Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What do a boutique, a 5 & 10 store, and a enterprise technology company have in common?

Customer Experiences.

Every experience we have with every brand (B2B and B2C) sets a precedent. If I have a great experience with Amazon for example, I then expect that CaptialOne, HP, Whole Foods or any other brand will be able to match that experience within their own domain. The boutique, 5 & 10, and tech vendor all have the opportunity to provide experiences that set a new precedent in our expectations for every other brand we engage with. Our expectations of brand experiences are blending:

-If I buy something online and have a chat box pop up with a real human who has a great personality and delivers great customer service, I then expect that everywhere.
-If I shop and see highly relevant, personalized recommendations, I then expect that everywhere.
-If you offer me something free that I would gladly pay for (A Youtility), I then expect that level of service everywhere.

However customer experience goes beyond just expectation setting, as Scott Brinker says here in his slideshare:
“Within the blink of a click, a customer can jump from reading an ad or an email to interacting with us in a digital channel. And the experience they have – good or bad – may be instantly shared, resonating in search and social circles for all time. This makes customer experiences the definition of our brand.(bold font added in by me)
What do your experiences say about your brand? Are you boring, hard to navigate, or exciting and easy to use? Tweet This:

The Hyper Focused Marketer:
While consulting with many B2B technology marketers I have seen many focusing only on what their direct competition is doing. We mustn’t forget that B2B buyers are still people. The experiences these people have with any other company B2C or B2B will carry through into their B2B Technology buying expectations.

When you do a competitive analysis, do you review every engagement point your potential visitors/customers have?  
Do you compare the customer experiences you provide with leaders from all industries, or just your core competitors?

The digital world in all its good and bad has created the ultimate melting pot for user experiences. These experiences will live on forever. We must ask ourselves, are we providing digital and physical experiences that will live on forever in the hall of fame, or the hall of shame? Tweet This:

The simple truth is, in today’s digital environments we are competing with Every Single Brand. Tweet This:


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tell Your Marketing Team To Go Pound

Tell Your Marketing Team To Go Pound…

I was recently on a call where a marketer didn’t know which social community (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) their audience was most engaged on.  This called to my attention how important it is for us as marketers to take a step back from the tactical day to day, and get closer with our audiences,   
tell your marketing team to go pound, the phones.

Often times as marketers we get so caught up in our daily activities that we forget to take a step back see the forest through the trees, or maybe for marketers I should say we don’t see the audience through the people.

A great way to get to know our audiences is to pick up the phone and call customers and prospects. It’s my experience, that if you approach the call from the angle of doing research, not selling a product, people are much more willing to talk. Here are 5 reasons you should call into your audience:

1) Get more wins:
Talk to the sales wins your organization has seen. Ask them what they liked about the product, what pain points where the biggest, what part of your solution hit home with them? Does your product or messaging align with the primary goals of your customers?
A great example of listening to users comes from Instagram, as mentioned in the book “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday –“Instagram started as a location-based social network called Burbn (which had an optional photo feature)”. When they let the user’s guide the messaging and the product, they realized that what users wanted most was a mobile app for posting photos with filters. When they re-aligned the product and messaging to fit what users wanted most they experienced explosive growth and became the brand everyone knows today.

2) Turn a loss into a win:
Sales wins are good, but a sales loss can be even more educational than the wins– talk to the respondents that didn’t buy from you! What did they feel you were missing? Do you offer what your prospects want, is that aspect or feature being downplayed in your product feature set? Identify what lead to the sales losses and help adjust messaging or even the product where possible.

3) Understand the buying team layout and personas:
Talk to your prospects and customers and work to identify how big your average buying team is. TechTarget media consumption shows that 2/3’s of organizations have buying  teams bigger than 5 people. Also use this opportunity to confirm or build buyer personas. This will ensure you can strategically work to influence all members of the buying team, while at the same time increasing the effectiveness of your content and messaging.

4) Map the Buyers Journey:
Find where your customers are most active as they navigate the buyer journey. Identify where your customers are starting their research process, where do they go when they are in the middle of the buy cycle, what information sources do they use to finalize the decision? Dig into what distribution methods their journey aligns with (IE search vs. social vs. publishers sites, etc.).
It doesn’t end there, go deeper and dig into the content preferences your customers have (keep in mind it may vary based on each buyer personas). 

5) Bring sales and marketing together:
Though this action sales will see that marketing is "walking a mile in their shoes". This in turn can help strength the sales/marketing alignment. In a recent demand gen report it was found that“42% (of sales people) stated that their marketing department "rarely" or "never" includes them in the content development process”. This can help show sales that you are thinking from their point of view.

This info can be hugely valuable for crafting messages that resonate, and then understanding where to distribute those messages. Though these calls you can help build better stories to tell, and even increase your customer advocates.

What are you waiting for, tell marketing to go pound! Pound the phones!