Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Agency giants lumber onto the WOM bandwagon. Yawn...

Omincom and the other lumbering giants now feel its time to get on the WOM bandwagon. When you check the detail it's just the same old 'control' nonsense in a new format; this is still 1950s marketing.

Yawn.

When are agencies such as this going to realise their game is over? Buzz is largely vanity and an irrelevance and what drives WOM and advocacy in general is the total customer experience; companies that do remarkable things get remarked on. Simple as that.

The smart money backs the specialist agencies that help advocates tell their story effectively and 'spin free'.

The half-promised 'viral WOM in 5 easy steps' approach that occurs when large agencies try to 'productize magic' is a hoax; it cannot be planned by an agency, nor can it be bought.

This is not yet another opportunity to push messaging, it's a conversation.

Wake up, smell the coffee and if it smells great then tell your friends and see what they think :o)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Winning business in the age of reference

No so long ago we believed what we were told; politics and advertising are good examples, it was all about trust, respect for tradition, position and accepted opinion.
Information was not available in the way it is today, in fact some brands still survive on the back of TV advertising done in the 1950's, when it was OK to interrupt people (and they paid attention).

As a customer advocacy specialist I spend a lot of time with marketing professionals across all disciplines and three points always come up:

  • What you say
  • What you do
  • What others say about you

Although companies may be completely trustworthy and have great stories to tell 'What you say' is becoming largely irrelevant in the Google age.

'What you do' becomes everything as this creates the loyalty, advocacy and word-of-mouth driver; i.e. the 'What others day about you' piece of the puzzle.

So how does ‘What you do’ win business?
Firstly let’s look at how ‘What you do’ loses business; simply type ‘(your company name) sucks’ into Google and see what happens. You can’t please people all of the time however there are a multitude of horror stories out there of good organisations let down by their team when they least expect it (Comcast, United Airlines, Dell Hell and Domino’s are just a few).

Word-of-mouth works just the same in a B2B environment; decision makers within large organisations are simply consumers that spend other people's money; the key difference being (quote rightly) the higher level of evidence an organisation requires to prove that the investment is a sound one.

B2B needs include:

  • Proof of directly-comparable business benefits experienced by existing customers
  • Proof the company can deliver on their promises - has it done it before?
  • Proof the proposed solution a based on generally-adopted standards or is it a modern-day Betamax?
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Examples of how a company reacts to issues and rectifies them

Part of the decision-making process is still emotional (how will this decision be perceived, how will it affect my career?) and brand certainly plays a part (is this company ‘cool’, does it align with our culture?), the main takeaway is to become the company you say you are, at every customer touch point.

Easy to say, not so hard to do but possible with the right tools and leadership - adopting methodologies such as Net Promoter can help with this.

The bottom line is that customer delight is how you win business in the age of reference; sometimes the way your lowest-paid employees answer the phone or deal with a enquiry can be worth more to your company than any advertising or comms campaign.

The customer experience (let's aim for delight) is what is remembered and this is ‘What others say about you’; the key to winning (and more importantly keeping) business.

More on this topic to follow in the next few weeks :o)