Marketing as a Customer

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, primarily because my wife is a manager at a local restaurant.

She does a great job. She only works a few nights a week, and usually she tends bar. She has a loyal following, people ask for her by name, and customers come in when she knows she's working. The policy is that the restaurant closes at 9pm, but she will keep the place open until it makes sense to close. As long as there are customers coming in, leaving good tips, she keeps it open, and creates customer loyalty. She's been doing this a couple of years, and the results for her have been impressive.

There is a flip side to all of this - you have to be a good customer for her to do this.

This gets me to thinking - how do I market myself as a customer? Yes, indeed, noodle on that for a bit. As a customer you are marketing yourself on why you should get a better deal, better service, better treatment, etc than other customers. Being a customer might be good enough. Then again, maybe not. Do you have a value proposition

I recently put this to test when Washington Mutual hit me for two overdraft fee recently. I have a sizeable amount in a savings account at WaMu, enough that WaMu makes more money on my savings in one month than they do on fees. I asked for a refund, and I did not get one. Clearly, I did not market myself correctly, as my value proposition was clear and beneficial to WaMu.

My recent Fathead experience, I must have marketed myself correctly. They sent a replacement Fathead despite it being out of warranty.

Pay attention to how you market yourself as a customer. It will have an impact on your customer experiences.


Bittersweet news on Clearwire / WiMax

Great to hear that $3.2B is going be to invested in Clearwire, but not so great that Comcast is one of the investors.

I'm waiting for Clearwire to be available in Snoqualmie so I can dump my Comcast broadband connection. Can't stand Comcast (hence we have Directv, despite their faults). Maybe I need to go back to dialup.

Interesting that Google is investing so much. I truly hope there is choice in software apps/services when WiMax is ready for primetime.

Painful to watch WiMax emerge so slowly. So much promise five years ago that has largely been untapped.


Shocked at the number of companies you CAN'T contact

I just tried to contact JellyFish's online tech support. They provided an email address to contact. I sent an email.

It bounced.

No support? I can't contact you? Won't be buying anything from you, that's for sure.

Are you chasing potential customers away?

About Brand Value

Brands can add value to products or they can destroy value. Take a high-performance sedan. Put a BMW or Audi label on it, and you can charge more. Put a Ford or Chevrolet badge on it, and you will have to charge less to sell it.

That much is obvious, and the reason companies have brand managers (my recent experience with Fathead is a great example of companies aggressively managing their brand).

Problem is, brands in general do not resurrect, and never do so without doing something radically different. Nintendo thought outside the box and targeted a new customer segment with its Wii. Result? Resurrection of a dead brand. Sega is still dead, because they haven't done anything different. Apple resurrected its brand with the iPod. But even with these examples, we have examples of TiVo (dying), Sears, Cadillac, Sony, etc. as brands that once they started dying, they have been unable to resurrect themselves.

Reason is: brand value is a trailing indicator. The data in sales, revenue, and margin, which you are using to measure brand value, occurs after people have devalued your brand. Your reduced brand value is out there and having and impact, and you must now overcome it... which is really, really hard.

You must course correct and take action (again my Fathead example is a good one) before your brand is devalued. Audi fixes problems on my car before they are problems. Coach fixes their products even if I am the one that broke it (yes that is true).

The good news is that Web 2.0 makes this possible. People complain about their problems and experiences on blogs, instant messages, domain forums, etc. That information is out there and available to mine. Fathead found me through a blog post. They were looking. Smart of them.

Back to declining brand value. What is Yahoo going to do that is different from what it currently does? In three years they will kick themselves for not taking Microsoft's offer. And I think Microsoft will be thankful for not paying a premium for a dying brand.


So-called E-commerce Experts and self-awareness

Credibility is important. I just dropped my RSS feed to E-commerce Times, as I just read a horrible article by a "so-called expert" complaining about the way Amazon and other retailers their shopping experience. I didn't see any justification for his complaints, just that "it's not like what brick-and-mortars do." If this is their definition of an expert (and this is the level of advice they give), then I can't justify taking time out of a busy day to read their articles.

About the article, I find it amazing that a "Creative Director", apparently in the e-commerce space, doesn't understand customer intent and context in their shopping experience, and the difference between brick-and-mortars (where this is a customer cost component to get to a brick-and-mortar that must be overcome) and online shopping (where the cost of participation is very low which drives lots of one-off sales... hence the success of woot.com). Do Creative Directors really not perform contextual studies to understand customer behavior? I assumed that was a prerequisite to expert advice on design.

By this person's logic, woot.com cannot possibly be successful because no brick-and-mortar store sells only one product and a different product every day at that.

Instead, this Creative Director would do good to study these success stories and learn from them. It is not the e-tailers that don't get it, it is he that doesn't get it. Self-awareness is important, and a reason it is key to good Emotional Intelligence.

I feel bad for his clients, who are getting bad advice from a so-called expert.

By the way, this is my favorite interview question when I interview designers: why do successful online entities to apparently "stupid" things according to design theory? The answer, of course, is that they have data to justify their decisions.