Well folks, the cyber-hustlers are at it again. Those digital doofuses who have no marketing expertise but call themselves marketers.
This image has been chasing me around social media for a while, promoting something that doesn’t exist in marketing ‘paid advertising‘.
Advertising by its very definition is media that has been paid for. The marketer buys time or space and controls the message content. I suspect the author really means “Paid Media”, but is not experienced enough to know the difference.
Here’s the modern marketing parlance for media labels:
Paid media – which is all advertising. Marketers pay for time or space and own the content of the advertisement in any media.
Owned media – which includes advertising but also websites, signage, sponsorship, events, trade stands, marketing collateral, sales presentations, point of sale etc – any analogue or digital marketing assets.
Earned media – traditionally public relations, but now includes any marketing content shared or commented about in analogue or digital channels, by experts, journalists, commentators and to a lesser extent in terms of credibility, influencers and social media connections.
And now, the aim of marketers is to get as much of your paid, owned and earned media to become shared media – in analogue and digital channels. To use another recent buzzword, this amplifies your message. There are many examples of brands earning $Millions and even $Billions of media value as a result of their marketing messages being shared, or ‘going viral’.
But let’s unpack the ‘paid advertising’ sponsored message, as it reveals amateurs played a big role in its creation:
The first sentence has a typo: “We’ve brought together some greatest minds…” – it should read: “We’ve brought together some of the greatest minds…“
But who are these minds you ask?
Why is the fact the author has studied a medium size advertising agency worth noting? $63 million and 19 accounts – agencies of this size have been operating for decades. What’s significant?
The final subheading differs from the rest: “The state of advertising in 2022” – what happened to “paid advertising“?
Just as headlines that start with “The art of <insert subject matter here>” are a complete waste of time, so too are headlines that start with “The state of <insert subject matter here>“
They are glib and weak, reflecting the fact no thought has gone into the piece of communication.
But given the declining expertise in modern marketers, many may not notice the errors. For all I know the event went well – though I suspect a better headline might have been:
“FREE 5-Hour Seinfeld workshop – the workshop about nothing”
At first I thought it was a joke, particularly given my post yesterday about the appalling social selling spammers on LinkedIn.
But alas, no. Today I get an unsolicited “LinkedIn Offer” in my personal messages – which is nothing near an offer at all.
An offer has two parts:
What the prospect gets
What the prospect must do to get it
It is as rank-amateurish as it is insulting. It is from someone I don’t know and am not connected to on the platform. And the author didn’t include his mug shot, to make his effort seriously low-rent.
Let’s dissect this anti-social selling message shall we:
There are a bunch of marketing words under the author’s name – Digital Marketing | Performance Marketing | E-Commerce | Paid Media |
I’ve never understood the term “Performance Marketing” – as against Under-Performance Marketing; Cancelled-Performance Marketing; Non-Performance Marketing; Matinee-Performance Marketing? We work in “marketing” – be proud of the fact you are a Marketing Manager/Director et al. You don’t need to put adjectives in front of your job title to big yourself up – it works against your reputation, not for it.
There is “LinkedIn Offer” in the margin above the message.
The salutation is a dead giveaway it’s amateur hour – “Hi Malcolm!” – well the exclamation mark is the giveaway.
There are only two sentences that are supposed to sway me to part with my cash. The first breaks most rules of selling:
“Are you ready to start achieving your marketing goals?“
Never ask a question with a yes/no answer. The majority of readers will answer “no” and ignore the rest of the message. If you are going to lead with a question, use a rhetorical one.
What does this mean – “Am I ready to start achieving…” Well maybe I’m ready to start, maybe I’m not? Maybe I’m almost ready to start, but need to think about it? Or I maybe I’m ready to start but not really ready to kick-on to achievement, because I prefer to under-achieve?
The sentence should never have been written, but makes more sense as, “Are you ready to achieve your marketing goals?” Though it still uses passive language with a yes/no answer.
The second sentence is also abominable:
“With LinkedIn ads, you can generate higher quality leads for your business and build lasting impact.“
Higher quality than what? Higher quality than lower quality leads? Higher quality than the best quality leads I’ve ever generated? Higher quality at ten times the price, or half the price?
There is no support for this vacuous claim – no social proof that LinkedIn ads work for any business similar to mine. Nothing. Just a glib statement from someone whose job it is to sell advertising on LinkedIn and hasn’t bothered to understand their market.
Who trains these people? Why are they let loose in the marketing industry without any skills?
LinkedIn should be ashamed of itself, it this is what passes off as a professional way to generate high quality leads.
In case you’re wondering here is a rough breakdown LinkedIn’s revenue streams:
65% recruitment advertising
20% direct advertising by companies
15% Premium subscriptions
So I am assuming he is selling the direct advertising service? I have no idea, as he doesn’t say.
The three calls to action aren’t worth commenting on, as they are so lame.
I repeat what I said yesterday: “Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to stop now.
Just because a marketing clerk can type doesn’t mean they can write. Hire professionals to write your copy, as you damage your brand every time you use amateurs.
And please LinkedIn, stop this nonsense, if only for the sake of the marketing industry’s reputation and we poor sods who work in it. You’re embarrassing us all…
It’s a simple truth – “the more that sales and marketing executives rely on technology to do their hard yards, the more likely they will fail“. So I open this article with a statement:
Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, while lying in the message content, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to be stopped now.
This sponsored example arrived today from a Marketing Manager who I am not connected to, nor have I ever met:
Let’s dissect it shall we.
“Happy Holidays!” – this arrived on the 9th January, so holidays are already over for most people, including me. It also smacks of wokeness – as it is the default message designed to replace “Merry Christmas” so as not to offend the outrage community.
This singular phrase is used – “I’m reaching out...” As everyone knows, only creeps and assailants “reach out” – and there is an existing protocol for using “reach out” in business.
The author then says: “my team noticed The Content Brewery is actively looking into topics around improving pipeline impact with marketing automations & new tech.”
Firstly, how does her team know I’m actively looking into said topics? How big is this team? Why is it spying on me?
The fact is, she is lying.
I don’t search using “The Content Brewery” and I’ve never searched for anything to do with “improving pipeline impact with marketing automations & new tech” – I don’t even know WTF it means. What is she talking about?
Why can’t marketers speak plain English? You don’t make a better impression by using a jargoniser – you just confirm the fake or amateur try-hard that you really are.
Then she switches from the singular to the plural – “We’d love to connect…” I don’t care a toss what you’d love to do. What’s In It For Me? This is a failure of fundamental 101 sales technique. And if we are not even connected on LinkedIn, why would I let you “explore my priorities?”
Continuing, the sentence says, “…share how our marketing & sales team uses Workato to build automations easily…” So she wants to show me how her company uses her product, not how companies like mine benefit from using the product. And WTF is an “automations?” I’ve never desired to “build automations” in my life.
The jargoniser rolls on: “real time lead routing” – I suspect she means “managing responses”. As for “improved pipeline forecasting” I have no need for whatever this is.
The sign off is just sad – “Let’s connect soon!” How soon? Tomorrow? Next month? 2023? Why wait? And it’s supported by a screen shot of a Zoom meeting – I have no idea who is in the tiny image.
The response devices don’t even allow me to contact the author by return message. I can only do one of these:
Schedule a chat now!
See MKT Automation eBook – (it appears to be a typo, as it makes no sense)
Learn more about Workato
I checked the Workato website and still struggle to understand what the company does. One of the subheadings on the home page says: “It’s easy to build complex workflows across your entire organization.” The last thing any marketer wants is complex workflows – we all want simple, uncomplex workflows.
This unsolicited digital-drivel – written by a typist not a copywriter – is another nail in the coffin of the reputation of the marketing industry.
So, I am going to take a stand and demand that marketers look harder at their marketing activity and invest in professionals to do the work. Just because you can type does not mean you can write marketing messages – as this unsolicited sponsored post demonstrates. Again I say:
Sending unsolicited spam through marketing automation tools, under the guise of social selling on LinkedIn, while lying in the message content, is a disgraceful reflection on our industry – and it needs to be stopped now.
There, I’ve had my rant for the day – let’s hope 2022 only gets better for all of us and professionalism prevails – despite that little thing called a pandemic, raging outside…
As anyone working in a medium to large organisation will be aware, culture has taken on a cult-like reverence since organisations switched from people managing people, to ‘people managing software to manage people.’
No longer do managers walk the floor to understand their staff and the office environment/mood. Instead, they let their fingers do the walking on keyboards linked to culture software. And culture software has become big business. Just search ‘culture software’ and at least seven advertisements appear on the first page of results.
There are even culture software conferences which, according to a mate who attended one in San Francisco, are large gatherings akin to a cross between an Anthony Robbins event and a Pentecostal service.
But first a little history – in prehistoric days before the internet, I worked with TNT. We were planning some professional development and team building programmes to improve the workplace culture. We did some informal research of staff. Curiously the results were split down the middle. Either the staff were all for being involved, or completely against it. Spoiler alert: Not every employee wants to play a part in the company culture.
One group of administrative staff – all aged over 40 – had no interest in professional development. They worked 9-to-5 and banked their salary to fund a family holiday, or new fridge, or help pay the mortgage. Their reason for working was simply a means to an end. Their family needed money to live and their job provided it. As one clerk said “I wouldn’t have anyone I work with in my home for dinner, so why would I want to have a group hug at some motivational session?”
Free food at work isn’t new
They were very shrewd too. The company provided free lunch for all staff. Yes, it’s true folks. Free food at work wasn’t invented by the internet age – it’s just another digital fallacy. Each morning we’d place our order at the cafe downstairs and at lunchtime a cafe employee brought huge trays of lunch orders to reception. Each order was labeled with the employee’s name.
But the administration clerks didn’t order a sandwich or salad. No, they each ordered a whole BBQ chook and roasted vegetables, then took them home for dinner. They brought in their own lunch each day and fed their families on the free food provided by the company. Consequently, a cap was put on the value of lunch orders.
That’s what I call a cultural insight!
But let’s return to present-day. Lots of research is currently being conducted about work from home and the intention of workers to return to the office. It even has its own TLA: WFH. Apparently research by Deloitte suggested 90% of its staff don’t want to return to full-time work at the office and want to work from home more often than not. This week Deloitte announced “staff can decide where and when they work.“
So how will culture-cultists manage culture in a world of remote working? Particularly given so many employees prefer a non-invasive culture that let’s them work on their terms from home? Could the future of culture be low-touch? How will the software measure this new culture?
Will this new way of working mean, that when given the opportunity, more employees prefer less company culture in their work life than pre-COVID?
Regardless, the culture software is like so many other computerised tools – garbage in equals garbage out. And so it is with culture measurement. I’ve worked with a digital agency of less than 30 staff. The management use culture software to monitor the happiness level of the team. All staff work in one large warehouse space, each within touching distance of the people either side of them. You could throw a tarpaulin over the lot.
Over drinks one night, some of the staff shared with me how much they play the system by turning the happiness dial up or down, just to screw with the heads of management. One account manager said, if they can’t be bothered reading the room by talking to us, then we’ll have fun fiddling with their heads via the software.
During lockdown I was discussing covid-culture with my bank manager. He’s with one of the big four banks. He explained his bonus is linked to the happiness dial on the culture software. The stronger the happiness level between senior and middle management, the bigger the bonus pool.
So dear reader, guess what all the staff have done? The middle and senior managers have agreed to scam the software to maximise the bonus pool for all concerned. Nothing they enter into the software is correct. Everything is designed to maximise their salary, not provide feedback on the culture. The Minister for Culture at the bank must think she is doing a fabulous job, given the software’s happiness ratings. Maybe the Minister is part of the bonus pool too?
I’m from the culture is caught, not taught school. Culture is a living, briefing thing that continually evolves as new people join and others depart an organisation. You provide staff with the right leadership, responsibilities, boundaries and feedback mechanisms and let the culture happen. And as Peter Drucker is alleged to have said “culture kills strategy for breakfast“. Great workplace cultures make an enormous difference to the wellbeing of staff as well as to productivity, loyalty and general organisational performance.
But this doesn’t mean you hire people to fit a specific culture criteria. Cloning employees to suit a culture creates inbreeding problems. You may as well get the banjos out and roll the Deliverance tape. Diversity is the key to a healthy culture.
Maybe it’s the rise in weird job titles for Human Resources Managers that has caused the culture cult? The fancier the title, the more the HR Managers need to use culture software to appear as flash as the title? Here are just a few I’ve found:
Culture Operations Manager
Champion of Office Happiness
Chief Happiness Officer
Chief Heart Officer
Chief People Pleaser
Culture & Geek Resource Manager
Director of Attracting Talent
Employee Experience Designer
Senior VP of People Operations
Vibe Manager & Head of all things Awesome
Chief People Officer
Chief Talent Officer
Change is inevitable, but not always an improvement. I’m curious to see how COVID will change company culture and how culture software will evolve, given the way it is currently being scammed. And of course there is the problem of how companies deal with public liability insurance for staff working from home. Who covers a ‘workplace injury’ when the injury occurs while on-the-job walking down the front steps?
Although of more immediate concern, is the quality of future leaders who don’t know how to manage people, because they’ve only ever managed software to manage people. Frightening really.
Gotta go – some marketing automation software is asking me to rate my satisfaction level of how a parcel was handed to me by a delivery driver. Can you imagine that workplace culture?
As you know dear reader, more often than not, the latest shiny widget hailed as the new-new-thing in the digital marketing world, dies a rapid death and is soon forgotten as the next new-new-thing takes its place. Google glasses being an example.
And so it was with QR codes. Relegated to the digital dustbin, they had a short life mainly due to the hassle of downloading an app for scanning the code. Not all apps scanned all codes. Some were proprietary to certain code types – for example those used by magazine publishers to link you to more of the story on a website.
Sometimes they just didn’t scan easily, and not all phones worked with the apps as the phones weren’t so smart back in the day – mid-90’s to early 2000’s. So inevitably, frustration and impatience eventually killed off the humble QR code.
Then along came a global pandemic. Who’d have thought hey?
Thanks to smart phones and contact tracing, QR codes are now ubiquitous in our lives. Every retail store, cinema, theatre, restaurant et al, requires the humble punter to scan the QR code upon entry. Right now we cannot live in society without QR codes, so it’s only natural marketers tap into this new habit.
Publishers, religious organisations, real estate agents, packaged goods manufacturers and more have jumped at the opportunity to use QR codes as a response device – or should that be ‘engagement device’ for those limited to marketing to digital channels.
Ironically, in a digital world, QR codes are helping to lead an already resurging interest in direct mail – the codes appear on the envelope, letters and brochures as the response device that takes you to customised landing pages. A seamless measurable link between the real and the virtual worlds.
The smartest B2Bmarketers know, direct mail is by far the best performing media channel to generate hot leads – always beats LinkedIn, email and online advertising hands-down. Until QR codes, the mailings linked to PURLs (Personalised URLS) – but you had to enter the PURL into your keyboard. But who wants to type when it’s much easier and faster to scan and link to the PURL on your phone?
Here is an example from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for an Easter mailing that arrived in my letterbox this week:
Here is a real estate sign in my neighbourhood – though why you would restrict your marketing to just social media is beyond me:
My local Mayor uses a QR in his letters to the constituents:
This is a mailing I did two years ago to promote an event on how to use direct mail. The QR code linked to a landing page to buy tickets.
Everywhere you look there is a QR code being used to encourage consumers to scan and link to a landing page, website, app or shopping cart. Or even to start a bit of virtual reality – though the VR experience is still a tad frustrating.
Just as the barcode changed retail as we know it, the QR code is here to stay and I suspect all brand advertising will start to include QR codes to encourage response.
However, there is also a seedier side to QR codes that I will reveal in the next article. I’ll share how some brands are using the codes to steal customers from their existing retailers. Retail is going to get nasty.
This week a marketing clerk at Coles made the ridiculous decision to stop using one of its most powerful media channels for retailers – printed catalogues. For international readers, unaddressed catalogues distributed via letterboxes, are one of the strongest generators of retail store and online traffic in Australia.
The reasons given by the clerk were ridiculous to say the least and naively woke – and Coles has rightly copped a backlash from both consumers and industry.
The physical is always more powerful than the virtual as I explained here years ago. After all, would you prefer a real or a virtual kiss?
The science of the emotional power of paper over digital channels has been proven. It has to do with how direct mail for example, makes the content more real to the brain and better connected to memory by engaging with its spatial memory networks. The material generated more activity in the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information (the left and right parietals) and the processing of information in relation to the body.
You can download Millward Brown’s research on this topic here.
Though, I’ve learned through testing, that the best results come from a combination of both print and digital channels. You need to continually test to work out the best combinations.
I suspect Coles has never run a split-run test to see what media channels work best. They’ve never isolated stores and distributed a catalogue in one catchment area and not distributed a catalogue around another store, to prove the best media usage. They certainly didn’t claim so in the announcement about their decision.
Once again the marketing clerks are letting opinions not facts govern their decisions – a sad reflection on the industry.
Which brings me to Domino’s…
Don Meij is the CEO and Managing Director of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises. He is also one of the most successful business executives in Australia and one of the highest paid. I had the privilege of interviewing him for my book a couple of years ago.
He revealed that Domino’s rushed to ‘save money’ by reducing the volume of its unaddressed letterbox marketing collateral. Domino’s distributes leaflets, booklets and other printed collateral to sell pizzas. Domino’s had launched its app and wanted to migrate customers to using the app for orders.
The result of this decision was an immediate drop in sales. So Domino’s reverted to using letterbox leaflets again. Over time, the Domino’s app has changed the way many customers place their order. Instead of using the phone to talk, they use the phone to tap. And once a customer downloads the app they use it more often to place home-delivered orders. But many still use the letterbox offers before ordering.
Domino’s realised the best marketing results come from testing and using a combination of media channels. Let the market prove the media you should use – not the marketing clerks.
Interestingly, my local pizza owner – he’s from Calabria – had to close his dine-in service during lock-down. He doesn’t have a website. So he printed a letterbox leaflet and distributed it in his catchment area. He offered a discount for pick-up. I’ve used the offer almost weekly and love chatting with the husband and wife team as I await my order. We are after all, social creatures. He said the leaflet saved his business.
And only last month Coles biggest competitor Woolworths did a mass-distribution of its loyalty cards in a clear plastic envelope in suburban letterboxes, to attract new customers.
Woolies use letterbox distribution to sell loyalty cards
In the statement about the catalogue decision, the Coles marketer said, “we are living at a time of unprecedented societal change…” and it’s true. Consider what’s happened during the pandemic:
Record sales of books as people have more time to read
Record sales of jigsaw puzzles as families return to ‘traditional’ tactile activities
Record sales of vegetable seedlings and chickens as families grow their own food
Return to direct mail communications as the personal and physical media are more trusted during these troubled times
Record sales of home-delivered products – because there is no other way to buy them as stores are closed
Of course, the volume of mail and unaddressed catalogues is less than a few years ago, just as radio and TV audiences have declined and digital marketing channels struggle to be successful. As consumers, we have way too many channels to use, making it harder for marketers to instinctively know what works and what doesn’t. Hence we need to go back to basics and follow the rules.
There are two simple rules to success in marketing:
Rule 1 – Always Test
Rule 2 – See Rule 1
The pandemic has revealed some massive weaknesses in marketing – with poor quality decisions being made by unqualified marketing clerks.
Let’s hope the ‘new normal‘ brings back a semblance of commonsense and let the facts, not woke virtue signaling, drive marketing decisions…
Forget the second wave of stupidity folks, the third wave of stupidity is gaining momentum in Australia. Suburbs with no recorded COVID-19 cases are rapidly running out of bog rolls again, as TPHS* spreads its deadly tentacles.
The third wave of stupidity is here…
Yet, despite my recent vigorous research into what humans fear most, the fear of running out of bog rolls doesn’t appear anywhere – on any list in the world.
On this list, it’s public speaking – even more than the fear of dying.
On this list, the biggest fear of Americans is “corrupt government officials” – which doesn’t really need any commentary under current circumstances.
So if the fear of running out of bog rolls is not a stated fear in any research, yet the biggest fear as demonstrated by current human behaviour is running out of bog rolls, one has to ask the question:
Can you trust market research results?
If you’ve worked in market research you know the answer to the question is “yes“. But, the research adage of “what people say versus what people do” is applicable, more often than not. It’s why there is a skill to framing questions when doing market research, which I won’t go into today.
Though my old boss David Ogilvy, who was a big fan of research, said this: “I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”
Maybe the next omnibus survey will reveal some new pandemic-related fears?
Though I doubt the fear of running out of alcohol will be a problem – home delivery of alcohol is booming – and there is no shortage of production. It seems the populace is happily getting sloshed in lock down, without leaving the couch.
Which reminds me, I need some more red wine – better check local same-day delivery services – cheers…
The year 2000 was wonderful for Sydney-siders dear reader. We were hosting the ‘greatest games ever‘ and the city was party-central for this fabulous festival of sport. Even the weather obliged with sunshine for the most part.
And because trucks were off the roads, only delivering at night, and most of the city’s occupants were on holiday and using public transport, the lesser traffic ensured the blue skies above were as clear as they’d ever been.
Pollution-free clear blue skies…
But what was special during that two week party called The Olympic Games, was how polite and friendly people were to each other. The populace was smiling and manners came to the fore – “after you” in doorways, “thank you” for anything. When 10,000 fans were crammed onto the Olympic train station awaiting the next train, instead of getting angry at the crush, we sang songs together and enjoyed doing so.
Instead of complaining, the crowd sang songs…
I commented to my better half “I wish people were this nice all the time. I wonder how long it will last?”
Less than 7 days is the answer.
In under a week from the Games finishing, I had an elevator door slammed in my face as I went to step in, a queue-jumper pushed in front of me to order a coffee and road rage returned with a vengeance, as the roads and traffic returned to normal.
Quick, close the door on that person running for the elevator…
I’m writing about this topic, because during the early days of the current COVID lock-down, people have behaved very politely and appeared a lot more friendly. The early-morning walkers who would normally ignore a friendly greeting, have happily chatted rather than avoid eye contact. Dog walkers have been bumping elbows – and dogs.
Even the fitness freaks, who would otherwise be in a gymnasium of some sort, say “hello” as they sweat past you, or while doing their routine publicly in the park as you walk by. These might seem like small things, but in the big scheme of urban communities, getting anyone to acknowledge a stranger’s greeting is usually nigh-impossible.
“Hi neighbour, hello puppies…”
And you’ve probably seen the images of nature returning to its healthiest condition, unseen in decades, as pollution disappears from our rivers, canals and skies.
So with all the COVID-Buzzwords being thrown around, I wonder how long before the alleged ‘new normal‘ appears? How long before we go back to being our old selves? How long before what’s old is new again, again?
Given the “second wave of stupidity” by the masses afflicted with TPHS (Toilet Paper Hoarding Syndrome) I suspect that across the board, there won’t be much of a ‘new normal.’ People and companies will return to existing habits and practices, though with some modifications – such as working from home more often than pre-pandemic.
It seems road rage is on the rise, while social distance queue-jumping is rife in retail stores. If you don’t immediately step to the next “X marks the spot” in the checkout queue, some low-life will jump on to the unmanned X and steal your place.
Police monitoring social-distance queue-jumpers and those with TPHS…
And let’s not mention the oxygen thieves who state they are not going to let a pandemic interfere with their lives. They are actively ignoring social distancing and continue to hug, kiss and gather in groups. When one young male was asked by a reporter “what if you give COVID to your grandmother?” he just shrugged and said ironically “that’s life“.
So my COVID-Forecast for public behaviour is that there won’t be a new normal, just the old one returning along with the easing of restrictions. Most of us care about one thing – ourselves – and we’ll do whatever we can to look after number one.
Speaking of number ones, that reminds me, I need to buy some paper for number twos. Better arm myself and prepare to take on those with TPHS at the retail store…
Before I start this post dear reader, I declare I only speak one language – Australian. I respect anyone who can speak multiple languages. But because someone can speak a language doesn’t mean they can communicate in the language they speak.
I assume my international colleagues experience similar frustrations as we Aussies do, when you call a local company’s “customer service centre” that is located in a country where English isn’t the first language. This outsourcing of alleged service has been one of the great cons of modern capitalism.
Firstly, the service is worse, it’s never better. Secondly, the income earned by the call-centre staff doesn’t benefit our local economy. Thirdly, the poor service really pisses-off customers, the people who pay the salaries of the call-centre staff.
One of the worst experiences is when the call-centre representative gets into a circular loop reading from a script, usually because they don’t understand the language or its nuances, and are unable to solve the problem at hand. The conversation ends up as “I understand your situation…” Of course they have no idea or understanding of the situation. But some call-centre psychiatrist, or human capital expert, has convinced management that this phrase helps diffuse the customer’s frustration, when in reality it makes matters worse.
“I have no idea how to solve your problem, but it says here I should say…”
So, given the COVID-Crisis and the massive unemployment it is creating, isn’t it time we returned call-centres to Australia?
Qantas is an example. Today it announced it is sacking around 6,000 staff in order to survive. Why not relocate the Qantas call-centres to Australia and employ some of those staff, where the income will benefit the local economy? It will also improve the customer service.
Telstra is another one. I’ve yet to speak with a customer service person without “I beg you pardon” being the most common phrase I use. Even worse is the Voice Recognition software that doesn’t work. Here’s a typical day in the life of a customer. You call the Telstra hotline. A computer answers and asks you to state why you’re calling. After stating your reason to the computer, it replies with something such as “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you, please repeat the reason for your call.”
This goes on until the computer forwards you to a human in another country. You go on hold until an English-as-a-second-language representative starts talking to you, usually to advise you’ve been put through to the wrong department, so “please hold while I transfer you“. Then the line goes dead, or if you’re lucky you get through to a queue to wait to speak to another representative, blah, blah.
“What do you mean, how do I spell Kim?”
It may be naive, but I believe we should use this opportunity to create jobs in our local economy – we have the talent pool. It’s the largest since the Great Depression. Let’s bring our call-centres home!
Gotta go, I’m having internet problems and have to call Telstra – aaaggghhhh!!!
A spike in the number of COVID-19 infections this week, in the State of Victoria in Australia, has led to a second wave of stupidity. Apparently, people are rushing their supermarkets and panic-buying bog rolls.
So I thought I’d republish this article, as it is the most popular of my posts in this crazy year. It reflects the simple adage, when common sense flies out the window and people panic, brands don’t matter…
Never underestimate the stupidity of the typical punter…
Now before you pile on dear readers, I am first and foremost a ‘brand man’. I’ve spent my career marketing brands and have just written an article for a trade publication on how those who continue to advertise during tough times, come out of the downturn faster and more profitable than those who don’t advertise.
But the human nature demonstrated in these last few weeks, seems to support that old classic – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – and we’ve just added a lower foundation level.
There has not been one person anywhere in the world, who wanted to buy toilet paper, say “oh that’s not my brand – I’ll leave this pack here for someone else and wait until my brand is in stock.”
Oh, this isn’t my favourite brand I won’t buy it…
The same with hand sanitiser, pasta, canned food, paper towels, vegetable seedlings, home gyms, et al.
Get your pasta, any-brand-will-do pasta…
When it comes to the survival of the fittest and the satisfaction of the most basic needs – brands don’t matter. People treat every brand as a commodity.
Last week, I asked my university students what brands, they or their parents, were buying during this pandemic. “Anything we can get our hands on, it doesn’t matter what brand it is – we don’t want to run out of toilet paper.”
The craziness will end though and when humans go back to the ‘new-normal’ and have time to shop at well-stocked stores with disposable income and job security – brands will matter.
So keep investing in your brand – you may have to find innovative ways to do so, such as the distillers making hand sanitiser. But don’t stand still – or you’ll be run over in the rush for essential commodities.
Gotta go, it’s lunchtime. Where’s that tin of no-frills beans…