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Tag: customers

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At Issue } essential reading

Think Beyond “Mobile” vs. “Desktop” Shoppers

Jason Spero
Apr 23, 2014

Companies must evolve, but they can’t lose focus of their core value propositions in the process. There are two basic lessons — welcoming your customers and measuring your success — that can help a business understand these new consumer behaviors on devices of all kinds.

Top CEOs Agree: Let Customers Drive Your Business Strategy, Break Down Silos, And Be Entrepreneurial

Robert Reiss
Dec 17, 2013

As we travel through untrodden territories of our digital new world, the old platitude “The only constant is change” has become our new compass. New competitors – in fact new industries – surface seemingly overnight as old business models flash into obsolescence; creating predictable quarterly growth is becoming harder to navigate.

8 Tips For Planning Your Small Business’ 2014 Marketing Strategy

Wesley Young
Dec 9, 2013

While the holiday season is undoubtedly a busy period for small business owners, it’s important to set aside time to plan your marketing strategy for the year ahead. How will you continue to maintain and grow your business in 2014? What plans do you have to keep your business on track and stay ahead of the competition?

How to Turn Around Nearly Anything

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Nov 5, 2013

These lessons work in companies, communities, countries, sports teams, and even families. The key is to spot symptoms of decline before they accumulate, and then shift toward the actions that build positive momentum

Gummi Bear Marketing Magnate Hans Riegel, 90

Thom Forbes
Oct 16, 2013

Hans Riegel, who with his brother transformed a company founded at their father’s kitchen sink in Germany in 1920 into a global brand after World War II, is being remembered today as a marketing genius who made Haribo’s principal product — Gummi Bears — a warm-and-chewy global treat for kids and the adults who pay their dental bills.

The Newest Marketing Buzzword? Human.

Rupal Parekh
Sep 20, 2013

Companies Increasingly Trying to Adopt Characteristics of Their Customers in Order to Be More Likeable.

Can Social Media Make Customers More Civilized?

Michael Schrage
Aug 28, 2013

Social media often make it a little too easy for good people to behave badly. When those good people are your customers or clients, those consequences can be excruciating and expensive.

How to Solicit Customer Reviews Without Pissing People Off

Nellie Akalp
Aug 7, 2013

No amount of advertising, tweeting or direct mailing can impact customers the way an objective peer review can. That’s because in the era of social media and online reviews, it’s not what you say about your business that matters; it’s what others say about you.

4 Keys To Turning Customers Into Brand Evangelists

Smart Design
Jul 15, 2013

To grow your brand, know what people find meaningful, connect with them thoughtfully, create joy they can’t live without, and believe in your employees.

How Marketers Can Reach The 22% Of U.S. Online Adults Who Connect Everywhere

Melissa Parrish
Apr 22, 2013

Customers are in the midst of a total mind shift. As a result of their perpetual mobile connections, their expectations have changed.

The Myth Of Marketing: How Research Reaches For The Heart But Only Connects With The Head

Douglas Van Praet
Mar 21, 2013

Marketers are supposed to be the experts on connecting emotionally with customers. But ironically, their current market research practices make it almost impossible to do so.

It's Not About You: The Great Marketing Mistake

Patrick Hull
Mar 14, 2013

A major mistake that many entrepreneurs make — and don’t realize — is marketing themselves, not their business.

The Hidden Benefits of Social Media Marketing Why Your Strategy May Be Working Better Than You Think

Stephanie Chandler
Mar 12, 2013

If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about social media marketing and whether or not it’s worth the effort, following are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.

50 Brands Named 'Customer Service Champions'

Tanya Irwin
Mar 16, 2012

In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.

Gripevine, a new way to bitch about customer service

Paul Sloan
Mar 5, 2012

Attention all those who like to gripe about lousy customer service and companies (I'm looking at you AT&T and airlines everywhere) that tend to provide it: there's a new place for people to get their complaints heard, and it means business. The site is called Gripevine, and it's more than a platform like Facebook and Twitter on which frustrated customers can broadcast their complaints and hope for a response.

Toys 'R' Soaking Up Mall Spaces

Sep 10, 2010

Taking advantage of vacant mall space, Toys "R" Us is opening 600 temporary shops—or "pop-up stores"—this fall, a move that doubles the number of its U.S. stores for the crucial holiday season. The toy retailer is super-sizing a bet it made last year when it opened 90 temporary mall-based Toys "R" Us Express stores during the holidays, many in spaces previously occupied by KB Toys, which folded in early 2009. Toys "R" Us also added holiday toy sections to its 260 Babies "R" Us locations and plans to do so again this year. "We did it last year and it worked," said Gerald Storch, chief executive of Toys "R" Us. "Our customers told us they liked the convenience of buying toys where they were shopping for other holiday gifts."

Segmentation Clarifies Direct Marketer's Data

Aug 16, 2010

All of us in the direct response industry talk about the importance of gaining further understanding of our client's customer. And today, frankly, we're all in direct response in one way or another. So we employ the use of syndicated data to reveal demographics of the category, we ask our clients for studies against their own customers and we even conduct surveys ourselves in order to gain additional insight. What we are often missing in this exploration is capitalizing on our client's own database and improving our understanding of the complexity of a target through segmentation.

Saab Woos Its Formerly Loyal Customers

Karl Greenberg
Jul 29, 2010

Now that Saab is Swedish again -- or at least Scandinavian, having been wrested from General Motors by Danish company Spyker earlier this year -- the automaker is hoping to bring back consumers who have departed over the years.

Is the Customer Finally in Charge?

Jul 26, 2010

Businesses work with suppliers, across divisions, and with distributors. In the age of relationships, when the art of conversation has made a big come back, and more and more people have access to search and publishing tools, the answer to the question "who are your customers?" may not be as straight forward. Break any one of those connections, make it less than smooth, and you have a hard time servicing the end customer. The answer never was straight forward, it just got easier to see inconsistencies.

Know Your Competition, And Avoid Customer Break-Ups

Jun 25, 2010

Customers are fickle. Just when you think you’re in a steady relationship … their eyes are drawn to a more attractive suitor. We spend so much of our time time trying to make and keep our customers happy that we may forget others—the competition—are trying to make them happier. Blasted competition!

Why Your Brand Should Have a Purpose

Erin Mulligan Nelson
Jun 21, 2010

A brand has to have a reason for being. It should make a difference in the world in some way. Moreover, a brand has to have an organization that powers it -- an organization that is passionate and committed to bringing that brand to life in all facets of the company. The power of a brand starts from the people who create the experience every day. And the purpose the brand represents needs to come through at every possible touch point.

A Better Way To Serve Your Existing Customers

Apr 20, 2010

When people want to transfer money safely and directly to one another in the Europe, they go through their banks. But in the United States, they're more likely to use PayPal. This is good news for eBay, which phased out a competing payment system and bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. eBay's revenues were up 16% in the last quarter of 2009, in good measure due to PayPal, which PC Magazine reports processed $20 billion worth of transactions for 81 million customers in that quarter alone. But it's bad news for U.S. banks, which it might be argued, should have been reaping the benefits eBay is now enjoying.

Marketers Watch as Friends Interact Online

Emily Steel
Apr 15, 2010

Birds of a feather flock together. Or, in the Internet age, a customer's friend is a potential customer. Embracing those truisms, some big marketers, including Sprint and eBay, are turning to small start-ups to help them tap social-networking data to find would-be clients among the friends and acquaintances of existing customers, to the dismay of some privacy advocates.

Seven Keys to Building Customer Loyalty--and Company Profits

Mar 10, 2010

A personal bond with customers lets your company escape the commodity pricing wars and provides you with a powerful new marketing arm: loyal customers who will promote and defend your company online and off--for free. Here are seven tips for getting the process started of building customer loyalty in a big way.

Brand Protection In A Global Market

Feb 9, 2010

Not long ago, brand owners could take comfort in the intrinsic barriers hampering black marketers. While most large cities have places known by its dwellers to be sources of cheap goods of dubious origin, consumers have to consciously decide to explore these markets in addition to or in lieu of conventional establishments. Canal Street in New York’s Chinatown is a well-known example. The street is lined with densely packed shops offering watches, purses, and other luxury items at prices that are corruptively low. Until relatively recently, these markets did not pose a significant threat to brand owners. The remote locations of these markets created a sufficient bulwark to market entry. As a result, brand owners knowingly conceded that a small percentage of its would-be buyers bought cheap knock-offs instead.

As Sales Drop, Burger King Draws Critics for Courting 'Super Fans'

Feb 1, 2010

For five years, Burger King Holdings Inc. was on a roll, successfully courting its "super fans"—18- to 34-year-olds who account for half of all visits to Burger King restaurants. Thanks to high unemployment and healthier eating habits, those super fans haven't been so super lately. Burger King has felt the impact more acutely than its main rival, McDonald's Corp., whose sales are growing. As Burger King prepares to report earnings this week after two straight quarters of same-store sales declines, the question is whether the chain has relied too heavily on customers that may be permanently changing habits.

Now's the Time to Reset Marketing for Post-Recession

Judann Pollack
Feb 1, 2010

Though there's still widespread disagreement of just when the industry will put the recession firmly behind it, one thing's clear: Whenever it happens, marketers had better be ready. Forward thinkers such as Allstate, Walmart, New Balance, Macy's, Procter & Gamble, McDonald's and Bank of America are already paving the way to recovery by spending on marketing and product innovation, cementing relationships with new consumers and rewarding loyalists who stuck by their brands during the bad times. They are also creating products and messaging that bridge from recession to recovery.

6 Common Mistakes In B2B PPC Advertising

Jan 27, 2010

B2B marketers often preach about how B2B marketing is unique, and that advertising to businesses is very different from consumer focused advertising. And while there is truth in that argument, B2B marketers should be wary that leaning on their “uniqueness” too heavily can adversely impact their PPC campaigns.

Tough Love For Starbucks

Jan 27, 2010

It’s been almost two years since Starbucks jumped into the deep waters of social media with their MyStarbucksIdea.com program. This is a website where customers submit and discuss ideas on ways Starbucks can improve its business. Over 80,000 ideas have been submitted and late last year, Starbucks informed us over 50 ideas from customers have been implemented. Cool. Sounds great. Sounds impactful. But wait, let’s take a closer look at these customer-driven ideas Starbucks has "implemented."

The Customer Is Always Right…Sometimes

Jan 25, 2010

You’ve heard the phrase. You’ve probably even said it before. But in this age of “everyone has a voice and a way to broadcast it out into the world,” is it really still true? Okay, okay, I know the premise of it is true. That we are supposed to go out of our way to accommodate our customers so they will have a uber-positive experience. And positive experiences get talked about. You know - word of mouth in action.

The Simplest Secret To Business Growth

Jan 21, 2010

Everyone wants to know the one thing they can do to get things going, the magic pill they can take, the one bit or advice from a guru that will turn the ship around. (How’s that for some clichés?) Truth is, business is mostly a bunch of hard work, done consistently. However, there is one thing that every business can do that works in every instance – the one simple secret to guaranteed business growth. Want to know what that is?

Sit Down And Eat With Your Customers

Jan 20, 2010

For me, growing up the dinner table was of course a place to eat, but it was also a time for fellowship, sharing stories, laughing - and sometimes getting in trouble. I had a bad habit growing up of hiding food that I didn’t want to eat. Boy I thought I was smart, but of course it’s hard to fool a mom. So let’s ring the dinner bell - Don’t waste your time setting the table for your customers, if your not going to sit down and eat with them!

Attract Loyal Customers by Creating a Magnetic Brand

Dec 22, 2009

Brand loyalty doesn't happen by accident. Brands that cultivate loyalty find ways to emotionally connect with their customers; these brands stand for something meaningful in their customers' eyes. How do you create and establish a successful brand that brings loyal, profitable customers to your door?

Tap into Your Super-Consumers

Nov 25, 2009

In any product category, roughly 10% of the consumers account for more than 50% of the profits. These super-consumers, as we call them, are the hot dog buyers who eat five pounds of hot dogs a month, wolfing down as many as 4 per sitting. They are the stapler users who own 8 different staplers. They know what they want, they'll buy a lot of it, and they'll pay a premium for it. They're passionate and engaged — sometimes even a little obsessive — and they exist in every category, from soft drinks and air travel to fast-food and oral care products. Many managers assume that their super-consumers are a unique species whose extreme appetites say little about what more casual consumers might go for. They also figure that their super-consumers are already sated, so there's no point in probing them further. That's a mistake.

6 Ways to Use Ning for Business

Nov 19, 2009

There is an almost overwhelming number of options on the social web for businesses to create and participate in communities. You hear a lot about Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter (Twitter) communities, and even LinkedIn Groups; but businesses have another option when looking to build a community online that’s often overlooked despite having nearly 40 million users: Ning. Ning allows businesses to create their own off-site social network for their brand’s community, and participate in existing conversations with the communities they are looking to engage. Here are 6 ways businesses can put Ning to work.

Two Approaches: Shotgun vs Laser

Jeremiah Owyang
Nov 9, 2009

Companies approach social in one of two ways: The first way, companies experiment with little order or goals, the second way, companies have clear goals and intend to invest in a deeper relationship.

More On: Everything I Need to Know About Business I Learned From Google

Nov 4, 2009

OK, kids. Class is back in session. Once again, we're studying business lessons learned from Google. As you'll recall, last time we covered these five Google-isms: 1. Innovate or die. 2. Automate or die. 3. Tap the long tail. 4. Keep your head in the cloud. 5. Don't scare users. Today, we'll discuss numbers six through eight and next time we'll finish up with nine through eleven. So get those pens and papers ready...

Twitter, Customer Service, and Good Brand Management

Nov 2, 2009

If monitoring conversations and knowing what you're listening for is the first ingredient in good online best practices, knowing when and how to respond is much more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop - or worse, a crisis - and a deposit in your company's reputation bank. It's easy to dismiss Twitter's usefulness as a tool. That is until you figure out that on Twitter you can find mentions of your brand and you can actually connect with customers directly and provide a first line of response. Chances are, that in 140 characters, you won't be able to do much more. But don't underestimate the importance of that public gesture.

Twitter Serves Up Ideas from its Followers

Oct 26, 2009

Companies big and small monitor Twitter to find out what their customers like and what they want changed. Twitter does the same. It started two years ago as a bare-bones service, offering little more than the ability to post 140-character messages. Then, it outsourced its idea generation to its users. The company watches how people use the service and which ideas catch on. Then its engineers turn the ideas into new features.

Stop Buying Customers

Oct 16, 2009

Every traditional marketing campaign is a customer purchase, that is no revelation: ROI and CPC, CPM, CPA are all standards. But I suggest there is something wrong with that mindset. In fact, with the uncertainty of the future of media, everything might be wrong with that mindset.

How Social Media is Upending the Enterprise

Oct 1, 2009

For decades, companies have defined the channels their customers must use to contact them. But phrases like, "We are available by phone weekdays from 9am until 4pm Eastern Standard Time,” and “We will attempt to answer the emails we receive within 48 hours, but times vary based on incoming volume” are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The long-held notion that companies control the conversation is being challenged by social media.

Three Companies that Started Down the Trust Path with Customers First

Sep 29, 2009

They do it by talking about and engaging with topics and content that will make their customers smarter. Or they share tidbits that are fun and engaging, and share the love. These are the secrets of successful corporate blogs - and I’ll share then in less than a thousand words.

4 Ways Social Media is Changing Business

Sep 23, 2009

Social media is helping to forge a new era in business transparency and engagement, creating both new challenges and opportunities. Gone are the days when companies could rely on carefully crafted press releases or flashy ad campaigns to communicate with their customers, often in an attempt to convince people that their products are the best in the field. In the age of social media, the rules have changed radically, and people today demand a more honest and direct relationship with the companies with which they do business. Companies now face a clear choice: wall themselves in and become increasingly controlled and hidden, or use social media and other means to reveal their human side, welcome transparency, and forge new relationships with their customers. The old game is undoubtedly over, and the question now is, “what can businesses do to transition and succeed in this new era?”

Learning From Craigslist: Who Are Mass Media's True Customers?

Peter Merholz
Sep 5, 2009

The cover story of the most recent issue of Wired addresses how Craigslist rose to dominate classified listings, in spite of (or perhaps because of) how little it has changed, and the quirkiness of the business. The real customer experience lesson though, can be found in a follow-on blog post written by the story's author, Gary Wolf. In it, he muses, "Why, given the site's notorious shortcomings, has nobody ever succeeded in taking business away from it?" He writes about how many local newspapers have tried to embrace local listings, such as the Bakersfield Californian. When you look at their apartment-for-rent page, you immediately see the problem — the classified listings are sandwiched between giant banner ads and overwhelming navigation options. And this speaks to the fundamental issue facing the mass media today — it doesn't know who its customer is.

Organizing Customers

Sep 3, 2009

The local youth theatre troupe recently put on a performance of Grease. It was a high-spirited outing, with terrific performances and it was a great way for them to spend a month or two over the summer. I was amazed to discover, though, that the budget for the rights to the play were $3,000. That's pretty steep for a high school production of an old, not particularly wonderful musical script that was only going to be seen by the local community. Should it really cost $7 for every person who watches the play? The reason fees for licensing plays are so high is that almost all plays and musicals are licensed by just a few firms and the purchasers have no power whatsoever. The sellers have signalled each other and created an artificially high pricing floor. "Take it or leave it" is their motto. Here's the opportunity that the net provides (in this case and so many others): someone should organize the customers and negotiate on their behalf.

Is Customer Loyalty Dead?

Mike Linton
Aug 29, 2009

Are you more loyal to brands than you were 10 years ago? Are there any businesses that provide such a great product or service that you would never price-shop, and you'll declare your brand loyalty across your social networks? My guess is that you and your customers are much less loyal than you were in the '90s.

5 Social Media Lessons Learned From Whole Foods

Aug 26, 2009

As a company, Whole Foods has impressively embraced social media more than most, gathering over 1.2 million followers on Twitter and 123,000 fans on Facebook in the process. While it is easy to understand why a relatively young company or one started by a tech-savvy founder would so completely embrace social media communication tools, it is quite a bit more remarkable for an almost 30 year old established brick and mortar company with roughly 50,000 employees and over 270 stores worldwide to have done so.

Beijing Loves IKEA -- But Not For Shopping

Aug 26, 2009

Customers hop into display beds and nap, pose for snapshots with the decor and enjoy the air conditioning and free soda refills. They just don't buy much.

The CMO's Role in a Customer-Centric Organization

Aug 25, 2009

Deciding whether to adopt a customer-centric orientation is a significant decision for organizations, not to be made casually. It results in debates defining customer centricity, often with the question, "How customer-centric do we need to be?" Inevitably, it means organizing around the customer and the further proliferation of the types of marketing needed to do so effectively. The many companies that have embraced a customer-centric orientation have experienced some real and often unexpected challenges. At the center of these challenges is the role of the chief marketing officer -- the person who needs to deliver thought leadership, lead the strategy debate and reorganization, and then integrate the various marketing types into a company-wide, customer-centric orientation.

Justice -- Wait for It -- on the Checkout Line

Aug 22, 2009

In the evolution of techniques to speed shoppers to checkout, most supermarkets are near the back of the line. While Americans spend relatively little time in queues, a wait they perceive as too long or unjust could curtail repeat purchases. To combat this, some retailers and fast-food restaurants have gone the way of banks and airports, shuttling customers into a single line where the person in front goes to the next open cash register. Other retailers are dabbling in technological upgrades to improve the waiting experience with updates on wait times or pleasant distractions.

Will the Hard-Core Starbucks Customer Pay More? The Chain Plans to Find Out

Aug 21, 2009

As the recession wears on and fewer people are splurging at Starbucks, the coffee chain’s response is to raise prices. On Thursday, Starbucks stores in several cities started charging up to 30 cents more for some specialty beverages, though the company is charging less for some basic drinks.

Who Owns Social Media?

Aug 21, 2009

I had a fantastic conversation with Frank Eliason, Duncan Riley, and Chris Brogan last night during the Microsoft Windows Mobile Developer event at Chapel in Seattle. We explored the drivers that propel companies into social labyrinths and how they participate, react and in turn, strategically plan (or should) once they’ve arrived.

How Customers Saying "No" Can Become a Consumer Experience "Yes"

Steve McCallion
Aug 20, 2009

Repeat after me: "Your customer doesn't have the answers!" I thought we put this to rest fifteen years ago, but apparently there are a number of companies still trying to create innovative consumer experiences by asking people what they want. Consumers want what their neighbors have. They have no idea what's next--they consume!

Whole Foods Devotees Lash Out at CEO

Aug 20, 2009

Whole Foods aficionados who assumed the company's management was as crunchy as the brand are feeling betrayed. They have stormed Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere to vent their rage at John Mackey, the chief executive. In an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal last week, he argued for health-care savings accounts and declared that health care is not an intrinsic right-- ideas with a conservative bent, which made Whole Foods' liberal customer base go ballistic.

Building Consumer Experience Value Using the Power of Metaphors

Aug 19, 2009

We were wrapping up a meeting with a client who was developing a new neighborhood. Through a combination of field research, trend studies and historical analysis we defined a story and collection of artifacts and experiences that would make this place meaningful to potential residents as well as the neighboring community. After the meeting our client said, "I finally understand what you guys do. You orchestrate the obvious."

A Brand is Not a Separate Thing

Tom Asacker
Aug 19, 2009

“If I am I because you are you. And you are you because I am I. Then I am not I and you are not you.” ⎯ Unknown Rabbi. It may sound like double-talk, but the wise Rabbi’s message is a profoundly important one for those trying to navigate today’s complex and rapidly evolving marketplace. And it’s this: We are not separate. We define each other. We are fronts and backs of each other⎯producer/consumers; government/citizens; manufacturer/suppliers; consultant/clients; management/talent; and, especially, brand/customers. In fact, a brand only knows what it is in terms of its customers. Unfortunately, we tell ourselves a very different story.

Can Marketers Kick The Price Promo Habit?

Aug 19, 2009

A colleague from P&G said it best: "One generation of marketers has addicted three generations of consumers to the heroin of price promotion." That addiction has never been more obvious than today as we watch our mailboxes fill with 40, 50, 60%-off offers from nearly every name in the game. The short-term spin: Retailers need comp store sales growth. The longer-term implications? The retail universe will continue to devolve to "okay, available and cheap."

Transformation Interrupted

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Aug 19, 2009

According to market research firm Hartman Group, consumer loyalty is shifting -- from products and brands, to the experiences offered by retailers -- in a radical transformation that started before the recession. I think the change is much bigger than that. Hartman is onto something because it specializes in enthnographic market research (among other tools), which is an attempt to understand consumers in the context of their lives, both in terms of their knowledge and beliefs, and through their behaviors. I believe the firm is saying that capturing consumers' attention with creative and/or compelling marketing communications no longer carries the water in our busy, confused, noisy lives; experiences are what stick, bring differences into sharp focus, and compel purchases.

After Early Errors, Wal-Mart Thinks Locally to Act Globally

Aug 14, 2009

Having powered its way to the top in U.S. retailing, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has struggled to extend its dominance across the globe. But the world's largest retailer is learning in Brazil and elsewhere that the most successful ideas don't necessarily flow from its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. That has it tailoring inventories and stores to local tastes -- and exporting ideas and products pioneered outside the U.S.

The Ascent of Earned Media

Aug 14, 2009

Brands and marketers are rapidly leaving the orbit of "paid media" dominance and entering the gravitational pull of the age of "earned" and "social media."

Did Best Buy Do Itself a PR Favor With Pricing Error?

Aug 14, 2009

Health-care reform? A Taliban cease-fire? Dick Cheney unloading on George Bush? The hottest story on the web today was none of the above. Burning up the blogosphere and Twitter was the remarkable "pricing error" that occurred on the website for electronics retailer Best Buy, which -- for a little while, anyway -- had a 52-inch Samsung high-definition TV listed for $9.99.

Why Starbucks Is the Top Brand on Facebook

Aug 13, 2009

Starbucks has been racking up accolades in the digital and social media space. As of July 23, the coffee chain surpassed Coca-Cola as the most popular brand on Facebook, with more than 3.6 million fans, per InsideFacebook.com, an independent blog that tracks the social networking site’s developments. It was also named the No. 1 “most engaged brand” in a report published by Altimeter Group last month. These recent feats are the result of Starbucks’ aggressive digital and social media strategy, said Starbucks digital strategy director Alexandra Wheeler in an interview with Brandweek. That's because Starbucks has moved from “experimenting” to actively incorporating and utilizing social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, in its brand marketing plans.

The Value of Real-Time Customer Care

Allen Adamson
Aug 12, 2009

One of the best parts of vacationing in a small town is visiting the local video store, where the proprietor--a scruffy guy who loves everything related to movies--will recommend films that he thinks you'll love. There's no scientific algorithm to his suggestions, no data analysis or statistical assessment. The owner makes his recommendations based on bits and pieces of casual conversation with customers. I was thinking about that video store as I read about the contest hosted by Netflix, which offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could significantly improve its recommendation system and ended in July. While digital technology has made our lives more convenient in many ways, especially in the way it helps people make buying decisions, smart companies realize that there are some things even the most sophisticated digital applications can't do. Above all, they can't replace the personal touch that often helps consumers distinguish one brand from another.

Indirect Influencers and Purchase Decisions

Aug 12, 2009

A company has multiple constituencies when it offers the same product to different market segments. Why is this an important discipline in Marketing? Often times, your direct buyer is not the most important influencer. Children, doctors, relatives and social referential leaders often assume major positions in the purchasing decision. As a result, it is important to understand these indirect customers and influencers and integrate this understanding into marketing strategy.

Customer-Centric Design: Got Empathy?

Matthew E. May
Aug 11, 2009

We all know what our customers want. We’re confident that we understand the problem. We look at reams of marketing reports. We conduct the focus groups. We survey them. We have plenty of data. Guess what? It’s not enough. Data can only indicate facts.

Starbucks: Howard Schultz vs. Howard Schultz

Aug 10, 2009

Starbucks' iconoclastic founder has gone through a reeducation in the rigors of running a more typical company. That doesn't mean he has to like it.

Getting Personal With Mobile Marketing Can Boost Sales, Loyalty

Aug 10, 2009

For small children, there are few life changes bigger than learning how to use the toilet. It's a time when both tots and their parents can be in need of a little positive reinforcement and a morale boost. Kimberly-Clark's Huggies brand is trying to help, and engender loyalty at the same time, with an ambitious 3-week-old program that uses the mobile phone -- and points to where mobile marketing may be headed.

Active Listening on the Social Web; It’s Overrated

Aug 7, 2009

Wikipedia tells us that active listening is an intent to “listen for meaning”. Others suggest that active listening should “focus on who you are listening to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand what he or she is saying.” These are excellent definitions. But as it relates to customer interactions on the social web, active listening is only one half of the equation.

How Successful Brands Live Their Difference

Paul Worthington
Aug 5, 2009

We live in a conversation driven world. Even if your brand is not an active user of social media, your customers and potential customers are. This is revolutionizing the way brands have to think about themselves and how they choose to compete. In a conversation driven world, the real threat is not conversation itself, but commoditization. Unless customers have reason to talk, they won't. And a brand that generates little or no conversation will be killed by one that does.

Managing an Online Reputation

Jul 30, 2009

Your customers are talking about you — and the whole world is listening. Local review sites are reshaping the world of small business by becoming the new Yellow Pages, one-stop platforms where customers can find a business — and also see independent critiques of its performance. How do you manage your reputation when everybody is a critic?

"Customer Loyalty" is an Oxymoron

Jul 29, 2009

The word "customer" implies a transactional relationship conditioned upon the satisfying exchange of value. "Loyalty," on the other hand, is devotion to someone or something that matters more to a person than the value or benefit that someone or something provides. You may be thinking, "Same difference." It is not the same difference (and that's an oxymoron, too).

Entrepreneurs Strive to Turn Buzz Into Loyalty

Jul 21, 2009

Some small companies win instant fans, often because their products or services strike a nerve or generate buzz. But turning those followers into loyal customers can be a challenge.

Would You Nickel-And-Dime A Friend?

Jul 10, 2009

Your neighborhood video store. Your cell phone carrier. Your credit card company. The airline you flew last week. What do all these companies have in common? Two things, really. One is that these categories generally score quite low on customer satisfaction surveys. The other is that companies in these categories have become notorious for nickel-and-diming customers.

How Intuit Makes a Social Network Pay

Jul 7, 2009

It's hard to get tangible results from social media. Giants from Coca-Cola to Wal-Mart Stores have set up Web sites where customers can share their interest in the brand. But many of these sites don't attract enough visitors to form a real community or have been slammed by critics, as was the case at schoolyourway.walmart.com. The retailer killed it in 2006 after just three months.

Establishing An Iconic Brand

Jul 1, 2009

An iconic brand is a powerful asset. These brands become part of our lives and stand the test of time. Think what our culture would be like without brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola, and Target. The Nike "swoosh" remains a powerful symbol today, more than 37 years after its creation.

What Now for the Money Brands?

Jun 29, 2009

A March 2009 survey conducted by Interbrand found that “trust and confidence” was second only to “convenience and location” in consumers’ selection of a bank. In the same survey, one-third of the respondents were considering changing banks because of a loss of confidence.

How Do You Do Word of Mouth Marketing?

Jun 25, 2009

This question came from a very nice woman I met at a cookout who was starting a company that specialized in home veterinary visits. It’s such an interesting question and there are a lot of different ways to answer it. You could focus on the tactics of word of mouth marketing, or talk about social media but I think what gets lost is what makes people talk about your product or service in the first place. For people to talk about you in an authentic way you have to give them a reason, and that reason should be how much they loved using your product or service.

PR Must Lead Way To Promised Land

Jun 25, 2009

As early as 2006, the phrase "Every company is a media company" began to appear in speeches, news stories and blog columns, presaging a paradigm shift in the way businesses of every stripe must communicate with their audiences in the Internet/social media age.

How to Kick Off an Innovation Project

Jun 25, 2009

To build consumer loyalty, Office Max launched a study of what women look for when they buy office supplies

Building Brands Online in the Post-Sales Market

Derrick Daye
Jun 25, 2009

Customers will talk about your company, its products and services, whether you want them to or not. And online there are a multitude of places to do so. The question is, do you as a brand facilitate or participate? I will argue that you should do both, and tell you why.

Kroger Feasts Amid a Supermarket Famine

Jun 23, 2009

Anne Marie Sablock said she regularly drives past an Albertsons, a Whole Foods Market and several other supermarkets to shop at the Ralphs on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.

Design Determines Results

Tom Asacker
Jun 23, 2009

I’m sure you’ve heard the definition of madness: Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. But have you heard of the "First Rule of Holes?” When you’re in one, stop digging! I see it all the time. Organizations are lost, but they’re making really good time. Ask yourself, and really think about it: Is my organization producing the growth in customers, members, revenues, donations, profits, etc. that it is designed to produce? Like it or not your answer has to be “yes,” because the design determines the results.

Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization

Jun 16, 2009

One of the key findings from the very popular report The Future of the Social Web (which has been translated into over a dozen languages by the community) is that identity technologies like Facebook Connect, OpenID, as well as existing identities will soon colonize the web, making every webpage a social experience –even if they don’t choose to participate.

Results Follow Understanding

Jun 16, 2009

Ask any businessperson what marketing is about and they’ll answer with clichés about satisfying customer needs or “world class” service. Eventually they’ll get around to the 4 Ps, advertising, USPs, viral and social marketing, and a plethora of brand distinctions like: brand promise, brand identity, brand image, brand religion, brand essence, brand personality, and on and on.

Crowdsourcing: What It Means for Innovation

John Winsor
Jun 16, 2009

A soured economy has prompted a boom in crowdsourcing, but this is a creative, efficient trend that will outlast the recession?

Customer Loyalty: How To Earn It

Jun 16, 2009

There's a saying in the business world: Customer acquisition is an investment, but profitability is built on customer retention. And with the economy in its current state, it's more important than ever to keep the customers you have.

The Art of Saying Thank You

Denise Lee Yohn
Jun 16, 2009

I’m taking a break from the series on brand value creation for a post on a topic I’ve been reading a lot about lately — saying “thank you.” For people in general, service providers specifically, and companies, communicating sincere gratitude, it seems, is a lot more complicated than you might expect.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Jun 11, 2009

Here are two things I struggle to reconcile: The belief in the power of “relationship” or “community” marketing as something that demands more than just an online message board … and … the hesitancy to do something about it without a demonstrated immediate (or at least near-term) return.

Tweeting Your Brand: Proceed With Caution

Jun 11, 2009

If you haven't been living under a rock lately, you've probably heard a lot about Twitter, the free micro-blogging utility that allows members to share short messages, or tweets. Twitter has suddenly become the digital arena for people to observe and engage in pop culture. Demi Moore saves lives on her Twitter page, and Lindsay Lohan publicly breaks up with significant others on hers. It's also a place where brands can interact with consumers directly, to either reinforce strong relationships with their loyal bases or attract new followings.

Has Harley Ditched its Brand for the Hollywood Spotlight?

Jun 9, 2009

For the past two decades Harley-Davidson has been seen as a free-spirited, rebellious brand. Drawing on images from classic movies like “Easy Rider” and “Wild One” the company struck a chord with well-to-do baby boomers, who needed to feel like they are breaking the rules and every once and a while. For Harley owners, riding is a way to escape everyday life and feel like an outlaw without actually breaking any laws (except maybe changing lanes without proper signal).

Marketing Compensation: You Get What You Pay For

Jun 8, 2009

Doesn't it make sense to pay marketers precisely for what they do, aligning compensation with measures that fit each expertise? Pay brand folks for awareness, the Internet team for one-day return on investment and the research department for cost per study? Pay agencies based on media efficiency and call centers on cost per call? If everyone is paid exactly on what they do best won't this yield the best outcome, like Adam Smith's invisible hand?

Customer Service is Already Social

Jun 8, 2009

In a way it's ahead of where the Web experience is moving towards, which is semantic and contextual. It's ahead because it includes one very important element, which smart automation doesn't, yet - trust. The reason why we continue to talk about influence - online and off line - is that with the explosion of information, we're looking for beacons to guide us through that noise.

Variable Pricing Is Ultimate Brand-Destruction Machine

Jun 8, 2009

A former New York Times editor recently wrote a full-page article for Forbes magazine advocating "variable pricing" for art museums.

Audience or Community

Jun 4, 2009

The only difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When we say community and we mean our selling demographic, that’s not the same thing. When we say community and we mean audience to absorb our message, that’s not the same thing. It’s important to understand this.

Promoting A New Name

May 24, 2009

Adopting a new company name isn’t enough. If an organization is really proud of its new moniker – and it ought to be – then promoting the new identity with all its important constituent publics is a necessity. Here are the steps that a proud company should follow in letting its publics know who exactly it has become:

Mini Versions of Big-Box Stores

May 22, 2009

Retailers like OfficeMax are opening scaled-down versions of their stores or inventing outlets entirely to test new concepts without a hefty investment. The stores are a relatively safe bet despite the recession because the space is cheaper and the stores require less inventory, fewer employees and smaller spaces.

Macy's Pursues Customers of Fallen Rivals

May 14, 2009

Amid the worst falloff in consumer spending in decades and a sharp decline in its own results, retailer Macy's Inc. is chasing customers of fallen competitors to rebuild its sales. The Cincinnati, Ohio, retailer expanded its inventory of china and other gifts and heavily promoted its bridal registry to snare Fortunoff Inc.'s bridal business after the New York jewelry and home furnishings retailer filed for Chapter 11 in February. Following the disclosure that 58 Gottschalks and 177 Mervyn's stores on the West Coast would close, Macy's boosted its stocks of cosmetics from Estée Lauder, Clinique and Lancôme, anticipating increased traffic from the rival store closings.

P&G Reaches Out To Poorer Nations

May 11, 2009

Procter & Gamble has embarked on what it's calling "the most ambitious expansion plan in company history" - an aggressive campaign that will extend the reach of the consumer goods company into some of the world's poorest countries.

American Express' Risk-Cutting Poses Its Own Risks

Apr 29, 2009

What does AmEx want? That's a question American Express cardholders are asking more and more these days as the company turns the screws on long-standing customers and seems determined to show as many as possible the door.

Don’t Come Crying to This Airline

Mar 29, 2009

Originally a charter company that ferried passengers from the Midwest to Atlantic City, the privately held company has, since 2006, been taking the ultra-low-cost, à la carte approach to air travel to places it’s never been, at least in this country. Spirit’s specialty is the supercheap ticket from a major American city to vacation spots like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and it’s ideal for people spontaneous enough to jump on last-minute sales, sometimes for tickets that cost as little as $9, one way.

How One Mall Got People to Buy Stuff, and How You Can, Too

Mar 22, 2009

I visited a mall in Glendale, Calif., a few weeks ago and had a novel experience: I saw customers.

House Of Cards

Mar 11, 2009

In tough times, businesses will do nearly anything to get new customers—look at the big markdowns at retailers and the cheap financing at auto dealerships. But there is an exception to the rule: these days, credit-card companies are trying to get rid of customers. They’re shutting down accounts, shrinking credit lines, and, in some cases, actually paying customers to go away.

Pay-As-You-Go Toilets Not a Joke For Ryanair

Mar 6, 2009

What is perhaps the ultimate add-on charge, a fee to use a toilet, would be good for Ryanair and its customers, the airline's boss asserts.

Bank Marketing Fails to Reassure Wary and Befuddled Customers

Mar 2, 2009

Some customers are asking whether Citibank is a safe place for their savings. So what is Citibank doing? Running ads in The Wall Street Journal about its microfinance capabilities in Texas and India.

Three Things You Need If You Want More Customers

Feb 26, 2009

If you want to grow, you need new customers. And if you want new customers, you need three things:

Sorry, You Can't Be Our Customer

Feb 18, 2009

There are interactions marketers have with prospects where the prospect wants something and the marketer or organization just isn't interested in delivering it. These interactions almost always end badly.

Edmunds Director Speaks About Social Media Use

Feb 17, 2009

If ever there was a time in which automotive companies needed to figure out how to talk with--not at--customers and voting citizens, this is it.

So Who's Tops at Listening to What Consumers Say About Your Brand?

Jan 25, 2009

By now it's a widely accepted marketing maxim that a brand isn't simply what its marketing department says it is but what its customers say it is. And listening to what consumers are saying and distilling the most important information into useful business insights is an area in which most marketers rely on a fast-growing group of outside vendors for help.

Your Attention, Please, I Need You to Focus On This Now

Stefan Stern
Jan 8, 2009

Almost three decades ago, the UK's number one hit record at the start of the new year was 'Brass in Pocket' by The Pretenders. "I gotta have some of your attention," sang Chrissie Hynde. That refrain proved very popular with teenage girls back then. Companies are desperate to command our attention, too. But it is getting harder to persuade people to pay attention.

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