd

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that it is as important as the AMA survey seemed to stress?

Podcast Series: A Conversation with Michael Cubric

The NACCM team has released a new segment to the Customers 1st Podcast Series in anticipation for this year’s NACCM Customers 1st Conference. In this podcast, JoAnna Brandi speaks to Michael Cubric of Firstline Mortgages who gives a taste about what his speech, “Being customer-centric is not cheap; are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?” is going to be about. Don’t miss Michael’s track session at NACCM on Wednesday, November 19th at 10:55 AM at Disneyland Hotel Anaheim in California this year.

Listen to the podcast here.

MySpace Music's new ad services

With the new launch of MySpace Music, they've also launched a new way to target the musicians surfing the site. According to this article at Social Times, this new self-service ad targeting service allows advertisers to choose which users see which ads selected by demographics.

After creating an ad that is either 728x90 or 300x250, the advertiser can choose to have it's ad targeted by gender, age, location, specific interest or categories (such as music, movies, fitness and health, etc) . Then, users are broken down target audiences according to the selection of the advertiser. These campaigns run on a cost per click basis rather than impression.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Internet Marketing Research

Yesterday we reported that there has been a growth in the contact center surveying/feedback and analytics market. Today, as I found in this article from The Gazette, the market research industry is experiencing an overall growth globally. In this past year the industry has increased by 5% and the business volume was roughly $28 billion. Much of this growth has been attributed to the advent of the Internet, and more recently its increasing use within this market space. As Jean-Marc Léger, president of Montreal-based Léger Marketing, has said:

"In the 1970s, the question was what consumers were buying; in the 1980s, it was why they were buying it; in the 1990s, it was how they were buying it; and today the question is: what if? We've moved to a much more predictive model."

Internet has provided the ability to answer this latest question in real time. As with many new tools, the use of the Internet in marketing research has raised some ethics and validity questions. Some are saying that with the Internet, making sure that samples are random become harder, and also people maybe tempted to abuse data confidentiality and privacy standards. What are your thoughts? Do you think that the Internet is a blessing or a curse for this industry?


A new micro-blogging service has popped up. Gospelr is the new Twitter-type place where Christians can social network about things such as prayer requests, ideas, word of encouragement and so on. AdWeek has more on this new micro blogging site here. This new service can be integrated with Twitter, and the feeds between the two can be distinguished by differnet colors.

Why do some companies still do this?

Last Summer I signed up for a lawn-caring program from one of the many companies in my area. My lawn was a disaster and after many ultimatums from my wife, I had to take action or possibly face the dog's house for a while. I called many but ended up settling for the largest and most famous one because of their track record.

It was a 6-visit package that included weed control, aeration (fancy eh?), fertilization, etc. I was going to have a nice lawn and in the process make my wife fall in love with me all over again. Things started out OK; the scheduled visits were delivered on time and I noticed improvement. But after the 3rd visit I noticed the lawn suddenly turning yellow and some spots were completely burned. Fearing for my marriage I called them and asked for someone to come in and take a look; the diagnosis: the service professional who did the last visit did not notice an equipment malfunction and applied 10 times the amount of chemical required...

After many more visits they managed to control the problem but I had made up my mind by then not to call them back this year. So I was very surprised one day this Spring when I saw a sign on my lawn from the same company and a letter that thanked me for choosing their business once again. I immediately called them and told them they had made a mistake; I had not signed up for their services and did not want any work done. It took me 3 calls, hours on hold, and many repetitions of my story to many different people (isn't it incredibly annoying when have to repeat ourselves several times?) in order to get to a "manager". She told me that because I did not call to cancel the service last year, they assumed I wanted it again and therefore had already delivered the 1st treatment.

I politely explained that I had not signed up for it and therefore I was not paying; yes, they were charging me $50 for the service I had not ordered. And here is the punch line: the "manager" referred me to last year's contract where on page 15, section 3, subsection 3a, in a font that required glasses way more powerful than the ones I wear, it stated that "if the company does not receive explicit cancellation instructions it will assume the service is reordered for the following year". And to make my ground even shakier, I had signed it...

Why do some companies still behave this way in the 21st century?

It amazes me the lengths some organizations will go to acquire and retain customers thinking they are practicing good business. These kinds of actions destroy relationships and create such negative "viral marketing" that it's simply not worth it; it does not make financial sense to gain $50 and potentially lose $500 worth of new business. Customer management is not retaining customers at all costs and by any available means. It is about creating and maintaining profitable relationships where both parties win: the company makes a profit and the customer receives a benefit that either matches or surpasses the price paid.

After being threatened (!) to have my name sent to a collections agency I ended up paying the $50; they will never know how much money they lost...

Thanks for your time and please join me at the NACCM's Customer 1st Conference on November 19 where I will be talking about putting the customer first and sharing some practical tools.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Growth in Contact Center Surveying/Feedback and Analytics Market

Good news for market researchers MarketWatch reports. As announced in the 2008 Contact Center Surveying/Feedback and Analytics Market report, by DMG Consulting, there was a growth in that respective industry by 21.3%. This growth is not expected to slowdown, as it has been predicted that the market will increase by another 20% through 2008. One reasons behind the growth is the innovation surrounding the industry. Enterprises are realizing the importance of open communication, and that by analyzing current practices, improvements can be made to help the business as a whole.

Get to the Root of Your Problems

Providing exceptional top-notch customer service has always been an advantage for smaller companies. This post on the Wall Street Journal blog tells us that even the small companies that think they are doing great, might not some work in keeping the customer happy.

The problem according to the post is that customer service reps are just applying a band-aid over the problem. What do I mean by this? Representatives are simply apologizing and offering compensation to disgruntled workers. Customers want to know how quickly you will get their problem resolved and what steps the company is taking to avoid this sort of problem in the future.

What are some solutions and insights that your company has found valuable in finding the root of customer service problems?

Chuck gets a social network

With the launch of the new fall television season, NBC decided to go full force with promoting its television shows. One of the best examples is the social network for Chuck. Inside Buy More includes games, quizzes and career advice. They've also aired webisodes.

This is not the only television show on NBC that has received special treatment, part of their fall season was to launch extensive interactive sites for the majority of their TV shows. Read about them here. You can also check out all of NBC's efforts at their website.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Customer Service Isn’t Dead in Blogging

Even though customer services seems to be lagging behind in terms of technical support, this post on creadiv.com leads us to believe that unlike traditional business bloggers offer exceptional customer service. The reason behind this is because the world of blogging is 100% customer-based, without readers a blog can not succeed and so they must treat their readers with superior customer service. Creadiv.com lists 5 ways to improve the reader’s experience in a blog. Here they are:

  • Return the Favor – When someone comments on your blog the least you can do is respond the most you can do is follow them back to their site and comment on one of their posts. They are supporting you; if you want to be a respected blogger do the same for them.
  • Install Comment Luv – A plugin that links back to the commentators’ site showing their most frequent blog post. This will give your readers a little extra link loving for spending time on your site.
  • Install Top Commentators – A sidebar widget that shows who has participated on your site the most. It will take up very little room on your site and it acknowledges that you care about your participants. You can download top commentators here
  • Answer Their Questions – If a reader asks you a question do not ignore it. Even if you don’t want to answer it reply saying thank you but you would prefer not to answer that question.
  • Credit Their Ideas - If you were inspired by a post one of your readers made, or by a comment that they left, or a question that they asked make sure you give them a shout out. If they are reading your site it means they like to know what you think, and I am sure they will be stoked to know that you also like what they have to say.

If customer service is lagging behind in your business, take some tips from customer service in the blogging realm.

The science community and Web 2.0

The Economist recently wrote a very interesting article about the slow adoption of the internet by scientists. They're currently lagging behind in adopting the new tools that are taking the internet by storm that allows new information to spread quickly.

A new version of Research Blogging was recently introduced the Seed Media Group. This is a new hub for scientists to review articles written by fellow scientists. This portal provides a place for the scientists to blog on their particular research articles. From there they are aggregated, indexed and made available on line with key words so they're easy to find. The only set back to this is that most scientists publish in order to be recognized by the upper classes of the scientific world. So is there incentive to use this website?

As the article pointed out at the end, the internet was created for and by scientists. Why are they so slow to pick up the new tools that are spreading information throughout the world?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Overcoming Writer's Block

Writing a good report is more than just gathering the findings and spitting them out. There are a number of things that can help take a client relationship from vendor to partner...and one of them is by generating client-centric reports.

1. Learn the client's "internal report style." Important questions to ask yourself as you're developing a final deliverable include: How does your client need to deliver the findings internally within the organization? What typical form/format is the most meaningful for them? Do you know what types of reports are valued the most? If you don't know the answer to these questions, you should! As in all forms of written communication, tailor it to your audience. Although you're writing to higher level marketing execs, reporting still needs to be conveyed in simple, easy to read messages. Because your clients are bombarded daily with information, it is critical that your findings are conveyed simply and in a way that helps them make decisions.

2. Keep it Simple
. No matter how much data you've gathered, there are typically a few nuggets that are most meaningful. The best way I've found to keep it simple is to keep the end in mind. I will go so far as to post a large flip chart in my working area with the key objectives listed so that everything I'm reporting ties back to the original objectives. Anything else that is uncovered during the research is secondary to the reason you were hired: to answer their primary questions.

3. Know Your Objectives. But first you have to know your objectives. If you can gain clear understanding of the objectives at the beginning of the project and ensure these are played back to your client throughout, it is a lot easier to deliver to their expectations. You'll find that some clients and some projects have more clarity than others...but I believe it's my job as a researcher to gain clarity upfront regardless of how certain the goals are initially. There have been times where I'm sure a client has thought I had a hearing problem because I asked and re-asked the question: "what are your objectives?"--but those are the projects where I had the most success at the end, primarily because we were walking hand in hand down the same path. Not only does your focus remain constant and clear amongst the large pieces of data you'll be faced with but your client's focus becomes clearer as well.

4. Be Present. If possible, be available for presenting the data. Have you ever wondered whether your data was effective, useful, or meaningful or how they used it internally? So many times, the report is handed off or put into archives and your work is communicated as well as it is interpreted on the other end. To help alleviate confusion and highlight the data you find most meaningful, make yourself available for presentations. Folks usually begin to process and understand the data if they are forced to look at it in a small room together! So, when and if that happens, provide the learnings with confidence, a smile and a pretty presentation.

6. Use CONSISTENT Visuals. It is easier for readers to process what it is you're trying to say if your visual have some level of consistency. When reporting qualitative, tease them with initial visuals and repeat these. The visuals then become icons and readers can easily anticipate what they might learn. When reporting quant, do not mix up the charts, tables, graphs throughout the document. Instead, let the visuals provide a framework to help communicate the message.

7. Framework Although every company has their own way of wanting to see reports, I've found a few consistent principles across clients, industries, etc. that are well-liked. Begin with a TOC, then an exec summary, implications and recommendations and follow up with detailed learnings. Also, separate sections with a "section title" page and use the company's provided template when possible (one more thing that looks familiar).

8. Focus on "Insights", not just "Findings". Everyone wants "insights" and so it begs the question, "what exactly is an insight vs. a finding?." I believe an insight is simply taking what consumers are "saying" and inferring something actionable from it.

And, if you think about it, that's what any marketing department needs--information that they can act on!

Joe Cothrel on Successful Communities

Scott Dodds recently left a comment on our post about WSJ entering the Community 2.0 space. At the end of his comment Scott directed us to a post from a speaker, Joe Cothrel from Lithium, who was at our 2008 Community 2.0 Conference this past May. Joe had blogged about the “Ten Warning Signs That Your Customer Community Will Fail” that had come from his presentation at the conference. I thought that I would share today, Joe’s very informative slideshare presentation

that he linked to on his blog. Hope you enjoy!

How many loyalty cards do you have?

In a recent blog by Robert J. Howard at Customer Think, he addresses the loyalty card subject I'm sure we all have dealt with. How many loyalty cards do you have on your key chain right now? He points out that businesses have overrun the customers' wallets with loyalty cards, and the market is at the point of saturation.

It all began with rewards for airline miles, then hotels, and now it's moved to restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and to anything imaginable beyond that. So what do customers do with their addiction to their rewards? How do businesses find a way to still reward their customers who frequent their business? Do you have a solution to this current plastic crisis?

Speaker Profile: Heather Kluter

With the The Market Research Event quickly approaching, we would like to introduce you another speaker that we will have this year at our event. This year, The Market Research Event will take place from October 13 - 16, 2008 in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel. Today, we would like to introduce you to Heather Kluter, who works with customer insights and futuring at Hyundai Motor Company.

Kluter’s team at Hyundai Motor Company leads them into new realms of innovation that focuses on their consumers when developing their products. They follow a “Touch the Market” consumer centric process that looks at product development throughout the world, not just in research and development. One of the greatest examples of this is the development of the 2007 Sante Fe which you can read about here at PDMA Visions.

We invite you to come see Heather Kluter at The Market Research Event as she presents her speech on Thursday, October 16th, Learning to See and Finding Our Voice: Creating a Customer-Centric Product Development Process.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why is Marketing Research Important?

Sure the title line seems very basic and straightforward, but it’s always good to have a refresher on why we do certain things. I came across this great post from Linda Morton in the Strategic Market Segmentation Blog in which she lists why market research is so important. She answers some of these questions in her post:

Why Is Marketing Research Important Before You Create Your Product?

Why Is Marketing Research Important To Your Competitiveness?

Why Is Marketing Research Important To Determine Your Target Market?

Why Is Marketing Research Important In Developing and Evaluating Marketing Campaigns?

Take a couple of minutes to look over her post as I’m sure you will find it valuable.

Potential Students Beware

Approximately 10% of admissions colleges at the top 500 schools in the nation, have admitted that they have looked at sites such as Facebook when evaluating potential students. The survey was conducted by Kaplan, and they further found that 38% of those surveyed attested that by looking at social networking sites, their view of the students was “negatively affected” as reported in this article. Whether or not you think this is fair, it is immaterial currently. As Jeff Olsen, from Kaplan, mentioned:

"We're in the early stage of a new technology. It's the Wild, Wild West. There are no clear boundaries or limits."

What are your thoughts? Do you think there should be regulation in terms of what admissions officers can judge? Or, do you think that what you post on social networking sites is an invitation for this kind of review?

My Favorite Book

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

I had to call the bank the other day and ask the embarrassing question, “What’s my favorite book?”

The woman on the other end of the line didn’t understand, she said “Excuse me?”

“My favorite book, I need to know what it is… ah, was ” I said. “Apparently the favorite book I had when I used that clue as my security question is not the same book that I think is my favorite this week.”

“Oh!” she laughed. “I get it. The answer to your security question doesn’t match.”

“Right,” I said, “but I really need to know what I thought my favorite book was because I tried all three I think are my favorites and none of them work, and now I’m really confused.”

“Oh!” she replied, using a tone of voice that made me think she really understood why this was a problem for me.

One thing I routinely find about the people in the call center of Commerce Bank is they seem to “get” me. No easy task.

I resisted the urge to share with her what my top three favorites were and hope that she could find a match because she told me that as much as she’d like to help me solve the dilemma, the answer was controlled electronically and was pretty much lost forever. Would I like to choose a different question?


And so it was I chose a different question and said “Thank you for your help, I appreciate it.”

“Would you like me stay on the line with you until you have your security questions changed?”

“No” my ego said, I’m a grownup and can do this myself. But she was quick to say kindly, “Why don’t you just keep me on the line until you are sure you have it, and know it so the next time you need to use it it will work for you.” Ahh, I thought “proactive” okay, let her just do her job. I’m sure I can get this right.

Well low and behold I forgot to put a period after an abbreviation in the answer and (just as she thought would happen) the new security question didn’t get me in.

Ahh, I thought now – she really knows her job, and her customers well. We had a good laugh together and after she was sure I had picked an answer I couldn’t forget or misspell she let me off the line.

Now you know and I know that it is probably cheaper for the company to do it that way, because it takes less time to make sure I do it right than to initiate another call when I do it wrong again – but that’s not what it felt like. It felt like someone who knew the ropes was getting me used to them, and doing it with TLC (tender loving care) and not TVC (thinly veiled contempt) which tends to be so rampant in some of the “helping” professions. Bravo Commerce – I hope your merger doesn’t interfere with your customer care, because so far, I like it.

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WSJ enters the Community 2.0 Fray

Wall Street Journal has decided to enter the fray with their own social network with one major difference being that to participate, you need to be a paid online subscriber. Already there are mixed reviews as this article from ComputerWorld comments. Some positive comments have been that it is “a ‘nifty’ way for business owners to connect in a Web 2.0 world”. Others have been not so nice and stated that they have “missed the boat”.

What are your thoughts on this on this new venture for WSJ?

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s Targeted Shopper Marketing Approach

This latest article in CPB Matters highlights a sophisticated targeting process Rob Colarossi, vice president of customer development for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, implements in order to get a greater understanding of shopper needs.

Colarossi states that partnering with retailers is extremely important because shoppers want customizable options. He mentions: “One size for all does not fit anymore. National programs are not working anymore. The retailer wants {programs} that are customized. We’ve got to understand what’s important to Kroger and what’s important to Wal-Mart. They have platforms and are very clear about what they want to do.”

Dr. Snapple Group recently partnered with Kroger for a direct mail campaign They targeted shoppers that had a higher propensity to buy the product. He then lists three criteria for choosing a retail partner:

  • Do they have scalability?
  • Do they truly understand consumer-centric marketing?
  • Are they truly trying to build loyalty with their core shoppers?

Is your company taking advantage of partnerships with retail companies?

Incentives in the Current Economy

Hi all! Trace Belcher here. I was watching the news of the stock market stresses yesterday and today and began wondering the following: How can we “incentivize” both our customers and our employees in this economy? Of course, the easy answer (well, easy to say) is to just throw money at them; but is that truly the answer?

For something to truly be an “incentive”, it has to have value to the individual. If you think adding money is the solution, just ask a union auto-worker what they truly value. The answer will most likely be “stability”, or “will my job {or the company} be here tomorrow?”. It doesn’t matter if I make a lot of money today, but get laid off next week.

The same goes for our customers: Loyalty programs are all well and good, but if you have a zillion airline miles, it won’t help you if the planes no longer fly.

Stability, Honesty, Integrity…these are the cornerstones of value (and incentives) to our customers. Be honest when something goes wrong, but have the integrity to fix it. A stable, consistent presence is a comfort to our customers in these uncertain times.

All comments are welcome..


A Gold Medal for FUN

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

It all started as a crazy idea. From an intern nonetheless. While the “real” Olympics were taking place in China the folks over at the Midwest ISO were having an Olympics all their own.

The intern - Brooke Rodda - thought it would be great fun to come up with some challenges for interdepartmental games, and it was easy to think how that might just be good for morale.

Deb Lang, Director of Training, liked the idea and built on it. Deb’s big on teamwork and fun so the idea instantly appealed to her. As fate would have it, the Friday before a box of “BeanBoozled” had landed on her desk and she saw immediate application. (For the uninformed like me - it’s a box of BeanBoozled jelly beans - 10 colors of beans and 20 flavors - every color has one tasty flavor, and a disgusting flavor - the idea is that you never know whether you are about to get a good one or a bad one. This, apparently, makes it ideal for party games.)

This instantly started Brooke’s mind going in the direction of whacky games – one having to do with blindfold bowling another with condiment painting (held in the cafeteria at lunchtime of course.) Before long she and her team of equally creative thinkers had planned the games and word rapidly spread throughout the company grapevine and more people came on board. “We want to be involved too,” was the most common sentiment heard. Energy and excitement were building.

By the time the day for the Olympics arrived representatives from several divisions withing the company were on board, with more joining in to coach from the sidelines as word continued to spread.

The Olympics occurred mostly in 15 minute increments so not to take too much away from the work days. These short burst of activity really energized people throughout the five day competition.

I just happen to call on the last day and got a “blow by blow” on the final minutes of the events. I sat laughing in my parked car while a thunderstorm threatened right behind me. I had to make sure my car was not moving because I laughing much too hard to be driving.

Since I wanted to find out the results, I called back the next week and got the scoop. “So what did you get out of it?” I asked.“Besides fun? Team participation, increased communication between departments, memorable common experiences, innovation, engagement.”

“I gather then, this is only the first of your Olympics,” I asked.

“Yep, the first Annual.”

A tradition is born. All because a company was open enough to listen to a suggestion of a young intern – a crazy suggestion at that.

Gary Hamel, oft called the world’s greatest strategist, says that we need to find ways in companies to create thousands of crazy ideas, and out of the thousands we’ll distill them down to hundreds of not-so-crazy ideas, and out of them perhaps 10 or so viable ideas and out of the one or two really really great ideas that will fundamentally change the nature of our business and give us a competitive edge. Congratulations Midwest ISO, you’ve got a great start.

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hierarchy of Needs for Market Segmentation

Venkatesh Rao posts a very interesting graphic of the famous Maslow hierarchy of needs triangle in Ribbonfarm.com. What’s interesting about this particular image is that it has text alongside each level of the triangle with corresponding markets. Here’s the image, what are your impressions on it?

Speaker Profile: Robert Stephens

With the North American Conference On Customer Service approaching, we would like to introduce you to the speakers we will have at our event. This year, NACCM will take place from November 16 – 19, 2008 in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Robert Stephens. Robert Stephens is the Founder and Chief Inspector of The Geek Squad.

Stephens started this business when he was a “starving college student” at the University of Minnesota. While he was going around fixing things for people with his mountain bike and cell phone, he found when he went to help people, mainly with computers, service was lacking. So formed The Geek Squad, which is now a part of Best Buy.

With respect to his views on Customer Service, Robert Stephens was quoted in this interview stating: “So my emphasis in service, which the biggest expense in pretty much any service business I can think of is human capital/labor. In service, the people are the brand. They are the factories that manufacturer it. I focus really on attracting and maintaining talent as a means of accomplishing that goal.”

To learn more about Robert Stephens read his book, The Geek Squad Guide to Solving Any Computer Glitch, and check out this interview from Service Untitled which delves more into specifics of his philosophy. Also, for more on Stephens watch the YouTube clip provided below:

We invite you to come see Robert Stephens at NACCM as he presents on Wednesday, November 19th, “Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable”.

LiveBar: A Web 2.0 Bedazzler

Web 2.0, and Community 2.0 are commonplace in business conversations, but implementing and utilizing these tools can be difficult. VentureBeat announced here, that LiveWorld is releasing a new application, LiveBar, that will instantly “bedazzle” any website with a bar that businesses can add of Web 2.0 features. This would allow organizations to have an area for immediate customer interaction, where they chose on their website. The features would include “soap boxes” and “shorts” which are similar to blogs and Twitter messages respectively. The benefits to businesses, as this article states is:

“LiveBar features are standardized, they’re easy to add to any site. It takes minutes to do. By comparison, getting companies to add customized Web 2.0 features to web sites can often take months. As such, LiveBar is a tool for retrofitting pages that were created in the days before Web 2.0. It’s a way for companies to play catch-up in the Web 2.0 game, where engaging consumers in a conversation is just as important as presenting information to them”

With all of the technology, new and old, available to businesses, is there any reason for businesses not to utilize web 2.0 strategies?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Russia and Social Media

Social Media Today author John Bell posted the following video Interview of Andrew Paulson, regarding the topic of Russian Social Media. Paulson shares his views and answers the question: "What does social media look like in Russia today", "What’s next for Social Media in Russia", and is there "More going on than advertising".

Paulson is currently the Chairman of SUP, and was instrumental in the SUP’s purchase of LiveJournal from SixApart.

Do you agree or disagree with Andrew Paulson’s point of view?

Using Online Collaging to Better Engage Research Respondents – A Case Study

BuzzBack Research in conjunction with the Market Research Event will host a complimentary web seminar presented by Brendan Light, SVP of BuzzBack Market Research. This web seminar will take place on Thursday October 2nd from 2:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. Reserve your webinar seat by registering now. Mention priority code MWS0014BL. Here’s a brief recap of the webinar:

While the Internet has become the predominant mode of data collection for market research, the industry focus to date has generally been on using it to do research “quicker and cheaper” versus “better.” Over the past 10+ years we’ve seen industry after industry use the Internet to reinvent the type and quality of interaction. It’s easier and better now to book travel arrangements, stay in touch with friends and pay bills online. Meanwhile, the market research industry has largely ignored the Internet’s power to engage and interact with respondents in more meaningful ways – ways that drive greater understanding and insight.

Using a case study approach, BuzzBack will showcase its recent research on US and UK

What you will learn by attending:
consumer attitudes to Sustainability and “Being Green,” and how unique interactive techniques were used to combine traditional quantitative data with new types of qualitative insights to yield new levels of understanding. Examples given will show how improved digital approaches can infuse your research and help you think about online research in a totally different way. This approach was awarded the 2007 MRS/ASC Technology Effectiveness Award.

  • Understand new online research techniques to gain richer, more emotional understanding of respondents’ attitudes
  • See how to use the Internet can be used to change your research from the boring, click-a-radio-button survey to a respondent interaction that is much more interesting and engaging
  • Review examples of research findings from recent research on US and UK consumer attitudes towards what “being green” means to them

Don’t miss your chance to view this free webinar. Click on the link below to register.


Doing More With Less

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

I’m an “expert” columnist for Customer Advantage Newsletter and ever few weeks or months they send me questions which I answer. I almost always forget to publish those Q & A’s and so today with my new eyes on potential blog posts I answered one of their questions and then before filing it away said “Yippee! A blog post!” So here we go.

The question: Customer demand is rising, but we can’t add more people to Service. So we have to do more with less. What’s a good way to approach this situation?

The way you frame the situation is important. You must come at it believing that every one on your team is smart, creative, talented and has something to contribute.

In order to bring out the brilliance in everyone in your organization, you must believe this (or ‘act as if’ you do until you realize it’s true). In holding open the possibility that people will shine they usually do. People live up (or down) to our expectations of them. If we expect and empower them to be competent, creative, innovative problem solvers who create exquisite experiences for customers, they’re more likely to do so.

Once you hold this as true it’s time you give people the chance to help. In a meeting, start with the truth.

“I know we would all like it if we had more resources, but we don’t and in the short term, won’t. We can’t do anything about that but what we CAN do is start getting really creative around here and find ways to work around the reality we’re faced with. I believe this team has the talent and ingenuity it takes to come up with solutions to even our toughest challenges. Let’s brainstorm some ideas together and get started.”

Set aside real time for brainstorming (no judgments, no idea-killer phrases, set amount of time where anything goes.) Get people limbered up with some silly challenges “52 ways you can use a teabag” and when they are loose and laughing introduce your real challenges.

Try using analogy “If this were a zoo (a garden, a circus etc.) how would we look at it?”

Convince yourself and your team that you have the creative potential to discover solutions for any problems and you will. A hint – little rewards, like mini candy bars, stress toys and kazoos always make creative sessions more fun. Once people are in the habit of being more solutions focused you reinforce it when ever you see it. “Jill, I am always so amazed by the way you come up with out of the box solutions that make our customers happy. Great work.”

You might even want to have a once a month celebration for the most workable solutions. Even in the most severe of situations there’s always enough for movie tickets and popcorn rewards.

My answer: The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Companies everywhere are asking people to do more with less. The second thing you need to know is that times like this give us the opportunity to show how good we really are. I believe that most of us have the ability to do a little better every day.

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Facebook’s New Facelift: Revolutionary or Revolting

As an open social networking community matures and ages, it will always come across certain updates and facelifts that not everyone will find appealing and useful. Facebook first experienced this when they launched Facebook Beacon, a tracking device that shared information about users’ shopping habits and other activities at other web sites. Now that Facebook has launched a new look for its community, what reactions will users have about this latest change? How will this affect Facebook apps created by vendors and companies trying to reach consumers?

These are several ideas that came to mind when reading this post on Wired. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook mentions:

"Any change can be a big deal to our users because this is how they connect with their family and friends. So when you move things around, it can be perceived as being not a positive thing even when it's a positive change."

The question is will this change positively affect users now that they have no option to turn back to the old Facebook template. There are several groups being formed already on Facebook to protest these changes. It will be interesting to see how advertisers and companies will adapt to these changes to reach consumers.

Speaker Profile: Lindsay Zaltman

With the The Market Research Event quickly approaching, we would like to introduce you another keynote speaker that we will have this year at our event. This year, The Market Research Event will take place from October 13 - 16, 2008 in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel. This week, we would like to introduce you to Lindsay Zaltman, the author of Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers.

Lindsay Zaltman is the managing director of Olson Zaltman Associates. In this position, he participates in new business development and client management. He’s also participated in successful projects pertaining to global positioning, and brand and new product innovation. He also was the co-author in a chapter of The Handbook of Marketing Research. He was also the co-author of The Marketing Metaphoria, along with his father, Gerald Zaltman. This book focuses on the unconscious ways for relating to the world, including: balance, transformation, journey, container (in or out), connection, resources and control.

We invite you to come see Lindsay Zaltman at The Market Research Event as he presents his keynote speech on Wednesay, October 15th, Finding a State of Medaphoria: How to Solve the Insight Depth Deficit.

(Sources: Olson Zaltman, Shop Talk Marketing, Marketing Metaphoria)

Team Bonding: How Building Internal Relationships will Lead to Big Wins with Your Customers

We’d like to remind you about our web seminar: Team Bonding: How Building Internal Relationships will Lead to Big Wins with Your Customers. Keith Ferrazzi, the CEO of Ferrazzi Green Light and keynote speaker at the 2008 NACCM Customers 1st event will be our featured speaker. Register to view the webinar on Wednesday, September 17th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm eastern standard time.

Register for this web seminar here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/251030954
Please mention priority code: G1M2100W1Blog

About the presentation:
This presentation will be in a special format: live chat. This web seminar will be shared in a unique “interview/live chat” format. As you register for the seminar, you will be prompted a line where you can pose your question about internal relationships to Keith. Those questions will be address to Keith over the phone live as he shared his views. We will get to as many questions as possible in the allotted time and attendees will be encouraged to ask their own questions during the seminar.

Customer-focused executives are hard at work trying to create new initiatives that deepen their company’s relationships with their customers. In these trying times, customer strategists are in a loyalty budding war in hopes that their customers continue to spend with them. Building an enterprise-wide customer experience that evokes an emotional and consistent message with the customer is more challenging than ever before. Those companies that do have incredible customer experiences, what’s the secret to their success?

In this session, relationship guru and internationally best-selling author, Keith Ferrazzi, will examine where the foundation of building relationships with your customers should start- internally. Ferrazzi will discuss his expertise on how to align internal teams and will share how getting connected with your colleagues will lead to profits and engagement with your external customer relationships.

A group’s success fundamentally depends upon how its individual members work together. Individuals work more effectively and enjoy their work more when they have genuine personal relationships with their colleagues.

The core message with starting relationships both internally and externally are the same. Those core strategies in relationship development will be revealed by Keith during his keynote session at NACCM.

About the speaker:

Keith Ferrazzi
Ferrazzi Green Light

Keith Ferrazzi is one of the rare individuals who discovered the essential formula for making his way to the top -- a powerful and balanced combination of marketing acumen and networking savvy. Both Forbes and Inc. magazines have designated him one of the world's most "connected" individuals.

As Founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, he provides market leaders with advanced strategic consulting and training services to increase company sales and enhance personal careers. Ferrazzi Greenlight strategically leverages the insight of its executives, whose careers span the highest echelons of corporate America, along with principles from Ferrazzi's best-selling book, Never Eat Alone. Never Eat Alone has been recognized as one of the best business books of 2005, 2006, and 2007 (three year’s in a row since its publication in 2005).

What you will learn:

- Building relationships internally for group success sparks a culture of generosity and accountability that helps participants do the following:
- Help each other succeed in both professional and personal pursuits,
- Have more fun in the workplace
- Facilitate direct, honest communication for resolving conflict, and
contribute to the firm’s success by proactively building relationships with
people inside and outside the organization,
- And more that will lead to increasing employee retention and shareholder

This is a
NACCM: Customers 1st sponsored webinar. NACCM: Customers 1st will be November 16th through the 19th in Anaheim, California.

Register for this web seminar here:
Please mention priority code: G1M2100W1Blog