Friday, 30 November 2007

Show me yours then I'll show you mine

Something is changing within the eBay community. It's now become the norm for sellers to 'reciprocate feedback' i.e. only giving feedback once they have received feedback from buyers.

I have an issue with this. As soon as you have purchased and paid for an item you have completed your part of the deal and should be instantly rated by the seller, irrespective of how they perform and thus the feedback to which they are entitled.

Is this laziness, a way to increase the volume of feedback sellers receive, or something more sinister; an implied 'leave me good feedback and I will respond, if you are thinking of leaving me neutral or bad feedback just remember that I can do the same for you'?

Two years ago things were not like this; what's changed? I have been watching this for a while and my last 15 purchases did not receive unsolicited seller feedback, however a few did generate 'show me yours then I'll show you mine' messages.

Who would have thought that we would have small online vendors acting like old-fashioned corporates; trying to control the conversation?

Friday, 16 November 2007

Brian or Brand?

I want to tell you about Brian. He needs help.

Brian is a Chief Information Officer that loves to speak at conferences on behalf of vendors that have done great things to help transform his company. Not only this but he's very good at it, engaging and articulate; an amazing advocate.

What's Brian's problem? He has the misfortune to work for a non-global brand in a smaller country and is therefore invisible as an asset to marketers.

Does this make his evidence any less compelling or relevant for prospective customers?

Not a bit of it. He has gone through
the dip and out the other side and potential customers are smart enough to recognise this and visualise how to apply his learning to their businesses.

So why are marketers so hung up on Brand? Answers on a postcard please.

I vote for Brian over Brand. Actually I would like to help the Brians of this world gain enough exposure that the Brands pay big money to hire them resulting in Brian PLUS Brand.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Purple Reign (but not rule)

Radiohead's 'pay what you wish for our album' concept was covered exhaustively elsewhere. Now that some time has passed it's interesting to see what happened:

Comscore's survey found that nearly two-thirds of downloaders paid nothing while the average price paid was $6 (£2.90), with a US average of $8.05.

Meanwhile in the UK Prince gave away his latest album, Planet Earth, free of charge via a newspaper.

Both Radiohead and Prince have deep enough pockets to be able to do this however I see these acts of community typifying the reality shift being experienced by old business, and especially marketing.

After making such an interesting move his purpleness has now gone and blown it of course; requesting that album covers, images of him in concert and any lyrics removed are removed from unofficial websites.

In may way this is similar to companies that are currently experimenting with Facebook advertising; when will they realise that it's about authenticity and not about control ie. brand association is not the same as endorsing company messaging.

True advocacy and communities happen when customers become part of your business, improving offerings in the process.

Whether it's finding that your album is worth 1/4 of it's traditional price, that fans own part of your image, or that the customer you thought was happy with the solution you implemented actually thinks that your customer support sucks, this is marketing in dialogue with people that care.

Digital is not a bigger opportunity for control; just the opposite.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

He who pays the piper

At every gathering of customer reference professionals the conversation inevitably will touch on one subject:

"We need more reference customers; should we run an incentive programme?"

There is no easy answer to this one; I for one believe in incentivising busy sales teams but not in "payment for praise" and see this as fastest way to damage the integrity of any programme.

Rewarding and recognising amazing advocates is another thing entirely; value exchange is what reference communities are all about, not dangling carrots.

Do what's right long-term and concentrate on making it easy for customers to become advocates, then to make their advocacy as effective as possible.